The Pontifical Academy of Anything Goes

It’s taking all of my will to not whip out some serious vulgarities after reading this.  

Pontifical Academy for Life Member: Term ‘Intrinsically Evil’ Too Restricting

Edward Pentin

A reflection on Amoris Laetitia has been posted on the website of the Pontifical Academy for Life in which its author, a new member of the academy, proposes that the term “intrinsically evil” is outdated.

Honestly, I’m starting to think I might be overqualified to serve on the Pontifical Academy for Life these days. I’m totally willing to do it, Your Holiness, but seriously?  What are we supposed to go with here??? I mean, I thought “intrinsically evil” was quite truthful and succinct. Shall we go with “really jacked-up” to make it a little more modern?!?! What in the what?! 

Hypothesizing on the moral theology of Amoris Laetitia and Pope Francis’ principle that “time is greater than space” mentioned in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Professor Gerhard Höver argues that changes in perception, “namely, space and time,” have an “effect on specific theologies, such as the theological view of marriage and the family.”

The professor of moral theology at the University of Bonn, Germany, uses selected writings of St. Bonaventure and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI to argue — quoting from Amoris Laetitia — against thinking that everything is “black and white” which results in closing off the “way of grace and of growth.” 

“He believes that the principle “time is greater than space” relates to an interplay between the eternal and temporal spheres, taking on a “moral-theological significance” that “affects the previous teaching about ‘intrinsically evil actions.'”

Oh, my gosh, I feel like I’m watching a sci-fi movie here. I’d expect this to be a line out of Interstellar or The Arrival. Can’t you just see Matthew McConaughey saying this?

Good stinking luck with this juju. (It’s sad when juju makes more sense than the what the professors comprising the Pontifical Academy of Life come up with these days.) I’m starting to think these windbags just have to say something to hear themselves talk.  They want to sound new and hip no matter how little they make sense.

“It is not without reason that some have requested further clarification on this point,” he adds, referring to the second of the five dubia which asked the Pope whether, after Amoris Laetitia, one still needs to regard as valid “the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions.”

How kind of him. 

The Church currently teaches that intrinsically evil acts are always and everywhere wrong and immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. This is because, in part, they do not bring one closer to God, and prevent the common good.

But Höver argues that the term “intrinsically evil” is too restricting as it fails to account for some “regularity” within “irregular” situations, ones which could be allowed if one abides by the principle that ‘time is greater than space.’ “If even only one element is defective, the consequence is ‘badness’ and (in this sense) also ‘irregularity,’” he says.

I’m sure Pentin is about to give a behind-whipping on this silly fallacy but in case he doesn’t… No! Situation ethics to not apply. My guess is Pentin will point out that some things are always good or always evil (like abortion) but the person’s situation might mitigate their culpability in the action. It NEVER changes the fact that some things are intrinsically evil – the act is always evil just by its very nature.

“It seems theological reasons lead Pope Francis to refuse to go on accepting this restriction,” Höver continues. “This does not in the least dispute the necessity of calling oppositions and irregularities by their names, above all in cases of injustice and unfairness vis-à-vis other persons. But the Pope regards the path that has been taken hitherto as inadequate to cope with the differentness and complexity of the situations in which people stand or live.”

Huh?!? Does Google Translate work with Wacky Theologian-ese? More importantly, can he cite a teaching of Pope Francis which removes the status of intrinsic evil?

“A moral theologian speaking to the Register on condition of anonymity expressed astonishment that Höver was “digging into obscure references to Ratzinger’s first doctoral dissertation on St. Bonaventure, which doesn’t discuss intrinsic evil anywhere.”

EXACTLY! This is the liberals’ new game. Let’s just say that then-Cardinal Ratzinger said this without any proof that these ideas exist. It’s like they simply think the internet does not exist or that we laity are too stupid to do the research.

“Where are the clear statements about the topic in St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the moral teaching of the Church, Veritatis Splendor?” he asked, adding that even if Höver’s thesis were correct, which he “could not admit, he is placing philosophy over the clear teaching of Christ, St. Paul, St. Peter and the entire moral tradition of the Church, not least Ratzinger himself who admits that intrinsic evil exists.”

BAM! Thank you Anonymous Moral Theologian.

Undermining Morality

Höver’s article is the latest example of a Vatican-appointed figure raising questions about the Church’s teaching on intrinsically evil acts.

Yes! These latest losers on the various academies don’t want any sort of truth. I’m dumb but I think that rather qualifies as Nihilism, right? “God is dead!” probably isn’t far from the minds of some members of the Pontifical Academy of Life. Le sigh!

In a lecture last month, new academy member and moral theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi partly justified his theory of allowing artificial contraception in some cases because the Pope makes no “explicit reference” to contraception as “intrinsically evil,” and adding that “it would have been very easy to do so given Veritatis Splendor.”

“Another new member of the Pontifical Academy, Jesuit Father Alain Thomasset, has said he does not believe in the existence of the term.

Geez. One has to wonder if they even bothered to read Veritatis Splendor.

67. These tendencies are therefore contrary to the teaching of Scripture itself, which sees the fundamental option as a genuine choice of freedom and links that choice profoundly to particular acts. By his fundamental choice, man is capable of giving his life direction and of progressing, with the help of grace, towards his end, following God’s call. But this capacity is actually exercised in the particular choices of specific actions, through which man deliberately conforms himself to God’s will, wisdom and law. It thus needs to be stated that the so-called fundamental option, to the extent that it is distinct from a generic intention and hence one not yet determined in such a way that freedom is obligated, is always brought into play through conscious and free decisions. Precisely for this reason, it is revoked when man engages his freedom in conscious decisions to the contrary, with regard to morally grave matter.

