Sunday, March 25, 2007

Children: gift or duty?

The Ochlophobist demonstrates again what the Sarabite has described as an "Orthodox ethos within the Catholic Church," though Ochlo may want to dispute that. All his points on contraception are perfectly consistent with Catholic teachings, yet correct for some of its modern excesses, preoccupations, and inconsistencies. One inconsistency he implicitly highlights is Catholicism's near-exclusive reliance on ethics, rules, and magisterial authority to promote the culture of life.
In exhorting couples to have more children, even just one more than they "wanted" to have, we should not stress duty. Orthodox couples (married in the Orthodox Church) did not make a vow to submit to and die for the other, even if the Church exhorted them to do so. Orthodox couples are not under contract to do anything, including breed. We should call them to do so out of love, out of joy, out of hope. We should remind them of the goodness of oil, wheat, wine, wonder, prayer, and household tables in which they are surrounded by children. We should give them every reason to think of children as blessing and not curse.

Moderns know that contracts kill, even as they use and frequently love them. Moderns, for the most part, also generally intuit that the sophistic metaphysical gymnastics of "natural law" (especially in the sense in which it is used by modern "conservatives") can be contorted to condemn them for almost any sexual act. Certain of the manualists would have us cutting holes in sheets. Augustine proposed one sexual position if one had to have sex (more about that later). Good grief, the last thing a Christian couple needs in the bedroom is another ethic or trite metaphysical parsing of every act which a couple intends for love. No, pastorally we do not need couples to sign on another dotted line and accept the contract of proper Christian family planning. We need Orthodox couples to love, and to love more. This Ochlophobist would be happy with just one more, silly as that may seem.
Catholics love to say that children are unmerited gifts from God, not a right, not ultimately a burden or even a duty, as if we were talking about property rights and contractual obligations. But ontologically, children subsist as gifts, a category that even the secular law recognizes as far less bound by rigid rules. And yet we too often speak of the stricter, more authoritarian ethical teachings and pronouncements and focus on the penalties for violating the Church's pro-life message. This is indeed an inconsistency that the Orthodox ethos avoids. Where the Catholic ethos maintains that duty is a necessary part of a consistent ethic life, the Orthodox ethos insists that duty just scratches the surface. Both are right. The Protestant meanwhile denies the existence of any institutionally-related duties that infringe upon the individual's liberty to decide for him/herself.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Church will not be marketed

Lion & Cathedral with another gem for all Catholic converts & enthusiasts, on the silly games we play with ourselves over choice of confession:
When Catholic evangelists try to convince people to like Catholicism, they convince them that it is something that exists to be liked. But whether people like doctrines and moral precepts and traditions is irrelevant. They are not marketing tools. They do not exist to be liked, at least not in the sense that something a man chooses for himself is liked. The Church exists to be loved in the way that a mother is loved, and nobody chooses his mother. The Church demands a loyalty that is as inseverable as the bond of maternity; a loyalty that is maintained even when it is unpleasant. The Catholic Church will not triumph by being marketed more effectively; this will not instill in people a conviction that they must honor her because of who she is, whether her qualities are to their liking or not.
Makes you wonder about the wisdom behind efforts like this:
Had someone called central casting in a Hollywood studio and asked for a Catholic look-alike of the magnetic Pentecostal preachers today marching across Latin America, they could not have done much better than Oscar Osorio.

Osorio, an articulate Honduran layman with a wife and four children, is a leader in the Catholic Charismatic movement in Central America. He’s also a star of Channel 48, the Catholic television network in Honduras, where his compelling Bible-based preaching opens each morning’s programming.

Mahony's theology of the Cross

Came across this passing comment from Mahony in an email to his attorneys (part of a file which has been made public obviously). I've been digging more into the LA Archdiocese's legal adventures since it's all related to a paper I'm working on. It was written in 2002 when the media and legal headaches were mounting on His Eminence.
What a Holy Week--filled with Good Fridays, no Easter Sundays!!
If you're looking for deeper causes of the Western Church's degradation, it's all in that exclamation. It's become a popular notion that Good Friday represents bad news and Easter the good news. Hence the platitudes about how we're an "easter people" who prefer "resurrection crucifixes" and sing happy-clappy songs at Mass. But when bishops responsible for catechesis and doctrinal formation of their flocks privately espouse such Christologically heretical notions, we're all in trouble. What's the point if the Paschal Mystery has been rewritten as a Hollywood script -- Cross=crisis; Rez=happy ending?

Glory in the Cross, Mahony! The Cross was your Lord's crowning, His victory over Death, not just the Resurrection! Remember the eternal memory of the saints who cleaved to the Holy Cross! Then maybe you'll spend more time with your confessor and less time doing damage control with your lawyers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sometimes legalism is good

Prof. Bainbridge, the current don of Catholic corporate analysis, give us the one-two on Cdl. Mahony's removal in light of the Fr. Caffoe tapes. It's a simple, legalistic reading of canon law, but the shoe fits. Video tape shows the priest with half-naked boys in a state of arousal, yet Mahony was able to stand before his flock and pat himself on the back that "no sexual activity" occured. There is no bishop more contemptible than Cdl. Mahony. His liturgical, doctrinal, and pastroal abuses have been clearly willful, knowing, purposeful, and reckless. He has done one thing right: immigration & Hispanic ministry, but even there, his political egocentrism has tainted his advocacy. Yes, Mahony must go.
Can a Bishop who has lied to his flock on such a key mttner be said to be in compliance with Canon 387? No. Especially given Mahoney's long track record of other misfeasances and malfeasances in connection with the priest sex abuse scandal.

