The weaponised Eucharist

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The debate among American bishops around whether President Biden and other Catholic politicians should be denied Holy Communion because of their policies on abortion is an important and unsettling one. Let me say at the start that I think it would be a tragedy if the bishops were to venture down this path.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden (C) leaves St. Joseph's on the Brandywine Roman Catholic church (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority.’ In a statement congratulating President Biden on his election victory, Archbishop Gomez, the President of the US Bishops Conference, noted that: ‘Preeminent does not mean "only"’. We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion’. His full statement illustrates the complexity many bishops believe they face in the election of a devout Catholic to the presidency.

It is worth noting, however, that, in the increasingly polarised American church, polls show that the majority of Catholic disagree with the proposed action by the bishops. Regular Mass-goers, however, are sympathetic to those bishops taking a hard line on pro-choice politicians.

And there are precedents in American history. Some point to the example of Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans who, in 1962, not only denied Communion to three Catholics, but formally excommunicated the three, who vehemently opposed his efforts to desegregate Catholic schools. Archbishop Ritter of St Louis had previously threatened excommunication in 1947 to Catholic opponents of desegregation.

More recently, the question has been raised regarding a number of politicians based on their stance on abortion. In 2008, New York Cardinal Edward Egan condemned former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s decision to receive Communion during a papal visit to the city because of Giuliani’s support for abortion rights. The issue has become more acute given that President Biden is very clear in articulating his commitment to his faith, and its importance to him.

It is worth noting further, that there have been significant recent developments in the Democratic Party over abortion that go some way to explaining the controversy. Whereas Hillary Clinton argued that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’ in 2008, that position would not be acceptable now in Democratic circles (in 2016 she dropped ‘rare’). Similarly, the position of Catholic politicians who could say they were personally opposed to abortion, but they were bound to defend the law in a diverse and secular society, is a position that is largely unacceptable in the Democratic Party today. The pressure is to articulate abortion as a human right, to deny judicial appointments to anyone who is pro-life, to deny any conscience provisions, and to aggressively promote abortion as a public good.

 

'It seems to me that the Eucharist is an enactment of unity, and the weaponisation of the Eucharist for any cause is deeply problematic.'

 

It has been a situation long in the making, as when Governor Bob Casey of Pennsylvania was denied the right to speak as the Democratic Convention in 1992. The Democratic Party has been quicker and more systemic than the Republicans in enforcing conformity on the abortion issue (enforced by Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood).

This reality goes some way in explaining why some US bishops find it challenging when a practicing Catholic like Biden rises to the highest office, and yet he has moved with his party from a somewhat ambivalent position to a fully pro-abortion position. For example, he changed his position on the Hyde Amendment during the election campaign, and as recently as 2015, he told America magazine that as a matter of faith, he agreed that ‘abortion is always wrong,’ while now speaking of it as a human right. The move in his language reflects closely the growing militancy in the Democratic Party in regards to abortion. It comes at a time too, where the Supreme Court may reverse in part ‘Roe v Wade’, and Biden is pledged to fight this with the full force of his administration.

Given that I accept that abortion is ‘the preeminent issue’, the most important human rights issue of our time, why would I oppose refusing Biden Holy Communion?

Partly, because it would only exacerbate the divisions in the American church, without advancing the pro-life cause. It makes the Church subservient to ideological divides in the US. Bishop McElroy of San Diego argued that: ‘Once we legitimate public policy-based Eucharistic exclusion as a regular part of our teaching office — and that is the road to which we are headed — we will invite all of the political animosities that so tragically divide our nation into the very heart of the Eucharistic celebration … that sacrament which seeks to make us one will become, for millions of Catholics, a sign of division.’

It would be terrible if the Eucharist was to be itself a source of division, whatever the intent or justification of the bishops. It will expose the deep divisions in American Catholicism and thrust the bishops, in the words of Cardinal Tobin, ‘into the very heart of the toxic partisan strife’.

More deeply, I resonate with Pope Francis’ words that ‘The Eucharist is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.’ We are at a point where inclusion, healing and listening are necessary for our wounded church. We are all unworthy, and it would be a rare politician indeed, who could say that their policies accord fully with Catholic teaching.

Moreover, many American bishops, themselves, have failed in terms of their response to the child abuse tragedy in church institutions. A test of worthiness cannot only be applied to a few.

It seems to me that the Eucharist is an enactment of unity, and the weaponisation of the Eucharist for any cause is deeply problematic. The language of ‘left and right’ is too entrenched among us Catholics for denial of Communion to be contemplated. While there is a prophetic aspect to the Gospel, I am very hesitant about using the Eucharist as the forum for this. Fr Pedro Arrupe’s challenge that every Eucharist is incomplete while someone is hungry in our world, are words that I refer to often as a challenge and inspiration to all of us to work for justice, but I would not use that same Eucharist to advocate for specific political positions.

It is important that Catholics seek to understand both sides of the issue because the Eucharist and Communion are the very expression of our unity as the Corpus Christi.

The accusation is also made that many bishops are obsessed with the single issue of abortion, yet the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its publication we call Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, addresses a wide range of concerns, including euthanasia, the death penalty, immigration, racism, poverty, care for the environment, criminal justice reform, economic development, and international peace. The bishops as a whole have been more consistent than most in arguing against both abortion and the death penalty.

The debate over the American bishops’ document on the Eucharist confirms my fears about the unhealthy polarisation in American life that has increasingly seeped into Church life. I think that denying anyone Holy Communion is nearly always a step too far, and that in the American context it is deeply damaging of the Body of Christ.

 

 

Chris MiddletonFr Chris Middleton SJ is the rector of Xavier College in Melbourne.

Main image: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden (C) leaves St. Joseph's on the Brandywine Roman Catholic church (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Topic tags: Chris Middleton, Eucharist, abortion, US, Biden, Archbishop Gomez, US Bishops Conference, democrats

 

 

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Something about let he who has not sinned being the first to cast a stone..........


Ken Wilson OAM | 01 July 2021  

Thank you Chris. As a fellow priest from the Canowindra parish, even before Vatican II, we bathed in local diversity and looked for unity among people of faith and those who professed none.


Charles Rue | 01 July 2021  

I have been following this with interest, Chris, and you express it clearly. There are many agendas being played out. I am surprised how deep the divisions have become.


Bill D | 01 July 2021  

I disagree with you, the most important human rights issue of our time in the Catholic Church is child sexual abuse which is an ongoing challenge. It is also important to highlight the role of conscience, informing, then following one's conscience. And finally, Christ's teaching as articulated in Matthew's gospel, 'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?' I look forward to the time when the Church leadership both in the US and Australia, starts to unpack their own planks and stop judging others!


