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Pope Francis takes his critics to the woodshed

Pope Francis washes the feet of inmates on March 29, 2018, during his visit to the Regina Coeli detention center in Rome, where he celebrated the "Missa in Coena Domini." Francis' visit to a prison on Holy Thursday to wash the feet of some inmates stresses a pre-Easter ritual that a pope must serve society's marginalized and give them hope. (Vatican Media via AP)

(RNS) — “Rejoice and Exult!” is the title of the latest apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis, but it will elicit no rejoicing or exultation from the Catholic right in this country. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s “seamless garment” — aka “the consistent ethic of life” — is back, big time.

At the heart of the pope’s relatively short document, released earlier this week, are several trenchant paragraphs (101-103) rebuking the “ideological error” of those “who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend.”

Francis’ case in point is nothing less than the anti-abortion cause. “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate,” he writes. But their lives do not have ethical priority over the “equally sacred” lives of the destitute, the infirm, the victims of human trafficking and (especially, these days) the migrant.

We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children.

This is a sharply pointed version of the speech Bernardin gave at Fordham University 35 years ago, the purpose of which was to argue that the American bishops’ recent pastoral letter on nuclear war, “The Challenge of Peace,” needed to be seen as of a piece with the church’s teaching on abortion. Catholic social teaching was, on this account, a “seamless garment,” a “consistent ethic of life.”

Bernardin’s integrated approach came under sustained attack from Catholic conservatives, who were anxious to move the church away from progressive causes toward a culture wars agenda with abortion receiving pride of place.

In the course of the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they mostly had their way. In 2011, John Paul biographer George Weigel could write an article for the journal First Things titled “The End of the Bernardin Era.” The subtitle? “The Rise, Dominance, and Decline of a Culturally Accommodating Catholicism.”

Since the election of Francis, leading conservative prelates have sought to hold the anti-Bernardin line. Cardinal Raymond Burke, whom Francis removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court, takes the position that “questions regarding immigration and poverty” have a lower priority than “the question of human life itself.”

Similarly, Archbishop Charles Chaput, while paying lip service to the seamless garment, asserts, “Humanity’s priority right — the one that undergirds all other rights— is the right to life.”

“Rejoice and Exult” is magisterial teaching from the church’s highest authority that says otherwise. The ball is now in the anti-Francis court.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

65 Comments

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  • It’s always hilarious to hear liberals who’ve spent their entire lives openly loathing and rejecting every magisterial teaching they didn’t like (as well as nearly every canonical doctrine declared before Vatican II) now demanding that genuinely faithful Catholics bow down and obey the rantings and ravings of Francis the Talking Mule.

  • Here’s what the bishops and pope need to address ASAP before their religion implodes:

    • The inadequate response to the inappropriate conduct of many priests, the emotional stress on the victims, the resultant $1 billion in lawsuits and bankrupt dioceses.

    • The lack of talent in the priesthood, the lack of Vatican response to the historic Jesus movement, the Church’s continuing to cling to original sin and the resulting subsets of crazy ideas like baptism and limbo.

    • The denial of priesthood to women, the restriction of priesthood to single men (unless they are former Episcopalian priests), the continued chain of Vatican “leadership” by old white men and natural “birth control” leading to many unplanned pregnancies and resultant abortions.

    • Uncontrolled suffering of the elderly and infirm that need not be and unrealistic dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, atonement and papal infallibility.

  • An idiotic comment, which seems to be par for the course for you.
    The Episcopal Church has already followed all of these things you insist must be ‘addressed’ – they have women priests, married priests, they hate old white men just like you do, they love abortion, birth control and sexual deviancy, and they hate traditional Christian truths such as original sin, baptism, and atonement.
    The result? They’re a mere blink of an eye away from complete extinction. Their churches are empty and being sold off to become mosques (enjoy THAT future, liberals), they make no new converts at all, and the pitiful few that remain are elderly and near death.
    Just admit that you want their ‘religion to implode’, just as religious people rejoice in the fact that the percentage of atheists worldwide is also plummeting.

  • The Episcopal Church is imploding because of its foundation built on the horror of Henry VIII.

