Changing the Church: Benedict's Chrism Mass Homily

In coverage of Pope Benedict's Chrism Mass homily on Holy Thursday (See below), most of the media have focused on his addressing the Austrian Pfarrer (Priest) movement which has called for priestly disobedience in the name of church reform, particularly on issues of ordination.     

While much of the media treatment was of the standard "pope denounces dissenters" variety, Vatican Insider, a website of the Italian journal La Stampa, offered a very careful analysis with thoughtful responses by leaders of the movement. The burden of the pope's message, however, was that reform and change in the church will come from conformity to Christ and openness to the Spirit.     


What was more remarkable perhaps was his admission that the change initiated by the Second Vatican Council is still not done and that open criticism may have a role to play in its advance.  "Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions that threatened to stifle the word and the will of God. Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word."     

He continues, "Anyone who considers the history of the postconciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love."



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Carlos Orozco
6 years 8 months ago
And what spiritual fruits do movements such as Pfarrer have to offer to the Church? None. What is the average age of their supporters? Not very young. What do they propose to renew the Church? Married priests and priestesses. Thanks, but who wants the Church to become a disaster similar to the Anglican faith? As the Episcopalians prove, radicals are never satisfied.

As the Pope says, true renewal comes from the Holy Spirit, and is characterized by obedience, hope and the power of love. Protest groups within the Church are full of pride and thrive on dissent. 
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago
It about time that courage and prudence are being displayed by Pfarrer and the many movements that support it. You ask, "what do they propose to renew"? Nothing! They expect reform. 

How many of us disagree with the following (note: based on many legitimate Catholic surveys over the past several decades, very few Catholics, priests and theologians disagree with these principles):

1. The divorced and remarried, under the right circumstances, should be not be denied the sacrament of reconciliation and the reception of the Holy Eucharist. 

2. Candidates for the priesthood, and existing priests, should have a choice of celibacy or marriage.

3. Lay men and women, with the right education and skills, should be allowed to preach and run parishes.

4. NFP-periodic continence should be the preferred method of birth control, but under certain circumstances, contraception should not be immoral.

These and other issues have been profoundly debated within the theological community for more than 40 years.  To date, the Roman curia has refused to listen to either the laity, theologians or many of the Church's bishops and priests on these and other issues. This has lead to a divided church and a crisis of truth. Let's hope that movements such as Pfarrer and the opinions of some Cardinals, such as Carlo Martrini, take root.
Carlos Orozco
6 years 8 months ago
Sorry, lost some text from the second paragraph of my previous comment, that should read:

"I insist that there is much to learn from the catastrophic Anglican experience. As I recall, it was in the 1990s that the Church of England started to experiment with its priesthood; only twenty years later they have priestesses, along with homosexual clergy, weddings and bishops. Some Episcopalian churches in the U.S., in order to escape the madness of openly heretic bishops, ask African bishops to extend their authority over their parishes. Is that the will of the Holy Spirt?"

Carlos Orozco
6 years 8 months ago

The Holy Spirit has confirmed its will throughout the centuries, but there are sectors in the Church that cannot accept its teaching because they believe they know best. The encyclical Humanae Vitae, that you mention, perhaps in the most obvious example. In it, Pope Paul VI made predictions that know-it-all clergy and laity that thought they alone could read the "sign of the times", considered ridiculous, but that time has confirmed as prophetic.

You mention many problems that the Church faces today, some need consideration  others have been more than settled since Apostolic times. We must be careful that the sentimental does not make us through out the window true Catholic ethics to accommodate contemporary thinking that is contrary to Christian thought. The way towards Hell is full of good intentions.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 8 months ago
We need balance when we look at reform. I never liked the theme of CITI (celibacy is the issue). The heart of the issue is that we do not know how to build a Christian community. Our parsishes are too often part of an empire rather than a closeknit community. Paul VI and John Paul II were/are certainly wrong on contraception. But all have been negligent in stopping human trafficking throughout the world and getting basic food and medicine to the five million children who die each year because of lack of basic food and medicne.

