Roadblocks to Reform

July 30, 2009

From Inside Catholic:

What’s the biggest obstacle to positive reform in the Church? Reactionaries in the Roman Curia? Conservatives in the conference of bishops? The Code of Canon Law?

The correct answer is none of the above. The biggest obstacle to reform is the roadblock thrown in its way by self-styled reform groups themselves. By advocating changes that clash with the doctrine, discipline, and best interests of the Church, they give reform a bad name and lead sensible people to reason that if this is what “reform” means, they want no part of it.

Not to leave you guessing, I mean Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action, and the gaggle of single-issue outfits pushing for women’s ordination, approval of the homosexual lifestyle, and the return to active ministry of men who quit the priesthood and got married.

Some months back, I had an experience that told me a lot about the mindset at work in such groups.

Shortly after publishing a book on the abuse of secrecy in the Church, I got an e-mail from a woman associated with one of these groups who wanted me to help with planning a project — a national “synod of the laity” several years down the line.

But I had reservations.

For starters, I explained, a synod, in the Christian tradition, is an officially convened convocation, not something any old group can throw together on its own. For Voice of the Faithful to call its meeting a synod would be needlessly provocative and invite trouble. But the woman seemed unpersuaded, and after further back and forth along these lines I broke off the conversation.

I see from the Voice of the Faithful Web site that the synod of the laity has apparently morphed into a mere “historic assembly” to reform the Church. Currently it’s planned for Detroit in the fall of 2011. I wish the organizers well, but I doubt that I’ll be attending. Among other reasons, I strongly suspect that the historic assembly, supposing it takes place, will be one more nail in the coffin of reform.

But here let me answer a question that may have occurred to readers: What kind of reform do I have in mind? For a reply, I offer a well-known authority on the subject — Pope Benedict XVI.

Last May 26, speaking to a pastoral convention of the Diocese of Rome, Benedict gave a remarkable talk that deserves far more attention than it’s gotten to date. In it, he discussed the successes and failures in realizing the vision of the laity’s role in the Church as set out by the Second Vatican Council, and proposed a program for the future.

“There is still a long way to go,” he said. “Too many of the baptized do not feel part of the ecclesial community and live on its margins.” The solution, he suggested, lies in revising pastoral structures “in such a way that the co-responsibility of all members of the People of God in their entirety is gradually promoted.” And then he added:

This demands a change in mindset, particularly concerning lay people. They must no longer be viewed as “collaborators” of the clergy but truly recognized as “co-responsible”, for the Church’s being and action, thereby fostering the consolidation of a mature and committed laity.

Remarkable.

Co-responsibility was a watchword of advanced — but responsible — thinking about reforms in the decision-making processes of the Church in the early 1970s. The concept eventually foundered for a variety of reasons, including the disastrous fiasco of the original Call to Action Conference in 1976. For Benedict to revive it now suggests that, 35 years later, the idea still has an essential soundness and vitality that have yet to be realized. That’s what responsible efforts at reform should be working on now.

But Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action, and the rest aren’t going to do the job.

VOTF was founded in 2002 as a response to the sex-abuse crisis, but it long since wandered into other areas well beyond its competence. Its 2009 national assembly scheduled for this October will be a shrunken affair in a Long Island hotel, beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday afternoon and featuring two perennial gadflies of progressive Catholicism: Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., and Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J.

But don’t bet that the group will make it till then. VOTF was recently reported $60,000 short of what it needs to keep going through the summer; a last-minute appeal raised the necessary funds, but the future is still uncertain. Its strategic plan, available on the Web, admits that it suffers from “general apathy and discontent among leadership” and a persistent “inability to clearly define ourselves.”

Call to Action’s national conference in November in Milwaukee will last a full two-and-half days, but otherwise there’s a family resemblance to VOTF, with an emphasis on shopworn jargon and the themes of dissent. Featured speakers will address such winning topics as “forms of marginality” and “recent trends in liberation theology regarding pluralism and eco-theology.”

The first of the keynoters (there are three) will be Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., who’s led a long-running campaign against the army’s School of the Americas and who tangled with the Vatican last year over his involvement in the “ordination” of a woman in a Unitarian Universalist church.

Plainly, the group has a past, tracing its name to the 1976 Call to Action Conference. Whether it has a future is questionable.

Poorly as these groups seem to be doing, nevertheless, they have enough life left to be obstacles to reform. They do that by providing ammunition to super-reactionaries who’d like the Church to be just as it was in 1958 (the year that Pope Pius XII died, in case you’ve forgotten) and discouraging others from taking a serious look at needed changes.

