Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Cross Stands while the NCR Whines

April 11th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Remember this post last week about the wonderful pastoral letter by Bishop Sheehan on Cohabitation?  Suppose I told you that the NCR (Non-Catholic Reporter) would whine and moan about it, would you believe me?  Notice how she attacks the Church, misrepresents Our Lord, ignores important aspects of the Faith, and of course, tries to use half-truths and feelings to convince others that she is right and that the Church is wrong.  Below is an article from the NCR today that complains about Bishop Sheehan’s letter, with my emphasis and [commentary] .  Of course, the NCR is most proudly displayed at Beckett Hall, home of our Diocesan discerners.  This scandal-inducing rag is what the Diocese likes to use for its news and views.  Surprise, Surprise.  Please, if you see fit, write Fr. Coffas at Beckett Hall and ask that this trash be removed from the discernment house.  Without further ado,

Archbishop Sheehan: How to lose Catholics and alienate people

by Jamie L Manson on Apr. 11, 2011

One of my earliest memories of church is watching my mother being forced to abstain from the Eucharist during my First Holy Communion. The scene is still vivid for me.  [Do you see what’s coming?  She’s going to appeal to feelings instead of the Truth.]

I sat in the third pew, squirming in the frilly, miniature bridal gown and veil that we were required [the priest is a dictator!] to wear. When I returned from my first taste of the host and sacramental wine, I turned around to watch my family receive communion. [Rather than praying or giving thanks…]

I saw my mother kneeling alone in a pew, looking at turns sad and embarrassed. [Fr. Mean Jerk hurt her feelings…] The pews around her had been vacated by Catholics worthy of receiving communion. My mother kneeled in that empty pew. She was the only parent of a new communicant who didn’t receive Eucharist that day. [“She wasn’t part of the Community! She was excluded! Jesus didn’t exclude!  Anyhow, mom is a good person!” Watch as she gives these same, tired, nonsensical half-truths]

I wasn’t surprised [So, she did this every week for years? And every week she was sad and embarassed, and did not get to receive the Blessed Sacrament…and didn’t do anything about it?  Watch what happens next.] to see my mother there. Five years earlier, she divorced my father. Two years after that she remarried. Not having the several thousand dollars [Read: Fr. Mean Jerk doesn’t care about the poor.] she was told the annulment process would cost, her second marriage took place with a justice of the peace.  [She was willing to ignore the counsel given her before her invalid marriage, and despite being told she was doing something gravely wrong, did it anyway.  Non Serviam!] When I was in sacramental preparation, my mother met with the pastor of our Long Island parish to ask if she could receive communion at my ceremony.

“Absolutely not,” he immediately replied, “you are excommunicated.” [She has options: 1) seek an annulment and valid marriage now, years later, after saving up some money or asking for monetary help.  2) Go to confession and live as brother and sister with her pseudo-husband until this is resolved  She does not want to accept the possibility that she may be wrong, nor does she want to actually accept the consequences for her actions.]

My formal introduction to Holy Communion was defined by this image of my mother’s excommunication. Sometimes I wonder whether this moment didn’t give birth to my vocation as an outspoken, progressive Catholic. [Sorry, nobody is called to dissent from the doctrines of the Church.]

Reading Archbishop Michael Sheehan’s recent letter of admonishment [Not “pastoral teaching”]to divorcees and cohabitating couples immediately brought me back to that pew. Sheehan, who is the archbishop of Santa Fe, offers a lamentation on “three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before.”

If you belong to any of these groups, Sheehan would like to remind you that you are in “great spiritual danger.” [The Church teaches that they are.] And, as a result, you “are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” You should also abstain from being a Eucharistic minister and from taking on the role of godparent. When it comes to your participating in other parish activities or organizations, the pastor should be consulted for a final judgment.

But, Sheehan counsels, “Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal.” [Watch while she twists His Excellency’s meaning]

Throughout Sheehan’s letter, the archbishop appeals to the “teachings of the gospels” to support his enforcement of the church’s teachings on marriage and divorce. In fact, there is only one passage in one of the gospels on marriage, in Matthew 19: 1-12. [This is a blatant lie. Mark 10: 2-12, Matthew 5: 31-32, and Luke 16:18 all speak of divorce/marriage.  So does the story of the Woman at the Well in John.  Lies, lies, and more lies.] Sadly, the rest of Jesus’ teachings in the four gospels seem lost on Sheehan. [Note how she is essentially lamenting that +Sheehan is not ignoring the DIRECT WORDS OF CHRIST]

If Jesus believed that anyone he met was in “great spiritual danger,” the first thing he would do would be to invite that person to his table. Jesus would want to learn the individual’s story. Jesus would invite that person into community and remind her that she is God’s beloved. Jesus also might have called the religious authorities hypocrites, as he does in Matthew 23:13, 28, for “locking people out of the kingdom of heaven” and for being like “white washed tombs . . . full of hypocrisy and lawlessness inside.” [Matthew 23:28 says, “So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just; but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”  Just saying.]