The fact is that both liberals and conservatives are not doing a good job in following Jesus. 
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

The debate regarding the issues and teachings I mentioned, especially Humanae Vitae, have been debated for the past 44 years with no reasonable solution in sight. Each group, representing each end of the theological debate, do not talk to each other; they talk and debate past each other. There remains significant and legitimate issues that have gone unanswered. Until these issues are adequately addressed, there will be no concensus to a convincing argument of truth. In other words, we will remain a church divided.

I will not debate the so-called prophetic teachings of Paul VI. However, I will assert that the Church and the zeal of its- magisterial theologians to defend Humane Vitae at all costs, distort the facts. There is a significant difference, that deliberately is not discussed, between an inference, a correlation and a "cause". There is not one widely accepted scientific study that has demonstrated and concluded that contraception has caused: the increase in spousal abuse, the increase in the number of unwed mothers, abortion and the like. I think the zeal to defend is to repeat a narrative until it is believed. 

There is a theology of reception and human experience that has been ignored. This does not mean, as you suggest, that the current culture we live in has infected all who disagree with the evil of the secular world, or worse are simply labled as invincibly ignorant.

What we need are peace-makers, solutions and respecful and frequent dialog is we have any hope of healing a divided church and a crisis of truth. What we don't need is more of the same criticism disquished around lables and exaggerated rhetoric, where no one makes any attempt to resolve legitimate philosophical and theological arguments.

Paul VI and JP II want us to believe that the Church knows the procreative plan of God, as metaphorically revealed in the language of the body, in its infertility-fertility nexus, without remainder. Unfortunately, no one knows God's Will and procreative plan, and symbolism and speculation make for a weak moral theory...especially when it is in tension with human experience.

Lastly, least you forget, Aquinas teaches us that the moral species of voluntary human action is based on all relevant moral factors: the end, intention-to-end, circumstances, the object-act as well as the appropriate right (and virtuous) choice of the means-to-end. This is not the place to debate Aquinas or Veritatis Spendor's reference to his Summa Theologia in justifiy the intrinsic evil act of contraception. I refer you to the March issue of Theological Studies for an outstanding essay by Joseph Selling that will demonstrate my point.

Humility is always necessary when it comes to theologica ethics. So we must be careful about our use of words and our adherance to a personal ideology that if not prudently mastered might blind us to the truth.

Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago
Hi Juan:

I hope you are doing well.

I have read almost all the tradition-minded books and articles about Humanae Vitae (HV) including "Catholic Sexual Ethics" by Lawler, Boyle and May as well as the works of magisterial theologians Martin Rhonheimer and Janet Smith, both considered experts on the issue of contraception and other sexual ethical issues. I have also read most of the less-tradition-minded books and essays on this topic. However, I will look into Twomey's book since I am familiar with some of his earlier work.

The most recent and most comprehensive discussion of HV is William F. Murphy's essay in the December, 2011 issue of Theological Studies. It is a comprehensive example of the tradition-minded justification of HV in the post-Veritiatis Spendor debate.

Once you read this essay, you should read Joseph Selling's reply essay in the March, 2012 issue of Theological Studies. This essay is the best and most ensightful example of the interpretation of Aquinas and the error that the Church made in asserting that particular reference texts in Aquinas justify the immorality and evil of contraception, as in its object and choice. 

It is not sufficient to read only the Church's teaching on contraception and the works of magisiterial theologians (the minority opinion on this subject). If you intend to have an informed conscious, it would be prudent and wise to also read the works of the majority of theologians who respectfully disagree with the underlining philosophical and theological principles and anthropology of HV.

The two essays suggested above can be read in short order and you will not have to read an entire book to grasp some of the fundamental and inadequately addressed issues that have caused a church divided and a crisis of truth. In this way, your judgment will be based on your informed conscious and your faith. Whatever your judgment be, you will be in a better position to discuss the subject with others that understand both sides of this most divisive of issue. The problem to date has been that both sides do not talk to each other, but talk and debate past each other. The two essays I recommend is a rarity in the theological debate in that the Selling reply is respectful and in agreement with Murphy that each side must start to constantly dialog so that a consensus of argument is achieved. Unless this is done, we will continue to be a church divided.

Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
There’s a great scene in the movie “A Man for all Seasons” where Thomas asks Margaret “what are the words”?
In the beginning of HV (#6), the Pope writes:  “Now, after assiduous prayer, We think it right, through the power given to Us by Christ, to give an answer to these weighty questions.”(Taken from Janet Smith’s translation from the Latin (i.e., the official version) of HV - emphasis mine though.)
It’s clear to me that the Pope is citing some “authority” but what authority?; or better, whose authority?  Does he have the right to cite that authority? Etc.
Now many seem to presume that the members of the Church have been so well catechized since V2 that they know the Faith (as outlined in the CCC or the Compendium of the CCC) like they know the stats of their favorite sports team but even a superficial look at “reality” demonstrates that that’s not the case at all!  That’s why a whole cottage industry has grown up IN the Church, not outside it, whose creed seems to be taken from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass: ‘The question is,’ says Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master - that’s all.’  
Now Carlos wrote: In it [HV], Pope Paul VI made predictions that know-it-all clergy and laity that thought they alone could read the "sign of the times", considered ridiculous, but that time has confirmed as prophetic.
I agree with him 1000%.  And why do I say that?  Well, I’ll appeal to my “experience”, an experience gained from navigating through "reality". 
The “love generation” made it possible for me to be born into a culture where it is assumed that everyone is DTF.  It’s also a culture where my nieces and nephews (and the teens I am now working with) presume that OS is equivalent to what was a “good night kiss” in your day.  
Were those the good fruits promised when the culture in and outside the Church decided that these words were wrong: “there is an unbreakable connection [nexu indissolubili] between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning [of the conjugal act], and both are inherent in the conjugal act. This connection was established by God and Man is not permitted to break it through his own volition.”
Your focus, often, seems to be proving that HV was wrong, mine is catechesis because I want to help people understand that it is Christ, and only Christ, who fulfills the deepest desires of the human heart and that His teachings must permeate into every aspect of life, including what one does with his johnson.
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Mike – in his book, The Religious Sense, Fr. Giussani says something that, when I first read it, seemed outrageous, but time and reflection have proven it to be absolutely true: “The human person, in fact, in his freedom, affirms what he has already secretly decided in the beginning.”  
And from what I’ve been reading it’s pretty clear to me that the “dissidents” of the 1960s had already decided in the beginning that the Church’s teaching had to change and they tilled the ground to make sure HV would be rejected!  So, let’s make sure to include the cultural forces at work then and now in our picture too!
Fr. Twomey asserts, rightly I believe becasue of what I said above, that HV was “an authoritative response to its cultural context, namely, modernity... a cultural context characterized by an anti-theological view of reality in conflict with the encyclical’s vision of faith.”  You know that I believe that we are still in this cultural context and that many inside the Church are its apologists,  apologists that are constantly trying to force us to trim our consciences to fit today’s fashions. Where is Pope St. Pius X when we need him! 
There’s a wonderful section titled “The Transmission of Divine Revelation” (paragraphs #74 to 100 in the CCC) which clearly explains what we believe and that section clears up the imprecision in your sentence about “the fundamental principles of our "faith".”
You also know better than I do that there are doctrines, dogmas and disciplines in the Church and yes, some of those are reformable and others are definitely not.  Yes, “one can argue that this is the working of the Holy Spirit....” but that doesn’t mean that it is, in fact, a true assertion, or that those opinions are “bringing reason and clarity to doubtful things” as the Gnostics learned!  
Time to go to sleep.  But, so that we can debate tomorrow, I leave you with this:
The witty author of How Far Can You Go? - a novel about changes in the belief and practice of English Catholics between the 1950s and the 1970s - concluded a thoughtful article in The Tablet (July 26, 2008) on what actually happened after the encyclical with the following comment: “If you found you could conscientiously dissent from the Church's teaching on birth conjugal without ceasing to regard yourself as a Catholic, you could conscientiously reject a lot of other prescriptions and doctrines as well. But how far can you go in that direction without ending in total moral relativism?''
Don’t forget to send the articles my friend.   
Carlos Orozco
6 years 8 months ago
The will of the Holy Spirit cannot be known by suspicious polls or by the opinion of dissident groups. Catholic priesthood must never be taken lightly, and any changes to it must truely be the the will of God.

