Friday, August 8, 2014

In 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger admitted Russia has not been consecrated

By Brian Kopp

Despite all the claims to the contrary, Russia has not been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested at Fatima. Cardinal Ratzinger himself admitted this at the press conference in the year 2000 at the Vatican when the "Third Secret" was "revealed."

Here's the video in which Chris Ferrara reads Cardinal Ratzinger's own words regarding the consecration, from the transcript of that news conference, beginning at 48:50 but especially right at 50:00 minutes into the video:

Regarding a question about Fr. Gruner, Cardinal Ratzinger answers the reporter:

"I think that he should conform himself to the magisterium of the Church, recognizing that the Consecration of Russia is done according to the will of the Madonna, and that he should leave it to the Magisterium of the Church to find the right moment."
He was saying in the year 2000 that the Magisterium had not yet found the right moment, that the Consecration of Russia has not yet been done.

Cardinal Ratzinger goes on (in the transcript):

"He could make this proposal [i.e., the Consecration of Russia] but he should also be capable of being sufficiently generous to accept that the Magisterium has her reasons to not do it immediately, but to wait a little, and above all for the maturation of the process [of canonization] of the three shepherds."​

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Despite abortion views, Biden, Pelosi receive communion in Vatican Mass

By Brian Kopp

This is very troubling:

Despite abortion views, Biden, Pelosi receive communion in Vatican Mass
By Dave Boyer
The Washington Times
March 19, 2013

Vice President Joseph R. Biden and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi both received communion during the Mass to celebrate the installation of Pope Francis in spite of their pro-choice position on abortion.

The vice president’s office confirmed Tuesday night that both he and Mrs. Pelosi took communion during the Mass at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Some Catholics argue that politicians whose positions on abortion and contraception conflict with church teachings should not receive communion.

“Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi should certainly not receive Communion, either at the papal installation or anywhere else,” said the Rev. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, a U.S.-based Catholic anti-abortion organization.

He predicted a “public uproar” if they took communion.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pope Francis and his close relationship with the Jewish community

By Brian Kopp

Many commentators have noted Pope Francis' close "ecumenical" relationship with the Jewish community in Argentina, some with praise and others with concern. Regardless, it should be noted that this relationship grew out of the deadly AMIA bombing in 1994:

The AMIA bombing was an attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building. It occurred in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds.[3] It was Argentina's deadliest bombing ever. Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, among the largest in Latin America (see Demographics of Argentina).
Argentina's Jewish population is the largest in Latin America, and the third-largest in the Americas (after that of the United States and Canada). It is the seventh-largest in the world
Given this reality, that the AMIA bombing was the deadliest in Argentina's history and specifically targeted Buenos Aires large Jewish community, it was only natural that Cardinal Bergoglio would reach out to the Jewish community in Christian compassion.

In 2005, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who would later become Pope Francis, was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case. He was one of the signatories on a document called “85 victims, 85 signatures” as part of the bombing’s 11th anniversary.
Given the close ties that developed following this tragedy between Cardinal Bergoglio and the Jewish leadership of Buenos Aires, the ecumenical gestures that have been recorded and prominently featured on a number of Catholic blogs should not be surprising.
March 18, 2013

New pope is an old friend of the Jewish community

Pope Francis I passes a Swiss Guard as he leaves the Paul VI hall after an audience for members of the media, at the Vatican on March 16. Photo by REUTERS/Paul Hanna
Pope Francis I passes a Swiss Guard as he leaves the Paul VI hall after an audience for members of the media, at the Vatican on March 16. Photo by REUTERS/Paul Hanna
Before immigrating to the United States from Argentina, I was invited several times on national public holidays to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires for Catholic Mass celebrated by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. As a gesture of inclusiveness, the group of approximately 25 clergy from various faiths was invited to sit close to the altar.
In listening to the cardinal's sermons, I appreciated the many times when he spoke out against injustice, corruption, social inequality, human trafficking and his commitment to building a better society. As a rabbi who is very involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue, I followed his words with great interest.
Argentinians hold varying opinions about the new pope regarding some controversial issues, but many would agree that during his tenure as head of the Argentina Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio always promoted interfaith dialogue. He enjoys a good relationship with the Jewish community in Argentina and has been the guest of several synagogues, as well as other Jewish organizations.
The election of a new pope is an important event for the Roman Catholic Church. As the largest Christian denomination in the world with an estimated 1.2 billion members, it is relevant for others, too -- particularly for the Jewish people.
After the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, the Catholic and Protestant churches realized that something was wrong with their teachings about Jews and Judaism because the Holocaust did not happen in Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu countries; it happened in Christian countries. Consequently, the churches began to re-evaluate their historically negative position toward Jews and Judaism.
In 1965, during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI promulgated the historic Declaration On The Relations of the Church To Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate. The document laid the foundation on which important declarations, documents and actions were built.
But with the election of a new pope, the question arises in many minds: Will Pope Francis follow in the steps of his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI? I am hopeful he will.
In 2010, Cardinal Bergoglio visited the AMIA, an organization in Buenos Aires dedicated to fostering the well-being and development of Jewish life, helping the poor and unemployed, and supporting Jewish education. The AMIA experienced a devastating terrorist attack in 1994 in which 85 people were killed and hundreds were injured.
During his visit, the cardinal said a prayer in the courtyard in front of a memorial with the names of the 85 fatalities, then placed a wreath at the foot of the memorial. Invited to sign the book of illustrious guests, he wrote -- paraphrasing God's words to Abraham after the test of the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:17) -- "As the sands on the seashore will be your descendants, I thank the Lord that on this day I am allowed to share part of the way with our older brothers."
Bergoglio also said that AMIA is "an example to imitate of work for the common good, a house of solidarity, and a place that evokes in us a history of blood and pain, another link of pain that God's chosen people has been to throughout history."
The cardinal is well known as a humble man who uses public transportation in the city and cooks his own meals. He displayed his modest nature at the end of the visit to the AMIA, when the center's secretary offered to accompany him to his car. When Cardinal Bergoglio replied that he did not have a car, he was told that a cab would be called for him. The cardinal's response was,"No thanks, I will take the subway."
For several years, B'nai B'rith and the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires organized a Jewish-Christian commemoration of Kristallnach, "the Night of Broken Glass" -- the Nazis' state-sanctioned riots against the Jewish community of Germany in November 1938. The commemorations took place at various Catholic churches, including twice at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the last time in November 2012.
The commemoration began with the reading of "From Death to Hope: Liturgical Reflections on the Holocaust,” co-edited by the late Rabbi Leon Klenicki, a native Argentinian who was director of interfaith affairs of the Anti-Defamation League, and Eugene Fisher, associate director and secretary for ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In his speech at the commemoration, the cardinal noted that during World War II, many pretended not to notice what was happening to the Jews. Not only did individuals ignore people in the extermination camps, he said, but entire countries ignored them even though they had the means to help.
As an example, he cited countries that were capable of accessing the extermination camps but did not dare to bomb them. He added, "I apologize for this sin of ignoring our own flesh, which is that of our brothers."
Pope Francis is particularly close to Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary (the rabbinical seminary of the Conservative movement) and senior rabbi of the Benei Tikva synagogue in Buenos Aires. Together they published a book, "On Heaven and Earth," which chronicles hundreds of hours of their conversations about God, fundamentalism, death, women, abortion, education, globalization, the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict, among other topics.
The book, as well as others written by Bergoglio, will likely become best-sellers now. And as a bonus, those who read "On Heaven and Earth" will be introduced to Jewish perspectives and thus will have the opportunity to learn about Judaism.
In the book's introduction, Bergoglio offered his point of view regarding interfaith relationships.
"Dialogue is born of an attitude of respect for another person, and a conviction that the other has something good to say; it assumes to make room in our hearts for his point of view, for his opinions and his suggestions," he wrote. "Dialogue involves a warm welcome, not condemnation. To dialogue, one must lower defenses, open doors and provide human warmth."
Bergoglio described his friendship with the rabbi and their joint preparation of the book, saying, "With Skorka I didn't ever have to compromise my Catholic identity, just as he did not with his Jewish identity. This was not only because of the respect we have for each other, but also because this is what we consider interreligious dialogue."
He added, "I consider Skorka a brother and a friend.”
The two clergy also host a television program for a local Catholic channel in which they discuss topics from the perspectives of each religion. Recently, Argentina Catholic University in Buenos Aires awarded Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate, and the cardinal presented it to him.
Those of us who know Pope Francis are confident that in his new position, he will continue in the steps of his two predecessors, and the dialogue and friendship between Catholics and Jews will continue.
Mordechai Levin is the senior rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, Neb.

