Jul 112017
 

I used to complain about the disparity regarding reporting on the Church. Reporting by people who had no idea what they were writing about. Now all reporting is equally as bad on pretty much every subject.

The latest silliness is Why does the Church hate those with celiac disease.

So what happened that all of a sudden Pope Francis banned gluten-free Communion hosts? Why of course nothing has changed and this is not new information.

I guess it is hard to get click-bait headlines saying “The Catholic Church continues to teach what it had already been teaching.”

So why exactly the rash of new stories? Cardinal Sarah of the _Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments" issued a circular letter to bishops on the bread and wine for the Eucharist.

A rather short letter reminding bishops to be careful on their sources for hosts and wine used for the Eucharistic Sacrament and that they are valid matter. You just can’t go to the local Trader Joe’s for supplies, which has been done.

Time Magazine wrote:

The ban comes from a letter to Catholic bishops worldwide, published by Vatican Radio.

Wow, didn’t know Vatican Radio was now the official publisher of text for the CDW. Tell me more.

As usual, Get Religion provides good coverage.

Dec 152016
 

People in Spain have an “Uber” version of the Confession and it’s awesome

There is now an app whereby a Catholic in Spain can find a priest to meet him or her in order to be offered the sacrament of reconciliation (also known as “penance” or simply “confession”). The new app is called “Confesor Go” (note that, yes, there is one “s” in the Spanish word “confesor”), and there is also a recently-launched Twitter account (@ConfesorGo).

The app identifies the location of the user, and indicates where priests are located nearby, as well as introductory details about the priest, including his name, age, and year of ordination. Confesor Go also includes a list of the Ten Commandments, so that the penitent can examine his or her conscience in preparation for receiving the sacrament.

The app was developed by Father Ricardo Latorre, who has expressed his hope that the app will likewise become available in the Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America sometime within 2017. Of note, Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of the Diocese of San Sebastián in Spain has made himself available via the app, and his brother bishops around the world would do well to consider supporting the use of such an app within their respective dioceses, in order to inspire more of the faithful to make recourse to the sacrament.

This app is not to be confused with a different app launched last month.

(Vatican Radio) In an impressive move to introduce a legacy of the Year of Mercy, a Scottish archbishop has launched what is thought to be the world’s first GPS-powered Sacrament-finding app.

Leo Cushley from the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh announced the launch of ‘The Catholic App’ outside St Peter’s Basilica on 22nd November 2016, surrounded by pilgrims and seminarians from his archdiocese, accompanied by the sound of the Scottish bagpipe.

The app will allow users around the archdiocese to find the nearest and soonest opportunities to go to Confession and Holy Mass, as well as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The archbishop called the app “a little bit of smart technology that could make a big impact on how the Catholic Church brings the mercy of God and the joy of the Gospel to our contemporary world.”

This app was labeled “sindr” by the media.

As for it being “world’s first GPS-powered Sacrament-finding app” that is not close to being correct. Masstimes.org had an early iPhone app out for finding a Mass near you. Although it has hardly been updated, but still works.

Now if only someone in the U.S. would launch a similar app. Although confessional times are fairly universal here. Usually on Saturday before the Vigil Mass or “by appointment”. I only know of one parish in my diocese that has confession before each Mass.

Getting all the data for such an app would be quite the undertaking. You couldn’t just scrape data from parish websites since finding times for confession on may sites is not an easy task.

Now what would I want in a confessional app beyond what you would expect?

