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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bad Idea: Rosary During Mass

Rorate Caeli, with the help of Pewsitter (the "Catholic" site whose attacks on the Pope are beginning to sound vaguely Masonic), has decided to defend the execrable habit of praying the Rosary during Mass. Because it is an indefensible position to take, RC simply tosses off a single line reference to an encyclical, pretending that this makes the practice ok.
The Pope has once again made his mind on the liturgical reform of the 1960's and Vatican II clear, and not without taking the opportunity to criticize the easiest of targets: the very few who still say the rosary at Mass (by the way, not a problem - cf. Mediator Dei, 181-184).
Let's take that apart. After all, what are the chances RC actually knows the Catholic Faith or papal encyclicals better than the Pope? Well, zero, actually.

To begin with, let me make clear that this is not just something done at Latin Mass. I've seen it done at Novus Ordo Mass as well. It is a practice born of the rankest of ignorance, generally performed by people completely unschooled in the Faith.

We must begin by understanding that liturgy is the highest and most ancient prayer of the Church. The Mass is the highest form of liturgy. All other forms of prayer are lesser and derivative. It is not possible for a Catholic to pray a better prayer than the Mass.

The Rosary, while a pleasant devotion, is simply nowhere near the same stature. The Rosary is a private devotion. It is certainly less than a thousand years old. The Rosary has never been a universal prayer within the Church. It is not part of the Mass, has never been part of the Mass and can never be part of the Mass. It is not liturgy. It is not even close to being in the same rank as liturgy.

The Mass can be traced back to the Last Supper. Compare this to the Rosary and the Hail Mary's which comprise it. These cannot be found in the West until over a thousand years after the Resurrection. The Rosary is not found in the East at all.
It is in any case certain that at the close of the fifteenth century the utmost possible variety of methods of (Rosary) meditating prevailed, and that the fifteen mysteries now generally accepted were not uniformly adhered to even by the Dominicans themselves.
The current form of the Hail Mary, which comprises the greater part of the prayer is not exactly ancient either.
In point of fact there is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050...In the time of St. Louis the Ave Maria ended with the words of St. Elizabeth: "benedictus fructus ventris tui"...it may be noticed that in some places, and notably in Ireland, the feeling still survives that the Hail Mary is complete with the word Jesus. Indeed the writer is informed that within living memory it was not uncommon for Irish peasant, when bidden to say Hail Marys for a penance, to ask whether they were required to say the Holy Marys too.
Now that we have a bit of the history cleared away, let's take a look at Mediator Dei's infamous articles #181-184
181. Any inspiration to follow and practice extraordinary exercises of piety must most certainly come from the Father of Lights, from whom every good and perfect gift descends;[166] and, of course, the criterion of this will be the effectiveness of these exercises in making the divine cult loved and spread daily ever more widely, and in making the faithful approach the sacraments with more longing desire, and in obtaining for all things holy due respect and honor. If on the contrary, they are an obstacle to principles and norms of divine worship, or if they oppose or hinder them, one must surely conclude that they are not in keeping with prudence and enlightened zeal.
Notice how article #181 fails to mention the Rosary at all. It talks about "extraordinary exercises of piety", but the test for whether these are actually acts of piety is whether or not they present "an obstacle to divine worship."  Since we haven't yet ascertained whether praying the Rosary during Mass presents such an obstacle, it's hard to argue that this article endorses praying the Rosary during Mass.

Indeed, for people who love to argue that the words of the Latin Mass are far superior to those of the Novus Ordo, it is striking that they also argue people can accomplish the same depth of meditation by focusing on any non-liturgical prayer.
182. There are, besides, other exercises of piety which, although not strictly belonging to the sacred liturgy, are, nevertheless, of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical cult; they have been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and by the bishops. Among these are the prayers usually said during the month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, or during the month of June to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus: also novenas and triduums, stations of the cross and other similar practices.
Alright, so RC should have quoted #182-184, instead of #181-184. But can we even admit #182? After all, look at the examples given for "addition to the liturgical cult". We see novenas, triduums, and stations of the cross, but no mention of the Rosary. Hmmm....

