Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Birds of a Feather" Book Scandal Rocks Vatican

If you have no idea what the Bear means by "Egg-gate," you should probably read this first.

The author of a children's book advocating race separation has revealed a letter from the Vatican which seems to signal Pope Francis' approval.

Dirk Waldmark showed the letter, signed on behalf of the Pope by a high-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, Peter B. Wells, to reporters on Monday. Waldmark has been embroiled in controversy since the Mayor of Philadelphia banned his children's book, "Birds of a Feather," from public libraries in his city in June.

The letter says, in part:
His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values.
Waldmark had sent to Pope Francis copies of a number of his children's books, seven or eight of which deal explicitly with race. They included, "Uncle Adolph," a sympathetic portrait of Hitler through the eyes of his niece; "Ride Forrest, Ride," which tells the story of former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest's founding of the Ku Klux Klan; and "Birds of a Feather."

In "Birds of a Feather," a cardinal named "Little Red" has encounters with families of robins, bluebirds, and other birds, including black birds. The theme of the book is that just as birds of the same type mate and raise young, so people should marry members of their same race.

Waldmark's letter to Pope Francis asked the "whole hierarchy of the Church" to get behind his books.

Waldmark found an  unlikely ally in the American Civil Liberties Union, which objected to "censorship or banning on the basis of content, no matter how distasteful we may find it." However, the controversy escalated when First Lady Michelle Obama called the book "racist and horrible."

The Vatican Press Office was quick to issue a terse statement in response to Waldmark's revelation. "In no way does the letter from the Secretariat of State mean to endorse behaviour and teachings not in line with the Gospel." It also said the letter from the Secretariat in Pope Francis' name was supposed to be private.


The above, of course, slightly changes the facts of Egg-gate to make a point. Dirk Waldmark is fictional, his books (thankfully) are not in print, and the Vatican never commented on that matter. The Bear cast the issue in terms of race, rather than homosexuality, to provide the sense of a supernatural perspective to those who might lack one, and to demonstrate what a fiasco the scandal really is.

In the scale of worldly norms, racism is considered far worse an offense than homosexuality, which is tolerated if not actually celebrated. 

In the Bear's little tale, would people shrug off a letter in the Pope's name sent by his Secretariat of State blandly encouraging an author of racist books? Would the response by the Vatican Press Office be considered sufficient? (If you really want to blow your mind, set this in Pope Benedict's reign!)

Of course not. Pope Francis himself would have to gather reporters, lecture everyone on the evils of racism, utterly disavow any knowledge of the deed, and remove Peter Wells from his position.

The reason people are accepting the official narrative in Egg-gate is not because it is compelling, but because even if the Pope told Wells to send the letter it's no big deal. It would not be a violation of the secular norms and priorities we associate with this papacy. 

The Bear sees Egg-gate in the shocking light that most people would see his fictional "Bird-gate." What the Vatican did is unthinkable, the response of its Press Office is insulting, and the silence of the Pope is disappointing, but, sadly, not surprising.

The Bear will entertain no criticism that he is somehow equating one thing to another. He's not. He is simply translating the scandal into terms understandable by most people.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

More on Egg-Gate: The Gay Storybook and the Pope

In the interests of good journalism, the Bear wouldn't write anything at all. But we're way beyond that by now, woodland creatures. So here is a consolidation of information scattered through the Bear's previous story and comments on the apparent endorsement by Pope Francis of a children's book promoting homosexuality.

It all started in June, when the new mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, banned 49 books from the city's preschool libraries. After a major controversy erupted, he rescinded the ban on all but two books, one of which was Piccolo Uovo.

Gay Penguins, Lesbian Rabbits, and a Rainbow

Piccolo Uovo, or "Little Egg," is a children's book written by Francesca Pardi. Among the fans of the book is gay pop icon Elton John, who, along with his male partner, have obtained two little boys, four-year-old Zachary and two-year-old Elijah. The book-banning became an international incident when Sir Elton blasted Brugnaro in the press. He described Piccolo Uovo this way:
Here is one of the Furnish-John family's favourite storybooks. It champions an all-inclusive world where families come in all shape, sizes and colours. And most importantly, that families are about love. Our boys adore it.
Piccolo Uovo also champions families headed by gay penguins and lesbian rabbits.

It is important to note that this whole situation unfolded against the backdrop of a high-profile controversy. There is every reason to believe the Vatican was aware of this controversy. As we shall see, the Vatican had in its possession pro-homosexual books by the author sent by the author herself. The point to remember is that the response by the Vatican was done with eyes wide open.

At some point, the author of the book, Francesca Pardi, sent an unknown number of copies of her books to Pope Francis. They included seven or eight books expressly dealing with homosexual issues. Accompanying them was a plaintive letter that Pardi showed to a reporter from The Guardian. According to that newspaper, her letter included the following plea:
Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us,” she wrote. “We have respect for Catholics ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?
Pardi was surprised to hear back from the Vatican.  In a letter dated July 9, Msgr. Peter B. Wells, a senior official in the Vatican secretariat, wrote back on behalf of the Pope. It said:
His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values.
Msgr. Wells, an American, was appointed to his position by Pope Benedict. According to Vatican-watcher John Allen, Wells is far more than an ordinary functionary. He is a bellwether of Vatican opinion and a man of significant influence. In 2013, Allen wrote this in the National Catholic Reporter of Wells.
Cables revealed as part of the Wikileaks scandal show how much diplomats rely on Wells for readings of the Vatican's take on sensitive issues, such as the church's sexual abuse scandals. Other players know the score, too. In 2010, when parishioners in Boston wanted to appeal the closing of nine local parishes, they consulted a couple of canon lawyers about the best way to get the pope's attention, and the reply was to address the petition to Wells.
Msgr. Wells seems like the last fellow to do something that did not reflect the Pope's sentiments.

After the Guardian story broke on Friday, the Vatican Press Office issued issued a terse statement which placed responsibility for the letter squarely on Msgr. Wells. It did not mention homosexuality specifically, but explained the letter was not meant to endorse anything "not in line with the Gospel." "In no way does the letter from the Secretariat of State mean to endorse behaviour and teachings not in line with the Gospel."

The letter from Wells to Pardi on behalf of Pope Francis was also supposed to private.

The emerging narrative is that this was merely a polite, routine letter to an author of children's books. The problem with this is that it completely ignores the context, which in this case, is everything.


So what happened?

First of all, note that Pardi's letter discusses the controversy and expressly asks for support of "the whole hierarchy of the Church." In other words, she is asking the Pope -- to whom she sent the letter and the books -- to take her side in the controversy. And that's exactly what she got, albeit in very careful language.

Second, the letter on behalf of the Pope speaks for itself. How the Vatican Press Office imagines one can praise an author for children's books that favor homosexuality and yet not endorse "behavior and teachings not in line with Gospel," is quite the mystery. Clearly, this is damage control to shift the blame to Wells and backtrack when the Guardian made the papal endorsement public. lt seems to have worked. The accepted narrative is that this was just a routine, polite letter to an author of children's books, and the Pope had nothing to do with it.

