Thursday, May 29, 2014

A chalice of tiger blood

Pope Francis on the upcoming Synod on the family:
I thank you for your question on the divorced. The [October 2014] Synod will be on the family, its problems, about the richness of family, the current situation of the family. The preliminary presentation that cardinal Kasper made had five chapters. Four on the beautiful things of the family from a theological perspective, family problems, the pastoral problem of separations, matrimonial nullity, divorced and the problem of communion... It did not please me that so many people, including in the Church, priests, etc, spoke of communion for the divorced as if it were all reduced to casuistry. We know that there is a crisis of the family. Young people do not want to get married, or do not get married, live together... I do not wish that we got into casuistry: what can be done or cannot be done... That is why I am so thankful for this question, because it gives me the opportunity to clarify. The pastoral problem of the family is very, very wide, and should not be plucked case by case. That which Pope Benedict said three times - once in the South Tyrol, another time in Milan, and another in a consistory - is that the procedures of matrimonial nullity have to be examined. To study the faith with which a person enters matrimony, and clarify that divorcees are not strange. Oftentimes they are treated as if they were. I am certain that it was the Spirit of the Lord who guided us to choose this theme for the Synod. The family needs much pastoral help.
The Tenth Crusade is not amused:
If I want to teach my family about morals and I hire Charlie Sheen, one must assume I've done my homework and selected the right person to convey the message I wish to have conveyed. I own the outcome.

With all due respect, it is simply not believable to select Kasper, sit back and watch the circus of dissent and confusion he conveys on your behalf, and then claim you did not wish this outcome.

Not owning the outcome feels deceptive and that is impacting credibility and trust...The Roman Catholic Church ordained and hired dissenters on every level and the situation is catastrophic.

Announcing the fix is in, hiring a man leading a schismatic movement and then claiming he is shocked by the outcome tells us it is the same old show only now at the top.

It gives the appearance the Pope is among those who operate under the old chestnut of passive-aggressive deception. That is bringing a boatload of other problems he didn't expect upon his papacy.

This is the reality which everyone needs to face because it is not going away unless and until he stops the nonsense of appointing dissidents to speak and teach on his behalf. 
 I'm a firm believer in the notion of the "diabolical disorientation" afflicting the Catholic Church. What other reasonable explanation can there be for this pattern? The bishops know full well which of their priests are dissenters. The bishops are quite aware of persons they appoint to teach and preach who have a history of heresy and borderline schism. There is simply no way Pope Francis is unaware that Kasper is a de facto heretic. And yet dissenters, heretics, and schismatics everywhere occupy positions of power within the Church. The bishops are only moved to decisive action to shoot the messengers.

I know there are good priests and bishops out there. But I view all priests and bishops I don't know personally as untrustworthy until they give me a good reason to trust them. Their passive-aggressive deception is tiresome and nauseating.

World without end, part 2

Part 1

After breakfast, the three companions set out for Cameron Glen. What little asphalt there was gave way to a gravel road. Birds chirped in the crisp morning air. Jackson and Gladstone kept quiet for most of the walk, but Joe passed the time by playing recordings of old songs Jackson had never heard before.

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his hat,
and called it macaroni

"What is that?" Jackson asked.

"Couldn't tell you friend. I got a million songs in my memory but I don't remember where they all come from," Joe said.

"He's not exaggerating about that number either," Gladstone said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Serious question

What is the point of praying for Christian unity when Holy Mother Church no longer demands that the Orthodox and Protestants return to Rome? Ecumenical gatherings are largely occasions for a bunch of old people to get together, pat each other on the back, and congratulate each other on what good and holy Christians they are. The only thing we can count on being done is the Catholic Church emasculating itself yet again as it fawns over the errors of the Orthodox and the heresies of the Protestants. Ecumenism should be pronounced "you come in ism." If we tell other Christians that they are good and holy and worthy of adulation just the way they are, they will not unreasonably ask why they should bother becoming Catholic at all. And the Catholic will be shocked at such a question because it never occurred to him to ask them to become Catholic in the first place.

