Friday, January 29, 2010

Why we need (hereditary) Monarchy and (all-male) Hierarchy

The following comment by Mrs. Judith Bond at Mr. Muehlenburg’s blog (in the context of the media reaction to recent remarks by The Hon. Tony Abbott M.P. on pre-marital sexual activity, and Mr. Muehlenberg’s whole post on the topic is worth reading) resonated with me:

Judith Bond
28.1.10 / 6am
Our country needs a father figure who freely gives sound, solid moral advice.

Another word for virginity is abstinence.

Judith Bond
[my emphasis,]
The part which I put in bold is the part which interests me here. Every country needs such a father-(or, when a woman reigns, mother-)figure, and that’s one reason why an hereditary monarchy is a desirable form of civic rulership. Perhaps paradoxically, no elected ruler, even if his powers are those of a king, can be this kind of father-figure, because the father-figure needs to be, like a biological father, someone with whom one is ‘stuck’, whom the populace cannot simply dismiss from office when it pleases it. And it is fitting that such a temporal father-figure have, and be united officially with, a spiritual counterpart, and one with spiritual jurisdiction at the same level as the temporal jurisdiction of the civil sovereign—that is, at the level of the whole populace. And better yet, another spiritual father at the level of the whole human race too, so that, with a Universal Primate above him, the national primate will not find himself without the moral support of a superior when Church-State frictions arise. Our country needs, and our world needs, a father-figure who freely gives sound, solid moral advice. And if Mrs. Bond, Mr. Muehlenberg and their co-religionists would abjure themselves of their heresies then they would find such a father-figure in the Roman Pontiff.

(Oh, and one of my favourite comments so far on Mr. Abbott’s remarks is this one, in today’s edition of The Australian:

Will the Rudd government set up a ministry of promiscuity to counter Tony Abbott’s pernicious message on virginity ?

F. W. Anning, Ascot, Qld
[bold type in the original,])
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Facts and figures: How long till we are a nation of bastards?

Mrs. Angela Shanahan quoted an interesting figure in last Saturday’s edition of The Weekend Australian:

The anti-populationists' ideological armour of righteous environmentalism leaves them blind to the fact that we need a sustainable rate of growth because without at least stasis in natural increase, we will have an unnaturally ageing population, like Japan's. Without a natural increase of at least 2.1 children per woman -- ours is only 1.9 -- we cannot achieve the age balance that will give us enough children to fuel the future economy and care for the aged. If we can't get sustainable natural growth, we must have immigration.
[my emphasis,]

Mrs. Shanahan raised another interesting point in her article:

Lately there has been a slight rise in the Australian birth rate, and a stabilising of the divorce rate. It could be that more people are having the children they want, although the rise in the ex-nuptial birth rate is a genuine cause for alarm. But the anti-natalists don't care about the causes and social consequences of children born out of wedlock; they are more worried about the bird life.
[my emphasis]

And what is the ex-nuptial birth rate, you ask? In The Sydney Morning Herald's edition on the same day as Mrs. Shanahan's column was published we found the answer:

Percentage of babies born to unmarried parents.
Ms Irvine gives her sources as ",,,,,, RP Data". I could not find any mention of this figure in the archives for the two most recent months—January and December—of A.B.S. media releases, however. I'd appreciate it if any readers could supply a web reference for Ms Irvine's citation about illegitimacy.]

(Mrs. Shanahan’s article was the subject for a number of letters to The Australian this week:

One of the letters spoke of Mrs. Shanahan’s “irresponsibly large family” (of nine children). But I would have thought that the irresponsible families were those who choose not to have at least two children; families like Mrs. Shanahan's should be commended for doing their bit to make up for the short-fall between overall population increase and population increase by natural increase. That same letter contained an unfortunate arithmetical error (unfortunate, since its author said, insultingly, “[t]ime, Ms Shanahan, for some basic mathematics”):

If each of her nine children also has nine children, then she will have 89 grandchildren

One Kevin Lathbury had the following letter published afterwards:

JENNY Goldie ("Time for some maths”, Letters, 12/1) suggests that if Angela Shanahan’s nine kids each have nine kids, she’ll have 89 grandkids. When I went to school, nine times nine made 81. Time indeed for some maths!

How embarrassing. Never forget the rules of the newspaper letters page branch of Murphy’s Law: Letters which criticise mathematical errors will contain at least one mathematical error, letters which criticise grammatical/spelling errors will contain at least one grammatical/spelling error, and, as I’ve learnt, letters which criticise Bible-related errors will contain at least one Bible-related error!)

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Paul the first Hermit, Confessor, A.D. 2009

Friday, January 8, 2010

Yet more material preparation for the Consecration of Russia?

If these stories continue to multiply (which I think, and hope, that they will) I’m going to have to start numbering them (there are only so many permutations of ‘More/Yet more/Still more material preparation …’, I suspect!). Yesterday’s CathNews reported on a

bold experiment: the Russian Orthodox Church's first seminary outside the former Soviet Union[*].

Officially launched in November, the small Paris-area school nurses big ambitions: to train a new generation of Orthodox priests capable of serving Russia's growing Diaspora. Even more, the school hopes to foster exchanges between Europe's Christian East and West; and, more specifically, help nurture warming ties between Moscow and the Vatican.

"The Russian Orthodox Church needs good specialists who know foreign languages and the life of Christian churches in the West and how they face secularization," said the Rev. Alexander Siniakov, the seminary's affable young director, who is also the Russian church's point person for interchurch relations in France.

"Our seminary," he added, "is sort of a bridge between the Western Christian culture and the Eastern Orthodox one." […]
[my emphasis]
*One Geoff Halton wrote the following in the combox at that news article:

The statement that it is the first Russian Orthodox Seminary outside of former Soviet Union is not necessarily correct. If it means since the fall of the USSR, then this is correct, otherwise the Russian Orthodox seminary in Jordonville in upstate New York takes that prize which was founded from those who fled the rise of communism.
Related (to the Consecration of Russia) coverage: Here is a link to an article by Mr. Christopher Ferrara (it mentions, among other things, the botched 1984 ‘consecration’ and the curious “entrustment” ceremony of 2000):

And here’s another related story by Mr. Ferrara:

See also my recent posts on a Holy-See-dependent charity sponsoring the Russian schism and this more recent post. And I see at the S.S.P.X. District of Australia home-page that “[t]here are 75 days left to dedicate your Rosaries for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady!” And H.H. The Pope is due to visit Fatima in May …

Reginaldvs Cantvar

N.S.W. not to legislate (at least for now) for adoption by same-sex couples

This comes after a report, towards the middle of last year, that the then-Rees Labor Government was going to abandon its move to legislate for same-sex couples to adopt children, and comes not long after the overturning of a pro-same-sex-parenting Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruling. Let’s start with today’s Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage:
Gay adoption ban to stay

Date: January 08 2010

THE State Government has decided not to allow same-sex couples to adopt, ignoring a parliamentary inquiry that said changing the law would ''ensure the best interests of children''.

