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Scots Catholic

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Pope Francis speaks of the dignity of human life from conception until natural death

Posted on January 29, 2016 at 10:13 AM Comments comments (0)

Is it possible to be faithful to the Truth whilst also being humble and compassionate?

Posted on January 11, 2016 at 8:39 AM Comments comments (0)
Jesus was compassionate but firm in the Truth

Pope Francis, during his Sunday Angelus, has spoken about the importance of Baptism and the role it plays in our lives.  Having earlier baptised 26 baby girls and boys at morning Mass, the pope was keen to impress upon the gathered faithful the critical nature of this sacrament.


The pope said that in Baptism the Holy Spirit "burns and destroys original sin, returning to baptism the beauty of divine grace.”


The pope then stressed the importance of following Jesus and being obedient to the Truth whilst remaining true to Christ’s qualities of tenderness and humility.  And here, I think, is the critical issue for us Christians today.  While we must speak the Truth we must do it in a spirit of tenderness and humility.  But similarly, while we must be tender and humble in our approach, we can never stray from the Truth.  It's not a balancing act because that would suggest compromising one or both aspects.  Instead we are called to deliver the Truth in its fullness and to do this in a fully humble and completely tender way.


In my experience people tend to be more inclined to do one more than the other.  For example, some people may reject certain elements of Christ’s teaching with the aim of showing more compassion and tenderness to people.  This is because some elements of teaching are difficult to accept, especially set against the backdrop of an increasingly liberal and relativist society.  Others may be more determined to stick rigidly to the Truth but seem to lack that tenderness and humility, especially when they see a threat to Christ's teaching.


Ultimately we need to be firm in both elements.  We need to be firm in our faith, in the same way that Christ was and in the way that God calls us to be.  Jesus’ disciples died unimaginable deaths because they were firm in their faith and didn’t go along with the popular views of society.  They stuck to their beliefs even though everybody mocked them and thought they were talking nonsense.  They refused to reject the truth of Christ and the Church he established, preferring to invest their lives in being the men Jesus called them to be with the sure and certain hope of an eternal reward.  Similarly, we need to be firm in our tenderness and humility.  Jesus had an uncanny knack of being firm but also loving, gentle and kind.  When he prevented the prostitute from being stoned by the scribes and the Pharisees he was careful to tell her to “go and sin no more”.  But he did this while telling her that he didn't condemn her.  He wanted her to stop sinning, to stick to the Truth.  But he also wanted her to know that she was loved and that mercy would be shown to her.


It's important for us to remain true to both aspects when it comes to our faith.  We must be true to Christ and his teaching and we must be tender and humble in remaining faithful to that teaching.  The Truth is what it is and it doesn’t change.  It can be found in your copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  And the tenderness and humility we need in order to take that Truth to others can be found in the loving person of Jesus Christ.


So, is it possible to be both faithful to the Truth and be tender and humble?  Yes.  Just look to the example of Jesus and in him you will find the perfection of fulfilling both aspects.

Pope Francis: don't read your horoscopes, look to Jesus

Posted on November 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM Comments comments (0)
Pope Francis has urged all people not to look at their horsocopes but, instead, to look to Jesus.
 
 

Every Diocese to have ‘Door of Mercy’ for Jubilee Year

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 9:56 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Every Catholic diocese in the world will have a Door of Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is hoped that the move will encourage people to turn to God and seek His loving forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
 
 

Pope Francis: do we really listen?

Posted on October 5, 2015 at 7:26 AM Comments comments (33)
 
You may not have heard it on the news, but Pope Francis this weekend reaffirmed the truth of marriage as being between one man and one woman.  He also reaffirmed his conviction that all life is worthy of protection.
 
 
It’s the kind of chat that will dampen the spirits of those who see so called ‘progression’ on these fundamental areas of Catholic doctrine.  It’s also the kind of chat that will delight Catholics who hold true to their faith and who value marriage between one man and one woman as decreed by God Himself, and who value the sanctity of life from its very beginning.
 
 
It’s too easy to read the mainstream media headlines and stories about Pope Francis and ignore the sources that really matter.  The Pope’s affirmation of Catholic teaching on marriage and abortion outlined above didn’t come on some flight aboard the papal plane or at a grandiose meeting with a political heavyweight but from the sanctuary during his homily at the Mass which heralded the opening of the secondpart of the Synod on the Family.
 
 
All too often we fail to listen when it really matters.
 

Pope Francis Urges the World to Follow Christ’s Commandment to Love

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 11:37 AM Comments comments (0)
The pope received several standing ovations in Congress
 
Pope Francis, in his historic address to US Congress, has urged the world to follow Christ’s Commandment of love.  The pope used the opportunity to tackle critical issues such as the dignity of human life, the death penalty and the refugee crisis.  He also addressed recent attacks on marriage and family life, and his concerns that the very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question. 
 
