Sunday, April 13, 2014

Are We Judge Or Healer?

There has been a lot of buzz on Catholic websites and blogs during the last couple of weeks over two speakers at two different Catholic high schools. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P. gave a speech about Catholic teaching on sexuality to a Catholic high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sister Jane is an experienced speaker and has never met with controversy in any of her previous talks. However, this time something went wrong, and as the Charlotte Observer reported on April 2:
Nearly 1,000 parents gathered at Charlotte Catholic High School on Wednesday night to air complaints about a recent speech to students by a nun who made what many considered inflammatory comments about gays and lesbians, divorce and single parenthood.
So many parents lined up to speak that the meeting with high school officials, the school’s chaplain and the Diocese of Charlotte’s vicar of education lasted more than an hour longer than scheduled.
The article goes on to state:
Diocese spokesman David Hains acknowledged after the meeting that the Rev. Matthew Kauth, the school’s chaplain, apologized to the parents for a March 21 speech by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel that was not the one he expected her to give.
Hains also said the high school committed to developing new policies that would better scrutinize visiting speakers in the future. He said the school also wants to do a better job of communicating with parents ahead of time when such speeches will deal with sensitive subjects such as sexuality.
“Parents should have been better informed,” Hains said.
Most Catholic bloggers and websites immediately rushed to support Sister Jane against charges made by the parents and students of this high school. Father Z typified many of the responses by Catholic bloggers to this situation. I don't mean to pick on Father Z. I am using his posts because I think they are representative of the thinking of many Catholics. He posted several times on this issue, always in support of Sister Jane. On his first post, entitled, "Sister explains the situation. Spittle-flecked nutty, bullying, intimidation ensue" [HERE], Father Z wrote this:
This is [what] we are going to experience for a long-time, friends. If we Catholics (read: faithful to the teachings of the Church concerning faith and morals) actually dare to speak in public about the Church’s doctrine favorably or attempt to govern our lives by it, the blow-back will be instantaneous, relentless, savage.
There is one big problem with this statement:  neither Father Z nor anyone else who was not at Sister Jane's talk knows exactly what she said.  And we will never know specifically what she said because there was no recording and no transcript of her remarks.  As the title to Father Z's post implies, he feels, even though he does not know exactly what was said, that the problem is entirely with those who were in Sister Jane's audience, and it has nothing to do with her.

In a subsequent post entitled, "Nun Under The Bus", which you can read HERE, Father Z wrote:
I suspect [emphasis mine] that what happened, to build this up into such a thing, is that parents heard vague reports – I say vague because teens are such great sources of accuracy in reporting – about her remarks from their politically-correctly conditioned children and, stung in conscience, got out the pitchforks and torches.
This is a very inflammatory statement on Father Z's part, which he admits is based on assumption, not actual knowledge.   In this same post, Father Z ironically wrote, "Surely there is something of a mob mentality building, and swiftly."  Canonist Dr. Ed Peters was the first to comment, and he made a very wise statement:
My hunches are almost exactly like unto yours, but hunches don’t cut it in the kinds of battles around us now. No one who has not heard (apparently there is no recording) or who has not read (apparently there was no text) Sister’s talk CANNOT weigh in on what she said, for the simple reason that they don’t KNOW what she actually said. Lesson: Keep a record, people.
Unfortunately, neither Father Z nor any of his readers heeded this statement by Dr. Peters, as you will see if you read the comments.  

Sister Mary Sarah, O.P., President of Aquinas College, posted a statement [HERE] on the school website which read in part:
The events around the recent talk by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P. in Charlotte, NC have produced a great deal of speculation from many sides. Among the commentators, there are few who were actually present to hear the talk, which was not recorded.
. . .
We believe it is our privilege to bring the best aspects of our faith tradition to bear on the moral and cultural questions of the present age. In her presentation, Sister Jane Dominic spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals. Her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise. Sister is a trained theologian from a Pontifical University and has the credentials to contribute to scholarly bodies of work. This she has done in the past with distinction. The unfortunate events at Charlotte Catholic High School are not representative of the quality of Sister’s academic contributions or the positive influence that she has had on her students. The students at Charlotte Catholic were unprepared, as were their parents, for the topic that Sister was asked to deliver. The consequence was a complete misrepresentation of the school’s intention to bring a message that would enlighten and bring freedom and peace.
Of course, for those who already had their minds made up, this statement by Sister Mary Sarah will make no difference.  Typical of one comment from Father Z's post:
I am just a sinner who reads the CCC and tries his best to live the teachings of our Church. But from my perspective, and the available reporting, I would take Sr. Jane Dominic over Sr. Mary Sarah, hands down. As I recall, we are here to afflict the comfortable, not cater to their delusions.
Why do we feel we need to take sides? The person who posted does not know either Sr. Jane or Sr. Mary Sarah, yet he has already made up his mind that he will "take Sr. Jane Dominic over Sr. Mary Sarah, hands down." Why is he pitting one against another? Why is he making the judgment that Sr. Mary Sarah is somehow the "bad guy" in this situation?

Another very similar situation happened just recently involving Father Rocky Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, who gave a talk to teens at a Rhode Island school on sexuality. You can read about this story HERE. Once again, parents protested against the speech as being divisive. Once again, Catholic bloggers and websites, without knowing exactly what was said, rushed to judgment to support Father Hoffman and condemn those who complained against him.

As in the situation with Sr. Jane, the school involved in Father Hoffman's situation also apologized for the comments made by Father. In an email sent from the school to the parents:
My intention in inviting him here was to have a priest articulate Church teaching in a manner that was pastorally appropriate, doctrinally sound, and deeply respectful of the trust the students showed in bringing these questions forward for answer. My prior knowledge of Fr. Hoffman and his program gave every reason to expect this outcome,” [Principal David] Carradini wrote. “My expectations, and those of the faculty and staff, were not met, and for that I am deeply sorry. Several of the answers provided were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues. Several members of the student body, faculty, and staff – including me – were personally offended by his manner of presentation.
This statement, like the one by Sr. Mary Sarah, only brought out more condemnation from many Catholics, who are convinced that all of these people are Catholic in name only and really want to destroy the Church.  Many Catholics look at these fellow Catholics as the enemy.

