Don’t Throw the Baby with the Bathwater

9 Jul

In a span of 3 days, I’ve already encountered so much hate for the Church because of the behavior of its members — ‘leaders’ even.

First, is the video of a priest giving a sermon to a teenage mother who was having his child baptized. Second, a story of how a parish clerk seemed to have power-tripped on a soon-to-be-wed woman, who happens to be a schoolmate, with a typographical error on her baptismal certificate.

These two incidents have caused much damage to the Church because they have turned not only the people directly involved in these incidents away from the Her but also those who have seen and read their stories. Helen wrote in her article that she already has “stopped attending Mass.”

If only the clerk knew how his actions and the priest’s words turned someone away from the greatest sacrament we have in the Church. Because of these individuals, the entire Church is hurt as it sees people move farther from Her.

But, see, her reaction to this single event is causing more harm to herself than good. Probably media has already conditioned her how hypocritical the Church is or how the mass-goers are. We have this knee-jerk reaction because we actually don’t know what we are missing out on. We throw the baby with the bathwater because the water’s dirty. Why do we do this so often?

If I could only sit down and talk with Helen, perhaps it would be clearer — her misconceptions, misinterpretations, and obvious lack of Catechesis (I say ‘obvious’ because if she really knew what the Mass is really about, I doubt that she would stop attending!). From there, we could move on and hope to correct what needs to be corrected, punish who needs to be punished, without sacrificing and moving away from Christ and His Bride.

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Kevin Rudd: Christian and Supporting Gay Marriage

25 Sep

I’ve always liked posts on UpWorthy. Often, I really find these things to be quite inspirational rather than what I see mostly being shared on my Facebook News Feed. But today, a particular post caught my attention which shows the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd being interviewed and answering a Pastor’s question regarding his position on gay marriage.

His logic is not that hard to follow. The premise is that homosexuality is not a disorder, therefore it is a natural state of being and any exercise of that state would be permissible. It would also be reprehensible do deny these human beings the natural tendency for them to express and want love.

The next part of the Q&A is typical of those non-Catholic Christians (and sometimes of Catholics as well), is that they immediately rely on biblical texts to support their argument. In this particular case, it was clearly unwise to use the bible because of what the Prime Minister precisely did: take a verse/quote and interpret it in his own terms. It is unfortunate that the pastor could not defend his position apart from references to the bible. And the Prime Minister used his reason to support his conclusion.

And this is where I find myself fortunate to have a long line of great Catholic thinkers that doesn’t solely rely on the Bible. Philosophy and Natural Law may help but only if we both agree to the existence of one truth — an objective morality of the thing being discussed.

I’m not a philosopher nor a well-read analyst but I try to digest logic when I can.

The problem hinges on the premise that either homosexuality is natural or unnatural. Natural being a ‘normal’ state; unnatural being an ‘abnormal’ state. Rudd then forwards his conclusion that if homosexuality is ‘natural’ i.e. normal, then it follows that they must be allowed to marry and not denied marriage equality.

If I remember right, existence in nature does not connote normalcy. (Or does it?) Homosexuality (or to use the Catholic term “same-sex attraction”) is hardly a choice. Though it is uncomfortable for me to simply accept that because it was not a choice when we were born into the world, we can’t do anything about it. If I were born with a genetic predisposition to getting fat (i.e. natural, ‘normal’), can’t I diet, exercise and expect a change? Or could I just get fat and simply blame my lack of choice in this thing I’m born with? So, if this predisposition to getting fat (not obese, which is clearly a disorder) is natural and normal, we shouldn’t stop people from getting fat? I don’t think it computes.

If we can’t do anything about it, then perhaps Rudd might be onto something there. But we can. Why? By design, and by the very nature of man as a creature, he has to reproduce to perpetuate his progeny. Would not this be the natural and normal thing for a species? And, granted, if a heterosexual union is barren, it does not take away the compatibility of the two members. The thing is man was clearly designed for woman, and woman for man.

