Friday, April 24, 2015

Michael Voris: How to Get Into Heaven

This is a good followup to yesterday's discussion on Pope Francis and his martyrdom of ecumenism. Michael Voris of Church Militant TV devoted a Vortex episode to the issue of what is necessary to get into Heaven. His argument is simple.

  • what is necessary is to die in a state of grace, and not in mortal sin
  • the Church provides the normal means for staying in a state of grace, i.e. confession
  • without confession (available only to Catholics) one is stuck in one's sins barring some extraordinary avenue, such as a perfect act of contrition
  • therefore, while being Catholic is not required to get into Heaven, as a practical matter it is extremely unlikely for a non-Catholic to die in a state of grace

Raising the hypothetical question of the good Protestant's salvation, it is "moot," as far as the Church goes. It is not whether he died outside or inside the Church, but whether he died in a state of grace. He closed by saying salvation comes "through" the Church, which is quite different from saying one must be "in" the Church.

Now, Mr. Voris may be correct, and probably is, as far as he goes. It seems to the Bear, however, to be a bit legalistic, and ignores the dimension of "belonging:" belonging to the body of Christ; attachment to the true, nourishing vine.

It also skirts the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) -- there is no salvation outside the Church. Popes and councils have declared this, and the Fathers have taught it. To raise it today is to be accused of Feenyism. Yet the historical fact of these infallible teachings is a big, embarrassing, stumbling block. They are not couched in Mr. Voris' terms of practical benefit, but of being in, of belonging.

Now the Bear doesn't know what to think because no one will face up to the facts. He suspects EENS can neither be swallowed nor spat out. It cannot be swallowed because it is incompatible with ecumenism and interfaith activity. It is contrary to the whole drift of the age. It cannot be spat out because that would be admitting the Church was wrong about an infallible dogma.

So the whole matter is safely left to the occasional Bear with an interest in historical curiosities.

Mr. Voris's argument is appealing and easy to follow, but is it the whole story?

This is one of the the hardest questions Catholics ponder. For converts, especially, it can be very painful, for if it is necessary to be in the Catholic Church to be saved, what is there to say about dear relatives who rejected, whether out of prejudice or laziness, our invitations to investigate the Church?

This would not be a profitable topic for discussion but for its practical impact. To the extent we believe the Church is not necessary for salvation, we slide into indifferentism and universalism. The evangelical spirit has been all but snuffed on account of these twin heresies. Getting people inside the Church matters.

The Bear is not accusing Mr. Voris of being wrong. Perhaps the Bear is drawing a distinction without a difference. We both acknowledge that, one way or another,  the Catholic Church is the ordinary means of salvation. It is hard enough for us to be saved with all the assistance of the Church. May God have mercy on the souls of those who perish outside of it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Church of Everybody -- But You

The natural response to the killings by by Muslim terrorists is sympathy for the victims. No one of the victims is more or less valuable than another. Even so, what are we, as Catholics, to make of Pope Francis making no distinction between Catholics and non-Catholics in his "ecumenism of blood?" Granted, drawing fine distinctions would be awkward in a sympathy message, but, as Pope Francis surely realizes by now, he always speaks as the Pope. His words mean something.

Aside from the natural sentimentality these killings generate, what is the truth? God either cares whether you die a Catholic or not, right? The Church has had some pretty strong opinions on that topic in the past. Are we permitted to slide right by those teachings without formalities? (Why, of course non-Catholic victims don't get treated any differently!)

When the doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus was being pronounced, when the Church grappled with heretics in desperate combat across the known world, when it sent missionaries to a new, and unknown world: were these things all a waste of time? Was the Church wrong in its exclusivity of membership and possession of truth?

If everyone were wrong in those days, at least they were clear in their error. Today we must interpret the Delphic utterances of Pope Francis every day or so to get some sense for what the Church now teaches. There seems to be a super-dogma of inclusiveness that is quietly erasing all differences. It is becoming the perfect 21st century religion. Nice. Open-armed without reservation. Tame. In firm solidarity with the one world vision. No polite lie is too big to swallow. Allah? Why, what do you know, we worship him, too!

In Lumen Gentium, Vatican II showed the way. Every group -- except lapsed Catholics -- had its own exception into Heaven, even atheists. A mania for ecumenism and interfaith activity illustrated the awful Sunday songs about all of us being pilgrims, traveling hand-in-hand to the Promised Land. Fast-forward fifty years, and who can now even question whether non-Catholics are saved? Not because any doctrine was changed, but, well, just because.

The super-dogma of inclusiveness was not invented by Pope Francis, but he has made it his trademark. Communion for the divorced and remarried? If you get a phone call from the Pope, no problem. Homosexuals? Who am I to judge? Protestants? There's no need for them to convert. Perhaps "there is a reasonable hope that all may be saved," as the new apostles of universalism coyly suggest. The ultimate inclusiveness: everybody goes to Heaven.

The thing that most bothers the Bear is the way they're just sneaking all this by under the cover of novel assumptions. There is no debate, or, when there is, as we saw in the Synod on the Family, it is a bully-and-fake job.

So do you need to be Catholic to be saved? It doesn't look like it, but the Bear isn't sure.

And what an astonishing admission for a Catholic to have to make.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Green Bartholomew, Green Francis

Nobody carries a bigger moral stick on the world stage than Pope Francis. (Take that, Dalai Lama!)
And he's going to give climate change a fig leaf of moral legitimacy to make up for its lack of scientific persuasiveness.

But before Francis, and his soon-to-be-released ecocyclical, there was His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church, the "Green Patriarch." The Patriarchate has been stirring the complex witch's brew of environmentalism since the mid-80s. Since his election in 1991, Bartholomew has made a name for himself as a globe-trotting apostle of green.

In 1995, at a symposium called by Bartholomew and Prince Phillip, Bartholomew, after quoting the book of Revelation, said this: "The Earth has been hurt. Conscious of the threat of nuclear destruction and environmental pollution, we shall move toward one world, or none."

In 2002, the fourth in the series of symposia was held under Bartholomew and the President of the European Commission focusing on the Adriatic Sea. (The Commission is the executive body of the European Union.) At its conclusion, Bartholomew and Pope John Paul II co-signed "The Venice Declaration" on environmental ethics.

In 2009 a symposium on the Mississippi River concluded the man-made changes to the river threatened not only human and natural consequences, but democracy itself.

In November, 1997, at Santa Barbara, Bartholomew declared: "To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin." According to an article on the official website of the Patriarch, his approach to the environment is marked by humility. "He recognizes that he is standing before something greater than himself, the world before which he must kneel."

"That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." Philippians 2:10. Also John 16:11. "And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged." (Just a reminder.)

Now pay attention to how the green movement spreads as fast as kudzu to cover familiar leftist territory. This is what the Green movement is really about.

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch is aware that environmental issues are intimately connected to and dependent on numerous other social justice issues of our times including war and peace, justice and human rights, poverty and unemployment. It is not by chance that the term "eco-justice" has been used in religious circles to describe this interconnection between creation and creatures, between the world and its inhabitants. We have, in recent years, become increasingly aware of the effects of environmental degradation on people, and especially the poor.

Surely someone can work gun control into eco-justice! The Green movement is more ambitious than just curbing pollution and saving the rainforests.

Here's a theory; you can take it for what it's worth. The less relevant Christianity becomes, the more major Christian institutions will align themselves with worldly causes. The world realizes it can use the moral weight of a Pope Francis. And is it possible a pope might realize he needs the world to give the Church a purpose? A seat at the table, if you will? After all, the Church is through with its old mission of evangelization. But there is plenty of work to be done hand in green hand with Caesar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, April 22, 2015!

The story of its self-proclaimed founder is one you may not have heard. It is not one of the Bear's tall tales.

Ira Einhorn called himself "Unicorn," and went about in typical hippie fashion, with a beard and tie-dyed shirt. He was for free love and against the Vietnam War. On April 22, 1970, he was the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day rally, in Philadelphia. Although others have since distanced the day from Einhorn (for reasons which will soon become apparent), Einhorn has always maintained that he is the founder of Earth Day.

Seven years after the first event, Einhorn's girlfriend disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Einhorn maintained she had gone to the neighborhood coop to buy some bean sprouts and tofu and never come back. When his downstairs neighbors reported a foul-smelling liquid dripping from their ceiling, police obtained a warrant, and discovered the partially mummified (some reports say "composted") remains of Einhorn's girlfriend in his apartment.

He bounced around Europe for 23 years before being brought to justice, eventually offering the defense at trial that he had been framed by the CIA because he knew too much about the agency's paranormal programs.

Usually green apostles sound like they think human beings are the problem. While it only makes sense to do what we reasonably can to protect the the outdoors that is important for many reasons, it's crazy to view humans as the enemy. And remember, this is coming from a bear.