Dec 132014
 

When I first started seeing headlines about Pope Francis saying animals go to Heaven I pretty much ignored the headlines and their supposed content. I doesn’t take much intelligence to know that this would be either total fabrication or something close to that. The headlines have had staying power and have continued throughout the week in various forms of media.

Thus I figured it wouldn’t be long until Jimmy Akin had a post refuting the whole thing. Today he published Did Pope Francis say animals go to heaven? in which he summarizes at the start “But the thing is … the whole story is false.”

Now Pope Francis speeches are not known for their exactness and are prone to generalities over precision. So in the back of my mind I thought there was a possibility that this tendency lead to this story in the typical distorted amplification of his words. Wow not only did they invent Pope Francis’s words for the story but came up with some new ones for St. Paul. Must have been from the lost Gospel of Fido.

Now even if all animals went to Heaven I would have serious questions about the salvation of journalists and editors and members of news agencies. This is just another case in a long line of cases where journalists have no love for the truth or any concern regarding the truth. Maybe Pontius Pilate is the patron of journalists. This case being even more egregious than normal. No fact checking just passed along from one news agency to another. The false quote of St. Paul should have been a major tipoff. It is so obvious that zero attempt was made to acquire even the most basic facts or even spending 5 minutes on Google.

So how does such a story get passed on? No doubt there are multiple reasons. When it comes to reporting on the Church any stick will do to beat the Church including one used to play fetch with their pet dog. Page views and driving traffic for advertising dollars is probably another aspect. Sensationalism in journalism is nothing new, but click-bait headlines and stories low or totally barren of facts bring this to a new level and a declining one at that. Sure such stories are gist for the mill of headline writers.

I found CNN’s Did Pope Francis open a doggy door to heaven? to be the funniest of the lot. The story itself tried to update itself but failed even at that.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story, citing a newspaper, attributed a quote to Pope Francis. The quote actually comes from Pope Paul VI.

The problem with that is we have no evidence that Pope Paul VI said it either. As Jimmy Akin points out:

7) Did Pope Paul VI say to a bereaved boy what is attributed to him?

Who knows?

If you search the Vatican web site for the relevant quote, you get nothing.

At this point, I don’t see why anyone should trust anything attributed to a pope about animals going to heaven—not without a solid reference to a checkable, primary source document.

I have heard several attempts to try to side step this understanding especially when talking with children. A lot of people really want the idea of their pets going to Heaven. So it seems strange to me that if Blessed Paul VI ever said this that the quote would be in use in a larger circulation. C.S. Lewis also speculated on this in his book “The Problem of Pain.” Still it seems to me there is often more an emotional appeal to a theological appeal.

The CNN article goes on.

While Catholic teachings don’t reject the notion that animals have souls, traditional dogma has long held that animals don’t go to heaven.

Well Catholic teaching has long held distinctions between, plant souls, sensitive souls (such as animals), and the rational soul such as we have. All living things have souls as the soul is the form of the body. St. Thomas Aquinas detailed the thrust of the distinctions as we currently understand them. Still as far as I know there is no magisterial teaching on this as to the classes of souls. Much less a dogmatic (hey that’s pretty funny in context) teaching that animals don’t go to heaven. The CNN articles tries to be somewhat skeptical of the story, but still totally blunders in its corrections. As Mark Shea says about reporting on the Church is that you can take off 50 IQ points.

Another aspect of the ridiculous coverage of the Church that I have notice growing in the last year is how often so-called traditionalists fall for them. Most serious Catholics are highly skeptical of Church reporting for good reason. Yet I keep seeing more and more stories on “traditionalist” sites that take these stories as Gospel. Instead of any stick to beat the Church it is any stick that can beat Pope Francis. There not skeptical of the stories because they are skeptical of Pope Francis and see even bad reporting via confirmation bias. This annoys me since I have common cause with many of the liturgical complaints of “traditionalists”, but this hatred or loathing of Pope Francis makes them as agenda driven as most secular journalists.

On the lighter side the brilliant “Eye of the Tiber” presents Pope Francis confirms casts still going to Hell. I have a couple of cats, but that is still pretty funny. Surely the Cat-echism say otherwise.

Dec 042014
 

Leave it to LarryD of Acts of the Apostasy to come up with a hilarious post titled Star Wars Characters in the Confessional. Quite fun.

Although he left me some low-hanging fruit to add on in reaction to his post.

Ja Ja Binks

Ja Ja: “Father forgive missa for my sinn.”

Priest: “Sorry you can not be forgiven as a character and considering your horrible accent I am quite sure you have commited the sin against the Holy Spirit or at least against all Star Wars fans.”

R2-D2

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: What?

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: “One more time please.”

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: “Hmm, well if you are repentant of your sins beep out a series of binary coded Hail Marys and next time bring C–3PO with you to translate.”

