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I would not argue against the desire for the Society of St. Pius X to preserve its identity, as long as such does not include a persistent and deliberate opposition to the rest of the Church’s self-understanding.

I would also not argue against the discernment of a silent apostasy to which we must respond. However, we must not be deaf to the loud or blatant rebellion and dissent from various members, on the right and left, that afflicts the institution founded by Christ. The greatest threat to papal authority today is not a strained collegialism but an arrogant disobedience. Given their continued participation in this assault, I am not optimistic that the conditions demanded upon by the Society will pass muster with the Holy See.

Despite the negotiations, reconciliation will not come by spurning the directives of the Holy Father while not budging upon their own obstinacy toward an authentic Ecumenical Council of the Church, Vatican II. Any such forced reconciliation would damage real ecclesial unity. While they speak of “canonical normalization,” they cannot even concur with the living Church over which Code of Canon Law actually applies and is in force. Despite their profession in the “monarchial constitution” of the Church under the Pope, they feel they still need a “deliberative vote” before deciding if they will listen to him or not. Is it not peculiar that they attack collegialism in the universal Church but demand upon it for themselves, even arguing that it trumps papal demands? That is certainly not my idea of ecclesial obedience.

I am also not blind to the possible shades of Father Feeney in reference to the Church “outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find means leading to salvation.” They are usually very careful not to associate themselves with these extremists, despite a shared affection for traditionalism. While the Church is certainly the great mystery or sacrament of salvation where we encounter Christ, this would seem to invalidate even the more restrained strands of ecumenism. The Church has affirmed that elements of Catholicism with which the Protestants absconded like baptism and faith in Jesus Christ still have some pervading value. While the issue is more complicated with Jews, we acknowledge that Christ is the fulfillment of the one covenant that God first established with them (Cardinal Dulles and Cardinal Ratzinger, i.e. the Pope). The Church is necessary for salvation because there is no way to the Father apart from Jesus Christ. The Church is his Mystical Body. Thus, both are one and integral to salvation. The irony is that if the Society refuses reunion then they will be condemned by their own definition as outside that visible body “by which the supreme power of government . . . belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth.” The only possible solution they might find for this conundrum would be the sedevacantism that some of them apparently have already embraced. Declaring the Chair of Peter vacant, they can define themselves as the true Church and appoint one of their own bishops as the Pope, or in actuality as an anti-pope. Given online sermons and writings from various of their priests, my suspicions are that a number of them will join the Society of St. Pius V in this regard. I hope I am proven wrong.

Further, it is one thing to say that we oppose the abuses from the nebulous spirit of Vatican II; however, they continue to castigate the council itself. As I recall, the Holy See implied that such would be a deal-breaker. It is certainly okay and proper “to uphold the declarations and the teachings of the constant Magisterium of the Church.” Vatican II must be understood or interpreted in light of the traditions and constant faith of the Church. However, instead of seeing continuity, they stress a break “in regard to all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors, and also in regard to the reforms issued from it.” While it lacks certain specificity, this statement can readily be interpreted as a general repudiation of the Church today in all her elements from the catechism to the sacraments. Is this what they meant to say?

Only one of the four traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X has shown any real interest in the overtures of Pope Benedict XVI. Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta and Richard Williamson threatened internal schism within the Society, warning that any agreement with the Vatican would result in surrendering the fight against worldwide apostasy. This is strong language, literally saying that contemporary Catholicism is a false religion. Indeed, when we look at a number of their priests and apologists, they slam the whole business as capitulation to “the Modernist Pope” and “the Modernist Rome.” Some of their sermons online and various writings go so far as to call counterfeit both the “Novus Ordo” priesthood and the “new” Mass. One writer claimed that since Cardinal Ratzinger was made a bishop under the new ritual that he did not share in the episcopacy and thus could not be a genuine pope. People like that will not want to “pollute” themselves with any association with the rest of us. There is a lot of wishful thinking, but after almost a half-century separation, many of them have gotten used to their independence. Slamming the rest of the Church and slurring the Holy Father, at least in sermons and in routine discourse has become second-nature. They do not seem the least bit afraid that they might be committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Even Bishop Bernard Fellay has lamented this problem. It has become a habit hard or next to impossible to break. They will not reconnect with what they see as the enemy.

