Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mark 11: 22-24

In illo tempore: Respondens Jesus discipulis suis, ait illis: Habete fidem Dei.
At that time, Jesus answering, said to His disciples: Have the Faith of God.
Amen dico vobis, quia quicumque dixerit huic monti:
Amen, I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain:
Tollere, et mittere in mare, et non tere in mare, et non haesitaverit in corde suo, se crediderit, quia quodcumque dixerit, fiat, fiet ei. Propteria fiat, fiet ei.
Be thou removed and be cast into the sea; and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he hat said shall be done, it shall be done unto him.
Proptera dico vobis: Omnia quaecumque orantes petitis, credite quia accidpietis, et evenient vobis.
Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Griswold Connection

On August 4, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled California’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Compared to the plaintiffs, the defense was ill-prepared and under represented. But perhaps its greatest liability was its principal argument:: “the central purpose of marriage...(is to) promote naturally procreative sexual relationships and to channel them into stable, enduring unions for the sake of producing and raising the next generation.”

Under this banner, the defense was doomed, not on August 4, 2010, but on June 7, 1965. On that day the Supreme Court declared a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives within marriage to be unconstitutional (Griswold v. Connecticut). That such a law was still in effect as late as 1965 (several states had similar laws) underscores, not just the government’s understanding of marriage, but it’s expectation of least until 1965.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Catholic-Muslim History and the Holy Name of Mary

For the last nine days in traditional novena fashion, the parish of Agana, has been celebrating its patron saint, the Blessed Virgin Mary - under the title of "Dulce Nombre Maria. The novena culminated on September 12, the actual feast day, and of which the actual name of the feast is "The Holy Name of Mary".

It might come as a surprise for some Agana parishioners to know that they were celebrating the defeat of the Muslims at the Battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683. But surprise or not, this is the reason for the feast. The feast had been celebrated in various countries and within various religious communities and on various days since 1513.

However, upon the defeat of the "Turks" (the medieval name for Muslims) by the forces assembled by King John Sobieski of Poland, Pope Innocent XI moved the feast of The Holy Name of Mary, under whose banner Sobieski had fought, to September 12 and extended the feast to the Universal Church.

This wasn't the first time a Pope had instituted a feast in honor of a Muslim defeat in the name of Mary. October 7 is the Feast of the Holy Rosary and indeed October has come to be known as the "Month of the Rosary" because of the Christian defeat of the Turkish navy at the Battle of Lepanto in 1517, a date honored with a feast instituted by Pius V and extended to the Universal Church.

To read more see: and

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Polygamy, Cordoba House, and the President

Note: Many of my personal friends are “moderate Muslims” who are often better examples of Christianity than some Christians. And on some issues (e.g. contraception) I, as a Catholic, am more on the same page as my Muslim friends than most Christians...including Catholics. However, the Koran says what the Koran says. Thus the following personal observation:

More good news for those who advocate polygamy for religious reasons (Mormons, Muslims, some Jewish sects, Bedouins, some African cults, etc.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

When Your Hut's On Fire

When Your Hut's On Fire

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010


On May 12, 2010, a human fetus was discovered in the Dededo (Guam) sewage treatment plant. The coroner later determined that the "baby" (that's what the coroner called her) was female and 13 weeks gestation. The case is now in the hands of the police and the coroner is attempting to determine whether or not "the baby was born alive". But what if she was? Would the case then become a homicide?

There was some initial speculation that the baby was miscarried and may have simply passed into the sewage system without the mother's knowledge. However, a miscarriage at 13 weeks is extremely rare. Only 2% of miscarriages happen after 8.5 weeks. And in any case, if the baby was large enough to be recognized amongst all "the stuff" floating about a sewage treatment plant, it is doubtful that the mother did not notice her in the toilet. Thus, odds are that the child was aborted.

Certain medical abortions allow for the woman to deliver what is supposed to be a dead child at home. (I know of a recent case where a mother procured an abortion, delivered the dead child at home, wrapped it in a blanket, walked next door and handed it to a neighbor lady who had volunteered to adopt the child if she carried it to term.) It's also possible that the abortion was self-induced. In any case, there's a 98% chance that the baby girl was purposely aborted and not miscarried.

Under current Guam law, should the coroner ascertain that the baby girl was born alive before being disposed of, there is little that can be done. The chances of finding the mother are slim to none. But if by some chance the mother was identified, then there are two possible scenarios if abortion was involved: 1) If the woman obtained a legal abortion, delivered the still living baby (whether at home or in a clinic), the baby, under Guam law, is not protected. It can be killed or left to die. There would be no case. However, 2) if the woman induced the abortion herself, delivered a still living child, and killed it or left it to die, she could go to jail for infanticide or murder.

The case is further complicated by the fact that the child had not yet reached the age of viability (when it can survive outside the mother's womb - approximately 22-24 weeks). At 13 weeks, the child had no chance of survival. So then what would it matter if she killed it or left it to die since it would die anyway? And isn't the right to an abortion based on a woman's right to do with her body as she wishes? If the mother wants the child dead, society cannot stand in her way. Such questions illustrate the insanity of abortion. But now, what to do with the dead baby?

According to Title 10, Chapter 10 of the Guam Code :"All unembalmed dead human bodies shall be buried or cremated within twenty-four (24) hours after death, unless kept under adequate refrigeration in the custody of the Director..." So it seems that the body of this little girl must be buried or cremated. But what if the child was determined to have been aborted? Would the law still apply? Does the law apply now to aborted children? Just what do they do with the dead bodies of the  nearly one child per day killed at the abortion clinics in Tamuning? Most likely they are discarded as bio-waste. But then isn't that breaking the law?

The law doesn't distinguish between born and unborn dead human bodies. The law says "all...dead human bodies". Dead human bodies that result from abortion are not excepted. According to the subsequent section in the law, the disposition of the body devolves to the next of kin, which of course would be the mother. By law she is required to see to the burial or cremation of her dead child. Since, this could be construed as an "undue burden" on the mother, the duty would fall to "the Director", actually, us, the taxpayer. Apparently, since the law will most likely not be enforced, our lawmakers may be forced to amend the law to allow aborted children to be dumped in the trash. Again, we see the insanity that is abortion.

Meanwhile, as a community we have on our hands the dead body of a 3 inch little girl. She weighs about 1 ounce. Her cartilage was just turning into bone. Her ribs were beginning to appear. Her nose and chin were already well defined. She was beginning to flex, kick, and suck her thumb. We can only hope that through God's "Divine Mercy", her soul was rescued and returned to Heaven at the moment of her death.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Humanae Vitae



The complete document with my personal highlights.

Monday, May 24, 2010


On May 12, 2010, a human fetus was found in a Guam sewage treatment plant.

