Thursday, June 30, 2011

Catholic Culture Clash Links 6-30-11

I was going to continue with my series on Vatican Splendors but I am having trouble finding pictures for the paintings, plaques, etc. that I was going to post on.  I will try and figure out something within the next couple of days or so.

I would like to introduce to you a new online magazine, called LG Magazine, which mixes religion with politics, and was created by one of our great Catholic bloggers, Lisa Graas.

I would also like to introduce to you a new blog, called Catholibertarian which my husband and I started about almost two months ago.  Here are some posts that both of us have done: I agree! - "Catholic Congressional Supporters of Planned Parenthood Should be Excommunicated" , On The Charge of Contradiction - Part II of an Encounter with Sedevacantism  , Was The Declaration of Independence Derived from Catholic Churchmen? Part 1, and Thank The Catholic Founding Fathers for the First Amendment.

As you know by now the GOP primary is under way.  I am backing a principled man who happens to be a Catholic.  This man is pro-life, honorable, and he understands two problems we're dealing with right here in the United States - Muslim extremism and illegal immigration.  He is also very in tune with our economic fiscal nightmare which needs to be remedied with using common sense solutions.  He has sound ideas for cutting our budget.  He has just penned a column in Politico today, outlining how to balance our budget. I am supporting Rick Santorum. Here is his website. If you can please help him out and contribute a little something to his campaign.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Here is the Holy Father's homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 
“I no longer call you servants, but friends” (cf. Jn 15:15).
Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the Archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice. According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. “No longer servants, but friends”: at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture. I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God’s family. But what was taking place now was something greater still. He calls me his friend. He welcomes me into the circle of those he had spoken to in the Upper Room, into the circle of those whom he knows in a very special way, and who thereby come to know him in a very special way. He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only he, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. He wants me – with his authority – to be able to speak, in his name (“I” forgive), words that are not merely words, but an action, changing something at the deepest level of being. I know that behind these words lies his suffering for us and on account of us. I know that forgiveness comes at a price: in his Passion he went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed. And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: “No longer servants, but friends”. He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. “You are no longer servants, but friends”: these words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one’s own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.
“No longer servants, but friends”: this saying contains within itself the entire programme of a priestly life. What is friendship? Idem velle, idem nolle – wanting the same things, rejecting the same things: this was how it was expressed in antiquity. Friendship is a communion of thinking and willing. The Lord says the same thing to us most insistently: “I know my own and my own know me” (Jn 10:14). The Shepherd calls his own by name (cf. Jn 10:3). He knows me by name. I am not just some nameless being in the infinity of the universe. He knows me personally. Do I know him? The friendship that he bestows upon me can only mean that I too try to know him better; that in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the communion of saints, in the people who come to me, sent by him, I try to come to know the Lord himself more and more. Friendship is not just about knowing someone, it is above all a communion of the will. It means that my will grows into ever greater conformity with his will. For his will is not something external and foreign to me, something to which I more or less willingly submit or else refuse to submit. No, in friendship, my will grows together with his will, and his will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself. Over and above communion of thinking and willing, the Lord mentions a third, new element: he gives his life for us (cf. Jn 15:13; 10:15). Lord, help me to come to know you more and more. Help me to be ever more at one with your will. Help me to live my life not for myself, but in union with you to live it for others. Help me to become ever more your friend.
Jesus’ words on friendship should be seen in the context of the discourse on the vine. The Lord associates the image of the vine with a commission to the disciples: “I appointed you that you should go out and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16). The first commission to the disciples – to his friends – is that of setting out, stepping outside oneself and towards others. Here we hear an echo of the words of the risen Lord to his disciples at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ...” (cf. Mt 28:19f.) The Lord challenges us to move beyond the boundaries of our own world and to bring the Gospel to the world of others, so that it pervades everything and hence the world is opened up for God’s kingdom. We are reminded that even God stepped outside himself, he set his glory aside in order to seek us, in order to bring us his light and his love. We want to follow the God who sets out in this way, we want to move beyond the inertia of self-centredness, so that he himself can enter our world.
After the reference to setting out, Jesus continues: bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does he expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made. Let us reflect for a moment on this image. For good grapes to ripen, sun is needed, but so too is rain, by day and by night. For noble wine to mature, the grapes need to be pressed, patience is needed while the juice ferments, watchful care is needed to assist the processes of maturation. Noble wine is marked not only by sweetness, but by rich and subtle flavours, the manifold aroma that develops during the processes of maturation and fermentation. Is this not already an image of human life, and especially of our lives as priests? We need both sun and rain, festivity and adversity, times of purification and testing, as well as times of joyful journeying with the Gospel. In hindsight we can thank God for both: for the challenges and the joys, for the dark times and the glad times. In both, we can recognize the constant presence of his love, which unfailingly supports and sustains us.
Yet now we must ask: what sort of fruit does the Lord expect from us? Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. But let us not forget that in the Old Testament the wine expected from noble grapes is above all an image of justice, which arises from a life lived in accordance with God’s law. And this is not to be dismissed as an Old Testament view that has been surpassed – no, it still remains true. The true content of the Law, its summa, is love for God and for one’s neighbour. But this twofold love is not simply saccharine. It bears within itself the precious cargo of patience, humility, and growth in the conforming of our will to God’s will, to the will of Jesus Christ, our friend. Only in this way, as the whole of our being takes on the qualities of truth and righteousness, is love also true, only thus is it ripe fruit. Its inner demand – faithfulness to Christ and to his Church – seeks a fulfilment that always includes suffering. This is the way that true joy grows. At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross. Gregory the Great once said in this regard: if you are striving for God, take care not to go to him by yourselves alone – a saying that we priests need to keep before us every day (H Ev 1:6:6 PL 76, 1097f.).
Dear friends, perhaps I have dwelt for too long on my inner recollections of sixty years of priestly ministry. Now it is time to turn our attention to the particular task that is to be performed today. 
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul my most cordial greeting goes first of all to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I and to the Delegation he has sent, to whom I express sincere thanks for their most welcome visit on the happy occasion of this feast of the holy Apostles who are Rome’s patrons. I also greet the Cardinals, my brother bishops, the ambassadors and civil authorities as well as the priests, religious and lay faithful. I thank all of you for your presence and your prayers.
The metropolitan archbishops appointed since the feast of Saints Peter and Paul last year are now going to receive the pallium. What does this mean? It may remind us in the first instance of Christ’s easy yoke that is laid upon us (cf. Mt 11:29f.). Christ’s yoke is identical with his friendship. It is a yoke of friendship and therefore “a sweet yoke”, but as such it is also a demanding yoke, one that forms us. It is the yoke of his will, which is a will of truth and love. For us, then, it is first and foremost the yoke of leading others to friendship with Christ and being available to others, caring for them as shepherds. This brings us to a further meaning of the pallium: it is woven from the wool of lambs blessed on the feast of Saint Agnes. Thus it reminds us of the Shepherd who himself became a lamb, out of love for us. It reminds us of Christ, who set out through the mountains and the deserts, in which his lamb, humanity, had strayed. It reminds us of him who took the lamb – humanity – me – upon his shoulders, in order to carry me home. It thus reminds us that we too, as shepherds in his service, are to carry others with us, taking them as it were upon our shoulders and bringing them to Christ. It reminds us that we are called to be shepherds of his flock, which always remains his and does not become ours. Finally the pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors – it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ.
Sixty years of priestly ministry – dear friends, perhaps I have spoken for too long about this. But I felt prompted at this moment to look back upon the things that have left their mark on the last six decades. I felt prompted to address to you, to all priests and bishops and to the faithful of the Church, a word of hope and encouragement; a word that has matured in long experience of how good the Lord is. Above all, though, it is a time of thanksgiving: thanks to the Lord for the friendship that he has bestowed upon me and that he wishes to bestow upon us all. Thanks to the people who have formed and accompanied me. And all this includes the prayer that the Lord will one day welcome us in his goodness and invite us to contemplate his joy. Amen. 

