16 February 2009

Of many things. . .

Of many things. . .

1). Comments on SSPX controversy?

The canonical questions in this mess are beyond me., so I will leave those aside. I'm always delighted that those who have excommunicated themselves in disobedience find their way back to the Church in obedience. Bishop Williamson's holocaust denial is just dumb. However, we don't excommunicate Catholics (or refuse to rescind an excommunication) because they hold dumb ideas about historical events. I find it bizarre (and telling) that the very people who whine and carp about the Church excommunicating heretics, etc. are the same people demanding that the Holy Father exclude Williamson for his non-theological ideas. Make no mistake, this controversy is a media-made event designed to embarrass the Holy Father. Bishop Williamson needs to obey his SSPX superiors and recant his nutty notions of the holocaust.

2). Comments on the Legionaries of Christ controversy?

The Bible is pack full of sinners being used by God to put His Good News into the world. Think: if we only allowed living Saints to found orders, build churches, write theology, etc. how much could we get done toward preaching the gospel? Not much. That being said. . .I see two paths for the L.C. right now: 1). keep what is good, true, and beautiful about the L.C. spirituality and 2). rapidly distance the movement from the founder. The first is just good spiritual practice. The second is just good P.R. In philosophy there's a informal logical fallacy called "poisoning the well." In this fallacy an opponent will attempt to discredit an argument by pointing out that the defender of the argument holds indefensible positions or is somehow dodgy morally or intellectually. The idea is to cast doubt on the position under debate by poisoning the source of the offending argument. We see this a lot when debaters resort to comparing their opponents to Nazis, or pointing out that their opponents hold positions similar to some other undesirable ideology. That the founder of the L.C. was a sinner is plain. Who isn't? Does this discredit his spirituality? No. L.C. spirituality stands on its own quite apart from its author. In other words, L.C. spirituality is either true, good, and beautiful or it isn't. That it was composed and promulgated by a sinner is irrelevant. For P.R. purposes, the L.C. needs to distance itself from its founder, that is, quickly and irrevocably disconnect its spirituality from the man who founded it. This means apologizing, cleaning house for any co-conspirators, re-organizing, and basically starting from scratch in terms of promoting itself as a Catholic religious order. The Church needs the fervor and discipline that the L.C. offers. However, the L.C. does not need its founder in order to thrive.

3). Obama's stimulus package?

Pork. Pure and simple. Pork. Millions of taxpayer dollars to left-wing political groups and allies of the Democrats. I'm worried about something Mike Huckabee noted on FoxNews last week: the stimulus bill is fundamentally anti-religious in that it has a number of provisions that forbid the practice of the faith for those receiving money from the bill. Of course, the MSM has made no mention of this nor will it. I don't watch TV here in Rome, but I managed to get in a few hours of watching CNN while I was at home. Though I knew that the MSM is basically a televised Obama cheerleading camp, I had no idea the extent to which these "journalists" have abdicated their responsibility as our nation's fourth estate. On Lincoln's birthday, I watched a "report" on CNN that spent almost an hour comparing Obama to Lincoln. It was a fawning, saccharine, duplicitous Hallmark card of a show. Little more than a propaganda piece. An early Valentine's gift to The One. How can we have any sort of proper political debate when our media refuses to report the most basic facts about the political process? This is why I regularly visit Newsbusters. . .and you should too.

4). Increasing number of attacks on the Church?

This is old news. The Church has been under attack since the Holy Spirit visited the apostles in the Upper Room on pentecost. Nothing new in this. As an institution, the Church represents one of the few places left in the west that teaches personal responsibility and virtue. So long as we do this we can expect to be the targeted by the world's culture. Yes, we need to fight back. But not for the sake of the Church. The Church has been around for 2,000 years and will continue to be around until the Lord decides otherwise. Our fight is not against the culture but for those who cannot fight for themselves. Our job is to preach the Good News and teach the truth of the faith "in season and out." Those in the Church who would see us compromise or accommodate in order to get along are seriously deluded. I'm not suggesting that we become belligerent or aggressive. We don't need to be violent in order to speak the truth to the powers of this world. We just have to be persistent, unwavering in speaking the Word to those who will see and hear. Those that refuse to see and hear have condemned themselves. Remember: our treasure is not of this world. We can lose all of our stuff and still flourish as a Body. What the Church needs now more than anything are courageous leaders among the laity and clergy to stand up and assert what we know to be true: God has won this fight. From all eternity, God has won.

