David Beresford, Ph.D

Pope Francis thwarting the restorationists: It is no longer 1970, the ‘70s are gone!

David Beresford, Ph.D
By David Beresford Ph.D

David Beresford is the current editor of Catholic Insight Magazine, and teaches at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry's Bay, Ontario. This opinion piece, penned primarily for Catholics, indicates that the Pope's criticisms about "The Pelagian Solution" and "restorationists" are something that both moral and and Catholic religious traditionalists could be delighted about.

Pope Francis has been causing quite a stir among Catholics, with his interviews and pronouncements. I am going to address some of the more controversial, to see how we should come to terms with his recent comments. One is particular stands out:

"The Pelagian solution. This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in (exaggerated) tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past." (his Address to the Leadership of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America during the General Coordination Meeting Rio de Janeiro – 28 July 2013.)

So why are progressives so elated, and conservatives downhearted by this? I for one am delighted. I have spent my entire life trying to thwart the restorationists.

So let me say it plainly: It is no longer 1970, the '70s are gone! They were bad enough to live through then and I see no reason why restoriationists are trying to bring back this dark time in the Church's history. There are few things more pathetic than the sight of old hippies trying to get a youth group going by singing some of the more morose Simon and Garfunkel songs, or trying to attract young people into the church by hijacking the parish council spots and then forcing everyone to sing banal hymns like Here I Am, Lord. Can they not see how hackneyed the whole burlap banner motif is? It was hokey in 1970's, with yellow felt cutouts of the words Peace and Love in that flower-power style of lettering. At least it was a bit Avant garde 1972, now it is simply embarrassing.

Sure, I can I understand that someone could still be nursing a secret admiration for Hans Kung and Gregory Baum, but to try and turn the clock back by almost half a century just to relive a lost youth seems to me to miss the whole point of the timelessness of the Catholic Church. As the Pope points out, the Church's message is for the present, no matter when the present is in every age. Or, as Chesterton said it, the Church is always out of step with the times because it is always the antidote or corrective needed by each time in history.

We have had a church council, Vatican II, and each pope since then  has been consistent, building on the Council documents, advancing the life of the church in the same direction, and each building on his predecessors. Pope John Paul II built on the good work done by Pope Paul VI, correcting many of the misunderstandings wrought by the same hippies-turn-professional church bureaucrats who tried to halt the progress of time.

Young JP2 Catholics, as they came to be called, were a different breed! These young people understood the need to go on pro-life marches, they were not interested in hearing how bad Nixon was, they were more interested in learning the timeless truths of their faith, organizing Eucharistic adoration, and learning to sing the Latin hymns that inspired the martyrs.

Then came the papacy of Benedict, who build on the work of JP2, clarifying the relationship between history and the present, bringing the traditional Latin Mass back into prominence as Vatican 2 directed, to inform a reverent participation in the Novus Ordo at the parish level. This was not a reaction by Benedict, but a forward thinking and progressive move that followed the clear direction of the Holy Ghost as outlined by Vatican 2! Look it up if you do not believe me.

Now, we have Pope Francis, a man who is utterly post conciliar. He has sent clear signals that he will not have his message hijacked by interest groups, or have the Gospel silenced by the infighting that the left is engaging in to undo the progress the church has made under the reign of JP2 and Benedict!

So no, I have no worries about Pope Francis. Quite the opposite. I fully support his direction at the helm of the Barque of Peter, a direction charted by Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. I feel a bit sorry for the modernists and post-modernists who think he is going to endorse their agenda of the destruction of Christian morals. And, I pity the heterodox who are trying to divide us loyal Catholics from our Pope by their mis-statements, foot dragging, and obstructionism.

We do not need to bring back the 1970's to attract the young. They are drawn to the Gospel today in all its rigour the way they have always been drawn to the Gospel. They understand that marriage is a sacrament, and is for bringing children into the world in generosity, something that our progressive colleagues seem to find hard to comprehend. They believe in the grace to overcome apparent difficulties. They listen to the pope, and are going to – as he said – make a mess as they fall on their knees to receive the Blessed Sacrament each Sunday, to the chagrin of the restorationists who try to place Our Lord on their hands – I see this where I work, in the high school and university students I teach, and the children I see at Mass each Sunday.

These youth, know the hope and strength that comes from Eucharist and the Mass, they will not be bought off by washed-up hippies living in the past. As it says in the good book: Wheresoever the body shall be, thither will the eagles also be gathered together.

