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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catholic Schools: This Is Embarrassing

Well, this is embarrassing.

“According to data from the Annual Church Statistics given at the press conference, the number of students in Catholic schools has risen from nearly 55 million in 2008 to around 58 million in 2011.”

Now these are worldwide numbers - throughout the entire world, there are around 58 million children in Catholic schools. What can we use to scale that number and give it a little more meaning?

According to the figures found here and herethere were 53 million school-aged children in the US in 2008, i.e., 53 million children between 5 and 17 years of age. 23% of America is Catholic, so assuming Catholics have families the same size as everyone else, that makes for about 12 million Catholic children in the United States alone. 

Now, I'll grant you, the United States is the third most populous country in the world. That means about 21% of the Catholic child population in the world resides here. But less than two million of those children are in Catholic schools - indeed, American Catholic schools tend not to have 100% Catholic student population in this country.  

So, with over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, only 58 million school children are in Catholic schools? Really? 

That means, world-wide, Catholic schools barely teach the total student population alive in the United States. 

Yet people still insist that Catholic schools are critical to the transmission of the Faith? Really? 58 million kids out of 1.2 billion Catholics? And we're relying on Catholic schools to fix this. Hmmmm.... 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Unbaptized Children and Heaven

The priest in this video is incorrect.

It is NOT the case that the Church teaches that we KNOW all unabaptized people go to hell.

Rather, the Church has always taught that we DO NOT KNOW any way, through our work here on earth, any way by which we can bring to those who die without baptism the grace they need to enter heaven. So, from our point of view, we cannot do a thing to help them avoid hell.

However, the Church DOES NOT teach that souls who have not received water baptism descend into Limbo (the outer fringe of hell). Limbo is not mentioned in either the Catechism of Trent nor in the Universal Catechism that followed Vatican II. It is NOT a concept taught by the Church in a formal way.

A Catholic can believe in Limbo if s/he wants, but no Catholic is under obligation to accept Limbo because the Church does not formally teach that such a place exists.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1261: "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism."
We hope, not with human hope, but with DIVINE hope, that these children enter heaven. Human hope accomplishes nothing at all in terms of salvation, so having human hope alone is stupid and pointless.

Liturgy is not a human work, it is a divine work done by human hands. Liturgy instills divine hope, not human hope. Only divine hope holds out the possibility of heaven to the unbaptized, and that divine hope is instantiated in the Church's liturgy, as the Catechism attests. So, if that hope is present in the Church's own liturgy, then it must be present in us as well.

We do not pray for the devil because he cannot benefit from our prayers - no one can be prayed out of hell. But we do pray for the unbaptized, that God grants them the grace to enter heaven. The fact that this prayer is not only permitted, but enshrined in the Church's own liturgical prayers demonstrates that those who die unbaptized die with the possibility of entering heaven through means known only to God.

This grace is all the more pertinent on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Their parents knew nothing of Christ, they knew nothing of Christ, they knew nothing about dying for Christ, yet they DID die for Christ as mute witnesses to the goodness of God. And who can look on an infant without seeing the goodness and glory of the life-giving God? Every infant is a testimony to the Life-giving God Who is infinitely Good.

We cannot know with certitude that these children enter heaven, but we can hope with divine hope that they do, and the Church requires us, through Her liturgy, to maintain in prayer this divinely-founded hope.

The FSSP teaching on this is quite, quite wrong.
Pray for every FSSP priest, that they may one day begin to teach what the Church teaches on this point.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Catholics Created the World

Phillip Carey has an interesting non-Catholic commentary on Genesis, but one of the side-points he makes could be elaborated on in another way:
"In something close to a pun, the curse falls not on Adam but on the adamah, Hebrew for the ground. Humanity is not cursed because of Adam’s sin."
That is certainly the Jewish and Muslim understanding (neither system accepts original sin), but that is most certainly NOT the Christian understanding. Because Adam was made from the clay of the earth, not only did this sin affect the ground, it affected everything which finds its origins in the ground - both Adam and all of creation.

Precisely because the sin mars the ground, it mars Adam, who came from the ground; Eve, who came from Adam; and all of their descendants. In fact, it mars the entirety of creation. Which is why St. Paul points out that the whole universe is groaning with anticipation for the redemption.

As an historian, I am often asked why we say Columbus "discovered" America, given the irrefutable facts: the American Indians and the Vikings were here first. 

My answer: Columbus discovered the Americas in the sense that he put them into communication with the rest of the world. No one before him did that. In fact, we can say that Christianity discovered the entire world because it was European Catholics who first sailed around the whole world and put all peoples into communication with each other. We did some nasty things while we were accomplishing this feat, but in this sense, at least, there is no question that Catholics created the world as we know it, just as there is no question that Catholics created most of the major languages that the world's citizens speak.

What is true of Christianity and the modern community of nations is also true of creation as a whole. The universe may have existed prior to man, but it's existence had no meaning until man appeared and "discovered" it. In that sense, it is proper to say that the universe comes into existence when man does. Precisely because God chose to give the universe a particular meaning by creating and placing man into it, man's sin affects not only himself, but all that has meaningful existence because of him.