Here are a two examples of a what a pallium looks like: 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Inspirational Call for The Black Sheep Dog - Fr. Corapi - To Return Home

I found this video over at Catholic Fire.  Here are a few people who are pleading for the Black Sheep Dog - Fr. Corapi - to stay a priest, or return to the priesthood.  This is most inspiring.  I would like to note though, that I disagree with them when they said that if he leaves the priesthood then he loses credibility.  IMO he has already lost credibility in the public sphere due to the way this unjust and flawed process of investigating priests is being conducted when they are accused of an impropriety or improprieties. He has not lost credibility with me.  He will always be a general in the war against secularism and moral relativism.

H/T Catholic Fire

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Little Trivia: Who Coined the Word Utopia?

One hint - This person also has written a book called "Utopia".

Need another hint?

He is referred to as both Saint and Sir.

Here is the answer......

Drum roll......

Saint Thomas More or Sir Thomas More.

I look forward to reading or listening to the audio book of Utopia very soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Links on Both the Holy Trinity and Father's Day

Here is one amazingly inspirational article on a father who made the ultimate sacrifice -

 Fr. Longenecker has posted a great article on the Holy Trinity and Holy Fathers -  He provides a very good explanation of the Holy Trinity and explains the heresy of modalism. 

Kathryn Lopez has posted a list of the top ten Father's Day quotes from the Bible -

Here is a thought-provoking post on prayer and spiritual battles called, The Three in One and The One in Three -

Fr. Michael Rodriguez Defends True Catholic Teaching

God Bless Father!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is It Right For the Church To Presume Guilt? Fr. Corapi Breaks His Silence

Okay, now I know the Church or the bishops were wrong in the way they handled the sex abuse cases prior to the sex abuse scandal becoming public but IMO the Church had a reactionary approach and committed a wrong (and two wrongs don't make a right) by having a zero tolerance policy which presumes the person accused is guilty even when there isn't any evidence to prove one way or the other.  In Father Corapi's case his accuser wasn't a child at the time that the alleged incident took place.  In fact the person who made the complaint is a disgruntled former employee yet the bishops investigating have made no distinction there.  Cardinal Avery Dulles recognized that the process is flawed. The process needs to be changed to favor neither party.  It needs to be similar to that of civil law.