  1. Picture of the confessional. Often times its hard to tell a “Reconciliation Room” from a closet from the outside. Usually need GPS just to find it since it is often not in a prominent location.
  2. Ratings of how hard the penances given out are. Because of course I want to find the priest that gives out more severe penances. Seriously though my late-pastor would sometimes give people lighter penances because he would take on a heavier penance himself for them.
  3. A built in voice recorder. This way if I was trying to remember the sins I committed I could just ask my wife to remind me.
  4. If you are still having a hard time determining what to confess, the app could review your Twitter/Facebook/etc feed for helpful reminders.
  5. An Audio Decibel Meter to make sure you are quiet enough to only confess your sins to the priest and not the people in line.
  6. An included calendar to log when you have been to confession. This way you could be like Spock and say “I last went to confession on 15 December 2016 at 4:32 PM”. Reminders to nag you if the time since your last confession starts to get a big long in the tooth.
  7. Displays the text of the Act of Contrition automatically dimming the screen so the priest doesn’t know you still haven’t spent the time to remember it.
  8. A Hail Mary counter to keep track of number of Hail Mary’s assigned that you could then tap to countdown.
  9. A handy compass to display that your confessed sins are now as far from us as the east is from the west.” Nice to know that our confessed sins are the equivalent of GPS not found.

Now the Epic Pew story called it a “Uber” version. Now that would be cooler to have the confessional come to you.

Perhaps like this actual van from the Diocese of Lafayette.

Or possibly something like this done by a non-priest hoaxer.

Apr 252016
 

There has been a lot of virtual ink spilt over this one footnote in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”

This little footnote has become like a Rorschach test for Catholics who see what they want to see in it.

Still while the concept of the Eucharist as medicine is nothing new, it did get me thinking about all those medicine commercials with a list of side effects half the length of the commercial. So I came up with this:

Previously posted by Ed Peters.

Some seem upset that I agreed with Pope Francis that the Eucharist is “powerful medicine” for sinners, a figure of speech the pope used in Amoris laetitiae fn. 351 (see also his Evangelii gaudium 47). May I suggest that those objecting to the pope’s phrasing, and my agreement with it, need to familiarize themselves better with the Church’s rich understanding of the Eucharist. Doing so will, I think, enable them not only to see what is profoundly right about the pope’s choice of words, but help them to articulate what is profoundly missing from it.

The bounteous effects of the Eucharist, specifically in regard to forgiveness of and preservation from sin, are laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1393-1395, 1436, and 1846. These passages amply support the pope’s phrasing in fn 351. But missing from the pope’s commentary here is an acknowledgement that, as is true of a “powerful medicine”, taking the Eucharist improperly can be harmful, even spiritually deadly, to the recipient.

I don’t expect a footnote to contain every nuance of Church teaching or else a footnote would become another document with it’s own footnotes and on and one. So my prescription is to drink a glass of water and just read Church documents with the mind of the Church.

Nov 182015
 

The Lafayette Diocese has created a new and easier way for outreach with the Catholic Church.

They’ve converted an old ambulance into a mobile confessional called a spiritual care unit. With a picture of Jesus and Bible verses on the side, the new unit is for spiritual emergencies, specifically remodeled for prayer and confessions.

“It’s a way that we can give some pride and public expression of our Catholic faith that is not just meant for the walls of the church, but on the streets,” Father Michael Champagne, a priest at Lafayette Diocese, said.

The unit is part of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy that begins on December 8. Thanks to an anonymous donation, it took two weeks to complete the unit that Champagne calls a church on wheels.

“We need to go to where people are. People come to the church as a center of worship and pray, but we also have to do outreach,” Champagne said.

Not only is the vehicle a way to bring more people to the Catholic church, but it makes going to confession easier for people with busy schedules.

“Pope Francis is asking us to go out of to the peripheries of the church and now we have the means to do that,” Bishop Michael Jarrell said.

Inside the unit there are Bibles, rosaries and even holy water. It’s fully equipped to spiritually care for others.

“There’s no sin in the world that’s too big for God’s mercy,” Champagne said. “We want to extend and preach the gospel of mercy to our people.”

The spiritual care unit will make stops around Acadiana beginning on December 8, for the beginning for the holy year of mercy. Source

One of the things I love about this story is the direct connection between repentance and mercy. Often when mercy gets bandied about there is hardly a connection to sin. That mercy is a free-ride requiring no repentance.

Archbishop Chaput recently wrote for First Things a mentioned in the National Catholic Register.

“Ironically, a pastoral strategy that minimizes sin in the name of mercy cannot be merciful, because it is dishonest,”

I only hope I hear more regarding the Archbishop’s correct view of mercy than the false view of mercy often pedaled during this upcoming Year of Mercy. As Pope Francis wrote in Misericordiae Vultus

Mercy is not opposed to justice but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe.

Now as to mobile confessionals this certainly not a new idea. I’ve seen pictures of one in Germany and another from France. No doubt there are many others.

Sadly the following image is not real as it was done by a hoaxster.

Sep 082015
 

Today two related motu proprio’s were issued which reform the annulment process in both the western and eastern Catholic churches.

As usual Jimmy Akin provides a good summary Pope Francis Reforms Annulment Process: 9 things to know and share. The documents also have not yet been translated to English.

Canon lawyer Ed Peters also has a A first look at Mitis ludex with more analysis coming later.

What I find more interesting than an attempted streamlining of the annulment process, but the seriousness of the Church’s teaching on marriage. Really only the Catholic church is a champion of the indissolubility of marriage and takes Jesus’ teaching seriously. This is partly true of the Orthodox churches, but in these various churches there have also been some accommodations regarding remarriage.

On the outside people see canon law and the various rules as something piles on and not essential. Yet when you look closer you can see how it is theology that informs it. The Church has thought deeply on Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. This has lead to an understanding that in some cases there is a defect at the beginning that prevented a valid marriage from occurring. A possible lack of consent or intent. The easiest and obvious example being a “shotgun wedding” which would be no marriage at all. What constitutes such an initial defect is something that has developed over time like much of the Church’s theology as it is deepened.

It is also interesting to look at Protestant denominations and non-Christian splits from Christianity regarding how they deal with what Jesus taught on marriage. I am reminded of what Jesus said “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.” It is I believe accurate that basically these other denominations and groups have reversed back to Moses. Whenever you talk about Protestantism you can hardly ever lump them all together in making a statement. Still I can’t think of any examples of any kind of investigation into a marriage when there is an attempt at a subsequent marriage after divorce. There is no parallel to the annulment process outside of the Catholic church, except for the Eastern Orthodox churches which have some process (although with some differences regarding the theology of marriage).

Mostly it seems outside the Church marriage and divorce has become something unfortunate, but it would be too much of a burden for people to actually take Jesus’ teaching seriously. The attack on marriage is nothing new and Anglicanism in part flowed from creating a justification for divorce and remarriage. It is very easy to have empathy for people in irregular marriage situations. Listening to a lot of Catholic radio you often hear wrenching stories regarding this. A lot of the kerfuffle regarding the Synod on the Family such as Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions flow from such empathy. Unfortunately such suggestions do not flow from the theology regarding marriage. The legal maxim “Hard cases make bad law” can be restated as “Hard cases make bad theology.”

I have really come to love the Church’s teaching on marriage. Especially as I had initially grasped the idea of the indissolubility of marriage as an atheist. I love how deeply the Church as taught on this and the practical applications that have flowed from it. That is also includes the common sense approach that there should be separation and the allowing of civil divorce in cases of abuse. The Church is really the last defender of the reality of marriage. Not that I am Pollyannish in believing the clergy and the laity have done a bang-up job teaching and living this truth. We all too easily think it is out of hardness of our hearts to not allow divorce when Jesus said the opposite.

Apr 152015
 

My mind is so random that odd things strike me during the Mass. Concentration on what is important is not my strong point. So during Mass while kneeling to receive Communion on the tongue instead of concentrating about the full meaning of receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord in the Eucharist, I started thinking about some more mechanical aspects of this.

