Friday 27 January 2012

Can RealCatholicTV serve a role in the Church?

The debate presently on the internet - and I too have posted on this - what is the actual divergence of opinion between Real Catholic TV and the Archdiocese of Detroit? Neither side has been exactly clear; and the waters are muddied further without clarification. If the AOD claims it is a problem with "media protocols" then clarify this immediately. 

As to RealCatholicTV, its Mission Statement reads: "...aims to provide everyone with means to increase their personal holiness through catechesis and evangelization about the truth of the Christian faith". This, to me, is the central issue. In fact, it is so central, that even a name change to the organization obfuscates the issue. The real issue is: can Catholic laity undertake public catechesis without guidance from the Hierarchy? The answer obviously is: No. 

On the other hand, the Hierarchy should work with the laity in promoting evangelization - just as the Second Vatican Council desired. The laity have a critical, vital role. In this regard RealCatholicTV (it must be admitted) do hit the bulls-eye on quite a few of occasions. To demonize, to undertake ad hominem on Mr. Voris (just as some RealCatholicTV supporters have taken against Archbishop Vigneron) serves no Christian purpose.  

The above video is an example of a bulls-eye, and a reason for RealCatholicTV's growth. The bishops - not all - since the hopes of a re-invigorated post-Conciliar period, generally failed the Church. Voris' identification that the Church in America could be facing serious challenges (my colleague Freyr has likened the Church in America to being in the position of the Church in Quebec on the cusp of the Quiet Revolution) is very well taken. 

To conclude: it is imperative that Mr. Voris and Archbishop Vigneron sit down over a coffee (or perhaps two nice shots of whisky - after all they are not prohibitionist protestants!) and come to an agreement to work for the interests of the Church during an American election year. 

St. Augustine on Good and Bad Bishops

"St. Augustine is fully aware that not all members of the clerical state and hierarchy are holy men, and if such is the case what is the relation of the wicked members to the body of Christ?  The relation is the same as that of all other members. Good bishops participate fully in the life of the mystical body; they, as principal members are bound to it by life-giving ties. Bad bishops, may have jurisdictional powers and authority and belong to the Church, like all sinners not separated from it, but they do not participate in the life of grace. They are not however severed either from the external Church or the mystical body... till the end of time two categories of pastors are bound to exist. There are shepherds “who occupy a pastoral chair in order to tend to the sheep; others, however, sit on them in order to enjoy temporal honors and secular advantages” Unrightous bishops are not honored with the name of sons, but are called mercenaries. St. Peter, who is portrayed by St. Augustine as a personification of the Church, is also presented as a symbol of all the pastors of the Church. However, it is only good pastors and not of mercenaries that Peter is opposition to the other apostles, Judas is reputed to be such a mercenary; and if this happened to one of the apostles, who were so close to Christ, there should not be reason for scandal if his example finds imitators among the apostles' successors. They can have a place in the temporal existence of the Church, but will not enjoy the eternal existence of the mystical body of Christ" (Grabowski, pp. 219-221).

Wicked bishops are therefore one with good bishops temporally, yet not one spiritually. They have external, juridical power  until decided to the contrary by the Roman Pontiff. The Church is without sin, but not without sinners (c.f. Grabowski, p.558). It was the false conception of sinner and his relationship that drove the Donatist and Pelagian heresies. In today's age with an obsession with individualism a false sense of liberty a form of neo-Donatism suggests that one may be a good Catholic as long as one professes loyalty to the Roman Pontiff and the catechism. 

Conveniently forgotten is that one also owes actual, practical, real loyalty to the local bishop (appointed by the Roman Pontiff) who is the ruler over the local Church in union with the universal Church. Let not arguments of the local bishop's “heresies”, “scandals”, “chancery intrigue” etc. be used to disobey the bishop in matters of faith and morals. Rome is the sole judge of that. No one, is a formal heretic unless judged by the Church. Let not such arguments be used in denying the bishop his juridical rights as well. Either we have a Pope and a Hierarchy or we do not. Either we owe filial obedience to our bishop or we do not. We must choose between a form of congregationalism derived from Donatism or remain fully Catholic. 

