Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Pope to U.S. bishops: reform of Catholic universities the ‘most urgent challenge’

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, May 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Against a backdrop of institutionalized opposition to Catholic teaching in much of American Catholic academia, Pope Benedict XVI has told visiting U.S. bishops that Catholic colleges need to return to being a bastion of orthodoxy against an increasingly hostile and aggressive secular world.

While improvements have been made, Pope Benedict said, “much remains to be done,” particularly in “such basic areas” as compliance with Canon 812 of the Code of Canon Law. That section mandates that theology professors at Catholic universities be faithful to the teaching of the Church.

Canon 218 says, “Those who are engaged in the sacred disciplines enjoy a lawful freedom of inquiry and of prudently expressing their opinions on matters in which they have expertise, while observing due respect for the magisterium of the Church.”

This lack of progress, the pope said, has created confusion by “instances of apparent dissidence” between academics and the bishops. “Such discord harms the Church’s witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom.”

The issue of religious freedom is at the top of the American bishops’ agenda at the moment, in the midst of their fight against the Obama administration’s attempt to mandate coverage of artificial birth control by Catholic institutions. Even as the U.S. bishops have fought the Obama mandate, prominent Catholic organizations have expressed their support, undercutting the efforts of the bishops. Most recently Georgetown University, a Catholic Jesuit university, invited Kathleen Sebelius, who as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services was the architect of the birth control mandate, as a commencement speaker.

The pope called the need to reform Catholic academia the “most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community” in the U.S.

“Catholic identity, not least at the university level, entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus.

“All too often, it seems, Catholic schools and colleges have failed to challenge students to reappropriate their faith,” Benedict continued.

In the decades since the 1960s, most Catholic universities and colleges in the U.S., and around the world, have shifted their focus from being bastions of Catholic orthodoxy against the outside world’s secularism, to playing along with the zeitgeist, especially in areas of sexual morality. Most critics agree that this shift in Catholic academia was the source and engine of the more general shift in the same direction throughout the Church’s institutions and among the laity.

In recent years, this shift toward a secularist orientation has shown itself prominently in Catholic academia’s quiet, or even open support first for contraception use, then legal abortion, homosexual behaviour and most recently euthanasia.

The scramble of American Catholic academia away from Church teaching on sexual matters began to be seen in public in 1967 when Fr. Charles Curran, a former theological advisor or “peritus” at the Second Vatican Council, was re-instated at his tenured professorship at Catholic University of America (CUA) after having been sacked for opposing Catholic teaching on artificial contraception.

Curran, who was barred by the Vatican from teaching Catholic theology and now teaches at a Methodist university, became a herald of the new, updated and heavily secularized version of Catholicism when in 1968, he, together with 600 other theologians, authored an open letter formally dissenting from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on contraception, Humanae Vitae.

This new, and increasingly popular version of Catholicism became highly fashionable, first at CUA, the American Catholic Church’s flagship educational institution, then throughout most of the Church’s most prominent colleges, seminaries and convents. From there, the idea of the “loyal dissenter” in the Catholic intellectual establishment spread out into the political world, leading finally to the advent of the “pro-choice” Catholic politicians who now represent the majority of Catholics in public life.

In the current, highly politicized climate since the reaction of the U.S. bishops against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, some Catholic colleges are starting to pull back from full support for the secularist agenda.

In an address to Catholic academic loyalists at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) President Patrick J. Reilly said that a return to Catholic orthodoxy, far from being a retreat to the “Catholic ghetto,” would create a strong line of defense for religious liberty in the U.S.

“There is little question that the apparent hypocrisy of some Catholic colleges, charities, schools and other entities—which may dissent from church teachings, or may have watered down their religious identity in search of state and federal funds—reduces public sympathy for groups whose rights are threatened,” Reilly said.
“There is no question that the threats to Catholics’ religious liberty are wrong. But it is the failure of the Church to respond adequately to dissent, to clearly distinguish Catholic from secular identity, that endangers even the most faithful Catholic apostolates by feeding suspicion in a culture already suspicious of the Church,” he continued.

Reilly’s remarks are in line with Pope Benedict’s previous messages to visiting American bishops this year. Speaking to the bishops of Baltimore and Washington in January, the pope said, “The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.”

He noted that the founding American political “consensus” of political, social and religious liberty, “has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents” that are “directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition” and “increasingly hostile to Christianity as such”.