I insist that the catastr?ophic Anglican experience. As I recall?, it was in the 1990s that the Church of England started to experiment with its priesthood; only twenty years later they now have ?????priestesses, ??a?l?o?n?????g??? ??w?i?t?h? ??homosexual ?clergy, we?ddings??? ?a?n?d bishops. Some Episcopalian churches in the U.S.?,? ?i?n? ?o?r?d?e?r? ?t?o??? e?scape the madness? ?o?f? ?o?p?e?n?l?y? ?h?e?r?e?t?i?c? ?p?a?s?t?o?r?s, ask African bishops ??t?o? ?e?x?t?e?n????d?? ?t?h?e?i?r? ?a?u?t??h?o?r?i?t?y? ?o?v?e?r? ?t?h?e?m?.? ??I??s? ?t?h?a?t? ?t?h?e? ?w?i?l?l? ?o?f? ?t?h?e? ??H??o?l?y? ??S??p?i?r????i??t???? ????
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

 With due respect your statement "The will of the Holy Spirit cannot be known by suspicious polls or by the opinion of dissident groups", reflects a shortsightedness regarding the theological and philosophical underpinnings of moral theology, including the controversial infalliblity doctrine.

You are correct that doctrine is not formulated by opinion polls. However, the sources of wisdom continues to be scripture, revelation, tradition and human experience. I will not argue over the fact that most, if not all, of the apostles themselves were married, or that JP II used lables such as "dissidents" to describe anyone who disagreed with Church teachings. This included, to this very day, most theologians and the laity, and many bishops and priests. Are they all dissidents, invincibly ignorance or infected with the evil of the secular world? Or could the collective conscience of most members of the Catholic Church be the voice of the Holy Spirit? Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit guides us in both necessary things, and in doubtful things. 

It was JP II's orthodox and distorted view of reality that branded members of the Catholic Church as either dissenters or assenters. You were either part of the culture of death or the culture of life. You were either a faithful Catholic or a caferteria Catholic. There was no room in the Church, especially in the hierarchy, for anyone who doubted or questioned Church teachings, in particular sexual ethics, regardless of the power of their arguments. As early as 1960, it was Karol Wojtyla who asserted "couples who practiced contraception would only love their children only to the extent that they gave them pleasure". He also beleived that husbands who permitted or encouraged their wives to practice contraception did not respect their wives; they became sexual slaves because the only end of contraception was erotic pleasure (evidently for the husband). In the 1960s and today, few members of the Church believe this. This was never the human experience of most Catholics.

All you have to do is read Karol Wojtla's
"Love and Responsibility" and the Krakow Memorandum he sent to Paul VI five months before he issued Humanae Vitae, to truly understand that his theological and philosophical thesis on marriage and procreation was a distortion of human experience, on the one hand, and ontological and anthropological speculation on the other. "No one knows God's will or his procreative plan", and symbolism and speculation is a weak moral theory, especially if it is in tension with the collective human experience of most Catholics.

We have a Church divided and a Crisis in Truth. This covers legitimate issues such as: mandatory celibacy for priests, the role of women in the Church, the current disenfrancizement of the divorced and remarried, responsible parents who have children and want no more for good reasons and choose contraception as an effective means to regulate fertility, seropositive husbands who want to use a condom to protect their spouses from HIV/AIDS, couples with fertility problems who want to conceive and rear their own children through in vitro fertilization, couples who have a same-sex attraction and want to marry or be in a life-long union of fidelity and love before God as heterosexual couples do....the list goes on. 

In conclusion, I leave you with one thought: all Church teachings taught for centuries as the moral truth, and not received, were eventually reformed.
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago
Your question concerns "the Church", defined as God's entire body as Vatican II proclaimed: the hierarchy, theologians and laity.