Pope Francis' official Coat of Arms

By Brian Kopp

From the Vatican website announcement (via Google translate, bold added):

...Pope Francis has decided to keep his coat front, chosen from his episcopal consecration and characterized by a linear simplicity.
The blue shield is surmounted by symbols of papal dignity, the same as those taken by his predecessor Benedict XVI (miter placed between crossed keys of gold and silver, bound by a red cord). At the top, stands the emblem of the order of origin of the Pope, the Society of Jesus, a radiant sun and flamboyant loaded from the letters in red IHS monogram of Christ. The letter H is surmounted by a cross, at the tip, the three nails in black.
Below, are the star and the flower of nard. The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, while the flower of nard shows St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the iconographic tradition Hispanic, in fact, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fatima Shrine recalls Pope Francis' sponsorship of the Pilgrim Image of the Virgin of Fatima

By Brian Kopp

For the record, here is a Google translation of yesterday's email (in Portuguese) of the Fatima Shrine's announcement regarding Cardinal Bergoglio's 1998 sponsorship of the Pilgrim Image of the Virgin of Fatima: 

From: Press Room | Fatima Shrine  
Date: March 16, 2013 10:42:06 AM PDT 
Subject: Buenos Aires, 1998: Fatima Shrine recalls the reception of Pope Francisco to Image Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima

26/2013, of March 16, 2013 - 17:30
Buenos Aires, 1998 - "Benvinda the house, Mother!"

Fatima Shrine recalls the reception of Pope Francisco to Image Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima

The Shrine of Fatima recalls with joy the host made on 19 April 1998 by D. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, current pope Francisco, the image of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima, this pilgrimage within the image to Argentina.

In the archives of the Department of Studies and Dissemination (SESDI) Fatima Shrine is said that at 16:00 on 19 April 1998, D. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, welcomed the image of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima, coming from the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal.

At April 19, the image coming from the Argentine province of S. Louis bound for the federal capital of Argentina, was expected "at the intersection of the avenues", in Buenos Aires, the current Pope Francisco, who deserved to receive the "White Pilgrim."

Along with D. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and other members of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, the Diocese of Avellaneda and "a large quantity of followers of different ages," was the Bishop of Avellaneda, founder of "Missionary Family of Fatima" and promoter Image of Fatima pilgrimage, D. Ruben H. di Monte.

After the reception, the image of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima went through some streets of Buenos Aires in procession with prayers and songs, to the College of Our Lady of Fatima, where the Eucharist was celebrated, presided over by the current Pope.

The homily of D. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, described in the documentation submitted to the Shrine of Fatima, as "short, meaningful and emotional," focused on the words of welcome "Benvinda home, Mother."

In that homily, which at the end is particularly addressed a prayer to Our Lady, D. Jorge Bergoglio reflected on the figure of Mary as the mother who welcomes and comforts all her children and they know the prayers, wishes and joys.

"So we opened it (Mother Mary) the door of our hearts and our home. We opened the door for him in our city. She knows where it has to go. She must know where to touch, caress it has to give, that wound can heal. She knows the prayer more guarded in our hearts, what we want, sometimes we dare not say it, "he said.

"Dear Mother: Benvinda the house! It teaches us that Jesus is alive, that feel alive among us. It teaches us the language of tenderness. Welcome home, Mother! Look for my family, you know what you need. Look through our neighborhood, you know right where to go. Look into my heart, you know better than me. Welcome home! Teach me that Jesus is alive, that they think he's dead to me. Give me strength, Mom Give me tenderly to help others. Give me peace of heart. Welcome home! "He prayed.

After the celebration the picture was taken at dusk, the church's first sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima in Argentina, where he was from April 19 to May 23.

The Shrine of Fatima in Buenos Aires, according to documentation SESDI, was built in a very poor, originally called "Bajo Flores" currently "Villa Soldati," where he lived "working people and needy to the end".

