Patrick Craine

Blogs

US Bishops: Bloggers play ‘critical role’ in defending the Church

Patrick Craine

Relations between Catholic bloggers and Church officials have at times been quite strained as the new media has developed in the last couple years. Some prelates, clergy, and chancery officials have expressed strong reservations about the Catholic blogosphere, with some even speaking quite derogatorily.

Church leaders have been angered by the penchant of many bloggers to call them out on their failures to expound and defend controversial Catholic teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion.

The difficulties got to the point that last year the Vatican convened a special conference for bloggers to try to build bridges and learn more about this new method for advancing the Gospel.

But now even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is saying Catholic bloggers have a “critical role” in defending the Church.

In a new statement on religious freedom released today they write:

The Catholic Church in America is blessed with an immense number of writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers, and bloggers employing all the means of communications—both old and new media—to expound and teach the faith. They too have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom.



Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Blogs,

Pope Francis seems out of touch with the reality of modern Catholicism

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

April 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, his final word on the two Synods on the Family, shows a remarkable depth of knowledge about the struggles of families, their joys, and sorrows, their struggles and their triumphs. Much of the 250+ page document can be read with interest by couples discerning marriage to see what they are in for and garner a good amount of sage advice, especially psychological advice on how to have a happy and lasting union.

That same keen insight however seems lacking when Pope Francis assesses the modern Church. The exhortation gives evidence that the Pope is misinformed about the interior life of parishes.  While getting very detailed information on the realities of family life, the Pope proffered what seems like pure fantasy as he suggested that when presenting marriage, pastors often do so with “an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation,” overshadowing love, mutual assistance and unity.  

As the countless Catholic couples in Catholic marriage prep classes over the last 40 years will attest, the opposite is true. The duty of procreation is given a nod if mentioned at all. You’d never guess that procreation is the primary end of marriage as the Church actually teaches.

It is almost as if the Pope seems to be envisioning the Church today as if it were the liberal perception of 1950s Catholicism.  As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat mentioned in a conference speech the other day: “The idea that there is this glorious future church waiting to be born as long as we get rid of the dead hand of 1950s Catholicism that the pope seems to perceive everywhere he looks, is nuts! It’s just nuts. That’s not where Catholicism in the West is right now.”

In another example from the exhortation, Pope Francis claims the Church has failed to encourage an openness to grace and is simply “stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues,” as if that would be “providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.”  Once again, the couples in marriage prep and those in most parishes would wonder how they totally missed this supposed stress on doctrinal, bioethical, or moral issues.

It is reminiscent of the first year of his papacy when Pope Francis suggested that Catholic clergy were over-focused on “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” causing many to wonder, as did Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa, where exactly those preachers obsessed on those issues might be hiding.  Vasa suggested rather that the “vast majority” never talk about those matters.  Francis’ suggestion was a marked contrast to Pope St. John Paul II’s admonition to propose those same truths “constantly and courageously” (Evangelium Vitae 82).

“We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful,” says the Pope in Amoris Laetitiae, “who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.” In the exhortation the Pope also repeats his stern warning from his 2013 Gospel of Joy, that priests are not to treat the confessional as “a torture chamber” or reserve Holy Communion as “a prize for the perfect.”

If such a form of Catholicism ever existed among the majority of priests, it is long dead.  I’m sure there are some such priests alive today, but they are the tiniest minority. The pendulum has swung so far to the opposite extreme, that in the vast majority priests say hardly anything about the duty of procreation in marriage, and we’ve had virtual silence from most pulpits on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.  

When is the last time you saw any priest anywhere denying someone Holy Communion for not being perfect? If you have heard something of it, it was so rare as to make the national news.  For crying out loud, what part of 1950s Catholicism can remain alive if Catholic abortion-pushers like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are not denied Communion but rather invited to give talks at the Vatican!?



Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image

Blogs,

A man shouldn’t hit a woman…unless she’s asking for it?

