Sunday, September 22, 2013

THE HOLY FATHER SPEAKS

Dr. Daniel Boland has written a very succinct explanation of what the Holy Father actually said.  We have decided to post it in its entirety.

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim

For the last few days following the Holy Father's published interview with a number of Jesuit magazines around the world. there has been a plethora of screechy headlines and the shocked -- shocked -- rhetoric in many secular media sources. These theologically twisted reports are very similar to the story I heard last week from a diminutive chicken which was running up my street, plucking (in fluent chickenese), "The sky is falling, the sky is falling." 
 
Clearly, a vast number of secular reporters and editors do not understand that the doctrinal teachings and moral principles of the Catholic Church are not up for grabs, as they would have us believe. The secular press is oftentimes simply ignorant of the facts, sometimes malicious in their distortion of the facts, very often careless about reporting the facts and too often dismissive of the facts and of the proper context and historical sense with which to report a story involving the Church and the Pope. In this instance, the secular press seeks a frothy headline, even if it is entirely misleading and factually incorrect.
 
If one reads in full that interview with the Pope, one will see that he is merely recalling for us the fundamental message of the Gospel, namely, the love of God for all mankind, as witnessed by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. He is not -- repeat, not -- relaxing the moral standards of issues such as abortion, gay marriage and so forth. He is saying that if we could but comprehend the goodness of God and the power of His love for us, if we had the proper clarity about God's place in our lives, we would be transformed.
 
Keep in mind that the Pope's customary emphases are on the pastoral aspects of Catholic teaching, but this pastoral side is not being promulgated or achieved at the expense of, nor at the dismissal of, the Church's consistent moral principles. The pastoral standards and the moral standards are like two sides of the same hand. One does not exist without the other. We can emphasize one side at certain times, the other side at other times. Thus, when the Pope emphasizes the pastoral side, he does this not -- not -- at the exclusion of the Church's traditional moral standards. Just as parents sometimes hug their children, yet at other times, chastise them, so also does the Holy Father seek to remind the listening world that beyond the behavioral side of the Church's teachings lies an even deeper, even greater, far more important and energizing reality, i.e., the reality of God's love for us all. That is the first of all realizations which everyone must remember and honor.
 
Pope Francis is simply reminding us that beneath all the Catholic Church's moral exhortations and all the Church's moral standards of self-restraint lies an even deeper and more fundamental reality, the love of God through Christ for us all. But he does not thereby dismiss the fundamental moral standards which identify Catholic practice. Indeed, just yesterday morning (the day after the release of the interview) he blasted in the strongest possible terms those who promote abortion, and one of his chief Vatican assistants, Cardinal Burke, has renewed his call for Mrs. Pelosi to be denied Holy Communion because of her abortion-promoting behavior.
 
Thus, the fact that the Pope promotes God's love is not to be taken as a sign that he is a weak-willed, moral pushover with a marshmallow center. This is far from the truth, even if many members of the secular press are unwilling to be factual and, thus, professional and honest in the performance of their vocational responsibilities.
 
The developing moral standards inherent in the Gospel are real and constant, based on God's love for human beings, directed at elevating human dignity and fiercely aimed at the sacredness of human life itself. Throughout history, these standards have been clarified again and again by the Church as history progresses and we humans struggle to make our way through our lives. These moral standards of the Church are the means by which we, on our side of the relationship, are taught to honor the will of the Father. But even more basic than these moral standards is the fundamental truth -- the most essential fact of the Judeo-Christian lexicon -- of God's love for us. 
 
Thus, the Pope is reminding us time and again, that the deepest truth we must come to accept in life is the existence of our relationship with God, a relationship begun in Creation and eventually cemented and personalized through Christ. It is an intensely personal, two-way relationship founded, first and foremost, on the love God has for us. It is a relationship which, consequently, asks of us certain parallel indications of our own fidelity to the Father. It is a relationship which has its origins in time, is spelled out explicitly in the Gospels and thence carried forward throughout human history by the intervention of Christ and the ensuing clarifications afforded by the very Church which Christ founded on the command of His Father, and ours.
 
So the Pope is not dismissing the moral voice of the Church. Rather, he is augmenting its authority, identifying its origins and its reminding us of its deepest source of its authenticity, which is rooted in the love of God for all human beings without reserve, and is reinforced by the teachings of Christ and the work of the Church as time proceeds and mankind seeks its Ultimate Source of peace and understanding.
 