    Regarding atheists and non-believers worldwide:

    http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    Religion…………………………Adherents

    Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

    Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

    Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

    Hinduism 900 million

    Chinese traditional religion 394 million

    Buddhism 376 million

    Animist religions 300 million

    African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million

    Sikhism 23 million

    Juche 19 million

    Spiritism 15 million

    Judaism……………………………………..
    14 million

    Baha’i 7 million

    Jainism 4.2 million

    Shinto 4 million

    Cao Dai 4 million

    Zoroastrianism 2.6 million

    Tenrikyo 2 million

    Neo-Paganism 1 million

    Unitarian Universalism 800,000

    Rastafari Movement 600,000

  • Pro-life advocates (aka “conservatives) were not happy to see the Church move away from so-called “progressive” issues and into the midst of a “culture war”. They simply realize a certain undeniable truth; that not all moral issues carry the exact same weight. One can see the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Evangelium Vitae for details.

    As both St. John Paul II and His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI correctly and irrefutably noted, without fundamental protection of the right to life of the most innocent among us, all other “rights” become illusory and subject to elimination at the whim of whoever holds political power.

    The so-called Seamless Garment approach mixes moral absolutes; the right to life of the innocent, euthanasia, and marriage and family, with issues that are subject to the application of prudential judgment in the formation of public policy. Resurrecting this inherently flawed teaching will not make it any more true and binding on a Catholic conscience, than when it was first proposed by Cardinal Bernardin. The most innocent among us, the unborn, deserve protection and need the voices of their defenders to be heard loud and clear. Muting this defense by in effect, proposing it as an “issue” among many abandons them to their cruel fate. If you think otherwise, ask yourself how many passionate advocates of open borders, or defenders of the welfare state bureaucracy will suddenly experience qualms of conscience over the fate of the most innocent among us; the innocent and helpless unborn. I submit the numbers will be few.

  • Ahhhh. You won’t hear much from those Catholics who applaud Pope Francis’ insistence on the “seamless garment” approach, but there are millions of us. There is a well organized and well funded voice of those who don’t think their salvation depends on also feeding the hungry, clothing the naked – on love of neighbor. They let them starve, die, live in need and loneliness (and probably blame them for their situation because they didn’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps) – all to focus on one issue. Many U.S. bishops have paved the way for this – wallowing in earthly power, seeking more of it even when it means they lead the faithful away from God’s commandment to love and care for one another.

    Pope Francis has to overcome the terrible years of the narrow, negative, absolutism of JPII and BXVI and lead Catholics back to recognizing the realities of life today, as it is lived today, as it has changed from a century ago, much less 500, 1000, 2000 years ago. Step by step, Francis is making a difference. We need him to help us return to recognizing the loving and merciful God and living out the love and mercy we receive from Him by treating our neighbors with love and mercy.

  • The innocent unborn are our neighbor, and as naked as one can possibly be. And, they are often left to die, often without so much as a remorseful sigh from many of the Catholics of whom you speak. It doesn’t get much lonelier or desperate than that.

    Your post suggests that perhaps the notion of “many parts, one body” is lost on you and others as well. Church teaching, fully consistent as it is on scripture, realizes that not all have the same charism, or calling, or talents, and that each will use their God given gifts in service of the Church, Christ’s disciples and the poor and broken of our world. Your caricature of pro-life work speaks ill of your mindset, but sadly it’s shared by many both in the Church and without.

    A good rule of thumb as to whether or not we’re doing the Lord’s work; if the world is happy with us and cheering us on, something’s wrong. A Christian, in service to God and His Church, will always know the scorn of the world. Such is and will be the case with those who fight the unpopular fight for the innocent unborn. They will always be an inconvenience for those of a political mindset. They are not favored by the world of journalism, entertainment, academia, politics, and regrettably, many within the Body of Christ. But Truth lives.

    There are none more in need of a voice than these silent, helpless, wholly innocent, tiny unborn lives. There are those of us to fully intend not to let their condition disappear into the morass of “issues” which though important, have less urgency than the fundamental right to life itself. I’ll start believing in the “Seamless Garment” when I see its adherents gathering in promoters of the bureaucratic social welfare state, open borders and the like and amassing their resources, talents and votes to actually attain legal protection for the unborn. In my opinion that day will not be coming soon if ever. The reason? However well intended Cardinal Bernardin may have been, this approach has always been badly flawed, combining as it does matters that don’t fall within the scope of the same moral principles; something that no one schooled in Church teaching as had any trouble understanding. Until now.

