John Allen on Benedict XVI’s recent conference with priests

This is really interesting from my friend the nearly ubiquitous fair-minded former Rome correspondent for the ultra-leftist NCRep

I was once ‘more severe’ than today, Benedict XVI tells priests
Posted on Aug 7, 2008 05:19am CST.
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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

Pope Benedict XVI told a group of priests yesterday that he was once “more severe” in terms of administering baptism and confirmation to ill-prepared or lukewarm candidates, but today he’s inclined to be generous wherever there is even “a flicker of desire for communion in the faith.”

The pope also conceded that, over the centuries, Christianity’s commitment to environmental protection may not always have been sufficiently clear. He argued, however, that belief in God is essential to sound ecology, because ultimately a materialist philosophy places no limits on humanity’s exploitation of nature.

Benedict XVI spoke to a group of more than 400 priests of the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone in northern Italy, where he is currently passing two weeks of vacation. The behind-closed-doors session with the priests, which has become an annual custom for the pope, took place in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Bressanone, and lasted approximately 90 minutes. The pope took six questions and provided impromptu answers.

The Vatican is expected to release a transcript of the session shortly. Yesterday, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, briefed reporters on the highlights of the exchange.

The six questions, according to Lombardi, were:

• Fr. Willy Fusaro, a 42-year-old priest diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991, the year of his ordination, and today confined to a wheelchair, asked the pope about the Christian meaning of suffering in light of the example of Pope John Paul II;
• Seminarian Michael Horrer, who recently returned from World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, asked the pope about pastoral outreach to the young;
• Franciscan Fr. Willibald Hopfgartner posed a question about the relationship between reason and faith;
• Fr. Karl Golser, a professor of moral theology and a former staffer in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who served briefly under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, asked his former boss about Christianity and the environment;
• Fr. Franz Pixner asked the pope to comment on priestly life;
• Fr. Paolo Ruzzi asked Benedict for advice on how generous a priest should be in administering the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.

In response to Fusaro’s question on suffering, Lombardi said that Benedict divided the pontificate of John Paul II into two phases. The first came when an athletic, strong John Paul bestrode the world as a “giant of the faith,” while the second came with his slow physical decline and growing weakness. These years, Benedict said, were “not of lesser importance.”

“With this witness of his own passion, he carried the Cross of Christ with humility,” Benedict said. “With deep humility he accepted the destruction of his body, and thus showed us clearly the truth of the passion of Christ.”

When Golser posed his question on the environment, Lombardi said that Benedict laughingly replied, “You could answer that better than I can.” (Golser serves as director of the Institute for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Bressanone, and has published widely on environmental ethics.)

According to Lombardi, Benedict said that in the past the connection between the church’s teaching on redemption, and on care of creation, may not always have been underlined with enough force. Today, however, the pope said Christians are clearly called to ecological concern, especially by offering examples of “lifestyles” respectful of the environment.

In fact, Benedict argued, if God is denied and the world seen as mere “matter,” then it’s far easier for human beings to justify arbitrary and selfish exploitation of natural resources.

Finally, Lombardi called the pope’s response on sacramental discipline “very interesting.”

“When I was younger, I was more severe,” Lombardi quoted Benedict XVI as saying in response to the question about baptism and confirmation.

With time, I came to understand the importance of taking the path of mercy, following the example of the Lord, who welcomed even a flicker of desire for communion in the faith,” the pope said.

Benedict quickly added, however, according to Lombardi, that this doesn’t mean the sacraments should be administered when faith is absent.

 

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44 Responses to John Allen on Benedict XVI’s recent conference with priests

  1. Anna Jean says:

    God says the lukewarm He spits out His mouth and holy father welcomes them in? And the ill-prepared as well? Good grief. Hasn’t the Church been doing a fine job of this these past decades? Now is the time to admonish and catechize, not usher in more protestants.

  2. Anna Jean says:

    I forgot to say, that I am assuming, nay hoping, that if holy father is following Jesus’ lead, he will be doing just that…admonishing and catechizing.

  3. Maureen says:

    The Holy Father must be following that weird saying, “A crushed reed he will not break, nor will the smouldering wick be quenched.”

    It _is_ his job to “strengthen the brethren”, you know.

  4. Phil (NL) says:

    To be honest, I wish the Holy Father would either give a well developed lecture about ‘ecological concerns’ or leave the topic alone. Neither the earth nor plants or animals have a soul that needs to be saved – something the enviromental activist scene forgets and often even opposes. Those people are not the Church’s friends.
    I can understand that one proposes a modicum of care as respect for Gods gifts, but that needs to be balanced against the clear injunction not to bury our God given talents / gifts, including natural resources and scientific advances. The idea that ‘the environment’ needs care for its own sake is not one that belongs in the Church.

