Scranton’s Bishop Martino orders priests: no Communion for public sinners

February 28, 2009

From Catholic Culture:

Bishop Joseph Martino– who has emerged during the past year as the American bishop most determined to call pro-abortion politicians to account– has now issued an order that in his Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese, “Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.”

Bishop Martino’s directive was conveyed by the diocesan chancellor, James Earley, in an official notice dated February 26. The crucial concluding portion of notice reads:

Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

1. To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Church’s law in this regard;

2. Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.

The official notice does not mention any individual by name. However it is impossible to overlook the fact that on the same day, February 26, the Scranton diocese also posted an open letter from Bishop Martino of Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, in which the bishop– for the second time– reminded the Catholic lawmaker of his moral obligation “to oppose abortion and other clear evils.” [See today's separate CWN headline storyon the bishop's letter.]

Earlier in the month, in a first rebuke to Senator Casey, Bishop Martino had warned that the senator’s vote against an extension of the Mexico City policy– which prohibited US taxpayer funding of abortion advocacy abroad– was a violation of the legislator’s moral obligation. “Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy,” the bishop wrote.

The February 26 notice from the Scranton diocese notes that the #915 of the Code of Canon Law instructs Eucharistic ministers not to administer the Blessed Sacrament to Catholics “who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” [emphasis added] The official notice goes on to quote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his 2004 message to the bishops of the United States:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

Thus Bishop Martino has clearly drawn the connection between public support for legal abortion and obstinate perserverance in grave sin, pointing toward the inevitable conclusion that a lawmaker who supports abortion must be barred from receiving the Eucharist.


Great Depression Cooking with Clara

February 27, 2009

The 5 Most Pathetic Words: “I Am A Pro-choice Catholic”

February 27, 2009

From Patrick Madrid:

How does a formerly pro-life Catholic college girl morph into a pro-abortion zealot who identifies the roots of her transformation as including attending the National March for Life?

You read that right.

As implausible as it might sound, Kate Childs Graham says that this happened to her, and the results are not pretty. In her recent article “I Am a Prochoice Catholic,” which appears in that notorious bastion of contumacy, The National Catholic Reporter, Ms. Childs Graham reveals:

“I wasn’t always a prochoice Catholic. During college I attended the annual March for Life on more than one occasion. The first time my friends and I traveled to the event from Indianapolis, Ind., was with a bus full of high school students — most, seemingly, only going for the trip to Washington, D.C., with their friends, sans parental supervision. Needless to say, it was a noisy bus ride. After I transferred to Catholic University, I volunteered for the Mass for Life two years in a row, helping to herd all of those high school students into every crevice of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.”

One must wonder if Ms. Childs Graham herself was one of those young people who made the journey to Washington, not to protest the evil of legalized abortion, but simply because she wanted the freedom of a little road trip, “sans parental supervision.”

She claims that, “Each time I attended the March for Life, I felt overwhelmingly conflicted. On one hand, it was moving to be among so many people, all energized by their faith around an issue. On the other hand, I sensed that I wasn’t getting the complete picture — I wasn’t being told the full story.”

Hmm. Unless this young woman was comatose during her high school and college years, how could she not have been “told the full story”?

The pro-abortion screamers have done nothing but tell their “story” in the most strident ways possible, including counter-demonstrating and handing out their propaganda to anyone who will take it at the Washington March for Life.

 

Their side of the story has dominated the public consciousness through the sheer force and high-decibel volume of the pro-abortion diktat purveyed in the movies Ms. Childs Graham watched growing up, in the television programs she enjoyed during middle school and high school, in the biased and often inaccurate coverage of the U.S. abortion debate with which the mainstream news outlets have persistently and perniciously inveigled their readers.

But then, maybe Ms. Childs Graham never watched television growing up. And maybe she never saw any movies or watched the network news or read a mainstream secular newspaper or magazine. 

 

Maybe, but I doubt it. I’m pretty certain she got a great big dose, for years on end, of the pro-abortion crowd’s side of the story.

If she was raised Catholic, as it appears, was she raised on a desert island somewhere, far away from any means of encountering Catholic teaching on the evil of abortion? Perhaps she never heard of Pope John Paul II or listened to or read any of his many teachings on this subject?

Perhaps she attended parishes where the priests never preached on the evil of abortion, and she may never have visited any of the many Catholic pro-life websites or read the many Catholic periodicals that clearly proclaim what the Catholic Church has always and everywhere proclaimed, namely, that abortion is murder.

It’s possible, I suppose, that Ms. Childs Graham never opened and read her Holy Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, both of which are as clear and forceful and unambiguous as can be about telling the other side of the story, you know, the side about how killing unborn babies through abortion is murder and how murder is always a mortal sin.

