Posted in category "Arts & Letters"

“Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”) – An Updated Call to Holiness

Posted by Censor Librorum on Apr 9, 2018 | Categories: Accountability, Arts & Letters, Faith, Politics, Popes, Social Justice

Ultra conservative Catholic Wall Street Journal readers choked on their toast and scrambled eggs this morning when they read the headline of an article by Francis X. Rocca: “Pope Says Fighting Poverty Is as Essential as Opposing Abortion.”

Here is the article in full –  

“Pope Francis criticized Christians who emphasize opposition to abortion above social causes such as poverty and migration, in his latest effort to readjust the priorities of Catholic moral teaching from what he has characterized as an overemphasis on sexual and medical ethics.

“Our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate,” the pope wrote in a document released by the Vatican on Monday. “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born,” including the neglected elderly and victims of human trafficking.

The pope’s words appeared in “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), a reflection on “holiness in today’s world” that includes advice on resisting the “verbal violence” of social media and achieving spiritual concentration amid a “culture of zapping.”

 Pope Francis has repeatedly called for reducing the emphasis on certain moral issues and increasing attention to social and economic justice.

That approach stands in contrast with that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who specified opposition to abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage among a handful of “nonnegotiable” values for the church.

In terms of ethical priorities, Pope Francis wrote in the document released Monday that an exclusive focus on abortion reflects a “harmful ideological error” of those who play down the importance of social action or denigrate it as “superficial, worldly, materialist, communist or populist.”

“We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice” in the form of economic equality, the pope added.

The pope also criticized what he characterized as an exaggerated focus on moral relativism, a concept closely associated with the teaching of Pope Benedict, who famously denounced what he called a “dictatorship of relativism” in contemporary culture.

“We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian,” Pope Francis wrote.

He also warned against the danger of seeking social change while neglecting personal piety through prayer and Bible reading.

“Christianity thus becomes a sort of NGO stripped of the luminous mysticism” exemplified by St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the pope wrote.”

Catholics are now called to do more than be against a handful of sexual sins and sinners to declare themselves “Faithful Catholics.”

 

 

 

 

Love the Enemy in Your Pew

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 25, 2018 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Dissent, Faith, Musings, Politics

Love the Enemy in Your Pew has been part of my Lenten reflection since I first read it in the February 20, 2012 edition of America magazine. The article also  spurred me to organize a Lenten fish fry for my parish, where people of all opinions, backgrounds and political stripes could sit down together at a community meal.   

It was written by Dr. Gerald Schlabach, a professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He is a Benedictine oblate, and deeply involved in the Bridgefolk movement for grassroots dialog between Mennonites and Catholics.

*****

“We Christians have struggled for centuries to understand how Jesus really expects us to love our enemies. (Bracket those vicious enemies who may actually be out to violently destroy us and ours.) To be ready for that kind of discipleship we must first learn to love our sisters and brothers in the Christian community itself. They are the ones close enough to stick in our craw.”

“So this Lent, listen to uncomfortable voices in your community. Listen without arguing back, for as long as it takes to really hear. Listen deliberately. Listen for the back story behind positions you may never agree with. Debate later.”

“Listening is the virtue this proposed Lenten discipline would inculcate if practiced throughout the year; it could become a lifelong habit. Especially in our era of culture wars, in which the blogosphere allows us to flame “enemies” we never meet face-to-face, nothing may affect us short of sitting down over coffee or on a park bench to listen face-to-face. ”

“Listen particularly to someone who represents all you think might be wrong with the church. A Catholic neighbor, for example, who is so impassioned with some ways of defending life that he or she seems to ignore other ways. Or an openly gay Catholic who continues to receive the Eucharist or an activist campaigning to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Listen to the fan of that dangerous neoconservative George Weigel, or the fan of that idealistic peacenik Jesuit John Dear; the parish liturgist who still includes those awful guitar-Mass ditties in the new Roman Mass or the patriarch in the next pew who glares when someone changes “his” to “God’s” for “the good of God’s holy Church.”