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

March 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – When former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted last week of sexual assault and choking, the Internet exploded. Many accused the judge, who excoriated the accusers in Ghomeshi’s case as unreliable, evasive, and even deceitful, of victim-blaming. Others, including Christie Blatchford of the National Post, announced that justice had been done. She had been writing incredulously about the unravelling of the witness testimony since the trial began.

It shouldn’t be surprising to us that in a culture that regularly glorifies sexual violence, it becomes harder to convict someone of sexual violence. 

Besides the typical outrage from the #feminism crowd, the reason so many people are genuinely stunned at Ghomeshi’s acquittal is because the evidence seemed so overwhelming. Not the evidence presented in court, mind you—that was clearly lacking. I mean the evidence presented in the media when the scandal first broke. While Ghomeshi has been legally acquitted of four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcoming resistance by choking,” he was accused by 22 different women of 23 different incidents.

For weeks, blogs and news outlets featured stories of different women who had gone on dates with Ghomeshi, only to have the smooth-talking radio host suddenly turn into an ugly, violent misogynist. Those who didn’t experience Ghomeshi’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression did report that he was a wildly insecure, hyper-sexual playboy who often crossed the line, usually with women a couple decades younger than him. In short, we all found out that Jian Ghomeshi was a creep. But it’s not illegal to be a creep. In fact, it’s very likely that Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of sexual assault, but that he can never be convicted of it. As I wrote two years ago when the scandal broke:

Every so often, media outlets accidentally say more than they intend to. The sub-headline to the Toronto Star’s breaking news story “CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi over sex allegations” is one such time: “Ousted host of Q denies claims by three women of unwanted sexual violence and threatens to sue…”

Got that? There doesn’t seem to be a debate here over whether or not the practices the upstanding Mr. Ghomeshi was engaging in were, in fact, sexual violence. This debate hinges on whether or not that sexual violence was “unwanted.”

The Ghomeshi case was not about whether or not Jian was a connoiseur of sexual violence. He admitted that up front, in the nauseating open letter he posted on Facebook prior to being charged with sexual assault. He admitted that his “sexual tastes” would be “unpalatable” to many people. He admitted that he enjoyed “all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom.” He admitted to relationships that resembled “50 Shades of Grey,” a porn novel featuring an aggressive, violent stalker and his naïve female subordinate. Basically, he admitted that he got off on all of the violent things he was accused of. He just said that they weren’t illegal.

It shouldn’t be surprising to us that in a culture that regularly glorifies sexual violence, it becomes harder to convict someone of sexual violence. 50 Shades of Grey, after all, sold over 100 million copies and became a blockbuster film. Over 80% of the male population is viewing pornography regularly, and most mainstream pornography now features violence against women and repulsive name-calling, precisely the type of the thing that was purportedly Jian Ghomeshi’s mo. The raw sewage of violent porn that has been pumping into our cultural consciousness for the last decade or two has been having an effect. From Fight the New Drug:

A brand new national survey was just published that asked participants what type of images they considered to be “wrong” in porn. Among the 1188 adults surveyed, 46% of those who use porn replied that images of “sexual acts that may be forced or painful” are not “wrong.” Yes, you read that correctly. Almost half of porn users think pain and abuse in pornography is fine. Even further, only 50% of teens and young adults surveyed (ages 13 to 25) think it is wrong to view these images of violent porn.

This is the problem. Our society is schizophrenic about sexual violence. On one hand, hundreds can turn out to protest Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands can buy tickets to go watch 50 Shades of Grey, and millions can log in to watch women and girls get degraded, humiliated, and violated for entertainment. In a society like this one, defence lawyers can actually ask victims if they wanted to get slapped, choked, or beaten up by the creepy dude who got his jollies from doing such things, because the culture has collectively accepted such things as legitimate avenues of sexual expression.

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

I’m not too optimistic, but I hold out hope that the Jian Ghomeshi scandal can still provoke a broader discussion about sexual violence. Sexual violence isn’t just wrong when a creepy radio host does it. It’s also wrong when we head to the theatre to be entertained by it in films like 50 Shades of Grey. It’s wrong when we surf the Internet for pornography. It’s wrong when we as a culture respond to the statement “Men shouldn’t hit women” with the reply, “Unless she’s asking for it, of course.”