Should these same-sex couples now wish to have children of their own, but cannot have through normal and natural channels, they hire women to use either sperm to ‘create’ a child of their own (separate) flesh. Of course, this is not solely a homosexual couple’s condition but it will be more predominantly used by them because their union cannot produce life. Though it is not the sole purpose of a marriage, does it not take away this aspect? Is it not, then, natural and normal?

Heroic Catholicism

18 Sep

Catholic by conviction

This, I believe, is one of the greater problems in the Philippine Catholic world. Even church-going, rosary-rattling Catholics are not Catholics by conviction. Yes, they do their civic duty as Catholics by being generous and kind to others, even those of different faiths, and supportive of the local clergy (often times to the point of idolizing them and turning them into rock stars) that they forget the crux of their Catholicism: why be Catholic at all?

All these ‘other’ things, you could do very well outside the confines of the Catholic faith (save for the clergy part). What makes these social justice-themed acts ABSOLUTELY CATHOLIC? We must create this identity that these things we do is primarily because of what the Church teaches. Not just because it makes us feel happy, warm, and fuzzy inside.

We need heroes. Catholic heroes. Identifiable Catholic heroes. Clergy and laypeople.

At present, I follow two “celebrities” in the Traditional Catholic world who clearly have the zeal to protect and defend the faith. Though at times they are in disagreement on some matters, these two are partially responsible for ‘converting’ me into a traditional-leaning Catholic.

First is Fr. Abe Arganiosa of “The Splendor of the Church” (whose site is, at present, hacked and inaccessible therefore I have not linked to his site). He is an apologist who often writes in ALL CAPS (for whatever reason, i don’t know) in his articles and answers the basic and not-so-basic objections against the faith. Sometimes, I have to cringe at his selection of swear words and wonder why he uses them at all. It often reminds me of the leader of Ang Dating Daan, Ely Soriano, who justifies such use sometimes ad absurdum. Still, some of his articles have helped me in my personal apologetics with those who do not share my Catholic faith.

Second is The Pinoy Catholic or TPC for short. TPC is rather my favorite on the web. ‘Suki‘ as we say in Filipino. With his brutally frank commentary, ‘chismis’ along with sometimes humorous and educational posts regarding liturgical abuses (sometimes identified as GULP Alerts), he follows the line along the even more popular Fr. Z on wdtprs.com and Michael Voris of ChurchMilitantTV. The main difference is that TPC remains anonymous to many. Some say that the power of anonymity gives him the courage to viciously call out on erring priests and wanna-be priests on their dissenting (or sometimes heretical) opinions on matters of faith. He doesn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve read a lot of similar negative comments where these posts appear: “How uncharitable!” “How very un-Christian!” “Very inconsiderate of the person’s feelings!” but have often sided with him on these things. Because of these, I also find myself annoyed often at mass with all the abuse I’m seeing! (Another reason why I prefer TLM).

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The first popcorn

29 Jul

A blogger tries to reason with her readers why her stand on Reproductive Health is right. She figures that by writing about the great emotional and physical agony a woman must undergo under the hand of an abusive husband and her 8th pregnancy, people will see how these things are really meant to help women — how fewer mouths mean better lives for her, her husband, and her children.

She is pleased with her writing. She holds no grudge against the Church as an institution. She loves Pope Francis and his ideas about social justice, the Church being a Church of the poor. Though she had thoughts of reading the Catechism, she stows it away together with the pile of books she’s been reading (or hopes to read). “Hey, I know more about being a true Catholic than our parish priest! I help better the lives of the poor by joining Gawad Kalinga projects! I actually do something about the poor and not just say some words, lifting up a piece of bread and that gold cup inside a huge cathedral.”

