Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Herod Popular in Herodium!

Woe to those particularly Catholics, who dare to try to convince us that their “choice” of a radically pro-abortion leader is within the parameters of conscience!

Last Sunday, as most readers would be aware was the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, and the Commemoration of the Holy Innocents. Yesterday, at 9am a Mass of reparation for the lives lost through abortion was offered in the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier, Adelaide.

That being the case, I thought it appropriate to share with readers something I read in the parish bulletin of the same Cathedral Parish of St Francis Xavier, in the middle of last month.

First, some background: Father Dean Marin, the Assistant Administrator of the Cathedral and Archdiocesan Promoter of Vocations is on extended study leave for 12 months from August 2008, principally in Chicago, Illinois.

In the parish newsletter of 16 November 2008 Father Matthew Newman, who was ordained in July 2008 and to whom has fallen a large proportion of the administrative duties of the parish in Fr Marin’s absence, published an e-mail from Fr Marin. I will transcribe the e-mail in full, because the newsletter of 16 November is mysteriously missing from the Cathedral’s newsletter page. Apparently there was no Sunday in between 9 November 2008 and 23 November 2008. Here is the message, with my emphasis.

Greetings and best wishes to everyone in the Cathedral Parish from Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. I trust all is well in the parish.

It’s nearly two weeks since we arrived back in Chicago from Israel. We have completed the Bible Study Programme with 5 days of a “Re-entry Programme” designed to help us reflect on the whole experience. Since then I’ve begun my second course, the Institute for Religious Formation Programme, also here at CTU. We have lectures here each weekday as we look at all that’s involved in forming men and women for priesthood and religious life. These studies will be very helpful for me in my ongoing work as Vocations Director.

You may have picked up that President Elect Barack Obama is from Chicago and that he held his victory rally at Grant Park in the city. He actually lives just a few blocks away from CTU in the Hyde Park Suburb. The locals that I’ve met are thrilled at his election and are placing a lot of hope in him from the future.

Well that’s about all for now. It’s starting to get cold here in Chicago and I’m bracing myself for the first snowfall.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

God Bless
Fr Dean.

Senator Obama, Death's Candidate

The most serious problem that obedient Catholics have with President-Elect Obama is his support for abortion, and indeed, infanticide. In the case of infanticide, as a State Senator for Illinois, Obama voted against an act that would hospitals to supply the necessities of life to babies who survived a botched late-term abortion (the Infants Born Alive Protection Act), not once, not twice, but three times. The practice in some Chicago hospitals was to take the child and leave it in a store-room to die.

He has also promised to sign, as a matter of absolute priority, the so-called Freedom of Choice Act which would remove almost all limits to abortion, enshrine state-funded abortion as a civil right, and force Catholic doctors to act against their consciences in procuring, or referring for, abortion.

Now, some of the US Bishops (admittedly a very small number) had the courage to come out and say, with varying degrees of forcefulness, that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for Senator Obama. Notable examples include:

That’s just four examples. There are more which readers can locate using the search engine of their choice if they suspect me of “pulling their legs”. However, for believing Catholics, this stuff is hardly rocket science.

There’s also this piece about Chicago's Auxiliary Bishop Garcia-Stiller offering an open-air Mass sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League, directly in front of President Elect Obama’s “transition headquarters”.

Indeed, some Church leaders have ruled that to vote for Senator Obama is a mortal sin:

  • Bishop Finn - “Consider your Eternal Salvation”
  • Fr Newman of Greenville SC “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”. Obama voters, he concluded, should not receive Holy Communion until they had received sacramental absolution therefor.


Now, Father Marin’s statement on Senator Obama was needs to be seen in the context of a somewhat breezy e-mail, discussing his personal news and the weather in the windy city. Lest there be any doubt, Father Marin is a very nice man, who has a very open and cheerful personality. There is nothing in his e-mail that directly and explicitly contradicts Church teaching.

That being said, two things immediately struck me about his paragraph dealing with Senator Obama:

  • Father Marin’s general tone of breathless excitement, including at his present proximity to the President Elect’s house, and
  • the fact that Father Marin saw fit to report on the locals’ being “thrilled”, and his parroting of Obama’s “hope” slogan without even hinting at the ethical issues imposed by the citizens of the US electing King Herod on a promise to slaughter more innocents.