Pope Benedict did his best to give structural reform a jump-start last May. But it won’t happen as long as the reform groups keep getting in the way.


Reconciling Judas: Evangelizing the Theologians

July 30, 2009

From Inside Catholic:

In 1968, a professor of theology at the University of Regensburg wrote a modestly sized treatise on the Apostles’ Creed called Introduction to Christianity. Its impact, however, was anything but modest, for the book so captivated Pope Paul VI that he made its author archbishop of Munich (and later cardinal, one of his last appointments to the college); and just a few years later, the new pope, John Paul II, summoned the same man to Rome to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His name, of course, was Joseph Ratzinger.

Not many books have changed history, but this one certainly did, not just for the author personally but also for the wider Church. For it would be hard to exaggerate the influence of this bookish Bavarian, not just on John Paul II (perhaps the most influential pope in history) but on Catholics worldwide through the cardinal’s role as doctrinal overseer and enforcer of magisterial orthodoxy, and now, as the Supreme Pontiff himself. What made the book itself so remarkable was not just its deft use of the Apostles’ Creed to explain Christianity to the lay reader or its acute analysis of unbelief and the secular mind. An even greater virtue of the book was the future pope’s keen analysis of why the promising spirit of Vatican II failed to bring about a reunited Christianity and a re-Christianized Europe.

According to Ratzinger’s analysis, post-Enlightenment Christianity in Europe had been conned into adopting an evangelical strategy too superficial in its approach and too intimidated by Enlightened objections to Christian doctrine … continue reading.


Fr. Barron on B16’s New Encyclical

July 30, 2009

Head of Vatican’s Liturgical Office says Principle of Refusing Communion is “Charity in Truth”

July 24, 2009

ROME, July 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A high level Vatican official has reminded US bishops of their responsibilities to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including the possibility of withholding Communion. Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the head of the Vatican’s liturgical office, told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview today that the guiding principle for bishops considering withholding Communion from pro-abortion politicians in their dioceses should be “caritas in veritate” or “charity in truth.”  
 
Canizares explained that according to Catholic teaching those who insist upon receiving Communion in a state of serious sin are in grave spiritual danger and emphasized that the withholding of Communion is meant for the person’s spiritual salvation.
 
He said, “I think that the strongest words are found in St. Paul: one who goes to the Eucharist and is not properly prepared, duly prepared, ‘he eats his own condemnation’. This is the strongest thing that we can say and what is the most truthful statement.”
 
The Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, in an exclusive interview with LSN, said that it is the duty of bishops and priests to instruct Catholic politicians who refuse to accept the Church’s teachings on life, to help them understand the “gravity” of what they are doing.
 
“Politicians should become aware and they should be helped to become aware of the gravity of their conduct,” the cardinal said at his offices in Rome. “When they approve laws against life, in favor of abortion or euthanasia, priests and bishops should say this.”
 
He said that the principle that should be applied is the one that gives the title to the latest encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate.”
 
“This principle, caritas in veritate [love in truth], should be the principle used, first by politicians when they come to Communion, and second it should be the rule for bishops when they decide whether to give or to withdraw Communion.”
 
While the cardinal said he does now know whether the Vatican is preparing a document on the problem of pro-abortion politicians, he reiterated the Church’s position that to be actively involved in procuring abortion is the gravest of offenses and one that incurs the most severe punishment the Church has: excommunication.
 
“In the cases of public sinners,” he added, “we don’t know what is happening in the consciences of those politicians. And I understand the prudence with which we have to act. But I think also that it is our duty to clarify their consciences. To help the person to act in accordance with a right and true conscience.”
 
This is part of the function of bishops, he said, “to help the due formation of conscience. To form consciences in such a way that people should act in accordance with the truth.”
 
Cardinal Canizares’s remarks echo those of Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former head of the archdiocese of St. Louis and current head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Burke told Democrat candidate Senator John Kerry, who though Catholic held a 100 percent approval rating with the country’s leading abortion lobbyists, that he could not receive Communion in the St. Louis diocese.
 
In an interview with LSN in February, Archbishop Burke said the politicians who are persisting in what the Church says is a “grave sin” must be refused Communion for the sake of their own souls. “When you talk to these people, they know,” he said. “They know what they’re doing is very wrong. They have to answer to God for that, but why through our pastoral negligence add on to that, that they have to answer to God for who knows how many unworthy receptions of Holy Communion?”
 
Similarly, in Canada, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast told LSN in an interview last year, “The Church’s concern is for anyone who persists in grave sin, hoping that medicinal measures (which is how excommunication and interdict are to be understood) may draw them away from the wrong path to the truth of our faith.”
 