“Alas, Catholic culture makes it easy to leave Sunday Mass, week after week, without talking at all, much less inviting real conversations elsewhere in the week. But resolve to try conversation at least once, for Lent. Whoever your conversation partner is, ask to hear his or her back story. Resolve that while you may ask for clarification, you may not argue. Trust might begin to develop, though probably not in a first meeting.  If the other person reciprocates and asks for your back story, wonderful  Share your own story, but do not argue your position even then.”

“What if this encounter starts to soften your position? Yes, there is that risk. But this is Lent. Our Lord risked all, abandoning any self-defense other than the vindication of his Father. The cycle of the church year intends to teach us this: Resurrection is coming, but not without our dying to even the most righteous of causes, as we identify with the One who did so before us.”

 

 

Pope vs. Pope on the “Our Father”

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jan 26, 2018 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Dissent, History, Humor, Popes, Sacred Scripture

Late last year the Italian bishops’ television channel, TV2000, broadcasted a series of conversations between the pope and a Catholic prison chaplain looking at the Lord’s Prayer line by line.  The episode broadcast on December 6, 2017 focused on the line, “Lead us not into temptation.”

Pope Francis suggested the Church should amend the translation of the “Our Father” to clear up the confusion around the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation.” “That is not a good translation,” the pope said in the December 6th interview with Italian television.   

“I’m the one who falls,” Pope Francis explained. “But it’s not God who pushes me into temptation to see how I fall.  No, a father does not do this.  A father helps us up immediately.” “The one who leads us into temptation is Satan,” the pope said. “That’s Satan’s job.”‘

A possible alternative to “Lead us not into temptation” is “Do not let us fall into temptation.”  In his interview, Pope Francis suggested that the phrase be adopted more widely.  I was surprised to learn Catholics in several countries have used a new translation for some time.  “Do not let us fall into temptation” is currently used by the Church in France, Spain, Belgium and Benin.  In Italy, “Do not abandon us in temptation” has been used since 2008.

There are no Bible stories or saints’ tales I can recall where God leads a person towards temptation. The one prominent story of Jesus being tempted in the desert was through his encounter with Satan. God didn’t lead Eve to eat and offer the forbidden fruit. There are hundreds of anecdotes of tempted saints, but they feature demons, devils or sexy women.

The National Catholic Register, a conservative bi-weekly, devoted major space in its December 24, 2017  edition to the Our Father line translation, with a front-page story and editorial rebutting the pope’s suggested change. The reasoning to oppose a change was either theological, political or emotional.  

The author of the article was Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish in Washington, DC. He is a contributor to Community in Mission, a blog of the the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. In his article, Msgr. Pope elaborated on three key points:

  • “While the intention may be to assist the reader to understand that God does not tempt us or directly cause us to fall, the effect is to imply that the inspired Greek text is inadequate.”
  • “Second, in the English-speaking world, the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few prayers we have in common with non-Catholics. Even many of the unchurched have committed it to memory.”
  • “Lastly, by changing the line we will miss a “teachable moment” in which an important truth about God can be explained.”

“Surely God does not tempt us in any direct sense,” Msgr Pope reasoned. “He does not will to entrap us or to confound us so as to make us fall.  However, because he is the first cause of all existing things, he is also the first cause of things that tempt us. So, in asking God to “lead us not into temptation,” we ask him, who, providentially holds us and all things in existence, to lead us forward with the graces we need to resist it.  This will allow us to enjoy the good things he gives without giving way to the temptations of inordinate desires.”

Msgr. Pope’s analysis is good, and it is worth pondering as a spiritual reflection.  But his explanation on the meaning of one line involves a long and very intellectual argument–counter intuitive to a simple petition.  Msgr. Pope concludes that we should “remain rooted in the translation of the Lord’s Prayer that has sustained and united the English-speaking world for hundreds upon hundreds of years.”

This statement by Msgr. Pope is not entirely accurate. Since the Reformation, Christians have disagreed on the wording and translation of another line in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists and most Anglican/Episcopalians use this version.  Presbyterians and other Christians use, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive debtors.”  Some Christians replaced “trespasses” and “debts” with “sins.”  The different words have different meanings in the ‘English language.  “Trespasses” means having crossed a line that may or may not have been clearly marked. “Debtors” implies someone owes you and hasn’t settled the debt. What we hear from the prayer depends on the words we use.

