Thursday, September 22, 2011

Archbishop Dolan's warning letter to Obama

Hey, Catholics!

Remember when I warned you that your misguided compassion was going to come back to bite you in the rear? That we're in a battle we can't ignore anymore?

I'm relieved that the big guns have just blazed onto the scene.

Two days ago, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a strongly-worded letter to President Barack Obama that expressed a "growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage."

That's us, guys. He's talking about Catholics losing religious freedom in America. If things continue on the current trajectory, the good archbishop anticipates "a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions."

A national conflict of enormous proportions.

He's right. Things are bad. The culture war -- the very existence of which some deny -- is here and escalating quickly under Obama's watch. The archbishop's letter and research make that painfully clear.

Bubble readers, please read Archbishop Dolan's entire letter and the attachment.* Read every word carefully. You may feel like you don't have time, but it's only three pages. It won't take you long, and you must be informed. The days are long gone when we can just sit back and let things play out, trusting that all will be well. The Church is under attack now, from the highest levels of our government, and we must be an active Church with an educated laity.

Learn what's happening. Teach your children, your friends, your neighbors. We are all responsible for each other now, as the moral landscape changes and we gear up for the battle (which in my opinion includes defeating Obama in November 2012).

In the words of Blessed John Paul the Great: Do not be afraid!

Just think what 60 million baptized, faithful and informed American Catholics could do. Yeah, I know we've got a long way to go to get everyone faithful and informed, so let's get started!

Go on, read it.


Related (disturbing) link showing the Obama Administration's determination to label Catholic teaching as bigoted and discriminatory:

Obama Administration: The Catholic Church spreads "homophobia" in Poland


*Archbishop Dolan's letter is specific to the topic of gay "marriage" and does not address the other alarming actions taken by the Obama Administration limiting our religious freedoms as Catholics.



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245 comments:

  1. 'Will read! Thanks bubble lady - you're the bees knees!

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  2. Thanks for providing that. I am glad our bishops are taking this president to task.

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  3. I am beyond confused as to how marrying my boyfriend infringes on YOUR religious freedom.

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  4. Zach, you are free to do whatever you want with your boyfriend (no one has ever stopped you). But changing the definition of marriage against the law of the land and the will of the people, and then branding faithful Catholics as bigots who discriminate is not the proper domain of a Commander-in-Chief. Did you even read the letter and research? Very thoughtful, very well-documented.

    If you don't see the major problem coming, then I really don't know what to say.

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  5. You're coming at it the wrong way. It's not about imposing on our religious freedom, at least not completely. For me, at least, it is about me wanting to prevent people from sinning. Living a chaste life of abstinence is not a terrible thing; it actually usually proves to make people happier in the long run. As Catholics, we are called to look out for each other and everyone. If we know of a person committing a sin, it is our duty to admonish the sinner. Like Archbishop Dolan said we cannot be silent about this. We must act and defend the Church, while still showing God's love to everyone. We love people enough to call them out and help them to improve their life.

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  6. Margo, I don't disagree, of course. We hope everyone would live a virtuous life, as it is in their own best interest in every way imaginable. But when it comes down to it, the most precious gift God gives us besides life itself is free will. He doesn't touch our will. It is the only thing we actually have to offer Him. So, even if someone wants to reject God completely, we must respect the free will decision to do so. Even God respects that decision (which is why God doesn't "send" people to hell, they choose it freely).

    But what we can do with our will (since we can't coerce another's will) is work to maintain our own religious liberty so that we can still function in our mission. Obama's directives actually harm our mission and make it impossible for us to do the things we've always done with regard to ministries, charities, adoptions, families, outreach, even providing insurance.

    And of course we are obligated to vote in the public square for what is good, true and beautiful, including the preservation of marriage in our nation.

    So, two different issues: Personal conversion and public policy stuff.

    Gotta run, but did that make sense?

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  7. Margo, what I should have said (it's late… will I ever get enough sleep, Lord?) is Amen. You are right about that. In the end, it's all about saving souls. That is the Church's mission. We just need to make sure we still have the freedom to carry out that mission.

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  8. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/22/texas-school-punishes-boy-for-opposing-homosexuality/

    And stuff like the above keeps coming. Will it one day be cause for suspension to quietly assert that fornication and adultery and pedophilia are wrong, too? Maybe so.

    I still feel like Alice down the Rabbit Hole when I read stuff like this. It's like a different America.

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  9. Some facebook "friend" who is gay just posted a photo of a billboard sign saying "Gay people getting Married? (Next they'll be allowed to vote and pay taxes.) Shouldn't all people be entitled to equal rights(and lefts?)"
    And then the link goes to "wipe out homophobia" on facebook... You know, because we think marriage is between a man and a woman since that's how babies are made and all, that means we're homophobic. Maybe they should call biology homophobic since their biology doesn't allow them to procreate together.
    I'm so irritated right now, I don't even know what to do other than unfriend them.
    Anyway, this is timely because I just came off there and then I saw this regarding Archbishop's letter.

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  10. Well put Leila - thanks for linking this!

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  11. Leila,

    For some reason you think that because you have a faith, your beliefs and traditions should be protected with an ironclad political shield.

    However, how would you feel if people voted on your right to practice your religion?

    How would you feel if people voted on whether your not you and your spouse lead a normal life, or an exceedingly difficult one?

    But changing the definition of marriage against the law of the land and the will of the people

    The rights of the minority are not up for vote, and I'm astonished that you seem to think the law of the land is equivalent to morality. We live in a republic, not an absolute democracy.

    Obama's directives actually harm our mission and make it impossible for us to do the things we've always done with regard to ministries, charities, adoptions, families, outreach, even providing insurance.

    You are blowing this way out of proportion. The government should respect the equality between gay couples and straight couples, and they shouldn't give money to organizations that choose to discriminate.

    And it doesn't even matter whether I call you a bigot or not. Saying that me and my boyfriend marrying is infringing on your religious freedom is absolute absurdity. Saying it would affect your life at all is also a pretty big stretch. I've read enough Bishop letters to know how the rhetoric will play through on this one.

    If you're not a bigot, why do you care so much that gay couples get basic legal privileges? Because you think it'll lead a slippery slope to pedophilia???

    I couldn't make that argument to anyone and maintain a straight face.

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  12. Zach, this shows how far apart we are. Men cannot marry men. Marriage is intrinsically about sex (which you cannot have with a man, as you cannot consummate anything) which is intrinsically ordered to procreation. Marriage is about bonding a man to a women and their children, for the good of society, so that those children are raised by their mother and their father in a stable home.

    You have the right to do anything you want with another man. But that's not what you want. You want to redefine marriage. Yet you couldn't even define marriage when I asked you what it was. So I will ask again:

    What is the definition of marriage?

    Blessings!

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  13. That's a great letter from the Bishop. I love how he uses Obama's own words on the importance of a mother and a father to prove his point. Just shows us even more that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

    Zach, redefining marriage absolutely infringes on our religious freedom! In a big way. In our diocese, the Catholic church can no longer provide adoption services because we do not believe in gay "marriage" and the state mandates adopting to gay couples. Leila wrote an excellent post about this before, I just have to find it.

    We can all have different beliefs on gay unions, but when the government MANDATES religious groups to behave contrary to their doctrines, we lose our freedom. See?

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  14. Again, you've conveniently left out parts to paint me as an ignoramus.

    I refuse to provide a definition because I know what will happen. Bubble readers will take it apart and think they've dismantled it. I don't need to go through that.

    Surely your definition includes God. What then about the heterosexual marriages that atheistic?

    I don't have a legal book in front of me. You call it redefining marriage, I call it equal access to legal rights and privileges. We've been through this before. Personally, I don't think marriage should be a word in the legal language if it, as you all claim, is the property of the religious.

    But then you all balk! Get rid of marriage completely! Because you know how that would affect your lives negatively. Welcome to my life.

    I should be able to go to the courthouse and sign a marriage license with my boyfriend. I shouldn't have to go through mounds of legal papers and still feel unsure in my legal security.

    This is not about redefining marriage. It is about living a tolerable life.

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  15. No, Zach, my definition of marriage in a society does not have to include God…. We are talking about a societal institution which even exists in Communist countries. I'm trying to get at what you think marriage is? Just the right to get a bunch of legal privileges from the gov't?

    What was/is marriage in a primal village with no formal gov't, then? Because marriage is recognized and practiced there, too.

    That's what I'm getting at. What is your definition of marriage?

    It's not a trick question.

    Why is your life intolerable without marriage? I thought up till fifteen years ago, the free-love proponents and homosexuals said they didn't need a "piece of paper", or that marriage was a stupid archaic institution anyway.

    Why the change? Just to get benefits? (Then why not let two retired old sisters "marry" or a mom and son (Plantonic, let's say)?

    Or is it more about acceptance, so that your relationship will be seen as equal to a husband and wife?

    From the bottom of my heart, Zach, I find it so horrible that even achieving "marriage" would only make your life tolerable. I know you have rejected God, and I just have to tell you that only union with God will make your life beautiful, tolerable and transcendent. That is true for all of us. Only God can give you what you are looking for and only He can satisfy you. Even if you have "marriage" with your boyfriend, you will have nothing if you don't have God. Please turn back to Him. He loves you so.

    The heart is restless till it rests in Thee, O Lord. -- St. Augustine

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  16. I saw this yesterday but haven't read it yet. Thanks for linking it. Ominous.

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  17. It's true. I learned this during my many years of secondary infertility. I had to draw closer to the Lord when what I wanted wasn't able to be attained. It was agony. Just because we want something really really badly doesn't mean we're entitled to it. But we're always called to a relationship with God. And He will show us true happiness.

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  18. Second Chances, exactly. Life is hard, it is full of suffering, it is a "valley of tears." This is not our home, and life is uncomfortable. The saints suffered more than anyone on earth, and yet they had pure joy and supernatural peace in their hearts, even as they were being persecuted. My gosh, I think of St. Maximilian Kolbe at Auschwitz! What he suffered, and yet the pure peace in his soul up until the end.

    With God, even the most "intolerable" situation cannot disturb one's interior peace and joy. Without God, one can try to make life as tolerable as possible, and the soul will still be restless, and will have no peace, even if the whole world affirms and lauds him.

    Only God brings peace.

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  19. Zach - there are plenty of non-religous reasons to oppose same-sex marriage (and for that matter, abortion). These are not necessarily religious issues even if religion plays a role based on the historicity of the institution of marriage as well as our legacy as a country.

    Marriage rights ARE equal in this country - one unencumbered consenting adult has the right to marry one unrelated, unencumbered consenting adult of the opposite sex.

    Frankly, Zach, until you can answer, as Steven Greydanus has asked, "why it is the state should have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying (and decertifying) sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adults in any gender combination,” then your arguments in favor of same-sex marriage are simply trite and meaningless.

    As I've said before, your outrage against homophobia rings false given that you support theophobia (hatred and bigotry toward Christians). If you opposed hatred and bigotry that is directed toward homosexuals but support hatred and bigotry directed toward Christians, than you are just as much a perpetrator of hatred and bigotry as a victim.

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  20. Joanna,

    There is a difference between "theophobia" and "homophobia".

    Theology is a philosophy. Being queer isn't.

    I don't get to choose to be gay. I get to be disgusted by your ideas just as much as I get to be disgusting by Hitlerism or Randian objectivism. Also, I'm not sure what kind of hatred and bigotry I'm supporting against any theology. I just say it's all completely baseless.

    And just because everyone else calls you a bigot doesn't mean I am too. Which seems to be the assumption in this thread.

    Just don't you dare equate theophobia to homophobia.

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  21. Theology is a philosophy. Being queer isn't.

    Being same-sex attracted is a state of being.

    However, promoting that that homosexual acts are moral and that they should be sanctioned as "marriage" is a philosophy.

    I am very interested in your response to this part of what JoAnna said:

    Frankly, Zach, until you can answer, as Steven Greydanus has asked, "why it is the state should have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying (and decertifying) sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adults in any gender combination,” then your arguments in favor of same-sex marriage are simply trite and meaningless.

    Blessings!

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  22. Oh, I see, Zach. So it's okay to be hateful and bigoted toward people that espouse a certain philosophy, but not if people practice a certain behavior or have an inborn attraction.

    I absolutely agree that you didn't choose to be gay, Zach, so I have no idea why you bring that up. You do (presumably) choose to engage in homosexual acts, however. That's not an orientation, that's a behavior.

    By your logic, it's perfectly moral and right to be hateful and bigoted toward atheists, since atheism is also a philosophy.

    Any way you cut it, Zach, you support hatred and bigotry -- unless it's directed toward you or your friends.

    I do equate theophobia to homophobia. Look at all the vitriol that's been directed toward Stacy lately -- people have posted comments in which they threaten to rape her children. Are you seriously condoning that, Zach? If an anonymous blog commenter threatened to rape the children of a lesbian couple, would you call that homophobia? I'm guessing yes. So why is it okay when it's directed toward Christians? How is it NOT theophobia, or hatred, or bigotry when directed toward Christians?

    Face it, Zach. By supporting hatred and bigotry toward anyone, for whatever reason, you are just as bad as those you accuse.

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  23. Ha! See, I get to be a monster again. You're all so tricky.

    I said I'm allowed to be disgusted. I suppose by the same line, you can be disgusted with me. How do you suppose I'm condoning any of that?

    See, Stacy was being perceived as having issues just going out in public. Because of her philosophy. It was absolutely absurd. There was nothing theophobic at the base of most of those commenters thoughts, just simply showing her ideas for what they were. Absurd.

    Sure, some people take it to the next level by being mean and vitriolic.

    Any way you cut it, Zach, you support hatred and bigotry -- unless it's directed toward you or your friends.

    This was so deliciously dynamic and binary I might save it on my computer.

    And I always laugh when people tell me I didn't choose to be gay, but I choose to act on it. Being happy is such a burden to choose!

    And Leila. "A tolerable life" is a common phrase to promote progress. It makes no assumptions about individual happiness, but shows we can make policies that make life tolerable for everyone.

    Except you guys. Apparently legal rights and privileges for same sex couples is too much for you tolerate. The humanity!