"Well," comes the rebuke, "of course the Rosary falls under 'other similar practices'!!!" Really? Does it? According to the Enchiridion of Indulgences, #63, in order to pray a legitimate stations of the Cross:
"A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the stations are made publicly and it is not possible for everyone taking part to go from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their places." 
Ok, so if we follow this line of reasoning, and argue that it is perfectly legitimate to pray the Rosary during Mass, then it is likewise perfectly legitimate for members of the faithful, or at least one member of the faithful, to do the stations of the Cross during Mass.

But in order to do the stations legitimately, that faithful Catholic would have to get up out of his pew during Mass, and move from station to station down the nave, standing, kneeling, genuflecting and praying aloud as appropriate for the stations, while others in the pew who choose to do so, pray along. So, say, as the priest ambulates down the nave during the Asperges, the faithful have the right to ambulate the nave praying the stations? During the consecration, there would be no issue with us praying the death of Christ on the Cross and fixing our eyes on that tableau rather than facing towards Christ in the Eucharist? That's your argument?

Because that's what you are doing when you pray the Rosary during Mass. Praying the Rosary during Mass is no different than saying, "Yes, I know Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist, is available to me right now. But rather than go up and receive the actual Eucharist, I find my participation in the Mass is enhanced by always making a spiritual communion instead. Because, you know, spiritual. So, I'll just stay in the pew, me and my meditation, while you go up and do your Eucharist reception thing."

In fact, it is essentially saying "What I do in prayer in the pew is the spiritual equivalent of what the priest does at the altar. My meditations are the focus of my presence at the Mass." People often wonder where the insane individualism of the post-Vatican II Church originated. They scoff when I say it began in the pre-Vatican II Church. It began with the people praying the Rosary during Mass.
183. These devotions make us partakers in a salutary manner of the liturgical cult, because they urge the faithful to go frequently to the sacrament of penance, to attend Mass and receive communion with devotion, and, as well, encourage them to meditate on the mysteries of our redemption and imitate the example of the saints.
For those with the eyes to see, #183 explains how all of this is supposed to work. You see, the novenas, triduums, devotions to Mary and the Sacred Heart, these devotions are to take place OUTSIDE of Mass. They are not liturgical.

They contribute to liturgy in the sense that when you pray them OUTSIDE of Mass, the prayers assist you in recalling to your mind and your being the graces you were given IN the Mass. Thus, these private devotions can help you spread the graces of the Mass into your day and into your life. But if you are focusing on these devotions while you are IN the Mass, then you aren't getting the graces of the Mass that you would get by actually... you know... participating in the Mass.
184. Hence, he would do something very wrong and dangerous who would dare to take on himself to reform all these exercises of piety and reduce them completely to the methods and norms of liturgical rites. (emphasis added) However, it is necessary that the spirit of the sacred liturgy and its directives should exercise such a salutary influence on them that nothing improper be introduced nor anything unworthy of the dignity of the house of God or detrimental to the sacred functions or opposed to solid piety.
See, you aren't supposed to turn the Rosary into a prayer of the Mass, because *the Rosary IS NOT a prayer of the Mass.* By referring to article #184 of Mediator Dei, Rorate Caeli actually provides the text that proves the exact opposite of what they intended to prove. These exercises of piety, such as the Rosary or the stations, are not to mix and mingle with the exercises of the liturgical rites. They Rosary complements the Mass, but it is not to be mingled with the exercises of the Mass.

So, not only does the articles referenced NEVER mention the Rosary, the articles referenced actually tell us NEVER to use the Rosary as if it were a liturgical prayer. That is, we should never pray the Rosary during Mass, because we thereby attempt (and fail) to turn the Rosary into a liturgical prayer when we do so.

