Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Where do they find these people?

You want to elevate your blood pressure? Then all you have to do is read the following worthless diatribe on why Catholic priests shouldn't have to be celibate.

Of course my favorite paragraph, after I summoned up the nerve (hardy har har) to read the entire article, was as follows:

For guidance on how to handle the current crisis, the Vatican need only note how the Protestant, Anglican and Jewish faiths are coping with their respective sex scandals. Oh, right, they don't have any. Those religions, though endorsing piety, do not endlessly obsess about sex, nor do they ask their clergy to take an impossible vow like celibacy. Those religions probably attract healthy-minded, sexually mature adults who enjoy physical expression and release with consensual partners who are not children. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church will continue to attract the sexually confused, stunted and ashamed to its blessedly shrinking ranks.

Has this lady been living under a rock? I mean, come on! Books have been written about this very subject, most notably Pedophiles and Priests by Dr. Philip Jenkins which blows this very argument of Ms. Lisa Gabrielle out of the water! According to Dr. Jenkins, the proportion of sexually abusive clergy amongst Protestant denominations is equal to or slightly greater (though not significantly greater) than their Catholic counterparts. Oh, and guess what... these clergy are married.

Gee Ms. Gabrielle, what would you be able to write about if you actually decided to stick to the facts. Probably something more intelligent than the piece you actually wrote.

"The greatest cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians. Who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." - Brennan Manning (made popular by DC Talk).

I'm sure Brennan Manning is shaking his head at the current Catholic Church scandal and saying to himself "Well, there's a few more atheists we have to defend Christianity against now." Which of course forces us to expand our categorization of the meaning of "victim" in this entire sordid affair (excuse the pun).

It goes without mention (or at least it should) that the countless hundreds if not thousands of victims of these demented priests are the most directly involved victims, and this also includes immediate family (mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters). However, the victimization does not stop there. What has happened in this scandal is that the Church has suffered what some would consider irrepairable damage to its "image". In a world that values it's fog of hedonism, the Church stood like a lighthouse, a light to the nations. However it appears that that light has dimmed somewhat. Instead of pointing out the wrongs of the world, the Church must now endure it's newly appointed label of "hypocrite" and one wonders if this scandal will diminish the voice of the Church in many matters, especially those involving sexuality (such as abortion, birth control, and homosexuality issues).

This damaging of the image of the Church will cut deep. I'm also afraid that this wound will hurt Catholic apostolates and missions which rely on the donations of good people. Will Catholic Charities see a decrease in donations, which will cut into their ability to help people in need? Will the St. Vincent de Paul Society also see donations dwindle? If so, we can add those who would otherwise benefit from the generosity of these two organizations to the list of victims from this scandal.

What about the voice of the Church in other areas of social justice? Say for instance that innocent man on death row who could have used the voice of the Church to speak up on his behalf? What about the repressed peoples of maniacal dictatorships which turned to the Church as a comforter? What about the millions of unborn that need the Vatican to continue to run interference against the Margaret Sanger-esque attempts of the United Nations to pawn off abortion and birth control (maybe even force it) upon the women of third world nations?

Exactly how large will the list of victims grow?

People say the blame ultimately rests on the shoulders of the bishops, and while I can buy that argument to an extent, people are responsible for their own actions. I wonder if Mr. Shanley ever considered the entire scope of victims he would create by using the priesthood as his own sexual playground? It is the likes of people like him that have caused most of the damage. If we could keep such people out of our priesthood to begin with, our bishops and archbishops wouldn't have to deal with creeps like them in the first place.

So, how to do it? Obedience, obedience and obedience. The unorthodox, the perverted, the sadistic are not obedient, they cannot be obedient. They must indulge in satisfying their urges. Those urges conflict with Catholic teaching. If we stick to the teachings of the Church (ie: stay Orthodox) and demand our priests to be orthodox as well, those who are disobedient will wind up giving themselves up almost immediately.

Is asking our clergy to be orthodox really too much to ask?

I have no problems giving plugs to people or sites whom I feel are worthy of such. One such site has come to my attention and I'm already a customer. Over at Steven Ray's Catholic Convert Board there is a sweet young lady who goes by the name MargaretC (in honor of St. Margaret of Cortona). She and her mother make rosaries and chaplets which are beautiful in design and extremely modest in price. If you are thinking of purchasing a rosary or a chaplet anytime soon (ie: as gifts for family members), consider giving this young ladies site a visit and being a patron.

Just go here to see some lovely rosaries: Margaret's Rosaries.

To those who have tried to email me at my old address over the past couple of days (ecumenism@byzantines.net), I apologize. I did not receive any of those emails. Due to what has become a very inconsistent service, I have changed my email provider. I can now be reached (hopefully more reliably) at the following email address: thomasjoseph@catholic.org. Thank you, and sorry for any inconveniences this may have caused.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Over at Catholic and Loving It!, the blog of Mark Shea [a banker hours blogger if I ever met one ;) J/K ], Mr. Shea posed the following question...

