Monthly Archives: July 2008

Do you take your Schadenfreude with caramel flavouring or short and black?

I belong to that category of people who have never in their life bought a coffee from Starbucks. I prefer to make my own (drop into the office someday and we can chat over brew from my desktop espresso machine) or buy it from any of the gizzillions of good cafes with which Melbourne is blessed. My guess is that 99% of my fellow Melbournians would fall into this same category.

Importing Starbucks to Australia was not simply a “coal-to-Newcastle” scenario–it was an attempt to impose an inferior and overpriced product upon an already existing and far superior cafe culture.

News of the failure of the Starbucks invasion in Australia is therefore not only no surprise, it brings with it a certain delight and a “serves-you-right, you-imperialist-barstards” attitude. Otherwise known as Schadenfreude, I understand.


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All Catherine Deveny really wants…

Amazing! A Catherine Deveny column with no sneering! I am coming to think that, like a little child, all Deveny really wants is to know that she is loved. The Age, like a good grandparent, will no doubt indulge her desires by continuing to providing her with column space.


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Humanae Vitae and all that!

1968. What a year. I was there, but thankfully my protestant parents had never even considered using artificial contraception, and so, here I am 42 years later blogging about something which at the time might have meant I might never have been able to blog about it. Um…

War was declared even before the ink of Paul VI’s signature on the Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” had dried, and within days, the trenches were dug. If you don’t believe me, go back and read it yourself here in an edition of Time Magazine from November 1968.

Throughout the long pontificate of John Paul II and thanks to his magisterial “Theology of the Body” (which fleshed out the reasoning behind Paul VI’s wise decision), the Church has clawed back a good deal of the territory it lost in the rebellion of 1968.

But the trenches are still there, and the both sides seem to be permantly dug in. Forty years later comes a lot reflection on the Papal decicion that marked the outbreak of the Culture Wars, but it doesn’t look like anyone is shifting their position much. The Church has moved on, both in the development of its reasons for continuing to uphold the ban against artificial contraception and in terms of the evidence collected that show that Paul VI was not only right, but prophetic. But the secularists and dissedents in the trenches are exactly where they were forty years ago, give or take the issue of HIV/AIDS and the rise of the gay rights movement.

Here is some reading for you to do, dear readers, which proves that this particular argument is a long way from over.

On the money:

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae, by Mary Eberstadt (First Things Aug/Sept 2008)
The Pope vs. the Pill, By JOHN L. ALLEN Jr. (New York Times, July 27, 2008)

Way off beam:

The 40th Anniversary of the Pope banning the pill: Humanae Vitae
(ABC Radio National, The Religion Report, 16 July 2008)
(I wonder if Robert Blair Kaiser might not have been the author of the Time Magazine article linked to above?)
Editorial: Humanae Vitae at 40 years (National Catholic Reporter, July 25, 2008) (Nb. John Allen did not write this piece–he was writing something quite different in the NYT).

You will find a critique of Crittendon’s Religion Report piece at The Crittenden Report, and of the NCR editorial (disapproving) and the John Allen piece (approving) at What does the Prayer Really Say. And note that the name of US priest/sociologist Fr Andrew Greely shows up in both the NCR Editorial, AND the Times Magazine article of forty years ago. So they haven’t even changed personnel in the enemy trenches!

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MP3’s of the Holy Father’s addresses at WYD

(Picture from Sydney Morning Herald)

Here are links to audio and texts of four of Benedict XVI’s homilies at World Youth Day (thanks to Fr Z at Down load them and listen to them again and again! Burn them to CD’s for your friends! Make every day World Youth Day!

Homily at Arrival at Barangaroo (Tuesday 15 July, 2008)
Homily at St Mary’s Cathedral (Saturday 19 July, 2008)
Homily at Vigil at Randwick (Saturday 19 July, 2008)
Homily at Mass at Randwick (Sunday 20 July, 2008)

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If only we could clone bishops…

Neuhaus reflects in his most recent First Things column reflects as follows:

Of course cloning is morally prohibited, but just imagine the difference it would make if there were, say, two dozen or more Archbishop Chaputs.

Chaput is indeed “good stuff”, but I found myself thinking exactly the same thing about another bishop whom I had the extreme pleasure of encountering during the catechesis at Watson’s Bay in Sydney for World Youth Day: Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon.