Pope Benedict XVI was very kind to lift their excommunication. However, I would not be surprised if Lefebvrites should invoke its reimposition. After all, they never actually acknowledged it anyway. All it would take is the consecration of another unapproved bishop. Such would force the Church’s hand. The Society itself seems aware that their current response will not suffice for Rome. Thus, they will not be coming home any time soon. While pledging fidelity, they are not going to budge until (in their estimation) the day comes “when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities.” In other words, they are saying that they are RIGHT and Rome is WRONG and that nothing will change until the post-Vatican II leadership gives in.

(Lumen Gentium) “Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God.”–Pope Paul VI

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s on November 21, 1964.

I will now wait for hell to freeze over.

I do not think the devil will be wearing a coat any time soon.

Responding to the Pope, here is the difficult condition laid down by the Lefebvrites for reunion: “The freedom to preserve, share and teach the sound doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and the unchanging truth of the divine tradition and the freedom to accuse and even to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism, and Vatican II and its aftermath.

Indeed, it looks like the devil is stoking the fire.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller explains (July 20): “The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith, that is impossible. An Ecumenical Council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”

Can the Society of St. Pius X Really Be Reconciled?

Archbishop DiNoia, Ecclesia Dei and the Society of St. Pius X

SSPX recognizes papal authority, hints discussions will continue

Eternal Rome vs. the Magisterium: A Contemporary Myth

SSPX Calls Vatican Recociliation Offer ‘Clearly Unacceptable’

Society of St. Pius X vs. Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Lefebvrians say they can only accept doctrinal preamble on three “conditions”

Vatican’s Doctrine Chief: Pius X Society Must Accept Vatican II Teachings

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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.

http://bloggerpriest.com/category/awalt-papers/

Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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Given the importance of this matter, and how it is a special teaching moment, here is an article from the archdiocesan newspaper . . .

Incident at St. John Neumann spurs reflection on significance of Holy Communion

Special to the Standard

Recent news accounts have reported an incident at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, where a woman was initially denied Communion at her mother’s funeral Mass (she did, however, receive Communion from a Eucharistic minister) and the celebrant did not attend the burial. (Another priest did preside at the graveside service.) In response, the Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement (below) and Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, vicar general, personally contacted members of the family.

This is the statement issued by the archdiocese on February 27:

“In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day. When questions arise about whether or not individuals should present themselves for Communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive Communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.

“The archdiocese is looking into the incident at a funeral Mass that was celebrated by Father Marcel Guarnizo and will handle this as a personnel issue.”

This situation provides an opportunity to refresh our understanding of the Eucharist, its importance and the guidelines on how it is to be administered and received.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because we believe that through this mystery, we literally receive the Body and Blood of Christ. It is not just a symbol. Jesus is truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is an intimate encounter with Christ, in which we sacramentally receive Christ into our bodies, and become more completely assimilated into his.

Therefore, because the Eucharist is Christ himself, who is the center of all Christian life, the Church teaches that Catholics must be properly disposed to receive the Eucharist worthily. Catholics should examine their conscience and make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they have committed grave sin before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

The following guidelines, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, clarify how Catholics should prepare prior to receiving the Eucharist:

“As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental Confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for Confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the sacrament of penance is encouraged for all.”

The priest has an obligation to make sure that the sacraments are respected. Since it is difficult to know what is in a person’s heart, it is also important that when doubt arises regarding whether a person is properly disposed to receive the Eucharist, it is handled in a pastoral and compassionate manner, privately between the priest and the communicant.

The reception of the Eucharist is a blessing and a grace. We should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like him. No one is entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift that should be received with humility and reverence. It is also a sign of unity with the Church’s teaching on faith and morals.

CLICK for Guidelines for the Communion Line

CLICK HERE to see MORE COMMENTS AT BLOGGER PRIEST

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The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity has put out an official press release on the FATHER CORAPI SCANDAL. Fr. Gerard Sheehan, the superior writes:

“While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.”

While I can appreciate the need for a statement, I must admit that I am surprised at the bluntness and the depth of revelation. He remarks about the investigative process and what they discerned from emails, witnesses and other sources that has been going on during the time of the priest’s public ministry:

  • Fr. Corapi already handed in his resignation in early June.
  • He paid $100,000 to silence the woman making charges.
  • Other witnesses were similarly silenced and Fr. Corapi refused to release them for testimony to the investigative team.
  • He had violated his promise of poverty by holding legal title to over one million dollars in real estate, luxuary cars, boats, etc.
  • He cohabitated in two states with a known prostitute, recently began sexting one or two women and resorted to repeated drug and alcohol use.