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  24. If there's going to be an argument here about who slings the worst insults around 'atheists versus Christians' it should be pointed out that both parties can be hurtful. I didn't have time to scroll through all the comments in Stacy's combox but where exactly was the rape comment concerning her children? Obviously that's unacceptable and a very immature comment. It should be noted there were also plenty of thoughtful, passionate comments from atheists (and Christians alike).

    On the other hand, on this blog, my teaching ability, experience and education have all been insulted and/or called into question. And I'm certainly guilty of getting carried away once or twice, in particular with the infamous Nubby. Many people, yourself included, like to tell Zach that he has a choice not to act on his SSA. While this may work for devout Catholics on their own journey to heaven, the comment sounds trite coming from people who enjoy having sex often and interpret (not always, but often) their hormonal cravings for intimacy as an opportunity to "be open to life"

    Fighting over who is a bigot it pointless here. Zach certainly has never said anything about condoning rape, just like JoAnna has never condoned (I hope?) gay teen suicide or violent crimes targeting gay people.

    Maybe it's time to return to our original arguments instead of getting caught up in the "atheists are mean/bigots" rant?

    -gwen

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  25. This is moderately relevant. She speaks on homophobia vs. theophobia and bigotry. Maybe you guys will like Jen a little more than PZ.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2011/09/is-religion-a-dating-deal-breaker/

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  26. Zach, you did not even address the issue about the definition of marriage, which has been put to you twice.

    Second, will no one tell me why a man cannot have sex with a horse, then, if it is what he enjoys doing? If he has to act on everything that compels him sexually? I knew a cop who had to arrest a man who was having sex (of sorts) with a car part. There are men who want to be "happy" and act on their feelings to have sex with children. There are men who are only "happy" when they are raping women. There was a man in Germany who put out ads for men who were willing to be killed after sexual activity with him and then eaten. Many men responded. Is that moral? It was consensual. It made them sexually "happy".

    Of course the standard response will now come: "What??! You compare me to those monsters and rapists and perverts?? How dare you! I am leaving this conversation!"

    So, no. I am not "comparing" you to that. I am saying that if you have a philosophy that having a sexual attraction implies acting on it (for "happiness" sake), then why is it true for you and not for others?

    It's not an emotional question, it's a philosophical one, and you won't answer.

    Wait, you'll say "but it's consensual!". And I will say that the man in Germany was doing something consensual. And then you will say, "But it's not hurting anyone!" and I will say that the man having sex with a car is not "hurting anyone" either. And Planned Parenthood will say that children acting on their sexual urges with each other are not "hurting" anyone either, so is it moral for children to have sex? As young as ten?

    For once, I would just hope to hear from one of you (Miss Gwen? Zach?) that in theory at least one should not always (and sometimes never) act on sexual urges when they occur.

    Can we at least agree to that? Pretty please??

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  27. Sorry, Zach, but could you quote the part of my post where I called you a monster? I sure don't recall doing so.

    And I always laugh when people tell me I didn't choose to be gay, but I choose to act on it. Being happy is such a burden to choose!

    Zach, if your happiness is measured by the amount of sexual contact you engage in, then that does indeed indicate a problem that goes far beyond your sexual orientation. Remember Steve Gershom? He's gay, celibate, and happy. Believe it or not, one's happiness does not have to be tied to the amount of sexual contact one receives.

    And still, Zach, as is typical, you avoid the real subject. It doesn't matter what Stacy's alleged motivations were. Anonymous commenters threatened to rape her children. Do you think that constitutes hatred and bigotry? If not, then how are you NOT being hateful and bigoted by condoning a rape threat against the innocent children of a Catholic woman just because she's Catholic?

    Gwen - you can see a screenshot of just ONE of the threatening comments (there were many) here.

    Also, Miss Gwen, I do not and have not condoned rape or violence (or bullying) that is directed toward ANYONE, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other characteristic. Zach, however, steadfastly refuses to say that threatening to rape the children of a Catholic woman constitutes hatred or bigotry; he merely says those commenters are "taking it to the next level" - not exactly a ringing condemnation.

    It seems, sadly, that Zach condones hatred and bigotry just as long as it's directed toward Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular (since it's a philosophy, apparently... but hatred and bigotry directed toward atheism, also a philosophy, isn't okay...). I don't understand the logic. Isn't it a much better idea to condemn ALL hatred and bigotry, regardless to whom it is directed?

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  28. Miss G, you may miss the point. I have had Zach and several other (polite) atheists and gays tell me that I am a bigot. I had one tell me so today, privately, and he is a nice guy.

    Obama's entire strategy here (and apparently in Poland!) is to label Christian belief as bigotry. I have no words for that kind of sick strategy.

    While this may work for devout Catholics on their own journey to heaven, the comment sounds trite coming from people who enjoy having sex often

    Miss Gwen, if I were single, I would not be having sex. Many Catholics are single. The devout ones are not having sex. If my husband were incapacitated, I would not be having sex. Possibly for the rest of my life. Oh, well! Life is about much more than sex, as good as sex is.

    As for disparaging your teaching, I am sure you are a great teacher. But I am sure that I disagree with your philosophies. Is that an area that we are not allowed to challenge, even strongly? I thought that is what critical thinking was about?

    Thanks!

    Also, looking forward to your thoughts on the mass!

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  29. Zach, I very much liked that atheist's points. She is right, and she is not a bigot. Anymore than I am for being a Christian.

    And yet, the Obama administration says that I am a bigot for my ideas in the same way that the segregationists were. Am I? Should the head of my nation be saying that about me?

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  30. *Meaning, she is not a bigot for not wanting to date religious people. She may well be bigoted in other ways, of course.

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  31. No.

    You know, I did use to enjoy these. But once I realize the common pattern was eventually turning me inside out into someone totally comfort with evil then it started losing it's luster. And then Leila posted a video suggesting atheist commenters are at religious blogs because "God is calling them", or some nonsense like that.

    Then, Leila essentially uncloseted me. Back when the topic of the hypothetical 6-year old came up, I was commenting anonymously. Apparently that had no value, as Leila pointed me out as the one who was commenting alongside Michelle. I guess I had seen this space as safe.

    It's embarrassingly self-serving. Joanna, of course raping children is hateful. I'm completely disgusted by your words. I have to unsubscribe completely.

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  32. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/22/texas-school-punishes-boy-for-opposing-homosexuality/

    Zach, should this boy have been suspended? What did he do wrong?

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  33. Zach, I had no idea I was "uncloseting" you. I would have never mentioned your name if I had thought so. You went from an alias to then revealing your name fairly quickly after that. I did not know that you wanted to be disassociated with those first comments! You never once let me know that (unless my brain is totally fried, and it might be). I will go back and check.

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  34. Zach: "And I always laugh when people tell me I didn't choose to be gay, but I choose to act on it. Being happy is such a burden to choose!"

    Having more children (a good and natural desire just like that of marriage) would have made me very happy during my 7 plus years of secondary infertility. But I could not act on my desires (through immoral means) just because it would have made me happy. Even if it meant bringing a beautiful new life into the world. Couldn't do it!

    I had to wait, be patient, pray, research, and change my heart to try to conform to God's will for me. And then, after doing that, the answers came. Through the Church, of course, which holds all our answers if we can surrender our pride.

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  35. You know, I did use to enjoy these. But once I realize the common pattern was eventually turning me inside out into someone totally comfort with evil then it started losing it's luster.

    Zach, all I'm doing is asking questions and asking you to clarify your beliefs. If you think that portrays you as someone who is comfortable with evil, perhaps you should ask yourself why.

    I'm very glad that you do not condone child rape. But that wasn't the question I asked. I asked if you CONDONED the THREAT of child rape made to a woman BECAUSE that woman is Catholic.

    I'm asking you if you condemn hatred and bigotry toward Christians, Catholics in particular. You keep avoiding the question.

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  36. Here's the thing, Leila -- if you are going to insist that the definition of marriage is the Catholic Church's definition of marriage, then it is an unConstitutional definition of marriage and shouldn't be upheld. The state cannot uphold one religion over another. If the Catholic, or even general Christian definition of marriage is upheld as the law of the land, it's unConstitutional.

    Which is fine. That's what I, as a Catholic, believe. Sacramental marriage is the domain of the Church. Civil unions are the domain of the state.

    And Dolan is pushing it. If the Church is going to get this politically active and involved, then they should lose their non-profit status. Also fine with me.

    This mixing of politics and religion is a dangerous road to go down, and the biggest danger is to the Church.

    Be careful what you wish for.

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  37. SJG - please read this paper from the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy titled What Is Marriage?, and this article series called "Redefining Marriage.

    Your assumption that the traditional definition of marriage belongs solely to the Catholic Church is incorrect. It is one that has spanned various religions, societies, and civilizations for thousands of years.

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  38. SJG, JoAnna said it well:

    Your assumption that the traditional definition of marriage belongs solely to the Catholic Church is incorrect. It is one that has spanned various religions, societies, and civilizations for thousands of years.

    And I like what our Pope has said as well, about our obligations in the public square:

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge[s] clearly today:

    ...Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role…. (2006 speech to European politicians, emphasis mine)

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  39. It doesn't matter how many religions have similar definitions of marriage. If the definition is derived from one or several particular religions, it's still unConstitutional. The state cannot uphold one or any religion.

    The state shouldn't be "marrying" anyone, if marriage is a religious institution.

    The state should and is obligated to provide the protections of civil unions to all people if they provide them to any people.

    The Church (and any religious institution) should be free to define and provide marriage as it so chooses.

    Catholic marriage should have no legal status whatsoever outside of the Church. If people choose to enter into a civil union AND a sacramental Catholic marriage (which is basically what we Catholics do now), then we will be afforded the benefits of each from each authority.

    So...a married Catholic who also has a legally binding civil union may divorce under the civil union and be granted whatever property/custody arrangements are provided by the state, but will still be married in the eyes of the Church and will not be able to remarry in the Church but will be able to enter into another civil union. It's what we do now and it makes legal sense AND theological sense. Let's just formalize the arragement and get the word "marriage" out of the civil arrangement.

    Anything else really is denying gay people access to all the rights provided by the Constitution.

    As for redefining marriage, societies have been redefining marriage for eons. We've gone from pluralistic marriages, to marriages in which women and children were deemed property by both the state and various religious institutions, to one-woman-one-man, to marriages in which wives and children are fully recognized individuals under the law, and now to marriages between two people of the same sex. Non-starter.

    Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.

    Civil unions, who they include, and what rights they protect belong to the state.

    Sacramental marriages belong to God.

    Refusing civil unions based on your personal definition of marriage is denying civil rights to a particular group based on sexual orientation. Can't do it, nor should you.

    The state forcing the Church to provide sacramental marriages to gay people would be equally wrong and illegal.

    Keep blurring the lines, though, and it won't be so illegal.

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  40. SJG, actually we base our understanding of marriage on the natural law, which is accessible to all by the light of reason. Our nation's laws were predicated on the natural law. Until veeeery recently. Roe v. Wade, for example, was a departure, and was based on positive law.

    So, are you basically saying we Catholics can disregard the Pope's words on what is "non-negotiable" in the public square?

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  41. Anyone can base their definition of marriage on anything they want. Except the state. That's who we are as a nation. The state cannot claim marriage is, by definition, unavailable to a certain subset of its citizenry. As long as the people entering into the civil union are legal adults and are citizens, then they can be granted a civil union.

    You keep calling civil unions "marriages" and saying marriage is defined as this, that or the other thing. Fine. Define marriage any way you want, and let anyone perform marriage according to their particular doctrine. Keep the word in the private sphere and out of the public sphere.

    The state should provide civil unions, not marriages. Private insitutions can define the nature and meaning of the marriages they will provide and then provide them accordingly.

    Catholics are free to interpret how to respond to "non-negotiable" issues. If you interpret that to mean you are obligated to prevent gay people from receiving civil unions, so be it, but I am allowed to interpret that to mean we should stop confusing sacramental marriage and civil unions, separate them, and assign each to its proper domain.

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  42. Here's link to a very interesting article concerning marriage and the anthropological record!

    http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture/monogamy-polygyny-and-the-well-tended-garden-18752/

    -gwen

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  43. SJG, how do you interpret the Pope's words? Please be very specific, based on what he said.

    Thanks!

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  44. SGJ, you really, really need to read the two articles I linked above ("What is Marriage?" and "Redefining Marriage"). They go into much greater detail (and rebut your points) than is possible to do in a combox.

    In the meantime, I would just echo the question I borrowed from Steven Greydanus and posed to Zach, above: "Why it is the state should have a bureaucratic apparatus for certifying (and decertifying) sexual partnerships involving two and only two non-related adults in any gender combination?"

    Can you answer that, SJG?

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  45. Apologies for transposing your initials in earlier posts, SJG - typing too fast. :)

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  46. Let's be real here. No one is trying to take away your right to practice your religion. It's easy to make that argument when Catholic churches and schools are closing down at unprecedented rates (in fact, I was disappointed to learn that my own Catholic high school that I had attended was closing down). But you will have to find something else to blame for declining attendance and enrollment - like disillusioned Catholics.

    I have never heard a prominent gay rights activist argue that we as a nation should take away your right to practice your Catholic "lifestyle", unlike what this Archbishop of yours is trying to do to the gay community.

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  47. Thomas, the archbishop is in no way interfering wiht the gay "lifestyle". Gay people can do whatever they like and they have plenty of people to choose from. What we object to is the redefinition of marriage, and also being labeled as bigots, as a political tactic by our own President.

    We are building Catholic schools and parishes where I live. You must live in the Northeast? Declining population, very liberal Catholics.

    Read my reversion story (top) for why Catholics are leaving the Church.

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  48. Gwen, I started reading that article but had to stop when I came across this laughably bad error:

    In ancient Rome, where monogamous marriage was the norm, men regularly had children with women other than their wives, she says.

    “Why did these societies have a norm promoting monogamy when they in fact condoned polygamous mating?


    First of all, how does the fact that men had children with women other than their wives equate to ancient Rome CONDONING POLYGAMOUS MATING?

    That's like saying that because some married Catholic men cheat on their wives, Catholicism condones adultery.

