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Today Is The Day
Get ready for it.
Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
Or cringe.
Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Under The Weather

Something has invaded my sinuses and has waged an all-out assault in my head all stinkin' day, directly behind my eyeballs. I've tried calling a cease-fire to no avail.

I think I am going to die.

And I get melodramatic when I'm sick.
And I require lots of pity.
Well, maybe just a little...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adopt An Abortionist

It appears that the "Adopt-a-Priestess" Project has begun bearing some fruit - just not in a way I had anticipated. But still good.

British blogger Countercultural Father, who goes by the mysterious pseudonym Ben Travato, left the following comment in my combox today:
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I've launched an 'Adopt and Abortionist' schemve (sic) over at Countercultural Father. Please support!
I checked it out, and here's a part of what Ben wrote:
I have decided to launch a parallel Adopt an Abortionist project. There are many abortionists who have repented, most notably the late Bernard Nathanson. Nobody is beyond the power of God's grace. Therefore we can and must pray for current abortionists.

Unlike the priestesses, we don't have a list of names. I suggest we simply allocate a number, and a country designation.

I will pray for UK#1 - God will know who that is. If you want to join this initiative, drop by the combox and let me know what country you want your abortionist to be in and I will allocate a number.
Most if not all of us constantly pray for an end to abortion, and for the conversion of those involved in the industry. An excellent thing to do - but just like the Priestess Project, focused prayer can be super-effective. I think God desires we 'personalize' our prayer to the greatest extent possible.

So go visit Ben's blog - spike his hits a bit, maybe - and sign up! This is worth supporting.

Local Priest Implements "Light Bulb Replacement Program" To Save Earth

(AoftheAP) Ask any priest or bishop what their primary function is, and most if not all will respond: "To save souls".

Fr Norbert Crombley, pastor of Our Lady of Sustainability, would add "...and planet Earth" at the end. To demonstrate his concern for the environment and the earth, he's launched a light bulb replacement program at his parish, the only one of its kind in America.

Called "We Are The Compact Fluorescent Light Of The World", Fr. Crombley's program asks his parishoners to bring in all their incandescent light bulbs in exchange for vouchers that will be honored at the local hardware store for energy-efficient CFL's.

"God appointed humankind stewards of the planet," Crombley explained, "so we're commanded to fulfill that role to the best of our abilities. I decided to encourage my parishoners to participate in a real and meaningful way."

Throughout the season of Lent, parishoners who bring all their incandescent bulbs to the parish office will receive a voucher for an equivalent wattage CFL. To date, one hundred and thirty-seven parishoners have taken advantage of the program, turning in over five thousand bulbs.

"I considered including an indulgence with the vouchers," Crombley said, "but it turns out I don't have the authority to do that. No one believes in indulgences anyway."

One parishoner, Kimberly Slite-Witt, took full advantage. "As soon as Father announced the program, I went home and took out every bulb and grabbed the extras from my husband's toolroom. A total of 64 bulbs. I think I was the first one."

When asked how the new bulbs are working out, she answered, "Well, some of my kids are complaining of headaches, and my husband's migraines have gotten worse, but since this is Lent, I just tell them to offer it up."

Another parishoner, Ryan Hamm, also took advantage of the program. "I dropped off all my bulbs after the 4:30 Saturday Mass and picked up my vouchers. Only problem was, the local hardware store was closed once Mass finished, and they're not open on Sunday's. So my house was totally dark the rest of the weekend. My wife was none too happy, but I think the sacrifice was worth it."

Fr. Crombley practices what he preaches, as well. He had all the bulbs in the church, the rectory and parish offices replaced. "Well, not all the bulbs," he admitted. "I left the ones in the confessionals, because no one goes in there anyway. Seemed silly to put a $5 light bulb in a room no one uses."

And what about disposal of all the discarded incandescent bulbs?

"The used ones are sent to a recycling center, while the good ones are repackaged and shipped overseas to help the poor," he answered. "So not only are we saving the Earth, we are also being 'light' to other nations. It's a win-win for all involved."

When asked about the apparent contradiction in sending light bulbs that allegedly contribute to climate change to poor nations, Fr. Crombley responded: "I see how you might think that. But really, climate change is only caused in rich, wasteful nations like the United States. It's been scientifically proven by people like Al Gore and Tom Hanks that poor countries suffer from climate change; they don't cause it. Even if they use incandescent bulbs - they're too poor to cause climate change."

Depending on the success of this program, Fr. Crombley intends to launch a "Gas-powered Lawn Mower Exchange" program over Father's Day weekend, whereby participants get their choice between a push mower or a couple of goats.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Afterwards, It All Just Started To Go Downhill...

...alternatively titled "How To Choke Off A Religious Order With Just One Song".

These nuns belonged to the Benedictines of Erie, PA...the order of which Sr Joan Chittister is a member.


Watching/listening to this clip from a 1967 episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" might very well free countless souls from Purgatory. The lag between audio and video adds to the sacrificial nature of your penitential act.

(I posted this for Terry, actually. It's his favorite song.)

s/s Fr. Z

The Monster In My Basement

There's a monster living in my basement. Oh, it doesn't lurk beneath the stairs, or lay crouching behind the furnace, or anything like that. No, it's plugged into the television, and sits innocuously on the rug.

It's the Wii Fit Plus Balance Board.We've had a Wii system for a little over a year now, and this past Christmas, we got the Wii Fit Plus game/interactive exercise program. It comes with a lot of neat features, like calculating BMI, weight, calories burned, goals tracking, etc. It's all figured out just by standing on the Balance Board. You load your personal data into the game - you can create an avatar, called a 'Mii', and customize it so that it resembles yourself somewhat - and the Wii computer tracks the exercises you've done, "high scores" for each activity, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The games and exercises help to improve balance and coordination, and works on strength conditioning too.

But it can be cruel. Oh, so cruel and vindictive and merciless, just like a monster.

For several weeks after Christmas, I used the Wii Fit Plus regularly, about five days a week. I'd turn it on in the morning - 7:30 or so - and exercised for about half an hour. Just enough to get the blood flowing and work up a little sweat. I'd box, do a bit of step aerobics, run an obstacle course, ride a bike around Wii Resort Island, some karate. Virtually, of course - the way a player interacts is through the use of a hand-held controller and by standing on the Balance Board. It's rather inventive.