The world is in very bad shape right now. People have completely lost almost all sense of right and wrong, good and bad. What use to be completely taboo in our culture is now accepted and even embraced. For those of us who are trying to live according to traditional moral values and, most especially, for Catholics, the world has become an alien, antagonistic and hateful environment in which we have no place. Here in the United States, even our government is trying to force us to violate our own beliefs with such actions as the HHS mandate. And it is much worse in other parts of the world where Christians are paying the ultimate price for their beliefs.

The question is, how do we deal with this situation?  Who is our real enemy here?  

As I write this, we are beginning Holy Week in which we commemorate the great Sacrifice of our Creator who poured out His Precious Blood on the cross to save all mankind from sin, and that includes those Catholic parents who are seemingly protesting against Catholic orthodox teaching. When Our Lord was hanging on the Cross and the last drops of His Precious Blood were pouring out of Him after having been brutally beaten on every inch of His Body, He looked down at those who had inflicted this unspeakable punishment, and said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Does this mean we should never point out sin, that we should never let people know when they have strayed from eternal truth?  Absolutely not.  But it does mean that we may have to re-think HOW we present the truth of the Gospel to this post-Christian world.  We can't just say, as far too many have, that if people won't listen, then let them burn in hell.  This completely defeats everything for which Jesus died such an excruciatingly painful and humiliating death. 

We have to realize that many people are victims of our anti-God culture.  In one interview he gave, Pope Francis said the Church is like a field hospital:
“I can clearly see that what the Church needs today is the ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of faithful, it needs to be by their side. I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle. It’s pointless to ask a seriously injured patient whether his cholesterol or blood sugar levels are high! It’s his wounds that need to be healed. The rest we can talk about later. Now we must think about treating those wounds. And we need to start from the bottom.”
In this regard, Father Kevin Cusick, a chaplain for the Marines, wrote a fascinating article explaining just what a field hospital does.  You can read his article HERE.  Father Cusick explains the function of a field hospital:
Why does a field hospital exist? Where there is a war or a battle there will be the wounded and the dead. In support of the fight the field hospital must function to keep as many as possible in the battle for total victory. Those whose wounds can be treated on the spot and sent back out to join the others in battle continue to be force-multipliers and better enable the military unit to achieve its objective. In more serious cases the wounded will need to be transferred to the rear for more intensive surgery or therapy.
Father Cusick explains how a field hospital functions in aiding those who have been injured.  He then explains how this relates to the statement by Pope Francis:
What is Pope Francis getting at when he compares the Church to a field hospital in a war zone? I believe he wants us to remember that our faithful often have wounds, though we cannot see them, perhaps, and those wounds have tremendous spiritual and other effects on human beings that hamper a full, free and joyful relationship with God as offered in the Church. I believe he wants us to adapt our care to include sensitivity to those wounds that prevent others from partaking fully in the Church’s life and the Lord’s healing from sin and other realities that hurt them and burden them.
I think far too often many of us look at others who are spiritually wounded, whose spiritual legs are broken, and we condemn them because they can't walk like we can. But is this how Our Lord looked on those who were so spiritually lost? Think of Luke 13:34, when Jesus said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the [city] that kills the prophets and stones those that are sent unto her, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen her brood under her wings, and ye would not.

From Father Cusick:
If we Catholics are to now see ourselves as workers in a field hospital, what kind of mindset do we need? We must be concerned with customer care. We must be ready to meet others where they are before we know what they need, to get where they need to be. We need to be with them enough to “have the smell of the sheep” on us, as Pope Francis says. In this way we will be able to truly care for them, to prescribe not some arbitrary medicine but to focus on their real needs. This way others will begin to experience the love of Christ truly present already in the Church and in the local church of the parish.
If parishes are to be like field hospitals, what kind of things do they need to do differently? We must always operate with the knowledge that grace builds on nature. If families or children are not getting to Sunday Mass, if families are not attending together, there may be human reasons underlying the symptom that need to be treated first. Parenting skills must be dealt with before parents are prepared to see they are leaders in the home, the first teachers of our children in the ways of faith, and then to act on that God-given role. Our witness must be one which compels our recently confirmed young people to pursue their faith and to continue to attend Mass. Our religious education must be effective in handing on the truths of faith to our young people, and so on.
Our proclamation of the Gospel and teaching of the Faith will not have effect without a knowledge of those we are sent to serve. We must take the time to examine and diagnose the spiritual illness before able to effectively offer a cure. This takes time and love.
These are very wise and loving words, from someone who truly cares about others. I think that far too often we are more concerned with being right than helping others. We are so quick to condemn, to point the finger, to write people off as hopeless. We hear bits and pieces of situations, and we think we know all the facts and can accurately judge what is happening.

Like Dr. Peters, I suspect that both Sister Jane and Father Hoffman gave very orthodox talks on Catholic teaching.  I don't believe this is the issue at all.  I believe the issue is whether these talks in the format in which they were presented were helpful to those who heard them.  The answer seems to be an obvious no.  So do we just walk away from these people?  Or do we, instead, try to find another way to reach them, because it would seem that they are obviously among the spiritually wounded.  

We need to ask ourselves what our purpose is as Christians.  Is it just to uphold our own righteousness and look down on those who don't agree with us?  Where would any of us be if Our Lord had done that?  Our Lord has shown great patience and love with us, gently correcting us and leading us in the right way.  Don't we owe that to others for whom He also died?      



  1. For what it's worth, Field Hospitals engage in Triage.

    According to Wikipedia:

    The term triage may have originated during the Napoleonic Wars from the work of Dominique Jean Larrey. The term was used further during World War I by French doctors treating the battlefield wounded at the aid stations behind the front. Those responsible for the removal of the wounded from a battlefield or their care afterwards would divide the victims into three categories:[3][4]
    Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
    Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
    Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

    According to Merriam-Webster:

    1 a : the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients and especially battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors b : the sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care

    2: the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success

    There are different types of Triage, but in it's simplest a patient is assigned a triage tag prior to treatment with the following objectives:

    identify the patient.

    bear record of assessment findings.

    identify the priority of the patient's need for medical treatment and transport from the emergency scene.

    track the patients' progress through the triage process.

    identify additional hazards such as contamination.

    1. What most disturbs me, however, in time of war under the sign of the red cross through treaty, rules of engagement and crimes of war, Field Hospitals, experience protection from attack. The rules of engagement in this war seem to be somehow negated.

    2. The first "casualty" in this war was Jesus Christ. Can we, as his followers, not expect the same? If we are to save our lives, we must lose them first.

    3. I'm just wondering in your judge vs. healer dialectic where the administrator's apologies fit in? Triage requires judgment according to a system of priorities does it not? Although, we as Jesus' followers can certainly expect the same, I'm not sure it's okay to deny Him through apology before men.

      I'm not sure apology and denial are the same in these cases, but at the risk of being judgmental, I'm pretty sure they're close in nature.

    4. Dismas, I am not talking about apology or denial. I am saying that as Christians, we need to approach people on their own level. That is what a spiritual field hospital is all about. It is not up to us to judge the state of people's souls and decide that they are heretics upon whom we can just turn our backs. Being disciples of Jesus Christ is not an "us versus them" proposition. It is about bringing as many souls to salvation as we can. When people are wounded and unable to find their way, either through their own fault or someone else, we have to take on the role of the Good Samaritan, and bind their wounds and give them what they need to heal. Some will accept it and some won't. That is not our problem. As St. Paul says, we plant but it is God who gives the growth.

      Self righteousness and condemnation are never the answer.

    5. Approach people at their own level? I would like to ask, is this a judgement of yours that some have not done so? What if I feel perfectly fine approaching at the level similar to the Dominican Nun? Who are YOU to judge me wrong?

      See, the sword you use cuts both ways.

    6. Good point Dismas.

      The problem here is that the patients are visiting the field hospital not to get medication for their disease. Nope. They want to change mind of doctors and the entire medical body to DECLARE that their disease is NOT A DISEASE and to maybe hire them as Doctors!

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  3. I am sorry for my reply above if you read it. I realized it was perhaps too harsh and I humbly apologize. Let me try and explain the issue more civilly.

    The wisdom, not just of Catholicism, instructs us that if we want to discourage evil, we must act out against it. You suggest that we should be tolerant and sensitive. That we approach the sinner without condemning their actions and so forth.

    But here is my problem.

    First issue: In the time we are being sensitive and maybe talking of other issues, what of the grave harm done by the sinner's actions? If we take the example of a sinner engaged in sodomy, by the time we are good friends and come to the point of discussing acts of sodomy, the person may have

    1/ Contracted HIV
    2/ Spread HIV to others
    3/ Set an example that many have looked up to and adopted the gay lifestyle
    4/ Fought and advanced acceptance and normalization of acts of sodomy
    5/ Developed a habit/compulsion for acts of sodomy

    Those are grave harms that are done which do not go away even if we manage to convince the person that acts of sodomy are wrong. It will also be an unnecessary struggle against a habituated sin which is hard to break with time.

    Second issue: The approach you suggest contradicts wisdom. Even from the old times, men have been aware that being silent in front of evil is encouragement or allowing of it to grow. Second, such people who allow or encourage evil to grow by their silence or action are always viewed negative (and rightly so). Take a look at this age old story for an example.

    So what you say seems blatantly unwise especially in the case here that dealt with children. The nun was justified in using everything she had to convince and get across the fact that evil acts are evil and as to what contributes to these evils. People just didn't want to hear it. It was not the Nun's fault but that of the people who were stubborn about their sin.

    Third issue: The reason why people are stubborn and so reactive when someone blatantly points out the bad in their actions is because they have dislike criticism. It is their pride and attitude fostered in them from a young age that they are the boss or that they have a right to do what they think is good! You can't change this attitude by being nice. It only builds more pride.

    This is why, by historical evidence we see that the parts of the Church that adopted this "softy" style of approach have suffered the most. North America and Europe do not have people who love the Church but are filled with people who hate her even more. In comparison, places like Asia and Africa where the prelates are strict and stern have the largest populations that LOVE the Church!!!!

    Why is that? Is this not demonstrable evidence that something is wrong in your approach?

    I hope you will give these issues some real thought.

    1. Take another look at your comments, and you will notice something that is missing from them. You are relying only on your own human reasoning. You do not give me anything from the Life of Jesus to back up what you are saying, nothing spiritual at all. But when we are talking about the Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ, this has nothing to do with human reasoning. That is why we must look to His Words and His actions. That is what I tried to show in my post, and I notice that you have not refuted anything in my post in regard to Jesus Christ.

      I don't know if you have ever heard of "Divine Intimacy." It is a wonderful book of daily meditations written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Madgalen, O.C.D. first published in 1964. The following is a quote from the meditation for Monday of Holy Week:

      "Judas had been chosen by Jesus with a love of predilection; he had been admitted to the group of His closest friends and, like the eleven others, had received the great grace of the apostolate. In the beginning, he must have been faithful; but later, attachment to worldly things and avarice begin to take possession of him, so as to completely chill his love for the Master and transform the Apostle into a traitor. Because of His divine foreknowledge, Jesus had expected the treachery; and yet, since Judas had been originally worthy of His trust, He had placed him on an equal footing with the other members of the apostolic college. Subsequently, although he had already become a liar, Jesus continued to treat him like the others, showing the same love and esteem. This was very painful to the sensitive heart of Jesus, but He would not act otherwise, He wished that we might see with what love, patience, and delicacy He treats even His most stubborn enemies."

      Did you notice that last sentence in particular: "He wished that we might see with what love, patience, and delicacy He treats even His most stubborn enemies." I guess Jesus just didn't have any common sense.

      One other quote. I am sure you have heard of St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy. We will be celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in just a couple of weeks, a feast day that Jesus Christ personally requested be proclaimed by the Church. This is what He said:

      "My daughter, look into the abyss of My mercy and give praise and glory to this mercy of Mine. Do it in this way: Gather all sinners from the entire world and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. I want to give Myself to souls; I yearn for souls, My daughter. On the day of My feast, the Feast of Mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of My mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them."