  • Uh-oh. I see you are setting yourself up for the hyper conservatives to damn you to hell. I’ve not seen much more vitriol directed at any religious leader than I see directed at Francis.

    But I agree with you 100%, especially about the bishops. Power, money, and dominion seem to fascinate religious conservatives. Not mention revenge.

  • I submit that you are a hyper conservative who picks a few hot button issues. The most innocent among us? So now we assign degrees of innocence to determine who has rights. And yet, the church still opposes birth control, which if universally supported and applied, would drastically reduce the number of abortions.

    I’m not catholic. I don’t wish to be catholic. Take care of your own, but even they don’t listen to you. Stop telling the rest of us how to live our lives.

  • Slander and reviling. Par for that course.

    Catholicism is declining, as are all religions in the west. Hell and damnation and fear sell a lot better than love thy neighbor. For that reason, conservative religions are declining less quickly than liberal religions, but declining they are.

  • yet he teaches nothing on becoming a Christian and how to do it. In fact, one article suggested there is more than one way – showing a frightening lack of knowledge on the matter.

  • If it’s Oakland Cal you’re from I’m sure you fit in rather nicely. If not, I’m sure they’d love to meet your company.

    Your conclusions are non-sequiturs so I won’t bother to address them.

    Who are the “us” of which you speak? At the risk of pushing that “hot button” of which you wrote, I’d guess that your conception of who comprises humanity is rather warped and omits the most vulnerable among us.

    The unborn child about to be butchered would be only too happy to have someone telling him/her how to live their life instead of telling them it’s time to die.

  • The immigrant seeking refuge, the person in prison, the person who is ill and cannot afford the cancer treatments, the hungry child, the DACA youth who stay in the only culture they know but are separated from the parents who are forced to leave – all of these are in need of those who will help them, listen to them, have someone care about them and be their voice in a world that does not care. I think what Pope Francis wants us to do is stop focusing on one evil while another and another grows all around us and we ignore those who suffer from these evils.

    We need to find a middle ground on abortion. It isn’t going away as an issue for women, who want to control the uses of their bodies and for those who think the fetus in the womb is a fully human child that has precedence over the life/health of the woman. What we will not end up with is the absolute ban on abortion you want. What I think we can work toward is something close to what is done in many European countries, where abortion is available without restrictions for up to 10 to 12 to 15 weeks (?) and then is permissible afterward to protect the health/life of the mother and in case of fetal defects. Of course, most of those countries also assure women have access to health care and have basic necessities assured – food, clothing, shelter. We will end up somewhere in this area when we stop being absolutists on both sides and recognize that both sides have some important points.

  • I know, Ben. But sometimes it just seems important to interrupt the repetitive bleating comments that say the same thing over and over. If someone new comes to RNS and they don’t see some other viewpoints expressed, they might think everyone who comes here agrees with the commenters. Oh, how far from the truth that is. But more important to me is to promote the idea that deeply held faith, including but not limited to Christianity, is not lived as some cultish, robotic, thoughtless, rules based, fearful thing. Faith lived is full of confusion, uncertainty, successes and failures. Faith lived is always reaching and not ever thinking that one has some perfect faith answer.

  • A middle ground on abortion? If someone proposed to kill you and I opposed it, what would be the middle ground? It’s an immediate life and death issue.

    A just culture must promote and defend a culture of life, as St. John Paul II taught us, and that starts with an uncompromising defense of the most helpless and innocent among us, the unborn. In one of many of his great apostolic letters he taught this inviolate and undeniable principle: “”…the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”
    St. John Paul II-Christifideles Laici (1988)-

    Absolutely no one is proposing ignoring the plight of those who suffer in our world. To suggest otherwise is to create a false dichotomy. To note correctly that morally speaking, the innocent unborn have the greatest claim to protection as the most vulnerable and helpless is to note nothing but a simple irrefutable fact.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes clearly the principles at work in protecting the rights and duties of migrants and the nations to which they seek to enter. Further, the plight of those potential migrants at greatest risk in our world today, Christians seeking a haven from genocidal violence in Syria and Iraq, and throughout the Muslim world, gather little if any attention and sympathy in the West. It would be great if their specific and unique plight received direct attention from our political and religious leadership. Alas, it’s not politically expedient to talk of them, so they receive little attention.