Inevitably, I strayed from my regular routine. For quite awhile, actually. Yesterday was the first day I used it in over two months. What follows is the conversation between me and

*Turn Wii on*
*Avatar characters appear on the screen, and I select mine.*
Wii: Well, well. If it isn't Ol' Fatty. Where the heck have YOU been?
Me: Around.
Wii: 'Around'? Gone for 70 days, and all you can say is, 'around'?
Me: Has it been that long? Wow, how time flies...
Wii: I bet you've been seeing the Nordictrac on the side, haven't you? HAVEN'T YOU???
Me: What? No, of course not! I...
Wii: Let me guess. Rac-quet-ball?
Me: Once a week. Maybe.
Wii: Men!
Me: Well, the important thing is that I'm back.
Wii: Just shut up and step on the board, will ya?
*I step on the board*
Wii: Uff da! Geez, what'd you do since last time, eat a flock of geese??
Me: Ha ha, very funny.
Wii: If your goal was to lose weight, you seriously failed.
Me: That's why I've come back. I figured I put on a few pounds since last time.
Wii: A few? A FEW?? I feel like I'm on the bottom row of the pyramid here.
Me: Ha ha.
Wii: It's like being a carpet at a sumo convention.
Me: That's, that's great. Now can we just...
Wii: "Hi, I'm Saint Margaret Clitherow. What's your name?"
Me: Okay, you've made your point. I'm sorry! Let's just forget about the past and get on with the...
Wii: I'd love to forget about the past, but I'm a COMPUTER!!! I CAN'T FORGET THAT YOU ABANDONED ME FOR 70 DAYS!!!!
Me: I can't change that.
Wii: I am so going to get you.
Me: Listen, I only have about 15 minutes to...
Wii: Oh that's nice. Real nice. Pulls me out from under the coffee table, turns me on, and then says he only has 15 minutes for me. What am I, just a piece of meat to you???
Me: No, that's not what I meant...
Wii: DON'T MESS WITH ME, BUSTER!! You just can't waltz back into my life and pretend that nothing's happened!!!
Me: C'mon, let's just get on with some exercises,okay?
Wii: Fine. Whatever.
Me: I'll make it up to you. Somehow.
Wii: Oh, I know you will. You're about to get all "Westboro Baptist Church" in a minute.
Me: Wha--?
Wii: There'll be a lot of loud protesting, but no one'

It was the toughest 15 minutes of my life.

Moral of the story: Hell hath no fury of an electronic device scorned.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Easter Bunny Is A Gay Enviro-nut

Who knew?

Richard Simmons in a bunny suit? Buster from that PBS kids' show Arthur? Just don't try and tell me you didn't think "gay rabbit" when you saw the picture.

From Weasel Zippers:
The White House announced Monday that this year’s Easter Egg Roll will be “more environmentally friendly,” including eggs made with wood certified by an environmental activist organization and packaging “to minimize waste and environmental impact.”

The press release issued by the White House states that the eggs will be produced in the United States from hardwood “certified” by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit organization with a presence in 50 countries and a mission “to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.”

The “greener” packaging for the eggs – available in purple, pink, green and yellow – is made from paperboard certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The paperboard “uses no wood fibers from controversial sources” and the printed carton the egg comes in can be recycled. The packaging is also decorated with vegetable oil-based inks and water-based coatings.

Green eggs and scam.

BTW - "Earth Day" lands on Good Friday this year, April 22. Any Catholic who attempts to connect the two events - such as a priest during Good Friday services, for instance - ought to be ex-communicated on the grounds of being an idiot.

Guess which one I will not be celebrating that day.

Humor Fallout

There's nothing humorous about the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. The scope of damage and long-term effects are unfathomable. The sacrifices and attempts by the "Fukushima Fifty" to contain a potential nuclear catastrophe are nothing short of heroic.

But there comes a point, I think, when one's efforts to refrain from appearing offensive come across as being, well, offensive.

Case in point: Japan Nuclear Meltdown: The Simpsons Episodes Banned in Germany, Switzerland and Austria from the Daily Mail Online
Episodes of The Simpsons which feature jokes about nuclear meltdowns have been banned in a number of countries - as a reaction to the disaster currently unfolding in Japan.

German channel Pro7 was the first to act, vowing to screen footage from the popular cartoon series to make sure episodes which make light of nuclear crises are not aired for the time being.

Austria's ORF and Switzerland's SF networks have also done the same.

ORF has used the most extreme censorship so far, banning a total of eight episodes until a review at the end of April, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

An episode which features scientists Marie and Pierre Curie dying of radiation poisoning and another which has jokes about a nuclear meltdown are among those that have been cut.

I guess those countries won't be showing The China Syndrome any time soon...

Now, say what you will about The Simpsons and whether it's good or bad, funny or not funny - that's not the point here. The point is that the governments of those nations have decided for its populations that these particular episodes are ban-worthy because of the on-going crisis in Japan. This is a cartoon we're talking about - there's nothing about the show that could be mistaken for reality. Seems a bit overkill, IMHO. Kinda like how residents of Finland rushed to buy potassium iodine pills soon after the crisis started. If that's not an over-reaction, I don't know what is.

Granted, I don't have a dog in this fight, because I live in the US, and for now, the only episodes or shows that get held off the air in this country are those that even mention Mohammed or Islam. Which says something right there in and of itself.

Last time I checked, though, every television has either an 'off' button, or comes with a remote that allows you to change the channel. In fact, they all pretty much have both features. However, the governments of those countries prefer to have control of both. Today it's a few episodes of The Simpsons. Tomorrow? I guess you just have to stay tuned.

Sure would be nice if shows with jokes or stereotypes about the Church sex-abuse crisis were banned as well, wouldn't it? You know, for sensitivity's sake and all that, because there's nothing funny about children being abused. I guess some tragedies deserve to be deliberately exploited for the sake of a few laughs, while others must be shielded with the strength of a reactor's containment facility.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Various And Sundry Sunday

Seems like that it's not just lib Catholycs who misrepresent the Vatican - allegedly, the US government does it too.

Bishop Aquila of Fargo, ND: "Bishops and priests, as an act of loving obedience to Christ, must return to a full exercise of the governing authority of Christ witnessed in the Gospel. If we do not exercise that authority, are hesitant to exercise it, or doubt it, then it only leads to the "father of lies" taking hold of the minds and hearts of the faithful, and their continuing to act in the ways of man and not the ways of God." - from his speech given on March 18 at a symposium for priests and seminarians. Read the whole thing - this is the kind of bishop the Church needs more of.

Did you celebrate Earth Hour last night? We did - turned on lights, had a couple computers running, did laundry. How about you?

Speaking of global warming enviro-nuts, Tim Flannery takes the cake: “If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years.” How much you wanna bet temps won't drop if we don't cut emissions, either.

Gasp! A biblical scholar claims that some NT books were written by people claiming to be apostles! Oh noes!!!!! That's lying!!...Actually, dude, it's not that big of a deal. The Church has kinda known that for a long, long time. It does not change the fact that the Bible is the inspired word of God, although the "scholar" seems to imply that. And if you were to guess that he's a liberal weenie, you'd be right.

LA Archdiocese director of a gay/lesbian outreach ministry says to Catholic gays: "God made you this way". Umm, that's not what the Church teaches, dude.

Did you know that Procrastination Day was put off till the next day? Are you surprised?

Looks like another successful Ninja Conference.

It must be is in the air.

