Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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The Barren Fig Tree

February 7th, 2011, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

As mentioned here back in October of 2010, Jeff Ziegler wrote an article for Catholic World Report about the decline in vocations in the Northeast US (specifically Rochester). Mr. Ziegler has now given us permission to share that article with our readers (click the link below to view the pdf):

The Barren Fig Tree

(A look at the severe decline in priestly vocations in the us northeast)

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

A Catholic in the Diocese of Lincoln, Tyler, Duluth, or Wichita was 50 times more likely to be a seminarian in 2008 than a Catholic in the Diocese of Rochester. Closer to Rochester, a Catholic in the Diocese of Ogdensburg or Erie was 10 times more likely to be a seminarian than a Catholic in the Diocese of Rochester.

All the normal excuses the DOR provides are refuted (eg “demographic shifts”)

the number of Catholics in the diocese fell from 450,000 in 1970, to 393,000 in 1990, to 314,000 in 2008, even as the overall population of the counties in which the diocese is located rose from 1.21 million in 1970 to 1.49 million in 2008. Thus, the area went from being 37 percent Catholic in 1970 to 21 percent Catholic in 2008.

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23 Responses to “The Barren Fig Tree”

  1. avatar Jim R says:

    In Saginaw MI there were 4 seminarians in 2004 when HE Ken Untener, an extremely liberal Bishop, finally went to his reward. Now there are 24 under the very orthodox Bishop Carlson.

    Will HE Matthew Clark take note of the effects or orthodoxy? Nope!

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t this the intention of Bishop Clark? Use ideology and discourage vocations. Then, have your priests retire 5 years before every other priest in the USA although he skates by and retires at the maximum age of 75. (Now that’s hypocritical). Then, close parishes and then the clamor of hurt parishoners will be the rising swell to promote the ordination of married priests and ultimately, down the road,his reeal goal, women. He has trashed the church here in Rochester to promote his ideology.

  3. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    First of all, there has been a decline in the number of parishes throughout the northeastern United States since 1970. (See Dennis Sadowski’s article, “When parishes close, there is more to deal with than just logistics,” in the National Catholic Reporter on July 7, 2009, p. 6.) So Rochester is part of a larger trend across the entire northeastern U. S.. Second, many of the people who have left the Catholic Church since 1970 have gone to some protestant denomination, or out of Christianity altogether. So they aren’t leaving because the Church isn’t conservative enough. Third, I would have thought that the people on this site would be more concerned about the Truth than they are about the numbers of people in the pews. A lot of liberal Catholics are actually committed to what they believe to be the Truth, and so they don’t really worry about how many people are in the pews. They are like the Catholics who believed Galileo when he said that the Earth went around the Sun. Unfortunately it took the conservative Catholics 350 years to admit that Galileo was right — “Oh, yes, I guess we were mistaken about that one. Maybe we should not have punished Galileo for simply telling the truth.” And liberal Catholics are like the Catholics who said that slavery was wrong even when the hierarchy of the Catholic Church officially endorsed it for over 1,000 years. Liberal Catholics actually care about the truth, and perhaps that is what really distinguishes them from the “cleansing fire” of orthodoxy.

  4. avatar Dr. K says:

    First of all, there has been a decline in the number of parishes throughout the northeastern United States since 1970.

    Interesting date, no?

    So Rochester is part of a larger trend across the entire northeastern U. S.

    Our declines in Mass attendance and Catholic school attendees are among the worst in the nation (see here); even worse than the N.E. trend.

    Second, many of the people who have left the Catholic Church since 1970 have gone to some protestant denomination, or out of Christianity altogether. So they aren’t leaving because the Church isn’t conservative enough.

    A number of growing Evangelical parishes are very conservative on social issues.

    Third, I would have thought that the people on this site would be more concerned about the Truth than they are about the numbers of people in the pews.

    Can’t we be concerned about both? I would like to see as many people possible embrace the Truth.

    A lot of liberal Catholics are actually committed to what they believe to be the Truth, and so they don’t really worry about how many people are in the pews.

