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Archive for October, 2013

Just in case anyone doubts that the objective is to destroy all private health insurance, this video has Obama in his own words. It’s devastating.

When the government tries to control our very bodily autonomy, it’s time to change course. The midterm elections are a year away. God help us all.

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There is no greater stumbling block in developing the spiritual life than the issue of “unanswered” prayer. When we pray from the depths of our hearts for what we honestly perceive as the good and God seems absent, it can send many into despair. St. Augustine tackles this in today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours:

St Augustine’s letter to Proba

We do not know how to pray as we ought

Perhaps you may still ask why St Paul said when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, since it is impossible that he or those to whom he wrote should not have known the Lord’s Prayer.

Yet Paul himself was not exempt from such ignorance. When, to prevent him from becoming swollen-headed over the greatness of the revelations that had been given to him, he was given in addition a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he asked the Lord three times to take it away from him. Surely that was not knowing to pray as he ought? For in the end he heard the Lord’s reply, telling him why even such a great saint’s prayer had to be refused: “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.”

So when we are suffering afflictions that might be doing us either good or harm, we do not to know how to pray as we ought. But because they are hard to endure and painful, because they are contrary to our nature (which is weak) we, like all mankind, pray to have our afflictions taken from us. At least, though, we owe this much respect to the Lord our God, that if he does not take our afflictions away we should not consider ourselves ignored and neglected, but should hope to gain some greater good through the patient acceptance of suffering. “For my power is at its best in weakness.”

Scripture says this so that we should not be proud of ourselves if our prayer is heard, when we ask for something it would be better for us not to get; and so that we should not become utterly dejected if we are not given what we ask for, despairing of God’s mercy towards us: it might be that what we have been asking for could have brought us some still greater affliction, or it could have brought us the kind of good fortune that brings corruption and ruin. In such cases, it is clear that we cannot know how to pray as we ought.

Hence if anything happens contrary to our prayer, we ought to bear the disappointment patiently, give thanks to God, and be sure that it was better for God’s will to be done than our own. The Mediator himself has given us an example of this. When he had prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by,” he transformed the human will that was in him because he had assumed human nature and added “Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.” Thus, truly, By the obedience of one man many have been made righteous.

In a culture so saturated in addictions of every kind, the recovery of many will probably involve some “thorn in the flesh” for the rest of one’s life. The allure of the addictive behavior in moments of weakness may always be there, and when it manifests, it becomes an opportunity for God to manifest His strength and glory in our weakness. Augustine really says it all, and this passage is worth marinating in.

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For the past 18 months, I have been serving as the Executive Director of the Children First Foundation (CFF) under the leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Rex, who is President. We have the “Choose Life” Plates in New Jersey and Connecticut, and soon in New York if all goes well in our case against Governor Cuomo, which is now in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If any pro-life citizens live in the nation’s capital, they may wish to avail themselves of CFF’s newest plate in our program, the D.C. “Choose Life” license plate, just out yesterday. If the folks reading this would spread the word, I would be personally very grateful.

From Elizabeth Rex, Ph.D., President of CFF:

Dear “Choose Life” Friends in DC:

This red-white-and-blue “Choose Life” License Plate in Washington, D.C. is a great new way to help “mobilize” a greater Culture of Life in our Nation’s Capital in union with 29 “Choose Life” States in the USA!

The Children First Foundation of DC sponsored the Washington, D.C. “Choose Life” License Plate which was made available for purchase to residents of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles that welcomed the participation of our pro-adoption, non-profit, charitable, and educational organization into their popular DC DMV Organizational Tag Program.

As stated on the official DC DMV website www.dmv.dc.gov/service/obtain-organizational-vehicle-tags, “organizational tags are a marvelous way for an organization to promote itself while allowing its members to demonstrate a commitment of pride.” The proud mission of The Children First Foundation is to raise greater awareness and funding for Adoption and Safe Haven efforts. Our members believe adoption is a loving choice for an unwanted unborn or newborn infant that deserves greater public awareness and support, and their $25 membership donations provide funding for DC Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes, and Safe Haven efforts.

As also explained on the DC DMV’s website, “only members of participating organizations can apply for the organizational tags” and “organizational tags will only be issued for use on private passenger vehicles registered in the District of Columbia.” So, please join us, and together let us voice our choice for life in DC!

To purchase your DC “Choose Life/Children First Foundation” License Plate, please visit http://www.thechildrenfirst.org/washington_dc1.aspx and read the information and follow the instructions carefully. For questions and assistance, please call Larry Cirignano, our DC Representative, at (202) 306-6863. Thank you so much for putting “children first” in DC!

Sincerely for Life,

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D, President

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Increasingly, I understand why it is that old people begin to welcome death as a friend.