Carol | 01 July 2021  

According to the latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, 24 percent of women who procure abortions identify as Catholic, almost the same percent of all U.S. women who called themselves Catholic in a survey by Pew Center. Is it reasonable for us to focus so much energy on what non-believers choose to do, while neglecting to care for and minister to our own so that they all joyfully choose life? If we would persevere in getting our house in order, then that would powerfully witness to the rest of the nation(s). As matters are now, aren't we, the Church, being hypocritical? Fr Middleton also writes: I resonate with Pope Francis’ words: ‘The Eucharist is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.’ One wonders if there's a little more we can understand from Jesus' command: "Do this in remembrance of Me." (see Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Jesus and all of His followers were steeped in Jewish culture, with its emphasis on continually renewing covenant with God during Sabbath meals, at Passover, and at other regular liturgical feasts. Are we able to see that we, too, are covenanting when we dare to share in Christ's broken body and in His shed blood. In His body, we covenant with God to be as obedient as Christ was and is. In His blood we covenant with God to unfailingly, unselfishly love everyone as He did and does. Catholics who've been well instructed to value the eucharist as their solemn renewal of covenant with God, in God's own body and blood would, one thinks, be much less likely to be sexually irresponsible and far more reluctant to destroy innocent human life. As politicians and in other occupations, faithful Catholics need to soberly consider whether their decisions break such solemn covenants as they voluntarily renew in every Holy Mass. The people of Israel had a healthy regard for their covenants with God and an expectation of discipline for covenant flouting: "One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord, because they have broken my covenant . . ." (Hosea 8:1). Some will say: "Oh Marty, that's Old Testament stuff", to whom we recommend Hebrews 10:29-31. The day is well advanced; time for us to get serious.


Dr Marty Rice | 01 July 2021  

There was an excellent commentary of the history on Phillip Adams Late Night Live with his regular USA correspondent on Tuesday night's that stretches back to sectarian and Cold War McCarthy era . JFK made a defining speech in 1960 presidential race when southern states said he would run papist agenda. He clearly defined the boundaries between personal faith and political duty which Catholic pollies have followed since . He found it Interesting that most observant President since Jimmy Carter should be exercised.


Wayne McGough | 01 July 2021  

Father Chris, A welcome commentary on the importance of Holy Communion as part of Church tradition and practice. Several times in my life time of over 70 years I have heard about clergy threatening to withhold Communion , notably Cardinal George Pell with regards to 'gay' Catholics, who publicly identified as such. My mother was so threatened by a Parish Priest back in the 1960's. She went and received Communion to spite him but received a tongue lashing after Mass. Bishops have refused Communion to some public figures over the years on various moral issues, yet on occasion have allowed Communion to others who have committed heinous deeds. I recall where the late Cardinal Jamie Sinn refused Communion to President Ferdinand Marcos on the basis of his unconscionable conduct towards the Filipino people , yet publicly shamed political figures such as Augusto Pinochet and Robert Mugabe have been given Communion by the Pope! Jesus never refused forgiveness to sinners, nor was He judgmental; neither should our Bishops!


Gavin O'Brien | 01 July 2021  

Do these men in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and they are ALL men, never stop to wonder if the Church's position might be different if women were allowed equal status in their Church?


Russell | 01 July 2021  

i agree with what has been said and i hope that Joe Biden doesnt accept or vote for the idea of Abortion it would be stupid of him to do so .


Maryellen Flynn | 01 July 2021  

An extremely sane, insightful and right-to-the-point article, Chris. The Catholic Church in the West is shrinking: we desperately need to keep people in the tent. I once amazed a fellow Catholic up here in Quensland by saying I was anti-abortion but pro-choice. Those who can't grasp this can't grasp political reality.


Edward Fido | 02 July 2021  

Beautiful reasoning, Marty Rice.


roy chen yee | 02 July 2021  

Russell: ‘Do these men in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and they are ALL men, never stop to wonder if the Church's position might be different if women were allowed equal status in their Church?’ You mean, all the mummy bishops will say sternly, ‘Wait till you get home to your Father?’


roy chen yee | 02 July 2021  

The Eucharist is indeed "an enactment of unity" - unity in Christ - which is not the same as unity with the zeitgeist or the State and its legally enacted ideologies, particularly when they contravene natural law or distort it by claiming abortion or suicide as a right. The Church has a duty to ensure Eucharistic unity is not merely a charade, and that real divisions are not discounted or papered over.


John RD | 02 July 2021  

"Who am I to judge?" asked Pope Francis amidst the hysterical applaud of his devotees. Good question! I suspect that the final judgement will determine the rights or wrongs of President Biden's actions and our judgements should be left to the Supreme Judge in the Court of Eternity. Perhaps the politicians do need to make judgements also and those judgements should be based on informed experience and knowledge before they influence the lives of others. The American bishops would probably achieve much more if they insisted that the Christian politicians observe in the operating theatres a series of abortions across the spectrum from the embryo to the fully developed child a week or two before the expected birth date. They will see everything from an unrecognisable blob to tiny legs ripped off and still quivering in a pool of blood in a kidney dish, a beating heart thrown into the waste bin and in those babies too big to be ripped to pieces by the abortionist's killing instruments they can stand by and watch them struggle unattended for life sustaining breath. If they are lucky enough they might visit a hospital in China and see a new born girl [contrary to the parents wishes for a son] placed head down in a bucket of water to drown. Poetic!!!! Should the pollies do that then at least the credibility that comes from experience would no doubt be more valuable in guiding their decisions. Perhaps they should be allowed a vote on the matter only after they have witnessed abortion first hand so that they are fully informed. Forget Biden - God will be the ultimate judge.


john frawley | 02 July 2021  

The title of this fine article "the weaponised eucharist" gives a good reason for the separation of church and state. When leaders in the church go to war over any issue they are acting counter to everything Jesus taught and died for. The articulation of the church's stance on abortion should be robust, forthright and filled with compassion. It should never be used to bully or as a stand-over measure. President Biden, like each one of us, receives the eucharist as a person in need of the nourishment only Christ can provide.


Pam | 02 July 2021  

Fr Chris, Biden initially supported Roe V Wade for years until his party conceded there were more votes in pro choice. So it's all about the votes, power and populism, not what Biden may privately believe. The $9bn WHO subsidy that pro life Trump withdrew, has been reinstated by Biden and this translates into 56 million abortions world wide per annum. They call this women's health. Not very healthy for the babies though. Of course in Vic, the late term abortion bill introduced by another populist catholic in 2008 under Brumby, means a child can be aborted with the signature of 2 doctors the day before birth. I also agree with Carol that generational sexual abuse of children by clergy and religious (of which Xavier also had it's share) is the most damming indictment of the current hierarchy of Bishops in the "lucky" country.


Francis Armstrong | 02 July 2021  

Back in the reign of St Pope John Paul II, the Great (that’s what conservatives call him), the Ratzinger Stalinist purge of intellectuals was just beginning, I was having pasta lunch in Campo dei Fiori. That’s the piazza where the Church publicly burnt intellectuals in the 15th, 16th century. I had returned to much beloved Italia and was staying a stone throw from the Vatican. It was market day and stalls were arranged around the huge stature of Giordano Bruno, the philosopher burnt on the very spot. By then I had well and truly joined the exodus. But the flood gate was opening; consecrated men and women were joining those of us who had taken the first steps about a decade previously. Like Giordano we too had been vindicated by history. If the Church still had the political power to publicly murder anybody who caused displeasure would the monasteries, convents and seminaries be emptying, I asked myself. In the United States less than 50%, and dropping, identify with institutional religion. The division between Church and State in democratic secular society is deepening even further. While some still scream away the Christian Church – Protestant and Catholic – no longer has the power of the public pulpit. That’s the heart of the matter! It’s not abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions it’s about loss of control over people’s imagination. What should the Church do now that it is out of the Big Game? Carol is right: sort out its own problems.


