General Discussion (7)

debatingIf there’s something of interest in the news that’s not covered in one of the topic threads, or you have a question to ask, a comment you’d like to make about anything under the sun, more or less, this is the thread for you. However, please check first, to ensure that you haven’t missed a topic thread or another thread where it would be appropriate to post your comment.  Readers have occasionally gone straight to the General Discussion thread to post news that is already the topic of a thread or to ask a question that is already being discussed elsewhere. So, do your Sherlock Holmes before posting here, please and thank you!

Feel free, also, to share your favourite spiritual reading books, prayers and devotions. Whatever.

Enjoy!

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Germany: Split in Bishops Conference…

.- A German cardinal has publicly opposed the words of two other German bishops who have suggested that the nation’s Church can form its own policies without direction from Rome. Cordes

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes [Ed: pictured left] published a letter earlier this month objecting to the pronouncements of prominent leaders of the Church in Germany that the nation’s bishops’ conference will pursue its own program of pastoral care for marriages and family regardless of the outcome of October’s Synod on the Family.

At a Feb. 25 press conference following the German bishops’ plenary assembly, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, who is president of the conference, stated, “We are not a branch of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context and must preach the Gospel in its own, original way. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here.”

Cardinal Marx, whom the German bishops have chosen as one of their three delegates at the upcoming Synod on the Family, added that there are “certain expectations” of Germany in helping the Church to open doors and “go down new paths,” and that “in doctrine, we also learn from life.”

He was echoed by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck – a fellow synod delegate – who called the Synod on the Family a “historically important” moment and a “paradigm shift,” urging that “the reality of men and the world” be a source for theological understanding.

Cardinal Cordes – who was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Paderborn and is president emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – published a strenuous objection to the media statements of his fellow German bishops in the form of a March 7 letter to the editor of Die Tagespost, a prominent German language Catholic newspaper.

“Since the words of the highest representative of Catholics in Germany have a guideline-like character, and create substantial waves in the media, it makes sense to object publicly to some of the utterances, in order to limit the confusion which they have caused,” Cardinal Cordes wrote.

The cardinal noted that the February press conference was focused on the Synod on the Family, and on particular of the proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper – another German – to admit some among the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion.

“The problem was addressed with the beautiful words of ‘new solutions’ and ‘opening doors’,” Cardinal Cordes wrote.

He responded to Cardinal Marx’ characterization of the Church in Germany as an exemplar by saying that “if he wanted to express that Germany is example in leading the faithful to a giving oneself up to Christ, then I think the bishop is fooled by wishful thinking. The existing German ecclesial apparatus is completely unfit to work against growing secularism.”

“It was not without reason,” Cardinal Cordes wrote, that Benedict XVI strongly urged the Church in Germany to become less worldly during his 2011 visit there.

“In themes of faith, realism counts above all,” the cardinal reflected. “Therefore one has to consider the facts.” He noted that a recent survey shows that among Catholics in western Germany, only 16 percent believe God to be personal: “all other Catholics see in God a faceless providence, an anonymous fate along the lines of a primordial power. Or they simply deny his existence flat out. What do they think of when they pray the Our Father? So there is no reason to pride ourselves on our faith if we stand in comparison to other countries.”

Cardinal Cordes then commented on Cardinal Marx’ ecclesiological statements, saying his “theological blurriness makes you wonder,” adding that statements like “we are not a branch of Rome” are more suited “to the counter of a bar.”

“The head of the German bishop’s conference certainly has some competence when it comes to a second edition of the hymnal or the changing of the pilgrim route to Altötting,” Cardinal Cordes stated. “But the president argues something entirely different.”

“The president argues about the drama of the divorced and remarried! This matter reaches far beyond regional particularities of a pragmatic nature, of a given mentality and cultural background. This matter is bound to the very center of theology. In this field not even a cardinal can loosen such a complex Gordian knot in a single swordstroke. He has the sacramental theology of the Council of Trent. He has also the words of Benedict XVI, who only recently (January 21, 2012) told the Roman Rota, the ordinary court of the Apostolic See, that no-one can simply brush over binding legislation of the Church when it comes to pastoral matters. A responsible shepherd cannot be guided by a blurred ‘mercy.’ And while the president repeats that regarding the Magisterium, he wants to ‘stay within the community of the Church,’ he either ignores the limits that this Magisterium gives to pastoral care, or he is carefree in making a statement to make himself sound good.”