The final ploy of the "Defend Dissident Sexuality at All Costs" crowd will be "What's so bad about sex with children anyway? We need to revisit these irrational taboos, etc." Don't think it can happen? Reeeaaally?

Oh, I believe it can happen, and I've got proof of it too. If you work in the health sciences profession, especially in research, you've heard of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Basically they're a deluded group of individuals who don't know the first thing about ethical treatment for humans or animals. At any rate, their "Class A" loon of a founder, Peter Singer, recently advocated "consentual sex" between humans and animals. Lovely eh?

A review of Mr. Singer's delusions were chronicled over at Thought You Should Know. Read it and weep, literally.

The Natives Must Be Restless

As if some people weren't trying to ostracize segments of society as it were, some are now advocating the removal of priests who may or may not have "homosexual tendencies". Rather, than touch on this whole issue of how we even go about finding out who is or isn't homosexual, and if they're celibate whether such a distinction actually matters, let me touch on the comments of Cardinal Bevilacqua that some people are using to whip up a firestorm. The full article can be found over at the Philidelphia Inquirer. For the record, I will quote some of his comments (all bold emphasis is mine).

"We feel that a person who is homosexually oriented is not a suitable candidate for the priesthood, even if he has never committed any homosexual act... .There's an obligation of celibacy in every priest. There's a difference between a heterosexual candidate, what his choice of celibacy is, and that of a homosexual celibate. When a heterosexual celibate chooses to become a celibate in the priesthood, he's taking on a good - that is, his own desire to become a priest - and he's giving up a very good thing, and that is a family and children that could follow. That would not be true of a homosexually oriented candidate. He may be choosing the good, but... he's giving up what the church considers an aberration, a moral evil."

What some people are construing this to mean, and perhaps the Cardinal did indeed mean it this way, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, is that homosexuals cannot be priests because they are "giving up" a homosexual lifestyle which is inherently evil. First of all, if a homosexual is truly Catholic, they're already living a life of celibacy that is asked of them by the Catholic Church, so they're already being obedient. It's not as if these guys are going to be visiting every gloryhole in the United States if they weren't going to be priests.

Second, if my memory serves me correctly, one of the most prominent Christians of all time, St. Paul, was called by God from a life of mortal sin. Now, people have stated that Paul condoned celibacy, which no one is going to argue, but God called Paul first and foremost from a life of gleefully persecuting Christians. He was responsible for the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr for the Christian faith, and if God hadn't knocked Paul onto his bottom, who knows how many more people he would have had put to death. Even Paul recognizes this very fact when he calls himself the "worst of all sinners" cause to persecute and execute Christians would certainly be a heinous crime... especially when one finally realizes (even if it takes getting knocked on your bottom) that they were persecuting the Truth.

What God did was take the worst of all sinners and turn him into one of the most potent preachers Christianity has ever known. God used Paul in magnificent ways, and I am sure Paul is responsible for multitudes of people coming to Christ. That should be something we all agree on, right?

Now, if God could do that, why can't He take a man who is tempted (but does not succumb) and turn this man into a fisher of men as well?

According to some people, God can't do this, and they're relying on the words of a good Cardinal to support this odd stance. Since when did Jesus Christ concern Himself with the type of sin of a person if they were truly remorseful. Then again, are we even talking about people who have committed sins here? The answer is a resounding No! Active homosexuals? I agree, active homosexuals would be bad to admit into the priesthood. On the same hand, it would be just as bad to admit whoring heterosexual men into the priesthood. But, if a man can stick to his vows, I find it very bizarre that we're going to deny a man from seeking a vocation for a sin they have never committed. Doesn't that seem a bit bizarre?

If people are going to be judged guilty before even committing a sin, I don't think any amount of the Sacrament of Reconciliation will ever help any of us come closer to God. Literally, we're all doomed, regardless of whether or not Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins.

So, are we picking and choosing which mortal sins are worse than others. Last time I checked, any mortal sin, unrepented, sent one to hell.

Rather, what we need are men who can stick to their vows of celibacy. I don't care if they've had heterosexual or homosexual urges. If they "keep it in their pants" they should have the potential of serving Christ in the priesthood.

Acts 3:18-21
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

I'm a big fan of the journal First Things, and in the most recent issue April 2002, there is an article by Jerry Walls entitled Purgatory for Everyone. It is simply a brilliant piece on, you guessed it, purgatory. There is one section in this article however that spoke to me more than any other, and it should be such a simple analogy to grasp, I do not know why more people have not caught on. Especially in evangelical circles, where those avid readers among them seem to like the writings of C.S. Lewis as much as us Catholics.

