Friday, March 2, 2012

Ember Friday in Lent

Today is Ember Friday.  I have posted on Ember Friday previously.  Ember days are no longer enforced in the post-conciliar Church, but there is nothing wrong in observing them.  I don't know the reasoning for dropping these days, at last not officially.  Before Vatican II, the Church required much more of the laity, which would seem to be a good thing for their souls.  Fasting was done all 40 days of Lent - meaning one meal a day, with 2 snacks (not enforced on Sundays, which are "of" Lent and not "in" Lent).  We were required to fast at least 3 hours before receiving Communion, and not too long ago, Catholics were required to fast from midnight on.  Holy days were never abandoned, as they often are now if they fall on a Saturday or Monday.  For some reason, the Church felt that if they made the requirements "easier" people would be holier and more devoted to the Church.  Well, surprise, surprise, just the opposite has happened. 

Ember Days are fast days - Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - observed 4 times a year, coinciding with the change in the seasons.  One of those times is this week in Lent.  But whether you observe Ember Friday or not, you are absolutely obligated, even here in the United States, to abstain from meat and meat products on Fridays in Lent. 

Enjoy that fish sandwich today!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is Reception of Communion a Right or a Privilege?

The confusion in the Church
makes my head ache
Why has it become so hard to identify sin in our world?  A woman at a funeral for her mother introduced herself and her lesbian partner to the priest before Mass, and when she presented herself  for communion, the priest denied her, saying she was involved in serious sin and he could not give her communion.  She became quite indignant, wrote a nasty letter to him, complained, and now the Diocese is reprimanding the priest!!!   This woman is in clear violation of Church teaching and the plain teaching of the Bible, and yet the priest is reprimanded? 

I make no pretense at being able to explain Canon Law.  But I do understand that reception of communion is not a right.  It is a gift given to us by our Creator, and unless we are in a state of grace, free of mortal sin, we are not qualified to receive.  The very fact that this is being disputed indicates, to me at least, that something is seriously wrong.

Here is the article from Lifesitenews.com:

Archdiocese of Washington reprimands priest for denying communion to a lesbian

GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, February 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A parish priest in Maryland, who denied communion to a woman who identified herself as a lesbian, has been publicly rebuked by the Archdiocese of Washington.

Barbara Johnson attended her mother’s funeral last Saturday and introduced her lesbian partner to the priest before Mass.

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, covered the Host as she approached and told her, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the Church, that is a sin.”

Afterwards, she wrote him a letter telling him, “I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”  [She shows no sense of humility whatsoever.  She does not question herself and ask whether the priest may be right.  If she is a Catholic, she knows that homosexuality is condemned by the Church.  Yet she still feels that she has a right to communion.]

Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout wrote a formal letter of apology telling Johnson, “I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”  [First of all, a funeral should not be a "celebration of life".  The purpose of a funeral is to pray for the deceased.  Secondly, how about reminding this poor lost soul that she is in fact living contrary to God's law and that unless she repents and changes, she could very well lose salvation?  Isn't there any concern for her soul, or are we too concerned about hurting her feelings?] 
The Archdiocese of Washington issued a brief press release saying Fr. Guarnizo’s actions were inappropriate. “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”  [Even when the sin is public?  She was there with her Lesbian lover.  If she told the priest, it is an almost sure thing that others knew as well.  It was a public matter.  And aren't we the least concerned about desecration of the Blessed Sacrament by giving it to someone who is in mortal sin?]  After receiving the letter of apology, Johnson said “I will not be satisfied” until Fr. Guarnizo is removed from the parish.

Monsignor Charles Pope, who blogs for the Archdiocese of Washington’s website, told LifeSiteNews.com, “One would presume a priest would have had more ongoing conversations with somebody of a private nature before one would publicly deny somebody communion.”   [I don't understand this.  The woman admitted to being involved in serious sin.  What am I missing?]

“There may be a time when a pastor has concerns about a parishioner and then speaks to them privately and advises them privately not to receive communion,” he said. “But we don’t have these confrontations at the altar rail.”  [I can understand not wanting to have confrontations at the altar rail, but it is also important to keep the Blessed Sacrament from being desecrated, which seems to the major concern of Fr. Guarnizo.]

