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APTOPIX Italy Pope Epiphany

The most recent dust-up regarding Pope Francis occurred when I posted some scalding commentary regarding a LifeSite News article that reported on Pope Francis concelebrating mass with a 93 year-old dissident, gay rights activist priest, and the Pope’s kissing that priest’s hands. Lifesite accurately depicted the problematic issues surrounding the ancient cleric:

Fr. (Don) Michele de Paolis concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis at the Domus Santa Martha and then presented the pontiff with gifts of a wooden chalice and paten and a copy of his most recent book, “Dear Don Michele – questions to an inconvenient priest”.

In a previous book, Don Michele wrote, “homosexual love is a gift from (God) no less than heterosexual.” He also disparaged the idea of homosexual couples not having sex.

Francis closed the meeting by kissing the priest’s hand, a gesture that the far-left newspaper L’immediato called one “revealing the humility of a great man to another of the same stature.” De Paolis described the unusual papal gesture himself in a post to his Facebook page, saying that he asked Francis for an audience with the priest’s other organization, the Community of Emmaus: “Is that possible?”

He said that the pope replied, “Anything is possible. Talk to Cardinal Maradiaga and he shall prepare everything.”

“And then (unbelievably) he kissed my hand! I hugged him and wept,” de Paolis concluded.

The gesture has made something of a sensation in Italian media and ‘blogs since de Paolis is a well-known figure in Italy as a leading clerical apologist for the homosexualist ideology. He ostensibly met with Francis in his capacity as the founder of Emmaus Community in the southern Italian city of Foggia that assists the poor and those suffering from AIDS.

The article then included the following:

LifeSiteNews asked Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi for clarification as to the nature of the encounter but received no reply by press time.

On FB, I linked the Lifesite article with the following criticism from me:

Some other award winning and sensational headlines from years gone by:

Jesus Dines with Prostitutes

Galilean Rabbi Allows Woman with 12-year Hemorrhage to Touch Him.

Jesus at it Again, This Time Dines with Tax Collector.

Nazorean has Feet Washed by Whore’s Tears, Dried by Her Hair

Whore-Loving Rabbi Demands Jews Eat His Flesh, Drink His Blood as Admission Price for Heaven.

Dregs of Society will Inherit Heaven, When Will He End the Madness?

Rabbi Claims to be Doctor for the Sick, Ends Stoning of Adulteress. Is He Encouraging Sin?

Rabbi has it Backward. Conversion FIRST, Then Acceptance.

Sorry, but I’m beginning to see a heartlessness and self-righteousness in conservative and orthodox circles that is unnerving. As Father Groeschel once told me, “The sins against sex are the most humiliating, but the sins against charity are the most damning.”

This sparked something of an uproar, so much so that Lifesite printed a clarification of their position, and one of the editors called and had an extensive conversation with me. (I’ve been a contributing blogger for a few years). The conversation was frank, civilized, and gentlemanly. While it did much to clear the air, there is a larger, lingering issue that needs to be addressed by pro-life and orthodox Catholics; A question, really.

Who do we say Francis is?

Since his election, Francis has brought a style that has provided ample grist for the pro-life mill. Many have feared, openly and scandalously, that he is about to break with established church teaching on moral norms. And at every turn they have been proven wrong. He famously stated that one need not discuss the issues of abortion and homosexuality all the time, which sent most pro-life leaders into the stratosphere.

And for good cause.

Increasingly, we see the marriage between the gay rights movement and the culture of death through their support of in vitro fertilization and related technologies, the support for abortion, gay marriage, and the general support of left-leaning politicians. Western civilization’s implosion is accelerating and being catalyzed by these very issues.

Or is it?

Perhaps Francis sees these issues not as cause, but as effect. Perhaps Francis sees the breakdown as beginning in other areas and these latter issues are the final manifestation of a spiritual rot that has been progressing below the surface for quite some time. How can one know, or be sure? Is Francis a closet heretic and apostate, as some fear, or maverick pastor who is resorting to the audacious in order to snap people out of their torpor? How can one know?

In pursuit of this answer, and also in attending to several family matters (mostly good stuff), I have taken a self-imposed break from blogging, from the need to report, to comment, to publish with great regularity. The sabbatical has been both productive and refreshing. It has also confirmed for me some concerns regarding Francis. So, here it is.

I said this a year ago, and it is as true now, as it was then:

He. Is. Peter.

That’s who I say Francis is. He is the Vicar of Christ on Earth, and that dread reality ought to make people pause before they publish news articles that call his character, morality, and motives into question. The thought that a deadline for publication should trump waiting for a reply from the Vatican spokesman where the reputation of the pope hangs in the balance suggests that perhaps we have crossed a line over here in the right wing. It suggests that we have established ourselves as a shadow College of Cardinals, advising our pope in print and tearing into him when he dares to march to his own drum.

If our Jesuit, hand-kissing, iconoclastic pope has aroused our ire, perhaps it is because he is shattering our icons of ourselves. Perhaps this pope sees that abortion and homosexuality are rooted in other serious ills that need also to be addressed, and that attacking root causes clears up a great deal of downstream issues like homosexuality and abortion.

Perhaps Jorge Bergolio brings with him to the Chair of Peter a perspective that we in the Northern Hemisphere simply do not grasp. The very people whom he grew up with, cherished and valued, ministered to in their poverty are largely our illegal aliens in the United States- a people resented here, even despised. So, when Bergolio/Francis speaks of the need to make these people a priority, and not speak all the time of abortion and homosexuality, he speaks from a perspective that runs up hard against the conservative, Republican/ Tea Party politics that animate so many of us in the pro-life movement and the orthodox wing of the church. It is difficult to separate the integration of our politics and faith, especially when the two dovetail so nicely on the life issues.

Still, Francis is calling us to espouse some of that espoused by our political opponents here in North America, and that means breaking the mold and entering the dangerous waters of consensus politics, of becoming odd bedfellows with the political lepers of the left.

Francis sees where the disintegration, the alienation takes place. It’s in the heart. That is most evident in those who castigated him for concelebrating with a brother priest who was never disciplined by Popes John Paul II or Benedict, and neither by Cardinals Ratzinger or Burke when they headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I suspect that all of these very “imprudent” actions on Francis’ part are reaching many homosexuals and lesbians at the core of their woundedness, and suggesting to them that they are not the lepers in the church that secular media have suggested that they are. What comes of this revolutionary pastoral approach remains to be seen.

Until then, Francis IS Peter. His choice was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he is in need of our prayers. Moreso, we need to pray for ourselves, for the gifts of wisdom and courage, vision and strength, and above all, humility.

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In his recent interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reiterated that the only problem he and the bishops had with Obamacare was the HHS mandate for contraceptive and abortion coverage in all insurance plans. He lamented that Obama was alienating a body of bishops that wanted to support this legislation, wanted to support Obama in his efforts at it. Most respectfully, the interview with Gregory was a missed opportunity on so very many fronts. Our bishops and several in the pro-life movement have had such a myopic focus on contraception and abortion issues in Obamacare that moral issues just as big and even bigger have entirely gone unaddressed by them. First, to the interview. David Gregory asked:

“What about Obamacare? You have voiced your displeasure with certain aspects of it in terms of mandates for hospitals and so forth. What about the overall goal? Do you think it will ultimately prevail? Would you like it, do you think it’s important for our country that universal health care insurance be available?”

Cardinal Dolan responded:

“Yep, and I’m glad you allow me to make that distinction,” Dolan replied. “We bishops are really in kind of a tough place because we’re for universal, comprehensive. life-affirming healthcare. We, the bishops of the United States–can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal health care. That’s how far back we go in this matter, okay. So we’re not Johnny-come-latelys.

“We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, ‘Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,’ so we began to bristle at that.

“And then secondly we said, ‘And wait a minute, we who are pretty good Catholics who are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing healthcare, do it because of our religious conviction,and because of the dictates of our conscience, and now we’re being asked to violate some of those.’

“So that’s when we began to worry and draw back and say, ‘Mr. President, please, you’re really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we’re not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders. And that, sadly, is what happened.”.

Sadly?

Really???

In a 2,000+ page document filled with countless yet-to-be-determined, open-ended policy that states, “The Secretary [of HHS] shall determine…”, how is it considered moral to cheerlead for something completely undefined, especially in this nation with what Pope John Paul II called an ascendant “Culture of Death,” and with the party of death as its authors and administrators?