The Government said yesterday there was insufficient community support to justify new legislation on the topic.

[…] ''There are very deeply held, divergent views on this issue and that is why a decision on this matter will not be taken at this stage,'' the Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, said yesterday.
The reporter, Mr. Brian Robins, goes on to provide sound-bites from no fewer than three pro-sodomite organisations (in what was only a brief article—only seven paragraphs, none of which was more than two lines), without any comment from any anti-sodomite groups. How predictable; how pathetic.

Let’s look at The Australian’s coverage: That paper went for sensationalism, quoting one pro-sodomite group—Rainbow Labor—condemning the decision to maintain the ban as “appallingly gutless” and quoting one anti-sodomite organisation—St. Philip’s Christian College, Gosford—whose principal described same-sex adoption as “an abomination”. (The Australian does not mention that its source for that quotation was the College’s submission to the Inquiry; interesting how The Australian seems to have plucked the most lurid statement out of what must have been more than a hundred anti-same-sex-adoption submissions. But at least The Australian treated both the for and against camps with similar sensationalism, I suppose.) But The Australian used an interesting technique for covering what I suppose it wanted to present as ‘all angles’ of the story (to the extent to which one can do so in a short article, I suppose): It took one comment from pro-sodomites, one comment from anti-sodomites, and one comment from someone who, I suppose we’re expected to believe, is a neutral expert, describing the commenter merely as an “adoption advocate”:

But adoption advocate Janine Weir said the ban was an extreme form of prejudice. "Many same-sex couples do a tremendous job at raising children."
I did a Google search of the keywords “janine weir adoption” (those words came up in the Google short-list which comes up as one types words into the space provided—I started typing “Janine Weir” and it came up with 50 500 result for “janine weir adoption) and a quick scan of the first fifty results gave no evidence that she’s some kind of gay adoption True Believer. Nevertheless, is this The Australian’s way of implying that, once one gets past the opinions of the partisans (pro- or anti-sodomite), the non-partisan position is to support same-sex adoption? As though those who put aside prejudices and simply consider the matter rationally and impartially ought to support same-sex adoption? It's plausible; after all, why not just take one comment from the fors and one from the againsts?

An A.A.P. report, carried at both The Australian and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, raised two further points, both rather ominous: It begins by noting that “SAME-SEX couples won't be allowed to adopt in NSW "at this stage"”—hence this post’s title; we’ve won a battle, but by no means the war—and that “Ms Burney said further consultation would take place as the Community and Disability Services Council discussed a national approach.” A national approach indeed; here we go again.

Now that we’ve examined this matter from a Media-Watch-type angle, let’s consider the matter in itself. Ms Burney’s official Government Response is available here (good luck trying to find it by Google—I had to go back and find the Inquiry website, since the P.D.F. of the Government Response is just a photocopy rather than a searchable document). The Daily Telegraph reported that Ms Burney thought that the idea of same-sex adoption had some “merit”, but, to be fair to Ms Burney, this is what she had to say on the matter of ‘merit’:
It is also acknowledged that there are many same sex couples who foster children on behalf of both government and non-government agencies. The Government notes that permanency planning is an essential aspect of effective out of home care and the ability for children to be adopted by their carers is an important aspect of permanency planning. For this reason I believe that the Committee’s response to this issue is not without merit.
[My emphasis,],
third-from-last paragraph, p. 2]
Of course, Ms Burney does not write “For this reason alone”, but, nevertheless, she certainly doesn’t mention any other reason.

In the next, and penultimate, paragraph, Ms Burney writes

However, this is a complex and sensitive issue that tests deeply held personal values and beliefs; therefore it is important for the Government to continue to listen to the views of the wider community before deciding upon a final policy position.
In other words, it’s really a bit of a cop-out (with a whiff of procrastination about it—“it is important for the Government to continue to listen …”), and isn't even the Government's "final policy position". On the one hand, they don’t want to incur the wrath of the Sodomites’ League, but on the other hand they know that this sort of thing wouldn’t be too popular in the wider community. So they’ll just leave things as they are and, in this respect at least, try to keep themselves a small target (in many other respects, of course, N.S.W. Labor is a whopping great big target!). So the glaring inconsistencies remain, of single sodomites being allowed to adopt, and pairs of sodomites being able to foster. I suppose we can only entertain the forlorn hope of some kind of cultural shift enabling these inconsistencies to be remedied—by banning single sodomites from adopting and pairs of them from fostering.

And the Government’s justification for this cop-out is rather illogical: It protests that its primary concern is the welfare of children, but bases its decision on the divergence of opinions in the community. Well and good—whether gay couples are prevented from adopting because it’s inherently wrong or because the Government fears an electoral backlash , the main thing is that they are prevented from adopting—but where, then, does the Government stand with respect to the implications of same-sex parenting for the welfare of children? If it thinks that same-sex parenting is good for children, then it should say so. If it thinks not, then, again, it should say so. Given that the Government shows itself to have no problem with sodomites fostering (since it lets them do so for its agencies), one can only infer that the Government’s primary concern here is not the welfare of children, but, rather, its own political welfare. (I wonder: If a Bill for same-sex adoption had gone to a vote, would it have been a conscience vote? I suspect so, since Ms Burney writes about how “this is a complex and sensitive issue that tests deeply held personal values and beliefs”. The fallout would have been interesting to see if the Government had tried to take this on as official policy.)

But a post such as this would not be complete without a recapitulation of the case against adoption by same-sex couples. I’ve dealt with these things in depth on other occasions—see the contents of this blog’s G.L.B.T. tag, particularly page two (click ‘older posts’ at the bottom of the first page once you’ve clicked on the tag)—so here I’ll just submit the following points for your consideration:

1. We can begin by comparing same-sex and opposite-sex parenting while making the ceteris paribus assumption: All else equal, are one man and one woman better parents than, worse parents than, or no different to two men or two women? All else equal, a child is better off being reared by a mother and a father than by ‘two mums’ or ‘two dads’ because even sodomites and secularists (see 1.1-1.4) acknowledge that a child needs balanced, first-hand exposure to members of both sexes and that boys and girls need male and female role models, respectively, and the mother-father parenthood structure provides these things most stably and enduringly, for the obvious reason that both sexes are represented in the relationship. Given these aforementioned needs of children, why not aim for the family structure which incorporates a member of each sex into its very foundation, rather than just as part of an extended family or network of friends?