    A lot of liberal Catholics are so worried about attendance that they press further with their progressive reforms thinking that the reason people aren’t coming to church is because they “didn’t go far enough.” Interestingly, the further they go off the deep end, the worse things get.

    The rest of your post is not worth my time.

  5. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    First of all, there has been a decline in the number of parishes throughout the northeastern United States since 1970.

    I’m assuming you didn’t actually read the article?

    So they aren’t leaving because the Church isn’t conservative enough.

    conservative isn’t the right word. And the reason people who have left will give you isn’t the same reason they would give you of why they stayed (had that been the outcome). People stay because the Church offers something different than secular society. They stay because they believe in something. They stay because they wish to see the face of God. When His face is whitewashed in secular nonsense and pandering to modern society, then they leave because they lose interest.

    Third, I would have thought that the people on this site would be more concerned about the Truth than they are about the numbers of people in the pews.

    absolutely. The irony, as DrK points out, is that the progressive agenda comes up with all sorts of crazy ideas of how to draw people back the Church, but the thing that has been proven to work time and again is orthodoxy. Put God and Truth first – the rest will follow from there should he choose to bless us.

    They are like the Catholics who believed Galileo when he said that the Earth went around the Sun. Unfortunately it took the conservative Catholics 350 years to admit that Galileo was right

    you obviously don’t realize how ignorant you sound. Do some research and report back. Here’s one resource, but there’s plenty more if you wish to drill deeper. No, I’m not saying the Church handled the Galileo matter in a prudent fashion, but the whole thing is blown out of proportion and has become an anti-catholic urban legend.

    And liberal Catholics are like the Catholics who said that slavery was wrong even when the hierarchy of the Catholic Church officially endorsed it for over 1,000 years.

    do tell more about this.

    Liberal Catholics actually care about the truth, and perhaps that is what really distinguishes them from the “cleansing fire” of orthodoxy.

    I assume you’re admitting that you don’t hold the official teachings of the Church to be true? Is that what you mean by “liberal catholics”? If so, I at least give you kudos for admitting that.

  6. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    Since the issue of the Church’s response to Galileo, and the Church’s teachings on slavery have been pursued in this discussion, I will just add a bit of the relevant history here. In 1632 Galileo published is Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, in which he stated all the evidence for the Copernican theory that the sun is the center of the solar system, and that the earth revolves around the sun. Galileo was right, and the evidence showed that he was right. Nevertheless, he was condemned by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Here is the official statement of the sentence of Galileo by seven cardinals, who were members of the Roman Inquisition, on June 22, 1633:

    “We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the above-mentioned Galileo, because of the things deduced in the trial and confessed by you as above, have rendered yourself according to this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having held and believed a doctrine which is false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture, that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and the earth moves, and is not the center of the world, and that one may hold and defend as probable an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture. Furthermore, … we order that the book Dialogue by Galileo Galilei be prohibited by public edict.”

    So Galileo used his own reason to arrive at the truth, and the magisterium condemned him for it. That is the fact of the matter. If you had followed the magisterium in 1633, despite the scientific evidence against their claim, then you would have been led away from the Truth, and into Falsehood. That is exactly what liberal Catholics are unwilling to do. A liberal Catholic will not abrogate his own capacity to reason, or his own conscience, especially when the magisterium has proven that they are capable of contradicting the evidence.

    Here is one more instance of this same phenomenon, and a much more egregious one. From 340 AD until after 1500 AD (for over 1,000 years), the magisterium officially endorsed human slavery. That is a historical fact. It started with the Council of Gangra in 340 AD, which condemned anyone who would encourage slaves to run away, and it lasted right up until after 1500 AD. Here are just two representative statements to illustrate the point. First, here is Pope Nicholas V, in Dum Diversas, in 1454:

    “We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property … and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.”

    And now here is Pope Paul III, from Motu Proprio, in 1548: “Each and every person of either sex, whether Roman or non-Roman, whether secular or clerical…may freely and lawfully buy and sell publicly any slaves whatsoever of either sex…and publicly hold them as slaves and make use of their work, and compel them to do the work assigned to them. …Slaves who flee to the Capitol and appeal for their liberty shall in no wise be freed from the bondage of their servitude, but…shall be returned in slavery to their owners and if it seems proper … punished as runaways.”

