Archive for May, 2015

I’m not really clued in to pop culture. I was vaguely aware of a show about a family with 19 children, and didn’t even know that the number was 19. So when a student told me about the scandal surrounding the Duggars this past Friday, I didn’t know what she was talking about. I mistakenly thought Josh Duggar was the father and that this had happened recently. Since then I have learned more about this particular scandal. What strikes me (though it does not surprise me) is how condemnatory people’s reactions toward Josh have been. It also drove home how much we truly do need to listen to Pope Francis. The people who condemn Josh and the Duggars in general are the same people who incessantly quote Pope Francis’s, “Who am I to judge,” in defense of homosexual acts. The problem is that these people never bothered to learn what the Pope really said, and, therefore, never had the opportunity to be challenged by the beauty of the Gospel. It’s worth quoting the Pope in full and you can read the entire interview from which the infamous quote came – here.

Ilze Scamparini

I would like permission to ask a delicate question: another image that has been going around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his private life. I would like to know, Your Holiness, what you intend to do about this? How are you confronting this issue and how does Your Holiness intend to confront the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis

About Monsignor Ricca: I did what canon law calls for, that is a preliminary investigation. And from this investigation, there was nothing of what had been alleged. We did not find anything of that. This is the response. But I wish to add something else: I see that many times in the Church, over and above this case, but including this case, people search for “sins from youth”, for example, and then publish them. They are not crimes, right? Crimes are something different: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, sins. But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we confess our sins and we truly say, “I have sinned in this”, the Lord forgets, and so we have no right not to forget, because otherwise we would run the risk of the Lord not forgetting our sins. That is a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. Many times I think of Saint Peter. He committed one of the worst sins, that is he denied Christ, and even with this sin they made him Pope. We have to think a great deal about that. But, returning to your question more concretely. In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything. This is the first question. Then, you spoke about the gay lobby. So much is written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone with an identity card in the Vatican with “gay” on it. They say there are some there. I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good. If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying … wait a moment, how does it say it … it says: “no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society”. The problem is not having this tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem. Thank you so much for asking this question. Many thanks.

Notice that when Pope Francis says, “Who am I to judge him,” he is speaking of someone who “is searching for the Lord and has good will.” Now, let’s be clear, the Pope is speaking about the person, not acts: “… you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good.”

So how does this apply to Josh Duggar. He committed a horrible crime and great sin… when he was 13 years old. He confessed and asked forgiveness from all involved. He went to a facility away from home, where for three or four months he received counseling and performed works of labor. He continued to inform those who needed to know after the fact. Most notably, he told his wife before they were married. We do not know of any other instances after his having received counseling approximately 12 years ago. He is apparently “searching for the Lord and has good will.” So when we get right down to it, who are we to judge him?

Now what no one seems to be concerned about because it is common practice in our society, is the breaking of the seventh commandment by InTouch Magazine. The only purpose served by reporting this story is that of defamation. It certainly wasn’t done for the execution of justice or in seeking the welfare of the girls who were molested, whose wounds have now been forcible reopened before millions.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.


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Today marks the 750th anniversary of the death of St. Simon Stock to whom our Lady gave the Scapular with this promise: “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” This is quite a promise. (It is also not alone among the great promises made by our Mother and our Lord). It also, unfortunately, is misunderstood by many people. There is a temptation to treat the Scapular like a superstition. One may think something along the lines of this: “If I’m wearing these two little brown squares when I die, I’ll not go to hell. It is guaranteed.” But the Scapular is not a talisman and grace is not magic. While the grace of God is free, there is no compulsion in our cooperation with it. To properly understand the Scapular promise – “Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire” – one must remember the words of our Lady in the above picture. The Scapular is a sign of our love and devotion to our Lady. Simply wearing the Scapular, however, does not make that a reality. So when we think of the Scapular and its promise let us think of the great love and solicitude that our Lady has for us. She is the Queen of Heaven for her Son is the King of kings. She is the spouse of the Holy Spirit who dwelt within her as He did in no other or ever will again. She is the handmaid of the Lord and the daughter of Zion who continually shouts for joy for our salvation. To run to her is to run to the Lord for He is her everything, and there is nothing more that she wants than to unite us to Him and none can do this better. The Scapular is the garment of our Lady. To be clothed in it is to be clothed in her mantle. Whosoever dies wearing the Scapular upon their heart and not merely their breast shall not suffer eternal fire, but will have eternal life. Amen.

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While we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, this does not mean that there are aspects of secular life which are not informed by the Christian faith. Every aspect of secular life is informed by Christian faith because every aspect of secular life is inseparable from the human person created in the image and likeness of God and enlivened by His Spirit. Unfortunately, so often today faith is not seen informing social issues, but social issues informing faith. This rears its ugly head in varied ways. Sometimes it is wholly obvious. For instance, when a homosexualist reduces God’s holy word to merely human so that they may justify rejecting it. Often times it is much more subtle. An example of this comes from Bishop Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough. On May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, he spoke of the dignity of work and the serious problem of poverty among the working class. At the end he called for adopting the living wage and ending zero-hour contracts. I agree with everything he said, except for the very last line: “Wouldn’t that have been something St. Joseph would have downed tools to applaud?” It’s not that I think St. Joseph wouldn’t have downed tools. The point is that I can’t actually know what St. Joseph would have done. Would St. Joseph have gone on strike in the presence of unjust wages and working conditions? I don’t know. He lived 2,000 years ago. He was a simple carpenter, living before the guilds of days-gone-by and the unions of today. It is possible that St. Joseph even agreeing that circumstances were unjust would continue working while advocating for justice in other ways. St. Joseph was a man who entirely devoted his life to God regardless of the conditions surrounding his life. This was the point of St. Paul’s words to slaves. It wasn’t an endorsement of slavery. It was a concern for one’s soul. We can and should work to bring injustices to an end, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen in our life time. Even if it does, what then? Do we simply find the next injustice to fight against? We are not made for this world; we are pilgrims who are either journeying towards their true home or away from it. So the real question isn’t whether or not St. Joseph would have downed tools for a living wage and an end to zero-hour contract (as horribly vile as those are). The real question is what St. Joseph, who wants nothing other than to lead us to his foster-child Jesus Christ, tells us about our pilgrimage as a worker in any condition. Let the saints guide us through these turbulent waters of life, rather than the turbulent waters of life determining how we understand the saints.


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