Friday, September 29, 2006

TOB Made Simple

GOULBURN, Australia, SEPT. 28, 2006 ( Pope John Paul II responded to the sexual revolution with his innovative teachings on human sexuality, says the author of a new book on the theology of the body.

Father Anthony Percy is the author of "Theology of the Body Made Simple," published in Australia by Connorcourt Publishing, by the Daughters of St. Paul in the United States, and by Gracewing in Great Britain. It is being translated into Chinese, Spanish, Italian and German.

In this interview with ZENIT, Father Percy speaks of John Paul II's contribution to the Church's teaching on human sexuality.

* * *

Q: Some say that since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the Church has been challenged in a way it has never been before to defend its teachings on sexuality. In what way?

Father Percy: Most cultural commentators would agree that the sexual revolution began in the 1920s. In fact, G.K. Chesterton said of the sexual revolution that there was "more madness coming out of Manhattan than there was out of Moscow!"

He perceived that the next heresy the Church would have to deal with would be of a sexual nature. We, now living in the 21st century, surely have no problems in recognizing the immense challenge before us.

But "today" is our starting point and not "yesterday" or "tomorrow" -- what might have been or what might be. And the starting point -- or so it seems to me -- is this wonderfully intriguing and inviting teaching called the theology of the body. ...

Read the Rest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Great Response to Islam

Yesterday, a group of Americans larger than the number killed on 9/11 died.

The day before that it was the same. And the day before that. In fact, every day is 9/11 for America's unborn children. Every day, we cleanly, efficiently, legally and privately dispatch as many children — more in fact — than Osama bin Laden had victims on that horrible day five years ago. When we speak about "post-Christian values" we have to remember that this dedication to the culture of death is one of them: a dedication enshrined in law in much of the West (including our own country) and surrounded by ever more draconian punishments for those who dissent. Increasingly, our culture's devotion to abortion, gay marriage, blasphemy, the harvesting of dead babies for body parts, and the stampede to kill the weak and old is becoming a central component of Why We Fight. More and more, the struggle of the West with Radical Islam looks like a battle, not between Good Guys and Bad Guys, but between pagan Rome and pagan Carthage.

Where the Battle Is

When I point this out, some people ask me if I'm saying that since Western culture is depraved, we have no right to fight radical Islam.

No. I do not say we are too morally bankrupt to fight radical Islam. I say we are too morally bankrupt to trust that our opposition to radical Islam makes us trustworthy. I say that Christians, in particular, have to remember that though we are obliged to the duty of patriotism (which is, after all, simply another way of saying we are obliged to love our neighbor), it does not follow that we are obliged to love our neighbor more than God. When our neighbor tries to get us to defend his sinful acts because they aren’t as nasty as somebody else’s sinful acts, we have a duty to tell him he’s wrong.

The older I get, the more incorrigibly Catholic my outlook gets. I regard the great struggles of our time through the lens of Ephesians 6:12 and following. I do not believe flesh and blood is our ultimate enemy. I also do not believe flesh and blood is our ultimate Friend. I think the projects of demonizing our enemies and the project of making the post-Christian secular West the highest good are both riddled with folly. Our enemies think they are fighting a Holy War. But not a few in the West are promising a secular messianic vision of a world made happy through democracy and capitalism unfettered from the Christian tradition that gave rise to them. Christians have to be very careful in how they respond to that, because the easy temptation, in our revulsion at the brutality and evil of radical Islam, is simply to baptize whatever the post-Christian West wants to do in response.

Christians must indeed fight a Holy War. But that means they must pay attention to St. Paul, who tells us that the weapons of our warfare are primarily spiritual and are ordered toward Christ, not toward earthly power and domination. Therefore, we Christians cannot just fight against radical Islam (which is but one of the enemies of Christ). We must also fight against post-Christian secularism that hates Christ just as much as radical Islam. And we must supremely fight against the sin in the Church (and in our own hearts) that always tempts us to say "I thank you O Lord, that I am not like other men." Yes, sometimes literal arms are necessary in this world. But without the spiritual arms, we are fighting in vain. Indeed, we are fighting against Christ.

Follow Christ!

The temptation of this world is always to lure us with the siren song of believing that we can make this world enough — that one of our little systems of order can stand in for heaven. And one of the best tricks the devil has in his little bag is the trick of sending evils into the world in pairs. That way, he can inflame our hatred of one evil and stampede us into the defense of the opposite evil. The sensible path through all this is to follow Christ, not the winds of this world. For the reality is that a diseased and inflamed spirituality like radical Islam cannot be cured by a diseased and flaccid spirituality like post-Christian secularism and the New-Age goo of the West. Only a healthy spirituality can cure what ails both East and West: and that means the fullness of the Catholic faith.

On the whole, I'm glad pagan Rome defeated pagan Carthage. Rome was about the best there was in paganism. But the very best of paganism still was incapable of looking God in the eye without saying "Crucify Him." We Christians will have to remember that both when radical Islam threatens to kill us and when Caesar seeks to co-opt us.

