Memorare to St. Joseph

Daily prayer for the Synod on the Family:

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me.

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10 Commandments for Lovers of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Do You Refrain from Useless Chatter before the Tabernacle?
How About Dressing Modestly and Reverently for Mass?

by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan:

1. Attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, even daily if possible.

2. Prepare well for every Mass by: abstaining from food and drink (medicine and water may be taken) for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion; going to Confession to a priest and stating any and all mortal sins that you have not confessed before (a mortal sin is a thought, word, desire or action that concerns grave matter carried out with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will); praying before Holy Mass and performing acts of charity and self-denial Furthermore, only those persons who are practicing Catholics, who believe as the Church does regarding the Most Holy Eucharist and whose marriages are recognized as valid by the Holy Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion.

3. Genuflect when entering and leaving the Church and whenever passing before the Tabernacle or the Altar on which the Body and Blood of Christ rest. Dress modestly—avoiding revealing and sloppy clothes—and do not chew gum. Speak accurately about the Most Holy Eucharist, never referring to It as “bread and wine.” And if you assist with the sacred music in your parish, do all you can to ensure that the texts reflect the truth about the Real Presence.

4. Refrain from useless chattering before the Tabernacle before, during and after the Holy Mass in order to adore Him and to concentrate attention on the Risen Lord Jesus. Talking unnecessarily in the holy presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament destroys a golden occasion to learn at the Feet of the Master.

5. Receive Holy Communion with joy and fervor. We receive Jesus on our tongues or, in a country where it is permitted by the Episcopal Conference, in our hands (a profound bow before receiving Holy Communion is very appropriate). When we receive Jesus on our tongues, we simply say “Amen” and permit the priest, deacon or installed acolyte to place Christ there. If we receive in the hand, then we make a throne for the Lord, placing our “stronger” hand on the bottom and our “weaker” hand on top. Proclaiming “Amen,” we receive the Host (rather than lunging for It), take a step to the side, stop and place the Host in our mouth using the stronger hand underneath. We must never receive the Sacred Host “on the run.”

6. Pass time with the Eucharistic Jesus outside of the Holy Mass. The Eucharist is always to be adored—before, during and after the Mass, whether exposed in the Monstrance or reposed in the Tabernacle.

7. Make frequent Spiritual Communions in which we invite the Lord into our souls in a similar manner as when we sacramentally receive Holy Communion. These may be made anytime and anywhere.

8. Cultivate a special relationship with Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist. Pray her Most Holy Rosary. Wear her Brown Scapular and her Miraculous Medal. Ask her for the virtue of chastity for yourself and in all your dealings with your neighbors. Purity is vital. If you fall grievously, go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion.

9. Develop a friendship with the Saints who are remembered for their incredible love for the Holy Eucharist. To become aware of their affection for Holy Communion stimulates our capacity to develop in love for and adoration of Our Eucharistic Jesus.

10. Request the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for the living and the dead. There is no gift more beautiful and effective than the Holy Mass.

Yoga: Never Place Your Faith in Unnecessary Danger

Bishop Bruskewitz: Yoga is a Doorway to Lead You Away from the Faith

by , Women of Grace:

The recently retired Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, sent a letter to Women of Grace in which he advised Catholics to steer clear of yoga because of its basis in Hinduism and to take up other methods of exercise that don’t place the faith in unnecessary danger.

Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln

Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln

Even though many people claim to use yoga as an exercise regime, Bishop Bruskewitz warns that yoga’s background is much more complicated than that because it has “the intention to strengthen and expand human consciousness and the rational and mind level of the person who engages in Yoga.”

He correctly points out that yoga originated in, and is an important part of, various forms of the Hindu religion which is, in the Catholic perspective, “a pagan religion based on heathen beliefs and false doctrine of revelation involving such things as transmigration of souls, and so forth.”

In his view, it’s impossible to separate the Hindu religious aspects of yoga from the practice itself. “Certainly, if one wants to engage in physical exercises to strengthen one’s body, such a practice would be morally neutral, and would not, in itself, involve anything detrimental to our Catholic faith. However, the practice of yoga most often, if it does not begin that way, eventually morphs into an acceptance of points of view, and even doctrinal and moral matters that are distant from Catholic truth, and from genuine and authentic Christian revelation.”

He also warns about the dangers of its association with the New Age movement. “It is also well known that many proponents of what is called ‘New Age Religion’ use yoga and yoga practices, and instruction in these practices, as doorways in which to enter into people’s consciousness and wean them away from the truths which the Catholic Church preserves in the Deposit of Faith . . .”

Bishop Bruskewitz concludes with some very practical advice. “In our times, there are innumerable ways and methods by which appropriate and proper exercise of the human body can be undertaken that present no real danger to our faith or to our Catholic beliefs and commitments. It would be most desirable for persons who are Catholic to abstain from the practice of yoga and use other methods to exercise . . . . We are never allowed to place our Catholic faith unnecessarily in any danger, and certainly the practice of yoga could be an occasion of serious sin . . .”

– See more at:

But Father! They Won’t Remain in Hell Forever.

Dialogue on Hell: Will the Damned Remain in Hell Forever?

by Fr. Christopher Pietraszko:

S: Hey Fr. Chris!  Tonight I am teaching the RCIA class in my parish and I was hoping you could pray for me!

F:  Sure thing Sara.  What topic are you covering?

S:  Heaven and the modern view of Hell

F:  The modern view of Hell…what do you mean?  Has hell changed recently?

S:  Very funny Father.  Well, you know how St. John Paul II talked about how hell isn’t a place, but a state of relationship…

F:  Ah, yes.  Good.  I wasn’t sure if you were going to say that hell doesn’t exist anymore.

S:  Well, one day it will not, if what St. John Paul II said is true.  I loved his view of hell and heaven.  It veers away from this outdated fear-based way of evangelizing.  You know:  Love God because the consequences of not loving Him is that he will torture you for eternity.  Whoever believes in that cannot believe God is love at the same time, you know?!

F:  Where do I start, Sara?Adam-and-Eve

S:  Oh Father, I know you believe hell is forever, but really…who believes that anymore?

F: Well for starters: those who are in hell.

S:  Says who?  How do you know what they know?

F:  Have you read the parable in scripture on Lazarus and the Rich-man?

S: Oh I remember that one.  But again, its Old Testament stuff

F:  Sara…it’s a parable that Jesus gave…in the New Testament.

S:  I know, but Jesus was appealing to their fire-and-brimstone mindset.  It doesn’t apply anymore.

F:  Two things Sara:  1) Scripture always applies, its God’s word and a gift to us, and 2:  Jesus’ parable is meant to teach us something today.  Have we advanced, in your opinion, beyond the Master and Author of life?