Nov 032014
 

Despite the good intentions of some in spreading the Gospel. Sometimes it can go totally awry with proselytism in the pejorative sense. Case in point:

Sioux Falls officials could face a cloudy legal fight over a dispute about religious artwork that students painted on two city-owned snowplows despite a disclaimer that is being added to the plows.

City officials said the disclaimer would be attached to the 27 student-decorated snowplows to show the city isn’t endorsing a particular point of view, but the message doesn’t appear to be enough to satisfy the concerns of the artwork’s critics, the Argus Leader reported Sunday.

Students at Lutheran High School and Sioux Falls Lutheran School painted the plow blades as part of the city’s Paint the Plows program. One blade includes the words “Jesus Christ” and the other “Happy Birthday Jesus.”

The Siouxland Freethinkers complained, arguing the religious artwork on publicly owned vehicles violates the constitutional separation of church and state

… Two days later, Huether and city attorney David Pfeifle announced the disclaimer would be added to all the student-decorated plows.

Part of the disclaimer reads: “Any message or views expressed are not those of the city or endorsed by the city.”

I can feel for the poor atheist who thought at least snow plows were free from religious messages. The forced conversions due to atheists inadvertently seeing such a message on an intimidating machine is proselytism in the worst sense. This is just another sacred plow that must be eliminated. Hopefully the disclaimer will be large enough to prevent accidental conversions.

Oct 152014
 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The leader of Rhode Island’s Catholics suggests voters could write in Mother Teresa or sit out the Nov. 4 election because of a field of candidates he says isn’t “terribly promising” on the abortion issue.

Bishop Thomas Tobin says in The Rhode Island Catholic diocesan newspaper that writing in Mother Teresa in protest would send a signal that some voters want an anti-abortion candidate.

Tobin recently took aim at Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo (ray-MAHN’-doh), who is Catholic, after she won the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and spoke in favor of reproductive rights. Republican nominee Allan Fung also supports abortion rights.

Tobin says it’s a “pathetic spectacle” when Catholic candidates “choose” Planned Parenthood over the church.

He says voters don’t necessarily need to vote for every office or at all. Source

In the runup to the 2008 election I proposed voting for two Doctors of the Church instead in this parody video.

Oct 132014
 

While the modern idea of the rapture as popularized in the 1830s by John Darby is a modern invention believed by some Protestants, there seems to be even a more modern version of the rapture regarding Catholics.

Now this is all guess-work and not yet proven. Purely speculation, although it seems to fit some of the facts.

I think I had always been aware of this phenomenon, but I started to connect the dots. Usually sitting in close to the back I am one of the last to receive Communion. Going back to my pew I find that almost half the people sitting around me are now gone. Now since often during Mass I close my eyes to concentrate to attempt to pray I can’t say for sure what happened to these people. Still I draw a couple of speculations together. As Cardinal Arinze said “The Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, as it also known, presents a striking imagery of the heavenly liturgy and helps us appreciate how the Eucharistic celebration, as it were, looks heavenward.” Maybe these missing Communion recipients were so caught up in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Holy Communion that they were raptured up into heaven?

Looking at Matthew 24:40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.” That sounds a lot like the proportion of people that make it all the way past the first verse of the closing hymn.

Still I could find nothing in the Catechism or the writings of the Church Fathers to validate this. Another theory which I much less prefer is that people are just leaving after receiving Communion. I would rather believe in the Catholic rapture than that. I really can’t discount this though in this materialistic age. People can be so caught up in the idea of shopping that they have to leave early to go to the mall and do even more shopping. In Catholic shopping Eschatology this can be described as:

  • Pre-mall: Christ returns before a thousand day shopping spree.
  • A-mall: The shopping occurs in heaven and those who have died in the faith share in this shopping during the current church age.
  • Post-mall Christ returns after a thousand day shopping spree.

Photo credit: itmpa via photopin cc

Sep 082014
 

NEW YORK A surprise raid occurred in the early hours today as a failed attempt was made to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen from a crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The conflict between Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York came into public view on September 3, when Bishop Jenky issued a statement that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization had for the foreseeable future been suspended.

An agreement with the Cardinal Egan the previous Archbishop of New York seems to have been put aside. According to a news release by the Archdiocese of Peoria on September 5th.

On June 27, 2014, the Diocese of Peoria received the most recent communication from the Archdiocese of New York. This letter from its lawyer definitively stated that it would never allow the examination of the body, the securing of relics or the transfer of the body.

An anonymous source within the Archdiocese informed us that it was after the serious insult of this letter that plans were put into motion to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen “one way or another.” It was then that the daring raid on the crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral was planned out and authorized. So far it is unknown if the Archbishop was aware of this plot or if it was the result of a loose canon lawyer or monsignor acting on their own.

