Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Coming Down Soon from the USCCB

June 13th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

I don’t sign pledges in any way, shape or form.  If I want to give, I’ll give.  If I want to do, I’ll do.  IMO, there are very few things (except, for example, marriage or religious vows) that are worth  being bound by a pledge.  Moreover, it can be argued that forcing or pressuring people to sign pledges to God, on superficial issues, only puts those souls in unnecessary danger.

The Epistle of James (5:12) states:

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.”

If we are going to sign a vow, promise, pledge (regardless of the nomenclature) then it should be taken most seriously, not only because it is our word, but especially when it is addressed (directly or indirectly) to God.  The Old Testament (Numbers 30:2) makes clear the seriousness of such promises:

“When a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

A pledge to God should not be a behavioral modification tool, nor should it be a group marketing program.  And it shouldn’t treat adults as children, since they are bound as adults.

Hence, I feel some concern about what appears to be a USCCB plan to circulate a pledge that should not be treated casually (as sometimes occurs in church when clipboards of petitions to state government circulate to accumulate signatures and implied legislative clout.)  Apparently the purpose is to support an encyclical, about which the content remains unknown.

Here is the proposed pledge.  What do you think?

In reply to Ben’s question as to where I found this, it was on the USCCB website; see link in right column, just below the sniffy picture.  It seems that since I first visited there is a disclaimer on the USCCB site regarding the link.  However, since it is to a “Catholic” site, and it takes a bishop to approve the use of the word “Catholic”. a link from the USCCB seems rather authenticating.




12 Responses to “Coming Down Soon from the USCCB”

  1. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    where did you find that?

  2. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I remember in the early 1990’s the mercy nuns were doing this in a local parish for lent. That was the only theme for lent.

    If that is mentioned in church, I will simply walk out and return after it is read.

  3. avatar Hopefull says:

    Ben — see addition to the post. Hopefull.

  4. avatar militia says:

    192 page encyclical (in Italian at least!) Will somebody please try to figure out how many trees got used for the publication in the various languages? And in printing out copies from on line? And in the bulletins and other materials generated to “support” the encyclical? In transportation costs and fuel use? And what didn’t get done because the Pope’s encyclical is occupying center stage — like attention which really ought to be directed to the upcoming Synod? Then next on the agenda is the visit to Philadelphia –that ought to occupy a lot of time and resources. I think I have a new understanding of the old saw about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Or was it about fiddling while Rome burns?

  5. avatar annonymouse says:

    I would like to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt before passing judgment on Laudato Si. And I would dearly like to be able to read it now that it’s been leaked, but my Italian is pretty poor.

    I am particularly interested in learning where the line is – when and where and how the Holy Father believes we’ve sinned by our neglect of the environment, contributing to climate change (which used to be known as global warming). Am I sinning by getting into an airplane and flying to vacation? It’s certainly not a necessary trip. I drive to work each day – is that a sin when I could take a bus?

    The leaked reports say that the Holy Father asserts that climate change is particularly harsh on the poor – may be true, I trust he’ll support that assertion. But I hope that he also recognizes that economic progress has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty around the globe.

    Finally, I’m keen to learn what all this has to do with “faith and morals” – the purvey of the Church’s and his teaching after all, the purported area of his expertise.

    In light of this important teaching, I would think the Holy Father will re-think his fall visit to the USA – ponder the carbon footprint not only of his and his entourage’s travel, but also that of the hundreds of thousands planning pilgrimages to see and hear him. The encyclical is addressed to all mankind – I wouldn’t want the Church to be seen as hypocritical.

  6. avatar gaudium says:

    My son asked me today if the encyclical was considered infallible. We discussed it for a while and then he asked, “Well, where does this leave Humanae Vitae?” From what I have seen of the new encyclical, it makes very specific statements not just about care for the environment but that global warming is primarily due to human activity. How can a person defend Humanae Vitae as authentic teaching and say that the pope may be wrong about his scientific conclusions? How can we say that the pope’s teaching authority does not cover scientific matters but that he can speak against using scientific means for regulating birth? I fully and without question accept the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception. I’m just asking how we can defend it when the new encyclical makes specific, scientific conclusions.