For five years after my communion, my mother continued to abstain from the Eucharist. Around the time that I was preparing for Confirmation, a group of Franciscans came to our parish to offer a mission week. By this time, she had divorced her second husband (on grounds that would have quickly earned her an annulment, if she had applied for one). [She’s not too good at this marriage thing]

Something about the Franciscans’ message resonated with my mother, so she made her confession to one of their priests. She explained to the priest the reasons why she didn’t take communion, but expressed her desire to be able to receive at my confirmation Mass. The priest listened to her story. And he strongly encouraged her to start receiving the Eucharist again. [Now that she was not objectively in a state of mortal sin and had made a good confession.  She could have done this 5 years before]

This priest understood that the table of the Eucharist was established by Jesus and, ultimately, belongs to God alone, not to any human being or institution. [Or, alternatively, she was RECONCILED WITH THE CHURCH!]

Years later my mother and I moved to a new parish. They put out a call for Eucharistic ministers. My mother was eager to serve, but feared that the pastor would ban once he learned of her divorces. To my mother’s joy, the pastor welcomed her. [Again, there is nothing inherently sinful about a failed marriage, it is the invalid 2nd “marriages”, and adulterous relationships that are a problem!  Her circumstance, post-confession, is very very different.  She is no longer publicly guilty of scandalous behavior!]

The years that she has served as a Eucharistic minister have been the most meaningful time that she ever spent in church. She is honored to be able to offer Jesus to others, and always tears up whenever she looks into the eyes of those who came to her to receive communion. [Point?  Watch while she explains her mother’s qualifications to be an EMHC next.  This is rich in silliness, and bereft of use.]

There are few people more able to offer the broken body of Jesus to a hungry people than those who themselves who have been broken by loss, abusive relationships, or shattered love. [Yes, she is called to use her experiences and circumstances to spread the Gospel, and to promote the Church.  Yes, she can preach Christ crucified, and the healing power of the Resurrection.  Yes, she should probably speak to couples in pre-cana about what NOT to do.  That does not mean she’s uniquely qualified to be an EMHC.  That’s just stupid.] It’s hard to imagine a better image of the resurrected Jesus than a wounded human being offering the bread of life to another vulnerable human being. [A priest, apparently, does not qualify as “another vulnerable human being.”]

Sheehan’s letter leaves no place for God’s grace to work in this way within the institutional church. [As opposed to the non-institutional, SBNR Church.] The sacraments are meant to work in people’s lives to deepen our communion with God and others, to heal wounds, and to offer meaning and consolation. They are not a prize awarded only to those who follow doctrine and church law to the letter. [Right.  Because nobody is sinless.  In fact, the Sacraments of Confession, Baptism, and Extreme Unction remit sin.  One can, with venial sins on his soul, receive the other Sacraments.  That does not dismiss the sin of sacrilege, however, which is committed when one receives the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin.  I’m sorry to inform you that HELL EXISTS, and SIN EXISTS, and that’s the ENTIRE REASON that Our Lord was made incarnate and eventually was nailed to a tree.  If there is no Hell from which to save us, what need have we for a savior?]

Few cohabitating Catholics will endure processes like annulment or change their living arrangements in order to be welcomed back into church and its sacraments. [Which is a problem!] The institutional Church simply does not hold this kind of power over the lives of Catholics anymore. [Why not? Because they don’t believe in sin, and don’t believe that they could go to Hell, and don’t believe the power of the Sacraments, AND, in many cases, do not believe in God Himself.  See why this is BAD?]