Fosco | 02 July 2021  

I don't see a contradiction between holding (as I do) a view that abortion is morally wrong, and possibly not supporting possible attempts to re-criminalise, abortion. One assumes the bishops studied up on lesser-evil arguments. But what the lesser evil is, becomes a political question as much as moral. And if it is even in part polemical in the public sphere, coercion of one particular view, by excommunication, is absurd. I think of it this way. For centuries, and certainly after the Reformation, the Roman Church systematically tortured and then burned heretics "for the good of their immortal souls". Not many bishops have been recorded, then or now, protesting that this was highly immoral, or outright bestial as with the Nazis, students of the Inquisition (though one late 15th-C Portuguese priest argued passionately against the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Iberia). If the church has graciously forgiven itself so to "move on" from its showy autos da fé - after literally centuries of hunting down and persecuting "deviants" - why should we not give secularists the benefit of the doubt to alter their views on abortion? To me, Jan Hus and Giordano Bruno and Galileo, founder of my own profession, remain as innocent of evil as any unborn child. At the time they didn't get the benefit of many friends at court (except Piccolomini, in Galileo's case). Less hypocrisy and less throwing of stones from your glass palaces, your graces!


Fred Green | 02 July 2021  

Chris, you are sounding more like the legendary Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar School, Sir Brian Hone. He was a sensible progressive in the 1960s. We don't want to see a return to a much uneeded autocracy by our hierarchy. We have too much already. Proper pastoral care demands common sense and compassion. You have both. As Lebanese Christians say, 'Many, many more years!'


Edward Fido | 03 July 2021  

How can the Eucharist's signified unity remain credible as "the source and summit of the Christian life"(Lumen Gentium 11, xi,; CCC, 1324) if those presenting themselves for Holy Communion publicly maintain a belief radically opposed to constant Church teaching - a belief that endorses direct exclusion from life itself of our most vulnerable?


John RD | 03 July 2021  

What a pity, Fosco, especially for one who evidently values reflection on experience and articulates it clearly, that the experiences on which you draw for reflection to do with the Church and the Christian religion are so preoccupied with past negatives in a vast, living, historical canvas that also radiates abundantly through creatures the beauty, goodness and truth of God made visible and available in Christ, and empowered by his gracious love.


John RD | 04 July 2021  

Hello John RD: I have two questions. Tony Abbott (as he has expressed many times) is a strong social conservative catholic and good friend of Cardinal Pell, went first to St Aloysius and then St Ignatius’ College (both Jesuit schools) followed by training as a seminarian. As health minister Tony was the responsible minister for the public funding (which he signed off on) of abortions across all states and territories. Unless the Australian Constitution has changed since I read it back in November 1975, as Prime Minister Tony would have been in a position to criminalize abortion in the ACT and Northern Territory. Should Tony be refused Holy Communion? B. A. Santamaria whose origins are from a different part of much beloved Italia, advised the bishops to not take the government funding to catholic schools being offered by Whitlam’s agnostic secular government. Do you think the bishops should have refused school funding from an atheist government? Just two facts: the Catholic Church gets more funding from our non-God secular government than some states. And, in dealing with possible civil litigation from victims of child sexual abuse, the Church took full advantage of Australia’s secular constitution where it does not have a legal face.


Fosco | 04 July 2021  

John RD: ‘How can the Eucharist's signified unity remain credible as "the source and summit of the Christian life"(Lumen Gentium 11, xi,; CCC, 1324) if those presenting themselves for Holy Communion publicly maintain a belief radically opposed to constant Church teaching - a belief that endorses direct exclusion from life itself of our most vulnerable?’ You can ask this eminently reasonable question until the cows come home but those who won’t answer this question, because they can’t, will ignore it until past the time the cows come home. That’s why the bishops, and not the laity, should have the ‘voting’ power in the Church.


roy chen yee | 05 July 2021  

Is it possible to uphold a Catholic moral teaching which includes specific behavioural prohibitions and Church sanctions but not require that same teaching be inserted into the surrounding society's criminal code? Yes - has been an acceptable reply, at least until the recent initiative within the USA Bishops conference. Since the arrival of universal suffrage in what was once term Christendom, criminal codes have been removing prohibitions and sanctions derived from Christian moral positions. Church leaders have railed against changes and criticised a remorseless drift into secularism, but there it stopped. Catholic legislators were allowed to worship in their parishes without being challenged on last week's voting pattern: there being a tacit acceptance that those same politicians had responsibilities for their whole constituency, not merely their co-religionists.


Bill Burke | 05 July 2021  

Fosco, I'm not aware of what Tony Abbott could or could not have done about funding in his role as Health Minister in 1975, but I do know that his public stance on abortion was quite consistent with his Jesuit schooling and seminary training, and that raising the issue as he later involved risk to his political career. I fail to see the relevance of your second question and the further points advanced to the issue under consideration.


John RD | 05 July 2021  

A stunning article supported by an excellent discussion that seems to cover all sides. My own tupenny ha'porth is to remind the Bishops, by which I mean the Yanks through our own Aussies, of our Royal Commission findings, which specified the 'dysfunctional culture' of the Catholic Church in Australia in relation to the child abuse question. I am grateful to my good friend, Garry Everett, for reminding me of this, as we dined together to celebrate my birthday over the weekend. The appalling child-abuse statistics, from both our country and the United States, beg the question of why the Bishops - ours as well as theirs (since their's didn't have to face a Royal Commission) have not as yet asked a team of cultural anthropologists to bring down a report on what constitutes a 'dysfunctional culture' and how we Australian Catholics might correct it. Its not as if we don't have remarkably gifted Australian Catholics - laity as well as religious - who work in the field, such as our own Gerald Arbuckle, Marist Priest and acknowledged expert in the field. Without such a thing the voices of all Bishops, raised in defense of the exterminated, would tragically lack conviction.


Michael Furtado | 05 July 2021  

Maryellen Flynn and others opposed to enabling abortion. For the woman who has been the victim of rape, and the young girl who has been sexually abused or the victim of incest, do we look them in the eye and say it is God’s will that you have to spend the next nine months carrying this child, and then give birth to it? I can’t imagine the psychological trauma that must affect victims such as these. This is where the Church really has to look closely at it’s teaching.


Thomas Amory | 05 July 2021  

Following the logic of this article, Communion should be given to someone who calls himself Catholic, and advocates for the killing of Aborigines/Jews/etc. (For the record, I believe that anyone who advocates for the killing of others should sincerely repent before lining up to receive Holy Communion; and priests who know that someone has committed a mortal sin should not give that person Communion, or the priest brings judgement upon himself).


Marita | 06 July 2021  

Thomas Amory: ‘For the woman who has been the victim of rape, and the young girl who has been sexually abused or the victim of incest, do we look them in the eye and say it is God’s will that you have to spend the next nine months carrying this child, and then give birth to it? I can’t imagine the psychological trauma that must affect victims such as these.’ The virtue in this argument is the same virtue (well, give or take some evidentiary hurdles) as in the argument that you can save a victim thirty years of trauma by shooting a crossbow into her assailant’s head within nine months of a debate at Sydney University.


roy chen yee | 06 July 2021  

Dear Thomas Amory, you raise a matter of great concern to all sincere Catholic Christians: how to minister to victims of rape, sexual abuse, and incest. Paramount, we need divine wisdom to preserve us from adding one terrible hurt onto another. From years of diverse experience of Christian healing ministry, the most pressing need is to gently help the wrongly impregnated woman to a place of such faith in Christ that she forgives the one(s) who misused her. Spiritually, unforgiveness is deadly. The next step is to provide comprehensive love and support - only very special women of faith can do that precious work of Christ. The Church needs to be calling such women into full-time ministry just as actively and with just as much resourcing as for seminarians. Experience shows that with the right support a misused woman can begin to love the child and want to defend it against the hurt she has suffered. The child can be born into loving arms. If it is impossible for the mother to raise the child, then fostering or adoption can be a loving choice, too. Today, that can be done in an open way, where the biological mother and adoptive mother are helped into a beautiful mutuality. There are plenty of cases where love has so triumphed, with the horror of the offense transformed into a beautiful human triumph. Does our Church need to be more proactive in this wonderfully Christ-like ministry?