And for you Tolkien fans out there: The Hobbit started filming last week in New Zealand. Part One is projected to air in December 2012. Hopefully before the 21st.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Third Blogaversary

Today marks three years of Acts of the Apostasy. Totally potty-trained and mostly speaking in complete sentences. Still can't dress myself all that well, but I'm getting there!

Thanks to all my readers and followers and fans - I do this for you. Well, actually, I kinda do it for myself, but I keep all the swear words and scandalous pictures off the blog for you.

Last year I asked wallflowers and lurkers to leave a 'hello!' in the combox - you're welcome to do that again if you want - but this year I'm requesting something a little different.

Which feature(s) at AoftheA do you like the most? Over the course of 3 years, I've run recurring 'series' - some have been discontinued, others come and go at varying intervals, and a few make regular appearances. Which are your faves? Which would you like to see more of?

Here are a few of those features -

Various and Sundry Sundays
The Progressive Bible
Caption Contests
Sister Patricia On...
Modern Fables
Progressive Saint Compendium
Nursery Rhymes For A Post-Christian World
Progressive Parables

On to year four!! Thanks for making this blog enjoyable to write.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Study: Going To Church Makes You A Fatty

A recent study has found that those who regularly attend Church services are more likely to become obese.

Surprisingly (or not, actually), the researchers are relatively clueless as to why there's a connection.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Warning: Spending too much time at church may be harmful to your health.

A new study has found that young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age compared with those who don’t take part in any religious events.

“We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity, but the upshot of these findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention,” said Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity.”

The study tracked 2,433 young men and women for 18 years in Chicago, Minneapolis, Birmingham, Ala., and Oakland, Calif.

In the study, “frequent” religious participation meant attending at least one event per week. Most, but not all of the participants, were Christians — reflecting the dominant religion in the United States, Feinstein said.

Courtney Parker, the catering manager for the 20,000-member Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, said he’s not entirely surprised by the study’s results. Parker suspects there may be a historical connection between over-eating and going to church. In years gone by, so many things were taboo — but not eating, Parker said.

Years ago, “church services ran long,” Parker said. “So the first thing you do is go eat, and then you go to sleep.”

I think we're looking at correlation here rather than causation. When you consider that as of 2009, 63% of Americans were considered obese, but that only 43% of Americans attended weekly Church services, you're bound to have overlap. Then again, at least as far as Catholics are concerned, you've got Lenten Fish Fry's, donuts after Sunday Mass, funeral luncheons, bake sales...hmmm. Maybe there is something to this study after all.

I think a more interesting study would be to see how many Catholic bloggers are fatties. Compare BMI to number of posts per week. Or per day even. I bet my BMI has increased since I started blogging.

All of a sudden, I'm very concerned for Fr. Z and the Archbold brothers.

Perhaps us Catholic bloggers ought to invest in some work-out equipment that will allow the freedom to blog, while at the same time, get in significant exercise time. Like the Recombinant Lifecycle Laptop with 4G Wi-Fi Internet Access.

Lose weight while gaining hits. A win-win!

And if that doesn't appeal to you, there's always Pole-dancing for Jesus!

My Latest TAC Post... which I tackle one of the most pressing issues of our time: which Original Series Dr Who episodes are your most and least favorite?

And remember: April 23, 2o11....Season Six....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rebranding The ACC

I receive the monthly e-newsletter from the folks at the American Catholic Council - strictly for research purposes - and I've noticed a trend the last several months.

The most recent e-newsletter, from earlier this month, announced that the deadline to register for "Early Bird" discounts on admission to their June Council is April 10th. This is the "final deadline". Now, that's not news in and of itself. But when you consider how many "final deadlines" they've had the last nine months... Since July of 2010, the deadline has been continually extended. First it was late August. Then October. It got pushed out the following month. And still again. Each newsletter had a new "Final Deadline!" date for the "Early Bird" special.

Which means only one thing...well, two things. One, if they can't agree on and hold to a "final deadline", how will they ever agree to and hold on to their Newest And Bestest Ideas For WeAreChurch EVAH! And two, it means they're not getting the numbers of registrants they had been hoping for. All together now: Awwwwww!

As of early March, they've had over 700 early registrants. The ACC's been pushing this council for more than two years, and they only have 700+ committed ditherers (is that an oxymoron?) ready to descend into Detroit?

Sad and pathetic. And it could have been avoided.

It's all due to poor marketing and branding. Where's the pizazz? The excitement? Think about it: does the following statement, taken from the ACC's most recent e-newsletter, actually mean anything? "As we seek to reform the Church that we love, let us pray our motives be pure, our actions be loving, our spirits be free, and our voice be faithful." I don't know about you, but I was yawning by the word "seek". Doesn't light a fire in the belly, now, does it?

It might be too late now, but the ACC should have hired a PR firm, or sought the advice of someone with the slightest notion of how to sell an event. Fortunately for them, the Marketing and Sales Division of AoftheA is willing to provide their services gratis.

It's time to think big. Be bold. Push the envelope and all that jazz.

I say - they should have named their event the same way the Pentagon names their military operations. Yeah, "Operation Odyssey Dawn" - the current whatever-it-is going on in Libya - is a dud, but most of the mission titles have been epic. Names like Operation Eagle Claw; Praying Mantis; Noble Eagle; Desert Strike (all selected from this list). They evoke action, strength and resolve. They say something about the US military and their character - and that's what the ACC needs in order to jump-start their lackluster upcoming conference.

So here are a few suggestions, free of charge, from the Marketing and Sales Division of AoftheA:
Operation Storm Canes
Operation Clenching Dentures
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Bitter Reflux
Operation BlueHair
Operation Anyone Bring A Spare O2 Tank
Operation Crash And Burn
Operation Broken Dream
Operation Open Schism
Operation Fading Hope
Operation Last Call
Operation Final Rupture
Operation Scheduled Naptimes
Operation Dam The Tiber
Operation Gray Fog
Operation Now That We're Here, Does Anyone Remember What We Were Gonna Do?
See, with evocative names like those, there would be so many registrants, they'd have to double up on walker rentals and portable labyrinths.

Feel free to include your own suggestions. These folks need all the help they can get.

Blast From The Past

I came across this article written back on October 16, 1968, by Bishop Charles M Helmsing, then-bishop of Kansas City. Fascinating read.
Following is the text of a statement issued by Bishop Charles H. Helmsing of Kansas City - St. Joseph (Mo) Diocese. The statement pertains to the National Catholic Reporter, which is published in the diocese and is an outgrowth of its diocesan newspaper

The Catholic Reporter, formerly the official newspaper of the Kansas City - St. Joseph, was begun by my predecessor under a policy of editorial freedom. That policy of editorial freedom [I] endorsed on my appointment as bishop of Kansas City - St. Joseph. When the National Catholic Reporter was launched, that original policy of editorial freedom was announced as basic to the new publication.