Cardinal Cordes lamented that in Cardinal Marx’ comments, the idea of communion – among bishops, and with the Bishop of Rome – was sorely lacking, “even though the bishops expressly promised ‘unity with the College of Bishops under the Successor of Peter’ during their episcopal consecration. The sentence: ‘We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here’ is not imbued with a spirit of ‘Communio’.”

He charged that the message sent by Cardinal Marx “seems to be the result of an ‘obedience that goes ahead’, a deeply political strategy which creates ‘facts’ in order to dominate the process of decision-making and to put pressure on their colleagues.”

“Particularly deplorable are the statements during the press conference that the ‘new solutions’ – everyone knows what is meant – can be theologically justified,” Cardinal Cordes wrote. “Does he want to say that the dogma of the inseparability of marriage becomes intolerable because of the life situations of remarried people?

Cardinal Cordes then turned to the comments made by Bishop Bode, who had cited Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, as a support for his conclusion that “not only does the Christian message have to find resonance with men, but also men must find resonance with us.”

Cardinal Cordes responded, saying that while Gaudium et spes does state that “nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in the hearts of Christ’s followers,” the fathers of Vatican II “came to the conclusion that it would be erroneous to see the ‘signs of the times’ in the life of men simply as a ‘source of faith’ … and formally excluded the embarrassing fallacy that any challenge of the Church as such would be a source of faith.”

In contrast, he noted, the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, Dei verbum, “leaves no doubt that faith in the Catholic Church feeds solely from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium.”

“Independent of this unambiguous direction, it would be paradoxical to ascribe to a small part of the Church, who live in spiritually regrettable but objectively still irregular situation, the function of a source of faith,” Cardinal Cordes noted.

He concluded, writing that “May the shepherds who gather in Rome this autumn also give guidance to  the majority of practicing members of the Church, on how to ever deepen their marriage and to root it in Jesus Christ, so they may be testimonies of God’s power in the life of man for their contemporaries.”

“May the synod fathers come to the conclusion to pronounce deep respect for those who never married a second time – who due to their faithfulness to their first marriage commitment, did not enter a second union. Those cases also exist.”

Comment:

So, what’s a German Catholic to do now?  We’ve already had one critic of an English Bishop who wrote to warn his priests not to support  Charities that are not faithful to Catholic teaching, declare on this blog that “Bishop Egan he is surely subject to the norms of the Conference of Bishops for England and Wales…” so what ARE these “norms” for bishops’ conferences?  He who shouts loudest get to boss everyone else? What then?

Reminder:

we close the blog on Palm Sunday and re-open on Easter Sunday, to allow us to concentrate on the liturgies of Holy Week and to devote time to meditating on Our Lord’s Passion and Death. We will post a meditation on video, but all threads will be closed to comments during Holy Week.  So, make sure you catch up with all topics before we close down at the weekend.

Bishop Vs “Catholic” Charities…

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has urged his clergy to support only those charities whose work is compatible with Church teaching.  

Bishop Egan wrote to his priests asking them to undertake a review of the charities they support by the end of the year.

Bishop Egan PortsmouthIn a letter he explained: “A number of people have asked me in the last couple of years since becoming bishop about third-party charities: which ones our parishes and the diocese itself can work with and support, and under what conditions. 

“After a lot of discussion and reflection, and having sought advice from those both inside and outside the diocese, I have decided to issue the attached guidance.

“I am reluctant to burden you with yet more work but I would like to ask you to undertake a review of all the relationships your parish has with external charities,” the bishop said, asking for such a review to be done by the end of the year.

In his guidance notes Bishop Egan said parishes should avoid raising money for charities that “engage in or closely co-operate with” initiatives promoting artificial birth control or abortion.