    Moreover:

    John Witte Jr., a law professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., said the origins of polygamy in the West extend far beyond religion.

    “The prohibitions against polygamy are pre-Christian and post-Christian in their formulation,” said Witte, who was testifying for the federal government.

    “Pre-Christian in that we have these formulations in Greek texts and pre-Christian Roman law. And post-Christian in that the architects of modern liberalism are making clear that if you want to respect rights, if you want to respect dignity, it is critical to maintain the institution of monogamy and prohibit and criminalize the institution of polygamy.”

    Witte traced the history of marriage back to ancient Greece and Rome, and he said Western cultures have consistently promoted monogamy and denounced polygamy for 2,500 years.

    He said ancient Greek and Roman philosophers described monogamous marriage as “natural and necessary” to foster mutual love, respect and companionship among husbands and wives.

    In contrast, he said the Roman emperors who established the first anti-polygamy laws in the third century denounced the practice as “unnatural and dangerous,” placing it in the same category as rape and incest. In some cases, polygamy was punishable by death.


    Can't give an article much credence when it contains such a glaring factual and historical error...

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  49. PS, forgive my typos and hurried responses. I have no auto spell check thingie on my downstairs computer, and I am also getting ready for a slumber party with 11 teen girls... ack!

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  50. I'm just going to say this and leave, because I don't like the direction this thread is going.

    JoAnna, that paper is terrible. I read the whole thing, and have annotated about half of it pretty thoroughly (probably won't finish, because it was a waste of time to even read it once through). They use sources that your average middle schooler would know better than to use, and a lot of which aren't secular or are enormously biased. They cite studies that show that children with divorced parents do poorly and use them to say that children with same-sex parents would do poorly. They completely ignore the legal definition of marriage, which is what the whole debate is actually about, and instead use wishy-washy phrases like "the comprehensiveness of the union across the dimensions of each spouse's being," which, I'm sorry, is absolute bullshit.

    Harvard should be ashamed to have its name on a paper this bad.

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  51. existenceandessence (Michelle, right?) - I would encourage you to complete your analysis and send it to Dr. Robert George. As one of the authors of the paper, he's in a better position than I am to defend the use of his sources, statistics, etc. and could probably explain or clarify any points you found confusing.

    Regarding the "legal definition of marriage," however - George states that marriage exists independently of any law and that the law "is justified in recognizing only real marriages as marriages." How does that not address the legal definition of marriage?

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  52. Look, you're barking up the wrong tree, JoAnna. I don't particularly care one way or another if the state provides ANY legal recognition of domestic unions individuals, dogs, cats or amoebae.

    If I got to run the world, I'd get rid of all government, give everyone a gun, and let 'em have at it. Live and let live. Your rights end where mine begin. Survival of the fittest. Leave people alone to make it or to fail on their own. I'm real hardass that way.

    So, fine. If you want to do away with any state recognized/certified domestic unions, good on ya. I'm with you all the way.

    I'm a realist, however, and understand that, people being the hot messes they are, the state needs to provide some parameters for domestic unions in order to protect the vulnerable. Which is the only reason, AFAIC, the state should be involved in these things at all -- protection of property and children from the terminally selfish and irresponsible.

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  53. JoAnna, I don't think you're reading the article very carefully. If you find fault with it, check out the very interesting research of Laura Fortunato recipient of a prestigious fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute.

    -gwen

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  54. I am just getting caught up, but I, for one, have never thought that Zach seems to be spreading hatred. I mean, he disagrees with many here, and me on certain topics, but I haven't equated him with the folks who were throwing horrid threats at Stacy.

    I think people should be allowed to disagree strongly without being labeled as haters.

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  55. Mary, Zach has stated that he supports and admires P.Z. Myers, who is notorious for his hatred and bigotry toward Christians. That was my original question to him - how is it logical support someone who displays hatred and bigotry toward Christians, and then turn around and condemn [rightly] those who display hatred and bigotry toward homosexuals?

    Gwen, I find fault with her extremely poor logic, which doesn't make me think well of her research.

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  56. If the archbishop is so worried about the government re-defining marriage than why doesn't he tell the government to stop sanctioning marriage altogether and start allowing civil unions only with the same legal rights and obligations for all citizens. I think that would satisfy almost everyone. But I have yet to see a major Catholic figure argue for this. Could it be that was never about protecting religious rights, but about wanting the government to promote Catholic principles?

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  57. SJG -

    the state needs to provide some parameters for domestic unions in order to protect the vulnerable. Which is the only reason, AFAIC, the state should be involved in these things at all -- protection of property and children from the terminally selfish and irresponsible.

    Thank you for your answer!

    So. Do homosexuals have the capability to create their own children via natural biological processes? IOW, do lesbian couples or male homosexual couples have the capability to conceive and bear biological children without involving a third party?

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  58. Thomas - I've yet to see same-sex marriage proponents offer the "civil unions for all" compromise. They want marriage, period, as can be proved by the MP in Britain who wants to criminalize churches for not marrying homosexuals.

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  59. I didn't see Leila's question until now...sorry.

    Nothing can be made juridically equivalent to Catholic sacramental marriage because of the sacramental nature of Catholic sacranmental marriage. The graces bewtowed upon a sacramental marriage come from God. Nothing, no one, not even Satan can ever change that.

    And if you keep government out of the marriage business and keep religious institutions out of the civil union business, you don't have a problem.

    Also, if you push this fight at the state, the state will push back. Are you sure you can win? Did God ask you to bring this fight to the state? God was pretty clear when He said render unto Caesar.

    The Catholic Church will have no one to blame bu themselves if they end up with government meddling in their affairs. They want government to stay out of their business, they need to stay out of government's. Individual Catholics choosing to vote on state matters based on their Catholic beliefs is one thing. The institution of the Church acting as a political entity is another, and it's not going to end well.

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  60. JoAnna, whether or not people have biological children or adopt children has no bearing on the protections afforded those children by the law. We do not have separate laws for parents who are able to carry biological children and those who are infertile, nor do we have separate laws for children who live with their biological children and those who live with adoptive parents.

    This state does not consider apoptive parents or adopted children to be something less in the eyes of the law than those who are not.

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  61. BTW, sorry for the typos -- took my glasses off and can't find them. Ain't menopause grand?

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  62. God was pretty clear when He said render unto Caesar.

    This assumes that marriage belongs to Caesar to do with what he will, but it doesn't.

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  63. You misunderstand, SJG. I said the capability, not the proven ability. All children are born from two biological parents of the opposite sex - period. If those parents are married, the outcome for those children is much improved.

    If the state wants to pass laws to protect vulnerable children, they can certainly do so. I don't see how certifying or decertifying the sexual relationships of two adults in any gender combination is relevant to protecting vulnerable children, given that it is impossible for homosexual couples to biologically produce children without involving a third party.

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  64. JoAnna,

    Fortunato holds a laurea in biological sciences from the University of Padova, a PhD in anthropology from the University College of London and is an Omidyar fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. I hardly think her "logic" is at question here.

    -gwen

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  65. "Are you sure you can win?"

    SJG, that is not our criteria as Catholics. Mother Teresa said famously: We are not called to be successful, only faithful. God takes care of outcomes. We are to serve the good at all times.

    Nothing can be made juridically equivalent to Catholic sacramental marriage because of the sacramental nature of Catholic sacranmental marriage.

    What does this have to do with what the Pope says? Let me throw in some emphases on his words, to get you to comment specifically:

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge[s] clearly today:

    …Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role….


    What does he mean by "interventions in the public arena"? He is talking to politicians, remember? What are those interventions? Those "promotions"? What does he mean that we must "defend" (again in the public arena, not merely the private or academic arenas) it from attempts to establish these other types of "unions"? What might that mean? What is its "irreplaceable social [not religious] role"?

    You say it's "not going to end well". Archbishop Dolan agrees and so do I. But that's not our concern. It didn't end well for Jesus on the Cross, either. At least not at first. Are you ready to pick up your Cross?

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  66. JoAnna - Same sex marriage proponents are arguing that all individuals should be treated the same by the government. Period. It would logically follow then that they would argue for marriage equality since the government IS in the business of sanctioning marriage.

    However, to your point - I have heard none-religious straight people and gay people make the civil unions for all argument in the media and at home. The only group that is vehemently opposed to this option are religious ones.

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  67. Could it be that was never about protecting religious rights, but about wanting the government to promote Catholic principles?

    Was it promoting Catholic principles when abolition came? Nope, Lincoln based that on natural law principles. Was it promoting Catholic principles when the Civil Rights Act came? Nope, MLK used natural law arguments for that, too. Just like abortion: That is not a religious issue, though certainly religious people fight to defend the life of the unborn. But it's a natural law principle that shredding babies in the womb is wrong. Same with marriage. It's not a "Catholic issue" or you'd only see Catholics promoting it.

    Now, if you ever saw Catholics arguing that the state should force citizens to believe in the Virgin Birth, the Sacraments, the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, etc., then you'd have a point.

    Blessings!

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  68. Thomas, what do you mean by "marriage equality"? People seem to use that term a lot lately.

    As I told Violet, who pushes for "legal marriage equality", on another thread:

    "Legal marriage equality" will occur when six men can marry each other, or a man and twelve women, or a mother and a son, or a daughter and a father, or a man and his horse, or two platonic elderly sisters. That will be true marriage equality. When anyone, for any reason, can go to the clerk's office and say, "We want to marry." And when the state gives them the right.

    Before I answer another point of yours from above, please tell me that you are for every kind of "marriage equality" (and not excluding anyone). Because until you reassure me of that, your version of "marriage" is to “the exclusion of (fill in the blank) people from marriage."


    So, Thomas, are you for marriage equality? Or do you still want to exclude some people?

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  69. Miss G, what do you think of my logic? (I'm really just curious.) Also, what do you think of Prof. Robbie George (Princeton)?

    Thanks!

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  70. Thomas -

    Same sex marriage proponents are arguing that all individuals should be treated the same by the government.

    They already are. One unencumbered consenting adult has the right to marry one unrelated, unencumbered consenting adult of the opposite sex. This right applies to every adult in the U.S. regardless of sexual orientation.

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  71. Okay, Gwen...

    On December 8, 2008, Robert George was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush. On May 4, 2010, in Warsaw, he received the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland. He is a recipient of the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and he was one of four winners of the 2005 Bradley Awards for Civic and Intellectual Achievement. He is also a recipient of the Sidney Hook Memorial Award of the National Association of Scholars and the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Liberal Arts of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. In 2007, he gave the annual John Dewey Lecture in Philosophy of Law at Harvard University, on the subject of natural law. He has given the annual Judge Guido Calabresi Lecture at Yale University, the Sir Malcolm Knox Lecture at the University of St. Andrews, and the Frank Irvine Lecture at Cornell University. George holds honorary doctorates of law, letters, science, civil law, humane letters, ethics, and juridical science. (from Wikipedia)

    But I assume you disagree with Professor George nonetheless?

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  72. JoAnna said, quoting "In contrast, he said the Roman emperors who established the first anti-polygamy laws in the third century denounced the practice as “unnatural and dangerous,” placing it in the same category as rape and incest. In some cases, polygamy was punishable by death. "
    Wasn't Christianity the official religion of Rome by 324, so it is possible that the Emperors we are talking about were influenced by Christian ideas. I am just saying that Rome's insistence on monogamy might be a Christian idea.

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  73. But, Mary:

    He said ancient Greek and Roman philosophers described monogamous marriage as “natural and necessary” to foster mutual love, respect and companionship among husbands and wives.

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  74. To Zach,
    I really do think the polygamy argument is the best question to pose to same-sex marriage proponents. I cannot understand how we can discriminate against multiple adults (consenting) if we do not discriminate against two adults of the same sex.

    Presumably most people who want to enter into legal plural marriage are of sound mind and body (clearly not the case for some of the odd ducks Leila referred to--the car lover and the sick man in Germany). So to refuse them the right to legal marriage seems odd, once we begin to redraft the definition of marriage.

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  75. JoAnna, I think you're being ridiculous. Another reminder why it's futile to express opinions here or present a well founded viewpoint different from yours.

    -gwen

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  76. Why am I being ridiculous, Gwen?

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  77. Credentials don't make a person infallible, that's JoAnna's point, I believe.

    I just read yet another research paper today that made egregious claims about the Church's teaching regarding sex (ie, abstaining=contraception, Catholics are called to 'reproduce as much as possible', and various other tired, uneducated opinions) and this was supposedly grade-A caliber.

    Logical holes exist and bad research exists. The intellectually elite in the world of academia aren't infallible.

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  78. Now, if you ever saw Catholics arguing that the state should force citizens to believe in the Virgin Birth, the Sacraments, the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, etc., then you'd have a point.

    Took it out of my mouth, Leila. Bingo.

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  79. JoAnna, I think you're being ridiculous. Another reminder why it's futile to express opinions here or present a well founded viewpoint different from yours.

    ? I don't get this.

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  80. Leila -- the Pope is entitled to his opinion. He is not God, he is not speaking infallibly in this case. I am called, as a Catholic, to listen to God first and foremost. God is not calling me to strongarm the US government into abiding by Catholic doctrine. Maybe He is you. Fine. My calling appears to lie elsewhere.

    Mother Teresa, again, is entitled to her opinion. I am not a Mother Teresa fan, nor am I required to listen to a single word she says in order to remain a Catholic in good standing.

    I will defend the Church from the state, and I will defend the State from the Church. The pope can only ever require me to defend the Church. I will defend the Church from the state requiring the Church to perform gay sacramental marriages. I will not defend the state from attacks by the Church to align themselves exclusively with Catholic doctrine.

    When the Pope makes these comments, he does not understand US law & civil process. Once you create an opening in the separation between Church and state -- the separation our founding fathers worked hard to create, and for good reason -- you aren't necessarily going to be able to control the direction in which the traffic will flow.

    Once the Church positions itself as a political body with specific political goals, it becomes answerable to the state -- to the majority rule, rather than to God.

    That's how it's not going to end well.

    Also, what you say the Pope is compelling Catholics to do is exactly what mullahs all over the Islamic world are compelling Muslims to do, and they are infinitely more ruthless and have a proven greater success rate.

    As I said, be careful what you wish for.

    JoAnna -- you are claiming that only people who have been proven to be capable of bearing biological children may be consdidered "real" parents by the state. Sorry, but that is not what this state says at all. Again, you are confusing Catholic teaching with US law. They are two different things. Citizens of the United States are not required to follow Catholic teaching in order to be citizens of this country.

    Under the laws of THIS country, single people, gay and straight, married couples, gay and straight, and cohabitating couples, gay and straight may adopt children. They are entitled to equal rights and protections under the law.

    If you don't like the law, you don't have to be a gay person adopting children. It really is that simple.

    Maybe if you provided better witness to the gay people who come in contact with you, you'd serve both God and the gay community better than by trying to turn the government of the United States into a Catholic Taliban. Right now, if I weren't already Catholic, hadn't been Catholic for upwards of half a century, and you were my only Catholic contact, I sure wouldn't think much of your religion or your god.

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  81. *will defend the state from attacks by the Catholic Church...

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  82. One last thing, because you're leaving a very bad taste in my mouth.

    My cross is between me and God, not me and you, not me and the Pope.

    Maybe you should focus on your own appalling witness and clean up your own house before you start lording it over people and telling them which cross is theirs and when and now they should pick it up.

    Dial your ego down a notch or fifteen, focus on God, and mind your own business when it comes to what's between God and other people.

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  83. SJG, some thoughts that popped to my mind as I read:

    1) When a Pope says something is non-negotiable, what does that mean for Catholics?

    2) What do you think about the "religious submission of mind and will" written of in Vatican II documents, specifically:

    LG 25: "Religious submission of mind and of will must be
    shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of speaking."


    3) Do you feel the same way about abortion as you do about marriage (i.e., you are personally opposed to abortion due to religious reasons, but you can't impose your "religious belief" on others, due to "separation of Church and State"?

    4) What is your understanding of natural law principles vs. "Catholic doctrine"? Do you accept natural law principles?

    5) You are hinting that "people like you (me)" are what keep people from the Church. I have heard that said many times over the years, usually by people who don't like Church teaching in general and dissent on certain issues. I think the only reason that anyone should be a Catholic is because it's true. There is no other reason to be a Catholic, sinners in the Church (such as me) non-withstanding. If you truly believed all that the Catholic Church teaches, would you let a sinner like me keep you out? I hope not! You have more strength and integrity than that.

    Blessings!

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  84. I am a Catholic because the Church is the fullest embodiment of Truth here on earth.

    I believe in the separation between Church and state because I believe denying people free will, even when they freely choose to sin, is denying God.

    God is what matters. Not you, not your anti-gay political activism. But then, I really know God exists. It's not even a matter of faith or belief for me anymore.

    My trust is in God, my eyes are on God. I will not defy God because of what some woman who has an internet connection and way too much time on her hands says.

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  85. I am a Catholic because the Church is the fullest embodiment of Truth here on earth.

    Yet you don't believe her teachings. How does that work, exactly?

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  86. SJG, but won't you answer the questions? It's obvious you don't like me, but that shouldn't keep you from answering. There are many lurkers, and you could win them to your point of view, if you simply answer. Why not answer the questions? Please. I am sincerely interested.

    PS: No one is coercing anyone's free will in anything proposed. Free will is a gift of God and cannot be touched.

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  87. I will not defy God because of what some woman who has an internet connection and way too much time on her hands says.

    Also, does this imply that you think the Pope (and Archbishop Dolan) are "defying God"? I can't seem to read it any other way. Help me out.

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  88. JoAnn -- which teaching don't I believe?

    Leila:

    1) there are moral issues that are "non-negotiable" meaning we can't dissent or disagree. However, that doesn't mean we all have to approach how we respond to these issues exactly the same way.

    2) the religious submission of mind and will you refer to do not require me to proactively work to prevent governments from providing various protections, certifications, and rights to non-Catholics. I agree that homosexual behavior is sinful. I do not agree that non-Catholics and secular organizations must be made to abide by that teaching.

    3) Abortion and gay civil unions are two entirely separate matters. I believe abortion is always wrong. But then, abortion involves killing an innocent human being. Allowing secular bodies to provide civil unions to gay people kills no one.

    4) I accept natural law principles, but I also accept the fact that states may provide legal protections to people who may not accept them/abide by them.

    5) uh, I'm not out of the Catholic Church, so you can't keep me out. I suspect I've been Catholic longer than you. Was there an actual question in there somewhere?

    As for the rest, I don't think the Pope is telling people to do what you're claiming he's telling them to do. And I think Dolan is on thin ice and I suspect God may not be pleased with his tactics. However, that's between Dolan and God. I can only answer for myself.

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  89. SJG, thanks for answering. I appreciate it.

    But what is the Pope asking people to do, then? You didn't answer that part.
    And remember, the issue at hand is gay "marriage". Literally, claiming that marriage can mean two gay people. That is a far cry from some sort of civil legal protections and benefits.

    Ar you okay with the tactics of the Obama admin, which proactively (purposefully) paints Catholic teaching as bigotry? Do you see any problem at all with the gov't going down that road?

    Thanks!

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  90. By the way, do you think any of this crosses a line of courtesy or approaches a personal attack, or maybe signals the loss of a gentle spirit?

    you're leaving a very bad taste in my mouth.

    Maybe you should focus on your own appalling witness and clean up your own house before you start lording it over people and telling them which cross is theirs and when and now they should pick it up.

    Dial your ego down a notch or fifteen

    mind your own business

    Maybe if you provided better witness to the gay people who come in contact with you, you'd serve both God and the gay community better than by trying to turn the government of the United States into a Catholic Taliban.

    Right now, if I weren't already Catholic, hadn't been Catholic for upwards of half a century, and you were my only Catholic contact, I sure wouldn't think much of your religion or your god.

    [This part, above, is what I was responding to in my #5. Not sure what horrors I am guilty of aside from reprinting the Archbishop's letter and agreeing with it. And agreeing with the Pope about our non-negotiable duties in the public square. Apparently, my listening to and supporting the Pope and Archbishop would keep you from Catholicism if you were not already a Catholic?]

    Anyway, if you were only to answer one more question for me, I would ask simply, again, what are the "interventions in the public arena" that the pope was talking about, regarding the defense of marriage vs. other types of unions? What could he possibly have meant, in your mind? Please be as specific as possible. You say, "I don't think the Pope is telling people to do what you're claiming he's telling them to do." So, what is he telling people to do? I'm honestly interested in your take on it.

    Thanks!

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  91. SJG,

    "Look, you're barking up the wrong tree, JoAnna. I don't particularly care one way or another if the state provides ANY legal recognition of domestic unions individuals, dogs, cats or amoebae.

    If I got to run the world, I'd get rid of all government, give everyone a gun, and let 'em have at it. Live and let live. Your rights end where mine begin. Survival of the fittest. Leave people alone to make it or to fail on their own. I'm real hardass that way. "

    I'm just wondering if you believe the catechism when it says our job as Catholics is to 'aid humanity in not falling'. Also, this makes me think of the parable of the hidden talents. Do you believe that we are to go and preach the gospel? Are we saved in community? "ME and GOD" is a very Protestant way to look at salvation. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, I'm just a little taken aback by your comments and attitudes as a Catholic.

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  92. Also, I'm on my way out the door for a hike with my boys but I had to come back and just say I am completely baffled by your comment that you're "not a Mother Theresa fan". How could anyone not be a Mother Theresa fan? I just don't get it. The Saints are supposed to be our role models, those we strive to be like. I think religious and non-religious around the world would agree that Mother Theresa did wonderful things for people and made a difference in the lives of many.

    And then there's this: "Maybe you should focus on your own appalling witness and clean up your own house before you start lording it over people and telling them which cross is theirs and when and now they should pick it up."

    The official Church teaching is that homosexual tendencies are a cross and that those who have them should live chastely. Leila is just following Church teaching, because she is a faithful Catholic. I hope you can see that.

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  93. Manda, thank you, and I have to say that I was taken aback by the Mother Teresa comment, too. I am a fan of every saint, as we all should be. They lived lives of heroic virtue, each one utterly faithful to the Church and to Christ, each one achieving union with God while still here on earth. Mother Teresa was so saintly (and recognized as such by even the secular world, save for Hitchens and a few other Church-haters) that she will be canonized more quickly than most.

    I just have never heard a Catholic in my whole life say that she is "not a Mother Teresa fan." It is bizarre and inexplicable to me. As is the barrage of insults hurled my way for supporting the Church, her teachings, and the Pope's directives. It's left me shaking my head in bewilderment.

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  94. Another quick comment -

    Leila, it's not a matter of "Church-hating" - people do base their opinions on more than just "oh, the Church endorsed it, so it must be bad." I understand if you don't like Hitchens' style, but he had solid reasoning behind his dislike of Mother Teresa. Have you listened to/read anything he's said on the topic?

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  95. Yes, of course I have Michelle. His comments are appalling. Thankfully, "marginalized" does not begin to describe his position compared to the world's opinion. There are few things that most of the world agrees on, especially regarding the Church, but Mother Teresa's sanctity is one of them.

    Hitchens hates the Catholic Church, no? He wants religion to go away. I hate atheism. He hates the Church. That's fair to say, right?

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  96. Huh. I thought he made a fair assessment of what she did. Anyway, he hates all religion, and of course the Church is included. But if he based his opinion on Mother Teresa purely on hatred of the Church, his reasoning would have looked more like "she's bad because the Church says she's good," not the huge list of - I think - legitimate reasons why she's far from saintly.

    I don't expect to change your mind if you've heard and disagree with his actual arguments, and I must be off to work on homework now, but just wanted to make sure you recognized that no one in their right mind categorically approves/disapproves of things based solely on a desire to be contrary.

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  97. Of course he believes he has good reason.

    I just wonder if he has spent his life picking up dying, unwanted, unloved people off the streets, picked maggots from their wounds with his bare hands (if you can even imagine the stench and gore) and then washed, bathed and loved them till they died with a smile on their face, safe and warm? Or started an order which has thousands upon thousands of young women sacrificing everything in their lives, to service the poorest of the poor in the most filthy, darkest pits in every corner of the globe? I'm just wondering if he has the moral authority to say that Mother T is far from saintly, while he lives his comfortable, fat and happy atheist life. I'm just not sure he does have that moral authority.

    But that's just me.

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  98. And while we are on the subject of the "Ghoul of Calcutta", I'm wondering what you think of the lives of those who live and die in the gutter, suffering and starving, unloved and unwanted all the days of their lives? Do you think their lives have worth? What is their joy and peace? Do they have dignity in an atheistic world? If so, where does their human dignity come from?

    Not potential dignity (many will not amount to anything of "worth" or find the pleasure or fun or awe of the world that you do as an American atheist). Not potential, but now, in their filth and dying, what is their worth? Where is their dignity? That is a question no atheist has answered for me. They only talk about potential.

    Can you please be the first to answer?

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  99. By the way, if anyone missed the conversation a while back about the contrast between Mother Teresa and Margaret Sanger (both of whom worked with the poor), here is a good summary of how I see the match-up:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/two-very-different-women.html

    There is a follow-up post as well.

    It illustrates well the difference in worldview between the secular left and the Church. I am going to guess that Hitchens doesn't have a real problem with Sanger.

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  100. Did you think his reasoning was appalling because it opposed your preconceived notions? I watched "Hell's Angels" a while back, so I don't remember everything, but I do think he judged the quality of her work and lifestyle in a fair, reasonable manner. If you're interested, it's a short 3-part series on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQ0i3nCx60

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  101. Might make a good post if you were to do a rebuttal of his points! I'd be interested in reading it. :)

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  102. Michelle, are you saying she did spend her life picking up and caring for the sick and dying, the outcasts, all her life? Did Hitchens deny that (amidst all his accusations)? Does Hitchens dirty himself with the poor like that? Just curious.

    Also, you might actually find this a good thing: The process for canonization includes the "devil's advocate" which is the person who presents to the tribunal all the things that can be used to show that Mother T was not a good or saintly person. All of that stuff will be in the record. I'm sure Hitchens words and work will be on the record and presented against all the good she has done. So, never fear, the Church does not whitewash anyone or anything. Somehow, I think Mother T's record will stand in the end.

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  103. I'm saying you should watch what Hitchens has to say. It's not that long, and I don't have time to reproduce every one of his arguments.

    This is also worth reading: http://www.slate.com/id/2090083/ He mentions the devil's advocate process, and how it clearly isn't being used as effectively as it should be.

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  104. http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/04/beatification-and-canonization-how-does.html

    Here is a post on how canonization works, for anyone who is interested.

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  105. "It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or "devil's advocate," to test any extraordinary claims.....

    As for the "miracle" that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn't have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican's investigators? No."

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  106. Michelle, I'm sure the rebuttals have already been done. I just spent a few minutes watching a vile video trashing her, and where to begin trying to explain and untwist the myriad misrepresentation and slurs? Every sentence from these folks had me screaming at my screen: "You're kidding me!" "You are twisting the truth!" "You don't even understand the basics of what you are talking about!" "You have taken those words out of context!" "Your facts are wrong, dude!" It would take me hours that I do not have.

    Meantime, could you answer the questions posed? And also, I'm just curious what was in it for Mother Teresa in all this? Or her nuns?

    Thanks!

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  107. Michelle, I will look into the miracle thing. I still have eleven teen girls at my house and I need breakfast. :)

    One cursory google search makes me marvel at the atheist's depth of obsession with this and with her! Wow! You know, I think (for example) Wiccans are nuts, but I don't obsess over them. I never give them a thought, really. But the amount of time and energy that atheists give to all things Catholic and godly is incredible! It does seem like a borderline obsession.

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  108. My answers are the same as Hitchens'. I'm not trying to be evasive, I just really do not have anything beyond that to say. But basically this: considering the means she had, she did an absolutely terrible job of taking care of people.

    Mother Teresa got a boatload of fame out of this, and millions in donations, which did not go towards the care of her patients. She loved the image of poverty, and according to one of the sisters that worked with her "Mother was very concerned that we preserve our spirit of poverty. Spending money would destroy that poverty....Was this in the best interests of the people we were trying to help, or were we in fact using them as a tool to advance our own "sanctity?"...the millions of dollars accumulating in the bank were treated as if they did not exist."

    More here: http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/shields_18_1.html

    I would love some actual rebuttals to these points. Unless this woman was hallucinating or absolutely ignorant of what was going on around her, this seems like a pretty damning account.

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  109. Michelle,

    I watched parts 1 and 2 of "Hell's Angel" and I have to say I am appalled. Instead of being supportive or approving of a person being generous and giving of themselves, he chooses to criticize and critique her methods of helping the poorest and most desolate souls on Earth. That woman who said the conditions in the Calcutta clinic were not up to par with a hospital...DOY! They are working with the resources they have. My goodness...give me a break.

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  110. As far as how Mother Teresa got "noticed" from that "first miracle", for most of us it's enough that she devoted her life to showing love to others. I was not ever aware of the miracle of 1969.

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  111. Sorry, didn't see your earlier question about dignity. I don't see why the atheist perspective matters here - perhaps this is an effort to paint me as heartless? I do think they have dignity, but that dignity is not helped by glorifying suffering and poverty, as Teresa did. It's helped by trying to do actual good for people to eliminate unnecessary suffering and poverty. Didn't she say suffering was like a kiss from Jesus? Sounds pretty heartless to me.

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  112. Manda, if you read the most recent article I posted, Teresa wasn't using the plentiful resources she had. She was ignoring them entirely.

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  113. Oy, where to begin?

    Michelle, first, every time I ask a question of an atheist that they cannot or will not answer, they come back with the accusation that I am trying to show them as "heartless".

    ??

    Can you just answer the question? How do the destitute have dignity? What is the source of their dignity? Why do they have it? On what basis?

    Now, as for the critics…. You realize, right, that hundreds of books and thousands of articles have been written by those who have worked closely with Mother Teresa over the decades? Their accounts have weight, do they not? For every one "disgruntled" one, there are thousands of their counterparts whose lives were utterly transformed by the work they did with Mother T and her sisters in helping the dying to die with some measure of peace.

    Did you expect that she would be able to take more people off the streets by building more expensive homes for the dying? How would that work, logistically? These people were DYING. They needed to be picked up off the filth of the street and be brought to a warm, safe place, cleaned and loved. That is what they were given. The numbers of them (have you been to the ghettos of the world?) are staggering. No hospital palaces were needed nor wanted. Understand her mission. It was not to be the Mayo Clinic.

    Second, the entire concept of redemptive suffering is one that the critics do not in any way begin to understand. It is not that Mother T wanted to cause suffering in any way! She was working to alleviate what could be immediately alleviated (or else she would have left them in the gutter to suffer alone and cold and hungry!). But not all suffering is able to be alleviated. So that unavoidable suffering can be offered up to Christ, in union with his own life-giving sacrifice of suffering, and made meaningful, not wasted. You don't understand it, because you don't see anything past this material world. You can't begin to see. But don't knock something that you have not made any attempt to understand. I have done posts on redemptive suffering, and you can search for those….

    I'd like to write more, but the cross country boys just returned. And I still need breakfast. More later.

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  114. Wow. People are jumping to a LOT of conclusions, aren't they?

    That someone doesn't appreciate a particular Catholic the way you do, Leila, doesn't make them a bad Catholic, a non-Catholic, or whatever else you're trying to imply.

    Your continued refusal to acknowledge what I've actually written is ten thousand times as rude as anything I've said, but you are so narcissistic you don't get that. I realize there's no conversing with people like you, so whatever. You don't want to have a conversation, or even a true debate. You merely want to pounce on people and talk AT them, rather than WITH them. Your loss.

    I feel sorry for you. You're trapped in a prison of your own making and your life is that much the poorer for it.

    Have a nice life. I don't want this kind of negativity and nastiness in mine, so I'm out.

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  115. And was that quote from the one ex-nun who is now a stand up comedian?

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  116. SJG, thanks for the continued string of insults? Wow.

    Anyway, nice "talking" to you?

    Blessings!

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  117. SJG,

    I will let the readers decide if this is talking "AT" you rather than with you. I was trying to pin you down on an actual answer:

    Anyway, if you were only to answer one more question for me, I would ask simply, again, what are the "interventions in the public arena" that the pope was talking about, regarding the defense of marriage vs. other types of unions? What could he possibly have meant, in your mind? Please be as specific as possible. You say, "I don't think the Pope is telling people to do what you're claiming he's telling them to do." So, what is he telling people to do? I'm honestly interested in your take on it.

    Thanks!


    I guess that question was so rude, narcissistic and out of line that you had to ignore it completely and instead throw out some more insults about my personal character and inability to listen.

    Blessings!

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  118. Okay, I can't keep having this conversation. If, after reading/watching the links I've posted, you still disagree, so be it. If a secular organization had millions of dollars in donations and refused to use them, if they said that suffering was good (not that they wanted to cause it, simply that they wouldn't do everything in their power to alleviate it), if they used poor medical practices when it would have cost them nearly nothing to do it right (sterilizing needles, for instance), I would hope you'd condemn them as evil.

    It's not a matter of Hitchens thinking he has good reasoning, or one of the sisters being "disgruntled" - it's a matter of the facts they present. I haven't gotten any actual rebuttals to those (the ignored donations are okay, then, I assume? Perhaps nothing more than an accounting error?).

    And, yes. I do think you're trying to paint me as heartless, because that question was irrelevant to the conversation, and has come up multiple times before. We don't need to stay entirely on-topic, of course, but it was hardly necessary when we're assessing the value of someone else's work.

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  119. Michelle, we always go off topic here, and I always circle back to the questions which have never (and will never?) be answered. You can accuse me of wanting to paint you as heartless, but in reality, I want your position to make sense to me. I can't get it to make sense if you don't even answer. I have always wanted that answer and it is elusive. It has nothing to do with you personally. We are talking about ideas (liberals like to move it to the emotion, but I am wanting to push you, challenge you, to talk about your ideas. Not an emotional thing at all. I will tell you when it is, trust me).

    I love how people talk about how they would have done things, when in fact they are not the ones doing things. They are not the ones who have served the poor themselves, and they have never run anything. Criticism is fine and good, but not when it something a) that you don't understand in the first place (like redemptive suffering), b) something that you want her defenders to do all the research before breakfast (me), and c) you critique what you can't possibly quantify (she didn't do "everything in her power" to alleviate all the suffering that crossed in front of her! Do you think she was a demi-god? Are you? Am I?)

    More when I can….

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  120. You know what, if I had millions of dollars in donations in the bank for an organization that was meant to be helping people, I would use those donations. I think I can safely say that that is something I would do. You don't need to have been in someone's exact situation to judge their actions, something everyone knows quite well.

    Just a straight answer to this question (take your time if you need it - I forget we're in different time zones sometimes) and I will be done here:

    Did Mother Teresa really use the means she had to help the poor? If so, what of those millions in donations?

    If she was truly doing the absolute best she could, and her best involved blunt and dirty needles, a lack of antibiotics, and a failure to distinguish between curable and incurable, sure. That may be better than absolutely nothing. But if she wasn't - if, as the accounts I linked to state - she had the means to do a respectable job and didn't, then I think that's pretty despicable.

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  121. SJG,

    I think the questions posed to you were fair. Nobody jumped to conclusions about you. Or maybe I'm missing something?

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  122. Okay, I read the account by the ex-nun (the stand up comedian, I think). Was she the auditor? I can't understand how she knew what funds were being used and for what, if she was not the banker or accountant or auditor? I'd need much more info on that.

    As for the needles: I read that more than once to make sure. I believe they are talking about sewing needles with which to mend their clothing! Not sterilizing needles for medical care! HUGE distinction there!!!

    As for the spirit of poverty: It's not for everyone. But when sisters of Charity make their vows, they know they will own nothing, have nothing, live as the poorest of the poor live. That is all well known up front. You may not understand that spirit or charism (St. Francis of Assisi and many other saints lived in love with "Lady Poverty" as he called it), but that doesn't mean you can dismiss it as nuts. It is a calling, a charism. Some can accept it, some cannot. No one forces anyone to be a sister or a religious!

    More later….

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  123. SJG,
    YOu said, "But then, I really know God exists. It's not even a matter of faith or belief for me anymore. "
    I am interested in this. Sorry...my interest is totally unrelated to this thread. Maybe Leila could connect us.

    I struggle with faith a lot. Some days not at all, but some days it is overwhelming.

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  124. Did Mother Teresa really use the means she had to help the poor? If so, what of those millions in donations?

    First, thank you. I appreciate (and crave) very straight specific questions. That helps my aging, foggy brain, trust me.

    My answer is that I do not know anything about Mother Teresa's books. I have no idea what her accountants and bankers know or how her funds were distributed. I can't answer that for you without more info. I will tell you that I doubt Mother Teresa was in charge of her own banking. She was doing what she did, and I am guessing there were bankers or accountants who managed the books for an organization which spanned the globe. So, I cannot answer without more info.

    I hope that at least we an agree that she was not using the millions to buy herself a nice big screen TV and designer clothes and a nice mansion. What do you suppose her motives were, if you are implying that she hoarded the money? Just curious.

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  125. "Seeing the pain caused by the blunt needles, some of the volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused."
    So...the pain they're referring to is the pain of trying to push through cloth with a blunt needle? No one on earth cares about or would even talk about sterilizing sewing needles, and you know that.

    If you're going to have a spirit of poverty, don't accept donations and tell people they'll be used when they won't be. Send them back and tell them you'd rather provide substandard medical care. I'm not against having a spirit of poverty at all - I think it's a good idea. But you have to be reasonable. If you were living with a spirit of poverty, and one of your children became ill, would you refuse them a trip to the doctor even if you had the money to pay for it?

    Not sure what the "stand-up comedian" bit was about...

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  126. Mary, I don't know SJG at all, but if she wants to email me I can put you in touch.

    Here is an interesting atheist to Catholic conversion story that I read recently that deals with intellect and faith (from a famous writer). I thought of you, as you might like his insights:

    http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/09/a-question-i-never-tire-of-answering/

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  127. Motives? From the article: "Mother was very concerned that we preserve our spirit of poverty....Was this in the best interests of the people we were trying to help, or were we in fact using them as a tool to advance our own "sanctity?""

    I do want to make clear that I don't want to think Mother Teresa was a bad person. I would love to think she was selfless, caring, and deserving of sainthood even by secular standards. But reading/hearing accounts like these convince me otherwise.

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  128. I am glad you're treating these accounts with skepticism, by the way. Skepticism is good! But if it turned out that Teresa did have millions in donations (and really, you don't need to be an accountant to know whether the amount you have to spend is closer to zero or closer to a million) that were ignored in the effort to maintain a spirit of poverty, would you still think she was deserving of sainthood?

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  129. No one on earth cares about or would even talk about sterilizing sewing needles, and you know that.

    ??

    There was no talk of "sterilization" at all. Not that I saw. Am I missing something? They talked of mending their own clothes by hand. And using a dull needle to do so will be painful as it is much, much harder to push that needle through. I think you may be jumping to conclusions. The sisters "refused" because they were the ones in pain using dull needles and they accepted it.

    That's how I read it.

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  130. But again, Michelle, what were her evil motives? And why do you jump to conclusions about her bank account (whether she did something imprudent, or foolish, or whether there was something nefarious going on) without hard evidence?

    As for the stand up comedian, there was a video I saw this morning, with Hitchens and the Penn and Teller guy (what a vile person!) and this ex-nun in New York who is now a stand up comedian. They were all trashing Mother T. She was complaining about her time with the Sisters of Charity. I'm just guessing she is the same one you linked to.

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  131. Since I still haven't researched, my thoughts are that Mother T used exactly what she needed to run her homes and not one single penny more. If that meant that there was money in the bank for future months when money was more scarce, is that a scandal? That is the biggest complaint, that she didn't spend enough money and help more people? I think she helped and still helps millions. Seems extraordinary in today's world or any world.

    Will you answer my direct questions now, about human dignity and its source?

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  132. Oh boy. I think that's a really unlikely interpretation. People tend to only mention reusing needles in a medical context, and I don't think anyone really would be bothered if the sisters chose to use blunt needles to sew.

    Also, my mistake. I was talking about something that was in the video (they definitely mentioned sterilization there) and mistakenly attributed it to the article.

    I think I'm done here. We're not really getting anywhere, and I'm putting off work I should be doing. Thanks for the discussion.

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  133. They talked about mending often, then talked about needles. Makes sense to me. She was talking about the sisters' hardships, personally.

    You are leaving again, but still have not answered my question.

    Frustrated.

    Oh, well.

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  134. From the ex-sister:

    For years I had to write thousands of letters to donors, telling them that their entire gift would be used to bring God's loving compassion to the poorest of the poor. I was able to keep my complaining conscience in check because we had been taught that the Holy Spirit was guiding Mother. To doubt her was a sign that we were lacking in trust and, even worse, guilty of the sin of pride. I shelved my objections and hoped that one day I would understand why Mother wanted to gather so much money, when she herself had taught us that even storing tomato sauce showed lack of trust in Divine Providence.

    One thing glaringly lacking in all this: An accusation of malfeasance. There is an implication that somehow the money donated was not being used for the poor, but for something else. That it was being diverted or used dishonestly in some way. Where is the evidence of that? Even she does not make that direct accusation. The whole thing is just odd.

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  135. I'm not answering your question because I see it as irrelevant, and it will lead into a long discussion I don't have time for or want to have right now. I have other things I need to do - perhaps another day.

    Why assume that's the same person? If you read the article (which my quotes were from), it was far from comedy. And even if it was the same person and she is now a stand-up comedian, so what? That doesn't mean that discounts everything she might say.

    You're willing to believe a lot based on eyewitness accounts, and those accounts happened thousands of years ago and therefore are a lot less reliable. Why say this must be bunk because there isn't hard evidence beyond these eyewitness accounts (what other kind of evidence could there be)? People say she didn't provide good care at all (again, specifics are in the video). To me it's patently obvious that a woman with a worldwide organization that's taking in donations should be able to provide good medical care.

    Okay, I really am done. Maybe someone else can take over for me, but like I said, if you read these accounts and weren't convinced, there's nothing I can do and it's not worth my time to try.

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  136. Regarding the needles, let's use a bit of deductive reasoning. Clearly, the author of the article is trying to expose some level of scandal on the part of MT and the Missionaries of Charity. If it were the case that the Sisters were reusing medical needles, wouldn't she want to make that abundantly clear?

    I think the mention of reusing needles is purposefully ambiguous. And I think Leila's interpretation is correct, given the fact that the previous paragraph discusses how the sisters mended their clothes.

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  137. Hitchens has argued that "her intention was not to help people," and he alleged that she lied to donors about the use of their contributions. “It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn't working to alleviate poverty,” says Hitchens. “She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, ‘I'm not a social worker. I don't do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.’”

    This exchange alone shows that Hitchens doesn't have a clue who she was. We Catholics understand that no one can eradicate poverty (only the Utopian left thinks that is possible -- even Jesus knew it was impossible for us). That was not her aim. That would be the aim of the secular left (as if it could ever happen!). Her aim was to treat each dying soul as if he/she were Christ Himself. She and her nuns were not social workers. They were brides of Christ. They did all for Christ. They did all through Christ. That was their mission. Not social work. When Hindus died, they read Hindu prayers, when Muslims died, they read the Qu'ran to them. No one was forcing conversion on anyone.

    They were not trying to replicate a hospital setting. This was not about becoming a worldwide chain of hospitals. You've read the critics, but what accounts have you read from the rest? They are much more numerous, and maybe they have something to say, too?

    Blessings!

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  138. Didn't she say suffering was like a kiss from Jesus? Sounds pretty heartless to me.


    That's because you don't understand redemptive suffering, the glory of the cross, the graces in a vocation, and/or serving Christ. Unless and until you're a Christian/Catholic, suffering will never make sense to you. It will always be something to be avoided, suppressed, medicated, ignored even. To understand redemptive suffering, one needs to understand the remedial teaching of Christianity = no servant is greater than his master (Matt 10:24), and the only ones worthy of Christ are those who pick up their cross and follow him daily (Luke 9:23).


    Remedial stuff in Catholicism. Not morbid or lacking heart. Quite the reverse. But your average person who doesn't know Christ would never see that.


    If I got to run the world, I'd get rid of all government, give everyone a gun, and let 'em have at it. Live and let live. Your rights end where mine begin. Survival of the fittest. Leave people alone to make it or to fail on their own. I'm real hardass that way.


    You said you're Catholic? Survival of the fittest is not a teaching of the church, nor is it ever promoted in any encyclicals. The fittest are obligated to care for the weaker and weakest.

    And there will come a day when your fitness level weakens. Indubitably.

    "Leaving people alone to make it or fail on their own" speaks of one's own ego. It goes against the very basic teaching of the faith. How do you reconcile that thought process with your faith?

    As each person should "dial back his/her ego", one should simultaneoulsy dial up charitable words while speaking to fellow sisters in Christ and put down the verbal baton.

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  139. Thanks, Nubby!

    And one thought about eyewitness accounts: There are plenty (millions? including hundreds of thousands of lay volunteers among others?) of eyewitness accounts to Mother Teresa's deeds still walking the face of the earth right now. Do these live witness "eyewitness accounts" hold weight? Do they hold weight at least as much as the opinions and impressions of an ex-sister (who never charges Mother T with actual malice) and a small group of atheists?

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  140. Cleansing palate and reality check:

    I did a quick google search and found many accounts of actual experience working with the Sisters of Charity. Perhaps this one randomly chosen "eyewitness account" can speak to the hearts of our readers, about the real mission of Mother Teresa and her legacy which reaches around the world:

    http://www.motherteresa.org/07_family/Volunteering/v_cal.html

    In one word: Love.

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  141. http://www.motherteresaandme.com/mother-teresa-my-friend-my-inspiration

    And above is another account. An eyewitness account. As you read of the horrors of life in the streets of Calcutta, you can see that an occasional sister is not able to continue, or ultimately it is too much for her. It is not for the faint of heart. I would buckle after one day, I am sure. I know of a sixteen year old boy who went to Calcutta this summer, a friend of the family. He went to work with the Sisters. I saw him and asked how it was. He said it was 'life-changing' like nothing else he had ever experienced. He also said it was so dirty in the streets of India… he had no words for the horror he saw. He couldn't stomach the thought of going back there. And as Mother T's critics sit in America in comfort, the sisters are still there, day in and day out, picking up the dying, feeding the starving, housing the orphans and finding them loving homes, and humbly taking the criticism that they are … "mean" or "not good people" or "not doing nearly as much as they could" … or something.

    I think I might spend my day reading more about the work of the sisters. A light in a dark, dark world.

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  142. PS: I didn't mean to imply that in that last link there is an account of the sisters that showed them unable to cope. There is nothing like that in there. My meaning was that it's not surprising in an organization with so many thousands of sisters, that you would have the occasional sister who leaves in disillusionment and unhappiness, like the ex-sister that Michelle linked us to. That is not surprising. But it is the exception.

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  143. Interesting, but time consuming. Bless you, Leila, for your patience.

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  144. Disillusionment and unhappiness?! This is why I sometimes get so frustrated that I need to leave. If you can rebut the arguments that she provided substandard care when she had the means to do better, that would be wonderful. But no one has done that. Hmm.

    Question: Imagine that Mother Teresa was not Catholic and that the Church had nothing to do with her. Imagine she was an atheist and someone said that she was refusing to use donations and was keeping an image of poverty at the expense of her patients. Would you jump to defend her then, or would that give you pause and compel you to take a deeper look at her work?

    I'm still bothered by this suggestion that the ex-sister was talking about sewing needles, as it seems such an obvious attempt at rationalization. If you search "Mother Teresa needles" you'll find confirmation that they were talking about needles used to give injections to patients.

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  145. I did that search and I don't see any evidence that the author was referring to needles used for injections. I saw people who cited that article discussing it, but they are making the same assumption you are. Explain to me why the author wouldn't have been explicit in what type of needle if it was indeed for medical use; wouldn't she have been crystal clear since the point of the article was to call into question MT's work? To create some level of scandal?

    To answer your question above, It would certainly give me pause and compel me to look deeper at her work. And I assume it would for you as well. So, take a deeper look-learn about the theology of suffering; learn about her faith and philosophy in order to enlighten yourself as to why she made the choices she did; try to find unbiased financial information on the Missionaries of Charity (unbiased=from people who don't hate the Church), etc.

    You are coming at this with a certain worldview (of course, we all do). To take an honest look at MT, one ought to try to see her work according to her worldview. Then perhaps even if you disagree, you could give a more honest assessment, perhaps something like, "She had good intentions, however I think her philosophy was disordered and led her to make harmful decisions" or something like that. Given the largely stellar reputation of MT by the vast majority of people across the world, I think it is owed to her.

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  146. Define "substandard care" in the Black Hole of Calcutta, Michelle. Gosh, I could argue that my local ER provides substandard care when I have to wait six hours to be seen.

    If an atheist ever did what Mother Teresa did? I would rejoice and praise her! If she did what what Mother Teresa did (and continues to do) and sacrificing all for it (to the point of never marrying, owning nothing but two saris (or three?), then I would say way to have moral authority. That's called walking the walk.

    If "someone said that she was refusing to use donations and was keeping an image of poverty at the expense of her patients", I'd say, "What does 'refusing to use donations' mean, exactly? What is the accusation there? Embezzlement?" I'd also ask, "What is an 'image of poverty' and how would living in poverty in solidarity with those she served be 'at the expense of her patients'? And I would question the use of the word "patients". Mother Teresa was not a doctor, not a social worker. She did not have "patients" nor "clients". She had brothers and sisters under one loving God who would have been far worse off if she had left them in the gutter to rot, like society had.

    Nothing is stopping you or any atheist from going there and doing it better. Oh, and many atheists did go and work with her. Some were so profoundly changed that they became Christians.

    Did you read the details of the "eyewitness accounts" I linked to? I read yours.

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  147. Complicated Life, from a very cursory Google search, it's obvious:

    "Today her sisters continue to reuse the same blunt dirty needles on their patients, over and over again, not because they can't afford clean ones, but because pain is good for the soul..."

    "The quality of care offered to terminally ill patients in the Homes for the Dying has been criticised in the medical press. The Lancet and the British Medical Journal reported the reuse of hypodermic needles, poor living conditions, including the use of cold baths for all patients, and an approach to illness and suffering that precluded the use of many elements of modern medical care, such as systematic diagnosis."

    To me, suffering is something to be avoided and alleviated, and any healthcare provider, at any level, that doesn't do everything in their power to ease the suffering of their patients is beyond cruel. I'm sure on some level, MT did have good intentions, but I think they were misguided to the point of doing harm instead of good.

    Question to you: if suffering is so good, do you ever take aspirin, or do you tough out a migraine? Do you take antibiotics to treat infections, or do you relish the pain? Do you actively seek it out, if suffering is an enlightening and empowering experience, as MT seems to have thought it was?

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  148. Complicated Life, you said it better than I could.

    I noticed that several of the atheists' articles and posts about Mother T are repeating some version of the story from that one ex-nun. Is that the only source here? Are there any independent corroborations? Or is it all extrapolated from her account?

    I agree with Complicated Life that if I were upset about dirty old medical needles being reused, I would have made that very clear in my article!

    I just need to see some sort of independent information on that.

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  149. The more I look into the charges, the more I wonder if there is any evidence to back this stuff up? Apparently, when Hitchens wrote his little book against Mother Teresa (Missionary Position), there were no footnotes or citations. Maybe someone can direct me to actual sources?

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  150. Question to you: if suffering is so good, do you ever take aspirin, or do you tough out a migraine? Do you take antibiotics to treat infections, or do you relish the pain? Do you actively seek it out, if suffering is an enlightening and empowering experience, as MT seems to have thought it was?

    Medicine is reasonable. Catholics use all western medicine has to offer to heal, alleviate, cure illness.
    Sometimes I personally choose to tough out a pain as an offering for someone else. Small sacrifice. We are not taught to seek pain for pain's sake.

    Further, everything we do should be an offering. Our work, our exercise, our leisure, our relationships. All of life.

    I'm going to look into this info you're purporting.
    And compare your angle to my findings.

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  151. First I'll answer your question: I hesitate to say "Suffering is good" because of the theological implications (suffering was not part of God's original plan, but a result of sin). But I will say that there are good fruits from suffering (my years of infertility taught me that first hand). And yes, I do take advantage of that which is available to me to alleviate my suffering. I don't actively seek it out nor do I seek to cause further suffering in others; I find that there's plenty in life without assistance from me. :)

    But in your question you reveal that you haven't made much headway to truly understand Mother Teresa's (Catholic) worldview. I get why some people may be scandalized if money went to opening new convents and increasing missionary work instead of heightening the level of medical care offered by the Homes for the Dying. I'm not scandalized by it and here is why:

    Mother Teresa's mission was one of love. Loving those that no one else would. It was not a medical mission. It was not a social work mission. It was one person, picking up a dying person off the street, putting ointment on a wound, and loving them until they passed away. And it grew. MT was trying to make sure no one died feeling alone and unloved on the street. She wasn't there to try to cure people's physical ailments. Sure, there were simple ways she could alleviate some physical suffering and that is good to do, but first and foremost she was there to bring spiritual healing and to prepare people for death. Hence the name: Homes for the Dying. I value that and so I'm not scandalized.

    Opening more convents so as to form more missionaries and increasing missionary work are worthy ways to spend donations. I would want my donations to go to that cause, more than I'd want them to go to better facilities. I believe in her mission and the spiritual good that she did/does, means more to me than any medical good she did or could have done.

    But I'm guessing you don't understand that. It's ok, we're coming from two different places. But it'd be worth it to you to try to understand.

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  152. Mother Teresa's mission was one of love. Loving those that no one else would. It was not a medical mission. It was not a social work mission. It was one person, picking up a dying person off the street, putting ointment on a wound, and loving them until they passed away. And it grew. MT was trying to make sure no one died feeling alone and unloved on the street. She wasn't there to try to cure people's physical ailments. Sure, there were simple ways she could alleviate some physical suffering and that is good to do, but first and foremost she was there to bring spiritual healing and to prepare people for death.

    This is why I am so glad that the Bubble is not my effort alone. This says what I should have said but didn't know how.

    I agree that if I was giving donations to Mother T (and I have), I would be perfectly satisfied with how she uses the money. It was not a donation to a hospital. (I could donate to hospitals or medical agencies if I wanted to.) It was a donation to help Mother Teresa and her nuns on their very spiritual, very beautiful mission. Malcolm Muggeridge, a British satirist and former agnostic, was moved to convert to Catholicism because of his time with Mother T. He wrote a book called "Something Beautiful For God". I have a book I am looking at on my shelf, with stories and photos of Mother's missions. It's called, "Works of Love are Works of Peace". Love is a choice to give one's entire self to another, no matter how unpleasant, no matter the cost, no matter the suffering. And she did it all for the love of Jesus, not for any other reason.

    And I'll end with more of Complicated Life's eloquence, since my brain is not working well today:

    I believe in her mission and the spiritual good that she did/does, means more to me than any medical good she did or could have done.

    But I'm guessing you don't understand that. It's ok, we're coming from two different places. But it'd be worth it to you to try to understand.


    Blessings!

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  153. Complicated Life, thanks for such a respectful and clear answer. I do agree we are coming from different places - I would probably pour all the money possible into improved care and facilities that could sustain themselves long after I had gone.

    Based on what I've read and seen, I'm not convinced that MT's mission did all it could or should have, or that the spiritual nature of the mission justified the medical abuses that occurred. This is something on which our opinions will differ - I understand that she's a symbol of Catholicism, and accounts that paint a significantly different portrait of her are not going to be easily accepted. But they should be given fair consideration (as should accounts that show her as compassionate), and I truly appreciate your explaining your position so well.