I would not normally even post about such matters, but I can well appreciate the frustation of his superior. Fr. Corapi is a powerful communicator and people love him. If he is guilty of such things and is falsely placing the blame on the leadership of the Catholic Church, then public correction needs to be made. Having said this, I think that the leadership in SOLT must be faulted for allowing this situation to grow so out of hand. They should have reigned him in years ago. Their passivity has now made for a far worse and more scandalous situation. The press release continues:

“SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.”

A letter of resignation would not release him from his priestly promises and those made to SOLT. A good priest does as he is told. This is a bad situation all around. I wonder how Fr. Corapi will respond? I suppose die-hard fans will contend that the evidence is contrived and that the priest is innocent. And indeed, I would still argue that if he is innocent then he should make his case and work with the process. It is unfortunate that Fr. Corapi has forced this whole matter and scandal into the public forum. But souls are at stake and this delicate situation is about more than one man. If he is guilty, then he should demonstrate sorrow and contrition, placing his ministry and future into the hands of his lawful superiors. It would be a wonderful teaching moment and maybe the highpoint of his ministry. Christ is speaking to him through his superiors. That is how priestly obedience works. But will he listen? Will he fight for his priesthood? This battle cannot be won with militant rhetoric or tactics of subterfuge. He can only find victory by being a faithful son of the Church and a humble priest. He must be courageous and forthright about any revelations exposed by the truth. He must reckon himself as any confessor to be the first among sinners, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Things will never be the same but God may not be finished with him yet. I pray that Fr. Corapi will make the right choice and work with God’s grace in this.

An element which really upsets me about this situation is how one segment of the Church is set against another. Father Corapi comes under investigation and the priest comes out with a statement that the bishop and his superior have a right to do what they do; but next he talks about the real enemies of the Church and we all know he is targeting those who put him on administrative leave. Then he claims obedience but his personal corporation makes a statement that they are under no one’s thumb and the ministry media business will continue as if nothing has happened. By the beginning of June he submits his resignation and tells his fans weeks later that the Church has forced him out. Bishop Michael Mulvey and his lawful superior, Fr. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT, seek to clarify matters but then there is the public intervention on his behalf of the founders of SOLT, Father Flanagan and the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Bishop Rene Gracida. Critics and fans of the priest can now take their pick and decry the other side as wrong-headed or evil. The impression is given that the Church is fighting with herself. Despite the lament of Fr. Corapi that this is a plot of the liberals who are out to get him, the battleground that emerges is between very conservative or orthodox churchmen and laity. Liberal revisionists are no doubt having a delight in watching the so-called “religious right” of the Church rip itself apart over the media priest. This has all the makings of a new voyeuristic television program called THE BATTLING BISHOPS. Since the clarification released from SOLT, I notice now that Bishop Gracida seems to have shifted somewhat from supporting Fr. Corapi to attacking SOLT for allowing the situation to develop in the first place. However, it seems to me that the stage was set by those who initially allowed Fr. Corapi to set up his independent operations. In other words, there is blame enough to go around. It is troubling that Bishop Gracida took a public stand against a man’s lawful superiors even though he admits that he has not talked with the priest for years! Now Fr. Corapi is telling his fans on Twitter to look forward to an important announcement on Thursday. Enough already! I discern a manipulation of good men behind all these tensions that is due to evil human machination and/or to the intrusion of something devilish.

I would beg people to separate the truths Father taught from the possible failings of the messenger. All are tempted, but the devil delights in targeting priests; while he could not seduce the high priest Christ, he often settles for corrupting those men who participate in his priesthood. Pray for priests, pray for Father Corapi and pray for “the little ones” who might despair of their faith.

CLICK HERE to read the SOLT press release.

CLICK HERE to read my post on this matter last month.