To separate the fundamental option from concrete kinds of behaviour means to contradict the substantial integrity or personal unity of the moral agent in his body and in his soul. A fundamental option understood without explicit consideration of the potentialities which it puts into effect and the determinations which express it does not do justice to the rational finality immanent in man’s acting and in each of his deliberate decisions. In point of fact, the morality of human acts is not deduced only from one’s intention, orientation or fundamental option, understood as an intention devoid of a clearly determined binding content or as an intention with no corresponding positive effort to fulfil the different obligations of the moral life. Judgments about morality cannot be made without taking into consideration whether or not the deliberate choice of a specific kind of behaviour is in conformity with the dignity and integral vocation of the human person. Every choice always implies a reference by the deliberate will to the goods and evils indicated by the natural law as goods to be pursued and evils to be avoided. In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent. But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

  1. Here an important pastoral consideration must be added. According to the logic of the positions mentioned above, an individual could, by virtue of a fundamental option, remain faithful to God independently of whether or not certain of his choices and his acts are in conformity with specific moral norms or rules. By virtue of a primordial option for charity, that individual could continue to be morally good, persevere in God’s grace and attain salvation, even if certain of his specific kinds of behaviour were deliberately and gravely contrary to God’s commandments as set forth by the Church.

In point of fact, man does not suffer perdition only by being unfaithful to that fundamental option whereby he has made “a free self-commitment to God”.113 With every freely committed mortal sin, he offends God as the giver of the law and as a result becomes guilty with regard to the entire law (cf. Jas 2:8-11); even if he perseveres in faith, he loses “sanctifying grace”, “charity” and “eternal happiness”.114 As the Council of Trent teaches, “the grace of justification once received is lost not only by apostasy, by which faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin”.115

Here is the smack-down I was looking for earlier.

“Veritatis Splendor states that intrinsically evil acts “do not allow for any legitimate exception,” nor do they “leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the ‘creativity’ of any contrary determination whatsoever.”

Like I said, no situation in life is going to justify committing these acts. These idiots are trying to mix up acts and culpability. Sorry. These acts are always evil by their nature but a person’s culpability in cooperating with these acts will vary. See? Was that soooooo hard to say???

The Church teaches that abortion, contraception, homosexual acts, adultery, and other gravely sinful actions are deemed “intrinsically evil.”

Rendering the term obsolete therefore potentially radically changes the Church’s moral teaching, according to the anonymous moral theologian, “undermining the whole notion of morality.”

And, of course, that’s EXACTLY what they’re trying to do.  

His concerns are echoed by others as the Church marks 25 years since the publication of Veritatis Splendor and its clear articulation of the Church’s moral teaching on intrinsically evil acts, as well as the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae and its ban on the use of artificial contraception, deeming its use as “intrinsically wrong.”

A spokesman for Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Register Jan. 25 that Höver’s position “does not necessarily correspond to the position of the academy” and that it is normal for the academy to publish abstracts of members’ published works, with links to their full versions. If they publish something the academy fully agrees with, then he said they make that known.

Boo on them. Don’t post crud. It’s a really good plan. Trust me. Personally, I think “does not necessarily correspond” is waffling. Does it or does it not, Archbishop Paglia?

But allowing academy members to publish hypotheses like Höver’s, challenging the Church’s moral doctrine and the teaching of previous popes, is something new. In the past, new members had to sign a declaration of fidelity to the Church’s pro-life teachings, but new statutes implemented last year ended that requirement.

Word! Might be nice to not post the rantings and musings in an area so serious. By the way, who else would like to see the declaration of fidelity mandatory once again?!

In an interview with the Register last year, Archbishop Paglia offered reassurance that the new statutes “require a stronger commitment on the part of members to the Church’s pro-life teaching” and that they “promote and defend the principles of the value of life and the dignity of the person, interpreted in conformity with the magisterium of the Church.

But last summer, the archbishop oversaw the selection of new members, including Höver, Father Chiodi and Father Thomasset, who clearly have differences with the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life.

This has really been the new status quo. “We’ll totally toe the authentically pro-life line until we don’t and hope you don’t notice.”

Asked if the academy’s leaders were aware of their views before they were selected, the spokesman told the Register “we knew” but added that it was important to provide them “space,” in continuity with “Pope Francis’ preference for dialogue and debate with those holding differing opinions.”

Let’s just ask satan for his opinion on the subject. Sigh. Look, you want to talk with people holding differing opinions? Fine. They don’t need to be appointed to a position in the Academy to do so. It’s not like we don’t know what the rest of the world thinks on the subject. Duh! If you don’t know what the opposition thinks, please get another job.

Archbishop Paglia was asked to comment on how these members of the academy reflect a new requirement for a “stronger commitment” to uphold the Church’s pro-life teaching, but he was unavailable.

WHAT. A. SHOCKER.

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Codes of Conduct Do Not Cause Rape

I just waded through a few articles on rape at Christendom College. Perhaps you’ve seen them? I’m not going to post most of them because I thought they were lame. I am truly sorry for the victims, but it seemed a little ridiculous of the authors to blame the strict moral codes of Christendom for the rapes. They pointed a whole lot of fingers but missed the BIGGEST failure that should have really been pointed to first, and that is that these kids were woefully unprepared to be out in the world alone. Normally I wouldn’t touch this with a 10 foot pole, but I feel like I have to address this. I’m hoping others will learn from this and it will happen to fewer of our children!  “I didn’t know!” is causing a world of hurt for some of our children.  My prayers are with the families involved.

Just to get a few things out of the way. I know kids who’ve gone there, and I’ve met faculty there, but so far, my kids have not chosen to go Christendom. While I adopt some of the Christendom policies in my own home, I don’t employ many others. I’m really middle of the road here. No horse in the race. I just feel that a school that churns out or fosters some amazing Catholic young adults deserves a little better than lame connections.  Do the authors really feel rapes don’t occur in droves on campuses with permissive codes of conduct?  Please.