The stone rejected by the builders

Inside Catholic baseball stuff but basically a flourishing religious order has been stamped out because they were getting a little too old school for some people. I used to resent this sort of thing more than I do. As I get older though, you have to laugh at it or else you'll cry. It's difficult to exaggerate the seething hatred some clergymen have for the pre-Vatican II Church. Some men's dislike of the smells and bells is so cartoonishly over the top that I wouldn't take them seriously at all if they weren't in positions of power. The tragic thing is that Tradition-oriented young men and women are pretty much the only ones who display any interest in religious life at all anymore. I don't claim to know the will of God but it appears that he wants to raze the institutional Church to the foundations. At some point Tradition will be all we have left and we'll have to begin again from nearly scratch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ideas have consequences

Bewilderment in the face of liberalism's growing tyranny:
Principles have their own implications, and liberal principle takes us places the average liberal doesn't intend. Freedom and equality are good up to a point, but they're content-free abstractions, and their demands expand without limit when we make them the highest standard in place of the good life. And reconstructing the human world--"fundamental social reform," as it is called--demands the open-ended use of force that ignores complaints from the people getting reconstructed.

The result is that liberalism, like the leftism of which it is part, ends in tyranny as it builds up an infinitely detailed network of supervision and compulsion to make sure we don't oppress each other. Ms. Powers has no idea how moderate today's liberals really are, all things considered. They may seem a bit odd, and not at all liberal in the way she would like, but they're not nearly so violent as other progressives have been.
Liberals sincerely believe in freedom and equal rights. Freedom properly understood looks a lot like the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity: higher authorities should not need to solve problems that can be solved by local authorities. Equal rights is a substantively meaningless concept as a "right" simply is an authoritative discrimination in favor of one thing at the expense of another. Property rights imply the owner's authority to discriminate against unwanted advances. Homeowners exclude uninvited strangers from their homes. Equal rights means discriminating without discriminating, and as such is meaningless.

As Kalb says, it's not an accident that the more we fixate on freedom and equality, the State grows ever larger and more intrusive to ensure that we don't oppress each other.

Heartaches by the number, troubles by the score

Catholics should avoid temptations to schadenfreude:
Back in old England, the picture isn’t much merrier. Linda Woodhead, a sociology of religion professor at Lancaster University in Lancashire, recently conducted her own “scientific survey of Catholic opinion.” Dr. Woodhead has determined that “faithful Catholics” in the U.K. are now “a rare and endangered species” (Religion Dispatches, Nov. 24, 2013). Defined as those who attend weekly Mass, profess certain belief in God, take authority from religious sources, and are opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia, a mere five percent of British Catholics can be called “faithful.” That figure drops to two percent for British Catholics under the age of 30. Startlingly, Dr. Woodhead found that zero percent of British Catholics “look to religious leaders for guidance as they make decisions and live their lives.”

The problem, as Woodhead sees it, is that “most Catholics don’t think the [Church’s moral] teaching is too hard, they think it’s wrong” (italics in original). This would suggest that dressing up existing doctrines — especially those related to marriage and sexuality — to make them more appealing, or dispensing with them altogether, will have little to no effect. The recent history of the Anglican Communion is a case in point: It is endlessly refashioning itself in order to achieve “relevance” by shedding virtually every one of its distinctively Christian moral teachings — and with disastrous results.
I think the Catholic Church's moral teachings are right, although I don't claim to always live up to them or live as I should. I aim for the ideal even if I fall down a lot in practice. That's much different from thinking the teachings are wrong and not even trying. Ironically, many of my Protestant and Godless heathen friends think of me as a "good Catholic" simply for doing the bare minimum: going to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, and regularly going to confession. In the eyes of the media, I'd be a "devout Catholic." I expect that when I appear before the Judgment Seat I'll be called a bad servant because I only did what was expected of me.