Yet Wells obviously felt he had the authority to speak on behalf of Pope Francis on a well-known controversy involving a children's book featuring gay penguins.  It would take a real Vaticanista to know if Wells would do that without the Pope's knowledge, but it seems unlikely to the Bear. If this had been some under-the-radar thing, the Vatican might plead ignorance. This was a matter of controversy, however, as shown by the public record, Pardi's letter and the books she sent.

It is interesting to consider once again John Allen's assessment of Wells. "[D]iplomats rely on Wells for readings of the Vatican's take on sensitive issues." This is a man acutely sensitive to his boss's positions. How likely is it that Wells misread Pope Francis on the controversial book?

Well's letter is admittedly pretty generic. (Query: does praise for spreading "genuine human and Christian values" seem odd coming from the Vatican?) Even so, it is blandly encouraging to an author who writes storybooks on lesbian rabbits for children. This is really the bottom line.

As the Bear asked in the previous story, what would it take to get Msgr. Wells, on behalf of the Pope, to encourage the aggressively orthodox Catholicism contained in this blog? The sun standing still comes to mind, but probably not even that. And yet Francesca Pardi gets an attagirl from Pope Francis for writing Elton John's and David Furnish's favorite gay storybook.

This might be dismissed as an aberration were it not for Pope Francis' -- and indeed most of the hierarchy's -- famous tolerance for sexual deviance. This is the "Who am I to Judge" papacy, the "Bravo!" Church. Pope Francis' priorities do not include teaching on the evils of abortion, homosexuality and contraception. He is a "son of the Church," but finds "it is not necessary to talk of these issues all the time." Or, as it turns out, any of the time.

This is not gratuitous criticism of the Pope. It recalls the context which makes it seem plausible that Pope Francis told Wells to "send a nice letter to the lady who writes about love and acceptance for children with gay parents." So whatever the details of this scandal, in a real sense, Pope Francis owns it.

John the Baptist: Martyr of Marriage

Today we celebrate the martyrdom of John the Baptist. John was a popular and influential preacher. His death came as a result of his condemnation of the marriage of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch who ruled in Galilee, to Herodias.

Herodias had been married to Herod's brother Herod II, and they had a daughter, Salome. Herod II divorced Herodias. She then married Herod II's brother, Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas had divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of the Nabatean king, in favor of Herodias.

Into this story of domestic affairs and international intrigue stepped John the Baptist, who condemned the whole sorry mess.

Apparently, Herodias seethed, but her husband, Herod Antipas both feared executing John, and enjoyed his preaching.

For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. (Mark 6:18-20)

We find a similar case in the life of St. Corbinian, the first bishop of Freising (Bavaria), and notable bear-tamer. The local warlord Grimoald was married to his brother's widow, Biltrudis. When St. Corbinian condemned the union, it was Biltrudis whose hatred knew no bounds, and who tried to have the saint killed.

You are no doubt familiar with the story leading up to John's beheading. Herod Antipas' niece, Salome, about whom we know next to nothing, performed a dance for her uncle/step-father after obtaining an extravagant promise of reward. When, prompted by her mother, Herodias, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, Herod lacked the backbone to refuse.

The martyrdom of John the Baptist has been unfortunately eroticized by Victorian museum cheesecake. A 17th Century painting by Carlo Dolci captures the pathos of Salome as pitiful pawn, instead of a half-naked, leering Lolita.

Caravaggio captures the emotionally-charged scene. The disgusted executioner places John the Baptist's head on the platter, held by Salome. She cannot bring herself to look. Is that Herod gazing down at John's head?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pope Praises Homosexual Book for Young Children

[Update: various pieces of information contained in this article, its update and comments have been pulled together in a more organized fashion, including more complete analysis here.]

The Holy Father has sent a letter praising Francesca Pardi for a children's book in which an egg encounters all sorts of different families, including those headed by gay penguins and lesbian rabbits. The controversial book, which was banned in Venice, touched hearts at the Vatican. According to an article in The Guardian, the letter said:

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state.

This is what John Allen wrote in the National Catholic Reporter of the appointee of Pope Benedict:

Cables revealed as part of the Wikileaks scandal show how much diplomats rely on Wells for readings of the Vatican's take on sensitive issues, such as the church's sexual abuse scandals. Other players know the score, too. In 2010, when parishioners in Boston wanted to appeal the closing of nine local parishes, they consulted a couple of canon lawyers about the best way to get the pope's attention, and the reply was to address the petition to Wells.

Msgr. Wells
Wells, an American, is known as the guy whose ear you want when you want the Pope's ear. He is not some low-level functionary.

The Bear will say this, after taking a deep breath. In all charity, obviously, this was not the doings of Pope Francis. The Vatican Secretariat of State may have its own agenda. People are always taking advantage of poor Holy Father, by shoving anti-fracking T-shirts or commiefixes into his hands, or misquoting him, or making up stories about phone calls they supposedly received from him.

This is a boilerplate letter, and the Pope probably never even saw the book. (The author apparently submitted her entire oeuvre, including seven or eight dealing with homosexual issues, along with a plaintive letter.)

How does the Bear know Pope Francis is innocent?

Because not even Pope Francis would approve of a book for young, impressionable children promoting homosexuality. Only a flat-out homosexual activist would abuse his position for such a purpose. This would constitute material assistance -- through his endorsement -- for a book even secular authorities found repulsive, a book that promotes homosexuality and same-sex unions to young children. "Woe to those who do; woe, woe to those who approve."

Also, if he had, Michael Voris would have done a Vortex about it. Because if there's one thing Michael Voris hates, it's bishops who approve of homosexuality.

The Bear predicts that within 48 hours, we will see a retraction from the Vatican. And thus shall we know that the problem we have at Santa Marta is not a horror beyond all imagining.

UPDATE: Friday, the Vatican Press Office said: "In no way does the letter from the Secretariat of State mean to endorse behaviour and teachings not in line with the Gospel." Oh, and it was supposed to be private. (The Bear isn't some big shot diplomat, but if you decide to weigh in on a controversy Elton John has thrown a hissy fit about, chances are the aggrieved author is not going to keep a papal endorsement letter private. Just a hint for future reference, gentlemen.)

Well, there you go! This:

His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,”

in reference to books promoting homosexuality to children is clearly not "endorsing" their content! What do you think the Bear's chances are of getting Msgr. Wells to issue a similar statement on behalf of the Pope regarding this blog?

"Bear, His holiness is grateful for your tireless ursine activity in the service of the Church, and the spread of genuine Bearish and Christian values."

Nah. If the Bear were aiming at first-graders to teach them what a great thing it was for homosexuals to co-habitate and obtain children was, he might have a chance.

Luther Square Welcomed by Vatican

Luther Death-Mask
As many of you will no doubt have learned, the city of Rome is naming a square in honor of 16th century heresiarch Martin Luther. The Bear suspects Luther is otherwise occupied to give the matter his attention, but the Vatican has taken note.

