Support This Website! Shop Here!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Slamming Ed Peters

Alright, it's time to call some people out.

All of you who have been slamming Lila Rose and Live Action for lying... we have another serious issue on our hands, and we need your august opinions.

It seems canon lawyer Ed Peters has been saying Gov. Cuomo should not receive the Eucharist.
Albany's bishop was quite wroth:

The bishop in Albany agreed, saying to pass judgment on others, even those in public life, is inappropriate.

"There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe," said Albany Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard. "However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts. As a matter of pastoral practice, we should not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen."

So... Mark Shea, Dawn Eden, William Doino... when are you all going to slam Ed Peters for having sinned by committing rash judgement?

Ironically, the WSJ does what Catholic commentators won't, calling out Ed Peters:

Peters' opinion may conflict with church law.

The Vatican states Catholics may receive Communion if they confess their sins or intend to confess their sins and that "church custom shows that is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth."

In other words, as I'm sure the bishop of Albany would agree, canonist Ed Peters is bringing scandal to the Church by engaging in judgement so rash that even the secularists at the WSJ noticed...

But who will call him out?

(Hint: No one - he's part of the Catholic glitterati, so his sins are forgiven before they are committed.)

And, for the record, I tend to agree with Eddie on this one, but what difference does that make? Why should my opinion, or Ed's opinion, or the opinion of "a large number of unnamed Catholic theologians" (Dr. Janet Smith's oft-invoked bloc) rate as important?

The question I'm asking here goes a little deeper than just pointing out that Ed is engaged in behaviour at least as "reprehensible" as Lila Rose and Live Action. After all, I'm quite, quite certain that no one is going to yell at Ed except Catholic bishops.

I'm trying to point out that the post-Vatican II involvement of the laity is a very mixed bag.

Sure, we get people like Karl Keating, Scott Hahn, etc., teaching Catholic laity what priests won't, but are they really helping anyone?

Let me explain.

Back around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, preaching had fallen into a terrible state. Priests were often essentially illiterate, barely able to say the Mass, not much knowledge of Scripture, engaged in sexual promiscuity and the chase for wealth. Lay people were scandalized, heresies like Albigensianism spread wildly.

How was the situation rectified?

New religious orders, like the Franciscans and Dominicans, were founded dedicated to preaching and to imitating the life of Christ in daily life. Indeed, this is a constant refrain throughout the life of the Church - whenever She has been in need of reform, a new religious order has been founded to administer the healing balm of reform.

Now, we only remember the orders that survived the tumultuous times, but we must recall that a lot of orders were attempted and didn't survive. For instance, we can recall the Waldensians, founded by Peter Waldo, and dedicated to a very Franciscan-style charism. The Waldensians failed and became heretics precisely because they ultimately refused to place themselves under the rule of the Church.

Many more orders did place themselves under the Church's rule, but foundered and failed because their charism was ultimately a phantasm.

In the post-conciliar era, we have again been faced with a failure of preaching, of good priestly example and a loss of holy understanding.

Unfortunately, in this era, we have not founded any new religious orders, we have founded business models designed to enrich the founders. From Karl Keating to Scott Hahn, from Chris West to Pat Madrid, we have seen men and women work to establish not religious orders, but Protestant-style personality cults.

Sure, they all attempt in some way to place themselves within the body of the Church, but have they succeeded? Can we find, in the whole history of the Church, examples like theirs to show that what is being done is good? Bless me for a fool, but I can't recall a single instance in the whole two millennia of the Church in which the situation we have spawned today has turned out to be good for Catholic spirituality.

Preaching is terrible. We should be founding religious orders.

The liturgy is in terrible shape. We should be founding religious orders.

If Karl, Scott, Chris, Pat, Mark and company really wanted to promote Christ instead of themselves, they would be founding lay religious orders.

Instead, they are founding LLCs and S-Corporations, promoting their opinions via the Wall Street Journal and Twitter. Heck, am I not doing the same thing right now by blogging?

There is no precedent for this. At least, no good precedent.