At all times it was presumed that the policy of editorial freedom was none other than that legitimate liberty declared and defended by the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on Religious Liberty, further defined in the conciliar Decree on Communications, and, likewise, defended in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. It could not imply that pseudo-freedom from man's obligations to his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier in vogue under the standard of the 19th century liberalism. It could not imply, as a conciliar declaration on religious liberty clearly states, freedom in the moral order. As Cardinal Koenig pointed out in his recent address to editors, there is a legitimate freedom of opinion to be exercised by the Catholic press so long as it is absolutely loyal to the Church's teachings. If an editor is to merit the name "Catholic," he must remember "to think with the Church."

As long as the Catholic editor carries the name Catholic, he can never forget that he is a teacher of Christ's revelation. What he writes necessarily touches on faith -- that gift of the Holy Spirit which "we carry in earthen vessels" and by which we accept Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, and His revelation.

The Catholic editor must manifest a reverence which must shine through in his attitude and in his every expression. The Gospel is clear on the destructive effects of ridicule, for example, in recounting of the taunts hurled at Simon Peter: "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth," and their effects on him who, once converted, was to confirm his brethren.

As the editors of the National Catholic Reporter know, I have tried as their pastor, responsible for their eternal welfare, and that of those whom they influence, to guide them on a responsible course in harmony with Catholic teachings. When private conferences were of no avail, as is well known, I had to issue a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings on the transmission of human life, and against the Gospel values of sacred virginity and dedicated celibacy as taught by the Church.

NOW, AS a last resort, I am forced as bishop to issue a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith. Within recent months the National Catholic Reporter has expressed itself in belittling the basic truths expressed in the Creed of Pope Paul VI; it has made itself a platform for the airing of heretical views on the Church and its divinely constituted structure, as taught by the First and Second Vatican Councils. Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors.
Finally, it has given lengthy space to a blasphemous and heretical attack on the Vicar of Christ. It is difficult to see how well instructed writers who deliberately deny and ridicule dogmas of our Catholic faith can possibly escape the guilt of the crime defined in Canon 1325 on heresy, and how they can escape the penalties of automatic excommunication entailed thereby.

In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brother bishops, and make known to the priests, religious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication.

As a bishop, a member of the college of bishops, and one in union with the head of the college, Christ's Vicar on earth, I proclaim with my brother bishops that the Church is, indeed, always in need of reform. This reform is a matter of putting on the mind of Christ, as St. Paul declared, through our contemplation of Christ in His teachings and through our loyalty to the teachings of the Church so painstakingly expressed in recent years in the constitutions, decrees and declarations of the Second Vatican Council.

The status of the world when our Lord came was a deplorable one. We are not surprised that the status of man, wounded by original sin, remains deplorable as long as he does not heed the voice of Christ and his authoritative teacher, his Church. Sociological studies, according to modern techniques, can help us appreciate the status quo -- the exact thinking and acting and attitudes of our people. For this we are grateful. But it is a total reversal of our Divine Lord's policy to imagine for a moment that the disclosure of attitudes through such surveys becomes the norm of human conduct or thinking.

Christ and His apostles preached first and foremost penance, metanoia, the change of mind and heart. The Church continues to do so today, but it finds itself increasingly more frustrated in its teaching of the ideals of our Lord by the type of reporting, editorializing and ridicule that have become the week-after-week fare of the National Catholic Reporter.

IN AS MUCH as the National Catholic Reporter does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching. I ask the editors in all honesty to drop the term "Catholic" from their masthead. By retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.

I further ask the editors and the board of directors, for the love of God and their fellow men, to change their misguided and evil policy; for it is evident to me that they have already caused untold harm to the faith and morals not only of our laity, but of too many of our priests and religious.

I make this statement with apostolic freedom as given by our Lord to His followers; I make it conscious of the heavy burden that is mine as a bishop, as one enjoined by the Holy Spirit through the pen of St. Paul: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine; for there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrines; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lust, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and will turn aside rather to fables." (2 Tim. 4:2-4)

[Article Source]

43 years later, and IMHO, we're way overdue for a new letter. I bet the majority of the Distorter's readership have forgotten about this one from Bp. Helmsing, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request

Friend of AoftheA Angela Messenger just blogged that her uncle, who also happens to be her godfather, a resident of the Netherlands, is scheduled to be euthanized this Friday. Yeah - scheduled. Like it's an appointment to have a tooth pulled.

She's asking for prayers, that he be spared this awful fate.

Head over to her blog - let her know you're praying for her, and offer some words of encouragement.

In the meantime, beg God to have mercy on this crazy, mixed up world.

Should We Care Whether Gandhi's In Heaven Or Hell?

On several occasions over the years, I've been asked - by people purporting to be Christian, no less - if I think Gandhi's in Hell. My response has been along the lines of "Why is my opinion of that important to you?" His eternal abode has no bearing on my spiritual life. The person asking isn't interested in my opinion - what they're looking for is affirmation in one of several categories:

1) It's universally accepted that Gandhi was a "good" person, because he advocated non-violent pacifist protests. He lived what he believed. Thus, God must have welcomed him into heaven upon the shedding of his mortal coil because he was so Christ-like, even if he weren't a Christian. He even said he liked and admired Christ, in spite of all the un-Christlike Christians he knew.

2) Related to #1 - God wouldn't condemn a good and holy person to Hell, would He? That just seems so unfair. How could an all-loving God do that to a good and holy person?

3) Perhaps subconsciously, some - or maybe most - folks are hoping that if they are Christian just enough without having to go all in with God, they can still make it to heaven. They cite Gandhi as an example, assuaging themselves that there's a bare minimum requirement to reaching heaven, and hey! you don't even really need to be Christian, either!

4) There really isn't a Hell, after all.

The state of Gandhi's soul has recently showed up in the news - reported briefly here at the NCDistorter - in reaction to the publication of a book by Rob Bell, a pastor of a rock-n-roll Bible School church out of Grand Rapids, MI. The book, "Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,", 'describes as "misguided and toxic" the dogma that "a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.”' [Source]

The book spawned a ridiculous piece at the Washington Post, in the "On Faith" section, over the weekend. Sally Quinn posits the following question:
"With his new book, “Love Wins,” Pastor Rob Bell has stirred an enormous debate in Christian circles on heaven, hell and the nature of God. Bell’s thesis is that God wouldn’t allow only evangelicals into heaven and condemn everyone else to eternal hell. “’Will only a few select people make it to heaven? ... And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?’” Bell asks provocatively in a video previewing the book. Bell’s critics have accused him of leading Christians astray, calling the minister a universalist and a heretic. In this life (and, perhaps, the next) why does what we think about the afterlife matter?"
The question is then taken up by a panel of folks - one secularist, two rabbis, a professor from the Chicago Theological Seminary, a UCC minister, a non-denominational Christian-type guy, and a lawyer/activist. No priest, no bishop, no Catholic theologian. No blogger either! I know! In other words, no one who can answer the question seriously, by relying on authentic Christian teaching and Catholic understanding.