  • I fully believe that a religion reporter needs to directly ask Francis what he really believes — and does NOT believe — about Jesus, salvation, the Gospel, heaven, and hell.

    No more free passes or assumptions.

  • Chris C does not speak for all Catholics. A majority of Catholics use contraceptives, think civil gay marriage is the right thing to do, think women priests is a good idea, believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases, and so much more. Catholics come in a cafeteria of flavors, styles – we are not all the same, despite what bishops may claim or what Chris C may imply. And tens of millions of us love what Pope Francis is doing in leading us to affirm again our trust in the love and mercy of God, in recognizing that as God’s children we are all brothers and sisters, that we should care for each other as the brothers and sisters we truly are. It is time for massive change in how we think about a number of issues. Pope Francis is laying the groundwork to make change acceptable after attempt to shut the door following Vatican II.

  • Don’t play all high and mighty. The danger with the narrow focus is that many will support a politics that says it will help forbid abortion but will also deny the refugee, refuse health care to those who need it, promote guns that increasingly kill more and more innocent people, pollute the world, promote racism.

    But more than the way the anti-abortion crowd has been subsumed by the racist and misogynists. there is also a real need to recognize that women in today’s world live lives vastly different from the past. They are educated, responsible, work, have careers as well as families. They use contraceptives to plan their families. Some women have pregnancies that are a danger to health/life/welfare of the woman and her family and some seek an abortion to protect any or all of that. Their lives matter, what they want for their lives matters, and the ability to manage and direct their lives matters. They are more than their wombs, their value lies in more than their wombs.

    Regardless of what the catechism of the church says, a majority of Catholics support keeping abortion legal, just as they support using contraceptives. I am reminded of what a Catholic woman in Mississippi said several years ago when asked about her vote to keep abortion legal. She said she doesn’t support the idea of abortion for any reason but she also didn’t trust the laws to be written in a way to protect a woman when she needed one, if her health was affected or if she was raped. She said you cannot always know all the reasons why – but that decision needs to be up to the woman, her husband, doctor, and spiritual advisor.

    She wanted to keep her options open. I am absolutely with her on that.

  • If the only topic on the Catholic Christian table was the Pro-Life issue, then yes, I would agree that the “Rejoice” document was a true “woodshed” document.

    Simply take off the cleats when you (correctly) jump on the pro-choicers. Show mercy and compassion (and Scripture) to those who are tempted. Care for the needs of poor babies, kids, mothers, and offer much-needed healing to aborted women (and that last phrase is a true phrase all over America.)

    BUT….abortion is NOT the only issue on today’s table, is it? Somebody done messed up bigtime, directly bucking Jesus himself, and that’s the real reason for the current messed-up gig at hand.

  • Honestly? I used to accept automatically that Francis was Christian, but I can no longer tell what deep-down religion Francis really belongs to.

    No insult or spite here, but it almost looks like a unique (and fatal) chemical mix of Universalism, Socialism and Gay Marriage, with a dollop of standard Catholic Christian rhetoric to get reluctant holdouts to swallow it all.

  • On the other hand you didn’t have to wait for the “hyper conservatives” to damn you to hell.

    The only thing you really notice about “religious conservatives” is they reject your lifestyle as a moral choice.

    You could write everything else you know about religion on large print on a 3.5 x 5 ” notepad, one side only.

  • When you write “(r)egardless of what the catechism of the church says, a majority of Catholics support keeping abortion legal”, you seem to support the conclusion that you’ve separated yourself from the flock in a significant way on an important issue.

    One would assume you also believe that whether to euthanize the ill is up to the person or their family, their doctor, and whatever advisor(s) that please(s) them.

  • I don’t believe that to be true, but one hears very little about salvation from this particular Pontiff.