I have started to say: “Do not let us fall into temptation” when I say the Our Father in prayer or at Mass. I was glad to let go of “Lead us not into temptation,” which I have always felt was antithetical to trusting God.  

 

 

 

Cardinal Law’s Fall from Grace

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 31, 2017 | Categories: Accountability, Arts & Letters, Bishops, History, Musings, Politics, Scandals

On December 20, 2017,  Bernard Cardinal Law passed away at the age of 86.  For the last 13 years he lived in Rome, a voluntary exile from the United States.  He will be buried in Rome as well.

Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston in 1984, and he stepped down on December 13, 2002 after being engulfed and overwhelmed by the sex abuse scandal he helped to create.

Although Thomas O’Connor, Boston College historian, remarked “There’s going to be a lot of good interred with his bones,” the more likely epitaph will be that penned by Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe: “Bernie Law … one of the greatest enablers of sexual abuse in the history of the world.”

Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, VT, who served as Law’s spokesman during the period before the cardinal’s resignation, said in a statement on his death that like each one of us, Law’s days had their fair share of “light and shadows.” “While I knew him to be a man of faith, a kind man and good friend, I respect that some will feel otherwise, and so I especially ask them to join me in prayer and work for the healing and renewal of our Church,” he said.

Sean Cardinal O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and Law’s immediate successor, also published a statement on December 20th, offering his sincere apologies to anyone who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy.  “As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences.”

But O’Malley also noted that Cardinal Law’s “pastoral legacy has many other dimensions,” including his early commitment to the civil rights struggle in Mississippi, and his work with the ecumenical and interfaith movement following Vatican II.  He was well known for his ministry to the sick, dying and bereaved.

Journalist Mike Barnicle wrote about Cardinal Law in a NY Daily News column published on Sunday, December 15, 2002 — two days after his resignation.  The headline was “The tragedy of Law’s fall from grace.” I clipped out the article from the paper to keep; to remind me of the good and evil one person can do, our complexities of character and motivation, and the nightmare forms our justifications can sometimes become.

The article began – “There was a night in December almost exactly four years ago when the door to the hospital room opened and Bernard Cardinal Law walked in to visit a sick man lying in the bed. The priest barely knew the guy, just dropped by to talk for a few minutes, offer a simple blessing and then he was gone, like a doctor on his rounds.

The guy was surprised. He hadn’t really known the cardinal and thought of him as a rather aloof, somewhat cold figure. But Law was accompanied that evening by some warmth, a sense of humor and a capacity for conversation.

“He comes here a lot,” one of the nurses said. “Just shows up. Him and his driver. A lot of the time, late at night. He’s great with the homeless, the drunks, street people who hang around the emergency room to get out of the cold.”

How does a man who was arguably the single most important  member of the Catholic hierarchy in America, a guy who made his bones working for civil rights in the South during the violent ’60s, a priest who began his career speaking for the poor, slowly but surely tumble into such scandal that his life is now littered with subpoenas rather than psalms?  Is it arrogance? Isolation? The sin of pride? Blind ambition? 

Last week, days before Law sat down with the Pope and resigned as leader of the Boston Archdiocese, whatever future he may have had within the church was mortally wounded by the artillery of conscience.  The volleys came in the form of 58 of his own priests who signed a letter urging him to step down and get out of town.  It was more powerful than any editorial clamoring for his resignation.  Now, control and contain–the creed of corporate Catholicism in America–is reeling.  The faithful are taking back the store.

Still, it is astounding to consider what has happened and what might happen yet.

Law, Rockville Centre, L. I., Bishop William Murphy, Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily and many other men who spent most of their lives spreading a gospel of truth and morality actively engaged in a decades-long coverup of priests who preyed on the helpless and the young and then paid out millions in hush money. They have made it possible for every Catholic bashing bigot in the country to find both a voice and an audience. They have made it nearly impossible for parents to lecture their children on the need to attend Mass, go to confession, pay attention to a homily.

In Boston, the cardinal was like a fugitive, running from the secular law, barely able to appear at a cathedral without attracting angry protesters, fleeing his home for Rome to meet with other old men who seem to want to blame this scandal on American culture.