The Holy Spirit guards "the Church" from serious error and toward the truth. The truth can manifest itself in necessary things as well as in doubtful things. What is important is that there is a crisis in truth brought about by a tension between the collective consciences of most of "the Church" and the magisterium teaching on contraception. For centuries, popes, bishops and theologians taught that sex during menstruation was a mortal sin, sex during pregnancy was forbidden, and sex had only "one" licit position. Usury, slavery and the torture of heretics were teachings taught for centuries as well, but were eventually reformed. Hence, no one can claim that the Church has taught without error.
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Let's break my question down into parts:

Doesn’t the Holy Spirit know God’s will?

and the procreative plan for the human race?

Can’t He ensure that Christ’s bride,

through her official teachers,

proclaims it properly and without error?  

As you well know, V2 simply highlighted some images of the Church which were no longer looked at and I am sure we agree on that. 

My questions centers around the question: is there a divinely appointed conduit for Divine revelation?  The answer to that is vital - as you well know - and certainly a major factor in this "division" we find ourselves confronting.
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

I did answer your question but perhaps I was not clear enough. 

The bride of Christ is His Church. The Holy Spirit promised to guard the body of Christ, His entire Church, from serious error. Unfortunately, this issue must be viewed historically, as well as in the present and the future. Othewise, one falls into contradiction because history has demonstrated that many teachings of the Church, proclaimed as truth for centuries, were later found to be in error, and reformed. 

The other important point to recognize is that before Vatican I, there was no doctrine of infallibility. After Vatican I, there has been a creeping or expansion of this doctrine by JP II. A prime example of this was his Motu Proprio that defined for the first time a new teaching called "definitive" which is a teaching that is irreformable. Think about this. If this definition, proclaimed today to be the truth about the infallibility doctrine, was part of history, then slavery, usury, the torture of hereics, or the prohibition against a freedom of religion, may not have been reformed!!!

What we can assert without contradiction is scripture and revelation, especially the words of Christ which are the fundamental principles of our "faith". Also many teachings about the moral law are indisputable, such as it is always wrong to kill the innocent. When it comes to other moral teachings, especially about sexual ethics, about marriage and procreation, there is less certainty. This is especially critical when a teaching is in sharp contradiction with human experience and it is based on a moral theory that is unintellligible to most Catholics. Therefore, if the majority of the laity, most theoligans, and many bishops and priests are part this collective conscienceness, then one can argue that this is the working of the Holy Spirit....bringing reason and clarity to doubtful things.

The problem is that a teaching claimed to be a moral absolute, such as contraception, means that it is always intrinsically evil regardless of circumstances, intentions and ends. Such a certainty ignores reality and the moral dilemma in complex ethical cases where there is no reasoned solution, but only suffering.
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

Look for the articles today. I changed from a PC to a Mac and I hope all my data was transferred.

I think you are distorting the facts about the PBCC and the era that surrounded Vatican II. It is not true that the members of the PBCC, especially the bishops and theologians, had already determined the conclusions about artifical contraception. If you study the proceedings and a great book "Turning Point: The Inside Story of the PBCC, and How Humanae Vitae Changed the LIfe of Patty Crowley and the Future of the Church" will quickly realize that it was only after many arguments were debated that most of the commission members "changed their minds".

There were 72 members representing a world-wide cross section of clergy, theologians and married laity....including an executive committee comprised of 16 bishops including 2 cardinals from 5 continents and 11 countries. It was the executive committee that would decide on the conclusions to be presented to the pope. All of these members were choosen and approved by Paul VI. At the end of dilberations, 3 questions were posed to the executive committee of bishops.

1. Is contraception intrinsically evil? The vote: 9 said no; 3 said yes; 3 abstained.

2. Is contraception, as defined in the Majority Report, in basic continuity with tradition and the declarations of the magisterium? The vote: 9 said yes; 5 said no; 1 abstained.

3. Should the magisterium speak on this questin as soon as possible? The vote: 14 said yes; 1 said no.

Open up your eyes and ears to the facts, not the proclamations of those who choose to distort the facts to justify HV.