Share this article

Featured Image
Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

, ,

EWTN’s ‘honest analysis’ of Synod: Media confined to covering press conferences, Vatican spokesmen like Fr. Rosica

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac


ROME, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The October 8 EWTN World Over program led by Raymond Arroyo, who was joined by canon lawyer and New York pastor Fr. Gerald Murray, as well as Robert Royal, editor of the TheCatholicThing.org, presented a surprisingly “honest analysis” of the tumultuous first week of the Synod on the Family.

Arroyo and his two guests expressed many concerns about the Synod process and what took place during the first week. They notably commented at length on the statements about homosexuals by Fr. Thomas Rosica that they said “seemed to come out of nowhere” and which were not mentioned by the other language Vatican press office reporters as having been discussed by the bishops.

The program began with a video clip of Cardinal Pell’s statements before the start of the Synod, during which he expressed concerns about the Synod process that he and other Synod fathers held.

"What is important to us is that both sides are represented equally on committees, and what is published in reports,” he said. “It's a disservice to the church and a disservice to the work of the Synod if in any sense the reporting is skewed.”

Arroyo emphasized that the Synod “is merely an advisory meeting of the bishops. It is in no way binding on the pope” and therefore it is uncertain what impact all the discussions will have on the final outcome, to be determined solely by Francis.

Also shown was a clip of Archbishop Chaput stating his concern last Wednesday about “the English translation” of Synod documents, “which in some ways doesn't match the Italian which is the official version.” This addressed a deep concern among the bishops about whether they were being provided with accurate translations of what was being said during the speeches at the Synod.

Arroyo noted that “the language is a big issue” and asked his guests, “How reliable are the translations?”

Robert Royal said that from his observations and discussions in Vatican City, “this nervousness about the language reflects the general nervousness here in Rome and not only the traditional Catholics in the room, but also by the progressives. Everyone seems to be very much on edge. There is a high degree of anxiety it seems to me about what exactly are the processes, the procedures that are being followed in the Synod and also the content, of course.”

Father Murray’s response was that, “There's always the danger, that the Church in addressing a topic will engage in sociology, rather than theology. In other words describe how people are living and then try and say this is how it fits with the Christian life. Really a Synod has to be the extension of a theological reflection that the Church takes to the Gospel and her defined doctrines. That means, the life situation of the people is judged by the gospel and not the other way around. And that's where the concern is of archbishops and others about the working document.”

He continued, “The word of God must train us and guide us and prepare us to change how we live” as opposed to the expressions of the more “progressive” bishops suggesting that instead it is the Church that should change.

Arroyo observed that “the pope took to the floor” early on, “to calm the fathers” about marriage and vouched for the method and process of the Synod that many are concerned about – a move that Royal said was “extraordinary.”

The EWTN program then plunged into the comments on homosexuality that were introduced and emphasized by Vatican English correspondent, Fr. Thomas Rosica.

It was not mentioned that Fr. Rosica is well-known to favor a liberalization of Church teaching and practice related to homosexuality, especially given his effusive praise for heretical Canadian former priest and Vatican II advisor, Gregory Baum. Baum has been perhaps the leading Catholic in Canada to advocate for acceptance, among many other things, not only of homosexuality itself, but also for acceptance of active homosexual clergy.

Appearing to exercise prudent restraint, Father Murray responded, “there is a concern that all the discussion about homosexuality as it relates to marriage and the family is not being adequately treated in the way it's being reported.” That seemed to be directed to the shocking statements by Fr. Rosica about what the Synod Fathers are alleged to have discussed.

“How will we know if that's the case,” mused Fr. Murray. “Fortunately,” he continued, “the Synod fathers were told that they will have free access to the press, but I would be much happier if we return to earlier Synodal practice where everything was made public so the faithful can follow the discussion.”

Robert Royal expressed concern that “there are 10 people who are going to write the final report,” and among these 10 are Cardinal Baldisseri, who was the chief organizer of last year’s scandalous synod and Archbishop Forte, “who is the author of the notorious midterm report last year.”

Fr. Murray noted that “the way the Synod is set it favors the discussion about a topic that is really closed – communion for the divorced and remarried is not an open question.” He expressed concern that "process is overcoming product," and the fact that the discussion is happening at all “is leading some people to say, ‘I guess the Church doesn't really mean what it used to say.’”

“How to pastorally engage homosexuals and modifying the language used when describing them” was brought up by only couple of bishops in the Synod, said Royal.