Maybe she never came into contact with any fellow pro-life Catholics (who number in the tens of millions in this country, incidentally) and heard from them the other side of the story.

Maybe, but I doubt it. In fact, I’m quite confident that Ms. Childs Graham heard both sides of the story and that, tragically, she has simply chosen to believe the lie, the fairytale, the fable about how “protecting a woman’s right to choose [i.e., to murder her unborn child]” is a good thing. How it “helps” women. And how illegal abortions are “unsafe.” I wonder if it has ever dawned on this deeply misguided woman that, legal or illegal, abortions are always “unsafe” for the little child being killed in the procedure.

 

Maybe, but after reading her article and the vacuous reasons it gives in defense of her ideology, I doubt it.

 

I wonder if she has ever stopped to think about all the millions of unborn women who are being subjected to the unsafest of unsafe medical procedures when they are aborted.

I wonder.

 

During her trips to the Washington March for Life, did Ms. Childs Graham ever listen to any of the many eloquent speakers and teachers of the Catholic Faith — bishops, priests, religious, and laity — who come there to explain to the March attendees the fundamental reasons why the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is murder and that murder may never, under any circumstances, be countenanced, much less promoted? Maybe she was too busy herding all those high school students into all those crevices of the Nation Shrine to pay attention to what was going on all around her. It’s hard to say. 

 

Ignorance of why life issues like abortion and contraception are inextricably linked and how both do incalculable damage to women and men, marriages, and society as a whole (prescinding for the moment from the wanton destruction of human life entailed in these two activities) seem to be the root problem here. Ms. Child Graham assures her readers:

“[F]or me (and for many others), being prochoice does not end at supporting the right to safe and legal abortion; it extends to discovering the best methods to prevent unintended pregnancies. Contraception promotion, comprehensive sexuality education, and access to affordable child care and healthcare are just some of the methods that are paramount to reducing the need for abortion.”

One thing’s for sure, if she never heard the pro-abortion side of the story, as she alleges, since becoming pro-abortion, she sure has made up for lost time. She can parrot back with the best of them the vapid and long-discredited Planned Parenthood talking points that she spouts in her article.

But you’ve got to give her credit for sheer persistence, if not for clear thinking. To borrow another writer’s turn of a phrase, she is speaking from “a pinnacle of near-perfect ignorance.”

 

“I am a prochoice Catholic,” she asseverates, “because my Catholic faith tells me I can be. The Catechism reads, ‘[Conscience] is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.’ Even St. Thomas Aquinas said it would be better to be excommunicated than to neglect your individual conscience. So really, I am just following his lead. After years of research, discernment and prayer, my conscience has been well informed. Being a prochoice Catholic does not contradict my faith; rather, in following my well-informed conscience, I am adhering to the central tenet of Catholic teaching — the primacy of conscience.”

Ms. Childs Grahamn has a “well-informed conscience”? Really? Perhaps she is being sincere when she says this (c.f., CCC 1790), but it appears that she completely missed that part in the Catechism where is says:

“Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking” (CCC 1777);

“Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings” (CCC 1783); and

“Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt” (CCC 1801).

It’s not necessary to explain here what St. Thomas actually said about man’s duty to follow his conscience in observing the commandments and teachings of the Church, as that would simply be piling on and would be a further cause of embarrassment for Ms. Childs Graham. So it will suffice to simply read the above statements from the Catechism about conscience in light of this other statement:

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: ‘You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’ ‘God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes’” (CCC 2271).

Ms. Childs Graham, please, please, come to your senses. Wake up to the hideous realty of what you’re saying and doing and supporting here. You have fallen for the wrong side of this story. 

 

You are wrong about what the Church teaches about conscience and human freedom. You are wrong in your opinion that, when it comes to being proabortion, “My Catholic faith tells me I can be.” No, the Catholic Church tells you exactly the opposite.

 

I urge you take the time to really study what the Catholic Church says on this issue. I call upon you to at least be intellectually honest with yourself. In due time, you, like the rest of us, will have to meet the Lord face-to-face and be judged. On that day, you will have to give an account for why you defied the clear teaching of his Church on the evil of abortion.

“I am a proabortion Catholic” are the five most pathetic words you could say.

 

For the sake of your own immortal soul and for the sake of the lives of the unborn children your ideology menaces, please rid yourself of this delusion.

 

Patrick Madrid is the director of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College and publisher of Envoy Magazine. His personal website is www.patrickmadrid.com.


The Elephant in the Room: In praise of Catholic priests who dare to teach and enforce

February 27, 2009

From Rick Santorum:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a self-proclaimed “ardent, practicing Catholic,” had an opportunity last week to meet a fellow ardent Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI.

It appears that the pope used the visit to educate a confused Pelosi about the Roman Catholic Church’s long-held position on the life issue.

