Here we see the wonderful Bishop Egan of Portsmouth Diocese UK strongly trying to defend the Catholic Church from falling into chaos.
The issue – if you didn’t already know – is that some Bishops are calling for the divorced and re-married to be able to receive Holy Communion. This of course can never happen because a Catholic marriage is valid unto death do us part – unless an annulment is granted.
“Easy” you might say – “The Pope would never allow that to happen!”
Well, officially the Pope has not actually come out in favor of it, but he has also refused to come out and denounce it – despite several high ranking Cardinals and Bishops pleading with him to do so. This leaves the church in a very vulnerable position.
The strength of the Catholic Church comes from it’s unbroken line of authority. Jesus made Peter the first Pope, and the authority has remained in place for over 200 years. We have the Magesterium – the hierarchy of the Church that keeps belief and teaching centralized and universal. This means that every Catholic, anywhere on earth, will be under the same authority and believe the same thing.
The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘Universal’, and it is this structure of our religion that gives us great strength. We are not at liberty to interpret the scriptures as we please – no, the interpretation has been handed down to us through an unbroken line of Faith, Reason, Scripture and Tradition. You only have to take a look at Protestantism and Islam to see how important this central authority is.
The Protestant church does not have Tradition as the Catholic church does, but instead allows for personal interpretation of scripture. This allows the individual to take a piece of scripture, and make it fit their wants and needs. It is this personal interpretation that has given rise, amoungst other things, to women priests and the support of active homosexual relationships, which have torn congregations in two in many protestant parishes.
This freedom of interpretation is also seen within Islam. Like Protestantism, Islam has no central hierarchy, no central interpretation of the holy texts. Within Islam, any man can declare himself an Imam, set up his own Mosque, and effectively declare himself his own Pope. This is why you could have a Mosque at one end of your road full of perfectly nice and peaceful Muslims who ignore the parts of the Qu’ran that say ‘Kill the infidels!’, and a Mosque at the other end of the road in which they stick to the text quite literally and want you dead!
Within both Protestantism and Islam, this ‘freedom’ to interpret the holy texts as one wishes has only led to division, and is the cause of great weakness within the religions.
Recently in Malta, the Bishops have taken advantage of the Pope’s silence on the matter of Communion for the divorced and re-married and has made the decision to ALLOW those in a state of adultery to receive Communion based on their own interpretation of whether they feel at peace or not with God.
“a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are [sic] at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist”. – Bishops of Malta.
This puts the average priest in an impossible situation:
Does he obey his Bishop and administer Communion to those in adulterous relationships?
Or does he obey Rome where the teaching still stands that to do so would be mortal sin?
Should the priest have to go against his conscience – and crucially, the central teaching of the Catholic Church, to remain in line with His Bishop? Would he be at fault if he didn’t? Do the Bishops of Malta not see that this is going to divide the Church and make it weak?
The Magisterium of the Church clearly states that:
85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. 86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course the obviously simple solution to this is for Pope Francis to stand up and clearly re-state the central teaching on Communion for the divorced and re-married.
Why, oh why is he just sitting on the fence, enabling this confusion to continue and causing enormous anxiety to his good and faithful priests?
In a statement issued by the Vatican head of Cosmology, Ukrainian born Fr Ima Sceptic described the recent UFO sighting above the Vatican as “Out of this world.”
Fr. Sceptic has spent the last 30 years heading a team of nerdy clergy known affectionately within Vatican circles as ‘The Geek Squad’. They can be easily recognised by the sticky plaster that holds the bridge of their reading glasses together, and their rigidity in terms of liturgy.
“When this was first reported we thought it was just another hoax” explained Fr. Sceptic. “It was a very windy day. We rushed to the window and at that very moment witnessed a small black spacecraft floating on the breeze. It went right passed our window! We saw it with our own eyes!”
Fr Sceptic’s account can be verified by his assistant, American born Fr. Al Ien.
“He’s right” said Fr. Al Ien “It was about 40-50cm wide at the brim and looked like it was made out of something like Beaver fur.”