  • If the topic was prudent politics you’d still be wrong but at least your post would be of some relevance, as it is you miss the point altogether. The topic isn’t what’s politically expedient, it’s fidelity to Catholic teaching, which isn’t subject to polls or accountable to public opinion but to God almighty. That’s not “high and mighty” but simple truth.

  • When pro-life people vote pro-life, it’s “politics.”

    When “seamless garment” people vote for pro-abortion Democrats, it’s not “politics.”

    Riiiiight.

    The “seamless garment” never had any purpose other than slandering pro-life politicians (They want kill the poor and Blow Up the World!) and helping Catholics rationalize voting for abortionists.

    Now that the pope is as complacent about abortion as most American bishops have always been, the “seamless garment” remains the same diabolical slogan it has always been.

  • I don’t intend to “speak for all Catholics” only those who are faithful to the teaching of Christ as promulgated by the Magisterium of the Church which He founded. And those who:”use contraceptives, think civil gay marriage is the right thing to do, think women priests is a good idea, believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases” etc, are not faithful Catholics but dissidents who need to repent of their sinful beliefs and practices and obey Christ our Lord. And I think Pope Francis would, or at least should, be greatly scandalized if he heard that you, as an advocate of these dissident views, were taking comfort in what he is doing and attempting to “make change acceptable” along the lines you outlined. Trusting in the love and mercy of God and recognizing and caring for our neighbor as we do ourselves is not in doubt and never had been. We haven’t needed Pope Francis to affirm these duties. And by the way, your neighbor most certainly includes the innocent unborn. If you don’t understand that you don’t understand the fundamentals or Catholic moral teaching, nor are you even familiar with what the Pope wrote in his most recent papal work.

  • What the pope and Mark Silk are saying is: “All persons are of equal value. Therefore, being poor is just as bad as being murdered. So vote for pro-abortion politicians.”

  • Frances, the Vicar of Christ, selected by the College of Cardinals as were his forebears. His election wasn’t any different than P6, JP1, JP2, or B16. We all saw the smoke.

  • I am a part of the flock, who do not hold all teachings as true or absolute or applicable in the civil world. And that is tens of millions of Catholics. Despite what you and some others seem to think, Catholics do have some teachings that they do not accept and I suspect that has always been true.

    I do believe that individuals can make a choice to end their lives in the face of continuing suffering and imminent death. I do NOT believe that enduring continuous pain is required or even smiled upon by God as some sort of sacrifice to make one worthy of His love. He does not require our pain to love us. I also think that someone can find the idea of being drugged into senselessness for days on end in order to avoid the pain – to be unnecessary and not something God requires. I get a fear that allowing people who are already dying to choose a faster end is scary. I don’t want people to be talked into it, persuaded against their will. And I don’t think it should be allowed for someone who is not facing near death and pain – in other words a way to suicide when not facing very soon a painful death.

  • Catholics are not free to pick and choose which teachings they accept and which they deny. I speak of formal teaching, not the personal views or prudential judgements of Bishops and Popes.

    Those who advocate euthanasia should review what’s happening in Europe and of late in Canada as well. Initially it was to be for those facing imminent death and without hope of recovery. No longer. It’s not limited to those who make specific requests either. The most notable example is in the Netherlands but there are examples from Belgium and Great Britain as well. Further, conscience rights for objecting practitioners is in great peril in Canada.

  • “One hears very little about salvation from the RCC and this pope,” one can hear folks moaning (and lying) now in online forums in response to this papal statement. Here are some direct quotes from “Rejoice and Be Glad”:

    1. “The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for ‘it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness.’”

    2. “In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people.”

    3. “Yet with this Exhortation I would like to insist primarily on the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to each of us, the call that he also addresses, personally, to you: ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (Lev 11:44; cf. 1 Pet 1:16). The Second Vatican Council stated this clearly: ‘Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord – each in his or her own way – to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect.'”

    4. “Naturally, this attitude of listening entails obedience to the Gospel as the ultimate standard, but also to the Magisterium that guards it, as we seek to find in the treasury of the Church whatever is most fruitful for the “today” of salvation. It is not a matter of applying rules or repeating what was done in the past, since the same solutions are not valid in all circumstances and what was useful in one context may not prove so in another. The discernment of spirits liberates us from rigidity, which has no place before the perennial ‘today’ of the risen Lord.”