News today from across the pond in The Telegraph of a young Somali girl who was smuggled into Great Britain for the purpose of harvesting her organs. From the story:

The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.

Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.

The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh.

The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking. It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men.
Child protection charities warned last night that criminal gangs were attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain.

Bharti Patel, the chief executive of Ecpat UK, the child protection charity, said: “Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It’s unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group.”

According to the World Health Organisation as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.

While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.
The process involves a number of people including the recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.

The government’s report also found that there has been a rise in the number of adults trafficked to the UK, with the number of women rising by 12 per cent to 786 and the number of men by almost a third to 400. They include growing numbers of British men are being exploited for “paving or ground works” in this country or abroad.

Read the rest.

I don’t know what to say about this. I think its speaks for itself. I’m simply beyond words.

I understand old people more, and more.

Maranatha!

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This is a story about defeating autism, the practical attainment of hope for devastated parents, and a whole new way of approaching a scourge upon our beloved children. Our son, Joseph, happens to be its protagonist; but the joyful hope in this story resides in the certainty that it is a template into which parents may insert any one of countless thousands of protagonists. Three years ago next week, Joseph joined the Boy Scouts of America. The first article I wrote contains his history in detail, our struggles, and the first real glimmer of hope we had in years of attempting to break free of autism’s shackles.

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As Joseph progressed through that very, very difficult and challenging year, I chronicled him at three months, and then again as he was off to summer camp, and then a week after his triumphal return from a summer camp experience in the middle of a heat wave, where daytime temperatures ranged from a low of 96, to a high of 103. These four stories are a tight chronicle of an important first year experience. It’s been two years since I’ve written, and Joseph’s world has changed dramatically.

Since he began, Joseph has advanced in rank from Scout, to Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and in two weeks he will complete the rank requirements for Life Scout, one step shy of Eagle. Before this summer, he earned a total of seventeen merit badges and earned the Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God) Catholic award, receiving it from Cardinal Dolan in a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this past April. All of that is just the beginning.

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Two years ago I sat with Joseph and explained his diagnoses with him. It is essential to understand that what I told him was the absolute truth, and not an attempt to soft-peddle something unpalatable. Joseph’s two major diagnoses are moderately profound autism (top 25% of the low end of the spectrum at age four), and Attention Deficit Disorder. The other diagnoses are mixed expressive/receptive language disorder, sensory integration disorder, static encephalopathy, and cerebellar deficit. At age five, half of his IQ subtests were low average, and the other half below that at borderline. The explanation took place in stages over a six-month period, in increments I thought he could digest in any given sitting.

So, here is a summary of what I explained to Joseph:

The understanding is that there are different model brains, just as there are different model cars. I had him recall when we bought our car a few years back, how he made a point of sitting in every car on the showroom floor. Each of those cars has associated strengths and weaknesses. Compact cars are great on gas mileage and savings, but can’t tow boats or trailers. Trucks are great at towing, but not so great on gas. Family vans occupy the middle ground. So it is when God creates us. There are many different model brains on His showroom floor, and we each get one, with all the associated strengths and weaknesses.

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Along with each model brain comes an associated learning style. Some are better visual learners, some auditory, others kinesthetic, some brilliant at numerics, while others are more linguistic. Some brains are geared toward being socially gregarious, while others are more reserved and introspective. So, why does God allow for so many types of brains? Why not give everyone equal capability at excelling in everything, I asked my son. The answer, I offered, is simple.

If each of us had it all we wouldn’t need one another. Love would collapse, along with complementarity. Life would be flat, bland. Worse still… how would we attain Heaven if we had no means of learning sacrificial love in a world where it was unnecessary?

Our needs are the salvation of those who give of themselves to fill those needs, and their needs are our salvation.

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The key to growth, I explained, is to get teachers who are schooled in the different learning styles and who can teach to ours. Years ago, before we had all of this great knowledge we thought of the world in terms of normal and pathological. That wasn’t bad. It was the medical model, which put to flight the old superstition model which governed the world at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. However as civilization has advanced from the time of my own childhood, and the hell that was my life with ADHD, we have come to see ‘normal’ as dynamic and not monolithic. We have come to understand much of therapy as merely education (be that psychotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) and not pathologic intervention.

In fact, I never used the “T” word with Joseph (Therapy, with its associated implication of brokenness and pathology). Instead, I always used the other “T” word, teacher. Speech therapy was going to see his speech teacher. Occupational therapy was going to see his gym teacher. In the final analysis that’s all therapy really is: teaching.

