Monday, January 31, 2011

$500,000 Church Theft: Response to Reaction

After an internal audit, it was discovered that over the past 38 years, $500,000 has been stolen from the Archdiocese of St. John's. The Archbishop gave the case over to the RNC immediately and said they will now deal with it.

The article was posted on cbc.ca, and as usual, there was plenty of Catholic bashing going on in the comments below the article. I am now responding to some of the accusations.

1) "Churches should be taxed"
Churches should not be taxed imo because they are not corporations seeking to earn profit. Many non-profit and humanitarian organizations are not taxed, because they provide social services. The government feels it makes sense that if someone is contributing money to a church to do social service, then it wouldn't make sense for the government to take a chunk of that money and use it for OTHER social services.

2) Sexual abuse cases
Of course, one of the mainstays of comments about the Catholic Church concerns sex abuse cases. People are not interested to know that cases are more prevalent in schools or in the home, or that it's just as bad in other religions. Sex abuse by clergy is always used to invalidate any point made by the Church. So people now say that it doesn't matter that money was stolen because of what the Church did.

3) How could the Church not know?
Many people commented that it was the fault of the Church that money was stolen because it would take pretty terrible management to not realize it. Well, this is a poor argument, because we've seen cases of money stolen from a variety of institutions, including banks, hospitals, and virtually any other institution. It's certainly not unheard of.

4) Why should the police help?
One rather strange argument that has been advanced is why should the RNC have to provide investigations for this situation. Why doesn't the Church foot the bill for the investigation. Well, this premise is absurd since theft is a criminal action in Canada and thus is publicly prosecuted. To say this would mean you could advance the same argument when a private citizen has money stolen or any organization. Law enforcement is the area of the government, not private organizations or persons.

Conclusion
Obviously most of the arguments advanced against the Church in this matter are simply manifestations of a larger hatred toward the Church. It has nothing to do with logic or a broader belief system. People who hate the Church simply see this as another opportunity to bash it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Truth in the Problematic Dutch Catechism

After Vatican II, Dutch bishops published a book that is commonly referred to as the Dutch Catechism. It is rather non-dogmatic in its approach, and there are some issues to be found in it. After it was published, the Vatican had a team investigate the book and issued a 50 page document outlining the issues with it. One issue concerned birth control. The book was issued prior to Humanae Vitae, but basically offered a dissenting view on the issue of birth control, ultimately leaving it up to the conscience of the couple. Obviously this is not Church teaching, and this problem was addressed in the Vatican document.

Unfortunately, instead of actually fixing anything, the Dutch bishops simply published the Vatican document as an appendix to the Catechism they had produced.

But one thing I read from this catechism stood out to me. It says a lot about our faith.

It reads:

"The heart of the book is the message of Easter. If the news of Jesus’ resurrection were removed, not one page of the book would have any value."

This is very important when it comes to Christianity. St. Paul said that unless Christ rose from the dead, his faith is in vain. Many people think of Jesus as just a good moral teacher, on the same level as Buddha or Confucius. But our faith is not based on a series of principles, but on the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not simply a moral teacher. He is the second person of the Trinity and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World. We achieve our salvation, not through following a life ethic, but through our response to God's grace, and being part of the Body of Christ. That's why the Eucharist is the "source and summit" of the Christian faith. If Jesus was a moral teacher only, then the Eucharist would be pointless. All the other moral teachers said they were mere men, such as Buddha for example. But only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. A good moral teacher would not say he is the Son of God.

We are saved only through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, not simply because we're "good" people. Also, his grace comes through his Church, and that's why there is no salvation outside the Church. Jesus established a Church, and he said no one comes to the father except through him. As the Bible says, the Church is the Body of Christ. Jesus never once said "No one goes to the father except those that follow a moral teacher".

Christianity is not about following the advice of Jesus, but rather it is about being followers of Jesus himself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dire Straits Song Banned Due to Homosexual Reference

In a scary precedent, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has banned the 25 year old song Money for Nothing by Dire Straits from the radio because it contains the word "faggot". This amounts to censorship of the worst kind. I'm ashamed to say this all originated from a complaint received at OZFM, a local radio station here in St. John's.