POST COMMENTS at BLOGGER PRIEST

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Bill and Susan are both baptized Catholics. But they rarely went to Mass. You might see them in the pews at Christmas and Easter, but that is about it. One Easter they came to Mass and had the surprise of their lives. The parking lot was empty. Going up to the church doors, they discovered that everything was locked. Confused, they almost decided just go home but it was Easter so they drove a little further to another church. Again, they were shocked. There was no one there, either. Now the mystery was intriguing them. What had happened? Had there been a revolution and the churches forcibly closed? Were the Protestants right and all the good Christians taken away by the rapture? They traveled outside of town to a third church. Here they found cars but services were ending. Although they had missed Mass, they entered the church for a quick visit and to find reassurance that nothing else had suddenly changed. Everything appeared to be in place, although the congregation seemed a bit small from the celebrations remembered in the past. They saw the priest and approached him with their puzzlement.

Susan spoke first, “Father, we are sorry about missing Mass but we had trouble finding an open church.”

Father Flynn responded, “I take it that you are new to the area. We would love to have you register here. We can always use new members.”

“No Father,” said Susan, “we have lived here all our lives. We were married at St. Margaret’s.”

“Oh my,” responded the priest, looking somewhat disturbed and maybe upset.

Bill entered the conversation, “We went to St. Margaret’s this morning and finding no one there went over to Holy Spirit. Both places were empty.”

“Yes,” lamented the priest, “I guess you both feel inconvenienced.”

“It certainly ruined Easter, what is going on Father?” asked Susan.

“You won’t like my answer. It might even make you angry,” added the priest.

The priest motioned for them to sit in a pew next to him.

“What is it, Father?” asked Bill.

“I will tell you,” said the priest, “it is your fault.”

Taken aback by the answer, they immediately insisted that he explain.

“You and so many people like you, killed St. Margaret, Holy Spirit, and almost a hundred other churches in the diocese. You want the church for a wedding, as if the building is only a decoration on a cake. You might ask for a baby’s baptism, when grandparents nag you. But then we have trouble finding a godparent who is not in mortal sin. Everyone who comes is a stranger. No one is practicing his or her faith. You come to Mass a couple times a year, throw a few dollars in the basket and expect the church to still be here waiting for you when you feel like coming back. Some only come to church twice in a lifetime, the day of baptism and the day of final repose. You did not know about those churches because they were not a part of your life. You did not support your parish through donations. You did not add to the parish life by your participation at Mass and in the various volunteer opportunities. You did not have children or if you did, you did not encourage vocations. How did you expect us to keep the churches open when we have no priests and empty pews? You broke the hearts of your priests who gave up the possibility of spouse and children to take care of the family of God. Priests weep over their people who neglect Confession and the Mass. Priests yearn to forgive your sins. You became comfortable with sin and made excuses. You said by your neglect that our sacrifices did not matter. Some of you were even vocal in arguing for married priests and condemning all celibate men as deviates and predators. In essence, your dissent and absence told the priests that we were wasting our time. Worst of all, you were saying that you did not need the Church. You forced God to the periphery of your lives, if he were there at all. The churches closed were wonderful places once. God lived in those houses and in the hearts and souls of the people. But when you stopped coming, things began to run down. Where there were once three priests, now there was one. Eventually even that one was shared between parishes. Many young people stopped coming. The congregations got older. The average parishioner age at Holy Spirit was around eighty! God called the faithful remnant home. Grandparents tried to give the faith to their grandchildren, but sometimes with opposition from their own children. They suffered terrible guilt. What had they done wrong? Why did their children stray? Bills started to grow and resources were strained. The new Bishop had to take action. Critics hated him and spouted condemnations when he closed beautiful old churches. Many of these same voices were those of fallen-away Catholics. They still had sentiment about their childhood parishes, but nothing of a deeper or lasting value. Catholics today are twice as populous as in the old days, but less than 15 to 20% go to weekly Mass. Back in 1960, that figure was 90 to 95%. Our schools are dying and increasingly expensive. Our churches are relegated to the status of museums instead of as places of worship and community life. You did not pray— you did not pay— and now you are upset that the churches did not stay. We are drowning in a sea of hypocrisy. A housing developer will be bull-dozing Holy Spirit within the month. Who knows what shall become of St. Margaret Catholic Church? There is talk that a Baptist group might buy it. Some of the churches have become condominiums with the guts torn out. What the enemies of the Church could not do, we have done to ourselves.”

The couple was silent. The priest reached into his pocket and pulled out a broken piece or marble or plaster made out as marble.