Obviously, no one is arguing to follow a bishop who denies the Real Presence, rejects Catholic teaching in sexual morals etc. Nonetheless, the diocese is not sede vacante until Rome judges that it is so. A materially heretical bishop is not deposed until declared so. The prudent action of a Catholic at this point would be to seek out holy priests in the diocese, to encourage Church authorities to take the appropriate actions. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have carefully moved to re-invigorate the Hierarchy without inducing a formal schism. 

Reference: Grabowski, S. J. (1957). The Church: An introduction to the theology of St. Augustine. B. Herder Book Co; St. Louis, MO and London, England.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Bishops Under Attack

There is a problem with the Catholic Church's use of the various sanctions available under canon law. The Church has no means to compel obedience, relying instead upon the willingness of Catholics to submit voluntarily to its disciplines. This has become deeply ingrained in Catholic culture due in no small measure to having made mistakes and having learned from them. Resorting to civil authority is not an option that is open to us lest we place such authority over the Church with dire consequences. Moreover, such sanctions are always meant to be medicinal not punitive. The Church wants them to bring about repentance and reconciliation not estrangement or even schism.

There have been several instances in recent years involving bishops attempting to deal with groups representing themselves as Catholic. While some groups avoid the use of the name Catholic in their names simply to avoid difficulties, others call themselves Catholic in spite of significant differences with the Church. The blog Team Orthodoxy recently voluntarily changed its name from Orthodox Catholicism in response to being made aware of canon 216 without any involvement of their bishop. The Bellarmine Theological Forum removed the name Catholic at the request of the bishop. On the other hand, according to blogger Mark Shea, The National Catholic Reporter and Catholics for Free Choice have also run afoul of canon 216 and there is no evidence of compliance to date.

Sometimes a decree revoking the right of a group to call themselves Catholic can have far reaching consequences. Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix revoked the right of St. Joseph's Hospital to identify itself as a Catholic institution in December 2010 citing concerns over compliance with Catholic moral teaching. The Catholic Health Association backed the hospital over the bishop. Recently Catholic Healthcare West, the hospital's parent company, decided to change it's name to Dignity Health and end any affiliation with the Catholic Church. Citing concerns about the Church's ban on abortions, in-vitro fertilizations and sterilizations, they hope for better growth opportunities in a marketplace that is increasingly secular. Clearly the health care debate in the US is going to have far reaching consequences for Catholic institutions.

In Detroit, Archbishop Vigneron seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place in his attempt to deal with both liberal and conservative groups in his diocese. The American Catholic Council, a liberal group, announced plans to hold its inaugural conference in June 2010. The archbishop took the unusual step of warning Detroit Catholics against participating in the ACC conference or allowing ACC meetings on church property. The reason? "Because a counter-structure of ecclesial authority is being set up that stands in opposition to the authority of the bishops, the Pope and the divine constitution of the Church as articulated by Vatican II." In spite of the warning the ACC held a mass attended by many Detroit area priests and deacons. In December of 2011 the Archdiocese of Detroit released a statement to the press saying that RealCatholicTV, a conservative producer of internet programming and catechetics, does not have permission to use the name Catholic. So far the situation is still unresolved. Both liberals and conservatives accuse the archbishop of being sympathetic to the other side.

There is a pattern here to be sure and it does not seem to have anything to do with the usual conservative liberal divide. Each time a bishop acts publicly in this way it generates a flurry of press coverage and opposition. The media takes a perverse joy in highlighting the bishop's helplessness in the face of opposition from both within and outside the Church. Who benefits from this situation?

One immediate beneficiary would seem to be the Obama administration, which is coming under fire from the American bishops over implementation of HHS rules requiring Catholics to pay for drugs and procedures that violate church teaching. Archbishop Dolan has spoken out very clearly about this issue but it really will come down to who has the most votes. If Catholics can be conditioned to ignore their bishops, then convincing them to support policies and candidates that violate Church teaching should not pose a problem. According to Pope Benedict XVI, “it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.”

We were warned by Jesus that there would be times of lawlessness and chaos in which the Church would be persecuted.

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end wil be saved." Mt24:9-13

Team Orthodoxy
In quest to grow, Catholic hospital system pares religious ties

Read more here:
Bishops Decry HHS Rule, Urge Catholics to Stand Up for Religious Liberty and Conscience Rights in Homilies at Vigil for Life

Saturday 21 January 2012

Michael Voris and Authority

"The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want, who protects their rights as human beings. It was this political system that caused Europe to emerge from the morass of marauding barbarians and create western civilization. A noble Catholic monarch advances the common good while loving and caring for his people." Michael Voris

Unfortunately I can't link to the source of this quote as Michael Voris has deleted it from his website. It shouldn't be too hard to find if you search on Voris and government. The temptation to an authoritarian solution to society's problems has always been present to Catholics. Some of our most respected Catholic writers had brief flirtations with one authoritarian regime or another in the period between the two wars. To his credit, Chesterton came out staunchly against Hitler when the nature of his regime became apparent.

“The intellectual criticism of Fascism is really this: that it appeals to an appetite for authority, without very clearly giving the authority for the appetite." G.K. Chesterton

Michael Voris appeals to this appetite for authority amongst Catholics who feel disenfranchised and betrayed by their bishops. It is comforting to see someone saying things that validate these feelings. Unfortunately there are dangers. Ronald Knox used to write about a thing called divisive enthusiasm which reared its head at various times in the church's history. He stated that there is a tension between charism and institution within the church. Both are necessary for the church to function as a society in the world as well as the means of Christ's grace. Where they are out of balance we are on dangerous ground indeed. There is no doubt that Michael Voris is a charismatic speaker who often speaks the truth. However, he risks being a source of division within the church unless he comes to terms with the authority within it, namely his bishop.

Further Reading:
Robert Fulford, G.K. Chesterton and Fascism, (Globe and Mail June 19, 1999)

Roy F. Moore, Distributism vs. Fascism,The ChesterBelloc Mandate

Monday 16 January 2012

Mr. Voris and the "Media Protocols"

According to the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD), St. Michael's Media is being turned down the use of the word "Catholic" due to St. Michael's Media not being in full conformity with the archdiocesan "media protocols", nor the protocols established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Unfortunately, a search of the AOD's website did not turn up any information on media protocols. Hence, Mr. Voris and St. Michael's Media can only be assessed from the perspective of the USCCB.

In reviewing the USCCB protocols I am at a loss as to why AOD has failed to grant to St. Michael's Media  its request. Bombast, possible stridency, pencil waving and dramatics hardly excludes one from being granted the use of the word "Catholic".

It is this type of obfuscation that results in stirring the "internet pot".

Thursday 12 January 2012

Michael Voris and the Archdiocese of Detroit

I had thought to comment on this issue but to be perfectly honest there is no reason why anyone should care one whit what my point of view is. I am not even in charge of this blog... there are four of us in fact. The Gang of Four or the Four Musketeers might be appropriate but any comparison to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is unwarranted. That said, there are two commentaries on this issue that are worth a look.

The Spirit's Sword provides a commentary on Michael Voris' statement. In Light of the Law provides some information on the legal aspects of the case from a canon lawyer. Both are worth a read.

Monday 9 January 2012

A Challenge to All of Us

In his masterly challenge to the Society of St. Pius X and its supporters, Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli also writes:

"You say that the situation is disastrous, Modernism is reigning, heresies are spreading, orthodox (Catholics) are marginalized, priests do not intervene and even go off the tracks themselves and give scandal. All of this is true, but you, what are you doing to remedy this situation"? 

These is truly refreshing words to hear from a priest. That this can be openly admitted is, in a sense, a joy. Thirty, 40 years ago to express such views would have brought wrath, scorn etc. It still does. But the voices of derision are becoming more frantic, feebler... yet, "modernism is reigning"; there is much work to do. We should, firstly pray - pray to always maintain true devotion to Christ and His Church. Pray for our Holy Father, our local Ordinary (in our case, His Grace Thomas Collins), our priests, our religious and each other. 

