Sunday, July 10, 2011

Truth: Exclusive? Catholics: Arrogant?

We've talked about the notion of objective Truth before, and some folks just plain don't like it. It's exclusive and arrogant, they believe, to speak of a "truth" that is unchanging and to which we should submit and order our lives.

So, are they right? Is Truth exclusive?

Well, yes. It is exclusive in the sense that it cannot compromise with error. The minute that Truth is mixed with error, it is no longer true, right? It becomes erroneous. So yes, Truth excludes error, by definition.

Sorry, Error, you are not allowed to co-mingle with Truth! {Error slinks off, indignant….}

But in another sense, Truth is not exclusive, for it is available and accessible to all. Everyone is invited on board the Truth Train! Welcome, all mankind! The Truth is here for you to embrace! After all, Truth is the end for which we were all made.

But isn't it arrogant to claim to have the Truth?

Well, it depends.

For example, let's say that I am sitting here in the Bubble, fashioning and spouting my personal opinions all day long and claiming those opinions as "truth" to be held by all. Yep, claiming to be the source of Truth would be arrogant or worse. For sure.

But let's say that I am sitting here in the Bubble, stating that "1+1=2" is a truth to be held by all. Not my opinion, nothing I thought up on my own, simply something I received and am passing on. I don't think that such a statement would be arrogant, nor should it be perceived as such.

Or if I present "rape is immoral" as a truth to be held by all. It's not a novel idea that I graced the world with, and it's not my own personal morality imposed on others. Again, I don't think such a statement would be arrogant.

And yet when Catholics state other objective, universal truths, we are sometimes perceived as arrogant by our detractors simply because we claim those truths as true. However, just as with "1+1=2", or "rape is immoral", Catholics are not inventing new ideas, and we are the source of exactly none of them.

When I speak the truths of the Faith on this blog, I am merely passing on something I've received from the Church. When I present doctrine or morality as true, none of it is my personal opinion or my brilliant insight. I can take credit for none of it, nor can any other Catholic.

Maybe, then, it is the Church who is arrogant? After all, who is the Church to claim Truth?

Well, the Church is also simply handing down what was given to her. She was given the Truth by Jesus Christ -- Who is Truth. In the way that a teacher is commissioned to hand on the truths of mathematics, the Church is the teacher who is commissioned to hand on the truths of faith and morals. She has been given the legitimate authority to do so by Christ, and in doing so she is lovingly, dutifully fulfilling her mandate, not preening in arrogance.

In fact, there is one thing that goes hand in hand with proclaiming the Truth, whether as a pope, a bishop, a saint, a theologian, a layman or even a housewife blogger: A recognition that we are no better, and probably worse, than everybody else.

St. Paul the Apostle, one of the greatest saints of all time, said this:

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. -- 1 Timothy 1:15

And St. Paul gently admonished the rest of us Christians:

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.  -- Philippians 2:3

The only proper response to discovering and receiving Christ's Truth is not arrogance, but utter humility; not the exclusion of non-believers, but an extended hand of inclusion.

When I fail in this regard, please call me on it. For the times I already have, please forgive me.




"…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Jesus Christ, John 8:32



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334 comments:

  1. I'm guessing this will go to over 500 comments! :-) I am so grateful for the people who for the last 3,000 years have searched for truth and made some answers available to me, and to the One who is Truth.

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  2. "As Christians we follow Jesus - the one way to salvation, who is himself the fullness of life and truth. This does not mean that we claim to be oracles of truth. Or that we know all the answers or are always right. No, our approach to the truth requires humility. Pope Benedict expressed it this way:

    "It is obvious that the concept of truth has become suspect. Of course it is correct that it has been much abused. Intolerance and cruelty have occurred in the name of truth. To that extent people are afraid when someone says, 'This is the truth', or even 'I have the truth.' We never have it; at best it has us."**

    This paragraph from the pope's interview with Peter Seewald deserves careful reflection. Pope Benedict says something we need to think about and fix in our minds: We never have the truth; at best it has us. That is so important for us today. We constantly hear people claim to have the truth - sometimes they make the claim loudly and angrily. They use the "truth" like a club to beat down other people. Pope Benedict models a different approach. If you read Light of the World you sense a man who stands before the Truth - humbly and serenely.***"- excerpt from http://stmaryvalleybloom.org/homily5easter-a.html

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  3. **He adds: "No one will dispute that one must be careful and cautious in claiming the truth. But simply to dismiss it as unattainable is really destructive. A large proportion of contemporary philosophies, in fact, consist of saying that man is not capable of truth. But viewed in that way, man would not be capable of ethical values, either. Then he would have no standards. Then he would only have to consider how he arranged things reasonably for himself, and then at any rate the opinion of the majority would be the only criterion that counted. History, however, has sufficiently demonstrated how destructive majorities can be, for instance, in systems such as Nazism and Marxism, all of which also stood against truth in particular."

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  4. Manda, wow! Excellent quotes!!! Thank you!

    Stacy, I am so grateful, too. Still pinching myself.

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  5. A quick comment from the peanut gallery....

    I think it's pretty difficult for some people to take statements about human behavior to be representative of an absolute and objective Truth. And that's not only because these are generally seen as subjective statements, but that our worldview and outlook is intrinsically incomplete.

    Part of that is that fields like psychology inform us how our past experiences and physical differences can inform how we perceive reality quite differently and in objective and measurable ways--which will lead us to understand that different people actually will have different objective truths. In a sense, we each have our own type of rose-shaded glasses.

    Secondly comes the perspective from science in dealing with views of reality, in which there can be reality-dependent and reality-independent. ( R-I says that there's an objective truth no matter who comments. R-D says that our laws and theories are only based on mathematical inquiry and scientific observation and only function to approximate what we see instead of describing the heart of Reality.)

    No real comment on what I think, because I'm not sure, except that I'm usually skeptical by default of claims of Truth. But I wanted to throw in some ideas to show that it's not that people don't like the idea of objective Truth, but just that we need to tread carefully.

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  6. poetry, great comment. You are right that people will perceive things differently for so many different reasons. That is why God made sure to reveal Truth (without confusion) for all of us. I understand skepticism (healthy skepticism has led many a skeptic to the Church), but I think what I am talking about is the disgust and anger that an entity such as the Church, or individuals within it, actually says "this is right" and "this is wrong". The "right and wrongs" haven't changed in millennia -- a fact that by itself deserves respect and attention… nowhere else does this occur!

    which will lead us to understand that different people actually will have different objective truths.

    Actually, I believe this to be impossible, even by definition, since objective truth is outside of us, and is not at all dependent on what any of us believes or perceives.

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  7. My thoughts were not clear on part of that, so let me try again: I am speaking of those who are disgusted and angry that the Church would dare say she has the Truth. Usually, they are disgusted and angry about it for personal reasons (in my experience).

    For example, I am not disgusted and angry at Mormons for saying they have the truth, and I do not call them arrogant. I think they are doctrinally wrong, but their stance for truth doesn't disturb my peace.

    Those who are so emotional and upset by claims of truth by the Catholic Church, and who call her and her members "arrogant", etc., might have underlying reasons why they disdain the Church for her stance. Really, they should approach the claims of the Church unemotionally and respectfully, no? It's the visceral reactions which are unfounded (from a purely intellectual stand) and interesting, especially coming from those who claim to be reasonable and rational.

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  8. Leila,

    In order to be fair and charitable, we may want to distinguish between three different types of truth:

    1. Self-evident
    2. Can be known through a demonstration
    3. Revealed

    What people typically have a problem with is #3. #2 is what we do when we talk about natural law, so sadly in today's culture people even reject the right use of reason to apprehend the good. 1 + 1 = 2 is a self-evident proposition and no one generally rejects this (well, some do but that would take an entire post to cover...). In #1, the premise contains the conclusion.

    That said, your conclusion is right on! I'll be doing a post later this week that follows up to a post I did on Anti-Catholicism which will be written in your train of thought and use the movie Of Gods and Men as the background motif.

    (just doing the final edits now)

    God bless,

    Brent

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  9. 1+1=2 can not be labeled truth. It is only true when you assume everyone understands math as base 10. But from a base 1 mathematical stance 1+1=11, while base 2 stance 1+1=10.

    I don't believe that people are angry because Catholics state that they know the Truth, but rather people become angry when Catholics tell them that they are wrong. Teaching/preaching the truth doesn't require that you insult the intelligence of another or become so obstinate that even if God appear in a burning bush you wouldn't believe him.

    Men have had their hands in the passing down of scripture. As we are told, these men were working with the Holy Spirit. I know even men when the most honorable of intentions make mistakes, and stating that the Catholic church posses truth assumes that no human mistakes were made in the thousands of years that the faith has existed. That I can't believe. So if I don't remain open to the teachings of others isn't it possible that I miss out understanding God from their point of view. I miss out looking up the "truth" that 1+1=11 and thereby wander around naive.

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  10. Dear Melly Sue,

    I tried to parse out the differences between a self-evident proposition and revealed religion in the comment above yours. No Catholic is trying to say that revealed religion is as straight forward as one orange plus another orange equaling 2 oranges, yet that doesn't mean that both revealed religion and the fact that I have 2 oranges can both be equally true.

    What concerns me about your issue with the inherent human dimension in the Catholic faith, is that it seems to undermine Christianity in general. In other words, why am I to trust the Bible? Isn't there a human dimension to the creation and preservation of it? Why should I trust any normal-jane Christian, for isn't she is prone to error as well? Furthermore, if Christ instituted a Church and gave Her the Spirit of Truth, it doesn't seem incredulous to claim that she could be kept free from teaching error. That is all a Catholic is claiming.

    To your example, the base 10 number system assumes a completely different experience than what is being described in the equation 1 + 1 = 2. However, if two individuals are describing the same phenomenon, we should expect their descriptions to cohere, or at least not contradict each other. If they contradict, one is wrong. In other words, I cannot be in a car accident and not in a car accident this afternoon at the same time. So, even assuming the base 10 system, 1 + 1 does not equal 14, which is bound to make someone feel like they are wrong. That's okay, its just the nature of reality.

    Peace in Christ

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  11. To Melly Sue:

    First a quibble: do you frequently hear Catholics telling others they are wrong? I usually hear the Catholic position attacked, by both by Protestants and secularists, rather than Catholics attacking others.

    Concerning knowing the truth of God: would I be ably to truthfully tell someone else what you are like? No, because I don't know you. I cannot know you unless you reveal yourself. God is not different than us in this regard: I can only know another person to the extent he is willing to reveal himself to me. I frequently am unable to express myself as well as I want, but, if God is all-powerful, He does not have this problem; God's self-revelation to us is surely exactly as He intends. I suspect we don't really want to "understand God from another's point of view," but reserve the right to determine who God is or what we will accept from Him.

    To Brent Stubbs: may I suggest a different way of distinguishing types of truth?

    1. Personal.
    2. Ideal.
    3. Material.

    Personal truth is what we know of other persons and is known only by revelation. Ideal is knowledge of ideas (geometry, concepts, and such). Ideas, of course, come only from persons but don't necessarily reveal much of the person himself. Material is knowledge of stuff; planets, cells, pianos, etc. All matter was created by God, some is then reshaped by man; thus matter also comes from persons. All truth is either of persons, or from persons.

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  12. Brent and Mrs. F, thank you! You help me stretch my brain.

    Melly Sue, I know you are a convert to Catholicism, but I don't understand why you have the beliefs of a Protestant? Help me understand. The Church claims she was founded by Christ and has been divinely protected from teaching doctrinal or moral error for 20 centuries (since no doctrine or morality has changed in her teaching in all that time, her case is pretty ironclad, but that's another issue.) If you do not believe this, then why did you say your profession of faith before the altar when you received the sacraments of the Church? Were you lying then, or just confused? I'm not being snarky, just curious.

    And, do you not believe in divine revelation?

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  13. Brent, you want to know what is really sad? People on this blog and in the culture are already denying your #1 (self-evident) as well as the others. For example:

    "there is no essential difference between men and women"
    "there is no difference between mothers and fathers"
    "sex and babies are not inherently connected"

    and so on.

    So, we are in an "eerie" place (as Professor B put it) where even obvious, self-evident truths are denied. And as the professor says, you can't prove the obvious.

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  14. Leila, I know I've been absent from the Bubble but I just wanted to pop in and tell you that I LOVE you. Thanks for defending Truth. She needs us in these dark days.

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  15. Brent, you want to know what is really sad? People on this blog and in the culture are already denying your #1

    I really need more sleep, because you already said that, Brent! Sorry! ha ha.

    Calah, I love you, too!! Keep on, sister warrior!!

    Melly Sue, I want to sort of reiterate what Brent said: It seems like you are almost saying that we can't know truth. And if that's the case, then isn't Jesus a liar?

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  16. The differences between men and women is something I've thought about a lot recently. Actually, one of the books I'm reading right now is called Undoing Gender (by Judith Butler), and I promise it's definitely not as radical as it sounds, and Butler begins by acknowledging that typical gender stereotypes are there for a reason and it's probably bad to wipe them out. But Butler in general is a must read to help understand the foundation of gender studies.

    Because, hey, I'm really comfortable in my gender/presentation, and that's probably because it's traditional, but that definitely can't be bad. I have no idea if a gender binary is a divine right.

    I think when people remark on the lack of differences between men and women, it's that aside from physiological differences, we can't think of any other trait that is exclusive to either sex. Perhaps there are some traits that are beyond the physiology but are necessarily linked--men probably can't develop the same time of bond that happens during a ritual like breastfeeding!

    However, I still have trouble seeing any reason two men or two women would be missing anything mandatory for the successful rearing of a child.

    Also, I enjoyed Melly Sue's comment. Fresh perspective and an idea that resonates with me. While one orange and one orange certainly make two oranges, number theory is an art!

    -Zach (unsure why wordpress has cut my name out...)

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  17. Zach! That was you? Hi!

    Okay, then tell me why there is such a HUGE difference in culture between gay men and lesbians? Surely they are not slaves to "gender constructs" correct? So why the GIGANTIC chasm between the cultures?

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  18. However, I still have trouble seeing any reason two men or two women would be missing anything mandatory for the successful rearing of a child.

    I'm sorry, Zach, but try telling that to any child who never had a father. Or any child who lost her mother.

    Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. But again, how do I prove the obvious to you?

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  19. Oh wow. Something I actually know something nominally about that isn't my major.

    There actually isn't. My own nickname for this is the anthropic principle of gay genders, but it really just is the principle of stereotypes. That is, we only tend to notice certain personalities in a demographic. Through the queer student cultural center at the U, I've met tons of people in the queer community and there is definitely a lack of homogeneity. Gay men who are stereotypically flamoyaunt, but also plenty who are typical Minnesotans. Lesbians who identify as queer asexual, butch, or femme. I think genders in the queer community are MOSTLY informed by other influences, but participation in certain aspects of the queer community can certainly skew it one way or another. One well known example in the gay mens community is "bears".

    But I can understand why there seems to be homogeneous gay men or lesbian cultures. This certainly isn't bragging, but consistently people mistake me for being straight.

    To answer your question in a direct form: politics surrounding queer issues has almost always been sided (this is from my own Twin Cities education, when the lesbian political groups and gay men groups were often at ends with each other!). But really, if you live in almost any society that treats the normalized genders radically different, you'd probably expect significant differences between men and women (when its a gender binary) in the queer community.

    I probably wrote too much.
    -Zach

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  20. But really, if you live in almost any society that treats the normalized genders radically different, you'd probably expect significant differences between men and women (when its a gender binary) in the queer community.

    Or maybe it's because the two sexes are different.

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  21. By the way, I am not saying that every man in the gay community is the same as every other man. Nor that all lesbians are alike. But I know enough about lesbians (both from knowing them personally, and from friends who have worked and been friends with them in a domestic violence shelter for years, and also from reading/watching the political world of blogs and commentary on all sides) to know that the social and intimate cultures of lesbians is drastically different from those of gay men.

    But you think I'm totally off base, I get that.

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  22. Maybe not totally off base, but I don't think I completely understand what your understanding of the differences are?
    -Zach

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  23. Zach, my point in general is that even in the homosexual community, where there aren't all the "gender constructs" that the world supposedly demands of the rest of us, the two sexes are still essentially different. The world was not made for androgyny. We were made, male and female, and it was for a reason. Our femininity or masculinity goes much deeper than our body parts. There is something of the essence of a woman that you don't find in a man, and vice versa. Vive la difference!

    (By the way, if you didn't know or understand that there is a difference, you could just as easily have a female partner as a male one, correct? Even you see an essential difference between male and female, or you wouldn't be attracted to males. If that makes sense.)

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  24. By the way, my next post will be written by a young gay man (Catholic). I hope you will join in that discussion.

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  25. Melly Sue,

    I'm a convert too and I also wondered about those things. I read something last fall that cleared it up for me.

    I was going to write it out, but I got distracted. Allow me to drop a link instead...Mondays are calmer.

    http://www.acceptingabundance.com/2011/06/in-beginning-was-word-and-pi-and-tau.html

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  26. Nope, Melly Sue.

    Let’s take that ‘base 1 math’, go buy two items from the Dollar Store, each 1 dollar, give them $11.00, I’m sure they’ll be ecstatic to take all $11.00 and validate your base 1 math.

    Melly Sue’s base one math shouldn’t read that 1+1 = 11 (the number). It still equals 2. Two characters. Not “eleven” the number. But 1, 1. Or use X,X for that matter.

    So even in base one math, 1 +1 still equals 2 just shown as 1,1.

    And for base two math, 1 +1 = 10 (binary) which is equal to 2 in decimal. So the value remains the same, thus the objective Truth is unchanged.

    Objective truth can be seen even through these math examples. It can reveal itself in many ways, but still tallies the same exact value, without error, to Leila's excellent post/point.

    And in regards to this: “I know even men when the most honorable of intentions make mistakes, and stating that the Catholic church posses truth assumes that no human mistakes were made in the thousands of years that the faith has existed. That I can't believe.”

    You’re mistaken because it’s not men who gave us the Truth and passed it down, it’s God who gave it and preserved it, even in the hands of men who are His instruments. It’s not a dictation.

    -Nubby

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  27. Nothing to add...just want to say GREAT post- written with whit and humility! And excellent comments! (I really love Nubby's!)

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  28. Since the point of my comment was completely missed because I don't care enough about math let me try again:

    Religious people as a whole get wrapped up in the "truth" instead of faith, so much so that their faith is in an organized religion and not God. If God were to appear to you (a woman) and tell you that your life plan should be to become the first female priest would you:
    a) follow God's plan for you
    b) question that God appeared to you because your faith in the Catholic Church and their teachings tell you God wouldn't ask that of a female

    On another note, I didn't decide to shake things up a bit and become Catholic on a whim. I was neither confused, nor did I lie during my confirmation.

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  29. Melly Sue,

    What if God appeared to you and said Jesus wasn't really God and that Buddhism is true? Or that you can marry 10 people? (ergo Joseph Smith) That the Eucharist is a symbol? You get my point. Christianity is not about my personal religious experience but about the definitive revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church is not a Christian denomination, nor a mere organized religion, but the Church that Jesus Christ-God incarnate--established; His Bride. Since he was male, the Catholic Church as a part of the ordinary and universal magisterium has taught in an only male priesthood for 2,000 years. Your question is sly, and an interesting way of getting to an answer you may want (I'm not sure why you asked the question). However, it begs the question as to what is the ground of our faith which is exactly what I answered above.

    Nonetheless, you are right that we should be in a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Have you seen Of Gods and Men? Beautiful story of 7 trappist monks following Jesus passionately. To follow His Church, Mother Church, is to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back... (old hymn I still love) : )

    I kind of said this more or less in a few posts:

    www.almostnotcatholic.com/2011/07/why-i-didnt-convert-for-father.html

    www.almostnotcatholic.com/2011/04/church-is-gods-sacrament-to-world.html

    (sorry Leila I could not get the html tags to work this morning)

    God bless!

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  30. First a quibble: do you frequently hear Catholics telling others they are wrong? I usually hear the Catholic position attacked, by both by Protestants and secularists, rather than Catholics attacking others.

    [spits out coffee] Are you serious? Um, yes, I hear Catholics telling others that they are wrong. Here, to be specific.

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  31. Brent said this: Why should I trust any normal-jane Christian, for isn't she is prone to error as well? Furthermore, if Christ instituted a Church and gave Her the Spirit of Truth, it doesn't seem incredulous to claim that she could be kept free from teaching error. That is all a Catholic is claiming.

    When we on the left bring up cases of Catholic representatives of Christ making poor moral judgements, Leila et al counter with the statement that these are just a few bad men. As in, well, all of those priests who molested, and were moved around by their bishops. All of which was covered up at the request of the superiors. When we talk about this, Leila is adamant that this behavior is not the true church, it is a few bad people.

    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal said it best

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2234

    The priest says: "All we did was claim to speak for God and SUDDENLY we're held to a higher standard?"

    You can't have it both ways.

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  32. Leila has a good post about this, but I can't remember which one! Can someone help??? Basically, what if "God came to me" and told me I was wrong to marry my loving and adorable husband, and should divorce him, abandon my children, and marry my neighbor and run off with him. People actually do claim these sorts of things as coming from God on a regular basis.

    The answer, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that God is subject to his own truth. Truth cannot contradict Truth, and God cannot contradict himself. Your scenario is irrelevant, because it is impossible.

    But let's take it a step further. If "God came to me" as a burning bush or what have you, and told me to violently murder my children you can bet I would not obey. I would know that either this pretender was not God, or that God had abandoned his own truth (which is impossible by definition). Perhaps this makes me weak in faith, but I prefer to see myself as having an absolutely iron-clad faith that God is Truth, and while he may at times ask me to do things I don't understand, he would never ask me to do something contradictory to his Moral Law.

    If a Catholic were to become convinced that the Church no longer possessed the Truth as handed to it by Jesus and protected within it by the Holy Spirit, then why would they remain Catholic? Either you take Holy Scripture and Tradition (including the male priesthood) to be true, or you protest it, and... become a protestant, or myriad other religions, which fluctuate based on personal opinion and majority vote, unlike the Catholic Church.

    I would say that Faith in the Church and Faith in Jesus Christ are inseparable to a Catholic, not that one is stronger than the other.

    But I hope more experienced Catholics wil ljump in and correct me if necessary!

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  33. Since the point of my comment was completely missed because I don't care enough about math let me try again.

    Hm. You tried to use math in a very sure way to prove Leila’s 1+1=2 to be false, and so you brought out the base 1, base 2 math which completely disproved your own point.
    Now you’re saying that you “don’t care enough about math” to prove your point.

    You sounded like you cared enough about it to be confident in this argument. This is coming from someone who “cares enough about math”: Math leads to a definite amount or value, if we are going to use it, we need to at least let it prove itself out to what it really wants to say, equal, or represent; a la the objective truth in Leila’s post. If you don’t care enough about it, don’t use it to try and ride away from objective answers, because it won’t.

    Curious, too; do you “care enough about Catholicism” to think that maybe you’ve got some things wrong on that subject as well?

    -Nubby

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  34. Leila is adamant that this behavior is not the true church, it is a few bad people.

    That's because it is a few bad people. And a huge scandal. And Catholics everywhere hate that it ever happened (happens). Why are we trotting out the scandals? Does this mean that the Catholic faith doesn't hold the deposit of truth?

    Scandals are everywhere, it's not the norm. No one defends that. How does this relate to objective truth?

    -Nubby

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  35. "God is subject to his own truth." Really. I don't think God is subject to anything - which is why he is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (ever-present) and omniscient (all-knowing).

    Why is it that "bad apples" have only recently been involved in the church? Can you truly say that "bad apples" were not involved in the beginning?

    What if a "bad apple" had a hand in that recorded truth? If God appeared to you to correct the mistake of another you wouldn't believe him because a "bad apple" made a mistake in the past and you were limiting your understanding to a lie about God. And I'm not talking about murder. Are we really able to limit what God is to what we are able to comprehend as humans in a book?

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  36. I don't think we know enough about reality to make any definitive statement on "Objective Truth."

    We are learning so much about the world around us, thanks to science and mathematics. We know enough to understand the effects of gravity, so we do not walk out of the house every morning from the second floor. But we do not know enough about gravity to understand the singularity of a black hole.

    God, or the lack thereof, is bigger than a black hole. It is bigger than gravity.

    So while this elusive "Objective Truth" may exist, we cannot proclaim to fully understand it.

    While your "Natural Law" might be based on some scientific evidence for parts of it, observational data for some and much prejudiced interpretation, it doesn't even explain the Laws of Nature. Beyond our limited worldview and speck of a planet, it crumbles completely.

    This is why people might think you are arrogant? Just a guess.

    Personally, I don't fault your beliefs. I think you have every right to them. Many of the Catholic teachings and platitudes are very nice.

    But to claim this entire, unimaginable universe - where, by the way, our crude mathematics and grasp of science completely disintegrates - is to serve the purpose of human beings capacity to love God... well, that's a stretch. And to say Objective Truth encompasses your belief system without being able to know what objective truth really is, or IF it is... yeah, I guess that is arrogant.

    But YOU aren't arrogant, of course. You are driven by faith. It is your ideas that are arrogant.

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  37. Must resist the urge to answer too much before breakfast, so I will start slow:

    Melly Sue, you said you did not lie when you received your sacraments. If you came in at Easter Vigil, you had to profess the following, before God:

    “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."

    Did you say it, and did you mean it?

    And, can you tell me what you understand to be the salient difference between Protestantism and Catholicism?

    MaiZeke:

    If a hundred murders proclaimed and taught that murder was evil, would they be teaching truth?

    Thanks!

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  38. But YOU aren't arrogant, of course. You are driven by faith. It is your ideas that are arrogant.

    Isn't it more arrogant to believe that the God who created the universe could not reveal to us what He wanted us to know?

    How do you explain the fact that the Papacy stands after 2,000 years and no other earthy institution or empire does?

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/04/and-papacy-remains.html

    A mystery you can't explain…?

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  39. Anon, let me try again, this way:

    If God did actually reveal Himself through the Catholic Church, would those ideas still be arrogant?

    Thanks!

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  40. Great post! I've gotten this vibe from my evangelical protestant siblings. I told her that I think it's unfortunate that they miss out on the whole Truth (and Sacraments). She came back (probably thinking my statement was arrogant) saying how do I know that God hasn't already filled her life up with all the love and Truth. I responded back saying, when you have your first child you think how could I possibly have more love to give. Fact is she may feel like she has the whole Truth and that she is completely filled - but there is always room for more.

    I just recently wrote a post on the word "exclusive" and a homily our priest gave. http://spenceohana.blogspot.com/2011/06/she-is-listening-in-mass.html

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  41. MaiZeke, you said:

    When we on the left bring up cases of Catholic representatives of Christ making poor moral judgements, Leila et al counter with the statement that these are just a few bad men. As in, well, all of those priests who molested, and were moved around by their bishops. All of which was covered up at the request of the superiors. When we talk about this, Leila is adamant that this behavior is not the true church, it is a few bad people.

    Here's where I am frustrated. MaiZeke, you have been reading this blog for a while. Either you are setting up a straw man (which I will not assume), or we have been unclear in explaining things to you. Let me try again: The Church does not claim, ever, that her members will be free of sin, or even honorable. This is not part of the Church's claims. In fact, it is clear from St. Peter on down that (like all people), the Church (and even the Church's hierarchy) is full of great sinners.

    The claim that the Church makes is that the Magisterium (even if comprised of sinners) will not teach error to the Faithful. The Church's teaching is protected by the Holy Spirit, so that all can know the Truth as revealed by God. Thus we have a Church which does not change doctrinal or moral teachings (quite a supernatural feat).

    Why you continue to believe that sinners in the Church somehow negate the Church's claims to teach truth infallibly is beyond me at this point.

    If you could please tell me you understand the difference between teachings and actions, I would really appreciate it.

    This is a yes or no question:

    If a hundred murders proclaimed and taught that murder was evil, would they be teaching truth?

    Thanks!

    (And, if anyone can explain it more clearly to MaiZeke, please do.)

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  42. Spence, great post and the cutest sign ever! Brent, no worries, as I am too lazy to use or memorize the html tags yet to use them myself! :)

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  43. "The claim that the Church makes is that the Magisterium (even if comprised of sinners) will not teach error to the Faithful. The Church's teaching is protected by the Holy Spirit, so that all can know the Truth as revealed by God. Thus we have a Church which does not change doctrinal or moral teachings (quite a supernatural feat)."

    So it's okay to teach one thing and do another? Now, I'm confused. This seems like a hard pill to swallow. I'm pretty sure young children who were forced to have sex with their priests while being taught "the whole truth" have a difficult time separating "the sin" from the "truth" no?

    I must have this all wrong (?)

    -gwen

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  44. actually, this leads to all sorts of interesting speculation.

    If a hundred pedophiles proclaimed and taught that abortion was evil, would they be teaching the truth?

    -gwen

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  45. Indeed, Miss Gwen. Jesus said much the same when speaking of the Pharisees sitting in the Chair of Moses (a typology of the Papacy):

    Matt 23:1-5 - "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men."

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  46. Or maybe I should ask,

    If a hundred elitist liberal academics proclaimed that healthcare is a human right, would they be teaching evil?

    -gwen

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  47. Maybe I should add, I have absolutely no problem with people who want to believe in "one truth" or live strictly according to the 3,000 year old doctrine of their Church.

    My problem is when the idea that there is "one truth" gets funneled into policy that affects people (myself included) who do not follow the idea of "one truth" So what comes across as arrogant is the idea perpetuated here and elsewhere that "one truth" doctrine inherently makes two adults living/sleeping together w/o marriage blasphemous, two women who sleep/live together and raise a child sinful, or someone who chooses not to believe in Christianity destined for Hell.

    -gwen

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  48. I'm at work, I'm really very sorry that I can't waste much time on this.

    I'm all with Miss Gwen. It seems that the church is proclaiming, do as I say, not as I do. And certainly THAT is arrogant.

    And this whole business of "If a hundred murders proclaimed and taught that murder was evil, would they be teaching truth?"

    Certainly if a person is going around telling others to not murder, I would expect them to also not murder. If someone said to the murderer's superior "Gasp! He's murdering, while he is proclaiming that we shouldn't murder!" I would EXPECT that the murderer's superiors will put him in jail, even if could continue to be successful in proclaiming to others to not murder. Even if they can't find another person to step in and tell others not to murder because the requirements for telling others not to murder are so strict (celibacy, for those trying to follow along).

    Yes, Leila, yes. Those murderers would be speaking the truth and I would still call them arrogant hypocrites, and I would call the organization that thinks that their glorious teaching about not murdering somehow trumps their actual murdering - I would call that organization evil.

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  49. Gwen- I would say that access to clean drinking water is also a human right, but I personally still have to pay for it...

    As a parent, I screw up massively all the time. I have no doubt of this. I'm a flawed human being. However, my own flawed, fallen nature does not mean that the truths I teach my children (Loving their neighbor, honoring God and all his creation, etc) are not valid. Even if I'm tired and cranky and respond to them with frustration in my voice instead of love sometimes, I can still teach them basic goodness,right?

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  50. I would call the organization that thinks that their glorious teaching about not murdering somehow trumps their actual murdering

    Truth always trumps sin. I am glad you agree.

    One more question for you and Miss Gwen (don't want to "waste your time" with tons more silly questions)…

    Do you ever know what is true, and yet do the opposite?

    Or, in theological speak: Do you ever sin?

    (I know Gwen at least does not believe in sin, but for the benefit of the lurkers, I'll use the term.)

    MaiZeke, can you only tell your children to be kind if you yourself are kind 100% of the time? Or, can you only legitimately tell your children that stealing is wrong if you have never stolen? Etc?

    I'm just trying to see if you believe that the presence of hypocrisy negates truth.

    Thanks!

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  51. So if you can't pay for clean water you are out of luck?

    So a mom who dotes on her children but also has her own faults (selfishness, budget spending problems, etc.) can preach good things just like a pedophile can teach doctrine to young children even if he's molesting a couple after class?

    -gwen

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  52. By the way, I tend to think that those who claim they never sin are "arrogant". But that's just me….

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  53. Actually, Miss Gwen, it is the Magisterium, not an individual priest, who is protected from error.

    Let me ask you the same type of question. Since, as the AP has reported, public school teachers are 100 times (not percent) more likely to abuse children as priests (who offend at a rate just about the same or slightly below any other institution), can a pedophile math teacher teach good math, even if he's molesting a few after class?

    Thanks!

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  54. Leila, is passive aggressive behavior one of your sins? Just come out and say it woman-you think I'm arrogant because I don't believe in sin (and I'm sure you're not alone on here).

    I may not believe in sin, but I certainly recognize my faults as a person and strive to be a kind, engaged, responsible, hard working person every day.

    -gwen

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  55. For any honest readers out there, here is the article from the AP:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html

    And, my thoughts on the priest scandal:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/04/thoughts-on-church-sex-scandal-part-one.html

    (read on for part two)

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  56. Well, I surely don't want to learn math from a guy who is feeling up my classmates after class-do you?? No, it doesn't change the fact that 1+2=3, but it sure violates his teaching contract to provide a safe space for learning.

    -gwen

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  57. I may not believe in sin, but I certainly recognize my faults as a person and strive to be a kind, engaged, responsible, hard working person every day.

    Maybe we don't disagree then, after all. What do you think a fault is? A failure to live up to the Good? Sounds like sin to me, but simply by another name.

    Do you count fairness among the things you strive for?

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  58. Well, I surely don't want to learn math from a guy who is feeling up my classmates after class-do you?? No, it doesn't change the fact that 1+2=3, but it sure violates his teaching contract to provide a safe space for learning.

    Ah, then we agree. This is good.

    Just curious… you seem to imply that the Church is all for the molestation of children. You do realize that you're speaking of the same Church which teaches that molestation of children is worthy of an eternity in hell, right?

    Do you condemn the public schools for moving their molestors around? It's called "passing the trash" and it's a common practice. The only difference, perhaps, is that the public schools actually teach that free sex is good and fun, so long as you use a condom.

    What do you think of public schools, Gwen? Should we abolish them? Or just clean them up?

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  59. Sure, fairness is an attribute to strive for.

    But here's the deal: you say two adults living together unmarried is sin. I say it isn't.

    You say two gay people living/sleeping together and raising a child is sin. I disagree.

    I say voting against healthcare for all (abortion included) is a sin. You vehemently disagree.

    So I don't know where that leaves us.

    -gwen

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  60. And I see that Anderson's Law has been invoked, only about 30 posts in...

    As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.

    Corollary: Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.


    Miss Gwen/MaiZeke, let me ask you this: Congressman Anthony Weiner, a big supporter of Obamacare, has proven himself to be a sleazebag. Does this automatically negate Obamacare? Should we assume that Obamacare must be inherently evil given that one of its supporters "highly inappropriate, sexual conversations and lewd photo exchanges, via social media" and lied through his teeth about it to boot?

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  61. *one of its supporters engaged in...

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  62. Leila, is passive aggressive behavior one of your sins?

    It might be. Is it a sin to be passive aggressive? I guess there is lack of virtue there, for sure. Thanks for pointing it out and I will work on it.

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  63. Sure, let me assert that there are tons of dedicated, loving, earnest, wonderful priests in the Catholic Church.

    Yes, I have experience both with public and private school. I enjoyed public school for the most part. Oddly enough, sex-ed was an elective and I never took it so can't really claim to know much about what actually was taught in my public school regarding sex.

    -gwen

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  64. Melly Sue-
    In your conception of God, is God (in addition to all the "omnis" you listed), also Truth, Beauty, and Goodness?

    The Christian God is these things by definition. If he were to ever stop being True, Good, and Beautiful, then yes, I would lose all faith in him immediately.

    To say that God is not bound by Truth is like saying that God is not bound by Goodness. If God were to cease to be good, or true, he would also cease to be God. The idea is absurd.

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  65. Sure, fairness is an attribute to strive for.

    But here's the deal: you say two adults living together unmarried is sin. I say it isn't.

    You say two gay people living/sleeping together and raising a child is sin. I disagree.


    Actually, it would be two gay people or unmarried people having a sexual relationship that is the sin. So yes, you and the Church disagree. One of you is objectively right, one of you is objectively wrong.

    I say voting against healthcare for all (abortion included) is a sin. You vehemently disagree.

    The Church would say that voting for abortion is a grave sin. And that how we deal with providing health care is a policy issue and a matter of prudential judgement on which good people are free to disagree.

    So I don't know where that leaves us.

    It leaves us hoping to show the readers clarity on our positions, not agreement. I'm okay with that. Are you?

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  66. Anon,

    You said, "My problem is when the idea that there is "one truth" gets funneled into policy that affects people (myself included) who do not follow the idea of "one truth"

    Ironically, what becomes the "one truth", and dogmatically so, is that there is no one truth. PBXVI calls this totalitarian relativism. Under this regime, everyone who doesn't believe in plural truth is looked down upon, even in a way that implies they should be pushed off into the ocean as being arcane and outmoded--hateful even. See Canada and Sweden for evidence. Now, if someone came into your house to harm you or someone you love, one truth would all of a sudden look so much more attractive.

    St. Peter, in Scripture, taught in Acts 15 that being a Jew was not necessary for salvation and then acted contrary to that dogmatic teaching in Galatians 2. Unfortunately there is only one perfect teacher: Jesus Christ. Lucky for us, his perfect teaching can still be proclaimed in its perfection since a proposition is not true or false dependent upon the character of the one teaching it.

    Further, your understanding of scandals in the Church seems to be one sided. Even when I wasn't a Catholic, I noticed and appreciated the fact that sex abuse was just as prevalent or more prevalent in other churches and in public schools (I received that info in a sex abuse prevention training I received at a Protestant school I taught at). The fundamental reason why the problems in the Catholic Church seem so much more atrocious is (1) we expect more from Her as we should--she is the Bride of Christ and (2) she is universal. (2) implies that if a Church in Ireland suffers from scandal the CC everywhere suffers. This is not the same for Willow Bend Church down the street. That Church could be wrought with scandal and the church next town over may never hear or care about it. That just means one church is Catholic and the other is not.

    Cheers!


    MaiZeke,

    Why a cartoon about sex abuse is funny, I don't understand. As a victim of abuse myself, I don't think we should be joking about the perps or the victims. See my comment above.


    Melly Sue,

    There are three legs to the authority in the Catholic Church: Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium. If you cease to believe in the integrity of the Bible, you cease to believe the Catholic faith.

    Nevertheless, it is okay to have doubts. Pray about it, and also spend some time investigating whether or not the Bible has erros. There is a good book by Lee Strobel, called the Case for Christ. He wrote it as a non-believer and professional journalist trying to find the "bug in the soup", so to speak, of Scripture. However, if you believe that God can appear to anyone and correct errors in the Bible, you are heading down a very confusing road...one that has been traveled before. Two religions immediately come to mind that believe just that: Mormonism and Islam. That said, if I told you that your family tree had errors and corruptions in it because humans wrote it down, it would not hold that was the case simply because it was probable. It would require careful investigation. So, give the Church a shot! It's okay to doubt, but don't believe something before you investigate it.

    Peace in Christ,

    Brent

    (Leila, I'm done and unsubscribed from this post but thanks for the opportunity to share)

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  67. All aboard!!!.....come on ride a train, a ridin', it's the "Truth Train!"......boy, am I glad I'm just a ticketed passenger with a seat sitting back while the conductor has to read all the comments coming in at the station!.....Whoo-whoo!.....chug a long Leila!

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  68. Passive aggressive - that takes the blue ribbon. One thing Leila is not, is passive-aggressive on her blog. That's just a glaring misuse of the word.

    Passive aggressive, gwen, means that someone is coy and contrived when trying to get around an open discussion. It means they tell you 'yes,yes' to your face and then go out and break the windows in your car. It means they calculate ways to avenge themselves even when the slight they feel is imagined.

    Leila is open, honest, and straight-forward even when she's frustrated and exhausted with continued lags in understanding from people on her blog. She doesn't toss something smarmy to the wall to see if it sticks, like others we know, right?

    -Nubby

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  69. Leila - you did not copy my entire quote.

    This is what you said:

    MaiZeke's incomplete quote: I would call the organization that thinks that their glorious teaching about not murdering somehow trumps their actual murdering

    Leila: Truth always trumps sin. I am glad you agree.

    This is what I actually said:

    I would call the organization that thinks that their glorious teaching about not murdering somehow trumps their actual murdering - I would call that organization evil.

    I cannot even understand how you think I agreed that truth trumps sin here. Allowing someone to teach truth while they are knowingly sinning is pure evil.

    Please don't take quotes out of context.

    Thanks!

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  70. thanks Nubby! Never had a clue what passive aggressive meant : )

    I should have used the word "imply"

    "She doesn't toss something smarmy to the wall to see if it sticks, like others we know, right?" No, I'm not sure who you mean at all.

    -gwen

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  71. Brent: Why a cartoon about sex abuse is funny, I don't understand. As a victim of abuse myself, I don't think we should be joking about the perps or the victims. See my comment above.

    That cartoon was not funny. Someone who claims to speak for God going out and abusing his flock is definitely not funny. Were you abused by someone who claims to speak for God?

    These are not just people here, folks, these are people who Catholics think God trusts enough to speak to directly. They are speaking for God. They are higher than Jane Christian. They are able to interpret scripture, where the common folk are not.

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  72. If you don't know what the term meant, why are you using it to color someone's character? Doesn't this go against your politically correct dogma of not using terms like 'third world'?

    Geesh, what is up with people incorrectly using math to misrepresnt, people incorrectly using terms they don't understand to misrepresent? All of this on a post about truth. Interesting.

    -Nubby

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  73. I have no thoughts to add to this discussion except to say, great post, Leila! These are the posts, the ones with clarity and light that make it so clear to either agree or disagree.
    For me, the truth makes all things clear so there is no argument. I understand for others, that they may not agree with the truth and so that is why they argue...

    ok, that's all I wanted to say! Keep up the great work!

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  74. MaiZeke, you are right and after I posted it, I figured you would complain that I didn't give the whole quote. But let's go with your point, that we do not actually agree (which is sad, as I thought we could get to a point of agreement, that truth is better than sin).

    So, if an organization has people in it who are sinners, hypocrites, even, then the organization is evil. So, would you say that the public schools are evil? Would you say that the federal (or state, or local) government is evil? Would you say the family unit is evil? Because I can't think of any organization at all which would not be considered evil in your definition.

    And just to be extra-super-duper clear: Are you saying that the Catholic Church is evil?

    Thanks!

    And, thanks Nubby! Maybe I'm not so passive aggressive after all. Sometimes, I just try extra hard to hold my tongue. I do have a temper, sadly. I'm a hot-blooded Arab, ha ha (if that is not too stereotypical to say...)

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  75. Oh, sorry Nubby, I was being sarcastic about not knowing what passive aggressive means.

    It seemed to me Leila was trying in a roundabout way to call me arrogant b/c I don't believe in sin. Am I wrong? Perhaps.

    And for the record, I never claimed to be part of a "politically correct dogma" though you choose to see me as pushing that agenda.

    -gwen

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  76. One more thing, back to this one from Leila:

    Why you continue to believe that sinners in the Church somehow negate the Church's claims to teach truth infallibly is beyond me at this point.

    If you could please tell me you understand the difference between teachings and actions, I would really appreciate it.


    Let's move away from priests (mouthpieces of God) and on to our public representatives.

    I fully support the outing campaign that was being run against secretly homosexual congressmen who voted anti-homosexual. See the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outrage_%282009_film%29 for some examples of this.

    This is not just a matter of being a sinner but still preaching the truth, in my opinion. This is damaging to society. I do not want to keep this person in a position of authority where he can make decisions about other peoples' lives that he is not willing to make in his own.

    And I think it was Lisa who asked, don't I "sin" and still tell my children not to sin?

    Seriously? Do you think I will walk into a store and steal some candy in front of my son, and then on the way out, say "Don't ever steal candy?" What kind of depraved person do you think I am? This is how you create children with psychological problems!

    Seriously, if you want to talk about parenting, I try very hard to practice what I preach. So, I preach that my son should not eat between meals. So I do not.

    But sometimes I do eat between meals, and I tell my son that he can also sometimes eat between meals. Sometimes I don't do what I preach, but I am also teaching my son that sometimes it is ok to not do what we are supposed to do. I am open about it, and I tell him that we are having this ice cream cone for a special occasion, and I tell him the thought process.

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  77. Seeing as my words have been used against me and interpreted into something they are not (in a passive aggressive manner), it makes perfect sense that it comes about in this post. You assume that by reading my words you have a complete understanding of who I am. But that is not true, you are limited by what is on this blog. The same is true about God. Apparently Catholics understanding of God is limited to text. If you can completely misunderstand me in relation to my words directly, is it not possible for you to misunderstand God whose words came from others?

    (P.S. Gwen was using sarcasm. And despite my failure to find the right explanation of math, (2, 11, and 1,1 are different), the fact you missed was that I understand there to be differences in truth.)

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  78. Well, gwen, your tactics are conversation killer. Being sarcastic doesn't further your point, it only makes it look like you cannot hold an argument.

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  79. These are not just people here, folks, these are people who Catholics think God trusts enough to speak to directly. They are speaking for God. They are higher than Jane Christian. They are able to interpret scripture, where the common folk are not.

    Who are "these people"? Are you talking about priests who abused children? Again, you so clearly do not understand what the Church teaches, and yet we have tried so hard to be clear. No individual priest can claim that "God speaks to him directly" or that he "can interpret Scripture when the common folk cannot".

    Where do you get this stuff? Or are you so blinded by your hatred for the Church that you cannot hear a word we say?

    No individual priest can teach infallibly. There is no such charism for a priest, aside from the Pope, or the whole body of bishops in union with the Pope. No priest is allowed to interpret Scripture for himself. Not ever!

    Again, what are you talking about? What is your source for this, MaiZeke?

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  80. Sorry, I'm doing this in a hurry.

    The reason I brought up the example of the secretly gay politicians who vote anti-gay is to draw the comparison to priests, of course.

    Priests tell children to be good, and threaten them with hell if they are not good. If the children see the bad behavior by the priests, it is like me and my son in the candy store. If the children do not see the bad behavior, it is like the secretly gay politicians.

    Take the secretly gay politicians who vote anti-gay out of office. Remove child-molesting priests from office. The catholic church did not do that in a VERY LARGE percentage of cases.

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  81. (P.S. Gwen was using sarcasm. And despite my failure to find the right explanation of math, (2, 11, and 1,1 are different), the fact you missed was that I understand there to be differences in truth.)

    Are you talking to Leila or me? My reply to you on this score would be that you may, want to use an example that supports your point. And your statement about those numbers is still wrong, in the context you're trying to indicate.


    -Nubby

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  82. Priests tell children to be good, and threaten them with hell if they are not good.

    "There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

    Mai, Catholic priests do not "threaten children with hell" if they are not good.

    Where on earth are you coming up with these bizarre caricatures of priests, not to mention Catholicism in general?

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  83. Anon (or are you Nubby hiding behind that title?)

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You're comment truly made me chuckle! : ) I'm a conversation killer? What have my comments on here done if anything but generate more comments, even from you?

    If you would like, I'll gladly back out of the conversation here though since you think I'm killing it. Then you can banter back and forth with your buddies about how backwards the rest of the world is for not accepting the idea that there's really only 1 truth.

    Kudos to Maizeke and Melly Sue for their excellent points in this conversation.

    -gwen

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  84. MaiZeke, eating between meals is not a sin. Let's talk lying or stealing. No one says you would do it out in the open. But you might have (just once?) don't something "wrong" in your life. I mean morally wrong, not "eating between meals". Have you ever done anything morally wrong, MaiZeke? And if you have, even secretly, would you then tell your son it was okay to do that wrong thing, or would you tell him to avoid doing wrong? Not sure if you are getting the point here, since you seem to be saying you never sin (do wrong) except in something like "eating between meals" which is not in the realm of morality at all.

    Have you never done anything wrong? Never once lied? Never once stole a pen at work? Never once cheated? Never once said a nasty thing about someone? Never?

    This may be a good time to say to Gwen that I definitely believe that someone who believes they can never do wrong (sin) is displaying arrogance. Don't you?

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  85. MellySue,
    No one's trying to understand you, the whole you based on this blog and/or your comments.

    They're fleshing out Church teaching against your claims (ie, that since men are imperfect that = problems with scripture and truth, that mathematical values are different when they're not, etc.)

    Leila is spending lots of time explaining that the deposit of faith is both oral and written. It is guarded by the Holy Spirit, who is the Third Person in the Triune God. Therefore, no error exists in the deposit of faith.

    The errors of men, sins, whatever are a completely different set of issues apart from the Catholic faith possessing theological truth.

    -Nubby

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  86. Leila,

    Yes I suppose someone who proclaims they can never do anything wrong is arrogant.

    But just because I don't believe in the concept of sin doesn't mean I don't understand wrong doing and I have many faults but being arrogant all the time certainly isn't one of them (though Nubby may disagree with me. I can just here her indignant voice now: "It's soo arrogant of you gwen to even think about pushing the word "developing nation" on us when we can use the words "third world" if we want to darnit!")

    gwen

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  87. "Apparently, Catholics understanding of God is limited to text"

    Melly Sue, I am not sure you are listening. Catholics do not (DO NOT) believe in "the Bible only". That is Protestantism, not Catholicism. I bet you to buy a Catechism so that you can learn your new faith. Even if there were no Bible, the Church would exist, and would be teaching the Truth of Christ. In fact, before the Bible (New Testament) was even begun, the Church existed and thrived for decades. The Bible is one small part of Sacred Tradition. It's the written part. But we do not believe that we "discover truth" by diving into the Bible and trying to interpret it.

    I really, really wish you had learned more about Catholicism. It sounds like you still believe in a Protestant model of faith and the Bible, and then, even that is not totally accurate.

    Why are you a Catholic, just curious?

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  88. *beg you to buy a catechism

    Melly Sue, one thing I always say is that you can disagree with Catholicism here, but don't misrepresent it. You have misrepresented Catholic teaching so much, it actually makes me sad. Please, please learn your faith. You can decide you disagree with it, but at least know what it is you are disagreeing with. Please. That's called integrity.

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  89. So, if an organization has people in it who are sinners, hypocrites, even, then the organization is evil.

    No, if an organization values the ability to teach good moral behavior over the performance of bad morals, very bad morals on innocent children, then they are evil.

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  90. ? I don't mind if you stick around or go, it's Leila's blog.

    Not hiding at all; I cannot log into my account and didn't sign off on that one. That okay with you?

    And yeah, kudos to those who can have a point and support it. Where ever they may be...

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  91. Ha ha ha ha, no Nubby, it's really "not okay" with me at all that you cannot log into your account and sign on properly so that each comment you make cannot be attributed to you!

    Sheesh, take a chill pill maybe?

    -gwen

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  92. My parish presented an openness to people, a refreshing perspective that Catholicism isn't "right" for everyone and that they wish for everyone to find "their" way to follow God. I appreciated the many wonderful ways to connect with God through the sacraments. And more than anything I appreciate that the Church does have history behind it - years of history doesn't equate truth.

    Can I ask that you define faith?

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  93. 1+1=2 is only true because we agree on a set of mathematical rules that govern our nature. We have the option of NOT buying into that system, and I wouldnt call it proven or objective by any means. The same applies to ALL branches of scientific study. In college we best understood this when learning physics and the development of the quantum model and general relativity theories. Neither theory turned out to be perfect or considered correct, but when used appropriately they could be trusted to produce reliable results with a certain range of error. All science and math starts as a theory until enough qualified people agree that it is true, and then it becomes law. Kind of like how we all agree that that useless piece of paper should be much more valuable as a currency. Just because we agree that these are all good ideas doesn't mean we are right in our thinking, as others may choose to believe in something else as their 'objective' truth. So I believe that us agreeing that 1+1=2 doesnt make science, math, or religion objective truths either.

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  94. From the catholic encyclopedia:

    Priests exercis[e] more or less exalted sacerdotal functions as intermediaries between man and the Divinity

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12406a.htm

    Are you saying this priest is common person, based on that? I didn't say they were infallible. WHat is an intermediary if they don't speak for the other people. I take that to mean, the person speaks to a priest, who in turn speaks to GOd. And then God speaks back to the priest who relates his message back to the person.

    SInce the priest can be the common person's intermediary to God, then does that not make him higher than the common person?

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  95. Leila, I can most assuredly say that I have never molested a child. And if I did, I would expect the law enforcement to take my children away from me.

    Is that what you are asking?

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  96. Melly Sue, Nubby is right that we are not here to discover the fullness of who you are, we are here to talk about doctrinal and moral truth, and represent those accurately. We talk Catholicism here, and Catholicism's beliefs are not secretive. But many people in America are still very confused about them, either because of poor catechesis, or because of prejudice and even hatred.

    And, just for the record, none of us on earth, nor even the Church, claims that we can know everything there is to know about God! But we have revelation, and we can know what God has revealed to us, and what we need to know for salvation. The rest? That will be the business of Heaven, getting to know our Beloved even better. Truth is amazing here, but it will be infinitely more awesome in Heaven. :)

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  97. Hell. Joanna, do you believe in Hell, the way the catholics describe it?

    Again, from the Catholic ENcyclopedia:

    There is a hell, i.e. all those who die in personal mortal sin, as enemies of God, and unworthy of eternal life, will be severely punished by God after death.

    If you and your priests are not teaching your children about the Catholic version of hell, then you apparently aren't teaching them all about Catholicism.

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  98. 1+1=2 is only true because we agree on a set of mathematical rules that govern our nature. We have the option of NOT buying into that system, and I wouldnt call it proven or objective by any means.
    ----
    Oh, Lord, not more math stories.
    Go ahead and 'opt out' of that mathematical truth at the grocery store. Let's see what looks you get at the cash register. Better yet, 'opt out' of that truth at the bank when you want to take out a loan for a car.

    Opting out of it doesn't make it -poof- disappear.

    Seriously.

    -Nubby

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  99. Hell again.

    Or, maybe this is a case where you say, "Well, we USED to teach about hell, but we found that it wasn't a good way to teach children so we don't mention it very much anymore."

    Anything else in Catholicism like that?

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  100. No, MaiZeke, that is not what I am asking. Please reread my comment again.

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  101. MaiZeke, hell is as ugly, horrific and nightmarish now as it was millennia ago. Is that what you are asking? Admittedly, I am behind on reading these comments! Got a ton of kids in the pool. See you all when they are settled for a movie...

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  102. All science and math starts as a theory until enough qualified people agree that it is true, and then it becomes law.
    ---
    No. And no and no.
    And no.

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  103. MaiZeke, I believe everything that the Catholic Church teaches.

    Two questions for you:

    (1) Do you know what mortal sin is?

    (2) Have you ever heard of the age of reason?

    Moreover, do you realize that NO ONE -- no priest, no bishop, not even the Pope himself -- can make a subjective judgement about who is or is not in hell? The Church can only speak in objective terms. No one, not even the Pope, can say, "So-and-so is going to hell" or even "So-and-so is in hell."

    The Church teaches that God alone can make the judgement about who goes to Hell. A priest et al can say, "If you commit this act, and it fits the criteria of a mortal sin, you are in danger of going to hell."

    A priest et al CANNOT say, "If you do this, you are definitely, with 100% certainty, going to hell."

    Therefore, a priest who told a child, "If you disobey your mother, you are going to hell," would be wrong on several counts: (1) A child below the age of reason cannot commit a mortal sin; (2) Even if the child is above the age of reason, disobeying one's mother is not necessarily a mortal sin; (3) a priest cannot tell anyone with 100% certainty that they are going to hell.

    Do you see why your view is so problematic?

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  104. Also, no one has responded to this yet...

    Congressman Anthony Weiner, a big supporter of Obamacare, has proven himself to be a sleazebag. Does this automatically negate Obamacare? Should we assume that Obamacare must be inherently evil given that one of its supporters engaged in "highly inappropriate, sexual conversations and lewd photo exchanges, via social media" and lied through his teeth about it to boot?

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  105. MaiZeke, a priest is an "intermediary" because he confects the sacraments. Not because he gets a message directly from God to pass along....

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  106. My parish presented an openness to people, a refreshing perspective that Catholicism isn't "right" for everyone and that they wish for everyone to find "their" way to follow God.

    Melly Sue, this actually breaks my heart, but I am not at all surprised. There are still many parishes and many priests in the west and America who do not teach the fullness of the Catholic Faith, but almost seem to apologize for it. My reversion story (read at the top of my blog) is called, "I Was Robbed!" because I got the same kind of watered-down, dissenting, erroneous teaching that you no doubt did. I would say that you were robbed, too. It makes me sad. But I am glad you are Catholic, and I hope that someday you will understand the fullness of the Faith. Until then, you must please at least understand that what you received in Catechesis does not appear to be the fullness of the Faith. :(

    Did they supply you with a Catechism of the Catholic Church? You can compare what you were taught to the words of the Catechism to see if or when you were misled.

    Blessings.

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  107. Melly Sue, for your question about Faith, go here:

    http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=4554

    Lots to ponder and pray about!

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  108. Melly Sue, I will actually post straight from the Catechism for you. Here is the Catechism on FAITH (look esp. at 1816):

    * Faith

    1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

    1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.

    1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."82 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."83

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  109. Why is it not possible to have faith and be Catholic, while at the same time acknowledging the truth about man kind? People sin. All people.

    Since I do in fact own a catechism - 1903 states that "authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it."

    We know that the church will move a priest out of a parish if there is a problem without fully divulging the transgressions of that priest - for the common good of the parishioners.

    Is it not also logical that this has happened before in areas that we don't want to believe? In order to preserve the church and it's teachings it would be for the common good of the church to withhold any transgressions that would put doubt in the heart of the believers.

    On another note, the priest is our intermediary. As the sacrament of reconciliation has been explained to me, God is forgiving me of my sins, not the priest. Yet I can't engage in this form of reconciliation on my own. Am I confused here as well?

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  110. Melly Sue, I don't know if you realize that you are getting kudus from the atheists on this blog. People who do not believe in God. They like what you are saying. That should be flashing neon light that maybe you are off-base in your beliefs.

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  111. We know that the church will move a priest out of a parish if there is a problem without fully divulging the transgressions of that priest - for the common good of the parishioners.

    Actually, Melly Sue, we DON'T know this. We know that INDIVIDUAL BISHOPS have done this, and in doing so they have acted sinfully and in disobedience to Church teaching.

    You (as well as MaiZeke) seem to have a number of misconceptions about the sexual abuse crisis. I recommend this secular, non-Catholic resource, which actually provides a pretty fair assessment of the entire situation.

    Sexual abuse of children and related cover-ups are not unique to Catholicism -- see, for example, www.reformation.com and www.stopbaptistpredators.org. So, given this fact, do you believe it is possible for ANY Christian church to preach the truth? If not, how are we to know it?

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  112. As the sacrament of reconciliation has been explained to me, God is forgiving me of my sins, not the priest. Yet I can't engage in this form of reconciliation on my own. Am I confused here as well?

    MellySue,
    You can't administer the sacrament to yourself, but you can have perfect contrition. You can always, and should, go to the Lord with your prayers for forgiveness, and he is sure to forgive.

    However, the sacrament is there to affect graces that you would not receive otherwise.

    Contrition is explained here:
    "Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed together with the resolution not to sin again.’ When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called ‘perfect’ (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible" (CCC 1451–1452).

    -Nubby

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  113. Still catching up, forgive me if others have already addressed this:

    No, if an organization values the ability to teach good moral behavior over the performance of bad morals, very bad morals on innocent children, then they are evil.

    This is supposed to describe the Catholic Church? Are you seriously proposing that?

    Are you in this for a true exchange of idea, MaiZeke, or do you just want to spew your hatred of the Church? I'm beginning to think you might not get the benefit of the doubt here anymore.

    The Church's job is the salvation of souls. There are two important parts to this. First, the ability to teach the Truth, so that people can know what they need to know about God and what to believe and how to live. Part of the truth is that child abuse is worthy of hell.

    The other part is the sacramental life of the Church… The part which sanctifies. Because holiness is the prerequisite for being in the presence of God and living with Him for all eternity.

    Truth and Goodness cannot be separated.

    MaiZeke, are you kidding with all this? I really don't get you. Are you saying that child molesting is evil? If so, we agree. Are you saying that bishops who moved them around (some on the horrible advice of secular psychologists, some because they were weak, some because they were evil and were having sex with men/boys themselves) were acting in evil ways? I would agree that some were. Some were misguided, others were evil.

    But this scandal (and there have been plenty though the centuries) defines the Church for you? If so, then it is an evil institution which should be abolished. So, let's say you get this evil institution abolished. What will you do to fill the void of the Catholic Church in the world? You realize it's the largest charity in the world, correct? Are you and your friends going to set up hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, senior centers, AIDS hospices, schools for the poor, refugee assistance, homes for the dying, etc., etc, etc, etc. to take their place?

    You want a world without the evil Catholic Church? I only hope you can understand what you are wishing for.

    Oh, and to date, I have not had one response from an atheist, secularist or Protestant on this post:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/04/and-papacy-remains.html

    How is this humanly explained?

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  114. MaiZeke, you said:

    I take that to mean, the person speaks to a priest, who in turn speaks to GOd. And then God speaks back to the priest who relates his message back to the person.

    Totally, utterly wrong. I have never heard of such a thing. I am glad to be able to straighten out for you that this is not anything remotely what Catholics believe. Not at all. Zip, zilch, nada.

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  115. I take that to mean, the person speaks to a priest, who in turn speaks to GOd. And then God speaks back to the priest who relates his message back to the person

    Priests aren't 'mediums'. Who told you this drivel?

    -Nubby

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  116. Melly Sue, here is all of 1903, which speaks of secular rulers:

    1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."23

    As far as the priest scandal, what are you talking about? The "common good" was not served by it or by "passing the trash" as they say when they do it in public schools. Those who did it have paid in many ways, and the Church's reputation has been tarnished. There is not "common good" that was served. As for the Church having done it in other ways, what ways are you talking about? Give me an example? And, how well did the "passing the trash" work out for the Church? Not too well, because evil is always exposed. Always.

    You really need to give me a for instance when this has been "secretly" done over the millennia for the "common good".

    As for the priest and confession. Yes, as in all sacraments, the priest acts in persona christi. In the person of Christ. He mediates Christ's grace through the sacraments. He is the intermediary as he acts in his ministerial positions, bringing sacraments to the people of God. But confecting sacraments is not equivalent to hearing voices and messages from God!

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  117. And, Melly Sue, what part of the Catechism do you accept? I accept all of it. Do you?

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  118. In order to preserve the church and it's teachings it would be for the common good of the church to withhold any transgressions that would put doubt in the heart of the believers.

    And again, Melly Sue, you are confusing two issues: Sin and doctrine are two different things.

    If you are saying that some men have sinned in order to somehow preserve people's belief in the doctrine of the Church, all that would mean is that people sinned (which is… wrong. and not surprising, since people sin). It would not negate the teaching of the Church at all. It doesn't touch doctrine. Doctrine is the same today as always, and nothing, not even sinning church people, can change doctrine. That is the beautiful thing about God's protection of his Church! He doesn't allow it to become tainted and soiled, so that we might all have access to the truth! Can we become tainted and soiled through sin? Yes! Can Church doctrine become tainted and soiled because we sin? No!

    I hope at some point you will see these very important, very crucial distinctions.

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  119. downtowner, if mathematics and numbers cannot be trusted as true, then I would be very careful about driving over a bridge or sleeping in your house tonight.

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  120. Anon,

    If someone came up to you and put a lighter to your skin, would you agree that to be burned is not the same thing as to not be burned?

    If I gave you an apple, and then gave you another apple, could we both agree that universally, always and it is never not the case that you have 2 apples?

    Do you see how this doesn't take some "social contract" for it to hold as valid? That some truths are universal and transcend our intellects and are not mere agreements between parties.

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  121. We interrupt this blog commentary to provide a quote that I love:

    "Truth can understand error, but error cannot understand truth."
    — G.K. Chesterton

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  122. About threatening a child with hell:

    I said threaten. When you put it like this:

    "If you commit this act, and it fits the criteria of a mortal sin, you are in danger of going to hell."


    If I were six years old, I would think that is a threat. You think a six-year-old understands when someone says something is a sin, we don't really mean one of the big sins? You think all of that hedging cancels out the end of the sentence of "going to hell"?

    I disagree, Leila. I think that the chance someone could go to hell is a very real threat to a child being brought up in the Catholic faith.

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  123. MaiZeke, what do you think happens when a child learns that there is a Heaven and a hell? I have taught many children (I have eight) about Heaven and hell. Even before they are six. They don't crumble and die. They know they are God's children, and they know Jesus loves them and that Jesus has defeated evil and is stronger than the devil. They understand doing good and they know what it is to do bad things. They know very well that little children are not capable of mortal sin.

    How many six-year-olds have you raised?

    What are you worried about? Because I can assure you my kids are happy and well-adjusted. I had a child who was FREAKED when he saw the picture of gunman Jared Laughtner, and couldn't sleep for several nights. That was never the reaction they had when they learned of hell.

    So, what is your concern exactly?

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  124. "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

    -Susan B. Anthony

    gwen

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  125. gwen, I think you have us confused with relativists. Actually, Catholics do the opposite of what you (and SBA) say. We submit our lives to things that we initially don't want to do. Why do you think it's so hard for so many converts to finally bring themselves to become Catholic, after they intellectually assent to it? Catholicism is not a "comfortable" religion. We don't get to pick and choose what our doctrine is, or what our morality is. We only discover that Jesus is Who He says He is (He died and rose to prove that), and then we submit to His Church.

    So, I'm afraid you have us Catholics confused with someone else. ;)

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  126. Mai, I tell my six-year-old, "You need to look both ways before crossing the street, or else you could get hit by a car." By your criteria, I am threatening her!

    I don't understand that logic.

    Once again, Mai:

    (1) Do you know what mortal sin is?

    (2) Have you ever heard of the age of reason?

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  127. Miss Gwen:

    Oh, that is laughable. Do you think I WANTED to use NFP when the Pill was so much easier to deal with? Do you think I WANTED to have more than two or (MAYBE) three kids? NO! When I was Protestant, I didn't want any of those things! But luckily, I concluded that I had to do what I believed God wanted instead of what I wanted.

    Moreover, do you think I WANT to be an outcast from my friends and family because I won't toe the popular line when it comes to gay marriage and remarriage after divorce?

    I've lost valued friendships due to my beliefs, and that hurts. I've had family members shun me and strike out at me because of my beliefs, and that has hurt too. But I have chosen to do what is right instead of what is easy, even when it hurts.

    I very much agree with your quote, by the way, because it describes many Protestant belief systems today. Rather than standing up for what is right, they go with what is easiest and what will create the least controversy. Just look at the current status of the ELCA and Episcopalian churches. They're bending over BACKWARDS to accept, condone, encourage, and glorify every sin and vice known to man, and as a result they're hemorrhaging members.

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  128. I have to admit that Miss Gwen's quote made me laugh, too! I think she is confusing us with the Unitarians! Or the Episcopalians! ("Gilt without the guilt" as they say!)

    Oh, my.

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  129. "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

    -Susan B. Anthony


    Could you get anymore opposite of Catholicism with this quote, deary?

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  130. Miss Gwen, if you truly believe that that quote actually applies to faithful Catholics, I hope you will read the post I'm running tomorrow, from the gay Catholic man.

    And here's something else: Why was that even a slam (as I'm sure you meant it) if the secular left thinks life is all about "self-fulfillment" and getting what you want in life, anyway?

    So many confusing things.

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  131. I just wanted to include a quote that questions the belief in one god, to provide an opposite view of Chesterton's quote which basically hits the nail on the head as to why anyone might associate arrogance with Catholicism.

    I'm curious though if you can explain to me the "all the gilt without the guilt" saying attached to Episcopalians?

    JoAnna, are you going to tell your children someday that you didn't ever really want so many of them, but after you heard "the truth" you capitulated and now you're okay with it?
    How sad that you lost friends over your faith. I disagree with my devout Catholic friend's viewpoints of several subjects but I can honestly say I love her and believe she harbors the same for me.

    -gwen

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  132. Gwen, so you think even the idea of truth is arrogant? Because truth doesn't exist?

    Episcopalianism: It looks a bit like Catholicism, with lots of pretty vestments and vessels and smells and bells. Moral obligations? Not so much. Pretty much do whatever you want (well, don't murder anyone -- who is born -- don't question homosexuality or fornication, and don't forget to recycle). That's sort of how it goes these days. But, of course, there are some very devout (even pro-life!) Episcopalians. They are generally finding their way to Catholicism, though. Do you find that Episcopalians are different in any way from Catholics?

    I can answer your question to JoAnna, and I hope she will too:

    My fourth child knows very well that he is only here because of Mom and Dad's change of heart. We had hardened hearts before, and we were so blessed to find our Faith in the Catholic Church. It opened our marriage to life (as it should be) and we were blessed with five special boys after that! Can you imagine if you didn't have your brothers? (I say to them all.) When my fourth child was younger, we had a "secret" between us, that he was our "miracle Catholic baby". He was tickled to death! Kids really understand repentance and open hearts. And they love it!

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  133. I'm not sure if this helps with the whole confession/priest as mediator thing but, here's how it was explained to me during my conversion process. Picture your cell phone. If call your mom using the phone to speak with her, you are only ever talking to your mom, through the phone. You aren't speaking to the phone. The phone has nothing to do with your relationship to your mom. The phone can't make any judgement calls about what you're telling your mom. With out your mom's voice, the phone just sits there. Now replace the word "Phone" with "Priest" and the word "Mom" with "God". Annnd, maybe that just made things worse. But my kids got it, so that's something.

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  134. Gwen, Leila's answer was spot on. I imagine I'll explain it to my kids in a similar way. It's not that I didn't want them SPECIFICALLY, it's that I couldn't imagine having more than two or three, because "the world" told me that even three was MORE than enough and having more would cause nothing but pain and aggravation and financial hardship. Similarly, the world told me that NFP was just too hard and didn't work anyway, and that if I didn't use the Pill I was destined to be nothing but a baby machine, popping out kids left and right until I died of exhaustion in the poorhouse.

    Once we took the plunge and embraced the truths of Catholicism, I found that these misconceptions couldn't be further from the truth. I hope my children can learn from my experiences, and find out that following God to the best of one's ability reaps infinite joy, even if that's hard to see when you're struggling.

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  135. Leila asks me this:

    Have you never done anything wrong? Never once lied? Never once stole a pen at work? Never once cheated? Never once said a nasty thing about someone? Never?

    As if to say that -- everybody sins. That doesn't that these sinners can't stop preaching the truth. Because I did something bad once, that doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to tell my son not to do something bad. I still have authority over my son to tell him what is right and what is wrong.

    Do I get your point, Leila? Please confirm.

    She is saying this so that she can lead me to say that this is the same for the pedophile priests. Just because they "sinned", doesn't mean that the truth that they are speaking from the Catholic Church is false. They're bad people, but still, the beauty of the truth of the Church is still powerful.

    Correct, Leila? Please confirm. Just want to make sure I'm understanding what you are saying.

    So. My point is that the priests are seen as spokespeople for the church. For many catholics, they are the only representative of the church they know. They are defined as intermediaries - apparently the catholic definition of intermediary is not the same as a regular person's definition. Intermediary is not my word, I got it right out of the Catholic Encyclopedia. However you want to put it, priests are between god and Man.

    And so, many of these spokesmen for the church have been spectacularly evil. And yet the institutional church -- not just a few bad bishops -- the institutional church! had policies to allow the priests to continue to be spokesmen for the church even after they were known to be doing spectacularly evil things. [another post coming on this]

    This is NOT in ANY WAY comparable to any thing I may have done in my past (responding to the quote from Leila above asking me if I have ever done anythign wrong). I have not ever, never, molested an innocent child. If I had, I would expect that I would not be allowed to raise even my own children. I would be seen to have such poor decision making capabilities that I couldn't be trusted to TEACH MY OWN CHILDREN. NOt even to teach them to brush their teeth, something wholly unrelated to the terrible crime I might have committed. That brushing your teeth is good is still true, but because I would have been a bad person, I wouldn't be the one telling them that truth.

    This, above, is why I originally replied to your questions about whether or not I have ever done anything wrong, ever, with "I have never molested a child."

    Have I still misunderstood you? Please correct me.

    Thanks!

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  136. Hey, Angela - about the phone and the priest thing. Let's say you speak through the phone/priest for your confession to God. And then that phone/priest gives you some penance. Is the penance from God? If not, how did the phone/priest decide what penance to give you?

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  137. Okay, wow!
    First of all, to follow up real quickly with what Joanna and Leila are talking about in regards to Miss Gwen's curiosity. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I cried. For three days straight. (My husband was bounding about the apartment, ecstatic, but that's another story.) Let me explain. We got married in Sept, 3 months after we graduated from college, my husband started grad school 1 month before we got married, and I was working for less than $20,000 a year. And to top it all off, my father, who is not Catholic, and who liked my husband but didn't want me to get married had the following advice as we're getting ready to walk down the aisle, "Now don't do anything stupid like get pregnant right away." I found out I was pregnant at 8:00pm on Christmas Day. My husband told my parents a couple weeks later after we went to the doctor, and was met with the response from my mother, "Well that's not good." And then my parents berated me for an hour on the phone about how disappointed they were in me.
    1 month later, when I had an ultrasound, I discovered I was 14 weeks pregnant.
    Talk about a horribly WRONG approach to anyone having children, is it any wonder I didn't really want any more children after he was born.

    Luckily I began coming into my own in regards to Catholicism. It took many years of research, prayer, understanding and, yes, switching from the pill to NFP, but I couldn't be happier. Baby #5 is due about 9 days before
    our 11 anniversary. (And we still haven't talked about names)

    and that if I didn't use the Pill I was destined to be nothing but a baby machine, popping out kids left and right until I died of exhaustion in the poorhouse.

    Don't you just hate this attitude, Joanna. I've had friends who've tried to tell me that they, "just want me to know that I'm more than just a uterus." What they don't get is that the only people who make me feel like I'm just a uterus are they that make that comment. It certainly isn't my husband or the Catholic Church.

    Take 1

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  138. Leila, please. Help me with this one.

    The Church's job is the salvation of souls. There are two important parts to this. First, the ability to teach the Truth, so that people can know what they need to know about God and what to believe and how to live. Part of the truth is that child abuse is worthy of hell.

    Can we be practical here? Are you saying that priests are some of the people teaching this Truth on how to live and what to believe? Because priests are spokesmen for the church, right?

    The other part is the sacramental life of the Church… The part which sanctifies. Because holiness is the prerequisite for being in the presence of God and living with Him for all eternity.

    Again, who are we talking about? THe sacramental life means priests and nuns and bishops etc, right? So Priests are holy. In the process of becoming a priest, they have become holy so that they can be in the presence of God.

    Does their holiness make them better able to preach the truth, or they're just holy. Are you, a catholic housewife blogger, just as able to preach the truth, or do you have to be holy in order to do it for the Church?

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  139. Not quite getting your point, MaiZeke. You talk of "teeth brushing" and "eating between meals" as if that is "moral truth".

    But on to your main point... I think you are sort of getting it, but methinks not quite. Are you saying that the institutional Church teaches as part of the Deposit of Faith (unchanging, revealed truth) that mortally sinful priests are bound to stay in ministry?

    Because if you are trying to say that (which would be false), then you are stretching very hard to make a point that is not related to anything we are talking about.

    Let me make it simple: I can sin, even mortally, and I can still be able to speak what is Truth. How this devolved into molesting priests somehow disproving the Deposit of Faith is beyond me. Priests have no infallibility in the first place. And the infallibility that the Pope and bishops possess is on faith and morals, not on their own personal behavior or choices!

    My goodness, St. Peter denied Christ at the time of his arrest, three times! It doesn't get much worse than that, when we speak of mortal sin. And yet, he was the first Pope, and spoke the TRUTH on Faith and Morals.

    If I am a parent who sins (and I apparently sin much more than you do, since I sin every single day), I am able to speak the Truth, right? Even if I were behind bars, I could still say (truthfully!) that stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, cheating is wrong, adultery is wrong, and so on.

    It's a principle I'm talking about, and you don't fully seem to get the principle, or you are trying to bring in the priest scandal to prove...??? Exactly, what?

    But to the extent that you can understand the difference between personal sin and the teaching of doctrinal/moral issues, then I'm satisfied.

    Because sinners in the Church, or even those with bad judgement, don't negate the Truths being taught, which have never changed and never will, no matter how many scandals, no matter how many sinners. See?

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  140. This one.

    But this scandal (and there have been plenty though the centuries) defines the Church for you? If so, then it is an evil institution which should be abolished. So, let's say you get this evil institution abolished. What will you do to fill the void of the Catholic Church in the world? You realize it's the largest charity in the world, correct? Are you and your friends going to set up hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, senior centers, AIDS hospices, schools for the poor, refugee assistance, homes for the dying, etc., etc, etc, etc. to take their place?


    Last time I checked, there were already secular hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, senior centers, AIDS hospices, schools for the poor etc etc etc.

    In fact, since Illinois (where I live) recently passed the civil union act, which has the effect of requiring adoption placement agencies to place children with homosexual couples in a civil union, Catholic adoption agencies have closed up shop. Oh no! No more adoption agencies! Oh, uh, no. Plenty of secular agencies have taken up where they refuse. The adoption world isn't falling apart with no Catholics around, Leila.

    And this brings up another important point. Catholics only give charity where they can also impose their arrogant truth. They'll only provide charity adoptions as long as it isn't to gay people. They'll only provide health care in a hospital as long as a mother's life can't be preserved with a life-saving abortion. That's not the kind of charity we need in this world, Leila.

    This is why we have a government and taxes. The government represents all of the people. Decisions about who to help are made by representatives elected by all of the people. In the catholic world, decisions about who to help are made by a few men who have had revelations from an invisible being in the sky.

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  141. And this brings up another important point. Catholics only give charity where they can also impose their arrogant truth. They'll only provide charity adoptions as long as it isn't to gay people. They'll only provide health care in a hospital as long as a mother's life can't be preserved with a life-saving abortion. That's not the kind of charity we need in this world, Leila.

    Mind numbing.

    And you don't connect the dots to all that's been explained, why again?

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  142. As far as objective reality goes, here are my observations.

    There are two "equations" that I've come up with

    Fact = Truth is Knowledge (in it's truest sense)
    Belief = Truth is Faith

    For the orthodox Catholic, both are equally important and often interchangeable. But for the atheist, beliefs cannot be "proven" by evidentiary science to be fact, therefore they can't be "known". If it can't be "known" then there is the possibility of being incorrect. And being incorrect on one's own accord (not because evidence or testing was flawed) is equal to failure. To fail, to be incorrect is unthinkable.

    Therefore it is, I believe for the atheist, impossible to declare any objective truth, that is not based in fact or "knowledge". It's like a back up. If a fact or evidentiary knowledge turns out to be wrong, then the fact or the evidence or the testing was wrong. But if the truth is based on their own beliefs, then there's nobody to blame but themselves, if it turns out to be wrong. That's not a risk they're willing to take. Not for themselves, and especially not for everyone else.

    I used to be there. It becomes a paralyzing way to think when you realize that EVERYTHING in life is a choice and EVERY choice has a consequence (some short term and some long term), but not every choice is be based upon fact.

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  143. But to the extent that you can understand the difference between personal sin and the teaching of doctrinal/moral issues, then I'm satisfied.

    Again, this is like the poor chinese baby girl who died without anyone knowing she even existed. She has value to me in that if I know about her, I will try to help her. She has value to you and the monks up in their abbey so that you are happy that she has value. My point is, if it isn't practically applied, what is the point of declaring that the child has a value? Fine, go ahead, sit in your living room and be happy with yourself that you can declare that the poor baby has value.

    Same here. If the spokespeople for the church are sinning left and right and then telling me that I shouldn't be sinning, then practically, I am not going to listen to them -- and to the point of your post, I will think they are arrogant and dismiss them as not worthy of listening to. The catholic church is rapidly losing its reputation for dispensing truth, and the priest pedophile scandal is only one example. Condoms and AIDS is another. That fiasco of excommunicating a nun for performing a life-saving abortion is another.

    Sure, in theory the things your priests and bishops teach others may be true - I'll agree with that, which is your point. But nobody's listening any more. This is my point.

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  144. Nubby - And you don't connect the dots to all that's been explained, why again?

    What?

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  145. MaiZeke, stop the presses! I think I am starting to see why you have been confused. You have a very erroneous understanding of Catholicism. That's okay, and thank you for being open to being corrected:

    So, you said:

    Can we be practical here? Are you saying that priests are some of the people teaching this Truth on how to live and what to believe? Because priests are spokesmen for the church, right?

    Assuming a priest is a faithful, knowledgeable priest, he will teach the truth. That does not always happen, sadly. Some priests teach error and heresy and some priests actually despise the Church and her teachings. It has been ever thus.

    However, the Church’s teaching authority (called the Magisterium) is the entity that teaches the Truth infallibly. That would be the Pope alone or the Pope in union with the whole body of Bishops around the world. They teach infallibly as a body, or the Pope alone teaches infallibly, in extraordinary circumstances. I did some posts on this, and I will dig them up for you. But no individual priest has any guarantee of teaching the truth. They are not infallible on matters of doctrine/morals, in their teaching. They also may or may not be great sinners as well.

    Okay, then I said: “The other part is the sacramental life of the Church… The part which sanctifies. Because holiness is the prerequisite for being in the presence of God and living with Him for all eternity.”

    MaiZeke answered:
    Again, who are we talking about? THe sacramental life means priests and nuns and bishops etc, right? So Priests are holy. In the process of becoming a priest, they have become holy so that they can be in the presence of God.

    Does their holiness make them better able to preach the truth, or they're just holy. Are you, a catholic housewife blogger, just as able to preach the truth, or do you have to be holy in order to do it for the Church?


    No, no, no, no! The sacramental life is the life of grace (through the sacraments) that the Church gives to us! All of us, laity, clergy, all of us. But does that mean priests are holy? No!!! Many are not, just like laity! They need not be holy (although we hope they are) to confect the sacraments. Christ is the one who works in the sacraments, and it’s His grace we receive. Whether or not the vessel (priest) is holy or not does not matter. The priest could be in mortal sin, and have no grace in him, and still the sacrament is valid. It’s an action of Christ, not the sinful human (priest) who stands in his place.

    Only the Magisterium can teach infallibly (holy or not), but someone like me can still teach the truth, since I know my faith well... The Truth is not so complicated to know. I don’t have to be holy to do so, but it sure helps to be a Mother Teresa or a saint, so that people are naturally drawn, and also since they have “moral authority” so to speak... they walk the walk!

    But read the saints, they are holy! Some of them also were great teachers, theologically speaking. But not all. Some were simply saintly, but did not “teach” in any formal way (though their lives taught volumes). Some great teachers, on the other hand, were not holy! The two do not necessarily go together.

    Also, priests are no more "in the presence of God" than we are. We all live the sacramental life. They have special charisms and duties, and they have a character on their soul from Holy Orders that we don't have, but there is no guarantee that they will get to Heaven, no more than me or you.

    I hope I am making sense? Ask again if it still needs clarification....

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  146. In fact, since Illinois (where I live) recently passed the civil union act, which has the effect of requiring adoption placement agencies to place children with homosexual couples in a civil union, Catholic adoption agencies have closed up shop. Oh no! No more adoption agencies! Oh, uh, no. Plenty of secular agencies have taken up where they refuse. The adoption world isn't falling apart with no Catholics around, Leila.

    Alright, first of all, I live in Illinois too. And what happened was that Catholic Charities are standing by the first part of that law, which is the Religious Freedom Protection Act and Governor Quinn made the decision to NOT renew their contracts, ignoring the Religious Freedom Protection, part of the law. Which is ridiculous precisely because there are many secular institutions who will place children with same-sex couples. Why force Catholic Charities to act against their religion when other organizations are filling in the "gaps"? Catholic Charities didn't close up shop, in effect, they were shut down, in a gross abuse against the freedom of religion.

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  147. Hmmm, MaiZeke, just when I thought there was some hope for good dialogue, I read your last two comments. Wowza. Good luck to you.

    As for no one listening? Only in your liberal bubble. We've got many young men going to seminary in our faithful diocese, and thousands of converts every year. In one diocese. But you are right, in liberal land, no one is listening. Well, except for one or two, here and there. And they make the best converts. ;)

    Hope you'll be reading tomorrow's post.

    Take care!

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  148. Which is ridiculous precisely because there are many secular institutions who will place children with same-sex couples. Why force Catholic Charities to act against their religion when other organizations are filling in the "gaps"? Catholic Charities didn't close up shop, in effect, they were shut down, in a gross abuse against the freedom of religion.

    Quite totalitarian. Which is why I have said before: Liberals are only "liberal" on sex and drugs. On everything else, they want to control, control, control. Very sad but totally expected.

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  149. If the spokespeople for the church are sinning left and right and then telling me that I shouldn't be sinning, then practically, I am not going to listen to them -- and to the point of your post, I will think they are arrogant and dismiss them as not worthy of listening to.

    But that doesn't mean that what they're saying isn't the TRUTH. The entire point behind Objective Truth is that it is truth, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you agree with it or not.

    "Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, and right is right even no one is doing it."

    -St. Augustine.

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  150. For the record, MaiZeke, the priest decides the penance. It's really not a big deal…. You were raised Catholic, right? Why don't you hop on over to confession and see?

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  151. But that doesn't mean that what they're saying isn't the TRUTH. The entire point behind Objective Truth is that it is truth, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you agree with it or not.

    Bethany, exactly.

    Gosh, all this talk makes me want to read Moral Darwinism...

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  152. … but if no one is listening, then why are you here…

    …hmmm…..

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  153. She has value to you and the monks up in their abbey so that you are happy that she has value. My point is, if it isn't practically applied, what is the point of declaring that the child has a value? Fine, go ahead, sit in your living room and be happy with yourself that you can declare that the poor baby has value.

    No. The little starving girl has value because she is a child of God and will be in His loving arms, living for eternity after this world has long passed away. Her life is infinitely valuable, and I don't even have to know her to know that. Praise GOD for innate human dignity and worth!

