Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Abortion: Obama vs. Romney

In 2004, Alan Keyes ran against Barack Obama for US Senator in Illinois.  The Obama machine successfully painted Ambassador Keyes (US ambassador to the UN from 1981-1985), who is a devout pro-life Catholic, as a kook and extremist, and took advantage of the fact that he was from out of state to call him a carpetbagger.  Obama won that race, and used that position to run for US President in 2008, just 3 short years after being sworn in as US Senator.  We now have the most inexperienced and at the same time, the most radical President in the White House this country has ever seen.  

Ambassador Keyes has tried to warn us about Barack Obama and the harm he will do to this country.    Below is a video from a debate between Barack Obama and Ambassador Keyes when they were running for senator.

Now Dr. Keyes has written an excellent editorial for Renew America in which he discusses the troubling positions of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on the issue of abortion.  I have posted his opinion piece below.

October 22, 2012 
Regarding abortion: what both Obama and Romney want us to forget

By Alan Keyes
A story reports that "Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has released a new television advertisement underscoring his support for abortion and contraception." According to the report, "the thirty second advertisement, geared toward women voters, features Sarah Minto, who outlines that she had concerns about Romney's 'extreme' abortion views until she realized that he wasn't completely opposed to abortion after all."
When I read reports about a candidate's stand on abortion, I do a little mental exercise that serves as a preliminary test of my judgment about its moral validity. I review the description of their stand, substituting the word "slavery" for the word "abortion." In this case, the result is a television advertisement that has Romney underscoring "his support for slavery..." and a voter relieved because "she had concerns about Romney's abolitionist views until she realized that he wasn't completely opposed to slavery after all."
To anyone who has bothered to review the consistent pattern of Romney's stance on abortion, this report should come as no surprise. But such a Romney campaign advertisement ought to be a wake-up call for all the supposedly pro-life "leaders" and voters comforting themselves with the false pretense that he's "pro-life."
Romney's stand on abortion is very like the stand on slavery taken by Abraham Lincoln's nemesis, Stephen Douglas. Throughout his career, Douglas took care to reassure the proponents of slavery that he was no abolitionist. He supported the rights of slave owners, and the prerogatives of the slave states. Douglas worshiped at the altar of "popular sovereignty." So he held to the view that justice is whatever the will of the majority says it is, even when the majority's will contradicts the premise of God-endowed right that is the basis for the majority's right to make such decisions (i.e., its right to government based upon consent).
It's ironic these days that the very people who clamor for "minority rights" when race or money are the rubric suddenly adopt the Douglas "majority rule" position on an issue like abortion. They are ready to decry the notion that might makes right when the rich and powerful abuse the poor and relatively powerless. But nascent children, bereft of every form of wealth or power but their simple humanity, may be murdered at the whim of individuals who happen to be stronger than they are, so long as a majority can be found willing to support or tolerate such murders.
Because Stephen Douglas was willing to tolerate restrictions on slavery established by majority whim, we could argue that he was not pro-slavery. The problem is, of course, that if one community makes slaves, and another community annuls what they have made, whose view determines when and whether a slave must be treated as such? Or, in the case of abortion, if one community makes human beings, and another denies their humanity, whose will determines when and whether their humanity must be respected? (As we will see, America's answer is that neither community gets to decide, for the Creator has already determined what both must respect.)
People like Mitt Romney assert that in this case or that the will of the majority of the people; or the majority of the judges and justices; or even the majority of one mother and one doctor ready to accept her rule, can strip away every human offspring's title of humanity. Yet the original claim to the title of humanity has the same basis for their offspring as it does for those who claim the right to murder them. If, on this basis, Romney and others hold that people may be treated as non-human for purposes of coldblooded murder, why do they pretend to deny that, on the same "majority rule" basis, people may be treated as non-human for the purposes of slavery, racial perfection, or religious purity? Of course they will indignantly exclaim that "Racism and religious fanaticism are unacceptable grounds for inhumanity." But it's patently absurd to suggest that lust, ambition, and personal convenience are acceptable motives for inhumanity, but not the desire to perfect the species or assure its path to eternal salvation. It's plainly irrational to pretend that humanity may be abused so that perishable individuals can feel free, by all means, to make money and fornicate, but not so that the species as a whole can perfect itself for all eternity.
Eventually, of course, the illogic of this irrational absurdity will give way to the more consistent and plainly evil logic hidden within it. Today, people like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney pretend they are just offering some individuals the right to sweep aside the constraints implied by our respect for common humanity. But we live still in the shadow of fanatical political, social, and religious ideologies who claim that right on behalf of the progress or salvation of humanity itself. When asserted on the strength of these more comprehensive motives, all the imperious reasons for totalitarian inhumanity are again unleashed (as they were in the 20th century), motives such as: perfecting the evolution of the race; fulfilling the project of History; or converting all people to a path that leads humanity to godhood.
I cringe when I hear the rhetoric (either malicious or simply stupid) that characterizes opposition to all dehumanizing murder as an "extremist" view. So now the people who believe that dehumanizing murder "should be an option," in this case or that, are the "moderates"? With the massive atrocities of the 20th century still fresh in human experience; with the spirit of terrorist atrocity every day overshadowing our lives, what madness possesses those who think that the license thus given to individuals to murder millions of human offspring will not soon again extend itself to renew the open, systematic slaughter aimed generally at all rest of the children of men who refuse some goal of the collective will?
I stand by the principles of America's founding largely because they articulate an understanding of justice that precludes the sick delusion that it can ever be right or optimal to read some people out of the human race so that others may have license to abuse and murder them. Whether they are many or few, whether they are powerful or weak, whether they are spurred by overweening pride and ambition, or by justifiable resentment against the abuses such pride and ambition can cause, people have no authority to take away what it is never in their power to alter or abolish. That authority belongs to the Creator God, and God alone.
It's telling that these days, the loudest complaints against those who invoke God's authority in the way America's founders did, come from people who are, even as they speak, asserting the right to act like God when it comes to authorizing dehumanizing murders. Perhaps the most salutary effect of the founders' acknowledgement of God's authority is that it reveals the lie at the heart of any human claim to wield such authority. To anyone who wishes to usurp the Creator's throne, whether it be a tyrant dictator or a tyrant people; or a tyrant dictator claiming to act for the people, there is one right the American people may always claim with certainty, and with certainty never surrender, and that is the right to tell them, by word and deed, that they are wrong. But what Obama, Romney and all the proponents of dehumanizing murder, in any case, really want us to forget is this: We cannot claim the right, from God, to limit abuses of right by others unless, for God's sake, we first exercise the right by limiting our own abuses.
As I have posted, I will be voting for Mitt Romney, more as a vote against Obama than for Romney.  But I'm not kidding myself as far as Ronney's positions are concerned.  We should not be surprised at Romney's positions on abortion.  Just a few years ago he was completely pro choice, saying he would always support a woman's "right to choose."  We can't be sure if he has truly changed his position or just taken a politically expedient stand on abortion when he now says he would like to see Roe v. Wade  overturned. However, we must be realistic.  Romney has actually told us that the issue of abortion is not part of his agenda.  We need to listen to that and realize that in all probability, nothing in regard to abortion is going to change under a Romney administration.

