Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24, 1947: Opus Dei's First Pontifical Approval

1943 was all about the discovery and approval of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross on the local diocesan level. “On November 8, 19446, Fr. Josemaria once again left Spain for Rome… (H)e passed through Barcelona where he again entrusted to our Lady of Ransom the negotiations awaiting him in the Eternal City to win pontifical approval….

“Once in Rome, he resumed conversations with members of the Roman Curia to expedite a juridical framework suitable for papal approval of the Work… (O)n the feast of the Immaculate Conception he was received in audience by Pope Pius XII. On the 16th he wrote again to those in Madrid: ‘Do not forget that it has been during the octave of the feast of the Immaculate Conception that the solution in Rome began to jell’…

“On February 2, 1947, Pope Pius XII gave his consent to the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia. Thus a juridical framework was established within which it was possible to proceed to the pontifical approval of Opus Dei. On February 14 the ‘Congress’ of the Sacred Congregation for Religious… voted favorably on this proposal. The Roman Pontiff in an audience granted to Cardinal Lavitrano on February 24 ratified their opinion. Thus Opus Dei with the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross was approved as a Secular Institute of pontifical right together with its constitutions. The decision of Pius XII was formalized in the Decretum laudis, entitled Primum Institutum and dated February 24, 1947… Opus Dei was thus given its international charter. But he [Escriva] doesn’t hide the need to take further steps along the juridical path.”[1]

That done, the way was now open for the Second Vatican Council (as will become evident in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium - The People of God) that was an epistemological turn from object to subject to affirm the radical equality of both lay faithful and ministerial priests in the Church, all with an equal call to sanctity, and yet with essentially different ways of sharing in the one priesthood of Christ (LG #10). I offer the mind of D. Alvaro del Portillo on the common legal status of all the faithful [as “other Christs”] in the Church:

Vatican II (Lumen Gentium): The Key to the Radical Equality of All the Baptized:“The basis of this whole problem and the key to its solution lies in one incontrovertible fact, emphasized with unprecedented vigour by the Second Vatican Council, namely that all persons who belong to the Church have a common fundamental legal status, because they all share one and the same basic theological condition land belong to the same primary common category. All the faithful, from the Pope to the child who has just been baptized, share one and the same vocation, the same faith, the same faith, the same Spirit, the same grace. They are all in need of appropriate sacramental and spiritual aids; they must all live a full Christian life, following the same evangelical teachings; they must all lead a basic personal life of piety – that of children of God, brothers and disciples of Christ – which is obligatory for them before and above any specific distinction which may arise from their different functions within the Church. The all have an active and appropriate share – within the inevitable plurality of ministries – the single mission of Christ and of the Church. Therefore it follows logically that within the Church all members have certain fundamental rights and obligations in common.”[2]

The Final Juridical Step: The Personal Prelature

The Final Step: The Prelature as guardian of 1) the oneness of the subjective vocation of both laity and priests forming a "communio": each, being sacramentally irreducible [by Baptism and Orders], makes the total gift of self being dynamized to do so by the pastoral charity (fatherhood) of the Prelate; and 2) secularity as “characteristic” whereby the world of work and family is the occasion of the self-giving.The Conciliar Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis #10 reads: “Where the nature of the apostolate demands this, not only the proper distribution of priests should be made easier but also the carrying out of special pastoral projects for the benefit of different social groups in any region or among any race in any part of the world. For this purpose there can with advantages be set up some international seminaries, special dioceses, or personal prelatures and other institutions to which, by methods to be decided for the individual undertaking and always without prejudice of the rights of the local ordinaries, priests can be attached or incardinated for the common good of the whole Church.”

On August 6, 1966, Paul VI wrote the Apostolic Letter Ecclesiae Sanctae for the implementation of, in our case, Presbyterorum Ordinins #10: It read:

“There is no reason why laymen, whether celibate or married, should not dedicate their professional service, through contracts with the prelature, to its works and enterprises.

“Such prelatures shall not be erected without first hearing the views of the episcopal conferences of the territory in which they will serve. In the exercise of their function care is to be shown that the rights of the local ordinaries are not infringed and that close relations are kept with the episcopal conferences at all times.”John Paul II erects Opus Dei as a personal prelature: November 28, 1982: Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit of universal extension.

[1] Rodriguez, Illanes… “The Canonical Path of Opus Dei” Four Courts Press (1994) 167-168.
[2] Alvaro del Portillo, “Faithful and Laity in the Church,” Ecclesia Press (Shannon, Ireland) (1972) 19.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Subsidiarity and Nationalization of Private Institutions

Just a reminder that pragmatism must not trump truth, particularly when that truth is the truth of the human person, who becomes and finds himself by the sincere gift of himself (Gaudium et spes #24). This truth of the human person emerges from the Christology elaborated in the Second Vatican Council that Jesus Christ, not Adam (the type), is the prototype of man (Gaudium et spes #22).

The talk of the media at the moment is all about the nationalization of the banks that are “too big to fail.” As one pundit remarked, “If a bank is too big to fail, then it is simply too big.”[1] The pragmatism of not letting them fail leads to taking ownership out of the hands of the person who alone must “own” because it is only by the work of the person that the earth becomes “gift” to the other. The truth of private ownership is not a “conservative” political stance as opposed to liberal socialism. It is a fundamental truth of the social doctrine of the Church that has its ontological center in the working person.

Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation (SCDF)

“As an ‘expert in humanity,’ the Church offers by her social doctrine a set of principles for reflection and criteria for judgment and also directives for action so that the profound changes demanded by situations of poverty and injustice may be brought about, and this in a way which serves the true good of humanity.

Fundamental principles: “The supreme commandment of love leads to the full recognition of the dignity of each individual, created in God’s image. From this dignity glow natural rights and duties. In the light of the image of God, freedom, which is the essential prerogative of the human person, is manifested in all its depth. Persons are the active and responsible subjects in social life

“Intimately linked to the foundation, which is man’s dignity, are the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity.

“By virtue of the first, man with his brothers is obliged to contribute to the common good of society at all its levels. Hence the Church’s doctrine is opposed to all the forms of social or political individualism.

“By virtue of the second, neither the state nor any society must ever substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and of intermediate communities at the level on which they can function, nor must they take away the room necessary for their freedom. Hence, the Church’s social doctrine is opposed to all forms of collectivism.”

Further on, the Instruction states: “The priority given to structures and technical organization over the person and the requirements of his dignity is the expression of a materialistic anthropology and is contrary to the construction of a just social order.”[3]

[1] Gerald F. O’Driscoll, Jr., WSJ Monday, February 23, 2009, A 15.
[2] SCDF, “Insturction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, #73
[3] Ibid #75.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Relgion

Obama to GOP Leaders: "You can't listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."

Limbaugh: "Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as 'local content,' 'diversity of ownership,' and 'public interest' rules - all of which...are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?"

The issue of freedom of speech is not merely political. Freedom of speech is grounded in the metaphysical anthropology of self-determination that is rooted in Christology as the prototype of anthropology(Gaudium et spes #22). The "I" of Christ masters his human will to obey to death. Self-determination is the precise locus of human freedom whereby man takes possession of himself and thus is able to transcend himself and express this determination and transcendence in speech.