    5. “Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance. He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted simply because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others. Unless we wish to sink into an obscure mediocrity, let us not long for an easy life, for ‘whoever would save his life will lose it’ (Mt 16:25).

    The reality is, some people simply do not want or intend to hear this and other deeply traditional, historic summaries of what salvation is about, from a Christian perspective. The pope’s summation of what holiness is all about — “Seeing and acting with mercy: that is holiness” — can not be anything but utterly offensive to people who do not intend to live wtih mercy or to aim at mercy, but who prefer to build their notion of Christian “salvation” around the idea of hating enemies — Muslims, Jews, immigrants, “lazy” poor folks, LGBTQ people, liberals and Democrats, uppity women: you name it.

    That’s the kind of “Christianity” and “Christian salvation” that gets the juices of a certain kind of “Christian” flowing — not this dreary traditional stuff with its talk about mercy and discernment and listening to Jesus and the Spirit.

  • Tens of millions of folks born and raised Catholic are going to hell. Others are not.

    You seem to be of the opinion that safety lies in large numbers. I beg to differ.

    Since Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, what the “civil world” has to do with it is not clear.

    I appreciate the fact that you freely admit you’ve parted ways with your titular church.

    It would be more honest, then, to present those positions which separate your beliefs from its teachings as differing straightaway rather than presenting them as just one more acceptable version of that particular manifestation of Christianity, ala Richard McBrien.

  • God is the most prolific abortionist humanity has ever known
    Millions upon millions of natural miscarriages occur worldwide daily.

  • The Pope literally is the man of sin- Biblical truth 2 Thessalonians 3:3-8. The Vatican and Pope, Papacy are symbolically the first beast of Revelation 13 and the second beast of Revelation 13 is the USA.

  • Francis’ words the hierarchy will ignore:

    All are called to holiness
    each in his or her own way.

    It is important that
    each one discern his or her
    own path,
    that they bring out the very best of themselves.

    St John of the Cross
    preferred to avoid hard and fast rules
    for all.

    We are all called to be holy
    by living our lives in love.

    Do not abandon the path of love.

    Everything
    can be accepted
    and integrated into our life
    and become part of our path
    to holiness.

    Every moment
    can be an expression
    of self-sacrificing love.

    When somebody
    has an answer for every question,
    it is a sign
    they are not on the right road.

    God
    is mysteriously present
    in the life
    of every person.

    There legitimately coexist
    different ways
    of interpreting many aspects
    of Church doctrine.

    Doctrine
    is not a closed system
    devoid of the dynamic capacity
    to pose questions,
    doubts, inquiries.

    Theology and Holiness
    are inseparable.

    We need to acknowledge
    jubilantly
    that our life
    is essentially
    a gift
    and
    Freedom a grace.

    The life of the Church
    can become a museum piece
    or a possession of a select few.
    This can occur
    when Christians give excessive importance
    to rules, customs, or ways of acting.

    Love is the fulfillment of the law.

    In welcoming the stranger,
    we welcome Jesus.

    The ultimate criterion
    on which our lives will be judged
    is what we have done for others.

    Nothing can destroy
    the supernatural Joy
    that adapts and changes.

    Do not deprive yourself
    of a happy day.

    Holiness is boldness
    to leave a mark on this world,
    boldness, enthusiasm,
    the freedom to speak out.

    God is eternal newness,
    impelling us constantly
    to set out anew,
    beyond what is familiar,
    to the fringes,
    and beyond.

    Complacency is seductive,
    telling us
    there is no point in trying to change things,
    that there is nothing we can do
    because this is the way things have always been.

    Let us rethink
    our usual ways of doing things,
    so as not to be complacent
    about things as they are.

    Stop trying to make our Christian life
    a museum of memories.

    Along the journey,
    the cultivation of all that is good,
    progress in the spiritual life
    and growth in love
    are the best counterbalance to evil.

    Those who remain neutral
    will never hold out.

    Discernment
    seeks a glimpse
    of the unique and mysterious plan
    God has for each of us.