Numbers are a sore topic in the Catholic Church. Everyone with eyes in his head can see the Church has been on the decline for years. The establishment Church thinks it's largely a failure of marketing. If we can repackage the good parts and downplay the hard parts, then modern man will come flocking to our doors. You see this a lot in marketing campaigns to drum up more vocations to the priesthood. The priest isn't portrayed as the intermediary between God and his people because each of us is part of the royal priesthood as Vatican II said. Instead the priest is portrayed, and usually comes across, as a warm and fuzzy community organizer whose job is to recruit the best and the brightest his parish has to offer in order to run all of the different committees, ministries, and general social work.

Mark Shea is fond of saying that Traditionalists "hate evangelism." Speaking only for myself, I dislike glib ad campaigns that try to convince people that Catholicism will mow your grass, cure male pattern baldness, and be an endless tide of heavenly bliss in this world. The truth is, Catholicism can be hard. It's a challenge to us to do battle with the old man as we try to put on the new man. It's a challenge to the world to kneel before the King of the Universe. It's a challenge to our spiritual enemies when we put on Christ. Again, I don't claim to do this well but Christ is a compelling figure. You could say his power compels me, heh.

We shouldn't feel schadenfreude over the continued implosion of mainline Protestantism. There are great multitudes of Catholics - many of whom collect paychecks from Holy Mother Church - who want us to follow the Anglicans into irrelevancy and oblivion.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

World without end

This is the first chapter in some new fiction. My four loyal readers get this as a freebie. If you don't like it, it comes with a money back guarantee.

Daniel Jackson pulled back on the reins and his mule gratefully stopped. It flicked its ears to shoo away a bothersome horsefly. Jackson dismounted, doffed his hat to wipe sweat from his brow, took a pull from his canteen. Highway 50 stretched before him and up into the mountains. Weeds poked through broken patches of asphalt. On both sides of the road were scattered foundations exposed to the afternoon sky, crumbling stucco walls, old Spanish tile moldering underneath the summer sun. A long abandoned settlement by the look of it. Jackson considered combing the ruins for supplies that other scavengers might have skipped but dismissed the idea. It was too hot to go digging for whatever crumbs might be left. What he really needed was more water.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Strike up the band, Beefy Levinson's back in town

My buddy the youth minister got married this last weekend. May he and his lovely bride enjoy many happy years and many beautiful children together. The wedding took place at Sacramento's cathedral, spared wreckovation in the 1970s by being declared a historical landmark. Who'd have thought the California legislature would ever be a friend to Tradition? He made it a black tie affair as well. Good on him I say. None of this outdoor wedding stuff with people in Hawaiian shirts and shorts. I, of course, had to go all out: tuxedo, top hat, monocle, white gloves, black cape, sword cane, spats, gold cigarette case, snuff box, revolver, and pocket watch. That's how Beefy Levinson rolls.

Regis Martin asks if anyone will end up in hell:
In Robert Speaight’s The Unbroken Heart, a novel sadly neglected in the long years following its publication in 1939, a character named Arnaldo has just been told of his beloved wife’s untimely death.  His reaction, by today’s standards, seems very strange indeed.  “It does not really interest me,” he confesses, “to know by what accident Rhoda died.  All our lives are an accident and we must all die somehow.”So what does interest him?  The answer, to his interlocutor at least, sounds almost incomprehensible.  “I want to know how she died, what was in her mind, what her soul said to God when she fell from the rampart.  Nothing else is of the least importance whatsoever.  Our life is directed to that moment when we fall from the rampart, and our eternal destiny is decided by that.  But I see that you don’t believe that.”
Nor, would it appear, does anyone else.  Certainly not anyone these days, i.e., people anxious to appear hip and stylish, their opinions plugged into the usual circuits of secularity.  People for whom the parameters of life are far more plausibly found between the covers of, say, Time or Newsweek or People Magazine, are not interested in tracing the soul’s trajectory at the moment of death.   A huge eruption in sensibility having taken place in recent years, the traditional eschatological landscape remains largely unrecognizable.
We bloggers are particularly susceptible to this. There's nothing intrinsically wrong about being well informed about worldly events, but we must take care that it doesn't become a consuming passion. How we die is in a sense even more important than how we live. One unconfessed mortal sin on our conscience at the moment of death will send us to hell even after a lifetime of doing good. The Godless heathen thinks that this is insane, as if God is not the Lord God of Hosts but the Egyptian death god Anubis who will weigh us in the scales to judge our eternal destiny. Mortal sin is insane to a degree. It requires full knowledge that what we're doing is wrong and the consent of the will in performing it. Our subjective guilt can be mitigated by any number of circumstances, but we still do it in too many cases. Following the path of Christ is necessary for our own spiritual sanity.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Satan's activity in the world