If you shut down freedom of speech, you shut down freedom of religion, which is tantamount to shutting down man as image of God with the inherent right to communicte that truth. And since the being of the "I" is the supreme locus of reason's encounter with beingt (Fides et ratio #83), to prohibit the self-transcendence that is speech, you prohibit the truth and light that reason yearns for. Reason needs the activation of the believing subject to access being in its fullness. As Christ became transfigured when he prayed to the Father, so all acting believers radiate the light of being that reason seeks. When that action of faith as self-transcendence is lacking, reason “wilts”[1] under the burden of endless facts from data-bases. It lacks the consciousness that gives "meaning" to facts.

Reason needs faith as anthropological act of self-transcendent to experience answers to its ontologically grounded tendency toward the absolute. This is the reason for insight and invention in the Christian West which has been the cradle of the scientific, political and economic development.

This is the major reason for the non-development of Islamic society. The God of Islam is so utterly transcendent, that He is even beyond reason. Consider Benedict XVI’s remarks at Regensburg: “for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” And John Paul II said: In Jesus Christ, “God has gone too far! ... Precisely because He called God His Father, because He revealed Him so openly in Himself, He could not but elicit the impression that it was too much… Man was no longer able to tolerate such closeness, and thus the protests began.

“This great protest has precise names – first it is called the Synagogue, and then Islam. Neither can accept a God who is so human. ‘It is not suitable to speak of God in this way,’ they protest. ‘He must remain absolutely transcendent; He must remain pure Majesty. Majesty full of mercy, certainly, but not to the point of paying for the faults of His own creatures, for their sins”

Consider also the suppression of freedom by the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union until such time as there would be plenty to go around. The suppression precluded any possibility that there would be plenty of whatever since its source was precisely the freedom that was suppressed.

The remarks of President Obama below smack of precisely of that tactic: please curtail your freedom of speech and fall in line with me since I won and I have the power. This is a serious practical situation that demands that we all work together as I say. There must be no dissent. Curtail your freedom of speech. (And, once that is done, we will have curtailed your freedom of religion… and your reason).

Exhibit A: President Obama

WASHINGTON -- President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today (January 23, 2009) that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.

"There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats," the official said. "We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done."
That wasn't Obama's only jab at Republicans today.

While discussing the stimulus package with top lawmakers in the White House's Roosevelt Room, President Obama shot down a critic with a simple message.

"I won," he said, according to aides who were briefed on the meeting. "I will trump you on that."

The response was to the objection by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to the president's proposal to increase benefits for low-income workers who don't owe federal income taxes.

Exhibit B: Rush Limbaugh

“I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?
‘You have singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show. Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio. And a number of members of your party, in and out of Congress, are forming a chorus of advocates for government control over radio content. This is both chilling and ominous.

“As a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, you are more familiar than most with the purpose of the Bill of Rights: to protect the citizen from the possible excesses of the federal government. The First Amendment says, in part, that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." The government is explicitly prohibited from playing a role in refereeing among those who speak or seek to speak. We are, after all, dealing with political speech -- which, as the Framers understood, cannot be left to the government to police.

“When I began my national talk show in 1988, no one, including radio industry professionals, thought my syndication would work. There were only about 125 radio stations programming talk. And there were numerous news articles and opinion pieces predicting the fast death of the AM band, which was hemorrhaging audience and revenue to the FM band. Some blamed the lower fidelity AM signals. But the big issue was broadcast content. It is no accident that the AM band was dying under the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which choked robust debate about important issues because of its onerous attempts at rationing the content of speech.

“After the Federal Communications Commission abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, Congress passed legislation to reinstitute it. When President Reagan vetoes it, he declared that ‘This doctrine… requires Federal officials to supervise the editorial practices of broadcasters in an effort to ensure that they provide coverage of controversial issues and a reasonable opportunity for the airing of contrasting viewpoints of those issues. This type of content-based regulation by the Federal Government is … antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment… History has shown that the dangers of an overly timid or biased press cannot be averted through the freedom and competition that the First Amendment sought to guarantee.’

“Today the number of radio stations programming talk is well over 2,000. In fact, there are thousands of stations that sir tens of thousands of programs covering virtually every conceivable topic and in various languages. The explosion of talk radio has created legions of jobs and billions in economic value. Not bad for an industry that only 20 years ago was moribund. Content, content, content, Mr. President is the reason for the huge turnaround of the past 20 years, not ‘funding’ or ‘big money,’ as Mr. Clinton stated. And not only the AM band been revitalized, but there is competition from other venues, such as Internet and satellite broadcasting. It is not an exaggeration to say that today, more than ever, anyone with a microphone and a computer can broadcast their views. And thousands do.
“Mr. President, we both know that this new effort at regulating speech is not about diversity but conformity. It should be rejected. You've said you're against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but you've not made it clear where you stand on possible regulatory efforts to impose so-called local content, diversity-of-ownership, and public-interest rules that your FCC could issue.
“I do not favor content-based regulation of National Public Radio, newspapers, or broadcast or cable TV networks. I would encourage you not to allow your office to be misused to advance a political vendetta against certain broadcasters whose opinions are not shared by many in your party and ideologically liberal groups such as Acorn, the Center for American Progress, and MoveOn.org. There is no groundswell of support behind this movement. Indeed, there is a groundswell against it.

“The fact that the federal government issues broadcast licenses, the original purpose of which was to regulate radio signals, ought not become an excuse to destroy one of the most accessible and popular marketplaces of expression. The AM broadcast spectrum cannot honestly be considered a "scarce" resource. So as the temporary custodian of your office, you should agree that the Constitution is more important than scoring transient political victories, even when couched in the language of public interest.
“We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as "fairness" and "balance"? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?”

Remarks of Cardinal Ratzinger on the Conditions of Freedom:

“The modern idea of freedom is thus a legitimate product of the Christian environment; it could not have developed anywhere else. Indeed, one must add that it cannot be separated from this Christian environment and transplanted into any other system, as is shown very clearly today in the renaissance of Islam;

the attempt to graft on to Islamic societies what are termed western standards cut loose from their Christian foundations misunderstands the internal logic of Islam as well as the historical logic to which these western standards belong, and hence this attempt was condemned to fail in this form. The construction of society in Islam is theocratic, and therefore monist and not dualist; dualism, which is the precondition for freedom, presupposes for its part the logic of the Christian thing.

In practice this means that it is only where the duality of Church and state, of the sacral and the political authority, remains maintained in some form or another that the fundamental pre-condition exists for freedom. Where the Church itself becomes the state freedom becomes lost.

But also when the Church is done away with as a pubic and publicly relevant authority, then too freedom is extinguished, because there the state once again claims completely for itself the justification of morality; in the profane post-Christian world it does not admittedly do this in the form of sacral authority but as an ideological authority – that means that the state becomes the party, and since there can no longer be any other authority of the same rank it once again becomes total itself. The ideological state is totalitarian; it must become ideological if it is not balanced by a free but publicly recognized authority of conscience. When this kind of duality does not exist the totalitarian system in unavoidable.

“With this the fundamental task of the Church’s political stance, as I understand it, has been defined; its aim must be to maintain this balance of a dual system as the foundation of freedom. Hence the Church must make claims and demands on public law and cannot simply retreat into the private sphere. Hence it must also take care on the other hand that Church and state remain separated and that belonging to the Church clearly retains its voluntary character.”