Dr Marty Rice | 06 July 2021  

I am under the impression that one cannot take Communion unless one is in the state of Grace. I have not been to Communion for a couple of years because members of my family have been stealing from me when I have been kind to them. I now HATE them, even imagined killing them, so I don't receive Communion. Therefore, can I go to Communion regardless of my hatred. As in, can I be pro abortion (to Kill) and still receive Communion?


Mary | 06 July 2021  

Hello Thomas: Let’s in our imagination go back to 1967. St Pope Paul VI was writing Humania Vitae where he would reject the recommendation of the Church appointed commission and declare “artificial contraception” a Mortal Sin. Bertram Wainer was campaigning on abortion reform. I was nearing the end of catholic brainwashing concerned that within a few years I would be dead in Vietnam defending Coca Cola. And a young woman of about seventeen - let’s call her “M” – was at Georgina House. At the time I did not know M our lives cross years later. In case you don’t know, Georgina House was where unwed pregnant women would be sent to secretly give birth so as to not bring shame on family and friends. In those days being born out of wedlock was a lifelong stigma. The women at Georgina House were not supposed to become mothers. Under enormous pressure they were to put their child up for adoption. Every minute of every day staff would make it clear that they were fallen. M who came from a catholic family, made sort of friends with another fallen: a catholic nun who spent her time reciting the rosary asking for God’s forgiveness. M suspected from the few details that the father was a priest. Within a few days of giving birth M was asked into the manager’s office, she was told to sit, the adoption papers and pen placed in front of her, and ordered to “sign it”. M refused! She left Georgina House with her child and thereafter journeyed life differently. From Bertram Wainer we good citizens of Melbourne learnt that criminalizing abortion did not stop abortions: it brought unsafe backyard operators and police corruption. For anybody serious about reducing the abortion rate its education and effective contraception.


Fosco | 06 July 2021  

One more thing, It takes two to create a fetus. Yet, in all of my 75 years, I have heard only ONE Priest in the pulpit say that the man who created a fetus is just as responsible for the existence or non- of a child as the woman. Yet the buck is all one-sided, all her responsibility. Except for Roe v Wade, now there was a hero.


Mary | 06 July 2021  

Unity at any cost - even apostasy.


Marita | 06 July 2021  

Our brethren in the Orthodox Church refer to the Eucharist as 'the Medicine of Immortality'. They often seem to have more of a sense of its therapeutic power than many Catholics. That is because we seem to still suffer from the sadistic nun/Christian brother 'belt it into them' mentality.The consequences of this pscho-physical abuse are probably as widespread as that of the revolting sexual abuse Michael mentions, which the relevant Royal Commission documented in vivid detail. A well known Irish cleric and wit said some years ago that the Church here was deep in a bog the Irish had extricated themselves from lomg ago. Go to Ireland -wonderful country - and see how different from our befuddled, generally marginally competent hierarchs theirs are. The aforesaid twits would have been cashiered long ago in any decent Army. Now other twits are suggesting these incompetents go back to the 50s and metaphorically hit dissenting politicos on the noggin with a shillelagh, or hurley if the former isn't available. What utter nonsense! The American Catholic Bishops Conference has taken a doctrinally correct but far more pastorally sensible approach to President Biden and other politicians on the abortion issue. I wish our ecclesiastical Bishop Blimps and their befuddled followers would look to the Americans. BTW I find it interesting that not one of the hardliners here is a woman. That speaks volumes. Just ponder that.


Edward Fido | 07 July 2021  

If I was in mortal sin, I'd like my priest to tell me, and to withhold Communion to show me how far I was from God – but then, I believe in Hell.


mike | 07 July 2021  

John Frawley 2 July, you have my total respect. I agree with you wholeheartedly.


Mary | 07 July 2021  

To address your last point, Edward: I'd cross Chowringhee in peak-hour rather than risk, on the evidence of the aforesaid posts, being clobbered on the head by Mary or Marita. Even being defenestrated by Roy - his favourite method of dispatch - somehow pales in importance. Some years ago, while praying the Rosary at an all-night vigil outside an Abortion Clinic in Newcastle, NSW, I ventured to suggest to the Redemptorist Brother organising it that it was akin to protesting the death sentence. In a fit of apoplectic rage he turned on me, mouth at the froth, and ordered me to leave. That there were those passing motorists who were equally abusive illustrates the point depressingly well. Among the many who despair at the mass slaughter of unborn and therefore defenseless children are a handful of those committed, as Mary, Marita and Roy clearly are, to a blood-lust just as intemperate and vengeful as those pro-abortionists who justify the taking of human life. This is surely an issue for weeping over for it is only our tears that will wipe away the stain! Meantime, Marty, what would you do with a fetus born without a head, as I have seen?


Michael Furtado | 07 July 2021  

Fosco (6 July), Amid all the hyperbole, you have nailed it in one - reminiscent of the young lad who in the midst of the cheering crowd gathered to admire the Emperor's new clothes said, "Hang on a minute, he isn't wearing any clothes." The oral contraceptive pill is remarkably effective (well over 90%) . It is grossly irresponsible to use abortion which destroys a normal human life as an alternative to the pill which does not. In passing, it is also worth noting that the only jurisdiction in the world which recorded the incidence of abortion resulting from rape was in South Australia and it reported that abortion arising from rape was less that 1% of all abortions. The case for the unwittingly wronged in the matter of abortion is thus close to non-existent and as you point out contraception is the answer to unwanted pregnancy, not abortion. The human distress associated with abortion is due in the main to the irresponsible failure to practice safe contraception.


john frawley | 07 July 2021  

Hello Marty: “gently help the wrongly impregnated woman to a place of such faith in Christ that she forgives the one(s) who misused her” and “can begin to love the child and want to defend it against the hurt she has suffered. The child can be born into loving arms”. I hope your beautiful words become beautiful flowers.


Fosco | 07 July 2021  

Like yourself I am totally against abortion, Michael. Sadly, many anti-abortionists are like Rampaging Royboy, they have the interpersonal skills and finesse of a randy polar bear, which is totally counterproductive. What concerns me is that, because of their lack of the ability to see the big picture, they fail to realise that the real problem, technically, is gullible young women being pressured to have an abortion for eugenic reasons. As they say, where are the likes of Rampaging then? Aye, there's the rub. The other fear I have is that the Eugenists amongst us may try to get their friends in parliament to legislate compulsory abortions in certain cases. No doubt Mike and Mary will be on their knees praying, but not doing anything effective and Rampaging will be blathering on about transexuals, a favourite topic of his which he raises ad nauseam in every possible situation. With 'friends' like these...