The liturgy, particularly the Mass, is in every case an actual and direct participation in the eternal offering the Resurrected Christ makes of His Own Body and Blood. It is us lifted into heavcen, directly participating in the offering Christ makes of Himself to the Father in the Temple of Heaven itself.

The Rosary is, at most, a pleasant meditation. Praying the Rosary during the Mass is a distraction from participating in the Mass. Yes, even during the Latin Mass - it is still a distraction. Mary leads us to Christ, she doesn't lead us away from Him. Praying the Rosary during Mass is an abuse of Mary's prayer and it is an abuse of Mary. We pray the Rosary before Mass to prepare for Mass, after Mass to meditate on the riches given to us, but during Mass we pray the Mass, we do not pray the Rosary.

Anyone who tells you different is a Mason, a neocon or an ignoramus.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Assessing Your Parish

The Church has three primary tasks: to teach, to govern and to sanctify. Through the liturgy and the sacraments, we are sanctified, that is, we are given the power of grace, the ability to live the divine life. Through catechesis we are given the knowledge and motivation to live the divine life of love towards both God and our neighbor. All other aspects of the Christian life flow from The Church’s success in these tasks. Thus, the life of every parish is assessed by asking two questions:
(1) how well is the task of sanctification being carried out?(2) how well is the task of catechesis being carried out?

Sanctification:

  1. Are sacraments readily available to all parishioners?
  2. Are parents treated as priests of the domestic church (Familiaris Consortio, #38)?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of and ready to embrace the salvific aspect of suffering?
Sacrament of Baptism

  1. Are all Catholic parents aware of the importance of water baptism for their children as soon as possible after birth? 
  2. Are all Catholics aware of how to perform an emergency baptism?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of the effects of baptism? 
Sacrament of Confession
  1. Is the Sacrament of Confession available on at least a bi-weekly basis at a publicly scheduled and easily accessible time?
  2. Are all parish adults utilizing the sacrament?
  3. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confession? (CCC #2225)
  4. Is the parish teaching parents how best to prepare their own children from reception of Confession?
Sacrament of Confirmation
  1. Are all Catholic adults who approach the sacrament of marriage confirmed?
  2. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confirmation?
  3. Are parents encouraged to prepare their children at or about the age of reason, as universal Church law recommends (Canon 97.2, 843.1, 852.1, 885)?
  4. Are all children in the parish being confirmed no later than the maximum age set by the bishop?
  5. Are priests aware they must confirm unconfirmed baptized persons in serious danger of death?
  6. Are priests aware that all persons who approach the Church and have the use of reason must be both baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony?
Sacrament of Eucharist
  1. Are parishioners aware of how to correctly receive Eucharist (do they know the signs of reverence, do they know how to examine their conscience, be in a state of grace, etc.)?
  2. Are parishioners both knowledgeable about and made comfortable in exercising their right to receive Eucharist on their knees, after genuflection, after bowing, while standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue?
  3. Are parishioners encouraged to take time to properly prepare themselves during Mass immediately before Eucharistic reception or do ushers, by word or action, distort the proper role of usher by instead dictating when the faithful can or cannot approach the sacrament during Mass?
  4. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Eucharist? (CCC #2225)
  5. Are the sacraments of initiation given in their proper order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist?
Sacrament of Marriage
  1. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that they must be open to life?
  2. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that marriage is a life-long commitment?
  3. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage rejecting contraception and aware of NFP?
  4. Are all Catholics approaching marriage aware of and do they embrace the three ends of marriage?

    • The procreation of children
    • The union of the spouses
    • The remedy for concupiscence
Liturgy
  1. Are EMEs kept to a minimum?
  2. Does the parish liturgy typically incorporate Gregorian chant, as required by the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #116)?
  3. Are the musical instruments used at Mass “suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #120)?
  4. Is the Divine Office prayed regularly in a public way, so that the faithful may actively participate in the communal prayer of the Church?
  5. Are all lay ministers in liturgical positions living an exemplary Catholic life?
  6. Are all lay catechists living an exemplary Catholic life?
  7. Do parishioners understand the Easter Vigil to be the "mother of all feasts"?

Catechesis:

Family catechesis
  1. Are most parish catechetical sessions directed towards helping parents gain the necessary tools to be their own children's primary catechists (Catechesi Tradendae, #68, Familiaris Consortio#39)?
  2. Are parents encouraged and expected to act as primary catechists, e.g., do the pastor and parish catechists dictate sacramental formation requirements, or do they advise, allowing parents the latitude to choose the most appropriate methods of formation for their own children (Familiaris Consortio, #40)?
  3. Is the primary focus of parish catechetical efforts intended to give parents the tools to prepare their own children to receive first reconciliation, Confirmation and first Eucharist (CCC #2225)?
Primacy of Adult Catechesis
  1. Is the primary catechetical task of the parish oriented towards adults (General Directory for Catechetics, #275, Catechesi Tradendae, #43, Our Hearts Were Burning, Chapter 1)?
  2. Are weekly adult formation sessions being held for parents (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  3. Are at least thrice-weekly adult formation sessions being held during Advent and Lent (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  4. Are the best parish resources being focused on forming adult Catholics in their faith (OHWB, Chapter III)?
  5. Is there a physical space appropriate to adults available in the parish in order to undertake adult catechesis?
  6. Are teachings outlining how to live Church teaching regularly given (e.g., on sterilization, contraception, need for regular confession, etc.)?
  7. Are regular doctrinal Scripture studies, encyclical studies and Church history sessions for adults made available in the parish?
  8. Are lay church leaders (e.g., parish council members) thoroughly familiar with the documents of Vatican II and the catechetical documents?
  9. Are parish catechists thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on catechesis, such as the General Directory for Catechesis and Catechesi Tradendae?
  10. Are parents thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on marriage, family, and human sexuality, such as Familiaris Consortio, Letter to Families, Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Children, Humanae Vitae, and The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

FrancisChurch: Communist Given Sainthood!

A "Catholic" website recently headlined a story: "FrancisChurch: Bum given bishop's resting place"


This "Catholic" website likes to present itself as a voice for traditionalist Catholics, Catholics who are  tired of the way Pope Francis has allowed communists and socialists to take over the Church.

Let me tell you about one of the lousy socialist fakirs Pope Francis actually has the gall to admire and imitate.

A few years ago, a man had gained jurisdiction over a lot of money. Enormous wealth, in fact. Mind you, he hadn't worked for any of this loot, but he had it all the same. The government caught wind of it and decided it wanted a share. When the man was told he had to hand all this wealth over to the government, he demurred, indicating that he would need time to collect it all together. Treasury officials gave him three days to appear with the cash.

Just to prove what a liar the man was, and how spiteful he was, he didn't actually collect the cash at all. Instead, he spent the next three days giving away every cent to a bunch of stinking layabouts. Welfare queens, malingerers, wastrels - he just handed the money over to them. Word spread throughout the slums that this man was handing out free loot. He gave with such a free hand that by the end of the first day, crowds of them were following him around, hoping for more handouts. Typical FrancisChurch, isn't it?

Anyway, when the man finally appeared before the treasury official, he had no money at all, just a great crowd of stinking, lazy malingerers and wastrels behind him. When the treasury official demanded the money, the man turned to the crowd of welfare queens, he presented these poor, crippled, blind beggars, and said "These are the true treasures of the Church. The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor."

Thus did the stinking FrancisChurch communist, St Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, suffer a martyr's death in 258 AD. Yes, you read that right. In FrancisChurch, this communist is actually considered a saint! Unbelievable!

He gave away the gold and jewels that belonged in the house of God! How outrageous is THAT!?!?  Why, if Pope Francis is going to take a man like that as an example, is it any wonder that FrancisChurch would bury a bum in the grave that by rights belonged to a consecrated priest? 

It's certainly not something that a traditionalist Catholic should have to witness!