[1] John Paul II, “Fides et ratio” #5.
[2] John Paul II, “Witness to Hope,” Knopf (1994) 40-41.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Church, Ecumenism and Politics – Theology and the Church’s Political Stance,” Crossroad (1988) 162-163.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Benedict XVI Speaks With Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi

(18 Feb 09)

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage. His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Statement On Obama: World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations

ROME, FEB. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement released today by the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations about new threats to human life under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.* * *

The election of Barak Obama as President of the United States marked an important watershed in American history and culture. Running for office in a time marked by economic and geo-political turmoil, Obama promised to be a force for positive change, political reconciliation and effective government. Unfortunately, President Obama has begun his term with actions that will undermine respect for human life, human dignity and religions freedom. We call upon Catholic physicians and health care providers, and all people of good will, to spare no effort in convincing President Obama to reverse these decisions.

During the 2008 campaign, some Catholics and self-identified Catholic advocacy groups endorsed Barak Obama for President based in part on his support for economic justice and foreign policy, and in part on his pledge to try to reduce the number of abortions by increased social spending on support for pregnant women. Yet as a legislator and as a candidate, Obama had taken positions utterly opposed to respect for human life. For example:-- Obama has long been an advocate of abortion on demand, and has touted his 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion in the United States;-- Obama opposed every limitation on abortion, including laws requiring parental notification and consent before minors could obtain abortions;-- Shockingly, as a state senator, Obama actively opposed any protections for infants born alive after failed abortion procedures and misrepresented his record on this issue during the 2008 campaign;-- Finally, during the campaign, Obama proudly proclaimed his support for the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) -- the most radical expansion of abortion license in the world -- and promised to sign the law as President.In addition to his unqualified support for abortion, Obama has promised to provide federal funding for stem-cell research that destroys human life at the embryonic stage.Since taking office, President Obama has engaged in a series of actions that indicate that he is prepared to implement his prior support for abortion. -- Within the first few days of taking office, Obama overturned the “Mexico City Policy,” a U.S. government policy that denies federal funding to international agencies that promote or perform abortion as a means of birth control;-- More ominously, when overturning this policy, President Obama indicated his willingness to provide financial support to the United Nations Population Fund, an organization that lost U.S. government funding after it collaborated with the Chinese government’s coercive “one child” population policy.

-- President Obama is filling his Cabinet and Administration positions with supporters of abortion, including:

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (who has long been a proponent of abortion “rights” in the United States and around the world); Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff (who had a 100% voting record with the National Abortion Rights Action League as a member of Congress and a reputation as an aggressive pro-choice politician); Dawn Johnsen, nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (who was the Legal Director for NARAL and part of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project); Eric Holder, Attorney General (who has been a longtime supporter of abortion “rights”); Melody Barnes, Chair of the Domestic Policy Council (who has been a member of the boards of directors for both Planned Parenthood and Emily's List); Ellen Moran, White House Director of Communications (who is the current executive director of Emily's List); and Thomas Perelli, nominee for Associate Attorney General (who collaborated with pro-euthanasia attorney George Felos to successfully starve Terri Shiavo to death).

-- While he has made no move to encourage the passage of FOCA, many are still concerned that the provisions of FOCA will be added piecemeal to other bills and legislative acts.-- Finally, President Obama has declared his opposition to the new HHS rule that protects the conscience rights of health care providers. The rule was enacted in the last days of the Bush administration in response to many threats to the conscience rights of physicians, pharmacists and health care providers in the United States.In light of these actions and appointments, we are issuing an urgent appeal to President Obama to reconsider his support for abortion and research that can succeed only by destroying innocent human life. In addition, we offer our prayers, encouragement and appeals to Catholic physicians in the United States to educate the public and to oppose these efforts to promote abortion. Finally, we appeal to all members of FIAMC to be vigilant in opposing the new threats to human life and dignity that could now come from the Obama administration officials in foreign policy positions and at the United Nations.

The Need For a "Modern Philosophical Revolution"

Einstein said (somewhere): “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”[1] From my scant grasp of the “new” physics, Einstein exercised this epistemological revolution in his theory of relativity by readjusting the perception that he was simply “outside” the universe looking on and into it, to being “within” it.

Commenting on David Walsh’s new book “The Modern Philosophical Revolution,” Fr. James Schall, S.J. commented: “Walsh reminds us that we are ourselves within Being. None of us stands outside it in some ideological thought-world. The thinking being already participates in what is. Walsh reminds the reader constantly that he, the reader, is within being as it goes on. He is himself not outside of being, nor is his thought apart from the reality about which it thinks or knows. Knowing is itself a form of being. Walsh does not allow the thinker to assume that he is somehow superior to the being he finds himself already involved in because he already exists.revolution in his theory of relativity by readjusting the perception that he was simply “outside” the universe looking on and into it, to being “within” it.

Commenting on David Walsh’s new book “The Modern Philosophical Revolution,” Fr. James Schall, S.J. commented: “Walsh reminds us that we are ourselves within Being. None of us stands outside it in some ideological thought-world. The thinking being already participates in what is. Walsh reminds the reader constantly that he, the reader, is within being as it goes on. He is himself not outside of being, nor is his thought apart from the reality about which it thinks or knows. Knowing is itself a form of being. Walsh does not allow the thinker to assume that he is The search for the ‘ground’ of being is in every soul. (I would add: ‘Nay, it is the very self.’) It arises from within its own experience. (I would add: ‘and creates “experience.” Experience is the perception of ourselves perceiving the being in which we are immersed. We create the conditions of the reception which we call “experience,” and therefore perceive ourselves as at the center. For example: is the tingling in the foot, the red in the dress, the pain in the tooth, the blue in the sky? – or are the tingling, the red, the pain, the blue the conditions of my way of receiving the reality that is taking place outside my subjectivity?

This is not Cartesian idealism. In fact, the way we can get to the “thing-in-itself” through the mediation of sense perception and concept formation is to perceive through consciousness that there is a real “I” that is doing the sensing and the thinking. I experience myself without mediation as acting person, and therefore as “Being.” I have a direct unmediated experience of myself as Being. This is rock hard realism and the point of John Paul II in Fides et ratio #83: “In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry”). It is not apart from what keeps being in being in the first place. If we already are, we do not need to look further for what is.”

I am fascinated with Walsh’s book because it turns the defensive critique of modern philosophy upside down from the presumed source of idealism and relativism into a granite hard realism that – if further purified and elaborated - will be able to give an account of Christian revelation as the “I Am” of Jesus Christ.

We have been laboring for centuries under the burden of the dualisms of supernatural/natural, faith/reason, grace/nature, truth/freedom, Church/State, priest/layman. These dualisms are the result of working only on the level of first order epistemology: sensation, abstraction, proposition-formation, return to sensation, judgment of conformity, etc. The main point is that this is a mediated realism. It is not immediate access and experience of Being. It is mediated through our mode of reception which is “distorted” precisely by the media of reception, be it sensation or symbolization by concept (the latter being the root of rendering reality as “object”). As Einstein, Newman, Voegelin, Ratzinger, Wojtyla, Walsh, Percy, Terruwe, Baars, Taylor, Polanyi, Schmitz, etc., we must move (without giving up the other) to a second level where the "I" is situated. If we can find our way to the "I" as ontological ground and defining center, we will be able to establish a new culture that will necessarily be global in reach - replacing the ideological objectifications of Socialism and Capitalism. The method can be none other than living Christian faith which is Benedict's “broadening of reason.” Only that will give us purchase on a true humanism that will be dynamized by the working person living out the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the street.