S:  You are so funny Fr. Chris.  Of course we haven’t advanced beyond Christ.  But we are “developing” a much broader theology.

F:  Development of doctrine does not mean we contradict what was previously held, Sara, it means the truths of it are applied in a more complex manner, just as a tree becomes more complex as it grows larger.  It remains, nonetheless rooted in the ground from which it sprang.

S:  You are saying, then that if Hell is a place where we are forever, that it will never change?  Yet, we once believed it to be a place, and now it is no more.  Isn’t that a contradiction?

F:  I’m not sure which dogmatic claim suggests that Hell is a geographical place per se, but in either case, we might understand the imagery of hell to be analogical or allegorical, just as Christ’s own words are known to us as a parable.

S:  Exactly.  So none of it is literally true.

F:  What would be the point of a parable if there was no truth to it at all?  Does Lazarus exist, literally?  Probably not.  But does it matter?  Did you notice how Jesus doesn’t give the Rich-man a name?  Perhaps he did this because the Rich-man could be any of us?  Or perhaps because his name is not written in heaven?

S:  I understand what you are saying…I think.  You are suggesting that the parable that came from the mouth of Christ speaks a particular truth that is undeniable, and because it is Christ and His word, it cannot be denied, though it can develop.  Furthermore, that it cannot develop into something that contradicts it as it was originally.  For example, an Apple tree can evolve, but it will never become an orange tree?

F:  Couldn’t have put it better than that.  That is an excellent analogy.  Can I use it later?

S:  Of course Father:  thanks!

F:  I still think there is something unresolved in our discussion here Sara.

S:  What’s that?

F:  Well you seemed to express a common-opinion amongst our contemporary people, that it seems unjust for God to send a soul to hell for not loving him.  As if it were something unjust or even unloving.

S:  It does seem that way.   But being that Christ said it to be true, it must be good and loving and just.

F:  I appreciate your faith without understanding.  That is a virtue severely lacking in our society today.  Rarely do people assent to a claim without having to first understand it themselves.  Rarely do we defer to the wisdom of God.   Rather people exalt their own judgment above the infinite wisdom of God.

S:  Thanks Father.

F:  You are welcome.  But since you are going to be teaching on this, I’d like you to perhaps reflect on the reasons why Christ and His Bride, the Church, teach that hell is a radical possibility, as much as is love.

S:  That would be appreciated Father.

F:  You said it seemed as if God were unjust if he allowed a soul to perish in hell for all eternity.

S:  Yes.  It seems as if God would have to be pretty resentful for that to happen.  It’s as if He is full of revenge, saying, “You didn’t love me, so I won’t love you.”  And that doesn’t really fit into what Christianity teaches, especially about loving your enemy.

F:  I think that is a fair point.  I think it is important to examine your first premise.  I would agree with your conclusion, that God does not ever lose His love for anyone, including those who are His enemies, and I’d add, even for those people in Hell.

Your first premise seems to carry with it a few assumptions.  The first assumption is that God wants to torture someone, almost as if His feelings are hurt, and therefore tries to get-them-back.  Is that a fair way to characterize your point?

S:  Yes.  Otherwise, it would seem to make sense that God would allow such a soul in heaven, especially when they ask for forgiveness.  You notice the Rich-man wanted to get out of hell.  It doesn’t seem to be true – what C.S. Lewis said – that Hell is locked from the inside.  If it was, the Richman could have left as he seemed to want to.

F:  I appreciate you reflecting on the parable to illustrate your point.  The problem is you are dead wrong about your reading of the parable.

S:  Gee… thanks Father.

F:  You are welcome.

S:  You are so funny Father.

F:  What I mean Sara, is that while the man regretted his actions, he only regretted them because of the consequences.  Not once did he say to Abraham:  “Tell Lazarus I’m sorry for neglecting Him.”

S:  Interesting point.  I never thought about that.  So are you saying that regret and hatred for hell does exist in the damned?

F:  Absolutely.  It wouldn’t be torment if the soul regretted nothing and enjoyed hell, would it?

S:  That is a really good point…haha

 Christopher Pietraszko

Fr. Christopher Pietraszko

F:  So as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, a soul in hell can repent of His sin, only insofar as he regrets the logical consequences of it.  But never does his heart change.  Not once does he begin to Love Lazarus.  And that is the infinite chasim Abraham speaks of.  The shear inability for a damned soul to actually regret their sins because of the malice and cruelty within them.  And if they never regret that cruelty and malice, they haven’t changed.  And if they haven’t changed, if they ask for forgiveness, are they really asking for forgiveness?

S:  I guess not.  It is like when I was a kid and my mom grounded me from going to the school dance.  I screamed:  “I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!”  And she responded:  “No you are not:  you are sorry you got caught.”

F:  What a wonderful example.  I might use that another time?

S:  Of course Father.  But don’t use my name…haha

F:  Fair enough!

S:  What if someone asks, Father:  “Why can’t a soul regret in hell what they can regret on earth?”

F:  That is a tremendous and devastatingly complicated question.

S:  Does that mean there is no answer, and it’s a “mystery.”

F:  Well, in some ways the tip of my nose is a mystery, as is everything in the universe.  However, I think I can try to answer it.  But don’t be expecting sound-bites.

S:  Sound-bites?  What do you mean Father?

F:  I mean that often times when people examine deep theological questions, they often want things to be very simply understood.  The problem is as complex beings, when trying to understand what is simple, we often make a mess out of it.

S:  So are you saying that it’s simple, but as a result hard to understand?

F:  Let me explain it to you, and I’ll let you be the judge of that question.

S:  I’m waiting.

F:  Okay…Well I’d like to first describe to you how the Angel’s make decisions, because there is a certain parallel between what happens to them and what happens to us after we die.

S:  Angels!  I love angels!  I used to watch “Touched by an Angel.”

F:  Oh dear Lord have mercy!  While I’m sure that TV show often had a good message, it rarely evoked the name of Jesus.  Furthermore they had a tendency to humanize angels, making them base like us, rather than as magnificent and terrible as they truly are in their nature.

S:  Don’t knock a good TV show Father.  And what do you mean by “terrible.”

F:  Well if you are expecting a warm and soft light to surround an angel with gentle music in the background, I think you are missing what we normally see in scripture when real-angels encountered people.  They were struck by terror and fear.  Some were punished and made mute.  Others were carrying swords set ablaze, another destroyed and killed all the first born in Egypt… Angels are powerful creatures, and we should have some reverence for them.

S:  But they aren’t terrible in the moral sense, right?