There is another critical distinction. The autistic brain is a brain with a unique learning style, and in possession of unique gifts when it comes to memory and capacity for depth of knowledge. Autism is an “ism,” like feminism, communism. In other words, it is a condition of being handicapped. We defeat autism when we teach to the style of the autistic brain. As I explained to Joseph:

It’s only a handicap if you can’t function.

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It’s been almost eleven years since we began this odyssey of delving into the inner workings of one of the most puzzling brain models on God’s showroom floor, one that now appears in 1:50 children. It’s been a great collaborative effort with several great educators and therapists. It has involved adapting our home life to accommodate Joseph’s needs, with no small amount of sacrifice all around. When Joseph took his first tenuous steps into a troop of 46 boys, I think my anxiety was worse than his. It has been the missing piece of his developmental puzzle.

In his second year, Joseph focussed on learning more about scouting, earning merit badges that encouraged in-depth communication with adult merit badge counselors, participating more fully and intimately on camping trips, and advancing in rank. At the end of his second year he went to summer camp and announced his intention to come back the following year on staff as a counselor in training (CIT). More anxiety for daddy. He then produced a completed application for us to sign, and handed it in on the spot.

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Returning from summer camp, Joseph attended the troop’s leadership training weekend that September and accepted the position of Assistant Patrol Leader. He also asked to be a Den Chief with the Cub Scout Pack (a big brother/liason position), as well as being the troop librarian-accounting for all of the merit badge books. He excelled at all of the positions, with the Cub Scouts asking for him to return-so much was the fun that they had with him.

Then came summer camp this year. Joseph spent all of June and July living at camp on staff as a CIT. The camp director invited him to return next year, and asked us to please facilitate that return. They loved him there, and he loved them. While at camp, he was able to earn two merit badges per week if he desired, which he did. After summer camp, Joseph attended a one week aquatics camp at another scout camp, and earned six more merit badges. In all, he earned a staggering twenty merit badges this summer, adding to his previous seventeen. (One is required to earn a total of 21 to achieve Eagle Scout). At last night’s Troop Court of Honor, though the boys were asked to hold all applause until after all merit badges were handed to all scouts, the hall broke into wild and raucous cheers as all twenty merit badges were read aloud for Joseph. Class act that he is, he turned a gave his brothers a wild grin and scout salute in return.

This summer’s haul:

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American Heritage
Art
Basketry
Canoeing
Communication*
Forestry
Geology
Kayacking
Leatherwork
Lifesaving*
Motorboating
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Music
Nature
Oceanography
Pioneering
Rowing
Small Boat Sailing
Sports
Swimming*
Woodcarving

*Required for Eagle

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Along the way Joseph has become a leader.

This year, he was given his own patrol to lead as Patrol Leader. He has also become a trailblazer, going from being the only scout in the Troop on the spectrum, to being one of about five. God has blessed the troop, which now numbers 67 boys and eight patrols, with ten more boys on the way from Cub Scouts this year.

Regina and I were speechless last night at the Court of Honor. Speechless, but grateful beyond words to the boys and men who have given Joseph a community to which he not only passively belongs, but in which he actively reciprocates. So do we.

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The leaders were commenting last night about how far Joseph has come since his first year, where he came to me constantly in his bewilderment and feelings of being overwhelmed. We all laughed at how he barely has any contact with me anymore. That’s the definition of success. He’s interacting with his peers, making friends, hosting a second annual Super Bowl party for the scouts, etc.

It’s important to be there to help translate the early experience, and to give back. I’m in deep, as assistant scoutmaster, troop chaplain, merit badge counselor for several merit badges, district Catholic committee on scouting, etc. In getting involved, I have been able to educate a great many people on what kids on the spectrum are really all about.
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That’s essential, as we live in dangerous times for those with so-called poor prenatal diagnoses. The autistic learning style, as it is known in our home, demands total devotion from the entire family. That’s quite a bit to ask in a hedonistic culture. These children will be found out in utero in short order, and when they are, the merchants of death will prey on parents’ well-founded fears. They are fears that nearly paralyzed me in those early years. Yet Joseph’s story is a story of hope in the depths of parental fear.

Moreso, it is the story of love’s triumph. As I’ve sat and watched Joseph increasingly taking the younger boys under his wing, and seeing their respect for him, I see how that love cannot be contained. It has taken root in this child and grows wild within him. Not bad for a fourteen year-old kid.

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For any parent of a young autistic child, Regina and I hold out Joseph as not only a symbol of hope, but the sure and certain sign that God keeps His promise as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 and will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity, and when we are tried, will give us a way out. Sacrificial love, lived totally and completely, is that way out.

It has been our salvation.

We still have no idea how far Joseph will go in life, no more than any other parents do for their children at age fourteen. Some autistic children will achieve demonstrably more than others. The same goes for neurotypical children as well. For all of them, scouting offers a home, a family, a society. And while the achievements are great signposts along the road in life, that’s not at all what I will carry away from this experience when it’s all over.