If you want to talk about a conspiracy, it is widely known that Cardinal Ottaviani, the head of the Holy Office, and the four theologians who opposed the Majority Report, began a campaign to persuade the pope to reject the Majority Report and embarce tradition. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla set up his own commission in Krakow to study the PBCC reports. 

The pope had an exaggerated fear of the consequences of going against Pius XI's Casti Cannubbi and the teachings of Pius XII. Instead of embracing the conclusions of a world-wide commission, Paul VI embraced the theology and philosophy of one-man, Karol Wojtyla, and the conclusions of one-country commission in Krakow limited to Polish clergy and theologians. 

Least you remember, when HV was published, many Conferences of Bishops around the world declared HV non-infallible and Catholics could rely on their informed consciences. Their consciences had to be properly formed giving respect to the Church's teachings and the advice of their parish priests. A decade later, Karoly Wojtyla, as pope, worked to condemn this type of dissent. However, after 44 years of theologian debate, the disagreement with HV remains.

It is simple assertions that you those minority of theologians who support HV without remainder. They provide no convincing phiolosphical, theological, anthropological argument. They only repeat the narrative that this teaching is God's procreative plan. Unfortunately, this is based on speculation and symbolism and no one knows God's procreative plan. It is not in scripture or revelation. 

The so-called imprecision of my claim about the "fundamentals of our faith" in the desposit of faith, is based on the argument that the Church has expanded this desposit of faith to include those "moral teachings" that they believe are necessary. What they have done is "expanded the necessary things" and "reduced the doubtful things" to support their teachings.

According to the Church, if you don't agree with this teaching, you are practicing individualism or relativism. More words, no sensible examples. All we are doing is going around in a circle. I would rather use concrete examples of reality, which I have done to illustrate my point, but have not heard from anyone because the answers are obvious....except to those that simply want to believe that what the Church has proclaimed as the absolute moral truth, is indeed the word of God.
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Mike - Thanks and I hope the transition goes well.
I was scratching my head for a while when I first read your reply and I’m still a bit confused by it!
For example, you start by writing: “I think you are distorting the facts about the PBCC…”the PBCC wasn’t even a blip in my mind (and I didn't specifically mention them) and so this statement really surprised me. 
What I actually had in my mind were things like the article that Cardinal James Francis Stafford wrote on Humanae Vitae, specifically this paragraph: “My expectations of the meeting proved unrealistic. I had hoped that we had been called together to receive copies of the encyclical and to discuss it. I was mistaken. Neither happened. After welcoming us and introducing the leadership, the inner-city pastor came to the point. He expected each of us to subscribe to the Washington “Statement of Dissent.” Mixing passion with humor, he explained the reasons. They ranged from the maintenance of the credibility of the Church among the laity, to the need to allow ‘flexibility’ for married couples in forming their consciences on the use of artificial contraceptives. Before our arrival, the conveners had decided that the Baltimore priests’ rejection of the papal encyclical would be published the following morning in The Baltimore Sun, one of the daily newspapers.”
And I was also thinking of what Mr. Grisez has posed on his site about John C. Ford, S.J., etc.  And of course the history Fr. Twomey has in his book. 
Do you think I am naïve enough to think that the people who discussed this were impeccable and agenda-free? Do you think I think the 60s were the Garden of Eden?  Yes, there was a lot of “politics” going on all through V2 because and I imagine it’s like the “change” everyone longed for in the recent past (although back then it seemd to be on steroids compared to now!) – but you have to tell me since you lived through that period of history.  One method I use to try to learn what happened then is that I speak to people who were there, people who lived through it – like the shop owners in Woodstock who still think they are still in that era and want to recreate it, to those who hated it and think that "Sympathy for the Devil" pays homage to the true puppeteer of the era. 
And why do I do that? Because my experience with people’s attempts to understand the Twin Towers and 9/11.  I saw them, I was in them many times, I remember the light, the sound, the way your next hurt when you looked up at them, the mall underneath them, etc.  I was also downtown when the planes hit.  So, I am a witness and I can tell people things the photos or articles will never convey. 
Plus, I have more than enough experience working with people “in positions of power” in the Church that I am definitely not Pollyanna.
“and the era that surrounded Vatican II.”
Sorry but I have to go now… will finish my reply later!
rosanne santos
6 years 8 months ago
The Pope said "Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions that threatened to stifle the word and the will of God."  