What choice did Father Corapi have? To stay in investigative limbo for years?  People such as Mark Shea think that he is abandoning his active ministry to the priesthood.  Has he really had an active ministry since he was placed on leave?  I don't think so.  How do the people who are criticizing him know that he would return to active ministry, period?  Have these people ever been accused?  Accused of something falsely?  Well, I have so I can sympathize with Father Corapi.  While I do not know for sure if he is innocent or not I suspect that he is innocent. His new ministry in my opinion is a way for him to teach the truth about the Catholic Church without being boxed in because of the situation he was placed in by the bishops who are investigating the allegation made against him.  They want him to produce evidence of something that didn't happen.  Is that even possible?  You might ask the question "Is Fr. Corapi trusting in the Lord?"   Actually I think that he is trusting the Lord.  He is trusting that the Lord will bless his new ministry, which is not an adversarial one against the Church but in fact preaching the Church's Truth - Jesus' Gospel - but in a different capacity than before.  When God closes a door he opens a window.  IMO Fr. Corapi is rising from the ashes and accepting his plight - the injustice being done against him - and moving forward to preach the Word of God as God has called him to do.  One last question - What would happen if some person made a complaint against one of the bishops who is investigating the allegations against Fr. Corapi would that bishop want to be held to the same standard - impossible, harsh standard - that he is holding Father Corapi to?  He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

Here is his statement below:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Archbishop Dolan Writes An Excellent Article Defending Traditional Marriage

Here is the article by Arhbishop Dolan:

The stampede is on.  Our elected senators who have stood courageous in their refusal to capitulate on the state’s presumption to redefine marriage are reporting unrelenting pressure to cave-in.

The media, mainly sympathetic to this rush to tamper with a definition as old as human reason and ordered good, reports annoyance on the part of some senators that those in defense of traditional marriage just don’t see the light, as we persist in opposing this enlightened, progressive, cause.
But, really, shouldn’t we be more upset – and worried – about this perilous presumption of the state to re-invent the very definition of an undeniable truth – one man, one woman, united in lifelong love and fidelity, hoping for children – that has served as the very cornerstone of civilization and culture from the start?

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea.  In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law.  There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.
But, please, not here!  Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.

Please, not here!  We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.”  And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?

Our beliefs should not be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people.  The Church affirms the basic human rights of gay men and women, and the state has rightly changed many laws to offer these men and women hospital visitation rights, bereavement leave, death benefits, insurance benefits, and the like.  This is not about denying rights. It is about upholding a truth about the human condition.  Marriage is not simply a mechanism for delivering benefits:  It is the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children.  Please don’t vote to change that.  If you do, you are claiming the power to change what is not into what is, simply because you say so.  This is false, it is wrong, and it defies logic and common sense.

Yes, I admit, I come at this as a believer, who, along with other citizens of a diversity of creeds believe that God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago.  We believers worry not only about what this new intrusion will do to our common good, but also that we will be coerced to violate our deepest beliefs to accommodate the newest state decree.  (If you think this paranoia, just ask believers in Canada and England what’s going on there to justify our apprehensions.)
But I also come at this as an American citizen, who reads our formative principles as limiting government, not unleashing it to tamper with life’s most basic values.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Catholicism 101 Series: Heresy

From Catholic Answers

The CCC states that Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same. 

To commit heresy, one must refuse to be corrected. A person who is ready to be corrected or who is unaware that what he has been saying is against Church teaching is not a heretic.

A person must be baptized to commit heresy. This means that movements that have split off from or been influenced by Christianity, but that do not practice baptism (or do not practice valid baptism), are not heresies, but separate religions. Examples include Muslims, who do not practice baptism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not practice valid baptism.

Finally, the doubt or denial involved in heresy must concern a matter that has been revealed by God and solemnly defined by the Church (for example, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass, the pope’s infallibility, or the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary). 

The Circumcisers (1st Century)

The Circumcision heresy may be summed up in the words of Acts 15:1: "But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’"

Many of the early Christians were Jews, who brought to the Christian faith many of their former practices. They recognized in Jesus the Messiah predicted by the prophets and the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Because circumcision had been required in the Old Testament for membership in God’s covenant, many thought it would also be required for membership in the New Covenant that Christ had come to inaugurate. They believed one must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic law to come to Christ. In other words, one had to become a Jew to become a Christian.

But God made it clear to Peter in Acts 10 that Gentiles are acceptable to God and may be baptized and become Christians without circumcision. The same teaching was vigorously defended by Paul in his epistles to the Romans and the Galatians—to areas where the Circumcision heresy had spread. 


Gnosticism (1st and 2nd Centuries)

"Matter is evil!" was the cry of the Gnostics. This idea was borrowed from certain Greek philosophers. It stood against Catholic teaching, not only because it contradicts Genesis 1:31 ("And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good") and other scriptures, but because it denies the Incarnation. If matter is evil, then Jesus Christ could not be true God and true man, for Christ is in no way evil. Thus many Gnostics denied the Incarnation, claiming that Christ only appeared to be a man, but that his humanity was an illusion. Some Gnostics, recognizing that the Old Testament taught that God created matter, claimed that the God of the Jews was an evil deity who was distinct from the New Testament God of Jesus Christ. They also proposed belief in many divine beings, known as "aeons," who mediated between man and the ultimate, unreachable God. The lowest of these aeons, the one who had contact with men, was supposed to be Jesus Christ. 

Montanism (Late 2nd Century)

Montanus began his career innocently enough through preaching a return to penance and fervor. His movement also emphasized the continuance of miraculous gifts, such as speaking in tongues and prophecy. However, he also claimed that his teachings were above those of the Church, and soon he began to teach Christ’s imminent return in his home town in Phrygia. There were also statements that Montanus himself either was, or at least specially spoke for, the Paraclete that Jesus had promised would come (in reality, the Holy Spirit).


