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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on December 6, 2016 at 9:34 AM||comments (34)|
This talk by Cardinal Robert Sarah took place earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.
It is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of the ongoing assault on and subsequent destruction of the family in our so called 'progressive' world. Cardinal Sarah also considers what we, as Christians, can do to respond.
Here is the text of Cardinal Sarah's address:
Thank you for inviting me to this remarkable gathering, in the company of such a distinguished audience.
As you well know, what happens in the United States has repercussions everywhere. The entire globe looks to you, waiting and praying, to see what America resolves on the pressing challenges the world faces today. Such is your influence and responsibility.
I do not say this lightly, because we find ourselves in such portentous times.
1. The Situation of the World and the Mission of the Church
Rapid social and economic development in the past half century has not been accompanied by an equally fervent spiritual progress, as we witness what Pope Francis calls “globalized indifference.”
It is the result of giving in to the delusion that we are self-sufficient, that man is his own measure in a pervasive individualism. It is manifested in the fear of suffering in our societies, our closing our eyes and hearts to the poor and vulnerable, and, in a very despicable way, in how we discard the unborn and the elderly.
When he prophetically announced the Second Vatican Council in the Apostolic Constitution Humanae Salutis,Saint John XXIII remarked that the human community was in “turmoil” as it sought to establish a new world order where humanity relies entirely on technical and scientific solutions instead of God.
Today we are witnessing the next stage – and the consummation – of the efforts to build a utopian paradise on earth without God. It is the stage of denying sin and the fall altogether. But the death of God results in the burial of good, beauty, love and truth. Good becomes evil, beauty is ugly, love becomes the satisfaction of sexual primal instincts, and truths are all relative.
So all manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, but even promoted as a social good. The result is hostility to Christians, and, increasingly, religious persecution.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the threat that societies are visiting on the family through a demonic “gender ideology,” a deadly impulse that is being experienced in a world increasingly cut off from God through ideological colonialism.
Saint Pope John XXIII observed in 1962:
“Tasks of immense gravity and amplitude await the Church, as in the most tragic periods of her history. The Church must now inject the vivifying and perennial energies of the gospel into the veins of the human community.”
This remains the challenge that the Church is facing presently, more even than in 1962, and it is our task today. This is what I spoke of in my book God or Nothing:
“Today the Church must fight against prevailing trends, with courage and hope, and not be afraid to raise her voice to denounce the hypocrites, the manipulators, and the false prophets. For two thousand years, the Church has faced many contrary winds but at the end of the most difficult journey, the victory was always won.”
2. The Family
“The future of the world and the Church passes through the family.” These prophetic words of Saint John Paul II show how the Church, in our time, must, above all, defend and promote the beauty of the Christian family in fidelity to God’s design. In his post-synodal Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Lætitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis states clearly: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur … proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.”
This is why the Holy Father openly and vigorously defends Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children and much more. In my first five years as Archbishop of Conakry (Guinea, Africa), I made it my task to dedicate all of my pastoral letters to the family. Perhaps only the beauty of the family can reawaken the longing for God in the innermost recesses of the conscience of our brothers and sisters, and heal the wounds inflicted on our humanity by sin.
Saint John Paul, the Pope of the new evangelization, describes in Familiaris Consortio how the family is the first place where the Gospel is welcomed and is also the first herald of the Gospel. How true this is!
The generous and responsible love of spouses, made visible through the self-giving of parents, who welcome and nurture children as a gift of God, makes love visible in our generation. It makes present the perfect charity of the Trinity. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity,” wrote Saint Augustine.
From the beginning of creation, God, who is a communion of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three different Persons, yet one – has built a Trinitarian structure into our very nature. In the continent of my origin, Africa, we declare: “Man is nothing without woman, woman is nothing without man, and the two are nothing without a third element, which is the child.” The Triune God dwells within each of us and imbues our whole being: God’s own image and likeness.
Every human being, like the persons of the Trinity, has the capacity to be united with other persons in communion through the vinculum caritatis – the bond of charity – of the Holy Spirit. The family is a natural preparation and anticipation of the communion that is possible when we are united with God. The family, as it were, is a natural praeparatio evangelica – written into our nature.
This is why the devil is so intent on destroying the family. If the family is destroyed, we lose our God-given, anthropological foundations and so find it more difficult to welcome the saving Good News of Jesus Christ: self-giving, fruitful love.