In 1950, a group of residents of this neighborhood in the capital Buenos Aires acquires an image of Our Lady of Fatima who prays that their homes are spared in the process of expropriation, what would happen. That same year, the Cardinal of Buenos Aires delivers the pastoral care of this zone to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first is the charge of the parish priest Mejido Celso Díaz.

The Cardinal had available after the new parish was venerated image of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal and brought blessed by Cardinal Cherry. The decree of erection of the parish date of July 25, 1950.

The current temple was inaugurated on October 12, 1957, the altar was consecrated a year later and, in 1992, the then Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, D. Antonio Quarracino, declares as sanctuary archdiocesan parish.

This pilgrimage where the image was received by the current Pope Francisco - who sojourned in the First Image of the Virgin Peregrina (No. 1), which is currently enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima in Fatima / Portugal - held between 1998 and 2000, with visits to Argentina and Uruguay.

Leopoldina Simões, Press Room Fatima Shrine

Rectory - Media Centre Apartado * 31 * 2496-908 Fátima (PORTUGAL)
telephone: 249 539 600 / Fax: 249 539 605
email: -
follow us on facebook - / SantuarioFatima

Pope Francis takes over Vatican's top secret dossiers

By Brian Kopp

From Vatican Insider
Fr. Georg has the task of guiding Bergoglio in his journey through the Vatican's secrets
(vatican insider)

A discreet and unexpected presence on the eve of the Papal election, Fr. Georg has been constantly by Francis’ side during his first public appearances: from his visit to Saint Mary Major to pray, to the meeting with journalists in the Paul VI Audience Hall. The role of Archbishop Gänswein at the beginning of this Pontificate goes beyond that of Prefect of the Pontifical Household; indeed, his sentimental involvement is evident and says a lot about his personality. It also brings to mind the words which, a few months ago, he had said regarding his work with Benedict XVI saying that he wanted to be transparent like glass so as not to obscure the Pope in any way.
Ratzinger's closest collaborator was unable to hold the tears back that afternoon on 28 February when together (like father and son) they left the apartment of the third Loggia. When the seals were finally taken off on Thursday afternoon the experience must have been just as an emotional for him: returning there with Francis, who needed his help to push the door which would not open. Once inside, the memories must have come flooding back to him and Fr. Georg was so rapt that at one point the Regent of the Pontifical Household, Fr.Leonardo Sapienza, had to bring him back to reality by telling him to turn the light on.
This said, Gänswein really likes this Pontiff, who is so different from "his", and yesterday, when Francis said that the Holy Spirit inspired Benedict XVI's decision for the good of the Church, Fr. Georg was truly moved. While under the spotlight, Mgr. Georg always accompanies the new Pope in ceremonies and hearings, and then, behind the scenes, he put the knowledge he had accumulated during his 8 years of service to Ratzinger, at his disposal.
Even on issues left pending: the Vatileaks scandal, the return of the Lefebvrists to communion with Rome, the reform of the Curia, the sacred finances. He is the "ferryman" between two pontificates. An entirely new figure in ecclesiastical history, Fr. Georg is the point of contact between the reigning Pope and the Emeritus one. He preserves his function as Ratzinger's Secretary and continues to live with him at Castel Gandolfo, but at the same time he runs the Pontificalis Domus of his successor Bergoglio. Beyond any protocol, he substantially acts as a transmission belt in the difficult starting phase of the pontificate.
"He is performing a very delicate task," explains a head of a dicastery, "Fr. Georg is with Francis not so much because of his current tasks in the Apostolic Palace, but because he is helping in the handover of delicate topics, on Ratzinger's behalf." In short, the presence (and advice) of Mgr. Gaenswein is how Benedict XVI is helping Bergoglio through the meanders of the Roman Curia and is "protecting" him through the slippery transition phase. "It is Fr. Georg who has the Vatileaks dossier to be delivered to Francis", explains the cardinal, referring to the report by the three investigating cardinals Herranz, Tomko, and De Giorgi on the theft of documents from the papal apartment.
Tuesday, Gänswein was Ratzinger's eyes at the moment of the extra omnes; he was one of the last ones to leave the Sistine Chapel when the Conclave got underway. Already on Thursday he was with the newly elected Pope in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and then he was at the mass pro Ecclesia co-celebrated in the chapel frescoed by Michelangelo with the 114 cardinal electors. Friday, in the Clementine Hall, he participated in the cardinals' greeting ceremony, where many of the cardinals delivered letters and gifts for the new Pontiff. Francis entrusted them to Gänswein, who, on his right, acted as the imaginary bridge to the Pope Emeritus repeatedly mentioned by Francis. Fr. Georg was also the protagonist of a curious unscheduled episode: the Polish Nycz, after the act of homage to Bergoglio, did not return directly to his place, but stopped to ask Fr. Georg to bring his greetings to Ratzinger (while Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Wojtyla's successor in Krakow and Georg's predecessor in his Vatican tasks, had not done this). As Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Georg manages the Pontiff’s agenda of commitments, but he also continues to be the right-hand man of his predecessor.
Meanwhile, Fr. Georg is giving Francis good tips on how to move within the Curia environment and on which figures could be considered for possible key positions.


Some traditionalist bloggers seem to want to suggest that Pope Francis' closest friends and confidantes are of the progressive persuasion, but his right hand man at present is allegedly a former SSPX seminarian according to several media reports:
Georg Gänswein, despite his athletic and youthful appearance, is extremely conservative. But he has been careful to tone down his “traditionalist” side. Shortly after the election of Benedict XVI in 2005, all references to the papal secretary’s life prior to his new-found fame disappeared from the internet. Only later did any personal information about him gradually find its way back into the public forum. One reason for this, it appears, is that he initially began his seminary training at the international seminary in Ecône (Switzerland) run by the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), or Lefebvrists. This was finally reported in 2009 by French magazine L’Express and repeated on numerous, mostly Vatican-friendly internet sites. No one at the Vatican has ever officially denied it.

Archbishop Gänswein has been credibly reported to offer the TLM daily, and is personally tasked with schooling Pope Francis on the Vatileaks dossier.


I've received correspondence from NewCatholic at Rorate Caeli to the effect that the claim that Archbishop Gänswein attended the SSPX Econe seminary is a media fabrication.

Archbishop Gänswein’s attendance at the SSPX Seminary in Econe was reported in the media at these links, first in 2009 then in 2012:

Vatican: Les Clefs d'une Crise

Power Behind the Papal Throne

Neither of these reports were contradicted by the Vatican or by the SSPX. The claim is repeated in the Wikipedia file for Archbishop Gänswein and has not been amended.