F:  Some of them are:  Lucifer for instance.

S:  Right.  He was an angel.  But now is a demon.

F:  When we say he is a demon, we don’t deny that he is still an angel.  It is just a term we use to describe a bad angel.  His nature is angelic, his moral character is demonic.  Make sense?

S:  Sort of.  You are saying that he still has the same nature as an angel, but is an evil one.

F:  Yup.

S:  So in what sense do you mean “terrible” when speaking of the good angels?

F:  Again, I mean it in the sense that angels are powerful.  They have a great deal of power over our lives, and we should recognize their power with a sense of healthy fear.  We don’t want to get in their way.

S:  How would we get in their way?

F:  It is a little off topic.  However, I’ll respond.   We can get in their way by getting in the way of God.  Angels serve us because God has asked them to.  Their ultimate service is towards God.

S:  What might a good angel do if we disobey God?

F:  In this life they will defend the glory of God, and perhaps try to humble us.  That of course is a good thing.  But after this life, it is the Angels, according to Christ that sift the wicked from the righteous.  Angels will deliver us to hell if we have failed to obey God.

S:  I never thought of an angel as doing something like that.

F:  Probably because you watch too much TV?  Our faith is very sentimental today, and it is that way because it is safer for the ego, but not for the soul.

S:  Oh man, you really hate that TV show, Touched by an Angel…eh?

F: I don’t hate it.  But I do think there is some good theology really missing in it.  It is a generational problem.

S:  So what is missing in it, other than the terrible nature of the good-angels?

F:  I mentioned that the show humanizes angels.  A great deal of movies do this.  Angels are very different from humanity.  Some movies attempt to portray angels as being capable of conversion either from goodness to evil or vice-versa.  But that is not how angels make decisions.

S:  They can’t repent, like we can’t repent in Hell?

F:  We are getting warmer to an answer here.  In a sense.  Angels cannot repent for their sins primarily because they are “pure-spirits.”  They are not fickle and as complex as we are as human beings.  When they make their first decision, all other decisions adhere to the vice or virtue of their first decision.

S:  That doesn’t make sense to me Father.  Not because I perceive a contradiction, but I just don’t understand it.  What do you mean by “pure-spirit?”

F:  Sorry…it is difficult.  Pure-Spirit means that they are Pure-intellect.  They have an intellect, but no “quantity” or physical dimension to them.

S:  How do they know anything if they don’t have a body?  We know through sense-experience, right?

F:  Yup.  We know through our senses, but we also create abstractions…something that beasts cannot do.  So we have a spirit too, but not to the degree of an angel.

Angels on the other hand are infused with knowledge by God.  Their knowledge comes directly from God.  Of course, they don’t know everything that God does, but whatever God entrusts to them for their purpose, mission and happiness.

S:  So if they know everything they need to, in order to be good, why would some of them choose to sin?

F:  Well, when you drive faster than the speed limit, do you know you are driving faster than you should?

S:  Yes.

F:  Exactly…so you know how to avoid doing something evil, but you do it anyways.  That makes your actions sinful.  Mind you, if you drove improperly and weren’t aware, you’d still be responsible since you had the capacity to know and responsibility but you choose not to.  That is where humans are a bit different.

S:  I’m following.

F:  Angels, when they sinned or were obedient to God, they adhered to that fundamental decision and will adhere to it for their entire existence, because of their nature as pure spirits.  They are absolute…they swallow their decision, whole, and adhere to it forever.

S:  That is difficult to comprehend, but I sort of understand your point.  You are saying that angels make a decision based upon information they see clearly and perfectly.  As a result of this they do not repent of their decisions, except in perhaps the way you mentioned before?

F:  Exactly.  Now with human beings it’s a bit different.  But to some degree we have established that because of the nature of an angel it is impossible to repent.  Can we both agree that this doesn’t remove free-will from the angels?

S:  I think so.  Angels have a free-will, but it can be enslaved to evil as a result of their own decision?

F:  Very good.

S:  So how are humans different, and yet the same?

F:  Well, in the current mode of our existence –

S:  Stop…speak English

F:  haha…sorry.  Well as human beings we live in time, moving from one moment to another, right?

S:  Yes.

F:  Angels exist in a different type of time than we do.  That I can’t explain with great clarity.  But it is different.  They do not exist in the same “Eternity” as God, since God alone exists in that sense.

S:  Interesting…go on.

F:  As human beings, within time we are fickle, changing our minds all the time, constantly given new information through sense experience, but also rationalizing our way out of truths for egocentric reasons.  Agreed?

S:  We have a hard time being honest with ourselves?

F:  Sure we do.  The truth can hurt, and it can challenge us.

S:  That is true….haha…see what I did there!?

F:  Not the wittiest remark I’ve heard before…but good.

S:  Father…

F:  Let’s move on.  What happens to us when we die?  Do you know?

S:  Our soul leaves our body?

F: Sort of.  I prefer to describe it in this way:  our soul is torn apart from our body.

S:  That sounds a lot worse.  Nothing romantic about that.

F:  Death, according to our nature, is certainly not romantic.  It is our destruction, it is an evil, and if you remember, it is the consequences of sin.

S:  That is true.  So the soul is ripped apart from the body.

F:  Yes.  And as a result our body turns back into dust, but our soul still exists.

S:  Why does our soul still exist?  Isn’t it dependent upon matter to exist?

F:  That is a discussion for another day…but there is an answer to that.

S:  Okay…

F:  So…the soul is separated from the body and as a result we for a time are nothing more than spirit.

S:  Oh so we are an angel!

F:  No…and please don’t ever suggest that to anyone.

S:  Why?

F:  Our spirit is unique and is constructed to only make sense with a body.  Angels are pure-spirits which means they exist naturally without a body.

S:  So are you saying that death is bad for the soul?

F:  Absolutely.  Death is a horrible tragedy that happens to us.  We may not experience physical pain, but spiritual frustration is certainly part of death.

S:  Oh, I get it!  This is why the Resurrection is so important.  That makes sense out of a lot!  So the resurrection is what fixes that problem!

F:  Precisely.  Now, without a body, it is impossible for us to have a conversion…would you agree with that?

S:  I guess so.  If our soul needs a body in order to discern and think and make choices – using the organ of the brain to accomplish all this – then I suppose without that, no one could make a decision.  But that proves nothing to me.  Because don’t we believe as Catholics in the Resurrection of the body?  Don’t we believe one day we will have a body?

F:  Yes, we do believe that we will have a glorified body!  Good for you, for remembering that.  Very important.  But one thing that is important to recognize is that body will no longer be the same as it is now.  It will be different.

S:  How do you know that?