Quite frankly, for e priest of Father Marin’s standing to make such a statement demonstrates that he is, if nothing else, astonishingly clueless.

It is Obama's promise of increased slaughter, increased infanticide that is the elephant in the room as far as Fr Marin’s statement is concerned. How can a Catholic priest, a Catholic in good standing, or any person of goodwill fail to mention it when recounting the excitement of the locals?

The first and properly theological meaning of scandal is to do or omit something which leads others into error or sin. Priests, in this writer’s humble opinion, need to exercise extreme care in uttering words that suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that support for the grave and intrinsic evil of abortion is free of eschatological consequences.

That is the problem with Father Marin’s statement.

Father Marin is the Vocations Director in the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

I wonder when he last read, or encouraged a prospective seminarian to read, St Alphonsus de Ligouri’s Dignity and Duties of the Priest.

Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monsignor Cappo, Fisher of Votes

Recently, Joshua of Psallite Sapienter made the following comment on Australia Incognita:
However - it is notorious that Adelaide is planning for a near-priestless future, with only FIVE parishes by 2020 could you believe it, and Mgr Cappo, that full-time politician but part-time minister of religion, actively discouraging priests once retired (even if hale and hearty) from even trying to celebrate public Masses: since the sooner people get used to far fewer opportunities to get to church the better!

My spies report all this, and that many good priests are at the least underutilized in that Archdiocese because they do not fit with its dominant liberal paradigm.

There is no doubt about it; the vocations crisis in this town is grave indeed, and its causes and potential remedies is a topic which I shall be examining in some depth over the coming days.

However, Joshua’s comment made me think about the strange situation of our Vicar General and Cathedral Administrator, Monsignor David Cappo.

Adelaide Central Markets, a stone’s throw from St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, is one of the homes of Cappo Bros Seafood from whence hails, originally, the Vicar General. Small wonder then, that this man should heed the call to become a fisher of men. The Archdiocese of Adelaide provides an interesting biographical sketch:

Monsignor David Cappo AO was appointed Vicar-General in 2000 and is also the administrator of St Francis Xavier's Cathedral. Parish priest of Hectorville from 1996-2000, he is a former director of Pastoral Formation at St Francis Xavier Seminary and was appointed a Prelate of Honour with the title of Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 2002. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide by Archbishop James Gleeson on March 3, 1984. A director of the national depression initiative beyondblue, Monsignor Cappo is Vice-Chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board and Independent Commissioner for Social Inclusion Board SA and an Independent Adviser for the Executive Committee of State Cabinet. He is a former Executive Officer of the National Committee for Professional Standards of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and a former national director of the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission in Canberra.

The emphases are mine. The first point I would like to make (and which I will follow up over the next few days) is that as a former staff member of Adelaide’s now-defunct seminary, Monsignor Cappo seems to have some experience in the “graceful management of decline”.

Secondly, as Joshua noted, Mgr Cappo, as well as being the Vicar General, and Administrator of the Cathedral, has a large number of extra-curricular activities on his resume. The Social Inclusion Board's website elaborates on his activities in the secular realm:

A qualified social worker, Monsignor Cappo is Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Adelaide – a role that also makes him deputy to the Archbishop. When Premier Mike Rann came to power in 2002, he established the State’s first Social Inclusion Board and appointed Monsignor Cappo as Chair – a role he continues to hold. In May 2006, Monsignor was appointed Commissioner for Social Inclusion to further strengthen his ability to influence and implement social policy across the South Australian Government. Through these roles, he has spearheaded social policy reform for the State to address a range of pressing social issues including school retention, homelessness, youth offending and mental health.

Monsignor Cappo was made an Officer in the Order of Australia – the nation’s second-highest honour – in the 2007 Australia Day Honours. He also has recently been appointed vice-Chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board set up by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Monsignor Cappo is an Independent Adviser for the Executive Committee of State Cabinet and also is a member of the Economic Development Board of South Australia. A former National Director of the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission, he has – and continues to make – major contributions to national social policy development.

Again, the emphases are mine. The SA Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Social Inclusion Board both have further details of Monsignor Cappo’s role, and I do not intend to recite them here. Suffice it to say that:

  • Monsignor Cappo sits as an advisor in the highest councils of the South Australian government;
  • this is specifically intended to strengthen his “ability to influence and implement social policy” (see the SIB biographical note reproduced above), and
  • this was the subject of comment from the very beginning by Catholic members of the opposition and political and legal academics.