Arroyo then showed a video of Fr. Thomas Rosica, the official English translator for the Vatican press office, making his authoritative-sounding comments that gave an impression that the issue of homosexuality was one that was widely being discussed among the bishops. The EWTN team seemed alarmed over this evidence that a mere Vatican translator and reporter was permitted to strongly advocate to the world, as though he were a Synod father, for changes that violated Church moral teachings.

Arroyo then asked a very pointed question to his guests, “Gentleman how big concern is this for the bishops gathered in Rome or is it, as some reporters have suggested, possibly a Vatican reporter (Fr. Rosica) exaggerating the concerns for whatever reason.”

Robert Royal responded that Fr. Rosica’s dissertation “took people by surprise because it seemed to come out of nowhere. None of the other language reporters mentioned the sensitivity language for homosexuals. The difficulty is, we are all trying to read, as father Murray was saying, since we have no access to what really happens inside the Synod, we have to rely on what we hear from the official spokesman, also from bits and pieces here and there. That seemed to be very odd. Some other reporters have asked Fr. Lombardi, “who is the main spokesman for the Holy See press office? Don't you have some statistics how often the subjects have been brought up. He claims not to have them.”

“What we learned after, just by a stray remark that Archbishop Chaput made… is that language about ‘gays’ had only come up about once or twice at that point. This seems to be something that certain elements within the Vatican are pressing forward immediately and we know that, from our experience in the United States, where there is a great deal of sensitivity and there is this heightened sense of being offended by language, no amount of softened language is ever going to satisfy people whose basic objection is that the Catholic Church regards homosexuality to be, per se, as intrinsically disordered as the Catechism says…Even that phrase is going to be coming up for reconfiguration. I don't see that is going to have very much success or it's going to satisfy anyone who is not already a serious Catholic.”

Arroyo mentioned his general dissatisfaction about the synod arrangements stating, “only this morning I tweeted out that journalists are not really covering the Synod. They're covering a press conference about the Synod. This control of information flow, frankly, I don't find it helpful, we don't know who is saying what, and there are many expressions that are being suppressed and ignored.”

Father Gerry was asked for his impression.

The canon lawyer responded, “You're right.  Obviously, this process did not occur at past Synods, and now it's going to be up to the Cardinals to go to press conferences outside of the Vatican and say what really happened. That's not really helpful. In fact this is supposed to be all about the culture of encounter and the faithful should have an opportunity to hear what their pastors say and discuss it among themselves, rather than just reporters talking about what reporters are saying.”

Fr. Gerry continued that Canadian “Archbishop Durocher floated the idea of women deacons and said perhaps it is time to permit laymen and women to preach homilies. Doesn’t it risk using up Synod time to allow a hodgepodge of bishops’ pet projects?”

Robert Royal suggested all these concerns of the West are not the concerns of the rest of the world.

Arroyo related he had a sense that “The Synod seems to be a large act of grand international theater without any real finale. The finale will come afterwards when the pope writes whatever document he writes and changes pastoral changes to accommodate the challenges that he sees facing the family today.”

Fr. Murray warned, “Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions are offensive and dangerous. Catholic doctrine must be defended vigorously, otherwise many souls will be imperiled by false teaching.”

Robert Royal concluded, saying, “the main thing that we should be doing is affirming the family because that is what makes life as good as it can be. It helps form people. It transmits the faith from one generation to the next. That should be the focus. For the time being it looks like the family is being edged out by some of these peripheral issues.”

See also Robert Royal’s October 12 article, The Devil in the Details, about the confusion and uncertainties of Vatican Press Secretary, Fr. Lombardi, regarding the Synod.

Featured Image
Fr. Mark Hodges

Methodist, Episcopalian clergy ‘bless’ Cleveland abortion clinic in prayer service

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

CLEVELAND, OH, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- More than a dozen religious leaders from a variety of denominations gathered last week to support abortion and "bless" a Cleveland abortion facility.

The "blessing" of the Preterm facility was initiated and coordinated by Rev. Laura Young, a Methodist priestess and the executive director of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s (RCRC) Ohio chapter.  

"Bless this building,” prayed Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean of Cleveland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, at the abortion facility. “May its walls stand strong against the onslaught of shame thrown at it. May it be a beacon of hope for those who need its services."