[1] Cited by Richard Rohr, “Adams Return” Crossroad (2004) xii.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Same Sex Attraction: Not Born That Way

The New York Times (Tuesday, February 17, 2009, A3), suffering from dwindling readership and financial hardship, got on message today concerning “scandals swirling over the Vatican” that provoke “questions of where the Pope’s focus lies.” The innuendo is that he is out of touch and insensitive to the hard reality of global political life because of “his focus on doctrine.” This, it is alleged, is “alienating mainstream Catholics and undermining the church’s moral authority.” The result is “a firestorm of criticism of the church hierarchy and [has] led to frantic efforts to mollify angry and confused parishioners around the globe, while the latest controversy has raised concerns that the actions cold be part of a disturbing pattern.”

The language is incendiary. What are the swirling scandals? The invisible priest reinstated from excommunion who remarked that he doesn’t believe the publicized number of Jews exterminated in the “Holocaust;” and a Viennese priest who suggested (1) that hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for the sins of New Orleans, and (2) – and this is serious – “that homosexuality was curable.”

Since it is ideologically de rigueur that the media, and in particular the New York Times, induce knee-jerk compliance into the brains of an already hypnotized population on, say, the normality of same-sex attraction, etc. , let me offer the following:

“The Statement of the Catholic Medical Association”
cathmed.org) November, 2000.

The research referenced in this report counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable and offers hope for prevention and treatment.

Statement of Robert Spitzer, M.D.

Robert Spitzer, M.D., the renowned Columbia University psychiatric researcher, who was directly involved in the 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders, has recently become involved with research the possibility of change. Dr. Spitzer stated in an interview:

"I am convinced that many people have made substantial changes toward becoming heterosexual...I think that's news... I came to this study skeptical. I now claim that these changes can be sustained." (Spitzer 2000).

A number of researchers have sought to find a biological cause for same-sexual attraction. The media has promoted the idea that a "gay gene" has already been discovered (Burr 1996 ), but in spite of several attempts none of the much publicized studies (Hamer 1993 ; LeVay 1991 ) have been scientifically replicated. (Gadd 1998) A number of authors have carefully reviewed these studies and found that they not only do not prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction, they do not even claim to have scientific evidence for such a claim. (Byrne 1963 ; Crewdson 1995 ; Goldberg1992; Horgan 1995 ; McGuire 1995 ; Porter 1996; Rice 1999 )

If same-sex attraction were genetically determined, then one would expect identical twins to be identical in their sexual attractions. There are, however, numerous reports of identical twins who are not identical in their sexual attractions. (Bailey 1991 ; Eckert 1986; Friedman 1976; Green 1974; Heston 1968; McConaghy 1980; Rainer 1960; Zuger 1976) Case histories frequently reveal environmental factors which account for the development of different sexual attraction patterns in genetically identical children, supporting the theory that same-sex attraction is a product of the interplay of a variety of environmental factors. (Parker 1964 )

There are, however, ongoing attempts to convince the public that same-sex attraction is genetically based. (Marmor 1975 ) Such attempts may be politically motivated because people are more likely to respond positively to demands for changes in laws and religious teaching when they believe sexual attraction to be genetically determined and unchangeable. (Emulf 1989 ; Piskur 1992 ) Others have sought to prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction so that they could appeal to the courts for rights based on the "immutability". (Green 1988 )

Catholics believe that sexuality was designed by God as a sign of the love of Christ, the bridegroom, for his Bride, the Church, and therefore sexual activity is appropriate only in marriage. Healthy psycho-sexual development leads naturally to attraction in persons of each sex for the other sex. Trauma, erroneous education, and sin can cause a deviation from this pattern. Persons should not be identified with their emotional or developmental conflicts as though this was the essence of their identity. In the debate between essentialism and social constructionism, the believer in natural law would hold that human beings have an essential nature -- either male or female -- and that sinful inclinations -- such as the desire to engage in homosexual acts -- are constructed and can, therefore, be deconstructed.

It is, therefore, probably wise to avoid wherever possible using the words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" as nouns since such usage implies a fixed state and an equivalence between the natural state of man and woman as created by God and persons experiencing same sex attractions or behaviors.


Individuals experience same-sex attractions for different reasons. While there are similarities in the patterns of development, each individual has a unique, personal history. In the histories of persons who experience same-sex attraction, one frequently finds one or more of the following:

Alienation from the father in early childhood, because the father was perceived as hostile or distant, violent or alcoholic, (Apperson 1968 ; Bene 1965 ; Bieber 1962 ; Fisher 1996 ; Pillard 1988 ; Sipova 1983 )

Mother was overprotective (boys), (Bieber, T. 1971 ; Bieber 1962 ; Snortum 1969 )
Mother was needy and demanding (boys), (Fitzgibbons 1999 )
Mother emotionally unavailable (girls), (Bradley 1997 ; Eisenbud 1982 )
Parents failed to encourage same-sex identification, (Zucker 1995 )
Lack of rough and tumble play (boys), (Friedman 1980 ; Hadden 1967a )
Failure to identify with same/sex peers, (Hockenberry 1987 ; Whitman 1977 )
Dislike of team sports (boys), (Thompson 1973 )
Lack of hand/eye coordination and resultant teasing by peers (boys), (Bailey 1993 ; Fitzgibbons 1999 ; Newman 1976 )
Sexual abuse or rape, (Beitchman 1991 ; Bradley 1997 ; Engel 1981 ; Finkelhor 1984; Gundlach 1967 )
Social phobia or extreme shyness, (Golwyn 1993 )
Parental loss through death or divorce, (Zucker 1995)
Separation from parent during critical developmental stages. (Zucker 1995)
In some cases, same-sex attraction or activity occurs in a patient with other psychological diagnosis, such as:
major depression, (Fergusson 1999 )
suicidal ideation, (Herrell 1999),
generalized anxiety disorder,
substance abuse,
conduct disorder in adolescents,
borderline personality disorder, (Parris 1993 ; Zubenko 1987 )
schizophrenia, (Gonsiorek 1982)
pathological narcissism. (Bychowski 1954 ; Kaplan 1967 )
In a few cases, homosexual behavior appears later in life as a response to a trauma such as abortion, (Berger 1994 ; de Beauvoir 1953) or profound loneliness (Fitzgibbons 1999).


If the emotional and developmental needs of each child are properly met by both family and peers, the development of same-sex attraction is very unlikely. Children need affection, praise and acceptance by each parent, by siblings and by peers. Such social and family situations, however, are not always easily established and the needs of children are not always readily identifiable. Some parents may be struggling with their own trials and be unable to provide the attention and support their children require. Sometimes parents work very hard but the particular personality of the child makes support and nurture more difficult. Some parents saw incipient signs, sought professional assistance and advice and were given inadequate and in some cases erroneous advice.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (APA 1994 ) of the American Psychiatric Association has defined Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in children as a strong, persistent cross gender identification, a discomfort with one's own sex, and a preference for cross sex roles in play or in fantasies. Some researchers (Friedman 1988, Phillips, 1992 ) have identified another less pronounced syndrome in boys -- chronic feelings of unmasculinity. These boys while not engaging in any cross sex play or fantasies, feel profoundly inadequate in their masculinity and have an almost phobic reaction to rough and tumble play in early childhood and a strong dislike of team sports. Several studies have shown that children with Gender Identity Disorder and boys with chronic juvenile unmasculinity are at-risk for same-sex attraction in adolescence.(Newman 1976; Zucker 1995; Harry 1989 )

The early identification (Hadden 1967 ) and proper professional intervention, if supported by parents, can often overcome the gender identity disorder (Rekers 1974 ; Newman 1976). Unfortunately, many parents who report these concerns to their pediatricians are told not to worry about them. In some cases, the symptoms and parental concerns may appear to lessen when the child enters the second or third grade, but unless adequately dealt with the symptoms may reappear at puberty as intense, same-sex attraction. Th
is attraction appears to be the result of a failure to identify positively with one's own sex.
It is important that those involved in child care and education become aware of the signs of gender identity disorder and chronic juvenile unmasculinity and access the resources available to find appropriate help for these children. (Bradley 1998; Brown 1963 ; Acosta 1975 ) Once convinced that same-sex attraction is not a genetically determined disorder, one is able to hope for prevention and one is also able to hope for a therapeutic model to greatly mitigate if not eliminate same-sex attractions.