The reason I am voting is because I am convinced that it is my Catholic obligation to vote.  But I still believe that the only way real and important change will come to this country and that the only salvation for our country is getting on our knees before our Creator, repenting of the evils in our land and begging His forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Faith: God Reaching Out To Man

God reaching out to Adam by Michelangelo
This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates in us – through the working of the Holy Spirit – the proper conditions for us to recognize his Word. God himself, in his will to reveal himself to us, to enter into contact with us and to make himself present in history, enables us to listen to him and to receive him.
Pope Benedict XVI

I went to a great talk this past Saturday given by a priest on the meaning of the Year of Faith, which just began on October 11, 2012.  The priest, Rev. Justin Wylie who is an Attaché of the Vatican to the United Nations gave this talk.  Father Wylie is originally from South Africa  (living in New York does have its advantages when you can hear such good and holy priests from around the world).  Father Wylie gave us a profound definition of faith that I had not really considered before.  He said that faith is not us reaching up to God.  We can't.  The gap between men and God is too great.  Faith is when God reaches down to us.  There is nothing we can do to create faith.  It is given to us by God.  Our part is to say yes and be open to this great gift.  Our Blessed Mother showed us the way when she answered and said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, Be it done unto me according to your word."  As you can see from the quote above, this is completely in line with the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI.

On October 18 in St. Peter's Square, the Vicar of Christ gave the first of a series of talks on the Year of Faith.  He showed how essential faith is in living our daily lives.  He told us that faith affects every part of our lives:  "Faith in the Lord is not something that affects only our minds, the realm of intellectual knowledge; rather, it is a change involving the whole of our existence."  When the Holy Father is telling us that we must strengthen our faith, he is telling us we must strengthen our relationship with our Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is always there and waiting for us to answer His call.  I think of the thief who hung on the cross next to our Lord.  As soon as he said "Lord remember me," Christ, despite all the physical, emotional and mental anguish he was experiencing, immediately answered the thief and said, "This day you will be with me in Paradise."  The thief didn't have any book knowledge about Christ.  He most likely did not even fully comprehend that Jesus was the Son of God become man.  He had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.  He now knew he was in the presence of a God who could forgive, and it profoundly changed him.  That is the definition of faith.

Below is the translation from Zenit of the talk given by Pope Benedict XVI about the Year of Faith.