The problem which the Pope is identifying and pointing out to us is the fact that we humans are the ones who introduce reservations into our side of that relationship by our sins and our selfishness and our readiness to harm one another. But the Church stands ready, like a field hospital in a war zone, to remedy and repair and assuage with simple kindness and persistent care the harm we do to that relationship and to one another.
 
Over all else, underlying all else, above all else, the Pope reminds us, is the love of God. That is what awaits. That is what it is all about. That is why we are.
 
And, the Pope is saying, if we could only keep in mind the dimensions and the depth of the love God has for us, we would be less and less prone to sin and forgetfulness, less and less prone to remove ourselves from His love, less and less prone to do harm to others, less and less indifferent to our responsibilities to our children born and unborn. We would, rather, be more and more aware of what He offers us, more and more brought to our senses, more and more driven to live in light and grace and peace as children of the Light, more and more concerned to honor one another by example and by risking, more and more bathed by the consoling Light of God's goodness which He offers us all with unceasing regularity.
 
The fallacious secular media and the breathlessly erroneous press would have you think that the standards by which the Church brings us closer to God are now out the window, that the Church is now cracking at the edges of it moral identity. This is error of the worst sort. The standards are not changing. Indeed, if change is called for, it is we who must change. The Pope reminds us that we have every reason to do so, for it is the love of God which awaits.
Daniel M. Boland, PhD
 
 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

NOTRE DAME...AT IT AGAIN

Once again my friends at Sycamore Trust have given me an advance copy of their bulletin.  Since I recently received a request for information on three "CINO" schools, I felt this was quite appropriate right now.

Read this Post and then for more info or to help them with donations go to the link above and see more disgusting crap about the "Foremost "CATHOLIC" institution in the US...Just don't get sick over your keyboard or device...they can be expensive to repair.