Canon 915 of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law admonishes priests to deny Holy Communion to those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

The New Commentary on Canon Law states: “Eucharistic Ministers are also to refuse holy communion when they are certain (1) that a person has committed a sin that is objectively grave, (2) that the sinner is obstinately persevering in this sinful state, and (3) that this sin is manifest,” or widely known to those present at the Mass. [As I already stated, if the woman was so bold to present herself and her Lesbian partner to the priest, it's a pretty sure bet that others knew as well.  Since that most probably is the case, doesn't giving her communion put the Church's approval on her clearly sinful relationship?]
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops established “engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage” as such a sin in its 2006 publication “‘Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper’: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist.”

“Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion,” they wrote.

[See below]
The commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law, prepared by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, states, “before a minister can lawfully refuse the Eucharist, he must be certain that the person obstinately persists in a sinful situation or in sinful behavior that is manifest (i.e. public) and objectively grave.” [Is there any doubt in this situation?  The woman has a live-in Lesbian partner, and not only didn't try to be discreet about it, but openly bragged of it to the priest.  It would seem reasonable for him to assume that this was public knowledge.]

“Most canonists, including pastors and priests, interpret that not just as not just a quick conversation but something of a more substantial nature,” Monsignor Pope told LifeSiteNews.   [This is the problem.  Canon Law can be "interpreted" in different ways by different people.]

Dr. Ed Peters, a canon lawyer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, wrote “a few minutes conversation…would not suffice, in the face of numerous canons protecting the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments [emphasis on the word "faithful", which it would seem this woman was clearly not, and her prideful, revengeful attitude afterwards would seem to support this conclusion], to verify either the notoriety of the (objectively) sinful situation, or to verify the obstinacy of the would-be recipient.” However, Dr. Peters noted after a sufficient period of warning and instruction, a priest would be well within his rights to invoke Canon 915 and deny communion to an obstinate, sexually active homosexual.

“I don’t know that that can be determined by a brief interaction in a sacristy,” Msgr. Pope told LifeSiteNews.  [Again, who is the one who is suppose to make these judgments?  It seems that Canon Law only leads to confusion.]

Fr. Guarnizo may have been forcibly denied the opportunity to expand on his conversation. A commenter on Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog, who claimed to have been “in a meeting with Fr Marcel and heard the whole story,” wrote: “The woman in question brought her lesbian partner into the vesting sacristy just before the funeral Mass and made sure to introduce her partner to Fr. Marcel, introducing her as her ‘lover’. He told her then that she should not present herself for Communion.” A commenter claimed Barbara’s partner “blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further.”

The Catholic Church believes a faithful Christian has such an interest in receiving Holy Communion that it must only be denied only in extreme cases. “When in doubt, give it out,” Msgr. Pope said. [This seems to be very dubious reasoning.  Isn't protection of the Blessed Sacrament of any importance?]

The popular blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote no one should be surprised that questions persist about when to publicly deny someone communion.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes that “Many priests have received inadequate training in these matters of law and have been given even worse example by bishops who ought to be applying can. 915 is genuine cases of applicability,” he wrote. [Father Z also used this post to promote his own "stuff" for sale:  "Finally, while I have your attention, please go buy some can. 915 stuff."  Sigh.  Hard to take him seriously when he is always hawking his "Swag Store."]

Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, waded into a similar controversy in 2009 when he said he would not deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi communion, claiming to do so would amount to “Communion wielded as a weapon.” When asked, he said, “there’s a question about whether this canon [915] was ever intended to be used.”   [I rest my case about the confusion caused by Canon Law.]

Fr. Zuhlsdorf described Fr. Guarnizo’s actions as “well-meaning” but “premature,” adding he could not find fault with his motivation.

“He should be thanked for taking his role seriously and for wanting to uphold the Church’s teaching,” he wrote.

Fr. Guarnizo did not return messages left by LifeSiteNews.
When situations like this happen, and the Church hierarchy sides with someone clearly in violation of church teaching against a faithful priest,  is there any wonder that the laity in the Catholic Church just throw up their hands and make up their own minds about what is right and wrong?  Yet, it is just that which has led to the crisis in the Church, sinking attendance, lack of belief in the Real Presence.  Like the Protestants, far too many Catholics have become their own Magesterium.  Further, by making an "example" of this faithful priest, the Church hierarchy is telling the priests to be more concerned about hurting people's feelings than saving their souls. 

Blessed Mother, pray for us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?


