Thursday, July 12, 2012

Arlington Diocese parishioners question fidelity oath

Kathleen Riley, left, and Alison Carroll
resigned as teachers at St. Ann's
Sunday School.
Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post has written another in a long string of articles misrepresenting and/or disparaging Catholicism, not that an anti-Catholic story in the Post isn't regular fare. In this installment it seems that two catechists at St. Ann's Parish in Arlington felt put upon by the Bishop when they were asked to sign a Profession of Faith in conjunction with their role of teaching Catholic children. Hmmm, really?  I would only ask how professing that you will teach the authentic Catholic faith somehow controversial? They ARE charged with teaching the Catholic faith as the Church teaches it after all. Would this be a story if a Presbyterian Pastor asked the same thing of his staff? Would it be newsworthy when Baptist Pastors disassociate themselves and their churches from other Baptist churches over doctrinal issues? Uh...somehow not. But when it's the Catholic Church, somehow the rules of the game change for our intrepid newshound. A friend put it well in a Facebook com box this afternoon,
"...Michelle Boorstein is notorious for cherry-picking her stories, her quotes and her sources. She stuffs the first 75% of the article with things she likes and saves the "fair and balanced" stuff for the end when nobody's reading anymore."
That sort of covers it concerning Boorstein's brand of journalism.

The current slate of American Bishops aren't making up new stuff here. They aren't inventing teachings out of whole cloth, you know, like Salvation by Faith Alone or something. If you disagree with the Church's teaching on salvation, abortion, contraception, so-called same-sex marriage, etc, etc, then the issue is yours not the Church's isn't it? For the church, despite Boorstein's innuendo to the contrary, has been utterly consistent. Open your heart and educate yourself. Yes, you have a right to your conscience, but shouldn't it be a well-formed conscience?  If you, in all humility, still don't believe what She teaches, there are tens of thousands of other options available to you. It is, after all, still a free country...for now.

All of that said however, as a Catholic, I EXPECT to be taught (and to ensure my children are taught) what the Church teaches. The teachers have the obligation to teach what the Church teaches and not confuse people with their opinion when it differs from settled teaching. And we, as parents, are our children's primary catechists. Make sure you are ALWAYS driving the bus that is their faith formation! Get to know your catechists and most of all, endeavor to KNOW AND GROW IN YOUR FAITH!

I'm sure it would be very telling to know what specific issues these (thankfully former) catechists have with Church teaching.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama endorses Gay Marriage

Not that his statement comes as a surprise to anyone, but I think we definitely get a clearer view of President Obama's value system from it. For me it is the antithesis of the Pope's quote running in the masthead of this blog. Quoting the Washington Post article on his announcement,

"Obama hinted at the rapidly shifting political fault lines on Wednesday, saying he had weighed the teachings of his Christian faith against a growing pro-marriage consensus among younger Americans — a key target group for his reelection campaign."
He has confirmed me in my belief that he has no objective moral compass. In utter contrast to the Holy Father's quote above, our President believes that "truth" IS in fact, determined by majority vote. Additionally, it seems to me that he, in much the same way he has with the HHS mandate, is gambling. In this case on his base being energized more than the supporters of traditional marriage. In my opinion, his statement isn't coming from conviction but is instead motivated by political expedience. And as he did with the HHS mandate, he's made a serious tactical error. He is escalating the culture war that, if North Carolina's vote yesterday can be any indicator, will cost him the Presidency.

If we haven't already, we need to come to terms with the multiple front assault on this nation's traditional Christian values that has been underway since January of 2009. Take heed from Cardinal Dolan's response to the President's announcement,

"...we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better."
Some might consider that hyperbole, but it is plainly the unfortunate reality we face...don't be silent...

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Monday, April 30, 2012

"Questions for a Roman Apologist" - Peter's Primacy

Saint Peter and The Keys
in stained glass.
This will be the first in a series of basic apologetic responses (possibly as many as 28) to some of what I have experienced in the lively world of online apologetics. An arena that can be a cross between debate club and pro wrestling, where Christian charity sometimes, unfortunately, gets left at the door. The impetus of this response was the document, Questions for a Roman Apologist, posted by Pastor Miguel Jurna of the First Baptist Church of Olivehurst in Olivehurst, California, I will attempt to present a Catholic response and where necessary correction the context of his questions. The first question I'll address is:

Q: Where does the Bible say that one man is the head of all churches?