Appealing to God’s forgiveness does nothing to address the fact that many Christians are imperfect lovers of God (and others) at the time of their death. This is not to say that the experience of being forgiven does not change us. Indeed, gratitude for God’s free offer of forgiveness is a powerful incentive for the believer to love God in return. But forgiveness alone, especially on a legal model, does not change us in a subjective sense. Consider in this light the words of C. S. Lewis, an author whose views are usually endorsed enthusiastically by evangelical Protestants.

Our souls demand purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleansed first”? “It may hurt, you know.”—“Even so, sir.”

Forgiveness alone does not eliminate unpleasant odors, and lack of condemnation does not clean up soiled clothes. Other remedies are necessary, and as Lewis suggests, they may involve pain.

Indeed. Like it or not, we all stink once we're through with this world. I know I'll need a bath. I wonder... do they have jacuzzi's in purgatory?

Do you call Him Master?

Ye call Me Master and obey Me not,
Ye call Me Light and see Me not,
Ye call Me Way and walk not,
Ye call Me Life and desire Me not,
Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not,
Ye call Me Fair and love Me not,
Ye call Me Rich and ask Me not,
Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not,
Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not,
Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not,
Ye call Me Mighty and honor Me not,
Ye call Me Just and fear Me not;
If I condemn you, blame Me not.

-Engraved on the Cathedral of Lubeck, Germany.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

I live in Oklahoma City. It's what some would call the "buckle of the Bible Belt". If one looks at demographics, it is heavily Baptist with a growing Methodist population as you head towards Missouri. Total, there are approximately 100,000 Catholics.

In Oklahoma City there is one Catholic bookstore. In Oklahoma City there are over six Christian bookstores which all advertise themselves as "non-denominational" (to attract the largest crowd). However, given the heavy Baptist population, most everything is Baptist in nature (so much so that one can easily find a copy of "The Trail of Blood").

At any rate, I happened to be in one of these bookstores today (not the Catholic one) cause I'm a sucker for a cute book with a nice spine and cover. However, I had not been to this particular store in a long time (they've changed names and decor).

Now, I'm going to generalize here for a minute, but when it comes to anti-Catholicism, Baptists take the cake. Almost every "evangelization mission" that targets Catholics is run by Baptists. Just about every anti-Catholic I know who publishes their work are Baptists (with notable exceptions). And, according to them, one of their biggest "problems" with Catholicism is our supposed "worship of idols".

So, I walk into this bookstore today, which clearly has a heavy Baptist clientle and what do I see? Tons of stuff, and I mean tons of stuff. There are Max Lucado pictures (and others by other artists) of Jesus in various poses, from His crucifixion to His resurrection. However, the crucifixion ones are interesting because it appears that as long as it's on canvas, it's ok to portray Jesus crucified. Then there are the Jesus bumperstickers, the Jesus windchimes (yes, windchimes), Jesus keychains, Jesus bookmarks, Jesus coffeecups, Jesus travel mugs... you name it, it's got Jesus on it. Which, sort of seemed... you know... a little odd to me. Why is it, when Catholics wish to portray Jesus, events in His life, and the people He knew and who worshipped Him... it's idolatry, but placing Him on a coffee cup is a'ok?

If anyone has lost Jesus in the details, it's not the Catholics, let me tell you that.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Flipping through MSNBC.com this morning and see the title Cardinals sidestep 'zero tolerance'. I wonder if this really should come as a surprise to people? Afterall, Christianity is based on the transformation of an individual once they recognize their errant ways and move "into the light". What sort of message would be sent if the Church didn't try to rehabilitate those who sinned?

I think its a given that priests caught sexually abusing any parishoner (and especially minors) should be removed from such a position, but to remove them from the priesthood entirely? Rather, I think they should have to undergo counseling, treatment and then serve the Church in a position where they cannot come into contact with minors. I'm sure such positions can be found within the Church, can they not?

As a cradle Catholic, who makes it well known that he is a cradle Catholic, I often get asked the question "Are you born again?" Well, after thinking about it long and hard, the only answer I can come up with is "I was born into it." I wonder if that will suffice.

So I'm getting ready to attend World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada right... and in the mail comes this letter from Catholic Answers. Seems as if some of the anti-Catholics use this gathering of youth and young adults as a prime time to "steal sheep". When the youth may be out of the "sphere of influence" of their parents (if they're attending as a large church group... though one would think it would have a large number of chaperones attending) these folks hand out anti-Catholic propaganda. It's enough to make a person vomit. Well, maybe I just have an easily irritated stomach.

Well, this is my first entry into my blog. Don't know if I should be excited or not. Just using a generic background, nothing spectacular but it's one of the niftier ones. Guess I'm a bit too tired to say much more, so I'll quit while I am ahead... if I am ahead at this point.

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