Edward Fido | 08 July 2021  

Edward Fido: Pogo, Molesworth, Dafthead, randy polar bear. We could found a whole tradition of child psychotherapy using your posts. However, one good turn deserves another. Back in the dim past, last year, Edward Fido broke from his usual (then) practice of hewing so close to the middle in his posts that nobody could tell where he stood to suggest he was concerned about my mental health. Until then, Edward had shown no sign of ad hom, and no sign of packing a snit when contradicted either (so maybe the two go together), but the suggestion to get my head checked because I was so overdoing the pace and intensity of posts that it seemed to him I was heading for mental breakdown was couched in language kindly enough to suggest that while the suggestion was eccentric for a blog, it wasn’t malicious. So, without malice, given the recent appearance of ‘shit’, ‘turd’, ‘arselick’ (and ‘w---er’ as modestly veiled) in public in your offerings, you might want to do a dementia check as, or so I’m told, lack of control over language seems to be a sign of the phenomenon.


roy chen yee | 09 July 2021  

If respectful tone is a pre-requisite of ES commentary, how is it that disparaging addressing of contributors by polemically invented names is becoming an acceptable and characteristic feature of postings?


John RD | 09 July 2021  

Those for whom the Holy Eucharist is a place where they regularly renew their covenant with God, value the promises of the One who enables us to have a New Covenant in Christ. Awesome indeed are these New Covenant promises to the New Israel of God: “I will put my laws into your minds and write them on your hearts: and I will be your God and you shall be My people . . . you will all know Me from the least to the greatest.” Hebrews 8:10-11. The apostolic author then reminds us of God’s assurances: “I will not fail you or desert you,” enabling us to say with confidence: “With the Lord to help me, I fear nothing: what can anyone do to me?” Hebrews 13: 5-6. In Christ, at last we see the fulfillment of God’s long-standing promise: “A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you . . . and make you to follow My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances.” Ezekiel 36: 25-27. The blessings of God’s New Covenant are sealed by the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His poured-out blood. God’s side of this incredibly gracious, life-giving bargain could not be more transparent, complete, and eternally robust. What, then, is required of us humans by the New Covenant? Primarily, we are to cooperate by doing our best to keep God’s commandments. For Catholic Christians that’s more than was given to Moses at Mt Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:1-22), since for the last two millennia we’ve had privileged access to the divine edition of these commandments, as exegeted by Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Matthew 5:17-48). The Jesus-refurbished commandments, like their Jewish antecedents, can be easily memorized. HAND ONE. Thumb: With all my heart, mind, body, and soul I will worship the One revealed by Jesus Christ: Father/Son/Holy Spirit; Index Finger: I will have no other god nor any idol; Middle Finger: I will not use God’s name profanely; Ring Finger: I will keep the Sabbath Day holy; Little Finger: I will honour my mum and dad. HAND TWO. Thumb: I will love every person and will not hurt or kill anyone, nor hate, nor think evil; Index Finger: I will maintain sexual purity and faithfulness in thought, word, and deed; Middle Finger: I will not steal but follow Christ in giving not taking; always forgiving, never taking revenge; Ring Finger: I will tell the truth and not lie nor deceive nor slander; Little finger: I will not covet, for God in Christ is providing all I need. At holy communion we symbolize our New Covenant obligations by stretching out our hands to meet God stretching out His Body and Blood for us. Simple ‘finger commandments’ can give us confidence in our personal and collective, ever-evolving love affair with God in Christ Jesus. The world depends on a covenant-keeping Catholic Church FAR more than she depends on the world. It is a lie that any-old religion will do! When the Catholic Church flourishes in loving obedience to God, then the whole world will flourish. The inescapable spiritual principle is that when The Church flouts her covenant, the world itself loses its way. Can we see: It is no small thing to be called to be a full-on Catholic Christian.


Dr Marty Rice | 09 July 2021  

Those for whom the Holy Eucharist is a place where they regularly renew their covenant with God, value the promises of the One who enables us to have a New Covenant in Christ. Awesome indeed are these New Covenant promises to the New Israel of God: “I will put my laws into your minds and write them on your hearts: and I will be your God and you shall be My people . . . you will all know Me from the least to the greatest.” Hebrews 8:10-11. The apostolic author then reminds us of God’s assurances: “I will not fail you or desert you,” enabling us to say with confidence: “With the Lord to help me, I fear nothing: what can anyone do to me?” Hebrews 13: 5-6. In Christ, at last we see the fulfillment of God’s long-standing promise: “A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you . . . and make you to follow My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances.” Ezekiel 36: 25-27. The blessings of God’s New Covenant are sealed by the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His poured-out blood. continued


Dr Marty Rice | 09 July 2021  

HAND TWO. Thumb: I will love every person and will not hurt or kill anyone, nor hate, nor think evil; Index Finger: I will maintain sexual purity and faithfulness in thought, word, and deed; Middle Finger: I will not steal but follow Christ in giving not taking; always forgiving, never taking revenge; Ring Finger: I will tell the truth and not lie nor deceive nor slander; Little finger: I will not covet, for God in Christ is providing all I need. At holy communion we symbolize our New Covenant obligations, stretching out our hands to meet God stretching out His Body and Blood. Simple ‘finger commandments’ can give us confidence in our personal and collective, ever-evolving love affair with God in Christ Jesus. The world depends on a covenant-keeping Catholic Church FAR more than she depends on the world. It is a lie that any-old religion will do! When the Catholic Church flourishes in loving obedience to God, then the whole world will flourish. The inescapable spiritual principle is that when The Church flouts her covenant, the world itself loses its way. Can we see: It is no small thing to be called to be a full-on Catholic Christian.


Dr Marty Rice | 09 July 2021  

"...the interpersonal skills and finesse of a randy polar bear..." Now that, Edward F, is a piece of poetic prose!


john frawley | 09 July 2021  

You have a grand turn of phrase, Tedworth, which sometimes errs on the side of triggering a minor nuclear explosion ;) Much as he and I cross swords with a frequency as repetitive as a woodpecker's rattle, and behind his seeming obstinacy, Roy also cares enough for people like me to pick up his daily cudgel and bang us on the head with it. It once used to be the standard mode of discipline in Christian Brothers' schools! The question arises: can that be done lovingly? I don't know but am prepared to concede that some offenders need it. So, yes; Rampaging Roy's a hard man: and one person's determination is another's commitment. And can one also forget just how wonderfully, deeply clever he is!


Michael Furtado | 09 July 2021  

Ah,JohnFrawley, if only... If only the practice of safe contraception were encouraged by the Church, what a difference that might make to the number of abortions performed. If only...


Ginger Meggs | 11 July 2021  

John Frawley the common sense you advocate has not found its way into Church doctrine. A Mortal Sin On New Year's Eve 1930, the Roman Catholic Church officially banned any "artificial" means of birth control. Condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps were defined as artificial, since they blocked the natural journey of sperm during intercourse. Douches, suppositories and spermicides all killed or impeded sperm, and were banned as well. According to Church doctrine, tampering with the "male seed" was tantamount to murder. A common admonition on the subject at the time was "so many conceptions prevented, so many homicides." To interfere with God's will was a mortal sin and grounds for excommunication. (source the American Experience). This is the problem with the church. HIV and pregnancy can be prevented with condoms yet the church still quaintly believes that every sperm is sacred. Women are second class citizens without equivalent human rights but its quite ok for an average of 25% of priests and religious to slam it into young boys and girls. What a strange dilemma we find ourselves in.


