04 September 2010

On hating the wallet that pays you

In many conversations with Europeans in the last year or so, I've discovered that the NYT, CNN, MSNCB, ad nau have done an excellent job convincing folks over here that the Tea Party is some sort of Hillbilly Uprising or Redneck Revolution.  Mention the T.P. or Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck and you get (in order) a cringe, a purpled face, a pair of rolling eyes, and then a rant on horrors of American democracy and the need for better education, i.e. a better re-education in cultural Marxism. 

What's most exasperating to me is the unwillingness of these cultural relativists to concede that there is a cultural difference btw the US and Europe that defines the Tea Party movement as a grassroots democratic push to preserve basic natural and civil rights.  It seems that for most Europeans government is a natural good and more government is naturally better.  They simply cannot imagine what it means to have a form of government that is constitutionally prohibited from growing and growing and growing.

Ultimately, the reactions I get from my European friends and some of my brothers here are rooted in a deep misunderstanding of American culture and a fear of the bourgeoisie.  Loathing the hard-working middle class is a sacred tradition among Europe's elite, a tradition recently imported into the US.  Hating the hand that feeds you seems to me to be an odd way to live your life.

An excerpt rom Rich Lowry in NRO:

The much-analyzed speeches at the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial rally weren’t as notable as what the estimated 300,000 attendees did: follow instructions, listen quietly to hours of speeches, and throw out their trash. [Have you seen the vids comparing the condition of the Mall after the Beck Rally and after B.O.'s inauguration?]

Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them.

This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize “the losers’ mortgages.” He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, “carry the water instead of drink the water.”

The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life. New York Times columnist David Brooks compares the tea partiers to the New Left. But there weren’t any orgiastic displays at the Beck rally, nor any attempts to levitate the Lincoln Memorial — just speeches on God and country. It was as radical as a Lee Greenwood song.

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03 September 2010

Does Jesus save?

I want one of these!

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Tea Mug Browsing

"The humans? The planet does not need humans."  The "manifesto" of the terrorist who took hostages at the offices of the Discovery Channel.  Must have been a Tea Partier.  Save the Planet?  Check.  Stop birthing "parasitic humans"?  Check.  Human sterilization?  Check.  Religion is at the root of civilization's filth?  Check.  Mandatory education on evolution?  Check.  US economy is dangerous for the world?  Check.  Yup, he's one of those right-wing nutjobs who hates freedom. 

The terrorist killed by police while holding hostages was "enlightened" by Pope Gore I's encyclical, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Mark Hemingway discovers that this eco-terrorist shares the scholarly opinions of B.O.'s science czar, John Holdren. 

Here's another Catholic charity you should probably stop donating to:  Caritas International.

Before working in three different psych hospitals, I worked in a battered women's shelter.  I also worked as the ER-trauma chaplain in an inner-city hospital.  I've seen real domestic violence.  Using domestic violence laws to push an ideological agenda is beyond inhuman.

Fr. Z. overdoes the Mystic Monk coffee and produces a New Conspiracy Theory!

Interview with soon-to-be Archbishop Joseph Tobin. . .Fr. Tobin, a Redemptorist, was tapped by the Holy Father to serve as the secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome.  Fr. Tobin was on sabbatical here at Blackfriars and we had the privilege of having dinner with him before he headed off to Rome.  He is a remarkably humble, down-to-earth kinda guy.  He told us that he got The Call from the Vatican while painting his mom's house.

A detailed plan for repealing ObamaCare

Satanists plan ritual to exorcise God. . .let's be frank here:  atheists and Satanists would look rather more ridiculous than they already do if it weren't for Christianity.  Both groups are constituted solely by their opposition to Christ.

A Magnificent Manifesto for the Massively Enhanced. . .I prefer the term "gravitationally enhanced."

Ooooooooo. . .The Knife to have for the Zombie Apocalypse. . .I'll add it to the Wish List.

I've only wrecked one car. . .my wreck looked nothing like these.

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01 September 2010

Pope to beatify Newman on the bridge of the Enterprise

Folks, this is what the Holy Father will be confronted with when he beatifies John Cardinal Newman here in the U.K. . .