Another example he gave was Confirmation candidates volunteering to help at a soup kitchen or to redecorate a shelter for ex-prisoners. In this particular case, the bishop said, the charity also distributed condoms and gave abortion advice as part of its Foodbank boxes. In order to avoid scandal, he said, such volunteering would “need to be accompanied by a clear public statement distancing the Confirmation candidates from these activities”.

In a third example Bishop Egan described a charity offering workshops on “domestic dispute resolution” to schools. In this case, he said, the charity had also won an award from Stonewall for its transgender programmes and work with same-sex couples.

He said that working with such a charity in a way that suggested an endorsement would constitute “formal co-operation in gravely immoral acts”. If it were “impossible to so dissociate the co-operation with the charity from these issues” or if the “charity itself is so influenced by them in its other activities or thinking [then] … the virtue of prudence would counsel against any co-operation with them”, the bishop concluded.  Source

Comment…

It seems clear to me that CAFOD is definitely in the frame (if only a Scots Bishop would similarly warn against Catholics supporting SCIAF) but why on earth doesn’t the Bishop go that extra mile and name them? All well and good alerting his priests to the importance of checking out charities but they should be given all the information available to educate themselves about the true nature of some of these organisations presenting themselves as “Catholic”. All too often these “charities” hold views and act contrary to Catholic teaching, particularly Catholic moral teaching.  So, I’m giving the Bishop seven out of ten for writing to his bishops on this subject, but he doesn’t merit full marks for failing to spell out – literally – the names of the charities of concern.  What about you – what mark do YOU give the Bishop out of ten?

Irish Bishops Embarrassingly Weak…

Below is the statement issued by the Irish Bishops ahead of the referendum in May on same-sex marriage.  It is truly cringeworthy stuff.  Editorial comment has been inserted, briefly, to highlight some of the key weaknesses.

‘Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it’ – Statement of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference 10 March 2015  referendum

Within weeks the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in a referendum that will change the meaning of marriage in the Constitution of Ireland.

Marriage is of fundamental importance for children, mothers and fathers, and society – all of us need to reflect deeply before changing it.  We ask the people of Ireland to consider very carefully the profound implications which this constitutional amendment would have on the family environment and on our understanding of parenthood.
Ed: we “ask” the people of Ireland to “consider carefully”… ?  Shouldn’t that be “we warn the people of Ireland of the consequences, both here and in eternity, of voting  for this immoral legislation?

We respect the views of people who think differently to us (Ed: do we?  I don’t)  trusting that our sincerely held views, grounded in faith, will also be heard and respected.
Ed: it’s not “our views” that matter.  It’s God’s moral law that the Irish Government seeks to overturn. That’s a heck of a lot more important than any human viewpoint.

We come to this debate believing that the union of a man and a woman in marriage, open to the procreation of children, is a gift from God who created us ‘male and female’.  Reason also points to the truth about human sexuality that makes the relationship between a man and a woman unique.  Mothers and fathers bring different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child’s life.

We cannot support* an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children.
* Ed: nor may any Catholic support this amendment to the Constitution, without incurring the wrath of God – you forgot that bit, Bishops.

We are concerned that, should the amendment be passed, it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman.  What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage?  Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?  Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?
Ed: yet again we find this fundamental error, of accepting the legitimacy of homosexual behaviour, in the first place, instead of condemning it as unnatural and gravely sinful. They leave themselves open to the obvious criticism that they are objecting only to the use of the M word – call it something else, not marriage, and we’re fine with it. What a ridiculous and ignorant position to hold.

Already, in The Children and Family Relationships Bill, it is proposed to remove mention of mothers and fathers from a whole raft of previous legislation.
Ed: and precisely where is the episcopal outrage at this proposal?

We encourage everyone to think about these issues and to vote on May 22nd.
Ed: excuse me?  You “encourage” the souls in your care to “think about these issues” and to vote… eh… how? on May 22nd? What’s to think about? There’s only one way for any Catholic to vote – isn’t there?  Why not say so? What is WRONG with you men? Are you faithless? Cowards? What then?