The move was started by a request six years ago from the Seventh-Day Adventists, a bizarre and aggressive cult that even other Protestants don't have anything to do with. (The Bear has noticed they are pushing their junk on the internet, including relatively well-produced and completely wacky religious documentaries.)

Luther himself, the article notes, said, "If there is a Hell, Rome is built over it." Its origin suggests that is is not an ecumenical reach-out, but can only be regarded as a provocation.

According to Religion News Service the Vatican, to absolutely no one's surprise, is fine with the move.

Despite Luther being thrown out of the Catholic Church during his lifetime, the Vatican reacted positively to news of the square’s upcoming inauguration. “It’s a decision taken by Rome city hall which is favorable to Catholics in that it’s in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council,” said the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Vatican press office, referring to a gathering of churchmen to rule on faith matters.

Luther was a troubled, undisciplined, crude, sensual, political opportunist known for experiencing revelations in the privy and throwing his inkpot at an appearance of the Devil. He was not a first-rate thinker. He devised a theology which gave him some relief from his fear of Hell by teaching that "works" -- by which he imagined everything, good or bad, a person might do -- didn't figure into judgment. Sola fide, sola scriptura. His legacy is the disaster called Protestantism.

Now, the Bear must say that his Lutheran friends seem to have somehow risen above the worst of their founder, although they still retain many of his errors.

For some reason, the Church felt compelled to try to make an accommodation with Lutheranism. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation published a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999. Typically, of 124 Lutheran bodies, 35 refused to approve of the mess, which means many Lutherans have more sense than some Catholics. We can probably agree that God does not save us by any merit on our part.

By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.

Joint Declaration, 15.

But the Bear can't understand the Joint Declaration completely. It is one of those confusing compromise documents with which the Church has been all too familiar since Vatican II. For example, Lutherans do not believe man cooperates with grace. According to the Joint Declaration, turns out Catholics don't really either. The "cooperation" is a consent that is itself the product of grace, rather than anything attributable to man.

The council of Trent's Decree on Justification said this in Canon 4:

If anyone says that man's free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God's call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.

There are subtle, but important distinctions here. The Bear's sensitive nose smells heresy. There are so many reservations and qualifications, however, it is hard to say exactly what Catholics and Lutherans have agreed on. Nor should we care. The Council of Trent was unambiguous in dealing with Luther and his heresies.

But the Bear has digressed. The point is that the Church covets a rapprochement with the Lutherans, and we should be happy it wasn't St. Peter's square they renamed for Martin Luther.

We're only two years away from the 500th anniversary of Luther's Reformation. Brace yourselves for blizzards of sniveling nonsense out of the Vatican.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Badger's Brilliant Idea

UPDATE: the "Badger Line" has been expanded to include requested items that have the Bear Patch design somewhat smaller and on the left side of tops. It's not exactly what was requested, maybe, but take a look at these and other new items. Unfortunately, the Bear can only provide the artwork. CafePress has their own items that are produced according to a set pattern that the Bear cannot alter. There is one more line coming: "Rugiemus Quasi Ursi Omnes" (We All Growl Like Bears). It will definitely include baby items. Still thinking about the design.

Badger wanted the Bear Patch on her Bear Gear. Mission accomplished. It looks very nice on the items, if the Bear says so for himself. This is the very same Bear that appears on the coat-of-arms of the Archbishop of Freising and Munich, and appeared on the coat-of-arms of Pope Benedict XVI. (A severed Turk's head also appeared.) Whoever displays this emblem is authorized to snuffle out heresy and (once per month) roar like a Bear at his or her complete discretion.

The inventory will be tweaked over the next day or so, but you can already see much of our new "Badger Line" of premium swag at the store.

The Synod on the Family and St. Monica

The biggest problems in families today, from a truly Catholic point of view, are not the pathologies of divorce or homosexual unions with which our bishops seem so fascinated. It is the heartbreak of sons and daughters walking away from a Church that no longer offers a supernatural outlook. The Bear proposes that it is the rare reader of this blog, among readers with a few children, that has not wept with St. Monica over a lost child.

Our children aren't bad people. But something about the Church no longer holds them. It lacks a confidence, a distinction from the world around it, a sense of mission. The Bride of Christ has had a microphone and script thrust in front of her and now makes low-budget infomercials about global warming.

The Bear supposes it is too much to ask for the bishops to address the problems of ordinary Catholics.

St. Monica's life is celebrated today. She died in 387 at the age of 56. Her story is linked with her more famous son, St. Augustine.

St. Monica
St. Monica was a Christian, but her husband was not. In fact, tradition says he was a man of very poor character and unfaithful to her, although he was converted by the aid of her good example. Yet her son, Augustine, grieved her because he resisted Christianity for many years.

But God did not resist a mother's tears. St. Augustine finally converted in 386. St. Monica got to see the realization of her heart's desire before she died.

St. Monica's intercession is sought for the conversion of loved ones, and she provides an enduring example of patience and persistence in prayer. She reminds us that patience, prayer and a good example are better than harangues.

Prayer to St. Monica

Dear St. Monica,
troubled wife and mother,
many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
you prayed daily for the conversion
of your beloved husband, Patricius,
and your beloved son, Augustine;
your prayers were answered.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience,
and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
that God may favorably hear my plea for

(Mention your intention here.)

and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.


Thanks to those who have visited the Bear's Shop and purchased Bear Gear. It's nice to know people are enjoying themselves here enough to share the Bear with no doubt bewildered friends and family. The Bear can't help but notice that no one has purchased Bear Pajamas. For the record, the Bear never wanted those offered, but Red Death, his former driver, bodyguard and factotum, a.k.a. The Shepherdess, insisted. The Bear finds something vaguely creepy about the idea.

FYI CafePress is having a 20% off sale right now! Code 20SUMMER. (That's not my doing, so please don't feel bad that the Bear didn't discount your order.)

Also, a big thanks to donors. You guys make a difference. Moreover, the Bear feels like he must be doing something right when people throw fish at him. (There is a PayPal donation button in the right-hand column, where all sorts of interesting things are going on anyway.)

Another group of people who are important to the Bear are his commenters. The Bear puts literally minutes into this slapdash disgrace of a blog. The comments redeem the effort by providing people with something intelligent to read, and provide hours of fun to the Bear. Being a Bear, his opportunities for social interaction are limited to watching people run away. So thanks for adding your two cents.

(The Bear does not have picnics with paper cut-out people with screen names scrawled on them in crayon. He wants to put THAT rumor to rest right now.)

Thanks to everyone who voted NO on the question of whether "the man behind the Bear" would be revealed. The result was overwhelming. It would have been awkward since there is no "man behind the Bear." There is only the Bear.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Goat Watch

Holly at the Blessing of the Animals.
Dig the groovy stole! (Souvenir from Latin America trip.)

Holly is a very mysterious goat.

The Shepherdess thinks she should have given birth weeks ago. Yet each day goes from dawn to sunset without a baby, nor does the next dawn add to the herd.