A "Potential" Person With
No Moral Right To Life

Human beings never seem to stop degenerating.  Just when we've hit what we think is an old time low, we go even further into evil.  One would think that the legal killing of babies in the womb is about the lowest we can go.  Ah no, now the Journal of Medical Ethics is aruging to allow the killing of newborn babies.  Satan continues to demand human sacrifice, and we continue to obey his commands.  I would like to post the actual paper here, but it costs $30 to view it for one day, and it is also copyrighted.  So I have posted an article from infowars.com regarding this. 

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us. 



Ethicists Argue Killing Newborn Babies Should Be Allowed


Shocking reminder that eugenicist beliefs underpin medical establishment


Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues that abortion should be extended to make the killing of newborn babies permissible, even if the baby is perfectly healthy, in a shocking example of how the medical establishment is still dominated by a eugenicist mindset.
The paper is authored by Alberto Giubilini of Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.
The authors argue that “both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons,” and that because abortion is allowed even when there is no problem with the fetus’ health, “killing a newborn should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
“The fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant,” the authors claim, arguing that adoption is not a reasonable counter-argument because the parents of the baby might be economically or psychologically burdened the process and the mother may “suffer psychological distress”. How the mother could not also “suffer psychological distress” by having her newborn baby killed is not explained.
Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal,” the authors write.
The practice of infanticide has its origins in barbaric eras of ancient history, but it is still common is many areas of the world today, including China where the one child policy allied with the social pressure to have boys has resulted in a massive imbalance in the population. Studies have found that 40 million girls are ‘missing’ in China as a result of gender-selective abortion and infanticide. In India, there are 50 million less females for the same reasons.
In Pakistan, over 1000 babies a year are the victims of infanticide, which is rarely punished.
Matthew Archbold of the National Catholic Register explains how the legalization of infanticide, killing newborn babies, is the logical conclusion of the starting point of the argument, which is that the fetus is not human and has no right to live.

“The second we allow ourselves to become the arbiters of who is human and who isn’t, this is the calamitous yet inevitable end. Once you say all human life is not sacred, the rest is just drawing random lines in the sand,” he writes.
Respected bioethicist Wesley J. Smith notes that the debate surrounding “the right to dehydrate the persistently unconscious,” which eventually led to events like the Terri Schiavo case, started with articles in bioethics and medical journals.
“Or to put it another way, too often bioethics, isn’t. On the other hand, to be fair, the ancient Romans exposed inconvenient infants on hills. These authors may want to take us back to those crass values, but I assume they would urge a quicker death,” he writes.
Alexanderhiggins.com also has a very good post on this subject, taking from different sources. 

A paper just published in the Journal of Medical Ethics says that parents should have the right to kill their newborn infants, because infants are not people.


A paper in the The Journal of Medical Ethics, an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals and researchers in medical ethics, argues that murdering newborn infants should be legalized.

The rational? “Infants are not people”.

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?
Abstract
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
By Alberto Giubilini1, 2and Francesca Minerva3,4Author Affiliations
  1. Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  2. Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Correspondence to Dr Francesca Minerva, CAPPE, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia; mailto:francesca.minerva@unimelb.edu.au
Contributors AG and FM contributed equally to the manuscript.
Source: Journal of Medical Ethics
Justifying the Murder of Infants
The authors of the study, Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne argue that they “prefer the term “after-birth abortion” as opposed to “infanticide,” as the latter conjures up images of a child rather than a “fetus,” which does not have the moral equivalent to life than a baby. [As William Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name . . .] The After-birth abortion would be justified in cases where, “the newborn would be putting the well-being of the family at risk.” They say, “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life.’ ”
To easier swallow the idea that a child is a “fetus,” those that support killing a child are skilled with their use of language to easier digest the idea of abortion. Clearly the authors of this study have the same idea with regard to verbiage. Recently, Joy Behar had a minor slip up in the accepted verbiage, while referring to a pending law in Virginia that would require a mother to get an ultrasound before committing to an abortion. Ms. Behar said that forcing a mother to “see the child, er, infant, er fetus, er ‘whatever it is’ before getting an abortion is downright evil!”  [Killing the "child, er, infant, er fetus er ‘whatever it is’" is not evil, but looking at it before you kill it is evil.]
[...]
Source: Gather News
Ethicists Argue in Favor of ‘After-Birth Abortions‘ as Newborns ’Are Not Persons’
[...]
The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns.
The circumstances, the authors state, where after-birth abortion should be considered acceptable include instances where the newborn would be putting the well-being of the family at risk, even if it had the potential for an “acceptable” life. The authors cite Downs Syndrome as an example, stating that while the quality of life of individuals with Downs is often reported as happy, “such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”
[...]
This means a newborn whose family (or society) that could be socially, economically or psychologically burdened or damaged by the newborn should have the ability to seek out an after-birth abortion. They state that after-birth abortions are not preferable over early-term abortions of fetuses but should circumstances change with the family or the fetus in the womb, then they advocate that this option should be made available.
The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:
Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.  [Remember Candidate Obama's statement that stating when life begins was above his paygrade?  Well, I guess it's above everyone's "paygrade."  If we are allowed to progress far enough, the definition of a "person" will be anyone who can contribute to society and is not a burden on anyone else.  If we are unable to be "productive" members of society, and others must take care of us, then we will have no right to live.]
[...]
Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. [See above.]  Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life [and who is it who makes the decision of "right to life"? The US Constitution said right to life is God given, but I guess that doesn't apply anymore]: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.  [An "embryo", a "fetus" and now a newborn baby are put on the same level as those who have committed heinous crimes.  A very telling comparison from those who view babies as nuisances and easily killed if they dare to interfere with our lives.]
Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” The authors do acknowledge that a mother, who they cite as an example of a true person, can attribute “subjective” moral rights to the fetus or newborn, but they state this is only a projected moral status.
The authors counter the argument that these “potential persons” have the right to reach that potential by stating it is “over-ridden by the interests of actual people (parents, family, society) to pursue their own well-being because, as we have just argued, merely potential people cannot be harmed by not being brought into existence.”
And what about adoption? Giubilini and Minerva write that, as for the mother putting the child up for adoption, her emotional state should be considered as a trumping right. For instance, if she were to “suffer psychological distress” from giving up her child to someone else — they state that natural mothers can dream their child will return to them — then after-birth abortion should be considered an allowable alternative.  [Giving a child up for adoption can cause "psychological distress" because the mother might still "dream their child will return to them" but killing the child won't cause any stress whatsoever, according to the authors of this paper.]
[...]
Source:The Blaze
If there is any doubt about the existence of evil in this world, this should remove that doubt completely.  The only sanity to be found is with God and his true one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  Even with the Church, we must wade through it and constantly test the spirits, because evil has also infiltrated there, as I have shown many times on this blog.  You are either serving God or serving the devil.
Satan Resting on the Mountain
Surveying Humanity Doing His Bidding

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance in Catholics

Many Catholics are very upset about the Obama Administration's attack on the Catholic Church, telling the Catholic Church that her institutions such as schools and hospitals must provide birth control and sterlization at no cost to their employees through their insurance plans.  This has been rightly called an attack on religious freedom.  Many other churches are throwing their support behind the Catholic Church.  This HHS mandate is forcing the Church to go against her own teaching, and that is clearly unconstitutional.

HOWEVER, as I have pointed out, vast numbers of members of the Church have been freely doing this on their own for the past 40+ years since Humane Vitae.  And here is just one more article showing this.  Blogs such as that of Father John Zuhlsdorf have been attacking the Obama Administration as the culprit in this matter, but when so many in the Church herself have been openly defying the plain teaching of the Church, why should we be surprised?  The Obama Administration, knowing this fact, probably thought they would meet very little resistance.  Father Zuhlsdorf posted a cartoon which criticized Obama for apologizing for the burning of the Korans in Afghanistan, but refusing to apologize to the Catholics.  But who is really at fault here?


Study: Catholic hospitals, church at odds over birth control


If reproductive sterilization is against the teachings of the Catholic Church, why are Catholic hospitals performing these procedures?That’s the question being raised by a researcher at Baylor University whose analysis of patient discharge records suggests that thousands of women have elected to have tubal ligation surgery at Catholic hospitals across the U.S.

More than 1,000 women had such procedures in 2008 and 2009 at Catholic hospitals in New Jersey, including St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville, which is in the Paterson Diocese, and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, which is within the Diocese of Trenton, according to the study.Hospital officials and church leaders said the study is flawed and insist that the hospitals are operating within the church’s ethical guidelines.

“Although I was not the bishop here at the time, I have inquired of the administration and have been assured that procedures at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County were in compliance with the ethical and religious directives binding Catholic hospitals,” Bishop David M. O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton said in a prepared statement.

But the study’s author, Sandra S. Hapenney, whose research was reviewed and accepted by the Baylor Graduate School, which awarded her a doctorate in church-state studies, said the hospitals’ own record-keeping suggests otherwise.