Words like Sheehan’s only create feelings of judgment and shame and, therefore, only further sever a Catholic’s ties to the institution. [Their sins do not cut them off from God, but only the big, evil institution?] Once again, the hierarchy fails to understand that it has a far better chance of communicating the teachings of Jesus and the meaning and power of the sacraments [“The actions of the Church are against the will of God Himself.”]by welcoming Catholics into the church as ministers or godparents, regardless of their married state and living situation. [Read: Pretend that there is no consequence for sin, and people will be much happier]

There is little doubt that Sheehan’s reassertion of the church’s doctrine of marriage is one small prelude to the Catholic institution’s forthcoming symphony of anti-gay marriage movements, [It’s all political to these people.  Jesus would have supported people living sinfully, see.  He’d have told them to keep on keepin’ on, and not to change their behavior.  Except, you know, He didn’t.  He called sinners to repent.] composed, no doubt, to coincide with the 2012 elections. The hierarchy’s deepening involvement in politics is symptomatic of religious leadership scrambling for power in reaction to a loss of influence and moral authority over its flock. [Would it not be easier to have power and popularity if one ignored the Truth, and just taught Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that changed with the culture?  Notice: those teachings with which she agrees, she supports as truly Christian.  Those with which she disagrees are power plays by big meanies. Instead of conforming her life to the Gospel, she is conforming the Gospel to her life.]

How tragic that the church is willing to cut off so many of its faithful [Uh, They cut themselves off by being UNFAITHFUL] from the sacraments in order achieve the conformity it needs to achieve its political goals. How many more eight-year-olds [“You’re hurting kids!] will not have their parents join them the first time they approach Jesus’ table?

Though Sheehan delivered this letter in the middle of Lent, he signs it, “Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord.” For reasons far deeper than the liturgical calendar, it might have been more apt to have signed it “yours in the crucified Lord.” [She thinks she’s clever…but fails to see the actual truth in her statement.  John 12:24-25 states, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.”  Christ must first die to rise again.  She seems to think that one can be taken in a vacuum without the other.]

For in his words and actions, he has only further fractured the body of Christ. [No.  Sin fractures the Body of Christ.  Pride fractures the Body of Christ.  The Obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth of the faith (“heresy”) fractures the Body of Christ.  Jesus Christ is the Truth.  The Truth does not fracture itself.]


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10 Responses to “The Cross Stands while the NCR Whines”

  1. Scott W. says:

    That was alot of verbiage to say, “I’m a Protestant.”

  2. Eliza10 says:

    She is so misguided.

  3. Scott W. says:

    Missing the point as usual. NCR isn’t being displayed at Beckett Hall with the idea that, “Hey, let’s put dissident material on display so our wonderfully orthodox seminarians have something to sharpen their wits on!” No, it’s on display with the intention that the dissent found within is legitimate and that seminarians should go and believe likewise. It’s about what leadership formally or materially supports. I may have been born in a barn, but I wasn’t born in a barn yesterday.

  4. Bernie says:

    What other reading material is put out on the table? Is the “New Oxford Review” there?

  5. Abaccio says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all of our discerners are intelligent, thinking individuals. We’ve had some liberation theologians in the very recent past (last year), and no intelligent person can reconcile that with the Gospel.

  6. annonymouse says:

    WHY do people like this Jamie person stay? Life is too short to carry such a chip on your shoulder. We are called to be a people of joy, and there’s much more joy in unity than in division.

    Archbishop Sheahan is doing what he is supposed to be doing: CARING FOR SOULS! At the end of the day, the only thing the Church is really here for is to care for, and act as Jesus’ instrument in saving, SOULS. May God bless Archbishop Sheahan for trying! For calling sin a sin, and calling sinners to repentence (isn’t that what Jesus did?).

    NCR is more and more becoming a “near occasion of sin!”

  7. Abaccio says:

    I think that there are two options:

    1) Deem those who are heterodox unfit for seminary, or

    2) Actually form them properly.

    In any case, the solution is NOT to encourage dissent and coddle heterodoxy, nor is it proper to teach them that the NCR is one of many legitimate approaches to Catholicism. Assuming that everybody is smart enough to know the difference between the truth and a fashionable fallacy is imprudent.

  8. Scott W. says:

    The point IS…that seminarians are not “hot house” plants..They are intelligent, thinking individuals who NEED to be trained in theological discussion for the good of themselves and their future assignments.

    They and the laity NEED to know that the people in charge of their instruction are on the reservation.

  9. Hopefull says:

    My suggestion is that those of us who care about the seminarians having access to good, orthodox holy materials should buy a one year subscription to something that fits the description and send it to an individual seminarian or just to “Beckett Hall Seminarians” as a gift. It can be anonymous or not. If it keeps coming and it is there, the Holy Spirit will lead as He will. Also, we could copy articles from this and other good sites and send that as well. And be sure they are aware of this site. The seminarians names are posted in some churches (like St. Louis). So, now I am going to take my own advice and get something subscribed to for them.

  10. Abaccio says:

    The NCR, Catholic Worker, and the Catholic Courier are given special privilege. Every single other publication is not put on display in the common room. It’d be one thing if the NC Reporter and the NC Register were side-by-side. They are not.

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