We should study. We should read the Catechism, the lives of the saints, Papal encyclicals etc. In short, we should seek to ensure that "modernism" does not reign over us. But we should never presume that even if we are not doctrinal or social modernists we are not sinners. We are sinners. I am a sinner. Each and every day brings failure and struggle. So, we do not cast stones at modernists. We pray for them, as for each other. Evangelization is a duty for us all.

After the Talks: "You have to choose"

An Open Letter to Si, Si,  No, No,  by Father Giovanni Cavalcoli, O.P. 

"I read the article “Punti fermi” [Firm Points], in [the] 31st October 2011 [issue of Sì Sì No No, the influential Traditional Catholic Italian journal closely linked to the SSPX], and the section by “Dominicus” on the matter of such sensitive character as truth in theology and our Holy Catholic Faith consider yourselves and want to be Roman Catholics, recognizing the authority of the Pope as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, infallible interpreter, who has the ultimate word in the teachings of Christ..."

Read more at:

Saturday 7 January 2012

Montfort's Meditations: God's Forgiveness and Mercy

All we are hearing in the news recently, is about former Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey, and the sentence he was given by Justice Kent Kirkland at his recent trial, when he was sentenced to 15 months in jail. However, because of the time he already served before his trial, he will walk away a free man.

It would appear that everyone is up in arms, and furious because of this decision. What we should be concerned about at this time, as followers of Christ Jesus, is the danger of a lost soul for God. We should pray for Bishop Lahey, that with the grace of God he will come to complete repentance and ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy.

My friends, instead of being angry and seeking vengeance with regard to these sins committed by our religious leaders  (e.g. priests and bishops), who are involved in any way with sinful acts (such as, child pornography, pedophilia, homosexuality, and all other sensual sins of the flesh) let us pray to Jesus and ask him to bring healing to each and every priest and bishop who have sinned in this abominable manner. The Sacred Bible tells us that these sins cry out to heaven for vengeance.

St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians wrote: "You must put to death then the earthly desires at work in you, such as immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greediness is a form of idol worship). Because of such things God’s wrath will come upon those who do not obey him".

My friends, we must all learn to love God as we should; if we do love God, as God wants us to, then it would be difficult to sin, as sin separates us from God whom we love. How can we love God as we should? By prayer and to remember that everything that you do is done through the name of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving to God the Father. 

Just remember this, you cannot be of the world and of God, but you are in the world and God willing in God! 


God love you. 

Friday 6 January 2012

Archbishop Thomas Collins

We wish to extend our congratulations to His Grace, Archbishop Thomas Collins for his nomination today by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals. We assure His Grace of our filial loyalty, and continued prayers as he serves the Church of Christ in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Thursday 5 January 2012

The Heresy of Niceness

What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the Gospel,—its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth. As the reason is cultivated, the taste formed, the affections and sentiments refined, a general decency and grace will of course spread over the face of society, quite independently of the influence of Revelation. The Religion of the Day, Newman

The truth of man's condition is sin. We have forgotten this unpleasant fact and seek to shield ourselves from it by any means at our disposal. Some take refuge in the cult of niceness, as though, covering themselves in its illusory cloak, others will not see them for who they really are. Others see sin all around them and seek solace in the notion that, after all, their own sin is not really so serious. Everyone is doing it so it cannot be all that bad. Still others give themselves over so completely to the lie that, when truth is revealed, it has disastrous consequences for all that believed the facade. Each of these is a trap and a snare in its own way.

Jesus has two reactions to sin. When he sees it in the religious teachers and authorities of his day he denounces it vehemently. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness." When these same people confront him with sinners his response is quite different. He uses the occasion to remind all of them of their own sinfulness. What is the difference between these two reactions? Perhaps it is what he sees before him. In the first case he sees whited sepulchers... people who are desperately clinging to their facade of social virtue, of good taste, of niceness. In the latter case he sees someone whose sin is laid bare. The facade is stripped away and the truth is there for all to see. Jesus sees the possibility of repentance there. If only the whited sepulchers were as fortunate as the woman at Jesus' feet. She at least has no illusions about who and what she is.

There is hope here for all of us, but it is only there in the dust at the feet of Jesus with the darkest reaches of our soul laid bare.