Jian Ghomeshi hasn’t managed to escape all of the charges just yet. He’s heading back to court in June to face another accuser, and perhaps this time he will be convicted. But in the meantime, perhaps the breathless outrage of those incensed by Ghomeshi’s acquittal could be rerouted in another direction. Jian Ghomeshi is just a symptom of a broader cultural problem, a sad, sex-obsessed bachelor who got carried away enjoying the new sexual freedoms infecting our pornified culture. So let’s not just swat at mosquitos like Ghomeshi. Let’s drain the swamp. Let’s address the real problems. 



Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image

Blogs, , ,

Trump’s rise signals the death of the ‘Moral Majority’

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

February 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump’s victory in the South Carolina primary, the supposed Southern Bible belt, is a wakeup call to American Christians. The Moral Majority is dead.

To many, this will not be news. Many Christian leaders came to this conclusion when Bill Clinton left office with sky-high approval ratings, in spite of his affair with a White House intern, which he later lied about. The Starr Report had laid out in excruciating detail the president’s philandering predilections, and no one had cared.

One of my writer friends has often commented to me that he stopped taking American evangelicals seriously when Newt Gingrich, who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife before John Edwards made it a thing, swept the South Carolina Republican Primary in 2012. But at least Newt Gingrich has attempted to re-establish himself as someone with values. Trump barely makes any such pretences.

Evangelicals are now overwhelmingly supporting Donald Trump: 34% of them turned out for him in South Carolina, in contrast to 21% for Marco Rubio and 26% for Ted Cruz. Both of these men have publicly declared their faith, both have denounced abortion and promised to oppose Planned Parenthood, and both have committed to defending religious liberty. Both were rejected by the majority of evangelicals in South Carolina. FiveThirtyEight ironically noted that “Trump’s South Carolina Win Shows Evangelicals Aren’t Necessarily Voting On Their Faith.” Indeed.

It gets worse. The son of the Moral Majority’s founder, Jerry Falwell Jr., has actually endorsed Trump. The head of a university that makes all students agree to live a Christian lifestyle has just backed a man who is the antithesis of all that Liberty University teaches.

Consider the following:

Donald Trump has appeared on the cover of Playboy, and actually mused about whether or not his daughter would pose for the porn magazine, noting that she had “the best body.” He’s mused creepily that, “she's really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren't happily married and, ya know, her father ..."

Donald Trump has bragged about his promiscuity, even telling radio host Howard Stern that he feels “lucky” not to have contracted an STD while engaging in sexual escapades.

Donald Trump has bragged about sleeping with the wives of other men, writing in The Art of the Deal that, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.”

Trump casinos were some of the first casinos in Atlantic City to come featuring strip clubs.

Donald Trump cheated on his first two wives.

In Donald Trump’s version of Christianity, he doesn’t have to ask God for forgiveness.

Donald Trump has consistently supported abortion, throughout all nine months, until very recently. His “pro-life conversion” story is very dubious.

Donald Trump still supports Planned Parenthood, in spite of a year of horrifying revelations about the organization. One long-time pro-life veteran told me he remembers protesting a Planned Parenthood fundraiser at the Trump Building in New York.

In the face of such evidence, I’m forced to conclude that so-called Christian support for Donald Trump says nothing about Donald Trump and everything about modern Christianity. After all, 44% of mainline Protestants and 50% of Catholics voted for Barack Obama in 2012, too.

Christians are no longer voting based on their values. They are voting based on celebrity, and hype, and emotion, and who knows what else. I went to a Donald Trump rally in Charleston over the weekend, and the religious fervor of the thousands of attendees was unsettling to say the least. It seemed like part rock concert, part worship service, and the music sounded like a heavy-metal altar call at a mega-church. People were screaming, and straining to touch him when he walked by.

Those of us who work within the pro-life and pro-family movement are going to have to recognize that a large part of Christians has been seduced by the glitz and glamor of modern celebrity, and that boring issues like abortion, the sanctity of marriage, and the protection of the family don’t rank very high on their list of priorities. At least, not if you consider the way they’re voting.



Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook