Friday, March 16, 2007

Priest is attacked verbally on the air by so-called "Catholic"

Recently the president of Human Life International, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, appeared on Fox television on the Colmes-Hannity show to speak with Hannity who openly expressed his beliefs about contraception which are contrary to Catholic belief. Fr. Euteneur was invited onto the show to speak with Hannity. Hannity showed absolutely no respect to this priest, and went on a tirade against him. Euteneur, however, remained calm. This article, taken from the Human Life International (the largest pro-life organization in the world), explains the situation, in the words of Fr. Euteneur himself:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth.” (2 Tim 4:3-4)

Many Spirit and Life readers may know that after last Friday’s column (“Sean Hannity’s Gospel”) I was invited to defend my position on the Hannity and Colmes show that very night. It’s nice to know that my emails are being read in the hallowed halls of Fox News! I suspected, however, that Hannity wanted to defend his “devout Catholic” credentials, and I was not disabused of this notion when I went on the show. What the show did, above all, was to show not that the Church was wrong or incoherent, but that Hannity, like so many other cultural Catholics, is really a liberal when it comes to certain aspects of sexual morality.

The first point I have to straighten out is for those who were concerned that this was not handled first in private. Well, in fact, I did attempt to handle this matter in private with Mr. Hannity in 2004, but I never received a response to my letter asking him for a meeting. [See side bar item, “Fr. Euteneuer asks to meet with Hannity about birth control.”] As far as I am concerned, I did my due diligence before I went public with my complaint about his hypocrisy; but even if I had not, it was Mr. Hannity’s schedulers who called me to make an issue of it, not I who demanded to appear on his show! In this age of culpable clerical silence on many serious issues affecting people’s souls, do we now want a priest to keep silent about something so important? We can’t have it both ways.

Second, concerning the actual debate, what some are calling Sean’s “disrespect” for me as a member of the clergy was not of concern to me. In that sense, Sean is typical of his generation that has been taught that nobody has any special consecration (even if they technically do) and that everyone has to prove his mettle in the realm of public debate. No problem. I am a holder of this office, and I did not feel that his callous disregard for the priesthood did anything to diminish the sanctity of it, but I can see how it was an extra element of scandal for those who value the priestly office highly. Nor did I really care that he cut me off time and time again in the debate; he’s a known quantity—did you expect anything else from Hannity?

Just for the record, Sean Hannity really is a dissenting Catholic and a public scandal to the Faith. He should be rebuked by his pastor or bishop, not by me, but since that has not been forthcoming in his decade or so of public dissent on radio and TV, somebody in authority had to say something. Hannity, as we know, is shameless on birth control, and judging from the interview, he hasn’t even the vocabulary to rationally defend his position in the face of his Church’s clear teaching. Hannity is also clearly pro-choice on abortion in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother, and he is really cozy with the likes of Rudy Giuliani whose love for abortion and everything gay is hardly a secret. It has even been revealed that Hannity’s website, has a gay dating service that Sean knows about and apparently “has no problem with;” no different from his attitude in regard to birth control. So much for the “devout Catholic” Hannity. If that is devout, then Hugh Heffner is reverent.

The interview on Friday night was enlightening in many senses but mostly because it showed Hannity’s true liberal side. The “Judge not lest ye be judged” comment I have heard only and exclusively in debates with liberals and others with guilty consciences. It is the whine of the person who is doing something that he knows in his heart is wrong but can’t stand anyone pointing out. Hannity’s “judge not” rant can be summarized in one phrase which, if it were put this way, would have been much more identifiable as liberal claptrap: “How dare you question my choice!” Face it: Hannity is a liberal when it comes to sex. In his position next to Colmes, Hannity wears the conservative mantle, but when he comes face to face with the truth of his Church, which I as a priest am obliged to uphold faithfully, he is no more than a liberal relativist.

And in that matter, how different is his position on birth control from that of Planned Parenthood? They have “no problem” with birth control either. In fact it’s much more than a personal matter for them. It fuels their business. Yes, about 60% of women going into abortion clinics are doing it because of failed birth control and no amount of feigned pragmatism about stopping abortions with birth control is going to change the fact that birth control teaches people to be selfish and leads them down the garden path to the killing centers of this nation—or any nation for that matter. And by the way, for those who wanted me to object to both abortion and birth control as a solution to any problem, please go back and listen carefully to the clip—I did object to both! The Catholic Church’s teaching on sexual morality is the only coherent dissenting viewpoint from PP’s gospel of free sex and baby killing, and sadly, Hannity, the “devout Catholic,” just aids and abets those criminals.

Most surprising of all, however, was Hannity’s use of what I call the “argument from pedophilia;” namely, the tendency to fall back on the Church sex abuse scandal when you’re losing an argument with a priest and have to grab for something. I have had people do this to me in front of abortion clinics, at Da Vinci Code protests and in private conversations about Catholicism for the past several years. Let’s just say I didn’t expect it from Hannity! Was it me or did Sean just disconnect from reality at that moment? Where in the world did that come from? Well, it’s because Hannity’s really a closet liberal when pushed to the wall. True colors come out in the wash, and the birth control issue just has a greater tendency to touch the sensitive areas of people’s philosophies of life.