I do not believe that we ought to persecute homosexuals or to treat them badly. This is also the position of the Church. However, no group of people should be afforded more privileges than any other group. Songs are written every day about any number of types of people, many of the lyrics are very insulting. Yet, no special protection is given for these groups. It comes down to freedom of speech.

The problem here is that homosexual activity has reached a status in Canada whereby any disagreement with them on any matter is considered hate speech, rather than legitimate debate or discussion.

This brings me back to Fr. Alphonse De Valk. He is a Canadian Catholic priest of the Basilian order who simply spoke on the Church's constant teaching concerning homosexual activities and gay marriage. He was fined for hate speech and had to spend thousands of dollars defending himself in court.

Does anyone think this would happen if someone spoke up against the Catholic Church? Of course not. It would probably air on prime time on CBC.

There is an enormous double standard when it comes to homosexual comments. People can blaspheme God all they want and make false and derogatory comments about the Church and no one bats an eye, but make one verbal misstep about an homosexual issue and you could land yourself in court.

The Catholic Church acknowledges that people who consider themselves gay have the same rights as everyone else when it comes to human rights, but there are legitimate reasons to take someone's homosexuality into consideration when making decisions.

A statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states:

10. “Sexual orientation” does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder (cf. Letter, no. 3) and evokes moral concern.

11. There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.


The banning of this song from the radio is indicative of a larger issue. The government is trying to squelch religious free speech and impose its own morality on the people. We must not let this happen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Offensive Super Bowl Ad will not air

Pepsico had a contest where a person or organization could win $5 million by submitting an advertisement to be used during the Super Bowl. It, of course, received hundreds of entries. One entry though was extremely offensive. It shows a priest who is struggling to bring more money into the church, until he finally has the bright idea to switch the bread and wine at Eucharist for Doritos and Pepsi. Then he receives loads of congregants.

Needless to say, this is extremely offensive to Catholics and others who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Pepsi disqualified the ad from consideration and said it will not air. This is great news. Thanks Pepsi!

For more on this story, please visit: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2011/01/super-bowl-doritos-ad-catholic-offensive/1?csp=34

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blood of John Paul II to Become Relic

Some blood of John Paul II, which was taken during many medical procedures and eventually given to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, will be a relic in a centre dedicated to the late pope in Poland. The relic is encased in a crystal case and will be placed in an altar in the centre.

Relics have been a part of Christian tradition since ancient times. They are not used as amulets or idols and are not said to contain magical properties. Rather, God's grace and love is present where these relics are. Examples can be found in the Bible such as when people touch the robe of Jesus and are healed. Although they do not touch Jesus himself, they touch an object close to him through which he works his grace.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Longest time without a pope since AD33

The longest period of time during which the Catholic Church did not have a pope was from November 1268 to September 1, 1271, almost 3 years. This period is known as the interregnum (between reigns). The reasons were mostly political. It would have taken even longer, but the cardinals were locked in the Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo to vote. They were given only bread and water and even the roof was removed making conditions very uncomfortable.

Eventually, Pope Gregory X was elected.

Anglican Ordinariate explained very well on BBC [Video]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

John Paul II First Pope to be Beatified by Successor

I've done some research and it seems Pope John Paul II will be the first pope beatified by his successor. In this case, Benedict XVI.

In total, there have been 78 canonized popes, and 9 currently considered Blessed. When JPII is beatified in May, 88 out of 264 (dead) popes will have been beatified or canonized, exactly one third.

This may seem like a lot, but we must keep in mind the fact that canonizations being done exclusively by the pope only started in 993. Since then, only 4 popes have been canonized and 10 have been beatified from a total of 128. In other words, 10.9%.

Friday, January 14, 2011

CTV, gay marriage, and Pope John Paul II

It's easy to see that CTV has its priorities straight...not. I was watching the news tonight on NTV (who use the CTV national news). My TV situation leaves a lot to be desired and channel 5 is the only channel I can get. Anyway, I was hoping to hear what they had to say about the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It took me a while to even get reception, but I finally did. There were several stories which aired. Eventually they started talking about a gay couple and a lesbian couple who were renewing their "wedding" vows. This hardly seemed like news. I assumed if they were going to mentioned the previous pontiff, they would have by now, but I was wrong.

After the gay "marriage" story and a few more, they did have a piece on the late great pope, but it was nearly 25 minutes into the show. TV channels these days, except for a few, definitely have their priorities out of place. It's pretty ridiculous when they place a renewal for a "marriage" that no mainstream religion recognizes as valid above the beatification of one of the most important and beloved world leaders of the past century.

Pope John Paul II was the leader of over one billion Catholics and is almost universally loved. He is just one step away from being declared a saint. How is this significantly less important than the renewal of vows of the invalid marriage of some unknown people?

The reason for this is simple. John Paul II represents religion, specifically Catholicism. Anything that has to do with religion is placed low on the totem pole of Canadian news reporting. Stories about abortion, IVF, contraception, gay "marriage", etc. get top spots. It seems any time a news item somehow undermines morality, the event is lauded by the mainstream media. Anything that brings disorder is congratulated. But when a man stands up for Good and Truth, it's seen as offensive.

The Church is presented as outdated, if it is presented at all. To further water down the message of the Church, equal air time is given to every other religion and belief system (including atheism), even if their numbers in Canada represent 0.02% of the population. On the news, the Church is seen the same way one might visit a museum. We see it from behind a glass shield. It may be interesting, but it's just one culture among many hundreds which obviously has no say in our lives. Most people know so little about the Catholic Church, even in predominantly Christian countries that when a news story comes on about the pope or the Vatican, it may as well be about the rites of passage of the natives of Borneo.

Any news stories about gay "marriage", in-vitro fertilization, legalization of prostitution, euthanasia, cloning, abortion, etc. gets front-page status because they represent a new religion. One where every inclination an individual has, no matter how disordered, receives the label of a "right".

The Church is like a gym. It says you can feel good about yourself because you are so important and valuable in the eyes of God. They have equipment to help you realize your great potential. If you are spiritually overweight, lazy, unmotivated, the Church has the solution. If you use what the Church has to offer, you can get in great spiritual shape. The media, on the other hand, creates a policy that says they cannot tell anyone they are overweight, lazy, or unmotivated. No negative words are allowed. There is no right or wrong. Everyone is simply "different". The five-foot eight guy who weighs 400 pounds is no different than the guy with low body fat and in good physical condition. They have simply chosen their own unique paths, both of which are equally valid. The problem is words do not change reality. The fat guy remains fat. The media may convince him that he is not fat, just different. But that doesn't change the reality. It doesn't change the fact that he gets winded by walking up stairs, or that he has trouble sleeping.

The media has created the idea that there is no right or wrong, just different. One person says IVF is wrong, another says it is right, but ultimately YOU decide. Moral questions have become personal whims. Therefore, it is no surprise that news stories about the Catholic Church are not the headliners. Opinions and editorials come AFTER the hard news. But don't be fooled. Morals are objective, universal and unchanging guiding principles set out by God. The Catholic Church infallibly speaks for God in matters of faith and morals. Instead of one moral voice among many, the Church was established by Christ to spread Truth throughout the world.

John Paul II to be beatified on May 1, 2011

Great news emerged today that Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1, 2011. Although the process toward sainthood usually begins five years after a person's death, Pope Benedict XVI waived the waiting period and commenced the cause of the late pope immediately.

Already declared venerable, John Paul II will be beatified now that a nun's cure has been declared a miracle wrought by the intercession of the late Holy Father. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a French nun in her forties, was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. She prayed for the intercession of John Paul the Great and is now free of the disease.

Doctors verified the condition of the lady and have determined that no medical explanation can be given. In order for a miracle to be approved, the Vatican has established stringent guidelines. Doctors, and anyone involved in the treatment of a patient, for example, must declare that a cure has no natural explanation. They are not required to call it a miracle because some people simply do not believe in them, but simply that no medical explanation can be given.