Great Quotes From Bishops

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote about the orthodoxy of the Faithful during the betrayal of the Faith by bishops during the Arian crisis. He wrote:
‘ THE episcopate, whose action was so prompt and concordant at Nicæa on the rise of Arianism, did not, as a class or order of men, play a good part in the troubles consequent upon the Council; and the laity did. The Catholic people, in the length and breadth of Christendom, were the obstinate champions of Catholic truth, and the bishops were not. Of course there were great and illustrious exceptions; first, Athanasius, Hilary, the Latin Eusebius, and Phœbadius; and after them, Basil, the two Gregories, and Ambrose; there are others, too, who suffered, if they did nothing else, as Eustathius, Paulus, Paulinus, and Dionysius; and the Egyptian bishops, whose weight was small in the Church in proportion to the great power of their Patriarch. And, on the other hand, as I shall say presently, there were exceptions to the Christian heroism of the laity, especially in some of the great towns. And again, in speaking of the laity, I speak inclusively of their parish-priests (so to call them), at least in many places; but on the whole, taking a wide view of the history, we are obliged to say that the governing body of the Church came short, and the governed were pre-eminent in faith, zeal, courage, and constancy.
This is a very remarkable fact: but there is a moral in it. Perhaps it was permitted, in order to impress upon the Church at that very time passing out of her state of persecution to her long temporal ascendancy, the great evangelical lesson, that, not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak constitute her real strength. It was mainly by the faithful people that Paganism was overthrown; it was by the faithful people, under the lead of Athanasius and the Egyptian bishops, and in some places supported by their Bishops or priests, that the worst of heresies was withstood and stamped out of the sacred territory.’
About A.D. 360, St. Hilary says: “I am not speaking of things foreign to my knowledge; I am not writing about what I am ignorant of; I have heard and I have seen the shortcomings of persons who are round about me, not of laymen, but of Bishops. For, excepting the Bishop Eleusius and a few with him, for the most part the ten Asian provinces, within whose boundaries I am situate, are truly ignorant of God.” De Syn. 63.
A.D. 360. St. Gregory Nazianzen says, about this date: “Surely the pastors have done foolishly; for, excepting a very few, who either on account of their insignificance were passed over, or who by reason of their virtue resisted, and who were to be left as a seed and root for the springing  up again and revival of Israel by the influences of the Spirit, all temporized, only differing from each other in this, that some succumbed earlier, and others later; some were foremost champions and leaders in the impiety, and others joined the second rank of the battle, being overcome by fear, or by interest, or by flattery, or, what was the most excusable, by their own ignorance.” Orat. xxi. 24.
A.D. 361. About this time, St. Jerome says: “Nearly all the churches in the whole world, under the pretence of peace and of the emperor, are polluted with the communion of the Arians.” Chron. Of the same date, that is, upon the Council of Ariminum, are his famous words, “Ingemuit totus orbis et se esse Arianum miratus est.” In Lucif. 19. “The Catholics of Christendom were strangely surprised to find that the Council had made Arians of them.”
St. Hilary speaks of the series of ecclesiastical Councils of that time in the following well-known passage: “Since the Nicene Council, we have done nothing but write the Creed. While we fight about words, inquire about novelties, take advantage of ambiguities, criticize authors, fight on party questions, have difficulties in agreeing, and prepare to anathematize each other, there is scarce a man who belongs to Christ. 
A.D. 382. St. Gregory writes: “If I must speak the truth, I feel disposed to shun every conference of Bishops: for never saw I Synod brought to a happy issue, and remedying, and not rather aggravating, existing evils. For rivalry and ambition are stronger than reason,—do not think me extravagant for saying so,—and a mediator is more likely to incur some imputation himself than to clear up the imputations which others lie under.”—Ep. 129

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Yoga Became Popular

The Huffington Post has an article that attempts to explain why yoga has become so popular. As usual it gets everything backwards. 

Yoga is a chick thing. 83% of yoga practitioners are women. Yoga is also highly linked to sexual activity - it was initially designed to increase sexual appetite. According to the New York Times, yoga began as a sex cult.

80% to 90% of American women are on hormonal contraceptives.
Hormonal contraceptives almost uniformly decreases libido

So, for all those women whose libido has been reduced by the Pill and other artificial hormonal chemicals, yoga is the only way to stay sexually interesting enough to snag a man. Thus, the marketing of yoga via the young, slim, sexually desirable woman.

The popularity of yoga really demonstrates nothing more than women thinking with their gonads.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Pope Francis Prophecies About America

56. ...A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits....

Here is America's debt as a percentage of GDP over the course of its history:

What comprises America's debt:


Here is America's government debt as a percentage of GDP, compared to other countries:

America, Europe, Canada, Sudan, Eritrea: how long do you think we can keep this up?

Woman, Meet Reality. Reality, Meet Woman.

Some interesting facts:
So, women deliberately create their own hells. They create the single-parent environments that impoverish and victimize them. 

Women raise their own rapists. 
Women raise their daughters' rapists. 

A woman, especially a mother, needs a man like a fish needs water.
A woman needs a man like a breathing creature needs oxygen. 

Without men, women commit long, slow, painful suicide.
They really aren't very good at being independent.
Those are the facts.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pope Francis Condemns Distributism

According to the Distributist Review
 A family that owns its own land or its own tools can make its own way in the world without being dependent on someone else for a “job.” Thus, Distributism seeks to extend property ownership to as many as possible, and end the concentration of ownership by few capitalists or state officials. 
The ‘means of production’ are the land, tools, and equipment needed for labor to transform raw materials into goods and services. As wealth (goods or services) is only possible by the combination of the means of production, labor, and raw materials, we believe it is best when these are owned cooperatively (worker-owned) or entirely operated by the family.