When told about the sighting, Pope Francis reportedly said that the Geek Squad are “notorious” for their “fake news” and that they should stop being so nerdy and rigid and “get with the programme”.
The Holy Father continued “I’m not saying there aren’t such things as aliens, I’m just not saying there are. If you want to believe in aliens then fine. If you don’t want to believe, then fine. Makes no difference to me. Do whatever makes you feel happy.”
Fr Sceptic thanked the Holy Father for his leadership on this issue and has duly filed the incident under the “Lacking Clear Explanation” file in the Vatican vault.
In other news…
There has been an unprecedented rise in sales of the famous Saturno hat worn by clergy in Rome this week.
Sales staff have advised priests not to wear the wide brimmed hat on very windy days due to an increase in fake UFO sightings this month.
Dear Holy Father,
There has been a lot of talk lately about Catholics who are “too rigid”. Those who attend the Latin Mass have been derided for placing love of tradition over love of each other. Those who follow the traditional teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion have been similarly disparaged. I can relate to this accusation. I love the Tridentine Mass. I go at almost every opportunity. I, too, struggle with the idea that someone who is objectively living in a mortally sinful relationship should ever receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
I can also relate to this accusation for another reason. I am a Hebrew Catholic. That is, I am also Jewish. And as a Jew, I of course have something to say 😉
If ever one group were derided by the Church at large for legalism, it would have to be us. Stemming from the accusations against the Pharisees in the New Testament, you have to admit, we Jews have faced all sorts of these accusations. Indeed, are we not the ones who pass by the man on the road, leaving a Samaritan to care for him? Are we not the ones who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel, modern day Pharisees? As a Jew in the Church then, surely it is not surprising that I find myself in this “rigid” category?
The truth is that Jews are often misunderstood in their love of the Law. So, too, are more traditional Catholics. Being scrupulous is the plague of anyone trying to be holy, that is true, but attention to detail in keeping the Law, a desire to do what is right, is not the same as scruples, even if they might sometimes creep in.
In Judaism, when someone becomes Torah observant, we say that they are becoming “religious”. There is great rejoicing over this, not because it means people are finally “doing what they are told” and “obeying the Law”, but because they are entering into a deeper relationship with HaShem, or, as you might know him, the Lord. Becoming religious in Judaism is a romantic experience: you fall madly in love with G-d and you want to do anything to please him. You become aware of how small you are and how great he is, and how wonderful it is that he has chosen you.
Another way to look at it would be to say that you become more perfectly God’s child. Contrary to popular thought, the idea of G-d being Father did not begin with the earthly Jesus. True, in knowing the Son we came to know and distinguish the Father of the Trinity properly speaking, but in terms of a paternal relationship, we have had that in Judaism as far back as Moses, if not beyond:
“Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (Deu 32:6 NRSV) and everyone knows that “As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.” (Psa 103:13 NRSV).
Let us go back to those passages above. Firstly, the accusation of scruples to the Pharisees is actually part of an inner Jewish debate. Look at Tractate Shabbat in the Talmud, and you can see it continued on for centuries.
Holy Father, the first important thing to note is that Christ is not correcting the Jewish Law itself. Rather, he is pointing out that at the heart of Judaism is God’s mercy by which He draws us to Him (a subject you have been focusing on intensely this past year within the church). That it is the Spirit of the Law that really matters because the Law is a tutor, and if you build the fence around the Torah too high, you will not be able to see the commandment, and the purpose of it, itself:
“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” (Mat 23:4 NRSV).
In Judaism, this principle is still practiced: when one becomes religious, one keeps the basics of the Torah first and builds up until one is fully observant. What matters is that you are trying, and you are on the road to holiness.
Finally, on the Good Samaritan, I say this: the priest and the Levite are travelling towards Jericho, not the Temple. Contact with blood is a matter of ritual not moral impurity, and the only need they would have had to worry about contact with it would have been if they were travelling towards the Temple: there is no problem in getting a bit bloody in Judaism. Just make sure you wash in a Mikhveh so you are clean to worship.
In fact, even if they had been travelling towards the Temple, they should still have stopped because the Law tells us to “love our neighbours as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18). Yep, that didn’t originate with Jesus, either! (Except as the Eternal Word, of course!)