    Here again, if you had followed the teaching of the magisterium at this time, then you would have endorsed slavery, and even helped to enforce it, which is a horribly unjust affront to human dignity. A liberal Catholic will not sacrifice his conscience to an institution that has proven historically that it is capable of such a grotesque violation of human dignity. That is why some people are liberal Catholics. These are historical facts, and so you must come to terms with them, or else be engaged in self-deception.

  7. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Gordon, I am a convert TO Catholicism FROM “some other protestant denomination” and I came because of its “conservative” beliefs, you would name it – or true doctrine, as I name it. However, I have to practice this beautiful faith in the un-beautiful DOR, a liberal diocese that systematically suppresses Catholic truth. However, Catholicism survives even when it is suppressed even from the tops of Her ranks. And She will flower when her oppressors leave. Spring is coming.

    It is interesting that in all these comments here, Gordon, you are defending the DOR in spite of it’s sorry statistics that tell the truth. Truths such as, despite Diocesan hyperbole, the DOR really is exactly what we experience here – a NOT-Vibrant Community!

    In the same breath that you defend the DOR, you defend liberalism, and to do so, you think that the Galileo story and the slavery story are your trump cards in accusing your Mother, the Holy Catholic Church. (It is intersting that to defend liberalism you have to find some way to defame Her. As if the two are opposed. Hmm.)

    And it is interesting that WHENEVER Galileo or slavery is brought up, its brought up by the accusers of the Bride of Christ.

    But when you read the COMPLETE story, if you want to know the TRUTH of the matter (which is easy to find) and not just the snippets that have been pulled out by those who hate the Catholic Church, and used to CREATE A STORY THAT ACCUSES, then its not a trump card any more but an interesting story with many facets of faith, of history, of development of doctrine, of human achievement and of human frailty. Yes, the truth is so much more interesting than what you make it out to be, Gordon, when you become a tool to perpetuate that cheap fabricated story, a story that re-frames partial bits of truth to create a false accusation.

    Our Church is not Holy and True because it is made up of sinless and infallible people. However the great miracle is that it is Holy even though its made up of sinful, fallible people.

    Here’s just two sources, quickly found, that are FAR more balanced and complete than your truncated, perverted synopsis:
    Galileo: http://www.catholicleague.org/research/galileo.html
    Slavery: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/julyweb-only/7-14-53.0.html

  8. avatar Christopher says:

    Gordon, thanks for posting your thoughts on Galileo and thank you for backing up your thesis with some sourced material from the June 22, 1633 paper.

    I would encourage you to read the entire paper rather than pulling the one sentence out of context very much like a protestant pulls one passage out of context. You can find it here as well as a debate on why Galileo does not disprove papal infallibility or weaken it even.

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/05/why-galileo-case-doesnt-disprove.html

    here’s a 2nd debate:
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/08/dialogue-with-agnostic-on-galileo.html

    Here’s a post by David Palm explaining the exaggeration used by people on Magisterial documents:
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/02/neo-geo-double-standards-and.html

    Once your done reading those, you can use the same URL to read about slavery and your misconceptions about it. Please approach these topics with humility and an open mind using critical thinking methods you learned in college.

    Thank you for coming to this forum and taking the time to learn about this. I can tell you have a real passion for finding the truth based on your extensive comments which is great. Please let me know if you have any questions after reading the links I provided.

  9. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    Excellent. Here we go. This site gives the standard defense, which is that the condemnation of Galileo does not meet the following criteria:

    1. It wasn’t made by a pope.

    2. It wasn’t made by an ecumenical council (in agreement with, or ratified by a pope).

    3. No accepted formula was expressed, in which all Catholic faithful were bound to hold this opinion as an article of the Catholic faith.

