The Wheat and the Weeds

The Citizen has been engaged in a forum discussion that has turned to the debate on ‘rightwing’ Catholics and ‘leftwing’ Catholics. There should be no such thing. There are only orthodox Catholics and heterodox Catholics. Any Catholic espousing positions or supporting politicians who embrace policies contrary to the Magisterium, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the traditions of our Faith are heterodox. Unfortunately for some, the Democratic party strongly supports several issues that place them outside of Catholic teachings. Embryonic stem cell research, abortion, gay marriage – all of these platforms directly contravene Catholic principles.

The Citizen has written any number of essays on intrinsic evils, the discipline of being Catholic, and the need to be compassionate and loving but draw the line on tolerating or supporting behavior that is contrary to the Magisterium. I have hyper-linked to some of these essays if you are interested. Some things simply cannot be supported, even if the party or person in question support any number of worthy causes. With the current Democratic party, those issues – abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research – are non-negotiable.

But isn’t there ‘room’ in Catholicism for all types? Sorry, no. Christ Himself illustrated that this would be a problem in Matthew. In the Parable of wheat and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), Christ tells a story that reminds the Citizen of the predictment the greater Catholic community in the United States faces.

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

The parable tells that the servants tending the fields tell their master of the weeds growing among the wheat. He knows that there is little he can do but to allow the weeds to grow among the wheat, and – when the time was right – to pull out the weeds and harvest the good crop. The enemy? Satan – or those seeking to divide us by misusing our teachings in a heterodox manner.

The weeds are those ‘Catholics’ who espouse heretical and unorthodox teachings who dwell among us and claim that they are like us. The fact is that the weed bears no grain, no sustenance and actually chokes out the healthy and life-giving grain. For some reason or another, the Church in America has allowed these weeds to flourish, weakening and dividing us.

It is time to prune the fields. We will lose the weeds, but we may lose some good grain as well. Better this then to allow the field to run wild with weeds that will never yield comfort to those in need. It is my prayer that this will not be so or that those we may lose will return to us when they see that the wisdom of Matthew 7:13:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Hopefully, it is clearer that it shouldn’t be a ‘right’ thing or a ‘left’ thing – it should be a Catholic thing. That road is hard and the gate is narrow.  But those who brave that path and suffer through that gate will reap great rewards – not only for themselves but for countless others.

I pray that there are democrats who will take the party back from those who seek to choke the field with weeds. There must be solid democratic candidates who are in Communion with the Holy See. Find them. Support them. And don’t be surprised if other Catholics ignore the letter after their name and vote for them because they are good Catholics and good citizens.

 

May God bless you all.

 

Why Cardinal Dolan is Wrong about the Al Smith Dinner

The Citizen is told that Cardinal Dolan is a nice guy. I’m willing to believe that. I am told that he is highly educated in the Faith – I would hope so. I am also told that he knows exactly what he is doing by inviting Mr. Obama to the Al Smith dinner. Not so sure about that one.  I have even heard it described as ‘the lesser of two evils’. Oh brother!

This issue allows us to look at the history of the event, the acceptability of compromise, and a short primer in why ‘the lesser of two evils’ is never,ever an option for a Catholic.

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Intrinsic Evil 101 – the Lesson Mr. Obama does NOT want you to learn…

I have noticed a lot of Catholics – including some I know – who ‘like’ Obama for America’ or post pro-Obama links on Facebook and other social media. I don’t get it. The Citizen has discussed these issues before, but a brief reminder might be in order.

Intrinsic evil’ is a term used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe actions or support of those who take actions that are  absolutely unacceptable to the Catholic Church and all those who would remain in communion with it.  Among these actions is the support of abortion or supporting candidates who advocate for abortion. This doctrine certainly precludes supporting Mr. Obama

“But Mr. Obama supports many worthy issues – like immigration reform, healthcare, and welfare!” We can argue about how much these programs are designed to help people in need or how much they are funded in the hopes of bolstering a sagging voter base, but even if Mr. Obama has acted out of pure altruism these past 4 years, his aggressive pro-abortion policies negate the other acts that have positive Christian overtones.You see, despite what George Soros funded groups like Catholics for Obama would like you to believe, social justice issues cannot be weighed against each other like commodities on a balance scale. They claim that this is the case. It is not. Abortion is an inimical evil. Period. You cannot negotiate on this issue.Well, what about Nick Cafardi’s recent post that tries to justify Mr. Obama as more pro-life than Mr. Romney with this ‘telling’ statement?
“Obama’s Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney’s health care law does.”
Oops. Sorry. Actually the PPACA DOES pay for abortions. Massachusetts pro-life organizations responded with this:
“[the] blame lies solely on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution required payment for abortions for Medicaid-eligible women. In 1997, the Court reaffirmed its position that a state-subsidized plan must offer ‘medically necessary abortions.”
So, the court expanded abortion using this loophole. Mr. Romney had nothing to do with it. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, while a state senator, voted three times against a bill that would protect the life of a baby who survived a partial birth abortion.Mr. Obama cannot be a viable candidate for a Catholic on that instance alone.

Sorry, but it does take more than love to make a family…

This whole Chik-fil-A furor seems to be creating an interesting bout of finger-pointing about Jesus, gay marriage, and tolerance. One justification of Christ embracing homosexuality came from a fairly liberal (no pun intended) interpretation of Mark 7:15 “…here is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Honest. This commentator actually justifies sodomy with this quote. I did a google search and found websites – yeah, plural – that actually expound on this as an endorsement of homosexual acts.

I thought I would simply point out that Christ was criticizing Pharisees who placed too much emphasis on ritual purification – He was simply stating that if a man is pure and follows Him, no impure thing from the world can taint his soul. Sheesh. I guess when you have nothing to stand on, you really stretch. I gotta give someone credit for actually poring through the Gospels, finding that passage, and creating the most tenuous chain of logic ever to justify a shaky thesis.

 

Now, I know that Jesus supported traditional marriage and would not support homosexuality. After all, the Catechism of the Catholic Church wasn’t imagined out of the air but a carefully constructed framework of tradition and statements of belief that is the core of our Church. So I did some digging – this is what I came up with:

 “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” (Matt. 19:4.)

Sounds like an endorsement of ‘traditional’ marriage to me. Some people argue that homosexuality was simply a part of the Greco-Roman culture of the First Century. That doesn’t mean he approved – in fact, he made his injunction about marriage quite clear.  He quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, linking the laws of the Old Testament to make them relevant to those of us who hold to the New Covenant. It also is approbation for the listener – and us as readers – that God intends us not to heed the conventions of ‘modern society’ but to hold to the will of God in all things.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47.)

Jesus was stating that the deeds and words of the prophets of the old Testament all led to one thing – the Son of Man incarnate among us. Christ was the fulfillment of  the Old Testament and the Word made Flesh – the living embodiment of God’s law and will.

“Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.”(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles – he had a daunting task in cosmopolitan communities like Corinth. The polytheistic Grec0-Roman culture was replete with gods and goddess celebrating all manner of carnal pursuits and pleasures. While this letter cautions all Christians in Corinth to live holier lives, the Greek for ‘liers with men’ is ‘arsenokoitai’  (arseno=men, koitai=bed). And, I agree with some criticisms that this applies to heterosexuals as well; it is unfortunate that we have become such a sexually permissive society that chastity is the exception instead of the rule.

“For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)

Again, in the face of a Roman empire that was officially permissive of such activities, for this position to be so strongly expressed it was clearly an core tenet of Christian practices and beliefs.

But wait, the last two aren’t from Christ’s mouth! You are correct, but He said this:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14).

This is to say that after Pentecost, one of the gifts of the Spirit would be the spirit of truth. Because of this gift, as Christians, we believe that the Bible has been written through the Grace of God and by the gifts of the Spirit. We believe that the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters are indeed canon.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines this issue with compassion but in a manner that is clear:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

 

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection

 

Finally:

 

“…Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.” John 8:11

 

‘Sin no more’. That’s not tolerance – it is forgiveness.

Everyone Deserves a Voice

For a while now, Catholics have been fair game for prejudice and assault. Even the so-called ‘mainstream media’ have run articles admitting that ‘Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice’. In an address before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi asserted that the Catholic perspective has merit and value on the world stage and demanded that our opinions be accorded the same respect as any other.

As a Catholic apologist…well, perhaps Catholic pugilist might be more appropriate… the Citizen is accustomed to arguing against the double-standard of the secular humanist. I never cease to be amazed at how people can be so tolerant of any position – except ours. Homosexuals are perfectly justified in disrupting the Catholic Mass; Catholics are condemned for arguing against gay marriage – even if it is simply a doctrine in accordance with our faith. It’s perfectly acceptable for taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortion, but when Catholics argue against the practice, we are hatemongers. Catholic theologians, philosophers, artists, scientists, and writers have been responsible for practically every great social, political, and intellectual movement for the past two millennia. Yet Catholics are vilified as narrow-minded, reactionary, and misogynistic. Archbishop Tomasi swung the bat for Catholics at a UN.

The archbishop argued that the United Nations has created a policy that mandates homosexual activity is a fundamental human right. He stated that these attempts to silence Catholics, and other critics of homosexual practice,  were  themselves human rights violation according to the council’s own standards. This is germane in the United States where criticism of homosexual activity or behavior can be considered a ‘hate crime’ by the United States government. Tomasi strongly condemned “all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors.” He stated that articulating moral opposition to homosexual practices does not fall into this category. He argued that there is a growing trend to stigmatize, harass, and – in the United States – possibly prosecute people for expressing a tenet of their faith.

The Catholic Church draws a distinction between homosexual urges and homosexual activity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church articulates the Church’s stance on this issue in paragraphs 2357-2359.  Paragraph 2358 is the core of this article:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

In paragraph 2359, the Catechism states that homosexuals are called to lead chaste lives. At no time does the Catechism call for the punishment or exclusion of homosexuals – if they live chaste lives. As a point of order, the Church calls upon ALL members of the Catholic community to live chaste and moral lives. Heterosexual activities outside the boundaries of sacramental marriage are considered as sin as well…a fact that critics of the Church tend to gloss over in their ad hominen attacks.

Archbishop Tomasi is calling for an end of attacks on Catholics for expressing our values in a legal and appropriate manner in national and international arenas. Catholic criticism of gay marriage has resulted in government actions against Catholic adoption agencies in Great Britain and in several states in the United States. Catholic criticism of gay marriage led to legislative attacks against the Catholic church. In Connecticut, two gay legislators launched a crusade against the Catholic church in the state for our opposition to gay marriage legislation. They sponsored Connecticut Raised Bill 1098 – a bill that specifically targeted the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut and would have destroyed the legal hierarchy of the diocese, placing financial and management authority in specially constituted lay boards. Their blatant attack on a group that disagreed with them was too much for even a famously liberal state to tolerate and the bill died.

The Citizen has been called hateful, mean, spiteful, vicious, and worse over the years. Why? Because I exercise my rights as a citizen to seek to have my positions, beliefs, and ideals represented? Because I dare to say that something is wrong according to my religion? Because I dare to apply my Catholic values to public life? Yep.

For those reasons, I am fair game for every sanctimonious humanist, every ‘anything goes’ Christian, and everyone in between. Their personal opinions have merit while I am fair game for their harassment and stigmatizing.

But that’s OK…I’m only Catholic, right?