Reactions to an Excommunicated Priest, and Catholic ‘membership’

2 May

Yeah, Rappler has reported on the excommunication and apparent resignation of Brazilian ex-priest Roberto Francisco Daniel. And, as analyzed by another Catholic blogger, Rappler wants you to believe that the sole reason he was excommunicated is because he supported gay marriage. I guess they missed out on his views on fidelity and loyalty to a husband. Because according to Roberto Daniel in the TPC post, “If someone is in an extramarital relationship and that relationship is accepted by the spouse, then faithfulness still exists there.” Try wrapping your head around that concept if  you still consider yourself a Catholic.

Of course, once you read the comments, things get even hairier. People begin asking something like, “If you teach about love and forgiveness, why don’t you forgive and love your members?” and then they begin to explain why they don’t believe in organized religion, how they believe in God and not institutions, etc. I’ve been through that, as well. And it might be very difficult specially if you consider Daniel’s point of inclusivity and humanism.

Think about this: a car enthusiast wants to be part of vintage car club. No matter how well-maintained or polished his Bugatti Veyron is, he can’t be part of a vintage car club because he doesn’t have a classic car. If you join a horticultural society and insist on letting rocks join a competition, then there must be something wrong with your understanding of the rules of the society (unless, of course, it’s a rock garden and horticultural society).

Why would you think or believe anything contrary to a ‘society’ that you are a part of and expect them to still have you as a member? It’s like asking a criminal to be part of the police force! Certainly there are exceptions e.g. Frank Abagnale who became a consultant. But he played by the rules of the FBI. He followed and obeyed the law after his “conversion” so-to-speak. If you are against the rules, don’t expect the group to remain open to you.


4 Apr

This is a curious Pope.

I still do not enjoy his “gung-ho” attitude towards meeting and greeting the people. This is a nightmare for the gendarmes I’m sure.

And with these ‘impulse’ gestures (I still wouldn’t call them innovations or even inventions), my traditional Catholic side is getting kinda bruised and makes me miss Benedict’s papacy. And perhaps adding fear that Francis would undo what the Bishop Emeritus of Rome has done in the past 8 years. Should I be concerned?

Nevertheless, I still talk myself out of it and say that these things aren’t the real important things. Perhaps Francis’ style is not my style but I still respect him immensely for accepting the challenge of guiding the Catholic faithful. Or perhaps because I hold on to sentimentality and still thank Benedict for being my Pope when I reverted back to the faith. What’s important is what I do about it… I can still continue with what Benedict gave us and still learn from Francis’ teaching on how to relate to others.

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Habemus Papam! And Nobody Wants Him!

14 Mar

Almost the entire Catholic world knows it by now: Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio is now Pope Francis. Not being part of the immediate papabili by either secular and Catholic news agencies, it was perhaps a surprise for most Vatican watchers specially because of the Pope’s Jesuit origins. You’ve read a whole bunch of facts about him already so I might get my hands dirty already with what I’ve read, so far, around the interweb.

Not even warming the seat of Peter, LGBT community has already been up in arms against the new Pontiff. Liberal Catholics see another person who is out-of-touch with the times. Meanwhile, Traditional Catholics are not impressed either with his, “less-than-eager” support for Summorum Pontificum, enumerating his faults as a Cardinal of Buenos Aires. Other blogs online seem to contradict this. Others say that those opposing Benedict in the last conclave in 2005 have finally won. How true are all these things?

It’s as if nobody wants him to be Pope — both the extremely liberal and extremely traditional Catholics.

While I am part of those who lean towards a more traditional view, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Holy Father. I am still in the middle. As a Catholic who knows Pope Francis only through the media, I had a sense of his fear of his new assignment in Christianity when he went out for his Urbi et Orbi. He looked nervous. And, frankly, awkward. I don’t feel he is comfortable at all in guiding the over 1 billion Catholics around the world. And yet, I am also saddened that what I was expecting didn’t happen — not because the Cardinal I was rooting for didn’t come out of the balcony — but because I was hoping for a continuity of the great start we had with Benedict. Have the ‘wolves’ won?

I’ve also read somewhere that people argue that the Holy Spirit didn’t select Francis — it is the Cardinal-electors that put him there and the Cardinals did not cooperate enough with the Holy Spirit and so we have this Pope. As if this Pope isn’t their Pope as well. (Sede Vacante anyone?) While I agree that it is the Conclave that selects, relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I cannot say that this definitely is not my Holy Father.

This Pope, as I think about him him, is everyone’s Pope now. He may not be ideal for those on the extreme sides of the Church, but I PRAY that He will be guided well and that with his regnal name, he truly will build God’s Church. Rightly so.

Enlighten Me, Please.