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Christian clerk fights on as Sixth Circuit orders her to issue gay ‘marriage’ licenses

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By Dustin Siggins

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A federal appeals court has ordered Christian clerk Kim Davis to provide same-sex “marriage” licenses, but she’s refusing to give in.

Davis, a Democrat, says that her Christian beliefs will not allow her to issue licenses for same-sex “marriages.” Despite pressure from Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear, a lawsuit from the ACLU, and two federal court rulings, Davis has refused to issue any licenses while the matter is still working its way through the courts.

However, the Sixth District Court of Appeals said Davis must issue the licenses.

While critics say Davis must follow the law as a public employee, she says the First Amendment protects her decision even as a government worker. In addition to being sued by the ACLU, she has pro-actively taken her case to court.

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Beshear told all government employees that "you can continue to have your own personal beliefs, but, you’re also taking an oath to fulfill the duties prescribed by law, and if you are at that point to where your personal convictions tell you that you simply cannot fulfill your duties that you were elected to do, then obviously an honorable course to take is to resign and let someone else step in who feels that they can fulfill those duties.”

The initial court decision against Davis was stayed 10 days ago. Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver, whose organization represents Davis, told CNN that they might appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and are hoping the high court would issue a stay of the Sixth Circuit ruling in the interim.

A poll of Kentucky voters that was released last month found that 50 percent of the state backs natural marriage, while only 37 percent supported its redefinition. 

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Christians at Duke U refuse to read lesbian porn novel assignment

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

DURHAM, NC, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Christian freshmen at Duke University are refusing to read an assigned graphic novel depicting masturbation and homosexual intercourse. The university says the assignment was optional and won’t discipline the holdouts.

Brian Grasso emerged as the spokesperson for the dissenters after he posted his decision on the Class of 2019’s closed Facebook page. Opponents have done their best to mock and deride the holdouts as ignoramuses who don’t belong at Duke, but Grasso has addressed all their jibes, first to Duke’s student paper and then in an op-ed in the Washington Post, intelligently and engagingly.

The book at issue is Fun Home, a fictional depiction by lesbian artist Alison Bechdel of growing up with a homosexual, suicidal dad and discovering sex with other girls. “After researching the book’s content and reading a portion of it, I chose to opt out of the assignment,” Grasso told Post readers, explaining he was not opposed to learning about homosexuality any more than he would be with the ideas of “Freud, Marx or Darwin,” though he might find them immoral too.

“But in the Bible,” he went on, “Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. ‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,’ he says in Matthew 5:28-29. ‘If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.’” He then cited St. Paul to support his argument.

Grasso knew Christians would be in the minority at Duke, he admitted, but what surprised him was that Duke would blithely assign something so obviously offensive to this minority. “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”

But Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization devoted to promoting American Catholic orthodoxy at Catholic universities, isn’t surprised. “American society has been moving away from Christian values or even neutrality, especially at secular institutions but even at Catholic and other Christian schools,” Reilly told LifeSiteNews. He urged Catholic and other Christian parents and high school students to choose their universities carefully.

Other freshmen have supported Grasso: Bianca d’Souza said the novel’s ideas were important but the salacious content unnecessary and offensive. Jeffrey Wubbenhorst wrote, “”The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that the content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic content.”

But others from the class of 2019 responded, “Reading the book will allow you to open your mind to a new perspective and to examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar.”

In the same vein students wrote the Duke student newspaper Chronicle, mocking the dissenters with references to a Dr. Seuss children’s book. “Mermaid Warrior,” for example, wrote, “I’m sure there are people who think Cat in the Hat sends bad messages. That’s a big problem I have with complaints like these, ‘I shouldn’t be expected to read stuff I disagree with!’ It’s like, guess what, there’s no way to find something that everyone will agree with.”

But Grasso makes clear his issue isn’t with disagreeable ideas at all. “I think there is an important distinction between images and written words. If the book explored the same themes without sexual images or erotic language, I would have read it. But viewing pictures of sexual acts, regardless of the genders of the people involved, conflict with the inherent sacredness of sex. My beliefs extend to pop culture and even Renaissance art depicting sex.”

Inevitably, Duke itself weighed in. The book was selected for summer reading by the freshman class, explained Duke’s vice president or public affairs, Michael Schoenfeld, “because it is a unique and moving book that transcends genres and explores issues that students are likely to confront.”

After touting its artistic value and noting that a Broadway adaptation won the Best Musical award for 2015, he noted that the book was not a requirement and there would be no examination or grading. He expressed the hope that Duke’s 1,750 freshmen would arrive with open minds willing to “explore new ideas.”