1.1 A pair of sodomites, Messrs. Trevor Elwell and Peter West, bought twin baby girls from India. The two men said that
[They]'ve thought long and hard about this and have put everything in place to make sure we can give these children everything they need - including plenty of girlfriends who are cat-fighting over who will be godmother
1.2 Here is a quotation from a lesbian ‘co-parent’, Ms Tanya Sale:
Ms SALE: I think it has to be understood here that we are not anti-men. Trust me, we love them, but just not to marry them. We understand the importance of having a male in the children's lives. They are not surrounded by a mad bunch of females. There is a beautiful mixture here. A male is very important—we believe that—and that is why we have male role models in the children's lives.[,
p. 71]
1.3 Sydney Morning Herald columnist and feminist and 'secular humanist' Ms Adele Horin wrote the following not long ago:

But encouraging sensitivity and empathy in boys, and the softness every mother knows is at their core, is essential if men and women are to enjoy happy partnerships at work and home. I can't offer a prescription. I know fathers are integral through example and instruction. Anti-bullying and anti-homophobic policies, and playground policing are important. I know schools should extend their guest list of male role models beyond sporting heroes.
[my emphasis,]
Presumably, by symmetry, a similar truth holds for mothers? So why deliberately deny a child of either sex the opportunity of having parents of both sexes?

1.4 But perhaps the last word here should go to the secularist, feminist American author Ms Naomi Wolf, who can see that respectable scholarly literature tells us that

it serves everyone for men and women to share their sometimes different but often complementary strengths - a conclusion that seems reassuring
and that

men tend to rear children differently from women for similarly neurological reasons, encouraging more risk taking and independence and with less awareness of the details of their nurture. One can see the advantages to children of having both parenting styles.
[both quotations from]
2. But given that it is assumed that all else is equal, one is entitled to ask: How likely it is that all else—such as the health and virtue of the respective parents and the stability, mutual fidelity and longevity of their respective relationships—will indeed be equal? As to health, one can look at evidence available even from pro-sodomite organisations such as the A.I.D.S. Council of New South Wales (ACON) (see its 2006-07 Annual Report, for instance). As to the stability, fidelity and longevity of same-sex relationships, same-sex relationships are less stable, faithful (to the extent that one can even use such a word of sodomites) and enduring than opposite-sex ones—see the data and observations cited here, for instance. Indeed, one pro-sodomite individual—namely Dr. Damien Riggs, on behalf of the Australian Psychological Society— who provided a submission to the Inquiry into same-sex adoption tried to defend same-sex couples against charges of the detrimental effects of instability by arguing that instability could be a good thing for children!:

[The “presumption … that having more than one partner over the life course is inherently detrimental to children”] denies the ways in which children are often very robust in their responses to change, and denies the positive benefits that children may gain from interacting with the many differing adults who come in and out of all children’s lives. Rather than focusing on presumption about what could impact upon children negatively (for which the list is endless), it is more appropriate to focus on things that do support children, namely caring relationships that respect children’s right to knowledge as active participants in the families that they are part of.
p. 3]
3. But as a matter of fact, the ceteris paribus assumption is not even necessary for proving the illegitimacy of same-sex parenting. We have already seen Ms Wolf’s observation of the different parenting styles of men and women and her conclusion that “[o]ne can see the advantages to children of having both parenting styles”. But moreover, it is a parent’s duty to teach his or her children, by word and example, to abide by the natural law, that is, to teach them right from wrong. Without this instruction a child will tend not to grow up to be healthy and virtuous. But a same-sex couple is incapable of giving this teaching credibly because it is, in its very structure, in open and willing defiance of the natural law. (And I must stress the structural inadequacy of same-sex couples; it might happen that an opposite-sex couple might defy the natural law in this or that way, but if so, it is deficient not by nature, but because of some defect in its nature. The same-sex couple is, however, defective by nature and is hence to be rejected unconditionally, whereas one would only ever reject an opposite-sex couple conditionally.) Thus the absolute superiority of opposite-sex parenting is independent of the ceteris paribus assumption; even the most slovenly of opposite-sex couples offers a more credible witness to the requirements of the natural law than the most well-organised (if that’s the right way to put it) of same-sex couples.

Reginaldvs Cantvar

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fr. Zuhlsdorf on the prospects for H.H. The Pope celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass

The Rev. Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf has posted a list of his predictions for 2010. One of them is that

The three-year post Summorum Pontificum report will cause liberal enemies of the Pope to engage in a vicious campaign of disinformation.
I had completely forgotten about Summorum Pontificum’s accompanying explanatory letter’s invitation for feedback from the Hierarchy on the experience of the subsequent three years. Here is the relevant portion of that letter (addressed by His Holiness to “[His] dear Brother Bishops)”:

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.
On the one hand, that last sentence and its talk of “ways to remedy” potential difficulties could be taken as having an ominous ring to it. On the other hand, it does speak of “truly serious difficulties”, as though to rule out frivolous complaints by obstructionist Modernist ordinaries.

But what I found really interesting was what this implies for the prospects for the Holy Father celebrating a public Papal T.L.M. The first commenter in the combox at Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post noted that

Pope Benedict will publicly celebrate the EF ad orientem.” is not on the list…

Comment by
Geremia — 5 January 2010 @ 4:51 pm
To which Fr. Zuhlsdorf replied:

Geremia: That is because that won’t happen until after the three-year review of SP takes place.

Comment by
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf — 5 January 2010 @ 4:54 pm
And in response to the following follow-up comment:

… Fr Z.: Yeah, but that will be in July, right? He could still celebrate it after July.

Comment by
Geremia — 5 January 2010 @ 5:31 pm
Fr. Zuhlsdorf elaborated:

Geremia: You think this will be done quickly? ROFL!

Think about it. Bishops will start sending reports after the three year mark of implementation… SEPTEMBER 2010. The reports will trickle in.

The Holy See will have to wait for the reports until “enough” have arrived.

Then everything will have to be studied and debated.

The results will eventually be presented to the Holy Father, at that time at least a year older.