When we do what the priests are supposed to be doing, we make them co-dependents in exactly the same way that the priests eviscerate and emasculate parents when those same priests try to take over parental roles. We strip priests not only of their power to change, but of the desire to change. Why should they do any work if the parishioners can get the teaching elsewhere?

Just as priests and their employees shouldn't be doing the sacramental prep that is the parents' duty, so lay Catholics and their employees really shouldn't be doing the preaching that priests and bishops are supposed to do.

But, precisely because parents don't do their jobs, the parish tries to take over and makes a hash of it, inadvertently fueling the estrangement of children from their parents.

And precisely because priests and bishops don't do their jobs, lay Catholics try to take over and make a hash of it, inadvertently estranging parishioners from their pastors via the personality cults they have to establish in order to make a living.

Yes, we can point out that pastors aren't doing their jobs. But we should remember that we can't do those jobs either.


dcs said...

I don't understand why you think Dr. Peter's should be "called out" for rash judgment.

"He becomes guilty ... of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor" (CCC 2477).

Is it your contention that there is not sufficient foundation to judge that Gov. Cuomo is a public sinner who should be denied the Sacrament?

If that is your contention, then how can you agree with Dr. Peters?

I agree that lay people should be focusing on the spiritual life rather than trying to do the bishops' and priests' job for them; but that is not why Live Action is being criticized (although they might well be criticized on those grounds -- however I think the horse has left the barn on that issue). They are being criticized for lying.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I don't believe Live Action lied (and thus I share in their culpability if they did, I suppose), but if we hold Ed Peters to the same strict standards that we hold Live Action to, then we should nail Ed Peters (and me) for rash judgement.

After all, the bishops are essentially laying that charge at Ed's door.

And we all know that the judgement of bishops is superb, because Ed said essentially that when he defended Janet West and Janet said essentially that when she and several bishops defended Chris West.

So, Ed loves the bishops' judgement when they say what he wants, but he ignores it when they don't say what he wants.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

"Janet West"...!? :)

Bob said...

I think he meant Janet Smith.

I also note that the bishop never used the words rash judgement, but had a much softer statement.

This post shows many misconceptions about the sacrament of confession. You can't just confess a sin you are still committing and plan to continue to commit. Intent to confess is not normally acceptable before receiving Communion.

dcs said...

"if we hold Ed Peters to the same strict standards that we hold Live Action to, then we should nail Ed Peters (and me) for rash judgement."

I don't see how that follows. It seems to me that Dr. Peters has sufficient foundation on which to make his judgment. Whether or not he should use his blog to publicly correct a bishop is another matter entirely. And yes, we might note the irony of criticizing a bishop on the one hand, but then relying on bishops' judgment of Janet Smith/Christopher West on the other. But that still isn't rash judgment; rather it is a logical fallacy (appeal to authority -- one can't make an argument from authority when one doesn't accept that authority!).

dcs said...


More to the point, public sins require public repentance. For example, if Mr. X were an habitual sinner, but this was not known publicly, then a priest could not refuse him the Sacrament publicly even if the priest knew about the sin and knew that Mr. X was unrepentant. The issue here is that Gov. Cuomo's sin is public, therefore he ought not to be given the Sacrament publicly.

Jennifer said...

re: Laymen studying and explaining the faith:

-The work of Catholic Answers and the like has done wonders for souls here in the Bible Belt.

-Please recall that economic conditions were quite different in the middle ages, and that one reason lay movements tended to go wrong is that they did not have the resources to devote to education that religious could. That no longer is the case.

(And when the well-intended laymen did seek to have their innocent errors rectified, all went well. The ultimate problem with Waldo & the like wasn't the ignorance. It was the defiance. We continue to have problems with defiance today . . . among laymen, yes, but also among religious ordrs.)

-Catholic lay organizations can and do seek approval and oversight from their bishops. What more can you want?

I fail to see how lay apostolates today are any more nefarious than those troublesome mendicants with their innovative structures.

o said...

Steve, your argument is a circle eating itself.

The priests and bishops weren't doing it so Francis started to help and others followed him in time and orders were do you know Karl et al aren't causing folks to start or join time...was Francis a cult of personality in your view...if you didn't know his future...there is no pleasing your argument that humans in positions of authority are failing but no one should try to help that situation.