How could the bishops cheerlead for a law that will be administered with hefty doses of what is euphemistically called “rationing,” when President Obama brought aboard Dr. Donald Berwick whose expertise is in rationing? From Wiki:

“Berwick has studied the management of health care systems, with emphasis on using scientific methods and evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research to improve the tradeoff among quality, safety and costs.[2][3][4] Among IHI’s projects are online courses for health care professionals for reducing Clostridium difficile infections, lowering the number of heart failure readmissions or managing advanced disease and palliative care.”

How could the bishops cheerlead for a law when the “tradeoff” regarding cost is, “quality of life,” as determined by a bureaucratic algorithm that takes into account average life expectancy given a treatment, age of the patient, etc.? If the numbers fall the wrong way, the state will offer either physician assisted suicide or hospice care as they deny further treatment. This has been standard in Oregon for years. Also read here.

How could the bishops cheerlead for a law whose costs have soared before a workable website could even be put in place, with a government that is close to $20 Trillion in debt, and the certain knowledge that physician-assisted suicide is being pushed in almost every state in the Union?

How could the bishops cheerlead for a law they now know was founded on the lie that, “If you like your plan you can keep it,” knowing that over 7 million people have been dropped in the last two months?

How could the bishops cheerlead for a plan that the Congressional Budget Office projects will STILL leave more than 30 million people uninsured, especially when the principal reason offered for going down this road was to insure the 30-40 million uninsured?

How could the bishops cheerlead for a plan that increases funding for abortion and contraception through the HHS Mandate, just so long as the Church gets her exemption and doesn’t have to get her hands dirty?

This immoral and unjust legislation is not at all what the bishops of 100 years ago militated for. They would have raged against it all, because they were very different men. Those men were shepherds. Their flock was a large immigrant population in a strange land, with a strange tongue for many, with strange customs. The Church was the one great constant in their lives, and their bishops fought for them.

And politicians feared and respected them.

A far cry from a Cardinal lamenting forced participation in 10 percent of a one-hundred percent abomination of legislation and healthcare.

A far cry from a Cardinal who admitted on CBS This Morning, the week before he received the red hat, “We bishops aren’t fighters, we’re pastors.” (See video below)

Notably absent from Cardinal Dolan’s lament was that the small business owners in his flock, and outside of his flock, would be forced to violate their consciences.

Notably absent was any mention of rationing, euthanasia, the tissue of lies, the millions who have been dropped, the outrageous projected increases in premiums by as much as 179% in some states, the yet-to-be-defined policies a priori codified in the law.

These would have been real issues for the bishops of 1919. They most certainly would not have been tolerated 70 years before that with New York’s fourth Archbishop, “Dagger” John Hughes. From an excellent article about Hughes:

Hot on the heels of the school controversy came Hughes’ third battle, which showed him at his feisty best or worst, depending on one’s point of view. In May 1844 anti-Catholic Nativist rioters in Philadelphia burned down two Catholic churches in several days of violence that cost a dozen lives. The Nativist leaders then announced their intention of coming to New York City to stage a large public demonstration that almost certainly would have precipitated anti-Catholic riots. Bishop Hughes placed armed guards around his churches and warned the mayor that “if a single Catholic church were burned in New York, the city would become a second Moscow.” John Hughes’ tough talk paid off. Under pressure from him and other civic leaders, the Nativists canceled their rally.

This stands in stark contrast to Cardinal Dolan’s Feb. 2012 interview on CBS This Morning, when speaking of the HHS Mandate he said:

I would say… The religious exemption is very choking and very tight. There’s a restriction there that we can’t live with. Simply in the best American principles of freedom of religion, simply give a much more dramatically wide latitude to that religious exemption and protection of conscience and religious freedom, and you’re not gonna hear from us any more.

So, give the Church that exemption and she will go mute on all of the other horrors this law is visiting on Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“You’re not gonna hear from us anymore.” (see the video below)

No, Cardinal Dolan. Most respectfully, we need you and the other bishops to fight for us, to show the moxie of Archbishop Hughes. Want to fill the pews? Defend your flock! The nation has awakened to the trap laid by Obama, the imprisonment, the economic destitution coming under this law, the massive carnival of death on the other end of the life spectrum, and not just abortion. The nation is aroused, and my bishops are losing the forest for the tree.

There is not a shred of moral decency in this law. It is a eugenicist’s dream. It preys on the very weakest on both ends of the life spectrum and impoverishes everyone in-between.