Mostly I started thinking about how few Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) know how to deliver the Eucharist for those who receive on the tongue. Maybe part of it is that they don’t get much practice, at least from my own anecdotal databank of personal observations. For the most part the Ordinary Minister’s of Communion are better at this.

Often the experience is rather awkward. Really thinking back I can describe some of the different forms this takes.

  • Alligator delivery: The Eucharist is given as if they were expecting some kind of trap. That they thought my jaws would clamp down on their fingers. The hand dashes in and quickly withdraws.
  • Swish delivery: In basketball to make a shot where the ball falls through the rim without touching it is called a swish. Some EMHC’s must pride themselves on sailing the host into my mouth in a similar manner.
  • Cooties delivery: They properly place the host on my tongue, but they look as if they wish they were wearing a Hazmat suit when doing so.
  • Dumbfounded delivery: A couple of times I had EMHC’s totally at loss about what to do. In one case they still tried to put it into my hands even though they were held together in prayer. I have some sympathy for the dumbfounded EMHC. If someone who looked like me was kneeling down with their tongue sticking out I too might be dumbfounded.

So certainly in my experience EMHCs could use some training in doing this correctly.

During RCIA I was hoping we were going to get some instruction in receiving Communion. We didn’t and so I was kind of unsure exactly what the mechanics were for receiving on the tongue. Just how wide should you open your mouth and how far should you stick out your tongue? I soon found out that I did not have these mechanics figured out. During a daily Mass the priest instructed me to stick my tongue out farther. There was about a second where I felt totally embarrassed (well maybe more than a second). That is until I realized that this was exactly the feedback I was looking for.

Mar 262015
 

Lifting this in full from Dr. Ed. Peters British priests have canonical rights, too.

There isn’t a word—not one single word—in the short, open letter signed by hundreds of British Catholic priests to the Catholic Herald (London) defending Church teaching on marriage and sacraments that any Catholic could not, and should not be proud to, personally profess and publically proclaim. The priests’ letter is a model of accuracy, balance, brevity, and pastoral respect for persons. It fortifies the soul to know it exists. It gladdens the heart to actually read it.

I am at a loss, therefore, to understand why Vincent Cardinal Nichols seems to chastise priests who signed letter for their allegedly “conducting [a] dialogue, between a priest and his bishop … through the press.” The priests’ letter is a statement of Catholic belief, not an opening gambit in a negotiation; it is addressed to a journal editor, and through him to lay and clerical public, not to a particular prelate. Moreover, the letter is a text-book example of clergy exercising a canonical right guaranteed to all the Christian faithful, namely, “to manifest to sacred pastors [Code for ‘bishops’] their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” Canon 212 § 3, my emphasis.

The Cardinal, of course, need not have said anything about the letter; frankly, his responding via the press is what might yet turn the event into a dialogue in the press. But, if a response was to be made, anything less than “I am delighted to know that so many priests love our Church, her teachings, and the people served by both” makes the direction of that dialogue suddenly worrisome.

It is bad enough that the secular world is attacking marriage, but when we have friends like Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal, Marx and, Cardinal Nichols, and other Catholic it is not very comforting. Still British Bishops have a tradition of not defending marriage since only one bishop stood up to King Henry VIII – St. John Fisher. Although this is certainly not confined to British bishops. Remember when the USCC and NCCB the predecessor groups to the USCCB totally freaked out over no fault divorce laws? Unfortunately history doesn’t remember this either.

Still it is awesome to see the support for marriage by hundreds of British Catholic priests.

Another story that has caught my attention regards Patricia Jannuzzi, the Catholic teacher removed from a Catholic school for defending Catholic teachings about marriage. When I first saw the story I had some initial skepticism. Often people can defend Catholic teaching in quite a belligerent way. Now that I have actually read the screenshot of this post I don’t see what was so highly objectionable other than to same-sex activists and their supporters. The post was just a tad hyperbolic, but the slippery slope argument in this regard certainly has merit. Was her post super-elegant with necessary caveats? Of course not it was on Facebook.