Nice that such religious orders started....but what about the millions that lived without help...are they in Hell or purgatory still, so unnecessarily - do we just punt on the people of today and wait until Karl's religious order can help the generations not yet born?

That's like saying "we ignore Cuomo living at the same adress as his girly, because it's not our position, and we know their grandkids will have Karl's religious order to attend. The bishops are trying to save cuomo's and his girlfriend's souls and leading the teenage generation into the same pit that many will not have a bishops nudge to help them from. Who's at fault for these lost souls? Steve?

Kevin said...

I've always thought part of the problem is that there is little to any oversight with this stuff. That's a "blessing" and a "curse."

The rapid flow of information allows people who are competent to get out information quickly. If the old way still existed, people would believe, a la Janet Smith, that not talking openly about intercourse with horses was proof the Church was "repressive" about sexuality. In that case, it didn't take someone "competent", but a 28 year old who had a slow work day to debunk the nonsense.

On the other side, people really aren't accountable. Bishops don't have time to read the blog of every Catholic in their diocese. If they hired 100 people dedicated to solely that, it wouldn't be enough in most areas. So you will get Catholics, some even learned on some things, making statements of which they have absolutely no qualification for.

I honestly think Steve's argument is just a bit of antiquarianism. It's really tough to predict which way the Spirit will blow. No doubt the establishment of Micah's time dismissed the idea of a humble farmer being a prophet who had a right to denounce the King, or that a tax collector and a Gentile physician were two people who wrote under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Yet the problem Steve describes is real, and is probably one of the biggest problems facing the Church in this age: how to adapt to the modern media without compromising her identity?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"It seems to me that Dr. Peters has sufficient foundation on which to make his judgment."

DCS, the bishops are saying precisely that neither you nor Dr. Peter has sufficient foundation to make your judgement. Neither of you know the situation as well as they do, so - they aver - you should keep your traps shut.

The fact that they used softer language than this doesn't detract from the basic point.

The bishops and priests are responsible for lost souls. They are the ones who are held accountable. Scripture and Catholic doctrine are quite clear on this point. That's why we should "pray for our elders, for they have care of our souls."

As for Francis, check your dates and your facts. He had dreams in 1205, but didn't change his life appreciably. He heard the sermon which changed his life on February 24, either in 1208 or 1209.

As a result of that sermon, he gave up everything, he had. He didn't go on a Caribbean cruise to raise money for his apostolate, nor did he go on a speaking tour. His life of extreme, abject poverty is what attracted a following, and a small one at that: only four people, including Francis.

By the end of 1209, he had already drawn up the primitive rule and personally petitioned the Pope for acceptance. By April 16, 1210, the Franciscans existed as a religious order. The massive growth happened almost entirely AFTER the order was established.

How long have Karl, Scott and company been promoting themselves?

What material goods have the given up to pursue their foundation of their respective religious orders?

What signs do you see that indicate they ARE establishing religious orders?

You all do realize, of course, that St. Francis SPECIFICALLY and EXPLICITLY attacked book learning as tending to be contrary to the spiritual life? Indeed, it is a great irony of history that any such organization as "Franciscan University" exists - St. Francis himself would have attacked the institution as un-Franciscan.

So, no, it wasn't a lack of educational resources that made people choose to establish religious orders then, nor is it a wealth of educational resources that makes religious orders unnecessary today.

The two things have no necessary bearing on one another, as St. Francis readily pointed out on no small number of occasions.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I don't discount the possibility that the Spirit is moving in a new way.

What I find odd, however, is that this "new way" seems to rely primarily on lay "theologians" and lay "canon lawyers" for authenticity.

Look at Janet Smith's defense - she appeals entirely and consistently to some bloc of unnamed theologians, not the Magisterium, not Scripture. Peter Kreeft does the same, only he doesn't rise to the Catholic theologian level.

There's a basic difference between Bishop Burke telling his brother bishops they need to obey canon law, and some lay canon lawyer lecturing the bishops on how they should apply canon law.

America is a Protestant country, and Catholic Americans have often reflected the prevailing Protestant attitude in their approach to things episcopal.

