Sing a Little Louder

Here is a short film with a profound meaning; nine minutes of painful truth.

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Abortion and Excommunication

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During the recently concluded Year of Mercy, Pope Francis granted to all priests the ability to relieve the excommunication attached to the sin of abortion.  Previously, in some countries, only a bishop could relieve this penalty, and until it was lifted, sacramental absolution could not be granted to the person guilty of abortion.  In an Apostolic Letter entitled Misericordia et Misera (Mercy with Misery) issued on November 20, 2016, the pope has extended this ability to all priests beyond the Year of Mercy, until further notice.  The relevant statements are found in paragraph #12:

“Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”

Recently, an Italian senator named Monica Cirinna, known for her pro-abortion and pro-homosexual activism, caused a bit of a stir by implying that Pope Francis was gradually liberalizing the Church’s position on abortion.  She claimed, “I am sure that he is going in the right direction.”  Strangely, Cirrano has additionally interpreted the pope’s recent statements to support her desire to punish medical personnel who refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds.  This is such a stretch as to be absurd, and it is an obvious attack especially on committed Catholics.

Pope Francis, although he does not speak against the sin of abortion as forcefully and frequently as many of us would like, nevertheless has plainly restated Catholic teaching on the subject.  As he asserts in the above document, “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”  In addition, abortion continues to carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.  This has in no way changed, except that the penalty may now be removed in the sacrament of penance by ordinary priests.

To grant all priests the right to give full and effective sacramental absolution to those guilty of abortion is not to belittle the gravity of the sin, nor to cheapen mercy, but only to emphasize the need for God’s forgiveness following such a grave act.  After all, the person confessing such a sin clearly recognizes its gravity and is repentant of it.  This is the very person that the Church wishes, not to push away, but to receive into her arms in order to strengthen through God’s mercy and restore in God’s grace.  Such is the purpose of the Church’s ministry of reconciliation, and the pope wishes only to make it more effective for those who prudently turn to it.

In spite of the warped interpretations and intentions of some, there is no change whatsoever in the Church’s moral teaching on abortion, nor can there be.  For it is a matter, not of the traditions of men, but of divine law.  The Fifth Commandment, “You shall not kill,” means, “You may not murder an innocent person.”  No human being possesses the authority to change this law, for it is founded, not on merely human authority, but on divine authority.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches,

“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.  Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (#2271).

Yes, circumstances can some times mitigate the guilt of those involved in an abortion.  Conditions such as ignorance or extreme threats from others can reduce the mortal guilt of a person involved in this particular, or in any other, gravely immoral act.  This is just standard Catholic moral teaching.  But the objective act of deliberately killing a pre-born child always remains gravely immoral, and it continues to carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.  Circumstances cannot make morally right that which God has declared to be morally wrong.

 

Pray and Vote!

Hillary ClintonIf you are a Catholic, a Christian, or a non-believer who opposes the mass murder of the innocent, then please consider the differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump is pro-life, opposes partial-birth abortion, will choose pro-life Supreme Court justices, has a solidly pro-life running mate (Mike Pence), has chosen Rick Santorum as a pro-life advisor, and belongs to a political party (Republican) whose platform is firmly pro-life and opposes the use of government funds (our tax dollars) to fund abortion.

Hillary Clinton is fanatically pro-abortion, supports partial-birth abortion and, in fact, abortion during all nine months of pregnancy, will choose only pro-abortion Supreme Court justices, has a pro-abortion running mate (Tim Kaine), and belongs to a political party (Democrat) whose platform is staunchly pro-abortion, demands the repeal of the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits the use of government funds – our tax dollars – to fund abortion), and will directly fund abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Following this election, it is not only the innocent unborn that will be the casualties; it will also be our Republic, our Constitution, and the very idea of democracy, in which the voting process must be free of fraud and corruption.  But even more, the final casualty will be religious freedom.

Religious freedom is not merely the liberty to worship God together with others in a public building.  That is properly called “freedom of worship.”  Religious freedom is the liberty to openly profess one’s religious faith, to live according to its precepts, and to participate in the discussions and debates of the times, as guided by one’s beliefs.  It supposes the right to publically disagree with, and peacefully oppose, unjust and immoral policies on religious grounds.  And all this without government harassment.

Under the Obama administration, religious freedom has not only been challenged; it has been directly assaulted.  Many Americans are now being harassed by state and federal agencies simply for opposing such atrocities as gay so-called marriage, or for refusing to provide for their employees, through Obamacare, such “health services” as abortion, sterilization, and contraception.  Simply for insisting on their right to live and work according to their own consciences, many have been threatened, sued, and have lost their businesses and good reputations.  Under this administration, America has become literally an anti-Christian country, a nation that despises, mocks, persecutes, and prosecutes Christians, and that blatantly hates God and the very idea of religion.

At the same time, in a contradiction suggesting an agenda, this administration has supported the mass immigration, almost exclusively, of Muslims from the middle east.   Are there no Christians east of Europe?  The effect of this massive number of non-Christian immigrants belonging to a religion that is notorious for its rejection of religious tolerance will continue to assault the Christian foundation of America.  Our laws will be gradually replaced by their laws, bit by bit, including polygamy and Sharia Law, the latter of which imposes physical mutilation and the public stoning of women as punishments.

Hillary Clinton, a former member of the Obama administration as Secretary of State,  will maintain and force to the next degrees many of Obama’s policies.  She has proudly promised a dramatic increase in middle eastern immigration.  For various reasons, she apparently has an intense interest in the Islamization of America.  If you’d like to see what this will result in, simply study the present conditions of France, Germany, and Sweden, which include dramatic increases in crime, rape, and anti-Christian violence.  There is no mystery here, no blind guessing or conspiratorial hype.  The chaotic results can be observed by anyone who bothers to follow the daily news in Europe.   And America will be next.

In addition, Clinton’s staff has shown itself to be specifically anti-Catholic, even before the election.  They have made insulting remarks about Catholics and even strategized about infiltrating the Church in order to “plant seeds of revolution” within the Church and against Catholic teaching.  They’ve mockingly described the Church as “medieval” and “backward.”  In addition, during here disastrous four years as secretary of state, Hillary did not visit the Vatican or Pope Benedict XVI even once.  A Clinton administration, packed with corrupt elitist officials, radical leftist activists, and anti-religious bigots, would be a nightmarish regime comparable to the twentieth-century communist dictatorships of eastern Europe.  Do not fool yourself into believing that this could never happen in good old America.  It already is happening, and it soon could get much worse.  We simply cannot afford to allow this wicked Jezebel to be elected, and our only means of preventing it are praying and voting.

There is no doubt about it; both candidates have qualities that are less than flattering, that give pause to the conscience of every morally-minded voter.  Both have behaved and spoken scandalously in the past.  However, we are concerned now with our future.   We are not voting for a Savior; we already have One.  We are not looking for a flawless hero; we don’t need one.  Simply, we are desperately trying to preserve the barest traces of moral sanity in a country that is in a perpendicular spiral into the deepest and darkest forms of depravity, such as the world has never before seen and cannot endure.  Whoever will substantially slow down this spiral deserves our vote.

This election is not a matter of bad versus bad; it is a matter of bad versus evil.  And this evil has shown itself to be especially opposed to the Christian way of life and thought, of the profound respect for sacred truth and life.  Both would suffer as never before under a Clinton administration.  The very teachings of the Church are at stake, as are the lives of innocent children.  Both are on the verge of renewed assaults from a Clintonian government.

Please, pray to God Almighty for His protection and mercy upon America, and especially upon His Church.  And then, strengthened and guided by prayer, go out and vote!  Do not think for a moment that sitting out this election will absolve you from moral responsibility for its outcome.  It will not.  The differences between the candidates are stark and will have real and long-lasting consequences for the country and entire world.  Regardless of who is finally elected, the responsibility will fall equally upon all of us – upon those who voted selfishly, upon those who voted in an attempt to at least restrain the demise of this great Christian nation, as well as upon those who decided they would not vote at all, in an attempt merely to escape responsibility.

The devil relishes those pious people who sit by idly, coddling their idealism and offering evil no opposition, while the world steadily goes to hell, stage by stage.  This is precisely what Satan needs from good people – absolutely nothing – and he would like to thank all of you in advance.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (2239-2240),

“It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom.  The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.”

The Compendium of the Catholic Church says (464),

“Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God and offer their loyal collaboration for the right functioning of public and social life. This collaboration includes love and service of one’s homeland, the right and duty to vote, payment of taxes, the defense of one’s country, and the right to exercise constructive criticism.”

In life, there is no escaping moral responsibility;  there is only doing the best that one can by divine grace with the difficult circumstances caused by man and permitted by God for His good purposes.

On November 8, can any sincerely pro-life person really sit at home with peace of mind, knowing that others are out voting to support that demonic thing called a “woman’s right” to murder her child?  And if pro-abortion politicians have – as we often say –  “blood on their hands” because of their murderous policies, how is it that those of us who refuse to oppose those same policies, when given the chance, do not?  How is it that our hands are spotless?

Please, please, please, do the best you can in these most difficult of circumstances: pray, hold your nose, and then VOTE!

Hillary Clinton 2

 

The Birth of Christianity

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Authentic Christianity is inextricably pro-life.  This pro-life ethic is not merely a conviction, precept, or tradition.  At the very heart of the Christian religion is the birth of a Baby.  I’m reminded of this truth every late Advent as I set up our outdoor crèche.

Old Testament prophecy repeatedly spoke of a mother and her Infant.  Every Jew anticipated the appearance of the one and the delivery of the Other.  When this Babe was finally born, pagans from the East travelled to an unfamiliar land to offer worship and gifts to the Child.  King Herod – that precursor of modern infanticide – sought to kill Him.  Angels sang in praise of this Infant in a manger, while shepherds left their flocks to offer their own humble homage.  The world – the entire universe – would never be the same, due to this Son born of a Virgin Mother.