You can break any law in the Torah to save a life. The problem was not that they would have been breaking the Law had they stopped, but that they broke it by not stopping.
Once we understand that the Law itself is not the issue, we see that at the same time as making sure you can still see over the fence, Jesus doesn’t mean you disobey the Law. Of those same Pharisees, he says, “do what they tell you” (Matt 23:3), after all. Indeed, you don’t want the devil jumping over and destroying the garden of your soul, and “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:20 NRSV). And anyone who truly loves God surely desires the latter with all their heart.
Holy Father, faithfulness, strict adherence, is not something contrary to the Gospel spirit. It is an outpouring of a desire to be with God, just as “becoming religious” is in Judaism. Moreover, it is how we should be. The possibility of over-caution in keeping the Law, and warning against it, is not the same as saying the Law is at fault and can, or should, be broken or changed. Of course, as Catholics, we believe that the Law is fulfilled in Christ. I am not saying don’t have your bacon sandwich on Sunday morning! However, let us never forget that it is fulfilled, and so in its new state, we must continue to keep it with all our hearts.
Time will tell what the Church will make of Amoris Laetitia. Until then, we pray and trust in God. But please let us end this nonsense over faithfulness to Tradition and Church teaching is blind “rigidity”. It isn’t. In the same way Jews are blamed for being rigid, but are, in fact simply doing everything to please God for the love of Him, so, too are those of us Catholics who are standing firm on Church teaching, and entering more deeply into the faith through an immensely enriching liturgy.
A Hebrew Catholic.
I wrote this about a year ago. It is set to begin in 2 days time on November 20th – the last day of the year or Mercy and the feast of Christ the King…
I have been wanting to write the ‘2017 post’ for a long time now. For about 10 years I’ve had a gut feeling about that year, but of course gut feelings don’t mean very much do they? But those feelings are still with me and are getting stronger – whatever that means. I also feel things are escalating at an increasingly fast rate now. But again, feelings don’t mean very much, so I’ve been gathering various sources of information that could possibly explain why 2017 feels significant to me.
Firstly It is 100 years since the first apparitions at Fatima. These extraordinary events in 1917 can be seen as ushering in the catastrophic twentieth century. By 1917 the first World War was grinding on with horrors never before imagined by the human race. The lady of Fatima predicted another war if mankind did not repent. This war would be presaged by a heavenly sign. This took place with an amazing display in the night sky across Europe on January 25, 1938–just before Europe was plunged into another war.
The rest of the century would witness untold misery and bloodshed in genocide, atomic warfare, terrorism, famine, natural disaster and the rise of technologies that would poison nature, destroy the family and set humanity on a course of self destruction.
The miraculous nature of the events at Fatima have been affirmed by the church and most of the popes of the last century have had a strong personal and seemingly apocalyptic association with the prophecies given to the three children. The co-incidence of the dates of May 13 (when the apparitions began) and October 13 (when the apparitions ended with the miracle of the sun) are interesting. Pope Piux XII was consecrated bishop on May 13, 1917 – the day of the first apparition and became known as the Fatima Pope. He consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima and made repeated references to the prophecies.
Paul VI met the visionary Sister Lucia and prayed with her on May 13, 1967–on the fiftieth anniversary of the visions. John Paul II was almost killed by an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, and six years later on the seventieth anniversary of the visions went to Fatima to give thanks to the Virgin for saving his life. Benedict XVI affirmed his belief in the supernatural origin of the visions, visited Sr Lucia, went to Fatima and said “the prophecies of Fatima are by no means completed.” Pope Francis had his papacy dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013 and consecrated the world in a public ceremony on October 13, 2013. He has the image of Fatima in Rome today to be venerated and plans to visit Fatima in 2017 for the centenary of the events.
Seeing that it is one hundred years since the events makes one wonder how significant this anniversary in two years’ time is for world history. Also, seeing how the events of 1917 opened up an unprecedented century of evil in the world one is reminded of the vision of Pope Leo XIII in which Satan would be given one hundred years to attempt to destroy the church.
In 1884, after saying Mass on the morning of, according to at least one source, October 13th, as he was leaving the Altar, the 74 year old and frail Pope Leo XIII fell to the ground as if dead. He related that he had experienced a sort of vision, in which he heard two voices, one of which he took to be that of Christ, gentle and kind, and the other that of Satan, guttural and harsh.
Satan said, “I could destroy Your Church if I had the time, and more power over those who give themselves over to my service.” And then Pope Leo heard Christ to answer, “You have the power, you have the time: 100 years.”
Curiously, the prophet Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser predicted seven ages of the church. The fifth began in 1517 with the Protestant Revolution. This period of tribulation comes to it’s five hundredth anniversary also in the year 2017. This fifth age would culminate in terrible persecution of the church. After that he predicted an era of peace and consolation. Our Lady at Fatima also predicted a period of peace after the difficulties to come.
Will 2017 therefore see some sort of climactic event which surges humanity and the whole world into a new era?
Wait – there’s more…
In 3/2 B.C., there occurred a rare triple conjunction of Jupiter (the king planet, through its retrograde motion) and Regulus (the king star). The Magi likely interpreted this rare triple conjunction as a giant neon sign in the heavens blinking KING-KING-KING. This all began at the Jewish New year and all within the constellation of Leo (the lion, a symbol of the tribe of Judah). So it heavily symbolized Jewish King from the tribe of Judah, a clear indication for those familiar with the Messiah. Further, rising right behind Leo was the constellation Virgo, with the sun behind and the moon at her feet.
After this incredible triple conjunction, Jupiter began moving westward in the sky, eventually coming into conjunction with Venus, a planet long symbolically associated with motherhood. The conjunction of the king planet and the motherhood planet was so close, that no man alive had ever seen anything like it and together it formed the brightest object in the sky.
All this symbolism of a Jewish king from Judah and a Virgin was enough to get the well-versed Magi moving to Jerusalem, but you can understand why the average citizen of Jerusalem missed it. Jupiter continued its western movement in the sky until it finally stopped. When it stopped (as seen from Jerusalem), it stopped directly south, directly over the small village of Bethlehem, on December 25 of 2 B.C. This may be easily seen with modern star programs that can show you the night sky on any date in history from any perspective. It is the advent of such computer programs that now allows us to not only look at the past, but to look at the skies of the future.
Given the context of all I just described, it is when we turn our gaze to the heavens of the future that things start to get really interesting.
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.” – Revelation 12
The author of Revelation clearly indicates that this vision is one of a sign in heaven or in the sky. What do we see in the sky of the near future?
In 2016, an astronomical event begins and will last nine and a half months:
On November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the King planet) enters into the body (womb) of the constellation Virgo (the virgin). Jupiter, due its retrograde motion, will spend the next 9 ½ months within the womb of Virgo. This length of time corresponds with gestation period of a normal late-term baby.
After 9 ½ months, Jupiter exits out of the womb of Virgo. Upon Jupiter’s exit (birth), on September 23, 2017, we see the constellation Virgo with the sun rise directly behind it (the woman clothed with the sun). At the feet of Virgo, we find the moon. And upon her head we find a crown of twelve stars, formed by the usual nine stars of the constellation Leo with the addition of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.
Unbelievable right?! And as far as I can determine, this is a unique series of events in the history of mankind with a startling degree of concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12.
So what does it mean, if anything? The obvious and truthful answer is that we simply do not know. That said, we are not entirely without possible context.
The culmination of these astronomical events occurs just 3 weeks before the 100th anniversary of the great miracle of Fatima, in which the sun “danced” (another heavenly sign), an event that was witnessed by many thousands.
In August 1931, Sister Lucy of Fatima was staying with a friend at Rianjo, Spain. There, Our Lord appeared to Sr. Lucy and He complained the requests of His mother had not been heeded saying, “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.”