The study is based on an analysis of more than 47 million hospital discharge records obtained from health departments in seven states. The patients’ names and other identifying information were removed to protect their confidentiality.

Of the 176 Catholic hospitals covered in the study, 85 — almost half — had performed “direct sterilizations,” meaning elective tubal ligations, Hapenney reported. The procedure involves closing off a woman’s fallopian tubes to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization.

Of the eight Catholic hospitals in New Jersey that offered obstetric services at the time of the study, only one — Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick — didn’t perform the procedure, the study found.

As a Catholic herself, Hapenney says she supports the church’s teaching that elective reproductive sterilization is morally wrong and simply wants the U.S. bishops to know what’s going on in Catholic hospitals in their dioceses.

“I don’t have an agenda to make a name for myself or anything like that,” said Hapenney, a part-time epidemiology lecturer at Baylor, located in Waco, Tex.

“All I want to do is put the facts out there. I just want to make it known so that the people in charge of the hospitals can be in dialogue with the bishops, with the bishops having the full facts.”  
Hapenney published her research in October, but her findings attracted little attention until recently, after the Obama administration and U.S. Catholic leaders clashed over a new government insurance mandate.

The mandate would have required Catholic hospitals and other religious employers to pay directly for artificial contraceptive and sterilization services as part of their employee insurance plans.

Led by the U.S. Catholic bishops, opponents of the mandate said it violates their constitutional right to religious liberty.

The Obama administration has since revised the regulations so that insurance companies — not religious employers — would pay for those services. But the bishops and other opponents have dismissed the change as an accounting sleight of hand, setting up a possible showdown in federal court and providing a hot-button political issue for the 2012 presidential election.

As with abortion, the Catholic Church teaches that artificial contraception and reproductive sterilization are grave sins that violate human dignity and the sanctity of life.

The “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, states: “Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution.”

Procedures that induce sterility are permissible if they are meant to cure or alleviate a “present and serious pathology,” provided a simpler treatment isn’t available, according to the directives.

Hapenney says her research focused on women who delivered babies at Catholic hospitals and subsequently elected to have tubal ligation surgery to prevent a future pregnancy.

The controversy over her study hinges largely on a specific medical billing code that she says all hospitals and insurers use only for elective tubal ligation surgeries performed for “contraceptive management.”

 
If such a procedure were performed because of a serious medical problem, which would be permissible under the bishops’ directives, a different code would have been assigned, she maintains.

“The code is very specific,” she said. “In other words, the woman getting (the ligation) was not ill, she was giving birth.”

Hapenney’s findings have been met with criticism, however.

“We put no credence in the study,” Fred Caesar, a spokesman for the Catholic Health Association of the United States, said in an email.  [And just why should we listen to any "Catholic" organization that actively supported the Obama healthcare bill, as this one did?]

The association, which represents more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S., hasn’t done an evaluation of Hapenney’s study but has been told by representatives of Catholic health systems that it contains “gross errors,” Caesar said.  [So they condemn the study without even looking at it.]

Carl Middleton, vice president of theology and ethics for Catholic Health Initiatives, a Denver-based network of Catholic hospitals that includes St. Clare’s, agreed that an elective sterilization performed solely for contraceptive purposes would violate the bishops’ directives.

But he said the code that Hapenney zeroed in on is entered by hospital coding specialists, not physicians, and subject to human error.  [This is the best defense they could come up with?]“The code is used for billing, not moral analysis,” he said.

Hapenney, however, stands by her findings.

She said it’s important to understand that few Catholic hospitals today are under the direct control of the local diocese, as is the case with Saint Peter’s in New Brunswick.

Most are owned by religious orders or large health care systems, such as Catholic Health Initiatives and
Catholic Health East, which operates Lourdes Medical Center in Willingboro.

Because these networks encompass hospitals in multiple states, oversight by a local bishop can be difficult, although some bishops have taken action when information about allegedly unethical medical practices has come to light. In 2010, for instance, the bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Ore., revoked the church’s sponsorship of a local Catholic hospital over the issue of tubal ligations.

Pope Benedict XVI's Message on Temptation

Any time Pope Benedict XVI speaks, you can sure you will hear a profund message.  As I have noted before, he is truly one of the deepest thinkers of our time. 

His Holiness gave a message yesterday, February 16, on temptation.  I appreciate the way in which he describes the narrative from the Gospel of Mark, which was used in the Novus Ordo Mass, as "concise, devoid of the details that we read in the other two Gospels of Matthew and Luke."   