In your interview two years ago, you indicated that the president made all sorts of promises to you and the bishops and then broke them all. Where is your outrage and disgust? You cannot deal with such men. You can only defeat them.

This president and his signature piece of legislation are tearing this nation apart. This is the golden moment for our bishops to stand and fight, with a nation desperate for leadership in that fight. This is our defining moment in the Catholic Church.

This is bigger than contraception and abortion.

This is the forest, not just one tree.

[Photo Credit: http://alchemystudio.com%5D

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Fox News reports that Cardinal Dolan, in an interview with David Gregory of Meet the Press, claims that the Church was “outmarketed” on the issue of gay marriage. From the report:

Asked why the church is losing the argument on gay marriage, Dolan responded, “Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes. We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay.”

He said the church supports “traditional marriage and is not “anti-anybody,” adding, “When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle.”

Without knowing it, Cardinal Dolan has identified the core of the problem. Our leadership, with few exceptions, have adopted the superficiality of branding and marketing as a cheap substitute for the grittiness and tenacity of evangelization. Worse still, while we have abandoned evangelization and hewing to the hard line of the Gospel, it is the other side who have been engaged in the grit and tenacity of evangelization.

That’s right. The other side has been engaged in three decades of evangelization, while the majority of our priests and bishops have endeavored to be “non confrontational” and “nonjudgemental”.

The results speak for themselves.

While the Church has been entirely kicked out of the public schools, with students being disciplined for wearing shirts bearing the word, “Christmas”, the other side has succeeded in getting complete acceptance in schools with gay/straight alliances, comprehensive sex education, and now state laws permitting transexual and transgender students permission to use whatever bathrooms they please.

That’s not marketing. That’s evangelization.

Our leaders have stood by, largely mute, while we have been kicked out of the public square by a vocal minority who have moved in to occupy the ground formerly held by the Church. That all begs the question as to how such a coup could have happened.

In truth, more than 85% of married Catholics ignore the Magisterium when it comes to the right use of sex in marriage and the use of contraception.

58% 67% of Catholics approve of gay marriage.

To say that those numbers are the result of marketing is to suggest that the Gospel has roots shallower than grass. And on that matter, Pope Francis has spoken loud and clear.

Many priests reacted with scorn to the challenge by Francis that they and their bishops get out of the rectory and go out among the people in a bold new way. Francis sees clearly that the Church is dwindling in influence because the people don’t know who they are. They have lost sight of their great dignity while so very many of our clergy refuse to engage the culture for fear of alienating people or seeming judgmental. That timidity is often defended as the cardinal virtue of Prudence.

It isn’t.

It’s cowardice, pure and simple.

A great definition of Prudence from New Advent:

One of the four cardinal virtues… A fuller description and one more serviceable is this: an intellectual habit enabling us to see in any given juncture of human affairs what is virtuous and what is not, and how to come at the one and avoid the other. It is to be observed that prudence, whilst possessing in some sort an empire over all the moral virtues, itself aims to perfect not the will but the intellect in its practical decisions. Its function is to point out which course of action is to be taken in any round of concrete circumstances. It indicates which, here and now, is the golden mean wherein the essence of all virtue lies. It has nothing to do with directly willing the good it discerns. That is done by the particular moral virtue within whose province it falls. Prudence, therefore, has a directive capacity with regard to the other virtues. It lights the way and measures the arena for their exercise. The insight it confers makes one distinguish successfully between their mere semblance and their reality. It must preside over the eliciting of all acts proper to any one of them at least if they be taken in their formal sense. Thus, without prudence bravery becomes foolhardiness; mercy sinks into weakness, and temperance into fanaticism.

No mention in there of marketing. In fact, when gay marriage passed in New York State, Cardinal Dolan was quoted in the NY Daily News as saying:

Cardinal Dolan revealed for the first time that the Catholic Church was caught flat-footed on last year’s gay marriage vote in New York — insisting it was “burned” by Senate Republicans who claimed it didn’t have a prayer.

“We got burned last year when we were told the redefinition of marriage didn’t have much of a chance — and of course it did,” Dolan told the Daily News as he prepared for Monday’s annual Albany lobbying trip.

“Our Senate leaders, we highly appreciated them being with us all along,” he explained. “When they kind of assured us it didn’t have much of a chance — not that we let up, but we probably would have been much more vigorous and even more physically present if we knew there was a chance.”

