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21 August 2012


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I agree completely with your sentiment. One only has to look at the complete meltdown of the Episcopalian Church and the other Protestant faiths with thier liberalization drive to see the importance of a Magisterium. Otherwise we get abominations like transgender 'bishops'

The reconciliation with groups like SPPX is promising. A full repudiation of Vatican II would be best, but I am realistic. People who go to Mass are not looking for more of the same consumer culture that floods our society (kardashians, reality tv, unchecked consumerism, etc) but for the Transcendent and Divine.

Liberal commentators like Matthews who have knelt at the altar of multiculturalism cannot understand this, and so continue to demand changes in the name of the false god of 'Progress'. I hope Mother Church stays strong.


Col: As a proud RC, I'm also amused (scandalized?) by these attempts by the Nuns, the Lapsed, and the Andrew Sullivans to define "real catholicism." Individual Catholicism is actually Protestantism.

Unlike Tyler, I don't think it's due to multiculturism. It's a byproduct of consumerism. But Catholicism has never--nor will never--customize Jesus.


All right, like a dummy I am going to finally step into one of these Catholic-related conversations.

I am not Catholic.

What you say above is in line with what my impression is about the church: that it has a set of beliefs, not a list from which you pick which ones you like.

But to an outsider, it seems like here in America that is what people have been doing for some time now. At least I assume they are, because since the 1970s American Catholics seems to have the same 0-3 kids that just about everybody else seems to have nowadays.

I thought this was a painful fact that was just being overlooked because nobody knew what to do about it. Was I wrong?



Actual Catholics as opposed to the lapsed or semi-lapsed believe that people like Matthews will pay at judgment day. What they can get away with here is irrelevant. Yes, real Catholics believe there is a real God and that the church is his instrument. Nevertheless, the bishops are a a disgrce in their willingness to kiss a-s with the supposedly mighty. Lapsed Catholics like Matthews, Giuliani, Edward Kenndym etc. who create the kind of public scandal reflected here in citations of tCatholics not living their faith should be excommunicated. pl


The Catholic Church is opposed to almost all executions, too, so shouldn't all those Republican Catholics who favor capital punishment be similarly condemned? Of course not, and neither should Matthews. One reason people don't worry about Catholics holding political office anymore is because American Catholics don't take orders from the Catholic Church. If the Catholic Church has a problem with that then they can start excommunicating people.

I'm not a Catholic.

Dan Gackle

Col. Lang:

I was recently surprised by the following passage in Montaigne (Book 1, Chapter 27) which is apropos:

"Now what seems to me to bring so much confusion into our minds in our present religious troubles is the partial abandonment of their belief on the part of the Catholics. They imagine themselves to be displaying moderation and understanding when they concede some of the points in dispute to their opponents. Not only do they fail to see what an advantage it is to the attacker when you begin to give him ground and to retire, and how much it encourages him to pursue his advantage, but the very points that they choose as the most trivial are sometimes very important indeed. Either we must submit entirely to the authority of our ecclesiastical government, or we must dispense with it altogether. It is not for us to settle what degree of obedience we owe it."

(To satisfy the prerequisite: I am not a Catholic, having been raised what is now called "evangelical", but learned to respect the faith by studying with a Catholic contemplative who is one of the holiest people I have been blessed with the chance to meet. Mind you, if she heard me saying that she'd bark out "that's the stupidest thing I ever heard" - a favorite phrase. Luckily we are out of earshot. By the way I am fairly sure she would agree with your views expressed here.)


Occasionally, I am reminded of my favorite prayer:

Dear God, help me find the truth and avoid those who claim to have found it.



You are human. I am human. The Catholic chus\ch by the definition that Matthews was taught and has lived by is not a human institution. pl


Steve B

I see. You want Catholicism to be the empty shell that most of the Protestant churches have become. If people like you are so bigoted that they cannot vote for those who believe firmly, then, so be it. pl


I am not Catholic.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the theology of ensoulment and the varying views of the Catholic church across time as to whether an early abortion was murder or not. The article claims that abortion was always held to be wrong but not always held to be murder.


That's a cheap shot on your part, and also wrong. I essentially made 3 points:

1. The church is run by hypocrites who pick what to be offended by for political reasons. There's no great theological debate underpinning this discussion, just a political one.

2. It's only Democratic Catholics that are subjected to all the self-righteous moral opprobrium resulting from #1.

3. Voters are no longer bothered when it comes to Catholic politicians because it's clear that American Catholics (of all political persuasions) have no problem ignoring official church doctrine.

So, tell me how that's bigoted?

Al Spafford

As an agnostic, I too have found it ironic that the Catholic politicians who favor capital punishment somehow escape the wrath of the Church's faithful.
I have noted Col Lang's consistency, though, in opposing both sins in the Church's teachings.


I'm not a Catholic. I apologize in advance if my line of argument is simplistic or insulting.

As I understand it excommunication from the Catholic church is automatic in certain cases, it's inherent in the proscribed act. Heresy is one of these cases.

This would seem to imply that Chris Matthews is already excommunicated, and what's left over is just his priest to acknowledge the fact and refuse him communion. However, could he not say, "I believe fully in the church's teachings on abortion. I believe it is wrong, I do not knowingly perform abortions, or knowingly aid and abet those who do. However, that is the law of the Catholic church, I was discussing the law of the United States, and Congressman Ryan's attempt to alter it." Or would that be sophistry?


As a Catholic I must say that I think there's an element of wind up in all this. (OK, I'm banned).

I personally am against abortion. I feel great pride in the Catholic Church for its stand for the poor of the world, its stand against recent wars, especially the Iraq one. (It is making quite a noise about Syria too). Since it is the only major world institution to stand seriously for peace and for the poor it is no surprise it has gathered a lot of secular and neo-con enemies, though its handling of child abuse scandals has hardly been as deft as more secular institutions. As a divorcee I do not take communion as I broke the rules.

But nobody is going to tell me that the Catholic Church has survived for two thousand years (only the Chinese State has survived longer) by being seriously inflexible and totally dogmatic. It might present that face to the world but behind the mask it is manoeuvring like hell.

Take the case of contraception in Africa. It is officially totally against it. It gets grief everyday for it. (Even though it fits in with much traditional rural African culture). But that is Rome. In an AIDs-riddled Africa, on the ground, in the unending medical and health facilities the Church selflessly runs, no one is handing out condoms faster than the nuns and priests. They are notorious for doing it while totally denying it.

Contraception is abortion. But a pregnant woman with AIDs (very rarely her "fault") is a death sentence.

The Catholic Church must always work in the real world. (And neither Chris Matthews nor Todd Akin constitute the real world).


Pat, I am both Catholic and had an abortion with 20 or 21. Although I have never left the church, I may well be a "cafeteria catholic" too. The rituals don't really touch me.

Superficially considered it was easy to do. I felt completely unable to deal with having a child. In spite of the fact that it's father offered me all the support I needed accepting my choices.

It felt the child would have to carry my whole emotional burden. Maybe it would have changed my life, by forcing me to be more responsible with my own life through the responsibility I had for take for another's. But this idea took ages to develop. And surely at later stages I felt like a murderer, something that surprised me, since it was no issue when I decided to "get rid of it", which was the way I thought about it at the time.

But strictly, and I like the Jesuits especially the Cologne Jesuits, which our bishop wanted to get rid off not too long ago. Or more precisely their educational institution here in Cologne. The Karl Rahner Academy, which offers lectures in the most diverse fields beyond religion.

But let me relate something I experienced there. I once worked there as a volunteer. It was at the time the institution was changed into a foundation, and much of the staff had been terminated. While we were doing our jobs I talked with a student, who still received payments for doing his job, but had been given notice at the time, that his job would be taken over by volunteers like me too. I felt sorry for him, and told him so. But then a subject developed that drove nuts, without showing it too much, which is my habit.

He was 20 or 21 like I was at the time of my abortion, and he honestly and deeply believed that Exorcism
should be practiced in the Catholic Church.

The same evening we shared the make-shift ticket counter, in the Jesuit's church here: St. Peter

The person in charge of the event had printed a pile of sheets with information. It was a simple piece of paper. He insisted that I did not simply allow the people that paid on my side to pick up one of these sheets of paper alone, but that I had to hand it to them separately. When I asked him why I needed to do this, he answered, if I would not do it that way, everybody would take several copies. "Why should they", I asked him. "They will probably use it as toilet paper", he answered.

It made me so furious that I had to treat people with this suspicion, which wasn't my own, that I threw the bills into the box without any care about sorting them out into their separate amounts. That was the only point at which my emotions showed. He must have noticed. Since before I could even think about sorting it out, he offered to take my box over to the offices.

One day later, I was terminated as a volunteer. I liked the by now retired Jesuit monk that hired me, but never talked with him about it, or objected. I hate to be an informer of any kind. Jesuits here have abolished confession too, so that offered no venue for clarification for me. Ironically it would not have felt like informing in this context, but an attempt to find out my own faults in the context.

Do you think he realized, the devil living inside me, that may have caused me to have an abortion? And he is a very good detector of this spiritual antagonist in others, thus saved the Cologne Jesuits from having a possessed person working for them?


I know that the bishops are largely self-serving careerists but surely that is not true of the Jesuits?

Not sure if I understand this. I am a fan of the Jesuits, mainly since they stress education. Are you being ironical concerning them? Yes, it's easy to consider the most important person of the Cologne Jesuits as a careerist, but I am not sure if that is the world or the Jesuits themselves.

Concerning your allusion to "dissident nuns". I met a a Carthusian nun on my way back to Cologne. I enjoyed the short conversation with her. She talked next to revelations, unsurprisingly, about a constant internal struggle, sometimes more, sometimes less. But over here, the critical voices are strong way beyond the nuns you choose to allude to. But I haven't looked into matters closely, admittedly.



I was not looking for a confession. What you did or do is a matter of conscience for you. It still disturbs you. That was a very tough personal decision and only a fool wouuld attempt to judge such a decision.

The Society of Jesus is mainly a teaching community. Their institutions of learning always teach a variety of secular material. In some cases the institutions can be criticized for having "bent over backward" so far that their they are hardly Catholc any longer. Georgetown and Fordham universities would be examples. Your bishop probaby does not like the Jesuits because they are too strong at Rome to be pushed around very much.

My post was aimed specifically at media people and politicians who flaunt their indiffernce to Church teaching and still say they are Catholic. Should this apply over the issue of capital punishment? Yes.

Someone says that they believe that excommunication is automatic in sone instances. i do not believe that to be the case. A bishop must anathematize someone if they are to be cut off from the sacraments. That is what "excommunication" means.

Jane says that church teaching on abortion varied over the last two thousand years. Yes. It may change in the future but probably not very much.

The Jesuits ar not "monks." They regular clergy who are simple clerics.an are categorized as "clerks regular," in other words. They are alll just priests, no bishops. To become a bishop one of them has to leave the community.

JohnF. I am not "winding you up." I want to see Bishop Loverde eject Matthews from the church for creating a public scandal. pl



Interestingly, nothing elicits frenzied comment here more that a post that defends in any way the Catholic Church. Such posts attract attacks that range far and wide across the millenia and across a multitude of subjects. The Holy Roman Church is clearly the object of much enmity for many of you. i promise to keep bringing it up no matter what my own opinions may be. pl


I was going by the Code of Cannon Law, which allows for penalties to be "latae sententiae," lit. "sentence passed", and automatically applied by the law:

"§2. A law, but not a precept, can establish a latae sententiae suspension without additional determination or limitation; such a penalty has all the eVects listed in ⇒ can. 1333, §1."


"Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication;"


And the Catechism of The Catholic Church:

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;..."


"2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception."


As I said, I'm not a Catholic so there may be traditions, norms, and values in the application of this law of which I am ignorant, however, the law itself does provide for automatic penalties.


Painfully long weddings is all I know about the Catholic Church.



That's right but normally such "automatic" penalties must be applied by a bishop. I suppose that a pastor could take it upon himself to do so, but the bishop would probably have a talk with him over it. pl


Col: And the Church will survive. If it survived the Borgias, it can survive 21st Century ennui.



Well, at least they patronised the arts. pl


"The Jesuits ar not "monks."

I was semi-aware of that. But the man in question does not act as a priest, at least not in a way I can perceive, thus using simply priest did not occur to me, although now I realize you may be correct.

I will not misuse your site for "confessions" anymore, if I can help. At least I'll try. But the story gave me a chance to encircle one topic I have problems with, there are others. I admittedly manage to have both a huge sympathy for some of the more famous dissidents in the Catholic church (e.g. Hans Kueng) and some of it's more spiritual members. ...

Besides, there were times when I had the impression that Opus Dei is much more powerful today than the Jesuits are. I have a deep problem with the way Opus Dei defines the female role.

But thanks for your answer.

michael mccarthy

I think that this issue is becoming terribly confused. It seems to me that an act (thought or whatever) can be a sin but still be legal. I think that this is true everywhere there is a separation between the state and religion.
If we want the state to decide what is legal or illegal based on religious tenets then we should admit that we want to live in a theocracy and get on with making the country into such.

Margaret Steinfels

Not a human institution, perhaps. But large parts of it have all too human instincts!

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