30 December 2008

Don't Fudge on the Truth

A common temptation when trying to reach out to lukewarm or fallen away Catholics is to water down the faith in an attempt to make it more appealing to these various groups. Recently Bishop Conry in England stated that
"you can't talk to young people about salvation, they want to hear how you will save the planet in your homily."
Never mind for a minute that proper stewardship of the Earth and it's resources is a part of Catholic teaching and could certainly be incorporated into larger Catholic teaching, it is obvious that both among Protestants and Catholics growth is most evident where the traditional/orthodox teaching of the faith is expounded.

As I wrote in a previous post about the book The Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard clearly refutes this muddled thinking which ultimately has little effect on effecting a change in those people it intends to reach. In contrast to Bishop Conry, the Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently wrote,

If the church wants to reach young people today, it must avoid the temptation to "fudge" on core Catholic beliefs in an effort to make them more agreeable to contemporary tastes. Instead, it should confront with courage the major barriers in modern evangelization, including cultural resistance to the proclamation of Christ as the unique savior.

"No one in his or her right mind will be interested in a faith about which its exponents seem too embarrassed to communicate forthrightly," Father DiNoia said.

"We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message about Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise,"

"This so-called 'accommodationist' approach generally fails, and it fails doubly with young people. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularized religious faith," he said.

You can read his full comments at CNS - Catholic News Service.

27 December 2008

The Man Who Was Thursday

The following is taken from Chesterton's masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday.
"Talk sense, said Syme shortly." "Into what sort of devils' parliament have you entrapped me, if it comes to that? You made me swear before I made you [swear.] Perhaps we are both doing what we think is right. But what we think is right is so damned different that there can be nothing between us in the way of concession. There is nothing possible between us but honor and death," and he pulled the great cloak about his shoulders and picked up the flask from the table.

Something to remember the next time someone asks you to 'dialogue' over their dissent.

21 December 2008

The Failed Attempt to Assassinate Hitler

The new Tom Cruise movie, Valkyrie, is set to hit theaters in a few days and preliminary reviews indicate it will be worth seeing. Whether or not the movie is a success there is no doubt that the story behind the film is amazing. Although the film is mainly about Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who carried the bomb, there were a number of co-conspirators. One of them, Philipp von Boeselager, was only discovered after the war ended and later given highest honors by the governments of Germany and France. He died this past May and was the last surviving conspirator. In 1946 he became a Knight of Malta and was responsible for co-founding the medical operations of the Order and bringing German pilgrims to Lourdes among many accomplishments.

The Telegraph in the U.K. wrote an account of his involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler and it is an exciting story that can be read here.

In 1942, as a 24-year-old field lieutenant in the 41st Cavalry, Boeselager turned against the Nazi government after hearing how five Romany gypsies had been shot in cold blood purely on the ground of their ethnicity.

With his commanding officer, Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge, Boeselager joined a plot to assassinate the Führer. The first attempt was in March 1943, when both Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were expected at the Eastern Front for a strategy meeting with Kluge.

Once Hitler was dead, Boeselager was to order his troops (who were ignorant of the plot) to commandeer horses and return to Berlin to seize key parts of the city and to round up senior Nazis in a full-scale coup d'état. Their specific target was the SS Reichssicherheitshauptamt RSHA, the central headquarters of the SS.

Boeselager was issued with a Walther PP pistol, with which he was to shoot both Hitler and Himmler during dinner at the officers' mess. But the plan was aborted at the last minute when Himmler left early, opening up the possibility that he would have succeeded Hitler as leader.

In the spring of 1944 the conspirators planned a second attempt on Hitler's life, Boeselager helping to supply Stauffenberg with explosives; a job with an explosives research team provided von Boeselager with cover. When ordered to deliver his cargo of British-made charges (his team considered the fuses easy to set), Boeselager found the recipient was in a meeting, so he carried his payload in a suitcase to the cinema to avoid drawing attention to himself.

"They were showing a comedy," he recalled. "But I didn't see much. I had to be careful that people didn't trip on the suitcase." When at last he met his contact,Boeselager said: "I'm supposed to give you a suitcase. "He said 'Thank you', and that was all."