Here is Pope Francis' response to that idea:
222. A constant tension exists between fullness and limitation. Fullness evokes the desire for complete possession, while limitation is a wall set before us. Broadly speaking, “time” has to do with fullness as an expression of the horizon which constantly opens before us, while each individual moment has to do with limitation as an expression of enclosure. People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space. (emphasis added)
223. This principle enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently to endure difficult and adverse situations, or inevitable changes in our plans. It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitation, and to give a priority to time. One of the faults which we occasionally observe in sociopolitical activity is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes. Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion; it is to crystallize processes and presume to hold them back. (emphasis added) Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces. Time governs spaces, illumines them and makes them links in a constantly expanding chain, with no possibility of return. What we need, then, is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.
He doesn't seem that keen on land ownership being central to the economy. His emphasis is on time, which distributists don't discuss at all. Other remarks lead in the same direction, away from a focus on distributist land ownership and towards the urban environment:
71. The new Jerusalem, the holy city (cf. Rev 21:2-4), is the goal towards which all of humanity is moving. It is curious that God’s revelation tells us that the fullness of humanity and of history is realized in a city. We need to look at our cities with a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares.  
72. In cities, as opposed to the countryside, the religious dimension of life is expressed by different lifestyles, daily rhythms linked to places and people. 
While he had a whole section devoted to the cities and urban life, he had absolutely nothing to say about the rural areas and the countryside. Not a lot of people in cities own land. You might answer that cities are the source of guilds. Fine. But Pope Francis also had nothing to say about the need for guilds or anything like it. He doesn't even mention unions, much less guilds.

What Pope Francis has to say is at least as opposed to distributism as it is to capitalism.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Spirit of John Chrysostom

You know, I *LOVED* Benedict's writing, but Francis is an even better, clearer writer than Benedict. He drumbeats the concern for the poor that Chrysostom had, drives home Chrysostom's theme about the important role women have to play in the Church and outlines why the dignity of work is the major problem facing the world today.

He really gets it. 

I've been pro-life since my atheist days, got arrested in front of abortion clinics on two separate occasions, got into adult formation largely because I saw it as the only way to stop abortion, but Francis understands the abortion problem better than I do.

Both men and women seek dignity even more than they seek a paycheck. They will settle for low pay if their work can give their lives meaning. The mission to give dignity back to the poor, those who image Christ... this is central to the exhortation. We do this by giving them the Gospel. 
204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.
This is NOT an attack on capitalism, nor is it an endorsement of statism or government as the best solution. 
202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,[173]no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
It is not the inequality of wealth that concerns him, it is the inequality of dignity.

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church all agreed that physical poverty wasn't the biggest problem, rather, it was spiritual poverty, the poverty of not knowing the Gospel. Insofar as someone doesn't know the Gospel, they don't know their own worth or their own dignity. They don't know how deeply central they are in the eyes of God. 

So, when Francis speaks of the lack of employment being the biggest problem, he isn't thinking that a job at McDonald's for every teenager is the solution. Rather, he sees the solution as being a society which recognizes the dignity of the McDonald's worker to be equal to the dignity of the CEO. When the dignity of work is recognized, then inequality will have been conquered. This is not just recognized by paycheck, but by giving honor to everyone employed in work, especially vocational work.

And this is the central problem that creates abortion. Women reject motherhood because they don't see it as a vocation, a job, a work of mercy and grace, a place of honor and status. They don't see it as a way to gain dignity, instead they believe the world, which tells them that motherhood is disgusting and worthless. It tells them pregnancy is a violation of who they are and what they can be.

When Francis speaks of jobs for the poor, he doesn't just envision paychecks for the men, but motherhood for the women. Men and women need to understand God has called them to the lifetime job of being parents. Women especially must realize that the unborn child calls them to service, that the child is the one who will pay them rich wages: a life of love, honor and dignity. That's a message many, many women will respond to. 

He's calling the wealthy not just to throw money at the poor, rather, he's asking the wealthy to find room in their lives to employ the poor, to honor them with the sacred trust of a job. He calls the rich to give the poor dignity, treat them as equals in their humanity. This encyclical isn't about money or economic systems. It's about practicing the presence of God. 

The theme of the dignity of every human person, and the means by which this dignity is recognized both by us and by the poor themselves, runs like a ribbon through the whole encyclical. Pope Francis is a master of Scripture and the four senses of Scripture. It's a brilliant piece of writing, in part because it is so unaffected, clear, unpretentious. Writing that way is incredibly hard, especially with the number of footnotes he brings in, and he makes it seem easy. 

He's making me understand what a lousy Catholic I am. 

Islam Means "Submission"
Now, some people have been disconcerted by his remarks on Islam, a word which means "submission." First, let's notice that he spends no small amount of time chastising Muslims. 
253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! (emphasis added)
This is a tremendous slam on the Muslims. He's essentially saying that Muslims currently do not acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns of others or understand anyone else's beliefs. He explicitly points out that Christians are currently not received or respected in Muslim countries. But what gets everyone upset is the next sentence:
Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence. (emphasis added)
Read by itself, this sentence would seem to indicate that Francis is incredibly naive about Islam. But before we draw that conclusion, let's look at one other statement he makes, a quote from the CCC from the immediately preceding paragraph that is very, very illuminating:
252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”.[198]
First, 252 contrasts the way Christians receive Muslims (they can freely worship and become fully a part of society) with 253 and how Muslims receive Christians (we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat...). He intentionally contrasts the two treatments to remind everyone that Christians are being much more generous than Muslims. 

Second, keep in mind that the CCC passage he quotes in 252 is, itself, a repudiation of Muslim teaching. Muslims do, indeed, teach that Jesus is the judge on Judgement Day, but they do not believe that Jesus is God. Thus, when the CCC says that the Muslims "together with us... adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day", that same CCC is deliberately telling the Muslims that Islam is wrong: Jesus IS, in fact, God. 

And Francis certainly knows this. So, he simultaneously quotes the one sentence in the CCC that both embraces what Islam gets right (Jesus is judge) and corrects the error that Islam makes (Jesus IS God).  Since paragraph 252 closes with this quote that carries both this carrot and this stick, it is not a mistake to read the closing sentence in paragraph 253 as if it carried the same parallelism.