While a number of studies have shown that children who have been sexually abused, children exhibiting the symptoms of GID, and boys with chronic juvenile unmasculinity are at risk for same-sex attractions in adolescence and adulthood, it is important to note that a significant percentage of these children do not become homosexually active as adults. (Green 1985 ; Bradley 1998).

For some, negative childhood experiences are overcome by later positive interactions. Some make a conscious decision to turn away from temptation. The presence and the power of God's grace, while not always measurable, cannot be discounted as a factor in helping an at-risk individual turn away from same-sex attraction. The labeling of an adolescent, or worse a child, as unchangeably "homosexual" does the individual a grave disservice. Such adolescents or children can, with appropriate, positive intervention, be given proper guidance to deal with early emotional traumas.


Those promoting the idea that sexual orientation is immutable frequently quote from a published discussion between Dr. C.C. Tripp and Dr. Lawrence Hatterer in which Dr. Tripp stated: "... there is not a single recorded instance of a change in homosexual orientation which has been validated by outside judges or testing. Kinsey wasn't able to find one. And neither Dr. Pomeroy nor I have been able to find such a patient. We would be happy to have one from Dr. Hatterer." (Tripp & Hatterer 1971) They fail to reference Dr. Hatterer response:
"I have 'cured' many homosexuals, Dr. Tripp. Dr. Pomeroy or any other researcher may examine my work because it is all documented on 10 years of tape recordings. Many of these 'cured' (I prefer to use the word 'changed') patients have married, had families and live happy lives. It is a destructive myth that 'once a homosexual, always a homosexual." It has made and will make millions more committed homosexuals. What is more, not only have I but many other reputable psychiatrists (Dr. Samuel B. Hadden, Dr. Lionel Ovesey, Dr. Charles Socarides, Dr. Harold Lief, Dr. Irving Bieber, and others) have reported their successful treatments of the treatable homosexual." (Tripp & Hatterer 1971)

A number of therapists have written extensively on the positive results of therapy for same-sex attraction. Tripp chose to ignore the large body of literature on treatment and surveys of therapists. Reviews of treatment for unwanted same-sex attractions shows that it is as successful as treatment for similar psychological problems: about 30% experience a freedom from symptoms and another 30% experience improvement. (Bieber 1962 ; Clippinger 1974 ; Fine 1987 ; Kaye 1967 ; MacIntosh 1994 ; Marmor 1965 ; Nicolosi 2000 ; Rogers 1976 ; Satinover 1996 ; Throckmorton ; West )

Reports from individual therapists have been equally positive. (Barnhouse 1977 ; Bergler 1962 ; Bieber 1979 ; Cappon 1960 ; Caprio 1954 ; Ellis 1956 ; Hadden 1958 ; Hadden 1967b ; Hadfield 1958 ; Hatterer 1970 ; Kronemeyer 1989 , Nicolosi 1991) This is only a representative sampling of the therapists who report successful results in the treating of individuals experiencing same-sex attractions.

There are also numerous autobiographical reports from men and women who once believed themselves to be unchangeably bound by same-sex attractions and behaviors. Many of these men and women (Exodus 1990-2000 ) now describe themselves as free of same-sex attraction, fantasy, and behavior. Most of these individuals found freedom through participation in religion based support groups, although some also had recourse to therapists. Unfortunately, a number of influential persons and professional groups ignore this evidence (APA 1997 ; Herek 1991 ) and there seems to be a concerted effort on the part of "homosexual apologists" to deny the effectiveness of treatment of same-sex attraction or claim that such treatment is harmful. Barnhouse expressed wonderment at these efforts: "The distortion of reality inherent in the denials by homosexual apologists that the condition is curable is so immense that one wonders what motivates it."(Barnhouse 1977)

Addendum: For lack of time, I direct you to Conrad Baars, M.D. "I Will Give Them a New Heart" (St. Pauls 2008) 188-189. His assessment is that homosexuality is not a mental disorder just as heterosexuality is not a mental condition. Rather, he considers it an "Emotional Deprivation Disorder." "Emotional Deprivation Disorder is a distinct clinical entity to be distinguished from the classical Freudian repressive neuroses by a paraticular constallation of neurotic symptons, described in detail (elsewhere)... These symptoms are not the result of an intrapsychic process of repression of emotions which began in childhood, but rather of an environmental deprivation or frustration in early life of the fundamental psychological need to be loved for one's unique self."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Class: Freedom, Autonomy and Secularity

“God (is) defined as freedom in person, because he is the totality of the possession of being.”[1]

Freedom: fullness of Being:

Not able not to be. For a finite, contingent being, freedom is the possession of being, not merely “to be” placed in act. Ultimately, only God is “free.”

Ratzinger: “Considered biblically, freedom is something other than indeterminacy. It is participation, and indeed, not just participation in some particular social structure, but participation in being itself. It means to be the possessor… of being. Only on this basis can indeed God be defined as freedom in person, because he is the totality of the possession of being. We can… say that freedom is identical with exaltation of being, which admittedly only makes sense if exaltation of being is really exaltation: the gift of life and being given in love.”[2]

The Freedom of the Human Will: Self Mastery

Jesus Christ achieved freedom for the human will that He assumed into His divine Person.
“Thus the Logos adopts the being of the man Jesus into his own being and speaks of it in terms of his own I: ‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). In the Son’s obedience [note that it is not the “will’s” obedience], where both wills become one in a single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between human and divine being. The ‘wondrous exchange,’ the ‘alchemy of being,’ is realized here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange [the “exchange” is the human will of Christ laden with all sins of all men as disobedience{cf. 2 Cor. 5, 21}], and only here, that that fundamental change [of obedience] takes place in man, the change which alone can redeem him and transform the conditions of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act [faith] whereby we participate in the Son’s obedience, which involves man’s genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole. Only where this act takes place is there a change for good – in the direction of the kingdom of God.”[3]

Autonomy: Self Cause

Autonomy is the power of determining the self, and as an act of self-mastery, gives the self to the self as possession.