Later I saw another story with the diocese saying she had not fired her. So I wasn’t sure what the story was now.

Today I saw an update to this story from Maggie Gallagher and it doesn’t come off well for the diocese in that reportedly diocesan lawyers told her lawyer that there was no way she would ever be allowed to teach there again. Originally the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen called Patricia Jannuzzi’s statement “disturbing.” Seems like the diocese is in damage control now. Especially after the Lepanto Institute ran a local radio add.

Last Friday’s ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732–562–1990” and “ask him whose side he’s on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”

“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.

The Hollywood liberal aspect regards comments made by Susan Sarandon whose nephew was a student of Patricia Jannuzzi and was the one who got her Facebook post publicized.

I must say I am a bit uneasy about a radio ad of this nature and the tone of it. Part of that is my own uneasiness even posting about this story in the first place. It is too easy to take a narrative approach to a news story when really the only information you have about a story is through the news. It certainly seems to me that the diocese could have handled this much better and if they considered her post imprudent than certainly that could have been handled without firing her.

Still the story does have some contrasts with other stories. So on one coast we have a bishop under fire for wanting teachers who will teach the truth of the Catholic faith and on the other coast a bishop who apparently would fire a teacher for accepting the Church’s teaching.

Aug 062014
 

In the theological turmoil that followed the Second Vatican Council, the theory of the “fundamental option” is among the most pernicious developments. Fundamental option separates specific moral actions from a more general – fundamental – orientation of life. It holds, therefore, that specific sins do not bear on the status of one’s soul, or on the destination of one’s soul after death. All that matters for salvation, in this view, is that one “fundamentally” lives for God rather than evil.

One theological casualty of fundamental option theory is mortal sin, which has long been defined by the Church as a grave wrong committed with full knowledge of the attendant evil and deliberate consent of the will. Instead, the theory holds that mortal sin is not a specific action, but an orientation that lies at the deepest level of freedom within an individual who rejects God. But given the gravity of such a rejection, the theory holds that such an orientation is nearly impossible for those of sound mind. If an individual makes the fundamental option for God, then his actions, no matter how grave, cannot be mortal sins – or damnable offenses – because, at root, the person means well.

From a post by David G. Bonagura, Jr. at The Catholic Thing

Since I first read this post it has been rolling around in my mind along with some other thoughts. It seems to me that the fundamental option theory has really become the default view. While you hardly ever hear someone speak of it by its name, you often hear a view derived from it. It sounds so reasonable to suppose that since you are generally a good person that lapses really don’t affect your salvation. Many that would not hold to universalism do hold to a personalism when it comes to salvation. Fundamental option theory has become kind of a “once saved, always saved” for Catholics. The “Here I am Lord” centrality where God is lucky to have us.

So I can certainly identify this in the culture and among Catholics. Worse though is how often I find that I can identify this in myself. That I want to bargain with God as Abraham did.

“Lord I use to have all these serious sins. Can I be saved if I have whittled them down to five serious sins?”, “No, well how about four serious sins”, “Well then, how about three grave sins?”

It becomes quite easy to transmute the Call to Holiness to the call to be good enough. To dismiss Jesus’ call for us to be holy as the Father is holy as just hyperbole. To hear the Parable of the Tares and think “Well tough luck on those tares, being of the wheat myself.” To separate out the intention to be good from my actual actions. So easy to resign yourself to the purgative way without doing much purging, much less advancing in the states of perfection. To be satisfied with spiritual mediocrity on the way to joining the Laodicean and causing a gag reflex in Jesus.

It is quite annoying to start out writing a post about others holding the heretical fundamental optional theory and then realizing that you are not immune from it either. Like Saint John Henry Newman looking at his face in the mirror and realizing he was an Monophysite. At least for him it ended well.