How does it work? Pope Francis says that insofar as Islam is authentically telling the glory of God, it is "opposed to every form of violence", but insofar as Islam teaches violence, it is not authentic. In short, he's calling Islam (as it has been violently practiced by Mohammed and his disciples through the ages) a false, inauthentic religion. By insisting that the only authentic religion is a peaceful religion, he is simultaneously calling all Muslims to renounce the violence inherent to their faith and embrace authentic "Islam", authentic submission. That is, he is calling them to submission to the peace of Christ. 

How do I know I'm correct to interpret it this way? Because Pope Francis says as much in the very next sentence:
254. Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”,[199] and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”.[200]
Now, Francis knows perfectly well that Islam adamantly rejects the paschal mystery (which consists of the crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension). Islam insists that Jesus was never crucified. So, by linking non-Christians both to their conscience (which has inscribed upon it the 10 Commandments, including "Thou shall not kill") and to the Paschal Mystery in the very next sentence, he is emphasizing the same parallelism: insofar as it is peaceful, it is authentic because it lives the peace of Christ's Paschal Mystery and the natural law written on our hearts. Insofar as it is violent, it is no religion at all, just a travesty. 

Francis is not proclaiming that Islam is peaceful, he is proclaiming that true religion is peaceful. He's pulling the same stunt that the Fathers of Vatican II pulled in the CCC when they talked about Islam. St. Francis of Assisi reportedly challenged Muslim imams to walk through a fire with him in order to see whose religion was best. The Muslims declined the challenge. Pope Francis raised a 21st century version of the challenge - "Treat us as well as we treat you. Can you do it?"

Every time I read that passage in the CCC, I smile. 
Pope Francis just made me smile again. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Protestant Cartoons on Catholic Websites

This cartoon has been making the rounds - it is especially popular among Catholics who pretend to be traditionalists:

Now, let's make this perfectly clear, so no one can mistake it.

Both are perfectly and superbly accurate. In the top version, the priest acts as High Priest, leading the people to God. In the bottom version, the priest acts as Christ Physician, representing the Crucified Christ to the people.

Asking "Which Makes Sense?" sets one against the other. Liturgy cannot be set against liturgy, Magisterium cannot be set against Magisterium. If you think you have read an encyclical that contradicts Scripture, you are wrong. If you think the Universal Catechism contradicts a papal bull, you are wrong. Both must be interpreted so that there is no contradiction. Liturgy cannot be set against liturgy, Magisterium cannot be set against Magisterium.

Catholic Faith is "both-and" it is most assuredly not "either-or". Forcing someone to choose between two choices when both are perfectly legitimate Catholic choices, forcing that choice is the work of a Protestant, not a Catholic.

You cannot say "Which Makes Sense?    2+3=5 or 5=3+2  ?"
Both are correct. Some may prefer their answer to the left, others to the right, but both are fine.

You cannot ask "Which Makes Sense? Franciscan spirituality or Jesuit spirituality?" The question is stupid. Both are correct. They are different. They are BOTH correct. It isn't "either-or".

Promoting this cartoon is promoting Protestant theology.
The great irony?
It is the "traditional" Catholics who are acting the Protestants. 
Pope Francis has them pegged.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ObamaCare Imitates Da Vinci Code

Catholics never learn.

When Doubleday published the Da Vinci Code, they promoted it in part by making sure that Christians heard about it. The sent out 10,000 review copies - most books never publish more than 10,000 copies - counting on the fact that Christian outrage would do their advertising for them.

Now, Obamacare has taken a page from that script by creating advertisements designed to outrage Christians. Christian commentators and web pages are doing far more to spread the ad images than any federally-funded campaign could hope to accomplish.

It's a brilliant marketing ploy and it is working wonderfully well.
There is no such thing as bad advertising.
Why pay for advertising when outraged Christians will supply it for free?

We are neither wise as serpents nor innocent as doves, but we are smart as a bag of hammers.
God bless our little hearts! 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Just So Evolution

Just finished reading this story about the evolution of bearded lizards.

This kind of story is precisely why people find it hard to take evolution seriously. It reminded me of a bureaucrat I once knew at the University of Illinois. At every hour-long meeting, she would begin by saying why some plan of action was never going to work, and end the meeting an hour later by explaining why it absolutely would work. Then, no matter what happened as a result of the action, she would later claim to have predicted the result at the last meeting.

The other bureaucrats thought she was very smart.
Which, I suppose, was true in its own way.

The "scientists" in the linked article above do the same thing. No matter what ends up happening with the lizards, the article will have "predicted" the result with a proper "just-so" story of evolution.

I guess that's why the people who support evolution are considered very smart. Which, again, I suppose they are, in their own way.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Dare We Hope All Men Be Saved?

Apparently, there's a video created by one Father Barron (who I do not know, nor have I watched his video), in which Father claims that we can hope all men are saved and that hell is empty.

Many "traditionalist" Catholics are up in arms. Much heat and very little light is being shed. Names are being cast around.

Let's make this simple so no one can reasonably argue.

According to the rules of logic:
If       A=B    (Major Premise)
and    B=C    (Minor Premise)
Then  C=A    (Conclusion)

According to the pious Christian tradition established by all the saints, Fathers and Doctors of the Church it is appropriate for every Christian to consider himself or herself the most miserable of all sinners. So, if I consider myself the most miserable of sinners - more miserable than Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Che Guevera, even more miserable than Barack Hussein Obama - then I am following a great and laudable Christian tradition.

Furthermore, according to Church dogma and doctrine, despite my miserable sinfulness, I have the right to hope in God's mercy and hope that I will be saved and attain heaven.

Thus, if I (who am the most miserable of sinners) can hope to be saved, then I can certainly hope that all sinners less miserable than me will be saved. That is, I can hope that all men be saved.

