Saturday, 26 February 2011

Why Small Things Make a Big Difference...

Caritas in Veritate is anti-contraceptives
A question is asked by Dr Tina Beattie today which deserves a half-decent response.

"If we can't gather together undivided around Humanae Vitae, can we do so around Pacem in Terris and Caritas in Veritate?"

To this I would say that if we can't gather together undivided around Humanae Vitae then we shall be unable to stand together at all. That is, after all, pretty much what has happened since the 1960s, is it not? Mass lapsation, the embracing of the contraceptive age, fewer children in Catholic families, fewer Priests, fewer monks, fewer nuns, fewer Catholics knowing their faith and teaching it to others? This is the backdrop, the very culture against which Pope Benedict XVI finds himself combating and urging others to combat. That is why he has called for a New Evangelisation of Europe, because Europe, so rich in Catholic tradition, needs the Gospel proclaimed once more, so much. The Holy Father has made it clear that Catholics need to pass on the Faith whole and entire, the Gospel 'in its entirety', not shadows of the Gospel or what we could call 'just the nice parts' about social justice.

The appeal for unity among 'conservative' Catholics and 'liberal' Catholics around Caritas in Veritate is, I am sure Tina will hate me saying, a little devilish. I say this because it is devilishly appealing in the way that Cardinal Biffi's portrayal of the Antichrist presents the enemy of the Church as someone very agreeable on issues of social justice, ecology, humanitarianism but denies the saving power of Christ that people really want. It puts forward, once more, a vision of a Church firing on one cylinder, that of the Church's very rich teaching on social justice, rather than on all cylinders, which is the Church's entire and even more rich teaching on, well, Justice and not just Justice but Mercy, Love and, in a word, Jesus. Only when She proclaims Jesus does the Church fire on all cylinders.

Jenga: Fun for all the family
In other words, removing one part of the Church's teaching, like Her teaching on the 'transmission of human life' is like playing that game 'Jenga', where slowly by surely you remove more and more little wooden blocks that form a once strong tower. Then, finally you remove the one wooden block that underpins all of the rest and the whole edifice comes down among disappointment and humiliation, as well as hilarity for the victor, who is, in this analogy, the Devil.

The really sad thing about the liberal position is that the end result of removing this wooden block (because it is inconvenient, irritating, a 'stumbling block', if you will that is just so very tempting to pull!) is that the Church starts to resemble something very worldly, something that mirrors society, or even apes it, rather than being what She is called to be, the Church Militant that stands boldly and fearlessly in order to hold a mirror to society's neglected Conscience, pointing to Jesus. When She stops exhorting men and women to embrace Jesus, to change, to repent, to be converted, to embrace conversion of heart to seek the Face of Christ then She falls into decline. The Jenga analogy certainly works with regard to those who seek to undermine the Church's position on contraception, abortion, homosexual relations and all those 'inconvenient' wooden blocks or even those who just remain silent upon these issues, because it is Jesus who they are silencing.

Let us take the Jenga analogy a little further. There are some who maintain that the 9/11 attack was an 'inside job' and that this was achieved by placing 'nano-thermite', very small explosives, throughout the 'Twin Towers' from top to bottom. Whether this is true or not is not the point. That is a discussion for conspiracy theory sites. The bombs, these theorists claim, went off in the basement and then throughout weakening the whole structure and that is what caused the towers came down into their own footprint, as they would in any controlled demolition. The 'nano-thermite' theory posits that the dynamite heats up to an extreme temperature that weakens the whole of the steel structure. This it does before exploding the structure properly so that it can no longer stand and so it crumbles. The heat enables the actual demolition job to be easy. In the end, it comes down much like it does, well, in Jenga.

That is what denial of the Magisterium is like. Explosives are placed at various places in the Church in the form of various heresies and their proponents, from the base of the Church, to near the very top. These are the Devil's agents. Whether these proponents know that these heresies will bring down the structure or not is not the point. It is the effect that matters not their intention and the effect is to weaken the Church dramatically.