Sabellianism (Early 3rd Century)

The Sabellianists taught that Jesus Christ and God the Father were not distinct persons, but two.aspects or offices of one person. According to them, the three persons of the Trinity exist only in God’s relation to man, not in objective reality. 

Arianism (4th Century)

Arius taught that Christ was a creature made by God. By disguising his heresy using orthodox or near-orthodox terminology, he was able to sow great confusion in the Church. He was able to muster the support of many bishops, while others excommunicated him.

Arianism was solemnly condemned in 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, which defined the divinity of Christ, and in 381 at the First Council of Constantinople, which defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit. These two councils gave us the Nicene creed, which Catholics recite at Mass every Sunday. 

Pelagianism (5th Century)

Pelagius denied that we inherit original sin from Adam’s sin in the Garden and claimed that we become sinful only through the bad example of the sinful community into which we are born. Conversely, he denied that we inherit righteousness as a result of Christ’s death on the cross and said that we become personally righteous by instruction and imitation in the Christian community, following the example of Christ. Pelagius stated that man is born morally neutral and can achieve heaven under his own powers. According to him, God’s grace is not truly necessary, but merely makes easier an otherwise difficult task. 

Semi-Pelagianism (5th Century)

After Augustine refuted the teachings of Pelagius, some tried a modified version of his system. This, too, ended in heresy by claiming that humans can reach out to God under their own power, without God’s grace; that once a person has entered a state of grace, one can retain it through one’s efforts, without further grace from God; and that natural human effort alone can give one some claim to receiving grace, though not strictly merit it. 

Nestorianism (5th Century)

This heresy about the person of Christ was initiated by Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, who denied Mary the title of Theotokos (Greek: "God-bearer" or, less literally, "Mother of God"). Nestorius claimed that she only bore Christ’s human nature in her womb, and proposed the alternative title Christotokos ("Christ-bearer" or "Mother of Christ").

Orthodox Catholic theologians recognized that Nestorius’s theory would fracture Christ into two separate persons (one human and one divine, joined in a sort of loose unity), only one of whom was in her womb. The Church reacted in 431 with the Council of Ephesus, defining that Mary can be properly referred to as the Mother of God, not in the sense that she is older than God or the source of God, but in the sense that the person she carried in her womb was, in fact, God incarnate ("in the flesh").

There is some doubt whether Nestorius himself held the heresy his statements imply, and in this century, the Assyrian Church of the East, historically regarded as a Nestorian church, has signed a fully orthodox joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and rejects Nestorianism. It is now in the process of coming into full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church. 

Monophysitism (5th Century)

Monophysitism originated as a reaction to Nestorianism. The Monophysites (led by a man named Eutyches) were horrified by Nestorius’s implication that Christ was two people with two different natures (human and divine). They went to the other extreme, claiming that Christ was one person with only one nature (a fusion of human and divine elements). They are thus known as Monophysites because of their claim that Christ had only one nature (Greek: mono = one; physis = nature).

Orthodox Catholic theologians recognized that Monophysitism was as bad as Nestorianism because it denied Christ’s full humanity and full divinity. If Christ did not have a fully human nature, then he would not be fully human, and if he did not have a fully divine nature then he was not fully divine. 

Iconoclasm (7th and 8th Centuries)

This heresy arose when a group of people known as iconoclasts (literally, "icon smashers") appeared, who claimed that it was sinful to make pictures and statues of Christ and the saints, despite the fact that in the Bible, God had commanded the making of religious statues (Ex. 25:18–20; 1 Chr. 28:18–19), including symbolic representations of Christ (cf. Num. 21:8–9 with John 3:14). 

Catharism (11th Century)

Catharism was a complicated mix of non-Christian religions reworked with Christian terminology. The Cathars had many different sects; they had in common a teaching that the world was created by an evil deity (so matter was evil) and we must worship the good deity instead.

The Albigensians formed one of the largest Cathar sects. They taught that the spirit was created by God, and was good, while the body was created by an evil god, and the spirit must be freed from the body. Having children was one of the greatest evils, since it entailed imprisoning another "spirit" in flesh. Logically, marriage was forbidden, though fornication was permitted. Tremendous fasts and severe mortifications of all kinds were practiced, and their leaders went about in voluntary poverty. 

Protestantism (16th Century)

Protestant groups display a wide variety of different doctrines. However, virtually all claim to believe in the teachings of sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone"—the idea that we must use only the Bible when forming our theology) and sola fide ("by faith alone"— the idea that we are justified by faith only).

The great diversity of Protestant doctrines stems from the doctrine of private judgment, which denies the infallible authority of the Church and claims that each individual is to interpret Scripture for himself. This idea is rejected in 2 Peter 1:20, where we are told the first rule of Bible interpretation: "First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation." A significant feature of this heresy is the attempt to pit the Church "against" the Bible, denying that the magisterium has any infallible authority to teach and interpret Scripture.

The doctrine of private judgment has resulted in an enormous number of different denominations. According to The Christian Sourcebook, there are approximately 20-30,000 denominations, with 270 new ones being formed each year. Virtually all of these are Protestant.