If anyone can verify or refute this claim, I will gladly amend this post as needed.

An SSPX priest, Fr. Robert Jackson of Syracuse NY, has kindly weighed in:
"I attended Econe for 5 years. To the best of my knowledge your man did not attend Econe at any point."
This post has been amended as per his request.

Pope Francis' first Sunday liturgy maintains Benedictine altar arrangement, communion kneeling and on tongue

By Brian Kopp

Contrary to many fears expressed on traditional blogs and websites, in Pope Francis' initial Sunday mass, the Benedictine altar arrangement first noted under Pope Benedict XVI has been maintained, and communion was solely distributed to those kneeling, and on the tongue. For more details, see this post at the Southern Orders blog.

Home > Audiences & Angelus >  2013-03-17 12:31:49
A+ A- print this page Invia articolo

Pope Francis: Mass at Vatican parish and Angelus

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday in the parish church of Vatican City, dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Our Lady. The choir intoned the Attende, Domine! at the entrance, and the readings were those of the fifth Sunday of Lent: from the prophet, Isaiah; Psalm 126 – the Lord has done great things for us; the Letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Philippians; and a reading from the Gospel according to St John, in which the woman caught in adultery and subject under law to death by stoning, is presented to Jesus for judgment, and he says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast his stone.” “He has come for us,” said Pope Francis in his homily, “when we recognize that we are sinners.” Mercy, in fact, was the key lesson and the Good News proclaimed this Sunday. “Mercy,” said Pope Francis, “is the Lord’s most powerful message.” Listen: RealAudioMP3

Speaking without a prepared text, Pope Francis said, “If we are like the Pharisee before the altar, [who said], ‘Thank you, Lord, for not making me like all the other men, and especially not like that fellow at the door, like that publican…,’ well, then we do not know the heart of the Lord, and we shall not ever have the joy of feeling this mercy.” Pope Francis went on to say, “It is not easy to entrust oneself to the mercy of God, because [His mercy] is an unfathomable abyss – but we must do it!” Pope Francis continued, “He has the ability to forget, [which is] special: He forgets [our sins], He kisses you, He embraces you, and He says to you, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now, on, sin no more.’ Only that counsel does He give you.” Pope Francis concluded, saying, “We ask for the grace of never tiring of asking pardon, for He never tires of pardoning.”

At the end of Mass, after receiving the greetings of the pastor of the parish, Fr. Bruno Silvestrini, OSA, and the Archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica and vicar-general for Vatican City, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Pope Francis thanked the whole parish community, as well as those who had travelled from afar to be in Rome during these days. He made especial mention of Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius, the director of the Liceo Jubilar Juan Pablo II in Uruguay, which educates poor and at-risk children and young people. “I don’t know how he came to be here today,” said Pope Francis. “Pray for him,” he said. Following the Mass, just like a local parish priest, Pope Francis greeted parishioners at the church door, before going briefly to the crowd gathered outside the St Anne’s Gate.

After returning into the church to take off his liturgical vestments, Pope Francis again greeted the faithful outside, before making his way to his study and the window overlooking St Peter’s Square, below which was gathered a crowd 300 thousand-strong, more than rivalling the throng of people who braved cold, rain and dark to meet the Pope on Wednesday – the night of his election - and receive his blessing for the first time. Dozens of national flags were visible in the packed Square, and a deafening cheer went up when, at last, Pope Francis appeared. Mercy was once again the cornerstone of his reflections ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion.

He told a story, of an elderly widow he encountered during a Mass for the sick celebrated in connection with a visit of the image of Our Lady of Fatima. “I went to confession during the Mass,” he said, “and near the end – I had to go to do confirmations afterward, and an elderly lady approached me – humble [she was] so very humble, more than eighty years old. I looked at her, and said, ‘Grandmother,’ – where I come from, we call elderly people grandmother and grandfather – ‘would you like to make your confession?’ ‘Yes,’ she said – and I said, ‘but, if you have not sinned…’ and she said, ‘we all have sinned.’ [I replied], ‘if perhaps He should not forgive [you]?’ and, sure, she replied, ‘The Lord forgives everything.’ I asked, ‘How do you know this for sure, madam?’ and she replied, ‘If the Lord hadn’t forgiven all, then the world wouldn’t [still] be here.’ And, I wanted to ask her, ‘Madam, did you study at the Gregorian (the Pontifical Gregorian University, founded in 1551 by St Ignatius Loyola, the oldest Jesuit university in the world)?’ – because that is wisdom, which the Holy Spirit gives – interior wisdom regarding the mercy of God. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us,” he repeated, “but we sometimes tire of asking Him to forgive us.” Pope Francis went on to say, “Let us never tire of asking God’s forgiveness.” 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis and the Traditional Liturgy

By Brian Kopp


Francis and the Traditional Liturgy

I have received many letters and emails, and even some phone calls, from people who read a sentence in yesterday's email which they found worrisome.
I would like to encourage everyone to stay calm, and give the new Pope a chance.
Here is the sentence that I wrote last night:

"Cardinal Bergoglio is hostile toward the Traditional Mass, but he wrote a beautiful letter sent to the Carmelites of his diocese regarding the grave matter of the legal redefinition of marriage."
Many wrote that they found the sentence itself strange, because the two clauses or concepts don't appear to be linked in any way.
I was simply trying to address two issues which I had come across in my reading, both issues of concern to Catholics: the new Pope's views on the liturgy, and his views on marriage and the family.
In my reading, I had come across reports that suggested that he has not promoted, or favored, or been particularly supportive of, the traditional liturgy, in his diocese in the city of Buenos Aires.

