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Showing posts with label Catholic Church in America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in America. Show all posts

Sunday, September 16, 2018

R. R. Reno: Catholicism After 2018

Theodore McCarrick has been stripped of his status as cardinal for pursuing young men throughout his clerical career. “­Uncle Ted” liked to take his “nephews” to bed with him. The public revelations of this fact evoked outrage. It was not so much that a churchman sinned as that he did so with impunity, protected by the see-no-evil mentality and, perhaps, the complicity of those who have their own secrets to keep. The anger was further stoked by an initial wave of denials. McCarrick’s protégés—some now bishops—ran for cover, insisting they knew nothing about his misdeeds.
I was not shocked by the news. I entered the Catholic Church in 2004, two years after clerical sex abuse of adolescent boys and its cover-up were exposed in Boston. We learned that many of the bishops of the United States—perhaps nearly all during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s—did little to root out priests who preyed upon boys and adolescents. Men who made a habit of grooming altar boys as sexual prey were shuttled from one parish to another. Pressure was exerted to keep aggrieved parents silent. Victims were stiff-armed. Insofar as there was strenuous episcopal effort, it was devoted to keeping a festering problem secret. The recently released Pennsylvania Grand Jury report deepens our knowledge of this pattern of behavior.
The moral corruption and the failure of those in charge to deal with it properly is disheartening but, for me, ­unsurprising. From 1990 until 2010, I taught at a Jesuit University and was privy to insider gossip. The Irish philosopher William Desmond recounted some of his experiences as a young scholar visiting Fordham in the 1970s. The main debate in the Jesuit dining room concerned whether or not sodomy constituted a violation of the vow of celibacy. Some priests took the line that celibacy concerns the conjugal act, not sterile sex between men. A friend who spent time as a Jesuit novice during that slouching decade told me that novice masters regarded homo­sexual relations as healthy, even necessary for proper priestly formation. Sometimes the novice masters insisted that they be the agents of this “formation.”
The passing of the decades brought changes. I don’t think there is quite the same spirit of open experimentation abroad in the Church today, not even among Jesuits, though I may be too sanguine. Since the revelations about McCarrick, a number of younger men have recounted hair-raising stories about their experiences in corrupt seminaries, events that took place after 2002 and public outrage about clerical sexual abuse. Whether or not things have gotten better—and, again, I think they have—the past shapes the present. It wasn’t long ago that homosexual sex wasn’t just tolerated among clergy; it was protected. And it still is in some quarters, as McCarrick’s career indicates. Were it not for revelations about sex with a minor and abuse of power, he would have remained a much-feted ecclesiastical eminence. He was part of a much larger quasi secret about gay clergy that implicates even the best of men, undermining them in the way that unaddressed, openly tolerated corruption destroys the morale of any unit.
Read more at First Things >> 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Archbishop Chaput Responds to Vatican Attack on Faithful American Catholics

'It is an odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true,' the archbishop said

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has hit back at the controversial article by Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa in La Civiltà Cattolica, calling it an “exercise in dumbing down” and saying it fails to understand the forces that have drawn Catholics and Evangelicals together.

The archbishop said the article inadequately presents the nature of cooperation between Catholics in Evangelicals in the United States, adding that it seems “wilfully ignorant” of the cultural battles they face.

The Civiltà Cattolica article, published last week, launched a scathing attack on American conservative Catholics, accusing them of joining with Evangelical Protestants in an “ecumenism of hate” on issues such as immigration.

Read more at Catholic Herald >>

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Protestant Who Wrote the Greatest Book About American Catholicism

Though she never became a Catholic, Willa Cather’s novels—especially her masterpiece Death Comes for the Archbishop—are profound and intense Catholic artistry.

 "I am amused that so many of the reviews of this book begin with the statement: ‘This book is hard to classify.’ Then why bother?”—Willa Cather, 1927

Willa Cather’s novel—or “narrative” in the style of legend as she preferred—Death Comes for the Archbishop is not only the greatest book ever written about American Catholicism, it also might very well be the “Great American Novel.” Huge claims, I know, but solid possibilities nonetheless.

At the beginning of Death Comes, we meet the titular character, Father Jean-Marie Latour.

“Mais, c’est fantastique!” he muttered, closing his eyes to rest them from the intrusive omnipresence of the triangle. When he opened his eyes again, his glance immediately fell upon one juniper which differed in shape from the others. It was not a thick-growing cone, but a naked, twisted trunk, perhaps ten feet high, and at the top it parted into two lateral, flat-lying branches, with a little crest of green in the center, just above the cleavage. Living vegetation could not present more faithfully the form of the Cross. The traveler dismounted, drew from his pocket a much worn book, and baring his head, knelt at the foot of the cruciform tree. Under his buckskin riding-coat he wore a black vest and the cravat and collar of a churchman. A young priest, at his devotions; and a priest in a thousand, one knew at a glance. His bowed head was not that of an ordinary man—it was built for the seat of a fine intelligence. His brow was open, generous, reflective, his features handsome and somewhat severe. There was a singular elegance about the hands below the fringed cuffs of the buckskin jacket. Everything showed him to be a man of gentle birth—brave, sensitive, courteous. His manners, even when he was alone in the desert, were distinguished. He had a kind of courtesy toward himself, toward his beasts, toward the juniper tree before which he knelt, and the God whom he was addressing. 

It would be hard, not to mention foolish, to miss Cather’s appreciation of her subject, a fictional protagonist based on the real-life figure Archbishop Jean-Baptist Lamy. It would also be hard to claim that Latour did not represent the best of the Catholic Church in Cather’s mind. Yet, in the previous chapter to this second one in which she introduces the main character, she described several of the highest members of the Church, meeting in the Vatican in the tumultuous year of 1848, with no pretense of delicacy. Her descriptions of these clergy are nothing short of profoundly despicable. The Vatican officials are soft, effete, disordered, arrogant, and ignorant. In short, they could not achieve a higher state of decadence if they tried. The Church, Cather seems to be arguing in strict Augustinian fashion, survives through the small and generally unrecognized acts of holiness, and not through its corrupt and powerful offices and bureaucracies. Cather focuses on the heart and soul of the Church, not its physical body per se.

Read more at Catholic World Report >>

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pat Buchanan: US and Catholicism in Crisis

By Patrick J. Buchanan

During the 1950s, the twin pillars of worldwide anti-communism were Dwight Eisenhower's America and the Roman Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII.

During the 1980s, the last decade of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and the Polish pope, John Paul II, were the pillars of resistance.

When Pope Francis arrives in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, the country he enters will be a very different one from Eisenhower's America or Reagan's America. And Catholics will be welcoming a new kind of pope.

In America 2015, homosexuality, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage — shameful crimes in Ike's America, mortal sins in the catechism of Pius XII — have become constitutional rights.

These represent the values that define Barack Obama's America, the values our officials defend at the United Nations, the values we preach to the world.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Catholicism Flourishing in South Carolina and Throughout the South and West

Saint Joseph Catholic Church, Columbia, South Carolina
We were astonished to learn this past Sunday that in our Columbia, South Carolina parish, 9 adults will be baptized and an additional 28 adults will be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil.  In following-up on this good news, the statistician for the statewide Diocese of Charleston informs us that approximately 500 adults throughout South Carolina will be received into the Church this Easter.  In a small state where Catholics are not quite 4% of the population, that is a remarkable rate of growth.  Indeed, Catholic numbers in South Carolina are up by more than 30,000 in the past 10 years, and unlike traditional centers of Catholic life, like the Archdiocese of Newark, which has closed more than 80 schools in the past 10 years, South Carolina is building new churches and schools.

At a recent conference at Villanova University, demographers have presented heartening data indicating that Church numbers in the United States are climbing and would continue to grow even without immigration.

Holy Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Taylors, South Carolina
Having lived in Virginia and South Carolina, as well as in the Northeast and Midwest, we can attest to an extraordinary contrast between regions.  The most faithful, orthodox and beautiful liturgies we have encountered have been in the South.  Devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, traditional Catholic devotions, sound preaching and all the richness, beauty and fullness of the Faith are alive and well in places like the Dioceses of Arlington and Charleston.  After all the painful corruption and scandal on the part of a few, we can see the hand of God renewing His Church in unexpected places and in  wondrous and surprising ways.  "Where sin abounded, grace did more abound."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Catholicism in the South: Once a Strange Religion, Now Forging Ahead With Evangelical Fervor

I grew up in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, spent twenty years in the Diocese of Arlington, then 10 years in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and have been in the Diocese of Charleston since 2004.  As the following article suggests, the sense of being a minority and the challenge from the surrounding culture has made Catholicism in the South far more vibrant, and the South a far better place to transmit the Faith to children than are many far more established Catholic communities in the North.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers
The Archbishop of Newark, for example, seems to occupy himself with little other than the liquidation of a vast real estate network.  The major news story coming from his chancery offices each year is how many schools and parishes are to be closed.  And good luck trying to convince anyone that perhaps a little evangelical zeal, commitment to sound catechesis, reverent liturgy and prayer might actually renew the faithfful and fill churches.  His Excellency lives a princely life and he is not available to those who pay for it.  Exceptional parishes in the Newark Archdiocese that row against the current, and where the faith has always been alive and vibrant -- most notably the Polish parishes -- seem to encounter particular scorn and prejudice because their success embarrasses the rest.