Hannity’s worldview is full of holes. He may have gone to seminary but, if that is the case, his seminary background and knowledge of Latin (!) gives him a greater responsibility to get it right when he wants to spout off about Church teaching in the public forum.

For your reading interest you can click on the side bar items to see some of the incredible feedback that we got on both sides of the debate. Of particular interest is the recent statement of Cardinal Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, who has said that “dissident Catholics are more worrying than atheists.” Whew—words of warning for Hannity and O’Reilly and company. In the end, we all have to undergo our own “Judgment Day,” and it is the Church’s job to let people know ahead of time that God is not a moral relativist on the issue of birth control.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International

Angry Encounter with Believed Friend

I would like to write about an incident, involving me and another person, which shows how misinformation can lead to anti-catholicism. In order to protect the identity of those involved, I will leave out names and identifying details.

I was speaking with a girl I know and whom I considered a friend. We weren't very close, but close enough that we could talk about many issues and had a good laugh every now and then. For the most part, she was a very fine individual who I felt was caring and sensitive. I continue to believe she is caring and sensitive, however there is a side of her, which I had until that point not noticed.

We were speaking about various topics as we usually did through email. We would send a sentence or two of discussion on light topics. It was never a big deal, and just casual chat. Knowing that she's been with her significant other for quite some time, the topic of marriage and children came up. Then I asked her if she would marry in a church. She said she would like to because it is the traditional way of getting married, however she felt she may be somewhat hypocritical in doing so, since neither she nor her family attend church.

Then she said she honestly didn't believe a lot of things about the Catholic faith. This was fine, and I emailed her back and said I honestly do. This is when she completely lost it. She went on a tirade about the bad things the Catholic Church has done. The following is a quote from what she said:

"Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters. I believe some of the rules should be changed and altered as the times progress. They are very backwards in their thinking."

Remember, we were used to having light topics on things like the weather, friends, music, etc. We had never engaged in heated discussion, yet she felt the need at that point to go berserk and verbally ransack the Catholic Church. I was literally shocked from what she wrote. Even the most fervent anti-Catholics do not believe that "most priest are a bunch of child molesters". I was sad to hear she had such a poor opinion of the Catholic Church.

She went on to lambaste what she felt were "backward" practices of the Catholic church, such as not allowing homosexuals to marry each other, etc. She continuously called the practices of the church backward and old-fashioned, and said the Church should focus on more important issues than homosexual marriage, such as war, poverty, AIDS, etc. She even attacked beliefs held by all Christians, such as the Virgin Birth. However, her beef against the Catholic church had really nothing to do with how much the Church did in these areas. I know this because I sent her a response email outlining the things the Church has done. For example, I said the Catholic Church helps more people in Africa living with AIDS than all other relief organizations (including the Red Cross, the UN, etc) combined. I told her how Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church helped more Jews during the holocaust than anyone else, and that this is attested to by the then Prime Minister of Israel, the Chief Rabbi of Rome (who converted to Catholicism), and Albert Einstein. But she was not interested in this information.

I also responded to her comments about "Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters". Obviously this comment is not only offensive, but also false. As I've wrote about in previous articles, the idea that "most" or even "a lot" of priests are child molesters is outright false. A study done by non-Catholic Philip Jenkins from Penn State University shows that celibate priests are no more likely to commit sexual abuse than any other religious person, or non-religious person. Other studies have shown that teacher sexual abuse is 4 times higher than priestly abuse. One of the reasons why it seems there is a lot of priestly abuse is because the information that the media has presented recently has been accumulated from a 40 or 50 year period. Think about it. Whenever you hear on the news a story about a priest who sexually assaulted children, etc. it's always happened in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. In fact, studies show that there is a large decline in sexual abuse by priests recently. It's also important to realize that what the media is reporting is not completely accurate. For example, most of the 1-2% of priests involved were charged with one incident, not serial incidences. This includes the vast majority (about 80%). Also, 80% of cases did not involve pedophilia (sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children), but in fact involved post-pubescent people, aged from 13 to 18. Although sexual abuse is sexual abuse regardless of age, it is worse to abuse a pre- rather than a post-pubescent child. The media of course, does not report on this difference. The media is well-known for going with the most taboo stories they can find. There are never studies done on, for example, the incidence of sexual abuse among truck drivers, or cooks, for example. Sexual abuse among priests is a popular story for the media because priests are seen as holy and pure, and to discredit them enters into a rather taboo area. Rarely does 1 to 2% of a group come to represent the entire group, like this has for many people.