“See this,” said the priest, “this is a fragment from the altar at Holy Spirit. I was pastor there. On the morning I came by to pay my final respects, demolition men were hacking the altar to pieces. It was on that altar that bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus. It was from that altar that the faithful received the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. I did everything I could think of to save the church. I went door-to-door in an attempt at outreach. But there was a bigger Catholic church down the road and we had no school. Even they were struggling. Most people of faith in the area were Protestants. Others spurned all religion. Many Catholics had moved away and those who remained did not come, except for my small faithful remnant. I buried most of them.”

Staring straight into the faces of the couple, he lamented, “I cried and cried after seeing that altar destroyed. Here, take this,” offering the altar fragment.

“It means too much to you Father, no, we couldn’t take that,” returned Bill.

Not taking no for an answer, the priest forced the fragment into his hand, and said, “It is okay, I really want you to have it. You are right, it meant a lot to me, but it is my hope that someday it might come to mean something to you and your wife.”

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1194984585936802019female_rollandin_frances__svg_medMary gave birth to a baby boy and named him Jesus.  Jesus grew up and he picked more boys to be his apostles.  They in turn ordained still more boys to be bishops, priests and deacons.  The priesthood is the ultimate boy’s club.  But radical feminists act as if it is a woman-hater’s club… it is not.  We all benefit from the ministry of priests.  Not all men are worthy of this vocation.  Women are called to other vocations, like religious life and motherhood.  Except for a misguided sense of egalitarian equality, a disproportionate focus upon one element of social jusitice and feminists hungry for power, there is little that commends a move to ordain women.  These dissenters would not only refashion the ministries but also Jesus would be remolded to their liking.  He would become an abstraction, a model for their agenda but not the historical Savior.  If God is not neutered, then he is likely made feminine.  Jesus becomes Jessica or the Kristi who hangs upon the cross, raped and defiled by male machismo.  They talk about equality; but this is a lie.  They seek dominance and payback for what they regard as past subjugation and oppression.       

I just read an article by Greg Archer over at THE HUFFINGTON POST entitled, “Roman Catholic Female Priests Growing in Numbers: An Insider’s Perspective.” I feel compelled to make a few comments. It is important that good Catholics not be confused by dissent on women priests or priestesses. There simply is no such creature within the Christian context. Christ has never given the Church the authority to ordain women. While our Lord counted women among his disciples, only men were selected to be his apostles. Jesus proved time and time again that he was willing to break the stereotypes of his day; however, upon this matter he retained a male leadership or hierarchy.

Many are surprised to find out that Catholicism only has one High Priest— Jesus Christ. Every man ordained to service is configured to Christ and participates in his one priesthood. The ordained priest is a living and breathing icon for Christ. His very flesh and his manhood resonate with that of Christ— making our Lord and his saving work present for the community. Historically, the Gnostic heretics had priestesses because they rejected matter as evil and denied the full incarnation of Christ as the God-Man. Catholics and/or orthodox Christianity take the incarnation seriously. Matter is not evil. Indeed, human nature is elevated and divinized by the coming of God among us as our brother. While the soteriological implications transcend gender, in baptism and faith all can know the gift of redemption; the parameters of sacerdotal ministry were clearly laid out. Only men could be bishops and priests. This did not deride the role of women. Holiness is available for all. It is just that God has intended that we fulfill differing roles.

Some have argued that the male-only priesthood gives balance to God’s life-giving love. Just as only women can physically conceive and give birth to a child; only a man (who is a priest) can spiritually confect the Eucharist and give us the bread of life. The Church also offers us the marriage analogy that passes down from Scripture. The priest signifies Christ who is the divine bridegroom; the congregation at Mass signifies the Church, his bride. Many of the centrist advocates for priestesses hate this analogy because it makes the notion of a woman priest into a kind of sacramental lesbianism.  Of course, the more liberal critics might like this analogy in that they also support the gay and lesbian lifestyle.

The article started off by mentioning Victoria Rue, a lady who “attempted” ordination back in July 2005. Although the author claims to be “an insider” he refers to the precious blood as a wine chalice. This might be Episcopalian terminology; but, it is not how informed Catholics would speak about the cup. In any case, his point is that she is only one of a quickly growing number of women who are becoming “priests”. I have to stop at that point and insist that he is wrong to assume that these women are truly priests. They can play dress up, but as far as the true Catholic Church is concerned, they are only posturing.

He pokes fun that the Vatican would solely acknowledge “those sporting an XY chromosome” and yet he fails to realize that gender is more than an accidental. Too many people have bought the lie that the sexes are interchangeable or essentially the same. Gender is more than facial hair and muscles; it is a core element of human identity. The saints in heaven will still be both men and women, not neutered monstrosities. The resurrected and glorified Christ was still a man. Mary, our Blessed Mother, is still a woman. Gender has more purpose and meaning than genital expression. It is who we are.

Seven women tried to become priests three years earlier on the Danube River, seeking to avoid canonical sanction from the immediate archdiocese. However, by January 2003, they were all rightfully judged  excommunicated. He also mentions Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Gisela Foster of a group called Womenpriests. They make a claim to ordination because their renegade bishop had apostolic succession. However, a woman constitutes “invalid matter” and cannot be ordained, even if the form is correct. They also like to confuse the issue of a celibate clergy (a discipline in the Church) with that of proposed women priests (which is doctrinally impossible).

Other women are also slowly joining the ranks of excommunicated wannabe priestesses. Rue claims that the Vatican has become quiet because they do not want an escalation. I suspect the real reason is because the Church has already made its position clear. There might also be an element of pity for these poor women who want something so desperately that they cannot have. The article gives the impression that this is all a game of strategy. But this is only the opinion of the dissenters. The Church is not playing. There is no game. It is a done deal. There can be no change… not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

These so-called women priests are really just creating their own church. They are Protestants with a few Catholic trappings. Some have gravitated toward the Episcopal communities that allow priestesses. As far as many of us are concerned, this movement is rather mute. Anglican orders, even for men, are probably largely invalid. Women priests merely represent the last nail in the coffin for a church that is no longer even Christian in its values. Adultery is routinely accepted.  Fornication is excused.  They welcome openly gay men and lesbians! What is left?  When mortal sin is regarded as a virtue, Satan has won the day!

The author cited a 2006 NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER survey of U.S. Catholics that said 62% of those responding favored women priests. An AP poll in 2005 found about 65% supported the change. But the AP is hardly sympathetic to Catholicism and such numbers make good news. As for the NCR, it is a liberal rag that gets the answers it wants. Traditional Catholics would likely not even respond to such garbage surveys. Further, who are these Catholics? Are we talking about NCR readership? Just because someone was baptized or went to Catholic school does not make a person a “real” or “practicing” Catholic. Only a quarter of our people still go to Mass. The rest are victims of modernity with its secular humanism, materialism, hedonism, and ignorance of faith. In any case, the truth and Church teachings are not open to polls. The Church is not a democracy. Christ is king and still in his heaven. The Pope is his vicar on earth.

While the 1975 report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission noted “no scriptural objections to ordaining women,” this summation is somewhat misleading. All it means is there is no direct statement from Christ about it. However, we do have the Scriptural teachings about Christ’s relationship to the Church (see St. Paul) and his example in appointing only men as his apostle-bishop-priests. Further, Catholicism is NOT a “sola scriptura” religion. We also have Sacred Tradition. There we do find explicit statements against women’s ordination. The early council of Nicea forbade the laying on of hands upon women (ordination).

Rue asserts in the article that there is archeological and Scriptural evidence for priestesses, but this is not true. She and her organization Womenpriests put a spin on dubious materials that cannot be substantiated. Conveniently for her, too much so, she complains that there was more evidence the Church destroyed and that the canonist Gracian wrote them out of the Church’s legal books and history. Her organization also sometimes fails to distinguish early heretical groups from the orthodox. They try to argue that boyish icons of priests are really females. They grab for straws and the author of the article swallows it uncritically.

And who is this know-it-all Victoria Rue who functions as his chief source? She is an ex-nun, seduced by militant feminism and angry with the Church. She left the Catholic Church. Her theological training was at a Reformed Protestant school in New York. She studied Liberation Theology, inherently Marxist in regards to its dialectic analysis of poverty, but she pursued it under the umbrella of radical feminism and lesbianism. She also studied at the GTU in Berkeley, California, a so-called ecumenical school known for its adherence to religious indifferentism and relativism, even in regard to blatantly and/or pagan non-Christian religions. She, along with other Womenpriests, are deceitful to gullible Catholics about their standing. As a teacher of propaganda in “women studies” and “comparative religious studies” she feigned being a real priest and offered a “weekly Catholic Mass” at San Jose State University. We are told that the diocese in 2006 rendered this statement:

Rue is not a validly ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Roman Catholic Church should not participate in celebrations of the sacraments that are conducted by Victoria Rue, as those celebrations are not in union with the local or universal Church.