But for all that, Schoenfeld did not explore the issues raised by Grasso: morality, pornography and the sexualization of relations.

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Aborted babies’ hands too disturbing? Solution: chop them off before shipping the bodies

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By John Jalsevac
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August 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - As if we needed more evidence that many of those in the abortion industry know perfectly well what they are doing, along comes the latest undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

The video includes disturbing undercover footage of a conversation with Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress, a biomedical firm that acquires the bodies of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood clinics.

During that conversation Dyer infamously jokes with an undercover investigator about the need to warn lab techs ahead of time when a fully “intact” aborted baby's cadaver is being shipped to them.

But there it is: that hand, in all of its beauty, and its horror. Beautiful, as every hand is beautiful. Horrific, in that it is attached to a dismembered arm, yanked out of its socket, and swimming in a pool of the baby’s intestines and other body parts, to be bartered over and sold. 

“If you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” she says. "Tell the lab it's coming, so they don't open the box and" scream. "Their lab techs freak out and have meltdowns."

"Academic labs cannot fly like that, they are just not capable," Dyer adds condescendingly. "It's almost like they don't want to know where it comes from. I can see that."

But don’t worry, Dyer makes it clear she knows exactly where fetal tissue comes from, and isn't bothered in the least.  However, she agrees with a joke made by the undercover investigator, that if you’re going to be shipping the intact body of an aborted baby, it would be best to always make sure that the “eyes are closed.”

But surely the saddest part of the conversation comes when Dyer reveals how some of those squeamish lab techs manage to get around their natural repugnance at receiving little, perfectly-formed babies’ bodies in the mail, which they will then slice and dice – all in the name of “medical progress,” of course.

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She says that she often receives instructions from scientists who experiment on aborted babies that, "We need limbs, but no hands and feet need to be attached."

A curious request, no? But then again, there is something especially pesky about those tiny hands and feet, isn’t there?

Human hands are, after all, a true marvel of nature – so far surpassing in dexterity the appendages of any other mammal, the unparalleled tools that have enabled human beings to build empires, create art of breathtaking beauty, and to express themselves in myriad different ways. So marvelous, in fact, that Isaac Newton is reported to have said, “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

Not only are hands and feet useful, but they knit human beings together in intimacy: lovers will hold or squeeze their beloved's hands, and friends will soothe their friends in time of sorrow by taking their hands. And then there is the case of new parents, who will go into raptures over the hands and feet of their newborn babies, and speak, using the foolish language of love, of wanting to “eat” them. Mothers will shower their newborn babies’ feet with kisses, and tickle them, and will study and fall in love with every dimple, every crease.

Perhaps that is why so many people found the fifth (or was it the sixth? I’m losing track of the horrors) video so disturbing: that footage inside the lab, when the man behind the camera uses his tweezers to delicately lift up a dismembered arm, with the hand still attached.

That arm, it is true, would not have been half so disturbing, were it not for the hand. But there it is: that hand, in all of its beauty, and its horror. Beautiful, as every hand is beautiful. Horrific, in that it is attached to a dismembered arm, yanked out of its socket, and swimming in a pool of the baby’s intestines and other body parts, to be bartered over and sold. 

Before this, we have heard the lab techs on camera identifying the baby as a twin, at about 20-weeks gestation. In other words, a baby on the very verge of viability.

But no mother will gaze in raptures at those hands and those feet. Instead, Planned Parenthood will discuss how much they can “get” for each "specimen." And perhaps Cate Dyer will instruct her staff to cut off the hands or the feet before shipping the limbs to those too-tender-hearted lab techs who might “freak out” and “have a meltdown” at being forced to see too much of the truth.

But what does it say about us, and our politicians, that the videos with those pesky hands and feet are out there circulating, watched by millions, and yet we are not “freaking out” or having any meltdowns?

Instead, our politicians are dismissing the video as being "highly edited," as if David Daleiden of CMP is a CGI wizard who can conjure up dismembered limbs at will, and even though even Planned Parenthood has never denied the existence of those dismembered arms and legs, but has only implausibly denied that they are illegally "profiting" from the sale of the appendages - as if illegally profiting from the sale is somehow worse than the fact that they have dismembered the babies in the first place. 

If the dismembered hands and feet aren't enough to awaken our consciences, and to force our politicians to stop the massacre, what will be? I fear the answer to that question. 

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