Read it. Go on. Read it and study the pictures. That is why we should not be shy about saying our goal is the outlawing of abortion in every jurisdiction and every outlaw abortionist swinging from a gibbet.

What meekness is and what it is not

The Free Northerner points us toward this piece on the definition of meekness:
Since meekness is meant to conjure up the image of a powerful animal being brought into subjection to a master, it is worth asking whether Christians are truly meek in the sense in which the word is biblically.
There are two conditions that must be met in order for one to be considered meek.  First, is one living in subjection to a master?  Second, is one powerful?

While most Christians will claim to live in subjection to Christ (and will be judged by Christ, not me), most Christians are not powerful.  Indeed, most Christians appear to be weak and fearful.  Thus, most Christians are not really meek, for though they live in subjection, they are not powerful.

And yet, meekness is well spoken of in the Bible.  Moses was called the meekest man on the earth, and Christ said that meek were destined to inherit the earth.  Since meekness is bringing one's power in subjection to God, why is so much emphasis placed on subjection and so little on power?  As far as meekness is concerned, you cannot have one without the other.

Indeed, it was Christ who told his followers to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."  The choice to use "serpents" was deliberate, and meant to evoke certain satanic connotations.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong about understanding how the world works and using the Prince of the Power of the Air's power structures against him.  Indeed, that's exactly what Paul did to get what he wanted from the Roman officials in Philippi in Acts 16.

Thus, the church is suffering from a lack of meekness because it easier to subjugate through castration than through training.  This neutering robs the church of its power and thus its weakness.  It also robs the church of its future because the castrated cannot reproduce.
This is why we read the lives of the saints. St. Peter was a fisherman who requested to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy of dying in the same way Christ died. St. Lawrence was roasted alive on a giant grill and said to his executioners, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side [thus becoming the patron saint of trolls.]" St. Ignatius of Loyola was a cannon proof ex-soldier who founded one of the greatest religious orders with some of his fellow ex-soldiers (it's a pity how far the Jesuits have fallen.)

Authority is inescapable because reality is hierarchical. Modern people, however, don't really believe in authority. Liberalism is ruthless in enforcing its own authority all while claiming to disbelieve in authority that is not based in consent. To be sure, consent makes the exercise of authority go more smoothly but we are obligated to obey some forms of authority regardless of our personal consent. The question is not "Whether authority?" but "To which authority will I submit?" The saints were strong men and women who submitted in a perfect way to the authority and will of God. St. Paul is clear that we must submit to the earthly authorities placed over us, but if we ever have to choose between obeying God or man, then we have an obligation to obey God first. This is why there were and are so many Christian martyrs.