Fortunately, I have the perfect solution:  dynamite it, plow the site under, and salt the earth. 


Comment from kab63 on Fr. Z's site:  "It’s a horrible mix of bouncy castle and airplane hangar."  LOL!

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31 August 2010

On the impossibility of women's ordination in the RCC

Given that a tiny group of ecclesial dinosaurs here in the U.K. are plastering London buses with pro-WO ads, I thought it might be time to revisit the issue in some detail.

Below is a piece I posted back in 2008 at the request of a young Dominican friar who was asked about the Church's teaching on the impossibility of women's ordination to the Catholic priesthood.

It's long, but I promised detail, right?!


First, notice the origin and ground of the objections. All of them are based on one or more of the following mistakes:

a) Priesthood is about power
b) "Access" to the priesthood is about rights and justice
c) The "exclusion" of women from the priesthood denies humanity of women. . .
d) . . .and it denies their proper place as potential "Christs for others"
e) All exercises of Church authority are excluding
f) Tradition is always about male privilege
g) Women would make better priests because of their natural empathy and compassion
h) Jesus' exclusion of women from the priesthood was culturally based and therefore reformable
i) Scripture is silent on the nature of the priesthood b/c it is a third century invention of males
j). Women report feeling called to the ordained priesthood, therefore the Church ought to ordain them.

Let's answer (briefly) each in turn.

Priesthood is about power. No, it's not. Priesthood in the Catholic Church is about service. Do priests often mistake their office of service as a privilege in the use of power? Yup. But that's an abuse of the office and in no way changes the actual nature of the office. Men are ordered to Christ, Head of the Church, to serve his people as he did: sacrificially in leadership. When supporters of women's ordination (WO) claim that women must be allowed to share in the governance of the Church as priests, they mistake the office for a political one.

"Access" to the priesthood is about rights and justice. Wrong again. The only right a Catholic has as a Catholic in the Church is the right and duty to serve others. Justice is getting what one deserves. No one--not even men--"deserve" to be ordained, to serve as ordained priests. To claim that ordination is a right is bizarre given that men are called by God and confirmed by the Church to be priests. This use of democratic rhetoric is attractive but misplaced. You cannot be the subject of an injustice if you have no right to that which you have been denied. I am not being treated unjustly b/c I cannot vote for the next Italian presidential election. 

The "exclusion" of women from the priesthood denies their humanity. In fact, the Church's teaching on ordination reaffirms the humanity of women by clearly laying out what it means to be human, male and female. To be fully human as a creature is to submit one's will to the will of our Creator and cooperate with His grace to achieve our perfection AS men and women; that is, I am perfected as a male creature. My mother is perfected as a female creature. Often this objection is rooted in a modernist notion that one's sex is socially constructed. We are MADE male and female by our Creator and not pieced together sexually by social forces.

The "exclusion of women from the priesthood denies their proper place as potential "Christs for others." This would be true if the only means of being Christs for others was to be a priest. Fortunately, our Lord had to foresight to make sure that there were other means of becoming the sons and daughters of the Father in His service for others. Ordination is one way that some men are called by God and confirmed by the Church to "work out" their salvation. No one is denied their perfection in Christ b/c they are not priests. All the baptized serve the Father by being priests, offering themselves in sacrifice for others.

All exercises of Church authority are excluding. Wrong. If an exercise of Church authority excludes, it does so in order to liberate through a declaration of the truth of the faith., thus including everyone in the knowledge of truth. To be excluded is not in and of itself an injustice or a violation of human dignity. There are many perfectly beautiful options open to all Christians to which I am excluded in virtue of my ordination, e.g. marriage and biological fatherhood. In the case of WO, the Church has used her authority to recognize a limit of her own power. In effect, the Church has recognized that she is excluded from considering the ordination of women.

Tradition is always about male privilege. Tradition has certainly been misused to prop up abusive practices that privilege males. That we have seen these abuses in no way changes the fact that Tradition is the handing on of a living faith, the "living faith of the dead." The faith of the Church never changes. It cannot change. Our understanding of the faith can and does change. However, WO is not a change in understanding but a radical revision of some of the most basic threads of the Christian narrative. To alter these threads does more than "open the priesthood," it unravels the faith whole clothe.