F:  Jesus’ own resurrected body seemed to transcend space and time without contradicting either.  He was able to eat fish with the disciples, to be touched and sensed, and yet would disappear and appear simply by willing it.

S:  So in what sense is the “glorified body” different from our human body, and how will that affect our ability to repent?

F:  Let me first begin by asking you a question:  do you think it is sensible that in heaven we will never die?

S:  Yes.  If we died, it would seem to suggest that the Resurrection was only a temporary solution to an on-going problem.

F:  Masterfully stated!  Now, let’s follow the logical consequences of your statement.  If we will not die, that would mean that our bodies would be devoid of any form of corruption:  correct?

S:  They are incorruptible?  Yeah, that makes sense.

F:  So you agree that there would be a sort of permanence to our nature that was unchangeable?

S:  Yes.

F:  Great.  Now here is a side-stepping question:  do you believe that virtue and vice are bodily or spiritual realities?

S:  Spiritual

F:  Wrong.

S:  They are bodily?

F:  Incorrect again!

S:  Father, I can only laugh at you so much…

F:  Sorry.  It was a trick question.  The answer is both.  Basically what I’m saying is that because the body in the next life is incorruptible, the vice is permanently a mindset within us. Vice, as you know, makes us stupid, it darkens our mind and makes us unable to see what needs to take place in order for us to do better.  Virtue on the other hand is a type of enlightenment and disposition towards truth and justice.  And so our mind, heart and soul are perpetually opened to God’s divine light.

S:  So you are saying that because virtue and vice are bodily realities, and that the bodily reality is concrete and incorruptible, that it is impossible to change, since to change would imply a sort of corruptibility?

F:  Yes.  But I would add the nuance that with an open heart, soul and mind, our soul remains open to God’s light for eternity, open to a “type” of movement from God.

S:  I can understand why people don’t believe others go to hell for eternity.

F:  Sara, you didn’t believe people stayed in hell for eternity a little while ago.

S:  My point is, Father, that not many people have this type of education and have pondered the …

F:  Metaphysics, eschatology, ontology, and scriptures?

S:  exactly…whatever that is.

F:  Right.  So what we have today are a group of strongly opinionated arm-chair theologians who have nothing more than sentimentalities, emotive sensibilities and as a result come to sweeping conclusions without following the logical consequences of the bodily resurrection, the nature of virtue, the nature of the will, and the word of God.

S:  It just seems impractical for me to have to communicate all of this to the people in RCIA.

F:  It is very impractical to teach them a great deal of this content.  RCIA is not meant to be a theology class.  But those who are teaching it should not be arm-chair theologians…I don’t say that to hurt your feelings or to demean the efficacy of a good testimony that you could share with the people in RCIA, but I say it because you or others might lead others along the same path of a simple-faith that doesn’t understand the deep theological consequences that come from various beliefs commonly held.

S:  And I think it also goes back to what you were saying about being able to trust in God and His Church without necessarily having a fundamental understanding of all the teachings at the moment.

F:  Exactly.  Faith is so important, and a deep trust and abiding obedience in Him and His Church are rather essential.

S:  Is it fair to conclude that God does not want anyone in hell, but respects their freedom to choose it as such?

F:  Yes, and as C.S. Lewis stated:  the door is locked from the inside.  The souls are permanently darkened by vice, just as concrete has been hardened over time in an obscure and ugly fashion.  That makes this life very important, it truly is a time of mercy and repentance!  What a wonderful gift that we as human beings have received from God!!

S:  So it seems as if our world has come up with yet another heresy Father!

F:  Actually it’s not new.  This heresy existed in the early Church and was coined by Origen as apokatastasis. It is funny how every generation considers itself wiser than the one preceding it.  More often than not, we are actually forgetful and backwards rather than progressing and upright.

S:  Father, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about this.

F:  I don’t think we are done.  I’d like to examine why it is actually just for a soul to be condemned to hell.  There are more ways than one in looking at this issue.  But for the time being, take a break.  I also want to thank you for your honest dialogue and provoking questions.  But above all your faith.  It makes these discussions much easier.

S:  Toddles

Archbishop Nienstedt: Denies Admittance of LGBTQ Group

By Ryan Fitzgerald: MINNEAPOLIS, May  2015 ( – A pro-gay student group in Minneapolis had to relocate to a Protestant venue after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis stepped in and canceled its planned event.

The LGBTQ Catholic Student Coalition, headed by a group of high school students, had scheduled a “LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit” for May 16, last Saturday, at the Church of Christ the King, a Catholic parish.

The event was to feature Kristen Ostendorf as its keynote speaker. Ostendorf used to be a teacher of English and Religion at a local Catholic high school, until one day she blurted out that she unrepentantly lives in defiance of the Church’s teachings. Ostendorf “came out” to her co-workers, proudly proclaiming to them, “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.” This got her fired.

The alleged goal of the event was just to create a “safe space” for people with sexual disorders to discuss living their faith.

On May 10, however, less than a week before the event was to be held, the group was told by the Church of Christ the King that the archdiocesan chancery had intervened. As it turned out, they weren’t allowed to host the event.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who in the past hasn’t been afraid to stand up for Catholic doctrine, stated, “We are concerned that the content of the proposed presentation will contradict Church teaching, leaving those in attendance, especially young people, confused about the truth of the teaching long after the May 16th presentation.”

“There are many venues in our free society to voice opposition to Church teachings regarding contentious social issues,” he said. “But,” he added, “the parishes of the Archdiocese are not the proper place where these specific activities are to be sponsored.”

They still ended up holding the summit, though, as a Protestant venue about a mile away from the Church of Christ the King was more than happy to have them. Almost 200 people reportedly attended. It was sponsored by OutFront Minnesota, a gay activist group, as well as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, an ostensibly Catholic congregation of women religious.

Ryan Fitzgerald is a staff writer and producer for
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanFitz1111

Picnic Supporting Archbishop Cordileone and Traditional Marriage

Hundreds Attend

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone: Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle

Catholic World Report, by Gibbons J. Cooney:

On Saturday, May 16th, approximately 500 joyful Catholics of every age and ethnic group came together in San Francisco’s Sue Bierman Park to show support for the City’s fighting Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone. The faithful were there to back the Archbishop’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the high schools under his jurisdiction affirm and proclaim the truth of the Catholic Church.

The day began at 9:30am with High Mass in the Extraordinary Form celebrated by Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest at the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. At least 100 of the faithful were in the Church as Mass began, and one attendee later told us that by the time Mass ended practically every seat in the church was filled.

At Sue Bierman Park, the faithful began to arrive even before the 11:30am scheduled start time. The event was called the “Archbishop Family Support Picnic” and that is exactly what it turned out to be: a big joyful family picnic. The grass of Sue Bierman Park was a checkerboard of blankets and picnic hampers, through which scores of children happily chased one another, holding helium filled blue balloons emblazoned with the motto “Thank You ABC!”

(Photo: Lisa Hamrick)

Blue was the color of the day. Organizers had encouraged those attending to wear blue as a sign of solidarity, and even got special blue M & M’s printed with the Archbishop’s motto “In Verbo Tuo” (“At Your Word”). The faithful were of all ages: from infants in arms to grandmas and grandpas. The picnic was unusual for San Francisco: normal, multi-generational families, gathered together to honor God, the Church, and the leader who is promoting those truths in the face of virulent opposition. A number of the children were even seen running up to and hugging some of the police officers on duty. In a telling juxtaposition, the Archbishop Family Support Picnic was followed today by the City’s annual “Bay to Breakers”—ostensibly a race, but in reality an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to engage in drunkenness, drug use, and debauchery.

Although the event had the intimacy of a parish picnic—at one point a small group started singing Happy Birthday to one of their fellow-parishioners and all the surrounding Catholics joined in—it was a parish picnic with many parishes. Religious and lay Catholics were from churches all over the Bay Area and beyond: Old St. Mary’s, St. Francis, Star of the Sea, Saints Peter and Paul and Epiphany in San Francisco; Good Shepherd and St. Peter’s in Pacifica; San Francisco de Asis in East Palo Alto; Our Lady of Mercy in Daly City; St. Edwards in Newark; Nativity in Menlo Park; Corpus Christi in Piedmont; St. Isidore in Danville, St. Mark’s in Belmont and many others.

Male Religious in attendance included San Francisco’s beloved Bishop Emeritus Ignatius Wang; a number of Franciscans, including Fr. John De La Riva, Rector of the Shrine of St. Francis; Benedictine Chant Master Fr. Richard Weber from St. Patrick’s Seminary; Fr. Patrick Lee of Presentation Parish and retired Fr. Patrick O’Rafferty, both from Sacramento; Jesuits Fr. Joseph Fessio, editor of Ignatius Press and Fr. John Piderit of the Archdiocese of San Francisco; Fr. Patrick Driscoll of Star of the Sea; a number of priests from the Institute of Christ the King, and a number of seminarians.

Female religious included members of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, who recently made news for walking out of Marin Catholic High School when students distributed pro-sodomy propaganda; the Missionaries of the Mother of God the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa; and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Although the dominant ambiance of the day was joy, Catholics were there for a reason, and pulled no punches. Attendee Joni Durling explained to KGO News that those who claim to have a problem with Cordileone over his new high school initiative really have a problem with the Catholic Church: “The term ‘gravely evil’ is found in our Catechism, so really if the people are going to the school and they have a problem with it, the archbishop using gravely evil, then they really have a problem with the Catholic Church.” KGO also interviewed a man named Alfredo Martinez, who, with a group of friends, got up at 2am Saturday morning to make the drive from Southern California. Martinez, echoing the words of Pope Francis’s January speech in Manila, said, “The family is under attack. Children in the womb are under attack and so we have to show our support in whatever way we can.”

 At about 1:00 the chant of “ABC! ABC! ABC!” was suddenly heard. Archbishop Cordileone had arrived. He was quickly surrounded by a mass of Catholics, eager to show their support. The San Francisco Chronicle described the scene:

“’He’s like a rock star,’ said Eva Muntean of San Francisco as she watched Cordileone try to inch his way through the throng of well-wishers… Muntean, who started the website, said she organized the event because she believes many Bay Area Catholics feel their support of the archbishop isn’t being heard. The archbishop appeared to have felt that support Saturday.”

He certainly did. The Archbishop was beaming as he spent an hour speaking with well-wishers (he did not speak with the press) including old friends and allies such pro-life hero the Rev. Walter Hoye. Many of the faithful asked for and received his blessing and many, especially children, posed for pictures. Even after the Archbishop left, the faithful remained in the park for some time, enjoying the day and the company of their fellow Catholics.

Fewer than a dozen protestors sat on benches on the fringes of the park, clutching rainbow flags. They included Billy Bradford, an LGBT activist from the East Bay who works with “Get Equal” and “Marriage Equality USA” in the East Bay. Although neither a Catholic school student or a parent of a Catholic School student, Bradford has been prominent  in the movement opposing the teaching of Catholicism in Catholic schools.

Synod on the Family: The Pope, Cardinal Kasper and Many Questions

What will be the Outcome of the Synod on the Family?

by Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. The Catholic Word Report:

When asked about the Synod’s hot-button issues in a TV interview conducted on March 6 last and broadcast on the Mexican Televista on the 12th of March, Pope Francis responded with the statement: “I believe that there are disproportionate expectations” (desmesuradas). He went on to intimate that Communion for remarried divorcees was not on the cards. In other public statements, he highlighted “the ideological colonization of the family” as a very serious problem and, in the same interview, went on to mention “gender” theory, “which is something that is pulverizing the family.” The Vaticanista, Sandro Magister, compiled an anthology of some 21 texts taken from statements made by the Pope since the Extraordinary Synod last October. They cover such issues as contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexual marriage, “gender” ideology, euthanasia, and were mostly ignored by the media. His 21 statements over a five-month period, according to Magister, do not differ one inch from the stance taken by his predecessors, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI (though they perhaps lack their precision). “And yet,” Magister comments, “in dominant opinion, both secular and Catholic, this pope passes as an innovator who changes paradigms and breaks with the dogmas of the past, also and above all on questions of life and death that were the cross of his predecessors.”

Pope Francis appointed Wilfred Fox Cardinal Napier—one of the fiercest critics of the Interim Report—to the organizing committee for the forthcoming Ordinary Synod.

This dominant opinion, it seems to me, has created an ethos within the Church that, on the one hand, gives encouragement to the 1968-type so-called “liberals,” and, on the other hand, causes dismay among Catholics trying to remain faithful to the Magisterium. Thus we have an Italian archbishop in an interview on the reform of the Church “according to the guidelines of Pope Francis,” again according to Magister, apparently condoning early abortion. And on the other side of the spectrum, as it were, we have those asking: is the Pope a Catholic? An article in Crisis Magazine by a young American theologian, Jacob W. Wood, is entitled: “Can a Pope Be a Heretic?” It tried to address what Father James V. Schall, SJ called the elephant in the room, namely the fear that the Pope might endorse Cardinal Kasper’s proposal. Many claim that his proposal is, if not actually heretical, then at least in contradiction with Church discipline and so implicitly heretical. Wood concludes: “Sure, he [Pope Francis] has expressed support for the way in which Cardinal Kasper wrote on marriage and the family, but he has never publicly and definitively endorsed what Cardinal Kasper said.” In fact, as I mentioned earlier, less than two weeks ago Pope Francis seemed to have ruled out that possibility.

Is it possible that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, has seen the writing on the wall? At a recent press conference after a meeting of the bishops, the cardinal archbishop of Munich commented with regard to Communion for the divorced and remarried: “We are not a subsidiary of Rome. Every episcopal conference is responsible for pastoral care within its own sphere. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we should act here in marriage and the family.” This, of course, raises more fundamental questions, such as the catholicity of the Church, to which I will return.

On December 9, 2014, the lineamenta (guidelines) for the coming Synod were published. It includes the Final Report, plus “46 questions covering much of the same ground as last time,” to quote John L. Allen, Jr. He adds: “…even if the wording is designed to make clear that the basics of Catholic doctrine aren’t in doubt. For instance, the term ‘indissolubility’ appears in the document four times, underlining the traditional teaching that marriage is permanent and hence divorce is taboo. There are also multiple references to ‘greatness and beauty’ of the ‘model of family formed by a man and a woman…and open to procreation.’ There are clear references to the Church’s ban on birth control, to condemning the ‘plague of abortion,’ and to promoting ‘an efficient culture of life.’”

But, of course, the basics of Catholic doctrine were never in doubt.

What was, and is, in doubt in the minds of some is the praxis (canonical, sacramental) which has developed on the basis of this doctrine. What is disputed is whether or not a change in such praxis, such as that proposed by Cardinal Kasper for a limited number of remarried divorcees, would in fact be in contradiction with the traditional doctrine,[1] and would in turn have the knock-on effect of undermining the Church’s other teaching on sexual morality, including same-sex acts. At a roundtable discussion in Rome on November 11, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, in agreement with Cardinal Kasper—who was also present—put it this way: “We never wished to change doctrine, only to change the application of the doctrine to particular cases. The doctrine cannot change.”

But Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, responding within a month to Kasper’s address to the February 2014 consistory, had already made the following objection: “Those who advance this hypothesis do not have an answer to a very simple question: what about the first marriage, ratified and consummated? The proposed solution leads one to think that the first marriage remains intact, but that there is also a second form of cohabitation that the Church legitimizes. Therefore there is an extramarital exercise of human sexuality that the Church considers legitimate. But with this comes a denial of the cornerstone of the Church’s teaching on sexuality. At this point one could ask oneself: so why not approve cohabitation at will? So why not relationships between homosexuals? This is not only a question of practice, it also touches upon doctrine. Unavoidably. One may say that it doesn’t, but it does. Not only that. It introduces a custom that in the long run determines this idea in the people, and not only among Christians: there is no such thing as an absolutely indissoluble marriage. And this is certainly against the Lord’s will.”

What will be the outcome of the Synod?

Last November, the Pope appointed Wilfred Fox Cardinal Napier—one of the fiercest critics of the Interim Report—to the organizing committee for the forthcoming Ordinary Synod. That is a positive sign. However, the general thrust of the new questionnaire attached to the Final Report in the lineamentacauses this writer some disquiet. In the introduction to the questionnaire aimed at helping the bishops throughout the world to prepare for the Synod, the Bishops are given rather explicit instruction as to the desired methodology they should adopt in replying the questions:

The proposed questions which follow [the Final Report] and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the [Final Report] are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.

The crucial element here is the instruction “to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine,” which would mean that they had deviated from “the path already indicated” by the “Extraordinary Synod.” How this is to be interpreted is a matter for debate. Prima facie, it looks like an attempt to manipulate the debate in a direction that many fear, namely a denial of the primacy of logos overethos, of truth over praxis, which was the cornerstone of Benedict XVI’s Magisterium.[4] Hopefully this is unfounded. Perhaps all that is meant by this instruction is what thelineamenta call very simply “the pastoral approach initiated at the Extraordinary Synod which is grounded in Vatican II and the Magisterium of Pope Francis.” This, it seems to me, amounts to an appeal to seek concrete pastoral ways to overcome various threats to marriage and the family, to reach out to the lost sheep, and to lead them to experience divine mercy and forgiveness in the sacrament of penance. One such pastoral approach would be the production of guidelines on preparation for the sacrament of marriage more in harmony with the Church’s teaching than seems to be the case today.

What About IVF and “Assisted Reporductive Techniques?”

Considering the widespread practice of abortive IVF and related so-called “assisted reproductive techniques,” it is astonishing that there is only one, rather oblique reference to this subject in the latest Questionnaire. And even that is but a sequel to a rather vague reference promoting “the beauty of becoming a mother or father” (single or married is not mentioned) which contains an even vaguer reference to Humanae Vitae.[5] Hopefully, this particular question will prompt one or other member of the coming Synod to explore the pastoral implications of this important subject, which are vast.[6]

My fear is that the exclusion of any explicit reference to “assisted reproduction techniques” (IVF, etc.) in the questionnaire is a symptom of a much more radical and widespread trahison des clercs, namely popular dissent from Church teaching on sexual morality and bioethics, as well as the consequent widespread breakdown of marriage, the family, and sexual morality. Quite simply, the logic of separating the procreative significance of the conjugal act from its unitive significance leads inexorably to a trivialization of the act of intercourse, cohabitation, the approval of same-sex relations, and, finally, it justifies attempts to make children in the laboratory—the most radical separation of procreation from the conjugal act.

The Real Elephant in the Room

Considering all this, it is rather disturbing that the real elephant in the room has been ignored, despite the rather formal acknowledgement of Humanae Vitae in the lineamenta. I refer to the widespread dissent from the teaching of Blessed Paul VI, the philosophical and theological implications of which St John Paul II in particular developed with great insight and profundity. That teaching has not only been ignored by bishops, priests, and theologians but an alternative moral theology—proportionalism—has been embraced by them. That alternative moral theology is based on the denial that any act could be intrinsically immoral (objectively sinful); it is still dominant in seminaries and theology faculties. It is a form of moral relativism, which in turn has, inter alia, helped to undermine the traditional understanding of marriage, the family, and sexual behavior in society.[7]

That alternative moral theology is also, I suggest, at the root of the support of those European and American bishops who support Cardinal Kaspar’s proposal. It may also have influenced some bishops at the “Extraordinary Synod” to view same-sex relations in a relatively positive light. In other words, the widespread rejection of the papal teaching of Blessed Pope Paul VI and St. John Paul II has in fact produced not a formal but a quasi-material schism in the Church, usually expressed in the non-theological terms of “conservative v. liberal/progressive” or simply “right v. left,” terms that are political, not ecclesiastical, in nature. The reason why the proposal to admit remarried divorcees to the sacraments could find such a positive echo in society at large—and within certain influential currents of thought within the Church—is, it seems to me, because the conjugal act today is regarded as of little moral significance.

The heated exchange of views at the “Extraordinary Synod” were, it seem to this observer, due to the rare frankness that erupted when the Pope in his opening address encouraged the Synod to debate the issues openly, with frankness, and without fear. The debate allowed the deep fissures in the Church to surface. At the time, I saw this as a kind of lancing of the boil on the body-politic of the Church. It was a huge risk taken by Pope Francis, who wisely remained silent throughout the open discussion in the first week. His final address to the Synod was all the more powerful, though ignored by the makers of public opinion. His ultimate aim, it would seem, is to bring healing and unity to the Church. That, after all, is the main purpose of his office as Successor to St Peter: ut unum sint. It took enormous courage to take such a risk.

You are Being Tested.

In the meantime, those who have remained true to the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexual ethics are being tested. The warnings of Pope Francis about the temptation to rigorism and self-righteousness among those who accept that teaching are apt. The Church’s teaching is an expression of the truth, which is personal by nature. Her moral teaching is summed up in the dual commandant of love. The truth can easily be reduced to an ideology, which narrows both mind and heart. Truth makes us free and frank and ready to suffer on its account, even when misunderstood by those whose office is to defend that truth. That is part of what it means to be tested by fire. To remain calm and steadfast, without a trace of self-righteousness, ever ready to search for the truth, is itself a work of grace. The Papal Magisterium, as distinct from a Pope’s private opinion, is the guarantee we need so as not to delude ourselves, when we seem to be a dwindling minority in a world where the contrary is unthinkingly assumed to be true.

Scripture warns us, however, not judge the guilt of others (Matt 7:1; Lk 6:37; Jn 7:24; James 4:12b). The Pope’s comment “Who am I to judge?” could be seen to express traditional Catholic moral theology about subjective guilt (as distinct from objective wrong-doing). And it is the basic attitude required of all pastors who nonetheless recognize the harm done to oneself and others by sin (objective wrong-doing), and, who, like the Good Shepherd, try to reach out to rescue the lost sheep rather than let them wander in the moral wilderness of contemporary society. That is the great pastoral and evangelical challenge facing the Synod and the Church at large.

Finally, it has to be said that, reading the comments of those who support Kasper’s proposal and the other hoped-for (but unrealistic) changes in the Church’s moral teaching and discipline, one has a strange sense of déjÀ vu. His supporters seem to be blissfully unaware either of the authoritative teaching of the recent popes (including that of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[8]) or the rich theology inspired by it. One can only hope that the bishops from the young Churches in Africa and Asia (whose faithful are in more in touch with man’s natural instinct for goodness than we are in Europe) will finally put an end to the theological confusion in the Churches in Europe and the Americas caused by a rationalistic moral theology. In the meantime, we could do well to heed John Henry Newman’s counsel of patience (in the context of exaggerations in his day concerning the reception of Vatican I). “The important thing, Newman urged in his private correspondence, was patience: ‘Remedies spring up naturally in the Church, as in nature, if we wait for them.’”[9]

The Synod of Bishops is but a consultative body. The Pope may articulate his own judgment in an apostolic exhortation based on the resolutions or the final report of the next Synod, should he decide to do so. [10] Should he do so, like Evangelii Gaudium, it can be expected to reaffirm Church doctrine and offer practical guidelines as to how to approach the many complex pastoral situations today affecting the family. Otherwise, in all probability, it will be characterized by a strong exhortatory tone, in the best tradition of the Jesuit discernment of spirits. The task of the whole Church after the Synod of Bishops in October will be to discover anew the Church’s rich teaching on marriage, the family, sexual ethics, and bioethics. It is a treasure awaiting to be discovered. It is profoundly counter-cultural. But is it also the only realistic and pastoral alternative to the moral relativism that is the greatest threat today to humanity, an alternative that alone leads to happiness here and in the hereafter: holiness, union with God.

The second of the two cases discussed by Cardinal Kasper in his address to the February consistory differs significantly from the first, which was main subject of debate. It arises from the situation where, due to lack of faith on the part of one or other spouse or lack of consent to a proper understanding of marriage as indissoluble, such marriages might possibly be invalid. Judgment of this, Kasper rightly insists, cannot be left to the parties involved. Instead he asks if perhaps the usual “juridical path,” as he puts it, might be supplemented by “other, more pastoral and spiritual procedures,” details of which he does not provide. “Alternatively,” he adds, “one might imagine that the bishop might entrust this task to a priest with spiritual and pastoral experience as a penitentiary or episcopal vicar.”[11] It is of note that recourse to the “internal forum” was not entirely ruled out by Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998, since the canonical procedures are not of divine law but Church law (and so subject to change if necessary). Here Kasper and Ratzinger would seem to be in agreement. However Ratzinger also stressed at the time that “the conditions for asserting such an exception must be precisely clarified in order to exclude arbitrariness and to defend the public character of marriage which is withdrawn from subjective judgement.” Kasper is silent on this.

Kasper devotes a helpful Excursus to the question of “implicit faith,” the minimum, as he sees it, needed to receive a sacrament. But he fails to explore the possible implications of the teaching of the Church to the effect that the sacrament of matrimony is due to thebaptized character of the spouses, not their subjective faith. (This failure, it seems to me, is the result of his own inadequate sacramental theology.) Again it is worth noting that in 1998 Cardinal Ratzinger did not rule out the possibility of a marriage being invalid due to lack of faith: “It is a matter to be clarified,” he wrote, “whether every marriage between two baptized are truly ipso facto a sacramental marriage.”[12] However he pointed out that one legal question needs to be addressed beforehand: what degree of clarity about the lack of faith is needed so that a sacrament does not come into being?  And therein lies the rub.

 Slight editing for length and reference are located in the original article.

Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. holds both a Ph.D. in Theology and is Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland. A formal doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, Twomey is the author of several books, including The End of Irish Catholicism? and Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait).

Marriage Will Always be the Union Between One Man and One Woman

WASHINGTON —The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 28, on the constitutionality of states defining and recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The Run Away Shepherd: The Redefining of Marriage Debate

Are You a Run Away Shepherd?

by Fr. John Hollowell:

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

The Shepherd Running Away from His Sheep

When I’ve preached on abortion, I’ve been accused of being a right wing republican

When I’ve preached about the REQUIREMENT that Christ makes of us to help the poor I’ve been accused of being a left wing liberal

When I’ve preached on religious freedom – right wing republican

When I’ve preached on the Church’s teaching on immigration – left wing liberal

This Comes with the “job.”  In fact, it just comes with being Catholic.  That being said, it is important to note that despite the accusations, the Church is not a political party.

There is a wolf coming that is threatening the sheep that must be preached on as well because our Church is very clear on this topic.  Like the prophets, like Christ, like the Apostles, like those being martyred today for their Catholic Faith throughout the world, we preach the truth in season and out of season.

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

This week at the Supreme Court arguments will be heard about whether marriage ought to be redefined

What I’ve been amazed at over the past few years is how quickly the tone of this debate has turned.

If you even raise the possibility today that marriage is between a man and a woman you should prepare for an all-out assault.  You should prepare to be labeled a bigot, angry, hateful, a Pharisee, etc.

One Catholic evangelist notes that we hear a lot about tolerance.  Tolerance is a good thing, but it implies that I first disagree with a person before I can tolerate them.  We don’t tolerate the sunshine, we tolerate the rain, and so tolerance can only take place in a climate of disagreement, and yet tolerance is no longer extended to those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

One objection to this homily is that “The Church should stay out of politics”

But this, at the end of the day, makes no sense

If something is talked about by politicians or judges or whomever, does that mean it is no longer in the realm of Faith?  If something is part of our civil discourse, that we have to STOP talking about it here?

People likely told Fr. Theodore Hesburgh to keep his religion out of politics when he walked arm in arm with Dr. Martin Luther King to protest discrimination against African Americans – but he did it any way, and thanks be to God that he did.

People likely told John Paul II to keep his religion out of politics as he worked in the political realm to take down Communism – but he did it anyway, and thanks be to God

The idea that if something is being talked about in the political sphere means it can’t be talked about as a religious issue just doesn’t pass muster

If murder were up for discussion at the state house, no one would tell priests not to preach against murder

Pope Francis, in a daily homily recently, attacked this belief that if something is in the political realm we should stop talking about it in Church.

He said: “Some say a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.  That’s not true. That is not a good path.  A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern… Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands

The Church actually compels us to be active in the political sphere because it is in the political sphere that decisions that affect the world are made.

The Church has a most important book called the “Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church” – and it is a guide to how we are to be active and what we are to work for as people who are engaged in the civil realm.  To say that we should stay out of these issues civilly is a non-Catholic stance.

Now, on the particular topic of same-sex marriage – what does the Church say?  This is absolutely crucial and so often confused, and if we want to continue to see marriage being only between a man and a woman, we have to understand this crucial teaching.

The most important takeaway is this, if you remember nothing else is that the Church says in its book on these issues – in order to defend marriage you don’t need the Church, the Bible, or Jesus.

So often people make this mammoth mistake in talking about this issue.  Someone asks you: “Why do you believe marriage is between a man and a woman” and people  respond “because Jesus said so”, or “The Bible says so,” or “The Catechism says so” – but the quick follow up question by those who want to redefine marriage is quite clear – “you can’t make me do something because your religion says it!”

At this point – most Christians and Catholics go slinking back home telling themselves “They’re right; I can’t say something ought to be this way because of religion.

The Church says, however, that in order to say that marriage is between a man and a woman you don’t need the Bible or Jesus or the Church to win the argument.  Marriage being between a man and a woman, according to the Church, is a first principle – something that you need not be a follower of Christ to understand.

The Church is not in the government running business anymore.  We were for many centuries – Popes and Cardinals were highly intertwined with governments, kings, etc.

We don’t run countries anymore, and as George Weigel notes, “In separating the Church from the State, what is clear is that the Church is better off for it.  What isn’t clear is whether the state is better off for it!”

The Church sees its role as political advisor – particularly in offering first principles up to nations.  What the Church does is say to all governments, kingdoms, etc. – here are some first principles, some things that all just societies must put into practice if they hope to endure.  If you build your nation on other principles that contradict these, your nation will not endure.

“First principles” are the “cornerstones” that any society must be built on, and we need not be a Christian to understand that these first principles must be cornerstones, nor do we need to use Christ to justify working to ensure that our country is founded on these cornerstones.

And everyone has first principles.  I was on a marriage panel at Rose Hulman about a year ago and one guy who was arguing for redefining marriage said “I really think it ultimately comes back to harmony and justice” – Okay, so those are your first principles, the axioms on which you think the country should be founded, the non-negotiables that everything is built off of.  Of course the question quickly becomes “what is harmony to you?”  “who defines harmony?”  “What does justice mean?”  “Who defines what justice is?”

Others say a founding axiom should be that “love is love.”  Okay, fair enough, you think that should be a first principle of our society.  Let’s flesh it out.  You think that all love is the same?  What if 8 people all love each other…is that marriage?  What if two cousins love each other?  What if a 55 year old and a 16 year old love each other?  Is the government in the “congratulating people on being in love” business.

Everyone has first principles, and we have just as much of a right to work for the first principles that we think our nation should have as anyone else has a right to work and advocate for first principles that they think our country should have.

So as Catholics, we work to ensure that marriage being between a man and a woman is a first principle in our government.  We believe that if it is not, then what will result is vastly different than a just and healthy society.

“If, from a legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good.” (Compendium of Social Teaching, paragraph 228).

A solution that some propose but which can not actually work because it does not actually understand what the Church teaches is the proposed solution that the Church “get out of the civil marriage business” – civil marriage and if you want to get married in the Church, go do that too

It is NOT appropriate for Church authorities to remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions. The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws” – Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith

These are not easy issues.  I spent the last two years working on a documentary on what the Church teaches about same sex attraction.  I interviewed a lot of beautiful people who experience same sex attraction and heard their stories.  It was an amazing experience for me.  The way we grow toward unity is through dialogue – not through name calling, labeling, and ignoring what the other side is saying.  I look forward to these opportunities to gather and keep the conversation going.

In Conclusion – I am not the only shepherd in this room.  We are all, through our baptism, called to shepherd those around us.  Do we see our role in society to be a light to the world – do I believe that I am called to shepherd and get involved in the civil society I find myself placed in – or do I retreat to my home or my Church building and say to God, like Cain did – “AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”


“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

 We pray for the strength to be authentic shepherds, to work for the first principles that our Church puts forth for all societies.  Pope Francis said that we shouldn’t always talk about contraception and same sex marriage, and I wholeheartedly agree!  What the Pope implies in that comment is that we should talk about them some of the time.  May we have the courage to do that, and not see problems arising in our country and simply run away.