Mark Shea is Senior Content Editor for Catholic Exchange and a weekly columnist for the
National Catholic Register. You may visit his website at check out his blog, Catholic and Enjoying It!, or purchase his books and tapes here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Bishop for South Dakota!

Pray for Bishop-elect Paul Swain. This will have a major impact on the abortion ban. Praise God!

Sioux Falls, Aug. 31, 2006 (CNA) - Today, Pope Benedict XVI named a new bishop for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, Monsignor Paul Joseph Swain, an adult convert to Catholicism and Bronze Star winner. Bishop-elect Swain, who is currently serving as Vicar General for the Diocese of Madison, will be taking the reigns of a South Dakota diocese which has been with out a bishop for over one and a half years. Read the Rest.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New US Seminary Guidelines Insist on Total Acceptance of Full Teaching on Sexuality

WASHINGTON, August 30, 2006 ( - Officially promulgated on August 4, a new 98-page Program of Priestly Formation has been issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) after being approved by the Vatican. Replacing the fourth edition of the norms guiding priestly formation in all seminaries published in 1992, the fifth edition has taken seriously the scandal of priestly sexual abuse. Speaking of a proper formation in sexuality, the document states, "As we have recently seen so dramatically in the Church, when such foundations are lacking in priests, the consequent suffering and scandals are devastating." Read the rest.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Viva il Papa!

POPE WEARS SUNGLASSES WHILE ON VACATION - Pope Benedict XVI, wearing sunglasses, smiles as he come back from a walk while on vacation in Les Combes in the northern Italian Alps July 18. (CNS/Catholic Press Photo)

LES COMBES, Italy – Vacationing in the Alps, Pope Benedict XVI made a brief visit to Switzerland, walking across the Italian border to visit the famed Saint Bernard kennel of an Augustinian monastery. Read the rest

Friday, August 25, 2006

a bit of brilliance from Planned Parenthood

Concerning the FDA's age-restrictions on the purchase of Plan B:
“While we are glad to know the FDA finally ended its foot-dragging on this issue, Planned Parenthood is troubled by the scientifically baseless restriction imposed on teenagers,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. “The U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the Western world. Anything that makes it harder for teenagers to avoid unintended pregnancy is bad medicine and bad public policy.” (Source)
That the U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates is obviously because of the inability of minors to access Plan B. It's not at all because of the influence of Planned Parenthood and so many like them. By all means, let's start giving out Plan B to school children along with pornography, condoms, and the birth control pill. Oh, and remember, don't tell their parents!

There is God's plan, and there is Plan B

The decision from the FDA to approve plan B will set this country back.

First, let me voice my utter disappointment with our president, and all his staff. How can a person be in favor of saving millions of embryonic babies by vetoing a deadly stem cell research bill and then 'lobby' for a pill that will kill millions of embryonic babies through chemicals?! Where is the consistency? Where is the outrage from the Catholic community and the pro-life communities?

I for one did not do all that I should have to help my family and friends understand why this is a tragic decision. This is, however, a good teaching point for the Church, for ever single Catholic, and every single pro-lifer.

Let's look at the big picture of plan B for a second: two people have sex. Before they do, however, they are conditioned to think that they have to protect themselves. From what? Sex has been so cheapened that near strangers will have sex with each other: they might have diseases so they have to be protected from that. The natural function of sex is designed for the bonding of the two people and creation of new life. That would mean that these near strangers would have to see each other again to raise this child. You have to be protected from that, right? In another way, you have to be protected from the responsibility, from bringing love into the relationship. However, what many people are finally admitting is that these lines of defense do not work- they do not do what they claim they do. So you need yet another measure to protect yourself; another pill.

Why do people take pills? When there is something wrong, correct? You have a cold, so you take a decongestant. You have an infection, so take anti-biotics. A headache; aspirin. Why are people taking a pill because they engage in sex? Is something wrong? "O no! I need a pill- I just had sex!"

Let is set the record straight- there is nothing wrong with sex. God invented it. It is an fundamental part of the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church. It is window into the joy that God has planned for us in heaven. How sweet is that!

However, there is somthing terribly wrong with how we are using sex. It would be like saying there is nothing wrong with food, but if we start eating until we are sick...that is an indicator something is off. If we have to start taking a pill to protect ourselves from eating, we have to have 'safe-food', it is probably a sign that our use of food is off.

With all of these we are clearly faced with two options: God's glorious plan and plan B.

With God's plan, sex is what is was meant to be. People who use God's wonderful plan do not need to worry about disease, about cheating or fleeting partners, about armor or other means of defense. There is no reason to be defensive! God's plan for sex is for one man and one woman to enter into marriage and to express the love that is already there through this most special gift of self. The husband loves his wife so much that he is not seeking his own pleasure, but hers and visa versa. They enter into this love freely, totally, faithfully and this love is fruitful. It is fruitful in their relationship- they are ever more closely bonded. It is also fruitful in the very real way. The child that is conceived through this embrace is the symbol of the love between the two. This child is a most welcomed gift beacuse this love between them is real, it is incarnational.