Women would make better priests. I concede this readily. But we have to be clear about what we mean by "better priests." The objection assumes that the vocation of the priest is simply about empathy and compassion. It's not. Sometimes what the priest must do is show firmness, rectitude, and unwavering direction. . .even if empathy and compassion seem to be set aside in doing so. If the only vocation of the priest were to be empathetic or compassionate, then women should be ordained. However, as we have seen in the Episcopal Church and the Church of England, women priests and bishops (at least for now) seem to be more inclined to the destruction of the living faith than its preservation. Each time a stone in the catholic faith has been removed by female clergy and their male supporters in these ecclesial communities, it has been removed on the grounds of justice, rights, empathy, and compassion--all understood in strictly secular terms. The results have been disastrous.

Jesus' "exclusion" of women from the priest was culturally based and therefore reformable. This objection assumes as true a number of false premises. First, it assumes that Jesus was not who he clearly said he was and is: God. God is not constrained by cultural prejudices. Second, it assumes that Jesus was disinclined to break social taboos. In fact, he broke any number of cultural taboos in teaching and preaching the Good News, causing a great deal of scandal. Why not break the taboo against women as priests/rabbis? Third, this objection also assumes that cultural change should guide Church teaching. Cultural change should and often does guide our understanding and application of the faith in the world, but the world is irrelevant when it comes to determining the content of our faith. A danger for WO supporters here is that the way they understand many of the Church's cherished social justice positions are undermined by this objection to the Church's teaching. If we can alter the faith to follow cultural change and ordain women, why can't we examine many of Jesus' legitimate justice teachings in the same light and alter them as well? Maybe our modern culture and social norms should be used to override the historical Christian concern for the poor. Surely, the recent collapse of the economy can be blamed in part on a misplaced concern for the poor and homeless.

Scripture is silent on the nature of the priesthood. This is a particularly odd objection for faithful Catholics to be making. It is largely a Reformation objection and ignores volumes of Patristic teaching on the origins and development of Christian priesthood. It is simply false to say that the Catholic priesthood is an third or fourth century invention. There are elements of the priesthood as it is enacted in the world that came about in later centuries, but the core nature of the priesthood was infallibly established at the Last Supper when Christ commissioned his apostles and friends as those who would lead the community in prayer and the breaking of the bread, to "do this in memory of me." He had every opportunity to include women in this moment, but he didn't. The key here is to understand that the Last Supper was a Passover meal, a family meal, one that reinforced the bonds of paternal authority in the ancient Jewish tradition. of liberation from slavery. Even with women present at a Jewish Passover, the men are commissioned to perform the rite. Does this mean that women are excluded from the liberation Moses brought and the Passover celebrates? Hardly.

Women feel called to the priesthood. In the paragraph directly below this one I note that all of the objections to the Church's teaching on WO are rooted in modernist, feminist ideology. This objection is a perfect example. What this objection assumes is that the call to priesthood is a subjective experience immediately deserving a positive response from the Church. What can be more modernist than the triumph of personal experience over objective truth. The truth of the matter is that the call to priesthood comes from God through the Church, who is the Body of Christ. To say that a particular person (male or female) receives a call outside the Church assumes that Christ speaks to a member of his Body from outside his Body. However, all calls to serve the Body come through the Church and are therefore verifiable by the Church. Most of us believe we are called to all sorts of vocations for which we do not have the requisite gifts or authentic vocation. I feel called to be a regularly published poet, yet my poetry is regularly rejected. The poetry community (i.e., the Church of Verse) regularly rejects my claims to being a poet. Years of personal experience, strong conviction, earnest effort, and multiple academic degrees cannot make up for the lack of consent by the poetry community to my alleged call. I can call myself a poet. I can rail against the perceived injustice of not being regularly published. I can even accuse my tormenters of bias, hatred, and lack of taste. I'm still not a poet. Think for a moment of the implications if the Church bowed to the "I feel called to priesthood" objection and answered these claims positively. On what grounds could we reject anyone from the ordained ministry? My application to be made a postulant for ordination in the Episcopal Church was rejected. Had the vestry of my parish not done their job of proper discernment and oversight, I would be an Episcopalian priest right now. Thank God they listened to the Holy Spirit!