And again in another text, Sr. Lucy quoted Our Lord as saying, “They did not wish to heed My request! … Like the King of France, they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
Those references to the King of France are very interesting for our discussion as this is an explicit reference to the requests of the Sacred Heart given through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque on June 17, 1689 to the King of France. King Louis XIV and his successors failed to heed Our Lord’s request to publicly consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a result, on June 17, 1789, one hundred years to the day after the request, the National Assembly of the French Revolution rose up and declared itself the government of France and stripped the king of his power. Later, the king lost his head to the revolution.
It is not possible to know the relevance of this 100-year allusion or to know if and when the clock may have started ticking, but it is certainly interesting and relevant in this context. And let’s not forget the vision of Pope Leo XIII.
I must also note that the date the astronomical event begins on 20th November 2016, is the Feast of Christ the King. It is also the very day that Pope Francis’ declared “Year of Mercy”, comes to an end.
So what does all of this mean? Nothing, quite frankly – after all, I could walk out my door tomorrow morning and get struck by lightning or hit by a bus. Coming face-to-face with our creator is a certainty for all of us one day. But all this does make me wonder if following the Year of Mercy in 2016, we will be having the Year of Justice in 2017?
And I haven’t even begun to talk about the 3 days of darkness, or the (so far neither approved or condemned) 10 secrets of Medjugorje yet…
Blessed candles: Check.
Salt and Holy water: Check.
Been to Confession: Check.
Daily Rosary and fasting for the conversion of the world: Check, but I really need to do this one more…
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Pope Francis gave a catechises today on the good Samaritain that focuses on the moral lesson that we should find practical ways to love our neighbour during this year of mercy.
I felt Pope Francis was leaning the teaching towards meeting peoples material needs, which is a topic extremely close to his heart. And while this is an important moral lesson, it does slightly gloss over the fact that the original and contextual question to which Jesus was responding was from a lawyer asking: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
As every good Christian knows, no amount of practical good works will ever take away ones sin. And while there is nothing wrong with it, simply loving ones neighbour will not inherit you eternal life. The only way to inherit eternal life is to recognise and accept the free gift of mercy that is available to us from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
As with all Jesus’ parables, there was learning within learning. There were superficial lessons and much deeper lessons hidden within the deep imagery of the words.
St Augustine looks at the same parable allegorically:
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jerichomeans the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, an dies.
Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead.
The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation.
Samaritanmeans Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name.
The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit.
The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ.
The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord.
The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come. The innkeeper is the Apostle (Paul).
The supererogatory payment is either his counsel of celibacy, or the fact that he worked with his own hands lest he should be a burden to any of the weaker brethren when the Gospel was new, though it was lawful for him “to live by the gospel”.”
I love this explanation of the parable because like everything Jesus did and said, it draws attention to who He was, and what He was here to do. With this we can see that the Good Samaritan holds a much deeper meaning than just the practical moral lesson of helping the needy.
Perhaps a good exercise is to read over the passage again, placing ourselves in the role of the man who was beaten – keeping Christ as the Samaritan character.
In this way we can see how Satan attacks us, and we become mortally wounded from our own sin.
No rules or regs are going to be able to save us. Only the love and mercy of Christ (as played by the Samaritan) can save us – when we can’t help ourselves. He will pay the price that we cannot pay. He will save us.
All we can really do in this life is to recognise our brokenness, weakness and sinful mortal wounds, and to reach up with all our strength and beg: “Help me!”
Personally I believe the parable of the Good Samaritan to be less of a feel good lesson in helping the poor, and more of a lesson in our radical spiritual poverty and God’s infinite generosity, which is what I feel the year of mercy should really be focusing on.
Did Pope Francis just say that it is ok to use artificial contraception in some cases?
This is the question that is being asked all over the world at the moment. As usual following the off-the-cuff answers given during his airplane interviews, Pope Francis has left a wake of questions and confusion. One begs the question of whether he should be doing this style of interview at all? I often wish he would just take a sedative on his plane trips and have a nice long sleep rather than unleashing the hounds of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Let’s gloss over the fact that he just told Donald Trump he was not a Christian, and instead focus on the recent comments concerning the Zika virus. Did he say it was ok to use condoms to avoid a pregnancy in these circumstances?