Some of these reports even stated that he has been "hostile" to the old liturgy.
Without knowing the exact details of the situation myself, personally, I nevertheless took these reports seriously, and as reliable enough to report them.
At the same time, I reported the very strong and eloquent content of his letter in defense of the traditional family and marriage.
Here below is one of several sources for my statement regarding Cardinal Bergoglio's attitude toward the old Mass. It says, in Spanish, that the new Pope was a "sworn enemy" of the traditional Mass and that he took action against priests who expressed interest in Summorum Pontificum. I deduced from this that Cardinal Bergoglio has been "hostile" to the old Mass, and wrote that. Here is the quote in Spanish, and the link to the source:
"Enemigo jurado de la misa tradicional, no ha permitido sino parodias en manos de enemigos declarados de la liturgia antigua. Ha perseguido a todo sacerdote que se empeñó en usar sotana, predicar con solidez o que se haya interesado en la Summorum Pontificum."
However, I have since received a large number of other emails containing very different information. Here is one from a respected Catholic philosopher and writer whom I trust a great deal:
Dear Robert,
I read with passionate interest all the reports you sent us since Benedict XVI (to my deep regret) stepped down. I thank you for them; they were remarkably well done, informative and expressing your love for the Church.
But I was deeply grieved today in reading that you write that Francis I is hostile to the Tridentine Mass. This must be a terrible misinformation likely to do a lot of harm to many of your readers.
Archbishop Bergoglio, upon receiving the information that Benedictine XVI (at my repeated requests) had granted a universal indult, designated the Church Michel Angelo as the one place where the traditional Mass would be said. Its pastor, Padre Ricardo Dotro (I might get the name wrong) a well-trained liturgist, was going to say it to those who wished it. It was well-attended; hundred of people with their old missals, even some younger people, ladies wearing Mantillas, and modestly dressed, six candles on the altar, Mass ad orientem, kneeling for communion on the tongue.
I fear you were misinformed. Because the Mass had not been said for 40 years, all the younger priests could not say it. This was well-calculated; if no one can say that mass, that it certain to bury it. But it survived.
I wish you would correct this. Many of your devoted readers will be, like me, deeply grieved, unless you do. In the joy of Habemus papam and thanking you for your great work, I am, dear Robert, yours in caritate Christi.
(end of letter)
So, at this point, I will step back from the entire question to give a judgment regardless of anything that happened in the past, and it is this: in my view, we should have no concerns whatsoever about the continued celebration of the traditional Latin Mass under our new Pope, Francis.
I do not believe Francis will do anything to undermine the freedom Pope Benedict granted to the traditional Latin Mass in 2007.
And, even more, I agree with what one reader writes:
"Unlike Pope Benedict, I would not be at all surprised to see Pope Francis publicly offer a traditional Latin Mass some day. He has a deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, is said to practice the Five First Saturday Devotions, and prays 15 decades of the Rosary each day. I believe that, after he meets with Pope Emeritus Benedict, reads the 300-page dossier on the Vatileaks scandal, and reads the rest of the Third Secret of Fatima, he will be a different man than he was as archbishop, then cardinal, in Argentina."

Pope Francis strikes me as a man who, once he learns something is the Lord’s will, will simply make it his own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catholic Teaching and Healthcare Reform: The Proper Role of Government

By Brian Kopp

The following full page ad is being run in newspapers in Altoona, Johnstown, and Pittsburgh PA by our local pro-life group. Anyone who would like to use this for advertisements in their own market is free to use/reproduce the text of this ad:

In adhering to the doctrine of the Church, Catholics must follow specific moral teaching relative to the life issues (i.e. abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc.), and Catholic social teachings which include the person, society and the role of government etc. (i.e. economic injustice, health care). When moral teachings are distorted, one arrives at false and erroneous conclusions. One such distortion is the Seamless Garment argument which holds that all life issues have equal weight. The argument, while trying to unify a life ethic fails to recognize the preeminence of certain life issues (abortion and euthanasia) over others. The Church teaches that abortion and euthanasia are intrinsically evil act and never justifiable. Abortion and euthanasia are the preeminent life issues. Capital punishment in contrast, although an important life issue is not intrinsically morally evil as is abortion and euthanasia. Some, including many Catholics, have used this distorted argument to justify voting for a pro-abortion candidate (because the candidate is against capital punishment or another lesser life issue).

A true culture of life recognizes the above distinction and values the inviolability of human life, from conception to natural death. 

In the same way, when social teachings are distorted, one could conclude that the Catholic Church obliges governments to provide national health care for its citizens. What the Church has taught is that governments have a duty to ensure their citizens have access to basic healthcare. Their role is to facilitate an environment where access to care is available; quite different than a government-run system. This point was emphasized in a pastoral letter from Kansas City Bishops Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann - Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas and Most Reverend Robert W. Finn - Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph as they quote recent Popes. (August 22, 2009) 

“Right to Acquisition of Health Care”
“The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.” The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services. Rather, the Church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life, while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health.” 

Misguided Compassion 

Many Catholics have a misguided compassion relative to government give away programs. They equate government provisions with charity, and as a means to achieve social justice. Often unseen however is the danger in socialistic programs and welfare states which - although providing for people - have a negative and sometimes unintended consequence of creating dependency and diminishing motivation and enterprise. 

The Kansas City Bishops, referencing Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict in this matter noted:
Pope John Paul II wrote:

“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #48) 

And Pope Benedict writes:

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need... In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est #28) 

The Limits of Government 

The Church has provided safeguards and guidance in this area of Social teaching, especially as it relates to the function of government. They point to basic principles such as the obligation to the common good, Solidarity with our fellowmen and a key principle of Subsidiarity. The Kansas City Bishops emphasize that the Principle of Subsidiarity is fundamental to the work of health care reform, stating:

“This notion that health care ought to be determined at the lowest level rather than at the higher strata of society, has been promoted by the Church as “subsidiarity.” Subsidiarity is that principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives (See: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ## 185ff.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1883). The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care.” 

Case in Point 

The Obama Administration’s recent Health and Human Services Mandate is a precise example of what the Church warned about. The mandate, only a small part of “Obamacare” requires religious health care providers to defy their conscience by offering contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion- inducing drugs. This is an egregious over-reach of the federal government and ignores the aforementioned principles. It’s overly secularized and bureaucratized system which ignores the conscience of individuals and organizations. The mandate drew the ire of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, and many Protestant leaders who have spoken out vehemently against it. 

Put simply, Obamacare mandate erodes our First amendment right to freely exercise our religion. This is no surprise to those aware of President Obama’s anti-life record. 