Jansenism (17th Century)

Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, France, initiated this heresy with a paper he wrote on Augustine, which redefined the doctrine of grace. Among other doctrines, his followers denied that Christ died for all men, but claimed that he died only for those who will be finally saved (the elect). This and other Jansenist errors were officially condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653.

Heresies have been with us from the Church’s beginning. They even have been started by Church leaders, who were then corrected by councils and popes. Fortunately, we have Christ’s promise that heresies will never prevail against the Church, for he told Peter, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The Church is truly, in Paul’s words, "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Interview With Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

I am highly impressed with Rick Santorum.  He is pro-life.  He is Catholic. He understands the Muslim problem.  He is a man who truly believes in family values.  He believes in American exceptionalism and he believes in the American people. He is very knowledgeable on matters of foreign policy.  He fought for fiscal sanity in the past and will fight to restore fiscal sanity to America.  Here is his interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez of CNS:

CNA: When you speak to a group like the Faith and Freedom Coalition, like you did this weekend, or go to work at a place like the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where you have been a fellow, does it feel a bit like coming home? On paper, at least, are faith and freedom and ethics and public policy a good summation of why you ever bother with politics?

Sen. Rick Santorum: Yes, absolutely. I am certainly compelled by my faith to help engage in making this a better country, supporting a culture of life, and confronting the enemies of freedom.

Faith and freedom are dependent on one another, and our founders understood this. Freedom was meant for a virtuous people, and virtue is forged out of faith. Without faith, without religion as an active agent in our personal and public life, we will not be able to maintain the freedoms that we have been so uniquely blessed with. The two options to freedom rooted in faith are a spiraling into moral and cultural anarchy, or the replacement of internal restraint with external restraint, which is called totalitarianism.

CNA: You frequently talk about having a narrative that will move the ball forward. What do you mean by this? What’s the narrative? What ball?

Sen. Santorum: The narrative is “freedom under God.” The narrative of “why” America was established is found in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, many of our leaders are asking the question “What is America?” This is not the first time. In his day, Lincoln said we didn’t have a good definition of liberty and were in great need of one. Freedom and equality, properly understood, as our Founders understood those terms, have been lost. By moving the ball forward, I mean that we have to renew our understanding of the Founders’ vision, return to it, and own its implications in our public and private lives.

Under our current leadership, the freedom of the individual has been subordinated to the growth of the government. That’s the European model – not ours. People talk of teachable moments. There’s never been a greater one than now.

CNA: So, where will America be after four years of Rick Santorum as president? Because with your announcement Monday, that’s what you’re aiming for.

Sen. Santorum: America will be well down the road to fiscal sanity and stability. The American private sector will be thriving. Decisions will be returned from Washington bureaucrats to main streets and homes. The American worker will have job opportunities in a robust economy spurred by growth-oriented fiscal, regulatory, and monetary policy. The most vulnerable among us will have a vocal and consistent leader in the White House with an administration dedicated to their protection. We will be friends to our allies and restore a lot of essential trust that has been lost. And our enemies will be confronted as enemies, not appeased as if we are the weak party and the supplicant. Both our friends and enemies will know where America stands. Fundamentally, faith in American greatness and in Americans themselves will be restored.

CNA: Why do you want to be president of the United States?

Sen. Santorum: I want to be president because I believe the American people deserve a leader who believes in them. I think 2008 was an experiment where a lot of people wanted a president they could believe in. That experiment failed.

My sense is people want a leader who trusts the American people, one who promotes rather than hampers the free enterprise system, one who believes in the growth of our private sector economy not the growth of the public sector government. In short, I want to be president because we have a great many things we need to get right – from national security and foreign policy to the economy to domestic social issues – and the current president has gotten almost all of those things wrong.

CNA: You’ve never been an executive? How are you qualified?

Sen. Santorum: By experience and by temperament. I’ve served the public in a lot of different ways, but one way is by exhibiting strong and decisive leadership, with a willingness to take positions that may not have been politically expedient, but were for the common good.

I’ve been elected a member of the House, elected a member of the Senate, and was elected to the leadership in the Senate. And in those roles, I was able to write, originate, and push substantive, meaningful legislation – from welfare reform in 1996 to the Syria Accountability Act to the Iran Freedom and Support Act to the Born Alive Infant Protect Act to the ban on partial-birth abortion.

Those bills, and many, many others, weren’t popular at first, but through work and talk and persuasion, I helped get them passed, and more often than not with bipartisan support. I look forward to putting my record before the American people. And of course, nothing qualifies you more for public service than a household of seven children.

CNA: What are you most proud of from your congressional record? Welfare reform?

Sen. Santorum: All of these things have been important. I think what I’m most proud of is the fact that I was known as someone who was willing to take on the tough issues and not trim my views or my votes for convenience or to appease any one constituency at the expense of another. In Pennsylvania, populated by one of the most elderly electorates in the nation (and seniors vote!), I was willing to address entitlement reform, and almost lost my first senate race because I was talking about the inevitable insolvency of Social Security and the fiscal instability of Medicare, Peggy Noonan once wrote about me that my style has been “to face what his colleagues hope to finesse.”

CNA: You were working on reforming health-care before it was cool, weren’t you?

Sen. Santorum: Yes. I’ve been at it a long time. As both a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee in the 1990s, I was one of the first pushing for healthcare savings accounts and for reform of Medicare.

