I came across an interesting article the other day entitled “Why do many miss experiencing Jesus in our parishes? How can we change this?” by Msgr. Charles Pope. Msgr. Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and his article appears on the Archdiocesan website. I think Msgr. Pope understands the problem. The underlying causes of the problem and the correct solutions, however, seem to escape him. This is frustrating to see, but all too common in our time. The misdiagnoses listed in the article are the precise reason that Mass attendance in most Catholic parishes is dwindling while those who do attend don’t seem to “get much out of it.”
I’ll begin with Msgr. Pope’s statement of the problem. On this much we agree:
I. Problems – If Jesus is present in his Church then this is most evident in his action and presence in the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. Yet any cursory look into a typical Catholic parish would reveal little to indicate an obvious awareness of the presence and action of Jesus in the Liturgy and Sacraments.
If all religions can lead to God and there may not be any souls in hell, couldn't it be argued that all departed men and women are, in fact, already enjoying eternal beatitude? And if that were the case, then obviously it would render canonization quite redundant. What exactly does the post-conciliar Vatican mean by salvation, sanctity and canonization? Devil's advocates everywhere would like to know.
As the days go by, we are getting closer to the scheduled canonizations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II. Most Catholics, unaware of the true significance of this event, are looking forward to a worldwide celebration of these two popular popes. John XXIII is remembered by older generations as “Good Pope John”, a moniker given due to both his affectionate demeanor and media praise for opening the Church to the world.
Similarly, John Paul II was, and is still, very popular due to his personal charisma, globetrotting travels, and fantastical World Youth Days. Thus, a certain cult of personality has developed around both men. In the case of Blessed John Paul, the fervor for his canonization has not subsided from the time of his death in 2005.
Pope John Paul II Kisses the Koran on May 14, 1999
On April 1, 2011 Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes clarified the basis for John Paul II’s beatification. Catholic News Service reported the following:
Pope John Paul II is being beatified not because of his impact on history or on the Catholic Church, but because of the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love, said Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes…
Cardinal Amato said the sainthood process is one of the areas of church life where the consensus of church members, technically the "sensus fidelium" ("sense of the faithful"), really counts."From the day of his death on April 2, 2005, the people of God began proclaiming his holiness," and hundreds, if not thousands, visit his tomb each day, the cardinal said. A further sign is the number of biographies published about him and the number of his writings that are translated and re-published…
Cardinal Amato said, "the pressure of the public and of the media did not disturb the process, but helped it" because it was a further sign of Pope John Paul's widespread reputation for holiness, which is something the church requires proof of before it moves to beatify someone…
[Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as Vatican spokesman under Pope John Paul], a member of Opus Dei, said he had the blessing of personally knowing three saints: Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei; Blessed Teresa of Kolkata; and Pope John Paul.What all three have in common, he said, was a good sense of humor, a ready smile and an ability to laugh.As for those who question beatifying Pope John Paul only six years after his death and those who say the explosion of the clerical sex abuse scandal during his pontificate casts a dark shadow on his reign, Navarro-Valls said people must remember that beatification is not a judgment on a pontificate, but on the personal holiness of the candidate.The key question, he said, is: "Can we be certain he lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way?"
Video Broadcast Introduces Bishop Olson In His Own Words
On November 19, 2013 Pope Francis appointed Msgr. Michael Olson as Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth. As the Dallas Diocesan newspaper reports:
Bishop-elect Olson earned bachelors and masters degrees in philosophy in 1988 and 1989, respectively, from the Catholic University of America. He also has degrees (M.Div. and M.A.) in theological studies from the University of St. Thomas in Houston…On May 6, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI granted him the Papal Honor of Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of “monsignor.” In March 2011 he successfully earned his doctorate in moral theology at the Academia Alfonsiana in Rome…He was a member of the formation faculty at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and lectured at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology between 2001 and 2006. From July 2006 through June 2008 he served in the Diocese of Fort Worth as vicar general and as pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. Since July 1, 2008, he has been serving as the rector of Holy Trinity Seminary.
The New Beginning of the Church
The Cardinal then outlines his vision of the “new evangelization” which involves the Church starting anew from the beginning. In doing so he makes several shocking statements. First he states:
The calling of the Church, in the likeness of Jesus, is to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Even Christ himself did not proclaim or preach Himself, but the Kingdom. The Church, as His disciple and His servant, ought to do the same. Her calling is to serve, not to rule: “Servant of Humanity,” called her Pope Paul VI. She must do this service living in the world, herself a part of the world and in solidarity with it, because “the world is the only subject that interests God.
“The Second Vatican Council was the main event in the Church in the 20th Century. In principle, it meant an end to the hostilities between the Church and modernism, which was condemned in the First Vatican Council”…Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga
Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga is a very important man in today’s Catholic Church. In addition to being the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, he is the pope’s principal advisor and the chair of a group of eight advising cardinals established by Pope Francis to revise the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia. He also serves as the president of Caritas Internationalis, is a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and was considered a serious contender for the papacy during the last conclave. What he says matters.
“I was born poor, I have lived poor, I wish to die poor” ...Pope St. Pius X
In keeping with his vision of a Church “of the poor and for the poor” Pope Francis met with and suspended the Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst last week. The bishop had been in the news for the better part of a month due to costly renovations of his residence totaling upwards of forty million dollars. The German Bishops’ Conference is currently conducting an investigation into the affair and no punishment will be permanently set until that time. However, Vatican observers are predicting that if the Bishop is found guilty, he will not be reinstated as the Bishop of Limburg.
The Bizarre Case of Catholic Answers Live vs. “Radical Traditionalists”
On May 31st, Catholic Answers Live radio host Patrick Coffin and apologist Tim Staples launched a two-hour attack on “radical traditionalism” which I responded to here. Apparently, the overall response to the show was not favorable. In a July 12th blog post entitled “Meet the Mad-Trads” host Patrick Coffin described the reaction as follows:
We found ourselves on the business end of a nasty backlash. Of all the hot-button issues we’ve tackled head-on with me behind the mic (start the list with abortion, sexual sin, feminism, and homosexuality) no previous topic generated the kind of vitriol from (some) listeners.