The bomb was planted under a table at Hitler's Eastern Front headquarters where he was holding a meeting. Although Hitler survived, Boeselager had already set in train his return to Berlin to help install a new government. He would later recall an "unbelievable" ride covering 120 miles in 36 hours, with 1,000 cavalrymen under his command, to reach an airport in western Russia from where they had planned to fly back to the German capital.

But on receiving from his brother Georg the coded message "All back into the old holes", Boeselager knew that the plot had failed, and that he must return to the front at once. Although he was able to reverse his cavalry retreat in time and get his troops back to their positions before arousing suspicion, it was a close call. One of his comrades was killed as he rode over a mine, and he had to retrieve a strategic map of Berlin from the dead man's pocket which, if found, would have exposed his links to the plot and the planned takeover of key buildings in Berlin.

While most of the other conspirators were executed by firing squad, Boeselager's part in the plot remained undetected, as was that of his brother Georg –who was later killed in action on the Eastern Front.

It was only after the war that Boeselager's role in the failed assassination attempts was revealed. He was hailed as a hero in both Germany and France, and awarded the highest military honours both countries could bestow.

19 December 2008

The Welfare State = The All Powerful State

Bishop John Wright of the Diocese of Worchester, MA gave an address to 200 presidents and other officers of almost 40 State medical association on June 14, 1951. He warned them against "enslavement by absorption" into a state bureaucracy. As we approach the inauguration of a new President and Congress in the next few weeks who are committed to expanding Governemental intrusion into our lives may these words of the wise Bishop serve as a warning and a reminder to remain firm in our Catholic beliefs. He went on to say,
"You doctors should be the first to insist on morality, for once the moral law goes into eclipse, your profession is doomed to return to the slavery which was the condition of physicians and teachers in the pre-Christian days of amoral pagan totalitarianism."

Let us also pray for wisdom from our Church leaders as they address the problems in our current healtcare system that they not be blinded by the overly simplistic solution of "universal healthcare" offered by those politicians who will ensure that the systems provide numerous immoral practices in open conflict with the teachings of the Church and the consciences of our Catholic healthcare workers.

The Good and Bad of Secularization

The following is taken from the 3rd installment in a series on Secularism and Secularity by Fr. Alfonso Aguilar, LC in the National Catholic Register (not to be confused with it's dissident cousin the 'National Catholic Reporter')

Like its counterpart, secularism is intrinsically intolerant.

“It presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone,” Benedict XVI noted in the same address. “But in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a worldview. If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image. When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the ‘good’ begins to wane. What was ostensibly promoted as human ingenuity soon manifests itself as folly, greed and selfish exploitation.”

As the Pope put it in his 2006 speech to Catholic jurists, secularism is characterized by its “hostility to every important political and cultural form of religion, and especially to the presence of any religious symbol in public institutions.”

Logically, it refuses “the Christian community and its legitimate representatives the right to speak on the moral problems that challenge all human consciences today, and especially those of legislators and jurists.”

Secularism is a social-engineering process to create a civilization where man and the state, taking God’s place, will be the only source of rights and arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. We may compare it to Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, who was so caught up in his own research that he arrogantly tried to create new life and a new man.

What is secularism’s enemy No. 1? You guessed it: Christianity.

The story of the Roman Empire is again relived in the 21st century under different circumstances. The Roman Empire was tolerant toward all religions and allowed peoples to worship their own gods and goddesses … as long as those deities would not clash with the absolute primacy of the state. Christians refused to worship the Roman gods and emperor. They thought the state to be relative and the Trinitarian God to be the Absolute. Even the emperor was morally obliged to follow God’s moral law.

The Catholic Church is constantly attacked by secularist laws, judicial resolutions, media reports and the entertainment industry. The persecution will stop the day the Church starts worshipping man and the state in submission to the secularist project.

But history will repeat itself. Thanks to her heroes and martyrs, the Church will rise victorious from the ashes of secularism for the glory of God and the temporal and eternal good of mankind.

12 December 2008

Duke of Luxembourg Refuses to Sign Pro-Euthanasia Bill

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg stood firm on his Catholic principles and refused to sign legislation that would have made euthanasia legal in Luxembourg. Historically the monarchs have remained politically neutral and simply signed the bills presented before them. The Duke though in conscience could not sign something opposed to Catholic teaching and informed the Prime Minister of his decision which prompted the government to re-write the constitution. "The 60-member legislature voted 56-0, with one abstention, to amend the constitution so that in the future Henri will no longer have to "approve" laws adopted by parliament."