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  154. If the spokespeople for the church are sinning left and right and then telling me that I shouldn't be sinning, then practically, I am not going to listen to them -- and to the point of your post, I will think they are arrogant and dismiss them as not worthy of listening to.

    Draw any analogy to this based on your real life relationships, and see how it holds up.

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  155. Why am I here? In this blog post right here, you claim the church is not arrogant for professing that it is the only holder of all Truth. I am providing reasons why I disagree.

    Another example of such arrogance is the belief that the world would completely fall apart if we didn't have a catholic church. Seriously. The fact that you did not think this was arrogant when you said it makes me shake my head in wonder.

    Isn't that the point of your blog? To ask Liberals/non-Catholics questions and try to understand their point of view? Correct me if I'm wrong. Please.

    If you have changed your blog format and will now only accept people who are interested in converting, then I'll leave, pronto.

    Thanks!

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  156. Maizeke,

    But you don't bring facts...just misinformation and misrepresentation of the Church's teachings. That's the problem...it seems like you're not trying to understand our point of view...but that you're just trying to discredit the Church (by false means)---"noone is listening anymore?" Honestly, where do you get this stuff? Tens of thousands of converts come in the Church in the U.S. alone every year. There are 6 (?) Catholic U.S. Supreme Court Justices? Our Vice President considers himself a Catholic and so do many of the most powerful men and women who serve in congress, even though they may be erroneous in their understanding or adherence to the faith. This suggests that the Church's teachings are, in fact, worthy of respect, and that people are at least TRYING to listen to Her, even though it's hard in this current environment which is so hateful towards her.
    P.S. The stats for Catholic priests being accused of child abuse/molestation falls somewhere around .1 percent of priests. So find another scandal to milk.
    Manda

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  157. MaiZeke-- I think you're pretty fantastic for sticking around for the back-and-forth of this. But, I have one REALLY serious quibble with one of your primary arguments.

    How many priests do you personally know? Because you seem to believe that they are ALL sinning left and right. As if they have way too much time on their hands and instead of doing any GOOD work for the Church, they are sitting around wondering how many young boys to molest today and how many pregnant mothers they can kill with their murderous desires to save the child and forget about the mother and how they can kill as many AIDS patients and their families/lovers as possible by denying them their natural "right" to a condom. I mean, they must be FAR too busy to worry about anything like Truth and God and Love (wait-- those are the same thing).

    I have known A LOT of priests, and I'm only 32. I was just at a retirement part at my in-laws home for the priest who celebrated our marriage and baptized my kids. He's a seriously good guy. Same with the other 5 priests who showed up, including a Nigerian priest who would not surprise me if he becomes Pope someday. Of the 200+ priests I've known, 1 embezzled funds from his parish (he was sent to jail and then to a rehabilitation program of some sort, and not given any authority of funds) and 1 left the priesthood, with the blessing of the bishop, to marry a widow with whom he fell in love. I can't say that I know of only 1 in 100 married men who haven't done something devastating to harm them families-- cheat on spouses, have a sex change operation, abandon them, etc. The majority of the priests I know are AMAZING men, though they are still JUST human. Using the scandal of the Church as "proof" against the truth she teaches is just a weak argument. As Leila keeps saying-- that is a MORTAL SIN and the Church condemns it. Yes, perhaps the response has not always been perfect, but 1) it often followed the secular response of the time and 2) now it's even more strict than the secular response. If you don't believe in Christ, then really none of this matters. If you do, then wouldn't it make sense to follow THE Church (authority... line of succession... keeper of the faith... call it what you will) He established??

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  158. *"their" families, not "them" families

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  159. Manda and Lisa, I couldn't have said it any better than that.

    MaiZeke?

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  160. For the record, MaiZeke, the priest decides the penance. It's really not a big deal…. You were raised Catholic, right? Why don't you hop on over to confession and see?

    Thanks, Leila, but no. I'm just wondering why someone would speak to God through a phone but never expect to get any feedback through the phone. Some mysteries of catholicism I'll never understand.

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  161. MaiZeke, seriously, the phone was a rough metaphor from a mommy to her little child. Oy, vey. This dialogue is getting "trollish". You are welcome to stay, but please elevate the discourse.

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  162. I'm just wondering why someone would speak to God through a phone but never expect to get any feedback through the phone.

    Of course we expect -- and receive -- "feedback" from God.

    The thing is, when it comes to getting "messages" from God, Catholics are taught (or should be taught) to carefully discern (via prayer, fasting, discussion with spiritual advisors, etc.) whether or not this feedback is truly from God, especially if this feedback is telling us to do something that is opposed to Catholicism.

    That's why vocation discernment is usually a long, involved process -- those contemplating religious life need to make very sure that they are truly being called by God and not their own desires.

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  163. And just clarifying that, Angela, I was not dissing your phone metaphor conversation! We use rough analogies with kids who are below the age of reason to help them understand things. I am asking MaiZeke to understand that fact, and elevate the convo. So many have spoken to her like an adult, and she has come back rude and bitter. Not sure what her deal is, but I am not a therapist.

    Anyway, if only she could answer JoAnna's questions, Lisa and Manda's points, etc. It would show a lot of good will and maturity.

    (For the lurkers who are undecided, be more mature, if you want to keep them out of the Church, MaiZeke.)

    Thanks so much!

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  164. MaiZeke-- you DO get feedback from "the phone." It's just not an out-loud feedback. I've never regretted going to Confession, but definitely wonder every time that I've gone why I had stayed away so long. The blessings that have poured forth afterwards have never failed to amaze me. My marriage always improves because I'm no longer weighted down by sin, my relationships with my kids and family improves for the same reason, and I feel as though I have a fresh start on life.

    You have a young child, so maybe I can explain with an analogy using my 3 year old daughter. Clare sometimes does things that hurt others-- she might talk back or say hurtful things or push her almost-2 year old brother or take his toys. She knows, even at just 3, that when she hurts him, it hurts me because I love her so much that I want her to do good things. She will apologize to her brother and make-up with him, but WITHOUT FAIL she comes to me at some point not long after to kiss me, tell me she's sorry she pushed her brother, and we talk about her being kind to others. It's only THEN that she has the same kind of "lightness" about her spirit that I get after Confession. If I'm the "God" figure in this analogy, you'll understand how much more you bless your child with good things when they do things that are good and pleasing-- if she just shoved her little brother around with no remorse, you can bet that park visits and the occasional snack or treat would be out of the question. The converse is true when your child does things that are good and pleasing. Good things tend to come their way.

    A priest once explained sin to me this way:

    Imagine that you are a house. You were perfectly built, with strong foundations and walls. Each time that you sin, even secretly and known only to you and God, you add filth and decay to your home. At first, the effect is not pronounced or obvious to anyone else. But, over time, the foundation of the home begins to weaken and it can no longer support the walls. Your relationships with others suffer because you are so preoccupied with preserving your own "home" and hiding the decay from others. Confession serves as a Divine housecleaning service and gives you the tools to repair your foundation and put your home back in order. It also gives you incentive to keep it neat and tidy. Just like a good Spring cleaning, you WANT to keep the house clean (not sin... that's our analogy, remember) when it's so sparkling and pristine again. You've got the Ultimate Carpenter helping you every step of the way, because you've invited him back into your home to help you make things right.

    Sorry so long...

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  165. I agree with Lisa's points that I used one too many absolutes, such as "nobody is listening", and "all priests are evil" - actually don't know if I used the all priests phrase precisely, but certainly it was my gist.

    In a more calm morning post, however, I think that the church is losing its power over the control of society. Fewer people are listening, and I think the scandal has a direct impact. I think it is quite telling that the church recently changed its canon law so that people cannot leave the church - ever. This was in response to people in Ireland being so upset about the church's actions there they left in droves.

    http://www.countmeout.ie/suspension/

    About the "all priests are evil" bit. It goes along with Lisa saying this:

    As Leila keeps saying-- that is a MORTAL SIN and the Church condemns it.

    The church may have *in theory* condemned this mortal sin, but we all know that in practice it did not. This is evidenced by the large number of court cases that the church has settled with former abuse victims, at much cost to the church, and forcing some dioceses to declare bankruptcy. (Wilmington, Spokane, Milwaukee for example). My current city, Chicago, did some analyses of how many churches were affected by the moving around of pedophile priests - 60% of the parishes had a known pedophile priest at some point. And my home diocese in Wisconsin was the recipient of the infamous Fr. Murphy from Milwaukee. Fr. Murphy was received by the Bishop who was at my confirmation. So I do personally know a bishop who, in my opinion, committed a mortal sin of allowing a known pedophile to continue working with children.

    And to the suggestion that the church has turned around on this issue, here is an article from the NYT:

    The bishops first adopted the policies under intense public scrutiny in 2002, as the scandal over abuse by priests reached a fever pitch. The policy’s cornerstone, which stirred great debate among the bishops at the time, was a commitment to remove from ministry every priest credibly accused of abuse even once, a tenet referred to as “zero tolerance.”

    That commitment has been called into question in recent months with revelations that accused priests were allowed to continue in ministry in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Those bishops did not forward details about all the cases to their sexual abuse advisory boards or the police.


    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/us/17bishops.html

    And here is another one, from the Chicago area, where the abuse continued with the knowledge of his superiors, after the 2002 "zero-tolerance" guidelines.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/us/29jesuit.html

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  166. Leila, it seems that you are the one who is bitter at this point. I am clearly confused as to why you call a priest an intermediary between God and Man, and Man speaks to God through the priest, but the priest does not actually speak back. I do not think this is a bitter question at all. It is directly relevant to the quote I first posted, where it said, "All we did was claim to speak for God and SUDDENLY we're held to a higher standard?" I'm clearly not the only person who thinks this - if you can educate me, then you may go far to educate many others.

    Others on this blog have replied, very appropriately I think to my question.

    I think you may need to do some soul-searching yourself as to why you continue to interpret my posts as bitter, and calling me immature and a troll.

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  167. In a more calm morning post, however, I think that the church is losing its power over the control of society. Fewer people are listening, and I think the scandal has a direct impact. I think it is quite telling that the church recently changed its canon law so that people cannot leave the church - ever. This was in response to people in Ireland being so upset about the church's actions there they left in droves.

    *wince*

    There are so many misconceptions and outright falsehoods in this one paragraph alone -- not to mention the entire post -- that I'm not sure where to start.

    1. The Church's alleged "power and control" over society - what power and control would this be? The Church proposes, not imposes.

    2. The Pope's alleged change to canon law -- Mai, baptized Catholics have NEVER been able to leave the Church. Baptism leaves an indelible mark on one's soul that can never be erased. What the Pope did was close a loophole that allowed people to "formally defect" from participation in the laws of the Church regarding marriage. However, the Pope chose to close this loophole in order to be more consistent with Church teaching from the last 2,000 years.

    People are free to marry outside the Church if they wish. The pope's change to Canon Law has no effect on civil marriage procedure, and if a person doesn't believe in the Catholic Church anyway, why should they care what the Church thinks about their marriage, or if their marriage is invalid in the Church's eyes? My ex-stepmother is a thrice-divorced cradle Catholic and I can tell you she doesn't give a hoot.

    3. You really need to read this page at ReligiousTolerance.org regarding Catholic clergy abuse.

    An excerpt:

    A U.S. Department of Education report issued in 2004 examined a number of American studies into the prevalence of sexual misconduct by school staff. They found that between 3.5% and 50.3% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career. They found that teachers, coaches, substitute teachers were the most common offenders.

    If this report is accurate, then sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic church, and by other clergy, appears to pale in comparison with the abuse being experienced by children and youths in the public schools.


    Therefore, by your logic, public schools absolutely cannot be trusted to teach the truth -- mathematical, scientific, or otherwise. I trust you will immediately cease paying taxes and alert your friends and family to the fact that they should yank their children out of public school.

    Moreover, I notice the NY Times is very sketchy (what a surprise!) on the details that you cite. For example, Here is more information about the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Louis matter. Not surprisingly, the current bishop is upset and has taken numerous steps to resolve the oversight, including hiring Todd Graves, former U.S. Department of Justice
    child exploitation expert and former U.S. Attorney, to help oversee the process.

    But they're just sitting back and doing nothing, I guess....

    You'll never hear us claim that the PEOPLE in the Church are perfect, or that the policies implemented in 2002 to combat sexual abuse are perfect. We're imperfect people doing the best that we can with what we have.

    But perhaps rather than making assumptions and using biased sources, you can look at all sides fairly and gather all the facts before making judgements. I'm assuming that's what you'll teach your children to do, so, following your own logic, you should do it as well if you want to have any authority to teach them the same.

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  168. What's left from Joanna? The age of reason and mortal sin stuff? Or the question about Wiener?

    If it is the age of reason question, I think I'll need a little more context. The Thomas Paine thing? or the Enlightenment?

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  169. MaiZeke, so much to say in response. I almost feel like giving up. But I will try one last time to say something that will get through (but when someone is obsessed by the .1% of priests who did bad things, I don't know how to convince her to be fair to the Church).

    You do realize that the "zero tolerance" stance resulted in anyone being able to accuse a priest they didn't like of anything, and that the priest (many completely innocent) was ruined? With no due process? You do see how even priests have rights, correct? The damage of false accusations have been devastating. And the Church went so far one way, then saw devastation, and hopefully is pulling back and protecting innocent priests. My own priest was in the middle of a controversy where he didn't renew the contract of a "beloved" nun who ran the parish school. She was/is a known dissident, and he wanted to get a faithful principle in there. That did not sit well with the (largely non-churchgoing, non-faithful) parents, and a vicious campaign was begun to get him "OUT"! So, they not only smeared his name in the public sphere, but also in an email campaign. I heard from other parents that they were asking for information of things he said to the kids in the confessional in order to try to bring a charge against him! Do you know how evil that is? It's bad. Thankfully, he came through relatively unscathed, but my gosh. That is one *minor* situation, and you can imagine if a priest actually does have a false accusation against him. There is a book about the horror that one holy priest had to endure to clear his name:

    http://www.amazon.com/Conspiracy-Innocent-Monsignor-William-McCarthy/dp/1450239641/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309214293&sr=1-1

    I know you have no love (even a slight hatred?) for Catholic priests, so you can imagine how others might go so far as to accuse falsely (and you've noted how much money there is in lawsuits against priests). One of SNAP's psychiatrists was recently sent to prison on kiddie porn charges, by the way. After feeding of SNAP's "righteous" war against priests (for money):

    http://www.catholicleague.org/catalyst.php?year=2011&month=May&read=2989

    Lots of dirty stuff on the other side of the priest scandal as well. Sin is everywhere, MaiZeke. It's ugly. And the Church condemns sin. It's pretty much the only entity who does.

