Saturday, March 30, 2013


Christians will lose the culture war against same-sex marriage because they are fighting it as a culture war. It is not. Finally, someone, and a Catholic priest no less, lays the blame where it belongs and names the demon.



For those of you scratching your heads about the peculiarities of the recent Holy Thursday papal foot-washing ceremony at a Roman juvenile prison, here's a reasonable article by Jimmy Akin. It's essentially an apologia, and Akin, as usual, does a good job. However, I want to point out some issues with Jimmy's apologia. 
St. Catherine of Siena

Akin, in attempting to downplay the significance of the ceremony, notes that the directives in the current missal for the rite, while specifying that it is "men" whose feet are to be washed, the number is not limited to twelve. Akin appears to elaborate this a bit to show that there is some flexibility in the directives. 

However, perhaps the main reason the number twelve is not specified is because the church is assuming that there would be no question. The ceremony occurs during the Mass for Holy Thursday which represents the events of the first Holy Thursday in which both the priesthood and the Eucharist are instituted and the focus is on the Twelve. That there would be twelve who have their feet washed on Holy Thursday should not be a question.

Akin, goes on to note that in John - the only Gospel to note this event - the word "disciples" is used and not "apostles". Akin notes that Jesus had many disciples, giving rise to some question as to just how many feet Jesus washed, and again, posing possible flexibility.  However, at this point, the Twelve were still disciples, not apostles. Disciples means followers, apostles means those who are sent. The Twelve would technically become apostles at the Ascension when there are told to "go and teach all nations". But here, in the upper room, the night before the crucifixion, they are still just followers.

But what is difficult in all this is this sort of preponderance of "gestures" we are suddenly having to grapple with and find reasons for. The pope says he wants to make a point - from everything to paying his hotel bill to doing Holy Thursday at a prison. Fine. But I don't believe that St. Francis hugged lepers and lived in poverty to make a point. Also, St. Francis was not the Pope with a responsibility to the whole church. In fact, as his order grew, St. Francis became extremely conflicted over his increasingly administrative role. In the end, he left (at least physically) the order he started.

Some are deriding any criticism or questioning of the new pope's unusual actions. A pope cannot err in teaching faith and morals, but he can err else-wise, and history is full of such examples. While I don't see any reason for true alarm, I do see the need for the laity to be vigilant. After all, it was a humble lay woman from Siena who restored the Church to Rome in the 14th century after 70 years of the popes hiding out in France. It would be good to read the book TRIUMPH by H.W. Crocker if you haven't already. It appears that we we are in for an interesting time, and a strong sense of history will be required.

Friday, March 29, 2013


The following is a Facebook response to a friends post relative to the opinion of Robert George in this article:

I am very familiar with George's work, having relied on it to beat back the same-sex union bill here in Guam in 2009. But ultimately I had to move beyond it because the core of his argument is that marriage is inherently fertile. With most of the population chemically, surgically, or mechanically controlling their fertility - including most Christians - the argument, though true, in practice, fails.

Even the use of NFP by Catholics is almost everywhere deeply flawed because the morality of the method depends on "just cause" - a contingency which is rarely examined or counseled.

SSM is simply an extension of the principal of the primacy of pleasure - made possible by contraception and even NFP - already long embraced by supposed traditional marriage couples.

The only argument left to us is the one Sotomayor (amazingly) proffered. It is essentially this question: "where do you draw the line?" If you would not limit marriage to one man or one woman, what would you limit it to and why, or would you limit it at all?

Unfortunately, she waded into the polygamy question and Olson was prepared for that. It would have been better if she had raised the prospects of eliminating already existing restrictions on marriage such as consanguinity, affinity, etc., and asked whether or not even non-sexual marriages should be allowed (e.g. a marriage between a father and a daughter for the purposes of passing on benefits). Since only love is the criterion, all things are possible.

However, the courts best defense is the ruling in Loving v Virginia wherein the court ruled that marriage was necessary for the "survival of society" and the fact that the Loving court did not need to explain it - explains it.

Ultimately, this argument would bring us back to George's point and would force us all to recognize that it is heterosexuals who have abused marriage to the point where advocates of SSM, which is nothing more than the sterile sex most Americans already practice, feel empowered to challenge TM's exclusivity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Published in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, March 24, 2013.

Like most, I had no idea who Cardinal Bergoglio was, and still know very little. Of course, it doesn’t really matter. He’s pope. And where he came from and what he did may have much or little to do with where he goes and what he does as pope. The “spirit blows where it will.” (John 3:8)

To be frank, I paid very little attention to the interregnum and the election and am only glancing at the post-election news. I don’t know about you but I am so nauseatingly tired of the media cackle about whether the new pope will open up the church to contraception, same-sex marriage, women priests, etc, etc. etc. (Yawn.)

The pope can do no such thing and he won’t. End of story. So I just stay away from the news and only glance at stories where the new pope himself has spoken - and so far (not that it matters) I like what I hear.

I like that he has already stood up to both secular and religious powers and was willing to pay the price for doing so. During the debate leading up to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina, he called it a "‘move’ of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God"  and a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” Contrast that with the New York bishops who chose to “keep our powder dry” (their own words) - saying next to nothing while same-sex marriage was legalized in their state.

It is also significant that in opposing same-sex marriage he had the pastoral presence of mind to distinguish the civil recognition of same-sex marriage - which legislatively impacts the whole of society, and private homosexual unions, which do not.

He also called adoptions by same-sex couples “discrimination against the child” who deserves both a mother and a father. He has called abortion what it is - murder, and he has demanded “eucharistic coherence” - which would exclude from receiving the eucharist those who live and speak outside the commandments (e.g. pro-abortion politicians). Contrast that with the flat refusal by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington D.C. to deny holy communion to Catholic pro-abortion politicians.

But there are also some things I find disturbing, not about the new pope, but about how he is being rushed to be perceived. Much is being made of his humility, which is comically antithetical. Many are lauding the fact that he “doesn’t act like a pope”. This is dangerous stuff. To say such things is to demean the behavior of his predecessors. So Benedict didn’t take the bus - are we then to consider him less a pope, less humble, less concerned for our salvation?

Upon his being announced as pope, Francis shunned the usual vestments for the occasion appearing only in his papal “whites”. And, rather than uttering an urbi et orbi-like phrase (e.g. John Paul II’s “Be not afraid”), he opted for a quiet “buona sera” (good evening). He also bowed low and asked for the people’s blessing before giving his.

True, these are humble gestures, but the rush to contrast Francis with his immediate predecessor - who opted for a more traditional presentation, even by Catholic commentators, is disconcerting, trite, and even suspicious.

In fact, allowing oneself to be served and reverenced requires an even greater humility. In the new pope’s case, there is no doubt that his gestures are not “gestures”, but manifest signs of who he really is as a priest from the third world. But he is now more than that. And while he is no longer “Jorge” he is NOT just “Francis”, he is PETER.

In truth, if we believe that the Spirit guides the church, especially in the elections of its vicars, then we must accept that, in dignity, no pope trumps another in terms of a socially assigned “wow” factor. We have who we have. Benedicamus Domino and knock off the comparisons.

Then there is his choice of name. “Francis” is perhaps the most dangerous name in all Catholicism because it has oft been usurped to serve the most ridiculous myths  - especially the delusional modern folkloric incarnation of Francis as a medieval tree-hugging, flower sniffing hippie who flitted about the italian countryside preaching to birds and worshiping the sun and moon.

As is the case of most great men, the man is always greater than the myth. And though the new pope calls Francis a “man of peace”, in truth, Francis was a war-monger, a war-monger who waged a fanatical war against sin and every possible occasion of it.

Upon the occasion of his canonization, Pope Gregory IX compared Francis to Samson, who, seizing the jawbone of an ass, “shattered the fetters of a flattering world.” May the first pope to bear his name do likewise.
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