The President’s Record on Life and Liberty 

President Obama has demonstrated hostility toward life and religious freedom throughout his political career including:
  •   As State Senator, Obama opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which would have provided care and protection for infants born alive after an abortion.
  •   As a candidate, he made derogatory statements such as that of people “clinging to their guns and religion.”
  •   Changing the first amendment language by referring “freedom of religion” as “freedom of worship,” knowing full well how social engineering is
    preceded by verbal engineering.
  •   Under the Obama administration the Army restricted the Catholic Bishop’s letter from being read by chaplains to their men and women... yet
    another first amendment infringement!
  •   Denying Catholic Charities funding for their treatment program of victims of human trafficking because they refused to refer victims for abortions.
  •   Most recently, the U.S. Department of Education quietly changed eligibility requirements for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness
    Program to specifically EXCLUDE people who do any kind of public service work for a religious organization or institution. The list goes on and on... To read more on the President’s record see 

Battling Back: The Legislature and Courts
Last month, an Amendment was introduced in the Senate to give religious employers a conscience exception. Unfortunately, it was defeated 51-48 with nearly every Democrat voting against it!
Many are calling for another amendment, perhaps from the House of Representatives, but nothing yet has emerged. There are numerous lawsuits challenging the mandate, including seven on behalf of various states. 

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in late March which challenge Obamacare as unconstitutional. Experts believe the vote could go either way given the recent liberal appointees. 

The Inevitable Result 

If amendments, lawsuits and Court challenges fail, this will have a grave effect on all institutions.
In his Sunday column in Catholic New World, Catholic Cardinal George wrote that only three options will exist for Catholic institutions to avoid shutting down under the Obama administration’s mandate: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop, 2) to pay exorbitant annual fees to avoid paying for birth control-inclusive insurance policies or 3) to “sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government.” “The state is making itself into a church,” the Cardinal wrote ... (March 6th 2012 Huff Post Chicago, The internet Newspaper: News blogs video Community)
The Cardinal added that if the President does not rescind this HHS mandate there will be not Catholic hospitals or services in the next two years!!

Do what is Necessary!

Regardless of what may happen in the legislature and courts, people of conscience should give this thoughtful prayer and become politically ACTIVE! Let your representative know you want him or her to take a stand to protect our liberties. Those who voted for Obama, in particular Catholics, must examine his record, inform their conscience and vote accordingly. 

page1image39320 page1image39404
We hope and pray this leads to an anti-Obama vote. Life and Liberty are at stake!
Written by Mark Chuff and Mark Frederick Paid for by Mark Chuff , Mark Frederick and friends
To learn more about this and other related issues, visit us on facebook.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The greatest threat facing mankind is...

By Brian Kopp

The greatest threat facing mankind is NOT anthropogenic "climate change."

Nor is it anthropogenic environmental damage.

It most certainly is not "overpopulation." Neither is it "peak oil." Nor is it food shortages.

The greatest threat facing mankind is, however, "anthropogenic."

Because the greatest threat facing mankind is the general failure of mankind to reproduce:

Look around you and think for a minute: Is America too crowded?

For years, we have been warned about the looming danger of overpopulation: people jostling for space on a planet that’s busting at the seams and running out of oil and food and land and everything else.

It’s all bunk. The “population bomb” never exploded. Instead, statistics from around the world make clear that since the 1970s, we’ve been facing exactly the opposite problem: people are having too few babies. Population growth has been slowing for two generations. The world’s population will peak, and then begin shrinking, within the next fifty years. In some countries, it’s already started. Japan, for instance, will be half its current size by the end of the century. In Italy, there are already more deaths than births every year. China’s One-Child Policy has left that country without enough women to marry its men, not enough young people to support the country’s elderly, and an impending population contraction that has the ruling class terrified.

And all of this is coming to America, too. In fact, it’s already here. Middle-class Americans have their own, informal one-child policy these days. And an alarming number of upscale professionals don’t even go that far—they have dogs, not kids. In fact, if it weren’t for the wave of immigration we experienced over the last thirty years, the United States would be on the verge of shrinking, too.

What happened? Everything about modern life—from Bugaboo strollers to insane college tuition to government regulations—has pushed Americans in a single direction, making it harder to have children. And making the people who do still want to have children feel like second-class citizens.

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting explains why the population implosion happened and how it is remaking culture, the economy, and politics both at home and around the world.

Because if America wants to continue to lead the world, we need to have more babies.

Fewer tells a monumental human story, largely ignored, but which promises to starkly change the human condition in the years to come. Never before have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places, so surprisingly. In Fewer, Ben Wattenberg shows how and why this has occurred, and explains what it means for the future. The demographic plunge, he notes, is starkly apparent in the developed nations of Europe and Japan, which will lose about 150 million people in the next half century. Starting from higher levels, but moving with geometric speed, the demographic decline is also apparent in the less developed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Only the United States (so far) has been exempt from the birth dearth, leaving America as more than "the sole super-power." Perhaps it should be called the global "omni-power." These stark demographic changes will affect commerce, the environment, public financing, and geo-politics. Here Wattenberg lists likely winners and losers. In Wattenberg's world of "The New Demography" readers get a look at a topic often chattered about, but rarely understood.

You’ve heard about the Death of the West. But the Muslim world is on the brink of an even greater collapse. WILL WE GO DOWN IN THE IMPLOSION? Thanks to collapsing birthrates, much of Europe is on a path of willed self-extinction. The untold story is that birthrates in Muslim nations are declining faster than anywhere else—at a rate never before documented. Europe, even in its decline, may have the resources to support an aging population, if at a terrible economic and cultural cost. But in the impoverished Islamic world, an aging population means a civilization on the brink of total collapse— something Islamic terrorists know and fear. Muslim decline poses new threats to America, challenges we cannot even understand, much less face effectively, without a wholly new kind of political analysis that explains how desperate peoples and nations behave. In How Civilizations Die, David P. Goldman—author of the celebrated “Spengler” column read by intelligence organizations worldwide—reveals how, almost unnoticed, massive shifts in global power are remaking our future.

Remarkably, most conventional wisdom about the shifting balance of world power virtually ignores one of the most fundamental components of power: population. The studies that do consider international security and demographic trends almost unanimously focus on population growth as a liability. In contrast, the distinguished contributors to this volume—security experts from the Naval War College, the American Enterprise Institute, and other think tanks—contend that demographic decline in key world powers now poses a profound challenge to global stability. The countries at greatest risk are in the developed world, where birthrates are falling and populations are aging. Many have already lost significant human capital, capital that would have helped them innovate and fuel their economy, man their armed forces, and secure a place at the table of world power. By examining the effects of diverging population trends between the United States and Europe and the effects of rapid population aging in Japan, India, and China, this book uncovers increasing tensions within the transatlantic alliance and destabilizing trends in Asian security. Thus, it argues, relative demographic decline may well make the world less, and not more, secure.