Francis Armstrong | 12 July 2021  

You've raised a very important issue, Ginger, contraception. Not just the Billings method, please! It doesn't work in many instances. Greg Dening, my Professor of History at Melbourne, exemplary human being, former Jesuit and a man of impeccable integrity, resigned his holy orders because he could not preach on contraception. I believe it is not a matter of essential doctrine, but regulation. Pope Francis alluded to this in the Philipines. where he said you don't have to have 12 children if you can't properly support them. We need change here. Otherwise we become irrelevant. Well, many say we already are. Thanks Michael and John RD. I'll try to ignore Roy.


Edward Fido | 13 July 2021  

Good morning, Ginger. Some years ago I wrote a paper entitled "Contraception Revisited" in Compass, The Journal of Topical Theology, published by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. It was at the time of the highly touted talk fest on "Family'" held in Rome and attended by every proclaimed expert on family from around the world, well schooled in meaningful dialogue (whatever that is). Soon after my rant in favour of re-examination of the teachings re contraception, I received a call from the Papal Nuncio in Canberra who asked my permission to submit the paper to the Vatican for consideration in addressing contraception at the talk fest. I agreed and a copy was sent via the diplomatic bag to the Vatican. The Papal Nuncio (the English Benedictine whose name currently escapes me) heard no more about it and neither did I. God's truth through the revelations of science seemingly means nothing to the non-experts in the Vatican in their antiquated emulation of their forebears who persecuted Galileo for recognising the truth of creation. Mind you, ginger, I am not claiming a similar place to that of Galileo for myself - merely saying that the science is quite clear today and the dopes in Rome should wake up and respond appropriately.


john frawley | 14 July 2021  

Having plowed through the host of comments that this article has evoked, no-one has touched on some important aspects of Catholic teaching. Aspects I was well grounded in during my three years in a Marist Brothers' boarding school in the early 1950s. Church teaching has obviously declined a lot since then. There are two types of sin - mortal and venial. To commit a mortal sin requires full knowledge and full consent. There are always extenuating circumstances and almost every person seeking an abortion has these, be they real or perceived. Eve and then Adam had them in the garden of Eden. These extenuating circumstances were not accepted as a valid excuse. There was no repentance, just shame. To give full knowledge and full consent to prematurely end a life is to go against the precept "Thou shalt not kill". Objectively this is a mortal sin. You will go to Hell unless you repent. The particular level of guilt only God can judge. What God has done through Jesus' passion and death is gain forgiveness under certain conditions. The ideal is based on Jesus' words after his resurection "Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven, whose sins you shall retain they are retained". What has happened to Confession? Jesus never condemned the woman taken in adultery, but did say "Go and sin no more". Morality is a big subject that requires a full explanation and periodical updates. Definitive teaching from the pulpit has been almost entirely replaced by commentary. Forgiveness entails repentance and a determination to sin no more. That the woman might sin again is not brought into question. The man commiting the adultery is also under the same prescriptions. Replying to Peter's question about forgiveness, Jesus said: "Not seven times but seventy times seven". As penitents we will all need marks-for-trying in order to get to Heaven. If you are a public figure and blantantly not trying by actively supporting abortion, then deliberately lining up for Communion as a public statement that your church obviously approves of your actions, you are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus unworthily. You are telling God that He is wrong. If the priest has counselled you before Mass and you still line up, he is entitled, indeed obliged to deny you communion. To not do so is tantamount to telling the rest of the community that abortion is OK. As an unrepentent person who supports or practices abortion or other forbidden practices, I too can go to communion. To say I am seeking healing when plainly I am not is hypocrasy. I sympathise with and admire bishops and priests who have to take this brave stand. Jesus said to the first bishops: "The world will hate you as it has hated Me". For this reason I as a person join Jesus in praying for you "that you will not be tempted". Please, Bishops, priests and teachers, be brave, get back to fully rounded Catholic teaching. You work hard, your life is not easy. Do not knowingly be: "Least in the Kingdom of Heaven". "Tell the world about sin". Get back to teaching the full creed, code and cult. I know it is hard to teach about sin knowing that to some extent you are a hypocrite. Unfortunately, in the eyes of God, this is not an excuse. It is a cop-out. In an attempt to make teachings simple you make them simplistic; that anything goes. "Either you are with Me, or you are against Me, if you sit on the fence, I will spew you out". "Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect".


John Hicks | 15 July 2021  

Francis Armstrong: “ [T]he church still quaintly believes that every sperm is sacred.” Fact check: the Church has *never* taught, quaintly or no, that every sperm is sacred. Prove me wrong by showing me one single authoritative text to back your case. If you can’t, then your case is void ab initio. By the way, Monty Python ditties shouldn’t automatically be taken as utterances of the Magisterium. If the Church indeed believed that “every sperm is sacred”, why would it have actively encouraged from its earliest centuries the creation of vast religious communities of celibate men, - and still hasn’t resiled from that! - whose sperm, it was forseen, would be shed every few weeks in involuntary “nocturnal emissions”, as St Thomas Aquinas described them? Why did it never encourage chaste widowers to hastily remarry, so as not to be disrespectful to “sacred” sperm that perished in the intervening weeks due to such emissions? And why also would the Church condemn lesbian couplings with equal intensity? “The Church condemns lesbian couplings just because each of those women could have gone out and saved the sacred sperm of a man by duly receiving it. But a lesbian couple marooned on an otherwise uninhabited isle, with no rational hope of finding a man, may hook up.” Nup: never read that. I majored in moral theology and worked for a good time as a bioethicist. You may object to me being so graphic, but your assertion provokes these questions. You have clearly misunderstood the rationale behind Church’s ever consistent condemnation of all intentionally completed sexual acts, apart from the act of natural intercourse conducted between man and wife.


HH | 16 July 2021  

Dear John Hicks, a good reminder, indeed! How to put things to rights? Establish a RETRAINING INSTITUTE for all clergy, to re-found them all in the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' and its New Testament sources. Insist that all clergy pray the Divine Office, for without hourly prayer they are easy meat for every stray demon of deceit. Command archbishops and bishops to return to truly OVERSIGHTING the authenticity of clerical life and teaching. Drive out from our parishes, nunneries, monasteries, seminaries, colleges and schools all the syncretistic, universalist, freemason, witchcraft, unitarianism, heresies, and apostasies. The Bride of Christ is crying out to be shriven of all this filth; and clothed in clean garments fit for her Bridegroom. Are their any others among us who are touched by her weeping? Ever in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; love and blessings from Marty


Dr Marty Rice | 16 July 2021  

It's not too complicated !! The Science says that life begins at conception. The Church says that this is also the time when the immortal soul originates - very logical and reasonable if it is believed that the Creator has indeed acted in partnership with the human procreators of human life fulfilling His role in the creative partnership by contributing the spiritual element of human life. Conception, the implantation of a fertilised ovum in the womb, occurs 6-7 days after fertilisation. Prevention of fertilisation is thus very different from the prevention of implantation and removal of an already implanted ovum from the womb is very different from preventing implantation. The God Christianity believes in no longer creates human beings by spitting into a handful of clay, moulding the sticky mud into a statuette and then breathing life into that statuette using the world's first experience of mouth to mouth resuscitation. He has created a far more efficient and time saving system, delegated to all animals in his creation which frees up his time for the myriad of other obligations to which He is attached.


john frawley | 16 July 2021  

Who is going to establish and staff this 'retraining institute' Marty? The hierarchy? It's still having trouble digesting all the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The laity? Not a chance in hell if the lead up to the Plenary Council is any guide. Another Reformation? Well we know how that turned out. Wishful thinking might make you feel warm inside but you need a practical solution that can be implemented.