The spontaneous wild and raucous cheers of his brother scouts last night, reciprocated with an equally spontaneous wild grin and scout salute spoke volumes:

Brotherhood

Love

Respect

Affection

A frightened father’s wildest dreams come true.

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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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According to Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue there have been 44 abortion clinic closings this year. That would drive the total number of clinic closings since 1992 close to 75% of that year’s total. That is a monumental achievement for the pro-life movement, the fruit of decades of hard work by thousands. For as monumental as that achievement is, the persistently high numbers of annual abortions in the U.S., and California’s passing into law permission for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives to perform first trimester surgical abortions suggest that we may have only succeeded in picking the low-hanging fruit from the abortion tree.

In the chart below, Planned Parenthood’s statistician, the Guttmacher Institute, reports on the annual number of abortions since 1973. Notice that between 1990 and 2013 abortions fell from a high of 1.6 million per year to a steady 1.2 million per year. That’s a 25% decrease in the numbers of abortions in the same time period that we have closed close to 75% of abortion clinics. The numbers simply do not add up. There has not been anything close to a corresponding decrease in abortions. There is a very good reason for that, one that is daunting to contemplate.

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Many hospitals are now performing abortions. This new development, attested to by several physicians in personal communication, will make the fight so much more difficult. Currently, pro-life activists keep watch on clinics and record every instance when an ambulance is called in for a botched abortion. As hospitals take up the slack for closed clinics, there will be no such capability for monitoring centers, as patients are already in-house. Worse still non-physicians will now perform aspiration abortions in California, which accounts for approximately 29% of all abortions in the U.S.

The simple truth is that the opponent has adjusted to our tactics. The butchers such as Gosnell needed to be put away for their crimes. Now the challenge will be how to monitor the hospitals as they make a fundamental philosophical shift by embracing abortion in the era of Obamacare. One approach will be to step up the education of women regarding the dangers of abortion, and their betrayal by cynical governors such as California’s Jerry Brown and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

Forty years ago the argument in favor of legalizing abortion was that women would have real physicians performing safe, regulated medical procedures. How many women are aware that many abortionists are not even trained in Ob/Gyn? Now, the abortionists won’t even be physicians at all. Somehow the assurance that a qualified physician is mere feet away should an artery be nicked or a uterus punctured doesn’t sound like the fulfillment of the 1973 promises.

One thing is for certain. This week Jerry Brown opened a new front in the war, and with new weapons and tactics. We must meet him and defeat this new approach with smart and innovative approaches of our own. In this, we must recognize that the climb just became steeper for the pro-life movement. With love and with prayer, with great intellect and patient persistence, we will consign this ugly episode in the life of our nation to the dustbin of history.

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It is axiomatic in physics that opposite charges attract one another and like charges repel. If a human analog were in operation, then one would expect the extreme left wing and the extreme right wing in the Church to be hopelessly in love. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the disdain approaches rabid levels between the two. As is so often the case, the laws of nature are very much in force, though the appearance may suggest otherwise.

It isn’t that the extreme left and extreme right of the Catholic Church are different. It is the case that they are exactly alike. They are characterized by deep suspicion, hostility, anger, resentment, paranoia, disrespect for authority unless it reflects the image they behold in the mirror, arrogant usurpation of papal authority and prerogative, and a closed-mindedness that would make a jihadi proud.

It seems that the underlying spiritual and psychological pathology is exactly the same and that the outward manifestation is simply a preferred script: hyper-liberal or hyper-conservative— both of which are anarchy in drag.

Pride on parade.

Enter Pope Francis, who succeeds a Pope Benedict reviled on the left and even in the center for his reaching out to the SSPX, allowing priests to say mass in latin without seeking permission, and creating personal prelatures for Anglicans swimming the Tiber. For many on the extreme right, not even that was enough. Now comes the Jesuit pope from impoverished South America, giving voice to the social justice issues also espoused by Pope John Paul II, who moved the South-American clergy away from the Marxist liberation theology to a more centrist approach, condemning the excesses of capitalism and socialism in the process. Where John Paul was ignored on this, Francis has indicated that he will not be.

Many in the middle to right-of-center were so enthused by John Paul’s head-on clash with the culture of death that they tolerated his admonitions regarding social justice issues championed by the left. When Francis said that issues of homosexuality, abortion, fornication, etc… need not be mentioned all the time, pro-lifers became apoplectic. Those further to the right became near suicidal, and sales of Prozac jumped 30%.