Now, on to what I see as the big problem: parents relying on others to be the primary educators of their children. Yes, some parents are going to get rebellious, jerk children no matter how hard they try and others will have hopelessly naïve kids no matter how hard they try. We are in a battle against satan for our childrens’ souls, and sometimes we lose. That said, when you have girls who are saying they didn’t know what rape was, there is a problem. I’m sure Christendom isn’t isolated in this respect. 

In my house, my kids are given a myriad of weapons when they start going out in the world, or the “fake world” of college. I don’t care where they’re going, there’s really no place immune from sin. “Don’t be a victim!” is my rally cry. It’s ridiculous to think that my parenting skills are better than others simply because my kids know what rape is and my sons of conscious age know I would beat them if they ever treated a woman with disrespect much less physically attacked one.  All kids should know this, at the very least before they leave home but far earlier these days.  The fact that these kids didn’t is the real problem I noticed in these articles.

Yes, I also live in the homeschool world. I know there are naïve parents.  I know there are parents who don’t talk to their kids. I know parents who try to keep their kids from ever knowing about “the outside world.” I know parents who are in denial, and I know parents who are just plain bad examples while claiming to be paragons of virtue. Hypocrisy is a soul killer. We all do it to some degree, but some do it a lot more. To blame this problem on Christendom’s strict codes is just silly. Where did the rapists come from? Where did the completely naïve and uneducated girls come from? Saying that if Christendom allowed boys into the girls’ dorms and vice-versa, or that if they just allowed a little more PDA on campus, that rapes wouldn’t occur is every bit as naïve as the parents who sends their kids to a college like that and think, “Nothing bad could ever happen there!”

I was working with a group of teens once. All had been homeschooled at some point and some had gone on to traditional schools. We asked them what they thought of homeschooling. Good? Bad? Mixture? The most compelling response was that they thought they learned a lot in the homeschool environment about faith and morals, but that they were so insulated it made it hard to adjust when they got into the “traditional” environment. They felt unprepared, and I couldn’t agree more. This is one of the reasons teaching your kids to live in the world but not be of the world is so important.

So, what does this mean for us parents trying to instill virtue in our kids? It goes without saying that we must pray unceasingly for the souls of our children. That said, we can’t teach them how to combat evil and try to hide the fact that evil exists at the same time. We have to have the uncomfortable talks REPEATEDLY! When people say, “I can’t keep lecturing my kids!” I ask, “Why not?” Are your kids gonna like it? Probably not, but you’ve got to try your best to get it through their heads that you actually have a responsibility before God to keep talking. God isn’t going to hold you responsible for your kids’ actions in life unless their actions are a result of your failure to TRY and teach them.  Notice the emphasis on try.  Remember, we are battling satan daily. As I said, we’re going to lose sometimes, but we need to wholeheartedly try. I’ve found a good way to show them evil is to have them fight it at the same time. Some sort of activism works wonders. For us, it’s in the abortion arena (which sadly covers many other arenas as well). For others, it may be something like directly combating the rape culture. Please understand, I’m not saying, for instance, show them porn to demonstrate that porn exists. Instead, talk about what it is, what the church teaches about it, and the real-world devastation from it. There are even some pop-culture icons talking about it these days. While I’m always shocked and dismayed my kids don’t hang on my every word, I have found it useful to show how some clearly secular people have realized many of the tragedies of the day are devastating even their own lives. You’ve got Ashton Kutcher battling human trafficking and prostitution by association (Wait!  Is he considered old now?!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Russell Brand talking about porn addiction, a myriad of stars talking drug addiction, and a few are even talking about the devastation caused in their lives by abortion. Yes, few of them embrace Catholicism, but use them as examples anyway.

Can we be angry at how Christendom handled the aftermath?  Maybe.  I really can’t say but here is their response to the articles.  There might have been some mistakes, because who handles it well the first time they face devastating situations like these? However, I’m not sure of the legal responsibility or if anything can be done so long after the fact. It does seem to me if you’re going to have strict rules, you might also want to have strict punishments. If you’ve agreed that there was some sort of harassment and you have witnesses for that, boot those kids’ butts out of the school. And for heaven’s sake, try to find teachers who aren’t off partying with the students! As shown by the school’s response to the articles, however, there is a bit of contradiction, so I’m not totally sure we’ll ever have a clear picture.

I also can’t say what happened years ago compared to today’s Christendom. I’ve talked to some of the students there recently and they seem to get a lot of “real world” speakers these days. That said, it’s really not the school’s duty to prepare our children for the “real world.”  That’s our job. If your child leaves your house without knowing that the backseat of a car on an isolated road in the forest isn’t exactly the environment that’s going to foster morality, that’s on you, not the school your kid goes to, no matter where it may be. Talk to your kids, people! Your sons should know rape, fornication, porn, etc., etc., etc., are not OK. And not to beat up on the boys, same for girls. HUGE porn problem amongst our Catholic ladies. Please note – nowhere did I blame the victim. Just thought I’d throw that out there because I’m sure someone will throw out that accusation.  

And to those parents who do everything they can, again, don’t beat yourself up when your kids blow it.  We have a formidable foe. Just keep trying. Pivot, adjust, just don’t give up. Your kids might listen to satan today, but they might just listen to you tomorrow.

***Before anyone corrects my grammar, lower case “satan” was purposeful.  I refuse to even offer him the dignity of a capital letter.  All other grammar errors are just me.

The Hypocrisy Speaks Loudly in Him!

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/notre-dame-pres.-cannot-attend-march-for-life-while-providing-abortion-cove

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, January 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – It would be “hypocritical” for Notre Dame University’s president to attend the March for Life given his role in allowing abortifacient birth-control coverage through insurance to students and staff, concerned alumni are saying.

It’s not just concerned alumni.  Seriously, who hasn’t said Fr. Jenkins is a joke?  A very bad joke?  It was laughable the second he was enjoined in the religious freedom lawsuits and anyone who knew anything thought so. Heck, even the court was skeptical.  To try to put Fr. Jenkin’s moves on the same plain as the Little Sisters of the Poor was ludicrous.