St. John Paul explained: if it is true that the family is the place where more than anywhere else human beings can flourish and truly be themselves, it is also a place where human beings can be humanly and spiritually wounded.
The rupture of the foundational relationships of someone’s life – through separation, divorce or distorted impositions of the family, such as cohabitation and same sex unions – is a deep wound that closes the heart to self-giving love unto death, and even leads to cynicism and despair.
These situations cause damage to little children through inflicting upon them a deep existential doubt about love. They are a scandal – a stumbling block – that prevents the most vulnerable from believing in such love, and a crushing burden that can prevent them from opening to the healing power of the Gospel.
Advanced societies, including – I regret – this nation have done and continue to do everything possible to legalize such situations. But this can never be a truthful solution. It is like putting bandages on an infected wound. It will continue to poison the body until antibiotics are taken.
Sadly, the advent of artificial reproductive technologies, surrogacy, so-called homosexual “marriage”, and other evils of gender ideology, will inflict even more wounds in the midst of the generations we live with.
This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church and every society. This is not about abstract ideas. It is not an ideological war between competing ideas. This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from a demonic ideology that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off entire generations from God.
3. Religious Freedom
I encourage you to truly make use of the freedom willed by your founding fathers, lest you lose it. In so many other countries, on almost a daily basis, we hear of merciless beheadings, futile bombings of churches, torching of orphanages and ruthless expulsions of entire families from homes that religious minorities suffer worldwide simply because of their beliefs. Even in this yet young twenty-first century of barely 16 years, one million people have been martyred around the world because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
Yet the violence against Christians is not just physical, it is also political, ideological and cultural. This form of religious persecution is equally damaging, yet more hidden. It does not destroy physically but spiritually; it demolishes the teaching of Jesus and His Church and, hence, the foundations of faith by leading souls astray. By this violence, political leaders, lobby groups and mass media seek to neutralize and depersonalize the conscience of Christians so as to dissolve them in a fluid society without religion and without God. This is the will of the Evil One: to close Heaven … out of envy.
Do we not see signs of this insidious war in this great nation of the United States? In the name of “tolerance,” the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and the human person are dismantled. The legalization of same sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programs, and even “bathroom bills” that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?
How low we are sinking for a nation built on a set of moral claims about God, the human person, the meaning of life, and the purpose of society, given by America’s first settlers and founders! God is named in your founding documents as “Creator” and “Supreme Judge” over individuals and government. The human person endowed with God-given and therefore inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” George Washington wrote that “the establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the motive that induced me to the field of battle.”
Today, we find ourselves before the battle of a sickness that has pervaded our world. I repeat: the battle of a sickness. That is what we face. I call this sickness “the liquidation, the eclipse of God.” Pope Francis describes the causes of this “sickness.”
I quote: “Religious liberty is not only that of thought or private worship. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent upon the truth found, be it privately or publicly. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought – which is like a sickness – also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance ends up by persecuting those who defend the truth about man and the ethical consequences.”
What are the remedies to this sickness? What should we do to protect the family, religious freedom, and marriage – as revealed to us by God?
Before such a distinguished gathering, I offer three humble suggestions.
1. First: Be prophetic. The Book of Proverbs tells us: “Where there is no vision, discernment, the people perish” (29, 18). Discern carefully – in your lives, your homes, your workplaces – how, in your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated. Blessed Paul VI saw that in 1968 when, for the Church, he so courageously wrote Humanae Vitae. What are the threats to Christian identity and the family today? ISIS, the growing influence of China, the colonization of ideologies such as gender? How do we react?
2. Be faithful. This is my second suggestion. Specifically for you, as men and women called to influence even the political sphere you have a mission of bringing Divine Revelation to bear in the lives of your fellow citizens. Uphold the wise principles of your founding fathers. Do not be afraid to proclaim the truth with love, especially about marriage according to God’s plan, just as courageously as Saint John the Baptist, who risked his life to proclaim the truth. The battle to preserve the roots of mankind is perhaps the greatest challenge that our world has faced since its origins. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena: “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
3. Third: Pray. Sometimes, in front of happenings in the world, our nation or even the Church, the results of our prayer might tempt us to become discouraged. Like Sisyphus in the Greek myth: condemned to roll a large boulder uphill, only to see it roll down again as soon as he had reached the top. Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est encourages us : “People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone.”