  5. Fr. Brian Stanley says:

    Fulton Sheen used to say, “Win an argument, lose a convert.” I think this is the Holy Father’s [capitalized, please] point in being merciful and generous in ministering the Sacraments. There comes a point when, in the course of catechizing, that some put up hoops for catechumens to jump through on their way to receiving God’s grace, which is, above all, a free gift of love from an all-loving, generous Father.

    There is divine power in sacramental grace, a power that changes people beyond my poor abilities as a catechist and preacher and teacher. I am not promoting the give-away of the sacraments without any sacramental preparation, and I do not think that the Holy Father is promoting such either. But I have seen among some of my brother priest and among some [not many] lay RCIA directors, religious ed directors, an arbitrary approach to the ministry of the sacraments, and that potential converts had been either turned away or turned off because of a certain kind of hardness and pettiness on the part of the catechist, a hardness that has nothing to do with catechesis itself, but more to do with the personal expectations of the catechist. This hardness or harshness seemingly denies the transformative power of sacramental grace. I don’t believe that denial is the conscious intention of the catechist, who is attempting to be super-diligent in communicating the faith, but this hardness can come across as alienating rather than discerning, as “take it or leave it” rather than “come and see,” cf., more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  6. Joe Horan says:

    God says the lukewarm He spits out His mouth and holy father welcomes them in? And the ill-prepared as well? Good grief. Hasn’t the Church been doing a fine job of this these past decades? Now is the time to admonish and catechize, not usher in more protestants.

    Anna,

    Please try to have more respect for the Holy Father. Do you even have a good idea what he was talking about, the depth or complexity of his deliberation on this issue, the possible misconception you might have by reading this? Do you really know what he really meant? Is it possible there was a miscommunication? Most of all, maybe there is something for you to learn here from Benedict instead of just reacting in disrespect. All you have is a sound bite, and you are berating the Pope. Maybe think again. Good grief!!

    Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

    a flicker…..a mustard seed

    Peace,

    Joe

  7. Garrett says:

    It seems to me that what Benedict proposes, namely, administering baptism and confirmation to some who are lukewarm or ill-prepared, is an ENTIRELY different thing from administering Holy Communion to those who are lukewarm or ill-prepared. If he isn’t differentiating between those (which I’m sure he is…), then he is flying in the face of not only clear Magisterial teaching, but timeless liturgical texts from all ancient Christian traditions, and the Holy Scriptures themselves. I just think not being TOTALLY clear on the differentiation might not be wholly prudent, as some of his listeners might’ve taken it one step further than what the Holy Father was (hopefully) intending.

  8. RBrown says:

    God says the lukewarm He spits out His mouth and holy father welcomes them in? And the ill-prepared as well? Good grief. Hasn’t the Church been doing a fine job of this these past decades? Now is the time to admonish and catechize, not usher in more protestants.
    Comment by Anna Jean

    The Lukewarm and the Beginners are not the same thing.

  9. Virgil says:

    Father Zed:

    I fear when you refer to the National Catholic Reporter as an ultra-leftist publication. In order to be leftist, you need to be left of some mainstream center. In order to be ultra-leftist, you need to be way out in left field, further even that the leftists. Fact is, NCR is widely read and applauded in nearly every rectory, convent, and parish school in America. It represents the DEAD CENTER (“dead” being the operative word?) of the Church in America. [B as in B, S as in S.] That cannot be said about the Wanderer.

    Think of it in a way that can also help you think about the role of this blog.
    * In the center, you have NCR, an army of clergy, and hordes of lay Catholics.
    * To one side, you have a small cadre of Womenpriests and Marxists, trying to turn the Barque of Peter one way.
    * To the other side, you have a small cadre of apologists, chant scholars, and a free-lance priest blogger, trying to move the Barque in contrary.

    This, in fact, strikes me also as part of Benedict’s point with the clergy of Bolzano. As Benedict grows older and wiser, he realizes that the people in the broad center exist as an important part of the Church.

    I would venture to say that the Pope would call the National Catholic Reporter an important part of the apostolate in the US. [Ridiculous.]

  10. Domenico says:

    The Vatican Website has the full report of the meeting of Brixen (Sud Tirol – Italien) in the original language and in Italian. (local time 17:40)
    [Read,] think then post.

  11. RobK says:

    I love this pope! What a blessing the Church has been given in him.
    God sends us these particularly holy shepherds in times of difficulty.
    I thank God for him, and I pray for him.

  12. Tina says:

    As someone who has had family members denied the Sacrament of Baptism, I am glad to hear the Pope say this.

    As someone who has had to jump through hoops to get her godchild Baptized, I am glad to hear the Pope say this.