The fact that she regularly celebrates so-called Masses at an Episcopal church in San Francisco says it all. They might be in communion with her but she is not in communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church. She is a Protestant. All priestesses are either Protestant or pagan (understood as a reference to the old religions prior to Christ). Some of them even say that they worship the goddess. There is a popular crucifix with a naked woman upon it. However, Kristi is a model of the divine that has no place in genuine Christianity. It is Jesus Christ who offers the saving sacrifice and who forgives sins, not Kristi suffering with a bad hair day.

At the end of the article we are told that Rue is a lesbian who has lived with her partner for many years— big surprise— NOT!

Scriptural prohibitions against homosexuality and lesbianism mean nothing to her. She cites psychological views to the contrary. Of course, the American Psychiatric Association once referred to perversion as a disease. It was only when gays poured into the field that this verdict changed. Divine positive law and natural law take precedence over human whim. Rue says that her sexuality is important to her identity as a priest. This is an interesting statement, given that she renounced the Church’s prohibition of women priests based upon the importance of male gender as an element of identity in the priest.

The article concludes by telling us that there are now five RC bishop gals and almost 100 priestesses in the U.S. This is hardly a number about which the Church needs to be worried. Few practicing Catholics take these ladies seriously. Many of them are also quite advanced in years. They will not be around for long. Meanwhile, the numbers of young men entering legitimate seminaries are on the rise. Nice Catholic girls and women are entering religious orders with traditional charisms and structure. Rue traded in her habit for a collar. But the former she prized too lightly and the latter does not belong to her.

The article ends with the acclamation, “Hail, Mary!” But Mary would not be pleased. She is about bringing us to her Son. These women are preoccupied about themselves and power. In reality, the priesthood must always be about humility and obedience— servanthood. However, Mary must indeed be brought into the equation. All these wannabe priests should repent and come home to the true Church.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us Sinners!”

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Why Does the Fire Go Out?

People have their reasons, but there is no good reason for leaving the Church.  The majority in the area where I reside are probably Baptist and/or Evangelical.  Some of these communities target Catholics and many Catholics marry non-Catholics.  Not understanding their own tradition, many Catholics are inordinately moved by the music and preaching in Protestant churches.  Catholic reformed rituals might not be regarded as very entertaining.  Much of the music we sing is criticized as trite and unmoving.  When we borrow Protestant hymns or sing Gospel, it is usually a pale imitation of what our separated brethren have to offer.  Music enshrines preaching.  Particularly in the African-American community, services can go hours.  The importance of the minister is measured by his musicality and his effectiveness as a preacher.  Our gravity is upon the formulae of liturgy, not upon preaching. 

Masolino_Peter_Preaching2

Preachers and Priests, No Comparison?

Many priests were trained to keep homilies or sermons to ten minutes or less.  That is about the length of two or three MTV videos.  Time-wise, it cannot compare to the formation of the media or to the teaching sermons of our separated-brethren.  I knew one old man who went to Mass on Saturday night and to his wife’s Baptist church on Sunday.  He told me that he went to Mass for Holy Communion and to the Protestant church for good preaching.  This is a rather sad state of affairs.  Are we fully feeding our people?  Preaching outside the Catholic Church may be dynamic and meaningful; however, it is also fraught with religious error.

Sermons or Homilies?

I recall from preaching seminars that the priest should offer a homily based upon the Scriptures of the day.  This focus was understandable but I found the focus too narrow and absolutist.  The priest or deacon can preach upon the readings, the liturgical prayers themselves, upon the feast or memorial, or upon what his people (at that time and place) need to hear.  I had a vigorous dispute with a liturgist when I suggested catechetical sermons. It was and remains a contention of mine that many people stray to other faith communities because they really do not understand Catholicism and the full significance of the Eucharist.

Can Father Talk Too Long?

