St. Athanasius post-election 2008

If I might reword an old song, “What the world needs now” is a few more priests in the mold of St. Athanasius.

saint_athanasiusThe recent media apoplexy over Fr. Jay Scott Newman of St.Mary’s in Greenville South Carolina throws a spotlight on the post-election fissure running through Catholic America.

Fr. Dwight Longnecker wrote  of Fr. Newman (at Inside Catholic):

Offering patriotic support and prayers for the president-elect, but also lamenting his radical pro-abortion policy, Father Newman told his parishioners:’Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.’ He concluded that, if they voted for Obama, they ought to go to confession before coming to Communion.”

Fr. Newman’s comments–hardly radical– are aligned with a long list of bishops who have made similar statements.

One imagines the great St. Athanasius looking on from heaven. Recall that the young Athanasius took on Arius and the Arian heresy. At that time, 325 A.D., there were many bishops who knew that the only correct formulation must make clear that Jesus was eternally begotten–that is, that the Son and the Father are co-eternal.  Arius dissented and persuaded a goodly number of bishops to follow his path.

The crucial point in regards to Fr. Newman of St. Mary’s is that, though the world’s bishops agreed privately with the young Athanasius, they were loath to create any sort of public division over the “one in being , one in substance” teaching –they sought a more “nuanced”  and flexible formulation that would keep the peace…but lose the truth of faith.  (For a rousing read on the drama of St. Athanasius, find a copy of Dorothy Sayers’ THe Emperor Constantine.)

St. Athanasius lived out most of his episopacy in exile. Reading between the lines, one recognizes that many of his fellow priests and bishops surely found him pesky …but the Church’s teaching was preserved.

Please pray for Fr. Jay Scott Newman.


Dr. Peter Kreeft & the Culture War

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Peter Kreeft–professor of philosophy at Boston College and the author of over 50 books– a dozen of those titles on my own shelves.

He spoke to a local Catholic group on the topic, “How to Win the Culture War”

culturewarThe book by that title purchased here

Think of what YOU assume to be the two basic means of  winning the culture war–got it?  Okay, here is the surprising answer from Dr. Kreeft:

Do not be boring, and,  be beautiful.

Had you answered that?  (I had not, I assure you).

If we are passionate for Jesus and his Church it will be compelling in OUR lives and visible to others. We cannot hope to compel the law or politics to make the culture reflect our passion.  When we are passionate, when we build and pursue beauty in art, fashion, architecture, music, city planning–whatever it is that we do—then OUR worldview will be  an intrigue, a wonderment that others will want to learn more about.  In short boring moralism will not win the war.

What do you think of this approach?

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on Bishops & Obama

“In recent months, an unusually large number of bishops have been assertive, articulate, and even bold, in their public affirmation of the demands of moral reason and the Church’s teaching. Some estimate the number of such bishops to be over a hundred. Critics of these bishops, including Catholic fronts for the Obama campaign, claim that bishops have only spoken out because prominent Democrats stepped on their toes by egregiously misrepresenting Catholic teaching. Why only? It is the most particular duty of bishops to see that the authentic teaching of the Church is safeguarded and honestly communicated.

Not all bishops covered themselves with honor in the doing of their duty. Ignoring their further duty to protect the integrity of the Eucharist and defend against the faithful’s being led into confusion, temptation, and sin by skandolon, some bishops issued statements explaining why they had no intention of addressing the problem of public figures who claim they are Catholics in good standing despite their consistent rejection of the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human lives. Some such bishops took the position that…read more here.

Voters & Marriage Amendments


The gay-rights lobby has filed suit in states that approved Marriage Amendments on November 4th.  For a look at how to present the case for marriage without “anti-gay” rhetoric please see the articles and links at


Bishops’ last word

Bishop Ochoa of El Paso:

In our nation, "abortion and
euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they
directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the
condition for all others" (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a
mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent
human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that
violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally

Abp Burke:

It is not my intention to engage in partisan politics. I wish that both of
the major political parties in the United States of America were more
coherent regarding the right to life. The Democratic Party, however
has, over the years, put forth and defended a political agenda which is
grievously anti-life, favoring the right to procured abortion and
"marriage" between persons of the same sex. One can legitimately
question the wisdom of the decisions taken in the war in Iraq, but war
in itself is not always and everywhere evil, as are, for example,
procured abortion, human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and the
so-called "marriage" of persons of the same sex. Engagement of the
nation in a war cannot be placed on the same moral level as the nation
making laws which permit the wholesale killing of the unborn or the
artificial generation of human life or experimentation on embryonic
human life or "marriage" between persons of the same sex.

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, NOV. 3, 2008 ( There’s a new wind blowing in the college of bishops, and it’s strong and courageous, says the director of Human Life International.

Father Thomas Euteneuer drew attention to the more than 50 bishops who have issued pro-life voting guidelines in this election year in his weekly newsletter, published Friday.

“Faithful Catholics in the United States have been both stunned and gratified by the recent show of episcopal strength in dealing with the heretical nonsense of ‘Catholics’ in public life who clearly misrepresent the Church’s teaching on vital issues,” he said. “The trend is truly heartening. Let’s pray that it continues.”

Father Euteneuer made special mention in his letter of two California bishops: Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, and Auxiliary Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Diego.

Addressing a September conference of the National Association of Diocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministries, Bishop Soto gave a presentation of Church teaching that reaffirmed sex as an act between a man and a woman within the context of marriage.

“When sexual intercourse is taken out of this iconic, sacramental context of the complementary, procreative covenant between a man and a woman,” he said, “it becomes impoverished and it demeans the human person.”

“Married love,” the bishop added, “is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression.”

Father Euteneuer said the “organizer of the conference actually apologized to the attendees for the talk,” although “Bishop Soto made no apologies.”

The president of Human Life International praised Bishop Cordileone for being “the strongest champion of the legal effort to define marriage as between one man and one woman to combat the radical homosexual lobby in California.”

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