It is a relatively short message, but packed with spiritual gems.  This speech quotes from several sources, including St. Leo the Great and Thomas a Kempis "Imitation of Christ."  In doing so, the Pope attacks the root of all the problems in our society and around the world:  trying to live life apart from God.  He shows that the answer to all of our problems are found in Christ, who came into the world, took sin upon himself and overcame it for us.  Pope Benedict XVI also invokes our Blessed Mother, for just as she was with her Son in every step of his journey, so no spiritual journey on our part is complete without her.

Pope Benedict XVI's message:
Dear brothers and sisters!

On this first Sunday of Lent, we find that Jesus, after having received baptism in the River Jordan from John the Baptist (cf. Mk 1.9), he is tempted in the desert(cf. Mk 1:12-13). The narrative of St. Mark's is concise, devoid of the details that we read in the other two Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The desert of which we speak has different meanings. It may indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the "place" of man's weakness where there are no supports and certainties, where temptation becomes stronger. But it may also indicate a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt, where we can experience the presence of God in a special way. Jesus " remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk 1.13). St. Leo the Great says that "the Lord willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example" (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138 / A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215) .

What can this episode teach us? As we read in the Book of the Imitation of Christ, " as long as he lives, man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy" (Liber I, c. XIII , Vatican City 1982, 37), patience and humility to follow the Lord every day, learning to build our life not outside of Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation has always been present in human history to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.

Jesus proclaims that " This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1.15), He announces that something new happens in Him: God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love, God becomes incarnate and enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God. But this proclamation is accompanied by a corresponding request for such a great gift. In fact, Jesus adds: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1.15), it is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good. The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity.

Let us fervently beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany us on our Lenten journey with her protection and may She help impress the words of Jesus Christ upon our hearts and in our life, to convert ourselves to Him. I also commend to your prayers the week of Spiritual Exercises that I begin this evening with my collaborators of the Roman Curia.

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this moment of prayer. In these first days of Lent, I invite you to embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we do so, may the Lord accompany us, so that, at the end of Lent, we may worthily celebrate his victory on the cross. God bless all of you abundantly!

Tucker Carlson: Iran Deserves To Be Annihilated

The headlines in the news almost every day is about how evil Iran is, how they wish to "wipe Israel off the map", that they they are building a nuclear weapon, which we have been told for years could be launched at any moment.  The media and the government are telling us that Iran is the most evil regime in the world. 

Now conservative pundit Tucker Carlson tell us that Iran "deserves to be annihilated."  Wait a second!  Aren't we the ones condemning Iran because they want to destroy Israel, but yet we have the right to say Iran should be destroyed? 





Ah, but we just misunderstood poor Tucker.  As he explains in the video below, he actually misrepresented his own views.   He was actually urging caution because annihilating Iran might damage our economy.  It might cause oil to rise in price if we start bombing them.  He was mostly against the Iraq war, you know.  So give this poor guy a break, as he says here.  He is all for war under certain circumstances, but we're not very good at foreseeing the consequences.  He says he is hardly a peacenik, but he is not necessarily for indiscriminately bombing people. 



Tucker Carlson is a respected pundit for the conservative movement in this country.  But if his evil statements don't outrage everyone who hears them, then we are in even more trouble than I thought.  My fear is that there are many people in this country who agree with Carlson.  We are not at all concerned about the impact of war on innocent people but about the effect it will have on our economy and the price of oil. 

My beloved United States, the land of my birth, has become an evil country.  There is just no other way of putting it.  We are threatening the whole world if they don't agree with us.  We have merely to accuse them of only potentially being against us, and that gives us the right to turn our war machine on them.  We have become a despotic nation, imposing our beliefs on the rest of the world.  God help any nation who dares to disagree with the United States.  And the Republican and Democratic parties are in total conformity with this. 

We have sown the seeds for our own destruction.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday in Lent: Temptation

Today, the First Sunday of Lent, is considered to be the real beginning of Lent.  Starting today, in the Traditional Breviary, the Te Deum, which is normally said everyday at the end of Matins, is no longer said until Easter.  The first meditation for today from The Divine Intimacy, written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. is:

O Jesus, I withdraw in spirit with You into the desert; teach me how to fight the triple concupiscence of the flesh, pride and avarice. 
Today's Gospel, for both for the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Mass, is the temptation of the Lord by Satan.  Interestingly, the Traditional Mass takes the Gospel from Matthew 4:1-11, which gives a detailed account of the temptation.  The Novus Ordo Mass takes it from Mark:1:12-15, which merely says "He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him."  This is a major complaint of mine with the way the "new" church looks at temptation and sin.  Basically, they don't look at it, which is very damaging to souls. 