Cardinal Canizares pointed to two documents that bishops can use for guidance on how to deal with politicians who refuse to reform their consciences – the encyclical of the late Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae and the document produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2004 when Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect. That document stated clearly that pro-abortion Catholic politicians “must be refused” Holy Communion if they attempt to receive at Mass.
 
The cardinal emphasized that such a formation of conscience merely means that “politicians should act in accordance with the truth.”   
 
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Vatican Official: Bishops Have no Choice But to Refuse Communion to Pro-Abort Politicians  
  
Exclusive Interview: Ottawa Archbishop Explains Why Pro-Abortion Politicians are Denied Communion 
   
Archbishop Wuerl Refuses to Deny Communion to Pro-Abortion Speaker Pelosi


Kinsey’s Secret: The Phony Science of the Sexual Revolution

July 24, 2009

From Inside Catholic:

It’s now more than 50 years since the revolution began. Sexual “liberation” has been endlessly ballyhooed by the national media, promoted in the movies, embraced by Playboy guys and Cosmo girls as a freedom more delicious than Eden’s apple. No American under 40 can honestly remember a time when sex on TV was taboo, when “living together” meant married, when “gay” meant happy, and when almost every child lived with both parents.

If truth be told, the revolution has been a disaster. Before the push to loosen America’s sexual mores really got under way in the 1950s, the only widely reported sexually transmitted diseases in the United States were gonorrhea and syphilis. Today we have more than two dozen varieties, from pelvic inflammatory disease (which renders more than 100,000 American women infertile each year) to AIDS (which presently infects 42 million people worldwide and has already killed another 23 million). According to a report by scientists at the National Cancer Institute, a woman who has three or more sex partners in her lifetime increases her risk of cervical cancer by as much as 1,500 percent. In another finding that runs contrary to all that the sex researchers preached, a survey at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center showed that married men and women, on average, are sexually happier than unwed couples merely living together. And even if live-in couples do marry, they’re 40 to 85 percent more likely to divorce than those who go straight to the altar.

So what happened? Was science simply wrong? Well, not exactly — the truth is more complicated than that.

Con Man

Alfred C. Kinsey had a secret. The Indiana University zoologist and “father of the sexual revolution” almost single-handedly redefined the sexual mores of everyday Americans. The problem was, he had to lie to do it. The weight of this point must not be underestimated. The science that launched the sexual revolution has been used for the past 50 years to sway court decisions, pass legislation, introduce sex education into our schools, and even push for a redefinition of marriage. Kinseyism was the very foundation of this effort. If his science was flawed — or worse yet, an outright deception — then our culture’s attitudes about sex are not just wrong morally but scientifically as well.

Let’s consider the facts. When Kinsey and his coworkers published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953, they turned middle-class values upside down. Many traditionally forbidden sexual practices, Kinsey and his colleagues proclaimed, were surprisingly commonplace; 85 percent of men and 48 percent of women said they’d had premarital sex, and 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women had been unfaithful after marriage. Incredibly, 71 percent of women claimed their affair hadn’t hurt their marriage, and a few even said it had helped. What’s more, 69 percent of men had been with prostitutes, 10 percent had been homosexual for at least three years, and 17 percent of farm boys had experienced sex with animals. Implicit in Kinsey’s report was the notion that these behaviors were biologically “normal” and hurt no one. Therefore, people should act on their impulses with no inhibition or guilt.

The 1948 report on men came out to rave reviews and sold an astonishing 200,000 copies in two months. Kinsey’s name was everywhere from the titles of pop songs (“Ooh, Dr. Kinsey”) to the pages of Life, Time, Newsweek, and the New Yorker. Kinsey was “presenting facts,” Look magazine proclaimed. He was “revealing not what should be but what is.” Dubbed “Dr. Sex” and applauded for his personal courage, the researcher was compared to Darwin, Galileo, and Freud.

But beneath the popular approbation, many astute scientists were warning that Kinsey’s research was gravely flawed. The list of critics, Kinsey biographer James H. Jones observes, “read like a Who’s Who of American intellectual life.” They included anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict; Stanford University psychologist Lewis M. Terman; Karl Menninger, M.D. (founder of the famed Menninger Institute); psychiatrists Eric Fromm and Lawrence Kubie; cultural critic Lionel Trilling of Columbia University, and countless others.

By the time Kinsey’s volume about women was published, many journalists had abandoned the admiring throngs and joined the critics. Magazine articles appeared with titles like “Is the Kinsey Report a Hoax?” and “Love Is Not a Statistic.” Time magazine ran a series of stories exposing Kinsey’s dubious science (one was titled “Sex or Snake Oil?”).

That’s not, of course, to say that the Kinsey reports contain no truth at all. Sexuality is certainly a subject worthy of scientific study. And many people do pay lip service to sexual purity while secretly behaving altogether differently in their private lives.

Nevertheless, Kinsey’s version of the truth was so grossly oversimplified, exaggerated, and mixed with falsehoods, it’s difficult to sort fact from fiction. Distinguished British anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer put it well when he called the reports propaganda masquerading as science. Indeed, the flaws in Kinsey’s work stirred up such controversy that the Rockefeller Foundation, which had backed the original research, withdrew its funding of $100,000 a year. A year after the book on female sexuality came out, Kinsey himself complained that almost no scientist outside of a few of his best friends continued to defend him.

So, what were the issues the world’s best scientists had with Kinsey’s work? The criticism can be condensed into three troublesome points.

Problem #1: Humans as Animals

Before he began studying human sexuality, Kinsey was the world’s leading expert on the gall wasp. Trained as a zoologist, he saw sex purely as a physiological “animal” response. Throughout his books, he continually refers to the “human animal.” In fact, in Kinsey’s opinion, there was no moral difference between one sexual outlet and any other. In our secular world of moral relativism, Kinsey was a radical sexual relativist. As even the libertarian anthropologist Margaret Mead accurately observed, in Kinsey’s view there was no moral difference between a man having sex with a woman or a sheep.

In his volume about women, Kinsey likened the human orgasm to sneezing. Noting that this ludicrous description left out the obvious psychological aspects of human sexuality, Brooklyn College anthropologist George Simpson observed, “This is truly a monkey-theory of orgasm.” Human beings, of course, differ from animals in two very important ways: We can think rationally, and we have free will. But in Kinsey’s worldview, humans differed from animals only when it came to procreation. Animals have sex only to procreate. On the other hand, human procreation got little notice from Kinsey. In his 842-page volume on female sexuality, motherhood wasn’t mentioned once.

Problem #2: Skewed Samples

Kinsey often presented his statistics as if they applied to average moms, dads, sisters, and brothers. In doing so, he claimed 95 percent of American men had violated sex-crime laws that could land them in jail. Thus Americans were told they had to change their sex-offender laws to “fit the facts.” But, in reality, Kinsey’s reports never applied to average people in the general population. In fact, many of the men Kinsey surveyed were actually prison inmates. Wardell B. Pomeroy, Kinsey co-author and an eyewitness to the research, wrote that by 1946 the team had taken sexual histories from about 1,400 imprisoned sex offenders. Kinsey never revealed how many of these criminals were included in his total sample of “about 5,300” white males. But he did admit including “several hundred” male prostitutes. Additionally, at least 317 of Kinsey’s male subjects were not even adults, but sexually abused children.

Piling error on top of error, about 75 percent of Kinsey’s adult male subjects volunteered to give their sexual histories. As Stanford University psychologist Lewis M. Terman observed, volunteers for sex studies are two to four times more sexually active than non-volunteers.

Kinsey’s work didn’t improve in his volume on women. In fact, he interviewed so few average women that he actually had to redefine “married” to include any woman who had lived with a man for more than a year. This change added prostitutes to his sample of “married” women.

In the December 11, 1949, New York Times, W. Allen Wallis, then chairman of the University of Chicago’s committee on statistics, dismissed “the entire method of collecting and presenting the statistics which underlie Dr. Kinsey’s conclusions:’ Wallis noted, “There are six major aspects of any statistical research, and Kinsey fails on four.”

In short, Kinsey’s team researched the most exotic sexual behavior in America — taking hundreds if not thousands of case histories from sexual deviants — and then passed off the behavior as sexually “normal,” “natural;” and “average” (and hence socially and morally acceptable).

Problem #3: Faulty Statistics

Given all this, it’s hardly surprising that Kinsey’s statistics were so deeply flawed that no reputable scientific survey has ever been able to duplicate them.

Kinsey claimed, for instance, that 10 percent of men between the ages of 16 and 55 were homosexual. Yet in one of the most thorough nationwide surveys on male sexual behavior ever conducted, scientists at Battelle Human Affairs Research Centers in Seattle found that men who considered themselves exclusively homosexual accounted for only 1 percent of the population. In 1993, Time magazine reported, “Recent surveys from France, Britain, Canada, Norway and Denmark all point to numbers lower than 10 percent and tend to come out in the 1 to 4 percent range.” The incidence of homosexuality among adults is actually “between 1 and 3 percent;” says University of Delaware sociology and criminal justice professor Joel Best, author of Damned Lies and Statistics. Best observes, however, that gay and lesbian activists prefer to use Kinsey’s long-discredited one-in-ten figure “because it suggests that homosexuals are a substantial minority group, roughly equal in number to African Americans — too large to be ignored.”

Not surprisingly, Kinsey’s numbers showing marital infidelity to be harmless also never held up. In one Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy study of infidelity, 85 percent of marriages were damaged as a result, and 34 percent ended in divorce. Even spouses who stayed together usually described their marriages afterwards as unhappy. Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman, M.D., estimates that among couples who have been married for a long time and then divorce, “over 90 percent of the divorces involve infidelities.”

Speaking at a 1955 conference sponsored by Planned Parenthood, Kinsey pulled another statistical bombshell out of his hat. He claimed that of all pregnant women, roughly 95 percent of singles and 25 percent of those who were married secretly aborted their babies. A whopping 87 percent of these abortions, he claimed, were performed by bona fide doctors. Thus he gave scientific authority to the notion that abortion was already a common medical procedure — and should thus be legal.

Living With the Wreckage

When Reader’s Digest asked popular sex therapist Ruth Westheimer what she thought of Kinsey’s misinformation, she reportedly replied, “I don’t care much about what is correct and is not correct. Without him, I wouldn’t be Dr. Ruth.”

But Kinsey’s deceptions do matter today, because we’re still living with the Kinsey model of sexuality. It permeates our entire culture. As Best observes, bad statistics are significant for many reasons: “They can be used to stir up public outrage or fear, they can distort our understanding of our world, and they can lead us to make poor policy choices.”

In a 1951 Journal of Social Psychology study, psychology students at the University of California, Los Angeles, were divided into three groups: Some students took an intensive nine-week course on Kinsey’s findings, while the other two groups received no formal Kinsey instruction. Afterward, the students took a quiz testing their attitudes about sex. Compared with those who received no Kinsey training, those steeped in Kinseyism were seven times as likely to view premarital sex more favorably than they did before and twice as likely to look more favorably on adultery. After Kinsey, the percentage of students open to a homosexual experience soared from 0 to 15 percent. Students taught Kinseyism were also less likely to let religion influence their sexual behavior and less apt to follow sexual rules taught by their parents.

Influencing Court Decisions

Kinsey’s pseudoscience arguably did the most damage through our court systems. That’s where attorneys used the researcher’s “facts” to repeal or weaken laws against abortion, pornography, obscenity, divorce, adultery, and sodomy. In the May 1950 issue of Scientific Monthly, New York City attorney Morris Ernst (who represented Kinsey, Margaret Sanger, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood) outlined his ambitious legal plan for Kinsey’s findings. “We must remember that there are two parts to law,” Ernst said. One was “the finding of the facts” (Kinsey’s job); the other was applying those findings in court (Ernst’s job). Noting that the law needed more tools “to aid in its search for the truth,” the attorney argued for “new rules,” under which “facts” like Kinsey’s would be introduced into court cases in the same way judges allowed other scientific tools, such as fingerprints, lie-detector results, and blood tests. The inexhaustible Ernst also urged the courts to revise laws concerning the institution of marriage.

The legal fallout from Kinsey’s work continues. The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic 2003 decision striking down sodomy laws was the offshoot of a long string of court cases won largely on the basis of Kinsey’s research. And 50 years of precedents set by Kinsey’s “false 10 percent” are now being used in states like Massachusetts to redefine marriage.

A Sorry Legacy

Inspired by the first Kinsey report, Hugh Hefner founded Playboy in 1953. A decade later, Helen Gurley Brown turned Cosmopolitan into a sex magazine for women. Even today magazines like Self and Glamour continue to quote Kinsey with respect, never acknowledging the grave errors riddling his research. An estimated 30,000 Web sites offer pornography, and U.S. producers churn out 600 hard-core adult videos each month. Although reliable figures are difficult to come by, the U.S. sex industry pulls in an estimated $2.5 billion to $10 billion a year. Clearly, we’re living Kinsey’s legacy.

In his book The End of Sex, an obituary of the sexual revolution, Esquire contributor George Leonard accurately observed that “wherever we have split ‘sex’ from love, creation, and the rest of life . . . we have trivialized and depersonalized the act of love itself.” Treasuring others solely for their sexuality strips them of their humanity. When Kinsey tore the mystery of love from human sexuality, he abandoned us all to a sexually broken world.


Rains in Africa

July 21, 2009

He Wore Prayer to Mary on His Chest

July 21, 2009

Obama-Notre-Dame

Vita Dulcedo Spes = Our Life, Our Sweetness, Our Hope