He's a father, not a General Secretary

Catholics must learn to resist their popes - even Pope Francis:
Pope Francis has a funny way of naming and shaming certain tendencies in the church, using insults that are inventive, apposite, and confounding. His ear is finely tuned for the way the Catholic faith can be distorted by ideology. And I'd like to imitate his example when I say this: Most Catholics are completely unprepared for a wicked pope. And they may not be prepared for Pope Francis either. They are more loyal to an imagined Catholic party than to the Catholic faith or the church.
Between Pentecost and the launch of Vatican.va, most Catholics did not have access to the day-to-day musings of their pope. The Roman pontiff's theological speculations have been of almost no interest to Catholics throughout history, and never became so unless he was a great theologian already, or there was a great controversy which the authority of the Roman Church might settle. To the average Catholic living hundreds of miles from Rome the Faith was the Faith, whether the pope was zealously orthodox like St. Benedict II or a sex criminal like Pope John XII.
But the social crosscurrents of the last 50 years of Catholic life have made the pope a more intimate figure in the lives of Catholic believers. During the post–Vatican II upheavals in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, conservative Catholics developed a mental architecture that told them that even if their parish priest or local bishop was lax, immoral, or even vaguely heretical, there was practically a living saint in Rome, whose unassailable orthodoxy, personal charisma, and good works were taken as the living sign of the indefectibility of the church. The solidity of the message coming from Rome has been for many Catholics the practical experience of this truth about the church.
That squares with the feeling I've always had about a certain kind of Catholic. I used to be that kind of Catholic. It's a great emotional comfort to believe that even if the local parishes or the diocese are run by rank Modernists, the pope will protect. It's not the healthiest way to live the faith to put it lightly. Popes can be good or bad, and history is rife with examples of popes who have been very bad indeed. What will the good conservative Catholic do if we see another Alexander VI, or John XXII, or Benedict IX, or Stephen VI?
Look for instance at the reaction of conservative Catholics to the pope's phone call to Jaquelina Lisbona, a woman in Argentina civilly married to a divorcée, in which Francis supposedly counseled her to practically ignore church teaching on divorce, adultery, confession, and Holy Communion.
Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture speculated, "[F]or all we know, she and her husband are now living as brother and sister, in which case there would be no reason why she could not resume receiving the sacraments." Of course, if this were the case the parish priest could have determined this without the extraordinary phone call from Christ's vicar.
Before deleting it (perhaps in embarrassment), Jimmy Akin reminded his readers at the National Catholic Register that the pope has the power to act as the church's chief legislature and to execute judgments immediately, and so therefore he could annul the first marriage and radically sanction the second, implying all this could be done over the phone. That he would have short-circuited the church's entire juridical process, undermined faith in the church's discipline, and undercut Catholic priests seems to bother Akin not at all. This same defense was used to justify the pope's breaking of liturgical rubrics, essentially employing the Nixon defense that "when the pope does it, it's not illegal."
 This defense, whether it's the president or the pope, is nonsense on stilts. It destroys the notion of Faith as something revealed by God and turns it into philosophical pragmatism. The Church ceases to be an infallible guide to the Truth, and becomes the manufacturer of "truth."
Let me suggest that these two good Catholic men are acting not as church men but as party men, and falling into what Hillary Jane White aptly diagnosed as "papal positivism." Lawler and Akin are not alone. The bulk of Catholic media is devoted to moon-faced speculation about how the discreet governing decisions, words, and gestures of the pope are accomplishing some larger goal that we further speculate must be in the pope's head or heart. It's very easy to make the pope into a saintly superhero when you act as his ventriloquist.
 Papal positivism; I'm going to steal that term.
Party membership and church membership are not alike at all. Party bids its members to spin, minimize, and explain away supposed contradictions between one party leader and the next, to hide deviations by party leaders from the party platform. Because party members cannot know the outcome of the next election, crimes, oversight, or simple mismanagement by the party leader are treated as much less serious offenses to the cause than the scandal that would come from admitting or publicizing them in the sight of the opposing party.
Unlike a party, the church already knows the outcome of its election; the blessed reign, the accursed don't. The church already has victory. And so the church and its believers do not depend on the righteousness of the pope; the papacy and the church depend on the righteousness of Christ. The Catholic faith teaches that the pope has the same duty to remain constant in the faith as we do, the Holy Spirit doesn't turn him into an automaton upon his election. If he lies, we must rebuke him in charity. If he fails at something, we should help him. He ain't just the Catholic heavy, he's our brother.
Church members have assurance that comes from God not Rome, the type that if it ever sunk in would prepare them for martyrdom. Party members suffer from a twitchy, defensive anxiety, the type that when it sinks in makes them petty see-no-evil demagogues.
Ideally, clergymen are supposed to be shepherds and spiritual fathers. Some are good at those roles and many are not. Personal holiness in your parish priest is a beautiful thing and it can serve to strengthen our own faith. Ultimately though, we are not judged on what our priests do or fail to do, but on our personal faith and personal actions.
The Catholic Party eclipsing the Catholic Church has a distorting effect on the world's perception too. If the loudest and most prominent orthodox members of the church in the media treat the pope like a party leader and are so quick with clever-dick rationalizations of the massive changes to the practice of the Faith over the past 50 years, why should they be surprised that the world conceives of the doctrines and dogmas of the Faith as mere party planks or mutable policy, to be exchanged, updated, or abandoned as the times change?
 There's been a terrible rupture between Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the last fifty years. Too often clergymen forget lex orandi, lex credenda, the law of prayer is the law of belief. There's been more radical upheaval and chaos since Vatican II than in the previous 1950 years of Church history put together. For the record, the Novus Ordo is a valid Mass. The fact that I even have to add that qualification speaks of how much things have changed. We think of the sacraments in terms of bare bones validity, as if anything goes so long as the matter and form are present. Technically, Father could come down to the altar in his golf clothes and say the words of consecration over some bread and wine, and it would be a valid sacrament. The ars celebrandi of that particular occasion would tell everyone present that the Eucharist is nothing serious. Every parish appears free to mold the Mass according to its own personal preferences. Anyone who is involved in the life of their dioceses can readily tell you which parishes celebrate the Novus Ordo "reverently" and which do not.