She calls her boyfriend on her brand-new HTC One “Red” (just because everyone, even rank-and-file employees, now own iPhones. But she still feels the satisfaction of having to say in her head, “yuck, prepaid!”) You can’t buy that in the Philippines. You have to go through ‘other channels’ to get that — go to Europe or order online. She wants to hang out with him at the Starbucks in that green and uncrowded part of the metropolis at the corner of 32nd Street and 7th Avenue. Away from the suffocating traffic and pollution of Pasig City.

On the way to Bonifacio Global City, a young woman, almost just her age, wearing a sling with what appears to be a months-old baby approaches her compact car and raps on the windows. She is heart-broken seeing the pretty face behind the grime in her hair and dirt on her face and how fortunate she is to not have to go through her poverty. She checks her bag to get her sandwich she was supposed to have for breakfast to give to the lady knocking at her car window. She put her hand in her bag and pulls out a condom — the one she keeps in her bag at all times for those ’emergencies’ she has with her boyfriend.

She rolls down her window ever so slightly, lest the smoke of the jeepney in front  of her get into her car, and hands the woman the condom. She is proud of her decision.

That will keep her from dying. That will keep her from going hungry. That will keep her from being just another statistic.

=====

Yes, I may not be a good writer, even less so as a debater, but Patricia Evangelista’s latest article on Rappler has some truth in it regarding Atty. Liban — he doesn’t choose his words well enough. I listened to the oral arguments and I will say I was disappointed with Atty. Liban’s representation that would come across as him telling a woman dying of maternal complications, “you are just a statistic.” On this matter, I will defer to Miss. Evangelista’s side. But she must not simply dwell on this matter as a topic for her article. From reading it, I quickly understand how she must have no knowledge of the Doctrines of the Catholic Church.

She seems to distance Church Doctrine from what Atty. Liban says — always saying “By Liban’s defniition,” “In the Church of Liban,” (vague) — instead of ascertaining what the Church really says. She has no problem identifying the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics but fails to quote official Church teaching. Why? Is it because she thinks the Catechism actually makes sense? Is it because she doesn’t want to go against the Church? Is it because she likes some part of the Church and not just all of it? Is it because she is against Atty. Liban and not what he quotes from the Catechism? I don’t know.

“The men and women who are true Catholics believe that there is no price too high for their virtue.” she says and this is true. This is one way how one  becomes sanctified. However, her next statement is puzzling and actually disturbing: “They will protect the imaginary unborn, but they will wash their hands when it comes to living women. Perhaps the choice to ignore the suffering is justified by the weight of the women’s sins.”

This presumes that the Church or rather the likes of Atty. Liban wishes harm on women: that by protecting the unborn, women are immediately in danger — treating pregnancy as if it were a disease! Let us be clear: Magna Carta for Women takes care of this — it is the implementation, like so many laws, that’s necessary.

Me vs. Me, Continued

18 Jul

 

By Thomas Storck
Can even a rationalist freethinker avoid believing some things on faith?

Catholic Way –

Bradley and Charles are back again, this time to discuss a few points like Bradley’s irrational prejudice against miracles. The main question between them this time: what does it means for Catholics to “believe” in Christ—and is this any less reasonable than believing scientific and historical facts?  In the end, is Catholicism really more rational than rationalism?

BRADLEY: Well, Charles, I must admit I got a bit off the track yesterday. Taken a bit by surprise. But, you see, the real point, the real difference between us has to do with the ability to think for oneself. Of course, this doesn’t apply in scientific matters. Naturally, here we do accept authority since we all haven’t got the time to repeat every experiment. But, in principle, each of us could. Just as we could in principle verify for ourselves each of the geographical facts mentioned in an encyclopedia. But about religious matters and stuff, that’s another kettle of fish altogether. There, you simply accept an authority you couldn’t possibly prove yourself. So, now do you see the difference between us?

 
CHARLES: It seems to me you’ve got a dogma operating somewhere in your thought.BRADLEY: How do you mean?
 
CHARLES: How do you know that religious matters are simply an irrational adherence to authority?
 
BRADLEY: They’re not subject to the scientific method, are they? They can’t be weighed or measured, can they? They can’t be verified?
 