    I think sometimes priests don’t do a good job explaining their reasoning for denying Sacraments. When my infant cousin was denied Baptism 18 yrs ago, the explanation the priest gave wasn’t logical. It was only 3 years ago that another priest explained the reasons the first priest gave in a way that made logical sense.

    I’d also like to hear what the Pope has to say about marriage preparation for those who have been legally married for 20+ years and would like to get married in the Church (finally!).

    Honestly, the experiences my family and I have had with respect to the Sacraments has angered me and everytime I have contemplated leaving or have left it was over a Sacrament…

  13. Fr. Angel says:

    Virgil:

    Perhaps you could also see the position of the Reporter in this way. Although it is in many rectories, convents, and parish schools, that means that our nation’s Catholics have moved left of center, not that the Reporter occupies a moderate or middle space.

    However, if you are in Poland, Mexico, South Korea, Nigeria, and various other countries of the Catholic world, and you publish dissent, pro-contraception editorials, and sympathetic praises of those who attempt to pass on Holy Orders to women, you are not going to wind up in every rectory and convent. And instead of being seen in the middle, you will be seen as a threat to orthodoxy. After all, not every national conference stands by and says nothing while dissent from the Church and caricatures of the hierarchy are published.

    Fr. Z is right. The standard for a publication’s orthodoxy is not how many priests and nuns read it. That only tells us how good the publication panders to its audience. The standard of right and left is whether that publication is thinking with the Church’s Magisterium, “sentire cum Ecclesia.”

    In other words, I am not going to hold my breath while waiting for Pope Benedict to call the Reporter “an important part of the apostolate in the US.”

  14. Fr. Angel says:

    Fr. Brian Stanley:

    Thank you for your words–I believe they are a good explanation of what our Holy Father is getting at.

    It is very easy to size up a person and decide that his or her child should not be baptized or confirmed. It certainly makes the priestly work easy. Not registered? Not taking envelopes? Not married in the Church? Okay, the answer is no. What part of no don’t you understand?

    What is more difficult is to take that person or that couple and try to use the opportunity for some evanglization. What is difficult is to work through their problems with the practice of the faith, work through their misconceptions of doctrine, and to present a good side of the Church, an apologetic for why they should now draw close to Christ, if they have sidelined Him up until now in their lives.

  15. Paul Rimmer says:

    When I was in RCIA, I desired the sacraments so deeply that nothing at all, not trials, not diseases, nothing but death itself would keep me from the sacraments.

    And my desire was so great, and did not fall into lukewarmness, only because I had an amazing mentor in one of the other lay Catholics teaching the class, and he would talk with me, teach me, challenge me, encourage me, constantly, so that I would not lose the fire, so that I would not pursue my tendency toward lukewarmness.

    He could see that, weak and sick soul I was, I was worth saving.

  16. Jason says:

    I was baptized Catholic and went to Mass and CCD until my first communion, even though my mother was neither Catholic nor religious. I had no religious instruction or witness outside of Church. But I later had a conversion when I was older, and I can’t help but believe that the indelible mark I received at Baptism had something to do with that conversion. I don’t know if the Priest should have baptized me or not, but had he refused baptism, I don’t know if I would be Catholic today. Maybe I would still have had a conversion, but I wouldn’t have had that Catholic background as a foundation, however shaky and imperfect, to guide me. I may have become Protestant or something else.

  17. Jason says:

    *And, by the way, I believe that God is using me to convert my mother. She gave me that “flicker of desire for communion in the faith” by having me baptized, and I think God is using me to reward her for that. His providence can accomplish anything, even in imperfect situations.

  18. Melchior Cano says:

    First of all, everyone needs to keep in mind that we are speaking of the Sovereign Pontiff, not joe six-pack from next door. People are free to disagree with the Holy However, they are not free to speak of the person of the Holy Father as if he were any other random person. If you choose to disagree with the Holy Father, perhaps intellectual, well-thought out and researched statements would be a good idea. Sarcasm is not. It should also be remembered that, as Catholics, we are bound to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone, but most especially the Sovereign Pontiff.

    Secondly, it seems there are frequently too many overzealous people here. As in all things, we need balance. Not the “balance” or “moderation” of the world, but the balance of Holy Mother Church. We need to “sentire cum ecclesia” (think with the Church). The Church is loath to deny the sacraments to people. The moral theologians (yes, the pre-1962, traditional moral theologians) caution priests to be very careful to deny someone a sacrament, especially a sacrament such as baptism. Essentially, the Church desires that all be fully prepared and properly catechized before. However, in the absence of full preparation and complete catechesis, the Church desires that these people receive the Sacraments and the grace accompanying them, so long as they meet the minimal requirements necessary and the desire to receive the sacraments, even if that desire is somewhat imperfect. Would all of you “sons of thunder” desire that the same strictures be placed upon the reception of absolution. Fr. Stricto: “I’m sorry, if you only have imperfect contrition, I cannot absolve you.” Give me a break.