      We have to stop looking at things from our own viewpoint. We have to take on the mind of Jesus Christ. Our Lord was all about mercy and forgiveness. He told St. Faustina that He will be returning as a just Judge, and there will be no mercy at that time. But now is the time of mercy. We need desperately to learn this lesson.

    2. In case you would like to read the entire "Divine Intimacy" meditation, you can find it here:

    3. So I take it this is a clear admittance by you that your position

      1/ Violates reason, and
      2/ is indefensible against the objections presented?

      I noticed you present the quotations from Divine Mercy in many of your posts. However, my issue with it is that there is no authoritative Church doctrine or practice behind your interpretation of the quotes.

      As far as Church doctrine and practice goes, we see clearly that the things you object against were common place in the Church?

      Also, I am not sure if you noticed but the third problem is an empirical one. In other words, it is an objection that what you state practically does not work!!!

      I compared the fact that the parts of the world using stern and rigid condemnation of sin had Catholics who love the Church and a growing Church while the parts of the world that adopted your touted pastoral approach is witnessing a shrinking Church that is increasingly hostile toward it's own teaching.

      What have you to say to that objection? It seems like a clear demonstration of your method as being false no? Perhaps it is also an equally clear demonstration that your interpretation of Divine Mercy is in error?

    4. You still do not refute anything that I have put forth from the words and actions of Jesus Christ. When you say that what I state does not work, you will have to take it up with Our Lord, because I am using His Words. I am still waiting for you to give me an actual example of how I have misinterpreted Christ's Words.

      Divine Mercy is approved and accepted by the Catholic Church. We have the Divine Mercy Chaplet and even a Feast Day, as I have pointed out. Soon-to-be St. John Paul II said his pontificate was driven by this message, and he is more personally responsible than any other human being for bringing this devotion to the Church. If you want to reject it, you are certainly free to do so, but it is to your own detriment.

      Again, I can only say that you are using human reasoning, and from a human standpoint, your arguments make sense. However, we are talking about Jesus Christ, and as the written Word of God tells us in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."

      I do quote a lot from Divine Mercy because I think it is the most important message of our time. I don't think we can understand the contemporary Catholic Church without it. Pope Francis lives this message in everything he says and does. This is what the Second Vatican Council is about. The following is a quote I often use from another soon-to-be Saint John XXIII from his opening message at Vatican II:

      "At the outset of the Second Vatican Council, it is evident, as always, that the truth of the Lord will remain forever. We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun. The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations."

      We are all on our own spiritual journey. My posts on this blog reflect where I am right now and my understanding of the events around me. You will see that I back up almost everything I write with quotes from others, either from the Bible or from the Magesterium. I am not looking just to be right or to win a debate with you or anyone else. I want to know the truth, but I cannot accept arguments that are based on human reasoning because I know from experience how deceptive that can be. And all you are giving me is human reasoning, and it goes against everything I read about Jesus Christ in the written Word of God and in Church teaching.

      Have a blessed Holy Week.

    5. My friend,

      I do want to say something first about "Divine Mercy". What I am charging here is not that Divine Mercy is debunk. Rather, I am charging that your interpretation of it is lacking or distorted.

      So in essence, I see your posts as similar to a Protestant who quotes Scripture. They mean well but at the end of the day, they are giving their own interpretation. When I disagree with them, I am not saying Scripture is false. No, I am merely disagreeing with their interpretation.

      My charge therefore is that we have good reason to think your interpretation false. Why?

      1/ Because the empirical evidence demonstrates an erosion of faith when we practice "Divine Mercy" according to your interpretation. Proof: Parts of the world where the rigid and stern condemnations still are the norm have a thriving Church while those who have adopted this distorted view are increasingly hostile to the Church.

      2/ It is an obvious truth that if we were to delay in correcting an individual engaged in actions that are grave, the grave consequences make it only more difficult to correct that individual and leads to a spread of that grave act among others.

      So I think there is a very good case to make that you have been mislead to believe in a very false view of Divine Mercy. I think, and I say this respectfully, you should give some thought to it before you post articles analyzing actions of others (like in this post). Because at the end of the day, there is very good reason to think you are wrong and spreading your error at the same time.

      Just ask yourself. How is it possible that the stern and rigid Church is growing and the Church of "Mercy" is eroding? Shouldn't we see the Church of "Mercy" blossoming? Why is there so much heresy and rebellion against Church teaching in the Church of "Mercy"?

    6. Philip, you are still making only general statements. I have quoted to you from St. Faustina's diary. Do you have problem with that quote? I didn't make it up. You can find it at #206 in the diary. I could give you a lot more quotes, but it is obvious you will not accept them.

      I have quoted from soon-to-be St. John XXIII, explaining Vatican II and how important the message of mercy was to this Council. It is fascinating that at the time St. John XXIII made this statement, the message of Divine Mercy was suppressed by the Church. I think this most definitely shows the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

      You may write more comments but you like, but this is going around in circles and I will not answer any more unless you provide me with something much more substantial than your own reasoning. If you really have a lot more to say, I would suggest that you start your own blog.

      I intend on doing a post on why we do see what seems to be "heresy and rebellion" in the Church today. I'm sure you won't like it, but that's okay. I don't pretend to have all the answers. As I said, I am sharing my spiritual journey on this blog. When I first started the blog 2-1\2 years ago, I would have been very much in agreement with you. But then I started really listening to what Holy Mother Church is saying, and I discovered that my perceptions were way off. And that is what I am seeing in the Church today: everyone has his own opinions, and they will only listen to what they agree with and condemn everything else. Our Lord said that He looks to a humble and contrite heart. The reason for this is because a heart that is full of itself and its own thinking completely blocks out God. As St. John the Baptist said, we must decrease and He must increase.

      I am truly sorry that this sounds Protestant to you. But the Bible has many answers in it. Pope Benedict XVI was always encouraging us to read it, and I would strongly second that.