Perhaps. But activism built on an unevangelized church is like building a house on a foundation of sand. The truth is that a solidly evangelized Church would be much more resistant to the evangelists from the culture of death. As Chesterton observed, the man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. And that’s what has happened. A people who have been abandoned by their shepherds are being torn apart by the wolves. Now a chief shepherd chalks that up to “marketing”.

It was earlier this year that Cardinal Dolan, as the head of the USCCB, failed to lead any opposition to the Boy Scouts of America opening the doors to gay members. The silence from the Church leadership was deafening. The closest we came to any clerical position was a priest who claimed to be a member of the national Catholic Committee on scouting who debated me on FaceBook.

The priest claimed that the Church could not oppose such a move, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that no youth be barred from youth ministry because of their sexual orientation. While that is true, BSA is not a church ministry, but a national institution. The Church also failed to take the long view of the situation.

In accepting openly gay youth who will become Eagle Scouts, how can the organization then reject the same Eagle Scout as an adult leader when he turns 18? Yet the Church, while rightly not barring gay youth from ministry, will reject that openly homosexual young man when he applies to the seminary, or for a teaching position in a Catholic school. So, the Boy Scouts were hung out to dry.

That wasn’t a “marketing” issue either.

The truth is that there are a fair number of gay clergy. There are an even greater number who do not stand with the Church on abortion, contraception, or the right use of sex in marriage. So, these issues never get preached or taught, or when they do, it is the Magisterium that gets pilloried.

It wasn’t a marketing issue that has led to the disintegration of Western Civilization.

In the wake of Vatican II our seminaries descended into chaos at every level, with some earning the moniker of “pink palace,” so notorious were they for their homosexual subcultures. Many of those seminarians were ordained. When Pope Benedict XVI was elected to the Papacy he undertook an Apostolic Visitation of our seminaries to address this problem, among others.

Today we see the fruits of that chaos from the 60’s and 70’s, even the 80’s. We see the fruits of nonevangelization on our part and the fruits of the other side’s evangelization.

They have a positive view of themselves, of their lifestyle, and of their contribution to society. They preach that vision in season and out of season with a singularity of focus that resembles the singularity and tenacity of St. Paul the Apostle. They push and push and push. Then they push some more. They go into the schools, and businesses, and the public square. They preach in churches and synagogues, and in civic associations. They boldly challenge any who stand in their way, and took singular aim at Cardinal O’Connor, even going so far as desecrating the Eucharist in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Perhaps we could learn a lesson in evangelization from the other side, clergy and laity alike.

We weren’t outmarketed.

We were outevangelized.

That’s our great failure and our great shame.

On this First Sunday of Advent we ought to take stock of these failures, do penance, and begin the long, gritty work of a new evangelization.

Commentary on the HHS part of the interview here.

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Kudos to the NY Times for a fairly balanced article. I didn’t think they had it in them. From the article:

SMYRNA, Ga. — When Pope Francis was elected in March, Bridget Kurt received a small prayer card with his picture at her church and put it up on her refrigerator at home, next to pictures of her friends and her favorite saints.

She is a regular attender of Mass, a longtime stalwart in her church’s anti-abortion movement and a believer that all the church’s doctrines are true and beautiful and should be obeyed. She loved the last two popes, and keeps a scrapbook with memorabilia from her road trip to Denver in 1993 to see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day.

But Ms. Kurt recently took the Pope Francis prayer card down and threw it away. “It seems he’s focusing on bringing back the left that’s fallen away, but what about the conservatives?” said Ms. Kurt, a hospice community educator. “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you. Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”

So the very worst thing that could have happened to the Church seems to be underway. It’s not that we have a Jesuit pope reaching out to the lost liberal sheep. It’s that the faithful disciples of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are bitterly resentful that Francis is going to stink the place up with the party animals who have been living large while we have been keeping the farm going.

It’s the Parable of the Prodigal Son all over again. Ms. Kurt is the faithful son who has stayed loyal to the father while the little brother was off squandering his half of the inheritance (demanded before the old man died!) on wine, women, and song. The father was out on the road awaiting junior’s return, and when it happened the faithful brother was enraged at the joyful welcome. That’s dangerous stuff.