Ginger Meggs | 17 July 2021  

John Frawley: ‘science is quite clear today’ ‘It's not too complicated !! The Science says that life begins at conception.’ It’s not science but philosophy which says when the soul is implanted, at least not until they invent a machine which can see the soul: compassreview.org/pdf/spring14.pdf “Indeed, it can be argued that the responsibility of parenthood in the interests of the moral wellbeing of the children is a greater moral imperative than producing a child in circumstances wherein the moral steward ship of the child is not possible, when such an event could be prevented by anti-fertilisation means of contraception carrying a lesser moral imperative. The same balance, however, can never be justified if the contraceptive measure used involves abortion of an implanted embryo regardless of the duration or tenure of that embryo in the womb.” Why? Even here, it’s not science but philosophical reasoning which preferences the implanted embryo to ‘responsibility of parenthood’. After all, you can philosophise that as the foetus can’t feel pain until X weeks have elapsed, the soul doesn’t have to turn up until just before the Xth week given that the theme of the Commandments is to avoid causing pain. If you can’t see the soul, distinguishing between potential and inevitable life is a philosophical, not scientific, claim. And if it is a philosophical claim, the uniting of the two essential elements, egg and sperm, as the scientifically earliest moment the progress towards an autonomous life could begin, is arguably the most rational of all the logics that could be applied to this matter.


roy chen yee | 18 July 2021  

All this pleasant, male, tea-and-sympathy chit-chat about the dynamics of eggs and sperm surely raises the question, Dr Rice, of why you haven't yet condemned that galaxy of stellar women religious - among them the best acknowledged and feted of Christian evangelists to grace the spread of Catholicism - for failing, by dint of their calling to chastity, to receive the excess sperm that in your sublime estimation has been so erroneously spilt for want of an alternative 'dam-and-containment' Catholic bioethical strategy. Hence I agree with Ginger that it is this grave error that warrants the forthright and immediate investigation of the Bishops by placing it as the most significant atonement item for discussion at the Synod, even though St Thomas Aquinas expressed doubts about whether women had souls, while being singularly responsible for thinking of them as 'receptacles of human life'. Now, straight men as 'tea-cups' I understand in terms of gay parlance; but to call devout and celibate Catholic women 'saucers' seems to set a new standard for Catholic bioethicists, doncha think?


Michael Furtado | 18 July 2021  

Hello Roy. In my post of 16 July I suggested that the Church attributed the advent of the soul to the time of conception and that Science tells us that conception is not the same as fertilisation and occurs some 6-7 days later. These discussions are, however, minor when compared with what is to come for the Church. We live in a brave new world that makes Aldous Huxley's Brave New World look like a children's nursery tale. In 2016 the first perfectly healthy child was born in Mexico having the genetic material of three parents, not two, one father and two mothers using a technique called maternal spindle transfer. Fertilisation can be achieved in the laboratory using electrical stimulation rather than a spermatozoon and permits cloning with the genetic material of only one individual, not two. The clonee does not have a mother and father but is but a replica of one person - I wonder whether clonees will have souls!! The future world will clone human beings and custom build human beings using these techniques. This is by far the greatest treat to the future Church and its time the hierarchy addressed the future and prepared for it though study of scripture and tradition as it applies to the new truths of science. If it does not, the Church as you and I know it will be no more and the new God will be the law that allows tinkering with what you and I believe to be God's exclusive domain.


john frawley | 18 July 2021  

Roy, your URL takes me nowhere, nor does a search for the text you quote, and with no author or title I'm unable to find the source that you reference. If it's important to your argument we should be able to access it.


Ginger Meggs | 18 July 2021  

Ginger Meggs, try Googling ‘compass review spring 2014’. If you see an entry on the page called ‘Compass – a Review of Topical Theology’ with the URL http://compassreview.org > summer14 > archive, click on it.


roy chen yee | 19 July 2021  

John Frawley: ‘the new God will be the law that allows tinkering with what you and I believe to be God's exclusive domain.’ Belief in the concept of Christian Faith imposes the obligation to believe that there is nothing to worry about – as long as the Church puts some time using its ample resources of philosophy to worry a question like a dog worrying a bone, as God only helps those who help themselves. Whatever happens is not as important as knowing whether it is right or wrong. If you know the difference, you’re ahead of the game. The basic question is: what is a human? Is it important that a human be tied to an identity? The High Court recently ruled (legal reasoning being a species of philosophical reasoning) that someone who is genetically an Aborigine is an Australian even without citizenship. That’s obviously important for the Aboriginal Identity. Aborigines are special to Australia. But God can raise children to Abraham from stones and maybe one day humans will be able to do that too, creating Aborigines by the dozen in a Mexican lab from bits of carbon. What’s an Aborigine then? Jews are tied to place. They live everywhere but everybody knows where they really come from. Being a Jew is a state of mind as well as body. Therefore, is a human merely a combination of biology, chemistry and physics, or is it also a rationality? Perhaps the answer requires us to go back to the Luciferian rebellion. What is an angel? The coherency of an angel is to serve God. An angel which wishes to be equal to God is an incoherency. If there is a principle to being an angel, why not also a principle to being a human? Philosophy, not science, holds the answer and, in Faith, true Christian philosophy, because there is only the Christian God, will always be ahead of the game, despite the obfuscations of modernists too easily dazzled by the various appearances adopted by the material world.


roy chen yee | 19 July 2021  

OK, thanks Roy, http://compassreview.org > summer14 > archive gets me somewhere, but which of the many articles and by which of the many authors is the one to which you refer ?


Ginger Meggs | 20 July 2021  

Hello john frawley: Congratulations!!! You have stood on the shoulders of giants and you have seen the future. I agree with you that the inhabitants of Siege City behind the St Pope Paul John II, the Great –Cardinal Ratzinger fortified protective walls will end up like the ruins of the Ancients - Rome, Egypt, Greece. I once rode a tourist camel around the pyramids at Gaza feeling like Lawrence of Arabia, ate tourist gnocchi overlooking the Colosseo, went on a tourist excursion to Delphi. The Vatican though does not need to wait: its future has arrived, it’s a tourist museum already. Just a word of warning: be careful how you warn Eureka Street of the coming reality. They’ll censor you. They too live in Siege City but delude themselves that they are there for the architecture. By the way are you aware that some say Heisenberg used metaphor to describe the unseen quantum world? Maybe “when the immortal soul originates” is likewise a metaphor. So, what does a metaphor mean?


Fosco | 20 July 2021  

Roy, when you say ‘Whatever happens is not as important as knowing whether it is right or wrong’ I am reminded of the road safety slogan from a few years back that went ‘it’s better to be late than dead on time’. Surely John (F) has valid point to make that if the church wants to have something influential to say on the developments he lists then it should get off its arse, address the issue and - just as importantly - the way in which it will seek to communicate that view to an increasingly non-religious body politic. Historically, it has been very slow to do so. It took centuries to accept that the universe was not each-centres, parts of the church still hold to creation in 7 days, and the implications of Darwin on our understanding of the evolutionary origins of homo sapiens are still being side-stepped by the notion of ‘ensoulment’. If the Church is going to have anything meaningful and influential to say on John’s issues - and I believe that it could - it really needs to get its act into gear.