CHARLES: How do you know that those are the only methods for arriving at truth?
 
BRADLEY: Oh, you mean religious experience and that nonsense, I suppose?
 
CHARLES: You do have a lot of misconceptions about Catholics, don’t you? No, I don’t mean religious experience, since that’s necessarily subjective. I mean, as I said yesterday, looking at the Gospels as simply historical records and asking whether they are trustworthy. And if they are, then the figure of Jesus Christ looms pretty important.
 
BRADLEY: I told you I haven’t got time for miracles.
 
CHARLES: Do you accept the accounts of Julius Caesar about his wars in Gaul and elsewhere?
 
BRADLEY: Well, I guess so. [pause] Yes, I wouldn’t have a problem with that
 
CHARLES: But why? They can’t be proven true by the scientific method or weighed or measured, can they?
 
BRADLEY: But you can’t expect that with history. Something happened only once, and we must rely on human testimony.
 
CHARLES: You know, if you keep on like that you’ll be a Catholic soon.
 
BRADLEY: Ha, ha. What are you talking about?
 
CHARLES: Catholics rely on human testimony. That’s why we believe in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and in His miracles and in the miracles performed by many of His saints.
 
BRADLEY: There, you’ve said it. You said you “believed” in this stuff. For you it’s all a matter of faith.
 
CHARLES: But what’s wrong with believing? Don’t you believe your wife when she says she did something? Or any number of other people, too. In fact, isn’t that what you’re doing with regard to Caesar, believing him?
 
BRADLEY: But there aren’t any miracles involved in those cases. Nothing supernatural.
 
CHARLES: True. But why should that be an exception? As I said before, you have an irrational dogma against the supernatural.
 
BRADLEY: It’s not irrational.
 
CHARLES: How do you prove it then?
 
BRADLEY: Well, the course of nature admits of no exceptions that science is aware of.
 
CHARLES: Science, of course, is concerned with regularity of natural processes. But unless you can prove that the observed order of nature must always be regular, no amount of scientific observation proves anything. And moreover, as I said, plenty of people have claimed to witness miracles, and in some cases, the evidence is overwhelming in favor of them.
 
BRADLEY: I don’t believe that sort of stuff at all.
 
CHARLES: Hmm … as for myself, I try to limit my beliefs to what are trustworthy, instead of having a prejudice that I can’t justify.
 
BRADLEY: You pretend to be very rational, but I know that you accept all kinds of silly stuff like miracles, weeping statues, dancing suns, and so on. That’s just nonsense.
 
CHARLES: What a pity. Evidence and reason cannot remove prejudices or unreasonable dogmas.
 
BRADLEY: Really, Charles, this is too much. I know the Catholic religion couldn’t be true, and that’s enough for me. I’ve spent enough time on this already. Maybe later we can talk more. So long.
 
[He goes out.]
 
Copyright © 2000 Thomas Storck

Thomas Storck, a convert to the Catholic faith from the Episcopal church, is the author of The Catholic Milieu (1987), Foundations of a Catholic Political Order (1998) and the newly released Christendom and the West (2000), as well as numerous articles and reviews on the subjects of Catholic culture and social teaching. He is a contributing editor of “New Oxford Review” and a member of the editorial board of “The Chesterton Review” and has taught history at Christendom College and philosophy at Mount Aloysius College and Catonsville Community College. For more information about his writing, or to order one of his books, please visit www.fourfacespress.com.

CBCP vs. “My Husband’s Lover”

27 Jun

I have a couple of questions. And thoughts that I can’t seem to organize yet, regarding the matter of the CBCP’s criticism of the TV Series “My Husband’s Lover” as reported on Rappler.

