Does Hell exist? Were Adam and Eve real people? Was Moses real? Did he part the Red Sea? Did he write the first five books of the Bible? What exactly are we Catholics allowed to believe now that the wolves have "updated" our Church?
It was midmorning. My husband and I were driving along I-75 when an old, slightly beat-up truck passed us on the right. There was a sign nailed to it—a flat white board with big black letters. We laughed when we read it. It was so true. God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy.
A friend told me later that the words were from a country music song by Billy Currington. The sign wasn’t original, but that didn’t change the impact of those three short sentences. The world has indeed gone mad. This isn’t hyperbole. I’m a mental health professional.1 I know crazy when I see it.
Things are not as they should be.
The Church knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts.”~Laudato Si, Pope Francis
Throughout Laudato Si, Pope Francis states that he is open to a debate and a dialogue on the environmental issues raised in the encyclical. In fact, nearly 21 times in the body of the encyclical, Francis urges for dialogue among religions, ideologies and people. The Pope also calls for a debate on the environment solutions some 12 times in the encyclical. Although he says he wants contrary opinions debated and presented, is that the reality at the Vatican and this papacy.
The very language of the encyclical exposes the real intent of the Vatican. In the first sentence of section 14 of the encyclical, the Pope calls for a “new dialogue” a “conversation” about the environmental challenges. Yet, by the end of that very same paragraph, the Pontiff arrives at a completely contrary position:
While most Catholics may be aware that the date of reckoning Easter fluctuates from year to year, they may be blissfully ignorant of how it is currently calculated in the Western Church, the impact that it annually has on the liturgical calendar, and its long, complicated and controversial history.
Though we are now past the liturgical period of Paschaltide, these points concerning the date of Easter are especially pertinent at this time, as Pope Francis announced on June 12th in St. John Lateran’s Basilica to the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services III World Retreat of Priests—whew, what a title!—that an agreement had been reached in fixing a common date of Easter with the Eastern Orthodox.
Since my buddy Chris Ferrara has, perhaps before anyone else in the English speaking world, done a thorough examination of the pope’s environment encyclical, “Laudato Si,” I will confine myself here to some observations of a different sort and to proposing a few questions for consideration – to talking around it, so to speak.
A great many people, long before the document was issued yesterday, have been asking whether it should have been written at all. Is this appropriate for a pope? Why was it necessary? Why, of all the possible topics, did Pope Francis choose this one? Has he stepped outside the proper bounds of papal authority? Aren’t there more pressing matters for the head of the Catholic Church to think about? (Does anyone know how many Chaldean Catholics are still alive in Mosul, Iraq, for instance?)
In keeping with the evolutionary eschatology of Teilhard de Chardin, Pope Francis attempts to fashion yet another post-conciliar novelty in the Church: a call to “ecological conversion,” which requires a subtle demotion of man to merely a part of the natural world.
The final, official, fully corrected, this-is-really-it version of Laudato Si’ (LS) has just been formally presented to the world by the triumvirate of emcees Francis handpicked for the Big Reveal: Cardinal Turkson, hailed by Vatican Insider for “defend[ing] gays against unfavourable Ugandan law,” the climate change Nazi Hans Joachim Schellnhube, just appointed by Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Atheists—I mean, Sciences—and an Orthodox Archbishop by the name of John Zizioulas, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who—don’t you know?—is very big on environmentalism.
On Monday Pope Francis addressed representatives of the Hussite Czechoslovak Church and of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, who were in Rome to celebrate, at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a Liturgy of Reconciliation on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the death of John Huss. During this address Pope Francis stated, in relevant part:
Six centuries have passed since the day that the renowned preacher and Rector of the University of Prague, Jan Hus, died tragically. Already in 1999, Saint John Paul II, intervening in an International Symposium dedicated to this memorable figure, expressed his “profound regret for the cruel death inflicted [on him],” and he numbered him among the Reformers of the Church. In the light of this approach, the study must continue on the person and activity of Jan Hus, who for a long time was the subject of contention among Christians, while today he has become a reason for dialogue…
“Locke: dry, cold, languid, and wearisome, will live forever” -J. Bentham
Walking the Chartres Pilgrimage always puts me back on the straight and narrow path. It does so by the simple expedient of making me feel as though I am dying; as though I am a condemned prisoner undergoing a peculiar form of execution that will continue—slowly, torturously, and unabated—for almost three entire days.
Of course experience assures me that this particular misery will actually end in happiness, and that all I really need to do for the moment is add my bit to maintaining the joviality crucial to keeping the moveable pilgrim gibbet on the road.
Still, that part of me that really, really hurts—namely, every bone and muscle in my body—brings the reality of pain, death, and the meaning of it all to center stage in a way that nothing else I do during the year—at least up until now—has yet matched. And that honing in on the dreadful effects of Original Sin never fails to confirm commitment to the central Catholic teaching that is only through an ever deeper surrender to the knowledge, love, and service of God that the purpose of our lives, with all their pains and joys, can be clarified.