In short, according to the rules of logic:
If     Of All Men Who Have Ever Sinned (A),      I am the Most Miserable Sinner (B)
and  I, the Most Miserable Sinner, (B)                 Have the Right To Hope To Be Saved (C)
Then  I Have the Right To Hope for Salvation (C)  For All Men Who Have Ever Sinned (A)

The only way to avoid the conclusion is to insist that either:
(a) the Major Premise is an error, when I certainly know that it is not in error, 
(b) that the Minor Premise is an error, when the Church infallibly tells me it is correct.
I cannot hold either premise to be in error.
Thus, there is no logical way to avoid the conclusion.

So, yes, Catholics have every right to hope that all men be saved and that no human being is in hell. NOTE: Even if no human being goes to hell, hell will still be populated with persons - angelic persons. Hell was made for the devil and his fallen angels, not for man (cf. Matthew 25). Thus, the Church teaches that (a) we know hell is filled with persons AND (b) we have the right to hope and even to pray that none of those persons are human. 

Now, some people don't like this conclusion because they think "hope=belief". That is, they think that by saying we have the right to HOPE that no human being ends up in hell, we mean that we BELIEVE no human being ends up in hell. This is completely erroneous because "hope" does NOT equal "belief."

Theologically, belief is certain knowledge, while hope is merely possibility.

I BELIEVE in heaven because I know it is there. I HOPE I go to heaven, but I don't know that I'll make it. I have BELIEF in the possibility of my salvation, therefore I believe in HOPE, or if you prefer, I believe with HOPE. 

I BELIEVE, or I have trust, in a person. 
Because I have trust in that person, I HOPE in his message.
Thus, because I believe in God, I can hope in God. Hope is built upon belief. 

Belief is about the trustworthiness of a person or thing.
Hope is about the trustworthiness of the message. 

So, I believe in God. Because God has given me a message of salvation, I also hope in God - my "hope in God" is a short-hand way of saying "my hope is in His message based on the certainty of knowledge concerning the trustworthiness of His being."

Belief is most certainly not the same thing as hope.

There is no rational way to break the argument. 
I don't care if you like the conclusion or if you hate the conclusion - none of that matters. You cannot escape the conclusion and remain rational.
God is pure love.
God is pure rationality.
The only rational thing to do is love.
Holding to the hope that all men are saved is both rational and an expression of love.
It is well within Catholic doctrine.
Hans urs von Balthasar was correct - those who disagree with him are not.

There is nothing more to be said on the matter.

Don't even attempt to bring up Fatima. Or Don Bosco. Or any other saintly vision. 
Private revelation is absolutely useless here. We are talking about doctrine. Private revelation has absolutely no place nor brief in a discussion of doctrine. It should never be brought forward as evidence of doctrine. Either the Church teaches it or She does not. A vision is not a teaching. A vision is not relevant.

Insofar as you think any council or papal statement lays out a doctrine other than the one laid out here, you have misunderstood the council or papal statement. Magisterium cannot be set against Magisterium. The Magisterium says we have a right to hold this hope. All other statements have to be read in this light. 

Question: Why do people fight this idea?
Because none of us really want to be holy. Look, all the Fathers, Doctors and saints attest to the fact that I MUST consider myself the worst of sinners. But I don't like making that part of my self-image. I want to insist that Barack Hussein Obama or Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer is a lot worse than I am. But the only way to enter the path of holiness is to admit that I am probably worse than any of these people are.

After all, they may have been operating out of insanity or ineradicable ignorance. They may not be fully responsible for what they do. I know I am. Thus, even though my sins may look objectively less than theirs, my sins are most likely objectively worse than theirs. C.S. Lewis discusses this problem - I may not be as good as Mr. A, but I'm certainly better than that blighter Mr. B. That's the kind of spiritual buffoonery that landed the Pharisees in such trouble.

One test of whether people recognize the path of holiness is to see if they recognize the force of this argument. If they don't admit the possibility, then they don't fully recognize the path to holiness. If they do, they are not yet saved, but they at least have.... hope.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Pope Francis' Crozier

Some people don't like Pope Francis' new crozier.
It's too ugly, they say.

It is ugly.

The Scriptures say that Jesus was so badly beaten that nothing about Him looked human, much less beautiful. Hanging on the Cross, He took on our sin. On the Cross, He looked to us like we look to God.

So, here are the questions:
Are you holy?
Would you look beautiful hanging on the Cross?

Maybe Pope Francis is showing us how ugly we look to God. Maybe, just maybe, God sent us Pope Francis because this Pope knows how to get under our skin, he knows how to remind us where we should turn our hearts.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Messianic Jews and Eating Kosher

A friend recently asked me a question concerning Messianic Jews and the necessity of eating kosher:
My nephew is a hard core Messianic Torah observer.   I've been able to refute just about everything he throws out there on Facebook but I can never really do well with all foods being clean.  I know that some Bibles state that Jesus made all foods clean in Mark, but some don't so I'm not sure if thats added.   He also has an answer for Peter's vision which I posted below as a meme.   I know that Jesus fulfilled the law but I'm not sure how to prove it in this case.  Any help would be appreciated.
The attached graphic says "Peter's vision in Acts 10 had nothing to do with eating what Scripture has always called an abomination. The vision had to do with MEN and Peter provides that interpretation in verse 28."

My Response:

When he interprets verse 28 that way, he's missing a point. He doesn't understand the different kinds of law and how they apply. From the Jewish point of view, for purposes of ritual, Gentiles are considered animals. For instance, in the orthodox rabbinic understanding, a Jew who marries a Gentile is considered to have married an animal for purposes of ritual and tracing descent.

This is the key passage from the linked webpage: "It is because in this legal dimension (marriage) they are both in the same category. In every other dimension, particularly in the arena of interpersonal dynamics, gentiles are compatible with Jews.  However, in the area of marriage, Jews and gentiles (or animals) can never be married as recognized by Jewish law."