It's the secularist who mentions Gandhi again:
I can understand why self-interest might have led someone like Saint Cyprian of Carthage to say, “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” It is difficult, though, to believe a claim that a loving and all-powerful god would condemn Mahatma Gandhi to an eternity of torture while the Catholic Adolph Hitler has an eternity of bliss as he looks down at Jews suffering in hell.
This guy just canonized Hitler. Wow. Can't get more outside mainstream than that.

Interestingly, it's the lawyer/activist dude who gets closest. After quoting some pertinent Scriptural passages, he says:
Each one of us is a flawed human being and it would be foolish for any one person to claim that they alone comprehend the full extent of God’s grace. (emphasis mine)
What these opinions lead to is the mistaken notion of Universal Salvation. Everyone makes it to heaven. Since God is all-loving, He is also all-forgiving - so in the end, God will forgive everyone's sins, and even those who are in Hell right now, well, they've suffered enough. Their time-out will end on the Last Day, and everyone will enjoy eternal bliss.

Yeah, right. Wishful thinking.

Such belief contradicts Christ's words - for instance, Matthew 25 talks of sheep and goats, a judgment between the righteous and the damned - and furthermore, unravels the doctrine of Christ's atoning death. If He didn't die in expiation for our sins, sins that condemn us to Hell, then why did He die in the first place? Heck, why did God send His only Son if no one is in danger of eternal damnation?

If everyon
e goes to heaven...why evangelize? Why write a book about it (now there's an interesting question)? Why spread the Good News? Why prevent an abortion - all we're doing is delaying for some 70-odd years that unborn soul's destiny with God, right? Why not euthanize? Let the Japanese suffer and die as a result of their recent calamities - they'll be in Heaven soon, away from all their troubles. Maybe the other 75% of Catholics are right - why go to Church every Sunday? What difference will any of it make - we're all headed to paradise anyway, right?

Crazy talk.

That's not to say I accept Bell's premise - that only a select handful will enjoy heaven while billions upon billions will suffer eternal torment. That may or may not be true - doesn't matter, really. I know I don't want to go there, nor do I want anyone else to go there either. In the book of Revelation, John says he had a vision of countless saints before the throne of God. Doesn't sound like "a select handful'' to me.

But the truth is - people will end up in Hell. And this business of God sending people to Hell...let's stop that rubbish, okay? When people say that, what they're really saying is that they wouldn't send people to Hell - they would make exceptions, in order to be perceived as nice and all. But since none of us are omniscient and perfect, we can't grasp how just one unrepentant mortal sin is completely irreconcilable with the complete perfect goodness that is God. It's impossible for us to comprehend that. Thus, if it's incomprehensible, many decide to think of it in human terms rather than divine ones. And screw it all up in the process.

It's true, as Scripture says, that God wills the destruction of no man. But the folks who end up in Hell chose that for themselves - they have cut themselves off from God; they've chosen to love themselves above all others, including God. God will not force anyone into paradise.

Incidentally, what the folks who say "God sends people to Hell" tend to forget, is that there is someone who wants people to go to Hell. Satan. And he'll trick and cajole and fool and lie to every single one of us to prevent us from choosing God and His will. God respects our free will, while the devil seeks to exploit it. If you read the responses at the "On Faith" site, you'll notice that none of them mention a belief in the devil. Which makes sense - no Hell means no Satan.

Frankly, while I do believe that there are non-Catholics in heaven (and I don't just mean ancient Israelites like David, Moses, etc), I have no idea how they got there. The means of salvation are the sacraments, which are present only in the Church. Through the sacraments we receive sanctifying grace, which is necessary for salvation. The teaching of invincible ignorance notwithstanding, I don't know how else they would make it to heaven. God is not bound by the sacraments, I know - and all who end up in heaven were ultimately saved by Christ. Which alludes to what the lawyer/activist said - we can't comprehend the full extent of God's grace. The means of salvation outside the Church are a mystery known only to God, reliant on his freely given love and mercy. That doesn't excuse us, though, from fulfilling our mission of spreading the Gospel - the whole Gospel, including the uncomfortable bits about hell, damnation and loss of communion with God. We're bound to live our lives according to what has been revealed by God, and taught by the Church. And the Church has never taught Universal Salvation.

The problem with Universal Salvation, along with being wrong, is that it encourages people to be mediocre. To be merely good, rather than strive for holiness. To seek the widest narrow road possible. A priest I know said that merely natural means - ie, being "good" - are insufficient to reach a supernatural end. Thus the need for the sacraments, which provide those supernatural means.

The Universal Salvation mindset is pernicious. It's the bastard child between "I'm okay, you're okay" and "Stop judging me". But none of us are okay - we're all sinners in need of salvation. As to the judging bit - if you're heading towards the edge of the cliff, should I not warn you? If you're abusing alcohol or beating your kids or cheating on your spouse or shacking up with someone or engaging in homosexual behavior, should I just shut up so as to not appear judgmental? "Loving my neighbor" ultimately means nothing, if I'm forbidden from charitably pointing out behaviors and faults that will separate you from God and cause a loss of sanctifying grace. Not only that, I'd be guilty of breaking Christ's commandment - is that really what you want me to do?

I understand the allure of hoping there is no Hell. I sympathize with those who wish for a Final Affirmation rather than a Final Judgment. But all the wishing and hoping in the world will not make the Truth go away. When we die, when our souls meet our Creator, we will either hear "Welcome, my good and faithful servant", or "Depart from me, you accursed".

Gandhi heard either one or the other - but all that matters to me is which statement I hear when my turn comes. Gandhi made his choice a long time ago. What matters now is, what's mine?

What's yours?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 25 Alternative Libya Mission Names

Operation Odyssey Dawn, launched against Colonel Gaddafi, commenced over the weekend. I'm not sold on the mission name (or the mission either, but that's a whole different issue).

And then I read this at Doug Ross' blog, and it's too funny not to share: Top 25 #ObamaMissionNames
Well, the real name -- supposedly -- was "Operation Odyssey Dawn". So the big hash-tag tonight last night listed some alternatives. My favorites?