The overall impression it gives outsiders is that the Catholic faith exists as a set of Platonic ideals that doesn't have much influence on the way Catholics actually live their faith. For Catholics who try to take the faith seriously, it creates cognitive dissonance: "The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary represented to God the Father with all of the angels and saints present here at the foot of the cross, but everyone is here in Hawaiian shirts and shorts, laughing and carrying on before, during, and after Mass."

The pope is a father, not a General Secretary. We love and respect our father, but sometimes for his own good we need to rebuke him if he goes off the reservation.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No, no, a thousand times no

They are really eager to canonize Vatican II, aren't they?
Paul VI being on track to being Beatified?
There are so many conjectures about his private life, his friendships, those he allowed influence; there are so many questions which are unanswered, so many hints of scandal, of all the twentieth centuries Popes Paul VI should be left to sleep quietly in his grave, with prayers of the faithful.

Even his predecessor Pope St John XXIII dubbed him Hamlet.

Nine years after his election he wrote: "Perhaps the Lord called me to this service not because I have any aptitude for it, or so I can govern and save the Church in its present difficulties, but so I can suffer something for the Church so that it will be clear that it is the Lord, and not anyone else, who guides and saves it."
Pope Paul VI has a few bright, shining moments of courage to his credit. Against the opposition of his own hand-picked commission, he upheld the Church's perennial teaching about the sinfulness of artificial contraception. At Vatican II, he intervened at the last possible second to prevent a serious compromise with doctrine. Otherwise Paul wept while the Church crumbled around him. He appointed a freemason to lead a committee of Protestants in whipping up a new Mass from scratch. Like many of his contemporaries, one area where Paul exhibited a ruthless iron fist was in suppressing outbreaks of Tradition wherever they appeared. We're supposed to believe the collapse of the institutional Church would have been even worse without Paul's radical innovations. I find it difficult to believe the implosion of the Church could possibly have been worse than it actually was. I suppose that's another thing Paul will be remembered for: he was spitting straight fire when he said that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church. It's a pity he didn't do anything about it.