5). What's your book about?

If I manage to get a manuscript to Liguori Publications by May 8th, my book will be available in August 2009. Basically, all I am doing is adapting traditional litanies and novenas for contemporary use and writing several original litanies and novenas. The original prayers are taken from a variety of sources, including the works of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I'm also including some prayers based on the mystical works of Meister Eckhart, Aquinas, Dionysus, Gregory of Nyssa, and a few other Patristic sources. Right now, I am working on the original pieces, including a triology of novenas rooted in the creation theology of the Eastern and Western Catholic traditions. If this book does well, I am going to propose a second book that will be a set of short reflections based on Patristic texts. This will be more of a daily-use book for growing in holiness. We'll see how thing go!

6). Lots of books about Eastern Orthodoxy on your Wish List. Considering a move to the East?

No, I'm a happy Latin Catholic. The books about Orthodoxy on my Wish List are there for two reasons: 1). I'm using them for my own book of prayers and 2). I'm giving the lectures on Orthodoxy to the U.D. students during our March trip to Greece. Generally, the E.O. do a better job of unpacking a theology of the Holy Spirit than the West does. I appreciate the more literary approach of the East and find their style of writing (less rational, more poetical) more appealing. As a Dominican, I am commited to the use of right reason in theological discussions, but sometimes we miss the subtlies when we focus exclusively on the rational. More than anything, the East has a better understanding of how creation and deification work in our salvation.

7). How was the trip home?

All went really well! No airport delays. No problem getting the meds through customs. I was very happy about this. I was also delighted on my flight over b/c the plane was only 2/3 full. This meant I got an extra seat next to me to stretch out! The flight back was full, however, so I was cramped and couldn't sleep. Ah well, the price of paying cattle-car rates, right? I visited with Mom and Pop for about a week and then drove to Irving where I was greeted warmly by students and faculty. One of my former students and some of his friends threw me a party. I had a chance to visit with several guys considering priesthood. Spent some time in Wal-Mart stocking up on things I can't get in Rome. Ate too much fast food, so this week is dedicated to puring Burger King and Wendy's from my system. Yuck. Had an unexpected visit with my provincial while in Texas. . .always a pleasure. I watched too much TV while visiting in MS. My mom loves HGTV, so I am once again up on all the latest yard fashions and my armchair skills at renovating old houses and shopping for new ones are up to par. Took my two nieces to see "Hotel for Dogs" and was astounded at the political messge of the movie: animals are just like humans and animal shelters are evil. The personification of animals is nothing new in cartoons and children's movies, but the none-too-subtle message of this movie is that animals and humans are morally equivalent agents with freely acting souls. I also found it interesting that all of the evil animal control agents were white men while the sympathic public was a hodge-podge of racially mixed women. The main characters were racially mixed too, but without fail the evil in the movie had a white male face. Something else I noticed while in the U.S.: we are a really fat nation. I've struggled with my weight all my life, but returning to the U.S. after only seven months in Rome gave me a perspective I hadn't counted on. I can see why the world thinks of the U.S. has an all-consuming Mouth and Stomach. Granted, I contribute to this image just by walking around Rome! Sigh. Am I glad to be back in Rome? Yes. I was surprised to find myself looking forward to returning. This semester is going to be tough. . .all Italian classes, thesis-writing, finishing up the book, trip to Greece, etc. But I am pleased to be back.

Unsigned comments will be deleted. Permission is given to re-post or reprint with attribution for non-commercial use only.


  1. On the LC/RC
    "That the founder of the L.C. was a sinner is plain. Who isn't?"
    I do not agree with you and I do not think someone who covered up their actions as just a "sinner" and who fathered a child when she was 15 as just a "sinner" or as someone molested boys as just a "sinner" unless you want us to think the same is capable of you. No offense. What he did was not just "sin a little" "fall a little".

    God Bless

  2. Ate too much fast food, so this week is dedicated to puring Burger King and Wendy's from my system.

    Sounds like you're ready for Lent - a nice brisk walk to the Station Churches for 7am Mass does wonders for body and soul.

  3. 1). Excellent commentary. If you want to read what the world is thinking about this issue, go and read some of the recent posts and comments on www.littlegreenfootballs.com. Crazy and sad, a good example of smart people holding stupid opinions about something they know very little about.

    2). I agree completely. The founder must go for the L.C.'s to survive.