RCRC is based in Washington, D.C. Its national president, Rev. Harry Knox, participated in the Cleveland demonstration as well, and told the Columbus Dispatch, “I’m here today standing alongside my fellow clergymen and clergywomen to say, thank God for abortion providers.”  

Knox is a "married" homosexual who has also spearheaded same-sex “marriage” efforts in Georgia and Florida.

The group held signs that said to be pro-abortion is to be "pro-family" and "pro-faith."  Other signs read, "Good women have abortions."


From Today's prayer service at Preterm Cleveland Ohio. Religious people gathered to bless that space of sacred decision making. #GodBlessTheClinics

Posted by Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Thursday, October 8, 2015

One demonstration participant, Molly Marvar, had positive things to say about her abortion at the Cleveland Preterm clinic, calling her abortion a great, caring experience, and a privilege. “It was a defining moment for me," she said.  "It’s really important to me that I speak up about my abortion to help other women.”

“There is a reverence for life that happens in this clinic,” Marvar told Think Progress.  “And the decision to get an abortion is often a really, really, spiritual decision.”

In an interview with Think Progress, Young explained that she believes God supports abortion.

"Women who have had abortions are being attacked at a religious level, and the faith community has a moral obligation to heal these spiritual wounds,” she said.

Young, a self-described "progressive theological thinker and a feminist," said if her demonstration and "blessing" is successful, her group will bless other state clinics as well.  She recently testified against a pro-life bill in the Ohio senate, along with Unitarian, Universalist, United Church of Christ and Episcopalian clergy.

Young also recently led the invocation for the Ohio House of Representatives. She was assigned to lead Ohio's RCRC by her Methodist bishop, Gregory Palmer.  

Young says pro-lifers are exercising a “misguided faith” when they peacefully tell women entering Preterm that there is a better way, according to the National Right to Life. Rather, Young insists that pro-lifers are "hurling hate and judgment" on women who have abortions. Young rhetorically asks, "Is that loving?"

However, the Very Reverend Jason Kappanadze, priest of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Elmira Heights, New York, differs with Young. “The Church never judges people, but judges actions,” he explained. “We do, however, tell the truth, to help people discern the godly, loving path.”

“How far we have strayed from true understanding, when we characterize an attempt to save lives as hateful, and characterize the taking of life as loving?” he asked.

“To tamper with the creation of human beings by God - intentionally and by His loving will - is an example of human arrogance and hubris, and is indicative of a loss of fundamental reasoning and the understanding of life.”

Kappanadze says he sees the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as emblematic of a deeper problem. “The growth of the acceptance of abortion is parallel to the loss of direction of many Christians, who can no longer call people to repentance because of their division,” he said. The division of Christians, he said, “prevents them from speaking with one voice, as it was in the beginning of the Church.”

Share this article

Featured Image
Kristi Burton Brown


Video shows unborn baby at 18 weeks ‘singing’ to music in groundbreaking study

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown

October 12, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- Innovative scientists at the Institut Marques in Barcelona, Spain, have made an amazing discovery. Preborn babies can hear and respond to music much sooner than previously believed.

“For the first time ever,” it can be scientifically proven that a preborn baby detects and responds to sound at 16 weeks gestation.

The Institut Marques reports (emphasis mine):

“Ultrasound”, the journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS), has published our study entitled “Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginally Transmitted Music”, an innovative research project on fetal hearing.

This report explains that, beginning in week 16 of pregnancy, a response exists to music delivered intravaginally, expressed through specific movements of the mouth and tongue.

Our initial hypothesis suggests that music creates a response which manifests as vocalisation movements, as it activates the brain circuits that stimulate language and communication. In other words, learning begins in utero.

The Daily Mail reports: “ntil now experts did not believe a foetus could hear until week 18, at the earliest but more commonly nearer 26 weeks.”

This scientific discovery is just one more in a long line, proving the absolute humanity, beauty, and value of preborn babies. As science develops, we gain windows to the womb that show us the valuable person we lose every time an abortion is committed.

Abortion does not take a potential life: it take the real, actual, life of a human being. And in many cases, this little human can already sing.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

This video shows an amazingly formed preborn baby at 18 weeks – just two weeks after the ability to respond to music can be scientifically proven.

For more information on preborn babies at every age, check out the stunning photos, videos, and detailed information provided by The Endowment for Human Development, a scientific nonprofit dedicated “to help everyone appreciate, apply, and communicate the science of health and human development.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

Share this article


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook