Observations about remarks by Cardinal-Elect John A. Dew

Cardinal-Elect John A. DewArchbp. of Wellington

Cardinal-Elect John A. Dew
Archbp. of Wellington

My good friend Fr. Gerald Murray has some observations and questions concerning remarks made by Most Reverend John A. Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington in New Zealand who is slated to become a Cardinal in the next consistory. People are now beginning to look at the records of the men to be raised to the College of Cardinals. The internet is handy.

Read the whole thing over there, at The Catholic Thing.  I’ll provide some chunks of the text.  My emphases:

A Higher Standard Is Possible

By Fr. Gerald E. Murray

The Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, John A. Dew, will be among the new Cardinals who will receive the red biretta at St. Peter’s on February 14. Archbishop Dew was a member of last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. His remarks to the press during the Synod are very troubling.

He told Salt and Light Television: “the message of the New Zealand bishops was that we wanted to see language in Church documents changed so that it’s something that gives people hope and support and encouragement, rather than being something that appears to many people that they can’t sort of meet the mark, that they can’t live up to the standards that the Church is asking of them.”

He also spoke about the response of Catholics to the pre-synodal consultation conducted by New Zealand’s bishops:

25 percent of the respondents were non-practicing Catholics and the message was that “It’s impossible when we’re told that because we’re using contraception we’re intrinsically evil or that we’re living in an irregular situation, that the language is so negative that it doesn’t help us.” So, my intervention was: Let’s not be concentrating on rules, but looking for language that helps people and encourages people in their journey to God.

[Note: the Church does not consider people using contraception to be “intrinsically evil”; rather, the use of contraceptives is intrinsically evil.]

Archbishop Dew wrote in his own blog from the Synod: “I gave my own Intervention today and it seemed to be well received by most. I basically said that we have to change the language which is used in various Church documents so that people do not see and hear the Church judging or condemning, passing out rules and laws, but rather showing concern and compassion and reaching out to help people discover God in their lives.”  [If you change the language… isn’t there a danger that you will change the meaning?]

This line of argument is not novel for him. He was a member of the 2005 Synod on the Holy Eucharist. The Holy See Press Office published a summary of his intervention in which he spoke about those “hungering for the food of the Eucharist” and argued “[o]ur Church would be enriched if we were able to invite dedicated Catholics, currently excluded from the Eucharist, to return to the Lord’s table. There are those whose first marriages ended in sadness; they have never abandoned the Church, but are currently excluded from the Eucharist.”

This calls for some comment: referring to a marriage “ending” is imprecise. Cohabitation with one’s spouse may end, a civil divorce may be obtained, yet one’s marriage to that spouse continues until death. Further, Holy Communion is not denied owing to civil divorce, but rather because of an adulterous union following divorce.

Archbishop Dew’s comments reveal lack of sympathy for Church laws that seek to prevent the sin and scandal of sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist by those who lack the proper disposition because they have civilly remarried after divorce. Note the pejorative references to Church discipline for the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist as ”judging and condemning, passing out rules and laws” whereas he seeks a new approach “showing concern and compassion,” giving people “hope and support and encouragement,” using “language that helps people and encourages people in their journey to God.”  [Antinomianism?]

[… skipping, but don’t miss this, over there…]

Archbishop Dew offered a strikingly different approach when a recent scandal involving political dirty tricks became known in New Zealand. He wrote an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald in which he stated: “It does no credit to political leaders to claim that an activity such as accessing the database of another political party is done by everyone. If something is unethical, the fact that it is widely practised does not make it ethical.”

He justified the media attention given to this scandal, saying “bringing into the light unethical and immoral behaviour through the media is one of the checks on the power of the state and a way in which those responsible can be held to account for their actions or inactions, as well as revealing their true character.” He said that this scandal “shows that New Zealanders desire a higher standard of moral and ethical behaviour among all New Zealand’s politicians and believe a higher standard is possible and necessary. It is an opportunity for restoration and a restatement of core moral principles that should drive the actions of our political leaders, rather than become an opportunity for excuses, deflection or minimisation and justifications of unethical behaviour.


There’s more, but you’ll have to read it over there!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. MrTipsNZ says:

    Indeed. There has been concern in NZ circles about Achbp. John dew for some time. His appointment to the See of Wellington was initially rejected by Rome and the then Cardinal Thomas Williams travelled to Rome to “assist with the process”.

    I have had personal dealings with Achbp. Dew and this confirmed my suspicions that he was one of the groups of Bishops whom feel “Rome has no relevance due to its tyranny of distance”. I also found him quite rude in his correspondence.

    I will continue to pray for his soul and its return to sense. I genuinely worry for him as he appears to have political machination and faith confused.

  2. Clinton R. says:

    Sadly, this comes as no surprise. There are precious few prelates who are willing to defend the doctrine of the Church. These comments by Archbishop Dew reflect the attitude of far too many post Vatican II; water down the teachings and dull the language, and everyone will want to come back to the Church. It has not happened and it will not happen. Only by giving our best worship to God in the TLM and preaching the Gospel to all people, the timeless truth as Our Lord handed to the Apostles, can we hope to reverse the crumbling and near complete desolation of the Faith that has occurred over the last 50+ years.

  3. Fr. W says:

    He attended the 2014 Synod, do we know if his bishop’s conference chose him to go to the 2015 synod.? Seems like someone else from New Zealand should get a chance next time.

  4. Marc says:

    …“the message of the New Zealand bishops was that we wanted to see language in Church documents changed so that it’s something that gives people hope and support and encouragement, rather than being something that appears to many people that they can’t sort of meet the mark, that they can’t live up to the standards that the Church is asking of them.”

    I have heard the definition of sin explained as “missing the mark.” Although I was not particularly fond of that definition, it seems to explain what Cardinal-elect Dew is striving to reach: a changing of the Church’s teachings on sin.

    Sadly, I “miss the mark”–far too often. Dear Cardinal-elect Dew, the sacrament of confession is the answer, not “changing the language” which means changing the meaning. Confession is where we find our “hope and support and encouragement.”

  5. Fr. W says:

    I find it interesting that C. Maradiaga visited New Zealand back around November, now Dew is chosen Cardinal. It was Maradiaga who met a Bishop Cupich at a conference, and who soon was elevated to Archbishop of Chicago. I wonder which (new Cardinal) countries he has recently visited?

  6. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    they can’t live up to the standards that the Church is asking of them

    That’s what Confession is for.

    And yes, before you say anything, I’ll be going to Confession in a just a few hours.

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    I wonder at the criteria for making Cardinal.
    How long can we go on with this increasingly common type of attitude toward church teaching?
    Does anyone have the slightest idea what would happen in October if doctrine is changed, even if it is under the umbrella term “practices”, which in effect are going to change doctrine?
    These men in the Church of Nice hardly seem compatible with what I understand as Catholic Church teaching. I’m just a layperson, and a pretty clueless one at that on these matters, but even I know they are just lowering the bar so that people can feel better about themselves. What is really scandalous is that they have so little regard for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. They have so little apparent concern about who receives Him. Are we all Protestants now?
    Fr. Gerald Murray is a wonderful priest and when he speaks I listen.

  8. JARay says:

    I attended Mass in Queenstown four years ago and the “Our Father” was posted up on a screen. I did not recognise it as being the Our Father. Talk about changing the words!
    As it happened, that was the last Mass said in Queenstown for quite some time because the priest was being moved to Williamstown and there was no priest to replace him. The importance of that is that Queenstown is just about the most popular holiday destination in New Zealand (and rightly so, since it is a stunningly beautiful place). And the surrounding towns and villages served from Queenstown were also deprived of Holy Mass. A nun took over in Arrowtown and she let a priest-friend of mine know, in no uncertain terms, that she did not want visiting priests from Australia coming along and saying Mass there!She was in charge!

  9. jacobi says:

    We, and Archbishop Dew, must be clear about one thing. The Church cannot change the teaching as confirmed in the Magisterium.
    Contraception is wrong, is a mortal sin, as is abortion. Sex outside of a valid marriage between a man and a woman is a mortal sin. Marriage is indissoluble.
    These are not organisational rules they are the Divinely inspired teachings of the One True Church guaranteed by the Holy Ghost.

    Lets us be clear about one thing. The idea that there are hordes of people in second marriages or homosexual relationships hovering somewhere, just hoping for the day when they can come in and receive Holy Communion, is just rubbish.

    Some perhaps, a tiny number compared to the many loyal married Catholics who in spite of the difficulties in any marriage, carry on! Any change of practise would be a slap in the face to those Catholics.

    To change language is to tell lies. Divorced and remarried cannot receive because they are in a state of mortal sin. The German idea that after a Confession they can receive is illogical and is a lie. Confession requires a firm purpose of amendment i.e., intent not to commit that sin again. If that is not present they are still in a state of mortal sin and will commit Sacrilege if they again receive. They must be told that. To advise otherwise is to be complicit in that Sacrilege.
    If Archbishop Dew seriously advocates what is reported, he is advocating heresy.

    As for all those hordes of divorced and remarried they have the option at any time of just coming to take part in the Sacrifice of the Mass – but you won’t see many of them doing that!

  10. APX says:

    the sacrament of confession is the answer, not “changing the language” which means changing the meaning.

    Yes, but confession only works if you’re willing to give up your sin and stop sinning, which really is the issue here. People want to keep sinning, yet reap the spiritual rewards of those who strive to not sin and are willing to do what it takes to stop sinning. It doesn’t work that way.