At the Annunciation – which pinpointed the exact “fullness of time” in salvation history – the angel Gabriel declared to Mary from Nazareth that she would conceive the Messiah.  At the same time, she was told that her kinswoman, Elizabeth, had also conceived a child in her relative old age, and was already six months pregnant.  Immediately, Mary set off from Nazareth to visit Elizabeth in the hills of Judea to assist Elizabeth with the pregnancy.  The journey would have taken about four days.

When Mary reached the house of Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, she greeted them perhaps from the doorway, as we might give a shout at a friend’s door to see if anyone is home.  Elizabeth heard the greeting, and when she came to Mary, she said, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!  And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy.”

Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, who was six months old at the time.  And yet, she referred to him as, “the babe in my womb.”  No, not as the “pregnancy matter” or “fetal tissue,” but as the “babe.”  For six months, this pre-born future little prophet had fully been a human being in his mother’s womb, not a mass of cells lodged in the wall of a uterus.  Elizabeth, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:41), rightly affirmed this, calling her pre-born child, not a biological lump, but a person.

Notice how Elizabeth addressed Mary:  “And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  It was not that Mary one day would be a mother, after the birth of her Son.  No, by virtue of the child she presently carried in her womb, Mary was already a mother.  She, too, was carrying, not a “clump of cells,” but a human being, a Person.  And how old was this Child at this point?  He was all of five days old.

Again, authentic Christianity is inextricably pro-life.  It holds with the certainty of divine revelation that every human being, from the first instant of conception to the last second of life in this world (and beyond), possesses a supreme value and dignity, and all the rights that belong to a human person.   No mental or physical condition, no defect or disorder, no injury or illness, no stage of development or deterioration, can possibly decrease the humanity of a human person, whether young or old.  One cannot be or become more or less human, for every human being is by nature and design fully, equally, and eternally human.  Thus, nothing could be more contrary to the Christian religion than abortion and the morally perverse reasonings that are used to defend it; and no person could be more conflicted than a “pro-choice” Christian.  Such an individual is a contradiction in terms.  For to kill a baby is to identify, not with Mary and Joseph, but with Herod the madman.  And it is to come as close as one can to murdering God Himself; for every human being,  and every infant, therefore, is made in the divine image and likeness.

Is it any wonder that our atheistic blood-drenched culture should increasingly forbid on public property that supreme symbol of the sanctity of human life – the crèche?  In a morbid way, this only makes sense.  For the repudiation of the sanctity of human life requires the repudiation of Christ and Christianity.

Thousands of years of history and prophecy, and countless Jewish and Gentile hearts, looked to a hay-filled manger in a cave or stable just outside of Bethlehem.  Here, all angelic and human hopes were fulfilled when the God of the universe was born a Child to a Virgin Mother.

 

Vatican Interview on the Pope’s Letter

Vatican Radio, responding to the confusion over Pope Francis’ recent letter on the Year of Mercy, abortion, and confession, has posted an interview between Christopher Wells and  Fr. Robert Gahl, associate professor of ethics at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce).  The following are some important excerpts.

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Has the Pope Changed Church Doctrine on Abortion?

“With this new concession, Pope Francis has reaffirmed traditional doctrine, practice, and law.  He has not changed Church teaching; he has confirmed it. For the Church, abortion is both a sin and a crime.  The Fifth Commandment prohibits taking innocent human life. And Canon 1398 of the Code of Canon Law specifies that abortion is also a penal crime and that those who abort automatically incur the penalty of excommunication.  This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated.”

What are the Effects of the Year of Mercy?

“What the pope has done with this letter of September 1 is, he’s extended the faculty or the authorization of all priests around the world to release people, or to remit them, or to lift that penalty – release them from the penalty – that’s under law, and also to absolve them from their sin.”

And Outside the Year of Mercy?

“Generally, Church law, in order to emphasize, to teach the gravity of abortion, specifies that only local diocesan bishops have the authority to lift the penalty from this crime, and therefore allow people to come back to the sacraments after having committed the crime of abortion.  What Pope Francis has done is, he’s extended that authorization to all the priests, starting next December 8, 2015 until November 20, 2016 – so during the entirety of the Jubilee year.”

“It should be taken into account that, nonetheless, already many bishops have, with their own authority, delegated this responsibility to the priests in the diocese, especially in the west.  For instance, in England and Wales and most of the United States, most of the bishops have given this authorization already to the priests in their dioceses.  So there’s no need to wait until December 8.  Certainly, if anyone is carrying this burden of having participated in an abortion, they should immediately, as soon as possible, go to their closest priest and seek the forgiveness.  This is what Pope Francis intends for the Church.”

There Is No Reason to Wait

“Moreover, Pope Francis has asserted that God’s mercy indicates His omnipotence.  God is all-powerful; there’s no sin that is so big that God cannot forgive it.”

“So one ought not to delay.  This is the most important thing.”

“Through this concession, this letter of yesterday, Pope Francis is really teaching the gravity of abortion and the beauty of forgiveness and of the sacrament of confession.”

Summary

“This doesn’t establish a change in Church teaching.  The gravity, in fact, of the crime of abortion is sin, is reaffirmed by Pope Francis.  And at the same time, he’s extending God’s mercy to all people.  So it’s a gesture, a powerful gesture, of welcoming.”

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“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it..  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:18-19).

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 18:18).