  7. avatar Hopefull says:

    Re Gaudium’s question: Science truth and moral truth are not the same. For example, Pope Paul VI did not say: “The contraceptive pill does not work.” Rather, he said, to use that pill in order to prevent pregnancy is a sin. Similarly, the Pope who erroneously claimed that the earth is the center of the universe was wrong, scientifically wrong. But it was (is) true that God should be the center of our lives. To avow bad science would in itself be against truth, and a violation of the dignity of man. It is the very combination of truth and untruth which poses the greatest danger IMO.

  8. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Good question, Gaudium. This is a good teaching/learning moment for us Catholics. In addition to the distinction Hopefull mentioned between scientific facts on one hand and faith and morals on the other, it’s important to know that Paul VI made no infallible declarations in Humanae Vitae. My understanding (and I should spend some time freshening up the details in my mind before writing too much here) is that although Paul VI certainly did bind the consciences of Catholics which would make using contraception gravely immoral, he didn’t do so with infallible authority. That certainly doesn’t imply that Catholics are free to have a differing opinion on the subject – we are not (as we are with the scientific facts of man-made climate change). It also doesn’t imply that the teaching isn’t itself infallible. Some people will quote Scripture (the sin of Onan) to point to its infallibility. Scripture is always infallible (including scientific facts, btw) – it’s just a matter of figuring out the correct interpretation. I’m honestly not sure how good the argument is there. It may hold water, but what I find more convincing is that the teaching on contraception is infallible because it falls into the category of the ordinary and universal teaching authority of the Magisterium. Note that here we have a category of infallible teachings that many Catholics don’t know exist. Most of us know that Scripture, the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils, and Papal statements made “ex cathedra” are infallible, but the ordinary and universal teaching authority of the Church is often overlooked. I’ve written more about this here:

    I think these are very important nuances for all of us to learn about (or touch up on now) as the liberals will be quick to make statements like, “you are a hypocrite – you’re proving that you’ve been a cafeteria Catholic all along.”

  9. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    as to the questions of science, I offer William M. Briggs:

  10. avatar gaudium says:

    Good arguments all but will anyone listen. The article in Crisis magazine is only a critic of some of the premises of the encyclical. The problem is that there is going to be an encyclical with false scientific premises at all, or, even that there is an encyclical that delves into scientific debate at all. In my conversation with my son — a devout, very well informed Catholic — he asked, “aren’t encyclicals infallible?” What about the average Joe in the pew, or not in the pew at all? If the Pope’s answer to a reporter’s query on an airplane can be seen as practically infallible then what about an encyclical? The only hopeful sentence in the Crisis article was “As everybody knows, the final version may be different than the leaked version.”

    All of this being said, the Pope addresses real, moral issues about the treatment of the poor and, even, the necessity of caring for the environment. The trouble is that it will be lost in the fog. Will global warming alarmists stop going to expensive events by plane and SUV’s and give the money to the poor instead?

  11. avatar annonymouse says:

    A very quick review of the released English document is not enough to draw conclusions, but I will say this – it appears, especially because of its weakly-linked concern about “global warming” and concern for the poor, that this is mostly a missive against capitalism. Perhaps I’m missing the part where the Holy Father praises the free market for raising hundreds of millions of the poor from the brink of starvation and abject poverty, just over the last fifty years, in his native South America, in Africa and in Asia. Never have fewer people faced destitution, and it was neither socialism nor communism that accomplished that. I hope in my more careful reading of the encyclical that I will find this, but I doubt it.

  12. avatar gaudium says:

    It is interesting that the Pope addresses the encyclical to all people of good will. It would seem that he does not see it as binding on the faithful in the same sense as an encyclical addressed to the bishops — or to the people through the bishops. In fact, he almost apologizes when he begins Chapter Two with the phrase, “Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers?” That is quite different than the usual encyclical approach where they are addressed primarily to believers. The document addresses many important issues of poverty and of the need to respect the environment. The feeling I get from a cursory glimpse of the document is that the Pope would see a life lived on a small, rural homestead as being superior to other forms of life. Many rural people move to a more urban location because they are sick of grubbing out a living as subsistence farmers. Life really is better (I don’t mean morally better.)with electricity, fresh drinking water, and “indoor plumbing.”

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