12 Mar

Apparently, Marikina City has an ordinance that prohibits the poor from owning and taking care of pets such as dogs and cats. Their rationale is that Responsible Pet-Ownership is given to those who can afford to take care and provide for the animals.

My head was just spinning with this and could not, for the life of me, understand why people who are up in arms about this are pro-RH (some, at least). Is our society that degraded that we care more about our pets than children?

Think about it: the Marikina City ordinance is in the same spirit with the RH Law! Poor families need fewer mouths to feed. If you are a responsible citizen, you should not add more members to your household. Hence we should reduce the number of mouths to feed by controlling the number of their children. Replace ‘children’ with ‘pets’ and isn’t that the same banana?



Me vs. Me Part 1

1 Mar

Here’s a cool article I found on the Interweb. 🙂

A Dialog of a Freethinker and a Catholic

By Thomas Storck
Bradley and Charles discuss reason, science, and whether the clouds are made of cotton candy.

Freethinkers and rationalists are supposed to be the sensible people, who see through all the superstitious nonsense in Christianity, right? But is freethinking the real nonsense? Thomas Storck show us what happens when Catholic thought and freethinking face off over the relationship between reason and faith.

BRADLEY (a freethinker): You know, Charles, why don’t you give up all these silly myths, this Catholic nonsense, and become a freethinker like me? It’s time you matured intellectually.

CHARLES (a Catholic): A freethinker? That sounds like fun. I think if I were a freethinker, the first thing I would believe is that clouds were made of cotton candy and that on the other side of the moon there lived a friendly giant who owned a big lantern. That sounds neat, doesn’t it?

BRADLEY: Ha, ha. Very funny. But you know very well that isn’t what I mean. We freethinkers don’t go around making things up.

CHARLES: Oh, I’m sorry. What exactly does it mean, then, to think freely?

BRADLEY: Well, you see, we’re not bound by myths or old tales told by priests to keep the people in line.

CHARLES: But if you’re not bound by anything, if you’re free to think what you want, why couldn’t I believe that clouds were big pieces of cotton candy?

BRADLEY: I didn’t say we weren’t bound by anything. The difference is that we verify and prove what we believe.

CHARLES: I’m very sorry for you.

BRADLEY: What do you mean? Are you so intellectually cowardly that you can’t think for yourself?

CHARLES: Well, I feel sorry for you because you said you had to verify and prove all that you thought. That’s what you said, isn’t it?

BRADLEY: Yes, of course. We use science to show us what is true. We don’t take things on authority.

CHARLES: Well, I am sorry for you. I guess you spend your whole life proving all the facts you read in the almanac or the encyclopedia. You must have traveled a lot, I mean, to see for yourself all the things you read about foreign countries, mountains, rivers, all the different kinds of animals and plants, the …

BRADLEY: [interrupting] Don’t be silly. Naturally, I don’t personally have to prove all these things. Why, we can read the trustworthy record of those who’ve done the experiments, made the maps, written the histories, and so on. It’s all very logical.

CHARLES: Oh. So you say that you accept other people’s word for things?

BRADLEY: Why, of course. Haven’t got time to prove everything for myself, but fortunately I know where to look things up.

CHARLES: So if someone who was trustworthy were to tell you something he had knowledge about, you’d believe him?

BRADLEY: Sure. That’s the essence of logical thought.

CHARLES: I see. But I thought you didn’t accept things on authority? Didn’t you say that a minute ago?

BRADLEY: Well, hmm, what I obviously meant is that I don’t accept the authority of medieval priests and such. Of course I accept the authority of science.

CHARLES: Oh. So being a freethinker means that you accept truths stated by those authorities you think are trustworthy?

BRADLEY: Of course. I told you before that we’re not free to think up any nonsense we want—such as apparitions of the Virgin or miracles. But naturally we keep within the bounds of the assured results of science.

CHARLES: But if you accept truths that your authorities tell you, how are you different from me? That’s what Catholics do. We accept what the Church teaches because we are convinced that she is trustworthy.

BRADLEY: There’s no comparison between you and me. I accept science. You accept myths and dogmas.

CHARLES: But I was only trying to point out that each of us accepts authorities he considers reasonable.

BRADLEY: But you believe on faith. I accept science.

CHARLES: Hmm, what exactly do you mean by faith?

BRADLEY: Well, faith clearly is just accepting what you’re told, or made to believe, or something like that. It’s just believing, without evidence. That’s it.

CHARLES: Well, perhaps for some Protestants it is, but no Catholic, at least no informed Catholic, uses “faith” to mean that.

BRADLEY: Well, what do you mean by the word then?

CHARLES: A Catholic means by “faith,” believing the trustworthy word of another person. In the case of religion, the word of Jesus Christ.