It's quite possible that Paul VI is in heaven. I hope he is. But this is not a man who should be held up for public veneration. In the mean time, Pius XII's cause languishes because the Church doesn't want to offend the sensibilities of non-believers. The crisis of the Church is a crisis of bishops indeed.

h/t: Rorate Caeli

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The best laid plans of bishops

For Cinco de Mayo yesterday, the New York Times examined the demographically changing Catholic Church in America:
The Roman Catholic Church has known for years that its future in the United States depends heavily on Hispanics. The church, which is the largest religious denomination in the country, is already about 40 percent Hispanic, and the demographic change is inexorable: Within the next few decades, Hispanics are expected to make up a majority of American Catholics.
The influx of Hispanics has been a stabilizing factor for the church. Were it not for immigration, Catholicism in the United States would be dwindling as non-immigrant Catholics drift away from the church. But the changing makeup of American Catholicism also poses challenges, starting with the problem that much of the physical and political infrastructure of the church is concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, while much of the immigration-fueled growth is in the Southwest and West.
Hispanic Catholics differ from other American Catholics in a number of striking, and significant, ways: Hispanic parents have been much less likely to send their children to Catholic schools, and their sons have been less likely to pursue the priesthood.
A researcher at Boston College, Hosffman Ospino, has undertaken a new effort to understand the behavior of Hispanic American Catholics, and the implications for the larger church. In a study released Monday, Mr. Ospino finds a relatively high level of participation in church sacraments, but a low level of participation in other aspects of parish life, and a concerning lack of personnel and financial resources in parishes with high numbers of Hispanics.
For decades, the US bishops have kept their heads buried in the sand over the catastrophic decline of the Catholic Church in America on their watch. Many of them are the descendants of the big waves of Irish, Italian, Polish, Slovak, and other Catholic immigrants so they're all high on Ellis Island nostalgia. Those previous ethnic groups of immigrants were undoubtedly a boon to American Catholicism so, the thinking goes, surely importing millions of Mexican Catholics will prop up the American Church's sagging numbers. For numerous reasons, it's not working out that way.

Americans generally overestimate how Catholic the Mexicans really are. We think that all Mexicans are either little abuelas muttering their rosary in the back pew, or mustachioed Cristeros ready to kick ass and take names for Christ the King. The truth is, the fastest growing religious groups in Mexico today are the Pentecostals and the cult of Santa Muerte. Despite importing Mexico's underclass, there has not been a corresponding increase in Sunday donations, in volunteer hours, or in vocations to the priesthood to go along with their numbers. Mexicans are notorious about their low participation rates in social or civic organizations outside their immediate families. They want the sacraments, and that's it. Nonetheless, the bishops still herald them as the salvation of the Catholic Church in the United States.

If it's true that the US Church will become majority Mexican in the next few decades (enough of this "Hispanic" nonsense. Unless you live in New York or Florida, 99% of the time they're Mexicans), then the bishops will have to let go of the massive infrastructure they've inherited because the money simply won't be there anymore. Despite the tens of millions of Mexican Catholics, vocations directors in the Western US still have to go overseas, hat in hand, to beg the Philippines or Africa or Latin-America for more seminarians. The priest shortage in the US is a 100% manufactured problem, but that's a whole 'nother story.

The sooner the bishops have to come to grips with their own failures, the better for everyone. What the Mexicans really need is a Hispanic version of "Dagger" John Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York. He molded the drunken brawling Irish underclass into the political and ecclesial machines they are known for today.

Monday, May 5, 2014

But what will I do on Sundays now?

Last night was the final LifeTeen for the school year. When my pal the youth minister asked me to be on his core team, I doubted myself at first as I had never worked with teenagers before. It turns out kids respond well to gruff and surly types like me. They turned out all right. They responded well to our challenging them and emphasizing that yes, Jesus loves them, but life is hard and the Catholic faith can be hard. In other words, the best way to attract and keep the youth within the Church is to stop trying. A good rule of thumb: avoid parishes that emphasize what a warm and welcoming community they are.