Whether in doctrine or morality or everyday decisions, the heart of prayer is to discern God’s will. This can only happen in prolonged moments of silence where, like Elijah before the horrendous threats of Queen Jezebel, we allow the “gentle breeze” of God to enlighten us and confirm us along our journey to do God’s will. Such was the virginal silence of the Blessed Mother. At a marriage, the wedding feast of Cana, when for a new family “they have no wine,” Mary our Mother trusted in the grace given by Jesus to bestow the joy of love overflowing – Amoris Lætitia. She pronounced her very last words, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2: 1-12).Then she remained silent.
Be prophetic. Be faithful. Pray. That is why I came to this prayer breakfast. To encourage you. Be prophetic. Be faithful. And, above all, pray. These three suggestions make present that the battle for the soul of America, and the soul of the world, is primarily spiritual. They show that the battle is fought firstly with our own conversion to God’s will every day.
And so I wholly welcome this initiative, and join you in prayer that this great country may experience a new great “spiritual awakening”, and help stem the tide of evil that is spreading in the world. I am confident that your efforts will no doubt contribute to protecting human life, strengthening the family, and safeguarding religious freedom not only here in these United States, but everywhere in the world.
For in the end: it is “God or nothing.”
Catholic Church announces appointment of Baroness Helen Liddell as Chair of Independent Review Group
|Posted on December 5, 2016 at 4:16 AM||comments (21)|
Baroness Liddell and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has today announced that Baroness Helen Liddell will be the first ever Chair of the Independent Review Group (IRG) an autonomous body, which will function separately from the Church and which will review safeguarding standards and carry out independent audits.
Announcing the appointment, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops’ Conference said: “I am most grateful to Baroness Liddell for agreeing to become the first Chair of the Independent Review Group, which will review and audit the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding work. In accepting the recommendation of the McLellan Commission to create an independent group, it was clear that a chairperson of national stature and proven competence would be required and I believe, that in Helen, these qualities are perfectly met.”
“On behalf of the bishops of Scotland I welcome her appointment and look forward to working with her as we continue to implement in full the safeguarding recommendations presented to us last year.”
Responding to the appointment, Baroness Liddell, a former Secretary of State for Scotland, said: "This group will be a transparent and fearless means of ensuring that the McLellan Commission recommendations are implemented in full. We owe it to the survivors to ensure that their suffering is never repeated."
(from Scottish Catholic Media Office)
|Posted on November 11, 2016 at 5:47 PM||comments (17)|
From Sunday's Gospel:
“But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives”
Jesus warns us time and again through the gospels that we will be persecuted for believing in him. We are perhaps tempted to brush over this, given the relative comfort and freedom we enjoy as Catholics in the Western world of the 21 Century. And indeed it is unlikely that any of us will be martyred for the faith, imprisoned or seized and brought before governors and kings. So can we happily skip these passages of scriptures, confident that they are not relevant to us, needed perhaps for another time and place, but not now? I would suggest that we would do this at our peril. Christians remain the most persecuted people in the world today. But even in our apparently “tolerant” society, Christian beliefs are scoffed at and looked upon scornfully.
It is worth meditating upon in prayer: in what ways does your Christian faith disadvantage you in the world? Do colleagues laugh or look at you askance when you mention you went to Mass at the weekend? Do family members dismiss some of your views, as they are based on faith and therefore are somehow less important? Do disbelieving friends aggressively try to engage you in debate to point out the flaws in your theology? Do people stare if you say grace in a restaurant before meals? To help us to consider this further, it is perhaps worth pondering the times when we fail to stand up for Jesus for fear of ridicule. Do we stay quiet when others discuss ‘hot topics’ like abortion or same-sex marriage? Do we bite our tongue when we overhear someone taking the Lord’s name in vain? Do we agree with the relativist position “that’s true for you but not for me” when challenged?