In the sermon at the Mass I attended today, Father commented on the fact that we had just gone through the most evil century in the history of mankind, citing the terrible bloodshed in the wars of the 20th Century, in which there was more blood spilled than had ever been seen in history, and also pointing out that the number of children killed in abortion in the United States alone would have been unheard of in any other time.  Father wondered how, in the face of such evil, so many people do not believe in the devil.  I think it is precisely because people no longer believe in the devil that he is able to so easily deceive them and have them do his bidding, and  thus we see the descent into evil as never seen before.  That is why I get so upset at the Novus Ordo Mass so often de-emphasizing the spiritual battle we are in and the fact that we must be aware of the war for our souls.  Why don't they put the full account of Christ's temptation in their Gospel reading?  Why not make people aware of sin and concupiscence?

Below is an excellent meditation from Fr. John Hardon, S.J. on the Temptation of Christ:

The Temptation of Christ by the Devil


Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Most of our meditation so far had been on the good angels. Certainly from Christ’s conception on to the beginning of His public ministry; it was the good angels who announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God, it was the good angels who told the shepherds of Christ’s birth, it was the good angels who ministered to His needs. But once Christ appeared public and began to proclaim the Gospel foretold to the shepherds by the angels, the evil spirits were aroused. The devils have remained very intelligent beings. They are clever, even cunning. In fact, the evil spirit who tempted Eve at the dawn of human history is described as a serpent. Over the years of teaching missiology, my students from Asia and Africa told me once missionaries enter a pagan territory and begin to proclaim the Gospel, the evil spirits who the pagans worship as their god become phenomenally active.

Not surprisingly then, St. Matthew who wrote his gospel for the converts from Judaism, gives us a detailed account of how Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted by the devil. The last thing the devil wants is converts to Christianity.

By now volumes of commentary have been written about this historic event in the life of Jesus Christ. Our plan here is to devote two meditations to Christ’s temptation by the devil. In the present meditation we shall concentrate on the narrative which is found in the gospels, for our purpose especially in St. Matthew, with an explanation of the meaning to understand what exactly took place when Christ was tempted. Our next meditation we will be to see the implications, the profound implications for our moral, spiritual, and collective lives of society which, I can honestly say, is being deeply penetrated by the evil spirit.

First then the narrative. There is a special significance in the context of Christ’s temptation by the devil. It occurs right after the short discourse on the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan. No sooner was Christ baptized and a voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” - that Christ underwent His demonic temptation.

Quoting from Matthew:

Now our explanatory commentary. When we speak of Christ being tempted, we must be very clear. Unlike us, Christ could not be tempted from within. Unlike us, He did not have a fallen human nature. Christ had no concupiscence. Christ had no sinful urges, either in His body or in His will. He could be tempted only from outside of Himself, either by the world or by the devil. The world tempted Christ to have Him deny who He really was, tempted Him to become what His contemporaries wanted Him to be, a military leader, wanted Him to conquer the despotical leaders. But Christ could be and was tempted by the evil spirit.

When we therefore say that Christ was tempted by the devil, we mean that the evil spirit actually thought he could seduce the Savior and lead Him into sin.

The evangelist tells us that Jesus began His public ministry by spending forty full days and forty full nights, without eating or drinking anything. He was therefore very hungry and very thirsty. We may say that Christ sustained Himself without bodily food or drink by working a miracle of sustenance, but, lets be honest, not without experiencing the pangs of forty days and forty nights of total fasting.

The devil was smart. He did not attempt to tempt Jesus until after the prolonged fast. The devil figured, “Ah, now is the time.” That is why the first temptation by the devil was to tempt Christ by appealing to His hunger. The devil surmised, but he did not know, whether Jesus was indeed the Son of God. On the devil’s side therefore, his tempting the Savior was also a test to discover Christ’s true identity. That is why the devil told Jesus, it was a conditional statement, Note the devil’s logic. The devil was not sure if Christ was the living God become man.

The Fathers of the Church again, who have so much to say about the good and evil spirits, said that the temptation to which the evil spirits succumbed, was their being told millennia in advance, that God would make a human race far below the angels by their natural gifts of mind and will, and that God would become a man. And the angels were foretold that they would have to worship this God man and adore Him as their master and Lord. And many of the angels, led by Lucifer, refused.