    I'll be following along, but probably not commenting anymore. This is the closest I think we'll get to mutual understanding, and I'd rather this end on a good note like this. :)

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  154. Michelle, just to clarify: Have you actually read the accounts of those who worked with her and had a very different take from the very few dissenting voices that we hear in the atheist sphere? Just wanting to make sure you really got a clear picture of who she was. I posted links above.

    And I do hope one day you will tackle the question I have often put forth, about the dignity of the "wretched" the poor and the dying. The second link describes the conditions of Calcutta well, and it's hard to read. I wish I could hear an atheist tell me of the redemption that could be found in such a place, under such conditions, and why those people have worth. Those are the real questions that philosophy and a search for truth should try to answer. They are deeply important questions, and not afterthoughts or questions to be avoided.

    Blessings and thanks for hanging in there!

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  155. Nubby said:
    Credentials don't make a person infallible, that's JoAnna's point, I believe...Logical holes exist and bad research exists. The intellectually elite in the world of academia aren't infallible.

    I work in academia, for a large (25,000+ students) public university, and I cannot agree with JoAnna and Nubby more. I used to respect and hold in esteem Ph.D.s and researchers. Then I got my job at the University of Bias and Brainwash with Public Funds.

    Since then (many years), I have seen the overwhelming, overt socio-political bias of the faculty, and staff, too, and, by default, administrators comprised of faculty and staff. Its existence cannot be ignored. On a regular basis, I hear faculty members turn most simple conversations into blaming/smearing anyone on the right for all the world's faults and evil. I am not exaggerating. The first few times I brushed it off until I realized that this was the norm.

    This is the bias that shapes most so-called teaching and research findings. I saw this first as staff, then as a master's student. Tragically, students often feel too intimated to question faculty teaching in class; such intimidation which is a failure of the First Amendment and the dialogue/exploration of various points of view, both about which I thought education was supposed to be.

    Having taken survey and research methods courses as part of my master's program from an individual who has done surveys and research professionally and who admitted more than once in class that he was a liberal, I laugh at most socio-political "research." Show me your findings, and then show me your sample, the questions, etc., and then I'll show you the built-in bias.

    There are some center and right-of-center voices in academia, but they are definitely the minority, as are the ones who do have a liberal bias, but keep it somewhat muted and offer a classroom with open dialogue. So sad.

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  156. Another thought, directed to no one in particular.

    I believe that only someone who has been unloved and alone and unwanted can understand the importance of Mother Teresa's mission. There are countless unloved and unwanted people in the world, rejected by all. Not by God, but by man. Mother Teresa ministered to those souls. It was a ministry that cannot be duplicated by any secular model.

    The greatest things Mother Teresa taught was not that we all have to go and do what she did, serving the loving the poorest of the poor (who loved her very dearly in return), but teaching us that the "poor" are all around us, and that true poverty is not material poverty but spiritual poverty. And that it is in our own homes where we must begin to love.

    I think I'm going to do a post on some of the quotes (the pure wisdom) of Mother Teresa. Her words are rich and deep and true. I never thought it possible that there could be a world without her (she was one of the three most famous people in the world when I was in my 20s: JPII, Diana, Mother T), but now when the younger generation hears of her, it's likely that they might only get the atheist view, as those critiques are the ones which pop up first on Google, and they are copious (reprinting from the same sources).

    What a tragedy!

    But with her level of humility, she probably wouldn't have minded so much. :)

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  157. Girl from New York, that is so sad, but so true. People on the left get upset when I say this, but the liberal arts/social sciences have become so tainted by the left's ideology that it's, in my mind, impossible to get a balanced education and find truth. Not true of all schools, of course, but the vast majority are just there to churn out leftist thinkers. Any conservative who sends a child off to college these days has to prepare them for the hostility and bias they will encounter. Higher education is not a friendly place for us.

    My kids' parochial school principle went to the local university for his masters in education about five years back. (His background was as a chemical engineer.) Huge public university, and yet his professors had never even heard of classical education methods or a classical curriculum! They had never heard of the trivium! He did a thesis on that subject and the professors were wowed and awed! They had never encountered such ideas and thought before. That is how far gone we are. It's like we've become culturally illiterate.

    But they did ask this as the final exam essay question: "Explain how you would gay the curriculum of a junior high science class."

    !!!

    I just have no words for how far education has plummeted from where we once were.

    You might enjoy these two past posts, which are relevant to your insightful comments:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/08/unpacking-liberalism-interview-with-my.html

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/11/theres-liberal-bubble-too.html

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  158. Leila, yes, I did read them. While they are different from what I've posted, they're addressing different things, and I don't think they discount the arguments put forth by Hitchens and others. I don't doubt that there's bias on both sides, but I think concrete allegations of refusing to use donations and providing unnecessarily poor medical care should not be taken lightly. If MT weren't Catholic, I'd be just as skeptical, so I assure you this isn't a matter of hating the Church!

    One day, we can talk about dignity. I don't think I'm up to it today, though, and it's not something I want to try to discuss when I'm very distracted by other things.

    Thanks for the discussion, as always. Hopefully at some point I will be less busy and we can pick up where we left off and delve into some of the more theoretical questions.

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  159. existenceandessence,

    I respectfully chuckle at this: "I would probably pour all the money possible into improved care and facilities that could sustain themselves long after I had gone."

    I only do so because of your desire to impact something that will sustain long after you are gone. We do the same, just with eternal souls. :)

    And it's that perspective that puts the medical/temporal element of MT's work in its proper place. The supernatural is more important than the natural. That which is immortal is more important than that which is mortal.

    I hope recognizing that worldview helps you to better understand the reasons MT did what she did, which would include allocation of money (if, indeed, she managed the accounts; I don't know how they do things).

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  160. To no one in particular. I found the controversy portion of the wiki article on the missionaries of charity sort of amusing. The "medical press" criticizing the missions for the quality of their care. They might as well criticize me for only bathing my newborn once this week. My home isn't a medical facility and neither were the Homes for the Dying (am I crazy, or is that obvious from the name?)

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  161. It is not enough merely to exist. It’s not enough to say “I’m earning enough to support my family. I do my work well. I’m a good father, husband, churchgoer.” That’s all very well, but you must do something more. Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man, even if it’s a little thing. Do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.
    Albert Schweitzer

    One of my favorite quotes, hanging in my stairwell. Re MT's Catholic outlook, I don't believe Albert was a Catholic, but he understood, and did.

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  162. SJG, are you the same SJG who was at DaTechGuy's blog calling Stacy Trasancos names? "Appalling" "ignorant" "bigoted" "judgemental" (horror!) "a cowardly little hypocrite" a "sad little woman" "serving her own ego, not God", etc?

    http://datechguyblog.com/2011/09/19/perez-hilton-vs-catholic-mom-stacy-trasancos/

    If so, you might want to reexamine your own Christian witness, friend. Your tactics for winning souls to Christ are well known now, but you might want to try reasoned debate instead, and also backing up your insults with at least a reference or two to actual Catholic teaching.

    If you are not the same SJG, then please forgive my mistake.

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  163. SJG -

    JoAnn -- which teaching don't I believe?

    The one about gay marriage or any imitation thereof (i.e., civil unions) being intrinsically wrong.

    The CDF issued a document some time ago called "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons."

    The conclusion:

    The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

    John Paul II signed off on this document. This is binding Catholic teaching, and you are dissenting from it.

    Please, take the time to actually learn the faith you profess. Learn the whole Truth of Catholicism instead of the pale, inferior imitation to which you currently adhere.

    If you think the Church is "wrong," then I must wonder why you are Catholic at all. If the Church is wrong about this, then what reason do you have to believe She is right about anything else? When I concluded that my old denomination (ELCA) was wrong, I left it; I didn't stay within the faith that I believed taught error. It made no logical sense to adhere to a faith that taught error. Why would you want to do the same? I'm not encouraging you to leave the Church, but I'm asking you to take a look at your reasons for being Catholic. You claim you're Catholic because "the Church is the fullest embodiment of Truth here on earth," yet you criticize and dissent from Her teachings.

    If the Church is the fullest embodiment of Truth, why do you think She is so wrong? Again, it's simply not logical.

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  164. Do Not Be Anxious,
    You are right. Albert Einstein was a Jew. But he had this to say about the Catholic Church:
    "Only the Catholic Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign... I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly." Albert Einstein, Time Magazine, 1940

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  165. Michelle,

    When MT set out on her mission to help the poorest of the poor, her mission was not "of this world". As Jesus said, "I am not of this world. If I were of this world, the world would love me. But as it is the world hates me..."

    Mother Teresa's main concern focused on winning souls to Christ. The bigger picture, if you will. She dedicated herself to doing it, and she did it with very little funds from the very beginning. When she got permission to do it from her superiors, surely she vowed that she needed very little financial resources...that she would show the poor love and win over hearts for God. When her plan proved successful, perhaps she felt that if she used the donations to build fancy hospitals or halfway houses for the poor, or to buy all sorts of medical supplies or high-tech machinery, it would pervert her mission and draw corruption and greed. Money corrupts people, and perhaps MT knew this. Also, please keep in mind that she worked FOR THE CHURCH. So when funds came in, they were not hers to spend, but they belonged properly to the Church.

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  166. Leila, first thanks for saying I am a nice guy. Second I apologize if you think I was calling you a bigot. I am merely pointing out if you go by the dictionary meaning of bigot then indeed some of your beliefs are bigoted. And as I stated after almost everyone is bigoted in some way.

    I love the wonderful tangents that seem to go one here. I don't think anyone can say what Mother Teresa accomplished is bad. She did wonderful things. And guess what, there are many many folks of all walks of life who do the same. They just don't get the publicity. But now Nubby comes along and says MT's main concern focused on winning souls for christ. Hmmm, interesting. See I would be much happier if MT had been a little more about helping the poor people then having an ulterior motive. Just how I see it.

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  167. and I need some clarification. God gave you free will correct? Yet one cannot be truly catholic and not believe everything the church does and says? So where does the free will come in to play? If you cannot see things differently does this not mean you blindly follow?

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  168. and c'mon folks, questions don't get answered on both sides. Some are probably missed, but I think a fair amount are unanswered because the answer is counter to your beliefs.

    I will ask what exactly is natural law? I have looked it up, but I just don't really understand it. It is not natural, but rather man made. Or even religious made.

    another question. did catholic doctrine specifically mention gay marriage and that no homosexual union can be recognized legally?

    and ivf? Is that forbidden for 2000 years?

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  169. For the record, I had looked into the Mother Theresa business before, and came to the conclusion that Mother Theresa, although pure in spirit, and dedicated to seeing the Jesus in every person and serving them with dignity, became overwhelmed with her own success. I don't really fault her. I fault the overseers of her organization in the Catholic Church. I wish they had looked into her finances more deeply and provided her direction. The fact is, that many people who donated substantial sums to her, thought the money was directly going to serve the health needs of the poor and destitute. They did not realize that much of it was sitting in a vault

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  170. I would like to second this statement: "The greatest things Mother Teresa taught was not that we all have to go and do what she did, serving the loving the poorest of the poor (who loved her very dearly in return), but teaching us that the "poor" are all around us, and that true poverty is not material poverty but spiritual poverty. And that it is in our own homes where we must begin to love. "

    I was thinking of it, as some people I know were recently laughing and aghast at a video on the Internet called "The People of Walmart". I have never seen this, but the way they were talking, it struck me as a horrible, mean-spirited attack. Who would ever create such a thing? One of the transformations within me in the past few years, is that I have come to see that my own former need to be around the savvy, the well-groomed, the powerful, has been superseded by my joy at going to places such as Walmart and trying to bring a smile to people's face who seem downtrodden, merely by attempting to have a positive exchange. It takes so little, but if you try, you can easily find true beauty in everyone. Once you make that connection with a person, it fills your soul with joy.

    BTW....I shop at Walmart, and am glad for the cheaper prices, although I understand there is controversy about some of their practices.

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  171. Mary, can you cite sources and evidence for me of where the money went, and why it was malfeasance? I'm very confused by what the accusations are. I have donated to her sisters, and I am not troubled by the "charges". But I am still not sure what the charges are and who is levying them? Any citations would be most appreciated. Thanks!

    alan, for some reason your comments are not coming into my email inbox. If I skip something, forgive me.

    First, I can't launch into a natural law explanation now, since I'm getting ready for mass. Second, if you have looked up natural law and still don't understand, then I am not sure what to say? Natural law is the universal moral law that is written on our hearts. If you want to read more about it, try Professor Budziszewski's works. He was a very staunch atheist, exactly where many of my readers were. He now writes extensively on the natural law. I recommend his book, The Line Through the Heart:

    http://www.amazon.com/Line-Through-Heart-Natural-Contradiction/dp/1610170032/ref=pd_sim_b7

    Also, C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man

    IVF could not have been condemned, as it did not exist! But it is condemned as it goes against the truth and meaning of human sexuality. It is called development of doctrine, and it's the same reason that using a nuclear bomb was not condemned biblically. There were not nukes back then. But the principles in the moral law are enough for any situation which may arise in future ages. That is the role of the Magisterium. The prohibition on IVF and human cloning, etc. are in line with the beauty of the truth and meaning of marriage and sexuality from the beginning.

    As for homosexual acts, they have been condemned as an abomination since the beginning, including in Judaism for millennia before that. There is no need to explain why sinful abominable acts cannot be called "holy" or acceptable in later generations. Objectively sinful acts will always be sinful acts. No changes there.

    Free will means we can choose to accept or reject the good. That is your right and my right. If you want to choose evil over good, God will not stop you. If he dictated your actions for you, you would be a robot or His slave. God is a gentleman. He doesn't force your will or mine. He wants us to love freely, or it's not love.

    By the way, we are bound to believe all that is taught about faith and morals (the deposit of faith, which Jesus left us, through the Apostles, and which has not changed). We are free to disagree on discipline, or on anything else.

    I wrote about Catholic freedom, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/catholic-freedom-of-choice-is-freedom.html

    Blessings!

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  172. It takes so little, but if you try, you can easily find true beauty in everyone. Once you make that connection with a person, it fills your soul with joy.

    Amen to that, Mary!

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  173. alan, you may be interested in today's post, from a priest. He references natural law and the sense of sin.