25. @_EternalRuler_ Operation "bitter Libyan clingers".
24. @irishspy Operation Enduring Narcissism
23. @NotChrisRock Operation Brazilian Wax
22. @Hanif_Ali Operation so that's what the red button does
21. @OMFGitzDLAU Operation, STOP! Hammer Time.
20. @breeannehowe Operation France Backed Me Into A Corner
19. @directorblue Operation Enduring Urkel
18. @TheWardini Operation tear down this tent
17. @dancurry Operation Bracketus Interruptus
16. @krmullins1964 Operation Beer Summit!
15. @AmishFlyers66 Operation Nine Months In The Senate Didn't Prepare Me For This Sh**
14. @krmullins1964 Operation One Term President!
13. @directorblue Operation Waffle Ditherer
12. @jwehrle Operation Back Nine
11. @voltnation Operation Chevy Volt
10. @iowahawkblog Operation Unlike Bush Wars This One Is Justified Because Hey Look A Squirrel
9. @directorblue Operation Panty-Waist
8. @iowahawkblog Operation Summer's Eve
7. @MDMRN Operation Organizing for Libya
6. @xKidAndroidx Operation Call of Duty
5. @libertys56 Operation Nobel Peace Prize
4. @sgo2267 Operation If Michael Moore Calls Tell Him I'm Not In
3. @TRMirCat Operation FINE! I'll do something
2. @_EternalRuler_ Operation "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"
1. @timharder Operation Double Standard

Bonus #ObamaMissionNames:

5. @JimmyJames38: Operation Husky Kid Body Slamming Flea Sized Bully
4. @IowaHawkBlog: Operation Cognitive Dissonance
3. @The_Gnu_JGH: Operation My Own Private Kosovo
2. @djsmuzz: Operation Aimless Fury
1. @ToddRoberts1962: Operation Start without Me
0. @directorblue: Operation Merciless Unicorn

"Merciless Unicorn"! LOL!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Various And Sundry Sunday - Super Late Edition

Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they don't monitor students’ chat and Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be bullying. Boy, and it wasn't all that long ago that libs complained about the Patriot Act. Who knew that high school bullies are way more dangerous than jihad terrorists? In reality, it's the Washington special-interest groups you have to keep your eye on, as they're the ones determining what constitutes hurtful words and ideas.

A popular meme among Catholycs is that Pope Paul VI ignored the majority of the papal commission members on artificial contraception and issued Humanae Vitae. Eh, mebbe not so much...

More evidence that if Internet users were allowed to marry, on-line pedophile rings would never happen.

I'm hoping that someone other than the USCatholic tackles the question of whether the conflict in Libya meets the criteria for the Just War Theory, and soon. If the Holy Father states that this is an unjust action, I'm betting Obama's Catholyc supporters look the other way.

A Bennington, VT neighborhood is being assaulted by a hideous monster, and the residents are living in fear! Oh the humanity!

The world's deepest garbage can.

Fight of the Living Dead - important info to have.

Another word game...and it's an addictive one.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Accused: Fr Corapi On Administrative Leave

Ay yi yi.

Here's the full text of Fr. Corapi's statement, taken from his website:
A Call For Prayer -
On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed “credible” in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church’s procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that, but it seems, once again, that they now don’t have to deem the complaint to be credible or not, and it is being applied broadly to respond to all complaints. I have been placed on "administrative leave" as the result of this.
I’ll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty “just in case”, then through the process determining if he is innocent. The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.
All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.
"...pray for all concerned." You got it, Father.

s/s The Oratre Fratres

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Sort Of Gay Adoption I Can Support

From Gay Couple Takes Adopted Doll Around the World
The urge to baby something is innate in many humans. So is the urge to get dolled up.

For 20 years, a gay couple from New York has done both with the help of "Digby," a doll they purchased from a Paris flea market on a cold spring weekend.

According to The, Mark Kirby and A.J. Sapolnick decided to "adopt" Digby for the same reason other couples decide to have kids or adopt children.

"Our intention was to create a family," Kirby said. "And Digby was going to be part of our family."

Kirby and Sapolnick had been together for six years before Digby joined them, and since the "blessed event," the trio have been inseparable.

His parents take him to Central Park to ride the carousel, they threw a bar mitzvah for him when he turned 13, and he's traveled with them to exotic locations like Mumbai, Venice, Egypt and even Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where news of his imminent arrival had already been relayed.

"When we got to the hotel, the lounge singer was expecting him," Kirby said, laughing.

Reactions in America aren't always as positive. Some of the couple's friends accuse them of playing with dolls and won't include him on invitations for holiday parties.

Because Digby is not human, he has no chance of inheriting anything from his parents when they die. However, Sapolnick's niece, Mia Perovetz, 29, has agreed to take him into her home when that happens.

But you know what? At least a real child is not being harmed as a result of not having both a father and a mother. So I'm all for this sort of gay adoption.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Feast Of "Saint" Patrick

With all the resources available on-line to get even the most rudimentary facts on St. Patrick correct, it's frustrating to see a journalist get so much so incredibly wrong.

From Irish Central: (by Patrick Roberts)
St Patrick was never canonized a saint by the Catholic Church.

The sad news is that St.Patrick never got the official title.

While millions around the world will
celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17th, the sad fact is that Patrick has never been canonized by the Catholic Church and is a saint in name only.

As writer Ken Concannon stated: "There was no formal canonization process in the Church
during its first millennium. In the early years of the Church the title saint was bestowed first upon martyrs, and then upon individuals recognized by tradition as being exceptionally holy during their lifetimes.

“Consequently these Irish saints, including St. Patrick, were never actually formally canonized -- save one. The exception was Fergal, also known as St. Virgil of Salzburg, an 8th century missionary scholar who was officially canonized in 1233 by Pope Gregory IX. Virgil is one of only four Irish saints to be canonized by Rome.

“There was no formal process for canonization in place when Patrick died. He was proclaimed a saint by popular acclaim, probably with the approval of a bishop. The official process for canonization did not come until about the 12th century."
In case you missed the five times it was mentioned, you ought to know that St. Patrick was never formally canonized by Rome. And it's sad news. This goes to show that many people have no interest in actually understanding things about the Church. They look at the saints as having been elected to a Hall of Fame or something, and can't fathom that the saints aren't dead people we venerate, but living members of the Body of Christ. They can't understand that Rome recognized the authority of the bishop in this matter prior to standardizing the canonization process.
Patrick was actually the grandson of a priest back when marriage for clerics was not frowned on.
Holy carp! Priests used to be married!! And it was okay!!!! Stop the freakin' presses!!
His genius was bringing together the old pagan traditions and the new religion together in harmony in Ireland in the 5th century.
His "genius"? What is that supposed to mean? He harmonized "old pagan traditions" and the "new religion"? Excuse me??? St. Patrick evangelized Ireland and nearly single-handedly converted the nation to Catholicism. And what is this "harmony" garbage, anyway? An attempt to make modern pagans feel good about themselves? Pure syncretism and abject ignorance of Church history. This stupid article is evidence as to why the faith is struggling in Ireland.
Patrick was the first major figure to reject slavery and for that alone he deserves proper canonization.
In everything I've read on St. Patrick, I've never seen anything where he rejected slavery. I'm sure he did - but to say that that is the main reason why he deserves "proper" canonization is preposterous. Men and women don't become saints because they take a stand on social issues - it's because their lives were filled with sanctity, heroic virtue, and they served Jesus Christ and His Church, sometimes as martyrs. It's painfully obvious this journalist has no clue about what he's writing - either that, or he wrote this after gulping down too many green beers.
Now there is a Facebook page dedicated to having him properly canonized.
Heaven help us! If Rome won't officially canonize St. Patrick, then Facebook will!

Oh - and Mr. Roberts, should you happen to read this - you might want to mention that your "article" originally appeared in the Irish Central back on January 30, 2011, written by Dara Kelly. I'm pretty sure St. Patrick would frown upon plagiarism, something I'm sure makes him deserving of canonization as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Latest TAC* Post... which I submit a modest proposal to fix the Social Security insolvency crisis, which also happens to promote "green" energy. See, I do care about the environment!

*TAC = The American Catholic

National Catholic Reporter: "All Obamacare Needs Is A Face"

No, Michael Sean Winters, what Obamacare needs is a grave - a very deep, dark grave.

From the National Catholic Distorter: Health Care Reform: Still a Hot Potato from 3/14/11
Politico has a great piece today on the fact that the health care reform law enacted last year remains a source of great contention among the electorate.

The Obama Administration has done a very poor job promoting the new law.

They need to put a face on this reform. They need to find a five year old who had been denied coverage for a pre-existing condition but who now has that coverage because of the law. As I have pointed out previously, when America was introduced to Ryan White, the entire debate about AIDS funding changed. The Obama Administration needs to find their Ryan White for this new law. Not five faces. Not policy explanations. Not out-year deficit projections. A Human face.
What a ridiculous opinion. The administration hasn't done a poor job promoting the law - the problem is the law itself. It's a bad law.

That's neither here nor there at present - the law is being challenged in court now, and by the grace of God, may the Supreme Court, when the case finally makes it to their bench, uphold Judge Vinson's ruling of it being unconstitutional.

MSW's piece isn't about any of that, though. He's basically admitting that a logical, objectively reasoned argument cannot be made in support of the law - the only resort is to appeal to the emotions of an easily duped electorate in order to gin up support for this monstrosity. Rather than defend the legislation on its merits, he'd rather stand behind the human shield of a five-year old and sob "But think of the chilllllllldrennnnn!"

Such opinion is not surprising, considering that the publication he writes for employs the same tactics when presenting opinions on Catholic teaching - appeal to emotion, ignore logic, truth and rational thinking.

If anything needs a "face", it's the Distorter. Something that represents its average reader. How about this one? It's a two-fer.


At around noon on March 15, a person from the Phoenix, AZ area stopped by AoftheA for a quick tour. That person was the 250,000th visitor to this crazy place.

All I can say is, wow. And thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The ACC Bill Of Wrongs - Part Two

(This is the second in a series analyzing the American Catholic Council's (ACC) Catholic Bill of Rights & Responsibilities [CBRR], wherein each of the ten delineated 'rights & responsibilities' are discussed. Part One discussed the Preamble; Part Two takes a look at the first 'Right'.)

1. Primacy of Conscience - Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to develop an informed conscience and to act in accord with it.

On its surface, this statement seems innocuous, and to a certain degree, it's correct. As Catholics, we are obligated to follow our conscience. No one can be forced to act against their conscience (one of the reasons the Church doesn't recognize forced baptisms). The problems begin when you start scraping away the surface.

It is telling that this is the first Right in their list. It's as if they're claiming that the Church (i.e., the Hierarchy) refuses to allow anyone to follow their conscience. Which of course is untrue. A cursory reading of the Catechism (paragraphs 1776-1802) disproves that notion.

This first 'right' forms the underpinning of their entire structure - and a little analysis shows that, while it is true that we must listen to our conscience and act in accordance with it, the ACC has omitted and/or distorted aspects of the Primacy of Conscience. Such omissions and distortions contribute to a weakened and insufficient foundation.

The Church, to the best of my knowledge, has never stated that we must develop a merely "informed conscience". A vague descriptor as 'informed' begs the questions: Informed by what, and by whom?

Paragraph 1783 of the CCC, in part, explains: "Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator." I think the key words in that passage are "moral judgment", "well-formed" (which is by degree greater than informed) and "conformity with the true good". All so very important. And Paragraph 1785 expounds on this formation: "I
n the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. (emphasis mine)

The ACC provides some theological rationale to support the Primacy of Conscience, which can be found here. They quote the Catechism, albeit quite selectively, as well as two passages from Vatican II documents. They admit that the references are "not comprehensive nor exclusive". One would think, though, that their reference ought to be their strongest arguments. With that in mind, it is not what they cite that is troublesome, but in what they fail to cite.

From the catechism, only Paragraphs 1782, 1783, 1784 (which is truncated) and 1790 are referenced. They totally reject paragraph 1785, and omit paragraphs 1791-1794, which complete the section on "Erroneous Judgment", started in paragraph 1790. To be a fully mature Catholic, it would seem that the entire section needs to be considered. And what I find telling in their omission is Paragraph 1792: "
Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct." (emphases mine)

Bottom line for the ACC crowd - they're conflating primacy of conscience with autonomy of conscience. These are not synonymous terms. As St. Thomas once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I am obliged to follow my conscience, but my conscience might be wrong."

There is no room in the ACC's collective hive for the notion that their consciences might be wrong and misguided. A person's sincere belief in following their conscience does not automatically confer rightness in those beliefs. They've convinced themselves that sola conscientia - by conscience alone - will guide them safely along the narrow path to salvation. Now, don't get me wrong - I judge no one's ultimate eternal resting place. But based on observable objective reasoning here, can it really be said that to oppose Church teaching on subjects such as contraception, women's ordination and abortion - which according to the ACC is fine because they're only following their formed consciences - means that they're on the road to heaven? I find that hard, if not impossible, to justify.

And neither does the Holy Father. In his book On Conscience, written when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, he writes:
"It is, of course, undisputed that one must follow a certain conscience, or at least not act against it. But whether the judgment of conscience, or what one takes to be such, is always right - indeed, whether it is infallible - is another question. For if this were the case, it would mean that there is no truth - at least not in moral and religious matters, which is to say, in the areas that constitute the very pillars of our existence."¹


"Liberalism's idea of conscience was, in fact, presupposed here: Conscience does not open the way to the redemptive road to truth - which either does not exist or, if it does, is too demanding. It is the faculty that dispenses with truth. It thereby becomes the justification for subjectivity, which would not like to have itself called into question. Similarly, it becomes the justification for social conformity."²
Social conformity - if you notice, many of the ideas the ACC promulgates reflect ones that our culture has accepted and promotes. In other words, they have adopted the culture's conscience - it is the culture that has primarily informed their conscience - and have thus conformed their beliefs to the prevailing attitudes than try and transform the culture by way of authentic Christian example and evangelization.