    7. My friend, you have not answered me still.

      Here is my challenge to you again.

      Countries where the stern and rigid Church still exists is thriving and growing. The Church that has adopted your pastoral approach is shrinking and dare I say it, dying. Why is that? Is it not evidence that your approach is a lie and a false invention?

      I am also not sure your position is internally consistent. In other words, I think you are holding to a position that may perhaps be self refuting. You want to condemn those who condemn others as wrong but you are against condemnation. That is hypocrisy.

      The same St. John the Baptist if I may remind you, gave his life in challenging Herod's adultery very publicly.

      Please also try and understand what I am trying to say instead of just typing something back to me. When I said you are sounding Protestant, my point was that you use either Scripture or Divine Mercy writings of St. Faustina to come up with interpretations that contradict Church practice for 2000 years. That to me is a sign that you are mislead.

      If the Church or some person tomorrow came up with the idea that we shouldn't be praying to saints or Mary and should put that effort to praying to Jesus instead, then that is a sign of a person going off the rails. This is essentially what you are doing. After 2000 years, you have come up with the idea contrary to human wisdom and that of saints that GRAVE sinners should be pampered lest they be offended. Even St. Padre Pio who lived very close to our times would disagree with you because he was very strict just on the matter of enforcing the dress code in Church.

      So definitely read the Bible and writings of saints. But read it by first keeping in mind the teachings and practices of Saints and interpret what you read in a way consistent with it. Otherwise you are indeed as good as a Protestant but fall short of being Catholic.

    8. Philip: Countries where the stern and rigid Church still exists is thriving and growing. The Church that has adopted your pastoral approach is shrinking and dare I say it, dying. Why is that? Is it not evidence that your approach is a lie and a false invention?

      CIB: You are confusing what I am trying to say with those who want to liberalize Catholic doctrine. Please look through my blog and you will find that I am extremely conservative when it comes to Catholic belief. My "approach" is accepting what Our Lord said, that He desires above all else to save souls. He has told us through St. Faustina and then through the Second Vatican Council and very strongly by Pope John Paul II that He wishes to use His Great Mercy to do this.

      St. Faustina wrote this about the mission given to her by Jesus Christ:

      "I feel certain that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin. O doubting souls, I will draw aside for you the veils of heaven to convince you of God‟s goodness, so that you will no longer continue to wound with your distrust the sweetest Heart of Jesus." (Diary 281)

      You mentioned Africa as a country where the Catholic faith is strong. Yes, it is. And it has become especially strong in the last 50 years when the message of mercy was promulgated by Vatican II and then most especially by St. John Paul II. You don't think there is a connection?

      From Wikipedia:

      "According to Philip Jenkins, the 20th century saw major changes for the Catholic Church. In 1920 Hilaire Belloc had proclaimed, "The Church is Europe, and Europe is the Church." By 1960, the College of Cardinals had its first African, Laurean Rugambwa. By deliberate policy, John Paul II selected many cardinals from Third World nations, and by 2001 they made up over 40 percent of the body. In 2002, Italian cardinals made up just 15 percent of the College, a drop from 60 percent in the 1950s.

      Jenkins sees the conservatism of John Paul II as particularly attractive to Catholics in developing nations and likely to be a dominant force in Catholic politics for some time. Francis Arinze, a Nigerian cardinal and adviser to Pope John Paul II, was considered papabile before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Benedict XVI. As Arinze is theologically conservative, Jenkins suggests he would bring African "notions of authority and charisma" to the office, rather than democracy."

      Philip, you are confusing mercy with liberalism.

    9. Philip: I am also not sure your position is internally consistent. In other words, I think you are holding to a position that may perhaps be self refuting. You want to condemn those who condemn others as wrong but you are against condemnation. That is hypocrisy.

      CIB: And whom have I condemned? It is you who are condemning me. I am saying that we should not be quick to make judgments. I am saying that we should listen to people when they tell us they aren't getting what we are saying. I have said in my post that I am confident that both Sr. Jane and Father Hoffman gave orthodox talks, but maybe they used a wrong approach. How is that condemning anyone?

      You are accusing me and putting words in my mouth. Please be careful of that.

      Philip: The same St. John the Baptist if I may remind you, gave his life in challenging Herod's adultery very publicly.

      CIB: Yes, he did. But Our Lord has told us that now He wants to use mercy. And as I have written many times before on this blog, the only time Our Lord ever publicly condemned anyone during his ministry on earth was the Pharisees because of their lack of mercy towards others.

      Philip: Please also try and understand what I am trying to say instead of just typing something back to me. When I said you are sounding Protestant, my point was that you use either Scripture or Divine Mercy writings of St. Faustina to come up with interpretations that contradict Church practice for 2000 years. That to me is a sign that you are mislead.

      CIB: I am still waiting for some specific examples of how I have done this. Unless you can give me specific examples, your argument falls flat

      Philip: If the Church or some person tomorrow came up with the idea that we shouldn't be praying to saints or Mary and should put that effort to praying to Jesus instead, then that is a sign of a person going off the rails. This is essentially what you are doing. After 2000 years, you have come up with the idea contrary to human wisdom and that of saints that GRAVE sinners should be pampered lest they be offended. Even St. Padre Pio who lived very close to our times would disagree with you because he was very strict just on the matter of enforcing the dress code in Church.

      CIB: I am not "coming up" with anything. I have quoted scripture, Popes and the Diary of St. Faustina. You have given me nothing but your own opinions. If you don't like what I am saying, then move on. I am getting very tired of these false accusations.

      Philip: So definitely read the Bible and writings of saints. But read it by first keeping in mind the teachings and practices of Saints and interpret what you read in a way consistent with it. Otherwise you are indeed as good as a Protestant but fall short of being Catholic.

      CIB: Please see all of the above. You are just repeating yourself over and over, Philip. Unless you have something new to say, please stop posting. I will let you post one last time if you wish, and then I am going to delete your posts unless you have something new to tell me.