    Do you see any potential problems with a "zero tolerance" for mere accusations, MaiZeke? Any at all?

    And really, I love how the sexual libertines are all up in arms about sexual "freedom" of the perverted priests who actually did abuse children. Are you equally as appalled by International Planned Parenthood's vomit-inducing new "sexual rights" document for children, from ages 10 on up? Show me how appalled you are, MaiZeke. Then I will know that you really do care about the sexual exploitation of all children, and that you are not just an anti-Catholic bigot (using the NYT as your source for fair news on the Church).

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  170. Thomas Paine? The Enlightenment??

    Um, no, Mai... that is not what "the age of reason" means in a Catholic context.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    The name given to that period of human life at which persons are deemed to begin to be morally responsible. This, as a rule, happens at the age of seven, or thereabouts, though the use of reason requisite for moral discernment may come before, or may be delayed until notably after, that time. At this age Christians come under the operation of ecclesiastical laws, such as the precept of assistance at Mass on Sundays and holydays, abstinence from meat on certain days, and annual confessions, should they have incurred mortal sin. The obligation of Easter Communion literally understood applies to all who have reached "the years of discretion"; but according to the practical interpretation of the Church it is not regarded as binding children just as soon as they are seven years old. At the age of reason a person is juridically considered eligible to act as witness to a marriage, as sponsor at baptism or confirmation, and as a party to the formal contract of betrothal; at this age one is considered capable of receiving extreme unction, of being promoted to first tonsure and minor orders, of being the incumbent of a simple benefice (beneficium simplex) if the founder of it should have so provided; and, lastly, is held liable to ecclesiastical censures. In the present discipline, however, persons do not incur these penalties until they reach the age of puberty, unless explicitly included in the decree imposing them. The only censure surely applicable to persons of this age is for the violation of the clausura of nuns, while that for the maltreatment, suadente diabolo, of clerics is probably so.

    Also, do you know what mortal sin is?

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  171. "All we did was claim to speak for God and SUDDENLY we're held to a higher standard?"

    MaiZeke, are you talking about the cartoon priest you linked to?

    Hello? What?

    Oh, my.

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  172. Thomas Paine? The Enlightenment??

    Um, no, Mai... that is not what "the age of reason" means in a Catholic context.


    Well, I am certainly glad I asked. I'm very sorry, Joanna, for not being up on all things catholic.

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  173. MaiZeke, if you can answer:

    Who speaks for God? The individual priest? I thought I already told you that individual priests do not have the charism of infallibility.

    Suddenly held to a higher standard? The Church should always have the highest standards! That is why any scandal in the Church is -- scandalous! What is your point?

    Bitter, yes. I have found you bitter. I have found that you (purposely?) misrepresent the Church and what we have told you, time and again. And I think you have been very nasty and sarcastic, too. Forgive me if I misunderstand your kindness and fairness to be snarkiness and bigotry. I am clearly off base. ;)

    I have no problem talking to atheists such as Michelle and Zach, with no personal animus. So, why do we keep having such a problem? I guess it's me… I will pray on it and work on it. But in the meantime, please don't keep misrepresenting the Church. The fact that you thought priests were some sort of "mediums" shows just how badly you understand even the basics of the Church. Sigh.

    JoAnna, thank you. If MaiZeke takes no heed, at least the lurkers will. It's important to give the facts. Thank you.

    (And the "power" statement… oy, vey!!)

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  174. I'm very sorry, Joanna, for not being up on all things catholic.

    But that's sorta where the frustration comes in, MaiZeke: You don't know very much about Catholicism (which is fine), but you act like you know a whole lot about Catholicism.

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  175. Sorry to be jumping in late.

    Leila said, "I'm just trying to see if you believe that the presence of hypocrisy negates truth."

    I have been thinking of this A LOT. My most deep-thinking, leftist friends that are quite critical of Christianity in general (I qualify, because some are not so deep-thinking and they are critical, but it seems to be more knee-jerk), seem to have one thing in common: they abhor hypocrisy. In fact, I think many very liberal people would consider hypocrisy to be one of the worst evils. I know it is up there on my list.

    I think about some I know who are living a sexually promiscuous life who are open about it, those who are openly materialistic, those who are openly focused on pleasures of all sorts...they seem to be saying, "Hey, I know many disagree, but this is the way I am, and I am not ashamed to tell you about it. I think of Bill Maher. They see hypocritical politicians, religious folk and/or poor folks who embrace poverty as the enemy.

    Would others agree that this is the hallmark a "liberal ethic" (and I count myself in as a somewhat liberal person...although I hate that term because I don't fit the mold exactly (and don't fit the conservative mold exactly either)?

    I supposed I would not take it that far, but I do think hypocrisy is a terrible, terrible evil. I see it in myself in my inability to give up meat....I know the horrors of industrial meat, but occasionally I just partake because it is easier and I like the taste etc.

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  176. Leila, instead of rolling your eyes at me, perhap we can move this conversation into a more mature direction. Please reply to my assertion that you are extremely arrogant in suggesting that this, from you, is arrogant:

    What will you do to fill the void of the Catholic Church in the world?

    and

    You want a world without the evil Catholic Church? I only hope you can understand what you are wishing for.

    Or do you call that humility?

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  177. But Mai, rather than assuming that I was talking about an American Revolutionary writer from the 1800s, which really would make no sense given the context of the conversation, why didn't you ask for clarification? Or do a simple Google search first? If you Google "Catholic age of reason," the very first source is the one I posted above.

    We don't expect you to be an expert on Catholicism, or even a working knowledge of it. But if you don't know something, ASK! Don't make assumptions. It's very frustrating, as Leila said, that you claim to know about Catholicism but then throw out these bizarre caricatures of Catholic priests, and Catholic teaching, that have absolutely no basis in reality.

    To be honest, it's a little like trying to discuss literature with someone who has no idea what a simile is.

    I'm going to make a book recommendation to you, and PLEASE don't think I'm trying to be condescending here, because this is one of my favorite books and I've given several copies to friends and relatives. It's Catholicism for Dummies. It's a straightforward, sort of bare-bones look at Catholicism, and it's geared toward those investigating the Church with little prior knowledge of Catholicism and Catholic teaching. It's written by a faithful, orthodox priest.

    If you have an Amazon wish list, put this book on it and send me a link, and I'll purchase a copy for you.

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  178. JoAnna, Betthanny, Leila,

    Thanks for the answers. Your responses to the old adage, 'if I am not on the Pill, I'm just a baby factory' are particularly illuminating. I can understand how that would be offensive/misleading to you.

    -gwen

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  179. Mary, hypocrisy is such a misused word! Please read the following...

    From Wikipedia no less:

    Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have[citation needed]. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie[citation needed].

    Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of "hypocrisy" in Rambler No. 14:

    Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.[1]

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  180. Mai, are you making the claim that hypocrisy does not exist among liberals, or those who identify as left-wing?

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  181. I'm sorry, that should have been "Mary" in my 10:02am comment above, not "Mai."

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  182. What will you do to fill the void of the Catholic Church in the world?

    It's an honest question. You want the Church gone, you call her evil. She is the largest charity in the world. So, what will you and your friends do to fill the void? It's not arrogant, it's a fact, followed by a question.

    You want a world without the evil Catholic Church? I only hope you can understand what you are wishing for.

    It is sincere. I hope you understand, or will begin to understand, what will happen to the poor, sick and needy of the world if the largest charity on the planet disappears. It would only be arrogant if I were overblowing the facts. The facts are that the Catholic Church is the largest charity on earth. How is that arrogant, to speak a fact and ask you to ponder and probe the implications of your desire to remove an evil institution, or have it cease its work?

    Sorry, maybe I'm thick today. Not getting it.

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  183. Manda,
    Just curious, where did you get the 0.1% stat for priest abusers? So you don't agree with the 4% stat here:http://www.religioustolerance.org/clergy_sex8.htm.

    Lisa, glad to know you know lots of great priests. Where I live and through my life, they have been very odd. Leila showed a video interviewing some young men going for the priesthood, and I must say, it shocked me, as I know ZERO priests like that. The best ones I knew were very effeminate (not sure if they were gay, but seemed to be so).

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  184. JoAnna,
    I am definitely not making that claim!!! But...I was wondering if anyone here saw that trend in their more thoughtful ultra-liberal friends and acquaintances. Really just fleshing out some ideas here...nothing solid.

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  185. Mary, where are YOU getting that stat? From the link you cited (originally cited by me):

    "What percentage of Roman Catholic priests abuse young people?

    Nobody really knows.

    Nobody even knows how many adults in general sexually abuse youth and adults. A figure of 2% is often mentioned. However this is really just a guess."

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  186. Mary, my experience is that, as Leila mentioned, my left-wing friends who decry the hypocrisy of the right and/or the religious often fair to recognize the hypocrisy that exists on the Left. I also notice that my left-wing friends who decry hypocrisy believe that hypocrisy = not practicing what you preach, which Leila's quotes show is not the case.

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  187. This discussion has been super interesting! The Catholic Age of Reason isn't a societal age, it's the biological age at which a person is deemed mature enough to know morally right from morally wrong and is held responsible for their own actions. I would guess that that age is slightly subjective depending on the individual; as opposed to objective. And thank you for smoothing out the roughness of my cell phone/confession analogy. I'm new to being Catholic (yup! I'm one of the thousands of people that CHOOSE to be Catholic every year).

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  188. *often fail to recognize... (sorry, can't type today!)

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  189. Mary, given the definition above, do you think the liberal friends actually hate hypocrisy, or do they hate the false understanding of it?

    I think religious people understand that failing to live up to standards is not hypocrisy, so they don't use that word so often. I think libs look at sinning conservatives and think it's hypocrisy when often it's not. It's just failing to live up to our own standards. We are a lot more forgiving, I think, than libs. I also think libs like to use the word "hypocrisy" because it makes them feel better about all the stuff they are doing. Sort of makes it justifiable. Faithful Catholics might be sinning, but they aren't trying to say it's not sin. They are trying to stop sinning. And it's hard to stop sinning, that's true. But that is what grace and the sacraments, and prayer, and love, and God are for….

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  190. Leila,

    I get what you are saying about the actual definition of hypocrisy, but honestly, I really don't hold much stock in folks who urge you to act one way without making valiant and mostly-successful attempts to do as they advised themselves. That creepy feeling that comes over me when I am around hypocritical people (my definition) is a deep, gut reaction of revulsion. This is different from my reaction to folks who seem to be mostly walking-the-walk with occasional missteps (i.e. the husband of a friend who is faithful but who screwed up when he got intoxicated at a party and kissed a single woman, and who was remorseful about it.)

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  191. JoAnna,

    "The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a national study in 2004-FEB which concluded that about 4% of all U.S. priests since 1950 have been accused of sexual abuse of children. However:
    bullet There are probably many victims who have remained silent and not come forward to accuse their abuser(s).
    bullet There are probably many adults who have come forward to accuse priests, who have false recovered memories of abuse that never happened.
    bullet There may be some adults who knowingly falsely accuse innocent priests of abuse in order to collect compensation."

    So I said 4% (also extrapolating from 2% and 6% claimed below.)

    My own great uncle was a priest and his brother, my grandfather (an eminent doctor of priests) would not allow any of his five boys to be alter servers on his brother's advice. I also have one friend who was approached by a pedophile priest...but the stat above by someone else regarding students being abused is a good point (although I don't know anyone who was abused by a teacher or coach).

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  192. But if you don't know something, ASK!

    So I did. I asked for clarification. And now you are angry at me.

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  193. Mary, I get what you are saying, I do.

    I wonder if it strikes you, as it strikes me, that the the sin the liberals' hate the most ("hypocrisy") is not their own personal sins, but looking at the sins of others? What of their own sins? Shouldn't our own sins be of more concern to us more than others' sins (which we should not be digging to find)? All sin is bad, but where is the introspection among the left?

    Saying hypocrisy is the worst sin (which it definitely isn't) seems to give carte blanche for someone to sin heartily ("see, I'm not a hypocrite! I'm doing anything I want, openly!") and then condemn everyone else for (often false) hypocrisy.

    It does not surprise me that this view of "hypocrisy" would be the biggest "sin" identified by liberals. It's a win-win for them. And, they don't have to change a thing.

    Just throwing out thoughts….

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  194. I actually do know some liberal people who try very hard not to be hypocritical. They are generally pretty consistent. For example, my friends that are liberal hate the hypocrisy of the gay pastors of the big churches and the evil hypocrisy that keeps Bernard Law at the Vatican, but they equally hate the actions of Bill Clinton and John Edwards. But....for example, they were much happier that Obama came out and shrugged and admitted some teen drug experimentation, while they excoriated Clinton for saying he "didn't inhale".

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  195. But again, are they using the right definition of hypocritical, and can they really know anyone else's heart? Maybe those people are hypocrites, maybe not. But the question I have is this: Is goodness defined as "anything that anyone wants to do, as long as they are open about it and aren't sorry for it?"

    If so, that is sad to me. It means that a pedophile is a great guy if he just openly admits that he loves to molest little kids.

    Is "hypocrisy" (not just coming out and admitting sin) worse than actual sin? I hope you get my point, sorry I'm out the door to the dentist, yuck.

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  196. In other words, they would be just fine and dandy if John Edwards had just committed adultery happily and openly?

    Seems a weird moral code to have….

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  197. No, Mai, you didn't ask. You completely ignored the question and then made an assumption that I was talking about Thomas Paine when you were asked to answer it.

    Why do you think I'm angry? Frustration =/= anger. As a parent, I think you can agree with that!

    Mary,

    "...the evil hypocrisy that keeps Bernard Law at the Vatican..." Huh? What are you talking about with this?

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  198. No....I think they would be happier if he had divorced his wife when she got older and just had affairs rather than act like such a "stand-up" guy and run for office etc. while knowing he had committed adultery and fathered a child. Because then, everyone knows the who he really is. He is not pretending to be someone he is not. He does not get to enjoy the societal benefits of being the stand-up family man, while philandering.

    The pedophile thing keeps getting brought up, but again, as a society we base a great many of our foundational principles on the concept that children are not mentally capable of giving consent to many things; sexual relations with adults being one. Going to war being another. Being filmed for sexual purposes being another (I would also add that I think most young children cannot really give consent to many types of jobs or activities either (like child pagents or acting or modelling) which reasonable people might disagree about. I think it is wrong to have your child be a model under the age of ten or so, as I think young children have NO IDEA about the what is really going on with that.

    I would think that most liberals (probably not all!) consider pedophilia to be a cognitive disease of the grey matter, just like psychosis.

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