The first thing to do is to ignore any shock headlines and look up the exact transcript of what was said:
Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): “Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?””
Pope Francis: “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.
Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.
On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”
As we know, the Popes words can often be taken out of context and twisted by the media. And that is exactly what happened following this recent plane interview. But then, on 19th Feb 2016 Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.
Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”
Vatican Radio have issued a sound recording and full transcript of Lombardi’s comments, so there is really no doubt whatsoever that he did actually say that. I suppose there is always the possibility that Lombardi twisted the words of Pope Francis – but I doubt it. There would have been some correction issued by the vatican already if that was the case.
So what do we do now?
For those of us who have struggled with and committed to church teachings on sex and marriage this comes as a major blow. Does the Pope really have no idea how hard it can be sometimes? Does he have no idea about the rewards and benefits to the marriage of remaining in line with the church on this issue? Does he think that bending the rules regarding artificial contraception is being ‘merciful’ in some way?
I don’t know. I just don’t know with him I’m afraid. I’m as confused as you are. This is not the first time this canny old Jesuit has left a wake of upset and confusion in his path, and I don’t think for a moment it will be the last.
I remember a few years back when Benedict came to the UK and I stood on the side of the road literally jumping up and down, cheering as loud as I could as he drove into his papal residence in Wimbledon. Benedict was my hero – my Father. I trusted him. I can’t say I would be doing that if Francis came to visit. I just don’t feel that way about Francis. I feel extremely let down and rather embarrassed if I am totally honest.
But one thing is even worse than that. Francis leaves me with a funny mixed feeling of hopelessness and suspicion which stinks of political motivation. Following everything that has occurred so far in his papacy I am left with two thoughts:
Either he has absolutely no idea of what he is doing, or he knows exactly what he is doing. I don’t know which is worse…
The news that Pope Francis has allowed women to participate in the Maundy Thursday foot washing service has shocked many this week. But like his “Who am I to judge?” comment, it seems that the media have left out the first half of the Pope’s sentence. The full official sentence actually reads:
“ONLY aesthetically challenged women with seriously manky feet are allowed to take part in the Maundy Thursday service.”
This irresponsible editing by the media has created a tsunami of confusion as to who is actually allowed to take part.
Recent convert, 26 year old Fi-Fi LeBlonde says that she is ‘giddy with excitement’ at the thought of having her perfectly manicured feet washed by the young handsome curate this year. She says she had been preparing for the event by ‘…deciding to scrap the usual French manicure and instead opted for passion red nail varnish to match the liturgical colours for that week.’ Fi-Fi has told us that she has started using a new scented foot balm to make sure her skin is ‘nicer for the priest’ when he bends down to kiss it.
But poor Fi-Fi is going to be terribly disappointed when it comes to light that her feet simply do not meet the Pope’s new regulatory standards.
72 year old Mrs Gertrude McBunion on the other hand, has been pleasantly surprised by the Pope’s words. “Ever since the ingrowing toenail incident of 2006, and the popped veruca of 2013, I thought I’d never get a chance at having my feet washed at the Maundy Thursday service.” Mrs McBunion is a regular patient of Podiatrist Dr Cheddar. Dr Cheddar has welcomed the Pope’s words stating that “All feet are considered equal in the eyes of God – but some are more equal than others – especially my patients.”
He went on to say that “Just because someone has a fungal infection, it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings or require absolution.” Dr Cheddar’s recent influential campaign ‘Discrimination Stinks’ is said to have influenced Pope Francis’ decision.
But what about the priest’s in all this? When asked who’s feet he would rather be washing – Fi-Fi’s or Mrs McBunion’s, 31 year old Fr. Terry Fied said that he would be ‘breaking with tradition’ and ‘letting the EMHC’s have a go this year.’
Wise man if you ask me.
This is the end scene from the Pope’s new video where each religious person holds out a symbol of their faith. The Christian is holding a baby Jesus.
Where’s the crucifix?
There is nothing wrong with a statue of the baby Jesus but the crucifix is the defining visual representation of Christianity. It is where our salvation occurred. It is the ultimate expression of love.