  11. Mike says:

    “Can’t sort of meet the mark”? Really? Sounds like Lutheranism to me.

    Calamitous as this appointment seems to be, there’s no point in panic. Better, surely, to offer up some of one’s prayers, penance, and works of mercy on behalf of the faithful remnant in the Antipodes, that they may be spared the chastisement brought on by our infidelity to Our Lord’s call to holiness.

  12. juergensen says:

    Burke gets demoted and Dew gets promoted. See a pattern yet?

  13. Rob22 says:

    But Jacobi who is to say they can’t change the teaching? They might be on the verge of it.

    If that happens a lot will insist it is not really a change. Many, some, such as myself will differ and consider it a change. I came into the church because of its unchanging nature. If this change happens I have prayerfully and after much thought have decided to leave. The evangelical converts will jump ship to a large degree IMO in this scenario. The same folks who brought a trulybevangelical spirit to the church founding radio stations and ministries.

    Tye Pope and the bishops are playing with fire here IMO if they make this change.

    If I wanted a church with ongoing (changing) revelation I would have become a Mormon.

  14. jacobi says:

    I suspect that the real issue here is that we have an indirect attack on the doctrine of the Real Presence and ultimately of sin.
    Relax the rules on receiving. Allow it to be a “right” of all, universally available and soon the meaning will be gone. Quite simple really!

  15. Traductora says:

    I had read these things on other sites, and I was pretty depressed about the only new English-speaking cardinal being somebody who was so…well, 1980s, at best. A product of his times, even if they weren’t really his times – but a product of that ” weak thought” mindset. But everybody Francis appoints comes out of that mindset.

    I was wondering if one of the reasons that the new cardinals were virtually all from obscure countries or even secondary cities in their countries, whether obscure or not, was not for the dreaded “diversity,” but to get people in who really hadn’t been to Rome very much, rarely thought about it, and would be easy to manipulate or befuddle, even if they were orthodox. And most of them are not raving heretics, but from what I have been able to find out, a little on the soft side, particularly about homosexuality (which is alarming). However, I honestly can’t say I know about all of them. Unfortunately, there was no question about Dew from the start.

  16. donato2 says:

    It appears that a primary qualification for promotion by Pope Francis is support for communion for the divorce and remarried. The thinking behind this support is very disturbing to me. It combines sentimentality with disregard for both doctrine and logic. As such, it is very in tune with the modern, leftist mindset and distinctly un-Catholic. Just imagine what St. Thomas would have to say about it – or any other Doctor of the Church.

    I am now convinced that Pope Francis is going to relax the Church’s discipline on communion for the divorced and remarried. This is a source of great distress for me. If it happens it will be hard to conclude that it is not a papally-supported direct attack on the Real Presence. Could God permit such a thing? Is the Catholic Church what she says she is if such a thing happens?

  17. Robbie says:

    Sometimes it feels like the foxes are guarding the henhouse.

  18. NBW says:

    If people in the past have been making the mark, why should we be any different? AND why should this “Cardinal” tell us we aren’t up to the task? Some shepherd! He would let the wolf come in and devour the sheep because “they can’t make the mark”.

  19. Andrew D says:

    “Pray very much for the holy father.”
    — Our Lady of Fatima

  20. pannw says:

    Oh, my goodness… Does he hear himself? Do they even teach Scripture in some of the world’s seminaries?

    Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

    God help him.

  21. ray from mn says:

    I’m getting nervous-er and nervous-er about Pope Francis.

  22. Stephen Matthew says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate…

    Let us start with the point Aquinas makes about everything being received according to the mode of the receiver, this would certainly include fraternal correction, so fraternal correction must be delivered in some method that after being processed by the receiver it is still corrective, that is to say it still leads them to correcting the fault rather than causing them to become obstinate.

    Now, I could go so far as to argue that due to various cultural and social changes the very nature of the languages we use has shifted such as to render much of the traditional language, not only of fraternal correction, but also of moral theology, to be received and understood in a manner radically different than the Church now or ever intended. We live in a society where criticism is very light in most fields, where much is done to safeguard esteem, etc. Also, in a capitalist society the worth and dignity of a person is tied to how their performance is evaluated in a way that can be rather bizarre.

    So, perhaps it is that when the Church speaks of something (an action) as being gravely and intrinsically evil, it is not so unlikely that many will take that as a very serious personal attack and think that they are being labeled as immoral, evil, or disordered. It is clear that many people are somehow hearing things this way. We also have, as our justice system makes clear, more or less given up on rehabilitation regarding serious offenses, so it would not be surprising to find many of our people think some people are just evil while others are good, that we can go ahead and sort the sheep and the goats, and that the Church is trying to categorize them as being among the goats.

    I would also argue that in the English speaking world these problems are made much worse by the injection of very old Protestant traditions about morality, particularly of the Calvinistic variety (including assumptions about double predestination), into even the core of the old moral order.

    Thus the Church must adopt a way of speaking (at least to the unwashed masses) about matters of morality such that we strongly affirm the goodness in them while also pointing them towards greater union with God. In the old days we spoke of mortal sin cutting a person off from God and killing the soul, which are true in a sense, but that language doesn’t work well now. Those sound like final judgements, dooms from which there is no escape to modern ears.

    If the Church is a hospital for sinners we do well with triage, initial stabilization, and even diagnoses. However, we do a very poor job of follow-up care and long term rehabilitation. We will gladly deliver the initial injection of penicilin (confession), but for the most part people feel like after confession they are left entirely on their own, practically thrown naked and helpless back onto the street as prey for the devil.

    Where is the spiritual direction? where the preachers and prophets with power and authority? where the social support networks? where the deep Christian friendships that build and strengthen one another in faith and where even the depths of the heart may be bared? where the counter-culture that sustains life by exemplifying truth, goodness, and beauty? where an example of the Church as perfect society in any actual rather than potential sense?


    Now obviously I think the “reformers” shall we say, are flirting with changes in language that does distort truth, and in making changes to disciplines that would contradict doctrines. Yet, that doesn’t mean they are wrong about modern circumstances requiring some new approach. Those who value tradition can decry all things modern until the cows come home, but unless you learn to communicate to those who live, breath, think, and speak in the modern way you will never be able to convert modern people. And to be blunt, we are all moderns now.*

    *For all practical purposes the hold-outs of tradition are like theme parks or historical reenactment sites, even they are largely preserved by artificial and unsustainable means (this is not an attack on the value of such things), rather I mean to wake up members of “traditionalist” communities to the truth that for the most part they, and their clergy, and all their fellow congregants were born and raised and lived much of their lives as ordinary moderns, and that rather than having received a lived tradition in an organic way they had to rediscover or even recreate it and that in doing so they unavoidably did so through certain modern modalities. To an unfortunate degree we now have the choice of receiving manufactured traditions via organic means or receiving organic traditions via manufactured means.

  23. Stephen Matthew says:


    High standards for others, low standards for ourselves, severity for their sins, leniency for mine seems to be much the way. Perhaps it is a capitalist thing trying to get the best bargain. Or more likely it is as old as Jesus criticizing the Pharisees.

    In my more enlightened moments (which are few and far between) I hope God is equally lenient and merciful regarding both my sins and those of others. (When I am moved by anger I assume He shall judge others with severity, when I am moved by despair I assume it is I who shall be so judged. I suppose on the whole I tend toward severity in thought and word, but when it comes to concrete matters I am very lenient both of others (perhaps virtuous), but also of myself (likely unvirtuous).)

  24. jacobi says:

    The answer to your question is the One True and Only Catholic Church will say it.
    The teaching of the Church is unchanging. You made the right decision.

    In the exceedingly unlikely event there is an attempt, note attempt, to change teaching on indissolubility of marriage or receipt of Holy Communion by those in mortal sin, them the Church will split and we will have a new Reformation. We will all have to decide which side of the line we are on. The One True Holy Catholic Church in Continuity, or the new Relitivan ecclesial body which will join the Lutherans and the myriad of other protestant ecclesial bodies.

    There is no need for you to leave, just step on to the Catholic side.

    See you there!

  25. oldconvert says:

    Yes Ray, surely the really worrying thing is that someone who must have much fuller knowledge of Archbishop Dew’s views than we have, selected him as a Cardinal.

    Since the biggest exodus from the Church, in modern times anyway, followed the “liberalization” of teaching after Vat II, whatever makes the Powers That Be think that people will flock back to the Faith if the teaching is “liberalized” still more? I should think that what is more likely, is that a shrinking remnant of ever more elderly, sorrowful, Catholics will cling to their Faith until they die, but will not be replaced, even by the divorced-and-remarried or actively-homosexual whom the Church seems now to be trying to attract. Why should the latter bother? They have no need to repent or change their lives, because they are not in sin! The Church now says so!

  26. Geoffrey says:

    “I’m getting nervous-er and nervous-er about Pope Francis.”

    With any more cardinals like this, I am getting nervous-er and nervous-er about the next pontiff!

  27. Although he goes into very questionable territory when he wants the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist (without even indicating some penitential path), I think he has something. We in the Church need to word our documents first in a positive light. We should mention X, Y, and Z are sins, but first spend most of the document talking about the beauty of the virtuous life and put them in the context of virtue not legalism.

    A classic example is how most people think chastity is defined: as a line. However, virtues should NOT be defined negatively but positively (“do X” not “don’t do Y”). When chastity is understood properly, as respect for our bodies and others’ bodies, explaining why certain things go against this is quite easy and well accepted. If, on the other hand, chastity is just understood as a bunch of don’ts then people will have trouble accepting them all.

  28. nzcatholic says:

    I live in Wellington. Indeed I attend the Cathedral for Sunday Mass. Archbishop Dew is a pleasant enough fellow however just not what I would consider smart. The are also no Priest scheduled to be ordained in the Welljngton Archdioces for the next five years!

  29. GordonB says:

    I think the problem is there is a pharisaical attitude toward the gay and divorced-remarried set. If somebody from those groups reads this comments section, I’m pretty sure they would never want to become Catholic, or come back to church, because they have, as it seems, committed unpardonable sins (I mean, honestly, there are plenty of other mortal sinners we can pick on if we want to). With these attitudes and the proscriptive negative language, we’d cut out the Woman at the Well, Zacchaeus, the Woman Caught in Adultery from the Gospel story. Jesus encounters sinners but the language used by the church of NO [not to be confused with the Mystical Bride of Christ, the Holy Roman Catholic Church) is not effectively inviting sinners IN to encounter and be transformed. The group of readers here ARE informed about religion, and understand and assent and have, I’m sure, been and are undergoing such transformation. But realize, the great ignorant masses do not understand, they need though to understand that they are still on the journey as the rest of those who struggle against sin (present company excluded of course). Yeah, sure some interpret that as permission, but as any parent knows, don’t you want your child to KNOW they can always come home (at risk of sounding like you are giving license?)

    So yes words mean things, rules that can’t be changed won’t be changed — but lets find words to help those who feel STUCK and really don’t know they can be Catholic and they can come to church, and they can encounter Christ, and be transformed. Correct, they can’t go to communion, like any other mortal sinner, but if we can foster love the Eucharist, with this welcome, things will take care of themselves.

  30. Jim Dorchak says:

    Just out of curiosity, who is the guy in the lounge chair in the picture?

  31. Gerard Plourde says:

    I think it is very important when discussing matters of sin that we be very clear in our understanding of the Church’s long-standing teaching, most recently set forth authoritatively in the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by St. John Paul. As a first principal, we must recognize that the terms “grave sin” and “mortal sin” are not interchangeable. A person can commit a grave sin but not meet the additional two conditions, i.e., full knowledge and complete consent of the will. Further, the Catechism teaches that unintentional ignorance, feelings and passions, external pressures and mental disorders can diminish or even remove culpability. While we employ these rationales at great risk to our immortal souls when judging our own behavior, we must be careful when assessing the relative culpability associated with the actions of others. As Robert Bolt’s Sir Thomas More so eloquently states, “I have no window to look into another man’s conscience.”

  32. jameeka says:

    “If you change the language… isn’t there a danger that you will change the meaning?”
    FrZ: if nothing else, your blog has taught me that

  33. bernadette says:

    Sometimes it seems like The Church, our solid rock, is becoming a pile of shifting sand. Keeps me awake many nights.

  34. Mike says:

    I am concerned that many will fall for “we’re justing changing the praxis” or “finding new ways” when, in fact, both praxis and “ways” must be in accord with the truth.

    Can you imagine if doctors acted this way?

  35. Indulgentiam says:


    “the message of the New Zealand bishops was that we wanted to see language in Church documents changed so that it’s something that gives people hope and support and encouragement, rather than being something that appears to many people that they can’t sort of meet the mark, that they can’t live up to the standards that the Church is asking of them.”

    That’s the same manure…ahem pardon…mentality that brought us the Novus Ordo in its current form. When you lower the bar all you get is mediocrity and that’s a proven fact. Again just look at the results the N.O has had in the last 50 years. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But I suspect the archbishop is crazy like a fox. The dismantling of the Mass has been called an inside job by good Cardinals who were there, namely; Ottaviani and co. And there’s no reason to believe that they’re not still there busily working away.
    Even if we lived in a perfect world and all had perfect intellects we’d still have a problem with a single “No”. Adam and Eve did and it wasn’t because they didn’t understand the language. We’re worse off b/c were infected with Concupiscence
    Imho it’s not the way that Holy Mother Church says “No” that’s the problem. It’s that we don’t like the “No” even with pretty please and sugar on top. There is nothing wrong with the way the Church expresses Herself. So very few diocesan Priests, that I’ve met, actually know what the Church teaches. So much of what one gets from the pulpit, these days is a mix of protestantism and stand up schtick that what the Church actually teaches isn’t even known. So basically folks are getting their catechesis from the malcontents that never cease whining about “the Church is just soooooo meeeeean She never lets me do anything I waaaaaant!”
    It’s the intellectuals that are constantly bogged down in the minutia. They think that the reason the “poor unwashed masses” are such a mess is b/c they lack sufficient understanding. And they, the intellectuals, must ride to the rescue on their big brains and spoon feed us tiny bits of information so that we can string two coherent thoughts together. Pfffft! What ego’s
    Present the truths of the Church as they’ve been handed down and those who want to cooperate with grace will understand just fine, GOD gives light when and where it is needed, HE said so.

  36. Mike says:

    Fr. Matthew,

    Thanks for your comment re chastity being more than “a line”, a “rule”. I teach a bunch of 9th grade young men, and that’s how many of them see it. And it’s an easy mind-set to fall into, too.

    Chesterton’s essay, “A Piece of Chalk” has some wonderful points in regard to virtue as something rich and very real.

  37. donato2 says:

    GordonB, no one here has said, or suggested, that homosexuals or the remarried have committed unpardonable sins. It is Catholicism 101 that, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit aside, any sin can be forgiven — if repented. The concern is with those Churchmen who seem to advocate tolerance — and hence tacit endorsement — of unrepented grave sin. Those who advance the argument that the Church needs to find “new language” so as not to scare away homosexuals and others who are in love with certain popular sins are often being disingenuous. Does anyone have any examples of when “new language” that obscured the reality of sin led a unrepentant sinner to repent? The “new language” appears to me to be very commonly employed by Episcopalians in the United States. Has that resulted in any mass movement to chastity among Episcopalians who are homosexuals? I don’t think so. How would the “new language” of “welcome” ever have that result when the language is designed to suggest that there is nothing wrong with what homosexuals and the remarried are doing?

  38. Andrew says:

    It is indeed troubling with the news that Archbishop Dew of Wellington is to become a cardinal.

    However, at the same time, it is important to have a bit of perspective in regard to this development.

    Pope John Paul II made Archbishop Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh, a cardinal, and he was reputed to have liberal views on things like homsexuality, and women’s ordination, in the early 2ooo’s.

    Some of my American friends were extremely disappointed when Benedict made William Levada of SF, his replacement as prefect of the CDF. He was made a cardinal by Benedict in 2006. He proved to be very good in this job however, and the fears turned out to be misplaced.

    However, Pope Benedict made Donald Wuerl of DC (and Burke has had differences with him) a cardinal in 2006, and Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich a cardinal in 2010, a notorious liberal. Benedict made Timothy Dolan of NY a cardinal, in 2012, who this past year has received a lot of criticism on conservative blogs.

    The moral of the story. While it should be, impeccably orthodoxy is not always a prerequisite for getting a red hat, and this is not just confined to this pontificate.

  39. Pingback: Pope Francis: Which Peripheries? - BigPulpit.com

  40. Imrahil says:

    However, virtues should NOT be defined negatively but positively (“do X” not “don’t do Y”).

    While it is ontologically, philosophically, etc. true that virtues are something positive and not negative, I disagree as for the practically implications.

    And why? Because I’m all for being easy on us poor week men.

    Virtues are not “do X”s. They are “be X”s. And practically speaking, the only clear deviations from virtue consist in doing forbidden things. (I’m speaking of natural virtues, here. The only among the Ten Commendments which is Divine positive law in the strict sense, the Third, is somewhat an exception here. It, and and the Church commandments, really consist of – some – “do”s.)

    So, as for virtues having their distinct, positive essence, let me quote Chesterton again:

    White is a color. It is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black.

    And as for them practically consisting in “don’t”s,
    This is particularly plain in the fuss about the “negative” morality of the Ten Commandments. The truth is that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion but of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted precisely because most things are permitted and only a few things are forbidden.

    and in more detail with link: http://www.chesterton.org/negative-and-positive-morality/

  41. GordonB says:

    Donato – You are speaking as somebody to whom much has been given, insight, understanding of the reality of practicing the faith, and are likely speaking of the program of tough love from the Church that works/worked for you to lead you to conversation, or recognition of your sins and repentance. But a lot of people out there don’t have that understanding.

    Thus, by (1) TALKING about it, as we are, serves an educational purpose and (2) again, the folks who we are trying to call to that conversation, don’t think that particular sins are compatible with even being Catholic, or simply going to Mass (here again, I agree with those that say there’s a problem with the weekly, row by row standard practice of receiving communion at Mass, it simply creates and environment that causes sacrilege and rejection of Church attendance at ALL when one is in their sins).