Please, God, send us a doeling, and not a buckling. The males do us no good except on the table. We have all the males we need to keep the herd going and then some.

We haven't eaten any of our goats yet. But we might. No, we will. Unless we get a girl.


This time we mean it.

Connecting the Dots

You may remember the children's activity in which a little boy, or girl, would draw lines connecting a sequence of dots, revealing a picture that otherwise could not be easily seen. As grownups we often say we "connect the dots" when we understand the relationship among factors that result in a particular situation.

There are a lot of "dots" in the Catholic Church. The dots stretch back into the past, and new ones appear every day. The picture they form is so vast it would take more patience than that of a Bear to reveal the whole thing. Certainly, today, the name we could place beneath that picture would be "Modernism."

The image revealed when just one section of dots are connected, however, can be instructive.

The Bear just wrote about a brand new poll that reveals the dismal state of the Catholic Church in America. Seventy-three percent of U.S. Catholics want something done about global warming. Thirty-eight percent "know" Pope Francis is in favor of homosexual marriage. Perhaps worst of all, 51% are in favor of abortion in all or most cases. Those who did the survey said, "On many important issues of the day, the opinions of Catholics overall do not differ appreciably from the general public."

What do the sheep hear from their Church, though? Socialism, open borders, and global warming. Ecumenism, gun control and tolerance.

What do the sheep hear about abortion? "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible," he said. "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." Pope Francis said that. 

So, the faithful hear a deafening, blasphemous nothing about abortion. The watchmen stand on the walls and watch the slaughter of innocents below, and say nothing.

So the sheep don't hear about abortion. They don't hear about why homosexual marriage is wrong, or why contraception is wrong. With all due respect to the Holy Father it is necessary to talk about these issues all the time. It is necessary for the same reason Pope Francis, and our U.S. bishops and priests talk about ecumenism all the time, and social justice all the time, and global warming all the time. Why? Because our clerics constantly drum into us the things that are important to them, the things that they want us to retain.

Imagine a Church where the faithful were actually instructed, in season and out of season, from high and low, from the lengthiest encyclical to the most humble homily in the smallest church -- instructed in the things of God.

The Bear happens to have just written about another poll, from 2011. It disclosed that less than half of U.S. Catholics know and believe the Church's signature teaching that the bread and wine become the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord at Mass. They don't know because priests are giving homilies on ecumenism, or immigration, or global warming.

When Pope Francis was faced with the stark opportunity -- no, demand -- that he preach on the reality of transubstantiation, during the last two Sundays when the Gospel was from John 6, he refused. (This is the famous Bread of Life Discourse.) Instead he hemmed and hawed, danced around the topic, talked about a "walk," and "a journey," and gave a Protestant explanation that the "flesh" Jesus was talking about was his sacrifice on the cross!

Once again, if Church leaders conspire to withhold the truth from Catholics, we should not be astonished when Catholics don't know the truth. 

We don't get much into politics here. But the Church in America has become the Democrat Party with fancier outfits. And most Catholics are just fine with that. No wonder so many have realized they don't need the Church to be a good Democrat, and have left altogether.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Poll: Catholics As Dumb and Wicked as Rest of America

In addition to the dismal 2011 poll about Catholics' beliefs the Bear wrote about here, there is a new poll on the "Francis Effect" from Public Religion Research Institute.

Thirty-eight percent of American Catholics believe that Pope Francis is in favor of permitting homosexuals to marry.

On other topics, American Catholics believe the same as the nation at large. ("On many important issues of the day, the opinions of Catholics overall do not differ appreciably from the general public.") In other words, the Catholic Church in America is having little impact on shaping its members values. Or, alternatively, the Catholic Church is aligned with the world, and teaching the world's values.

  • 72% believe the government should reduce the gap between rich and poor
  • 73% believe the government should do something about global warming
  • 61% believe the government should provide immigration reform
  • 60% believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry
  • 65% oppose a religious liberty exemption for small businesses
  • 51% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases

That's right, 51% of Catholics are pro-abortion.

The Bear's readers are smart enough to draw their own conclusions.

What U.S. Catholics Believe About Transubstantiation

Why is it important to preach that the bread and wine really becomes the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

According to a 2011 National Catholic Reporter survey of U.S. Catholics:

  • 46% are "knowledgeable believers" who can state the Church's teaching and believe
  • 33% are "unknowing unbelievers" who don't know the Church's teaching, and don't believe
  • 17% are "unknowing believers" who believe wrongly that the Church teaches that the bread and wine remain symbols only, yet they believe in transubstantiation
  • 4% are "knowledgeable unbelievers" who know what the Church teaches and don't care

The story says:

The typical unknowing unbeliever, a third of adult Catholics, is more likely to be a white, Vatican II or post-Vatican II Catholic who lives in the Northeast and votes Democrat or independent (but not Republican). This type seldom or never attends Mass, seldom or never prays, and says they might consider leaving the church (although they still identify themselves as Catholic).

 (How you "identify" is the master key to all of life's mysteries, apparently.)

So, according to this survey, less than half of all U.S. Catholics know what the Church teaches and believe it. Luckily, the believers at least get boosted above half on account of mistaken Catholics who nevertheless believe.

So the Bear poses a rhetorical question. After hearing the Holy Father's last two addresses on John 6, which could fairly be called the Real Presence Discourse after all, are Catholics likely to understand and believe the Church's signature teaching? Or are they likely to be confused, misled and think it of no more importance than any of Pope Francis' other (with all due respect) bland, all-purpose "walking" and "journey" homilies?

The Eucharist will be the next battleground. Too many "problems" are connected to the fear of sacrilege that properly surrounds it. It's not pastoral to send people out of the communion line, and certainly not ecumenical. After all, "A little bread and wine does no harm," as Pope Francis is reported to have told the Argentine woman who had divorced and remarried.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pope Francis Misleads on Real Presence Again

The Gospel for this past Sunday might not be the ideal part of the Bread of Life Discourse to explain the signature Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence, the Bear thought. In fairness to Pope Francis, the Bear looked at the angelus message from the previous Sunday. After all, that reading, John 6:51-58, presents us squarely with eating Jesus' flesh and blood. Surely, the Pope would have to make a clear statement about what the Church teaches, and what is one of the main beliefs that separates Catholics from Protestants.

Not surprisingly, however, the Pope did nothing of the sort. Although he did mention "eating," and "assimilating," it was briefly, and in this context. "'Those who feed on Him and abide in Him through Holy Communion and faith,' he added, 'will see their lives transformed as a gift to God and to others.'"

Pope Francis insisted then, as he did during his most recent angelus message, that the "bread" relates not to the Eucharist, but to Jesus' death on the cross.

But Pope Francis explained that, “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the "sign" of the sacrifice that awaits him.” 

Interestingly, here is how a footnote from a popular Protestant study Bible, the English Standard Version, deals with v. 6:51. ("I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.") Since there is strong risk of confusion, what immediately follows is the Protestant explanation.

6:51 living bread. The "bread" Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus' death on the cross). Jesus' statement intermingles physical and spiritual truth. Jesus is not talking about literal "bread," but he is the true "living bread" in the sense that those who believe in him have their spiritual hunger satisfied. He becomes this spiritually satisfying "bread" by sacrificing his own physical body in his death on the cross, and in that sense he can say that this spiritual bread is my flesh.

Note the same misdirection by Pope Francis and the Protestant study Bible. Both identify Jesus' "bread" as his flesh on the cross.

  • Pope Francis: “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the "sign" of the sacrifice that awaits him.” 
  • Protestant study Bible note: "The "bread" Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus' death on the cross).

So, once again, Pope Francis avoids Catholic content and preaches a bland message to which few Protestants could object. Why is it too much for Catholics to hope for the Pope to boldly preach Catholic teaching? Is this just another manifestation of Pope Francis' reported words to the divorced and remarried woman he phoned in Argentina in 2014? ("A little bread and wine does no harm.")

The Pope further diluted understanding of the Real Presence by making this Protestant-like closing statement. In it, "He who eats this bread" is a metaphor for "living in communion with Jesus on this earth."

In conclusion, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words, "He who eats this bread will live forever".  He then explained that by living  in communion with Jesus on this earth we can look forward to the voice of the Risen Lord who calls us when we finally close our eyes.

To get a sense for what Catholics formerly believed, read the notes on the Bread of Life Discourse by Rev. George Leo Haydock, which have accompanied many editions of the Douay Rheims Bible.

When you compare then and now, you can literally see the Real Presence receding toward the graveyard of forgotten dogmas, where extra ecclesiam nulla salus lies buried. Whatever separates must fade away. Nothing official, it just stops getting mentioned. "Pastoral" reasons are given for behaving inconsistently with it. Then one day people look at you like you're crazy when you say, "hey, did you know that the Church used to say the bread and wine were actually the body and blood of Christ?"

What does the Pope believe? He believes it would be nice if Catholics and Protestants resolved their differences. On the basis of charity and the duty of filial respect, the Bear must assume Pope Francis believes in the Real Presence. Remember, in the Gospel, Peter did not walk away from the teaching, and Jesus.

But as a lawyer, the Bear wouldn't have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict him, on the basis of his statements, of such a belief.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pope Provides Protestant Explanation of John 6

During his angelus message today, Pope Francis explained today's Gospel in a way that avoids Catholic content and is completely compatible with Protestantism.

To refresh your memories, Jesus had performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, but then explains that he is the Bread of Life. Jesus shockingly states that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink. When everybody starts to walk away, Jesus does not soften the claim by saying He is only speaking in symbolic terms. Because He isn't. He's willing to watch them go. This is a strong scriptural argument for the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

Today Pope Francis managed to explain today's Gospel reading without a single reference to transubstantiation. In fact, he went one better. He said that what Jesus meant by that flesh and blood talk was the "sacrifice of his very life." That's right. It was not that bread and wine would actually become His Precious Body and Blood. Forget that. Our Lord was merely challenging people with the fact of his coming death, His "failure" as Messiah.

The reason everyone except Peter and the other apostles were willing to walk away was not because they were scandalized by the idea of consuming Jesus' flesh and blood, but because they were looking for "a winner."

Pope Francis does violence to the text, because he ignores where Jesus says: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." John 6:56. How does one reconcile this with the claim that Jesus is merely referring to his death on the cross? Immediately after Jesus says this, John records the following in v. 60: "Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?'"

Pope Francis goes on to talk about walking, "always on a journey," in some nice but not particularly Catholic language. You will be glad to know you are not "chained" to Jesus, but "profoundly free."

At this point Peter makes his confession of faith in the name of the other Apostles: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). He does not say “where shall we go?” but “to whom shall we go?” The fundamental problem is not leaving and abandoning the work that has been undertaken, but rather “to whom” to go. From that question of Peter, we understand that faithfulness to God is a question of faithfulness to a person, with whom we are joined in order to walk together along the same road. All that we have in the world does not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus, to remain with Him, to nourish ourselves at His table, on His words of eternal life! To believe in Jesus means making Him the centre, the meaning of our life. Christ is not an accessory element: He is the “living bread,” the indispensable nourishment. Attaching ourselves to Him, in a true relationship of faith and love, does not mean being chained, but [rather] profoundly free, always on a journey.

Pope Francis says we must "nourish ourselves at His table, on His words of eternal life!" Christ is "not an accessory element: He is the 'living bread,' the indispensable nourishment." We accompany Him "always on a journey."

In the context, it is impossible to say Pope Francis is saying we literally nourish ourselves on Christ's precious Flesh and Blood. The "living bread," is "the indispensable nourishment," but the Pope avoids preaching what exactly that is. The nourishment of our daily walk with Jesus? Are we nourished "on His words of eternal life" in the same way we are nourished "at His table?"

At the end he invited members of the audience to ask themselves, "Who is Jesus to me?"

Did he deny transubstantiation and the traditional Catholic interpretation of this passage? No. But when he took it upon himself to preach from it, he didn't affirm it, either. A Lutheran or an Anglican or a United Church of Christ member or a Presbyterian could have heard this without a single objection. Perhaps that's the point.

Blinded Me With Science

Galileo's Revenge

The Church faces a huge attack from the counter-religion of Scientism and its prophets the New Atheists. Stephen Hawking announced he was an atheist, citing the "Multiverse" as his reason. Never mind that the Multiverse has not only not been proven, but cannot be proven, as we simply don't have access to other (imaginary) universes. The once-sacred scientific principle of "falsifiability" is being sacrificed on the altar of atheism.

No doubt these are some clever people, but it doesn't make them right. What, is the Bear smarter than Stephen Hawking? (Answer: is the Bear more Catholic than the Pope?)

The dirty little secret is that Darwin is in trouble, the Multiverse is a fraud, and we really aren't finding "earth-like planets" that are reportedly "discovered" every six months. Gliese 581 -- "in the Goldilocks zone!" -- attained brief fame as the likely home of ET until it turned out there wasn't a planet there at all, just a mistake in data interpretation.

The Bear thinks he may have mentioned the bestseller Darwin's Doubt and how it makes a compelling case against Darwinism. It is a fascinating book about paleontology, full of the wonder that science used to evoke, before it was just another stick to beat religion. Then there's the new kid on the block, epigenetics -- the passing on of traits by mechanisms other than DNA. You ought to read the excellent Privileged Planet. We may not be in the center of the universe, but there sure seem to be a lot of coincidences for us to be anywhere at all. The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Soul (and the more introductory Brain Wars by one of the same authors) land some solid blows against reductionist neuroscience. (All conveniently available through Amazon, to the right.)

All of these books credibly challenge the aggressively promoted theories that are, in turn, used to promote atheism.

Take Darwinism. (All life comes from a common ancestor, and forms change from one into another by the mechanism of non-intelligently-guided chance.) If you are at all suspicious of its story, you are immediately condemned as a backwoods fundy who believes in six days of creation and hates science. There are good arguments, however, that Darwin didn't get it quite right. Too many little animals in too short a time, for one -- the fossil record's a killer for Darwinism. Intelligent Design has some reasonable arguments, too, although it is relatively new.

Yet the forces of Scientism mount a fanatic defense against the most modest questions.

Thousands of very smart guys are beavering away in front of blackboards whose size is measured by the acre, doing their best to gnaw away at the Big Bang. They'll prop up String Theory, the Multiverse, or some other gimcrack, flavor-of-the-month idea.  Anything rather than that horrible Genesis 1:1 Big Bang. Yet the Big Bang still echoes. Literally. To the Bear's mind, if there was a Big Bang, that seems like it might be the way God set creation in motion.

They're even trying to exorcize the ghost in the machine. Neuroscientists are parroting Gertrude Stein's comment that "there's no there there." Only they're saying there's no "you" to have a "you," and that consciousness and free will are illusions. Forget about the soul. But there's a reason it's called "the hard problem of consciousness:" nobody has come close to solving it.

The Church is under attack by Scientism. And the best it can do is roll over and show its belly.

What Does the Pope Mean? (Again)

After saying God is not a "magician," the Pope said: “evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” It almost sounds as if he is saying God isn't powerful enough to have created everything as described in Genesis.

What does the Pope mean by "demiurge" as in "God is not" one (translated "a divine being" in English, which is bad enough)? Are the Gnostics a threat? It's all a good example of those familiar Bergoglioisms that are just unnecessary and confusing.

And what about God not being a magician who waves a magic wand and accomplishes things instantly? [Cue superior chuckles.] The Bear can't even guess, but the Pope seems to be making some sort of humorous contrast between clever people (like him) and the simple and superstitious. Are we supposed to drop a knowing chuckle at the idea of Jesus "magically" changing the water into wine, too, or rising from the dead?

What does he mean by "evolution?" The Bear doesn't know, but he knows what reporters and editors think he means: Adam and Eve is just a myth, and, at best, God is carrying the water for Charles Darwin. They trot out the Aren't-Americans-In-Flyover-Country-Stupid poll showing 42% of us don't believe in evolution. Jolly good, Pope Francis! First homosexuality, now evolution! Once again we find you're one of us!

Always, always, if we accommodate the world's opinions, the world will, if not believe us, at least like us.

Does the Pope Believe in Adam and Eve?

Doomed Couple

Now, you wouldn't know it from the Pope, but it is theologically certain (to use the official term for those teachings near the top of the hierarchy of teachings) that two unique human beings, Adam and Eve, existed in time and place, and their transgression is the source of original sin. That means it is the teaching of the Church, should be believed, and is not subject to dispute. The proposition itself is not de fide (the very highest must-believe) but original sin is, and is hard to explain without an Adam.

Furthermore, the media cannot contain their joy over Pope Pius XII's provisional, non-absolute-rejection-in-principle mention of evolution in Humani Generis. (Finally, the press likes Pope Pius XII! Maybe he'll benefit from the Francis Effect as The Evolution Pope and finally be canonized.) First came the breathless, Francis Changes Church's Teaching on Evolution, followed by stories headlined: Shrug: Church Has Always Believed In Evolution. Both were equally ignorant.

Pius XII's 1950 encyclical could hardly be more cautious, and it reaffirmed the literal existence of Adam and Eve, from whom all humans have their beginning, while rejecting polygenism (human race came from many parents). To suggest that the Church "has always taught evolution" could not be more misleading. To the extent the Pope's statement suggests we "have outgrown" belief in Adam and Eve, it is flat wrong.

What does Pope Francis believe? Who cares as long as the press is eating it up! The Bear's most hopeful guess is he thinks God contrived to create the universe in an instant (Big Bang), very much like a magician with a magic wand. Then God twiddled his thumbs for several billion years because making a man (something even the Bear and his missus accomplished at regular intervals, sometimes two at a time when we wished to show off) was beyond his "magic."

The main thing is that people like Pope Francis, and believe him to be a forward thinker very much like the reporters who write about him. His shining halo seems to best illuminate Pope Francis, though, rather than accomplish anything for the Church.

Global Warming, Si

The one thing we do know is that Pope Francis has an uncritical belief in something that has nothing to do with the eternal destiny of our souls. (Historical note. Once the Church used to spend enormous effort on whether people went to Heaven or Hell. Based on current evidence, it is unclear to what, if any, extent those running the Church still bother with such issues.)

What Pope Francis believes in passionately is Global Warming. (Global Warming is a disproved hoax that provides megalomaniacs and the gullible a means of satisfying their need to feel superior and bother other people.)

The Real Story

The Church formed an intellectual climate that fostered inquiry. Islam is said to have invented algebra in a spasm of uncharacteristic curiosity, but it was the Church that gave the scientific edge to the West. The occasional scientist or thinker, like Galileo, may have run into trouble, but, a little diplomacy could have saved Galileo a lot of trouble. We don't need to put the prestige of the Church behind paradigms that may not last the next generation. We certainly don't need to mislead people by omission about what the Church believes.

The Bear used to have issues with Adam and Eve. But if you're going to accept the Big Bang, everything else seems easy. God may not be a magician, but he is God, and can do things quickly as easily as he can do things slowly. We as Catholics hope that the Divine Magician will repeat his creation of Adam and Eve trick billions of times at the resurrection. The Bear doesn't know for sure, but has failed to be convinced by Darwinism. If some other mechanism, such as epigenetics, satisfies his questions, then, great. It's just not that important to him. What is important is that:
  • Adam and Eve's existence and Original Sin is taught by the Church
  • As a son of the Church, he gives his assent, but doesn't think about it much
  • The Pope should not deliberately mislead people about what the Church teaches
This is a Pope Francis story we are familiar with now. Some ambiguous comment wins the adulation of the press, and causes confusion to Catholics. From now on, let's call it The Franciscan Feint.


*As the Bear is sure his readers know, the Galileo controversy was a bit more complicated than most people think, and had nothing to do with evolution, nor was he burned at the stake. The Crusades were an episode in a long, long series of defensive wars against a militant Islam, and the Church did more to help Jews in WWII than any agency in the world, especially Pope Pius XII.

**Darwinism here means change from one type of animal to another by the mechanism of blind chance. It's what secular media mean by "evolution." It fails to explain the "Cambrian explosion," the fossil record, "specified complexity," and other problems with Darwin's theory.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Hair, the Bear and the Election of 1884

Rum, Romanism and Rebellion, to revive the infamous phrase of the campaign of 1884. That's a platform the Bear can get behind! Or even on top of!

The Bear does not follow human politics much. It's too painful and depressing. In fact, he has no idea who Donald Trump is, except that guy who told people, "You're fired!" on TV. But Trump seems to cause the same kind of reactions bears cause. He's hard to take seriously, but you'd better. That sort of thing.

So in case Trump doesn't get the nomination, the Bear will happily permit him to lead the ticket of a new third party: the Bear Party. (Isn't it funny how the Bear always manages to make everything about himself? That's the way Bears are.) Its symbol? A Bear looking toward the past. And facing right. From the Bear's point of view, and, after all, that's the only one that counts.

What's that you say? Trump's not Catholic? Given several moments of privacy, the Bear is certain he can successfully proselytize him.

Now what about this "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion" thing?

Doomed Couple

The Republican candidates were James G. Blaine and John A. Logan. Logan is remembered as a minor, but successful general in Mr. Lincoln's army. He also happens to have haled from the Bear's neck of the woods. Blaine was infamous at the time for influence peddling. He committed his deals to writing, including one letter with the damning "burn this letter" scrawled at the bottom.

Blaine's opponents would taunt him by chanting, "Burn this letter!"

Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, was a paragon of virtue. Or so people thought. Then the Republicans discovered he had fathered an illegitimate child. Cleveland sort of admitted the slip-up; at any rate he paid money to the child's mother and lent his name to the lad. The mother was an insane strumpet, Cleveland more or less gallantly said, and he had no idea who the real father was, but did the honorable thing.

Cleveland's opponents would taunt him by chanting, "Ma, ma, where's my pa?"

With both parties tarnished at the top of the tickets, no one could predict who would win the election. The Blaine-Logan ticket had an excellent chance.

Then disaster stuck.

An enthusiastic minister thought to help Blaine's chances in the final week of the campaign. "We are Republicans," Rev. Samuel Burchard declaimed, "and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, romanism, and rebellion."

Though ignored by reporters, a Democrat operative was in the audience. The Democrats made sure the anti-Catholic remark got the widest possible exposure.

Blaine lost heavily Catholic New York, and Grover Cleveland was elected by the slimmest of margins.

Catholics do drink, and Baptists don't. And Catholics are nearly all of them Romanists. But most of all, they have been cast into rebellion against their culture and the laws of their country. The Bear thinks it's time to claim the slur of 1884, and that will be the slogan of the Bear Party. Should there be a need for a Bear Party.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bear Store Open

The Bear figured out a way to offer some pretty cool gear at more reasonable prices. Not much more to say except check it out here. You can also click on the picture to the right. The world needs more Bear -- and he would say this even if he were a titmouse. (The coffee mug contains an unusually large volume of life-sustaining java.)

The Feast of The Queenship of Mary

By Enguerrand Quarton

On October 11, 1954, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of The Queenship of Mary. Today we celebrate it on August 22.

He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the ... work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father].

From a May 13, 1946 radio address by Pope Pius XII.

The mother of the Davidic king was a queen in her own right. "So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king's mother; and she sat on his right." 1 Kings 2:19.

Where shall they go that have delight in honour,
When all men honour nothing but delight?

Chesterton posed this question. The answer is men go to Mary the Queen. Catholics, perhaps particularly Catholic men, can be glad that their heavenly kingdom does not lack a queen. Not to take anything away from the devotion of women, but a queen elicits a unique kind of devotion from men.

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae;
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. 

God Hates Divorce -- Why Don't Some Bishops?

Here is the real issue, always taught by the Church, and recorded in Scripture:

Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. "For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.

Malachi 2:14-16 (RSVCE).

A marriage is not between, it is among a man, a woman and God. Its purpose includes "godly offspring." Catholics used to not get divorced. If they did, they did not remarry and expect to be right with the Church.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery.

Catechism of the Catholic Church.

How many evils stem from accepting divorce, and divorce and remarriage? The obvious is families unnaturally torn apart. Often the horrible betrayal of one party and trauma to children. Now we have a new one: the potential deformation of the Church's teaching in the name of "pastoral concern."

What are the symptoms of our disordered view of sex? Even within marriages, contraception, pornography, masturbation, adultery (a logical sequence in the Bear's old-fashioned view). These are all ways people say "no" to the covenant witnessed to by the Lord, and the legitimate marital expectations -- trust -- of the partner. They can end in jaded or outraged couples seeking a divorce.

Divorce and remarriage doesn't just happen. It's not something unfortunate like cancer. The sad people who require special pastoral consideration are where they are due to the bad decision of getting remarried after getting divorced in the first place. Some of the talk we're hearing preceding the Synod uses phrases like, "people find themselves," or "suffering the consequence of a marriage that didn't work out." Nobody "finds themselves" married after getting a divorce! Responsibility seems curiously absent from the conversation, doesn't it?

Marriage has become all about "my satisfaction." No wonder people think nothing of homosexual "marriage," or the serial polygamy of multiple divorces. The "godly children" -- what God wants -- of Malachi's prophecy can only be a sad joke in such times.

Since when was the Church obligated to accommodate sin? The Church does indeed have a say about sin. It should preach against it (it doesn't; maybe that's one of the problems), and it should absolve it (it does, for the few people in the confession line Saturday afternoons). But pat people on the head, tell them we understand, dearies, and accept unrepentant, ongoing, sin and scandal so adulterers don't feel left out?

The Bear has been blessed with a patient wife, and, therefore, a good marriage. We are even blessed with some godly offspring. After 38 years, we love one another dearly, even though we are very different kinds of creatures. From that perspective the Bear can only imagine how awful it must be to be in a bad marriage, or divorced with no prospect for domestic companionship. But you get one shot, Catholic. You knew that going in.

The Bear would invoke the patronage over the Synod of St. Thomas More and St. Corbinian.

St. Thomas More stood up for his Church over issues related to King Henry VIII's divorce, until he knelt to the headsman's ax. St. Corbinian was a humble Frank sent to be Bishop of Freising (Cardinal Marx's see) and tame the Germans. The first thing he did was condemn the local warlord's unlawful marriage, and the second thing he did was flee with a price on his head. (Regular readers will recall the fate of the warlord, Grimoald. The Bear remembers it like it was yesterday.)

It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 5:31-32. No less than Our Lord is speaking.

God could not be more plain in Holy Scripture about divorce, both in the Old and New Testaments. He hates it. The Church should hate it, too. And it should find another way to provide pastoral care without winking at what God hates. Perhaps it should instruct them on the full reality of the Mass, and how "getting communion" is not a right or requirement.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Wisdom of "@Card_Maradiaga"

The Bear hates to bury a long article (the Strange Conclave of 1903) but the SSPX controversy warranted a post, anyway, so the fascinating tale of possible satanism, sex and secret societies will no doubt languish unread.

The Bear just wants to invite your attention to the "Wisdom of Cardinal Maradiaga" tweets he's featuring in the right column.

The Bear is dead certain this is a parody, but isn't going to argue the point. Whether you think it is or not, consider it another service of your friend, the Bear. It's not over until we lose our sense of humor.

SSPX: Don't Go to Novus Ordo Mass

Update: see bottom for Vortex of August 21st, bringing in sedevacantists.

The SSPX is using a Vortex-like format to attack the Novus Ordo Mass as "an offense against God." Apparently, if you're smart enough to know what an abomination the new Mass is, you should stay away. Presumably an ignorant Bear nailing his foot to the floor in front of his favorite pew would be safe.

This is certainly a bold statement. Now, the SSPX gets nearly everything right, in the Bear's opinion. The new Mass leaves a lot to be desired and Vatican II produced some dodgy ideas. After all, there is a reason the Bear has to nail his paw to the floor to stay in the Church. But, then again, there is a reason the Bear is willing to nail his paw to the floor if that's what it takes to stay in the Church.

To say that the Novus Ordo Mass is an offense against God is, in the Bear's view, unwarranted. To advise Catholics to risk mortal sin by sitting at home Sunday morning is unconscionable. The considerable good will the Bear had toward the SSPX has palpably diminished.

Maybe they're right and God has played the biggest practical joke in history by depriving a billion sincere Catholics of a Church and valid sacraments because some hippies took over a pastoral council that issued not one anathema, but, rather, some long-winded, ambiguous love-letters to the world. Let's all run (outside of the Church) to the SSPX, or find a priest of Archbishop Thuc's line, or locate Pope Gregory XVII's cryogenically preserved body, or join the Dimond brothers at Most Holy Family Monastery.

The fact is, some of these possibilities represent a tremendous body of sound Catholic tradition and teaching. They are also all outside the legitimate exercise of authority and ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. The Bear believes the brand means something, and that the gates of Hell have not prevailed against the Church.

It's a Hell of a note when you can be right, or be Catholic. But that, friends, is the dilemma our generation faces and the source of the cognitive dissonance the Bear recently wrote about. Ultimately, the Bear believes you can be right and be Catholic, but he's not saying it's easy.

Anyway, here's Michael Voris on the issue. On this, the Bear agrees with Michael Voris.

UPDATE: "Thin Slice Catholicism"

Today, Michael Voris is on a similar theme, but brings in sedevacantism. The Bear is not a sede, but has sympathy. Right now he is feeling very angry about Vatican II that so unnecessarily wounded Catholics and divided the Church. How many scandals have astonished the faithful since? The style of the council documents themselves brings to mind Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: "Methinks it is like a weasel." The Bear supposes we should be grateful the Council Fathers did not have the guts to put in unambiguous prose what they really thought. Score another one for the Holy Spirit. He didn't let them break His Church, but they sure bent it.

The Strange Conclave of 1903

Upon the death of Pope Leo XIII, his natural successor seemed to be Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, a Sicilian who had been Pope Leo's Secretary of State. But the ensuing Conclave of 1903 far outdoes the "White Smoke, No Pope" Conclave of 1958 in conspiracies and sheer bizarreness.

The Veto

The essential historical fact is that at this time Catholic monarchs had the power to veto a candidate for the papacy. This seems very strange to us, but in 1903 it was the way things were. It was called the jus exclusivae. It had been used against Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in the 1846 Conclave by Austria, but the Cardinal who carried the veto arrived too late to prevent the election of Pope Pius IX.

We know that in the 1903 Conclave, Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria exercised the jus exclusivae through Polish Cardinal Jan Maurycy PaweĊ‚ Puzyna de Kosielsko. The target of the veto: front-runner Cardinal Rampolla.

One reason might be Meyerling. Franz Joseph's son Crown Prince Rudolph was infatuated with the much-younger Baroness Mary Vetsera. The affair ended in a tragic murder-suicide at the Meyerling hunting lodge. Cardinal Rampolla refused permission to allow the Crown Prince to be buried in hallowed ground, a decision the deeply Catholic Emperor took hard. (The Emperor's Catholicism did not prevent him from engaging in a stable and loving affair with a mistress, but that's another story.)

Doomed Couple

Another reason might be Rampolla's facilitation under Leo XIII of rapprochement with France and Russia, which disadvantaged Austria.

It has even been suggested that Rampolla never stood a chance, and that the veto was engineered to save the distinguished old prelate face. However, it is hard to imagine Franz Joseph doing any favors for Rampolla, or exercising the jus exclusivae frivolously.

Satanism, Sex and Secret Societies

Finally, there is the story of Msgr. Jouin, which is quite the most interesting.

Msgr. Jouin was a French cleric right out of an occult potboiler. He hated Freemasonry, and spent much of his time organizing against it public, and investigating it in private. Pope Benedict XV praised him for risking his life, and, in a letter dated June 20, 1919, the Vatican recognized his efforts by saying: “His Holiness is thus pleased to congratulate you and to encourage you in your work, whose influence is so important in warning the faithful and helping them to struggle effectively against the forces aimed at destroying not only religion but the whole social order."

This begs for a screenplay.

Freemasonry does not consist solely of your brother-in-law's amateur theatrics down at the lodge, and men in fezzes riding little motorcycles. There are real lodges, actively, and, one fears, effectively, pursuing occult power through a variety of means, including, in the case of our story, sex.

The Ordo Templi Orientis is the infamous lodge in question. It is still in existence, and the Bear himself was once involved in a case that involved the kidnapping and sexual abuse of minors by its members. (The OTO is usually associated with English bisexual occultist Aleister Crowley, but he came a bit later.) 

The OTO's founding is shrouded in mystery (as you might expect for a secret society). It seems to have been started between 1895 and 1906 in Germany or Austria. It was unique among Freemasonry in that it allowed women to fully participate alongside men. Given its methods, "alongside" would be merely one possible preposition. 

The Evidence

The evidence for this theory is slim, but not none. For one thing the OTO itself in 1999 claimed that Msgr. Jouin had indeed denounced Rampolla to Emperor Franz Joseph, leading to the veto. Another bit of evidence is that Rampolla's name appears on the OTO's original manifesto dated either 1912, 1917 or 1919.  Nonetheless the OTO has sent mixed signals about Rampolla's involvement in earlier organizations.

And, although they would quibble at the term, the OTO are Satanists, after all. (Most occultists are explicitly Luciferian.) The Bear expects his readers to share his opinion of the credibility of people like this.

The Bear supposes we might hope that the devout Franz Joseph I would not have interfered in the conclave without having a good reason (like a candidate's involvement in a Masonic cult), but perhaps there were political or personal reasons he felt justified the veto. And, as we have already seen, his devotion was not above compromise.

Finally, the appearance of Rampolla's name on the manifesto is hardly conclusive. The authors may have wanted to buff their credibility upon rumors circulating around an unfortunate Cardinal, or maybe they just wanted to stick a finger in the Church's eye.

While there are few better stories than that of a lone investigator of the occult convincing Emperor Franz Joseph I to veto the election of a satanic sex-cultist to the papacy, there is little evidence for it. Certainly not a preponderance; in fact, barely a scintilla. Cardinal Rampolla's reputation should not be disturbed on account of it.

The Outcome

Things did happen to work out, however. With Cardinal Rampolla out of the way, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto,  Patriarch of Venice was elected. You may have heard of him as...

Pope St. Pius X, whose feast is August 21.

One of the first things he did was to abolish the jus exclusivae.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

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