Comment by
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf — 5 January 2010 @ 5:45 pm
Nevertheless, even if His Holiness does eventually celebrate a public Papal T.L.M. (a prospect which now seems a lot less remote to me than it did before I was reminded of the invitation for Episcopal feedback after three years) we must be careful not to be overly optimistic about what it implies; the Latin Church desperately needs the T.L.M. to be restored as her normative, indeed her only, rite, but I get the impression that the Holy Father sees the T.L.M. more as a means to improving the style with which the Novus Ordo Missæ is celebrated—Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s notion of a ‘gravitational pull’—in the vain hope of pulling the N.O.M. out of its anarchic death-spiral.

Reginaldvs Cantvar

Friday, January 1, 2010

On Msgr. Ingham’s announcement of The Diocese of Wollongong’s Pastoral Planning process

The Lord Bishop of Wollongong has announced, in his Advent Pastoral Letter (given on the Second Sunday of Advent) 2009, the launch of a process of Pastoral Planning for The Diocese of Wollongong:

This Advent I am announcing … a significant venture for our Diocese of Wollongong. Now is the time for us to work together to make new plans for a new future … We need to pause, take stock and consider our journey ahead.

[… W]e need to develop a pastoral plan for our Diocese, for our journey ahead. The first steps of this journey will entail clarifying our vision and gathering detailed information. We will need to listen to one another’s hopes and dreams about how we can strengthen our faith communities, how we can welcome the stranger and care for the poor and the suffering, and how we can best celebrate our communion as the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We will be challenged to “change our mindset”, as Pope Benedict recently put it, and to understand that lay people and clergy are “co-responsible” for the Church now and in the future. We will need to set realistic goals and develop lines of action to achieve these goals.

[…] I am bold enough to hope that by the end of 2010 we will have an overarching plan that will take heed of existing plans that some parishes and church agencies have already developed, and that will guide future planning in our Diocese.

[…] To assist us to shape a plan that will take us into the future, I have established a Pastoral Planning Steering Committee with expertise and representation from across the Diocese.

[…] I intend to write to you again early in the New Year with an interim report on the work of the Steering Committee and I will give you further updates throughout 2010.These are exciting times. Let us pray for wisdom, right judgement and courage as we pause, take stock, and consider the road ahead. On your behalf, I entrust this important initiative for our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother.

It must be noted, though, that Msgr. Ingham has left the Pastoral Planning process till rather late, perhaps too late; His Lordship has been the local Ordinary since mid-2001 and has only about six years left until he is due for retirement.

The motive inducing His Lordship to initiate this process is clear when he writes that

we recognise that many of our committed parishioners, our religious and our clergy are ageing. We are aware that many among us, while initiated into Catholic Christianity, have become separated from the day-to-day life and worship of the Church.
Obviously, that the abandonment by most Australian nominal Catholics of the Sacramental life of the Church is apparent in all Australian Sees, not just Wollongong, hardly needs to be pointed out, but what is particularly striking is that it is apparent even among those who have gone through supposedly Catholic schools—with the Wollongong Catholic Education Office (C.E.O.) schools no exception, and, I surmise, perhaps among the worst-affected—all the way from kindergarten to Year 12. I doubt whether average monthly Mass attendance by Wollongong C.E.O. high schools pupils would be more than once or twice, and I wouldn’t even expect a majority of Wollongong C.E.O. primary school pupils to belong to families dedicated to attending Mass each Sunday unless excused by some proportionate cause. Speaking of the primary schools, no doubt they perform impressively in the religious literacy tests, but do they retain this knowledge, or is it lost, as usually happens for exams for which one has crammed, even when one has done well in the test? Then again, that might not be such a bad thing, depending on the schools’ treatment of the subject matter involved. As for the Wollongong C.E.O. high school graduates, I would not expect the percentage of them—even the most recent graduates—attending Mass on any given Sunday to exceed the low single digits, though it’s possible (but unlikely) that there has been a significant (in the statistical sense, if in no other sense) up-tick in attendance rates for all groups of young people since World Youth Day 2008, though who knows how long that would last, if it’s even occurred at all. Of course, this low-single-digit percentage will probably drift back up to a (very-)low-double-digit percentage for those graduates who bring up their respective children as Catholics when they start families, but then the cycle will continue with the returnees’ respective children; actually, more of a downward spiral than a cycle, since the percentage will probably decrease, given current trends, with each generation. It will be interesting to see what findings on the involvement of Catholic school pupils and graduates in parish life the Pastoral Planning process produces from its research.

But even among those who do attend Sunday Mass in the Diocese with only rare exceptions, what is their spiritual life like? Why do they have so few children? And there are many other related questions which could be asked.

Let’s have a look at the Identity, Vision and Mission statements for the planning process:


The Diocese of Wollongong is the community of Christ’s faithful, under the care of their Bishop within the Catholic Church, in a region stretching from Campbelltown City and Camden Council in the North, Wollondilly Shire and Wingecarribee Shire in the west, and through Wollongong City, Shellharbour City, Kiama Municipality and Shoalhaven City in the South.


Our vision for the diocese is the vision of Jesus Christ for his followers, ‘that they may have life, and have it abundantly…that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’ (John 10:10, 17:23 NRSV)


Our mission is grounded in the mission of Jesus and that of the Catholic Church: to be the light of all nations, to share the joys and the hopes and the griefs and the anxieties of all people, and to proclaim the good news of salvation to every creature.[1] In the Diocese of Wollongong we are therefore called to work together:

• to live and teach the way of Jesus Christ for a fully human life
• to celebrate the liturgy and provide pastoral care
• to develop new ministries in emerging areas of need
• for the unity of all Christians and understanding between all religions
• to seek reconciliation with those separated from the Church
• to share healing, shelter, dignity, hope and community with all
• for peace, justice and the integrity of creation.

We will endeavour to do this as best we can, in the love of the Father, following the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit.