Health care is one of those rare issues that implicates each and every one of us, and America has been blessed with the most advanced system that the world has ever seen. We have been incredibly innovative and successful in providing effective and quality care. But the choices have to be left in the hands of patients and health care providers for this to continue.

The “new order” that makes us dependent on government is not just a reorienting of our health care system, but a vast effort to make every American dependent on the government for their very lives.

CNA: Is your impression people still primarily associate you with abortion and marriage?

Sen. Santorum: Some do. I think the Left does. That’s fine. I don’t shrink from that, I’m proud of it. The protection of the vulnerable, whether children in the womb or the elderly at the end of their lives, is something to be proud of. The defense of some of our most important institutions the world has ever known – marriage and the family – why should anyone be embarrassed about standing for them?

But I also have a long record on tax, financial, and entitlement reform. I worked with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on issues of inner city, rural, and global poverty. How can a society survive with three of our four of its inner city children are born out of wedlock? It’s probably just harder for some on the other side to understand those issues and, thus, less easy for them to criticize me for them.

The same is true on national security and foreign policy. I have been a leader not just while in the Senate with legislation like the Syria Accountability Act and the Iran Freedom and Support Act, but have devoted the past four years of my life to a program at a think tank to address the rise of radical Islamism, and its anti-American allies such as Venezuela.

CNA: What can you reasonably move forward on on those issues as president?

Sen. Santorum: All of them. I think everything should be in play because everything is in play. I don’t separate these issues as if they were legs of a stool. And the president is uniquely in a position to balance them.

CNA: Why shouldn’t those who disagree with you – especially on marriage and abortion – consider that a threat?

Sen. Santorum: If it is considered a threat to stand up for the values and virtues, the building blocks and ballasts, that have helped us secure the blessing of liberty, then that is our opponents’ problem not mine. I think the vast majority of Americans support life and marriage and our national defense and the idea of free enterprise. My question back to you is: “Who and what are the real threats to our more perfect union?”

I have a long history of bipartisan working relationships on Capitol Hill. As president, I would actually be able to uniquely work with my former colleagues, regardless of party and the particular split of Congress at the time of my election if there is one. I actually think my background as a federal legislator for 16 years will help in the success in forging consensus and moving the ball forward. I saw how poorly some of the previous administrations understood and treated members of Congress, and I certainly will not let my staff fall prey to the arrogance that can often overtake people who work at the White House.

CNA: I know it’s not cool to ask candidates about other potential candidates but: One of the only people who might begin to understand what it might be like to be Rick Santorum is Sarah Palin. She’s done stuff she doesn’t get credit for. She’s hated with a passion. Is this all about social issues with the two of you?

Sen. Santorum: I don’t think so. I could name other political leaders who support probably 99 percent of what Sarah supports but are not in the crosshairs of the elites. I think it’s something more. I think for Sarah it’s that she doesn’t do things the way most politicians do them, doesn’t speak the way most politicians speak and, yes, if you are an outspoken conservative woman, that’s going to attract more criticism as well.

That’s been the case in our movement for a very long time; look at how conservative female politicians and columnists and radio hosts are criticized – strong women that don’t tow the party line get attacked. The good news is they tend to handle it better and it seems to faze them less and less. I am proud to be in a party that has a field that includes strong women like Sarah and Michele Bachmann.

As for me, I think it’s that I’ve led on the issues, I’ve been out front on them, and haven’t just quietly checked the boxes or kept my head down hoping not to attract notice. It’s the man – or the woman – with the football that gets tackled after all.

CNA: What do you hear most often as you go to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? From conservative activists, and perhaps, others?

Sen. Santorum: They want to know how it is we could lose so much so quickly. I don’t think very many people saw the speed with which President Obama could dismantle the economy and economic freedom or how quickly he would be able to consolidate power in Washington.

We haven’t had liberal Democrats in power in a while and I think a lot of people have forgotten how they govern and what they truly believe. Ronald Reagan used to say that freedom is only one generation away from extinction. With all the powers and levers of government now, that timeline has been accelerated. And it surprises people.

The government was designed to help people thrive and reach their God-given potentials. Most people know that intuitively and they speak a lot about how so much of that has been lost – taken, actually. In a country dedicated to free enterprise and entrepreneurism, it has become frustrating to people that the government has come to do the exact opposite of making life and work easier; it now makes things harder on people and business, and it does so all in order to strengthen the state not the individual. And this at a time that the competition from around the world has increased, especially from China.

This is what bothers people the most. Just at the time when we need to unleash American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, the very things that made us a great economic and military superpower, we are being shackled. These are the sentiments I note the most as I travel around the country.

CNA: Why is radical jihad such an issue for you?

Sen. Santorum: Because it’s such an issue for the jihadists. To borrow from Lincoln, they truly do want to blow out all the moral lights around us. Why don’t we believe what they say they believe?

They want to destroy Israel, they want to destroy America, they want to destroy the West, and they have no compunction about killing as many innocents as possible along the way. They are serious about it. They tell us this is what they want to do and they act on it, and our leaders choose to not believe them or see it.

The reason it’s an issue for me is I take the enemy at his word and action. To paraphrase (former British prime minister) Tony Blair, we have to have the same cultural resolve as the enemy, maybe even stronger. I worry about that. I’m not sure we fully appreciate the threat yet. And I think too many actually adopt at least a part of the Islamist complaint and grievance against us – that their wrath is somehow our fault. It is not.

CNA: Are we completely unaware of what’s going on in our backyard in this regard?