Appearing on Meet the Press just prior to the Democratic National Convention, Pelosi told the country that, over the centuries, the Catholic Church had been unable to define when life begins. “We just don’t know,” she chirped.

The Vatican’s statement after last week’s meeting between Pelosi and the pope began: “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

Pope Benedict did not allow any photos of the meeting, making a second and equally bracing instructional point: Dissenting Catholic politicians who deliberately mislead others about the church’s core teachings will not be given another chance to do so by having their picture taken with the vicar of Christ.

The pope heads a long list of church leaders who have used the speaker’s comments to teach the faithful. It includes our own Cardinal Justin Rigali.

Pelosi made it easy for the bishops to confront an offense against church teaching, because, rather than state her own position, she misstated the church’s position. To the church, this is akin to wearing a “Kick me” sign on your backside.

Sadly, the church hierarchy has been less assertive when public figures’ policy positions openly dissent from core teachings.

That’s why Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino got so much national attention last fall. Martino, formerly the auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, made the welcome decision to publicly bar then Sen. Joe Biden and other abortion advocates from receiving Communion in the Scranton Diocese. Then, after the November election, he admonished his brother bishops for their reluctance to deal with the issue faithfully.

Last month, Martino took on the most influential family in his diocese, the Caseys. He excoriated Sen. Bob Casey, who claims to be pro-life, for voting to give taxpayer dollars to overseas organizations that perform abortions. He warned that Casey was “formally cooperating with evil.”

Martino was not done. Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia native and St. Joseph’s Prep graduate issued a strong statement of disapproval to a local, nominally Catholic college, Misericordia University, that had scheduled a speech on campus by someone advocating same-sex marriage. “The faithful of the Diocese of Scranton should be in no doubt,” Martino said, “that Misericordia University in this instance is seriously failing in maintaining its Catholic identity.”

Then, last week, Martino took on some more of the biggest guns in the diocese: the Irish clubs that organize the largest public Catholic event of the year, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Through a letter from his Irish auxiliary bishop, Martino warned that if any of these groups went ahead with plans that in any way honor politicians who are not pro-life, he would close the cathedral where Mass is usually held prior to the parade, as well as other diocesan churches. He said he would not countenance anything that created confusion about the teachings of the church.

The reason for the letter: Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day parade last year featured Hillary Clinton.

Many of his brother bishops will look at Martino as they do at other uncompromising defenders of the faith, worrying about the world’s reaction. As a Philly guy, though, his excellency knows something about being booed. He also knows his job and calling: to be the good shepherd who faithfully leads and protects his flock from those who would lead them astray.

Yes, scores of people are reportedly protesting and threatening to leave the church. In the end, however, people leaving the church because of a bishop who enforces its teachings are a blessing compared with the alternative: people leaving because bishops and their priests don’t teach, much less enforce, those teachings.


Getting Serious About Lent

February 26, 2009

From Catholic Exchange:

Every car or truck carries in the glove compartment a maintenance schedule. Having your oil changed, your tires rotated and balanced, and the rest of the engine checked keeps your vehicle in excellent shape.

This Wednesday, we begin one of the most practical times of the Catholic liturgical year. Lent provides us an opportunity to open our personal maintenance schedule and take a close look at ourselves as we journey towards eternal life.

The spiritual life is not an easy endeavor because of our wounded human nature. True, Baptism washes away original sin, but we do not have complete control over ourselves. St. Paul brilliantly describes this continual battle. He portrays this conflict as an inward struggle (Romans 7: 14-25), a treasure in a vessel of clay (2 Corinthians 4: 7-18), and a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).

Because of original sin, an inner force will always move us in the wrong direction. Continual effort is necessary to control the inner movement of our ego, and allow the presence of grace to take control of our thoughts, desires and actions. The battle of the spiritual life is like walking in a river against the current. If we do not continue to walk or grab on to a rock, the current will carry us in the opposite direction. Lent provides us with an excellent opportunity to strengthen ourselves so that we can keep walking against the current.

A successful Lent requires us to develop a serious plan of action. Our program should consist of both the general practices that the Catholic Church requires of everyone, and our own particular Lenten program.

As a general practice for all Catholics, the Church requires that we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We are also asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.

Aside from what the Church law of fast and abstinence requires of us, we should come up with a personal program for spiritual growth. This is our personal maintenance program. I have always recommended that we come up with something negative and something positive.

By something negative, I mean that each person should commit themselves to giving up something or a number of things. This sacrifice should be serious and demanding. The self-control that we exercise in giving up a legitimate pleasure strengthens our will and curbs the inclinations of our passions.

By something positive, I mean that each one should also do some kind of act that we would not normally do on a regular basis. Attending daily Mass, visiting the sick, volunteering time at the parish or praying a Sunday evening Rosary with the entire family are positive acts of virtue that have helped many people progress in their relationship with God.

Lenten practices of penance have great benefits for our spiritual lives. A serious Lent will be like a spring cleaning which will purify the clutter that has accumulated in our souls. A serious commitment to penance will also help us to conquer addictions, obsessions and compulsive behavior. A serious Lent will purify our soul and allow us to experience a deeper interior freedom.

As we approach the beginning of another Lent, we should carefully examine our lives. Usually we focus on carefully examining our sins, but do we ever consider the sins of omission? Do we honestly consider what we are not doing?

One way to break the cycle of apathy is to bring into your Lent an apostolic dimension. This can be done by making two firm commitments: pray the Rosary at your local abortion clinic and target one person that does not have a church home. Invite that person to your parish. 

Moreover, it would be very powerful if we would offer up our fast, abstinence, Lenten sacrifices and our weekly Stations of the Cross to the Lord as of way of ending abortion and bringing souls back to the Church.

Do not wait until Ash Wednesday to come up with your Lenten program. Decide today what you are going to do. Parents should sit down with their children and make sure that they too have come up with a serious plan of action. Have a family meeting tonight and decide together to make this Lent the best Lent ever. Meet as a family every Sunday during Lent and review your program. Be accountable to each other. If you make this a great Lent you will notice the difference on Easter Sunday.


Archbishop Chaput analyzes election, challenges pro-Obama Catholics

February 25, 2009

From Catholic Culture:

In an address delivered Monday evening in Toronto, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver analyzed the implications of the election for Catholics in the United States. The lecture was cosponsored by the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Salt and Light Catholic Television Network, the Toronto Legatus Chapter, and the University of St. Michael’s College.

After discussing themes of his bestselling book Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, Archbishop Chaput turned to the November election. “As Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with. Unfortunately when it comes to the current administration that will be very hard for Catholics in the United States, and here’s why. A spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused prolifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer.”

Catholics, according to Archbishop Chaput, need to remember that “we owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil. In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions. The truest respect we can show to civil authority is the witness of our Catholic faith and our moral convictions, without excuses or apologies.”

He added: 

[I]n democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs. It’s worth recalling that despite two ugly wars, an unpopular Republican president, a fractured Republican party, the support of most of the American news media and massively out-spending his opponent, our new president actually trailed in the election polls the week before the economic meltdown. This subtracts nothing from the legitimacy of his office. It also takes nothing away from our obligation to respect the president’s leadership. But it does place some of today’s talk about a “new American mandate” in perspective. Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen– but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it.

The archbishop then honed in on failures in catechesis:

The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years. And now we’re harvesting the results– in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington.

The problem with mistakes in our past is that they compound themselves geometrically into the future unless we face them and fix them. The truth is, the American electorate is changing, both ethnically and in age. And unless Catholics have a conversion of heart that helps us see what we’ve become — that we haven’t just “assimilated” to American culture, but that we’ve also been absorbed and bleached and digested by it – then we’ll fail in our duties to a new generation and a new electorate. And a real Catholic presence in American life will continue to weaken and disappear.

Archbishop Chaput was equally unsparing of pro-abortion Catholics. 

Every new election cycle I hear from unhappy, self-described Catholics who complain that abortion is too much of a litmus test. But isn’t that exactly what it should be? One of the defining things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their respect for human life; and specifically their rejection of abortion and infanticide. We can’t be Catholic and be evasive or indulgent about the killing of unborn life. We can’t claim to be “Catholic” and “pro-choice” at the same time without owning the responsibility for where the choice leads – to a dead unborn child. We can’t talk piously about programs to reduce the abortion body count without also working vigorously to change the laws that make the killing possible. If we’re Catholic, then we believe in the sanctity of developing human life. And if we don’t really believe in the humanity of the unborn child from the moment life begins, then we should stop lying to ourselves and others, and even to God, by claiming we’re something we’re not.

The archbishop concluded his address with a discussion of hope, “the only word in the English language more badly misused than ‘love.’”


Ash Wednesday

February 25, 2009

Christian life during Lent should be characterized by “more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential style of life,” Pope Benedict XVI said during an Ash Wednesday service at the Roman basilica of St. Sabina. “It should be an encouragement to conversion and sincere love for our brothers, especially those who are most poor and in need,” he added. The Holy Father led the traditional Ash Wednesday procession from St. Anselmo to St. Sabina, then presided at the distribution of ashes there. In his meditation the Pope suggested that the faithful imitate the example of St. Paul, and follow the Apostle’s advice in making a wholehearted effort to dedicate one’s life to Christ. “We are urged not to give our members up to sin,” the Pope remarked, “meaning not to concede, so to speak, room for sin to make a comeback.” In order to live intimately with God, the Pontiff added, “it is indispensable to nourish oneself with the Word of God.”


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