Here are the main quotes from the pope’s address to USC ongress this afternoon:
 
Pope Francis on the golden rule:
 
“Let us remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
 
 
On the dignity of human life:
 
We must “protect by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God in every human life.”
 
We must recognise the “transcendent dignity of the human being”.
 
“The golden rule [to do unto others as you would have done unto you] also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”
 
 
On the family:
 
“The family should be a recurrent theme….how essential the family has been to the building of this country.  I cannot hide my concern for the family which is threatened, perhaps as never before from within and without.  The very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question.”
 
“I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”
 
“I would like to call attention to those family members who are most vulnerable, the young.  Their problems are our problems.  Our young people are precious.”
 
“We live in a culture that threatens young people not to start a family.”
 
 
On the death penalty:
 
“Let’s abolish the death penalty here and everywhere. No punishment should exclude hope or the possibility of conversion.”
 
 
On politics and society:
 
“Preserve and defend the dignity of your fellow citizens in pursuit of the common good.”
 
“We are all worried by the disturbing social and political situation of the world today.”
 
“It can be no more us vs them. We must confront every kind of polarisation. Our response must be hope and healing, peace and justice.”
 
“Safeguard religious freedom, intellectual freedom, and individual freedom.  We must be specially attentive to every type of fundamentalism.”
 
“Politics must be used to build the common good.”
 
“It’s my duty to build bridges and help all men and women to do the same.”
 
“We have to ask ourselves: why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”
 
“It is our duty to confront the problem and stop the arms trade.”
 
 
On the elderly:
 
The elderly are the “storehouse of wisdom”.
 
 
On the refugee crisis:
 
“We must view them as persons, seeing their faces, listening to their stories, and try to respond as best we can.”
 
 
On poverty:
 
“The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.”
 
 
On business:
 
“Business is a noble vocation, especially in its creation of jobs to the common good.”
 
 
On the environment:
 
“I’m convinced that we can make a difference, I’m sure.”
 
“We have an obligation to our future generations. The time is now.”

President Obama shouldn't be fooled by Pope Francis' humble facade

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 9:21 AM Comments comments (10)
 
The first few days of Pope Francis' visit to the United States have been fascinating, not least because of his clever tactics in putting US President Barack Obama firmly, yet politely, in his place.
 
 
The depth of Obama's hypocrisy on religious freedom simply cannot be underestimated following his welcome speech to the pope on the south lawn of the White House. Obama, ever the impressive statesman, spoke of how "here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty" and promised the pope that "we stand with you in defence of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation."
 
 
It does actually sound very good, but the reality is this man is head of perhaps the most anti-religious administration ever seen in the United States; a fact not lost on the Holy Father.  Consider the pope's response to the president: "Mr President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America's most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it."
 
 
The pope's final words suggest that while President Obama is confident that his country respects the rights of religious people, the pope doesn't necessarily share his view. 
 
 
But here is the best part. Shortly after meeting Mr Obama, the pope decided to make an unscheduled stop to the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The significance of this? The Little Sisters are currently pursuing an action against the Obama administration for forcing them to comply with the HHS Mandate (also knows as 'Obamacare'), a Mandate which forces companies and groups (including the Little Sisters) to provide contraception through employee insurance plans. And let's not forget that President Obama and the wider Democratic community recently vowed not to make it a crime for a person to kill a baby born following a failed abortion  This, brothers and sisters, is Obama's idea of a country that cherishes "religious liberty."
 
 
The pope, who told Bishops yesterday that nobody can turn away from the evil of abortion, is already making some shrewd moves in the States. But then, we shouldn't be surprised, even when we are faced with the quiet exterior of this humble little man from Argentina. He is a man who burns with the fire of his Catholic faith, and he is undoubtedly a man with a plan.  Perhaps it hasn't yet dawned on President Obama that he is up against the successor to Peter and Vicar of Christ.

Pope Francis says people who cannot forgive are not Christian

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (2)
 
It’s a pretty basic point: you can’t be Christian unless you are prepared to forgive.  It’s something that is abundantly clear in Christ’s teaching and we can be left in no doubt that we are all expected to forgive one another if we are to be true to Jesus.
 
 
Yet this call is seemingly never put into practice.  We are often prepared to talk the talk when it comes to forgiveness, but we are rarely prepared to walk the walk.  It is in this sense that the Pope’s words are timely.  As Christians we undoubtedly need to be reminded of Christ’s call to forgive all people, even when they have committed the worst crimes and atrocities against us.  This is, of course, very hard for us.  That is not in doubt.  But then Christian living is a challenge!  Living as a Christian goes against the grain of modern society and modern living.  It requires us to protect life from conception until natural death, it requires us to love all people without exception, and it requires us to forgive no matter what.
 