When the pope then declared in his interview with the atheist, Scalfari, that youth unemployment and the loneliness of the elderly were the biggest issues facing the Church today, Americans who are right-of-center were stunned, then outraged, then disgusted. He obviously doesn’t get the issues here in the Northern Hemisphere, they say. There may be some truth in that.

However, the virulence of the reaction to Francis indicates what I have long maintained; The plight of the Church below the equator remains largely beyond the care or concern of most in the decadent north. So, how does one discern this pope’s perspective? Could it be that there is an ascending order of priorities, and that Francis has tapped into something causal that we cannot see here in America? Is there an underlying pathology that gives rise to the culture of death, a pathology we may not have considered before? That so many here on the right would respond so vehemently to the pope’s prism of social justice ought to be chilling upon reflection.

Perhaps the scriptures speak to these questions. Isaiah 58 comes to mind:

1 Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins.

2 They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God; They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God.

3 “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.

4 Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!

5 Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;

7 Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.

8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;

10 If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;

11 Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

12 The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

13 If you hold back your foot on the sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, and the LORD’S holy day honorable; If you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice–

14 Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

This pope is a dangerous man, moreso than John Paul II. Whereas John Paul emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and cheered us with his efforts to bring down communism and his work at the restoration of traditional morality, Francis emerges from a different sort of tyranny. He brings with him a different set of challenges. For those of us who are married, pro-life, anti-culture of death, he is going to rattle our cage. What we are doing is not enough if it doesn’t involve the corporal works of mercy.

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Enter the Rabbi.

Jesus spoke often of the corporal works of mercy, and tells us in Matthew 25 that we will be judged according to how well we saw Him in the least of our brothers. He tells us through John the Apostle that we cannot love the God whom we cannot see if we do not love the brother whom we can see.

He also assured His Apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit, who would lead THEM to all truth. It is vital to check who Jesus’ audience was when He spoke. It was at the Ascension that He gave the Apostles the power to forgive and to bind sin. It was at that same moment when He assured them of the Holy Spirit leading them to all truth. Now the question is whether we believe that the Holy Spirit guided the election of Francis.

That is a very big question indeed. I believe that the Holy Spirit blew through that conclave in a mighty way.

In denouncing Francis, we risk committing idolatry by placing such a premium on the portion of the Gospel we excel at following that we are willing to disparage the one whom Jesus has chosen as His Vicar on earth. Pride has created more spiritual idolators, worshipers of their own predilections, than the IRS and golf combined have created liars.

In dangerous and uncertain times we do especially well to avoid the pride so manifest on the extreme wings of the Church and allow ourselves to be led to all truth through the mechanism established by God Himself. The Summae are not the Summit.

I have no doubt that Francis will take us even higher, if we have the courage and humility to follow.

John Michael Talbot wrote a beautiful and powerful adaptation of Is. 58/Matt 25

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Cracked Eggs

Groucho Marx used to tell of a man who went to see a psychiatrist:

So you see, doctor, the problem is that my brother thinks he’s a chicken.

Well, have you told him he’s not a chicken?

No.

Why not?

Because we need the eggs!

As the implosion of Western Civilization accelerates, the once unthinkable becomes part of mainstream medicine. In truth a book could be written on the mainstreaming of human perversion, and if such a book were to be written one its darkest chapters would be the transgendering of children with gender dysphoria. From the Daily Mail comes the story of an eleven-year old boy, adopted son of lesbian parents, who began transitioning hormonally to a “female” at age eight. Read the stomach-churning story here.

There are several dimensions of the story that are noteworthy, and while the lesbian angle could be further explored, there are doubtless many lesbian couples who would never countenance what this couple has done. That’s worth stressing at the outset, as the real villains in all of this are the psychologists and physicians at four hospitals in the U.S. who perform this mutilation of children. From the story:

San Francisco, right by Berkeley, is one of four cities in the United States with a hospital that has a program for transgender children. The University of California San Francisco is home to the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. Children are seen at length by mental health professionals and then treated by pediatric endocrinologists. Others cities with youth programs are Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Four hospitals that have specialty centers for mutilating children!

If that sounds surprising, it really shouldn’t be. It is the natural result of abandoning the idea that there is such a thing as natural moral law, objective truth, and clear limits to human behavior. It is the result of the American academy being filled to overflowing with radical professors who profess such nonsense in order to sell their perversions as serious scholarly work.

It is the result of so much more that anything less than a book would be to trivialize a very complex phenomenon, and yet it all boils down to something very simple:

Our doctors, the ones who spent four years in college, four years in medical school, four years of internship and residency training, two years of post-doctoral fellowship training, fourteen years of adulthood in training in all, are the ones who have caved. They look upon seriously deluded human beings and make comfortable livings playing along with their delusional pathology. The mental health professionals who have neither the time nor the inclination to engage the long-term work of healing the individuals who believe they are “really” the opposite gender locked in the wrong body sign off on a process that then leads to chemical mutilation at the hands of endocrinologists and surgical mutilation after that. The results are ghastly.