Because I have always loved this story, and because I am a stinking FrancisChurch lover, I merely add this to the list of reasons I can never be a traditionalist.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Where Obama Got The Idea

Conservative circles have recently been making hay over Obama's comparison of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to recent jihadi activity. But, to be scrupulously fair, this wasn't Obama's idea.

In 2001, former president Bill Clinton delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he discussed the West’s response to the recent terrorist attacks of September 11. The speech contained a short but significant reference to the crusades. Mr. Clinton observed that “when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem [in 1099], they . . . proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount.” He cited the “contemporaneous descriptions of the event” as describing “soldiers walking on the Temple Mount . . . with blood running up to their knees.” This story, Mr. Clinton said emphatically, was “still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.”

Both Clinton and Obama were playing to their Protestant base. After all, Protestants have advanced the "Crusades were evil" myth for a LONG, long time.
"This is the greatest of all sins and is one that no Turk commits, for Christ’s name is used for sin and shame and thus dishonored. This would be especially so if the pope and the bishops were involved in the war, for they would bring the greatest shame and dishonor to Christ’s name because they are called to fight against the devil with the word of God and with prayer, and they would be deserting their calling and office to fight with the sword against the flesh and blood." (LW 46:165) 
Luther believed that the pope used war as a means to steal from his followers. For him, the idea of a Christian crusade was nothing but a sham concocted to gain riches for the church. He states that “the pope never seriously intended to wage war against the Turk; instead they used the Turkish war as a cover for their game and robbed Germany of money by means of indulgences whenever they took the notion” (LW 46:164)
The original Martin Luther saw the papal attempt to stop Muslim encroachment as evil. Luther preached that the Muslims were a divine scourge on Christianity meant to pay Europe back for the evils of the papacy. Attempts to fight Islam were sinful attempts to fight against God. The Muslims of the era, on the other hand, saw the Crusaders as honorable opponents.
“During the Middle Ages you could not find a Christian in Europe who did not believe that the Crusades were an act of highest good. Even the Muslims respected the ideals of the Crusades and the piety of the men who fought them. But that all changed with the Protestant Reformation. For Martin Luther . . . argued that to fight the Muslims was to fight Christ himself, for it was he who had sent the Turks to punish Christendom for its faithlessness. . . . It was in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that the current view of the Crusades was born.”
The MSM smear is just the half-millennium old Protestant smear, writ large. Obama and Clinton repeat the smear because it sells to America's largely Protestant audience.

Unfortunately, conservative commentators who are now correcting the history on the Crusades are no more interested in the truth than were Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. After all, look at the facts. Like the popular history of the Crusades, the popular history of the Inquisition is at least as fictional, it is certainly as unrelated to the historical facts, as the popular history of the Crusades.

Yet the conservatives who want to wage war on Islam don't attempt to clear up the injustice done to the history of the Spanish Inquisition. It doesn't serve their purposes to do so. They want war. Whether that desire is a good idea or not is a separate question. The "Crusades were bad" meme interferes with their ability to make such a war popular. The inaccurate perception of the Inquisition doesn't harm their ability to wage war, so those inaccurate perceptions are ignored. Instead, they focus entirely on cleansing away the falsehoods surrounding the Crusades.

The Da Vinci Code was popular primarily because it simply re-packaged the Protestant version of Catholic history. The MSM "Crusades were bad" meme is just the same kind of re-packaging, a product that sells well in Protestant America. After all, you'll never hear about the Lutheran Crusades, or how the Zwinglians were willing to fight against the Islamic domination of Europe. Catholics were the only ones who put their bodies between Europe and Islam, defying the cruelty we see today.

Obama, Clinton, the MSM play the "anti-Crusade" meme because it is popular. All of them are playing to a VERY receptive audience. So, when conservative pundits claim Obama is wrong, they are - whether intentionally or not - completely missing the point of the comments. Protestants have fought to make Obama's remarks the truth for a long, long time.