We will have to work overtime to remind people that when there is a plan A, why choose plan B?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Married with out Children

Report Reveals Changes in Attitudes Towards Kids

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, JULY 22, 2006 ( Life without children is a growing social reality for an increasing number of American adults. This is the conclusion of the 2006 edition of "The State of Our Unions" report on marriage, released last week by the National Marriage Project.

The project is based at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Up until recently, for most people, the greater part of adult life was spent with young children forming part of the household. A combination of marrying later, less children and longer life expectancy means, however, that a significantly greater part of adult life is spent without kids being in the house.

The report, titled "Life Without Children," was authored by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe. They start by noting how many recent publications complain of the difficulties in raising children. Many surveys also show that parents report lower levels of happiness compared to non-parents. In fact, an increasing number of married couples now see children as an obstacle to their marital happiness. This isn't to say that children are rejected by the majority of couples. Nevertheless, there is a growing feeling of trepidation about taking on the responsibilities of parenthood. Of course, bringing up kids has never been easy, but there are good reasons why a growing number of parents are feeling increased pressures, the report explains. A weakening of marriage bonds contributes to the difficulties of having children. Cohabiting women, the report explains, may postpone childbearing until they have a better sense of the long-term future of the relationship. If they wait too long, however, this places them at risk for never having children. Being in an unhappy marriage is another source of uncertainty. Couples who are worried about getting divorced are the most likely to remain childless.

Changing families

Citing Census Bureau reports, Whitehead and Popenoe lay out just how much family structures have changed.

-- In 1970 the median age of first marriage for women was just under 21years-old. The age of first marriage has now risen to just short of 26. Women who have a four-year college degree marry at an even later age.

-- In 1970, 73.6% of women, ages 25-29, had already entered their child-rearing years and were living with at least one minor child of their own. By 2000, this share dropped to 48.7%. For men in the same age bracket in 1970, 57.3% lived with their own children in the household. In 2000 this had plummeted to 28.8%.

-- In 1960, 71% of married women had their first child within the first 3 years of marriage. By 1990, this almost halved, to 37%. So after getting married, couples now experience a greater number of child-free years.

-- In 1970, 27.4% of women and 39.5% of men, ages 50-54, had at least one minor child of their own in the household. By 2000, the shares had fallen to 15.4% and 24.7%, respectively.

-- In addition, a growing number of women are not having any children. In 2004, almost one out of five women in their early forties was childless. In 1976, it was only one out of ten.

-- The proportion of households with children has declined from half of all households in 1960 to less than one-third today -- the lowest in America's history. In general, then, a few decades ago life before children was brief, with little time between the end of schooling and the beginning of marriage and family life. Life after children was also reduced, with few years left before the end of work and the beginning of old age.

Less fun

Contemporary culture has quickly reflected the changes in family life, the report observes. It is increasingly common to find the years spent raising children portrayed as being less satisfying compared to the years before and after. Adult life without children is depicted as having positive meaning and purpose, and as being full of fun and freedom. Life with children, by contrast, is seen as full of pressures and responsibilities. In general, life without children is characterized by a focus on the self. "Indeed, the cultural injunction for the childless young and the child-free old is to 'take care of yourself,'" the report comments. The years spent bringing up children is just the opposite. Being a parent means focusing on those who are dependent and subordinating adult needs to the requirements of the children. By way of compensation traditional culture normally celebrated the work and sacrifice of parents, but this has now changed. Increasingly, the popular image of parents is a negative one. The new stereotypes range from the hyper-competitive sports parents who scream at their own kids, to those who ignore the problems their undisciplined children cause for others in public places. The latest variant are the so-called "helicopter parents," who get their name from the way they supposedly hover over their children and swoop down to rescue them from any negative consequences of their behavior. Television programs have long made fun of fathers, notes the report. More recently mothers are also being shown as unfit, unable to carry out their responsibilities without the help of a nanny, or as being over-indulgent and negligent. By contrast a number of the most popular television shows in America in recent years, such as "Friends" and "Sex and the City," celebrated the glamorous life of young urban singles.

Bias against children

What does this portend for the future, the report asks. For a start, less political support for families. In the last presidential election, parents made up slightly less than 40% of the electorate. Less votes translates into less support for funding of schools and youth activities. Already a number of communities across the nation are trying to hold down property taxes by restricting the construction of affordable single family housing. In cultural terms the bias against children is likely to grow. Entertainment and pastimes for adults -- gambling, pornography and sex -- is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative, and exciting, sectors of the economy. By contrast, being a devoted parent is increasingly subject to a ruthless debunking, the report notes. In fact, the task of being a mother is now seen by a growing number as being unworthy of an educated women's time and talents. So the more staid values supportive of raising children -- sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity -- will receive less attention. "It is hard enough to rear children in a society that is organized to support that essential social task," the report observes. "Consider how much more difficult it becomes when a society is indifferent at best, and hostile, at worst, to those who are caring for the next generation," it concludes. The family, "founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman," is where men and women "are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner," explained the Pope in his homily concluding the World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, on July 9. "The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come," he noted. This experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents, explained Benedict XVI, "is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God." A foundation that is increasingly being undermined in today's society.