The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations.
Ed: the effects of this proposed amendment will be far reaching in eternity!  Or don’t you believe that?

We say to all voters: Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it.
Ed:  unbelievable.  What the Irish Bishops SHOULD be saying to all voters is: do NOT change the Constitution on marriage and if you vote to do so, be prepared to, literally, take the heat in eternity.  Afraid this would be counter productive? You forget about the grace of God and anyway, that’s not your concern. Your duty is to proclaim the truth, to warn of the consequences of defying God’s law, and then be at peace. How you can sleep at night having published such a wimpish statement on such a crucial issue, is a mystery to beat any Mystery of Faith.

We invite people of faith to bring this decision to prayer.  In the coming weeks, and particularly in May, the month of Mary, we call for prayer for Marriage and the Family.  END.
Ed: O, give it a rest. Throwing in a mention of prayer at the end, doesn’t fool anyone of even average intelligence.  It’s a very true saying that when the Faith goes, the Morals quickly follow.  We’ve known for a long time now that the Bishops of Ireland, like the Bishops of the UK have long since lost the Catholic Faith if ever they truly held to it. 

In conclusion…

Catholics of Ireland – there is only ONE way for you to vote in the forthcoming referendum on same-sex “marriage” and you have a duty to cast that vote – NO! NO! NO!  

Comments invited…

Bishop Williamson – Excommunicated!

BpWilliamsonwebsite

Illicit Consecration revealed by Rorate going on in Brazil at this moment

French blog Riposte Catholique mentions today that the Consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure (a former member of the Society of Saint Pius X) by Bishop Richard Williamson (expelled from the same Society in 2012) was to have been kept secret – until Rorate revealed it to the world in a worldwide exclusive text, forcing the hand of those involved who had to admit it would take place.

 Why was it kept secret? Probably because those involved wished to present the event as a fait accompli. As Riposte Catholique also informs, the Nunciature in Brazil informed those involved of the canonical penalties that will be applied as a consequence of the act.

 ***

 The act is taking place right now in Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, exactly as Rorate had revealed (thanks to our very reliable sources, as our readers can now verify by themselves).

 A Spanish-language blog of the so-called “Resistance”  (former members and associates of the SSPX, that left that Society due to the contacts with the Holy See) is covering the ongoing event and posting images, such as the one below.  Source

Comment

There can be no justification for what Bishop Williamson is doing today, beyond the need to keep himself in the headlines. Quoting himself on his website banner doesn’t seem to have cut the mustard, so something had to be done, I suppose. Still, a schismatic act, when there is no state of emergency to meet the conditions in Canon Law, means automatic excommunication.   The only good thing that may come of this, is that some, at least, of the SSPX faithful who followed this arrogant rebel in his daft “resistance” (to nothing) movement may now come to their senses.  That’s what I think – what about you?

Update:  the illicit consecration did take place, so the penalty of automatic excommunication applies. 

A Very Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

Dear St Joseph, pure and gentle,
guardian of the Saviour child,
Treading, with the virgin mother,
Egypt’s deserts rough and wild.

Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

He who rested on thy bosom
is by countless saints adored,
Prostrate angels in his presence
sing hosannahs to their Lord.

Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Now to thee, no gift refusing,
Jesus stoops to hear thy prayer;
Then, dear saint, from thy fair dwelling,
give to us a father’s care.

Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Dear St Joseph, kind and loving,
stretch to us a helping hand;
guide us through life’s toils and sorrows
safely to the distant land.

Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Comment:

Share your favourite prayers and stories about St Joseph.
He is a very powerful saint indeed,
but not a lot of people know that
so let’s spread the word…

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

St PatrickSNAKESHail, Glorious St Patrick

Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, dear saint of our Isle,   On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile;   And now thou art high in the mansions above,  On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

On Erin’s green valleys, on Erin’s green valleys,   On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, thy words were once strong  Against Satan’s wiles and an infidel throng;   Not less is thy might where in heaven thou art;   O, come to our aid, in our battle take part.