It was appropriate for this nun to pray for the intercession of the previous pontiff because he too had the disease.

Upon the death of the beloved Vicar of Christ, thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square shouting "Santo Subito!", roughly translating to "Sainthood Now!" The people are now one step closer to this reality.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel 6 years after his Near Death Experience

A beloved priest who frequently appears on EWTN, Fr. Benedict Groeschel of New York, nearly died 6 years ago after he was hit by a car while crossing the street. After this pure accident, Groeschel was rushed to the nearest hospital in Orlando where the accident took place. His prognosis was so bad, he was left for dead by the medics who were trying to resuscitate him.

Fortunately, a priest by the name of Fr. John Lynch begged the doctors to keep trying to bring Fr. Benedict back. It seemed a hopeless case. He had no blood pressure, no heart beat, or pulse for twenty minutes. Those working on Fr. Benedict said that even if they revived him, the brain starts to die after no blood for 4 minutes.

Yet miraculously Fr. Benedict not only lived, but had no permanent damage. It is a true act of God. A few days later, Fr. Benedict was again threatened by toxins that had entered his body. But somehow, they left. Finally, two weeks later, he had heart failure, but was again brought back from the brink.

I mention this now because tonight I listened to a past episode of Catholic Answers Live where Fr. Benedict was talking about suffering and how we can use it for good. Many see him as a living saint, and I believe he was miraculously saved because he still has work to do for God.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

How Pope Innocent VI stayed well

I was just looking through an article on Pope Innocent VI on Wikipedia and the following line caught my eye. I thought it was awesome:

He avoided the Black Death by sitting between two fires by himself so his air was not impure.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Just watched Angels and Demons

While it was in theatre and still a new release, I didn't watch Angels and Demons, but I now have a monthly pass where I can rent an unlimited number of movies, so I decided to rent it and to evaluate it.

=== WARNING: Spoilers ahead ===

I must say it's not as bad as I thought it was. There are movies which are probably worse, and there was a little bit of counterbalance, although not much. Maybe 80% portrayed the Church in a negative light and 20% was positive.

I took down a few little notes of inaccuracies from the movie, and here they are:

1) Perceived conflict between religion and science
This was a big thing which I knew would be present in the movie. A couple of times they did say that science and faith are not in conflict, but the theme of the movie was that the Catholic Church is against science and actively trying to destroy it. This has been going on for centuries. One group, the illuminati were a peaceful group of people who wanted to explore science, but the Church ruthlessly destroyed and killed members of the group. The movie is about the attempts of the Illuminati to find vengeance for these injustices. Obviously, the Church is not against science. I have written extensively on this subject. Check out more on this on my blog here, and here.

2) Some clergy shown very "ordinary"
This is more of a pet peeve, and may actually reflect something of a truth, but a lot of the cardinals were portrayed as smoking, using their cell phones and camcorders, and often not as prayerful individuals. They are often shown are rude, and sometimes even power-hungry. I believe the portrayal of cardinals in this movie was somewhat lacking.

3) Preferiti
The term preferiti is used in the movie to indicate 4 cardinals they believed had the highest chances to be elected pope. The actual term is papabile, and often a pope is chosen from someone who is not a member of this group.

4) La Purga didn't happen
The movie is centered around the Illuminating seeking revenge for when 4 of its members were branded by the Church then killed. This was known as La Purga in 1668. Only problem is it never happened. It's funny because in the movie, Robert Langdon is surprised when he mentions La Purga and no one there knows what it was. Maybe those guys were from reality.

5) The Camerlengo was a priest
Ordinarily a camerlengo is a cardinal, but in this movie, a priest was the camerlengo

6) Worshipping the Sun?
Prof. Robert Langdon tells his assistant that the reason the tombs are facing East is that they are worshipping the Sun. When asked why they are doing this, he says they just took that tradition from the pagans. He goes on to say a similar thing happened with December 25th. Truth is, Christians do not worship the Sun and to do so is idolatrous. Christ rose gloriously to spread his light on the world on Easter. The Sun represents the rising Christ.