His taught with the skill of a great orator and the gift of a true evangelist, and what he taught was soundest of Catholic doctrine. He had the young people hanging on every word, and used images that effectively communicated his points. And it all came from such an abosolute conviction that you knew that this guy believed what he was teaching with all his heart, and that his dearest wish was that you believe it too. Yep, I thought, another 25 of this guy would do a lot of good for the Church.

If you want to check out his reputation, I suggest having a look at the website of the Diocese of Baker. You might also want to read some of his articles, which you will find here. They give you a good measure of the man.

Of particular interest on the Diocesan Website are the “Pastoral Guidelines” – the complete handbook of the Diocese on just about every aspect of their pastoral life and mission. One can only imagine what pastoral life in Australia would be like, let alone America, if all Dioceses used this as their model. Among those pages is this:

The Church requires the making of a Profession of Faith by various persons when they undertake specific duties related to Church administration and teaching. (cf. Canon 833) In the Diocese of Baker this has been expanded to include those who take on the ecclesial duties of Catechist, Liturgical Reader, Cantor, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and other Church positions which entail a presumption of orthodoxy.

“I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.” In particular:

I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the inviolability of human life. In accord with that teaching I affirm that human life is sacred and must be protected and respected from the moment of conception until natural death. I affirm that I reject direct, intentional abortion and I do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own conscience in this matter. I am not pro-choice. I further attest that I am not affiliated with, nor supportive of, any organization which supports, encourages, provides or otherwise endorses abortion or euthanasia. (cf. CCC 2270-2283)

I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the sinfulness of contraception. I affirm, in accord with the teachings of the Church that “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil. (CCC 2370)

I affirm and believe that every person is called to chastity in accord with their present state of life and that it is only in marriage between man and woman that the intimacy of spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. (CCC 2337—2365) I accept the Church’s teaching that any extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include pre-marital relations, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.

I affirm and believe the teaching of the Church about the evil of homosexual acts. I accept the formulation in the Catechism which states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC 2357)

I affirm and believe all that the Church teaches about the Reality and Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Specifically I believe that Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under each of the forms of bread and wine and that receiving either one is Communion with the whole Christ. I recognize that worship and adoration are appropriate, not only during Mass but also outside of Mass and that the Most Holy Eucharist must always be handled with the utmost care and devotion. (CCC 1373-1381)

I affirm and believe the teachings of the Church regarding Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. I accept with the Church that it is fitting and proper to honor the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. (CCC 963-975)

I affirm and believe that it is possible for a person to choose to remain separated from God for all eternity and that “This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”” (CCC 1033)

I affirm and believe that those who die in God’s grace and friendship but are still imperfectly purified undergo additional purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joys of heaven. I affirm that the Church’s name for this final purification is Purgatory. (CCC 1030-1032)

I affirm and believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and embrace the teachings about that Church as enunciated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (cf. CCC 748-962)

I affirm and believe that the Church teaches with God-given authority and that the promise of Christ to remain with His Church always, until the end of time is a reality. I further acknowledge that those teachings pronounced in a definitive manner, even though not as an infallible definition, are binding on the consciences
of the faithful and are to be adhered to with religious assent. (CCC 892)

To these and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church I give my assent. I attest that I believe these things and, while I am aware of my own sinfulness and shortcomings, I strive in my beliefs and life style to conform to this Affirmation of Personal of Faith.

Maybe we could make an exception to our prohibition on cloning?


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Really sick of this.

There is an entry on Lito’s blog repeating a statement in a combox from Mild Colonial Boy on his blog where someone dared to challenge him to “come home” to Rome (ROTFL!). This is the comment:


Going back to Rome? Has the Church of Rome stopped opposing the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone? Has it stopped issuing indulgences for works? Has it stopped forbidding priests to marry (the doctrine of demons)? Has it stopped the virtual goddess worship of idolatrous Mariolatry and putting other intermediaries, other than Jesus, between God and Man? Has the Pope stopped propping up these and other Anti-Christian positions?

The answer is no.

Here is my reply:

Dear Evangelical brothers,

I am sorry to interupt your little anti-Catholic dialogue by inserting the views of a true blue dinky di ozzie cobber wombie Roman.

It is so easy to repeat old slanders and slogans — it means you never really have to grapple with the fact that your brother in Christ also has some share in the truth…

Has the Church of Rome stopped opposing the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone?

I just love the confidence with which it is asserted that “the” biblical doctrine of justification is justification by faith “ALONE”. I just love the way this is maintained despite the fact that the doctrine is unsupported by any biblical author, in fact, even denied by one.

Has it stopped issuing indulgences for works?

I was under the impression that indulgences were issued for the grace of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. Deary me. How could I be so mistaken?

Has it stopped forbidding priests to marry (the doctrine of demons)?

Until recently, there were many careers and offices in society that required celibacy, including nurses, teachers, university professors, and a whole range of jobs in which it was recognised that celibacy befitted the calling. Doctrine of demons?

Has it stopped the virtual goddess worship of idolatrous Mariolatry and putting other intermediaries, other than Jesus, between God and Man?

It doesn’t matter how many times we deny that we worship Mary and the saints, you are going to keep asserting that we do. Ho hum. It does get tiresome. And the assertion that we place “other” mediators between us and God aside from Jesus. Well, my dear friend, so do you. Think about it next time you ask someone to pray for you. (If you don’t mind, I will pray for you, but is that coming between you and Jesus if I do?)

Has the Pope stopped propping up these and other Anti-Christian positions?

I am sorry, but it does seem to be to be awfully uncharitable, and not to say blasphemous, to make such accusations about your fellow Christians and witnesses to Christ.

Charity first. Charity second. And Charity third. Apart from Charity you are as a clanging gong and a sounding symbol. Go read 1 Cor 13. Read, Learn and inwardly digest, as they say.


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Ordaining women as priests? We would if we could…

…but we can’t.

Last night’s episode of Compass on ABC TV (the second of two programs obviously designed to nip in the bud any positive feelings about the Catholic Church that might possible have sprouted up in Australian soil due to WYD) presented the usual theme “brave Catholic women” who are carrying out leadership roles in the Church “despite the Church Hierarchy’s maniacal determination not to let go of their grasp on patriarchal power”.

As Cardinal Pole pointed out with regard to the first episode, there was no attempt at even-handed-ness in this propoganda posing as “documentary”. The message was consistently: The Church (= the Hierarchy) could give us women priests if they wanted to, but they are mean and selfish and afraid and they don’t want to, so we will just keep on pushing till we get what we want.

This is an example of what is called, I understand, “positivism”: the idea that anything is possible, all we need to do is say that it is okay and it will be okay.

If you are convinced that women priests are possible, then of course, there is no way of understanding the Church’s opposition to the attempts to ordain women except to think that there is some pathological reason for the refusal.

But there is no need to transfer personal frustrations onto the leaders of the Church in this way. Why do so many people today find it difficult to think that the bishops and pastors of the Church actually LOVE us, and want what is best for us? Why is it so hard to trust that they are in fact the guardians of the faith, maintaining the ancient faith for today’s and future generations?

The Church loves justice. If this were an issue of Justice, she would not oppose the movement to ordain women. The Church loves the will of the Lord. If it were the will of the Lord that women be priests, the Church would obediently ordain them. The Church loves and values all her members and all their gifts, including that half of hte Church which is female. If she could ordain women, she would.

But we can’t. Just can’t. It isn’t possible. Any attempt to ordain a woman does not result in a woman priest. It results in a lay woman who thinks she is a priest. The Church not only doesn’t have the authority to ordain women, it isn’t possible to make a woman a priest any more than it is possible to make a woman a father. Or a man a nun. You can’t do it. It isn’t that the Church is unjust, or unloving. It is that we face reality.

Francis: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister, sorry.
Reg: What’s the *point*?
Francis: What?
Reg: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies, when he can’t have babies?
Francis: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
Reg: It’s symbolic of his struggle against reality.

(P.S.: In case you think that Compass is quite finished Catholic bashing yet, check out their topic for next week… With the media in Australia so openly opposed to everything that the Catholic magisterium teaches, it is a real miracle that the Church survives at all.)


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Treating the Pope like God?

A lot of folk commented during the Holy Father’s visit that “Catholics treat the Pope like God.”

Noooo…. not exactly. As Pastor Pearce pointed out to an evangelical friend recently, we treat him like St Peter.

The difference was obvious at the Vigil in Randwick Saturday week ago. When the Pope came on stage, there was yelling and jumping and screaming and singing and chanting of “Benedetto!”

When the Blessed Sacrament (= the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate) was exposed for adoration, there 200,000 present fell on their knees and there was absolute silence.