If that observation is antiquarian, then I willingly embrace the label.

Matt C. Abbott said...

What we need is for the "good" bishops to put the "bad" bishops in their place, which may or may not happen. For the most part, it hasn't happened, although Cardinal Burke is an exception.

The bottom line is that the bishops have the authority -- even the "bad" ones -- and we, as laymen, do not. Thus, we continue to spin our wheels.

theofaulders said...

Instead, they are founding LLCs and S-Corporations...

Bravo. I agree. I trust the infallible judgment of the Magisterium and do not feel upset when I discover that my judgment or the judgment of Mr. Peters is fallible. I find it curious that some lay people are doing the work of the Dominican Order and seem to enjoy the fortune that goes with it. But I think that the Church is capable of hosting a variety of charisms. The main thing is to trust the Magisterium.

TH2 said...

You did well to make that distinction between religious orders and individual laymen, to which which not a few (of the latter) a Cult of Personality has developed. This is especially the case with Hahn and his Domineering Salesman approach (cf. how he eclipses Mike Aquilina when they appear on EWTN). Hahn still retains much Protestant baggage.

Mark P. Shea said...


If it makes you feel better, I will happily concede that you are guilty of rash judgment.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I know my blog is more interesting than yours, but I'm surprised that have decided to become a micro-blogger in my comment box.

In justice, I must warn you: if you start begging for money over here like you do at your own blog, I'll have to start deleting your comments.

I don't allow ANYONE to sponge tips on this blog, not even me.

Unless you are starting your own mendicant religious order, and are just waiting for the vows to be approved by Rome???

In that case, I would make an exception for you.

Farmer's City Wife said...

So... lay people shouldn't study the faith and become scholars; that's the realm of clergy and religious only? Or if they do they should keep their knowledge to themselves because they shouldn't be preaching? Or if they don't keep their knowledge to themselves, they shouldn't get paid for it to provide for their families?

They shouldn't engage the culture through the New York Times and Twitter (and blogging?).

Oh... they all have to found lay orders.

Doesn't sound much like the path laid out in Christifideles Laici. :-p

Theological cruises irk me, but somebody has to evangelize the wealthy too, right?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The Protestant Reformation happened because people didn't know the Faith.

Every Catholic has a duty to learn the Faith and teach one another the Faith.

That being said, it's not clear to me that this is supposed to be a business model. Paul talked about people who preached the Gospel for money. We don't even remember any of their names. That's how important they were.

That's how important they ARE.

Paul never got paid for his work. He made tents to support himself. If we want our teachers to teach, shouldn't they model sacrifice by doing it for free? And if they can't do it for free, then should they really be doing it?

Every person under religious vows (brothers, sisters, nuns, monks, etc.) who is not under Holy Orders is a lay person. St. Francis was never ordained - he was a lay person his whole life (thus the first person to get the stigmata was a lay person).

You can found a religious order, an order that teaches the Faith, and still be a lay person. Hundreds of people have.

A married person's first duty is to be a spouse and a parent. It is NOT to fly around the country preaching. That simply isn't part of the charism of marriage.

dcs said...


St. Francis was ordained a deacon. That was, of course, after he had founded his Order and the Pope approved its Rule.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I know the Catholic Encyclopedia article says that, but I've never seen that mentioned anywhere else.

Certainly the Franciscans who taught at Franciscan U never mentioned it. I always got from them the impression that he was never more than a layman. Perhaps it is the case, and they simply never mentioned it.

Jordanes551 said...

If St. Francis had not been ordained a deacon, he would not have had the authority to preach and so his movement would have been condemned and suppressed like the Waldensian movement was.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


The Franciscan Friars seem uncertain about St. Francis' ordination:

"Few people realize that Saint Francis was never ordained to the holy priesthood. Saint Francis never celebrated one Mass at an altar, heard a sacramental confession or held the sacred host in his hands. Some historical references indicate that Saint Francis may have been ordained to the deaconate. If this be true, it was as some scholars say so that the saint could preach at Mass."

In fact, St. Francis preached for quite some time before he may or may not have been ordained, assuming he was, which we apparently don't seem to know for sure.