As for December 25th, it is held as almost common knowledge that Christians "took over" this holiday from the Romans, but I have not found convincing evidence of this. No matter what the case, Christians are worshipping the Jesus Christ at his birth, so that's the main point. It may be that Christians were celebrating on December 25th BEFORE the Romans, who were celebrating the feast of Sol Invictus. The first reference of the Roman celebration dates to the fourth century. Also, December 25th has a lot of symbolism anyway, such as being the shortest day of the year (or so the ancients thought). Therefore it represented Christ's light beginning and growing ever stronger.

7) Protests at St. Peter's Square
Maybe I'm a little naive, but any time I've seen coverage of a large papal event at the Vatican, I have never seen major protests in St. Peter's Square. However, in the movie, it seems there are protests going on all over the place during the papal election. It seems rather odd.

8) Papal autopsy prohibited
I have no real information on this issue and I'm not sure if the information is even available to the public, but I have not heard anywhere that papal autopsies are prohibited by law. I guess it is something I will have to research.

9) Vatican Archives
The Vatican Secret Archives are indeed highly restricted. There are about 52 miles of shelving and 35,000 unique documents. Access has been loosened somewhat from previous years and now about 1000 researchers enter the Archives annually. No "browsing" is permitted. Those with permission to enter must request a specific manuscript by title.

It is possible that a researcher could have made multiple requests for access to the archives and have been denied. However, I am very skeptical of the oxygen situation and the ability of the rooms to lock with people inside unable to escape. This seems like a pretty glaring engineering error.

10) Papal election errors
Many errors are made concerning papal elections. It is stated that two thirds of the vote will never be reached unless a new approach is taken. However, if the College of Cardinals is unable to attain two thirds of the vote, then half will suffice (after a certain number of voting rounds). Also, it is said that only a cardinal can be elected, which is false. Any Catholic male can become pope, theoretically. Finally, they say since there is no other choice, they can elect a non-cardinal via a process known as election by adoration, which doesn't actually exist. There is not provision in Church law for an election other than by ballot.

11) Great Elector
A Church position which is purely fictional is that of "Great Elector". No such role exists in the Church. Furthermore, the movie claims that the cardinal with this title is barred from being elected. In reality, no cardinal is barred from being elected.

12) Many Pope Marks?
This is small, but perhaps the most surprising error of the movie because it is so obvious. A cursory glance at the list of popes shows there has never been a Pope Mark, yet a character in the movie says there have been many Pope Johns and Pope Marks, so this new pope wanted to be Pope Luke. Seems like such a big oversight which was so easy to catch.

--

These are some of the observations I made of the movie. I think it's important for Catholics and others to realize this is a work of fiction. It's funny because a lot of people know so little about the Catholic Church that they would be susceptible to believing this film. Truth is, the facts are out there. You just have to look.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Christians target of Muslim extremists

Christians around the world are facing a serious threat from Muslim extremists. On Saturday, members of al-Qaeda killed 21 Coptic Christian worshipers in Alexandria, Egypt. That's twenty one innocent civilians who were doing nothing but praying.

Just last week, on Christmas eve, Muslim extremists killed 31 innocent worshipers in the Nigerian city of Jos. Week after week, these extremists are targeting innocent Christians.

How can these spineless terrorists target peaceful churchgoers? How can they possibly view this as an act motivated by God? What warped view of God must they have? They will kill men, women, and children. In November, a group with ties to Al Qaeda declared that any Christian in the Middle East is a legitimate target of violence.

Pope Benedict has fearlessly spoken out against these attacks and said we must deplore this violence and that we must not be reduced to worry and fear. These people who are killed in these attacks are true martyrs. They gave their life to God while worshiping him when he makes himself most present.

These attacks are motivated by false religious teachers who tell their followers that it is God's will to kill Christians, even innocent ones. The only way to truly erase a poisonous ideology like this one is to present people with the Truth of the Gospel. Many people scoff at evangelization, but it is more important now than ever. If everyone came to love the Good News of Jesus, this violence would end. Jesus told us he is the way, the truth, and the life. Who are we to keep this to ourselves?