    Prayerful Discernment
    must be born of a readiness to Listen,
    to God and to others,
    to reality itself
    which always challenges us
    in new ways.

    It is not a matter of
    applying rules
    or repeating what was done in the past.
    The discernment of spirits
    liberated us from rigidity.

    Happiness is a paradox.

    No areas in life
    can be off limits.

    Let us encourage one another.

    All are called to holiness
    each in his or her own way.

    It is important that
    each one discern his or her
    own path,
    that they bring out the very best of themselves.

    St John of the Cross
    preferred to avoid hard and fast rules
    for all.

    We are all called to be holy
    by living our lives in love.

    Do not abandon the path of love.

    Everything
    can be accepted
    and integrated into our life
    and become part of our path
    to holiness.

    Every moment
    can be an expression
    of self-sacrificing love.

    When somebody
    has an answer for every question,
    it is a sign
    they are not on the right road.

    God
    is mysteriously present
    in the life
    of every person.

    There legitimately coexist
    different ways
    of interpreting many aspects
    of Church doctrine.

    Doctrine
    is not a closed system
    devoid of the dynamic capacity
    to pose questions,
    doubts, inquiries.

    Theology and Holiness
    are inseparable.

    We need to acknowledge
    jubilantly
    that our life
    is essentially
    a gift
    and
    Freedom a grace.

    The life of the Church
    can become a museum piece
    or a possession of a select few.
    This can occur
    when Christians give excessive importance
    to rules, customs, or ways of acting.

    Love is the fulfillment of the law.

    In welcoming the stranger,
    we welcome Jesus.

    The ultimate criterion
    on which our lives will be judged
    is what we have done for others.

    Nothing can destroy
    the supernatural Joy
    that adapts and changes.

    Do not deprive yourself
    of a happy day.

    Holiness is boldness
    to leave a mark on this world,
    boldness, enthusiasm,
    the freedom to speak out.

    God is eternal newness,
    impelling us constantly
    to set out anew,
    beyond what is familiar,
    to the fringes,
    and beyond.

    Complacency is seductive,
    telling us
    there is no point in trying to change things,
    that there is nothing we can do
    because this is the way things have always been.

    Let us rethink
    our usual ways of doing things,
    so as not to be complacent
    about things as they are.

    Stop trying to make our Christian life
    a museum of memories.

    Along the journey,
    the cultivation of all that is good,
    progress in the spiritual life
    and growth in love
    are the best counterbalance to evil.

    Those who remain neutral
    will never hold out.

    Discernment
    seeks a glimpse
    of the unique and mysterious plan
    God has for each of us.

    Prayerful Discernment
    must be born of a readiness to Listen,
    to God and to others,
    to reality itself
    which always challenges us
    in new ways.

    It is not a matter of
    applying rules
    or repeating what was done in the past.
    The discernment of spirits
    liberated us from rigidity.

    Happiness is a paradox.

    No areas in life
    can be off limits.

    Let us encourage one another.

  • It’s time for the Catholic Church to divorce itself from government politics. Pro Life means being a Republican. Pro Life has become Republican Politics. Trump, Romney, and Giuliani all Pro Choice until they run for President as a Republican, all hypocrites. Texas Catholic Bishops have broken away from the Texas State Pro Life Group because the State Pro Life Groups have become A Republican Political Front.
    When Jesus was asked what is the Greatest Commandment, he answered to Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind. He then answered the Second Greatest is to Love your Neighbor as yourself. The Second Greatest Commandment is Pope Francis Message to the Pro Life Conservative Political Groups.

  • Ending the discussion:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • I would argue that the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests intend to teach by example as well as the Word. Whether you believe they succeed or not is a different matter.

  • Out of curiosity Mark, why are you asking? The points being addressed wouldn’t be more or less true or relevant if I was so raised or converted later. Is it mere idle curiosity on your part or is there a purpose to your question?

  • Setting an example will not get a person into the Kingdom of Heaven. Turning to Christ, repenting and following Him, is how we start a relationship with Christ.

  • Indeed but zeal for the faith doesn’t equate with being either a “cradle Catholic” or a convert. You’ll find many in either camp who are zealous. Likewise many who are lukewarm. Sadly also many who have fallen away altogether.

