Saturday, September 21, 2013

To our friends at NARAL

... and to every other gullible simpleton who honestly thought Pope Francis' interview in America signaled a leftward shift in Church doctrine (that means you, William Saletan):

The moral of our story is just this: Even liberals shouldn't believe the liberal media.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ask Tony: Did the Pope just teach that atheists can go to heaven?—UPDATED

The short answer is "No". Not "not really"; not "not in so many words". Just "no".

In just a few months, a pattern has been set such that the ineffable Fr. John Zuhlsdorf could start a companion blog named "What Did the Pope Really Say?" and not run out of material for awhile. It seems that now a month can't go by without Papa Bergoglio saying something the Vatican has to explain or walk back. The mainstream press has cast the "progressive pope" filter in concrete, and will continue to run his impromptu remarks through it until he dies or relinquishes the Chair of Peter.

It doesn't help that Papa's words sometimes take three or four readings to get clear ... especially if you have to rely on Zenit's English translation, which is only marginally better than Babelfish. When he was elected, Marcelo González of Panorama Católico Internacional sneered, "Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is." His unique, populist style sometimes gets in the way of his clarity of expression.

Maybe he should get his new head of the CDF, Abp. Gerhard Müller, to proofread these things. Or, there's supposed to be a rather eminent and well-respected theology professor living in retirement at the Vatican ....

Let's start with the context. Eugenio Scalfari, editor of La Repubblica and a non-believer, published three questions for the Pope, to which Francis responded in an open letter. After setting some initial ground work, Francis wrote:

It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that — and it’s the fundamental thing — the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience [bold font mine.—TL]. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.

The context here is not about atheism specifically, but rather about non-Christians in general. In fact, the question is closely tied with another Scalfari asked about Jews. Moreover, the question was about forgiveness, not heaven, though the two concepts are tied together. However, these distinctions were lost on the press, who proceeded to announce that Pope Francis had opened heaven to atheists, causing orthodox facepalming and Evangelical howling (as exemplified by the noted prophet and theologian Kirk Cameron, who got it wrong, too).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Catholic Stand: Tradition vs. traditionalism

The Communion song this last Sunday at the 11:30 a.m. Mass was “The Servant Song”. One might say it’s one of those Gather Hymnal songs that traditionalists point to whenever they compare the richness of the traditional Latin Mass to the relative poverty of the Novus Ordo Mass that’s been with us the last forty-odd years.

Okay, “The Servant Song” as it’s sung now is truly dreadful: with quarter notes stomping the diatonic scale on the beats, it plods along like a man flat-footing it up a sidewalk. However, I have a faint quasi-memory that at one time the melody was much more syncopated … light, sweet and inoffensive, though still too much “all about me/us” to be appropriate for worship.

So I’m a child of the 1970s. The Gather Hymnal is what I grew up with. Occasionally, though, the chorus will sing an older song, like “Lift High the Cross”, and something in me lifts up with it. And Mozart’s Requiem, though not his best work, still beats out anything by Marty Haugan.

De gustibus non est disputandum: there are times when I can really appreciate the traditionalist perspective on liturgy, especially when it comes to my first love, music. The cultural heritage of the Church is one of great aesthetic richness and beauty; when done well, the Tridentine Mass is a glorious concentrate of everything the Latin Church did right for centuries.

The great danger in traditionalism, however, is the tendency to conflate liturgical and devotional traditions with the apostolic tradition. Doctor Taylor Marshall speaks of “the [radical traditionalist] belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team’”, but that’s actually a bit mild: the further you move to the right, the more you run across the sentiment that Novus Ordo Catholics, or “neo-Catholics”, aren’t really Catholic at all — we’re crypto-Protestants with an idiosyncratic fondness for the pope.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Impractical Catholic goes on the air!—UPDATED

If you're going to be in the Louisville, Kentucky area this Thursday (9/5/13), flip your car radio to WLCR AM 1040 at 4:00 pm ET for "The Mike Janocik Show". If not, click this link to get their live feed or mobile app. Your Humble Blogger will be a guest on the show about 4:30, talking with Mike about Joseph Bottum, Dr. John Zmirak and Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage. Of course, you'll have the opportunity to call in and cuss me out (though if you do use profanity, your window of opportunity will most likely be foreshortened ... this is Catholic radio, after all). And don't be surprised if I sound like I have a permanent cold.

Ah, AM Radio. Play it, boys!