It is not proud Archbishops who are renewing the Church in America, but rather holy priests and faith-filled Catholic communities in unlikely places like Arlington, Greenville and Charlotte.

A group of nuns stop at a gas station and ask for directions. A local woman asks for prayers. This scene would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.

The day after a newspaper in the small town of Shelby, N.C., reported that the Te Deum Foundation had acquired nearby land for a new Catholic seminary and monastery, a group of nuns in habits stopped at a local service station.

Fifty years ago — 10 years ago and, to some extent, even today — many Southerners regarded Catholics as unsaved and Catholicism as a non-Christian mystery religion.

But that day, everyone at the station greeted and welcomed the sisters. One woman even asked the nuns to pray for her injured nephew.

This acceptance marks a sea change in the Southern Baptist and evangelical Protestant-dominated South, where Catholics make up less than 10% of the population, compared with double-digit percentages in most northern states.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Catholic Vote Swings

There is a term from Catholic theology which aptly describes those Catholics who will again vote for the despotic thug illegitimately occupying the White House; that term is "invincible ignorance."

According to Gallup, President John F. Kennedy garnered 78 percent of the Catholic vote.
From National Review Online
By Michael Novak
The new wisdom is that Catholics vote just like everybody else. That purported wisdom isn’t wise.
The Catholic vote differs in four decisive ways from the Protestant, Jewish, and secular votes.

(1) The Catholic vote is concentrated mainly in the largest states in the Electoral College: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey.

(2) A larger proportion of Catholics than of any other religious group except Jews votes regularly, every election. In some jurisdictions (Chicago, Boston) Catholic voters have been known to vote at a rate of 104 percent or more when necessary, some of them after their natural deaths.

(3) In some key states, the Catholic vote, although tending more Democratic, is fairly evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans. Keeping the Catholic vote for the Democrat down even to 52 percent may be enough to get a Republican elected.

And (4) — most important of all — in many states Catholic voters frequently swing between parties by margins of 3 to 6 percent. And even more in some years.

As political professionals know well, each swinger counts twice. Each takes a vote away from one column and puts it into the other. If on a national basis the 25 million Catholic votes (24 percent of all votes cast) swing by 1 million votes toward Romney and away from Obama, that gives Romney a net gain of 2 million votes in relation to his competitor, and Obama a net loss of 2 million. This year it seems more likely to be a swing of 2 million for Romney, a net loss to Obama of 4 million. And it may be even a larger swing, depending on how powerful the broad-based campaign to protect religious liberty turns out to be.

The historical record of these large swings helps to explain why the Catholic vote has gone with the winning side in so many elections since 1952. Put another way, the Catholic swing vote has more than any other decided the winner, just because it is of such significant numbers. No Democrat since 1952 (except for Clinton in 1992) has ever won the White House without a majority of the Catholic vote.

In some states, as noted above, Republicans do not have to win a majority of the Catholic vote to carry the state; they need only hold down the Democratic Catholic majority by two or three percentage points. In Pennsylvania, my home state, the rule among professionals was that if the Catholic vote for the Democrat could be held down to 52 percent, the Republican could take the state.

Percentage of Catholic Vote for Presidential Winners

1952: Eisenhower, 44%
1956: Eisenhower, 49%
1960: Kennedy, 78%
1964: Johnson, 76%
1968: Nixon, 33%
1972: Nixon, 52%
1976: Carter, 57%
1980: Reagan, 47%
1984: Reagan, 61%
1988: Bush, 49%
1992: Clinton, 47%
1996: Clinton, 55%
2000: Bush, 46%
2004: Bush, 48%
2008: Obama, 53%

(The figures above are from Gallup. In the three-way race of 1968, Nixon lost the Catholic vote to Hubert Humphrey by a margin of 59 percent to 33 percent, but managed to squeak out a victory, since much of the Southern Protestant vote went to George Wallace. In 1972, however, Mr. Nixon’s 52 percent broke the Democratic lock on the Catholic vote.)

Finally, it may be that in some years a particular factor affects a significant slice of Catholic voters more than most others — the chance to elect the first Catholic president in 1960, for instance.