  19. W says:

    As a convert, I respect and support high standards for the sacraments of initiation.

    I tried, in my own way, to figure out Catholicism for almost 7 years without making much progress. I attended Mass and asked priests and deacons what it meant to be Catholic. But no one ever taught me any Catholic doctrine, no one ever answered my questions about what makes the Catholic Church different than other churches. In one Catholic parish I was informed in a “seekers class” that Catholicism is a “viable option” for many “seekers”. In another parish, I was told that I could become Catholic by registering and contributing financially.

    After many years, I wandered into a bookstore that I found out about on the internet, it was attached to an FSSP parish. The man in the bookstore recommended the Baltimore Catechism. After reading it, I talked to the FSSP priest. He sat me down and went through the Baltimore Catechism again, page by page, question by question, over the course of several months. He told me that the Catholicism is the one and only true religion and explained why. He answered every question and objection I had. At the end of this time he asked if I understood everything I had learned, and when I assured him that I did he told me that, having fully explored the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith, and having no ignorance thereof, I had absolutely no other choice but to accept the Catholic Religion or be condemned to Hell.

    A few weeks later I knelt before that FSSP priest and renounced my former religion, and its errors, and fully assented to all of the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church.

  20. Fr. BJ says:

    To be honest, I wish the Holy Father would either give a well developed lecture about ‘ecological concerns’ or leave the topic alone. Neither the earth nor plants or animals have a soul that needs to be saved – something the enviromental activist scene forgets and often even opposes. Those people are not the Church’s friends.
    I can understand that one proposes a modicum of care as respect for Gods gifts, but that needs to be balanced against the clear injunction not to bury our God given talents / gifts, including natural resources and scientific advances. The idea that ‘the environment’ needs care for its own sake is not one that belongs in the Church.
    Comment by Phil (NL)

    You give the impression that you have not read much or anything of what the Holy Father has recently said about this. He has spoken about it frequently of late, particularly in Australia, where he reminded all that concern for the earth must be rooted in the dignity of human beings. See, for example, this, from his speech at Barangaroo:

    “My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.”

    Perhaps your frustration with this topic is rooted more in what the media is reporting than in what the Holy Father has actually said. The media, as always, have selectively reported on this matter. I have seen reports to the effect that the Pope is now “green” — all because he talked about environmentalism. Never mind what he said about environmentalism, though! That’s besides the point!

    It is right that the Holy Father should address this topic, because the Church has something to say about it, and the time is ripe for it to be said. In a time when many people are focused on being “green” in order to save the earth, it is appropriate for the Church to preach about why we should be good stewards of the earth always, and how any concern we have for the earth cannot be separated from the dignity of persons.

  21. John Womack says:

    Hi Anna Jean,

    The Pope is absolutely right. Our Priest refused baptism for our 9 yr. old granddaughter even though she desired it. (She used to live with us) So did another Priest. We don’t have many Priests up here, so I baptized her myself because I wanted her to have the graces that God desires for everyone.

    “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    Matthew 19:14

  22. Tina says:

    “Not married in the Church? Okay, the answer is no.” – Father Angel

    How is it right or fair to penalize a baby for the sins of the parents?

    This is what happened in my family. My aunt got pregnant out of wedlock. The man stepped up to do the right thing. They went to the priest to get married. He said no because the man wasn’t Catholic. Fine. So he agreed to convert, converts and the priest still says no. So they got married at City Hall. The baby’s born and now the couple wants to get the baby baptized. Priest says no because the parents aren’t married in the Catholic Church and there is no evidence the child will be brought up Catholic. Nevermind at the time my aunt’s daughter was going through Confirmation classes and attended Catholic school.

    Now contrast this to my sister’s friend who got pregnant and isn’t married. Her parish priest baptized her baby no problem. She got expelled from the parish school and still was able to get her kid baptized.

    Father Angel, I’m fine with there being Rules. What I’m not fine with is the rules not being applied equally to all.

    Additionally, when you deny the Sacraments you run the risk of losing Catholics. Mom and Dad decide that baby does need to be baptized and that maybe we need to re-examine how we live our Faith. Priest says no and Mom, Dad, and baby decide they don’t need the Catholic Church…

  23. Rose says:

    Fr. Z- this is why I love your blog…teaches me a great deal. On this subject I thank the posters because this is a subject I’ve thought about often, having many friends who for one reason or another, usually related to marital status, who are denied sacraments for themselves or their children. There’s a lot of bitterness and resentment and strains friendships as well between those who still go to Church and those who have given up going.