[1] As described at Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church §1, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World §1, and reflecting Jesus’ command to his disciples in Mark 16:15)

There doesn’t seem to be anything in there which is objectionable in itself, though the overall tone does seem insipid and somewhat naturalistic. Moreover, it is obviously very much ‘in the Spirit of Vatican II’, and that’s where the big problem lies. Speaking of that Council and its ‘Spirit’, there’s another bugbear I have about the documents for the Process, and it relates to this, where we see Vatican II’s anthropocentrism starkly apparent:

Centred on the Eucharist
Where all should be welcomed, where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed, where we are nourished by Word and Sacrament, and where our mission is renewed.
One might see “Centred on the Eucharist” and think ‘ah, good—centred on the Eucharist means centred on God, which is as it should be’. But notice how, as they say, ‘it’s all about us’—about “our pain”, “our brokenness” (whatever that means; more on this shortly), “where we are nourished”? How Holy Mass is considered not as a Sacrifice of adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and impetration and therefore directed to and focused on God, but as a sort of group therapy whither we can all go for ‘affirmation’ (especially evident where it says “where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed”, so that we indulge ourselves in our own imagined victimhood, distracting us from the true Victim on Whom our entire attention should be focused at Mass)? So ‘Centred on the Eucharist’ is, bizarrely, nothing of the sort—it is centred on us. And this sort of crass anthropocentrism is contained in one of the four key “Theological Principles and Parameters for Pastoral Planning” by which the whole Process is to be guided! With this sort of confusion, one is driven almost to despair for this venture. What good can possibly come of this? Notice also that, when the Mission Statement speaks of how we are “called to work together”, there is no distinction according to state of life, according to whether one is a cleric, a religious or a married person. Of course, Msgr. Ingham did make this distinction in his Pastoral Letter, but the context in which His Lordship did so does nothing to assuage me:

We will be challenged to “change our mindset”, as Pope Benedict recently put it, and to understand that lay people and clergy are “co-responsible” for the Church now and in the future
What I fear is that the Pastoral Plan will involve an exaggerated notion of lay-clerical ‘co-responsibility’, thus continuing the post-Vatican-II trend of ‘clericalising the laity and laicising the clergy’ and only making the situation worse, especially with respect to answering vocations to the priesthood.

(And what is it with the Conciliar Church and all this talk of ‘healing our brokenness’? It’s maudlin, effeminate, trite, self-indulgent and vague. What, precisely, is it supposed to mean? Is it a reference to actual sin? Certainly, the reception of the Holy Eucharist “remits venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin”, in the words of the Catechism of St. Pius X (see here), but Its reception doesn’t remit mortal sin—God forbid that anyone should receive It with mortal sin on his or her conscience, as I fear many do in the Diocese. Is it a reference to original sin? Certainly, the reception of the Holy Eucharist “allays in us the fires of concupiscence” (again, from the Catechism of St. Pius X). But if it is a reference either to actual or original sin, then why not just come right out and use the dreaded ‘s’-word?)

So what measures would I recommend to the Pastoral Planning committee? Well, you can probably guess what sort of things I’d advise; I’d point out that the experiment of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missæ has failed miserably, yielding fruits which are not merely bitter, but toxic. Why not, to borrow Msgr. Lefebvre’s famous words, try the experiment of Tradition? Why not make the Traditional Latin Mass the normative rite for the Diocese? Why not require primary school pupils actually to learn a catechism, like the Catechism of St. Pius X? And that’s just for starters; for more ideas, bring in some S.S.P.X. priests as consultants. The Diocese could become the model for Australian Ecclesiastical renewal through Tradition.

But of course the thought of Msgr. Ingham and the Diocese converting to Tradition is a fantasy; His Lordship is a Vatican II/N.O.M. True Believer, with his Diocese’s annual Vatican II Seminar, his facilitation of lay Lectors and so-called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and his failure to overhaul—if anything it has worsened under him—the basically Protestant culture of the Diocese. (Actually, that might be a bit unfair to Protestants—at least serious Protestants aren’t known for having liturgical dancers prance around at their conventicles.) His Lordship eagerly advertises Vatican II/N.O.M.-oriented Papal/Vatican Acts, yet greeted what is perhaps the most important piece of Ecclesiastical legislation since the new C.I.C., namely, Summorum Pontificum, with silence, and has not even mentioned it in any of his official pronouncements, as far as I know*, in the two-and-a-half years since its promulgation. (After writing that in my draft, I did a Google search of the keywords "Summorum Pontificum" and "Peter Ingham" and discovered a fascinating ‘Pastoral Reflection’, circulated ad clerum and dated 14 September 2007 and published at The Sybil’s blog on 17 December 2008; you may read it here.) This simultaneous empathy for Protestantism and antipathy towards Tradition was clear in the schedule of events during the WYD08 Cross and Icon’s visit to the Diocese—all manner of ‘ecumenical services’ (and ‘interfaith’ gatherings, and Aboriginal ceremonies), but not a single Traditional Latin Mass event. But perhaps Msgr. Ingham’s clearest statement of his vision for the local (and the universal) Church is a non-verbal one—the Diocese’s most recently-constructed (as far as I know) church, that of the Parish of Mary Immaculate, Eagle Vale. This building is circular in structure (like a pagan temple, and completely alien to Catholic architectural tradition), so that the seating inside it is ‘in the round’ so that the community is, as one writer put it (I think you’ll know who), turned in on itself (‘centred on the Eucharist’ indeed), while the Tabernacle is banished from the sanctuary, with a grotesque totem-pole-like wooden carving depicting Christ crucified, risen and returning in glory, with the inscriptions ‘Christ has died’, ‘Christ is risen’ and ‘Christ will come again’ on the three parts, respectively, where the Tabernacle should be, so that the Mass is considered erroneously as ‘Paschal Mystery’ rather than as one and the same Sacrifice as on Mount Calvary (differing only in manner of offering), offered ‘for the quick and the dead’. This is the vision which the Pastoral Plan, once finalised, will seek to realise, and so one can only expect that the Plan will do nothing to rectify the situation; indeed, since it will only be a renewed and reinvigorated offering of ‘more of the same’ the decay might even accelerate.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Circumcision of Our Lord, A.D. 2010

Dialogue against Protestant errors

A reader e-mailed me some remarks made by an anti-Catholic polemicist. I e-mailed that reader a couple of messages refuting, in dialogue form, the polemicist’s errors. Here are those messages (the polemicist’s remarks are in quotation marks, with mine following underneath; there are also two Scriptural and Patristic citations in quotation marks as well; in the original messages the polemicist’s name was written, but in order to conceal his identity in case he does not wish it to be advertised here I use the pseudonym ‘Mr. N’ in its place):
Message 1:


“I believed in God most definitely from that moment on, but over the next 9 months or so discovered things about the church that I could not square with the Bible.”

In other words, ‘which [he] could not square with his interpretation of the Bible’.

“I notice you did not address the concept of priests”

There’s no need to; Mr. N needs to prove sola Scriptura and private judgment before we move on debating any other point of doctrine.

“The temple curtain tore. Do you know what that actually meant?”

Yes, it means that the Old Law had been abolished; see St. Leo the Great’s Sermon LXVIII, section 3:

“so evident a transition [i.e. by the Passion of Our Lord] was being effected from the Law to the Gospel, from the synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to the One Victim , that, when the Lord gave up the ghost, that mystic veil which hung before and shut out the inner part of the Temple and its holy recess was by sudden force torn from top to bottom , for the reason that Truth was displacing figures, and forerunners were needless in the presence of Him they announced.”

“The era of priests and sacrifices was over forever. God did the work, because only HE could do it properly.”

But if only God could offer sacrifice properly, then is God likewise the only One capable of, say, baptising properly? Of course not; God uses other people as instruments in conferring Baptism, and He also uses other people as instruments in offering anew the Most August Sacrifice in Persona Christi.

“Still having priests implies Jesus did an imperfect work.”

No it doesn’t; it implies that Our Lord willed that the fruits of His perfect work—the Redemption—be applied to the passing generations by a visible, ritual sacrifice, as the nature of man requires.

“but a priest is only a 'priest' because he is involved in sacrificial atoning works decreed by God”

Of course. But what Mr. N fails to understand is that Our Lord is capable of using other people as instruments through whom to offer anew the perfect sacrificial atoning work of Our Lord on the Holy Cross, albeit by a different manner of offering (unbloodly rather than bloody).

“And you're STILL avoiding using the bible as the authority”

Okay, so let’s take the Bible as our authority. Mr. N needs to prove from it that all of God’s Revelation to the Apostles is contained therein. He will be unable to do so (and I’d be happy to refute whatever proof-texts he supplies to the contrary), so he needs to prove why private judgment is better ‘mechanism’, so to speak, for Christians to attain the correct interpretation of the Bible and to stay unified in that correct interpretation than authoritative interpretation is. He will also be unable to do so, as is clear from consideration of the following theses:

Thesis 1: It is not feasible for the ordinary individual to come to the correct understanding of the truths contained in the Deposit of Faith by his personal interpretation of the Bible.
Proof: Even supposing that it were possible for people to interpret the Bible correctly without the aid of an earthly authority, people would still need extensive and intensive training and education in the relevant scholarly disciplines—at least to university level—in order to do so. But most people do have the time, opportunity, resources or aptitude necessary to acquire the requisite learning.

One remedy for this situation might be for the more learned believers to assist the less learned believers to come to know the truth. But those more learned believers would need to speak with authority (indeed, with God’s authority), otherwise the less learned believers could never have the certainty of Faith as to what is true and false doctrine. This brings us to the following corollary to Thesis 1:
Corollary: If Our Lord wanted His followers to know the True Faith and stay united in it then He would have established an institutional authority capable of ruling irreformably and infallibly on doctrinal questions.

Thesis 2: Even if we were all extraordinary individuals, highly intelligent, fluent in Classical Hebrew, Classical Greek and Latin, and with university-level training in all the scholarly disciplines involved in interpreting the Bible, we would not be able to come to agreement as to which doctrines are contained in the Deposit of Faith and which are errors.
Proof: One need only look at how many learned men disagree as to the correct interpretation of the Bible. (How many tens of thousands of Protestant sects are there as of December 31, 2009?)
Corollary: As for Thesis 1.

Now what I’ve written so far just deals with the difficulty of interpreting the Bible once one knows what the Canon of the Bible is. But the other problem with sola Scriptura is knowing what Scripture is in the first place; Mr. N has an infallible book (with which I agree, of course—the Bible is infallible, but the private interpretation of it by any old layman is not) but no infallible contents page, so to speak. Sola Scriptura is, for these reasons and, no doubt, many others, completely untenable.

“'Unwritten word of God' is just an obfuscation. Now, I know that there are infinite mysteries within the knowledge of God still unknown to us””

Mr. N appears not to understand what Catholics mean by what he calls the ‘unwritten Word of God’. What we mean is that the Apostles and Evangelists did not transmit to posterity all that which Our Lord and the Holy Ghost revealed to them by writing; they transmitted some of it by writing (that’s the New Testament) and some of it orally, which subsequent generations wrote down. (And, lacking a proof from Mr. N of sola Scriptura or a disproof of the assertion that the Church and the earthly Vicar of her Head speak with that Head’s authority, there is no reason to suppose otherwise.) So we are talking about what was revealed but not written down by the Apostles and Evangelists (or their respective amanuenses) themselves, but Mr. N seems to talk about what was not revealed at all, talking about how he “know[s] that there are infinite mysteries within the knowledge of God still unknown to us”.

“The Word of God MUST trump the church in such situations, otherwise it will all unravel for Christendom very quickly.”

This statement is almost laughable; it was precisely when private judgment and sola Scripura most boldly reared their ugly heads—i.e. the time of the Protestant Revolt—that Christendom began to unravel, and quickly. (And continues to do so—Protestant sects multiply every year.)

“You can't claim something has more value and/or authority than the thing that first gives it value and/or authority.”

We don’t; we merely claim that the Church speaks with God’s authority, the same authority with which the Bible was given us by those who received God’s dictation.

“And do you really believe that "having a laugh" is not allowed?!? Or drinking alcohol? That's just silly”

Yet some Protestants believe that the Bible forbids us to partake of alcohol, do they not?

“Do you believe that the Protestant churches are part of the Church of Jesus Christ?”

No, I do not and they are not. They neither have nor even claim tacit consent from the Roman Pontiff in their establishment, and neither have nor claim Apostolic succession from churches which were established with the at-least-tacit consent of the Roman Pontiff.


Message 2:


“Actually, more accurately, 'that which could not be reconciled with that which God has directly revealed in his Word.'”

We are going around in circles here; I can take Mr. N’s latest formulation and state it more precisely as ‘'that which could not be reconciled with *his interpretation of* that which God has directly revealed in his Word.'’ One way or another an interpretation is needed; is it to come from a fallible interpreter or an infallible one? Mr. N’s answer is: A fallible one—himself.

“The difference is very big. There are many matters in the Word that are not open to debate - ie. Jesus being the Son of God”

To take Mr. N’s first example: The generation of Our Lord. We know that Jesus Christ is the natural Son of God—true God from true God, in the words of the Nicene Creed. But the Protestant cannot simply say that the matter is “not open to debate”, because some people, some of them very erudite—see my lengthy discussion with Vynette at Mr. Schütz’s blog recently—advance Scriptural arguments to say that He is only the Son of God ‘morally’, and that we can all be sons and daughters of God in the very same respect as Our Lord was and is. Catholics can rest assured that Our Lord is the natural Son of God because it was settled finally by the authority of the Council of Nicæa, but the Protestant only has his own fallible judgment by which to settle the matter.

“Wrong. As I have pointed out repeatedly that is backward thinking. The onus is on YOU first to prove the authority of the church by showing in scripture where it adheres to God's teaching and responding appropriately (ie. citing other Scripture) when it is accused of diverting from God's teachings.”

Mr. N is hopelessly confused here; he seems unable to perceive that he is question-begging—making an as-yet-unproven (and, in fact, impossible to prove) assumption, namely, that all that which was revealed is contained in Scripture. What I am saying to Mr. N is this: I agree that the Bible is infallible. Now show me in the Bible where it says that only the Bible is infallible, and that all truths necessary for salvation are contained therein. (Further on he provides one proof-text, and I’ll deal with that shortly.)

“This is God's way of giving us a level of accountability, otherwise there is no reliable way to "correct, rebuke & encourage"”

And yet the Catholic Church has shown herself quite capable of ‘correcting, rebuking and encouraging’, far better than any Protestant sect.

“God has established scripture as his yardstick - you shouldn't be questioning it.”

Yes, Scripture is God’s yardstick—now please show me where Scripture states that it is His *only* yardstick. (More on this shortly.)

“Hmmm, I would say it is logical to argue that if forerunners were not needed any more then neither are 'backrunners', so to speak.”

The key part in my quotation from St. Leo the Great was when he spoke of the transition “from many sacrifices to the One Victim”. A sacrifice has a priest and a victim; if one sacrifice has the same priest and the same victim as another sacrifice then the two are substantially the same. Now in the Sacrifice on Mt. Calvary, the Priest was Our Lord and so was the Victim. Likewise in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Priest is Our Lord, since the ministerial priest is only His instrument, and the Victim is also Our Lord—‘This is My Body, This is My Blood’. The two Sacrifices are, therefore, really one and the same.

“Why try to emulate that which God has already perfectly done for us?”

It isn’t an emulation, it’s one and the same thing.

“That is a worthless human-reasoned comparison, extrapolation and obfuscation.”

Am I to infer that Mr. N’s own reasonings are somehow non-human-reasoned?

“Baptism is entirely different from the sacrifice that brings our salvation.”

Really? *Entirely* different? Baptism applies the fruits of the Redemption to the baptised, does it not? And Holy Communion also applies the fruits of the Redemption.

“The Word, especially in Hebrews, makes it clear that the work is done [1.]. And so many other things point this way too. ie - Jesus saying "it is finished". Jesus offering the bread and wine as "remembrance" [2.] (note - NOT as a "ritual sacrifice" [3.] or as a 'sharing' of his work or any other twisting).”
[my square-bracketed interpolations]

1. The Mass is one and the same work as on Mt. Calvary.2. Our Lord gave the command to ‘do [it] in memory of [Him]’ after he had pronounced the words of institution. And remembrance and sacrifice are not mutually exclusive.3. Yet the Last Supper was ritualistic and the double consecration—a Sacramental separation of Body and Blood—implies a sacrifice.

“The Catholic teaching here is an insult to the perfection of Jesus.”

Where does the Church teach that the Mass somehow adds to the perfection of Jesus in the atonement?

“Even Jesus didn't expect formal 'consent' to act within God's will for the extension of His Kingdom on earth, just adherence to the truth of God's teachings.”

An adherence which history demonstrates is rather difficult to maintain without an authority to preserve unity and truth.

“Note especially how I have just pointed consistently to God's Word”

To his interpretations thereof, he means.

“and you consistently only use it where convenient, often diverting to fallible human reasoning as if it was authoritative”

Mr. N is the one taking his fallible human reasonings about the meaning of the Bible as if it were authoritative, not me.

“you just basically tell others to shut up because you have decided they are wrong and in danger of hellfire, even as they expressly acknowledge and uphold the blood sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation from sin and his defeat of death evidenced by his physical resurrection.”

Is Mr. N an advocate of the heresy of ‘mere Christianity’, as though people can just agree on the principle points of Christian doctrine and agree to disagree on supposedly ‘less important’ points? So for instance, here Mr. N seems to imply that belief in Our Lord’s Sacrifice and His Resurrection are somehow sufficient for salvation (please correct me if I am wrong).

“I think we will just have to decide to leave it here.”

Fair enough, but I would appreciate if I you could respond to at least one more comment, where, shortly, I deal with 2 Tim. 3:16.

“btw, I think you meant 'don't', not 'do' - as in "have the time" - in your first Thesis”

Correct—sorry about that.

“LOL! As if Catholics were all in agreement! C'mon, that is starry-eyed idealism at best, willful distortion at worst. The Catholic church is just as much subject to human failings as any other organization. You would have me believe it is perfect.”

Now right from where Mr. N says “As if Catholics were all in agreement!” it is clear that he has failed to understand what I am talking when I speak of the necessity of an authority for keeping a body of believers united in the Faith. When the Pope or a Council defines a doctrine which the faithful are irrevocably bound to hold as certainly true (or false), the Catholic knows that, obviously, he must agree with this doctrinal definition if he wishes to remain a Catholic. He is free to disagree with it, of course, but he thereby cuts himself off from the Church. A ‘Catholic’ who rejects an authoritative teaching of the Church is no Catholic at all. So the fact that, lamentably, many nominal ‘Catholics’ disagree with many authoritative teachings is not an argument against authoritative teaching, because abusus non tollit usum—abuse does not detract from use. Far from doctrinal disagreement being an argument against authority, it is, in fact, an eloquent argument against private judgment, because it is precisely by preferring private judgments to authoritative public ones that dissenting ‘Catholics’ fall away from unity in the Faith. Catholics who properly ‘use’ the Church’s authority—by assenting to her authoritative judgments in matters of Faith and morals—remain united in the Faith, whereas those who abuse it—by abandoning it in favour of private judgment—fall away. But the proper ‘use’ of private judgment—taking oneself as an authority in matters of Scriptural interpretation—inevitably leads to chaos, as Protestant history shows.

“The game the way the Catholics play it is open to abuse since they can just play the 'we know best' routine and dismiss scriptural proofs out of hand.”

Catholics are more than happy to refute—not dismiss out of hand—Protestant proof texts (the scholarly discipline of Polemical Theology, with luminaries such as St. Robert Bellarmine, flourished in the wake of the Protestant Revolt). The fact is, though, that the Church *does* know best; Mr. N’s alternative is that every Joe Protestant knows best.

“One more thing - you say I believe the Bible is ALL of God's revelation. That's kind-of right, but it needs a bit of defining. Certainly I believe it is 'all' in as much as it is 'enough'. Enough for our salvation, correction and guidance. (2 Tim 3:16) So it is 'all' we NEED and it is 'all' or sufficient for what God has decreed for our fallen lives to have here on earth.”