Mandatory celibacy is one such human tradition that threatens to stifle the word and will of God.  Christ is calling for correction, calling for a married and celibate priesthood to correct the priest shortage. 

Priests who are called to marriage are kicked out for marrying during a world-wide shortage of priests.  This stifles the word and will of God-access to Eucharist is denied and churches closed for lack of priests.  And yet over  100 married protestant ministers who convert to Catholicism are welcomed.

CORPUS and CITI Ministries are two organizations with validly ordained Catholic married priests willing and able to minister to the millions of Catholics underserved because of the priest shortage. surveys reveal the Holy Spirit working towards change among all the people of God.  67% of priests want a discussion of mandatory celibacy rules and over 80% of the faithful believe the Holy Spirit is calling for celibacy to be optional. 
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Happy Easter Mike!  Yes, doing better, thanks for asking.  I hope you and your loved ones are well too.

Are the articles free?  If yes, please send the links to me via email so I can read them.

I wouldn't poo poo the book though, especially since it might have some interesting insights.

Also, I'm intrigued by your assertion that experience is a locus for Divine Revelation. (Did I understanding that correctly?) That naturally leads to my question, what is experience?  I am asking because in common parlance it seems to be used as a synonym for "opinion" - as in "that's not my experience!"  Then, “Whose experience?”  Can this be understood as a new way to pit “private revelation” against “public revelation” and/or the Magisterium? 
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

The sources of moral truth has always been scripture, tradition, revelation and human experience. Human experience is an important consideration but not in itself the sole source of the truth.

My point is that the philosophy, theology and anthropology principles used to formulate Humanae Vitae in part, are grounded in speculation about God's will and procreative plan as well as presumptions about the nature and meaning of marriage and sexual intercourse. Karol Wojtyla's human experience during his adolecense and young adulthood was typical of Polish culture under the Nazis, and thereafter under communism. His assertions about sex and marriage and contraception was in tension with human experience. For example, he asserted that couples who practice contraception did not express love, but only erotic pleasure. These couples will only love their children to the extent that they give them pleasure. 

No one then, or today believes these presumptions because they don't reflect reality! However, they significantly shaped Wojtyla's philosophy and theology on sex and marriage. I will not go into more details, but suffice it to say that speculation about God's procreative plan as revealed in the language of the body is highly questionable. If a couple cannot have children because their language of the body, expressed in their fertility-infertility nexus, does not allow for it, then what is the meaning of this language? Is the biololgical function the expression of divine revelation? On the one hand, Wojtyla asserted that biology has nothing to do with Humanae Vitae or his Theology of the Body. On the other hand, he asserts that this is the order of nature and the expression of the provincial plan of God. Who among us knows the Divine Will? Certainly not the majority of bishops in 1968 when HV was published, nor the majority of priests, theologians or the laity at that time. 

I will send you both of the essays I recommended by email.

Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Thanks Mike, I look forward to receiving the articles.  

I’ve thought much about the conversation that my sickness interrupted and read more on this subject thanks to you.  Certainly not to the depth you have, but more than I had to that point.   