Unfortunately unknown to the Archdiocese of Peoria was that Cardinal Dolan had previously worked out an agreement with the U.S. vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei Monsignor Thomas G. Bohlin for the use of specially trained Opus Dei agents as guards of the crypt. While these personnel are not monks it alleged they are very pale, possibly being albinos. They disrupted the raid conducted by two priests and a group of Archbishop Sheen enthusiasts. When questioned by authorities they refused to answer any questions unless given a chalkboard. One policeman said that when he heard the confession of one of the perpetrators it was “like being stoned to death with popcorn.”

While inter-diocesan fighting is unlikely to breakout, collegiality seems to have taken a hit. So far no statement regarding this raid has been release from either diocese. When we reached out to both diocese we were told “no comment”.

See Dolan, Jenky To Settle Dispute Over Sheen Remains In Octagon for further developments.

Sep 042014
 

Many will have already seen the following news:

A news release from the Diocese of Peoria Sept. 3, 2014.

It is with immense sadness that the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, announced today that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization has for the foreseeable future been suspended. The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the Cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year. The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken. Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.

Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the Diocese. Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the Cause had reached a significant stage.

Bishop Jenky is what is technically called the “actor” of the Sheen Cause. The Diocese of Peoria and the Sheen Foundation have prayed and labored for this good work for the last twelve years. The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts. It should be noted, however, that saints are always made by God not by man. Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest.

No further comment will be released at this time.

What? When I first saw this I thought surely there must be more to the story. What is the Archdiocese of New York’s side of it? Really this couldn’t just be this insane? If it is as it seems to be than this is a great moment in evangelization. The nightly talk show jokes pretty much write themselves. Well at least it isn’t as bad as the Cadaver Synod.

First off if the Archdiocese of New York thought it had primary claim of his body, then exactly why did they not start the cause in the first place. Oh hey let the Diocese of Peoria bear the costs and the investment of time and then have the body as an attraction to draw people.

Although certainly there is a much more charitable way to look at the situation instead of following the money. Then I was shocked when one of my readers sent me a copy of a letter reportedly from the late Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman. Cardinal Spellman was the Archbishop of New York when Archbishop Sheen was alive. I am providing you with the text of the letter and an image of the actual letter.

Dear Successor:

If in the off chance that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ever has a formal cause for sainthood, please sabotage it. That will fix him for not giving me the one million dollars raised for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and embarrassing me in front of the Pope.

When I said outside the Pope’s office “I will get even with you!” to Archbishop Sheen I wasn’t kidding. If you can please arrange this to happen just before any official Vatican action it would be greatly appreciated.

Wishing you a blessed year, I am

Very sincerely yours,

Archbishop of New York

Aug 262014
 

doctor performing surgery on kneeThe World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking a disturbing trend in chronic inflammation of knee joints. Currently it is not known if this is a vector-borne disease or is spread in another manner. While currently not an epidemic world-wide, it has surprisingly confined itself to only Catholics and its effects can be easily observed. In a long-awaited report that will be debated by member states at a meeting in October in Moscow, the United Nations health agency also voiced concern about chronic inflammation of knee joints in various Catholic communities.

Dr. Peter Capaldi (WHO), has been voicing concerns about Genuflectitis since he first started noticing the effects in Catholic parishes as he traveled worldwide. “I started noticing the number of people not genuflecting when entering the vestibule. First I thought this was simple irreverence, then I noticed that many people instead of kneeling during the Consecration were leaning forward instead of kneeling. I felt the most charitable explanation was a serious knee inflammation preventing proper kneeling. This might also be connected to spinal cord injuries since I also noticed people unable to make a profound bow, but just a head-nod instead.” It has also been noted by many other orthopedic surgeons that this inflammation comes and goes. For example during Mass knee-bending is painful, but this usually does not effect motion when sprinting to their car as soon as the concluding rite is finished.

While the method of transmission of Genuflectitis is not currently known, it does seem to strike 100 percent of some populations. Dr. Capaldi informed us that choir members are especially prone since he almost never sees them kneeling during the Consecration. Even in people who are able to kneel this inflammation is still having an effect. With Genuflectitis kneeling can be so painful that the congregation eagerly waits for the priest to sit down after cleansing the sacred vessels. Immediately upon the priest sitting you can hear the effect as everybody also promptly sits down.

There has been controversy within the Catholic community as to how this is actually spread. Traditional Catholics point to the fact that Genuflectitis is virtually unknown at a Traditional Latin Mass. Even going so far as to suggest it is spread via the vigorous and extended hand-shaking that goes on during the Sign of Peace. Eastern Rite Catholics also seem to have immunity. Other Catholics counter that there are areas where the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with reverence that are also immune to this crippling disease.

While some doctors suggest exercise such as Deep Knee Bends, Standing Knee Lifts,or Hamstring Contractions, other have found the best rehabilitation is a deeper understanding of Eucharistic theology along with a prescription of John Chapter 6 and Philippians 2:10.

* Parody caveat: For those who actually suffer from knee ailments, this post is only aimed at those who are able to kneel and don’t.

Photo credit: Zdenko Zivkovic via photopin, Creative Commons