 
As the pope says: “If you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian.  You may be a good man, a good woman….but you are not doing what our Lord did. What’s more, if you can’t forgive, you cannot receive the peace of the Lord.  And every day when we pray the ‘Our Father’: forgive us as we have forgiven those….it is a condition.” 
 
 
The pope also urged priests to make sure they are merciful otherwise they shouldn’t be hearing Confession. He said: “If you are a priest and you can’t manage to be merciful, tell your bishop who will give you a job in administration, but please don’t go into the confessional box!  A priest who is not merciful does a lot of harm in the confessional box!”
 
 
He then encouraged more humility among Christians saying: “Which of us can say this, that the other person is more of a sinner than me?  None of us can say this!  Only our Lord knows this.”
Put bluntly, there should be nothing that is incapable of forgiveness, and there should be no person who is not entitled to receive our forgiveness.
 

Pope Francis announces changes to annulment process

Posted on September 8, 2015 at 11:38 AM Comments comments (25)
 
The pope has today announced changes to the procedures for those seeking annulments, making the process easier, more simplified and less expensive.
 
 
There is no longer a requirement for a twofold process in coming to a decision on marital nullity. The first decision, which is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop, shall be considered sufficient and binding and there will no longer be a second stage (known as 'automatic appeal') in the decision making process.  The outcome of the decision may still be appealed but it will not be automatic and there will be new rules built around the appeals process to ensure a party doesn't simply use it as a delaying tactic.
 
 
It isn’t reform on a grand scale and it does not remove or water down the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, but it is a small change which will make the process easier for people seeking annulments in the future.  It is important to note that the changes don’t necessarily mean that more annulments will be granted.
 
 
Here is the full report from the Vatican News website:
 
Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters motu proprio on Tuesday, by which he introduced reforms to the legal structures of the Church, which deal with questions of marital nullity. One of the Letters motu proprio, known by its Latin title, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus – or “The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge” – reforms the Code of Canon Law (CIC) governing the Latin Church, while the other, Mitis et misericorsIesus or “Clement and merciful Jesus” – reforms the Code of Canon Law for Oriental Churches (CCEO).
 
 
According to the prefatory remarks attached to both Letters, the reforms are the result of an expert group appointed to study the current state of law and practice in the Church as far as marriage law is concerned. The Holy Father goes on in the preface to explain that the reforms are guided by seven specific criteria, ample excerpts of which Vatican Radio offers below in its own unofficial English translation:
 
  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.
  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.
  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.
  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.
  5. Appeal to the Metropolitan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.
  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.
 
The re-establishment of vicinity between the judge and the faithful, in fact, shall not be successful if the stimulus does not come from the Conferences to the single Bishops, along with the necessary assistance, to put into practice the reform of the marital nullity process.
 
  1. Appeal to the Apostolic See – It is fitting that the appeal to the ordinary Tribunal of the Apostolic See, i.e. the Roman Rota, be maintained: this, in respect of a most ancient juridical principle, so that the bond between the See of Peter and the particular Churches be reinforced – having care, in any case, in the discipline of the use of said appeal, to contain any and all abuse of right, in order that the salvation of souls be given no cause for harm.
 
Indeed, the prefatory remarks make clear from the very start, that thesingle most important principle guiding the Holy Father’s action and the workof reform undertaken, is that of salus animarum – the salvation of souls– which is the suprema Ecclesiae lex – the supreme law of the Church.
 

Sister Lucia of Fatima spells out the reality of the battle over marriage and family life

Posted on September 7, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (8)
Sister Lucia dos Santos
 
As we approach the second and final part of the Synod on Marriage and Family Life it is important for us to remember these words of Sister Lucia of Fatima, one of three children who were visited by Our Blessed Mother Mary during the twentieth century.
 
 
Lucia describes how the final battle between the Lord and Satan will be about marriage and the family, but that anyone who stands for the sanctity of marriage and the family should not fear as "Our Lady has already crushed its head".
 
 
It should be no surprise to us to hear that there is an ongoing battle with the father of lies over marriage and family life.  Just consider contraception, abortion and the redefinition of marriage and you can see precisely where the devil is attacking God's divine plan for mankind. 
 
 
We are, in all respects, in the battlefield for the very last battle between the devil and the Lord.  But which side are we on?  Are we with the world; a world that is increasingly subject to the contol of the devil with all his lies and attacks on our faith?  Or are we with Christ and his Church, standing firm to the Truth and God's divine plan with which comes the promise eternal salvation?