Baptism is two things at once: it is both sonship in Christ and marriage to Christ. So, baptism establishes EXACTLY the relationships that the Talmudic Jews say CANNOT be established between a Jew and a Gentile. Baptism creates sonship and it creates a marriage bond between a Gentile and a Jew (Jesus). This is why Peter can interpret the vision as permitting baptism.

But notice that Peter doesn't understand this SECOND meaning of the vision until he encounters Cornelius. His first understanding is that he's allowed to eat formerly unclean foods. BOTH understandings are simultaneously true.

Just as the only thing preventing marriage between a Gentile and Jew is Mosaic ritual law, so the only thing that prevents anyone from eating "unclean" food is ritual purity as outlined by the Mosaic laws. Acts 10 helps us understand what Romans tells us: we are no longer under the Mosaic ritual law - we are under the law of Christ. I have an MP3 on how the law applies here.

As for a specific evidence that the laws of kashurt were suspended, consider Peter as he moves through Acts and into Galatians. At the beginning of Acts 10, Peter was still following the law of kashrut, because he even says it, "Lord, you know I let nothing unclean pass my lips." Then he has the vision in which God tells him that kashrut no longer applies. When Peter meets Cornelius in Acts 10, he suddenly realizes that what applies to food must also be true of the sacraments - a Gentile CAN marry and be a true son of a Jew.  So, Peter declares Cornelius eligible for baptism, even though Cornelius is a Gentile.

Now, fast forward to Acts 15. Both Peter and Paul testify to the baptisms they have been doing. The council not only agrees that Gentile baptism is acceptable, it also makes a point of describing the food that is to be avoided: "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."

Notice it ignores most of the Mosaic laws on kashrut (clean and unclean foods). For the few foods that it does list, it does not command that these foods be avoided, it just recommends that they be avoided (you would do well). And two apostles are sent along with the text to make sure that the Jews who are following Christ can authenticate, by an oral tradition, the correct understanding of the written Scripture which comprises the message.

Now, fast forward again to Galatians. Why did Paul rebuke Peter? Because Peter had suddenly stopped eating with the Gentiles. Paul - a Pharisee - is not only reminding Peter that he should eat with the Gentiles, he is also thereby stating that the food which Gentiles eat is acceptable food.  All Gentile foods are clean.
Galatians 2: 12 Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. 13 The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14 When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” as they are called. 16 Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires.
When speaking of what the Law requires, Paul is specifically speaking of the Mosaic laws, laws which include the laws of kashrut. So, Paul is specifically telling us that the law of kashrut no longer applies. The Mosaic law is now a dead letter. Paul talks about the Law being of no force precisely in the context of Peter taking meals with Gentiles.

The Messianic Jews are wrong to follow the laws of kashrut. There is no longer a difference between clean and unclean foods. All foods are clean.

Rod Dreher: Crunched In The Head

Many Catholics today are getting upset about Rod Dreher's insistence that he can't return to the Catholic Church because it is too touchy-feely. He'll stick with the Orthodox church because it "teaches the hard lessons."

Yes, it is hard to read the sentence above without snorting.
Now I hate the sugary sweet sermons and spinelessness of American Catholics as much as the next guy, but let's get serious.

The Orthodox Church accepts divorce and contraception.

If Rod Dreher was REALLY looking for doctrinal rigor, he wouldn't be Eastern Orthodox.

Now, I'm quite certain he is being honest when he says he can't bring himself to return to the Catholic Church. But I'm also sure that the problem isn't the treacle that American Catholic priests commonly mistake for preaching. God bless his little heart, as they say in Texas, but Rod didn't get where he is today by disagreeing with the mainstream media. His incoherent essay just proves that point again.

Distributism Doesn't Work

Distributists like to say that if we all just reverted to the views of a couple of men who knew little to nothing about economics, the world would be better off.

It's been tried.
It has failed.

Unless someone can find an equally large scale experiment in which thousands of businesses built on the small, work-at-home model actually succeeded, there isn't much more to discuss.

Most people are not psychologically prepared or equipped to run their own business. Just as running a major corporation takes a certain kind of personality, so does running a small business. Not everyone has the right personality. It is foolish to think even a majority of people do. Distributism doesn't work.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why Popes Make Lousy Economists

Pope Francis recently opined: "We don't want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre (of an economic system) as God wants, not money."

Unfortunately, the globalised economic system he decries has raised the standard of living for every person on the planet in the last two centuries. We have gone from a planet of 1 billion people in the year 1800 to over 7 billion in the year 2013 - an increase of roughly six planet's worth of population - while feeding, clothing and housing all seven planet's worth of population to a level that essentially no one had in the 1800s. Certainly, he knows this. So what is he complaining about?

Economy: A Two-Fold Purpose
The global economy serves two purposes: (1) the work it creates provides us the income to maintain physical health and well-being, (2) that same work provides us with dignity and a sense of self-worth for the soul. However, we no longer seem to be able to provide both at once.

Before the Industrial Revolution, nearly everyone worked because universal work was necessary for society to survive. In a subsistence-level society, community survival walks on the edge of a knife. The failure of even one person to work, the failure of even one person to in some way provide sustenance for himself and his family, could easily be the straw that broke the community's back. That one last bushel of missing grain might turn out to be the missing calories that condemn the entire community to starve in the last few days before harvest.

For most of human history, every person's contribution to the community, no matter how small, really did count. Everyone mattered. Thus, man has historically always tied work with a sense of self-worth. But what happens when technology enters the picture? Physical comforts increase, but work, and the self-worth it generates, disappears.

Technology, Poverty and Dignity
In the Middle Ages, Europeans invented the horse collar. The horse replaced the ox as the main source of power to plow fields. Because horses work 50% faster, fields could both be plowed more efficiently and be located farther from urban centers. Half of Europe had been wilderness, but it could all now be plowed under. Europe's settled areas increased and population doubled, leading to the technological explosion that was the High Middle Ages. 