These might seem like small points, compared to the crown of martyrdom. But these are the persecutions of our time, put in our path to lead us to holiness. These are the “opportunities” talked about in today’s gospel passage. We must “keep this carefully in mind” and pray about these things, asking Jesus to give us the grace to be bold and confident in his love and help. And we must look on any ridicule or challenge as a blessing, ever keeping our eye on the prize of eternal life. In staying true in these small persecutions, our souls will be prepared, with God’s grace, for martyrdom, should we ever be called to that.
|Posted on October 6, 2016 at 6:03 AM||comments (0)|
Pope Francis has spoken out against the theory of gender, something he has stated as being the “great enemy of marriage today”. The pope, speaking to a group of religious men and women in Tbilisi, Georgia, said: “Today, there is a global war trying to destroy marriage…they don’t destroy it with weapons, but with ideas. It’s certain ideological ways of thinking that are destroying it…we have to defend ourselves from ideological colonisation.”
The pontiff has often spoken about ideological colonisation and gender theory and the dangers they pose to society. The ideological colonisation he refers to is primarily to do with developed countries – mainly in the West – imposing their ideas and values into developing nations and potentially withholding aid where those ideas and values are resisted. Gender theory, on the other hand, is what an individual person believes himself or herself to be and it may not necessarily correspond with their biological sex. Indeed, it may even be non-binary; that is, neither male nor female.
The next day, during an in-flight press conference on his way home to Rome, the pope spoke once more about gender theory and expressed deep concern about “teaching in school about this [gender theory], to change mentalities.” This, he says, “is what I call ideological colonisation.”
He then spoke more specifically about homosexuality and the pastoral call of the Church with regard to people who experience same-sex attraction. He said: “First of all, I’ve accompanied in my life as a priest, a bishop, and even as pope, people with homosexual tendencies or even homosexual practices, I’ve led them closer to the Lord.” He called on all people within the Church to accompany people in such situations “as Jesus accompanies” because “when a person who has this condition gets in front of Jesus, Jesus won’t say ‘leave because you’re homosexual.’”
The pope was, however, cautious about the more liberal headlines that have been attributed to him in terms of a possibly softer Church attitude towards homosexual acts when he said: “I want to be clear, this is a problem of morals. It’s a problem. It’s a human problem that has to be resolved as it can, always with God’s mercy.”
|Posted on September 29, 2016 at 5:13 AM||comments (0)|
New research involving one million people has found that women are at higher risk of depression when taking the contraceptive pill. The research also confirms that adolescent girls are particularly sensitive to hormonal contraception.
It is reported that around half of women of reproductive age use the Pill, including more than a third of older teenagers. The Danish research team who carried out the study found that an astonishing 23% of women taking the Pill were more likely to suffer depression. In fact, this figure is as high as 40% in the first few months after starting the Pill. It also found that the risk of depression was magnified the younger they were.
Interestingly, Ojvind Lidegaard of the University of Copenhagen, who led the study, said that: “I’ve seen couples who have been close to divorce and then removed hormonal contraception and the marriage recovered.”
It would appear that pressure is continuing to mount on governments and the giant pharmaceutical companies who produce contraceptives in terms of the clear dangers posed by taking the contraceptive pill. Increased blood pressure and blood clots are among the most serious risks associated with taking the Pill, and this was never more tragically evident than in the case of Fallan Kurek, a 21 year old teaching assistant from Tamworth. Miss Kurek died in May 2015 after suffering two cardiac arrests from a massive pulmonary embolism on her lung. The coroner concluded that Miss Kurek’s death was as a result of her taking the contraceptive pill.
The dangers of the Pill are evident and many have also claimed that it can cause breast cancer.
I suspect that if any other drug was known to cause depression, increased blood pressure, blood clots, and even death, there would be an immediate cessation of prescribing or selling the dangerous drug. You would expect governments to put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate and indisputable evidence that there was no serious risk to health, and to ensure that only drugs that were safe were made available to people. It is wrong to allow for the continued use of hazardous drugs that could result in serious health consequences, including death, for those who take them.
|Posted on September 27, 2016 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
Pope Francis has spoken openly about his support for the Mexican bishops who, along with millions of people, have taken to the streets to protest against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the serious threat it poses to family life.
The pope said: “I am very happy to associate myself with the bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favour of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”
|Posted on September 27, 2016 at 9:07 AM||comments (0)|
George Weigel, the Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has claimed that democracy is likely to become brittle, crack and fail unless society consists of “men and women committed to the dignity of the human person as the first principle of just governance and dedicated to the pursuit of the common good.”
Weigel, in response to the assertion that those who believe that truths about the human person and human community are essential to democracy are actually on an authoritarian mission, says: “it is the radical moral relativists for whom there is no “truth,” but only expressions of personal preference and will, who are busily enforcing their judgments on society in the name of “tolerance”.”
At 7pm on Tuesday October 4th, George Weigel is speaking at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh on the topic of "Converting the Culture: The New Evangelisation and the Future of the West”.
Read the full article in The Scotsman here: http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/is-faith-the-missing-ingredient-that-can-make-western-democracy-work-1-4240413
|Posted on September 19, 2016 at 4:34 AM||comments (0)|
Walking through the centre of Edinburgh last week I was struck by a large crowd gathered on the pavement. As I approached I noticed that the crowd, made up mostly of tourists, were gawping at a rather large, impressive owl that was perched on its keeper’s arm.
The crowd pointed, smiled, laughed and took a vast amount of photographs with their mobile phones and state-of-the-art digital cameras. It was all very pleasing to the owl’s keeper who must have been licking his lips at the prospect of a bumper pay day should even a fraction of those gathered be brave enough to get up close and personal with the beautiful feathered creature and let it sit on their arm.
And as I got closer to the scene I noticed that there was something else sitting in the corner, propped up against the wall of one of the buildings. It sat just to the left of the man holding the owl. It was nothing remarkable; at least it was unremarkable in the sense that the crowd didn’t seem particularly bothered by it. It just sat there, motionless. That ‘it’ was a beggar.
I was amazed at how helpless this man looked set against this excited and comparatively wealthy crowd of people straining to catch a glimpse of an owl. He sought and drew no attention whatsoever and he may as well have been invisible for all the owl mob cared. But for my own respect for the gentleman beggar I would have been tempted to take a photograph of the scene to highlight just how preposterous it all looked.
It's a sad day when an owl is deemed more interesting, more important and more deserving than a poor, helpless human being stuck in the gutter.
|Posted on September 2, 2016 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
The Archdiocese of Glasgow appears to be reaping the rewards of a fresh new drive for vocations to the priesthood. The September edition of Flourish, the Archdiocese’s journal, has highlighted the increasing popularity of monthly evenings of discernment hosted by Father Ross Campbell, who is the Archdiocese’s vocations director and Catholic chaplain to the University of Glasgow.
Six men have already signed up for the first evening of discernment taking place on Friday 14 October and it is hoped that more will join. The evenings of discernment usually take place on the second Friday of each month and are designed to allow men to take a “gentle, first step into the waters of the priesthood, without any initial firm commitment.”
We must pray that these men, and hopefully many more, will respond positively to God’s call for them to be shepherds of His people.
For more details of these evenings of discernment please contact Fr Ross Campbell at [email protected] or call 0141 339 4315.
|Posted on August 18, 2016 at 2:33 PM||comments (0)|
‘Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him “Sir, will there be only a few saved?” He said to them, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, may will try to enter and will not succeed”’
This year the pass rate for Higher Grades in Scotland was 77.2%. The chances of winning the UK National Lottery is 1 in 45 million. As humans, we love statistics and take comfort in them. They help us feel like we know where we stand, what the likelihood is that we will succeed and fail. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is asked a seemingly straightforward question: what is the success rate of people getting to Heaven? Wouldn’t it be great to know the answer to that question? Knowing the exact proportion of people who ‘make it’ might just give us the comfort we need to know that our future rests with God. But the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, does not give an easy answer to the question posed to him as he makes his way to Jerusalem. Instead he uses it as a training opportunity; his message seems to be that we should not compare ourselves with others, and that we should focus and strive for the Kingdom, aiming for the narrow door. We may tremble at the seemingly harsh and sobering reply Jesus gives; and so perhaps we should. But a healthy fear of the Lord is important and a great virtue. We can also take comfort in today’s second reading:
‘My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when He reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones He loves and He punishes all those that He acknowledges as His sons”’
It would do no good for an athlete to know the statistical chances of obtaining a gold medal in his or her sport, but instead a good coach would push them hard to reach that top prize regardless of statistics. Similarly, we need the same push to win the greatest prize of all. We should not fall into despair and resign ourselves to being one of those locked out of the Kingdom, and we should not doubt God’s unfathomable mercy. But neither should we grow complacent and lazily take our salvation for granted. Jesus shows us the narrow door. He is the way we must follow, bearing our crosses and sufferings as He did, using them to shape us into saints, and all for God’s glory.