Why do people think of the CBCP (and REAL Catholics) to be homophobic bigots? Where’s the argument in that? Besides, Catholicism is not homophobic. As explained in Catholic Answers:

“The term homophobic refers to fear of homosexuality. This term often is used by homosexual activists to end rational discussion of the issue by accusing their opponents of having an irrational fear. This is unjust. One can disagree with and be critical of a behavior without having a fear of it. When the charge of “homophobia” is made, it signifies that those making the accusation do not have reasoned responses to their critics, so they switch to portraying their critics as irrational rather than responding to their arguments.”

Those who say that CBCP and the Catholic Church is homophobic are either mistaken, misguided, or who do not simply understand what the Church teaches. The Church doesn’t have an irrational argument against the lifestyle. If only people take the time to read what the Catechism teaches! Once again, from Catholic Answers:

We have to remember that all people are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated as such, no matter what their behavior. We make a distinction between person and behavior, sometimes expressed as “hate the sin, love the sinner.” The Catechism describes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered”: “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

How is this irrational?

What the CBCP-ECY hints at is that people need to be aware first of the real score with this kind of theme on television. My problem with the reporting-style of Rappler is that they seem to intentionally leave-out things that don’t paint the picture that they want of the CBCP and Catholics. Note that in the original post on Radyo Veritas, the last statement states:

“Aminado naman si Fr. Garganta na mayroong demokrasya o kalayaan ang lahat ng tao na dapat namang gamitin ng tema hindi lamang ang hangaring kumita.”

So, is the Church and CBCP abusive in exercising its right to remind people of sensitive moral issues? Are they asking for the show to be shot down?

This isn’t the first extra-marital affair-themed thing in showbiz. There were a plethora of bomba/TF/bold films in the past decades. My guess is that since TV Series are more open-ended, the CBCP are watchful of the possible twists and turns the plot might take. A movie is relatively easier to review if it concerns moral themes such as extra-marital affairs because it has a definite conclusion after the 2 hours you watched it. TV Series are trickier. Heck, a movie about a gay brother got better reviews than this movie about heterosexual extra-marital affairs and you think CBCP is homophobic? Can’t people stop and think first before any knee-jerk reaction to a group’s actions and recommendations?

My other real problem, I’ve already expressed in my previous posts — how media is a force that is pushing people away from the Church, and how people are now so gullible to believe outrageous things about the Church that it somehow shows their predisposed hatred for it.

What I look forward to is a good argument between these things. Not just the name-calling on the comments section of the news article on Rappler. As Fr. Robert Barron comments on one of his articles:

“Any preacher or writer who ventures to make a moral argument [against gay marriage] is automatically condemned as a purveyor of “hate speech” or excoriated as a bigot, and in extreme cases, he can be subject to legal sanction. This visceral, violent reaction is a consequence of the breakdown of the rational framework for moral discourse that MacIntyre so lamented.”

 

Discouraged

3 Jun

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, describing the hypocrisy that is the Catholic Church. Here were holy men of the Church — those who preached to hold-off on homosexual tendencies — letting go of themselves in a private event where they shed their cassocks and be gay.

Here I was, I became depressed, troubled, disheartened, and discouraged. The article is full of links to other news regarding the other scandals in the Church. No, I was not disheartened because I believed what was being said against the Church. I was just in shock because of how the media would twist things to make the Church look bad.

For example, the link saying that “the Vatican owns the largest gay bathhouse in Rome”, in my opinion, misrepresents what actually happened: that Vatican bought a building that happened to have a bathhouse frequented by gay people. Should this be a hindrance in the acquisition of the property? Would it matter if there are plans to rid of it after purchasing it anyway? Should I not live in a neighborhood with philanderers even if I’m happily married? If I bought a gay bar, would that make me an endorser of the gay lifestyle even if I plan to turn it into a family-oriented pizzeria? Yes, it doesn’t look good. But to twist the truth about it? That is hardly journalism.

This is, to me, what is truly depressing. As I listened to the recording by Tom Peterson on CatholiCity.com, I couldn’t laugh at the quip about how the Pope would walk on water and yet, media reports would be “The Pope Can’t Swim!” It is this twisting of the truth and what is good that really hurts the most.