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim

 
NOTRE DAME, IN — Alcohol, sex, and the hookup culture are deeply troublesome features of campus environments across the country. Notre Dame is no exception. How Notre Dame deals with these phenomena is important to its Catholic identity. The facts are not encouraging.
Alumni often tell us they like to hear student views. So do we. We bring you now what Bob Burkett (’13), last year’s editor-in-chief of The Irish Rover and recipient of the Sycamore student award, had to say at our June annual breakfast.
You can read his address here, but it is brief and we hope you will watch it here. We cannot do all of it justice in this bulletin.
Bob's opening was arresting, to put it conservatively:
I wondered what my first weekend as a college student would be like here, surrounded by people with the same interests, background, and of course Catholic faith as me….I was appalled when I saw the immorality of the activities going on around me. It seemed that Our Lady’s University was really no different on the weekends than any other college I had ever head about….I felt like I had been tricked.
While Bob went on to identify “parts of Notre Dame’s Catholicism that are truly exceptional” and said he “grew significantly as an individual” in consequence, he judged the “religion” of a great many students to reflect what the distinguished Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” the pervasive “religion” of today’s youth.
Students “are interested in religion insofar as it makes them feel happy and good,” Bob said. “[W]e are free to do whatever we would like insofar as no one else is harmed,” with “’harm’ largely limited to physical violence.”
This “allows ‘perfectly moral teenagers’ to engage in alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscuity.”
“My biggest fear,” Bob said, “is that this mentality of cafeteria Catholicism…has run amok at Notre Dame.”
But, one might object, Notre Dame has to work with what it gets, and what it gets are students many of whom reflect the debased morality of today’s dominant secular culture. Surely four years at Notre Dame would change them, right?
Well, yes, but not in the way one would hope and expect.
Certainly many students enter Notre Dame firm in their faith and become ever more committed to Church ethical teachings. We have come to know many of them. They are crucially important to the Catholic character of the university.
But this is not true of the student population as a whole. A four-year study by the respected Higher Education Research Institute of a Notre Dame class disclosed that, as a group, the class was less attached to Church teachings on sexuality and abortion when it left than when it entered.
Specifically, the proportion of the class who saw nothing wrong with premarital sex if the parties “really like each other” rose from 21% to 36% — an increase of 71%!
With more than a third of the graduates of the premier Catholic university in the country believing that sex without marriage is perfectly fine, no wonder marriage is in deep trouble.
Then there is the excessive drinking and the alcohol-fueled hook-up culture that are epidemic in colleges and universities and have taken hold at Notre Dame as well.
The administration acknowledges that “[s]tatistically the drinking culture at Notre Dame is not much different than most colleges across the nation,” with 20% of the students regular, and another 60% occasional, abusers.
There are no data showing the reach of the “hookup culture” or fornication among students “who like one another,” though there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. The student newspaper The Observer, for example, runs articles on the search by lesbians and homosexuals for sexual partners; the Scholastic published a Notre Dame sociologist’s description of the benefits of premarital sex under the heading "Don't Wait" and regularly features accounts of supposedly funny stories of students’ drunken sexual encounters; a senior writes in The Notre Dame Magazine, “Our romantic advances fall into the categories of ‘hookup’ or ‘husband’….[W]e live in the land of books and beer….“
Then there are the blog accounts of drinking and partying at Notre Dame on sites like College Confidential and jarringly crude entries on a new Notre Dame Confessions Facebook site that the Observer reports has “taken over” the campus. There is more, but this is enough. It is a commonplace that there is a good deal of alcohol abuse and illicit sex at Notre Dame. The question is not precisely how much or whether it is more or less than at other schools, but rather what the school is doing about it as a Catholic university.
The answer is “nothing” in the classroom, except for those who seek it. There is no longer a required course in moral theology, nor even a moral theology unit in any required course.
And this against the background of the pervasive religious illiteracy of entering students. In their comprehensive study, The Hook-Up Culture on Catholic Campuses (Center for Advancement of Higher Education, Cardinal Newman Society), Anne Hendershott and Nicholas Dunn cite the work of Christian Smith of Notre Dame and Melinda Denton in observing, “Many Catholic students seem to arrive on Catholic college campuses with little idea about what the Church teaches about sexual morality.”
To be sure, in its “Guide to Student Life,” the university says it “embraces” the Church’s teaching on sexual issues. But attend carefully to how it says it:
The University embraces the Catholic Church’s teaching that a genuine and complete expression of love through sex requires a commitment to a total living and sharing together of two persons in marriage. Consequently, students who engage in sexual union outside of marriage may be subject to referral to the University Conduct Process.
This is both incoherent and a toothless and misleading description of the Church’s teaching. What’s wrong with something just because it’s not “genuine” or “complete”? Why does it merit punishment? Those are descriptive terms, not normative.
Here’s the Church’s teaching in its words rather than the university’s: “Fornication” is a “sin gravely contrary to chastity.” (Paragraph 2396, Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Notre Dame’s abandonment of organized and comprehensive instruction in the Church’s ethical teachings is our central concern, since both that fact and its relationship to the school’s Catholic identity are clear. We pass by disciplinary practices, since neither we nor anyone else outside the administration can get at the facts. And as to the policies in the residence halls, we cannot speak with confidence in any detail, and so we will say only what we are sure no one would dispute, namely, that there is a good deal of winking and averting of eyes, that women’s halls are better than men’s on the whole, and that some men’s halls (Morrisey Manor as a prime example) are better than others.
There are positives, to be sure. Most significantly, the administration deserves credit for sticking with single sex dormitories and parietals as other schools scrap them.
Still, these are external deterrents good for a limited time and in a limited place only. They are irrelevant to off-campus students and activities, they disappear upon graduation, and they bear only remotely on Notre Dame’s role in instructing students in the Church’s teachings so as to carry them through life.
The most heartening development has come from some of the students. While Hendershott and Dunn cited an especially notable police raid on a large Notre Dame party to illustrate the student drinking scene, they also highlighted the annual Edith Stein conference at Notre Dame as an example of students striking back at the culture of sexual license celebrated in The Vagina Monologues, another student-initiated production playing at Notre Dame when the Edith Stein conference was launched. As readers of our bulletins know, Sycamore is a strong supporter of the Edith Stein conference. We will say more about it later.
But, as Henderson and Dunn observe, “Such small groups of students…cannot change the culture alone….They need help creating moral communities in which Church teachings on sexual morality are understood and cherished.”
As to that, we yield the last word to Father Mark Poorman, C.S.C., former long-time Notre Dame Vice President for Student Affairs, who summarized the situation in a moment of praiseworthy candor several years ago during an Alumni Weekend panel discussion:
We really need to do a whole lot more with regard to moral formation and ethical training and reasoning.
Indeed.