What a shame they decided not to include a crucifix. Come to think of it, due to the well positioned sheet of paper and folded hands, there is not one cross visible in the entire 1 min 30 second video. Why is this?
Was it done because of the politically correct fear of offending someone? Yes, this sounds likely. Is it because the death and resurrection of Christ blows all other religions completely out of the water? (Because it does, doesn’t it?!)
You see, the cross is the most incredible, loving, paradoxical event ever to have taken place – so much so that no other religion can even come close.
What I think has happened in this video is that they have watered down Christianity to appease and fit in with the other religions. This is firstly an insult to Christ, secondly an insult to the pursuit of truth, and thirdly an insult to the pursuit of true tolerance.
The cross is too truthful, too loving, too challenging to be used in a politically correct video. Much better to present Christianity as the post Vat 2 fluffy little baby Jesus that anyone under the age of 50 got served up in primary school and few advanced beyond.
Presenting the different religions as equal is wrong. They are not equal, and they have very different interpretations of what LOVE means. If they really do want to see what brutal, real, honest, tough, agape is, then they need to take a good long hard look at the cross, because the cross IS love.
I’m writing this at Fiumicino airport on my phone so I hope it is going to present itself ok?! Let’s try…
Well… Yesterday I read a bidding prayer at the Vatican, during the canonisation Mass of Louis and Zelie Martin – the parents of St Therese of Lisieux.
This all came about because I am a secular Carmelite. My formation director is friends with one of the Carmelite friars in Rome who happens to be the assistant to the General Procurator (the guy who investigates the miracles attributed to possible saints) and he was looking for an English speaker to do one of the bidding prayers. So she gave him my email address!
We had a practise on the Saturday, but I actually missed our practice slot because I was too busy chatting. Typical me. But in my defence I was chatting to the relatives of Louis and Zellie Martin, and Therese of Lisieux! (but that’s another blog post I am yet to write).
I was just so happy to be there watching all the preparations to be honest. Let me tell you this: a Papal Mass is one big choreography. It was fascinating to see the organisation going on in several different languages. Lucky for me most people spoke at least basic English, because I can’t speak a word of any other language. I struggle enough with English frankly! But it didn’t matter. There is always someone who is available for a bit of impromptu translation. But I did at least get to go and stand at the Ambo and freak out at how many chairs there were!
Sunday morning I arrived at St Peters square at 7.45am and there was already hundreds of people queuing to get in. Lucky I had a ‘special’ ticket and was able to go straight through up into the VIP area. There I met the rest of the bidding prayer crew.
We were able to have a run through but I have to say, I wasn’t really nervous, just really, really excited!
Then Mass started. We were sitting pretty much in the front row. There were just two suits in front of us who I assume were security, with black briefcases that I assume contained lots of guns and stuff. Seriously – I think we had the best seats in the house.
Pope Francis seemed to me to be a Father under enormous pressure, who desperately needs the prayers and support of Mother church. It’s not an easy marriage at the moment. I don’t envy his job one bit.
He declared Louis and Zélie Martin saints. The first married couple ever to be canonised together. May they watch over, and be a tangible source of help to all married couples and families.
So then, after the homily, came the moment of truth for me. Bidding prayer time. I’m very happy to report that I managed NOT to trip up, fluff my lines or do a Marilyn Munroe with my dress.
After Mass their was opportunity to get a quick photo of Papa Franko in the Popemobile.
He usually takes about 20 minutes to drive around the whole of St Peters square and kiss babies ect. But his drive was cut rather short that day. Probably because he needed to get home pronto to watch Argentina destroy Ireland in the rugby (just kidding!).
The crowd was estimated at about 80k, and spilled out into the roads surrounding St Peters square.
And I even managed to get a pic of the gorgeous altar frontal – for research purposes only 😉
Then I had to leg it before security rolled me up in the red carpet and threw me out! Ha!ha!
It was an INCREDIBLE day. Probably one of the best days of my life. I’m in no doubt that my Carmelite sister St. Therese orchestrated all of this for me on her parents big day! I’m forever in her debt. <3
I prayed for you all, and all your intentions xxx