A Notre Dame alumni association, the Sycamore Trust, was disappointed when the university, under the presidency of Father John Jenkins, CSC, bowed to Obama’s HHS ‘contraception’ mandate which enjoined employers to provide their employees with health coverage that included “services” such as contraceptives and sterilization. The group expressed grave concern when the university did not except the new faith-based exemption offered by the Trump administration.

For those not caught up, Notre Dame was embroiled in the HHS mandate lawsuits and then, when the Trump administration handed them everything, they said “Haha!  Just kidding!” and gave abortifacient coverage to their employees because of “diverse views.”  Silly us.  We thought it was Christ’s view that mattered but, whatever.

Father Jenkins has participated in the March for Life in the Capitol since 2010, but critics say that this year it would be better if he stayed away.

I challenge anyone and everyone who can bring an extra little sign to bring one with #Imnotwithhim on it and walk right next to this loser of a leader.

“I certainly hope he will have the grace not to accompany the students and faculty,” Sycamore Trust’s Bill Dempsey told LifeSiteNews. “It would be hypocritical and a severe embarrassment to the students and faculty [if he did].”

It would be a stupid move because I’m betting every pro-life organization will be gunning for him.  I mean, he just agreed to provide for the destruction of children.  What part of stupid is he not getting?

“It is hard to imagine him delivering a pro-life homily after having turned the university into an agent for the distribution of abortifacients and contraceptives to students and employees,” he said.

Mr. Dempsey has a lot more hope than I do.  I wouldn’t put it past 96% (probably higher percentage) of the Jesuit order to give thumbs up to abortifacients.

Notre Dame did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment before press time.

Manufactures of common hormonal contraceptives, such as the IUD, have made clear the abortive effects of contraception. According to the manufacturer of Mirena, the IUD makes a woman’s body hostile to new life in three ways: It thickens the woman’s cervical mucus to prevent sperm from traveling to an egg; it prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg; and if a sperm and egg do unite, the IUD thins the lining of the uterus, making it impossible for the newly conceived human being to implant on the uterine wall.

Pro-life 101.  Plus, Fr. Jenkins isn’t questioning this.  He simply throws out the ultra-lame “diverse belief” argument.

Notre Dame alumnus Brian Simboli has argued that even if there is a medical dispute about whether contraceptives act as abortifacients, “morality requires that one should treat them as having these effects.

“The pro-life community, on balance, has hardly yet addressed the serious implications of this principle,” he wrote.

There’s no dispute.  It can’t ever be said that these are not abortifacients.  It can only be said that it’s supposed to stop contraception.  They all know darn well they don’t know how often that happens.

Simboli told LifeSiteNews that Notre Dame’s failure to stand up against the HHS mandate was a tragedy.

Tragic, immoral,  embarrassing, hypocritical, stupid, etc.  The list could go on for miles.    See ya! !Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

“It is a tragedy that a university with an about 12 billion dollar endowment, and so much potential to help the pro-life cause, did not stand up to the HHS mandate about abortifacients,” he said. “There is no way the Obama administration would have risked the political capital had Notre Dame done so at the get-go.”

This is where you hit them in the pocketbook big time, alumni!

Simboli blames Father Jenkins for Notre Dame’s refusal of the exemption from the mandate offered by the Trump administration. Notre Dame chose instead to let the university’s health plan contractors continue to provide free abortifacients and contraceptives to its students and employees.

I think this needs to be explained a little.  The Obama administration said all health care plans must cover abortion.  Some people said, “Uh, no.  We’re not paying for services contradictory to our faith.”  Obama administration said, “Fine, you don’t have to pay for it.  We’ll just use your health plan and we’ll pay for it.”  At this point many folks said, “Sorry.  It goes against our faith to pay for x, y, z.  This varied on denomination but the Little Sisters of the Poor, for example, said “NO!” and told the Obama administration that it could never allow it’s plan to be used to do things contrary to the faith.  Notre Dame said “Us too!” (The best guess is to garner donations.)  Then, when Trump came along and said they didn’t have to let their health plans be used for this, Fr. Jenkins showed his true colors.

“One can only wonder, in light of recent events at Notre Dame, precisely what Fr. Jenkins meant when he says that “I am one in whose heart ‘dogma beats loudly,” said Simboli.

Simboli was referring to a letter Jenkins wrote to Senator Diane Feinstein in response to her remark to Notre Dame professor Amy Coney Barrett, during her judicial confirmation hearing, that “dogma lives loudly in you.”  The remark was interpreted by many Catholics as an anti-Catholic slur.

“I am one in whose heart ‘dogma lives loudly,’ as it has for centuries in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation,” Jenkins wrote.

Again, Fr. Jenkins lives to garner donations.  He’ll throw out anything that helps in that effort.

Under Jenkins’ tenure, however, Notre Dame has permitted various offenses against Catholic teaching. In 2006, Notre Dame permitted both the performance of  The Vagina Monologues, an obscene play in which one character exults in her statutory rape by an older woman. That same year, it allowed a film festival showcasing same-sex sexual desire. Then, in 2009, Notre Dame invited abortion extremist and then-U.S.-President Barack Obama to speak at a commencement ceremony where he was awarded a Doctorate of Laws.

“He is the president of the United States,” Father Jenkins said at the time, “and there was a tradition of Notre Dame inviting presidents to be commencement speakers and receive honorary degrees, and we continue that tradition.”

And the CINOs of the world whipped out their checkbooks and National catholic Reporter put him on the front page.

But Jenkins broke that tradition this year when he neglected to invite President Trump to Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony, choosing instead to honor Vice-President Mike Pence.

I wouldn’t hold that against him except for the whole Obama thing.

In welcoming Obama to Notre Dame, Jenkins disregarded the petitions of 367,000 individuals, including 83 cardinals, bishops, archbishops and his own local ordinary, to rescind the invitation. He also ignored requests for “dialogue” from the 88 protesters arrested for “criminal trespass” as they peacefully protested Obama’s presence on campus.