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  174. "But now Nubby comes along and says MT's main concern focused on winning souls for christ." Alan says.

    ?

    You're quoting the wrong lady, Alan. I didn't say this.

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  175. God gave you free will correct? Yet one cannot be truly catholic and not believe everything the church does and says? So where does the free will come in to play? If you cannot see things differently does this not mean you blindly follow?

    You still have a choice to follow the Church. This is exercising free will. It doesn't mean we don't think. Quite the opposite. If we didn't have free will, we wouldn't have the ability to choose whether to follow or not.

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  176. And a quick follow up to that, Alan. Not "seeing things differently" misses the mark in correlation to free will. If a person calls herself Catholic and doesn't adhere or submit to Church teaching as the highest and healthiest authority, then she's not following obediently and therefore putting herself in spiritual danger (thankfully there's Confession and repentance).

    Cherry picking doctrines doesn't negate free will. A person can ignore God all day, but it doesn't mean she's/he's right in doing so. Free will.

    If a person wants to "see things differently", meaning they don't accept all of Church doctrine and therefore won't submit their will, then she/he is deceiving herself/himself.

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  177. I used my freewill to become Catholic. I choose to believe and follow all that She professes because I have found that is how to live life abundantly and to the fullest. I chose to be Catholic and continue to be because it is where I'm most at peace. And yes there are many who pick and choose what they will follow in the Church because they too have free will. I know there was a time when I did that too but I was not at peace with myself. It is actually very liberating to follow all that she teaches. So freewill doesn't go away just because we're Catholic. It just that many of us who are devout have decided that life is more abundant and joyful and peaceful when we do.

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  178. And regarding MT, where's that saying about walking a mile in someone else's shoes? It's very easy to arm chair criticize how you'd do things differently but talk to me after you go to Calcutta and have a go at what she did and tell me then if you did everything you could. It's the height of arrogance to say "well if I had a million dollars, I'd do x..."
    MT started with NOTHING. Either way, she's human. She wasn't perfect, but are you prepared to live by the same standard of perfection that you expected her to live up to?

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  179. I'm not getting back into the discussion because I don't have much time to follow through, but I just want to ask -

    Why are so many of you so quick to say that I can't judge if I haven't been in someone's exact situation?

    Do you withhold judgment of others (liberals, atheists, politicians, etc) whose decisions you disagree with because you couldn't possibly fully understand their situation?

    I didn't think so.

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  180. Michelle, I think the issue is, again, what was Mother Teresa's sin? That you or others don't like how she spent the money or at what rate? I believe that is a matter of prudential judgement, not sin. So, what do we do in that case, if we disagree with her? I still don't quite get what the malfeasance is, or what the issue is. I am fine with how she and her sisters are running their homes/charities. I am fine that they have solvency. I don't have any evidence that they have embezzled or misappropriated any funds. So, I am still unclear what the problem is?

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  181. Do you withhold judgment of others (liberals, atheists, politicians, etc) whose decisions you disagree with because you couldn't possibly fully understand their situation?

    I didn't think so.
    LOL, thanks for having that all figured out for us and answering on our behalf. ;-)

    Now, if you don't mind me answering for myself, I try not judge based off of emotion, hearsay, rumors ect. I can't say I'm never guilty of that but I've found I usually get into hot water when I let my emotions, feelings and bias run away with me. So just because I don't like someone's politics doesn't mean I'm going to assume they committed a crime unless there's enough evidence to convict them. And in this case against MT, like Leila asked, what are the charges?

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  182. Leila and others,
    Just one source, although previously, I had read several, alluded to the fact that the Missionaries of Charity does not disclose their financial information, (a huge problem for any charity), but that when they were audited by the UK for part of their work, it was revealed that only a small fraction of their money went to running their operation; the rest was sent to the Vatican.
    http://business.in.com/article/on-assignment/mother-teresas-legacy-is-under-a-cloud/15932/3

    I think it is actually part of one's Christian duty to fully investigate the financials of any charity to which one donates money. This holds them accountable, and helps them stay on the straight and narrow. Heck, even the World Wildlife Fund and Catholic Charities have had their own problems with misappropriated funds.

    I personally would not give money to an organization that cannot be vetted by CharityNavigator or some such watchdog group.

    Her whole concept that suffering brings one closer to God, is understandably, hard for any non-Catholic to grasp. I understand her thinking, but I am wary, as it seems like an ideology ripe for abuse. I do find it odd that she only allowed primitive care for her patients, while seeking first-class cardiac intervention in the West for herself.

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  183. Typing fast while baby is calm... :)

    First, the Missionaries of Charity are not a charity! They are a religious order with an apostolate (mission I suppose) to serve the poor. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Second, Mother Teresa didn't have "patients" as she didn't run a medical clinic. It would probably be more accurate to say she had residents, who stayed at her Home for the Dying.

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  184. hmm another post gone walkabout
    Yes Nubby I am sorry it was Manda that said it, not you.

    And maybe all you sinning catholics should work on your sins before you start on others. You all say you sin, so until you cease sinning why is it acceptable for you to tell me to live a chaste life? And fyi that is a rhetorical question, it does not need an answer.

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  185. and Leila I do indeed understand the concept of natural law. Unfortunately there is nothing "natural" about it nor is it "law"
    It is a series of doctrines decided by groups of people that some will believe and some wont.
    I will try to read those books, but mostly for books I like murder mysteries. And strangely some of my favorites are by a christian author. I like that there is not so much sex in them.

    and I can use my free will to "choose good or evil" LOL. Sometimes you just crack me up. I guess now practicing homosexuals are evil. Oh my.

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  186. @ just another suburban mom
    you should definitely unfriend the facebook friend. He does not need you there judging him, and in my opinion is probably better off without you as a "friend". I often think about unfriending those who post religious notes on their facebook status. But then I realize that is kinda ignorant to delete someone who was my friend for a reason just because I don't agree with what they say.

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  187. alan, you are starting to be a little snarky here. I will clarify terminology for you: "Evil" and "wrong" are the same thing in theological terms. So, all sin is "evil". We are speaking theologically. And yes, homosexual acts are wrong, i.e, evil.

    There is also a difference between mortal sin (serious sin) and venial sin (less serious sin, which does not break our friendship with God). Anyone, you, me, anyone, who is guilty of mortal sin is worthy of hell. So, hopefully all the Catholic here have gone to confession for any mortal sins or they are in some trouble! We don't condemn your soul, because we don't know your heart or your culpability, but we certainly can say that, objectively, all sexual sins are serious, mortal sins. Sorry if you don't like that. I didn't either when I was in mortal sin. I hope to never be in mortal sin again, but thank God for the grace of a sacramental confession!

    By the way, natural law is not "made up" by anyone. It's what everyone knows in their heart of hearts and in their deep conscience. We can surely block it out, of course, due to sin and such.

    Suburban mom should keep all the fb friends she wants, by the way. :)

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  188. I wrote on mortal and venial sin here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/mortal-sin-and-venial-sin.html

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  189. And maybe all you sinning catholics should work on your sins before you start on others. You all say you sin, so until you cease sinning why is it acceptable for you to tell me to live a chaste life? And fyi that is a rhetorical question, it does not need an answer.

    Actually, it's a valid question and does need an answer, for the sake of understanding.
    Personally, I do work on my sins, if by that you mean practice more virtue and try to eradicate any sin. I frequent the sacrament of Confession for that very reason.

    As a Catholic, it is a necessity that I examine my conscience for any sin I have done either by omission or commission. Daily, I need to call to mind anything I may have done that offends God (for me, that failure is daily). When I am being a snot-nose jerk, I need to confess that I've been that.
    When I'm impatient or lack love, I have to call it rightly and not excuse myself. If someone calls me on it, they're most likely correct.

    Here's the rub: I'm not proud of any personal fault, in fact, it is disgusting to me since I've been practicing my faith for years that though I know better, I don't always do better. I cannot excuse away my behavior because I'm striving for Christ and I have to honor that in all areas of my life.
    But the Catholic life is one of joy and virtue, and the glorious joy in it all is that when I have sinned or hurt someone, there is redemption and there is repentance. That freedom is there. Boundless mercy. I am called to rise above my sin, and there's always that chance after chance at the throne of Mercy. Life without God doesn't necessarily offer that.

    Speaking to your point, it doesn't matter if I'm the worst sinner or greatest saint, it's acceptable for me (even a Christian calling) to point anyone and everyone toward a virtuous life. This is often done without heavy conversations, or preaching, or most of what people read in comment boxes. It's done through the example of my relationships, to strangers and to friends. As wretched as I may be, it's my Catholic calling to share my faith, to do my best, and to acknowledge humbly when I've behaved wrongly.

    Let me take this moment to apologize to anyone I've offended through my words, Gwen for one.

    Alan, we don't discuss sin to lord it over people. We are Catholics, we are well aware of the scum in our own souls, and yet we also know the joy and true freedom that comes through a dedicated life for Christ, as dimly or as brilliantly that we may be shining for Him at any given moment or in any given situation. "To whom much is given, much is required." -- Luke 12:48

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  190. @ just another suburban mom
    you should definitely unfriend the facebook friend. He does not need you there judging him, and in my opinion is probably better off without you as a "friend". I often think about unfriending those who post religious notes on their facebook status. But then I realize that is kinda ignorant to delete someone who was my friend for a reason just because I don't agree with what they say.


    Alan, how am I "judging" him? I already knew he was gay even before I added him on Facebook so how is me not agreeing with changing the definition of marriage judging him? The group that he posted the billboard picture from is calling those of us who don't believe in changing the many a millennium old definition of marriage and calling us bigots and homophobic so who's really judging?

    And Alan,
    I'm have a few gay Facebook friends. The guy that posted the sign is more of an acquaintance and business associate. He's a talented designer who's work I've always admire.
    If you feel the need to unfriend someone who's "openly" religious that's your choice. I can be friends with someone even if I don't agree with everything they do or believe in and I'd hope they'd offer me the same.

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  191. and I can use my free will to "choose good or evil" LOL. Sometimes you just crack me up. I guess now practicing homosexuals are evil.


    You can choose good or evil, yes. But the last sentence here is incorrect. Catholicism doesn't teach that people are evil. Behaviors/actions and motives are evil, not people in and of themselves. Major difference.


    Do you not believe that choices can cause harm to yourself or others?

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  192. Mary, I read the article. It is the same few folks who are the critics, and that is fine, but they seem to be the same few names.

    I have no problem with the criticism of needing to use more modern techniques for hygiene, etc. That would be a good move, indeed and it looks like they are doing so. But when one supporter notes that MT did not found a hospital and did not intend it to be a hospital, the critic says, "Well then start a hospital!" But that was not MT's mission nor the charism of her order. The Church runs untold numbers of hospitals all over the world, but the Missionaries of Charity do not have that as their particular charism. So, it's fundamentally a misunderstanding of what the Church does, what orders are and do, and what the faithful expect. I am fine with giving money to the MC's and if they send some of it to the Vatican (which is a huge charity in itself) then I am fine with that, too. But I am a Catholic. I love the Church and I know the good she does on all levels.

    I also know that if I wanted to police every dollar to make sure that my donation is going only to a specific project here or there, then I would figure out a way to make that happen. Otherwise, I trust that my heart was in the right place and God knows that, and I have a reasonable assurance that no one is embezzling the money. If someone is misusing funds (I have not seen any allegation yet of any malfeasance?), then the person misusing the funds are culpable for that sin. It is definitely up to each donor to decide what is comfortable for him or her, and then donate to a charity or an order whom they trust. No one is forcing donations and we are free not to donate if we are suspicious of the operations.

    Still and all, I don't see the scandal. I do see a lot of misunderstanding about what an order is and what MT's charism is.

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  193. Leila I am glad you called me out for being "a little snarky". Now perhaps you should go back and critique some catholics for being "a little snarky". I can't imagine you don't see snarky comments from some of the catholics. Should you need examples go to Stacy's post about the park and the homo's making "doe eyes", or I think maybe your post about "twuu wuv" or I think Marie with her "widdle". I think should you search you might find "snarky" comments from Nubby and Manda as well. So please don't call me out unless you will also call them out. I think I have been very respectful to all here and I should expect the same.

    I find it interesting that you feel natural law is what is in everyones heart, but they can ignore it. I just cannot see how you know this to be true. Because it isn't true. It cannot be proven to be true.

    We have discussed nature, for me what occurs in nature is natural, that is the only way anything can be natural. Yes humans have free will, animals do not. We have the power to think and use rational thought to decide what is right and wrong.

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  194. This may well belong on the current post instead of this one, but I am interested to get Mary's take on this. And alan's, and Zach's or anyone else:

    http://krestaintheafternoon.blogspot.com/2011/09/gays-gone-wild.html

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  195. @ just another suburban mom
    I think if you read my last line you would see that I don't feel the need to unfriend people who post about god. I don't agree with them but I think it is their right to post what they want. Some are some of my husbands relatives whom I have never met, but as they love him they appreciate me.

    I guess I think you are judging him because you question if you should unfriend him because of something he posted on his facebook. You know he is gay, his posting that should not be a surprise to you, nor should you be offended by it. Am I judging those who keep posting about how god should be mentioned in schools? Yeah in the immediate moment I am, but then rational thought takes over and I realize it is just their opinion and I get over it.

    I wish we could stop using the word bigot. Just like we are all sinners we too are all bigots.

    I hope this makes sense now?

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  196. Alan,
    here's the rub. I'm offended by what he posted because the group he posted it from is basically saying if we don't agree with them then we're bigots and homophobic. That's why I'm offended. I'm not offended that he wants to change the definition of marriage. He's openly gay and is in a relationship so I can deduce that he likes the idea of changing the definition of marriage.
    When New York passed that law legalizing gay marriage, my gay friends posted about how happy they were about it. That didn't offend me. I don't agree with them but I don't take it personally that they're happy about legalizing gay marriage. I do take it personally when it's implied or flat out stated that because of my beliefs on the definition of marriage, I'm a bigot and homophobic.
    On Facebook I am openly Catholic so they can probably deduce that I may not agree with gay marriage. I may post links that share my Catholic faith in a positive way but I try to stay out of the political arena especially if it says anything disparagingly against another group.

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