Sen. Santorum: Almost completely. I was talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez long before most. In fact, I was criticized in my 2006 race for being alarmist by raising the possibility that Iran might be working with Venezuela to plant terrorist cells in our back yard. You look at his alliances with Iran now, you look at Hezbollah in Latin America now, and then you look at the weakened state of our border, yes. If we don’t wake up ourselves we are going to be woken up by others. I have been saying this for years now, and working to wake Americans up. My weekly alert was called “The Gathering Storm” for a reason.

CNA: Do you ever feel a bit like a man without a state, having lost your last senatorial election as dramatically as you did?

Sen. Santorum: Not really. You learn more from loss than from success. Not that that’s what you hope for, obviously. But I think loss makes greater leaders, loss is a great teacher. I was proud of how I campaigned in 2006, and overwhelmed with the support and volunteers who joined the campaign to help. We never abandoned our principles or trimmed our views – I think even my critics will say that’s at least one thing about me they’ve admired. And I honestly don’t know of anything differently I could have done in 2006 to have succeeded.

But I’ve never felt like a man without a state. I’ve been privileged to be doing a lot of things since 2006 that I think – and hope – have been helpful to the American cause. I’ve worked at a think tank promoting issues of national security, I was privileged to have a regular newspaper column, I’ve been the Friday host of Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show, I’ve been able to travel more of the country and talk to more and more people. I think it’s all made me wiser, actually, and given me new and better appreciations for and about the whole country. Maybe most importantly, loss makes you more humble.

CNA: Why are you doing this? You can’t possibly win, can you?

Sen. Santorum: If I didn’t think I could win I would not be doing this. I think my record, my experience, my achievements, and my worldview stand in bold contrast to a lot of others. I’ve been written off and underestimated in almost every election I’ve run. That’s fine. Reagan once said there’s a difference between the box office and the critics – I try not to pay too much attention to the critics. The stakes are too high.

CNA: How are you doing this with a sick toddler and kids who need to go to college? It’s not like you’ve ever made a ton of money at anything.

Sen. Santorum: I have always believed if you work hard, keep your mind focused on the important things, and try not to worry about the future, it will usually take care of itself. That’s one of the things that has made this country so special – barriers can be great, but hard work and resolve usually pays itself off.

By the way, I think a great many Americans think we are losing this very thing because of the way the government has put so many burdens in place, because of the national debt we’ve been accumulating, and because the individual and the citizen have been downgraded as the government has been more and more empowered. But in general, I’m not someone who wants to look back someday and say I didn’t do everything I could to help keep America safe, secure, and prosperous – and not just for myself. In fact it’s for my children that I’ve stayed in the public fray.

CNA: What do you tell your daughter, Elizabeth, a student at the University of Dallas, when she reads what folks say about you? When she Googles your name?

Sen. Santorum: I don’t have to tell her much. She knows that personal vilification is often the price you have to pay for standing up strong for the right principles. She knows what the First Amendment is. Others have taken slings and arrows too, that’s just part of the cost of conviction. She’s an adult and gets all that.

CNA: Aren’t the kids sick of politics? Isn’t your wife, Karen?

Sen. Santorum: Politics at its best, campaigns at their best, should be and can be fun. Meeting people, hearing the concerns of fellow citizens, working hard to try and do something to better the country and peoples’ lives – that’s not something to get sick of. Yes, there are always challenges and trade offs, but service in the cause of the important is service not to ever regret. I couldn’t do anything in my career without Karen and the family – they are my biggest supporters and helpers and motivators. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this without their blessings and support. We do this, we do everything, together.

CNA: When you talk about being “called” to do this – to run for president – it can make people nervous. Like you have a Messianic complex. We may have that already in the White House, some have certainly suggested. What do you mean when you say you believe you are called to do this now, and to run like you can and will win?

Sen. Santorum: We all have callings. They can be vocational and they can be personal. … I am also called to be a devoted father and husband. The idea of calling is something we should all embrace. It gives us purpose in what we do and how we live. Lincoln spoke of the reverence for America as our “political religion.” I’d like to think it’s mine, too.

A call to duty on behalf of the country shouldn’t make people nervous, it should actually motivate each and every one of us, whatever our work on behalf of our country. The question people should ask, whether it’s about me or President Obama or anyone else, is what do they intend to do with that call to duty. What are their ends? And are their means constitutional?

As for a messianic complex in the president, I leave that question to others. It’s just not something I think about. What I think about is what he is doing with his power and what we should be doing in contrast. As for me, all I’ve ever asked is that people engage me and join me in the debate about what I’ve stood for and proposed. The essence of our democracy is debate and discussion. I simply want to have more of that on behalf of our country. I don’t think there’s anything messianic about that.

CNA: How important is being Catholic in all of this?

Sen. Santorum: Supremely. You asked about my family earlier and I said I couldn’t do anything without them. I couldn’t do anything without my faith either. I think that’s true for a lot of people. An overwhelming percentage of Americans are religious, and religion matters to their daily lives. I am no different. I’m someone who needs and relies on God. I feel and see his work everywhere around me, every day. And I couldn’t imagine life without him.

I actually believe that Americans want our leaders to have a reliance on God. It shows that they are humble, and understand that they are under a higher authority. And we want leaders who respect religious conviction, not demean it. We want leaders who understand that faith is essential to the sustenance of democracy, that faith is an agent for good, that it protects the weak and defenseless, that it motives people to confront injustice.