  • He won’t tell you the truth directly, Floydlee. He employs double-speak. He will say one thing and then his actions say another. You assume goodwill and integrity in asking that.
    There is a prophecy which I think applies perfectly to Francis. (Actually there are plenty but I will stick with one). “Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it…” St Francis of Assisi

  • “the teaching of Christ” and “that promulgated by the Magisterium of the Church” are not the same thing .

    what is promulgated by the magisterium is what is needful for the time and place . some of may be exactly the teaching of the christ : that would be needful for all times and places .

    but several of the subjects you spoke of : contraception, gay marriage women priests were not spoken of by jesus or even implied . they are customary , not traditional in the strict sense . and are subject to reinterpretation as the church finds useful .

    “what things you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven .”

  • The subjects of which I spoke concern intrinsic evils. There are no circumstances under which they are permissible regardless of time and place. Faithful Catholics agree. Dissidents are in revolt over these matters and others as well.

  • intrinsic evil is a scholastic term that simply does not relate to the possibility of women priests . that would be a discussion of whether or not tradition applies . we know that women were deacons in the early church . the question of women priests must yet be had .

    for contraception or gay marriage the issue is the understanding of natural law . there is no dogmatic position possible here . your “dissidents are in revolt…” is nonsense in this context . the salient question is our understanding of natural philosophy and our knowledge today of the scientia used for the premises that would or would not give rise to any such conclusion .

  • Technically correct about women priests, but the matter is firmly settled theologically. And the only office they held in the early Church was for the singular purpose of assisting females with the procedure of baptism, nothing else. Without that qualification your assertion is highly misleading.

    And whether informed by natural law or not, the matter is doctrinally settled at the magisterial level. Those who refuse to accept and hold such teachings are disobedient to Catholic teaching on matters of morals. That they think they “know better” than the Church is irrelevant.

  • not amusing . sad to see a person who sees themselves as a “genuinely faithful Catholic” calling out the pope as “the rantings and ravings of Francis the Talking Mule .”

    that you disagree with him . i have no problem . i disagreed often with john paul ii and benedict xvi . it is the right and duty i think for the good catholic to speak to concerns of the church . i am amused now that conservatives are now the cafeteria catholics . but it is good .

    the church will survive us all and be stronger for it .

    a little civility though wouldn’t hurt.

  • “…a unique … mix of Universalism, Socialism and Gay Marriage….”

    wow . catholic of course means universal . so one way or another the church must be involved in bringing the whole world together in christ . but socialism is an economic system . the church will not embrace that any more than it embraces captialism . and gay marriage is a social situation that must be decided on the best public policy possible . again not a church issue .

    francis remains catholic, though are you ? do you really believe that you are more theologically correct than the pope ?

  • I keep wondering about the guilty unborn. Why does this discussion about abortion ALWAYS have to be slanted in advance by definitions that exclude rational thought. In other words, “If you don’t accept MY emotionally slanted definitions of the issue, you are automatically wrong.”

  • You have provided no examples to illustrate what you mean. This reads simply like a quibble against whatever caricature exists in your own mind.

  • arthur, the pope said nothing like that .

    the pope suggested that a christian can focus on more than one issue at a time and attempt to get politicians to stop forcing people to vote for a either/or choice .

  • “And the only office they held in the early Church was….”

    and those 12 poor people on the vatican’s “Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate” have been laboring for 18 months to learn what you know . pick up the phone . give them a call .

    “…the matter is doctrinally settled at the magisterial level.”

    no it is not . there is no one “magisterial level” . and even the highest “magisterial level” statement is not the same as one dogmatically defined . the church changes as slowly as glaciers traditionally moved . but they change .

    the church sometimes wants simply to slow down the process when too much is happening too fast . thus in his book “the nature and mission of theology” benedict xvi noted : “there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy” .

    the issue of women priests, and the issue of human sexuality are of immense concern to people and to their church . the answers are not easy . the church has not yet given a final word . the church does not rush to conclusions . it wants to follow the holy spirit to a full understanding and answer .

    that is why there has not been any binding dogmatic statement made on those subjects .

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