    Moreover, what about the sin of “injustice to the wage earner” – a sin that cries to the Heavens for retribution. Simple research can prove that this is an actual problem based on numerous class action lawsuits on this issue. Where are the calls for repentance of those who try to pay workers less than the law says, or to see if they can get away with paying less because it’ll fatten the bottom line, and that laws that make sure people get paid a minimum wage are stupid, and that the longer I can get away with it, the better, and if they don’t complaint, well, its OK then, etc…? These types feel welcome, but should they? Why? What about Gossips, or people who would besmirch the reputation of another by reporting the sins of others for no good purpose? No offense, but the first post on this page that informs us that Archbishop Dew is a “quite rude” man based on his correspondence with the first poster — I found that to be an unnecessary and gratuitous put-down where we could in fact talk about his comments without creating the implication that he is some aloof rude a-hole.

    The point is, there’s a whole lot of sin (this is just an example), not just two sins, that, if we are worried about repentance, and need to be addressed. I think that’s part of Pope Francis’s goals (see, e.g. the Economy Kills). I know enough to know I am welcome in Church, and if in a State of Grace, despite my own many sins. Most folks DO NOT know, and do not know, or really understand that. Jesus called for his father to Forgive Those Who Know Not What They Do. I think there’s a lot of ignorance, and we can reach to heal the ignorance by (1) talking about the issues. Its true, gay people (or I should say, those with Same Sex Attraction) are welcome in the Church and as Catholics. Tell me this is not true?

    Its devolved a bit to cliche – that Jesus did seek out sinners, but let’s forget that its a cliche and realize, he did make great effort to call people to conversion in ways that didn’t just give them an immediate sense of convert or be condemned, but rather he met them where they were at and led them to a love of Him, of truth, that moved the heart to change… Lets use Jesus’s model with Zaccheaus, the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well…in approaching these thorny issues. I don’t know what that language, is, that is the challenge… but surely Holy Spirit is up to the task of supplying it.

  42. Allan S. says:

    Bishops are successors of the Apostles; Judas was an Apostle – Fr. John Hardon, SJ on the need to pray for Bishops, and heresy:

    Q. Why was there a Judas?

    A. Fr. John Hardon, SJ: Well, the reason the Church gives is to prepare the Faithful for Apostate Bishops. I’m not recommending the book, but one book that is an eye-opener is called, The Wives of Henry VIII. He had six wives; first one, well you know what he did with that one – Catherine of Aragon, got rid of her. He asked the Pope to give him a declaration of nullity. So when the Pope said, Henry, I can’t do it, what did he Henry do? He called the Bishops. Who remembers the name of the one Bishop who told Henry “Sorry, you cannot get an annulment”- who remembers? John Fisher. And he was Bishop of what Diocese in England? What diocese? Rochester. Anybody here from Rochester or East Rochester? You read the life of Henry VIII and you see how important it is for Bishops to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His Vicar on earth. No heresy has ever succeeded in history unless and until it was backed by a Bishop. Pray, Pray, Pray for Bishops.

  43. chuckharold says:

    Evidently the issues in NZ are not that different from those in the U.S. Time after time, when former Catholics are asked why they left the Church they state that it is the “rules” approach of the Church. They just don’t believe anymore all that the Church teaches about sex and its emphasis on sex rather than helping people on the journey to a closer relationship with God. The attendance at Sunday Mass is down to 12% in some U.S. cities because Church, particularly the RC church is no longer relative in the lives of the members. Why do nearly a third of former Catholics leave to join fundamentalist and evangelical mega churches. Time after time they note their emphasis on their building a relationship with Christ, sermons that are relevant to their lives, and programs that help them in their journey. Today, the second largest religious group in the U.S. is former Catholics. If that is true, and attendance is down to 12-20% of what it was 20 years ago, perhaps we should ask why, rather than intensifying what drove people away in the first place. I maintain that it is the Church that drove people away, not the people who yearned to leave. The church needs to reform its approach, not intensify its previous efforts. A good measure of the health of a parish is the percent of members who are in the 18-35 age group. If the church is full of young people, it will thrive. If it is full of old people it will wither.

  44. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    Virtues are not “do X”s. They are “be X”s. And practically speaking, the only clear deviations from virtue consist in doing forbidden things. (I’m speaking of natural virtues, here. The only among the Ten Commandments . . .e for pleasure

    A virtue is a habit, a disposition toward the good. All virtues are defined by their faculties, which are defined by their acts. For St Thomas’ vices are habits which are in some way related to the virtue–there are vices of defect and vices of excess of each virtue. Easy examples are the vices against Temperance (the virtue related to the concupiscible appetite, the appetite for pleasure). Intemperance (excess) refers to overindulging in pleasurable things. Insensibility (defect) refers to rejecting appropriate pleasure.

    St Thomas’ approach is usually not considered a 10 Commandment approach, even though it is obviously not opposed to it. His theology is one of Happiness: The Virtuous Man is the Happy Man.