  24. Fr. Angel says:

    Tina:

    You misunderstood my post. The quote you mention is part of what I said is the “easy” road for a priest. It is easy to say no to people and work only with those who are registered, active parishioners.

    However, my post states that taking the more difficult road of giving the sacraments to the children of the inactive but sincere Catholics is an opportunity to evangelize. It is an opportunity to work with them and help them resolve their questions or concerns about the Catholic faith. It is a chance to present to people a good experience of the Church as a caring mother who wishes to take care of their souls.

    What I was trying to get across is that “what part of no did you not understand” is the wrong way to go. We both agree that children should not be deprived because of the sins of the parents.

  25. Tina says:

    Fr. Angel
    Cool. Sorry I misunderstood :)

    You have no idea what we went through to get my first goddaughter baptized and trying to get the second baptized currently.

  26. Wendy says:

    I’ve taught CCD (confirmation class) for a couple of years and one of the things that helped me was remembering my own instruction. After Catholic school, Communion, and Reconciliation I had no clue what my faith was about. When we asked why we were following some man (the Pope) instead of God? They agreed he was just a man and we just did. When we asked why Priest can’t get married, we were told that they don’t understand it either but maybe it will change. Read the Bible? No trust the man who will probably change his mind soon. What this type of thing instilled in me was a lack of respect for the authority of the Church and disdain for the faith that was presented as a guessing game- maybe we’re right maybe we’re not. I figured I can guess as good as anyone else. :) I thank God that I came back and took a second look, and sought out the real answers.

    In teaching CCD there are kids who do not want to be there. I try to give them some springboard, something that even if they don’t grasp now, later when they are looking they will remember. I try to give them truth, but I also want them confirmed. If I was not confirmed in the Church I do not know that I would have returned. I see in my students future priests or sisters and perhaps some wanderers like myself. So if they can take one new thing with them about the faith after they leave my class I’m happy. And if they don’t God will send someone else.

  27. Phil (NL) says:

    Fr. BJ,

    Perhaps I should have expressed myself a bit more clearly. I know the Holy Father has adressed this issue several times lately, and that the press tends to be selective in what they report. However, the Holy Father is a very clever man, and knows what the press will do to / with his comments. Maybe he has a plan that’s still unfolding, but as for now I’m sad to observe that he’s seemingly not very bothered by the way the media plays this – at least not enough to set the record straight.
    And to do that, we need more than a few lines or paragraphs, easily open to different interpretations, in a speech devoted to other topics too. It would mean a speech just on that topic, or a book chapter, with careful and deliberate teaching, including what is to be rejected in the environmentalist movement. Maybe the time isn’t ripe for it, as it would involve also adressing head-on the (non)sense of the global warming propaganda machine (more nonsense than anything else, if you ask me), and it may not be prudent to involve the Church in that right now.
    Still, I see plenty of eco-fanatists to hope for the day at least some will be brought to their senses by a clear reminder that ‘earth’, ‘the environment’, ‘biodiversity’ and the likes are not to be worshipped, as some sadly do – and may feel strengthened to do now.

    In all, my disappointment is probably more with tactics than anything else – but that doesn’t make it go away.

  28. Matthaei says:

    QUOTE:
    Father Zed:

    I fear when you refer to the National Catholic Reporter as an ultra-leftist publication. In order to be leftist, you need to be left of some mainstream center. In order to be ultra-leftist, you need to be way out in left field, further even that the leftists. Fact is, NCR is widely read and applauded in nearly every rectory, convent, and parish school in America. It represents the DEAD CENTER (“dead” being the operative word?) of the Church in America. That cannot be said about the Wanderer.

    Think of it in a way that can also help you think about the role of this blog.

    * In the center, you have NCR, an army of clergy, and hordes of lay Catholics.
    * To one side, you have a small cadre of Womenpriests and Marxists, trying to turn the Barque of Peter one way.
    * To the other side, you have a small cadre of apologists, chant scholars, and a free-lance priest blogger, trying to move the Barque in contrary.

    This, in fact, strikes me also as part of Benedict’s point with the clergy of Bolzano. As Benedict grows older and wiser, he realizes that the people in the broad center exist as an important part of the Church.

    I would venture to say that the Pope would call the National Catholic Reporter an important part of the apostolate in the US.
    Comment by Virgil — 8 August 2008 @ 10:10 am

    QUOTE:
    Fr. Z is right. The standard for a publication’s orthodoxy is not how many priests and nuns read it. That only tells us how good the publication panders to its audience. The standard of right and left is whether that publication is thinking with the Church’s Magisterium, “sentire cum Ecclesia.” — Comment by Fr. Angel — 8 August 2008 @ 11:50 am

    It’s great to have priests comment and respond to posts. The Church is not a democracy. If the world is full of “liberal Catholics,” and there is only one man alive who assents to the apostolic Church and the dogmas of the Faith as taught in their entirety through the ages, then that one man is right and everyone else is wrong. Simple. It is the teaching Church that rules, not the current trend of public opinion, and it is the job of the Pope to remind us of this (in his own, delicate style, if he sees fit) and to teach us where we OUGHT to be going, if we are to save our souls, rather than to save the whales.

    QUOTE:
    As a convert, I respect and support high standards for the sacraments of initiation.

    I tried, in my own way, to figure out Catholicism for almost 7 years without making much progress. I attended Mass and asked priests and deacons what it meant to be Catholic. But no one ever taught me any Catholic doctrine, no one ever answered my questions about what makes the Catholic Church different than other churches. In one Catholic parish I was informed in a “seekers class” that Catholicism is a “viable option” for many “seekers”. In another parish, I was told that I could become Catholic by registering and contributing financially.

    After many years, I wandered into a bookstore that I found out about on the internet, it was attached to an FSSP parish. The man in the bookstore recommended the Baltimore Catechism. After reading it, I talked to the FSSP priest. He sat me down and went through the Baltimore Catechism again, page by page, question by question, over the course of several months. He told me that the Catholicism is the one and only true religion and explained why. He answered every question and objection I had. At the end of this time he asked if I understood everything I had learned, and when I assured him that I did he told me that, having fully explored the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith, and having no ignorance thereof, I had absolutely no other choice but to accept the Catholic Religion or be condemned to Hell.

    A few weeks later I knelt before that FSSP priest and renounced my former religion, and its errors, and fully assented to all of the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church.
    Comment by W — 8 August 2008 @ 3:05 pm

    What a marvelous testimony, “W!” We need to hear your story, for it reminds us of what missionaries have suffered for all their lives: to achieve one solid convert is all they ask! Deo Gracias!!

    QUOTE:
    Hi Anna Jean,

    The Pope is absolutely right. Our Priest refused baptism for our 9 yr. old granddaughter even though she desired it. (She used to live with us) So did another Priest. We don’t have many Priests up here, so I baptized her myself because I wanted her to have the graces that God desires for everyone.

    “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    Matthew 19:14
    Comment by John Womack — 8 August 2008 @ 3:30 pm

    It is a sad state of affairs when the hard actions of a priest are left as seed on barren soil. There could easily be a little cultivation to make for a fruitful harvest. Hopefully, you have taken it upon yourself to make sure the baptized child is taught the basics of the Faith, by using a good catechism (NOT the “Catechism of the Catholic Church!!”) such as the one St. Peter Canisius wrote. He has since been acclaimed “the Second Apostle of Germany” (after St. Boniface) and Doctor of the Church. This term, “doctor,” comes from the Latin word for teacher, in this case, teacher of the Faith. If you want to learn what it means to be Catholic, reading the writings of the Doctors is the best way. St. Peter Canisius’ catechism was used to answer the false accusations of the Protestants from the beginning, and is still useful for that purpose today. It is interesting to see that the answers given there are sometimes answers that modern day Protestants do not argue with, whereas their forefathers would have. That’s because Protestantism has changed. The tenets and heresies of the first Protestants are largely forgotten today because they have not stood the test of time: the Church has answers for every heresy, but it takes a willing ear to hear the answer and an open heart to embrace the truth when the intellect, by the grace of God, perceives it.

  29. Peter says:

    Fr. Angel is right about the hard work of evangelization. It’s very easty to turn people away or to just baptize, marry, confirm. These are both extremes thathave nothing to do with evangelization. Let’s engage with people and have thedifficult discussions; let’s build the body of Christ rather than trying to keep the bad guys out.

    What do you all think of baptizing the child of a gay or lesbian couple? At my parish, where we have a large gay population, we wouldn’t think twice about it’s been a great experience to participate in the baptism of a baby belonging to two men or twowomen (or sometimes a baby adopted by a single gay man or lesbian). Before some of you get all judgemental, I’m talking about active parishioners…people who are on the Parish Council, who donate each week, who are lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy communion, who teach religious education, etc. To me, and thankfully, to my pastor, there would be no good reason to not baptize these babies. And, I’m pleased tosay that not a single person in the parish has made a negative comment. Thoughts?

  30. Sawyer says:

    Absolutely, no way should a child being raised by a same-sex couple be baptized. In seeking baptism, the mother, father and godparents promise to raise the child in Catholic faith. How can people who are living gravely contrary to the moral demands of Catholic faith possibly be trusted to raise a child in the Catholic faith? Furthermore, anyone publicly and manifestly living gravely at odds with the moral demands of Catholic faith, as is the case with all public same-sex couples, should not have any office or leadership or ministerial role in any Catholic parish or institution. If Peter is describing his parish accurately, it has ceased to be a community of Catholic faith and has become something altogether different while maintaining the appearances of Catholicism. In other words, the parish is a fraud and the pastor is gravely in error. Perchance is the parish in question Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro?