On A New Series of Audiences for The Year of Faith

 "With Faith, Everything Changes in Us and for Us"
Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to introduce a new series of catecheses that will be developed throughout the course of the newly inaugurated Year of Faith and that, for the time being, will interrupt the series dedicated to the school of prayer. I called this special Year with the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, so that the Church might experience a renewed enthusiasm in her faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, reawaken her joy in walking on the way he has pointed out to us, and witness in a tangible way to the transforming power of faith.  [The Holy Father has just stated the three main goals for the Church in the Year of Faith:  (1) to renew our enthusiasm for our faith in Christ, (2) awaken our joy in the Christian walk, and (3) witness, i.e., evangelize the "transforming power" of our faith.]
The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is an important occasion to [I] return to God, [II] to deepen and to live one’s faith more courageously, [III] to strengthen one’s sense of belonging to the Church, the “teacher of humanity” [all truth originates with the Catholic Church], who through the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the Sacraments and deeds of charity leads us to encounter and to know Christ, true God and true man. It is an encounter not with an idea or a plan of life, but with a living Person, who profoundly transforms us from within by revealing to us our true identity as children of God.  [Christianity, unlike any other religious belief, is not just an idea or a philosophy.  It is a relationship with the Second Person of the Trinity.  Although it is vital that we learn the beliefs and dogmas of the Catholic Church, it is not book knowledge that will create faith.  It is not ideas and beliefs which transform us but our personal encounter with Christ which comes through the Church.  John 6:53 - "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."  That is why the most illiterate peasant who can't even read and write can be as great a saint or even greater than the greatest of intellectuals such as St. Thomas Aquinas.
Encountering Christ [not just ideas and philosophy] renews our human relationships by directing them, day by day, to a greater solidarity and fraternity, in accord with the logic of love. Faith in the Lord is not something that affects only our minds, the realm of intellectual knowledge; rather, it is a change involving the whole of our existence: our feelings, heart, mind, will, body, emotions and human relationships. With faith, everything changes in us and for us, and it reveals clearly our future destiny, the truth of our vocation in history, the meaning of our lives, the joy of being pilgrims en route to our heavenly homeland.
But - we ask ourselves - is faith really the transforming power of our lives, of my life? Or is it just one part of life, without being the deciding factor that involves it completely? Through these catecheses for the Year of Faith, we will journey along a path to strengthen or to rediscover the joy of faith, by learning that faith is not something foreign and disconnected from real life but rather, it is its very soul. Faith in a God who is love, and who drew near to man by becoming incarnate and giving himself on the Cross to save us and reopen the doors of Heaven, tells us clearly that man’s fullness consists in love alone.
Today, as ongoing cultural transformations often reveal forms of savagery passing under the sign of “conquests of civilization”, it needs to be repeated clearly: faith affirms that there is no true humanity except in the places, in the acts, in the times and in the ways in which man is animated by the love that comes from God, is expressed as a gift and is manifested in relationships rich in love, compassion, care and disinterested service for the other. [Psalm 127:1 states that, "Unless the Lord shall build the house (i.e., our lives and our world), the weary builders toil in vain."] Where there is domination, possessiveness, exploitation and commodification of the other brought about by egoism; where the arrogance of the ‘I’ closed in upon itself exists, there man is impoverished, degraded and disfigured. Christian faith, which is active in love and strong in hope, does not limit life but rather humanizes it and indeed, makes it fully human.
Faith means welcoming this transforming message into our lives; it means receiving the revelation of God, who lets us know who He is, how he acts and what his plans are for us. To be sure, the mystery of God forever remains beyond the capacity of our concepts and our reason, our rites and our prayers. And yet, by his revelation God himself communicates with us, he tells us about himself and he makes himself accessible. And we are enabled to listen to his Word and to receive his truth. This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates in us – through the working of the Holy Spirit – the proper conditions for us to recognize his Word. God himself, in his will to reveal himself to us, to enter into contact with us and to make himself present in history, enables us to listen to him and to receive him. [Faith is not something that we do, it is something God does to us.  As Father Wylie said, faith is not us reaching up to God, it is God bridging the gap and reaching out to us.]  St. Paul expresses it with joy and gratitude in this way: “We thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
[The Holy Father now reveals that God has never separated Himself from man, even when man was in a sinful state and in complete rebellion.]  God has revealed himself in words and deeds throughout the course of a long history of friendship with man, culminating in the Incarnation of the Son of God and in his mystery of death and resurrection. God not only revealed himself in the history of a people; he not only spoke by means of the prophets, but he crossed the threshold of Heaven to enter the land of men as a man, so that we might encounter him and listen to him. And from Jerusalem, the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation spread to the ends of the earth. The Church, born from the side of Christ, became the bearer of a new and firm hope: Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, the Savior of the world, who is seated at the right hand of the Father and who is judge of the living and the dead. This is the kerigma, the central and unsettling proclamation of the faith.
Yet from the beginning there arose the problem of the “rule of faith”, i.e. of the faithfulness of believers to the truth of the Gospel, in which they were to stand firm, and to the saving truth about God and man, which was to be guarded and handed on. St. Paul writes: “Through it [the Gospel] you are also being saved, IF you hold fast to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you will have believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:2).  [Our Lord gives us the wonderful gift of faith, of a transforming personal relationship with Him, but unless we do our part, which is to continually saying "yes" to Him, it will all be in vain.]
[Here the Holy Father shows that the foundation of everything we believe is spelled out in the Creed.] But where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully transmitted and that are light for our daily lives? The answer is simple: in the Creed, in the Profession of Faith, or the Symbol of Faith, we reconnect with the original event of the Person and history of Jesus of Nazareth. It makes concrete what the Apostle to the Gentiles said to the Christians at Corinth: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3).
[The Holy Father explains why the Creed is so important to the strengthening of our faith.]  Today, too, we need the Creed to be better known, understood and prayed. Above all, it is important that the Creed be “recognized”, as it were. For knowing can be a merely intellectual act, while “recognizing” involves discovering the profound connection between the truths that we profess in the Creed and our daily lives, such that that these truths truly and tangibly become – as they have always been – (1) light for the steps of our lives, (2) water that quenches our burning thirst along our journey, and (3) life that overcomes some of the deserts of our modern day. The moral life of the believer is grafted onto the Creed, and it finds its foundation and justification therein.

It is no accident that Blessed John Paul II wanted the Catechism of the Catholic Church - a secure norm for teaching the faith and a reliable source for a renewed catechesis - to be patterned after the Creed. It was a matter of confirming and protecting the central core of the truths of the faith, while putting it into language more intelligible for men of our own times, for us. It is the Church’s duty to transmit the faith and to communicate the Gospel, so that Christian truths may shed light on new cultural transformations, and so that Christians may be able to make a defense for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Peter 3:14).
[The Holy Father now shows us the emptiness of modern culture, the spiritual and emotional hollowness of which our society is now comprised] Today we live in a society that has changed profoundly, even compared with the recent past, and that is in constant motion. The process of secularization and a widespread nihilistic mentality, according to which everything is relative, have had a profound impact on the general mindset. Thus, life is often lived lightly without clear ideals and solid hopes, and within fluid and passing family and social ties. Above all, the new generations are not being formed to seek the truth and the profound meaning of life that goes beyond all that is passing. Nor are they being formed to have stable affections and attachments, and to trust. On the contrary, relativism leads to having no firm foundation. Suspicion and inconstancy cause ruptures in human relationships, while life is lived in experiments that do not last, without assuming responsibility. If individualism and relativism seem to dominate the minds of many of our contemporaries, it cannot be said that believers remain totally immune to these dangers by which we are confronted in handing on the faith. The survey promoted on all the continents for the celebration of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, highlighted some of these dangers: a faith lived in a passive or private manner, failure to educate in the faith, the fracture between life and faith.
[The Holy Father now shows the failures in the contemporary Catholic Church and why there is so much disunity in the Church] Today, Christians often do not even know the core of their own Catholic faith, the Creed. This can leave the door open to certain syncretism and religious relativism that lacks clarity about the truths we must believe and about Christianity’s unique power to save [the Holy Father alluding to the fact that salvation comes only from the Catholic church, the Church founded by Jesus Christ]. Today we are not so far away from the risk of building a “do-it-yourself” religion. We must instead return to God, to the God of Jesus Christ. We must rediscover the message of the Gospel and make it enter more deeply into our consciences and into our daily lives.
Fewer and fewer Catholics attend Mass
In the catecheses for the Year of Faith, I would like to offer help for the journey, for taking up and exploring the central truths of the faith about God, about man, about the Church, about the whole social and cosmic reality, by meditating and reflecting on the statements of the Creed. And I would like for it to become clear that the content or truths of faith (fides quae – “faith which”) are directly connected to our lives, that they require a conversion of our lives, that they give birth to a new way of believing in God (fides qua – “faith by which”). Knowing God, meeting him, exploring the features of His Face, brings our lives into play, for He enters into the deep dynamics of being human.
May the journey we will make this year cause us all to grow in faith and love for Christ, so that we may learn to live, in our choices and daily actions, the good and beautiful life of the Gospel. Thank you.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Catholic's Obligation To Vote

I have been posting throughout this election season that there is no real choice between the two parties, and that it is basically a waste of time to even bother voting.  I have had many discussions with very good and devout Catholics who have tried to convince me just how wrong I am, that it is our Catholic duty to vote.  I have given this subject a good amount of thought and prayer, and after doing some research, I am convinced that as a Catholic, it is our obligation to vote, especially when faced with such blatant evil as we see in Barack Obama and the Democratic party.

So I am here and now doing a "mea culpa", meaning "I was wrong", sort of.  I'm still not convinced that when you take away all the trappings that there is a whole lot of difference between the Democrats and Republicans, but there is no denying that the Republicans at least say all the right things, while the Democrats are so far out that they can't even be considered.  So even though I will have to hold my nose, I am going to vote in this election, and for president, I will, of course, vote the Romney/Ryan ticket, more as a vote against Obama than a vote for Romney, because not to vote at all is the same as casting a vote for Barack Obama.

Catholic Apologetics gives an excellent explanation of why Catholics are obligated to vote:
In an allocution to the Congress of the International Union of Catholic Women’s Leagues, September 11, 1947, the Pope [Pius XII] spoke of the gravity of the obligation for all. He insisted that those who would not take part would be guilty of serious sin. “There is a heavy responsibility on everyone, man or woman, who has the right to vote, especially when the interests of religion are at stake; abstention in this case, in itself, it should be thoroughly understood, is a grave and fatal sin of omission. On the contrary, to exercise well, one’s right to vote is to work effectively for the good of the people, as loyal defenders of God and of the Church.”
Catholic Apologetics goes on to give us more examples of prelates who declare voting to be an obligation all all Catholics:
In the important elections of June, 1951, nearly all the bishops of France issued pastoral letters on the duty of voting. In printing a selection of these statements, La Croix said it was impossible to quote them all. They were cast in similar terms, insisting (1) upon the duty of voting and (2) upon the duty of voting only for those candidates who were prepared to support spiritual values and in particular to support a true freedom of choice in education that would make it possible for parents to send their children to Catholic Schools. Such were the statements of Cardinal Gerlier and Cardinal Lienhart. 
Archbishop Feltin of Paris said that to abstain was treason. [82] Archbishop Richaud of Bordeaux declared that no one was free from grave sin for not voting unless it were actually impossible for him to do so.  Archbishop Lefebre of Bourges said there was no excuse for abstaining simply because one had been disappointed with the performance of a party in which he had placed his hopes.  Bishop Jaquin of Moulins reminded his flock that none could do anything that would favor Communism, while Bishop Mathieu of Aire and Dax declared that it was not enough simply to register a vote against Communism, since the French Socialist Party had always shown a constant malevolent opposition to Catholic ideals. 
When the French people failed to vote in the elections of October 7, 1951, several members of the Hierarchy issued statements condemning such indifference. Cardinal Gerlier, Archbishop of Lyons, and Cardinal Lienart, Bishop of Lille, were particularly outspoken. “To vote,” said Cardinal Lienart, “is a serious obligation, abstention from which would be a sin. Each person has one vote. If he does not express his wishes by casting his ballot, it is equivalent to giving an extra vote to the opposition. One does not escape his responsibilities as a citizen by not voting, he increases them.” 
There is absolutely no way for a Catholic in good conscience to vote for Barack Obama or 99.99% of the Democratic Party in the United States.  As I have shown in other posts, they are the party of death, not only supporting but actually celebrating such issues as abortion, contraception and homosexuality, all in direct defiance of the Catholic Church and the Law of Almighty God.  Whatever good they may promote is completely overshadowed by their anti-morality, anti-God positions.

So we are left with the Republicans.  I have complained mightily here that I feel they are really no different than the Democrats.  They give lip service to what is right and good, but they never seem to follow through.  The GOP Presidential Candidate, while proclaiming to be pro life, says he supports abortion in cases of rape, incest and the health and life of the mother.  He supports homosexuals in the Boy Scouts, he supports same sex civil unions as long as they are not called marriage.  He supports the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the president the legal right to imprison any American for an indefinite length of time with no charge and no trial.  I find many of Mitt Romney's views to be troubling, to say the least.

BUT, and this is a huge BUT, in contrast to his opponent, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is a breath of fresh air.  Barack Obama is the personification of complete opposition to everything the Catholic Church supports and teaches.  And in no surprise, he is a direct enemy of the Catholic Church, trying to force us to go against our own teachings.  He is surrounded by apostate Catholics, such as Kathleen Sibelius, the HHS Secretary who is enforcing the HHS Mandate and Vice President Joe Biden, who publicly supported same sex marriage even before Barack Obama did, and who says that while he supports the pro life teachings of the Church, he cannot impose those views on others.

As Catholics, we have only one choice in this presidential election, and it ain't the Democrats.  Mitt Romney, for all his faults, did pick one of the most pro-life Catholic politicians available as his running mate - Rep. Paul Ryan.  He is a good and devout Catholic who I believe can be counted on to always support the teachings of the Church.  I have certainly disagreed with some of his actions, but when compared to the Democrats, he is like an angel of God.

The Catholic Church itself is restrained from telling us specifically whom we should support.  But as Bishop John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois told us:
I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.
To sum up, we are told by the Church that we have a responsibility to vote, and we are also told that our choice could literally affect our own personal salvation.

I am still not totally convinced that there is any real difference among Democratic and GOP leaders. But at least the Republicans do not overtly support anti-life and anti-Catholic values.  And there are most definitely those GOP candidates who have shown great courage in going against the mainstream, such as Todd Akin of Missouri and Joe Walsh of Illinois, who just recently said that abortion is wrong in all situations.

I have looked at the presidential candidates, and have come to the conclusion that despite my misgivings about Mitt Romney, not to vote for him is to vote for Barack Obama, and I cannot do that.  Barack Obama is the personification of everything for which I, as a Catholic, stand in complete opposition.  To give Barack Obama another four years is to condemn our nation to total destruction.  Mitt Romney will not solve all of our problems.  He may not solve any of our problems, but I do believe a Romney/Ryan administration will give us a reprieve and mitigate some of the terrible punishment that is due our nation for turning its back on God.

To quote again from Catholic Apologetics:
In a discourse to the Pastors and Lenten Preachers of Rome March 16, 1946, [Pope Pius XII] gave this advice:
The exercise of the right to vote is an act of grave responsibility, at least when there is the question involved of electing those whose office it will be to give the country its constitutions and its laws, particularly those which effect, for example, the sanctification of feast days, marriage, family life and school, the various phases of social life. It therefore falls to the Church to explain to the faithful their moral duties which derive from their right to vote. [11]
To the same body of clergy he spoke two years later (March 10, 1948) and with even more emphasis. His words were the following:
It is your right and duty to draw the attention of the faithful to the extraordinary importance of the coming elections and to the moral responsibility which follows from it for those who have the right to vote. In the present circumstances it is strictly obligatory for whoever has the right, man or woman, to take part in the elections. He who abstains, particularly through indolence or cowardice, commits thereby a grave sin, a mortal offense.
On November 6, I will be going to the polls along with millions of other Americans to cast my vote.  If you are a Catholic, you are under obligation to do the same.

Hold your nose and get out there and vote.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stop Blaming the Bishops

A Pew survey was recently done which found that for the first time in our history, Protestantism is no longer the majority religion in the United States.  The fastest growing religion in our county is the "unaffiliated", which includes those who identify themselves as atheist, agnostic and "nothing in particular."   This study found that "about 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the past five years."

For years we have heard people say, "I'm spiritual, but not religious."  I personally think that's a cop out, but at least it showed a belief in some sort of God.  Now even that pretense is being dropped by a growing number of people:  "In 2007, 60 percent of people who said they seldom or never attend religious services still identified themselves as part of a particular religious tradition. In 2012, that statistic fell to 50 percent, according to the Pew report."

Below is a chart showing the breakdown in religious beliefs in the United States, and how it has profoundly changed in the past five years.  As you can can see, Christian belief in general has gone down 5%, equaling the drop in Protestant affiliation.  Catholics have dropped 1%.  The "unaffiliated" have risen steadily over the last five years, from 15.3% to now just under 20%.  That means 1 in 5 Americans have no religious belief, nothing to guide them morally.   It is then only logical that "Pew found Americans with no religion support abortion rights and gay marriage at a much higher-rate than the U.S. public at large."  And we wonder why society's morals are in the toilet?

And according to this study, the future does not look promising:
More growth in “nones” is expected. One-third of adults under age 30 have no religious affiliation, compared with 9 percent of people 65 and older. Pew researchers wrote that “young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives,” and aren’t expected to become more religiously active as they age.

Even more frightening, as seen in the chart below, is the fact that among the "nones", those who have no religious affiliation, 88% are not even looking for something to believe in. 

How did the United States, a nation's whose founding documents say that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights come to the point where so many not only don't believe in God, they aren't even looking for Him?

The answer can be found in the crisis of faith in the Catholic Church.

Symbol of the Catholic
Church showing the Keys
given to Peter
The Catholic Church is the one and only church founded by Jesus Christ  It is the only one to whom the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given.  All other religions were founded by men.  Only one was founded by our Creator and Redeemer.

All truth and light comes into the world through that one Church founded by Jesus Christ.  As Christ told us in John 15:5, "I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing."  As our Lord also told us in John 8:11, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Since Christ has only one church, if we are to walk in the light and bear fruit, we must be a part of that church in some way.

Walking in darkness
But what happens when those who are a part of that one true Church, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, turn their backs on the Truth and Light?  What happens when large parts of the Mystical Body of Christ fall off the cliff and buy into the pluralism that is plaguing the world, a pluralism that says one belief is as good as another?  Our Lord told us in John 6:22-23:   "The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single [that is, unified], thy whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be!"  Vast numbers of the Catholic Church are no longer single or unified with the Magesterium, and much of the light given by the Church has become darkness, leaving the world in darkness.

The question is, what has caused this lack of unity?

I have done a lot of posts on this blog about the many priests, bishops and religious who have seemingly turned their backs on Church teaching and the Magesterium, from allowing pro-abortion Catholic politicians to receive communion, to accepting and in some cases actually promoting homosexuality, to allowing and even committing abuses in the Mass, to name just a couple of offenses.  As seen in the picture of the "nuns on the bus," far too many of the clergy and religious in the Church seem more concerned about the physical salvation of the world than about the salvation of souls.

Seeing this, many of us are quick to get on our high horse and point the finger at these priests and bishops, and some even dare to condemn our Holy Father, for this crisis of faith in the Church.  We say they just don't teach the faith anymore, never bringing up the important issues of the day such as abortion and homosexuality. They are poor examples of what it means to be Catholic.  We say the priests are not being properly taught in the seminaries, and it is their fault that the laity are not being properly catechized.  And, of course, the horrific sex abuse scandal in the church is always thrown out to undermine the authority of the bishops  But is it right to lay all the blame for the crisis of faith in the Church at the feet of the bishops and the Holy Father?

I recently came across the following quote:
Oh, what terrible harm, what terrible harm is wrought in religious (I am referring now as much to men as to women) when the religious life is not properly observed; when of the two paths that can be followed in a religious house -- one leading to virtue and the observance of the Rule and the other leading away from the Rule --  both are frequented almost equally! No, I am wrong: they are not frequented equally, for our sins cause the more imperfect road to be more commonly taken; being the broader, it is the more generally favoured. The way of true religion is frequented so little that, if the friar and the nun are to begin to follow their vocation truly, they need to be more afraid of the religious in their own house than of all the devils. They must observe greater caution and dissimulation when speaking of the friendship which they would have with God than in speaking of other friendships and affections promoted in religious houses by the devil. I cannot think why we should be astonished at all the evils which exist in the Church, when those who ought to be models on which all may pattern their virtues are annulling the work wrought in the religious Orders by the spirit of the saints of old. May His Divine Majesty be pleased to find a remedy for this, as He sees needful. Amen
Pretty scathing words, don't you think?  This pretty well describes the root of the crisis in the Church, right?  I think most of us would nod our heads in agreement that this is an apt description of the present crisis in the church. 

St. Teresa of Avila
It might surprise you to learn that these words are from the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila written in the 16th Century. The truth is that there has always been a crisis of faith among the clergy and religious in the Church to one degree or another.  Almost all heresies have started among the clergy.  One of the very greatest of the heresies in church history - Protestantism - was started by a priest, Martin Luther.  When King Henry VIII declared himself supreme head of the Church of England, all of the Catholic bishops with one exception - St. John Fisher - assented.  When Pope Pius X spoke out and wrote against the heresy of modernism, this spiritual disease was found mainly among the clergy, not among the laity.

There has always been a greater or lesser crisis of faith among the clergy and religious. just recently gave us these quotes from St. John Chrysostom, who lived in the Fourth Century:
“The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”

“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”

“I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.”
So what is the difference today?  If it is true that the clergy and religious have always been somewhat off the rails in the church, why does the crisis in the Church seem so much worse at our time?

The Church has never at any time seen such a major crisis of faith among the laity as seen today.  Bad priests, bad bishops, even bad popes have come and gone, but the laity have always remained strong in the church.  The laity with their faith and devotion have always been the ones to hold up the clergy.  But now that base is crumbling before our eyes in a way never seen before.

The Holy Father recently announced the Year of Faith, which began on October 11, as an attempt to get Catholics to learn their faith, of which so many Catholics are blatantly ignorant.  To quote Pope Benedict XVI from a public audience given on October 17, “Christians today often do not even know the central core of their Catholic faith.”  Among those who identify themselves as Catholics in the US, only about 20% attend weekly Mass.  They rarely go to Confession, they pick and choose which teachings of the Church they will accept, e.g. contraception and abortion.  54% of Catholics voted for pro-abortion Barack Obama in 2008, and while the number is somewhat lower in 2012, there are still over 40% of Catholics supporting Obama.

And yet these same Catholics, ignorant of their faith and more times than not unaccepting of the little they do know of what the Church teaches, are some of the most vocal opponents to the bishops.  We are not hearing one unified voice in the Church but a cacophony of voices, each trying to yell louder and drown out all the others. Far too many of us are not seeking God's will but our own.  When we see something we disagree with, we don't deal with it in prayer and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Instead, we yell and protest to show our dissatisfaction.  We look for the approval and guidance of the world, and the light of the Church grows ever dimmer while the darkness engulfs us.

It is interesting to look back on Church history and see how the church reacted when challenged with a crisis of some kind.  An absolutely wonderful movie came out this last summer about the horrendous oppression of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920's called, "For Greater Glory."  This movie told the story of the Catholic Church's fight against the Masonic Mexican government's attempt to destroy the Church.   The bishops in Mexico alone could not have withstood this assault on the Church.  The laity, who called themselves Cristeros, took it upon themselves to literally fight for their church.  The cry of the Cristeros was "Viva Cristo Rey". which means "Long Live Christ the King."  They fought long and hard, willing to spill their blood and die for their Church and their beliefs.  They put down their weapons only when they were told to do so by the Vatican, and the government then betrayed them by continuing the persecution.  They paid a heavy price.  According to Wikipedia:
On 27 June 1929, the church bells rang in Mexico for the first time in almost three years. The war had claimed the lives of some 90,000 people: 56,882 on the federal side, 30,000 Cristeros, and numerous civilians and Cristeros who were killed in anticlerical raids after the war ended. As promised by Portes Gil, the Calles Law remained on the books, but no organized federal attempts to enforce it took place. Nonetheless, in several localities, officials continued persecution of Catholic priests based on their interpretation of the law. In 1992, the Mexican government amended the constitution by granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property rights and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country.
There are many, many amazing stories of devotion and heroism among the Cristeros.  One of those stories is  is that of 14-year Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio, who was captured and tortured by the Mexican government in an attempt to force him to renounce Catholicism.  Again, from Wikipedia:
José's killing was witnessed by two childhood friends. One of those friends, Father Marcial Maciel, reported in a book he later authored that José was "captured by government forces," who ordered him to "renounce his faith in Christ, under threat of death. He refused to accept apostasy".

Father Maciel recalled the gruesome events that transpired after the government's failure to break José's resolve on the evening of February 10, 1928: "Consequently they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery. They also at times cut him with a machete until he was bleeding from several wounds. He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, 'If you shout, "Death to Christ the King" we will spare your life.' José would only shout, 'I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey!'" When they reached the place of execution, his captors stabbed him numerous times with bayonets. The commander was so furious that he pulled out his pistol and shot José. Moments before his death, the boy drew a cross in the dirt and kissed it.
Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio and all the thousands of other Cristeros who died while protecting their church were a great inspiration then and continue so to this day, especially now when we face religious persecution right here in the United States.  I have previously quoted the Venerable Fulton Sheen:
Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops and religious. It is to you, the people (LAITY). You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act as priests, your bishops like bishops, and your religious act like religious.
Venerable Fulton Sheen
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, that great and holy voice of the Catholic Church in the 20th Century, has told us in one sentence both the root of the crisis of faith and the solution.  A 14-year old Mexican martyr holds the key to our problems.

Many in the church, especially among so-called "traditional" Catholics (of which I would include myself), tend to point our fingers at the bishops and priests and say it's all their fault. They're all a bunch of liberals who are trying to undermine the church.  But as I have shown, this is nothing new in the Church.  The priests and bishops are on the spiritual front line, directly in the line of fire of our enemies, and sometimes they become casualties.  But that is all the more reason why we need to stand behind and support them.  Just as the bishops alone could could not withstand the onslaught of the Mexican government in the 1920's, so the bishops and priests cannot stand up alone against the evil infecting our world today.  Our Lord made us one Body, dependent upon each other.  "A house divided cannot stand."

There is an old saying that when you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you.  It is our responsibility as the laity to hold the bishops and priests accountable for their actions and words, but the only way we can do that is to be sure that we ourselves are in line with the teaching of the Church.  We need to listen and take to heart the message of our Holy Father in this year of faith and learn the basic dogmas of the church.  We need to turn off the world and open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit, our Blessed Mother, the saints and angels - all of the many helps and guidance given to us by Holy Mother Church.

You will see this blog continue to hold the clergy and religious accountable for their actions.  As Bishop Sheen told us, that is our responsibility as the laity of the Church. But I hope that I will always do this in a prayerful and respectful attitude, one that is intending to build up, not tear down, shed light not darkness, and one that will always be in line with Catholic dogma.

The world is drowning today in misery and evil.  We see it everywhere we look.  I honestly don't know how the world can hold all of its misery.  And now we are seeing the death of Christianity right here in the United States.  Our Lord has told us that we are the light of the world, and a city set on a hill.  We who have received the great gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism have a responsibility to bring that faith to the rest of the world.  Our Lord gave His Life to save the world.  We must be willing to do the same, and we must stay unified with the Body of Christ to do this.  We must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Below is a video of interviews with surviving Cristeros who tell of the war against the Mexican government.  Their strong faith and devotion is evident all these many years later.  There is much we can learn from them.

Pray for us, Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio.  Viva Cristo Rey!

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