Overpopulation has long been a global concern. But between modern medicine and reduced fertility, world population may in fact be shrinking--and is almost certain to do so by the time today's children retire. The troubling implications for our economy and culture include:* The possibility of a fundamentalist revival due to the decline of secular fertility* The threat to the free market as the supply of workers and consumers declines* The eventual collapse of the American health care system as inordinate expenses are incurred by an aging populationPhillip Longman's uncompromisingly sensible solutions fly in the face of traditional ideas. State intervention is necessary, he argues, to combat the effects of an aging population. We must provide incentives for young families, and we cannot close our eyes and hope for the best as an entire generation approaches retirement age.The Empty Cradle changes the terms of one of the most important environmental, economic, and social debates of our day.

The world's population is still growing, thanks to rising longevity. But fertility rates - the average number of children born per woman - are falling nearly everywhere. More and more adults are deciding to have fewer and fewer children. Worldwide, reports the UN, there are 6 million fewer babies and young children today than there were in 1990. By 2015, according to one calculation, there will be 83 million fewer. By 2025, 127 million fewer. By 2050, the world's supply of the youngest children may have plunged by a quarter of a billion, and will amount to less than 5 percent of the human family. The reasons for this birth dearth are many. Among them: As the number of women in the workforce has soared, many have delayed marriage and childbearing, or decided against them altogether. The Sexual Revolution, by making sex readily available without marriage, removed what for many men had been a powerful motive to marry. Skyrocketing rates of divorce have made women less likely to have as many children as in generations past. Years of indoctrination about the perils of "overpopulation" have led many couples to embrace childlessness as a virtue. Result: a dramatic and inexorable aging of society. In the years ahead, the ranks of the elderly are going to swell to unprecedented levels, while the number of young people continues to dwindle. The working-age population will shrink, first in relation to the population of retirees, then in absolute terms. A world without children will be a poorer world - grayer, lonelier, less creative, less confident. Children are a great blessing, but it may take their disappearance for the world to remember why.

Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family (DVD/ Documentary)

by Rick Stout

Product Overview

One of the most ominous events of modern history is quietly unfolding. Social scientists and economists agree - we are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences. The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe.

A groundbreaking film, Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family, reveals in chilling soberness how societies with diminished family influence are now grimly seen as being in social and economic jeopardy.

Demographic Winter draws upon experts from all around the world - demographers, economists, sociologists, psychologists, civic and religious leaders, parliamentarians and diplomats. Together, they reveal the dangers facing society and the world’s economies, dangers far more imminent than global warming and at least as severe. These experts will discuss how:

The “population bomb” not only did not have the predicted consequences, but almost all of the developed countries of the world are now experiencing fertility rates far below replacement levels. Birthrates have fallen so low that even immigration cannot replace declining populations, and this migration is sapping strength from developing countries, the fertility rates for many of which are now falling at a faster pace than did those of the developed countries.

The economies of the world will continue to contract as the “human capital” spoken of by Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker, diminishes. The engines of commerce will be strained as the workers of today fail to replace themselves and are burdened by the responsibility to support an aging population.

Government programs will slow-bleed by the decrease in tax dollars received from an ever shrinking work force. The skyrocketing ratio of the old retirees to the young workers will render current-day social security systems completely unable to support the aging population.

Our attempts to modernize through social engineering policies and programs have left children growing up in broken homes, with absentee parents and little exposure to extended family, disconnected from the generations, and these children are experiencing severe psychological, sociological and economic consequences. The intact family’s immeasurable role in the development and prosperity of human societies is crumbling.

The influence of social and economic problems on ever shrinking, increasingly disconnected generations will compound and accelerate the deterioration. Our children and our children’s children will bear the economic and social burden of regenerating the “human capital” that accounts for 80% of wealth in the economy, and they will be ill-equipped to do so.

Is there a “tipping point”, after which the accelerating consequences will make recovery impossible without complete social and economic collapse? Even the experts can’t tell us how far we can go down this road, oblivious to the outcomes, until we reach a point where sliding into the void becomes unpreventable.

Only if the political incorrectness of talking about the natural family within policy circles is overcome will solutions begin to be found. These solutions will necessarily result in policy changes, changes that will support and promote the natural, intact family.

Just as it took the cumulative involvement of activist organizations, policy makers, the business world and the media to create the unintended consequences we are beginning to experience, so it will take the holistic contribution of all of these entities, together with civic and religious organizations, to change the hearts and minds of all of society to bring about a reversal.

It may be too late to avoid some very severe consequences, but with effort we may be able to preclude calamity. Demographic Winter lays out a forthright province of discussion. The warning voices in this film need to be heard before a silent, portentous fall turns into a long, hard winter.

Demography is destiny. But not always in the way we imagine, begins Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry) in his fascinating analysis of how global population trends have shaped, and been shaped by, political and cultural shifts. He starts with Robert Malthus, whose concept of overpopulation—explicitly of the uneducated and poor classes—and depleted resources influenced two centuries of population and environmental theory, from early eugenicists (including Margaret Sanger) to the British colonial administrators presiding over India and Ireland. Pearce examines the roots of the incipient crash in global population in decades of mass sterilizations and such government interventions as Mao's one child program. Many nations are breeding at less then replacement numbers (including not only the well-publicized crises in Western Europe and Japan, but also Iran, Australia, South Africa, and possibly soon China and India). Highly readable and marked by first-class reportage, Pearce's book also highlights those at the helm of these vastly influential decisions—the families themselves, from working-class English families of the industrial revolution to the young women currently working in the factories of Bangladesh.