  31. Peter says:

    Oh, Sawyer. Denying baptism to an infant because there’s no “proof” that the child will be raised according to the faith? Is there ever? With any couple? I’d be very careful about sounding as though you have the right to deny someone the Sacraments given to us by Christ.

    And, I have news for you…if two homosexuals have the courage and the desire to have their baby baptized, chances are they intend to raise that baby in the Church. More straight people would turn baptism into a charade than gay people.

  32. Louis E. says:

    Peter,unless that same-sex couple renounce any sexual component to their relationship and teach the child in their care (who can not possibly be the blood child of both of them) that same-sex sexual relationships should never exist,they are people who SHOULDN’T be on parish councils,serve as lectors,etc. in any religion that teaches that such relationships should never exist.

  33. Peter says:

    Louis, we are not in the habit of asking people what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. I suspect that we also have unmarried lectors/eucharistic ministers, etc., who are heterosexual people having sex outside of marriage. The Church makes no distinction as to the “level of sin” with regard to heterosexual vs. homosexual sex; the issue here is that sex outside of marriage is not permitted. Unless you want to be asking every parishioner what they do with their genitals when they’re not proclaiming the Word (and you might also ask that of the ordained), I would be a little less judgmental if I were you.

    I’m curious why you felt the need to tell us that the child could “not possibly be the blood child of both of them.” We thank you for pointing out the obvious and I wonder if you use such offensive language when referring to the adopted children of heterosexuals? You are quite a judgmental person. I wonder what our Lord would have to say about that.

    I am glad, however, that you did not say that the child should not be baptized.

  34. Spes says:

    As a practicing Catholic with a homosexual orientation – I don’t see anything unjust with Louis’ statement. This is the teaching of the Church, we can take it or leave it. It is not about asking what anyone does in the privacy of their bedrooms, it is about Mother Church being fair and holding the same standards for holiness for all of her children. We can’t have it both ways. If the Church asks parish volunteers to be faithful, practicing Catholics, then they must be willing to live up to that challenge, or have the integrity not to serve as a lector, etc. I have never found a Church more welcoming, and truly OPEN to homosexuals as the Catholic Church, and I surely never would elsewhere – for she is the only one left still willing to love her children so much, that she knows when to tell them “NO,” …

    “To TRULY LOVE means sometimes saying ‘NO.'” – Benedict XVI

  35. Jordanes says:

    Sorry Peter, but you and your parish are gravely in the wrong. Active homosexuals, public homosexual couples, are as unfit to hold offices of church ministry as persons with natural sexual tendencies who are known to be “living in sin.” We’re not talking about “asking people what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms,” we’re talking about public scandal. First of all, the Church sees that the adoption of children by homosexual couples is a form of child abuse. In addition, a Catholic parish has a responsibility to witness to the truth about the family, not aid and abet its destruction, and to uphold the truth about human sexuality, not wink at its perversion. There is no absolute rule against baptising a child who has the misfortune of being in the custody of a homosexual couple, but since there can be no guarantee that a child in the custody of a pair of homosexuals will be raised in the Faith, but a strong likelihood that he will not be (the moral example of the child’s custodians would lead them to mislead him about human sexuality), a priest or deacon should think long and hard before baptising him. I urge you to find a parish that does not ignore or subvert Catholic faith and discipline, because your comments indicate your parish’s understanding of Catholic morality has been compromised, and consequently so has yours. Lastly, before accusing someone else of being a very judgmental person, you should take a look in your own mirror. Louis wasn’t being judgmental; he was simply stating what the Church expects and requires.

  36. Jordanes says:

    Matthaei said: In order to be leftist, you need to be left of some mainstream center.

    Not at all. “Leftist” is a political label for those who espouse liberalism, socialism, communism, Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, etc. It refers to the seating in the chamber of the French revolutionary National Convention. Those who desired a constitutional monarchy sat on the right side, those who wanted an end to the monarchy and the establishment of a liberal, secular, anti-Catholic republic sat on the left side. Nobody sat in the center aisle, because there were no seats there. In the “Left/Right” model of modern politics, there is no mainstream center, just varying degrees of Leftism and Rightism. The National Catholic Distorter, of course, is politically leftist, and applied analogically to the Catholic Church, it is culturally, doctrinally, and liturgically “leftist” as well.

  37. Deusdonat says:

    Phil (NL),

    Why are you so obsessed with environmentalists and the media? Why should you care? Follow the church and what the Holy Father says regarding the environment (and everything he has said is absolutely sound and biblical) and let the fanatics say what they will. We answer to a higher power…and no, I don’t mean the media.