In any war, knowing the enemy's strategy is the key to victory. In the Abortion War, the pro-abortion stratagem is: "Where abortion is hidden, abortion is tolerated." Thus, supporters of abortion do all they can to keep it hidden, and enemies of abortion do all they can to expose it, which we normally do through signs, pamphlets, talks, websites, and various other media.

The typical counter-offensive of the Pro-Aborts is to impugn our efforts at education as propaganda, moral extremism, and the like.  Whether the "sewer baby" was the result of a miscarriage, an abortion, or a murder, the fact that it is (or was) "news" offers us a unique opportunity to circumvent the Pro-Aborts' efforts to shut us up. So far, news stories about the "Sewer Baby" have aided the Pro-Life cause by educating the public on the humanity of the unborn in the following ways

First, there is the fact that a plant worker "recognized" the fetus. In order for that to happen the "thing" had to look like a human child, and " had to be large enough to be recognized. The first Pro-Abort lie is that the "thing" in the mother's womb is not a child, but a "tissue mass", "a clump of cells". Obviously a "tissue mass" is not what the plant worker saw.

Second, the Medical Examiner has given us the following: the fetus was a girl, is 7 and 1/2 inches long, was missing body parts (obviously arms and legs), and most importantly, he called "it" a "baby", all of which point to a very recognizable infant human being.

Third, the Medical Examiner's inquiry into whether the child was alive or not before she was disposed of is a medical affirmation that this was a "life". The Pro-Aborts want to define "life", and thus the protections accorded to it, at the moment of birth. Science has proven beyond doubt that "life" begins at conception, not at "viability", and certainly not at birth. The Examiner's inquiry verifies what science has already proven, pro-lifers have trumpeted, and Pro-Aborts have tried to hide: the fetus is a living human being.

Fourth, the police inquiry and the public "fuss" over the matter exposes the humanity of the little girl at least infers a possible "right to life" and creates an ethical conundrum given that hundreds of similar children are killed and unceremoniously disposed of each year on Guam at the abortion clinics in Tamuning. There is no inquiry by the Medical Examiner, no media reporting, no police investigation, and no public fuss. On Guam, even children who survive abortions can be killed or left to die with no legal repercussions.

This leads us to a fifth opportunity: to press for the passage of already existing legislation. Bill 309, the "Child's Right to Live Act" (introduced by Calvo, Tenorio, and Taitague on 1/6/10) would require that any child who survived abortion must be given the same "medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life-sustaining medical care" that would normally be given to other newborns, regardless of the intentions of the mother and the abortionist. Bill 309 received an overwhelmingly positive public hearing on 2/11/10, but Senator Aguon's committee has yet to vote on it. At least 30 states have enacted similar legislation.

One might wonder what the presence of a "Born Alive" law would do to prevent future "sewer babies". Probably very little. But law shapes the culture. And the more that can be done to emphasize the humanity of the child in the womb, the greater the possibility that people will think twice before aborting their children, which, as we now know, has two victims: the child and the mother. More and more research is showing that abortion can cause physical, emotional, and psychological damage to the mother who often made an uninformed choice. This is the point of Bill 54, another bill that lies in waiting.

Bill 54, "The Woman's Reproductive Health Information Act" (introduced by Senators Calvo, Barnes, and Blas on 2/2/09) would require that, among other things, a mother be made aware of the gestational data regarding the child in her womb before she proceeds with an abortion. Most states have similar legislation which has its genesis in a growing number of women speaking out about the harm done them as the result of an abortion.

Bill 54 also received an overwhelmingly positive public hearing (3/27/09). It was even voted out of committee on 3/30/09 with a "recommendation to do pass". After 9 months of inaction, Esperansa contacted Senator Aguon's office for a status update and was told that the bill had been "re-referred back to the Committee...due to constitutional questions raised on specific provisions." Further inquiries as to the nature of those questions and provisions as well as any news on the possible progress of the bill went unanswered.

So how can we take advantage of these opportunities?

1. Keep it in the news for as long as possible. As you may have seen, the "shock" over the "sewer baby" wore off in about 24 hours. The story has disappeared. Call up any of the talk shows and ask if any more has been heard about it. Write a letter to the editor of either paper and inquire or share your thoughts.

2. For those who are religious educators and of course, even parents, use the story for discussion. Information and pictures of a 13 week-old fetus are readily available online.

3. Call, fax, write Senator Aguon's office and urge him to move on the existing legislation. Use the public media to also to do the same. Make it a public issue.

4. An election is coming up. Hold candidates responsible for supporting pro-life legislation. We can start now. They're already asking for our votes. Let's ask them for theirs.

Fetus at 13-14 weeks. The  fetus is now 3 to 4 inches long and weighs just over an ounce. The baby's unique fingerprints are already in place. The muscles lengthen and become organized. Vigorous fetal activity is observed: the child can kick, turn feet, curl and fan toes, make a fist, move thumbs, bend wrists, turn head, open mouth, press lips tightly together, jump and wave arms.

A fetus at 13 weeks is part of an exhibit in Dallas that shows fetal development.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


The original document without the formatting can be found at:



By Father Gerard Rusak

On the 29th of October 1951, Pope Pius XII, in a famous allocution to midwives, warned them not to be "drawn into an unjust and unbecoming (616) 1 ' for the so-called "natural" methods of birth control. For the most part, this warning has gone unheeded. In fact, we are witnessing a proliferation of propaganda in favour of "Natural Family Planning", (NFP) originating from those who should know better. Today a large family is looked upon with disdain, as a sort of "social ill", as a kind of "irresponsible parenthood" if not as bad as, at least comparable to, the evils of abortion and artificial contraception. Can such a mentality be reconciled with the teaching of the Church? Is the indiscriminate use of NFP in accordance with what Catholic Tradition calls the "primary duty" of matrimony, namely the procreation and education of children? Is it licit "to use continually the faculty proper to matrimony and lawful only therein and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason"? No, declares Pius XII, to do so "would be a sin against the very nature of married life" (621).

First of all, let us take note, terms such as "Natural Family Planning" and "natural" methods' of birth control are misnomers. There is nothing natural about birth control, even when drugs are not used. Rev. Father Lavaud, O.P. deciares: "We cannot see an adaptation to nature in something which is, in effect a trick to fustrate nature. "3 Another theologian remarks that this so-called "natural" way "requires the couple to make love by a calendar, so that charts, gadgets and graphs rule romance, not the loving desire of devoted partners. Some medical men assure us a wife 's desire for marital union is most vehement precisely during the fertile period ... Even Dr. Ogino, the originator of the rhythm method, viewed this method primarily as a means of having children. 'Rhythm in reverse,' having relations on fertile days just to have children" (Integrity, June 1948). In fact, it is the desire for children and their conception, which is truly natural. However, today, many persons are beginning to look upon pregnancy as a disease, or at least a "social ill", especially when it is repeated. On the 20th of January, 1958, at an audience for the Italian Association for Large Families, Pius XII castigated this error in the following terms:
"It is fitting to class among the most harmful aberrations of modern neo-pagan society the opinion of certain men who dare to term the fruitfulness of marriage a "social ill" from which the "infected" nations should endeavor by every means to be cured. Whence the propaganda of what is called "rational birth control"(planned parenthood), supported by individuals and associations, sometimes distinguished for other reasons, but in this one, unfortunately worthy, of blame" (763).

Continuing to develop his thought, the Pope opposes "planned parenthood" with "the testimony of parents of large families" who
"reject outright in practice all intentional compromise between the law of God and the egotism of man" and accept, "with joy and gratitude, the inestimable gifts of God which children are, as many has He pleases to send" (765). 
Such an attitude
"frees the spouses from intolerable nightmares and remorse. This disposition of mind assures - and this is the opinion of competent medical authority - the most favorable physical premises for a wholesome development of the fruits proper to marriage, while it avoids, at the very origin of the new lives, that trouble and anxiety which become so many blemishes in the mother as also in the child "(765). 
For the Pope, it is not only the Catholic Church but popular good sense which
"has always and everywhere seen in large families the sign, the proof, and the source of physical health, while history makes no mistake when it sees in the tampering with marriage laws and the laws of procreation the first cause of the nation 's decadence. Large families, far from being a "social ill", are the guarantee of the physical and moral well-being of a people. In homes where there is always a cradle from which rise an infant's cries, virtue flourishes spontaneously and vice stays at a distance, as if driven away by childhood, which is renewed there like the fresh and life-giving breath of springtide" (766).

The "yes" of Pius XII to large families and the "no" to birth control and to the undiscriminated propaganda of periodic continence springs directly from the Doctrine of the Church on Matrimony. The Church teaches that the question of "birth control" or "contraception", before even being a question of means (labeled natural or artificial), is first a question of the end. "The mere fact that husband and wife do not offend the nature of the act [as they would, for example, if they used artificial contraceptives and are even ready to accept and bring up the child, who, notwithstanding their precautions, might be born, would not be, in itself, sufficient to guarantee the rectitude of their intention and the unobjectionable morality of their motives" (619). They must first respect the primary end of matrimony.

The primary end of matrimony is the procreation and the education of children. "The Creator of the human race Himself, who in His goodness has willed to use human beings as His ministers in the propagation of life, taught us this truth when, in instituting matrimony in the Garden of Eden, He bade our first parents, and through them all married persons who should come after them: 'Increase and multiply and fill the earth'. St. Augustine rightly draws the same conclusion from the words of the Apostle St. Paul to Timothy: The Apostle testifies that procreation is the purpose of matrimony when, having said,
'I will that younger women should marry', he adds immediately, as though he had been asked the reason, 'so that they may bear children and become mothers of families'" (Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 1930. 274). 
Pius XII, by a decree of the Holy Office, on March 30, 1944 repudiated 
"the opinion of some authors, who deny that the primary end of matrimony is the procreation and education of the offspring, or teach that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinated to the primary ends, but are parallel to them and independent" (note 634c). 
Note well, the Church does not deny that there are secondary ends to Matrimony, such as mutual support and the remedy against concupiscence. She simply states these ends must remain what they are, that is, secondary and always subordinated to the primary end, which is the procreation and education of children.

Most couples, unlike the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, are not meant to keep perfect continence in matrimony. It is for these that: Pius XII stated:
"The matrimonial contract, which confers on the, married couple the right to satisfy the inclination of nature, constitutes them in a state of life, namely, the matrimonial state. Now, on married couples, who make use of the specific act of their state, nature and the Creator impose the function of providing for the preservation of mankind" (621). 
Indeed then,
Marriage confers certain rights, but only because it imposes very precise duties, the first of which is the procreation and the education of children: "The individual and society, the people and the State, the Church itself depend for their existence, in the order established by God, on fruitful marriages" (621). 
Therefore, children are not obstacles to avoid, nor mere accidents that happen, but the primary end and goal of matrimony it follows that if 
"according to a reasonable and equitable judgment" (622) "grave reasons or motives" (620,621) do not intervene. Spouses who use their matrimonial rights, cannot licitly shrink from the duty "which.' nature and the Creator impose" (621). 
Or, in the words of Pius XII: 
to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper "to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life" (621).

From what precedes, it is clear that NFP cannot be used indiscriminately. To make its use licit, there are three basic conditions, which must be fulfilled simultaneously:

A. The reason for its use must be grave and morally proportioned.

B. It should fall into one of the "indications" (see below) given by Pius XII.

C. It must be possible for the spouses to practice periodic continence without sin.

If one of these reasons is lacking NFP is illicit and sinful.

A. The reason must be grave and morally proportioned.
Pius XII, in his allocutions, speaks of the necessity of

  • "sufficiently morally sure motives" (619)
  • "grave motives or reasons" (620, 621)
  • "serious motives" (622)
  • "notable disadvantages" (790).

Clearly then, NFP may not be used for any reason whatsoever. What is more, these
"serious motives' must be "independent of the good will" of the spouses (620). 
Therefore, sufficient reasons are not those which are the fault of the couple themselves, or which they could dispel if they so willed; for example, a Father who does not want to work or a mother who does not want to have children.
Those who enter matrimony are obliged to accept the duties of this state and this under pain of sin. Moreover, the allotted reasons must not be "inseparable from the law itself, nor inherent in its fulfillment" (790). 

This important precision, made by Pius XII in 1958 eliminates as reasons the difficulties that accompany every pregnancy,
the risk of deformation in every conception, the duty which all Parents have to educate their children, the normal restrictions which every new mouth to feed will put on a family budget, etc.. All of these difficulties are inherent in the fulfillment of the law of matrimony. They should have been foreseen before entering into this state. Is then any motive sufficient as long as it is extraordinary? No, it must be a "motive of serious proportions (789) that is, a weighty motive. 

But what is the necessary gravity? The gravity is proportioned to the duty, which the spouses have to provide the human race with future citizens, and the Catholic Church with future believers. AND THIS IS A GRAVE DUTY, OBLIGING UNDER PAIN OF GRAVE SIN. "Therefore, the motive in question must be real and proven, not imaginary, supposed or improbable.Pope Pius XII, in his allocution to midwives already quoted, points to four sources, in which we may find truly grave motives, exempting husband and wife from their obligatory and positive debt for a long period, or even for the entire period of their matrimonial life. Since the Pope states that these four "indications" (622) arise "not rarely "(622), we shall take a special look at each of them.

B. The four "indications".
These four sources of exemption are "the so-called medical, eugenic, economic and social indications" (622), because, if one truly exists, "the general principle may be applied that a positive action may be omitted with grave motives [...] show that its performance is inopportune, or prove that it may not be claimed with equal right of the petitioner - in this case, mankind" (620). [It must be noted, however, that the sole existence of one of these four exemptions only makes periodic continence licit if the spouses are able to practice it without sin (See below: C).]

1. The Medical indication is a serious danger to the health or the life of the mother, diagnosed by a doctor, qualified either from a scientific point of view or from a moral point of view. In such a case the obligation "of providing for the preservation of mankind" (621) ceases, because a woman is not obliged. by the matrimonial contract, to expose herself to dangers or injury which are not ordinarily part of maternity (Courier de Rome, June 1991, p.2).
Rev. Fr. George Kelly, in The Catholic Marriage Manual, describes the medical indication:
"A doctor may advise a couple against having children. For example, a woman recovering from a serious operation might lack the strength to carry a child. A woman suffering from an incurable disease might face the likelihood of death soon after her baby is born." Likewise, "a husband's health might be so poor that he might not support a child" (Op.cit. p.56).
However the Manual adds a word of warning:
"It is important [...], however, not to accept the judgment of a single doctor as infallibly decreeing the death of the next pregnancy. Too many of us know of women so instructed who bore many children safely. A doctor can be wrong. The better the doctor, the less he is inclined to lay claim to infallibility in making these observations. [...] It should be remembered, too, that doctors, though men of science, are not always scientific in their practical determinations. Like anyone else, they may have a small-family mentality and are quick to convert their patients to this way of life (ibid)." 
The Manual goes on to recommend the consultation of a good Catholic obstetrician, if one can be found. The longer the spouses practice periodic continence, the graver the "medical indication" must be. According to specialists, "there are few maternal illnesses that absolutely counter-indicate procreation" and therefore authorize the perpetual practice of NFP. However, the deficient health of a mother, or a state of overwork, may suffice for the spouses to temporarily defer another pregnancy, by periodic or complete abstinence, awaiting the return of healthy equilibrium to the mother. The Church permits this spacing as long as it can be accomplished without sin.
It should be noted that breastfeeding, which is almost always a moral obligation [Pius XII, Allocution to Mothers, October 26, 1941, (Solesmes - The Woman) and June, Moral Theology. n 200) has also been shown to be a truly natural way of spacing children.

2. The Eugenic indication is the almost absolute certainty that one will bring into the world physically or psychologically deformed children. In such a case, with regard to the social good, the obligation to procreation ceases. However, it is necessary to remark "with regard to the personal good of the children, that it is better for these to exist than not." (V. Palazzini. Dictionnarium morale et canonicum see continentia periodica - Courrier de Rome, Loc. cit.). Since the existence of every human being, once conceived, is sacred, the abortion of any fetus known to be deformed is completely unjustified. It is very sad to note that today, through genetics and embryo farming, Godless science and government are leading us into a world of a new super-race into which even many like ourselves will be refused entry.

3. The Economic indication is a real concrete situation, which obliges the spouses to realize that their economic means are insufficient to assume the expenses joined to the arrival of another child. In such a case, the obligation to procreation ceases, although
the Church counsels to confide in the Providence of God, Who "does not refuse the means to live to those He calls to life" (Pius XII, Jan. 20, 1958)
Concerning this economic indication, The Catholic Marriage Manual states:
"The obligation of parenthood does not require a couple to have as many children as is humanly possible, as some critics allege. However, they should have at many children as they can support reasonably. This does not mean that they must be deeply in debt to the loan companies before practicing periodic continence. Nor does it mean that rhythm is justified until they have sufficient savings to insure a college education for the child." (Op.cit. p.57). 
However, we can only too highly recommend generosity and confidence in Providence. Without these, we would not have had a St. Bernadette of Lourdes, born of a large family in extreme poverty, and a St. Catherine of Siena, a 23rd child.

4. The Social indication is made up of "serious reasons in the social order". Father Kelly gives the two following examples: poor housing conditions, which force a couple to live in such crowded quarters that an additional child would indeed create a great burden; a man who expects to be sent to work in a distant place for a number of years, incapacitating him to fulfill his responsibilities as a father (The Catholic Marriage Manual , p.57). Another example would be the social conditions during wartime.

Father Ceriani adds:
"A large family requires a number of conditions which are not always present; among these are found, not only the physical health of the mother, but also the spiritual capabilities [or psychological qualities (trans.)] of both partners: prudence, the capacity of making decisions, strength of character, nervous equilibrium, calm, etc.. "The primary end of matrimony is the procreation and the education of the offspring. The Church recognizes the value of education, especially of a Christian formation, which infinitely supersedes that of simple birth. "Catholic doctrine does not in any way adopt the theory of those extremists who are in favor of procreation; it could be that prudence at times may not advise births too close together, which put obstacles to education."On the other hand, we must not forget that a large family offers a special means for the acquisition and practice of the virtues: denial of self, love of work, poverty, mutual aid, fraternal correction, etc.. The family, with one or two children, does not facilite a Christian education. "There is a virtuous equilibrium that should be established (according to the physical condition of the spouses', as well as the circumstances in which modern anti-Christian society 'obliges' catholic families to live), keeping in view only the glory of God and the salvation of their souls and those of their children. Evidently in this, more than in other cases, the counsel of a priest is necessary (Jesus Christus, June-July 1992,p.8). 

One last word concerning the "social indication ". Some persons affirm that it would even be sinful to bring children into our present modern society. Despite its noble appearance, this is in reality a most cowardly and ridiculous assertion. In fact, it is because of the immensity of the evil forces that all Catholic parents are obliged to do all in their power to bring into this world and to educate good and Catholic children to counteract, if necessary by the blood of martyrdom, the evils of today. Catholic parents must take courage and fulfill their glorious role in forming the Christian soldiers of tomorrow.

Nor is it reasonable to say: "The world is overpopulated with children, no use our adding to the mess." Even if the world were overpopulated, it is not overpopulated with good and Catholic children, who, in principle, should not add to the mess but help clean it up.
"Christian parents must realize", states Pius XI, "that they are called not merely to propagate and preserve the human race on earth, nor even to procreate men who worship the true God in just any way, but to give children to the Church of God, to procreate fellow citizens of the saints and members of God's household (see Eph. 2. 19), so that the number of worshippers of God and of our Savior may be constantly increased."(Casti Connubii, Dec. 31. 1930, 276). 
It is not only the salvation of the children, which should encourage parents to generosity, but also their own salvation. Men should remember their duty, imposed upon Adam by the Creator (Gen. 3; 17-20), to work to support their family. In being faithful to duty, they will save their souls. "Women,", says St. Paul, "will be saved by childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty" (1 Tim. 2;15). These words of Holy Scripture may not please the emancipation movement, but they remain the Revealed Word of God, and thus, worthy of serious meditation.

To summarize what we have seen concerning the 'four indications", we once again quote Fr. Ceriani:
"The will of God in the domain of procreation is manifested to the spouses by all of the events in their domestic life, which do not escape the plan of Divine Providence [...] According as such an event is translated by a difficulty [a serious difficulty, as we have amply seen, ed.] of a medical, eugenic, economic or social order, the spouses will recognize the will of God, permitting for them, in this case, as long as should last, periodic continence, compatible with the Law of God (Ibid, P.8-9).. 
Note well, the last condition that, even if one of the four "indications" is present, the periodic continence, as practiced by the spouses, must be "compatible with the law of God". This means that the practice of NFP must not place either of the spouses in a near occasion of mortal sin. Let us consider this important condition.

C. Periodic continence must be mutually agreed upon and possible for the spouses without sin.
Like Pope Pius XII, Paul VI spoke, in his encyclical "Humanae vitae" (n 10) of the possibility of practicing periodic continence "for serious reasons and in respect for the moral Law". It is this "respect for the moral law" that interests us here. The Catholic Marriage Manual quotes on this point, Father John A. Goodwine, of St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, N.Y.. Assuming that, in one particular case, circumstances of a medical, eugenic, social or economic nature justify periodic continence, Father Goodwine explains that there would already be sin if mutual agreement on its use was not present.
"Neither partner may insist on abstinence against the reasonable protest of the other. The reason for this is the marriage contract. By that contract each partner agrees to satisfy the reasonable and serious request of the other for marital relations; for one partner to default on this contract would be a serious violation of justice. Accordingly, the practice of periodic continence would be lawful when, and just as long as, it is mutually agreeable to the spouses (Op. cit.,p.57)." 
Father Goodwine continues:
"The second requisite is that both husband and wife must be able to practice continence during the so-called fertile days. The use of periodic continence demands no little self-control. When a couple attempts to restrict the use of marriage to the sterile period, there may arise occasions of serious sin. The attempt may lead to sins of self-abuse, to mutual fondling to the point of culpable pollution, and even to infidelity. These dangers are especially great in the case of men; but women are by no means exempt from them." 
The Catholic Marriage Manual continues:
"If the necessary conditions are not met in a particular case, would a couple sin in practicing periodic continence? If it is sinful, how serious is the sin?" 
Writing in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Father Goodwine has answered:
"If any one of the required conditions (that the parties be willing to abstain, that they be able to abstain without proximate danger of serious sin [...) is not met, recourse to periodic continence will be sinful. In certain cases, seriously sinful. For instance, if the first condition is not verified, and the practice of periodic continence is insisted on by one partner against the reasonable objections of the other, a sin of injustice would be committed. [...] So also, If the second condition is not met, and the practice of periodic continence becomes a proximate occasion of sins against chastity, there would be a serious sin." 
Would it also be a serious sin to practice NFP without grave motive, that is, without one of the four serious "indications" mentioned by Pope Pius XII? Fr. Ceriani answers, presenting two possibilities:
a) "If the use of matrimony is limited exclusively to the periods of natural sterility deliberately so as to perpetually avoid the conception of a child, without any other reason than to satisfy sensuality and egoism, wishing to enjoy marriage while rejecting its inherent duties, a mortal sin would be committed, from the very first conjugal act, realized with this intention. 
b) "When matrimony is used exclusively on infertile days, with the intention of avoiding only temporarily, the conception of a child, there will be mortal sin when two or three children are not born as a consequence of this practice." 27 
Other moralists say the use of this practice, for the space of a year, without a proportional reason would already constitute a mortal sin. Father Goodwine states bluntly:
"There is a tendency to limit the discussion of periodic continence to questions of strict morality, to concentrate almost exclusively on right and wrong, to attempt to draw the line between what may and what may not be done without committing sin. All too often, such discussions lose sight of the Christian ideal of family life. Hardly ever do we hear any mention of the ideal of parenthood or of family life as the ideal type of married Life. "God instituted marriage as the means for the propagation of the race. The fruitful marriage, therefore, and not the sterile marriage, is the marriage that falls in best with God's plan. Having children is the primary goal of marriage. The family, therefore, consisting in father, mother and children is the ideal for the Christian. "There is something amiss when a couple wishes to marry, yet does not want to have any children; or determines to postpone having children for one, two or more years; or intends to have only three or four or six children but no more. A priest friend of mine likens such people to a young man, seeking ordination to the priesthood, who makes the stipulation that he will never have to say Mass, administer the sacraments, preach, or take duty. Such a young man would be seeking to avoid the very purposes for which men are ordained to the priesthood. So, too, the married couple who, without sufficient reason, fail to fulfill their purpose in life. Even the couple, which has a sufficient reason for practicing rhythm, can be counseled to do more than is required by duty; to strive deliberately and consciously after the ideal."

The Catholic Marriage Manual also states:
"Practicing rhythm is particularly inadvisable for young couples. During the early years of marriage, the emotional and physical needs for intercourse probably are at their greatest. Moreover, a young husband and wife who abstain during the fertile 'period have no way of knowing whether their marriage really will be fertile. And If they are not fertile, the best time to discover this condition is when they are young - and when cures for sterility have the best chance to succeed." 
If rhythm is not advisable for young couples, self-restraint is. Pius XI warns that the married should:
"use their matrimonial rights always in a Christian and sacred way, especially in the early days, so that, should circumstances subsequently require them to observe continence, their habit of self restraint will help them more easily to do so" (Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930, 377).
It may indeed become absolutely necessary, especially because of the "medical indication", to avoid the conception of a child. It is then that the Church and ethical medical science recommend complete abstinence as the safest solution, providing it, too, can be kept without sin. "It will be objected, as it could be for periodic continence, "that such an abstention is impossible, that such heroism is asking too much." This, says Pius XII, is "a false conclusion." And to confirm his assertion the Pope quotes these words of the Council of Trent, taken from the works of St. Augustine:
"God does not command the impossible, but, while commanding, He warns thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and He aids thee that thou mayest be able. (626). 
Pius XII explains:
"He who does not want to master himself is not able to do so, and he who wishes to master himself relying only upon his own powers, without sincerely and perseveringly seeking divine help, will be miserably deceived" (627).
Such ideas are indeed foreign to the society in which we live, in which there is little question of even entering into matrimony, never mind respecting its primary duty and also its sacred character. On the contrary, like Pius XII, we should deplore that the Christian dignity of matrimony has been smeared by a "Natural Family Planning" mentality, by this anti-Christian hedonism which inculcates the intense desire to ever increase the pleasure in the preparation and in the performance of the conjugal union; as if in matrimonial relations, the whole moral law were reduced to the normal performance of the act itself, and as all the rest, in whatever way it is done, were to be justified by the expression of mutual affection, sanctified by the Sacrament of Matrimony, worthy of praise and reward before God and conscience. There is no thought at all of the dignity of man and of the Christian - a dignity that restrains the excess of sensuality.
"No; the gravity and sanctity of the Christian moral law do not admit an unchecked satisfaction of the sexual instinct, tending only to pleasure and enjoyment,' they do not permit rational man to let himself be mastered to such an extent, neither as regards the substance nor the circumstances of the act. "There are some who would allege that happiness in marriage is in direct proportion to the reciprocal enjoyment in conjugal relations. It is not so indeed, happiness in marriage is in direct proportion to the mutual respect of the partners, even in their intimate relations,' not that they regard as immoral and refuse what nature offers and what the Creator has given, but because this respect, and the mutual esteem which it produces, is one of the strongest elements of a pure love, which, for this reason is more tender" (648,649,650).
The ideal of matrimony and its "sacrificial aspect" (770) preached by Pius XII (Message to the World congress of the Family, June 10, 1958) is at antipodes with contraception. One may well ask, is there, can there be a "Catholic alternative to contraception"? The answer is clearly no, if is sought another means to satisfy the passions, without assuming one's obligations. The answer is yes, if is sought the will of God. And what is this "alternative to contraception"? It could be, in some cases, we do not deny, periodic continence or, if necessary, perpetual abstinence. But it could also be a large family. Whatever it is, it will not be found without the Cross and sacrifice, for it is only by these that a Christian marriage will bring forth fruit. "Whosoever does not carry his Cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Lc. 14;27).
Footnote: (1) The numbers in parentheses found throughout this article after certain papal statements refer to the paragraph numbers in Papal teachings MATRIMONY, Selected and arranged by the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, St Paul Editions 1963.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fr. P Gets It Wrong

The attack on "the businessman" continues, and this time it's "friendly fire". In a recent sermon Fr. P  recounted a discussion between "the businessmen" and a certain Cardinal of a major U.S. City about the closing of some the diocesan  schools.

"The businessmen" had advised the Cardinal to close the schools based on the realities of the "bottom line". The Cardinal countered with a short lecture on "service". The outcome of the dual was that the Cardinal overruled the advice of "the businessmen" and found a way to keep the schools open.

Fr. P's slam on "the businessman" is worth a discussion of its own. But the fact that it was most likely an unconscious slam is all the more worthy of discussion. Fr. P is not alone in his unconscious slams against "the businessman". This is a constant homiletic theme.

Sunday after Sunday, men and women who make an honest living and provide honest livings for others through employment, have to sit in their pews and hear their vocation impugned, maligned, and trivialized. According to most sermons, the only good businessman is one who gives away his money, and he is only good in proportion to the amount of money he gives away.

  • Never mind the fact that because they are in business, they have left a job that someone else was able to take.
  • Never mind the fact that their businesses provide employment for others. 
  • Never mind the fact that their businesses use goods and services that are purchased from other businesses that help those businesses prosper and grow their payrolls. 
  • Never mind the fact that the profits from those businesses enable the owners to purchase more goods which in turn stimulates other businesses which manufacture those goods and in turn employ more people. 
  • Never mind the fact that the service or product that those business people provide is desired and needed by others and in some way makes life better for others...or else it wouldn't get purchased or used.
  • And never mind the fact that "the businessmen" that advised the Cardinal were probably serving voluntarily on a finance council, taking time away from their businesses and their families to serve the Church, and probably were only giving the Cardinal the data he asked for in the capacity in which they served. 
It was not up to the businessmen whether the schools should be closed. It was up to them to provide the Cardinal with the numbers and their advice as businessmen. It is probably quite certain that those same businessmen, on a personal level, would have liked it to be otherwise. But to put their personal preferences ahead of their duty as tasked by the Church would have been uncharitable if not a lie.

The Cardinal, according to Fr. P's story, was able to take action and keep the schools. Wonderful. But he was only able to do so because he had in hand the financial picture provided to him by "the businessmen". And it is probably quite certain that those same businessmen were tasked with finding the finances to save the schools.

And it is also quite probable that "the businessmen", if not the ones on the finance council, then certainly other "businessmen", came up with a large amount of the money themselves to save those schools. For where else does money come from other than from Business, either as a direct donation from that business or from the employees of that business, who, through the profits of the business, receive a paycheck, and are therefore able to contribute to charitable causes.

Fr. P's unconscious attack on these servants of the Church, in particular, and, in general, all those who serve the Church by first following their vocation to grow a business, is a symptom of a disease that threatens the very work Fr. P is trying to do: save babies.

The number one reason people give for abortions is finances. Whether finances are the real issue or not is another matter. The fact is that whether it is abortion or contraception, what's in the bank usually determines whether one is "open to new life" or not. It's wrong of course, but it's a fact. The Church can preach at us all it wants about being "open to life" but to what effect if in the next sermon the means to sustain that life is ridiculed and belittled?

Money is neither good nor bad. Money is neutral. Business is neutral. There are good people in business and there are bad people in business. But "the businessman", with the unconscious help of sermons like Fr. P's, has come to mean greed, evil, selfishness, oppression, and "the only good businessman is the businessman who gives his money away".

My wife and I have 11 children. I'd like to say that we have 11 children because we are open to life. No. We have 11 children because after our 3rd child I saw the "balance sheet on the wall", and the bottom line said "no more children". Even 3 children was already one too many for our checkbook. So I started a side business just to survive. Once in business I realized something that as an employee I may never have realized: I was in control of my income (or at least more control than I had as an employee).

I realized that I didn't have to fear conceiving another child because my income wasn't limited by a pay scale. I could simply do more to make more and thus have more (children). I didn't set out to make money to have more children, but once money was no longer a limiting factor, my wife and I felt more free to be open to life. I began to see that my business was part of God's plan for providing for the children He wished to send me. At the time, I didn't realize it would be 11. But one thing is certain. If I didn't have a business and personal control of my income, I probably would have ended up like a lot of other Catholics who simply ignore the Church's teaching on contraception.

It's been said that the last accepted prejudice in America is the prejudice against Catholics. And within Catholicism, the most accepted prejudice seems to be the prejudice against those who are called to build a business. Church leaders can say all they want about the rights of the worker and the right to work and the right to a living wage, but unless someone starts a business, there will be no wages to have a right to.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bill 185 and the Upcoming Guam Gubernatorial Election

The upcoming gubernatorial election will provide Guam Catholics with a unique opportunity to decide between candidates on the basis of a non-negotiable moral issue.

In recent forums at GCC (April 28 & May 3) , gubernatorial candidates Calvo & Gutierrez were asked how they would vote on Bill 185, a bill that would create a legal equivalent to marriage (despite what the actual union might be labeled).

The responses are worth study.

Calvo: "The core foundation of a society is the family unit, and it starts with the marriage of a man and a woman, and having children. I will fight for the civil liberties of all people on our island especially for those that are the less fortunate.But ... I do believe that the foundation of this society has to be headstrong, and that means a strong family, and that means a strong marriage, and this is why I will vote no on Bill 185."

Gutierrez: "It says marriage defined ... is a thing between a male and a female. What this thing does is allow civil rights for other kinds of partnerships, as in a contractual basis ... We're not saying we're allowing marriage. We're saying we're allowing a civil kind of contract so that they can protect each other at the hospital or anywhere, ownership or property."

Now, compare both responses to official Catholic Church teaching:




10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

Candidate Calvo's position is qualified yet unequivocal. He will vote NO.

Candidate Gutierrez's position is that he will vote YES. His position is essentially the position of the bill's proponents, and that is, since it not called marriage, it's okay.

However, the Church does not mention "marriage" in the above quoted document. It outright obliges all Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians to "oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions", which is exactly what Bill 185 will do:legally recognize homosexual unions. A vote in favor of such a law, by ANY Catholic politician (or any Catholic if it was a referendum) is condemned as an act that is "gravely immoral" (mortal sin).

The duty of the voter is a little more complicated. But essentially, in elections, Catholics are NOT obliged to vote for the "most Catholic" candidate, they ARE obliged to vote for the candidate that will do the "least harm" to the common good as embodied in Catholic moral teaching.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [2357] that "homosexual acts" are acts of "grave depravity" and "intrinsically disordered". Thus Catholics can no more support a candidate that would legally recognize a homosexual lifestyle (as would Bill 185 - regardless of whether or not the partners actually engage in those acts), than could Catholics support a candidate who advocates heterosexual polygamy.

A 2006 statement by the Bishops of Kansas stated the obligation clearly:

" is a correct judgment of conscience that we would commit moral evil if we were to vote for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on those actions that are intrinsically evil when there is a morally-acceptable alternative."

The bishops include the following the list of moral evils: "elective abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex "marriage." (While the bishops use the word "marriage" here, the overriding teaching by the Vatican refers simply to the "legal recognition of homosexual unions. It does not matter that the unions are not called "marriage", or that there wasn't a church wedding. The Vatican is referring to a "legal" action, not a church one.)

Some think that war, capital punishment, poverty, immigration issues, etc. should be included in the list and that Catholic voters must balance all the issues. This is not true. All moral issues do not carry the same weight as was clarified by Pope Benedict XVI (while still a Cardinal) in his memorandum issued to the U.S. Church during the run up to the presidential election in 2004 regarding worthiness to receive Communion.

In many previous communications, I offered many reasons from natural law, legal precedent, & social consequences for the Church's teaching on the matter. However, this communication simply deals with a Catholic's obligation in the voting booth. The Church is not telling us to vote for. It cannot. But it can and does tell us what we must and must not do when it comes to our moral responsibility in regards to issues and the position taken on those issues by the candidates we find on the ballot.

There are some who will always put party over principle, friendship over Faith, and relatives over Religion. We all must bear in mind our End and how we will be held to account....and that will include how we voted.

The candidates must answer for themselves. We are not asking them to take a moral position. THEY ARE TELLING US what moral position they will take. Both candidates are very well versed on this issue. Neither are ignorant of the consequences of their positions. We cannot be either.

I am very conscious of the fact that I have no teaching authority of my own to tell you these things. This is why I link all the critical points to source documents for your own reference. The Church already teaches these things. Our mission at Esperansa and the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam is to help others know WHERE those teaching can be found. Use the links to read for yourself.

Monday, May 03, 2010

It's Rare That I Disagree With the Pope, but...

...I disagree (sort of) with him here: "Pontiff calls for re-plan of economics"

Actually, I do not disagree with him in principle. I do believe that "economics has an essentially ethical nature as "an activity of and for human beings." and:

"Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development -- political, cultural and spiritual -- of individuals, families and societies."

But, the greed and bad guys in the private sector that have given us a handful of bad companies (e.g. Enron) is really but a small fraction of the problem when compared to the economic devastation caused by what countries like Greece and Portugal have done for years, and the U.S. is just gearing up to do, and that is to print money when there is none.

A private businessmen is sent to jail for "cooking the books" and making it look like his company has more money than it does. A politician who does the same thing gets re-elected. It's impossible for the handful of bad capitalists to take a country down all by themselves. It's those at the levers of power in the government that steer a country into ruin.

At the source of the U.S. financial crisis is not Lehman Brothers or Merril Lynch. They are but bit players in a much larger game managed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the congressional committee heads that run them. These are so-called "private government run entities". There's problem number one: "private" AND "government run"??

At the source of the Greek problem is not misbehaving bankers and stock merchants, but a government that has spent itself into irrecoverable debt through policies that negate private initiative. The U.S. has been on that road for many years with its ever expanding bureaucracies, but has super accelerated in the last 12 months.

It's fashionable and safe to blame the likes of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street bad boys. But THEY ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT CONGRESS ITSELF IS NOT ALREADY DOING, except Congress is doing it at exponentially higher amounts (e.g. the "Louisiana Purchase", the "Cornhusker Kickback", etc.)

I can't blame the Pope completely. I don't think he's ever had a job, let alone own a business. The main principles are correct, but the practical application is wanting. The serious culprit in the global financial meltdown is governments that have spent their countries (and states, e.g. California) into the "red hole" and killed the goose that laid the golden egg (private enterprise) by punitive and ignorant taxation and regulation.

Socialism and Communism are the alternatives to Capitalism. How's that working out? See U.S.S. R., North Korea, Cuba, etc. Some say China is a socialist success story. But in fact China has prospered only in areas it has allowed capitalism to grow. By the way, what the immigration rate into China?

Have the Pope, give me a call.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


"Interesting!" May 1 is the Catholic feast of St. Joseph the Worker. (For those who may not know, this is another title for Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.) I begin by saying "interesting" because of the sermon I heard. I'm sure it was well-intentioned and an innocent error, but the account of the institution of this feast seemed to vary a bit from actual history. So, first, some actual history.

History of the Feast

Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 on the first day of May - chosen specifically to oppose the communist holiday on the same day known as "May Day" - which supposedly honored "the worker", the "proletariat".

The communist May Day was more than just a Soviet style Labor Day. The Marxist concept of "the proletariat" embodies the essence of the socialist ideology which subjects everything and everyone, including the worker, to the whim and will of the State.

In effect, the communist May Day, in the days of the U.S.S.R, was an "in your face" militaristic display of aggressive, expansionist, atheistic communism. The "worker" was but a prop for the communist hierarchy and their godless agenda.

Pius XII knew this. So, in the tradition of other Pontiffs who had previously christianized pagan holidays by inserting a Christian feast on or near a pagan one, Piux XII christianized a day devoted to atheism and the actual subjugation of "workers" to the man closest to Christ, St. Joseph "The Worker".

Today, with "the wall" down and the U.S.S.R. but a memory, it is easy to forget the threat Communism was in 1955. Stalin had already murdered an estimated 20 plus million of his own people. The Soviets had consolidated eastern Europe in their iron grip, and tanks were arrayed on the Hungarian border. All of mainland China had fallen to the Communists. And Communism was sweeping through Korea, Vietnam, and many other countries. The Soviets were amassing a nuclear arsenal and preparing to venture into space. It was a fearful time.

With an army of a couple of dozen Swiss guys dressed in bad pajamas, the Pope opted to deploy Heaven's most powerful male Saint to"sick" the Communists.

Thus, it was with some consternation that I listened to a sermon on this day which recounted the institution of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker as the Church's response to "the extortionist of workers by the Capitalist" (actual words)!!

As we know, Communism grew out of the Marxist/Leninist rebellion against Capitalism. They are opposite economic systems. And, as history would have it, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted precisely to COUNTER COMMUNISM - NOT CAPITALISM. But perhaps with the demise of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe now free, some feel the need to seek a new villain, and Capitalism is always handy.

However, though the USSR may be gone, communism is not. And while communism as an economic system has been severely discredited, its stepchild, atheism, is thriving. Communism isn't just the economic opposite of capitalism, it is the antithesis of Christianity, not just because it is atheistic, but because the basic disregard for the human person is inherent in communist ideology. In Communism, all, including every human person, is subject to the state.

Of course "state" is a euphemism for a self-serving elite whose rule has proven to be more ruthless and cruel than any bourgeois czar or king. With Stalin's murderous purge just coming to light (in 1955), another 36 million dead in Communist China in the name of the "Great Leap Forward", and Russian tanks clanking at the Hungarian border, the Pope wasn't thinking just then about the evils of Capitalism.

So Why the Attack on Capitalism?

Capitalist "evil" is standard homiletic fare. Perhaps its simply an innocent ignorance of history. Perhaps its a purposeful attack on an economic system that some, if not many, believe to be inherently unjust. But most likely the revisionist history is a combination of the progressive emphasis on social justice in the Church since the 60's and the natural economic gulf that exists between clergy and laity. Allow me to explain.

Essentially, most priests and religious, embrace a life of what can be called Christian socialism. In short, socialism teaches that there are no private property rights, that all is "held in common." The priest or religious who takes the vow of poverty cedes his or her right to personal ownership to the community which he or she joins and where all is "held in common."

Even secular priests, who may not take the vow of poverty and are allowed to maintain some degree of personal property, still participate in a "common life" much different than the laity, particularly those who have families to raise. The key difference though, is that this life "in common", the ceding of the right to private property, is "voluntary", not coerced, as it would be under a socialist or communist system.

The laity, because of their God-appointed duty to produce, educate, and socialize the next generation, are naturally required to put the well being of that "first community" ahead of the needs of the larger community. In order to do this, the family, or at least its head, must have access to the means of wealth creation for which the right to private property is essential.The priest or religious, while there are still bills to pay, does not have the same need. While they may be tasked to feed the poor, it is not quite the same thing as a father having to face a table full of hungry children because "daddy lost his job".

Few priests and religious have to worry about the daily crushing realities of food, clothing, shelter, and health care, etc. to the same degree that the laity, especially those who are parents, must. Thus, priests and religious would do well to address economic issues with caution simply because, for the most part, they are not subject to the same financial realities, or at least to the same degree of those financial realities, as the people they are addressing.

St. Joseph the Capitalist

But back to the title of this post. Of course it is "tongue in cheek", but St. Joseph was more "capitalist" than he was proletariat or "union guy" - which the particular sermon I heard made him out to be.

Good St. Joe bought materials, fashioned them into things people were willing to pay more for than what the material itself cost (e.g. wood = table), and used the money to care for his family and buy more materials so that he could repeat the process. It's possible that he was even an employer. Sure, he had Jesus around to help, but it's quite possible, that as a successful carpenter, he had some other local Nazarenes on the payroll.

We can also reason from Scripture that he probably did pretty well. In order for him to just pick up and go off to Egypt as instructed by the angel, he had to have some means. And the fact that Jesus was born in a stable and not a "hotel" was not due to Joseph's lack of funds. He obviously had the money or he wouldn't have knocked on the hotel doors first.

Also, we do not hear about Mary in want for her material well-being after Joseph died, so he probably socked away some of that profit to provide for his wife and Son's financial future. He may even have helped financed the ministry of his foster Son. The Scriptures don't mention it much, but we don't see Christ begging and He seemed to have the bucks when needed. So, yah, it could be said that St. Joe was a capitalist, a successful one. (Scripture does mention women who provided for his material needs. But of course that money was "made" somewhere. No government grants in those days.)

Private Property: The Essence of Capitalism
The essential feature of capitalism (in contrast to communism) is the right to own private property. This right is rooted in the Judeo-Christian principles upon which the U.S.A. was founded. In case you're wondering, it's the Seventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not steal". Obviously a thing would need to be "owned" (i.e."private property) before it could be "stolen". Thus it is no coincidence that capitalism grew up on American soil and generated the wealthiest nation in history.

Prior to the founding of the United States and the experiment in democracy, a thing could be owned until some king, lord, duke, or whoever had more power (and weapons) than you, wanted it. In short, the history of the world is tyranny.

America, in contrast,  was more than just an experiment in a new form of government, it was an experiment in the practical application of Judeo-Christian principles, as unashamedly attested to by many documents authored in the name of this country's Founding Fathers. The very idea of the equal dignity of persons ("All persons are created equal...") would have been, historically, unthinkable apart from Christianity.

So What's the Problem?

Capitalism and Christianity are essentially bound up with each other. Capitalism is a free system where people are free to do good or ill. As William F. Buckley once said, "The problem with Socialism is Socialism. The problem with Capitalism are Capitalists." Socialism inherently denies the Seventh Commandment because it coercively denies the right to private property.

Thus it is the system itself that is the problem. Capitalism embraces the Seventh Commandment and the right to private property. However, due to the personal freedom inherent in the system, bad guys are free to do bad things. Yet one can no more blame Capitalism for bad Capitalists than one can blame Catholicism for bad Catholics. Freedom is the essence of both.

But what to do about the obvious abuses in the Capitalist system? Can the Church just look the other way? No. As always, the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ, and that is: to call all men first to conversion. Then it becomes the mission of the laity, once converted, to "sanctify the temporal order", as did St. Joseph. Given the current economic crisis, perhaps the Church would do well to deploy the foster father of Jesus once again, as did Pius XII, as the patron saint of Capitalists. For what is needed is not a new economic system, but new men, which only the Church can make.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...