Regarding what you wrote - My point is that the philosophy, theology and anthropology principles used to formulate Humanae Vitae in part, are grounded in speculation about God's will and procreative plan as well as presumptions about the nature and meaning of marriage and sexual intercourse - my question is: Doesn’t the Holy Spirit know God’s will and the procreative plan for the human race and can’t He ensure that Christ’s bride, through her official teachers, proclaims it properly and without error?  
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Sorry about the delay but I think the break was good because it gave me the time to clarify and hone my thoughts.
Let me start by stating that I firmly believe what Fr. Joseph F. Costanzo, SJ wrote about the papal office on page 286 in his book, The Historical Credibility of Huns Kung. On page 286 he writes (N.B., emphasis mine): “the papal office is unique in origin (immediate divine establishment by Christ Himself), unique in its nature (divinely commissioned to teach the ways of eternal salvation and to administer the sacraments of sanctification), unique in character (a permanent office, enduring to the end of time), unique in its prerogatives (the warrant against errancy in matters of faith and morals), unique in exercise and extent of its jurisdiction (plenary, universal, unconditioned by any dependency upon human agencies for the validity of its authentic and authoritative teaching).  Why do I believe it? Because it does not contradict what the CCC says.  
Now, turning to the PBCC, from what you wrote and what I’ve read (please correct me if I am mistaken) the PBCC was a sort of “advisory board” whose purpose was to advise the Pope.  If that’s the case, then like any “advisory board” it did not have any legal, formal responsibilities or authority separate from the authority of the Pope because it is a collection of people whose sole purpose is to advise.
That being the case, it seems to me that the Pope was not obligated to accept any of the reports submitted to him by his advisory board.  In fact, didn’t the Pope, by virtue of his office, have the authority to reject the so called “majority report” and accept the “minority report” if he wanted to?  (Sure, we can go on and on about whether what he did was prudent but that’s a diversion from the real issue, IMHO.)
Since I believe the answer is yes, I have the impression that the constant railing against HV by certain groups in the Church – like Pfarrer - is, in many cases, just a smokescreen to hide their true desire to undermine the moral teaching authority of the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium of the Church!  (That, BTW, is why I mentioned Humpty Dumpty in my earlier comment.)
Perhaps it’s the failing of all converts, but the only “philosophy” I am interested in is Jesus’ philosophy – i.e., His views on metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical anthropology, and ethics!  
I hope your computer migration went OK.  (BTW, I just discovered that the EWTN site has part of Fr. Costanzo’s book available if you want to read it).
Juan Lino
6 years 8 months ago
Oops - yes let's take our discussion off-line. I think we are the only ones left on this tread and I also want to continue our original conversation.

I'll write on the weekend!  Till then, let's continue to remember each other in our prayers! 
Michael Barberi
6 years 8 months ago

I was reacting to the following statement:

Fr. Twomey asserts, rightly I believe becasue of what I said above, that HV was “an authoritative response to its cultural context, namely, modernity... a cultural context characterized by an anti-theological view of reality in conflict with the encyclical’s vision of faith.”  You know that I believe that we are still in this cultural context and that many inside the Church are its apologists,  apologists that are constantly trying to force us to trim our consciences to fit today’s fashions. Where is Pope St. Pius X when we need him! 

IMO, this statement implied that the members of the PBCC was highly influenced by the cultural context characterized by an anti-theological view of reality...or that many members of the commission had such a distortion caused by modernity. Nothing could be further from the truth. To imply or even consider that the members of the PBCC had a anti-theological view of reality is absurd. Certainly, culture was a daily reality, but if you read the backgrounds of the PBCC members, and the diligence, sincerity, and objectiveness that each member strived to embrace, you can only conclude that this commission was as theologically balanced as any commission. In fact, at the beginning, most of the commission, especially the bishops, were biased against reform. It was only after much diliberation and debate, education about facts and differing theories and interpretations, that most of them went the other way. 

I apologize if my reading of your comments were in error. However, I hope that my comments provided a clearer picture of what it was like during the early to mid 1960s. It was the PBCC, not the young and their 1960s sexual revolution attitude, that had the responsibility to do a objective job on this most complex of issues. It was the PBCC who represented a world-wide cross section of clergy, theologians and married laity that brought forth the Majority Report...and it was Paul VI that accepted a one-person, one-country philosophy on marriage and procreation.

The reaction that followed HV, was indeed reflective of modernity. That by itself does not make the opinions of Catholics a distortion of the truth, or their decisions of conscience immoral. Relying on our practical reason, giving serious consideration and respect to Church teachings, that is what Aquinas said was natural law....our practical reason participating in the eternal. However, an individual conscience can err, but the collective consciences of the majority of the Church, inclusive of the laity, theologians and many bishops and priests, is a reflection of the Holy Spirit bringing clarity to doubtful things.

Let's take our discussion off-line. I think we are the only ones left on this tread.


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