More of the story can be read here.

Duke Henri is a member of the Order of Malta and was received into the Order in February 2008.

11 December 2008

New Catholic Congressman for New Orleans

The blog Fathers for Good has a good post about a new Catholic Congressman, Anh Joseph Cao, for the district of New Orleans.

As a surprise victor in the congressional district that includes New Orleans, Anh Joseph Cao is the “man of the hour” in the current news cycle. Yet with his strong family values and Catholic faith, which he learned before escaping as a boy from war-torn Vietnam, he could also be a candidate for “father of the year.”

After all, he knows that his role as father will last long after the media glare fades and he settles with his family in the nation’s capital as a first-term congressman from Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Read the rest of his story and other newsworthy fathers here.

Miles Christi Fundraising Raffle

The religious community of Miles Christi is doing great work and worthy of support. Here is their recent letter for the major fundraiser of the year.

Dear friend of Miles Christi,

We hope you are having a very profitable Advent season, preparing your soul for the coming of the Christ Child.

As you know, on December 29th we will have our Christmas Dinner to celebrate the Birth of our Lord with all of our friends. Please visit our website if you would like to sign up for the dinner.

During the Christmas Dinner the drawing of our 2008 Car Raffle will take place. Please help us reach the goal that will benefit our future Religious & Family Center. We really need your help. We depend 100% on donations. If you have already been able to support us in this endeavor, we truly thank you and invite you to please forward this email to your friends, inviting them to purchase tickets. You can also purchase raffle tickets online by clicking here.

Thank you so much for your support for the future of the Catholic Church in America

Have a blessed Advent Season,

The Priests and Brothers of Miles Christi

The drawing will be held on Dec. 29th, 8:30pm, at our Christmas Dinner at the
Inn at St. John�s, Plymouth, MI.

Hospital of St. John's and St. Elizabeth London

Is the tragic situation which has taken place at the Catholic hospital of St. John's and St. Elizabeth in London a preview of what we can expect in this country if FOCA or similar legislation ever passes here? It should be noted that several members of the previous Board were members of the Order of Malta's British Association who fought vigourously to maintain a Catholic ethic with the Hospital but were nevertheless removed by the Cardinal when he dissolved that Board last year.

A little background on this story courtesy of Fr. Finegan (who has a great blog BTW, The Hermeneutic of Continuity).

The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in St John's Wood is a Catholic hospital, founded in 1856. In 2003, the Hospital invited the St John's Wood Medical Practice to become a part of the hospital. At the time, Catholics familiar with the present workings of the National Health Service warned that such an invitation would present problems for a Catholic hospital since an NHS medical practice is bound to offer "sexual health services" which conflict with Catholic moral teaching.

Last week, the Hospital Board approved a new Code of Ethics which, on the surface, looks good. It specifies that such things as euthanasia, sex-change operations, the fitting of intra-uterine devices, and IVF are forbidden. However, the Code does not mention abortion referrals or the prescription of the (abortifacient) Morning After Pill.

Today, there are two articles in the National Press which highlight the Linacre Centre's criticism of the Code of Ethics: in the Daily Telegraph Celebrity hospital in abortion row and in the Daily Mail Cardinal caught up in Catholic row... Abortion referral is a "hot button" issue for Catholics in Britain today. Catholic doctors and others who will not kill unborn children cannot in conscience refer patients to other doctors who will. Many secularists would like to try and force them to do so or leave the profession.

It cannot be acceptable for a Catholic hospital to allow such referrals, nor can these referrals in any way be "approved by the Catholic Church."

Fr. Finegan received the following letter from Mr. Luke Gormally, Honorary Fellow of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics

Dear Fr Tim,

The situation at John&Lizzies is one of grave scandal. The Cardinal has the authority in the constitution of the Hospital to determine the ethical norms that should govern clinical practice there. When objections where referred to the Cardinal in 2004 to admission of the St John's Wood Medical Practice, which is contractually committed to providing the full range of 'family planning services', including referrals for abortion, he in turn referred the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) - though in truth the issue was clear cut.