Reports indicate a suicide rate for transgendered individuals that stands at a staggering 41%. Many in the LGBT community attribute those numbers to discrimination and harassment in society. Another brother who needs the eggs.

What is considered harassment? Heterosexuals who don’t want transgendered individuals sharing rest rooms with them? Are women to blame when they don’t want a mutilated and deluded male in a dress sharing their rest rooms? Must all of society be forced to play along? Consider that in the city of San Francisco, such surgery is a part of employee medical benefits. Not only must the mentally and morally healthy surrender their private spaces, but must also pay for the mutilations in group health plans. Worse, the city will now pay for transgender surgery for all uninsured residents. The moral indignation of the rest of society gets the blame for the suicide rate in transgendered patients.

And what of protecting our children in all of this? From CBS News:

California on Monday became the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender kindergarten-through-12th grade students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had signed AB1266, which also will allow transgender students to choose whether they want to play boys’ or girls’ sports. The new law gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use, disagreements that have sometimes landed in court.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU of California were among the bill’s supporters. Detractors, including some Republican lawmakers, said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students’ privacy…

…Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, criticized the Legislature and governor for spreading “San Francisco values” throughout the state.

“The answer is not to force something this radical on every single grade in California,” she said.

She said the new law does not require students to prove they have a gender-identity issue, but rather requires school administrators to rely on students’ opinions of themselves. England also noted that there is no accurate way to gauge the effect of such policies because no uniform data on student or parent complaints is being collected. She predicted school districts will face lawsuits from parents of other children who feel their rights have been violated by the new law.

And so it goes. The forced “socialization” of our children as they are taught that reality is what anyone else on the fringes says it is, and the majority have no rights, that healthy revulsion is bigotry.

To be certain, it’s a complicated issue, and gender dysphoria is a many-tentacled monster. For a great insight by a man who had gender reassignment surgery and then reclaimed his male identity, and for his links to studies that indicate the failure rate in post-operative patient satisfaction, click here.

For now, we need to come to grips with the fact that four medical centers in our nation specialize in the short-term mutilation of gender-dysphoric children rather than long-term therapy for the most troubled of our little ones, that our schools are catering to the delusional thinking as well.

It’s a deadly game of dress-up for the patient, facilitated by clinicians and politicians who need the eggs.

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This post needs to be read within the context of two preceding posts:

Pope Francis: Rupture vs. Change

Pope Francis: Ongoing Fallout (Part I)

Building on what has been said in the first two posts, we continue with the fallout from the pope’s interview with atheist publisher Eugenio Scalfari.

If the pope’s refusal to take the bait on preaching specific moral norms didn’t make many tear their hair out in anger, then this little nugget has caused a near-revolt in certain quarters:

Pope Francis told me: “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

No mention of war, hunger, divorce, abortion, cohabitation, fornication, the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, gay marriage, etc… Now, if this isn’t the definition of the shallow, liberal, social worker, anti-magisterial Jesuit priest, what is? Right?!

Wrong!

Once again, Francis nails it, and consider for a moment that this blog for the past four years has not dealt with youth unemployment or the loneliness of the elderly. I have consecrated my doctorate to advancing the Culture of Life as articulated by Pope John Paul II. How then to reconcile this blog, my ministry, and my agreement with Pope Francis? The answer lies in the Broken Windows Theory utilized by New York’s former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.

Simply stated, if a community tolerates broken windows and graffiti it will soon become afflicted with all manner of serious crimes. What we communicate by permitting defacing the facade of that which should be beautiful and noble is that we will tolerate assaults on all that is beautiful and noble within. Prosecuting and not tolerating the seemingly lesser crimes serves to prevent far more corrosive actions from ever occurring. Giuliani proved it worked, and converted one of the most dangerous and blighted cities in the world into one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world.

It is much the same with Francis’ broken windows. When through neglect we assault the beauty of our elderly, tearing at the great dignity that is their due, when we ignore the needs of our young, we break the windows of the House of God, allowing the winds of despair to blow through freely, and despair is what drives all of the issues this blog tackles which Francis didn’t mention. Despair blows in the rot that disintegrates the Church from within.

He is driving at root causes, and again, I invoke the seven years (’83-’90) in the 1980’s that I spent working at Covenant House in Times Square. I saw more prostitution among children, more drug addiction, more violence, more abortion, more despair than I really care to remember. When children feel that they have no hope for their future, no means of employment, no loving and mentoring adults in their lives, they become easy prey. And before Covenant House, I worked a weekend job (’80-’83) at a nursing home on Staten Island as an orderly, bathing, feeding, dressing, and changing the diapers of old men. Most of our nursing homes are great dumping grounds, warehouses for the elderly cast aside in their age and infirmity with no visitors, save an infrequent hour here and there from their many children and grandchildren.

One could argue rightly that this or that particular child rebelled against good parents, or this or that old person in the nursing home alienated their children through cruel and thoughtless parenting, and I’ve seen plenty of that to know that it’s true. However, Francis is pointing to phenomena that have become universal. They are phenomena perpetuated and tolerated by those of us who occupy that middle ground between youth and old age. His clarion call echoes that of Jesus in Matthew 25 in the Last Judgement:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Note that Jesus doesn’t mention adultery, fornication, abortion, etc. Perhaps neglect of the corporal works of mercy leads to all the rest.

Perhaps Jesus and Francis are both getting at a spiritual version of broken windows. We can more easily tolerate war and its deprivations when the plight of the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, the hopeless have become part of the normal background of our lives. If this sounds like some liberal ’70’s screed, it isn’t. The anger at this pope reveals the truly revolutionary effect Francis is having on the Church here in North America.

We have labored for over forty years under a false dichotomy of social justice and the corporal works of mercy. The anarchists (they really aren’t liberal) within the Church got caught up in Marxist and socialist theory and brought that into their view of ecclesiology. They took up several great social justice causes, such as workers’ rights (which Pope Leo XIII did as well), and women’s rights, and succeeded in contaminating them with the radioactive fallout of their hostility toward the Magisterium. Traditionalists took up the banner of the life issues (which are also social justice issues). Thus, social justice was artificially divided and the issues used as pawns in a proxy war between the traditionalists and the anarchists, with more moderate people of good will caught in the crossfire.

However, as Jesus points out in the criteria by which He will judge us, those issues had better be our issues while we have life and breath. If they aren’t our issues in life, they most certainly will be for eternity. Therefore, we on the orthodox side of the aisle need to reclaim those issues we have let slip away from us in the wake of Vatican II. That will necessitate a reintegration and recalibration of our own worldview and ecclesiastical worldview. This is the direction Francis has been leading in. At first, it will seem strange, as though seeing the world from within the opposition’s encampment, and that would be an accurate assessment. We are being led into the opposition’s encampment precisely because we need to heal and unify the Church, and because the opposition has nurtured that which we let slip away.

Imagine, common ground.

If we resist Francis every step of the way, then we usurp that role, that authority, that charism that belongs to Peter. If Francis says we don’t need to discuss matters of abortion, etc. all the time, he is right. I and others spend a great deal of time on these issues professionally because someone has to. That doesn’t leave too much time for the other great issues of the day, and I leave those issues to people who have been called to that work. (Also, the absolute number of unemployed young and cast-aside elderly eclipses the number of abortions, etc in dramatic fashion). However, in my own time I do make sure that I engage in all of those other issues championed on the left. They were very much the center of my life as a young man, and remain near to my heart. We can only do so much in a day, and each of us is called to specific tasks. This is true.

However, we need to stop throwing rocks at the pope who points out the Church’s broken windows.

For the sake of our own souls, we need to stop it now.

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Casting a Net Irrawaddy

The blows continue raining down on Francis over his interview with an atheist, and with an intense scorn that is simply breathtaking. This may take a few posts to cover in its entirety, but here goes…

In my last post I defended Francis:

He. Is. Peter.

This pope has barely begun to cast his net and he’s being derided over his every move. Take for example how he addressed questions pertaining to the need for adherence to universal moral norms:

I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.

and…

There is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor,Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.

and…

I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them.

While this is hardly the stuff of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose mighty intellects rampaged across the Catholic landscape for more than three decades, this is a wily pastor who is skillful at the art of evangelization. His interviewer was laying traps, looking for the canned theological answer to destroy the pope on his own ground. Instead, the Holy Father laid a scriptural trap of his own. As Paul tells us in Romans 2:

All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it.

For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.

For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.

They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend themon the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.

But why not just launch into an eloquent papal missive? One word:

Evangelization.

Evangelizing is not the same as catechizing, not one bit. Evangelizing requires building a relationship characterized by mutual respect and trust. Telling the sinner that he is a filthy mess might be clinically accurate, but the approach leaves much to be desired. Evangelization is most effective when we lead people to see the hand of God already at work within them, the law of God already writ large on their hearts, hearts that often are very responsive at an intuitive level to the demands of charity. They are, however, often wounded deeply.

One day in spiritual direction Fr. Benedict Groeschel and I were discussing atheists and he offered me the following. “I’ve never met an atheist that didn’t suffer a major wound with his father.” That rang true from my experience as well. So here is this man, this atheist in Rome, sitting with the Holy Father. What most impressed him? From the Washington Post:

In what is quickly becoming classic Pope Francis, the back story of the interview was dramatically simple. The leader of the largest church in the world apparently picked up the phone and called Scalfari, founder of La Repubblica, who had requested an interview.

“Why so surprised?” the pope asked Scalfari (after being patched through by a shaky secretary at the newspaper). “You wrote me a letter asking to meet me in person. I had the same wish, so I’m calling to fix an appointment. Let me look at my diary: I can’t do Wednesday, nor Monday; would Tuesday suit you?”

After they set the time, Scalfari said he wasn’t sure how to end the call and asked for an embrace by phone. “Of course, a hug from me too,” the pope told him. “Then we will do it in person, goodbye.”

That’s the stuff of evangelization. The simple, humble, loving gesture that leaves the wounded open to receiving love from the evangelist, and along with that love, the message of their true worth, their real dignity. Yes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pius XII and Paul VI all spoke powerfully about human dignity, but Francis whispers that message softly, maintaining continuity with all who have gone before on the throne of Peter.

We won’t hear him clearly if we don’t stop this incessant carping about his style. He isn’t John Paul or Benedict, and he never will be. They explicated the issues, but we must translate them into a language that those in darkness can readily understand. We must understand that the atheist cannot digest red theological meat, and must be developed over time. And here is the real genius of the interview.

Francis is showing us how to evangelize the atheists and agnostics in this interview with this one man, without using him as a foil. In that moment, sitting with that man, the Holy Father answered the interviewer’s questions which arise from his life experiences. He was in that moment, with that man as though that man were the only one in the world. In so doing, Francis was the Vicar of Christ on Earth, Christ truly present to an old man scarred by war and its aftermath. An old man who melted when the Pope hugged him over the phone. A hug from not just any father, but the Holy Father.

This is the face of the New Evangelization.

In Part II, are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old really the greatest evils today? Click here.

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wayne-walton-holy-spirit-window-of-st-mary-s-roman-catholic-cathedral-cork-ireland
“That’s not what he really meant to say…”

These are increasingly common words spoken on behalf of Pope Francis.

Increasingly, Catholic bloggers are having to compile montages of quotes to show the strain of orthodox continuity in the Pope’s interviews. For many traditionalists, it is the frightful spectre of a Jesuit pope ascending the throne of Peter just in time to undo all of the damage control and growth wrought by John Paul and Benedict in the wake of Vatican II. Now, many fear, we stand to lose all that has been set aright. In this, many speak openly and disparigingly of the new pope, contempt dripping in a manner not unlike the leftists in their assessment of John Paul and Benedict.

Right or left, orthodox or progressive, it is all a manifestation of the same underlying spiritual illness…

Pride.

Are we only to submit to papal authority when the mood, or mode suits us? Do we place stylistic predilection over our duty to respect and obedience to legitimate episcopal and papal authority? Is our faith on the orthodox side of the aisle so fragile that we get a case of the vapors at the least departure from our preferred norm? To be certain, this pope is dangerous. His style is that of…

Jesus.

He reaches out to sinners and dines with them.

He gives interviews to atheists.

He eschews the pomp and splendor that is his due for something very, very different.

He accords women unusual influence for his day.

He has reached beyond the broad parameters carved out by John Paul II, and has been warning us that great change is on the way.

In all of this, we must never, ever, EVER lose sight of this most central reality:

He. Is. Peter.

Unless the day comes where he breaks with defined teaching, he will have my respect and obedience, and I will keep any transient dyspeptic moments to myself.

Yes, there is great potential for misunderstanding when he speaks off the cuff, but ultimately, little room for harm. Those whose faith is well-informed and rock-solid cannot be rattled.

Those who ridiculed John Paul and Benedict may hear him when the truth is spoken in a different way. At worst, they will simply look for any justification to persist in their unbelief.

Those who are weak will need us to be Francis’ defenders, to explicate his teaching and show its continuity with all that has gone before. It is the Parable of the Sower.

Change is coming with this pope, much needed change. He comes from those people below the equator who have been largely invisible to us in the faithless north. He speaks for them, and from their experience of the Church. He was elected to effect the changes that Benedict saw as necessary, but was too infirm to effect.

The coin of the realm in all of this will be faith and obedience, especially from those of us who revere John Paul and Benedict, who count ourselves the orthodox backbone of the Church. This is no time for that backbone to become arthritic.

Francis is going to need every one of us.

I’m with Peter.

UPDATE: Ongoing Fallout from the interview analyzed here in Part I.

Read Part II here.

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