Why does all this matter?

It matters for several reasons.

First, because of Canon 285 of the Codex Iuris Canonici:

§ 3. Officia publica, quae participationem in exercitio civilis potestatis secumferunt, clerici asssumere vetantur.

§ 3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

The canonical sources that I have consulted are unanimous; the Bishop cannot dispense from the requirements of this Canon, and assumption of public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power requires dispensation from the Holy Father himself. Dr Edward N Peters, JD, JCD, is quite clear on the point, drawing the following conclusions:

  • The legislative history of this norm makes obvious the Legislator's intent to eliminiate any exceptions to this rule. See Peters, Incrementa in Progressu at 234
  • Unlike those situations where a priest might be given permission to serve as an agent for lay persons or as co-signer of a loan, or to hold office in unions or political parties (see 1983 CIC 285.4 and 287.2), there is no provision in Canon 285 for bishops to grant a priest permission to hold governmental office.
  • the only theory by which [Monsignor Cappo] might have been given episcopal permission to seek … office would be in virtue of a dispensation from disciplinary law under 1983 CIC 87 and 90. The standard canonical authors recognize such a possibility, but when commenting specifically on the prohibition against priests holding major governmental office, they stress how low is the likelihood that such permission would ever "contribute to the spiritual good" of those under a bishop's care.

The second reason is alluded to in the immediately preceding paragraph. Advising the government in relation to social inclusion / justice issues is particularly suited to the lay state, and to the expertise of laymen. Yet again, liberals clericalize the laity and laicize the clergy.

Is there no qualitfied Catholic layman in South Australia competent to do this job (bearing in mind it is specifically intended by the government that Monsignor Cappo “influence and implement” social policy [that sounds like “being a politician” to me]. Perhaps the ALP could have pre-selected a competent social worker, rather than a heap of superannuated time-serving union flunkies.

As we have an undoubted vocations crisis, would not Monsignor Cappo’s undoubted talents be better employed in the Confessional and at the Altar, and as (say) part time Chaplain to the Catholic day and emergency accommodation centres in the city, and the prisons (roles which are the undoubted preserve of the Sacred Priesthood)?

Third, unlike Woolongong (from whence hails Archbishop Wilson), where the ALP is the only show in town, it is conceivable that the Liberal Party will return to government in South Australia in either 2010 or 2014. One can only pray that the whole episode has not given the conservatives a taste for old-time “no popery” politics and legislation.

Fourth, with Monsignor Cappo at the helm, the government’s failings in social inclusion become the failings of the Church, without the teachings of the Church becoming, or even necessarily influencing, the values of the government. Enough said.

Fifth, as is distinctly possible, if the SA Labor Party (either institutionally, or by a majority of its elected members) decides to follow their Victorian bretheren down the path of abortion law “reform” the Church is placed in an invidious position indeed. One prays that Monsignor Cappo will have the courage to stand in the Cathedral pulpit, TV cameras rolling and state with the necessary thunderous firmness, that the following list of his cabinet colleagues are supporting an intrinsic evil, and to vote for them is gravely sinful?

So, over the last few years, a situation has been allowed to develop which:

  • is gravely contrary to the law of the Church;
  • contributes to the vocations crisis and the lack of leadership in the Archdiocese (quite frankly, a certain bald man is wearing too many hats);
  • is prudentially foolish, in that it has laid a minefield of potential pitfalls for the Church.

At what price has this been bought from the Church? That is not to imply corruption or dishonesty; it is simply to ask what benefit Holy Mother Church has received for its sacrifice of its law and better judgment.

I am serious. If anyone at Wakefield Street (or West Terrace, for that matter) is reading this, please enlighten me. Do it anonymously if you want. I would like to know.

Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity, 2008.
Commemmoration of the Holy Innocents.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goddess Worship in South Australia

Those readers who have been following the well-documented heretical shennanigans in at least one Brisbane Catholic parish may be interested in what is going on under the very nose of the recently re-elected ACBC Chairman, His Grace the Archbishop of Adelaide.