    3). What is the difference between a hard-core conservative and a hard-core liberal? The hard-core conservative knows that George W. Bush is not the Messiah.

    4). Rejoice when they attack you for the faith. This is why I am torn about my support of the Catholic League. What they do is important, but should we fight back?

    Glad you are back Father!

    Br. Andy

  4. I am so happy you had a great trip back home! If you need any readers on your drafts, I'd love to help in any way. :-)

    PS. Thanks for introducing me to Mighty Mom. She is awesome!

  5. Easily the most sensible commentary on the LC problem that I've seen on the blogs.

  6. Opey,

    Nothing in my comments can be read to mean that I am downplaying Marciel's sin. We can't let the world's "outrage" at his sin become a blanket condemnation of his movement. This is the Devil's ploy.

    If he were still alive the Church could easily insist on public repentance and penance. Now that he's dead, he's in the hands of the Lord.

  7. Agreed Fr.
    I was referring to the statement of sinners being used to found order because the LC/RC scandal is more complex than failings and ample proof that something deeper was amis (secret vows that were dissolved).
    But that good can come from Evil is very true.
    The discussion of whose charism was at the very foundation to begin with (whether it was Maciel's or in fact his Uncle's, who is now a saint) is interesting and does give hope for those in this group.
    I am a little down because there have been in the LC and outside, by clergy, that have marginalized what he did, He was a sinner whooppee we all sin.
    Sorry if I jumped the gun.
    And you are right that we can't let the outrage become a blanket condemnation, but there have been other warning signs along the way that have been ignored.
    We continue to pray for them.

  8. Father,

    Perhaps if you have any friends in the Catholic "Network" lobby you can ask them to reconsider their position that I am going against the common good for bringing up some of your objections on the stimulus


  9. Yo Padre,

    Are there going to be any protests against Pelosi & Co. when they see the Pontiff this week? I was thinking of something from local prolife students and such.

    We'd never see them on the MSM but its nice to dream.

  10. Sub, not as far as I know...European Catholics tend not to think much about church-state relations...at least not in the way we do...they don't see it as any big deal that the Holy Father will meet with Pelosi...it's just part of his job as head of the Vatican state.

  11. Victoria1:58 AM

    Opey, as I understand it the age of the mother was a rumour floated by a very left-wing Spanish newspaper. Do you know something more?

    Father, did you get your medication stuff-up sorted out?

  12. Victoria, I have been keeping up with the reporting on American Papist and canon lawyer's blog, Dr. Peter's. Yes, to begin with I was with you on it might be a rumor, but here is the thing, LC has never clarified her age and it does matter. It matters because that very fact, had it been made known at the time, Maciel probably would have been/could have been lacitized.
    It is known that the young girl entered the school when she was 10. We can assume that grooming took place, if not also abuse, before she became pregnant.

  13. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Fr. Philip,

    A question for you that I'd like you to take up if possible. I know that contraception is intrinsically evil. Should it also be illegal? Why or why not?


  14. glad you're back online Fr!!

    sorry to not have seen you while you were here.

    will have to have you over this summer.

    you sound a bit busy so I'll lay off the questions for awhile.......

  15. Patrick,

    On the issue of outlawing contraceptives...my very first reaction is: No. I haven't given it much thought, but I would say No and defend that position until convinced otherwise.

    Contraceptives were illegal up until the early 60's. The USSC overturned the law in Griswold vs. CT. This decision (right to privacy in marriage) was the basis for overturning all the nation's abortion laws.

    Aquinas makes it clear that not all immoral activities need to be illegal. In a western democracy we are faced with the reality that not everyone under the authority of the law is Catholic. I could imagine that someday we might come to the conclusion that contraceptives are harmful to the common good b/c they are leaking into our water supply, or b/c they are adversely influencing our population numbers. Barring these, I don't see a reason to outlaw them for everyone.

    One objection here will be that this argument could be applied to abortion as well. Not so. Abortion kills a human person. That's not a religious argument. The Catholic take on contraception is based on a reading of the natural law that most other religious groups do not share. Abortion, however, is fundamentally different b/c it kills an existing person.

    Now, this does not mean that I think contraception is OK. It isn't. I would try to persuade everyone not to use artificial contraception b/c it violates the natural law and has terrible influence on how men treat women, how women see themselves, how our populations in the west declining...however, in a liberal democracy, we cannot make it illegal to disagree with the Church. That's a very, very dangerous precedent.

    But I'm willing to hear disagreement.