Yeah, no ego problem there, Fr. Jenkins.

The 2018 March for Life, the largest pro-life rally in the world, will take place in Washington D.C. on January 19.

You know what would be kind of awesome?  Somebody at the March for Life should lead a pray for the conversion of Fr. Jenkins.  He desperately needs it.

Trust Not Trustees

https://www.ncronline.org/news/parish/minnesota-parish-rallies-around-gay-musicians-ousted-new-priest

Before I get started, can you please drop this priest a line of support?  I’m reasonably sure that he’s not getting all the encouragement he should right now.  In fact, drop his bishop a line too.

The music during the second weekend of Advent at the Churches of St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier north of Minnesota’s Twin Cities had a different ring to it than it did the week before.

Rather than leading the small parish communities in song from their usual posts in the choral section of the church, two of its longtime musicians, Bob Bernard and Travis Loeffler, instead sang loudly from the front pew as part of the flock. Earlier in the week, parochial administrator Fr. John Drees fired them, along with fellow accompanist Dominic Mitchell, after the priest learned of their same-sex marriages.

“Same-sex marriages” are not compatible with the teachings of the Church, in case Brian Roewe didn’t know, what with being involved with the National catholic Reporter and all.  Might have been a good place to start off the article. 

Their termination led to their relocation in the pews, from where they worshipped at each of the parish’s four Masses surrounded by supportive family, friends and fellow parishioners.

“We wanted to make sure that we were present,” said Bernard, 59, an accompanist at the small parish for 15 years. “We didn’t want people to think that we were afraid, and we didn’t want people in any way to be upset or despairing that they weren’t going to see us again.”

It’s really sad when going to Mass becomes a protest.  Got it, boys.  You believe sodomy is the bomb and you’re sitting in the front row to make sure everyone notices you.  Let’s just forget the pesky thing going on before us on the altar.  Seriously.  They’ve got some diva issues.  I’ve had plenty of reasons in my time to protest the actions of priest in my area but I would NEVER choose Mass to make my point because, well, IT”S MASS!  Geez.  It’s not like it’s an easy thing to overlook unless you’re these guys.

After each of the four Masses celebrated at St. Joseph Church, in Taylors Falls, Minnesota, and St. Francis Xavier Church, in Shafer, Minnesota — part of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese —​ many parishioners approached the men expressing concern and compassion, but also confusion and in some cases, shedding tears. The only announcement of their removal from the clustered parish’s music program was a vague notice in the day’s bulletin being handed out around them, in which the priest, who arrived in July, stated simply the three would “no longer be playing music at our Masses.”

Well, there was a little more to it.  The priest was also looking for some new people to take over.  I will say, in this instance, it might not have been prudent to advertise in the bulletin but, with Christmas coming, one might have to explain the absence of musicians.

Loeffler, a 30-year-old volunteer cantor at the parish for six years, said, “We wanted to be sure that if people had questions, that they knew it’s not because we wanted to leave.”

  Yes, yes.  You’re martyrs and you want to make sure everyone knows it.

The three musicians were dismissed from the parish’s music ministry Dec. 5. Bernard was informed of his termination after morning Mass that day.

“I was scheduled to have a meeting with Fr. Drees about plans for Advent and Christmas music. And then when I sat down, he said that’s not what I really wanted to talk to you about,” Bernard told NCR.

According to Bernard, the priest said the longtime accompanist could not continue in that role because his marriage to his husband, Dave, presented a situation that “was confusing to the parishioners.”

Well, yeah.  Three unrepentant “married” dudes having an integral part in the Mass is kind of confusing. 

Drees, 31, told NCR in an email he would not comment publicly on parish personnel and employment issues out of respect for all involved and affected, nor comment on private conversations between him and parishioners.

Wait! A priest who doesn’t comment publicly on his employees, much less reveal the sinful acts of other people?  Absolutely astonishing.

Bernard, who married in September, said he had informed the priest of his marriage recently, after receiving a payroll form that included a question about his marital status. Bernard’s final paycheck included a note stating, “Dear Bob, a follow-up on our previous discussion. You resigned as an employee on Dec, 5, 2017. I thank you for sharing your musical gifts with us and for your dedication and service to the parish. Your music was an inspiration, I wish you the very best in your journey.”

Well, that certainly doesn’t make Fr. Drees look like the evil toad NcR is going for.

Later on Dec. 5, Drees told Loeffler and Mitchell — who married one another in January — of their terminations by phone, but did not offer an explanation as to why, both told NCR. When either asked the priest what was the reason, he replied, “I’m not prepared to say.”

What also remained unclear was how Drees knew of their marriage. Unlike Bernard, the two never disclosed their marriage to the parish. And while they regularly played together, with Mitchell on the piano and Loeffler providing vocals, they were intentional in avoiding any outward signs of their relationship.

Interestingly enough, Bernard doesn’t say that he notified the parish of his “same-sex marriage,” just that he was married.  When people are intentionally hiding relationships, doesn’t that tell you something, Bob?  You had to know this was probably going to be the outcome of all this.

“I was very careful about it. We barely even shook hands,” Mitchell said.” 

Again, why? 

Leading up to the personnel decision

The unanswered questions added to the pain of their dismissal; they saw their participation at Mass not as a gig but an expression of the gifts God had given them.”

Really?  Are there really unanswered questions?  It was found out that you were all in “same-sex marriages.”  It’s a Catholic Church.  When one enters into a “same-sex marriage,” one can no longer simply say, “It’s not a sin to be gay!” because you’ve gone one step further and let everyone know that you did something against Church teaching, and why would anyone think that someone who entered into a “same-sex” marriage is not engaging in sodomy, masturbation, etc.?

“”It took me a while to realize that God made me the way I am on purpose. To be out of the closet, to be homosexual, to also have these gifts of music to share,” said Mitchell, 35, who has sung in churches since he was a kid.

Wait a sec.  “God made me this way” doesn’t even show a modicum of knowledge in the Faith.  Who was the pastor there before Fr. Drees?  My gosh, priestly people, you need to start including Truth in your homilies.

And, as Mitchell’s comments show, he’s using those liberal labels to defend his indefensible position.  Instead of “struggling Catholic,” it’s “out of the closet Catholic.”  Let me restate, as I have so many times before, I don’t care if one is “gay” or straight.  I care if they are struggling like the rest of us to follow the teachings of the God and His Church.  I care about our immortal souls, not our earthly proclivities.  This whole “Yay, I’m a sinner!” idea is an epic fail.  It should be “Please have mercy on me Lord, a sinner.”  Not the ridiculous “God made me a sinner!  Woot!”  Do some of us have bigger crosses to carry than others?  Yup.  However, most of the time they are self-made by a lack of self-mastery.

“He added he could see why the archdiocese might not want to compensate them, but had a hard time understanding why they still couldn’t voluntarily share their musical talents. “That’s really where I think it seems particularly unnecessary and kind of hateful,” Mitchell said.”

Um, what’s unnecessary and kind of hateful is expecting any of your fellow Catholics to accept you particular sin.  This isn’t about you being homosexual, it’s about you trying to enshrine homosexual “marriage” in the hearts and minds of the faithful around you.  If it’s not and you’re simply struggling with sin, why not say it?

The musicians’ status was a point of tense discussion in the weeks before Thanksgiving among Drees and the parish’s four trustees.

The priest held separate meetings in mid-November with each church’s pair of trustees. At each meeting, Drees asked the trustees — advisors to both the priest and the churches’ pastoral and financial councils — if they knew the musicians were gay and married. Three of the four responded that they knew, to which Drees expressed surprise that no one had alerted him.

Yeah, I’d probably fire the trustees, too.  They knew there were public, obstinate sinners (when 3 out of 4 know, it’s public) being entrusted with jobs in the liturgy.

“He seemed disappointed with the parishioners that nobody thought this was a bad thing and brought it up to him,” said Chris Hudspeth, a trustee at St. Joseph where she has been a parishioner for four decades.

She and others described the St. Croix Valley, which encompasses the two churches, as a small, inclusive and close-knit community (Taylors Falls has a population of approximately 1,000 people), and one that wouldn’t view a person’s sexual orientation as a big deal.

Well, duh!  Disappointed?!? I’d be epically distraught if I were a priest whose parishioners thought having the choir guys entering into “same-sex marriages” was peachy or that peoples’ disordered orientations were no big deal.

Hudspeth said she was “taken aback” when Drees then told her and Larry Julik-Heine he would have to dismiss the three musicians because their marriages represented a public demonstration of beliefs contrary to church teaching. She said the priest indicated that Bernard’s contract included a code of conduct agreement, but she did not review the document.

How sad is it that these two people so involved with their church don’t get this?

Both trustees said they opposed the musicians’ dismissal, with Hudspeth pointing to gay-and-married members of her own family and saying, “I would not turn my back on them.”

Uh, yes, trustees.  You have turned your back on them by green-lighting their sin and allowing them to be perfectly comfortable with it. Heaven and Hell are real places, people. Christ didn’t tell the lost sheep to have fun.  He went after them.  These two knuckle-heads are going to give the thumbs up to their loved ones because they don’t want the discomfort of calling a spade a spade.  Apparently, they believe embracing sin is an acceptable method to get to Heaven, since, heck, Christ dined with sinners and all.  Trustees, Christ told people to “go and sin” no more.  He didn’t say “Hey!  Your sin, it’s just fine.”

“I thought it was wrong, discriminatory, and I just could not agree,” Julik-Heine told NCR.”

Discriminatory?  Try loving.  It’s sad that these poor priests are labeled malicious for not wanting people to stew in their sins and lead others to believe the sinner’s way of life is a good thing.

According to the trustees, Drees responded to a question about how he found out about the musicians’ marriages by saying someone had informed him, which led him to conduct his own online inquiry. The priest also indicated he noticed Loeffler and Mitchell arrived at Mass together in the same car and departed at the same time. At the St. Francis trustee meeting, Carol Schwinghammer said she noticed a photo of Bernard and his husband in the stack of papers in front of Drees.

In short, people knew, and the trustees confirmed that. 

When asked if he conducted online research into the marital status of any of the three men, Drees told NCR in an email, “Social media and other online outlets are public. We teach our schoolchildren and our employees to be careful what they post online, and, as employees, we all must adhere to Catholic teaching in our postings.”

Yep!  I tell my children the same thing. You want to post your sins on-line, be prepared for consequences somewhere along the way.  And, regardless, there are always consequences to sin which should be the bigger picture here.  I repeat, Heaven and Hell.

Schwinghammer, who also opposed the musicians’ firing, requested a second meeting for all four trustees and Drees to continue the discussion and perhaps find an alternative solution. “But to me, it became apparent that that wasn’t going to happen,” she said.

By “alternative solution”, do you mean a solution consistent with that pesky little thing called Church teaching?  Didn’t think so. These men were all thrilled to jump into an objectively sinful situation.  There is no solution that can fix that other than confession and resolving to sin no more.  When you’re proud of your same-sex “marriage” you’ve now enshrined yourself in the public obstinate sinner category.

The trustees told NCR that Drees said no one had approached him with concerns about the musicians. At one point, Schwinghammer referenced Pope Francis’ calls for a more inclusive church, to which she said Drees replied that a lot of people find the pope’s message confusing, and went on to reference three passages from St. Paul that he said condemn same-sex marriage.

Father Drees, if it doesn’t work out in Minnesota, we’ve got a few dioceses around here that could use your help.  Schwinghammer doesn’t understand the difference between a Church made up of sinners (all of us) and one that tells people to embrace their sins.

And one other little thing…Of course nobody approached you people.  They knew you were already in on the whole thing and it was all copacetic with you!  Duh!

“The firing of the musicians led Julik-Heine to resign as trustee, a position he had held almost the entirety of his two decades at St. Joseph. After making that decision, Julik-Heine told NCR that Drees informed him he could also no longer serve as a lector or eucharistic minister in the parish, and that he would likely refuse him the sacraments; days later, the priest said he would still offer him the Eucharist, but the bar on liturgical roles stood.

It wasn’t “after making that decision.” It was after you spewed a warped vision of Church teaching. 

“”I felt like I was basically kicked out of the church,” Julik-Heine said. “… That put a big hole in my heart, to be honest. Because I’ve done so much at St. Joe’s over the years and it’s a big part of my life.”

Here comes more of the martyr complex.  I’d be more worried about Heaven and Hell than your roles in the Church.  The Church is not a social club. 

Outpouring of support

The three trustees were among those who joined in sitting near the musicians at Masses during the second weekend of Advent. Of the roughly 50 to 100 people in attendance at each, it was estimated close to half were present in support for their former musicians. By all accounts, the circumstances at the Saturday night Mass at St. Joseph that landed Loeffler and Bernard in a pew rather than the regular choral spot — two female cantors filled in — resulted in a beautiful harmony filling the church.

There’s a shocker.  It’s all really about them, isn’t it?  Go to Mass, people, and take the protest elsewhere. 

In a side note, I have to think that the attendance in that parish is about to go up, since I’m sure that many people who embrace Catholic teaching went elsewhere a long time ago.  Some of us are looking for faithful priests to minister to us.  Now you know where he is, Minnesota Catholics!  The “trustees” might have given a thought to why there was such awful attendance there but it seems it was all lost on them!

Even more moving to the two men was the overwhelming support they felt from their parish community, including people they didn’t know well or from whom they had expected a different reaction to their dismissal.

“There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugging,” Loeffler said.

“Everybody loved them,” Hudspeth said. “… They brought a music ministry to this church, to these parishes, that we have not had in years.

Uh, sounded like they had all been there a while. 

Asked about the show of support, Drees said, “As a priest, I am always happy to see people attending and participating in the Mass.” He said he has heard from “few parishioners” since the musicians’ firing, and “they have expressed their concerns but also their support and understanding.”

Bernard described many “raw feelings” at the Masses, and several people approached Drees afterward to discuss the priest’s decision. One of them was Jamie Manzi-Moore, the former music director at St. Victoria Catholic Church, in Victoria, Minnesota, who was fired in 2014 after 17 years in the position after his own same-sex marriage was reported to then-Archbishop John Nienstedt.

Now they’re bringing people in to protest?!?  I would expect no less.

According to Schwinghammer, during the first meeting Drees said that while at a prior parish he had addressed at a similar situation at a nearby church. When Bernard confronted Drees about whether he had informed Nienstedt of Moore’s marriage, he told NCR that the priest “was shocked to hear me ask that question, and he said, ‘Yes.’ “

Drees, in response to a question from NCR, denied that he had informed Nienstedt about Manzi-Moore’s marriage. He did not respond to a follow-up question whether he had any involvement in the archbishop or archdiocese learning about Manzi-Moore’s marital status.

Well, sounds like a he said/he said thing, so it’s really not possible to comment on whether or not the exchange happened, although NcR is all too happy to report on it.  That said, if Fr. Drees informed his bishop of something he found problematic, the problem is?  Oh, yeah, there isn’t one.

Manzi-Moore, after a brief exchange with Drees following Mass on Dec. 9, emailed the priest and Archbishop Bernard Hebda stating in part he believed his and the other musicians’ firings were “completely wrong, unjust, and it is not Christian in any way shape or form.”

“It isn’t simply ‘remove them from their ministries and all will be well.’ There is so much pain, so much sorrow, and so much unnecessary harm inflicted upon not only those who are ‘let go’ but also upon their families, loved ones, and their parish families,” he wrote.

What about the harm to the faithful when a pastor allows people to be perfectly complacent with their sins?  Give me a break.  Eternal salvation is a big deal.

Drees responded to Manzi-Moore on Thursday in an email, a copy of which NCR obtained, where he again said he did not contact Nienstedt about him. The priest, who at the time of the former music director’s dismissal was associate pastor of nearby St. Hubert Catholic Community, explained he received a phone call from an anonymous St. Victoria parishioner “who had some concerns about the music ministry at the parish.”

“I asked my pastor him [sic] for direction on what to do with the information, and he suggested relaying it to our dean,” Drees wrote, referring to the head of the regional deanery. “I did, and that was the last and only thing I did. I cannot speak to what the Archbishop knew or didn’t know, or how he knew.”

Let’s be honest, there was probably more than one person who was concerned.  Apparently, it was public knowledge, and I’m sure more than one person expressed their concern to more than just Fr. Drees.

Moving forward

There’s worry within the St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph Churches, the trustees said, that the situation with their ousted musicians will become a wedge that divides the parish. Some parishioners have begun talking about withholding financial support of the parish, or withdrawing from it entirely. Others fear that showing support for the musicians could lead to their own removal from roles in the liturgy and parish, as well.

That’s really up to the parishioners, isn’t it, trustees?  I would expect that showing support for peoples’ objective sins might be more of a problem than some withholding financial support.

”I really am concerned that it is going to negatively impact the community. And I see it personally, I see it as discriminatory,” Schwinghammer said. The situation with the musicians reminded her of her own experience as a child, with her parents divorced, of feeling not welcomed in the church.”

Doesn’t it occur to anyone that people publicly embracing sodomy might be the ones negatively impacting the community?!?  And, really, the homosexual choir dudes are the center of parish devotion?  It’s about the Eucharist, folks!  It’s not about you, the choir, etc., etc., etc.  I don’t know a parish in the world that doesn’t have very human people, but in my parish, the focus is not us, it’s God.  It’s not about embracing sin, it’s about supporting people in their rejection of sin (which is hard).  It’s about helping us gain everlasting life with God, not about making our lives on this earth comfy.  It’s about supporting people in their daily struggles, not about helping them to avoid them in a misplaced sense of love.