And Catholics tend to identify themselves as Catholics long after they have ceased going to church (“born Catholic” or “non-practicing Catholic,” these tend to qualify their identity). The difference in voting patterns between Catholics who go to Mass at least weekly and those who don’t is in some matters (partial-birth abortion, e.g.) unusually large. In 2012, I expect the defense of religious liberty to cut as deeply against Obama as 3 million Catholic voters or more. Worth watching.
Michael Novak is distinguished visiting professor at Ave Maria University and co-author, with Jana Novak, of Washington’s God.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Henninger: Church Is Still Not State

Catholics are being told to substitute state belief for their religious belief. 

By Daniel Henninger

How ironic it will be if Catholic voters, about 27% of the electorate, put the first Mormon in the White House some 50 years after John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic president. More telling, though, about the current state of the American mind will be the fact that after more than a thousand days and events in Barack Obama's presidency, the reason for this result will be an unexpected reaffirmation of an American principle older than the country's first presidential election: the free exercise of religion.

Also telling about the current American mind is that the Democratic progressives who inhabit the administration either didn't see this coming or, more likely, thought that the idea of free religious exercise no longer counted for much among American Catholics in today's political calculus.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rise in US Seminary Numbers Brings 'Big Smile' to Pope's Face

From CNA/EWTN News
By David Kerr

Pope Benedict with seminarians at The Catholic University of America

Vatican City, May 6, 2012 / 04:06 pm.- Bishop James D. Conley of Denver said the news of rising seminarian numbers across the United States has delighted Pope Benedict XVI.

“He was very happy to receive that information,” Bishop Conley told CNA on May 4 after meeting the Pope at the Vatican.

“He said he had heard that vocations were going up in the United States and he said this is very positive news and, in fact, he had a big smile on his face when he heard the news.” 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bishop Blasts Secularist Intolerance, Calls for ‘Assertive Action’ to Defend Church

Bishop Jenky's criticism of "remarkably passive" lay people in the pastoral letter referenced below, is a bit hard to take.  It certainly wasn't the American bishops who were in the forefront of America's massive pro-life movement in its early years.  Lay people have also been complaining for years about the very positive movie reviews, issued by the bishops' own organization, for sex-laden, violent and morally offensive movies. The bishops' own Campaign for Human Development has funded for decades the very leftist organizations that have militantly opposed Church teaching, including Obama's own ACORN in Chicago.  Finally, American bishops weren't leading efforts to stop the sexual molestation of young people; more than half of the American bishops covered it up.  But now with Obama's assaults on individual conscience, Catholic institutions, and most importantly to bishops like Jenky, the shut-off of the federal dollars spigot, they seem to have found their voice.  

Welcome, Bishop Jenky, to the culture wars; glad to have you finally with us.
From Catholic World News

Noting that “American Catholics have in recent decades become remarkably passive even in the face of relentless hostility from the media, the entertainment industry, and now from some politicians,” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has issued a pastoral letter on secularism.

The letter, issued on January 8, received a wider audience when it was published in the January 26 issue of Origins.

“The Catholic Diocese of Peoria now exists in a political reality that is increasingly secular in outlook and today is often specifically hostile to the convictions of our Faith,” the bishop wrote. “Atheists and secularists have long realized that the Church of Rome is perhaps the largest single institution that still stands in the way of a completely secularized society. In Illinois where politics are notoriously corrupt and whose governmental agenda is so singularly ineffective, intrenched political power happens to be concentrated in a single region that for generations has been immune to reform. This situation has given determined special interest groups a unique opportunity to impose their views on everyone else as they endeavor to exclude faith from any role in the public forum.” 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama and the Catholic Vote

By John Feehery

The Obama administration seems to be going out of its way to offend a key group of voters who swept the president into office three years ago. 

The Washington Post had this to say about this crucial voting bloc: “American Catholics are the ultimate swing voters, switching between Republicans and Democrats alike. Representing approximately one in four U.S. voters, Catholics make up the largest single religious voting bloc in American politics.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tending the New Catholic Subculture

By Russell Shaw

Good news. Amid statistics of continuing Catholic decline, a new Catholic subculture is visibly emerging in the United States. Unless shaped by commitment to the new evangelization, however, this emergent subculture could become a caricature of Catholicism -- a rigid throwback to the days of the immigrant Church.

All that obviously needs explaining, so let me explain.

Like Pope John Paul II before him, Pope Benedict XVI has made "new evangelization" a high priority of his pontificate. Last year he created an office in the Roman Curia to promote the effort; next year new evangelization will be the theme of a general assembly of the world Synod of Bishops. The new evangelization, he explains, is needed to deal with the situation present where "nations once rich in faith and in vocations are losing their identity under the influence of a secularized culture" (Verbum Domini, 96).