Protestant American chickens, meet your historical roost.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and Freedom of Speech

Many people argue that freedom of speech includes the right to mock someone else's religion. They seem to forget the origins of the First Amendment.

The first law concerning free speech on the North American continent was passed on April 21, 1649: Maryland's "Act of Toleration." Maryland was the only English Catholic colony on the eastern seaboard. The Act was the world's first prohibition on religious hate speech. It is universally acknowledged as the harbinger and model for the Constitution's first amendment protection of free speech.

So, what did the Act of Toleration say?
That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto belonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to bee the sonne of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity the father sonne and holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachfull Speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three persons thereof, shalbe punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heires.
And bee it also Enacted by the Authority and with the advise and assent aforesaid, That whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or utter any reproachfull words or Speeches concerning the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of our Saviour or the holy Apostles or Evangelists or any of them shall in such case for the first offence forfeit to the said Lord Proprietary and his heirs Lords and Proprietaries of this Province the summe of five pound Sterling or the value thereof to be Levyed on the goods and chattells of every such person soe offending, but in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not then have goods and chattells sufficient for the satisfyeing of such forfeiture, or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed that then such Offender or Offenders shalbe publiquely whipt and bee imprisoned during the pleasure of the Lord Proprietary or the Lieutenant or cheife Governor of this Province for the time being. And that every such Offender or Offenders for every second offence shall forfeit tenne pound sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed as aforesaid, or in case such offender or Offenders shall not then have goods and chattells within this Province sufficient for that purpose then to bee publiquely and severely whipt and imprisoned as before is expressed. And that every person or persons before mentioned offending herein the third time, shall for such third Offence forfeit all his lands and Goods and bee for ever banished and expelled out of this Province.
And be it also further Enacted by the same authority advise and assent that whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth uppon any occasion of Offence or otherwise in a reproachful manner or Way declare call or denominate any person or persons whatsoever inhabiting, residing, traffiqueing, trading or comerceing within this Province or within any the Ports, Harbors, Creeks or Havens to the same belonging an heritick, Scismatick, Idolator, puritan, Independant, Prespiterian popish prest, Jesuite, Jesuited papist, Lutheran, Calvenist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist, or any other name or terme in a reproachfull manner relating to matter of Religion shall for every such Offence forfeit and loose the somme of tenne shillings sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed on the goods and chattells of every such Offender and Offenders, the one half thereof to be forfeited and paid unto the person and persons of whom such reproachfull words are or shalbe spoken or uttered, and the other half thereof to the Lord Proprietary and his heires Lords and Proprietaries of this Province. But if such person or persons who shall at any time utter or speake any such reproachfull words or Language shall not have Goods or Chattells sufficient and overt within this Province to bee taken to satisfie the penalty aforesaid or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed, that then the person or persons soe offending shalbe publickly whipt, and shall suffer imprisonment without baile or maineprise [bail] untill hee, shee or they respectively shall satisfy the party soe offended or greived by such reproachfull Language by asking him or her respectively forgivenes publiquely for such his Offence before the Magistrate of cheife Officer or Officers of the Towne or place where such Offence shalbe given.
As a result of this act, Protestants whose own religions were persecuted in the various English colonies fled the other colonies to settle in Maryland. Within five years, the Protestant population had grown so large that the Protestants were able to revolt and overthrow the Catholic government of Maryland. The Protestants not only overturned the Act, they passed a law forbidding Catholics the right to worship in Maryland at all.

The Catholic governor managed to regain control and strike a deal, allowing the Act to be reinstated in 1658. That lasted until 1692, when the Protestants again overthrew the Catholic government, this time for good. The Act was again repealed, Catholicism again outlawed. By 1718, Catholics were denied the right to vote.

Prior to the Civil War, the Constitution was seen as only being applicable to the federal government, not to local state governments. Thus, many states in America's Constitutional Republic barred Catholics from various aspects of public life right up through the end of the Civil War.

When Pope Francis points out that no one has a right to mock another person's religion, he is echoing Maryland's 1649 Act of Toleration. He is invoking the Catholic history of the United States.