    Sawyer, you said Absolutely, no way should a child being raised by a same-sex couple be baptized. And do that, I will respond that you are not God. Please remember that. As Jordanes said, for any infant or child to be born into the unfortunate circumstance that a) they must be given up to adoption and b) that the child was by the “luck of the draw” given to homosexual parents is bad enough. That you would add to the suffering of this child by denying him/her the holy sacrament of baptism is for me unfathomably uncharitable. Our Lord said very specifically “Suffer the children to come to me”. And more specifically, He said:
    And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42. This applies the homosexual parents of the children AND those who would spurn them for the unfortunate circumstances of their birth, which they had nothing to do with.

  38. Sawyer says:

    Deusdonat,

    In response to your objection to my stance, I would first cite Canon Law:

    Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

    1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

    2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

    Then I would submit that a same-sex couple is a case in which there is altogether a lack of hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion because the couple is manifestly rejecting the Catholic religion by its public living arrangement.

    In danger of death, a child in such an unfortunate family arrangement should be baptized; in no other case.

  39. Deusdonat says:

    Then I would submit that a same-sex couple is a case in which there is altogether a lack of hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion because the couple is manifestly rejecting the Catholic religion by its public living arrangement.

    And once again, I will remind you that you are not God. If the holy spirit brought that child to a priest, the there is hope. It could be that the infant has VERY Catholic grandparents, aunts/uncles or other family members who wish to raise the child in Catholicism with the consent of the parents. And do yourself a favor; learn church history before attempting to hide behind canon law, which in this case gives you no refuge. I will clearly and plainly cite the case of Edgardo Mortara, a boy born Jewish who was baptized by his Catholic caretaker/nannie without consent of either Jewish parent, and by the grace of God was raised Catholic by none other than the Pope himself.

    Bottom line: you are in absolutely no position or authority to decide this. You would do well to think about the children in EVERY thought or action concerning this or any other activity. I have cited the biblical reference (you do remember the bible, right?) stating as to why: your immortal soul may be in jeopardy here.

  40. Jordanes says:

    Deusdonat said: It could be that the infant has VERY Catholic grandparents, aunts/uncles or other family members who wish to raise the child in Catholicism with the consent of the parents.

    Precisely. That’s why the Church doesn’t have a simple, absolute rule against baptism in such cases. The minister of the sacrament has an obligation to consider the total circumstances.

  41. Matthaei says:

    It is an important distinction to notice the Church does not deny baptism to any child, but the Church rightly postpones baptism until such time as the requisite conditions are met. Missionaries have always had to deal with this issue. Whenever it was clear that there was no one at hand (godparent even) who would see to the proper catechizing of the candidate, no baptism could be given for the present time.

    Is it any wonder that the godparents are required to be “practicing” Catholics? It’s kind of a joke that the word “practicing” is in popular use, for not long ago, it was clear: you either were Catholic, or you are not. If you don’t practice the faith, then you are outside the Church and no longer Catholic, but clearly are “fallen away.” But such “HARD SAYINGS” were abandoned at Vatican II. It would seem that much of what Jesus has to say about delicate issues would be “too hard” for the Modernist, as well.

    Why not have a Satanist for a godparent? There is a specific, and proper reason, by the way.

    Why not have an “agnostic” for a godparent? Here again, there is a reason. It’s not fun and games. It means the difference between salvation and damnation, or at least the tendency toward one or the other. The sacraments are not here for a “club membership” or for “who contributes to the collection.”

    When a homosexual faction is encouraged to fester in a community, it grows and propagates, and soon it takes over the whole. Militant homosexuals are actively forcing their way into legislation and the courts to the extent that they will not be satisfied until it is illegal to be anything but homosexual.

  42. Peter says:

    I’m quite certain that Jesus would spit many of you out of his mouth.

  43. Deusdonat says:

    Matthaei Militant homosexuals are actively forcing their way into legislation and the courts to the extent that they will not be satisfied until it is illegal to be anything but homosexual.

    Usually the people who make inane comments like this are the same ones who believe aliens are talking to them through their microwave ovens. And these types of people are just not a good source of meaningful conversation.

    Peter – you need to check your ego here. Anyone claims he knows for certain what God would or wouldn’t do to any of His children based on a personal feeling is both dilluded and dangerous.

  44. Jordanes says:

    I’m quite certain that Jesus would spit many of you out of his mouth.

    You’re appropriating imagery from Jesus’ letter to the Laodiceans in the Apocalypse. In that letter, Jesus says he is about to spit the Laodiceans out of His mouth, because they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold.

    So, Peter, which of us here are you quite certain are lukewarm Catholics?