Curiously, there is no express provision in the Canon Law for removal of a diocesan Bishop. Canon 401, § 2, however, states that:

A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.

Mahoney's violation of Canon 387 constitutes the requisite "grave reason" such that he should voluntarily resign. If he fails to do so, the Pope clearly has authority under Canon 403 to appoint a coadjutor bishop who would be vested with the bulk of Mahoney's responsibilities. Alternatively, despite the absence of a clear answer in canon law, most observers believe that the Pope has authority to remove a bishop for sufficiently grave reason. (Certainly, at the bare minimum, the Pope can "lean on" a bishop to do the right thing.)

Friday, March 16, 2007

How infallibility is feeding the dissent

The Curt Jester has a post about yet more folly from Catholic women priesthood dissenters. The conservative commentators are predictably hauling out Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (OS).

They, and according to most polls, the majority of Catholics don't give a crap about OS. There is something totally off about how we conservatives/orthodox are communicating doctrinal truth. The argument by authority approach cannot be our default response. Clergy need to stop hiding behind the "we have not the authority" argument. It's a perfectly true argument, of course, but doesn't go very far by itself.

We have much to learn from the Orthodox East on this. They don't have parallel "womyn" priesthood dissenters worth any mention AND they don't resort to arguments by authority, which they rightly criticize us Catholics for relying too heavily on. The problem is that not even most conservative Catholics have a theological belief in male priesthood; they only believe it because the Pope says so (which is the stereotype of Catholics by the way). This rhetoric of "what part of NO don't you get?" is funny as a joke, but beyond that it's childish, legalistic, and only perpetuates the problem.

Papal authority is meant to protect the Truth, not serve as a substitute for a real confrontation with the Truth. By merely pointing to papal authority, we're diminishing Catholic Truth. It becomes an abstraction, yet another propositional idea up for debate, as all "ideas" are. For the Orthodox (and I see no reason why it can't be so for Catholics as well), male priesthood is an integral part of a densely-packed and tightly-intertwined way of life and liturgy, a unifying communal ethos and aesthetic, not something to be toyed with like a Legos set. There's no room for the impulse to question it, but doctrine and liturgy are never alienable objects of intellectual scrutiny to begin with. But when Catholic Truth gets reduced to papal infallibility, doctrines are no longer lived realities but power discourse. Then you create fertile ground for these idiotic dissenters. The modernism of Catholic conservatives is doing much to feed this absurd cycle of dissent and crackdown and more dissent.

It's about how we clothe doctrine and liturgy. Will we continue to clothe them in the thin threads of the Pope's say-so as an independent source of authority? Or will we follow the wisdom of the East (which if apostolic and patristic is our wisdom as well!) and clothe them in the tougher skins of a full-bodied liturgical culture, as in Old World Catholicism?

The polemics with Protestants really took us off course. Catholics stopped relying on the Liturgy itself as a source of authority and made it derivative of papal authority. That has proved to be disastrous. Conservative idiots will extrapolate that I'm advocating a diminishment or rejection of papal infallibility. I do not, though I suppose a strict, narrow reading of the docs might reveal some friction. I believe in papal infallibility; I just don't think it's the crux of Catholic faith, so we should stop hiding behind it as if it's all we got when it's plainly not.

Sushi Etiquette for Orientalists

Friday, March 09, 2007

Von Balthasar's Whore

Some fuss about von Balthasar's orthodoxy:
And she makes this charge:

In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s 1950’s published work, Castra Meretix [sic], he states the prostitute is the symbol of the Church, ”The figure of the prostitute is so appropriate for the Church…that it…defines the Church of the New Covenant in her most splendid mystery of salvation.”

Well, first, the author has a typo–the term is Casta meretrix (the “chaste whore”) and von Balthasar is hardly original in this. I found this today and it’s a fascinating read. He looks at the image of the Church as a harlot as used in many patristic and medieval sources. They follow the lead of Hosea, of course, who uses the image of a prostitute as a prophetic warning against Israel’s idolatry. And many folks before the Reformation saw the Church in the harlot of Revelation. But they also find types of the Church in Rahab and Tamar in the Old Testament and in Mary Magdalene in the Old Testament–the Church, especially the Gentile Church, is a forgiven harlot; once she followed idols, now she worships Christ. So Beckworth is speaking from ignorance.
This all reminds me of a quip made by a Catholic friend way back as I was just about ready to take the dive into the Tiber: "She may be a Whore, but she's your Mother!"

Getting it

This is what happens when you have a generation of Catholics trained to think that doctrine and tradition is based on a bishop’s say-so. We just don’t get it. You can bet the Orthodox don’t have these numbers. And they don’t have massive catechetical programs. I’m starting to believe that the “poor catechesis” argument we throw around so much is masking a much deeper problem in the very way our priests and bishops understand doctrine and tradition. They don't get it, so we shouldn't hope that the laity will get it.
YONKERS - Polls generally show that 50 percent to 60 percent of Roman Catholics in the United States believe that women should be eligible for the priesthood.
Here's the rest of the article.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

No Real Eucharist... real unity. The irony of Bible-believing Protestants conceiving of "church divorces done right" is apparently lost on them.