In New York, Edward Cardinal Egan is practically invisible and mute, his voice silenced by the burden of his own bureaucratic mistakes. What went wrong with these guys? Did they ever listen to the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, who spoke out about the problem of child-molesting priests nearly 20 years ago?

Law did an awful lot of good in his life. His tragedy, though, is that when it mattered most, he lied. He lied to his strongest supporters, lay people, who urged him to come clean with every problem priest still on the books. He lied to the people in his diocese when he repeatedly across the years told them that his priest had been removed or that priest would not be allowed to work around children. He lied to other pastors around the country when he would write letters that read like great college recommendations on behalf of men he knew to be sodomists of the young and vulnerable.  Maybe he was lying to himself, too.

Now, in the wake of his departure, he leaves the Catholic Church in this country looking like a religious version of the San Andreas fault.  The fissure between the faithful and the hierarchy–the Pope in Rome and a whole lot of bishops here–is obvious. The shadowy outline of a separate and distinct American Catholic Church is no longer impossible to see. There will be people in parish after parish seeking equal time after each sermon they hear that they feel is foolish and delivered by some remote priest, automatically obedient to an authority that has been compromised and shamed by scandal that could have been avoided if just one man in a red hat had realized there is a huge difference between human weakness–a mistake–and a felony.

Law is history now, in more ways than one. He has been weakened, battered, defeated and made old by his own blindness and inaction.

He looks and behaves a lot differently today than he did that long ago night in December 1998 when he was full of humor, even humility, and took the time to bless a sick man in a hospital bed. I remember him well from that evening because I was the guy he took the time to bless.”

 

Death by Cannon

Posted by Censor Librorum on Oct 9, 2017 | Categories: Arts & Letters, History, Lesbians & Gays, Scandals

In 1612 a French expedition departed from Cancale, Brittany in France under the command of Daniel de la Touche, Seigneur de la Ravardiere, and Admiral Francois de Razilly. Carrying 500 colonists and some Capuchin friars, they arrived on the northern coast of what is today the Brazilian state of Maranhao.

The colonists soon founded a village, which they named “Saint Louis” in honor of the French king, Louis IX. This later became Sao Luis in Portuguese.

In 1614, a man of the Tupinamba tribe known as “Tibira” was sentenced to death and publicly executed for the crime of sodomy.  He was strapped in front of a canon and blown to pieces.

I assume whoever had him killed deliberately utilized the phallic symbolism of a firing cannon. Since this spectacular execution goes well beyond the usual punishment for sodomy–flogging, beheading, hanging or exile–I suspect Tibira’s accuser, betrayer or murderer was a secret homosexual, and may have even had sex with him.

The reason we know about Tibira’s death is its mention in a travel diary kept by a French Capuchin, Yves D’Evreux.  He recorded the execution as he passed through Maranhao.  A translation of his diary appears as Voyage au nord du Bresil fait en 1613 et 1614.

Yves D’Evreux, with his vow of chastity, prominently noted his distraction and upset with the nudity and sexual availability of the Tupinamba women. He wrote their sexual activity was diabolically inspired.  I’m sure that meant he was often tempted or aroused.

The colony didn’t last long.  A Portuguese expeditionary force, under the command of Alexandre de Moura, defeated and expelled the French colonists in 1615.

Four centuries later, a gay activist in northeastern Brazil came across this incident as part of his research into local history.  Luiz Mott was a contributor to the 2003 book, Infamous Desire, Male Homosexuality in Colonial Latin America.  His chapter is titled: “Crypto-Sodomites in Colonial Brazil.” Mott is also the director of the Grupo Gay da Bahia and one of Brazil’s leading gay activists.

Mott made headlines across Brazil because he stated he wanted the Catholic Church to recognize Tibira as a “queer saint.”  While that hasn’t happened yet, he did succeed in having a monument erected to Tibira in Sao Luis in 2016. The inscription reads: “The first victim of homophobia in Brazil.”

The photo shows a smiling Luiz Mott appearing to point to Tibira’s genitals.  I don’t know if this is an error or deliberate on his part, but seems undignified for a violent martyrdom.