The Industrial Revolution replaced the horse with steam, then diesel, engines. But this time, there was no wilderness to plow under. That was already done. This time, something new happened. As agricultural output increased, farm jobs didn't increase. Instead, they dried up. The job market switched from agriculture to industry and manufacture, but population expanded faster than the job market. Something had to give. Something did.

The late 1800s invented, for the first time in history, child labor laws, intended to lock children out of the job market and decrease job competition for adults. It also invented retirement laws, wherein the government paid a wage to those over 65 in order to keep them out of the labor force. Children were told education was their job, they were forced into mandatory schooling. They were bored. Everyone, including children, began to understand that children were increasingly useless to the community. As children lost their jobs, children lost their dignity. As health conditions improved, population increased, but family size shrank. For the last 200 years, the overall production of children has steadily slowed. This is the demographic transition.

In the 1800s, as child production slowed, women were no longer needed in the home. As children lost importance and dignity, so did motherhood. Women began to move into the paid work force. In 1900, only 19 percent of women of working age were working or looking for work. In 2007, women represented 46 percent of people in the labor force.

By 1922, Henry Ford reduced the work week. He proved the automated production line took jobs and never gave them back. Production increased even though the work week was now only five days long, eight hours a day. What happened to agriculture now happened in manufacturing. Just as the engine had done with agriculture, automation reduced the number of jobs while vastly increasing manufacturing output.  Industry accounted for about 10% of the workforce in 1800, reached a high of 35% around 1955, and has been steadily declining ever since, dipping to less than 9% today.  

A society that was 95% agricultural in 1800 is now less than 2% agricultural, yet produces six-fold more food. Over one-half of US industrial jobs since 1980 have disappeared, yet we manufacture twice as many products. Mechanization has replaced, is replacing, both slave and wage labor. In each generation, fewer adults in any society need work to eat. The ancient Roman Empire used slave labor everywhere, but could only afford to give bread away in the capitol, not empire-wide. Even with pagan Rome's dignity-destroying slavery, there was not enough bread. The Industrial Revolution took jobs but gave bread. 

It invented the both five-day work week and the modern welfare state.  Now, all the poor throughout the nation, even throughout the world, can be fed, clothed and housed, and they are. But they have no jobs, no dignity. It will only get worse.

3-D Printing and The Future
3-D printing will destroy manufacturing in every form. It is currently possible to 3-D print an entire houseplanea rocket engine, even food. Costs are currently high. Costs will drop. As costs do, as people gain the ability to produce items on their 3-D printers as easily as they now search for information on the web, jobs will continue to disappear. But physical poverty will not re-appear. As physical poverty disappears, moral and ethical poverty will only increase.

The job market now centers on information. By definition, one-half of the population has an IQ below 100. Thus, one-half of the population cannot be retrained to join the new job force. Automation has taken 98% of the farm jobs. It has taken, or will take, 98% of the manufacturing jobs. There are no jobs, and thus there is no dignity, for one-half of the population. One-half of the normal distribution curve is now, or will soon be, labelled useless.

Already, children have lost so much dignity that some segments of the population see no moral or ethical problem with cutting them up, alive, and selling their body parts. The sick and aged are encouraged to kill themselves via assisted suicide laws. Far from participating in the harvest, the "useless" are the harvest. As we have grown rich, we have grown cold.

Society can feed, clothe and house all of us. We will not be physically poor, but half of us will not have work. We will have to gain our sense of dignity from something other than work. No one knows how to do that.

The Paradox the Pope Poses
This is the paradox the Pope poses to us. Pope Francis hates poverty, whether it be of body or soul. He wants the poor to be fed and clothed, but he also wants them to have dignity, and the only way he knows how to do that is to make sure they are employed.

Pope Francis hates the welfare state nearly as much as he hates abortion. But. currently, he can't have it both ways. Personnel costs are the highest component cost of any product. We can't give the poor both food and jobs.The same global economy that has functionally removed physical poverty from society has also functionally removed the dignity of work from society. Can we give them food and dignity? Perhaps. But we don't know how.

We already recognize that technology has separated procreation from sexuality. Technology removed dignity from children and the aged. With children and parenting devalued, it also removed dignity from sex. The Catholic Church has not figured out how to make people recognize and correct the loss of dignity in any of these areas. Catholics know this is a problem, but we can't convince anyone else that it is.

What the Pope and most other Catholics don't yet fully realize is this: technology has also separated poverty, dignity and work. One-half of the population has become a parody of what P.G. Wodehouse himself parodied in Wooster and Jeeves: we now have an entire class of men and women who do not derive their dignity from their work. However, unlike Wooster, neither do our men and women derive their dignity from their social status. They have neither employment nor social status. Thus, they have no dignity.

Technology has given them their creature comforts but has taken both their jobs and their dignity. As with the children a century ago, these adults will be well-fed, but they won't be getting their jobs back.

It isn't the worship of money that lies at the bottom of this morass. It is the inexorable advance, the universal embrace, of the labor-saving machine. Our problem isn't capitalism per se, nor has Pope Francis said that it is. Our problem is the loss of dignity.

If the Pope can't get people to stop using condoms, how likely are they to stop using their cell phones? Who is going to return to the labor-intensive card catalog and paper phone book, much less the labor intensive spinning mill, when a 3-D printer can produce whatever you need at the push of a button? How many people will trade their fully laden table, their air-conditioning, automobile, smart phone and Internet access for the dignity of a job, especially if by gaining the job, you had to surrender any guarantee that you could still keep the creature comforts just listed?

Worse, what does it mean to say "the dignity of a job"? What constitutes work? What most "information workers" do today isn't what we have historically considered to be work. They don't break a sweat or a finger. No matter how hard they type, they don't get a callus. They sit in air-conditioning, eat snack foods, drink fizzy flavored water, never worry about cholera or typhus, never slap a mosquito or burn off a tick. The dignity of work has changed. It is changing again.

The Pope said, "Where there is no work, there is no dignity." Technically, we know that bare phrase is untrue - each of us has dignity because we are each an image of the Persons of the Godhead. What he means is, society doesn't assign dignity to those who do not work. This is also true, but it doesn't address the basic issue. The problem of physical poverty is essentially solved. We must decide if dignity is inextricably and uniquely attached to work. For if we want people to have dignity in secular society, we may have to find a new way to derive it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Creationism and Geocentrism

Recently, our pastor announced that the parish was inviting in Hugh Owen, defender of Creationism and main speaker for the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, to give a parish talk on what he and Mr. Owen consider to be a doctrine of the Church. Given what I have written in the past, this piqued my interest. Much as I would have loved a personal conversation on this topic, I am unable to attend the talk due to a previous engagement. So, I sent his institute a question on their contact form:
Do you teach geocentrism as well? It is attested to by all the Doctors of the Church, so I'm certainly hoping you do.
This was his reply:
Please forgive me for taking so long to write back to you.

Many of our members are geocentrists, but not all, mainly because we have concentrated our efforts on educating people about the doctrine of creation rather than the geocentric controversy.  However, all of us who have looked into the matter agree with you and do not shy away from saying so when the topic arises.

One of the main tenets of traditional Catholic theology that has been almost completely abandoned in our time is the distinction between the order of creation and the natural order of providence which only began when the work of creation was finished with the creation of Adam and Eve.  Atheistic and theistic evolutionism are both based on the false premise that one can extrapolate from the natural order of providence in which we live all the way back to the beginning of creation--and that is false.  Thus, all forms of evolutionism are based on a fundamental error.  The relations among the Earth, the sun and the planets in the solar system on the other hand is a part of the natural order of providence and is thus a legitimate object of study for the natural scientist.  This is one of the main reasons why we do not place the Church's traditional position on geocentrism in the same category as her dogmatic teaching on creation which concerns things which are beyond the legitimate ken of the natural sciences.

Please keep the Kolbe Center in your prayers.

                                   Yours in Christ through the Immaculata,

                                                        Hugh Owen
So, apparently the existence of human persons is not part of the natural order of providence, while the relations among heavenly objects is part of the natural order of providence. 

Now, if we "cannot extrapolate from the natural order of providence in which we live all the way back to the beginning of creation", then presumably we cannot extrapolate a Big Bang, nor any universe that is not geocentric. But he also says that the relationship between heavenly bodies is "a legitimate object of study"...

So which is it? If we can study the relationship between heavenly bodies, then it would be possible to do so all the way back to the beginning of creation. Certainly the planets were created before Adam and Eve. But he denies that we can go all the way back to "the beginning of creation." Now, what constitutes the beginning? Does he mean "Let There Be Light"? Or does he count the whole "six days" of creation as one unit, and therefore mean we can only go back to just after the creation of Adam and Eve? If the latter, then when it comes to studying the relationship of heavenly bodies, he is saying both "no" and "yes" in the same answer. 

And, notice, the question I asked concerned geocentrism - the question of whether the earth is at the center of the universe, not just at the center of the solar system (which, if Mr. Owen were correct about geocentrism, would render his "solar system" phrase itself erroneous, but I digress), so his answer is somewhat contradictory. His response seems to imply that his members teach the earth is at the center of the "solar system" and at the center of the universe, simultaneously. If so, this is a brand-new model. Even Tycho Brahe didn't attempt to prove both could be simultaneously true.

Finally, if he does teach geocentrism as well as creationism, why not proudly put both on the website so that the necessary distinctions between natural order of providence and the supernatural order of providence could be made clearly? Why would I have to send him an e-mail to discover that he teaches geocentrism as well as creationism? 

Here is my reply:
I'm afraid you mistake me, sir.
I agree with neither creationism nor geocentrism.
However, I *did* very much hope that you were logically consistent enough to recognize that to insist on creationism is necessarily to insist on geocentrism, for the foundation of one subsumes the other.

I just wanted your response so I could make it public. As you aver, none of your group shies away from saying so when the topic arises. Thus, I am somewhat saddened that your institute does not publish your geocentric views anywhere on your site, at least not as far as I can see. If you do have a link to a page on your site where you make your full position clear, that would be most helpful.
If you would like to have a public conversation on the topic, you may feel free to reply on this website: 
 Thank you for your reply!
Steve Kellmeyer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis and Hot-Buttons

"In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships."
The sentences above represent the heart of what Pope Francis has to say. These are what makes sense of everything else.  
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.
When talking of confessors, as he does above, he gets specific. In the passage above, he tells us why he is wary of the traditionalist, the rigorist. He also tells us why he defrocked an Argentinian priest for promoting homosexual marriage. 

He is not denying the moral or dogmatic teachings of the Church. He's saying that the current methods for trying to help people embrace these teachings do not work:
The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
He's absolutely correct in every detail. But he isn't finished:
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. [emphasis added]There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.
But that is nothing compared to this:
The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is—these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defense. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.
“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. [emphasis added]
“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting. this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. [emphasis added] It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. 
There is too much brilliance in this interview. I can quote no more. You must read it.

And for those who think Pope Francis has gone soft on life issues, read today's remarks.
Here's a similar link.

Keep in mind, this man wants union with the East. Eastern Catholics permit contraception. How can he get the EO bishops to at least privately admit that contraception is a bad idea? Well, first he has to give them public reason to talk to him. The whole interview revolved around his openness to dialogue.

The Pope isn't just talking to Americans or Europeans. He is always talking to the whole world. He knows that, even if we forget it sometimes.