Ginger Meggs | 20 July 2021  

Saint Pope John Paul 2nd assigned Cardinal Ratzinger (now Emeritus Pope Benedict 26th) to oversight a commission of 12 cardinals and bishops, assisted by 7 diocesan bishops, experts in theology and catechesis, to prepare the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He stated clearly: “Through the harmonious and complimentary efforts of all the ranks of the People of God may this Catechism be known and shared by everyone, so that the unity in the faith whose supreme model and origin is found in the Unity of the Trinity may be extended to the ends of the earth." [Laetamur Magnopere] “Therefore, I ask all the Church’s Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine . .” [Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum]. At least there are still a few clerics and lay who are obedient to this Apostolic Instruction. Reminiscent of John 1:9-12, “The Word was the true light that enlightens every person . . . yet, on coming to His own domain, His own people did not accept Him. But He gave power to become children of God to all who did accept Him . . .” As a wise nonagenarian told me: “You can take a self-willed horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!” In the ever patient grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; love and blessings from Marty


Dr Marty Rice | 21 July 2021  

Ginger Meggs: If you type http://compassreview.org/summer14/archive.html into your browser, you should see a page which contains, among other author names and article titles, John’s and his article. ‘If the Church is going to have anything meaningful and influential to say on John’s issues - and I believe that it could - it really needs to get its act into gear.’ So the Church should hop to it in the marketplace of ideas? OK, that’s just process. Hop to it in proclaiming the magisterium, that is.


roy chen yee | 21 July 2021  

Thank you for explaining the link Roy.


Ginger Meggs | 22 July 2021  

No doubt, as several posters here note, science has made spectacular progress, especially in the past century. However, as a discipline science's definitively functionalist conception of humanity and its powerful technologies - as the nightmarish misapplications of its achievements in world wars and now viral experimentation attest and remind us - requires for its ethical guidance and regulation a holistic anthropology based on the dignity of all people as creatures of God, made in God's image and likeness, and oriented ontologically to an eternal relationship and future prepared by God for those who love him (Jn 14: 17, 23); a new heaven and a new earth ( Is.65: 17 -25; 1 Cor 2: 9); Rev. 21: 1-4) made attainable not through human powers alone, but through the life, death and resurrection of Christ and his gift of the Holy Spirit, who, together with the Father and Christ make their abode with and in the faithful. (Jn 14: 17;23). To my mind, the realised eschatology of St John's Gospel articulates the foundation, goal and motivation for the Christian's labours and strivings here on earth, a calling and task that evokes an ongoing conversion to and deepening in the new life of Christ that is offered and given in baptism and its application in discerning what accords with God's purposes and what is not - a process in which the Church's role as commissioned by Christ is vital.


John RD | 22 July 2021  

Excellent! Very well said, John RD. If we adhere to the Apostolic worldview and do our best to obey Apostolic instructions, not only will our personal lives and church life become more vital and meaningful but we'd deeply benefit humanity as a whole. What's to stop us? Just the 'small' matter of FAITH. When the faithless cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, nuns, brothers, deacons, sacristans, and parishioners abjure all non-Apostolic allegiances and return to the New Testament faith so clearly given us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Glory of God will return to the Church. Until then, we're just one among innumerable, disunited religions, 'going through the motions'. Sadly, we all know Catholic clerics who are perfectly content with that and normalize it to the naïve. Take care; stay well. Always in the love of Jesus; blessings from Marty.


Dr Marty Rice | 23 July 2021  

John RD [22 July]. I agree with your fundamental understanding of the relative places of God and Man in the Great Creation. I believe, however, that Man has not seen the full evolution of God's creation and that scientific discoveries that are truth are merely further revelations of that creation given by the Creator in his time and choosing. The Church has, I think, an obligation to accept such truths as God given and rather than deny them or continue to apply a morality to them which was conceived in earlier ignorance of these truths, must accept and enfold scientific discovery in its moral code by examining and defining the moral boundaries derived from study of scripture and tradition that apply to the new science and its application to human life. For example, currently I can see why the Church cannot support IVF technology outside sacramental marriage but as a treatment for acquired infertility within marriage when the married couple has full intent of fulfilling God's purpose of their union as his instrument of creation there can't be any immorality in it. In other words it is a matter of application in context, not blanket condemnation because it is a man-made commodity. Great Science and the truths which it reveals are some of God's greatest gifts to Mankind.


john frawley | 23 July 2021  

john frawley: I regret it if my posting (22/07) suggested I subscribe to an Averroistic "two truths" theory. I do not. I support the Catholic principle that the Church is open to the truth in whatever form it manifests and can be rationally affirmed . I'm sure you'll find far more expert opinion on the specialist bioethical issues you raise than I'm capable of offering, but I do suggest you'll find (if you're not already familiar with it) The National Catholic Bioethics Centre of Health Care and Life Sciences' publication "Ethics and Medics", accessible online, a stimulating and fruitful source of collegial discussion with highly qualified Catholic bioethical theoreticians and distinguished medical practitioners. There is also, of course, the Pontifical Academy of Science.


John RD | 24 July 2021  

Thank you, Dr Marty Rice. With you, I seek and pray for an informed and obedient faith.


John RD | 24 July 2021  

For those who'd like to know more: catechisms are available for about $24 from St Paul's and other good book-suppliers. https://secure.stpauls.com.au/product/31/Church+Documents/Vatican/2526/Catechism+of+the+Catholic+Church


Dr Marty Rice | 24 July 2021  

John RD – your 22 July post mines a rich lode as you reach into the realised eschatology of John's Gospel. Yet, I suspect you will have to look further if you are to expand on the content of your closing clause. Indeed, a primary dynamic of Church life would prompt you to go further. From Holy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday we are swathed in Johannine imagery, incidents and inspiration which proclaim that which is truly realised – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus revealing the inner life of God and the inauguration of the Church's mission. But in taking up that mission, the Church turns to the Synoptics with their embedded notion of the coming of the kingdom which sits more in the “not yet' phase of the eschatological spectrum. Ordinary time is replete with parables prompting personal and ecclesial responses which make known the wisdom and mercy of God to one another and the wider world. Then, from Advent to Lent, we return to a focus on Christian foundations with the hope that another cohort of catechumens will join in the journey to Jerusalem. The point of this liturgical meander – the church's missionary activity reveals an ongoing willingness to adapt its constitutional self understanding to outbreaks of Charismata: the growth of the monastic presence led to Abbots of major monasteries being given speaking and voting rights at Ecumenical Councils; later the emergence of the mendicant orders, followed by the missionary congregations prompted the development of “exempt” canonical status and inclusion of leaders of the largest clerical orders in Ecumenical Councils. We may well be at the edge of another development in the Church constitutional self understanding as the dual needs of being a community alert to “semper reformanda” and the imperative of making known the message are discerned in today's circumstances.


Bill Burke | 25 July 2021  

Bill Burke, to my mind it's not the fact of the Church's historical adaptability that requires justification; rather, it is the consistency of proposed adaptations with divine revelation and the Apostolic tradition - which includes the authenticity of claimed charismata and how they are discerned in the aggiornamento process.


John RD | 26 July 2021  

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