Autonomy is the discovery of the self as “cause.," and therefore, free. Newman says, with Hume, that sensible perception does not perceive “causes” but an association of events. Causality is not sensibly perceived but experienced within the subject himself. Newman: “The assent which we give to the proposition, as a first principle that nothing happens without a cause, is derived, in the first instance, from what we know of ourselves: and we argue analogically from what is within us to what is external to us. One of the first experiences of an infant is that of his willing and doing; and, as time goes on, one of the first temptations of the boy is to bring home to himself the fact of his sovereign arbitrary power, though it be at the price of waywardness, mischievousness, and disobedience. And when his parents, as antagonists of this willfulness, begin to restrain him, and to bring his mind and conduct into shape,, then he has a second series of experiences of cause and effect, and that upon a principle or rule, Thus the notion of causation is one of the first lessons which he learns from experience, that experience limiting it to agents possessed of intelligence and will. It is the notion of power combined with a purpose and an end. Physical phenomena, as such, are without sense; and experience teaches us nothing about physical phenomena as causes. Accordingly, wherever the world is young, the movements and changes of physical nature have been and are spontaneously ascribed by its people to the presence and will of hidden agents, who haunt every part of it, the woods, the mountains and streams, the air and the stars, for good or for evil: just as children again, by beating the ground after falling, imply that what has bruised them has intelligence: - nor is there anything illogical in such a belief.”[4]

The first to thematize the autonomy or freedom of the subject to act on itself is Immanuel Kant. He took Newton’s physics as model; i.e. reality had to be tweaked and acted on to create a new experience for us. That experience is the experience of the self as free and self-determining. Kant is less a subjectivistic idealist than pointing to the self as autonomous and ontological cause of itself and acting according to the ontological dictate of the "categorical imperative." That imperative is a real effervesence from the existential subject, according to David Walsh.
The problematic of this was the loss of the traditional “nature” as the fixed criterion of knowledge once it had become subject to our domination. David Walsh writes that “Human being… is defined by a questioning that is itself a mode of being, never by a nature that has closed the process through an answer.”[5] He then announces the revolution: “In this way we follow the most fundamental shift toward an existential mode of inquiry.”[6]

The large point Kant made from an analogy with science was ethical knowledge. Man has to act in order to know what the good is, and in a word, who he is. Praxis precedes theory. You must know what it does in order to know what it is.

This was a large revolution in the face of the primacy of the theoretical over the practical which read: you have to know what it is in order to know what it does (or should do). But the real problem was that our way of knowing what reality is has been limited to our sensible perception of it. Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu. This has been a good and necessary start. But, what happens if reality transcends what is sensed, like God, freedom, values, the soul, etc? It becomes the bed of Procrustes. If you can’t sense it and measure it quantitatively, it isn’t. And then comes the reductionism and objectification through the imposition of categories (concepts).

Wojtyla on Self-Determination:

a) Love and Responsibility: “Nobody can use a person as a means towards an end, no human being, not even God the Creator. On the part of God, indeed, it is totally out of the question, since, by giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else’s ends. Therefore, if God intends to direct man towards certain goals, he allows him to begin to know those goals, so that he may make them his own and strive towards them independently. In this amongst other things resides the most profound logic of revelation. God allows man to learn His supernatural ends, but the decision to strive towards an end, the choice of course, is left to man’s free will. Gold does not redeem man against his will.”[7]


b) Gaudium et Spes: “Man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.”

c) Modern Prototype of Experiencing Autonomy:

Helen Keller as “Experience” of that Fullness of Being.

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened by soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!…

“I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. (She had earlier destroyed the doll in a fit of temper.) I felt my way to the earth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”

What had happened. Percy does the exegesis that must not be taken as the emergence of abstract thought although the language she uses sounds like it: “I felt… a thrill of returning thought.” He remarked: “if there was a bifurcation in our knowledge of ourselves and our peculiar and most characteristically human activity, with a terra incognita in between concealing the mystery, surely I was straddling it and looking straight down at it. Here in the well-house in Tuscumbia in a small space and a short time, something extremely important and mysterious had happened. Eight year-old Helen made her breakthrough from the good responding animal which behaviorists study so successfully to the strange name-giving and sentence-uttering creature who begins by naming shoes and ships and sealing wax, and later tells jokes, curses, reads the paper,… or becomes a Hegel and composes an entire system of philosophy.”[9]

Elsewhere, he makes it explicit that what Helen has done is not abstract immaterial thought, but exercised subjectivity as person. She performed the activity of “symbolizing” which is consists of symballein “to throw together,” (an experience of causal subjectivity) because the child puts two together, the word and the thing. A triadic model is required. The third element is the “I” who freely throws (ballein) the word at the thing and puts them together (sym).

The great error consists in thinking that the “intellect” puts things together. Only subjects act. Intellects do not act. Percy paraphrasing Peirce says “the child puts the two together, the word and the thing.”
[10] The judgement of the copula “is” is an act of the whole person, the “I.” As an action of a person, it is a free act, not a work of “nature.”

Appositely, Helen’s nurse Anne Sullivan made the observation, “I saw clearly that it was useless to try to teach her language or anything else until she learned to obey me. I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of a child.”

John Paul II: Naming is an act of subjectivity: The first experience of man as subject in Eden was “the original solitude.” John Paul II says: “Man finds himself alone before God mainly to express, through a first self-definition, his own self-knowledge… He is not only essentially and subjectively alone. Solitude also signifies man’s subjectivity, which is constituted through self-knowledge. Man is alone because he is ‘different’ from the visible world, from the world of living beings.”

Secularity: Result of Autonomy of the Human Will of Christ

“Secularity” in Magisterial Teaching

The ultimate meaning of “secularity” is the autonomy that is the freedom of the human will of Christ. His human will is exercised by the divine Person as self-gift (obedience) to the Father. That human will represents His entire humanity. And the Church (and all of us as dimension and characteristic) is the extension of that humanity. As His humanity and human will are “secular,” so are we. That human will is ontologically distinct from the divine Will, yet it is the will of the divine Person. “I --- have come down from heaven ---- not to do my own [human] will, but the Will of Him Who sent Me” (Jn. 6, 38). Jesus Christ as divine Person had to determine His human will and bend it back from all the sins of all men for all time (2 Cor. 5, 21) – the attachment to self over God – to obedience (freedom) to the Father. That human will of Christ is the meaning of “secularity.”

“The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom” (Veritatis Splendor #85).
“Secularity” is presented as “dimension” and “characteristic” in Christifideles laici #15. “Certainly all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension but in different ways. In particular the sharing of the lay faithful has its own manner of realization and function, which, according to the Council, is `properly and particularly’ theirs. Such manner is designated with the expression `secular character’).“In fact the Council, in describing the lay faithful’s situation in the secular world, points to it above all, as the place in which they receive their call from God: `There they are called by God.’ This `place’ is treated and presented in dynamic terms: the lay faithful `live in the world, that is, in every one of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very fabric of their existence is woven.’ They are persons who live an ordinary life in the world: they study, they work, they form relationships as friends, professionals, members of society, cultures, etc. However, the Council considers their condition not simply an external and environmental framework, but as a reality destined to find in Jesus Christ the fullness of its meaning….“The `world’ thus becomes the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfill their Christian vocation because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ…. The lay faithful, in fact, `are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties….” Thus for the lay faithful, to be present and active in the world is not only an anthropological and sociological reality, but in a specific way, a theological and ecclesiological reality as well…“Precisely with this in mind the Synod Fathers said: `The secular character of the lay faithful is not therefore to be defined only in a sociological sense, but most especially in a theological sense. The term secular must be understood in light of the act of God the creator and redeemer, who has handed over the world to women and men, so that they may participate in the work of creation, free from the influence of sin and sanctify themselves in marriage or the celibate life, in a family, in a profession, and in the various activities of society.’”
[12]The Incarnation of the Logos is the paradigm of secularity as “dimension.” The freedom of the Logos, now become Flesh, before the Father is the autonomy of the “world”[13] subsumed into the humanity (the human will) of the Person of Christ. The Body of Christ, the Church in its totality (including the religious) is secular, with the autonomy of the human will of the divine Person of Christ before the Father.But there is also secularity as "characteristic." This means the secular world, its work and friendships, is the very occasion of the giving of the self. John Paul II described it as “the place, the environment, the means, or if you prefer, the tools and language of our response to the caring love of God.”[14]Secularity as characteristic is intrinsic to Christian anthropology, not the result of an extrinsic state. “Secularity… is not added on to our vocation from outside. On the contrary, it receives it fullest meaning from our vocation. Our vocation means that our secular state in life, our ordinary work and our situation in the world, are our only way to sanctification and apostolate.[15] Secularity is something Christian, a Christian way of being and living. In other words, our divine vocation, our spirit – or in broader terms, Christian faith and morality – cannot be judged from the starting-point of a secularity defined a priori. Rather, secularity should be judged and valued – or rather, discovered – from the starting-point of our vocation, and what the Christian faith reveals to us about man, about the world and about our destiny.”[16]

