The Conundrum of Progressivism

September 30, 2018 James Kalb 8

Progressivism, the view that modern political tendencies should continually be extended, has deep roots. Its beginnings are closely connected to the rise of modern natural science, which rejects the contemplative ideal of knowledge in favor […]

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News Briefs

Pope: Be open to the good, wherever it comes from

September 30, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2018 / 08:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis advised Sunday that we be open to the good, regardless of whether it comes from someone outside our own “circle”.

The pope reflected Sept. 30 on the day’s Gospel, in which Christ taught his disciples humility and to avoid scandal. He was delivering the Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.

When the disciples objected to someone outside their group casting out a demon, Pope Francis said they “demonstrate a closed attitude before an event that does not fit into their schemes, in this case the action, though good, of a person ‘external’ to the circle of followers.”

“Instead Jesus appears very free, fully open to the freedom of the Spirit of God, who in his action is not limited by any boundary and by any enclosure. Jesus wants to educate his disciples, even today, to this interior freedom.”

Pope Francis commended an examination of conscience in relation to this episode, saying, “the attitude of the disciples of Jesus is very human, very common, and we can find it in the Christian communities of all time, probably also in ourselves.”

“In good faith, indeed, with zeal, one would like to protect the authenticity of a certain experience, protecting the founder or the leader from false imitators,” he said. “But at the same time there is the fear of ‘competition’ – and this is bad: the fear of competition – that someone can steal new followers, and then you can not appreciate the good that others do: not good because ‘it’s not ours’, they say. It is a form of self-referentiality.”

He said this is “the root of proselytism”, and that the Church “does not grow by proselytism, it grows by attraction, that is, it grows by the testimony given to others by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Christ “calls us not to think according to the categories of ‘friend / enemy’, ‘us / them’, ‘who is inside / who is outside’, ‘mine / yours’, but to go further, to open the heart to recognize his presence and the action of God even in unusual and unpredictable areas and in people who are not part of our circle,” Pope Francis said.

“It is a matter of being more attentive to the genuineness of the good, the beautiful and the true that is accomplished, than to the name and provenance of those who do it.”

Rather than judging others, the pope said, “we must examine ourselves, and ‘cut’ without compromise everything that can scandalize the weaker people in the faith.”

Francis concluded, saying the Virgin Mary, “model of docile reception of the surprises of God, helps us to recognize the signs of the presence of the Lord in our midst, discovering him wherever he manifests himself, even in the most unthinkable and unusual situations.”

“May she teach us to love our community without jealousy and closures, always open to the vast horizon of the action of the Holy Spirit.”


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News Briefs

Study finds increases in gold price increase sex-selective abortions in India

September 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

New Delhi, India, Sep 29, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A study from the University of Essex has found a link between the global price of gold and the survival rate for Indian baby girls. Monthly increases in the price of gold between 1972-2005, the study argues, led to girls being more likely to be aborted, die in the first month of life, or suffer from stunted growth.

The study also concluded that dowries are a major contributing factor to India’s gender imbalance. Sex-selective abortion, though illegal since 2015, has been widely practiced since the 1980s, and nationwide men outnumber women by nearly 37 million. There are also an estimated 21 million “unwanted” girls who have been born in the country.

“Our contribution is to provide what we believe is the first clear evidence of causal effects of dowry costs on son preferring behaviours,” said Sonia Bhalotra, a professor of economics and the author of the study.

Dowries are a transfer of parental property upon marriage of a daughter, a practice still widely found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, despite being illegal in India since 1961.

“While the original dowry payments acted as a pre-mortem bequest to daughters that afforded them post-marital financial protection, property rights over dowry are now often appropriated by the groom or his parents rather than retained by the bride,” the study states.

The study cites estimates that suggest a dowry may often be four to eight times a family’s annual household income, and that parents often have to start saving for a girl’s dowry as soon as she is born.

Gold, especially jewelry, is an integral part of Indian dowries. Gold prices are frequently reported in Indian media and are a regular topic of discussion, Bhalotra wrote in Quartz India.

The study found that from 1972 to 1985, an increase of approximately six percent in the monthly price of gold was accompanied by a six percent increase in deaths of baby girls, with no significant change in deaths of baby boys. Additionally women who survived to adulthood who were born during that time period were more likely to be less tall when they reach maturity, possibly due to nutritional deprivation early in life.

After 1985, when ultrasound scans became widely available, fewer girls were born in months of gold price inflation, suggesting that those children were being aborted rather than neglected at birth. Tests to determine the sex of a fetus have been illegal in India since 2015.

“We find that parents are consistently ‘eliminating’ girls early in life, but the pattern is that this is done soon after birth before 1985, and while the girl is in the womb after 1985,” Bhalotra said.

“[In 1994,] abortion clinics in Mumbai had posters with slogans such as ‘Better pay 500 [rupees] now than 50,000 [rupees] later.’ The 500 [rupees] is the cost of abortion and the 50,000 [rupees] refers to the future cost of dowry,” the author states.