  45. Seppe says:

    A recent historical-theological essay exposing the neo-modernist attacks on Thomism, by John Lamont, professor of theology and philosophy at Australian Catholic University, is very helpful to understanding what happened at “Vatican II” and the present situation in the magisterium and hierarchy today…

    From the conclusion of the essay:
    + + + + +
    “The idea that doctrine should be adapted to the thought of the day does not specify what adaptations should be made. This enabled neomodernists to be all things to all men, tailoring their appeal to the particular desires of any audience. This made possible alliances with powerful elements in the Church who were attracted not to neomodernism as such, but to abandoning particular doctrines that they found inconvenient or repellent. These doctrines were all concerned in one way or another with the exclusive character of the Catholic Church as a means for salvation; the condemnation of non-Catholic Christians as heretics and schismatics, the condemnation of non-Christian religions as paths to damnation, the insistence that the state must acknowledge and support the Catholic faith as the one true religion. These alliances were what permitted the neomodernists to achieve hegemony in the Church, and it is the support of these allies that to this day prevents any move against neomodernism by ecclesiastical authorities. Such a move would require enforcing all of Catholic doctrine, which would mean an intolerable return to exclusivism; it is found preferable in the last analysis to accept and promote those who reject all of that doctrine.”
    + + + + +

    The neo-modernist / progressive agenda for the Church is all about aggiornamento, changing the language to be “softer” and “friendlier”, and accommodating the trends of the world.
    If those who are called to be shepherds and leaders of the Church continue to change the teaching of the Church from the meaning it has always and everywhere had until now, and thereby “whittle away” at the now-fraying bonds of Tradition which anchor us to the Rock, then we will drift along in the passing currents as just one more “ecclesial community” or “denomination” that tries to be relevant with the latest modern trends. Then, instead of salt and light, instead of leaven, the new and improved, easy-to-follow, man-made, modernized, religion truly becomes “an opium of the people” to anesthetize us so that we can do whatever we want and still feel good about ourselves….

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear robtbrown,

    thanks for the answer…

    As for them being habits, that’s what I wanted to express – unprecisely, it is true – with virtues about being something (say, chaste), not doing something. They are virtues, not commandments. They make us do something, yes. But as all virtues are infused at Baptism (if I remember that correctly), every baptized Christian is per se (say) brave without having to do anything for it. Only when once he is put in a battle and may fail to act upon said bravery, then he loses it (but may regain it in confession).

    (That is not to say that what St. Thomas calls “acquired virtue”, which is the nature generally supposed by Grace, is negligible. However, even acquired virtue is something rather distinct from a moral code-book people adhere to.)

    As for the practical application, I cannot help to see this in a sermon, or fraternal-correction, setting. In this, forgive me, I find that the usefulness of the “excess” (and “defect”, but especially “excess”) argument has limits. I do not doubt its truth, but it is difficult to demonstrate for the preacher, and the fraternal-correcter, that something is excessive; a mere appeal on “this is excessive” has often no more demonstrable content than “I think you’re doing this too much”. Now of course our preacher, and fraternal-correcter, is quite entitled to think so; only the problem is, that doesn’t mean the thing has reached the border of sinfullness, but nevertheless in the mind of the listener, it is always (at least in my mind) associated with an “hence shame on you”. (And I always feel meant with a reproach, even to a multitude, except if it is instantaneously clear I am innocent; I have not yet unlearnt that.)

    It is different if the excess is proven by stepping over some concrete rule; whether that be now the ten commandments, or also some virtue-based catalogue but going into detail, which e. g. St. Thomas does lay down in the II/II of this Summa theologica.

    And that’s what I meant, explained with a couple of words^^

  47. Supertradmum says:

    I wrote of series on my blog on the heresies I spotted in the Synod. One just has to follow synod. That series is called– Slavery of the Will; Freedom of the Will

    One of these heresies is the denial of sufficient grace given for the salvation of every person who ever lived. To state that people cannot live up to the demands of the Church is a denial of grace, mercy and justice-all serious positions. I also wrote about the wishywashy ideas of the synod in October of last year.

    There is no need for confusion is people realize that there are no new heresies under the sun and that the old ones are merely rearing their ugly heads.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    I have many series on grace and virtues on my blog over the past few years, resources for Catholic teaching on those two topics, if anyone is interested.

  49. HighMass says:

    Really folks,

    Why should we think Francis would chose orthodox archbishops to become Cardinals??????

    It is very obvious loves liberalism, etc

  50. robtbrown says:


    You raise some good questions:

    1. Acquired moral virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance) are not made unnecessary by Infused virtues. The latter have a supernatural object. Acquired virtues facilitate the practice of the respective infused virtues.

    2. I disagree that teaching the difference between a virtue and a vice of excess would be difficult. Everyone knows there is a difference between someone who enjoys good food and someone who eats like a pig. Or a man who acts in order to facilitate a good a act and one who acts in order to benefit himself.

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