The fundamental option theory also seems to be the hidden hand behind the majority of homilies I hear. Going to a number of Catholic parishes in my diocese I get a fair sampling even if not statically significant. The majority of homilies I have heard are of the “Dog that did not bark” variety. What is missing is significant. Now everybody has their hobby-horse sins that they want excoriated during the homily. Hobby-horse sins are almost always those sins we hold others to have and that we think ourselves free of. I want to go more general than that. What I find missing (except in the scriptural readings) is any mention of sin, repentance, growing in holiness, and salvation. Listening to a homily I am usually totally unscathed in regards to realizing I had something to repent of. Really I am a target-rich environment for being properly scathed.

There is such a generic country club feeling to so many homilies. That we are all part of the club. More thought seems to be given to what topical joke can be used to start or end the homily than any actual serious reflection on the readings. Much less any call for conversion. That we even showed up to Mass is suppose to be to our credit instead of seeing that “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Now sometimes we hear that the homily is suppose to “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I have even heard this phrase used in a homily. Much more comforting than afflicting going on. Interestingly the quote was first used in regards to journalism. Still I don’t want to put all the blame on the homily since it is rather silly to think that we are suppose to get all that the Church teaches condensed down to under ten minutes on Sunday.

The default theology of the fundamental option theory goes hand-in-hand with why their are lines to Communion and not to Confession (in most places and I love seeing the exceptions). If we are good enough with those good intentions not much need for the confessional. No need to repent if our sins are just not that important and besides God will understand.

Jul 082014
 

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has issued a statement decrying a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that could compel a local priest to testify in court about confessions he might have received. The alleged confessions, according to legal documents, were made to the priest by a minor girl regarding possible sexual abuse perpetrated by another church parishioner.

The statement, published Monday (July 7) on the diocese’s website, said forcing such testimony “attacks the seal of confession,” a sacrament that “cuts to the core of the Catholic faith.”

The statement refers to a lawsuit naming the Rev. Jeff Bayhi and the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge as defendants and compels Bayhi to testify whether or not there were confessions “and, if so, what the contents of any such confessions were.”

“A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable,” the statement says. ”The position of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Fr. Bayhi is that the Supreme Court of Louisiana has run afoul of the constitutional rights of both the Church and the priest, more particularly, has violated the Establishment Clause and the separation of Church and State under the first amendment.”

The state high court’s decision, rendered in May of this year, demands that a hearing be held in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, where the suit originated, to determine whether or not a confession was made. It reverses an earlier decision by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals dismissing the original lawsuit filed against Bayhi and the diocese.

The case stems from a claim by parents of a minor that their daughter confessed to Bayhi during the sacrament of reconciliation that she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with grown man who also attended their church. Court documents indicate the child was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.

A criminal investigation by East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office into the alleged sexual abuse was ongoing when the accused church member died suddenly in February 2009 of a heart attack.

The civil lawsuit in question, filed five months later in July 2009, names the late sexual abuse suspect, as well as Bayhi and the Baton Rouge diocese, as defendants. The suit seeks damages suffered as a result of the sexual abuse, noting that abuse continued following the alleged confessions.

Source: NOLA.com: 

Maybe the Louisiana Supreme Court thought the case involved Anglicans and not Catholics. From a story a week ago.

ANGLICAN ministers told during confession about serious crimes such as child sexual abuse shouldn’t be obliged to keep them secret, the church has declared.

THE ruling means ministers are only obliged to keep serious offences secret if “reasonably satisfied” they have already been reported to police.

Representatives of the Anglican Church of Australia approved the amendment on Wednesday at the church’s national parliament in Adelaide.

The legislation also covers other serious offences, including domestic violence.

Sydney barrister Garth Blake, who proposed the amendment, said it would ensure the church did not “act as a cloak” for offenders.

However, the legislation will only become active once adopted by individual dioceses.

Originally published as Confession not all confidential: Anglicans

Really we need to send copies of I Confess to members of their court.

Oh and yes I linked to this story primarly as an excuse to create the above graphic.