A: First of all we can look to Simon Bar-Jonah's name change as a significant sign of his importance among the Apostles. Let's look at several other examples of biblical name changes were there is a deliberately expressed symbolism: Abram becomes Abraham, "father of a multitude"; Sarai becomes Sarah, "princess"; and Jacob becomes Israel, "prince of God". Finally, Simon becomes Peter, the "rock". I believe it can be safely argued that in most, if not all, biblical name changes, God is making a point about the individual in question: commemorating their spiritual
potential or achievement, and/or His blessing upon them. In Peter's case, it is hard to ignore or explain away the fact that the first thing Christ said to him when Andrew introduced them was that he would be called "Cephas". In Matthew 16:17-18, Christ again tells Peter of his name change but also tells him why, his spiritual potential if you will, that he will be the rock on which Christ builds His Church.

The second argument for Peter being the "one man" is found immediately thereafter in Matthew 16:19, where Christ tells Peter,

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
The disciples would have understood instantly the symbolism of the keys of the kingdom for it was based in the Davidic Kingdom as illustrated in Isaiah 22:15-25. The Bible teaches that this Kingdom, which Jesus restored, includes a Prime Minister, one who holds "the key of the house of David," who is given "power," who is "as a father" to the citizens of the kingdom. Eliakim would be that father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and would be given the key symbolizing that power, the very same power that was clearly given to Peter in Matthew 16. Did Christ give the keys to anyone else? Who was plainly the chief Apostle throughout the whole of the New Testament?

Thirdly, in Luke 22:31-32 Christ tells Peter,

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you* like wheat, but I have prayed for you** that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."
* υμας personal pronoun - second person accusative plural humas hoo-mas': you (as the objective of  a verb or preposition) -- ye, you (+ -ward), your (+ own).
σου personal pronoun - second person genitive singular sou soo: of thee, thy -- home, thee, thine (own), thou, thy.

The significance of these verses should not be lost in translation. Christ tells him that Satan has demanded "you". The you in verse 31 is plural in the Greek, signifying that He is speaking of all the Apostles. Then in verse 32 He tells him that He has prayed for "you", this time it's in the singular signifying Peter alone. Ironically, for my KJV-Only friends, the King James version retains the meaning of the original Greek showing Christ prayed for Peter specifically.

Next, you have John 21:15-19, where Christ tells Peter he is to lead His flock,

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, 'Follow me.' "
This threefold confession of Peter is meant to counteract his earlier threefold denial of Christ and specifically assign him the role of chief shepherd of Christ's flock. How can this be read in any other way?

In addition to these proofs, you have the practical examples of Peter's leadership/primacy throughout the New Testament, to include: Mark 16:7, where an angel was sent to tell Peter of the Resurrection; Luke 24:34, where the risen Christ first appeared to Peter; Acts 1:13-26, where Peter headed the meeting that elected Mathias to replace Judas; Acts 2:14, where Peter led the Apostles in preaching on Pentacost; Acts 2:41, where he received the first converts; Acts 2:6-7, where he performed the first miracle after Pentacost; Acts 5:1-11, where he inflicted the first punishment on Ananias and Saphira; Acts 8:21, where he excommunicated the first heretic, Simon Magnus; Acts 10:44-46, where he received the revelation to admit Gentiles into the Church; Acts 15, The Council of Jerusalem, where Peter led the Council and pronounced his first dogmatic decision; and Galatians 1:18, where after his conversion St. Paul comes to submit himself to the chief Apostle.

Lastly, I find the phrasing of the question troublesome. To say, " man is head of all churches" implies that the writer believes in the correctness of multiple "churches" as a norm.
Where is that in the Bible? Is that what Jesus taught? No, Jesus prayed for our UNITY in John 17, just as St. Paul did in Ephesians 4,
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." (emphasis added)
All of this through Scripture alone. The case is even stronger when you consider what the early Church believed and taught about Peter. But we'll stick to Scripture for now. Pax.

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All Bible quotations are from the Revised Standard Version.


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