“God (is) defined as freedom in person, because he is the totality of the possession of being.”[17]

[1] J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, Crossroads (1988) 198.
[2] J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, op. cit 198.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 92-93.
[4] John Henry Newman, “Grammar of Assent,” UNDP (1979) 70.
[5] David Walsh, “The Modern Philosophical Revolution – The Luminosity of Existence” Cambridge Univ. Press (2008) 13.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Karol Wojtyla, “Love and Responsibility,” Ignatius (1990) 27.
[8] As in Walker Percy’s The Message in the Bottle, The Noonday Press, Farrar Straus, Giroux (1995) 34-35.
[9] Ibid 35.
[10] Walker Percy, “Signposts in a Strange Land,” Noonday Press (1991) 280
[11] John Paul II TOB DSP (1997) 35.
[12] “Christifideles Laici” #15.
[13] “For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo’s, or Cephas; or the world, or life, or death; or things present, or things to come – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor 3, 22-23
[14] L’Osservatore Romano, N. 17 – 26 April 1995, 3.
[15] St. Josemaria Escriva, Letter, 9 January 1959, 41.
[16] The Prelate of Opus Dei, Letter, 28 November 1995, #20.
[17] J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, Crossroads (1988) 198.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Papal Address to Tribunal of the Roman Rota

"The Truth About Marriage and About Its Intrinsic Juridical Nature"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).-

Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 29 to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.* *

Distinguished Judges, Officials and Collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota,The solemn inauguration of the judiciary activity of your Tribunal offers me again this year the joy of receiving you its distinguished members: Monsignor Dean, who I thank for the noble opening address, the College of Prelate Auditors, the Officials of the Tribunal and the Advocates of the Studio Rotale. I address to all of you my cordial greeting, together with the expression of my appreciation for the important task to which you attend as faithful collaborators of the Pope and of the Holy See.You are expecting the Pope, at the beginning of your working year, to say a word of light and guidance on carrying out your delicate duties. We could dwell upon many topics in this circumstance, but at the distance of 20 years from the Addresses of John Paul II on psychiatry's incapacity in the nullification of matrimony, of 5 February 1987 (Address to the Roman Rota, L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 23 February 1987, p. 6), and of 25 January 1988 (ORE, 15 February 1988, n. 7, p. 7), it seems opportune to ask oneself whether and to what extent these interventions have had an adequate reception in the ecclesiastical tribunals.This is not the moment to draw up the balance sheet, but the fact of a problem that continues to be very real is visible to everyone. In some cases one can, unfortunately, still sense the pressing need of which my venerable Predecessor spoke: that of preserving the ecclesial community "from the scandal of seeing in practice the value of Christian marriage being destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity, in cases of the failure of marriage, on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 9, 5 February 1987, ORE, 23 February 1987, p. 7).

At our meeting today I am intent on recalling the attention of lawyers to the need to treat the cases with the due depth required by the ministry of truth and charity that is proper to the Roman Rota. To the need for a rigorous procedure, in fact, the above mentioned Addresses, on the basis of Christian anthropological principles, furnish the basic criteria, not only for the close examination of psychiatric and psychological evidence, but also for the judicial definition of the causes.In this regard it is opportune to recall again some distinctions that draw the demarcation line above all between "psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development" and "canonical maturity which instead, is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage" (ibid., n. 6, p. 7).

Secondly, the distinction between incapacity and difficulty insofar as "only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love invalidates a marriage" (ibid., n. 7).

Thirdly, the distinction between the canonistic dimension of normality, that is inspired by an integral vision of the human person "also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty", and the clinical dimension that excludes from the concept of it every limitation of maturity and "every form of psychic illness" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 5, 25 January 1988, ORE, 15 February 1988, p. 6).

And lastly, the distinction between the "minimum capacity sufficient for valid consent" and the idealized capacity "of full maturity in relation to happy married life" (ibid., p. 7).I then attest to the involvement of the faculties of the intellect and the will in the formation of matrimonial consent, Pope John Paul II, in the above mentioned Address of 5 February 1987, reaffirmed the principle according to which a true incapacity "is to be considered only when an anomaly of a serious nature is present which, however it may be defined, must substantially vitiate the capacity to understand and/or to consent" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 7, ORE, 23 February 1987, p. 7).In this regard it seems opportune to recall that the Code of Canon Law's norm concerning mental incapacity, and the application thereof, was further enriched and integrated by the recent Instruction "Dignitas connubii" of 25 January 2005. In fact, in order for this incapacity to be recognized, there must be a particular mental anomaly (art. 209 1) that seriously disturbs the use of reason (art. 209 2, n. 1; can. 1095, n. 1), at the time of the celebration of marriage and the use of reason or the critical and elective faculty in regard to grave decisions, particularly in freely choosing a state of life (art. 209 2, n. 2; can. 1095, n. 2) or that puts the contracting party not only under a serious difficulty but even the impossibility of sustaining the actions inherent in the obligations of marriage (art. 209 2, n. 3; can. 1095, n. 3).