That’s how you treat God.


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Cardinal Diaz to the Lambeth Bishops

Cardinal Diaz didn’t aim directly at the problems of the Anglican communion in his address to the Anglican Bishops at Lambeth. But he sure made a few pointed remarks and overall pitched the tone of his address towards hard-bitten, dinky-di evangelical Christianity.

For a disciple of Jesus Christ, then, to preach the Gospel is not an option, but a command of the Lord. It is for this reason that St. Paul exclaimed: “Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory about: for it is a necessity laid upon me, and woe unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). The urgency to preach the Good News is as true today as it was two thousand years ago, even if some scholars have naïvely declared God to be dead, forgetting that they are dealing with a God who found His way out of the grave; and notwithstanding the opinions of some theologians who blush at proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the universality of His salvation, mindless of His stern warning that, if anyone denies Him here before men, He will deny him before His Father in heaven (Mt 10:33).

And this bit:

In the first Christian era, the pagans were attracted to the Christian faith because of the way Christians behaved, and they remarked: “See, how they love each other”. This Christian witness is well described in the Letter to Diognetus, written by a Christian apologist in the second century. I deem it wise to quote some excerpts of this Letter, which would make many a Christian pastor to think, and some even to blush:…”For them [Christians], any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country. Like other human beings, they marry and beget children, though they do not expose their infants. Any Christian is free to share his neighbour’s table, but never his marriage-bed.


So I guess it was a surprising point to find a spirited-defence of Inter-religious Dialogue in the Church’s evangelising mission:

For a Christian then, a dialogue of religions entails the discovery of the relationship between the working of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith and His persevering action in other religious traditions. It forms a part of the mission of proclamation entrusted by Christ Himself to His disciples… Dialogue, in fact, is never an attempt to impose our own views upon others, since such dialogue would become a form of spiritual and cultural domination; nor does it mean that we abandon our own convictions. Rather, it means that, holding firmly to what we believe, we listen respectfully to others, seeking to discern all that is good and holy, all that favours peace and co-operation.

And, as a man from within the old British Empire, is is also well aware of the best of the English apologists:

The world today needs Christian apologists, not apologisers; it needs persons like John Henry Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc and others, who brilliantly expose the beauty of the Christian faith without blushing or compromise.

A good speech. Have a read.

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What would it take to restore Unity?

I boldly put this bald question to the President of the Victorian District of the Lutheran Church of Australia at a gathering yesterday. Not half an hour later, someone asked it of me. I wasn’t meaning the unity of all Christians, just the restoration of unity between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

It is a modest hope. Modest because the LCA is a tiny independant church, without any administrative connection to any overseas body, doctrinally conservative, proudly scriptural, liturgical etc.

From our point of view it would require the LCA to acknowledge the the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. I am not too sure to what extent the “jurisdiction” of the Bishop of Rome would apply – certainly no more than it does in the Eastern Rite Churches (I have a theory that since Vatican I was formulated in a context where there was no recognition of any “true local churches” outside the Catholic Church, “universal jurisdiction” meant something different then from what it means today).

Then there is the problem of invalid orders. It is possible that such recognition and desire to enter into communion with the Holy See would on its own have an automatic “validating” effect upon the orders of the LCA. If not, reordination may be required for Lutheran pastors.

Also, the LCA would need to decide upon and commit itself to a particular liturgical “rite”, which would be foundational to being approved by Rome. The current liturgical laissez-faire would have to go.

But most seriously, what would be required would be the will to enter in full communion. Here would be the real sticking point. For it is almost certain that were even a sizable proportion of the LCA open to entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, another sizable proportion would oppose it such that there would be a split among Lutherans in this country.

And that is a universal problem. It applies to any body that might want to restore the communion, especially the Orthodox. Were the Ecumenical Patriarch tomorrow to declare full communion with the Bishop of Rome, you can bet your bottom dollar that most Orthodox would instantly declare themselves out of communion with both.

One body to whom this does not apply is the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group united in its desire to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining its own identity and rites. And, according to this report on Marco’s blog, it looks very much like it is going to happen.

If it does, then we are indeed looking at an interesting situation. The first Western Rite/protestant background ecclesial communion received in this manner. It would surely pave the way for other groups, especially as the liberal/conservative split within confessional bodies becomes more and more a reality.


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