A short film, Tibira is Gay, by Emillio Gallo, focuses on the experiences of five gay Indian youths in Barreirinha, a remote city in the Maranhao interior.  It mentions Tibira’s execution.  I found the young men to be very brave to come forward on camera, and earnest, hopeful and lonely.  Perhaps the young Tibira was like them.

 

 

 

 

Summa Familiae Cura

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 26, 2017 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Humor, Popes

Pope Francis has overhauled the Vatican institute most closely associated with the conservative sexual morals promoted by St. John Paul II, saying it was necessary to adapt and expand its mission to address the reality of today’s Catholics.

Officials said the revamped John Paul II Theological Institute for the Marriage and Family Sciences will offer degrees in the social sciences — such as sociology, anthropology, psychology — as well as biology and other sciences, reflecting a vision of the family that goes well beyond strict Catholic theology.

The inclusion of biological sciences in the curriculum, and a mission statement that cites a focus on human “regeneration” and care for the planet, suggests that the revamped institute will address human sexuality, the environment and the church’s position on artificial contraception.

With a motu proprio issued on September 19, 2017, Pope Francis closed the Vatican institute set up by St. Pope John Paul II to study marriage and family life, replacing it with a new institute with a different name and different focus.

The papal document, Summa Familiae Cura, formally ends the work that started in 1981 as the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.  In its place the motu proprio establishes the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.

The new institute is intended to take a different approach to the study of family life.  It will reflect the work of the two recent Synod meetings and the Pope’s own apostolic exhoration, Amoris Laetitia.

In Summa Familiae Cura the Pope emphasized the Church must respond to the needs of troubled families, and couples struggling with the marriages, in a society that no longer supports the traditional Christian understanding of marriage.  Pope Francis also stressed the need for the Church to incorporate the perspectives of contemporary science in analyzing family life.

While praising the vision of his predecessor, Pope Francis says that the revision of the Institute is a response to “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond.”  He writes:  “Anthropological-cultural change, that today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, does not permit us to limit ourselves to practices in pastoral ministry and mission that reflect forms and models of the past.”

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who is the chancellor of the new Institute, told Vatican Radio that a key focus of its work would be “dialogue with all the human sciences, because family today rediscovers its vocation, not in the abstract.”

A sampling of views from the Peanut Gallery:

“Sexual morals as promoted by St. John Paul II? BAHAHAHAHAHA! The biggest pedophile protector ever.  First, he has Bernard Law brought to the Vatican to escape prosecution for transferring countless pedophile priests, then he claimed to be best friends and even traveled around with Maciel, the founder of the Legionnaires of Christ, and one of the most notorious pedophiles himself, along with seducing anything he could get his hands on.” – Bill

“Fortunately we will not have to suffer this man much longer.  Natural catastrophes daily say it all as to how close we are to Judgement.” – JD

“Wrong, wrong! St. Pope John Paul II had it right.  This liberal Jesuit is splitting the Church. It will not work. Many world Catholics are angry and confused.  Francis must abide by the Bible and Catholic theology all of which is the word of Christ.” – toughcritic

“With Francis, it’s always the same message: disruption and discontinuity.” – dover beachcomber

“It’s really tough to be optimistic on this for three reasons:  1) Nothing was broke so don’t “fix” it.  2) The (shudder) language used in “justifying” the change. 3) the “shudder” emphasis on Amoris Laetitia.  Speaking of which, what happened to our 4 stalwarts?” – jalsardl5053

“The Church (needs) to incorporate the perspectives of contemporary science in analyzing family life.” This sounds to me very-very suspicious. I hope, I’m wrong.” – feedback

“I supposed he is trying to make the church more relevant in the modern world but he is making it less relevant to me.” – Jerome

“That this institute will be run by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia who favored homoerotic art for his Cathedral makes my skin crawl. Viewing his mural makes me want to go and take a bath. It is so bad I will not provide a link to it. Nothing good will come from this institute!” – Anonymous

My take:  Pope Francis continues remaking the Church from a museum into a garden.

 

 

 

 

Goodbye and Hello

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 12, 2017 | Categories: Arts & Letters, History, Musings

Many years ago, back in the mid-1980s, I used to talk to a young wife about her distress and heartache.  She was my age, early 30s, married to an Army captain and they had three young children.  She was also involved in a passionate relationship with another woman.  She needed someone outside her situation to talk to, to unburden with, and to be a friend.  I ended up that person. We never met, and probably spoke together five or six times over a period of months.