    Now, if you are willing to say that only statements that meet one of these three criteria are “de fide” (“of the faith”), and hence binding on all Catholics, then this defense will work. But then here is something to notice: very few statements in the history of the Catholic Church meet those criteria. This will restrict the teachings that we are bound to accept to just what is defined by a pope and what is in a Council, and also stated using terminology that clearly suggests that it is binding to all the faithful. If we accept those restrictions, then there will be very little basis for you to complain about liberal Catholics. take contraception, for example, has the teaching that it is wrong been defined in a way that would satisfy any of criteria (1) – (3) ? No, it hasn’t.

    The statement about slavery on that site refers to statements by people like Aquinas, and others, who opposed slavery, but that is entirely beside the point. The question is this: what was the official teaching of the Catholic Church throughout that time? The site that you gave me says nothing about Catholic teaching on slavery before 1500. Hmmm. Why is the site silent on the official teachings of the Catholic Church on slavery before 1500 ? It’s because the official teaching, which was promulgated over and over again, was that there was nothing wrong with slavery. If you want to get this history, then you should find a source that does not have as its sole purpose the defense of the view that you hold. If you care about people having an open mind, than you should start with yourself, and read some sources that do not necessarily agree with you.

  10. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Gordon,

    I will echo what Christopher said that we appreciate you coming to CF to present these arguments. I think you’ll find that we are the opposite of what you claim and are much more willing to follow Truth than you claim. I left my comfortable protestant life because I felt my understanding of Christianity wasn’t true. If orthodox Catholicism isn’t true, then I have no qualms leaving it.

    I don’t have time right now to fully digest what you’ve written let alone write up a response at the moment. I will address your concerns in time (I get spurts of free time-sometimes it’s a week on and a month off) unless someone else gets to them first. I’m pretty confident that some orthodox Catholic (First Things, Peter Kreeft, Ratzinger, etc – the intellectual orthodox forces are great) much smarter than me has already addressed your concerns, so my approach will be to point you to them.

    I will also echo Eliza in saying that I am a convert (from Reformed Calvinism) that was attracted to Catholicism not because of progressivism, but because She claimed transcendence from the world. Some people call themselves JP2 Catholics. I am a BXVI Catholic.

    -Ben

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    “If we accept those restrictions, then there will be very little basis for you to complain about liberal Catholics. take contraception, for example, has the teaching that it is wrong been defined in a way that would satisfy any of criteria (1) – (3) ? No, it hasn’t.”
    It is best not to refer to Catholics as liberal or conservative. These terms evoke political feelings, when the Church’s mission is to teach Truth. These truths can be accepted or rejected. Today, there are a number of excellent sources to better understand those teachings that lead us closer to Christ. From personal experience, I can tell you that a contraceptive marriage is clearly in danger. Sometimes, the suffering will manifest itself later, but it will certainly cost!Again, the Church will fulfill it’s command from Christ to teach, in season and out of season. We need only to accept it. You won’t be disappointed. God Bless Mr. Barnes
    It would be good to read the catechism as well as a good read of JPII’s Theology of the Body.
    Here is the CCC on purpose of marriage:

    2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,”151 teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.”152 “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.”153

  12. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    I have read, at one time or another, and over many years, most of the texts and documents that have been mentioned on this site, in addition to many others that have not been mentioned on this site. In some cases it has been quite a few years since I read them, and my memory is rusty, but be assured that I have read them. So if you cannot even remember what is allegedly said in some text or by some author, and that is supposed to satisfy my every question, then it probably won’t help to simply mention it by name.

    One comment made above goes like this:

    “From personal experience, I can tell you that a contraceptive marriage is clearly in danger”

    Your experience is of your own marriage, and the small number of married people you know. To infer that what you have experienced of these marriages somehow gives you insight into the majority of all marriages is just very poor reasoning. Other marriages are not all like your own. And for the record, there are lots of “contraceptive marriages” that are very happy and healthy. I know lots of them. However, I will not try to generalize about all or most marriages on that basis.

  13. avatar Anonymous says:

    Contraception means “against life”. Marriage in its essence is self donating and life giving. A proper understanding of the theology of the body would mean that when a couple engages in marital intimacy and is contracepting, they are SAYING “I give myself totally to you”, but the BODY is lying as your fertility is not being given. How can a lie not be dangerous in a marriage? I am not going to presume that a couple does this intentionally. I imagine the vast majority use contraception because they “think” it is the right thing to do for their marriage. Clearly, the statistics say otherwise as regards the state of marriage in America and Catholic marriages as well. Is it possible that what you think is a happy and healthy marriage could actually be so much happier and healthier if contraception were not involved? This is where the Church has an obligation to tell the world that God has a better plan for marriage than they could ever conceive of! What is required is an act of faith, humility before God and an open heart to consider that one just might be wrong. It is not an easy thing to do. Is there objective truth or not? If so, what is it and how can we know it? This is and will always be the business of the Catholic Church. Reading, studying , and understanding truth are all part of the journey, but it is the living witnesses that will convince us.

  14. avatar Christopher says:

    Gordon, thanks again for taking the time to post on this site. I can see you are passionate about these ideas of yours which is good. I wish more Americans and Catholics took the time to investigate things from our 2000 year history such as the Galileo issue and slavery which you bring up. Both are issues which are sometimes given a cursory overview by most people (including the secular media) but appear to be much more complex of an issue than what is on the surface.

    Though it may seem like you frustrate some of the people here and may be frustrated yourself sometimes I believe in some healthy dialog which is striving towards the truth. I think you’ll find eventually in time your opinions change on the issue of slavery and Galileo though as we dive deeper into it. Your comments although I feel may be misguided sometimes, do give people pause and help educate themselves on what the church believes about slavery/Galileo vs what you believe (and you seem to speak on behalf of “liberal Catholics”). I’m a big believer in “Iron sharpens Iron” discussion. Let’s just keep the shots above the belt the best we can even though the favor is not always returned.

    The first thing you need to do is prove to me that the church taught heliocentrism as church doctrine infallibly ex cathedra which you have not done yet?

    Per:
    http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp

    The Church also has affirmed that the illicitness of contraception is an infallible doctrine: “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative.aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive.aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life” (Vademecum for Confessors 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997).

    The key word in that paragraph is “irreformable”.

    There is a discussion of if contraception is infallible teaching here with additional documentation on the church’s views:
    http://catholicchampion.blogspot.com/2009/04/is-catholic-churchs-teaching-on.html
    http://www.jimmyakin.org/2004/11/contraception_i.html

    For us to move on:
    1) Can you present similar documentation that I’ve provided to you on Contraception from papal documents regarding the Galileo issue? I would be very interested to see what you can pull up as I may be incorrect.

    2) Can you agree based on the documentation I provided that the Church’s teaching on Contraception is not a matter of discipline but a matter of infallible teaching and is thus deemed “irreformable” from Rome?

    Regarding slavery, I have not studied it as well as you appear to have so I am unprepared to comment on it. However, I will address it in time if you wish to proceed further. Thank you for your patience and time it took to read this as well as hopefully responding in charity. God bless you!

  15. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    I appreciate your thoughts here. But what you see as a proper humility, I see as a failure to take responsibility for your own thinking. As I see it, you have decided to defer your responsibility to think for yourself to someone else (the hierarchy of the Catholic Church), and I think that is irresponsible. With respect to contraception, let me just offer a few facts to think about.

    Human beings are unlike most other mammals in a crucial respect. Whereas other mammals have a specific period in which the female goes into heat, and they copulate only during that period, human beings engage in sexual intercourse all year round. Now, from a biological standpoint, why is that? Well, another crucial difference between human beings and other species is that human beings have a high level of what is called “MPI,” which is “male parental investment.” That means that in human beings, the male of the species is heavily involved in the raising of the offspring. Now, let’s put these two facts together. What do they suggest? They suggest that one of the functions of human sexuality is to create and strengthen the bond between the couple, to better enable them to raise the children. So far, I think you would agree. But now let’s add two more facts, with which you might not agree. First, natural family planning will not allow you to have sexual intercourse on a very regular basis without leading to many children, and second, you cannot meet all the emotional needs of your children if you have many children. With regard to the first fact, I think that you probably know better than I do just how difficult it is to have sexual intercourse on a very regular basis (especially with children) if you are using natural family planning and you don’t want to have 10 children. On the second fact, where you might disagree, I think that just the constraints of time in the modern world make it impossible to truly meet your children’s emotional needs if you have 10 of them. In summary, then, without contraception there is no way that human sexuality can perform its natural function of maintaining the bond between a couple without leading to the couple having far more children than they can properly nurture, especially with respect to their emotional needs. That is how it looks to me.

  16. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I see as a failure to take responsibility for your own thinking.

    not sure exactly who this is addressed to, but it’s fallacious. If you believe (trust) in the authority from which you submit yourself, then that should be considered thinking for yourself. I’ve had this same argument with protestants on the assumption of Mary. If it weren’t for Magisterial teaching, I wouldn’t believe in it. But I trust in the authority because it has proven trustworthy and because I believe God put it in place. I take the responsibility of putting my trust in the Church and all her doctrines – knowing full well everything that follows from that.

    in re: to your anti-NFP argument – the simplest thing to do is say, “what’s that have to do with right or wrong?” I want to know what’s right and what’s wrong – not what’s easy and difficult. I have 2 kids under 3 and I love NFP. My wife and I have a fantastic relationship thanks to God (not us). I follow God first and if he chooses to bless me, then that’s just gravy. This principle is all throughout both the Old and New testament. It’s was Jesus was saying to the rich man.

    just the constraints of time in the modern world make it impossible to truly meet your children’s emotional needs if you have 10 of them.

    hmmm – any evidence to back that one up or are you just speculating from your own experience? The large families I know have amazed me. I’m guessing we have some nice large family readers who could comment.

  17. avatar Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr.Barnes,
    You comments regarding contraception are the very facts we struggled with during our 23 year marriage, so I can appreciate your thoughts.Please allow me to share my own.
    As regards deferring to the Magisterium of the Church on matters of sexuality,You are absolutely correct, but I do not see it as being irresponsible nor do I see it as refusing to think for myself. The fact is, from a natural standpoint, it makes sense that the sexual act is primarily about “making babies” and also about strengthening the marital bond or rather renewing the marriage covenant that was sealed on the wedding night. Eating is primarily about physical health and survival and then about enjoyment and pleasure. As human beings, we have a fallen human nature and therefore struggle with disordered passions of all kinds, including areas of sexuality. It was not like that in the beginning with Adam and Eve when the intellect and will were completely free to do what is right before God. It was after the Fall that man would feel shame. Instead of abandoning us, God chose to show us what real love is. It would involve sacrifice. He would send His only Son into the world to redeem it and show us what sacrificial love looks like (the cross). So, to answer your question regarding abstinence, it would be a cross, but it would have redemptive value if offered back to God. The Church teaches that a couple ought to be responsible as regards the number of children they believe God has in mind for them. However, that is not the same thing as saying one can interrupt(pill),sterilize, or place a barrier(condom) to shut down our fertility. Fertility is a gift, not a disease to be treated. Periodic abstinence is not detrimental to the well being of the couples love. It clearly requires sacrifice, but many times situations arise that require abstinence ie travel, illness, work, fatigue. I wouldn’t want to comment on whether or not parents can respond to the emotional needs of ten children. I think any parent knows it can be hard to respond to the emotional needs of just one child! :)I am certain that if God chooses to give a couple a new life, he will also provide the Grace necessary to raise that child. The grace that flows through the sacrament of marriage (providing it is not cut off through mortal sin) will give the couple all that they need to reach heaven. Will it be easy? Most certainly we can be assured there will be a cross. There is no way around that one. As one last comment, let me say that we are different than animals as we are made in the image and likeness of God. The very act of deferring to the Magisterium is an act of humility before God and a recognition that the Magisterium has a function to teach what would lead man to heaven. It is a recognition that the mind and intellect has been darkened from Original Sin and needs the light of Christ to know the way. By deferring to the Church, we had no idea that the scales would fall from our eyes; that we could see to take the speck out of our brother’s eye, because now we had the plank out of our own. It was a risky chance we took, but have been rewarded a hundred times over by almighty God. We began to see as God sees.There is nothing like it and we would never go back to our old ways of thinking. It was allowing Christ to use our minds and our wills. Our life is a continual turning over of our will to the will of God. If that sounds irresponsible, it isn’t meant to. I guess it is hard to explain. I honestly believe that our response to this particular area of moral behavior can be applied to all of life’s situations. I hope that helps you understand a bit more.

  18. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    Ben says something that takes us to the heart of the matter. he says that “I trust in the authority [of the magisterium] because it has proven trustworthy.”

    Which of the following things did the most to prove the trustworthiness of the magisterium to you?

    The Crusades
    The Inquisition
    The Church’s anti-semitism
    The Church’s endorsement of slavery
    The Church’s rejection of a person’s right to religious liberty
    The Church’s complete reversal of its teaching on usury (just when it benefited bankers)

    And this list could go on and on. Look, people who do not trust the magisterium with their consciences are people who have actually read its history. Trusting the magisterium with your conscience is a sure-fire way to be led into moral errors, and some of them can be very harmful. If the magisterium is wrong about homosexuality, then how many people will you have hurt with your unjustified prejudice and exclusion? If the magisterium is wrong about divorce, then how many people will you have hurt with your exclusion of them from their Church communities? If the magisterium is wrong to neglect Jesus’ teachings on wealth and poverty, then how many poor people will be neglected because you followed the magisterium in its neglect? These errors will be your own fault, because you refused to question your intellectual master.

  19. avatar Dr. K says:

    If the magisterium is wrong about homosexuality, then how many people will you have hurt with your unjustified prejudice and exclusion?

    This has been addressed in the Old Testament and Epistles.

    If the magisterium is wrong about divorce, then how many people will you have hurt with your exclusion of them from their Church communities?

    This has been addressed by Christ Himself.

    If the magisterium is wrong to neglect Jesus’ teachings on wealth and poverty, then how many poor people will be neglected because you followed the magisterium in its neglect?

    Again, I believe you are misinterpreting the text. See my comment in the Latin Mass thread.

  20. avatar Gordon Barnes says:

    What if the Old testament and the Epistles are wrong about these things? Seriously. What harm will you have done? Lots. And the same goes for the ordination of women too. And with respect to the texts on wealth and poverty, you are really kidding yourself. Sit down tonight and read all of those texts again, and ask yourself what they really say.

    As for divorce, I will have to go back and look at exactly what Jesus said, but I suspect that you are right about that. In that case, my reason and my conscience tell me that Jesus was wrong about that. I’m not sure what a liberal Catholic should say about that, but it constitutes one small problem compared to the mountain of atrocities committed by the magisterium that you trust with your every thought and action.

  21. avatar Matt says:

    “my reason and my conscience tell me that Jesus was wrong about that”

    Then your reason and your conscience are poorly formed.

  22. avatar Christopher says:

    “Which of the following things did the most to prove the trustworthiness of the magisterium to you?

    The Crusades
    The Inquisition
    The Church’s anti-semitism
    The Church’s endorsement of slavery
    The Church’s rejection of a person’s right to religious liberty
    The Church’s complete reversal of its teaching on usury (just when it benefited bankers)

    Gordon, I see you did not include heliocentrism in there in your list. Are you willing to concede that the magisterial authority never infallibly taught on that matter of science? If so, I think we can tackle the other issues mentioned above. If not, please see my previous post regarding providing me proof on the magisterial authority teaching infallibly that the Earth is the center of the universe.

    I would like to take each issue one at a time pending you actually have an interest in pursuing the truth rather than just lobbing accusations. I would be very interested to see your documentation presented on this matter so as a critically thinking individual, I can rationalize this adequately with your help.

    Thank you!

  23. avatar Christopher says:

    Gordon, my friend, what would you like to “reason” out next now that we are done with Galileo. Do you want to discuss slavery and the church? Here is the website I will probably pull a lot of my resources from just so you know in case you want to read some of it:
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-church-history-and-slavery-huge.html

    I would be interested to read your source material as well. Please provide me some links if possible.


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