What heretics in influential positions do is act as red hot 'nano-thermite' that weakens the entire structure and strength of the Church. This can be done so subtly that it is not even seen. It just takes time before eventually the structure goes and calamity is the result. Of course, the fact that Our Blessed Lord promised that the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against His Church is indeed a comforting one, but let us not be so naive as to underestimate the threat. For just as there are plans to rebuild the site of where the 'Twin Towers' once stood, so these people would like to build a 'new Church' should the structure of the present Church be reduced to rubble as many of them hope it will. Let's face it, whether it is Pope Paul VI or Pope Benedict XVI, they sure don't have much time for the man 'at the top'. The truth is that many would very much like to see the building of a 'new Church' that is built upon a cult of man, rather than upon the worship of God. Scary, but true. The really sad thing is that at some point over the 1960s and 70s whoever was in charge of 'security' in the Church allowed a lot of 'explosive' material and persons into places high and low in the Church.

There the analogy ends. I shall end this post by saying that, sadly, regardless of her question, which remains an important one, Dr Beattie has clearly not bothered to read all the bits in Caritas in Veritate that condemn the contraceptive age and warn of the dangers of this threat being extended to Catholic countries that have explicitly rejected them, such as the Philippines, for just one example. I guess that, really and truly, Dr Beattie is a 'spirit of Caritas in Veritate' kind of a gal and that should not come as a terrific surprise.

'…some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress (no. 28, 2). Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures.
Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favor of its juridical recognition (no. 28, 3). Openness to life is at the center of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual (no. 28, 4).

Hey! What do you know, Tina?! Maybe you and I can gather together around Caritas in Veritate, after all, because, in the excellent encyclical, the Holy Father seems to reaffirm the teaching of Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae really rather boldly and in the context of a global economic crisis. Apparently, readers, this lady actually teaches theology at Roehampton University in London. One Caritas in Veritate study aid coming your way, Tina, love...


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Great post! My husband has just taken 9 children to Mass & our eldest a doctor is going also to the vigil Mass in Manchester with her fiance an anglican. they are getting married in 5 weeks & are living separately & chastely preparing spiritually..Deo gratias..

Ben said...

Just got back from a day retreat with Fr. Gerald O'Mahony SJ.
One person walked out.
He has written many books and has been through personal hell which he was happy to talk about. I wondered what the "traddies" thought about this and if you have heard much about him. He was in Wimbledon yesterday. Do you think Tina Beattie went? She certainly boosts your stats! You've got to admit it was gracious of her to respond to your invitation for a beer. Cheers!

Sixupman said...

UK GMC reported as saying: "abortion safer than childbirth"!

Mike L said...

Well, do you believe there is a Hell? Was it you who walked out?
We're talking about a Jesuit here with 21 books under his belt?
Is there a "Traddy" answer or have I to approach Dr. Beattie for a thoughtful response?

The Bones said...

I don't know about the 'Traddie Answer', but the Catholic answer is that Hell exists, yes, as does Purgatory and, obviously, Heaven. I find it scandalous that a Priest should have uttered those words.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you wrote this - it's a great reply. If Tina cannot be bothered to read the Catechism it's odds on she has never read an encyclical in her life and you've caught her out big time.


Anonymous said...

I believe Jesus talking about hell should be sufficient evidence of its existence. I think he trumps 23books.

Ben said...

21 books actually including his biography. All depends on your definition of hell. I think a Jesuit knows his stuff. Only one person walked out, the others followed his reasoning about a totally forgiving God of love and a warning against a too literalist interpretation of the NT.
The thief on the cross deserved "Hell", probably a murderer,no good works etc. He was promised the opposite! Thanks for your reply.

The Bones said...

'21 books actually including his biography. All depends on your definition of hell.'

Well, let's hope we don't have all of eternity in which to define it for ourselves.

'I think a Jesuit knows his stuff.'

Ever heard of Martin Luther? He was an Augustinian, you know.

'Only one person walked out, the others followed his reasoning about a totally forgiving God of love and a warning against a too literalist interpretation of the NT.'

So the fact that his opinion was welcomed means that it is okay?

'The thief on the cross deserved "Hell", probably a murderer,no good works etc. He was promised the opposite! Thanks for your reply.'

True. No such promise, however, was given to the other thief who was unrepentant.

To the Pharisees Our Lord said, "How can you escape the fires of Hell?!"

The Catholic Church believes that Hell exists on a magisterial level. We do not know who is there nor how many souls are there. It is very, very dangerous for a Priest to deny its existence.

Vince said...

We had no qualms about doing away with "Limbo". Sounds like next for the chop will be crude interpretations of hell.
Have just ordered Fr.Geralds's biography "The Other Side of the Mountain". My parish priest from Liverpool knows him well and vouches for his spirituality. Regards.

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