She loved her children dearly, and also loved her husband.  But the woman she was with fired her heart and soul and desire in a way her husband couldn’t match. She was deeply in love with her, and very torn. She wanted to be with her lover, but did not want to leave her children.  It was tearing her apart, since the gravitational pull to her lover was so strong.

Since those were the days before texting and email, on every call we would make arrangements for the next call.

One day, I called at the appointed time, and instead of my friend a woman who introduced herself as her mother answered the phone.  I was stunned.

The woman told me that her daughter had decided, in hopes of saving her marriage, to make a clean break. She and her family had moved to Italy.  She asked her mother to keep the call, to let me know what happened, and to thank me for the time we had spent on the phone trying to sort things through.  Her mother added that she wanted to thank me for helping her daughter, and the support the daughter felt from our calls.

I told the mother that I wished my friend all the best, and that I hoped–sincerely–that everything would work out for her.  And then we hung up.

I have wondered from time to time over the last 30+ years what became of my friend.  I went through several different scenarios in my head, but never could get a sense of the final outcome.  My guess is she stayed with her husband, and tried to put her lover out of her mind as much as possible.  Her children should be grown up now, and she’s probably a grandmother several times over.

But I am also sure she kept her lover in a very private place in her heart. 

When I saw Sal Bardo’s video “Great Escape” I immediately thought of her.  Did her story have a happy ending, or only played over and over again in her imagination?

See the video here.

 

Book Review: Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis is Changing the World and the Church

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 22, 2014 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Faith, History, Popes

book

In the summer of 1206, St. Francis went into the small chapel of San Damiano near Assisi to pray.  As he knelt before the crucifix, he heard Jesus’ invitation: “Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.” “Yes!” said Francis, “This is what I want; this is what I long for with all my heart.”

800 years later, the first Pope Francis took up the same challenge–to rebuild a Church that was in almost total disgrace, disarray, and irrelevant.  The message of the Gospels had become lost to dogmatic meanness and nit-picking.

Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis is Changing the World and the Church by noted journalist and former Jesuit Robert Blair Kaiser, offers insights on the pope’s “Jesuit DNA.”  It is this DNA that impels him with a “holy boldness” to push the boundaries to make the world a better place, and rebuild the Church to a house of mercy and humanity.

The Jesuit DNA includes several things: a striving for the greater glory of God (ad majorem Dei gloriam); but especially to go to the edges, the margins, to learn, understand and serve. After Vatican II, the author relates that most Jesuits call salvation “being all we can be in this life” and not simply to get to heaven, but to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Pope Francis’ emphasis on humanity vs. rules and regulations is changing the culture of judgement (abortion, same-sex marriage, doctrinaire fixation (“are you pure enough to call yourself ‘Catholic?’) to a culture of mercy and mission.  He wants to be fully engaged with people, and is leading the Church to do likewise.  He starts by calling himself a sinner who has made many mistakes (when was the last time we heard a cardinal, bishop, or priest do that?) and reminds us that Christ came to us so that we might know life more fully.

The author framed this motivation wonderfully by describing his own experience as a teacher and coach at Saint Ignatius Prep, a high school for boys in San Francisco, CA: “I was trying to show them that their religion, fully lived, was something that would make them more human, happier individuals, with a humanity and happiness that would bring joy to those around them.  I wanted to destroy the image of religion as something that made people less human, less joyful, less real.”

The author doesn’t back away from the warts.  He examines Pope Francis’ time as provincial of the Argentine Jesuits and as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He has come under criticism for both periods because of his lack of support for liberation theology, and for not standing up to the military junta that caused the death or disappearance  of over 20,000 people.

The pope did not shy away from his record, but doesn’t go into specifics. He explains the Lord leads to a growth of knowledge through his faults and sins, and also that he made decisions alone and in the midst of an interior crisis. If experience leads to a conversion of heart, who are we to judge?

Robert Kaiser also raises the pope’s, Church’s, and Jesuits’ poor records and lack of engagement with women–half the Church. My good friend, theologian Dr. Mary E. Hunt, challenges the pope on this issue:  “It is intellectually embarrassing to hear a man who is so conversant with music, literature and poetry have such a palty vocabulary when it comes to women. Thus far, Francis has not had any public conversation with a woman church leader of any sort.  The continued oppression of U.S. women religious, officially approved by him, is a negative sign as well.”

The author thinks Dr. Hunt is mistaken, but I agree with her. The pope needs to address the impact of our closed, male-oriented institution on the poorest of the poor–Catholic women. Women continue to wait for meaningful action from Pope Francis.  His Jesuit DNA won’t help us there–Jesuits have little to do with women’s issues or women as a group.

One surprise in the book for me was the suggestion that 46-year-old Jorge Bergoglio had been in love. In March 1986 he went to Frankfurt, Germany for two years to pursue a doctorate. In 1987 his provincial ordered him back to Argentina, his thesis only half finished. He was put on severe restrictions for correspondence and communication. This kind of discipline is only warranted if the man has told superiors he has fallen in love, or if a fellow Jesuit found out he is having a love affair.

Would love and separation make a person more emphathetic to its effects in other people’s lives? I think so. Perhaps this period in the pope’s life has led him to emphasize mercy, forgiveness and the human vs. ideological.  Pope Francis has described himself as a sinner who has made hundreds of mistakes. It sounds like it’s true–not some stock piety.

About half the book is devoted to Pope Francis, the remainder is parables about fellow Jesuits and former Jesuits who illustrate the best of “Jesuit DNA.”  Like Marines–once a Marine, always a Marine, Jesuits forever identify themselves as brothers, and retain their values, friendships and network for a lifetime.

The men profiled include Fr. Marie Joseph Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a scientist and humanist; Fr. George Dunne, writer and social justice crusader; Bill Cain, playwright and screen writer; Fr. John Baumann, co-founder of PICO (Pacific Institute of Community Organizing); Governor Jerry Brown of California, John Dear, peace activist; and, of course, Inigo Lopez de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.  There is a lot to inspire all of us in their generous lives.

When Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis people and pundits wondered what it would mean to have a Jesuit pope?  How does he think?  What is important to him? What can we expect?

On the way back to Rome from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro Pope Francis addressed this question by reporter Caroline Pigozzi from Paris Match:

“Good evening, Holy Father.  I would like to know if you, since you’ve been Pope, still feel yourself a Jesuit?”

Pope Francis:  “I feel myself a Jesuit in my spirituality, in the spirituality of the Exercises, spirituality, the one I have in my heart. But I feel so much like this that in three days I’ll go to celebrate with  Jesuits the feast of Saint Ignatius:  I will say the morning Mass. I haven’t changed my spirituality, no. Francis, Franciscan, no. I feel myself a Jesuit and I think like a Jesuit. Not hypocritically, but I think as a Jesuit.  Thank you.”

My Rating:  ***** Read this book if you are the type of person who likes to know the “why” behind people and events.

Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis is Changing the Church and the World.Published by Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and fine booksellers everywhere.

kaiser2

Author:  Robert Blair Kaiser is an American author and journalist, best known for his writings on the Catholic Church. A former Jesuit, Kaiser left the Society of Jesus three years before his ordination to pursue a career in journalism. He served as an award-winning religion reporter for The New York Times,  CBS News, Newsweek and Time. Throughout the Second Vatican Council, Kaiser was Time magazine’s reporter in Rome and the preeminent reporter on the Council in the English-speaking world.  For his work on the Council, Kaiser won the Overseas Press Club Award for best foreign reporting on foreign affairs.  He is the author of sixteen other books, including A Church in Search of Itself.

 

 

 

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel Explains It All For You

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 15, 2014 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Humor, Lesbians & Gays, Weirdos

Hundreds of angry parents packed the gym of Charlotte Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 2, 2014 to criticize a recent student assembly on human sexuality and gender and blast the school leaders who organized it. The clear majority were opposed to the program’s ugly anti-gay content.  Fr-Kauth-

One parent confronted Fr. Matthew Kauth, the school chaplain who arranged for the program, “You don’t know what’s best for our children. We want our children to remain Catholic, but we are being pushed away by the climate of what is going on here.”