How long should the priest or deacon preach?  This depends upon many factors:

1.   What is the type of liturgy?

2.   What has to be said to make the message worthwhile?

3.   What is the capacity in patience and in comprehension of the listeners?

Given that Catholic sermons are usually shorter than Protestant counterparts, the priest might be able to amplify his instruction by linking his sermons from week to week.  He can also use the parish bulletin, special adult education and bible study, and invite people to use the cycle of readings themselves with missals they can take home.  If people look at the readings before Mass, their experience will not be cold when the priest or deacon speaks about them.  Instead of merely thinking about what Protestants have that we don’t, let us utilize our own strengths, the missal and the cycle of predetermined readings. 

Catholics might also do well to getting used to longer liturgies.  Of course, this runs counter to the Roman Rite tradition, known for being curter and more to the point than Eastern Rite liturgies and certain Evangelical Protestant services.  There is a basic dilemma with longer sermons, and that is the balance and rhythm of the Mass.  A long homily and a short Eucharistic prayer seems to switch the gravity away from the sacrament to the Word which is intended to dispose us for the sacrifice and Holy Communion.

I am concerning myself essentially with the Sunday homily.  Given work concerns and strained time issues, weekday Masses would probably have to remain little more than basic exhortations.  Such exhortations are similar to aspirations:  Jesus, Mary, Joseph save souls!  Do good and avoid evil!  Keep faith and hope alive!  Lord, have mercy on us!  God will not abandon you!

Messages Should Comfort and Challenge

Homilies more strictly revolve the Readings; however, sermons can touch upon all sorts of relevant topics.  Sermons might be moral exhortations, catechetical moments, inspiration rhetoric and stories, etc.  However, they should always connect the lesson, whatever the source, to the lives of the people listening.  The congregation should not be passive to the preaching but actively engaged.  A topic is explored, the message is ordered for coherence, examples or illustrations are made, and there is the immediate appliance.

The words used in preaching vary upon the setting.  When the clergyman marries a couple, he speaks about the joy and hopes of the couple.  He might also challenge them to keep the marital act free from the corruption of lust and artificial contraception.  However, many Catholic ministers are afraid to rock the boat.  When a priest or deacon officiates at a funeral, his words emphasize the consolations of faith to those who mourn, the promises of Jesus our gentle shepherd in regard to eternal life, and the need to go on with our lives.  Again, many Catholic ministers are afraid of the conflict that comes with challenging the congregation to see the death as a warning about their own mortality and the need to reform before it is too late.  Even evil men are temporarily canonized and little is said about Purgatory.  A number in the pews no longer even believe in Hell.  Sunday homilies are often pampering and grossly approving because many clergy are afraid of alienating the numbers in the pews and depleting the money gathered into collection baskets. 

Need for Courage and Trusting Providence

I knew a priest in the South who tried to integrate the two churches he pastured, one white and the other black.  White parishioners complained to the bishop and the man found himself stripped of his parish, reprimanded for making trouble, and reassigned to a teaching position in a college far away.  Decades later he was still not allowed to return to parish ministry.  But God writes straight with our crooked lines.  This priest ended up teaching seminarians.  He inspired another generation of men in ministry to struggle for social justice. 

How often have we heard certain priests speak about artificial contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage, or even about fornication and cohabitation?  Some men in ministry are afraid.  But what chance do God’s people have when their shepherds are passive and fearful?  The late Pope John Paul II echoed our Lord’s words of wisdom, “Be not afraid.”

It may be that the priest shortage and the clergy scandals have drained the energy resources and joy of our priests.  This needs to be remedied.  The core message of the Gospel is not exhausted or angry.  Priests who show enthusiasm or excitement about the Catholic faith and Gospel are the most effective.  It is also a mentality which breeds vocations.  Young men do not want to join a confraternity of tired old men who only go on because of cold duty and obligation.  We have to be on fire with the faith if we want those in the pews to ignite!  It is very hard for a priest to give what he does not have.  God’s servants should be so in love with God that this love spills over in their service of others.  Preaching should reflect a life of prayer and a drive to save souls!

The preaching should move God’s people to greater faith and acts of service to our Lord and neighbor.  It assists everyone to better understand the Eucharist and disposes us to receive the Blessed Sacrament.  We take what we have been given in Word and sacrament as we go out in mission to the world around us.

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