Make ready your matches and your stakes, and click on this link to Sophia, an "ecumenical feminist spirituality centre", founded in 1991 by some "with it" Dominican sisters:

Sophia is a spirituality centre established in 1991 by the Dominican Sisters in Adelaide to support a feminist world view, celebrate feminist spiritualities and seek justice for all. It is a purpose built spiral shaped centre on Cross Road, Cumberland Park in Adelaide, South Australia.

The story of this centre continues:

In late 1990 when our new building was almost complete a group of Dominican Sisters discussed how we might name this new space.

Many names were suggested until someone said “Let’s name it Sophia”. A resonance of recognition was felt in the group.

We had recently rediscovered the vibrant personification in the Hebrew scriptures of SOPHIA, Woman Wisdom. She is the ‘breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty ...She is but one [and] she can do all things.’ [Wisdom 7:25,2]

We had uncovered and reclaimed the Sophia imagery in the Christian scriptures. The texts tell us that Jesus had come as Sophia’s envoy, as Sophia’s child, as Sophia-God made flesh among us.

We were also aware that Sophia was a name for Divinity for peoples beyond Judaism and Christianity...

Oh my goodness! Does that sound like heresy to anyone else?

They've got all the usual stuff. Bhuddist meditation, mandalas, readings from feminist liberation theologians, sacred dance (the feminist Hokey-Pokey, one presumes!), wimmin's poetry, "seasonal rituals" as part of the "Sunday Spirituality Group", and the Holy Mass!

Back to the Holy Mass momentarily.

The community has developed its own set of "alternative rituals" with names such as "celebrating water", "celebrating fire" and the like. Sounds like old-fashioned paganism to this humble Catholic. What would I know? I am but a man.

Needless to say, when Holy Mass is offered at Sophia, the priest (or should that be "presider") doesn't exactly "Say the Black and Do the Red". When the Holy Sacrifice is offered there, usually by Catholic Theological College's Fr James McEvoy, Redemptionis Sacramentum is treated as just so much patriarchal toilet paper. The ladies gather around the "table" for the consecration; at some pre-determined time, one of their number vests the priest in a stole, and he pronounces the words of consecration. The ciborium is then passed from one lady to the other like a bowl of potato chips.

The Sophia website is very detailed, and those who are interested can find in it an unquencheable fount of the heretical, scandalous, wicked and just plain foolish.

Worthy of comment, however, is that this institution has still not been suppressed some seven years after Archbishop Wilson took posession of the Diocese. His Grace, as president of the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference, is no doubt a very busy man, but he is allowing foxes and wolves to run rampant in the vineyard of the Lord.

I end this post with a quote from Pope Leo X:

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it....

Feast of St John the Evangelist, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Si Deus Pro Nobis Quis Contra Nos?

Thus wrote St Paul in his Epistle to the Romans; If God be for us, who is against us? I think that is a worthy title for a Catholic blog.

That, however, begs the question: "A Catholic blog about what, exactly?". A brief glance at the blogs listed in the sidebar will surely give some insight into my interests and perspectives. Suffice it to say, some of the themes that this weblog is likely to explore are:

  • a return to Tradition as the key to the restoration of the Church,
  • orthodox Catholicism as a powerful, dynamic and vibrant force within the Church today, and the key to the spiritual health of the Church of tomorrow and
  • the abomination of desolation wreaked by those hetrodox persons who would call themselves "liberal", but in fact, refuse to sentire cum Ecclesia.

So don't expect to read laudatory reviews of anything written by ex-Father Paul Collins, or retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. You will probably not see any links to Catholica Australia, either.

When considering the third of the themes listed above, I was put in mind of something said by Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It's up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious."

All too often, to my mind, right-thinking Catholic laymen forget what is written in the second part of Canon 212, namely that "§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.". All too often, laymen are accused of being "uncharitable" when they point out some flagrant defiance of Church teaching, law, or discipline. Of course, to instruct and to admonish can also be, and often are, spiritual works of mercy, and thus acts of virtue. So please think before accusing me or anyone else who may comment here of lacking charity.

Finally a word on St John Fisher. Why dedicate this blog to him? Well like his better-known countryman St Thomas More, St John refused, with considerable dignity, to accept the so-called "Royal Supremacy".

There was a bishop who knew how to act like a bishop.