The March 21, 2014 presentation by Nashville Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, “Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift,” sparked an unexpected backlash by many students, teachers, parents and alumni. Her presentation was based on a series of instructional videos she created for Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is an associate professor of theology.

Based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Sister Jane Dominic Laurel explained the differences between the genders, the role of family, importance of real friendships, emotional intimacy and the impacts of contemporary culture on our concepts of sexuality and sexual expression.  nashville domminican

Half of her 60-minute presentation was devoted to homosexuality.

During her talk, Sr. Jane Dominic asserted homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of parents’ shortcomings and pornography. She also attributed a correlation between the decline of fatherhood in America and the rise of homosexuality.

One students said the other students were barely listening to the nun’s talk. “Where I was sitting, most of them were asleep. There was this nun blabbering on and on and talking really fast.  When the gay part of the talk started, some of them perked up and started tweeting.”

In a car ride home, a boy described the talk to his mother:  “Then she started talking about how gays are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father. Also a guy could be gay if he masturbates and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay friends who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and that’s why he was gay…Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either 500 or 1,000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to be subject to that extremely offensive talk.”

During her speech Sr. Jane Dominic also stated:

– Gays and lesbians are not born with same-sex attractions – Children in single parent homes have a greater change of becoming homosexual – Single and divorced parents caused children to be gay – Homosexuals cannot live normal, productive lives – Gays can’t be good parents – Distant or absent fathers can cause boys to seek masculine affirmation in a sexual attraction to other males.

The research Sr. Jane Dominic used in her presentation came from the Catholic Medical Society’s publication, “Homosexuality and Hope,” and other papers.  CMA publishes research that conforms to the moral magisterium of the Church.

In an April 4, 2014 statement, Sister Mary Sarah, O.P., the president of Aquinas College, defended the school’s curriculum and Sr. Jane Dominic’s credentials as a theologian, but acknowledged that the portion of Sister Jane’s presentation of social science data about the alleged causes of same-sex attraction–which prompted many of the concerns from parents and students–was outside the scope of her academic background.

The Rev. Tim Reid, the ultra conservative pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte, praised the nun, saying, “she represented well the Catholic positions on marriage, sex, same-sex attraction and proper gender roles…The Church as already lost too many generations of Catholic school students to…a very muddled and watered-down faith.” He also scolded the upset Catholic parents in an April 6, 2014 homily for their “lack of charity.”

Paul W. Primavera, who lives in Charlotte and knows Fr. Reid, also commented online on the controversy: “I have this to say to all those students and parents who do not like what she said: she is right and you are wrong. Homosexual behavior is sin and will send the perpetrator to hell.  Adultery and fornication are sin and will send the perpetrator to hell. Do you want your children to go to hell? Sister Jane doesn’t and she therefore demonstrates greater love than you apparently do. If you don’t like that and want to continue in rebellion, then why don’t you go all the way and join the Episcopalian heretics. Think not for one moment St. Paul or St. John could tolerate your sickening and putrid liberal progressivism.”

Sr. Jane Dominic has referenced sex and homosexuality in a number of her YouTube videos.

In one lecture posted online, she claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex and says, “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman.”

In another clip, Sr. Jane Dominic speaks at length about the Folsom Street Fair. Billed as the “World’s Biggest Leather Event,” it is a bondage/SM/role-playing fetish event held annually in San Francisco mostly for gay men. In another video, she says that androgyny is a tool of Satan and that “devil-worshipers” have three goals: to continue abortions, to destroy traditional marriage and destroy the distinction between male and female.

Good thing she didn’t add those examples to her talk at Charlotte Catholic High.

The Censor Liborum is left with three questions from this whole debacle:

-Why was a school talk that heavily referenced sex given in mixed company and without first advising the parents?

-Why were Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel and Fr. Matthew Kauth so focused on talking about homosexuality and homosexual sex? The talk, ostensibly, was to encourage young people in happy and healthy relationships and ultimately marriage with the opposite sex.

-How in the heck did Sr. Jane Dominic find the Folsom Street Fair?

 

 

Let’s Get Back To Christian Values

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jan 23, 2014 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Humor, Politics, Social Justice

photo