But in a sense, the faith we have in Him is the same sort of faith you or I have in someone who writes about some mountain or river somewhere—we believe Him because He knows what He’s talking about and isn’t deceiving us.

BRADLEY: But you have to have faith in Jesus Christ first, otherwise you’d not believe Him. So your argument is just a vicious circle.

CHARLES: No. Initially we look at Him simply as another historical figure and ask whether the documents that tell about Him are historically reliable, and then whether what He said about Himself, and the miracles He performed, are true.

BRADLEY: There’s the difference then. You believe in miracles. I don’t. As I said, it’s all a matter of faith.

CHARLES: Well, no. I acknowledge the possibility of miracles, if the evidence is good enough. You have an irrational dogma against the possibility of miracles, a dogma, by the way, that could never be proven.

BRADLEY: Me, irrational! How could anyone ever believe in that kind of stuff? Miracles are not logical.

CHARLES: Oh, and which law of logic do they violate?

BRADLEY: Well, they’re against science. And against experience. I’ve never seen a miracle.

CHARLES: Maybe you haven’t, but there are lots of people who have claimed to have seen one.

BRADLEY: Foolish peasants and credulous old women!

CHARLES: You know, there are some miracles that have been verified by the strictest scientific tests you could ever want.

BRADLEY: I don’t believe that. Name one.

CHARLES: In Italy, in the town of Lanciano, there is a host that …

BRADLEY: [interrupting] Anyway, they’re against reason. And science. I haven’t time to talk any more. I must be going. I’m sure they can all be explained by lies or wishful thinking. Call me tomorrow. I have to collect my thoughts. [He goes out.]

To be continued …

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

Thank You Pope Benedict XVI!

28 Feb


It’s about time I posted something again. I know I should’ve posted about Pope Benedict’s resignation but circumstances couldn’t allow me to. Now that I finally have time, I will be posting some thoughts:

1. The Pope’s resignation is not a sign of weakness nor abandonment but a recognition of the needs of the Church that are entrusted to the care of the Supreme Pontiff.

2. It greatly separates Catholicism from Buddhism’s Dalai Lama. The Pope is not a reincarnation of the Holy Spirit or of Peter but an office held by a man.

3. We are not scandalized by a resignation because it has happened before. We are not left scrambling in the dark because we know what to do because of our deep history.

4. We must not underestimate the value of prayer and monastic life. While the secular world trumpets visible good works as the ONLY means to be useful to society, the Pope teaches us that even in prayer, through the supernatural and divine, we affect the world.

and perhaps, finally, as the Pope of my reversion to Catholicism, I am thankful to him for showing the beauty of our liturgy through history — ad orientem worship and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Not You Too?

5 Feb

Jessica Zafra chimed in on the Celdran issue today. And I’d like to chime in on that, too. On some parts, at least.

Call it a publicity stunt, a performance art piece or just plain rude, but Carlos Celdran’s Padre Damaso act has achieved at least three things.

It called attention to the Reproductive Health bill, galvanizing the silent supporters who thought the bill was dead in the water. The Church would never go for it, so we thought Congress wouldn’t. We are happy to be wrong. It would appear that the days of blind obedience to the Church are over. [I look at this in a positive light: those inside the Church and claim to be members of the Catholic Church without knowing what it means to be really Catholic can finally get out!]

The official reaction to Carlos’ act alerted us to the existence of a law punishing citizens for “offending religious feelings” while reminding us that in the Philippines, Church and State may be the same thing.

In pursuing its legal case against Carlos instead of practising what it preaches and forgiving him, the Church has made a martyr out of Carlos. [Wait a minute. the Church pursued the legal case? The media makes it look like the Church is pursuing the case when in fact, it isn’t! Did Jessica Zafra not get updated with the statement from the RCAM?] As the Church has traditionally relied on other parties to create its martyrs – Romans, Visigoths, British monarchs and so on – this sets an interesting precedent: the Church is now making its own martyrs. In doing so it guarantees constant media coverage for Carlos, setting him up as a viable political candidate. If he actually does jail time, his election is assured. After all, if movie actors can get elected for pretending to kill bad guys, why can’t a theatre actor get elected for actually standing up (and yelling) for his beliefs? [sure. But in the wrong place? Not so fast.]

I cannot argue with Zafra’s own point-of-view regarding the portrayals and descriptions of what society was during that period. I can only agree with her and Rizal in these matters: there were corrupt people in the government as well as in the Church and there was power to be held in either side. It would be stupid to deny that. Yet, he maintained good relations with his Jesuit mentors and even dedicated his other work to the 3 Filipino Priest-Martyrs saying,The Church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you.” A good sign in my book.