How many modern American Catholics realize this?


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Infallible on Fracking?

Newsies are now saying the Pope is going to deliver an encyclical on the environment that will (a) denounce fracking, (b) embrace global warming and (c) give Greens throughout the world warm fuzzies because these statements will be infallibly stated in an infallible encyclical infallible. I threw that extra "infallible" in, because you're going to see that word a lot whenever the Pope says something the MSM thinks turns to their advantage. Might as well get used to it. We're going to see it a lot in the coming days. Sigh.

Anyway, we will ignore the fact that they are not similarly thrilled about the infallible teaching contained within Humanae Vitae, and get down to brass tacks. What is an infallible teaching?

This is almost always very badly explained.

We could yammer a bit about how an infallible teaching must be on a matter of (1) faith and morals, (2) to the whole Church, (3) pronounced with Peter's own teaching authority, and that it's very rare, yada, yada, yada.

But that all misses the point.

To begin with, infallible statements are not at all rare - they are extremely common. Second, anyone can pronounce an infallible statement - it isn't just restricted to the Pope. When I say, "God is Three Divine Persons in One Divine Nature", I have made an infallibly true statement. I have spoken infallibly.

To make an infallibly true statement, you need only teach what the Church has always taught. That's all. Period. Done. Infallible statements are made in every child's catechism class every day. They are made in every book that correctly enunciates Catholic doctrine, even books written by raging atheists. Teach what the Church has always taught and, boom!, you have spoken infallibly! You can do it, too! Try it!

Now, fracking is not a subject upon which the Church has always taught, therefore not subject to the charism. Same with global warming. Perhaps there is an underlying principle of preserving the environment - which arguably is a point upon which the Church has always taught. After all, Scripture, which is infallible Church teaching, talks about Adam (and therefore the rest of us, too), being set to steward the earth and the things within it.

All well and good. We must steward the earth, that is an infallibly true statement. But how we do it - that's a prudential judgement. The Pope is not infallible in matters of prudence. He is also not infallible on matters of technology or applied experimental science. Is fracking good or bad when it comes to stewardship? You have to know a whole lot, not only about the fracking process, but also about what would happen to people if we didn't do that and tried doing something else to get energy instead. Even if the Pope were to specifically denounce fracking in an encyclical (it won't happen, but let's say he did), good Catholics could look at the argument he brought forward and disagree.

Why? Well, because the Church doesn't have an eternal teaching on energy development and use. She has eternal teachings on the sanctity of human life, from its beginning to its natural end. How we use energy and the environment certainly impacts human life. But it isn't at the core of human life or the life of heaven. Energy use and environmental use are areas where we are to apply the principles of caring for each other as God cares for us, and figure out the best road given the tools we have developed.

IVF, contraception, euthanasia - these are at the core of human life. Doesn't matter what technology is being employed, people have a right to be conceived by two parents, spouses have a duty to be open to life, everyone has a right to food, water, and shelter and a right to not being murdered. Now, how we feed them - are GMOs good or bad? That's a prudential judgement. How we get the energy necessary to get them food, water and shelter. That's a prudential judgement. But having a lab tech conceive a kid in a Petri dish and then freeze him solid in liquid nitrogen? Yeah, that's not how God treats us, so that's not how we are supposed to treat each other.

So, what's the story with the three-point test and rarity and all that?

Well, there have been times in Church history when nearly the whole Church got themselves so confused on a doctrine that essentially no one was correctly enunciating the doctrine. Everyone was mis-teaching on it. In those situations, the Popes have stood up and clearly stated exactly what the doctrine is - those were infallible statements. But we, as a Church, were so crazy on the point that we had to go through that three-point list above to make sure we had heard it correctly and understood that he was authoritatively telling us to get our heads screwed on straight. That is the charism of infallibility - the ability to keep one's head and correctly teach what is necessary for salvation when everyone else is running around yelling nonsense like a lunatic.