Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Father Thomas Massaro, S.J. and the Charter for Compassion: Breaking down dogma

Remember Father Thomas Massaro? The professor of moral theology at Boston College who appeared as a guest speaker at Father Bryan Hehir's Social Justice Conference last year?  In a previous post, I detailed how Fr. Massaro is a member of the Cambridge Peace Commission, an organization intimately linked with the GLBT agenda.

Fr. Massaro is now promoting the "Charter for Compassion," which is described as "..a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national difference" which is "supported by leading thinkers from many traditions."  In a review of Karen Armstrong's book entitled, "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life," which appeared in America Magazine [see here], Fr. Massaro writes, "..nothing could be more important than Armstrong's agenda to 'retrain our responses and form mental habits that are kinder, gentler, and less fearful of others.'  All people of good will and open minds will admire the Charter for Compassion and its promotion of more constructive patterns of social behavior."

The problem?  The Charter for Compassion is an assault on dogma.  It reads:

"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

"New Church" Catholics who have embraced the tenets of Modernism and who desire to create a new humanitarian religion and a church made in their own image and likeness view the Church founded by Christ as "too dogmatic," "authoritarian," "rigid," "legalistic," "intolerant," "Medeival" and "triumphant."  Such modern-day Judases within the Mystical Body of Christ hurl these snide slogans against the Church because they have lost the faith and cannot steel themselves to admit it.  Their hatred of dogma is most significant.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen explains in his essay entitled "The sense of sin":  "It may be interesting to inquire at this point why the modern world has lost its sense of sin. It should be immediately evident that it is the obvious consequence of the loss of the value of man. Under traditional Christianity, a man was a theological creature, an adopted son of God and a member of the Mystical Body of Christ; in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries man became a philosophical thing bound to God by some vague ties of creaturehood. But man today is only a biological phenomenon with no other destiny than that of the worm he crushes under his heel. Once one loses hold on the primary dogma that man has a moral end, and that his actions, thoughts, and words in this life are all registered in the Book of Life, and therefore will one day determine his eternal destiny, sin becomes meaningless. The modern mind has forgotten the dogma of man, and hence cannot avoid forgetting the morals of man, for one is the corrollary of the other. Deny that God is interested in the behavior of men and you immediately create a society in which man is uninterested in the behavior of his fellow man."

In his book Wrath of God: The Days of the Antichrist, Fr. Fanzaga explains that, "...he [Robert Hugh Benson] also warns of a great danger for the Church which has to do with the 'great seduction' - the 'great prostitute' the Book of the Apocalypse calls it - that is, humanitarian religion. Only the Church, reduced to a tiny flock will resist. The Church will be tempted to follow the path of humanitarianism which would reduce Christianity to a form of humanism in which Christ is regarded merely as a man - although the greatest man ever born...At the same time, Benson foresaw that the tiny flock - of Paul VI - would resist the reduction of Christianity to humanitarian religion and that it would be branded a public enemy of the people and of progress. It would be accused of being out of step with the times and of belonging to the Middle Ages. Thus, Benson has prophesied [in his book The Lord of the World] both the seduction and the persecution of those who would uphold the supernatural dimension of Christianity." (Fr. Livio Fanzaga, Wrath of God: The Days of the Antichrist, p. 128).


Paul Anthony Melanson said...

I am reminded of what Dorothy Sayers wrote in her classic Creed or Chaos:

"Christ, in His Divine innocence, said to the Woman of Samaria, 'Ye worship ye know not what' — being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshipping. He thus showed Himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: 'Away with the tendentious complexities of dogma — let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!' The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular." (Creed or Chaos?, 19)

Hence the disintegration of the liberal Christian denominations which we are witnessing today.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Fr. Massaro asserts that all people of "good will" and "open minds" will embrace the Charter for Compassion. Since he is promoting the Charter for Compassion, a charter which seeks to break down dogma, he must believe that dogma stands in the way of an authentic compassion and of progress with regard to the goal of living the Golden Rule.

It was G.K. Chesterton who said that, "Whether the human mind can advance or not, is a question too little discussed, for nothing can be more dangerous than to found our social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated. But if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there has been in the past, or will be in the future, such a thing as a growth or improvement of the human mind itself, there still remains a very sharp objection to be raised against the modern version of that improvement. The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded."

Ellen Wironken said...

It's easy to see why Father Massaro and others are so anxious to rid the world of dogma and advance their own peculiar notion of "compassion." Especially given Father's involvement with the Cambridge Peace Commission.

Read this webpage to get an idea of what these people mean by "compassion":

Nowhere does this website acknowledge that true compassion is connected with offering moral truths.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Most often, when theological liberals begin to employ words such as "compassion" and "diversity," you can be sure that they're probably advancing the homosexual agenda.

As I've explained in a previous post, "..while it is true that everything must be done to help sinners, this cannot include helping them to sin or to remain in sin. Because of human frailty, every sinner deserves both pity and compassion. However, vice and sin must be excluded from this compassion. This because sin can never be the proper object of compassion. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 1).

It is a false compassion which supplies the sinner with the means to remain attached to sin. Such 'compassion' provides an assistance (whether material or moral) which actually enables the sinner to remain firmly attached to his evil ways. By contrast, true compassion leads the sinner away from vice and back to virtue. As Thomas Aquinas explains:

"We love sinners out of charity, not so as to will what they will, or to rejoice in what gives them joy, but so as to make them will what we will, and rejoice in what rejoices us. Hence it is written: 'They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.6, ad 4, citing Jeremiah 15:19).

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that the sentiment of compassion only becomes a virtue when it is guided by reason, since "it is essential to human virtue that the movements of the soul should be regulated by reason." (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, c.3). Without such regulation, compassion is merely a passion. A false compassion is a compassion not regulated and tempered by reason and is, therefore, a potentially dangerous inclination. This because it is subject to favoring not only that which is good but also that which is evil (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 3).

An authentic compassion always stems from charity. True compassion is an effect of charity (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.3, ad 3). But it must be remembered that the object of this virtue is God, whose love extends to His creatures. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.3). Therefore, the virtue of compassion seeks to bring God to the one who suffers so that he may thereby participate in the infinite love of God. As St. Augustine explains:

"'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Now, you love yourself suitably when you love God better than yourself. What, then, you aim at in yourself you must aim at in your neighbor, namely, that he may love God with a perfect affection." (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49, which may be found here.

Charter for Compassion or Charter for Sin?

Derek said...

Fr. Massaro is not alone in promoting the "Charter for Compassion." The Bilerico Project, a radical homosexual activist organization, it at their website. Go here:

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