Look at all of the great social movements in America over the centuries; most were led by religious leaders. And importantly, it is not just generic faith in God, but the understanding of the world that my Catholicism gives me – the world as it should be, an understanding of human nature and the ordering of our common affairs – that is important to me as a public official. Being religious, and my being consciously Catholic, is something to be proud of.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art Part II - Piazza San Pietro

This is called The Square - Piazza San Pietro which is a spectacular creation by Bernini

From St. Peter's --

This monumental elliptical space, enclosed by 284 Doric columns four rows deep (196m wide and 148m long), is the masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who laid it out during the pontificates of Alexander VII and of Clement IX.
Every Sunday at noon, people gather to recite the Angelus and receive the Pope's blessing from his window. A red porphyry stone on the northwest side of the square, marks the spot where Pope John Paul II was shot.

From: 'Seminarians Guide'
The piazza in front of St. Peter's was built by Bernini between 1657-1667. It was designed with the Feast of Corpus Christi especially in mind, which at the time was very popular and engendered massive public processions. Today it is used for solemn Masses and ceremonies; for canonizations; for the Pope's Sunday angelus, a devotion commemorating the Incarnation; and for the Pope's Wednesday audience, weather permitting.

From 'St. Peter's - Guide to the Basilica and Square'
Once the basilica had been built, it was felt that a space should be created in front of it with a capacity sufficient to contain the mass of people who would flock here to take part in the most solemn functions, especially on the occasion of the celebrations for the Feast of Corpus Christi which was then very popular and widely observed. It was Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667) who decided to build the square as we know it today - it had actually already been begun by Sixtus V when he had the obelisk moved there - and it was continued by various popes. In 1656, Alexander VII entrusted the direction of the work to Gian Lorenzo Bernini who completed it very rapidly, between 1657 and 1667.

St. Peter's Square has the shape of an immense ellipse (the visitor who stands in one of the two centers of this ellipse, marked by two white disks, one on each side of the obelisk, sees a single row of columns), 320 m. long and 240 m. wide, at its broadest point.

From 'St. Peter's Basilica - A Virtual Tour' by Our Sunday Visitor
Before mentioning, however, the methods used and the time taken to construct this building, which replaced an older early Christian Basilica dating from the time of Constantine, and before beginning a guided tour of the temple of Christianity, it is worth stopping to look in more detail at the square, for which Bernini designed, as his drawings show, an arrangement different and contrasting to the present one, with a third section of colonnade in place of the so-called "Spina di Borgo."

The entrance to the square, through two lateral passages at the sides of this colonnade, would have produced a greater stage-setting effect, but at the same time, would have exalted the feeling of awe and meditation in the believers, who would have felt themselves to be welcomed into the arms of the Christian Church, as ideally visualized in Bernini's famous drawing where the church is the head and the colonnades are the open arms of a human figure.

This is an effect which is still possible simply by superimposing, at the entrance to the square, a hypothetical colonnade to produce the spectacular result which Bernini pursued, obscuring the view of the façade from the distance, but not of the dome rising above it.
In reality, the solution chosen by this absolute protagonist of Roman art in the 1600s, whose career was so closely linked to the commissions he was given in the Basilica, was ingenious but at the same time lucidly rational.

In his design for the very vast surface of the square, which at that time may have appeared to be overlarge, Bernini abandoned Bramante's project envisaging four straight arcades arranged to form a square, adopting an oval shape which, however, was not favorably viewed by Alexander VII. The Pope, in fact, judged it to be "not particularly in harmony with the design of the façade" and additionally, rather costly already in the planning phase.
Yet with this solution, placing two arcs of a circle beside a rectangular space, Bernini achieved the striking and amplifying effects of an elliptic plan; that is the impression of a space larger than it actually is by dynamic articulation of the square, stretched by its two lateral containing structures.

At the same time, he knew how to avoid the risks which this elliptic solution might present from the perspective point of view, by aligning two centers (not focal points) on a very long axis passing through the central obelisk. In this way, he was able to maintain the columns equidistant from one another and then, by gradually increasing the diameter of the columns, so that those in the internal row are the most slender and the external ones are the thickest, he was also able to maintain an equal distance between the intercolumniations.
Hence, if we stand on one of the two disks at the side of the obelisk, the columns appear as one row and not four in all parts of the semicircles. This is both a technical and an artistic device, which permits anyone moving around the square to enjoy the effects of a lively theatrical spectacle, but also of control of the immense space; it is a grandiose solution but at the same time is on a human scale.

With this creation, balanced between his effervescent imagination and his never denied classical vein, which here is inspired by the simplest of the ancient Greek styles, the Doric order, Bernini was able to offer Christianity its ideal epicenter.
In modern times, the function of this epicenter has been confirmed even without any special events, by the Pope's Sunday message, instituted by Pius XII and continued by his successors, with a simple but vibrantly human and spiritual contact between the Shepherd of Men and the always numerous crowd gathered in the square.
Lastly, it must be remembered that Bernini, in the final layout of the square, had to respect various differing and contrasting requirements. First and foremost was the view of the dome the soaring vertical lines of which, with the building of the façade, had been considerably diminished, at least for anyone standing in the space directly in front of the Basilica, still far from achieving the harmonious layout it was to have.