    10. Phillip,
      My wife and I are members of a Cenacle of Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy. I can authoritatively say that that Catholic in Brooklyn's interpretation of the Diary of St. Faustina are neither lacking nor distorted.
      The message that our Lord gave to St. Faustina to give to us is one love. Not of our own ability to love, but of His.
      In understanding that we learn that we are called to humble ourselves and not approach things as we want, think or feel but to submit ourselves to Holy will of God.
      We must oppose the normalization of homosexual activity and the destruction of traditional families not for our own reasons, but because they are against the will of God.
      God loves us and only wants good things for us. We in turn are called to love one another and also want good things for each other.
      We must in humility accept that not all people will see the truth in God's will.
      We must also acknowledge that we can make it hard for them to see the truth if we do not become the light of Christ.

    11. There are so many things I would like to ask you but let me ask the following questions for now.

      1) You said that the Lord has said "Now he wants mercy" and implies something different from that of St. John the Baptist. Can you cite to me what Church fathers and Popes hold this view? I can tell you it is probably close to zero. But lets hear what you have to say.

      2) In Africa and Asia, the term MERCY is not understood in the way you are using it now i.e. being sensitive and not condemning sins in a way that offends. That is YOUR understanding of Mercy. In Africa and Asia, they understand something by "Mercy" to be fully compatible with something like Ugandan laws against gay marriage. Is that the same understanding you have? If so, we are in agreement!!!!

      3) Please tell me how the message of Divine Mercy as you promote it can contradict human reason as well as pastoral praxis of 2000 years and still be considered correct? Your concept of Divine Mercy is so distorted that you have to put Christ in contradiction with St. John the Baptist.

    12. Thank you, Mr. Clark, for your input. I truly appreciate it. Please feel free to stop by anytime to let me know if and when I do get off course. I feel Divine Mercy is the driving force in the Church, and the reason people don't understand what is happening is because they don't understand Divine Mercy. We need people like you, and I thank you for what you are doing.

    13. brother Phillip,
      Obviously it is beyond my competence to answer these questions for you.
      However, you seem to have trouble reconciling Divine Mercy to other and older Church teachings, much like our protestants brothers have in finding a duplicity in the vengeful God of the Old Testament when compared that to the more benevolent God of the New Testament.
      The answer I believe is to open to the difference levels of God's message.
      An example of I mean can be found with the Woman crowned with 12 stars in the Books of Revelations. At one level this Woman is our Blessed Mother, at another She is the Church, at a even different level She is our Blessed Mother representing the Church. None of these individual answers are wrong and at different levels they are all correct.
      The same can be said when it comes to the St. John the Baptist, the Church Fathers and St. Faustina. Individually they are not wrong and at different levels they are all correct.
      If I may be so bold, I suggest you take up the discipline of the Liturgy of the Hours if you are not already doing so.
      There at Lauds in the 4th section of the Invitatory I believe you will find through the Psalmist, the Lord has been speaking to you long before the Church Fathers or even before St. John the Baptist.

    14. My friend StevenClark,

      I am familiar with what you say. However, I believe it is somewhat a foundation of faith that different levels of meaning whether it be in Tradition or Scripture cannot contradict.

      The problem for me is that the pastoral approach encouraged by using the message of "Divine Mercy" contradicts the pastoral approach of the Church for 2000 years.

      It has been a rule of the Church that a doctrine must be understood in the same sense at all times and any development cannot contradict that previously understood sense. Now we have had a certain pastoral approach for 2000 years which has been considered fully consistent with both justice and mercy of Christ. But then we have a private revelation that wants us to interpret Christ's mercy and change our pastoral approach in a way that contradicts the previously understood sense. That is the concern I have.

      I think the poster Eufrosnia describes another concern I have with this article below in much better manner than me. Perhaps that may help understand my concerns as a whole.

    15. From St. Gregory the Grewt:

  4. Perhaps this lgbt day of silence thing, promoted nationwide in public schools will change our perspective and conversation in this debate. I wasn't aware of this until yesterday and find the timing of all this interesting. In my opinion we need more Catholic Bloggers speaking up in defense for our Catholic speakers rights to freedom of speech in our Catholic schools, I don't support them being silenced.

    1. Dismas, that is really unfair. I am not saying anything about silencing anyone. You know that I completely support the teaching of the church. My whole point is that we have to re-think how we present the truths of the Church. Just telling people that they are dirty rotten sinners headed to hell ain't gonna cut it. Our Lord told us to spread the message of His Mercy. Maybe we need to try that.

    2. Being the dirty rotten sinner that I am, I don't refute your charge as to my fairness, however, who in either of these presentations being examined were 'just telling people that they are dirty rotten sinners headed to hell"?

    3. Actually, no one who wasn't there knows what was said. But if you look back my post, you will see that I agree that these talks were probably very orthodox in their content. However, the people who were there heard "you're all dirty rotten sinners." Even though that is most likely not what what said, it does point out that we need to change how our message is presented so that we can reach those who need it most. That is the whole point of my post. We want people to come to salvation, and it seems that the message of Mercy, as given to us directly by Jesus Christ and which He asked be spread around the world, just might be the best way to go.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. What is wrong with hearing "you dirty rotten sinners"? Have you not read the Scriptures lately and seen Jesus use the same words? By your logic, Jesus was a bad teacher. Why? Because there is not a single record of Jesus speaking nicely with Pharisees for an example. So is it a surprise that they ended up doing what they did to him? By your logic, Jesus was to blame for his bad pastoral approach.

      If Jesus had been nicer and sensitive with the Pharisees, he might have succeeded. Is that your point?

  5. I also want to please here with you.

    You keep saying that you do not want to "liberalize" Catholicism. But that is exactly what you are doing. All reasons clearly indicates that the result of your pampering is a global Church which will look like North American or European Catholicism.

    But when I present the reasons why that will happen, you accuse me of arguing from human reason which is absurd. You don't need Divine Revelation to tell you that if you don't stop a homosexual from sleeping around, he will likely contract HIV. You don't need Divine revelation to tell you that allowing people to pridefully talk about their sodomy will promote others to "come out of the closet" embrace that life style.

    It seems to me like you are in flat out denial. You want to ignore every thing that you SHOULD know by common sense and human reasons. Why is that?

  6. Not to interrupt, but I think I see the point Philip is trying to make.

    In your post you say for an example the following:-

    //Like Dr. Peters, I suspect that both Sister Jane and Father Hoffman gave very orthodox talks on Catholic teaching. I don't believe this is the issue at all. I believe the issue is whether these talks in the format in which they were presented were helpful to those who heard them. The answer seems to be an obvious no. So do we just walk away from these people? Or do we, instead, try to find another way to reach them, because it would seem that they are obviously among the spiritually wounded.//

    So your point seems to be that given that people are not responding, it is time to stop talking about certain things and be a little more nicer.

    But then there is a legitimate question to ask as to why Christ did not try this with the Pharisees. The Pharisees were sinners too and perhaps even more sinful in that they were supposed to be guides of people. But Christ didn't seem interested in playing nice with them. He seems to persist in condemning them openly even when it seems clear they are only getting angered.

    So is there anything wrong with imitating the Lord in that regard?

    It also seems true to say that the modern sinner has more in common with Pharisees. They want to justify their sin rather than hide it. The Gay person wants to take pride in his sin. The adulterer wants to be regarded as a "Play-uh" among his friends. Contracepting couples are to be hailed as doing a service to the world by keeping the population under control. The same pride that had steeped the pharisees are ample among the grave sinners of today.

    So is it not true that if anything, the world needs more people who want to speak out harshly like Jesus did to the Pharisees?

    1. The Pharisees were religious leaders. They were in power and they liked their power. They did not feel any need for anything outside themselves, and certainly no need for Jesus Christ as their Savior, and in fact viewed Our Lord as a threat. The Pharisees had stopped searching because they thought they knew it all. Jesus told them that it would go easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than it would for the Pharisees. Why? Because they were guilty of the sin of spiritual pride, which says to God, I know it all, I don't need anything from you.

      The sinners that Jesus came across - the woman caught in adultery, the publicans, the thief on the cross - these people were all guilty of terrible sins, but Our Lord could reach them with His Love and Mercy. He didn't have to condemn them. He extended His Mercy and forgiveness to them, and many of them did respond to Him. Not all, as seen in the example of the two thieves on the cross. One responded and one didn't. But the Pharisees had made themselves immune to Christ's mercy because of their spiritual pride, which is maybe the most deadly sin of all.

      I have to say, I see a lot of spiritual pride on the Internet these days.

      As bad as homosexuality and other sins are, none are as deadly as spiritual pride.

    2. But couldn't one say the same about sinners of today. The world as a whole feels no need for not only Jesus Christ but even God. Religion is seen as a mind control mechanism by most. Or at best, a man made set of rules to maintain social harmony.

      Those who practice homosexuality, fornication or contraception also hold the same mindset. They want to teach the Church what is right.

      So do not these qualify as spiritual pride? If anything, the offenses seem even more larger than that of the Pharisees. The Pharisees at least believed in God and his law. People today have no belief in it and think it inferior and they know best.

      This is in stark contrast to the cases you cite. The adulteress, the publican, the thief on the cross showed no insistence that their sin was right. They certainly believed in God as well and wanted to be forgiven if anything. Today's average sinner wants no forgiveness but acceptance of their sins as moral goods.

      So I think you might be missing Philip's point here which I agree with. You are yet to show how the sinner of today is any different from the Pharisee of the time of Jesus. The sinner of today unfortunately does not share the humility that the publican, adulteress and thief on the cross shared.

      You might say the adulteress and publican never seemed to confess their sins. But, that would be to miss the point that they weren't going around saying it was a moral good or fighting for a right for it to be accepted as a human right around the globe, right?

      So can you explain how you come up with the identifier for today's sinner as NOT being like the Pharisees when they seem to share the same (or worse) spiritual pride?

    3. EDIT: I would also like to ask, why is it that the sinners of the Old Testament or even time of St. John the Baptist lash out like those children and parents of the high school (or in general, sinners of today?).

      The group of sinners that has been detested and harshly spoken of at any moment in the New Testament or the Old Testament are those who sin and try to justify their sin as a good. St. John the Baptist spoke harshly of Pharisees because they lacked a true spirit of repentance (Matt 3:7-8). Or we can look at the times of other Prophets of Israel who didn't mince word toward Israel that tried to justify it's sin and lash out against anyone that condemned their actions.

      So it seems to me like our current generations, sadly, share more in common with that group that deserved such harsh condemnations does it not?

      Our current generations lash out against anyone who points out their sins. They don't say what they do are sins but are more concerned with trying to find things in the speaker to attack. They are more concerned with how upset they feel than the fact that they commit grave sinful acts or lead others to sin.

      Is this not more proof that harsh words are especially needed in a time like ours? This not because there is a shortage of mercy but because there is a shortage of those even think they need mercy because of their spiritual pride.

    4. I was not going to add to this discussion thread, but brother Phillip kind of directed me this way, so I felt bound to respond.
      I have often heard very good meaning people use our Lord as an example when He used force to cleanse the temple and rebuked harshly the Pharisees to justify themselves acting callously with others as regard to these other people’s sins, citing that they are imitating Christ.
      The fallacy in this is that while we are all called to imitate Christ, we must remember in humility that He is Christ and we are not.
      Our Lord, being God, knew the hearts and minds of all He dealt with. He knew if they were contrite or if they were impenitent. With this knowledge he was able to speak and act with the authority of God and judge accordingly.
      However this is not a faculty given to us as human beings. We do not possess the Divine Mind of God and can not know the hearts and minds of others. If we assume to know, but then we are doing just that, assuming, not knowing. Because of this limitation in our human existence, we are not competent to judge others. If we presume to do so, I believe we are infringing on a facility reversed exclusively to God. I can not believe He would be too happy with use doing that.
      My wife and I pray at an abortion clinic most Saturdays. We do not scream and yell at these women that they are going to Hell for murdering their babies, even though objectively this is a high possibility of happening. Studies show almost all of these women are pregnant from fornication, and a high percentage of these women were contracepting, and to tidy up the mess they made they are turning to murder. I do believe anyone would say that this is a road paved straight to Heaven. Again, this is not my judgment, but simply objective truths.
      The bottom line is, it is not my job to judge them. I am their brother, not their judge. My wife and I pray for them, and I try to look at them in the eye and smile. I smile, so they can see that I loved them and that God loves them too.
      So, I smile and pray that they will return to God. If they will or will not, God only knows.

    5. You have stated what I have come to believe exactly. Thank you so much, Mr. Clark. I am just about to post about Divine Mercy and reparation. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think. I truly believe that this is where the Holy Spirit is leading us. Pope Francis and all of our other recent popes have been champions of this message of Divine Mercy. Our Lord is reaching out to this evil world not with condemnation but with love and mercy. We, as His Followers and the recipients of that Divine Mercy, must also be spreading this message to others.

    6. mrstevenclark, Catholic in Brooklyn,

      I am afraid you are speaking of a different matter here. What I pointed out was that the Old Testament and New Testament contains a set of people who condemned harshly by the prophets, the Apostles and yes, Jesus as well.

      This group of people are the ones who have spiritual pride and try to justify their sins as the rightful way of living. This can be Israel in the time Judges, or in the time of Prophets Jeremiah or Isaiah, or the Pharisees in the time of Jesus, or the certain Christians in the time of Apostles.

      My point is therefore that Catholic in Brooklyn is playing a sleight of hand (perhaps unknowingly) in conveniently framing the current state of affairs of sinners as not being in common with the Pharisees. But in real fact, there is much more in common with the modern sinner and the Pharisee/Israel and even much worse.

      There is also a great error in Catholic in Brooklyn in that she/he is using Divine Mercy against condemnation. This is a classic error in which a person misses the point that harsh condemnations of Prophets, Jesus and then the first Apostles were always meant to wake up society or that group of persons SO THAT they can come and receive mercy.

      So Divine Mercy is glorious thing indeed. The error of blaming people who speak out and offend those who are in sin is an equally despicable error. Why? Because it is what allowed Israel to continue in their God displeasing ways, the Pharisees to blame the approach of Jesus, and Heretics and immoral Christians to blame the Apostles.

      To highlight the point with your abortion example. IF the parents of those women had raised their children up properly. IF the society was very harshly negative against fornication. IF the society were positive toward raising children, then the number of abortions and fornicators would be lot less.

      But as it happens, people just want to be "nice" and not offend anyone. So the society keeps going deeper and deeper in to sin. The fornicator keeps asking the Church to change her teachings and Church keeps saying "you are probably right, but lets talk of something else so that I don't offend you".

    7. I would also like to point out mrstevenclark that there is a certain level of judgement that is indeed give to human beings. This is the same judgement exercised rightly in courts and legal systems or by parents in evaluating their children.

      This judgement is different from that of God in that it is not one of condemnation to hell. However, it is most certainly a condemnation that the specific act the person is performing is a grave evil and that their insistence that it is good is mislead.

      If that specific condemnation offends someone, that is a sign of pride. It is not something therefore that one needs to cater to.

      The real basic point here is as Mr. Philip above stated I think. If we truly believe that grave sins have consequences, we must act to stop it from happening. That may require use of harsh words to make that person feel reluctant, building hostility in a society toward such acts (like the negative view of society toward fornication in the past) or even jail time (for things like murder or pedophilia).

      This does not in anyway impede God's Divine Mercy. If anything, such actions are aimed at BUILDING A SOCIETY THAT RECOGNIZES IT'S FAULTS/SINS/SHORTCOMINGS SO THAT THEY WILL TURN TO GOD'S MERCY AND GRACE TO HELP THEM.

      The society we have today is no where close to that. They couldn't care any less of the "Mercy" and of a God who they claim never existed and is a product of human imagination. So it is a moral responsibility of good Catholics to voice their concerns and if it offends some, so be it!

      With that, I would like to end my participation on this thread because I feel enough has been said. Looking at some posts by Philip, I think there sufficient material here to highlight that there is a problem in the thought process of Catholic in Brooklyn (and yours as well perhaps).

      Thanks for an engaging discussion!

  7. Personally, I believe it is an error to muddle the rightful enforcement of rules for safety purposes with condemnation of sin.
    Just for the tally books, I often point out the sin and error of others. I get about 50/50 in my results. Some take it well, some do not. I point out some big things, like taking Eucharist while in an invalid marriage and some little things, like reading horoscopes. Even some things that are not technically against the rules but are what I believe are wrong, like taking Eucharist in the hand and female Altar servers. However, I do not do this rashly and I try to discern how and if it can be done for the greater good and if it can not, I refrain from speaking. I can not evangelize to others if I am pushing them away.
    In closing, I too thank everyone for the engaging discussion. It is good to see people of God coming together in goodwill to discuss our Faith, even on items we disagree on. This kind of dialog can only promote spiritual growth in all involved.
    God Bless.

  8. Christ has died. Christ has risen. He has truly risen, Alleluia!

    1. Since you saw fit to put your comment in two places, I will reply in both places:

      Dismas, this does not address the point of my post. I have already conceded that these talks were most probably orthodox. My point is that the students and parents who responded as they did show that they are spiritually wounded and we need to find a different approach with them. Obviously the approach used in these cases only served to turn those who needed them most even more against the teachings of the Church. People need to know that the Church is not their enemy. Have you done the Novena for Divine Mercy Sunday? Look at and study the prayers given to us by Jesus Christ. The problem with these talks is the students and parents felt they were being attacked. That will never bring anyone to Christ. It is always important to bring the true teachings of the Church to people, but HOW we present the truth is just as important as WHAT we say.

  9. Sorry you choose to take my post personally, it wasn't really about you at all. I just completed day eight of the novena for the holy souls in purgatory, thanks for suggesting it. I also sent Father Matthew Kauth a card today thanking him for his Priesthood through the Te Deum Foundation at

    Christ has died. Christ has risen. He has truly risen, Alleluia!

    1. You've confused me, Dismas. I assumed since you posted here, it was in regard to what I had written. Is there another reason why you posted this article?


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