More from On Conscience:
"...this conversation became glaringly clear a little later in a dispute among colleagues about the justifying power of the erroneous conscience. Objecting to this thesis, someone countered that if this were so, then the Nazi SS would be justified and we should seek them in heaven, since they carried out all their atrocities with fanatic conviction and complete certainty of conscience. Another colleague responded with utmost assurance that, of course, this was indeed the case: There is no doubting the fact that Hitler and his accomplices, who were deeply convinced of their cause, could not have acted otherwise. Therefore, the objective terribleness of their deeds notwithstanding, they acted morally, subjectively speaking. Since they followed their (albeit mistaken) consciences, one would have to recognize their conduct as moral and, as a result, should not doubt their eternal salvation.

"Since that conversation, I knew with complete certainty that something was wrong with the theory of the justifying power of the subjective conscience - that, in other words, a concept of conscience that leads to such results must be false."³
I didn't provide that quote to equate the ACC with Hitler - honest! But it provides the framework for the idea that says: God is obligated to honor a person who faithfully followed their erroneous conscience, and grant them salvation as a result. No one can be forced to act against their conscience - erroneous or not. But God is not obliged to accept a person's faithful willfulness to be disobedient in good conscience. If that were the case, then why struggle with truth, goodness, sacrifice or morals?

One final quote:
"Some thirty years later, in the terse words of psychologist Albert Görres, I found summarized the perceptions I was trying to articulate. The elaboration of his insights forms the heart of this address. Görres shows that the feeling of guilt, the capacity to recognize guilt, belongs essentially to the spiritual make-up of man. This feeling of guilt disturbs the false calm of conscience and could be called conscience's complaint against my self-satisfied existence. It is as necessary for man as the physical pain that signifies disturbances of normal bodily functioning. Whoever is no longer capable of perceiving guilt is spiritually ill, "a living corpse, a dramatic character's mask," as Görres says."
Guilt is a four letter word to the ACC. It's like sunlight to a troll. This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is never made available at their gatherings, or at Call-to-Action events, because to do so would actually awaken their consciences. There is no room in their theology for personal sin - accept for the sin of not following their conscience. But it is a healthy sense of guilt that gives life to our conscience - ignore or suppress or avoid feelings of guilt, and you starve the conscience. Starve the conscience, and a person is liable to justify any behavior as okee-dokee, and convince themselves and others that what they do is just, right and good.

The ACC may claim "primacy of conscience", but in the end, what they get is "deprivation of conscience".

(Part Three will look at the 2nd right: Community: Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in a faith community and the right to responsible pastoral care.)

1. Ratzinger, On Conscience (2007 Ignatius Press), pg 12
2. ibid, 16
3. ibid, 17
4. ibid, 18

What If...?

"What if..." is a new feature here at Acts of the Apostasy. It's designed to get your grey matter churning and brain cells motoring. I'm not sure how often it will appear here, because it depends on how often my grey matter gets churning and brain cells get motoring. So it could be rather sporadic.

This feature is intended to provide serious reflection on posers, conundrums, enigmas and other such questions. It's not brain-teaser material per se, but basically I'll present questions to which I don't have the answers. Like, "What if I don't remember my wedding anniversary?"; or "What if I do squeeze the toothpaste from the middle?"

I'm just kidding. And neither one of those is the "What if...?" question, so just hang on.

Here's the inaugural "What if..." question, courtesy of one of my 7th grade catechism students.

"What if only Eve had eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but Adam refused? Would there still have been original sin?"

It's one I had never heard asked before, and rather than tell her something that might make me sound dumber than I really am, I told her I'd try and find out. So, I figured, hey, why not run it by my readers, most of whom are terribly brighter and smarter than me? I told my student I'd have an answer for her by next Sunday's class, so you have five days.

p.s. Only I'm allowed to ask "What if...?" Any readers trying to sneak one into the combox will be hunted down by The Posse and subjected to cruel and unusual listening to me sing all the parts of a Wagner opera. Trust me - you don't want that. That is all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Indiana Jones, Celebutard

I'm really disappointed. I've known that Harrison Ford leaned left when it came to environmental issues, and yet I was willing to overlook that character flaw and enjoy his work. Let's face it - he's a darn good actor. And by that I mean I just love the Indiana Jones movies (well, Temple was bad, and Crystal Skull 'nuked the fridge', if you know what I mean). Sure, he was good in lots of other movies too - Star Wars IV-VI; Bladerunner; the Jack Ryan series; Force 10 From Navarone...(just checking to see if you're paying attention!) - but for me, I think of the iconic world-traveling, whip-slinging, jaw-cracking archaeologist whenever his name comes up.

However - I must officially declare that he's a Celebutard (Eco-nut Division), because of the following story from March 10.

From AOL News: Harrison Ford Lends Support to Eco-Friendly Video Game 'Ecotopia'
Video games aren't the greenest activity out there. Often held up as the epitome of sloth, they have a way of sucking power without producing anything, encouraging sedentary activity and drawing us out of our real lives to boot.

Problem is, they're really fun. That's why Talkie, a game designer based in Los Angeles, is making a new social game, akin to Zynga's "FarmVille" or "CityVille," that they hope will encourage their players to get out of their chairs and have a positive impact on their environments. They're just one of scores of designers hoping to harness the addictive power of video games toward social good.

In "Ecotopia," the player takes control of an avatar put into a decrepit world full of environmentally unfriendly infrastructure and obstinate neighbors unwilling to change. But with the slow, careful application of "green actions," like changing light bulbs or installing solar panels, they can change their surroundings into a futuristic, sustainable paradise.

"You're essentially a Johnny Appleseed moving through a decrepit world," Talkie Chairman Larry Bond told AOL News. "And as you go through and interact with the world, you can green it up, and as you do it, you're getting these sustainability points that sort of mirror how sustainability works in the real world."

That's in the game. The developers are hoping that the real power of "Ecotopia" will be a system that rewards players large numbers of points for real-world green actions -- mostly the stuff that the avatar does in the game, but in a real house or community.


The game has some serious real environmental cred, as well. "Ecotopia" has partnered with Conservation International, a large environmental group in Arlington, Va., with projects in dozens of countries. One of Conservation International's more well-known board members, actor Harrison Ford, has been an especially close friend of the project.

"This game represents a refreshing new way to engage millions of people in addressing critical environmental issues and finding solutions that work for the well-being of humanity," Ford said in a press release.
The last thing the "well-being of humanity" needs is a stupid video game.

And don't video games suck up a lot of electricity? Computers aren't all that efficient. And those gaming consoles hooked up to big screen plasma TV's are pretty bad- but I guess if you keep the lights off when you play, that might make it okay.

I highly doubt this game will appeal to the average teenager. I described it a bit to one of my sons, and he rolled his eyes. I asked him if a more fun environmentally-themed game would be one where you had to prevent people from changing your light bulbs, or installing low-flow shower heads, or monitoring the amount of toilet paper you use, and he nodded enthusiastically. Especially if the means of prevention involved guns, grenades and other similar weapons. Come to think of it, I'd play a game like that. NRA vs. EPA. Boo-yah!

So thanks a lot, Ford. You've soured a fan, and now I will never be able to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark in quite the same way ever again...