Julik-Heine and Schwinghammer have written to the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese expressing their concerns. Schwinghammer said she spoke Dec. 9 with Fr. Michael Tix, vicar for clergy and parish services, who advised her to keep talking.

Maybe “keep listening” would be a better idea.  I have NO DOUBT Fr. Drees has the salvation of his parishioners in the forefront of his mind.  Too bad these whiners don’t.

The archdiocese did not respond to specific questions from NCR, saying it does not comment on individual parish personnel decisions.

In a statement, Tix said, “Decisions regarding personnel in a parish setting rest with the pastor or parochial administrator of the parish and the Archdiocese recommends that he work in tandem with parish leadership and consult legal counsel. It’s the pastor or administrator and his lay leaders who are best able to assess what is necessary for building a team that can give a credible witness to the Gospel in that community. We urge our pastors to be both fair and consistent in the applications of rules and standards.”

For the three musicians, the outpouring at the Masses two weeks ago showed them the parish body still welcomed them, even if they were restricted from formal ministerial roles.

I’m just going to focus on the last paragraph here.  Just what are you supporting, fellow parishioners?  Did you ever once stop and think about that?  You are supporting sin.  Get it through your thick skulls.  You’re cheering them on while they skip down the road to perdition.  Welcome them to Mass?  Fine. Welcome them to Hell?  Not so much.

“If anything, I am reassured from this community that there were a number of people that said ‘I would love for you to sit and sing by me,’ ” Loeffler said.

To Bernard, the outreach meant one thing: “I’m going to stay there.”

Me, me, me, I, I, I. 

While Mitchell said he plans to attend Mass elsewhere for the foreseeable future, Bernard and Loeffler were back at St. Joseph on Sunday morning. “We sang our hearts out from the pews,” according to Bernard, and afterward, met friends they didn’t know they had. Drees even greeted Bernard after Mass.

I’m totally shocked that the last sentence got printed!  It further flipped the whole narrative of Fr. Drees being the guy who wants to drum all homosexuals out of his parish, didn’t it?  Seriously, we need to pray for our priests.  The stress of having to deal with Mass being used as a weekly protest must be overwhelming.

“People were delighted to see that we had not been driven away,” he said, adding they hope to remain a part of the parish community, however that might look.

I would hope they’d keep going to Mass, and I hope they will reject sin.  This is not about trying to drive people away, my friends at St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier.  It’s about helping them gain everlasting life.

For Bernard, who attends daily Mass when able, the Eucharist kept him from ever considering abandoning the Catholic faith altogether. By staying in the parish, he hopes he can show strength to other gay people who might feel unwelcome.

Whoa, buddy!  You abandoned the faith a long time ago when you decided to rebel against Church teaching. You showed up weekly but you tried to make the faith conform around you.  This is not about “gay” people.  It’s about the public manifestation of sin and Eucharist.  These are two very different things, and I’m not letting Bernard get away with saying because he sat in a pew and openly and willfully rejected the teachings of the Church that he embraces the faith.  It’s simply not fair to those suffering with same-sex attraction who are trying (and succeeding!) to live a chaste life.  They are the real heroes and examples to us. 

“I feel like my gifts and talents are a calling, and I would like to be the change that we seek, as far as the Catholic Church goes. And I feel like if I leave it, I’m not fulfilling my calling,” Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell, your calling is to help the Body of Christ achieve everlasting life, just like the rest of us. We’re all in this together. Your calling is not to be an example of how to embrace sin.  You can choose the example you are going to be.  Are you going to help people reject sin, or are you going to play the martyr card some more?

Loeffler said leaving would feel “like the easy way out.” He hopes the support they’ve received can show other homosexual men and women who feel driven from their communities that there are Catholics who “knowingly and openly support gay men and women. That they’re not afraid of them, they welcome them.”

Mr. Loeffler, there is no easy way out.  There is a cross.  Are you going to embrace or reject it?  That’s what this comes down to for all of us.

“We don’t want this to be another story for people to dislike the Catholic Church. We are still parishioners of the Catholic faith after this. This didn’t drive us away,” Loeffler said.

It is good you didn’t leave.  I would hope you wouldn’t.  However, I hope Fr. Drees will get what real love is across to you.  Christ showed us this on the cross.  You won’t ever be happy in your protest. You will only be happy when your focus is on Christ and the teachings of His Church.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!  I’m not gonna lie.  December and January are probably THE busiest months of my year, well, mostly because I’m a homeschooling mom.  Throw in the whole pro-life, active in the church thing and it just gets a bit busier.

I’m watching all of the New Year’s predictions come out so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

  • James Martin, SJ will say something awesomely ridiculous. (Honestly, we can check off most of these right now since there is little to no chance of them not happening.)
  • 2018 will bring about “side picking” like never seen in the Church before.
  • Fr, Rosica will spontaneously combust over the “Catholic Cyber Militia.”
  • Cardinal Mueller will have trouble deciding what to have for dinner as well as what his feelings are on communion for the divorced and “re-married.”
  • Cardinals Burke and Brandmueller will be continued to be seen by some as Obi-wan Kenobi and the Yoda (the guy many of us didn’t know about until “The Dubia” came out.)
  • Cardinal Sarah will continue to be painted as the “old, out of touch, dude from a third world country” while simultaneously being patted on the head by Frs. Martin, Reese, Rosica and club.
  • Cardinal Cupich will continue being awful.
  • Bishop McElroy will continue wishing he was Cardinal Cupich
  • Liberals will continue to push for “women priests,” married priests and all sexual proclivities they can.
  • I will still not be named a monsignor either.

How do you think I’ll do!  Here’s hoping I can spend 2018 offering a little levity to the insanity we’re living in!  Carry on!