The Hospital Management (which has long been non-Catholic) argued that there was no clear prohibition in the existing Code of referrals for abortion. The case was presented in somewhat unsatisfactory terms to the CDF who asked the Cardinal to establish a Committee to enquire into practice at the Hospital and what might be required to render the existing Ethics Code unambiguous in its directives. The Cardinal after some delay established the Brennan Committee (under Lord Brennan), a Committee which included Professor John Finnis in its membership.

This Committee eventually reported to the Cardinal in early 2006 and on 6 March that year following the advice of the Committee the Cardinal wrote to the then Chairman of the Hospital Board, Lord Bridgeman, requiring specific additions to the Code which made it unambiguously clear that no doctor practising at the Hospital was to refer for procedures, including abortion, which were contrary to moral truth as identified in the teaching of the Church. He asked that the Code be revised along these lines by the end of 2006, and that the following year the Hospital should set up a system of ethical governance to ensure that the Code was being observed. Lord Bridgeman disbanded the previous Ethics Committee, three of whose members,including Dr Helen Watt, had been at the forefront of complaining about unethical practices at the Hospital (it had, among other things, become the major centre in the UK for female to male transgender surgery), and established a new Ethics Committee.

This first met in September 2006 and I was, somewhat to my surprise, recruited to the Committee in October 2006. Lord Bridgeman's chosen Chairman of the Ethics Committee was extremely reluctant to proceed to the revision of the Code as required in the Cardinal's letter to Lord Bridgeman, but some of us managed to produce a revision of the Code in early 2007 precisely along the lines specified in the letter of 6 March 2006. This revised Code was then formally agreed by the Ethics Committee. Before it was presented to the Hospital Board however it was presented at the insistence of Management and Lord Bridgeman to the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Hospital. This is composed of a group of doctors not one of whom is a Catholic. They rejected the Code.

It subsequently emerged at a meeting with this Committee that they regarded the Code as having no authority over them and indeed viewed the Hospital as already a secularised institution. The view of the MAC was then invoked as a reason for non-acceptance of the Code by the majority of those on the Board with a secularising agenda for the Hospital. However, in the later part of 2007 there were a number of resignations from this group and towards the end of the year those members of the Board who had been faithful to the terms of the Hospital's Trust Deed and had sought to retain its catholicity found themselves in a sufficient majority to approve the Code.

At this point the Cardinal intervened and demanded the resignation of those faithful few. Though he had no legal authority to do so, his wishes were complied with by a number who felt obliged to defer to his moral authority. Lord Guthrie was then installed as the new Chairman of the Board and he accepted this position on condition that he would be able to re-populate the Board with his own nominees. One of these is Sir Mark Allen who from a career as a spy master has now assumed Chairmanship of the Hospital's Ethics Committee. He has produced a Code which to anyone who knows about the controversy over the past 4 years about the ethical norms which should govern clinical practice at the Hospital is manifestly a complete capitulation to the demands of the MAC that certain key demands of Catholic moral teaching should have no authority over what they decide and do with their patients in consulting rooms in the Hospital. What happens in the operating theatres may be more restricted than hitherto, but the most striking thing about the new Code is the complete absence of any prohibition of referrals for abortion. I began by saying that the situation is one of grave scandal. It is so because the Cardinal has given his approval to this new Code. The Church's teaching about the grave wrongness of abortion and cooperation in abortion has been sacrificed for essentially financial interests. How can the Church in this country effectively defend the sanctity of life when its Chief Shepherd is prepared to approve a Code which effectively accommodates referrals for abortion? A spokeswoman for the Brook Advisory Centres is reported as welcoming the liberalization of the Hospital's Code. That tells us pretty cleary where the Cardinal has got us to. Urgent prayers, and action by some, are needed to reverse this situation.

Luke Gormally

Today I received a newsletter published by the Restituta Group, which is campaigning to restore the Hospital to Catholicity, recapping further developments between October and December. I will post on that as soon as I can condense it down.

One item that is conspicuously missing from the 2008 Code of Ethics is the preamble from the 2007 Code,
“The following are therefore not permitted in any facility within the Hospital, its precincts or its ownership and may not in any such facility be the subject of referrals with a view to obtaining them elsewhere”.


This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.