By invoking 2 Tim. 3:16, the standard Protestant proof-text for sola Scriptura, Mr. N shows that he suffers from the great Protestant fallacy of equating the conditional relation (‘if … then …’) with the bi-conditional relation (‘if and only if’), in other words, equating necessity with sufficiency. Let’s look at 2 Tim 3:16 (plus 17 for completeness):

“All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice: That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.”

That’s the Douay-Rheims translation, but whatever translation one uses, the gist of these two verses is that there is a conditional (‘if X then Y’) relation between Scripture (X) and three things (together composing Y): profitability to teach, reprove, correct and instruct in justice (Y1), perfection (Y2) and being furnished to every good work (Y3). That’s a conditional relation—*not* a bi-conditional one; St. Paul does not teach that if *and only if* one has X (Scripture) then one has Y (as given earlier); if he had meant to do so he would have written something like “All scripture, and nothing else …”, or “All scripture, and only scripture …” or perhaps, one might have expected, “Scripture alone” (since ‘sola Scriptura’ means ‘by Scripture alone’). In fact, he says no such thing, and nor do any of the inspired writers. We need Scripture for Y1, Y2 and Y3 (among other things)—after all, as St. Jerome said, ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ—but that same Scripture does not teach that we need Scripture *alone*.

“So your 'solution' is to institutionalize those fallible interpretations and claim them as the only true ones?”

More question-begging (when you speak of institutionalising fallible interpretations)—the Catholic argument is that the Magisterium is a Divinely-constituted and therefore infallible institution.

“It is clear which model works better.”

Number of Catholic Churches: One. Number of Protestant sects: In the tens of thousands.

“Until we die and are made perfect, individual interpretation is the best we can have.”

In other words, the omnipotent and omniscient Lord foresaw how fissiparous a means for Scriptural interpretation is private judgment and yet gave it to us as the only means for understanding revelation, despite Him having the power to do otherwise. Or in other words, God made inadequate provision for the preaching of the Gospel.

“Do you understand the difference? Yes, I may indeed as an individual get interpretations of Scripture (that which is open to interpretation) wrong.”

It is *all* open to interpretation—how many more flavours of Protestantism need to be concocted before you see that? I suspect that the different permutations of Scriptural (mis)interpretations will never be exhausted.

“The problem with your statement is that you believe that YOUR idea of ONE church here on earth is how God views it.”

Yet St. Paul teaches (I cannot think of chapter and verse, though) that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth. A pillar is one; if it is smashed into pieces then the whole edifice collapses. You seem not to think that God desires us to be completely unified in the Faith, or at least that He doesn’t value such unity very highly.

“But God decided that what He gave us was enough. For that reason alone I must reject your concept. That doesn't mean there might not be anything very useful in non-biblical sources, I just need to be aware of the one reliable measuring stick God has given me.”

I ask again: Please prove that Scripture teaches that it *alone* contains the truths necessary for salvation.

“And the onus is on you to prove that the "early Vicar" has the authority you claim.”

I would like to do so, but there is no point in trying to do so until you prove sola Scripture, because as long as you hold to sola Scriptura you could never accept the de iure rights of the Roman Pontiff.

“In heaven, I suspect none of that will matter.”

I had thought that you were a so-called ‘orthodox Protestant’, one who believes, among other things, that God revealed certain truths and that one must believe these at least implicitly and deny none of them explicitly but apparently you are a non-dogmatic, liberal Protestant, seeming to think that people can get into Heaven with scant regard for whether they have right belief or not.

“I actually agree with that, but I simply maintain that a church only has authority in as much as it endeavours to adhere to God's Word, since that came first.”

No, you maintain more than that, since I agree that a body which does not adhere to God’s Word has no authority, it’s just that I believe that God’s Word is not contained entirely between the covers of the Bible. So, more fully, you maintain ‘that a church only has authority inasmuch as it endeavours to adhere to God’s *written* Word and that written Word alone.’

“SOME do. Some non-Christians don't drink either. So what? End of discussion really. Given that John the Baptist expressly did not drink, yet Jesus expressly did and even changed water into wine, what is your point? And don't you see how trivial and worthless your arguments are likely to be when you begin to talk about the personalities of individuals? If you were on solid ground argumentatively with Scripture, you would never consider it necessary.”

My point is that sin is displeasing to God, and I want to live in such a way as not to displease God. So if I have someone telling me convincingly that drinking is displeasing to God then I would want to abstain from liquor. I don’t regard arguments about the sinfulness or non-sinfulness of drinking—or of any activity, for that matter—as ‘trivial and worthless’. Some Protestants—Baptists and, if I recall correctly, Seventh-Day Adventists, among others—say that it is sinful to drink, and I’m sure that they think that they have “solid ground argumentatively with Scripture” for thinking so. Most Protestants disagree. But whom is one to believe, the teetotalers or the drinkers? How much easier it would be if God had instituted an earthly authority to provide final resolutions to such disputes over matters of Faith and morals …

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Circumcision of Our Lord, A.D. 2010

Three (unrelated) tidbits: On intrinsic evil, Anglicans and the new National Liturgical Architecture and Art Board, respectively

Firstly, Happy New Year!, and I hope that you had a merry Christmas. Now in his latest Making Sense Out of Bioethics column (which I read in the Sydney Catholic Weekly recently), The Rev. Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk gave an interesting quotation:

Bioethicist Paul Ramsey put it well in suggesting that any man of serious conscience, when discussing ethics, will have to conclude that, “there may be some things that men should never do. The good things that men do can be made complete only by the things they refuse to do."

An interesting fact regarding the so-called Church of England was related in a recent British Daily Telegraph article (which I found first at Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s blog):

The Revision Committee for women bishops, after all, dropped proposals for legal protection for them in the wake of the Pope’s initiative.

The “them” refers to Anglicans opposed to ladybishops, and the “initiative” is, of course, Anglicanorum coetibus and its related provisions. Now the choice confronting Anglican traditionalists could no longer be any starker; surely this move by the Revision Committee would have to disabuse traditional Anglicans of the notion that Anglicanism can somehow accomodate those who uphold the doctrine of a male-only hierarchy.

Finally, the News from the November 2009 Plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (December 4, 2009) mentioned the following:

On other liturgical matters, the Bishops voted to approve the establishment of a National Liturgical Architecture and Art Board which will concern itself with researching and advising Bishops and others who request assistance on the matter of ecclesiastical architecture and sacred art.
[p. 8,
(P.D.F. document)]

It will be interesting to see whom the Bishops appoint to this Board.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Circumcision of Our Lord, A.D. 2010