O come to our aid, O come to our aid, O come to our aid, in our battle take part.

In the war against sin, in the fight for the faith,   Dear saint, may thy children resist unto death;   May their strength be in meekness, in penance, their prayer,   Their banner the cross which they glory to bear.

Their banner the cross, their banner the cross, their banner the cross which they glory to bear.

Thy people, now exiles on many a shore,   Shall love and revere thee till time be no more;   And the fire thou hast kindled shall ever burn bright,   Its warmth undiminished, undying its light.

Its warmth undiminished, its warmth undiminished, its warmth undiminished, undying its light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,   Where the shamrock still blooms as when thou wert on earth,   And our hearts shall yet burn, wherever we roam,   For God and Saint Patrick, and our native home.

For God and Saint Patrick,   for God and Saint Patrick, for God and Saint Patrick, and our native home. shamrock

Comment

Ireland is in a terrible state these days, in terms of the Faith. They have a referendum on same-sex marriage  looming, with all the polls showing a likely victory for its proponents.  Yet, Irish missionaries have spread the Faith worldwide and the faithful persevered (think “Mass rocks”) during times of persecution.   Little wonder, then, that Satan is working his diabolical disorientation on them big time and with bells on, during this dreadful crisis in the Church.

This thread, then, is to allow us to remember to pray for Ireland on this national Feast Day, but also to  share our favourite prayers, hymns, memories and – yes, we MUST have some – jokes!  I’m not sure this will be generally known outside of Ireland, but, as we (in the UK) prepare for a General Election, it might be helpful to our politicians to know that unemployment has been virtually wiped out in Ireland because they have raised the school leaving age to 65…

Cardinal O’Brien Scandal: Update…

Report into Cardinal O’Brien is with the Pope and ‘hot enough to burn the varnish off his desk’  Cardinal O'Brien2 16 March 2015 10:52 by Brian Morton

The Church in Scotland has responded to media reports suggesting that the Church is “sitting on” a report on allegations regarding Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh who stood down in 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh said that Pope Francis had “tried his very best to handle the case of Cardinal O’Brien with great justice and compassion” and was now considering the report. “We hope and trust that he will reach a decision that is fair and just to everybody involved,” the spokesman said.

Following public accusations by a number of priests and one former priest, and following the cardinal’s resignation, the Pope appointed Bishop – now Archbishop – Scicluna, to speak to all those involved and report back to the Vatican.

One of the men who have accused Cardinal O’Brien of inappropriate sexual conduct said that despite Archbishop Scicluna’s report being “hot enough to burn the varnish” off the Pope’s desk, the Church was moving with “glacial” speed when it came to making public its findings.

The cardinal’s alleged victim expressed disgust that while a parish in Edinburgh was being closed, the Archdiocese had reportedly spent £200,000 on a retirement home for Cardinal O’Brien, in Northumberland.

The statement explained that the decision to buy a property for Cardinal O’Brien was made by the Archdiocese’s trustees “in accordance with their obligations to make provision for elderly clergy in line with similar provision in place with other retired clergy and after taking appropriate professional advice.” The archdiocese retains deeds on the property bought for Cardinal O’Brien and it is understood that funds from any future sale of the house will be returned to the Archdiocese’s accounts.  Source

Comment

To the best of my knowledge, the identities of the Cardinal’s accusers are still not officially in the public domain, although just about everyone knows someone who knows who they are, so maybe “hot enough to burn the varnish off [the Pope’s] desk” signals disclosure, in full, at last. Then, we can make a judgement about the credibility (or otherwise) of the Cardinal’s accusers, who have been treated, to date, as victims.  Be that as it may, we ought to pray now for all involved, as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St Patrick tomorrow. Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien is – unsurprisingly with a name like that! – Irish-born, so if even more publicity is looming on publication of the “hot” report on the pontiff’s desk, we ought to ask the great Saint Patrick to intercede for him.   

Update

Friday, 20th March

Click here to read statement from Scottish Catholic Media Office

Click here to read statement from Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien

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