Back to the dialogue between Christ and Satan. The devil was not sure that Christ was the Son of God. So he made a condition. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Christ’s answer was very profound. Human beings have two levels of life, a life of the body and a life of the soul. We never die, only our bodies die. Our souls, once created, will last for eternity. The life of the body is sustained by such food as bread. The life of the soul is sustained by the only food that can keep the soul alive, it is sustained by the truth which God reveals, and which alone can nourish the human spirit. Without the truth, the spirit dies.

We might say the first temptation of Christ was to gluttony. Some commentators think so. I would say not really. But more profoundly, Christ’s temptation was a temptation to the pleasures of this world in preference to the joys that only the possession of God’s truth can provide. How this needs to be known. We are only as happy as we possess, live, and cherish the truth.

The second temptation of Christ was a strange one. The devil set the Savior on the pinnacle of a temple in Jerusalem. Again the doubt of the devil’s mind. He asked Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” Unlike the first temptation, this time the devil quotes from scripture and reminds Jesus what the Old Testament says in the Psalms. It is a Messianic promise that God would send His angels to protect the Messiah from suffering harm.

As before the devil was not sure that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. If He is the Son of God, so the devil thought, then He could throw Himself down from the top of the temple and suffer no harm. So the devil thought. It is imperative to understand the devil’s logic. He is profoundly smart, logical to the extreme. But everything depends on the first premise of the devil’s logic, is it the truth or is it a lie?

This time Christ quotes another passage from scripture, this time from Deuteronomy. Notice, in his first temptation of Christ, the devil did not quote from scriptures. But, smart demon that he is, Christ resisted the devil’s first temptation by quoting from the bible. The devil thought to himself, “I should have thought of this sooner. This time I too, will quote from the scriptures.” I repeat, the devil can tempt, presenting nothing less than the Word of God to mislead people from God. The Sacred Scriptures, quoted by Christ, warn us not to sin by presumption. It would be presumptuous to expect God to work a miracle because of our own whim or fancy. God works miracles on His conditions, not our own.

Tempting God is a strange expression. It can mean many things. In this context, tempting God would be putting God to the test, saying in effect, “If you are really the God you claim to be, then you will do what only God can perform.” That is the crime of tempting God.

The devil was not finished. You might say, not surprisingly. In the third temptation, the devil does not start by saying that you are the Son of God. Rather he took the Savior to a very high mountain. On the high mountain from which a large view of the surrounding territory could be seen for miles up to the horizon. Commentators on the scriptures tell us that what the devil showed Christ was not only the land and the buildings surrounding a physical mountain in Palestine. It was a global view of all the kingdoms of the world and their majestic glory.

It was the devil’s last effort to tempt the Savior. But this time it was a temptation that only the devil, as the prince of this world, could offer. He told Jesus, “All these things I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

What was the devil telling our Lord? He was telling Him that as the one who is lord and master of the earthly pleasures that the kings of this world over the subjects, he would give everything to Christ on one condition. All Christ would have to do is fall on His knees and worship the evil spirit.

The history of the human race is a history of a conflict between two powers, the power of the devil over the worldly possessions of our planet, and the power of God over the humble souls who are willing to sacrifice everything in this world rather than abandon their service of God.

This was enough. Christ’s reply has become one of the most known imperatives in the human language, “Begone, Satan!” The devil could just go so far, and no further. Christ told the demon, again quoting from the scriptures, that there are two kinds of adoration that human beings can practice: either adoring the evil spirit as the ruler of this world, or adoring the true God, who is the only One whom we may serve.

St. Augustine’s City of God is the masterpiece in Christian literature explaining through a score of chapters what is the only real warfare that had ever been fought in world history. It is a war between the City of God, whose Leader is Christ, the Son of God; and the City of Man, whose master is Lucifer.

We are so accustomed to thinking of idolatry as an ancient form of paganism that no longer exists. The exact contrary is the truth. Idolatry in the modern world is widespread. It is nothing less than the worship of Self, inspired by the father of lies who tells people it is their will which they are to follow; it is their choices they are to make; it is their world in which they are living, and not the fantasy that religious zealots picture as created and ruled by an infinite God.

Prayer

Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the universe, protect us from the wiles of the evil spirit, teach us to follow your example of humility in submitting our wills to the will of your divine Son. He conquered the evil spirit and gave us the grace to follow His example. Amen.
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