However, on this occasion, I would also like to reconsider the theme of the incapacity to contract marriage, of which canon 1095 speaks, in the light of the relationship between human persons and marriage and recalling some fundamental principles that must enlighten lawyers.First of all it is necessary to rediscover the positive capacity that in principle every human person has to marry by virtue of his very nature as man or woman. Indeed, we run the risk of falling into a form of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the cultural situation today, considers marriage as almost impossible. Besides the fact that such a situation is not uniform in the various regions of the world, one cannot confuse the real difficulties confronting many, especially young people who conclude that marital union is normally unthinkable and impracticable with the true incapacity of consent. Rather, reaffirming the innate human capacity for marriage is precisely the starting point for helping couples discover the natural reality of marriage and the importance it has for salvation. What is actually at stake is the truth about marriage and about its intrinsic juridical nature (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Rota, 27 January 2007), which is an indispensable premise if people are to understand and evaluate the capacity required to wed.In this sense the capacity must be associated with the essential significance of marriage, that is "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, n. 48), and, in a particular way, with the essential obligations inherent to it, that must be assumed by the couple (can. 1095, n. 3).This capacity is not measured in relation to a determined level of existential or effective realization of the conjugal union through the fulfillment of the essential obligations, but in relation to the effective will of each one of the partners, who makes possible and operative this realization already at the moment of contracting marriage.The issue of the capacity or incapacity, therefore, has sense in the measure in which it regards the very act of the marriage contract, since the bond put in act by the will of the spouses constitutes the juridical act of a lofty biblical interpretation of "one flesh" (Gn 2: 24; Mk 10: 8; Eph 5: 31; cf. can. 1061 1), whose valid subsistence does not depend on the successive behavior of the couple during their married life.On the other hand, in the reductionist optic that fails to recognize the truth on matrimony, the effective relationship of a true communion of life and love, idealized on a level of pure human well-being, essentially becomes dependent only on accidental factors, and not, instead, on the exercise of human freedom sustained by grace.It is true that this freedom of human nature, "wounded in the natural powers" and "inclined to sin" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 405), is limited and imperfect, but not for this reason does it become inauthentic and insufficient to accomplish that act of self-determination of the parties who form the conjugal pact, that give life to matrimony and to the family founded on it.Obviously some anthropological and "humanistic" currents aimed at self-realization and egocentric self-transcendence idealize human beings and marriage to such an extent that they then deny the mental capacity of many people, basing this on elements that do not correspond to the essential requirements of the conjugal bond.Faced with this concept, canon law experts cannot fail to take into account the healthy realism that my venerable Predecessor indicated (cf. John Paul ii, Address to the Roman Curia, 27 January 1997, n. 4, ORE, n. 6 5 February 1997, p. 3), because the capacity makes reference to a basic minimum so that the couple can give their being as a male or as a female to establish that bond to which the great majority of human beings are called.It follows, in principle, that the causes of nullity through mental incapacity require the judge to employ the services of experts to ascertain the existence of a real incapacity (can. 1680; art. 203 1, DC), that is always an exception to the natural principle of the capacity necessary to understand, decide and accomplish the giving of self upon which the conjugal bond is founded.This is what, venerable members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I wished to set forth on this solemn occasion, that is always a pleasant circumstance for me. In exhorting you to persevere with a lofty Christian conscience in the exercise of your office, whose great importance for the life of the Church emerges also from the things just said. May the Lord accompany you always in your delicate work with the light of his grace, to which the Apostolic Blessing that I impart to each one with deep affection is a pledge.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What To Do?

The Word of God:

“If you obey me wholeheartedly, says the Lord, and carry no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, keeping the Sabbath holy and abstaining from all work on it, then, through the gates of this city, kings who sit upon the throne of David will continue to enter, riding in their chariots or upon their horses, along with their princes, and the men of Judah… This city will remain inhabited forever. To it people will come from the cities of Judah and the neighborhood of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the foothills, from the hill country and the Negeb, to bring holocausts and sacrifices , cereal offering and incense and thank offerings to the house of the Lord.

But if you do not obey me and keep holy the Sabbath, if you carry burdens and come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath, I will set unquenchable fire to its gates which will consume the palaces of Jerusalem.”

TW 301: “I’ll tell you a secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints.
God wants a handful of men ‘of his own’ in every human activity. Then…’pax Christi in regno Christi’ – ‘ the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ.’”

The Actual State of Affairs: A Remarkable Crisis. {2001: World Trade Center; 2008: NIHILISM}

The public square is now dominated by NIHILISM. Truth is not denied; Everything is true. Therefore, nothing is true

Death to the unwanted child +
No discrimination of the sexuality of man and woman.
Massive financial fraud: “The End of the Financial World as We Know It,” Michael Lewis.
Loss of freedom of speech. There is no mainline dissenting media.
Public office is now a transition to power instead of transition to service.

The solution is neither money (2.5 trillion $) nor even virtue. After the 2.5 trillion $ of the people’s money is thrown at the financial world, there is still declining trust. We can become virtuous but not changed in our attitude of seeking self.

Ratzinger (CWR1993): “in the present situation of emptiness, there looms the terrible danger of nihilism, i.e. the denial or absence of all fundamental moral reference for the conduct of social life.”

What to do? “These world crises are crises of saints:” “You are too greedy if God is not enough for you.”

How does one become a saint? One must “hear the word of God and do it” (Lk. 11, 27; Lk 8, 20-21).

The Radical Realism of the Word of God:
“In aeternum, Domine, verbum tuum constitutum est in caelo... firmasti terram, et permanet”. This refers to the solidity of the Word. It is solid, it is the true reality on which we must base our life. Let us remember the words of Jesus who continues the words of this Psalm: “Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. Humanly speaking, the word, my human word, is almost nothing in reality, but a breath. As soon as it is pronounced, it disappears. It seems like nothing. But already the human word has incredible force. It is words that create history, it is words that form thoughts, the thoughts that create the word. It is the word that forms history, reality.Even more, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is he who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life” (Opening Address of the Synod on “The Word of God”(Oct. 7, 2008).

Jesus Christ is the Word of God in Person. Sanctity is becoming Christ as gift of self. Is it possible to become “another Christ?” St. Paul (Gal. 2, 20) and St. Josemaria Escriva: read Rome, December 1970

The means:

Conversion: Savage Sincerity (tell the truth about the self); regular confession (weekly).

Spiritual Direction
: “The spiritual director has to help the person build up and strengthen his unity of life progressively, without allowing any aspect to remain voluntarily outside of his response to God, forming a pocket of selfishness. A grave danger for the Christian is that of becoming spiritually bourgeois, accepting a halfway dedication, placing conditions on one’s availability, seeking compensations, in short, abandoning the love you had at first (Apoc. 2, 4).

“Our Lord always asks for more: more, more, more, St. Josemaria repeated. Sometimes it will only be a small effort, other times, a bigger one; but always a bit more. Therefore, we always have to be demanding, in a refined way, but speaking clearly and without fear, for our Lord calls us to be saints and we cannot be satisfied with less. At each moment the soul should be asked for that which, with God’s grace, it can give. When doing so, we may have to point out that this does not mean that there is a lack of struggle, or that our Lord is not happy with them, but on the contrary, that he wants us closer to himself and is asking more because he is giving us more grace. No one should go to the chat expecting t be congratulated, but to let himself be demanded of.

“We should not forget that, sooner or later, fidelity presents itself as a radical choice which is somehow present all along the way: either to desire completely to fulfill God’s will, or else to seek oneself. This is the ego, either in its spiritual aspect of self-love, egotism, etc., or in its material aspect of sensuality of love of comfort; these aspects are always found united. Ordinarily, this radical alternative does not present itself all of a sudden, but builds up gradually through successive choices, small ones, perhaps, but ever more blatant.

“When a person, with God’s grace, honestly tries to respond affirmatively to the insinuations of the Holy Spirit, or if he changes course, realizing that he has not been completely generous, then he becomes more sensitive to seeing the will of God in everything, and following it. ON the contrary, the negative responses that he has not rectified leave him insensitive to successive calls.”

Small things: “Now every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit, out of a desire to be docile to what God expects of us, even if it’s something almost insignificant in itself, that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us. That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make us capable of one day practicing the commandments that up until then we had not been capable of fulfilling entirely. This could be seen as one application of the promise made by Jesus in the Gospel” ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much.’ One can deduce a fundamental ‘spiritual law’ from it. We will obtain the grace to be faithful in the important things that at present we find impossible by dint of being faithful in the little things within our grasp, especially when those little things are the ones that the Holy Spirit asks of us by calling to our hearts with his inspirations.”[2]

Plan of Life:


The Mass: The Action of Christ Himself in and out of time. "Nuclear fission" that gives you the power to master yourself to do the small deed of the moment in ordinary life.

TW 301: “I’ll tell you a secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints. God wants a handful of men ‘of his own’ in every human activity. Then…’pax Christi in regno Christi’ – ‘the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ.’”

[1] Jeremiah, 17, 24.
[2] “Jacques Philippe, “In the School of the Holy Spirit,” Scepter (2008)20.