It is important for faithful Catholics to understand how many of these objections are based on modernist, feminist theories of justice, gender, the social construction of reality, and postmodern identity politics. None of which have a place in the faith of good Catholics. All are deeply rooted in 19th and 20th century liberal democratic ideas about freedom, liberty, and rights. None of them pull from the tradition of the Church or her ancient philosophy and theology. None of them are scriptural or magisterial. I have yet to read a single objection to the Church's infallible teaching against WO that does not rely exclusively on ideas and argument entirely alien to our faith. The canonical objections I've read are little more than legalistic sophistry and grounded in a "hermeneutic of suspicion" that starts with an antagonistic attitude toward truth and quickly devolves into relativism and subjectivism--little more than minute loopholes.

Probably the best book on this subject was written by Sr. Sara Butler, MSBT, The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church, Sr. Sara started her life as a religious as a supporter of WO and has since looked carefully at the scriptural, tradition, magisterial, and archeological evidence for that position and changed her mind. This book does a much better job of defending the Church's teaching than I ever could, and I highly recommend it.

It is vitally important that women understand that the Church's lack of authority to ordain them to the priesthood is not based on the notion that they are inferior or damaged or in any way "less than men." Yes, some medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, put forward certain metaphysical explanations for an all-male priesthood that few of us will applaud now. But these are merely explanations of any already existing teaching and their dubious nature in no way detracts from the truth of the faith. In other words, Aquinas, et al did not invent the all-male priesthood based on medieval notions of biology and metaphysics. They took up the question in light of the sacaramental theology then current and the already existing reality of the all-malle priesthood and attempted to explain the truth of the priesthood in the light they had. Demolishing Aquinas' argument for the all-male priesthood does not demolish the Church's infallible teaching against WO.

A note on the question of the infalliablity of Pope John Paul II's document, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. This 1994 document was issued by the Holy Father in order to settle forever the question of whether or not the Church has the authority to ordain women. Drawing on scripture, tradition, and centuries of papal magisterial teaching, he concluded that the Church does not have the power to ordain women. It is very important to understand that the Pope did not say that the Church will not ordain women or that the Church does not feel like ordaining women. He wrote: "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women. . ." The Church CANNOT ordain women. The Church also cannot declare that Jesus is not the Savior. The Church cannot declare that Mary was not the mother of Jesus, etc. In other words, the failure of the Church to ordain women is not based on a lack of will or inclination or patriarchal prejudice. If every bishop in the Church, including the Pope, laid hands on a woman, performing the entire sacrament of ordination on her in St Peter's Bascilica in front of the College of Cardinal with their wild applauses, she would still be a laywoman. And she would be a laywoman if every Catholic in the world believed that she was a priest.

Is this teaching infallible? Yes, it is. The Pope wrote in full: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Now, some theologians claim that this teaching is not infallible. They want to make a fine distinction between the content of the teaching and this declaration of the teaching. They want to say that OS itself is not infallible; in other words, they want us to believe that the Pope's declaration that the teaching is infallible is not itself infallible. This is typical modernist sophistry and a confusion of terms. All the Pope did in this document is repeat an ancient truth: women cannot be ordained. This is not new. Imagine the Pope issuing a document tomorrow declaring that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a document would be pointless because the Church has always believed this. There is no need for an infallible teaching on the question. How odd would it be then for some theologians to assert that the document is not infallible when it asserts that the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah is infallible. Simply bizarre.

Reread the highlighted phrases above. Those are the words required for an infallible teaching. Period. OS as a document, OS per se does not have to be infallible, just as a document declaring Jesus as the Messiah would not have to be infallible. The content of the teaching is without error regardless of the magisterial/canonical status of the document. What the supporters of WO want us to believe is that the Pope is not interpreting the ancient teaching correctly. That he is merely repeating what has always been the case in the Church seems to be irrelevant to them. It seems odd to me that the Pope would issue this document "so that all doubt might be removed" and then have some claim that he did so in order to set the stage for future women's ordinations! We had a professor in my seminary who taught exactly that. Fortunately, none of us fell for the deception.