The study found that after 1985, a 1 percent increase in the global price of gold led to an extra 33,000 “missing” female births each year.


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News Briefs

CNA Explainer: What rights does a pastor have?

September 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Chicago, Ill., Sep 29, 2018 / 09:30 am (CNA).- The recent case of Chicago’s Fr. Paul Kalchik has generated considerable publicity, and left more than a few questions unanswered.
Kalchik was “temporarily” removed from his post at Resurrection Parish in northwestern Chicago last week, following a Sept. 14 incident in which a rainbow banner which had previously hung in the church building was burned by parishioners, with Kalchik in attendance.
Kalchik announced Sept. 2 that he planned to burn the flag publicly on Sept. 29. He acknowledged recently that the archdiocese had instructed him not to proceed with that plan.

Almost everything else about the case remains disputed.
The Archdiocese of Chicago told CNA recently that Fr. Kalchik had agreed not to burn the banner. Kalchik, in a recent interview, claimed that he was told not to conduct the specific Sept. 29 public event he had previously announced.
An archdiocesan spokesperson also told CNA that Kalchik’s departure from the parish – which the archdiocese says is temporary – was not linked to the banner burning at all, but had been “in the works” for some weeks.

Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich was apparently concerned about “a number of issues” at the parish. The archdiocese added that Kalchik’s departure was arranged by “mutual agreement” and that he is presently receiving “pastoral support” for unspecified needs.
Kalchik says his departure was anything but a mutual decision.
The priest says that two diocesan officials, priests, arrived at his rectory and ordered him off the premises, threatening to call the police if he refused to comply. According to Kalchik, the priests said that he would be sent to St. Luke’s Institute, a Maryland psychiatric assessment and treatment center for priests.

The Archdiocese of Chicago declined CNA’s request for confirmation or denial of those claims.

What are a pastor’s rights?

Amid the conflicting narratives surrounding Kalchik, a question emerges: what canonical rights does a parish priest actually have?

While a priest’s ministry is dependent upon that of his bishop, and every priest promises respect and obedience to the bishop at ordination, it is a common mistake to think of a pastor as a kind of branch manager or tenant farmer of the bishop. The pastor’s canonical role is much different than that.
Canon law treats the subject of a parochus –  the pastor of a parish – very explicitly.
Canon 515 §1 of the Code of Canon Law says that each parish is to be entrusted to the care of a parochus, who serves as the shepherd of the community under the authority of the bishop.
The same canon makes clear that the parish itself is not a piece of land, a church, or any other collection of buildings. A parish is properly understood as a group of the faithful, usually defined as those living in a particular area.
The relationship between the pastor and his parish is, in a technical sense, personal: a relationship between persons, defined and circumscribed by law.  
In canon law, every parish has its own “juridic personality,” meaning that is a freestanding legal entity, with its own property, and its own rights and obligations.
The Code clarifies that the pastor represents the parish “in all juridic affairs,” and it is his responsibility to lead the community and decides what is in its best interests.

Of course, the bishop is free to establish policies for all parishes in his diocese- called particular laws- provided that they do not conflict with universal canon law or divine law. But within the boundaries established by canon law, divine law, and civil law, it is the pastor’s job to lead the parish, and to determine, prayerfully and consultatively, how best to govern the community with which has has been entrusted.

There have been cases where the pastor and the bishop disagree about parish needs, and canon law provides mechanisms to address such conflicts, including processes of appeal from episcopal decisions and directions, and canonical courts in which they can be adjudicated.
A bishop and pastor might disagree, for example, about parish property. A bishop may direct a pastor to sell a piece of property, or to give it over to meet a diocesan need, and the pastor may judge that to be a bad idea. Such a dispute could become a matter of “hierarchical recourse,” if the pastor appeals a decision he does not support. When disputes over such matters are appealed to Rome, the Congregation for Clergy is often obliged to remind the bishop to respect the rights of the pastor.
Similarly, within the scope of universal and particular canon law and the teachings of the Church, a pastor also has the autonomy to teach and preach in a way he believes is best suited to the needs of the people.

This does not mean, of course, that bishops have no authority over parish pastors. In addition to establishing particular laws for his diocese, a bishop has the authority to oblige any priest or member of the faithful to do, or not do, a particular thing he may determine to be detrimental to the wider community. He can do this through a precept- a kind of canonical induction directed at a specific person or situation.

Since a precept is a formal legal action, a pastor has the right to appeal it, provided he does so according to the procedures established by canon law. But he does not have the right to simply ignore a legitimately issued precept.

Bishops also have the authority to appoint pastors. Except for very exceptional cases, canon law gives the diocesan bishop a free choice to appoint whatever priest he thinks is most suitable for the job. This is understandable, since the pastor carries out his role “under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share.”

A bishop is not free, however, to remove or transfer a pastor from his office without following a detailed and non-negotiable process defined by canon law. This procedure can only be initiated if a priest has met one or more conditions for removal outlined in the law, which include actions “gravely detrimental or disturbing to ecclesiastical communion,” along with permanent infirmity of mind or body, a loss of good reputation among his flock, and neglect of his duties in the parish.

Even if a priest has met those conditions, before he can be removed from the office of pastor, the bishop must formally consult with certain priests appointed by the diocesan priests’ council, he must allow the pastor the opportunity to see the evidence against him and make a defense, and he must discuss that defense with the priests appointed to consult with him.

During this whole process, the bishop can neither remove the pastor, nor appoint a replacement.
If the bishop does issue a decree of removal, the priest has the right to appeal his case to Rome, where the Congregation for Clergy, or eventually the Apostolic Signatura, can examine the decision and the process used to reach it.

A bishop also has the prerogative, in certain limited circumstances, to declare that a priest is impeded from exercising priestly ministry, but that must be done through a delineated process as well. A bishop could also withdraw certain faculties for ministry from a priest, but only if he has good reasons, and only if he has followed the procedural requirements of canon law.

In short, while no priest has a right to an assignment or to ministry, once a priest is appointed a pastor, he cannot be removed from his office, or from his ministry, without serious cause, and without observation of the law’s procedural requirements. Similarly, prohibiting a priest from residing in a certain place can only be done in the limited circumstances allowed by canon law.

This also means that, except in very limited and unusual circumstances, a bishop is not within his rights to attempt to remove the legitimate pastor of a parish from its property, or to threaten to have the police do so. Were a bishop to do such a thing without observing canonical requirements, and the priest appeal to Rome, it is likely that the Vatican would order the pastor to be reinstated.

Neither can a bishop compel any priest to undergo a psychological evaluation or engage in psychological treatment. While a bishop might condition future assignments on a “clean bill of mental health,” he can not force a priest to be diagnosed or treated against his will, or to disclose the details of his mental health if he does not wish to do so.

Canon 519 says that the pastor exercises “the pastoral care of the community committed to the pastor under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing.”

The authority of the diocesan bishop is not absolute. Nor is the autonomy of the pastor. But both exist, as defined by canon law, for the service of the Church, and the salvation of souls. Understanding the authority of bishops, and the rights of pastors, is important at a moment in the Church’s life when so much seems unclear, and when many questions remain unanswered.



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News Briefs

For Austrian cardinal, female deacons an ‘open question’

September 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 7

Vienna, Austria, Sep 29, 2018 / 08:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has said that in his view, whether the Church could ordain women as deacons remains an “open question.”

The Archbishop of Vienna was speaking Sept. 29 to 1700 delegates from parish councils and other bodies in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Reflecting that he recently had ordained 14 men to the permanent diaconate, he added, according to local news agency Kathpress, “perhaps one day also female deacons.”

Schönborn said that there had been female deacons in the Church in times past, and that “basically, this [question] is open.”

Pope Francis has spoken often about the importance of the role of women in the Church. In 2016 he appointed a new commission to examine the possibility of ordaining women to the permanent diaconate.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was appointed president of that commission, consisting of 12 members – 6 men and 6 women.

According to sources, drafting of their final report was completed in April. Whether it has yet been submitted to the pope is unknown.

In 2002 the International Theological Commission, an advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a report which gave a thorough historical context of the role of the deaconess in the ancient Church.

The commission overwhelmingly concluded that female deacons in the early Church had not been equivalent to male deacons, and had neither a liturgical nor a sacramental function.



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Pope Francis: Pray the rosary daily for Church’s protection from Satan

September 29, 2018 CNA Daily News 4

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2018 / 08:23 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to pray the rosary daily during the month of October, asking Mary and St. Michael the Archangel to intercede for the protection of the Church in a moment of “spiritual turbulence.”

A Sept. 29 statement from the Vatican said that Pope Francis had recently affirmed that prayer “is the weapon against the Great Accuser who ‘goes around the world seeking to accuse.’ Only prayer can defeat him.”

“The Russian mystics and the great saints of all the traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God,” the statement added.

The pope said that recitation of the rosary would invoke Mary’s intercession, placing the Church under her “protective mantle.”

The statement also encouraged the prayer of Sub Tuum Praesidium: “We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.”

The pope did not specify the “spiritual turbulence” to which he referred, but did say that prayer could help the Church to become “more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.”

Pope Francis also encouraged that Catholics end the rosary with the recitation of the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, composed by Pope Leo XII: “Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”


The Dispatch

What is the work of the angels?

September 29, 2018 Peter M.J. Stravinskas 1

(The following homily preached for the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel at the Church of the Holy Innocents, Manhattan, September 29, 2016 [Extraordinary Form] and appeared on CWR on September 30, 2016.)   Laudetur […]