In dealing with anti-Catholic sentiment, it is important to realize that while many people will viciously attack the Church for having sexual abuse, or for various other historical events, which they misrepresent, their true purpose is something else. Most of the time, people have certain opinions which are contrary to Natural Law and the Catholic Church, and in order to lash out against them, instead of talking about the issue, they seek to discredit the Church. In doing so, they seek to make everything the Church teaches seem absurd. Basically, they try to say, "How can you believe what this organization says if it does this, this, and this." This is the same case with this friend of mine. She lashed out at the Catholic Church in order to make it easy for her points to be accepted, even though they had nothing to do with her points. It's akin to saying, I don't believe what that person is saying about art because he failed a math test in grade 9. It's using the information about this person failing his grade 9 test to show how stupid, immature, and unreliable this person is. Once you have discredited this person, you feel it is easier to make the point that he knows nothing about art. If this person is an art critic and he is critiquing your art, you then proceed to say, My art is perfect, and I don't need to believe you, because you are stupid, immature, and unreliable. This approach is very popular among anti-Catholics. The best approach for dealing with this is to make sure they stay on topic, and one topic at a time. Catholic doctrine is easily defended because it reflects logic, reason, and natural law, because it is from God.

I will pray for this person and for all anti-catholics in general that they may see the Truth of the Catholic faith and realize that by living a life prescribed by Holy Mother Church, they may come to have joy and happiness.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pope opposed Bob Dylan singing to John Paul in 1997

This article is from Reuters

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict was opposed to Bob Dylan appearing at a youth event with the late Pope John Paul in 1997 because he considered the pop star the wrong kind of "prophet," Benedict writes in a new book issued on Thursday.

Benedict, who was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the time of the concert in Bologna, Italy, makes the disclosure in a new book of memoirs about his predecessor, who died in 2005.

"There was reason to be skeptical, -- I was, and in a certain sense I still am, -- to doubt if it was really right to let these types of prophets intervene," Benedict writes, only mentioning Dylan among the stars who appeared.

At the 1997 concert, Dylan, the anti-conformist troubadour of the 1960s and one of the 20th century's greatest influences on popular music, sang three songs before the Pope as part of a concert that included a number of other, mostly Italian artists.

Dylan sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," his 1960s anti-war classic "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Forever Young," a song of hope and courage.

In his new book, Pope Benedict does not explain why he does not like Bob Dylan or why he considers him a false "prophet."

Benedict is a lover of classical and sacred music, and an accomplished classical pianist. Last year, he canceled the Vatican's traditional fund-raising Christmas concert, which was a magnet for pop stars.

Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman into a middle-class Jewish family in Minnesota, has been at times agnostic, Jewish and a born-again Christian during his musical career.

At the 1997 concert, John Paul referred to what is perhaps Dylan's most famous song, "Blowing in the Wind," which became an anthem for young people seeking meaning in life in the 1960s.

John Paul told the crowd of some 300,000 young Italian Catholics that the answer was indeed "in the wind" -- but not in the wind that blew things away, rather "in the wind of the spirit" that would lead them to Christ.

After Dylan sang, he took off his beige cowboy hat and went up to a podium to greet John Paul.

Benedict's new book, called "John Paul II, My Beloved Predecessor," is mostly a reflection on John Paul's personality and his religious writings.

Pope to restore mass in Latin

This article is from The Times Online

John Follain, Milan

POPE BENEDICT XVI plans to bring back the celebration of mass in Latin, overriding a rare show of protest from senior cardinals.

With a papal decree said to be imminent, Catholic publishers in Rome are preparing new editions of the Latin missal. They have sent proofs to Vatican authorities for approval, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica reported yesterday.

Vatican sources said Benedict, who is fluent in Latin, is considering publication of a papal “motu proprio” (literally, on his own initiative), which does not require the approval of church bodies. This would enable Benedict to ignore opposition from several cardinals.

The decree would officially declare the Latin, or Tridentine, mass an “extraordinary universal rite”, and the vernacular mass, with which most Catholics are familiar, an “ordinary universal rite”.

The late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was excommunicated for opposing changes in the church agreed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including the replacement of the Tridentine mass with updated liturgy in local languages. The pope’s proposal will be cheered by Lefebvre’s traditionalist followers, said to number about 1m. A special Vatican commission, appointed to examine the demands of traditionalists, met in December to help draft the decree.

Today celebration of the Tridentine rite is limited. Bishops can allow it, but only on the condition that the celebration is deemed a sign of “affection for the ancient tradition” and not a criticism of the reforms.

Benedict wrote in his memoirs, My Life: Memories 1927-1977, published when he was still a cardinal: “I was stunned by the ban on the ancient missal.”

Friday, March 09, 2007

The possible enslavement of gambling

There are many things which can potentially enslave people, including alcohol, sex, drugs, and gambling. Many who gamble lose their cars, homes, and even livelihoods, and in the worst case scenarios lead to suicide by those who cannot cope with this. So, what does the Catholic Church have to say about all this? Don't Catholic Churches hold bingos and garden parties where gambling occurs? Yes. So, is this contradictory to its teaching, even hypocritical? The answer is no.

The Catholic Church does not ban all games of chance, only ones which can be harmful to those playing, or affect others in a negative way. Here's what the catechism officially states:

Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.

So, go ahead and have a little bit of fun, but be very cautious. Make sure you pre-set a limit of how much you plan on spending on these games before you start.