What is the impact of demographics on the prospective production of military power and the causes of war? This monograph analyzes this issue by projecting working-age populations through 2050; assessing the influence of demographics on manpower, national income and expenditures, and human capital; and examining how changes in these factors may affect the ability of states to carry out military missions. It also looks at some implications of these changes for other aspects of international security. The authors find that the United States, alone of all the large affluent nations, will continue to see (modest) increases in its working-age population thanks to replacement-level fertility rates and a likely return to vigorous levels of immigration. Meanwhile, the working-age populations of Europe and Japan are slated to fall by as much as 10 to 15 percent by 2030 and as much as 30 to 40 percent by 2050. The United States will thus account for a larger percentage of the population of its Atlantic and Pacific alliances; in other words, the capacity of traditional alliances to multiply U.S. demographic power is likely to decline, perhaps sharply, through 2050. India's working-age population is likely to overtake China's by 2030. The United States, which has 4.7 percent of the world's working-age population, will still have 4.3 percent by 2050, and the current share of global gross domestic product accounted for by the U.S. economy is likely to stay quite high.
And the primary means by which mankind has stopped reproducing are abortifacient hormonal contraceptives and abortion itself.

Martin Luther called the "Sin of Onan" marital sodomy. In the Judeo-Christian and Natural Law tradition, any sex act made deliberately infecund is no better than sodomy.

So in considering the greatest threats facing mankind, one must also consider this:

In Depth Analysis

Crying to Heaven for Vengeance

RSS Facebook by Dr. Jeff Mirus, September 7, 2004

The Bible mentions only four sins which cry out to God for vengeance. Considering the source and the emphasis, we have little choice but to examine our consciences on these points. A cursory examination will not do; we must cast off our cultural preconceptions to see beyond the obvious.
And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Gn 4:10) It is hardly suprising that Cain’s murder of Abel provides the first instance of one of these sins that cries out for Divine vengeance. While all sins disrupt the natural order in some way, those enumerated as crying out to God appear to be chosen because they strike at nature’s root.

It is easy to see how murder fits into this category. The unjust termination of the life of another is a profound violation of “how things should be” precisely because our very nature compels us to regard our own lives as precious. To take a person's life is to terminate in another what we instinctively regard as our own highest good.

Sadly, the ease with which we understand the foulness of murder may be conditioned more by our culture than by Divine Revelation. We must take care that we do not find it abhorrent only insofar as we are creatures of society, rather than creatures of God.

Abortion is a case in point.

Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me.” (Gn 18:20-21) The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of homosexual activity. So far gone were they in this vice that the men of the town would not even accept heterosexual license with Lot’s daughters, both virgins, as a means of sating their lust (see 19:8-9).

Here we have another case in point for cultural conditioning. It is far more difficult for our contraceptive culture to see how contrary to nature homosexuality is. Those of us who instinctively feel its deep unnaturalness rightly react to homosexual activity with disgust, but logical arguments are unlikely to produce the same reaction in those whose instincts are damaged, blunted or rationalized away.

It is precisely in such situations that Divine Revelation is so very useful, for we cannot trust our feelings when they run counter to reality. We require a better guide. Sodomy strikes at the root of human nature because of its perversion of the procreative impulse, without which the race must die. But in case we don’t see it, God does.

Oppression of Widows and Orphans

“You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” (Ex 21-23) There is a deep truth in this passage about the relationships of husbands to wives, and of parents to children, and about how vulnerable wives and children become when their natural protection is removed.

Very probably all of us can see that it would be gravely sinful to take advantage of the weakness and vulnerability of either a widow or an orphan, and we can readily imagine the financial burdens and solicitation of “favors” with which either can be afflicted. It is much easier in every way to abuse a boy or girl who has no father and to intimidate a woman who has no husband.

Once again, however, we must remove our social blinders to see the great evil in our culture which turns so many into widows and orphans in the first place. The grave sin of divorce, by which natural protection is ripped away from women and children, surely tops the list of horrors under this heading.

Cheating Laborers of Their Due

“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down (for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it); lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be a sin in you.” (Dt 24:14-15) Here we come to a principle of sound social order: those in positions of authority and wealth have serious obligations to those who depend on their decisions for their well-being. Fortunately, we live in a very wealthy society.

But does our very wealth cause this sin to appear irrelevant? Free enterprise is an excellent system, but too often it carries the completely unnecessary baggage of a callous attitude toward employees, regarding them as commodities. The social teachings of the Church have attempted to address this concern (without pointing at all toward socialism) for over a century.

Yet the latest trend, at least in the United States, is constant mergers and buyouts which throw hundreds of thousands out of work while enriching an elite few. Even temporary unemployment is both a bank-breaker and a heart-breaker. Working under an abusive or negligent boss can be a living nightmare. And most of us are well-shielded from adults who must work for a minimal wage. The Israelites were urged to remember their days in Egypt, and treat others accordingly.

Together and In Order

All of these sins cry out to God, but the four are not equal. The sequence in the text suggests a hierarchy of value, and it is a tightly linked hierarchy. One sin leads to another, from the gravest to the least, as we make objects out of persons and treat them accordingly, subverting all our natural relationships. For this reason, we cannot assuage our consciences by attending to the fourth sin while ignoring the first, or by claiming virtue on the third and closing our eyes to the second. If these sins cry out to God for vengeance and we still commit them or do nothing to restrict them in others, we mock God to His face. Of course, when we’re wearing our usual cultural blinders, it often appears to us that we can mock God with impunity. But isn’t this something else we know from Revelation—in case we cannot see it for ourselves?

The Obama administration would do well to recall these foundational principles before trying to force the only Church in the world still fighting for the future of humanity, and against this greatest threat to it, to cave in and pay for contraception and abortifacients:

Obama administration is taking a wrong-headed line with the church 

Forcing contraception insurance coverage goes too far

Sunday, January 22 2012, 4:10 AM
Archbishop Timothy Dolan has lambasted the Obama administration for putting health care policy ahead of deeply held moral teachings.

Louis Lanzano/AP

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has lambasted the Obama administration for putting health policy ahead of moral teachings.

President Obama’s health chief decreed Friday that the Catholic Church must provide its employees with health insurance coverage for contraception, its moral stance against birth control be damned.
Wrong, wrong, high-handedly, obtusely wrong.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took Obamacare’s philosophy of equal insurance for all to a level of zealotry that reduced a deeply held matter of conscience to a bothersome trifle.
Presumably, the President was fully briefed on a decision of this magnitude. If so, he made a fundamental error that will only add to a sense among many faith-based communities that the White House has a thing against religion.
It was less than two weeks ago that the Supreme Court unanimously and thunderingly scolded the administration for trying to tell churches and church-based organization that the government knew best as to who they could hire and fire.
Because of the church’s size and reach, Sebelius’ ruling will apply most broadly to Catholic organizations, but they apply to affiliates of other religions that bar contraception and sterilization.