Fr. Joseph Fitzmeyer, quoting a supporter of WO, Rev. Herman Pottmeyer, "According to Pottmeyer, 'O.S. is an instance of ordinary (i.e., non-infallible) magisterium, declaring that the church’s unbroken tradition with regard to ordination is irreformable.' In saying this, he may be right, even though the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith subsequently explained that the doctrine about women’s ordination belongs to the deposit of faith and has been constantly held in the church’s tradition and infallibly set forth by the ordinary and universal magisterium." Fr. Fitzmeyer concludes his critique of Rev. Pottmeyer, "Pope John Paul II stated in O.S. that 'the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women' (No. 4). He did not mean that 'he could not himself change tradition in this matter.' He spoke rather of Ecclesiam facultatem nullatenus habere. If it is so, that the church has no ability to change it, then the Pope cannot invite everyone to prayer and dialogue as he would summon 'a council to make a final decision.' If 'the church' cannot do it, then a council cannot do it, no matter what 'signs of the times' may be or what 'faithfulness to Jesus' might seem to call for in Pottmeyer’s estimation."

Best book on the history and theology of the Church's teaching authority: Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith, Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ.

This link from the USCCB helps to clarify a number of issues.

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30 August 2010

Comment on commenting

1).  I read every comment posted on HancAquam, but I can't comment on every comment posted.

2).  If I don't comment on your post, please don't think that I'm ignoring you. . .sometimes I approve comments on the run and simply don't have time to respond.

3).  If you ask me a question in the combox and I don't respond in a day or two, don't be afraid to ask again! 

4).  I will not approve comments that are obscene, libelous, contain links to dodgy sites, or attack the Church in some truly offensive way.  Comments critical of the Church are welcomed if they are reasonable and expressed in a charitable manner. 

5).  I always appreciate corrections. . .and often need them.

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At what expense?

Excellent Berkowitz article in the WSJ on the alleged death of political conservativism . . .

An excerpt:

It is always the task for conservatives to insist that money does not grow on trees, that government programs must be paid for, and that promising unaffordable benefits is reckless, unjust and a long-term threat to maintaining free institutions.

But conservatives also combat government expansion and centralization because it can undermine the virtues upon which a free society depends. Big government tends to crowd out self-government—producing sluggish, selfish and small-minded citizens, depriving individuals of opportunities to manage their private lives and discouraging them from cooperating with fellow citizens to govern their neighborhoods, towns, cities and states. [Think here of the Catholic social justice notion of subsidiarity]

And lest we think that Berkowitz is simply being partisan, he concludes:

The Gingrich revolution fizzled, in part because congressional Republicans mistook a popular mandate for moderation as a license to undertake radical change, and in part because they grew complacent and corrupt in the corridors of power.

Perhaps this time will be different. Our holiday from history is over. The country faces threats—crippling government expansion at home and transnational Islamic extremism—that arouse conservative instincts and concentrate the conservative mind.
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29 August 2010

Tea Mug Browsing

Putting to rest the meme that the MSM has no liberal bias:  88% of network execs and personalities give to the Democrats.

Your native tongue shapes how you think. . .I didn't know that this was ever controversial.

On why America's elites fear the Unwashed Masses:  oikophobia.  As a fully recovered oikophobe, I can attest to the power of this fear. . .it's pervasive in the academy and in some portions of the Church. (Link fixed)

Drink 'til you drop!  Weight loss and the most common beverage available.

Speaking of weight loss, Mark "The Beard" Shea proposes a new movement for us fatties:  I Am Jolly!  I will no longer tolerate being called "obese" or "overweight."  From now on the P.C. term for us larger citizens is "gravitationally enhanced."

Europe's population bust.  This is what happens when we listen to Nanny State know-it-all's. 

Is kneeling to receive communion against Church law in the U.S.?  Short answer:  No.  The norm for reception is standing, but "norm" simply means "the normal way to do it" not "the only way it may be done."  The most common objection to kneeling is that it raises safety issues--someone behind you could trip.  I celebrated four or five Masses a week for three years at U.D.  Many people knelt to receive.  Not once did anyone trip.  NB.  you may NOT be refused communion if you kneel.

Cute pic of the day. . .awwwwwwwww.

Goth Zombie has a little fun

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