It is impossible to presume upon exactly what Ms. Kurt actually believes, but that statement about “bringing back the left that’s fallen away,” speaks for itself.

Have we who have been faithful to John Paul and Benedict done so for the right or wrong reasons? Did we think all along that this was la cosa nostra (our thing)? Have we defined ourselves less by the Gospel, which calls all men and women to repentance and salvation, and more by self-righteous hubris? Why the indignation at calling the liberals home?

Why?

In her article, Goodstein mentions the websites with the private revelations (which sound like the quatrains of Nostradamus). This is a deadly, deadly business. Even if validated, Catholics are under no obligation to accept or abide private revelations. What we have here is a group of Catholics who first consult the Nostradamaesque prophecies and then twist and distort this pope’s words to fit the prophecy. It’s a Procrustean bed approach to the Vicar of Christ on earth. To say the least, it lacks charity.

Imagine, taking private revelations as an object of faith, revelations whose wording is as clear as milk, and then using them to demonize a pope; then resenting that pope for being the monster that we created in our own minds.

It’s as sick as it is sinful.

To Ms. Kurt’s anguished question about the fate of the conservatives, I have only this to offer:

We agreed to do a day’s work in the Lord’s vineyard for a day’s wages. If we have done so faithfully, what business is it of ours if others who have not worked through the heat of the day come in at the last minute and get paid the same wage? Jesus had a parable about that too. If we have contemplated what hell truly is, and what eternity in hell is all about, we should be rejoicing at the outreach to the lost. This pope has watered nothing down.

The question is just how stout our faith has been all along?

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Given the novelty of having a retired pope living in the Vatican, then Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) decided on a title for himself after he stepped down from the Chair of Peter. The usage of the title has become rather clunky, as people refer to the actions of Benedict as pope and apply the title “emeritus.”

For example, “When Pope Emeritus Benedict spoke at World Youth Day in Madrid…”

This is an inappropriate usage, and I think we Catholics need to clean it up a bit. Emeritus is the Latin past participle meaning, “having merited one’s discharge by service; having served one’s time.

Having served his time until frailty overcame him, Benedict chose for himself the title, “Pope Emeritus,” as a way of being referred to during the pontificate of his successor; a wise move to clear away any confusion as to who is in charge and where the lines of authority lay. When he spoke at World Youth Day, or acted during his pontificate, he was not a “Pope Emeritus,” and it is wrong to refer to him as such. He was the pope, just as John Paul II was the pope. Therefore, it seems that we should refer to Benedict as “Pope Benedict” when we speak of his actions during his papacy, and as “Pope Emeritus,” when we refer to him or his actions during Francis’ papacy.

Therefore, the title “Emeritus” is a transient one, meant only for the time period between his stepping down and his return to the Lord. “Pope” is not only proper to attach to him for events during his papacy, but altogether respectful, truthful, and historically accurate.

Thoughts?

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Much talk has been swirling of late regarding whether or not Pope Francis will add women to the College of Cardinals in an effort to give women a greater voice in the Church. It’s an old idea that has been mentioned during other papacies, but never acted upon. It is a course of action that if followed will amplify the din that already grips a Church that has never suffered from women who are either inaudible or not influential. To be certain, there are great women I would nominate, who would bring much to the College of Cardinals. There are many who would tear the Church asunder, setting back the role of women for decades to come.

Because the Church has reserved priestly ordination to men alone, many believe that women have lacked voice and influence in ways that directly affect the lives of women. In the wake of the feminist revolution, we do well to consider exactly what it is the feminist mothers have fought for, and what women have gained and lost over the past half-century. On the positive side, women have gained the ability to be as educated as men. From Dr. Michael Kirst at Stanford University:

According to data from the Department of Education on college degrees by gender, the US college degree gap favoring women started back in 1978, when for the first time ever, more women than men earned Associate’s degrees. Five years later in 1982, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time, and women have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees in every year since then. In another five years by 1987, women earned the majority of master’s degrees for the first time. Finally, within another decade, more women than men earned doctor’s degrees by 2006, and female domination of college degrees at every level was complete. For the current graduating class of 2013, the Department of Education estimates that women will earn 61.6% of all associate’s degrees this year, 56.7% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of all master’s degrees, and 51.6% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, 140 women will graduate with a college degree at some level this year for every 100 men. The article is from AEI Ideas and is summarized by Carnegie Foundation.. – See more at: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=3131#sthash.3DK2jRoT.dpuf

That women are doing so well is great cause for celebration. However, the feminist mothers have sold college women on a sexual revolution that has left more than 50% of young women riddled with sexually transmitted diseases, and the lie that tens of millions of abortions were the price to pay for those coveted diplomas when the contraception failed. Would that the lies and destruction ended on graduation day. However, with the american academy having become a boot camp for training in radical egalitarianism, an egalitarianism that sees the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as vilely and cruelly anachronistic, our young women bring into their young adult lives a perspective that is warped beyond belief.

So who would these women cardinals be? What would be the litmus test for their selection? Would the Pope choose women who already are on board with the magisterium? If so, there are countless thousands of women who would fill the role splendidly. If he is looking for women who are academics, a few names pop to mind readily. But such a selection begs the question; If the pope is going to select women who abide and reflect the role of women as articulated so beautifully by Pope John Paul II in Mulieris Dignitatem , then is he only seeking women who will reaffirm what has already been taught? How will that sit with the “progressive” women in the Church? What will that do to draw them in?

Or, perhaps the pope would appoint women from across the spectrum of ideology and degrees of fidelity to church teaching? But then, is that the role of the College of Cardinals? Would the pope be elevating the feminist war to a level it has no place occupying in the life of the Church? Would he do better to appoint a pontifical commission of women who represent a cross-section of thought and lifestyle if he wants to further develop the theology of women so well articulated by John Paul?

The women’s issues are as caustic and partisan as any, and radical feminism has utterly destroyed the family and western civilization. If the Pope selects these women as advisors it will do unimaginable harm. If he doesn’t select them, he will cement for them the perception that they, the ones who clamor most for a voice in the church, have none.

Before pushing ahead with a need to develop a theology of women, we should recall that Francis has inherited a wealth of such teaching from his predecessors. Most who believe that the Church has ignored the issue are in fact ignorant of how much the Church, especially in the twentieth century, has addressed the issue. When they do hear it, the message is not to the liking of many, hence the need for a new, or relevant teaching.

Then there is the untidy matter of reserving priestly ordination to men alone, a teaching that John Paul nailed shut in his Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

So, claiming that people doubted the ordinary magisterium (which is enough to end debate), John Paul invoked the extraordinary magisterium, and elevated the issue as a matter of defined teaching.

Case closed.

Until feminist cardinals declare otherwise.

Much of the work of the College of Cardinals involves matters of governing priests and bishops. Setting women in authority over the bishops could very well open a back door to matters of episcopal authority and governance, blurring lines of authority and the distinct roles of men and women in the church.

It’s a bad idea.

In my writing and pro-life work, I have met hundreds of women who would make excellent papal advisors, women who do not make the mistake of conflating equal roles with equal dignity. They wouldn’t want to be cardinals, and would rebuke such an idea. If Francis wants to alienate the women on the left, he will do so by choosing only women from the orthodox right.

If Francis wants to lose the orthodox right, all he needs to do is elevate radical feminism by elevating women on the left.

If he wants all-out-war, elevate both.

If priestly ordination is reserved to men alone, and if this is part of God’s design, then the process of selecting the new Bishop of Rome should be left to the apostolic successors in the College of Cardinals. Similarly, the governance of priests and bishops needs to be reserved to the apostolic successors alone.

We don’t need to fight the sexual revolution any more than we already have. We need to begin cleaning up the horrific mess in the scores of millions of broken lives from its battles. We need healing, not the opening of another front in the war.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Scalia made the following comment on the FB thread for this blog…

My biggest concern about this — well, I have a couple — although in theory there is nothing to prevent this, my concerns are twofold: 1) it would be awful beyond words if the next papal conclave became all about the women, and the women’s questions, and is it enough for women to be cardinals and what about the women, and the women, and the women, and the women, and it would take emphasis off of Christ, Peter, the Holy Spirit and so forth and place it all upon the idol of feminism. And of course, in terms of media, that is precisely what will happen. 2) I fear that all of the myriad ways that women are powerful witnesses and servants — and have been FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH — will become minimized and deemphasized because the female cardinalate will be the be-all-end-all for too many. “Oh, Mother Antonia? Who is she? Not a Cardinal? Doesn’t have a PhD? Pheh. What could she possibly say to us? That would be a crime.

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