Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Worcester Diocese should have held onto this faithful priest

Some years ago, a faithful and dedicated priest decided to leave the Diocese of Worcester and become a Chaplain for the United States Army.  During a conversation back in 2000, this priest-friend told me that he had had enough of the nonsense within the diocese.  This was after he presided over a graveside service for my father.

This same faithful priest has a letter in this week's "Catholic" [when they feel like it] Free Press.  As usual, it is an excellent letter.  But then, this priest reads the life of Jesus Christ.  The letter is entitled  "Choose life and love, not moral decay."  Fr. Anthony Kazarnowicz writes:

"According to a survey (CFP, June 1), 83% of Catholics consider it 'morally acceptable' to use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, 'despite church teachings to the contrary.'  The Church teaches that God designed sex for bonding between a husband and wife and for procreation.  In deciding for ourselves that it is 'morally acceptable' to unnaturally close sex to life, we have made ourselves (not God, or those whom Jesus placed in authority over us) the final arbiters of what is good and evil.  It's Satan's temptation to Adam and Eve all over again.

Next, we judged it 'morally acceptable' to separate sex from marriage.  So now, we have rampant sexual promiscuity, cohabitation before marriage and women treated as sex objects.  A pleasure-seeking 'Me Generation' was born.  Dads had live-in girlfriends; moms, live-in boyfriends.

With this denial of moral wrongdoing came the corresponding denial of sin and even a loss of a sense of sin.  Sacramental confessions dwindled.  However, divorces rose to 50% for first marriages, 65% for second marriages and higher for third marriages.

According to the survey, 53% of Catholics favor same-sex 'marriage.'  Heterosexuals who have lifeless sex are not likely to condemn lifeless homosexual sex.  Though homosexual sex is indeed unnatural, there is something even more unnatural - mothers killing their own babies by abortion - 'morally acceptable' to 35% of Catholics.

Before contraception, families were large.  But, children knew right from wrong, were disciplined, respected authority and learned sacrifice.  Families prayed together.  Confessions thrived; divorces were rare.  Most couples waited until marriage before having sex.  Parents accepted children as God's gift. Womanhood and motherhood were cherished.  Vocations to the priesthood and religious life flourished.

Contrasted are a culture of moral decay after contraception and a culture of life and love before contraception.  I pray all Catholics choose life and love."

Sadly, the Worcester Diocese has not always opted for a culture of life and love.  Back in March, I examined an article published in the dissent-friendly diocesan newspaper and written by Father John Catoir, a cleric who also has difficulty telling the truth.  This article was entitled "Birth Control Revisited."  And it was Father Catoir's assertion, while promoting a subjectivist conscience, that the Church's teaching regarding artificial contraception is "beyond the strength" of many Catholics. 

So much for the Worcester Diocese choosing a culture of life and love.

In a talk entitled "Legalism, Moral Truth and Pastoral Practice" given at a 1990 symposium in Philadelphia, Dr. Germain Grisez explained to those present that, "Theologians and pastors who dissent from received Catholic teaching think they are rejecting legalism because they set aside what they think are mere rules in favor of what they feel are more reasonable standards. Their views are thoroughly imbued with legalism, however. For dissenters think of valid moral norms as rules formulated to protect relevant values. Some even make their legalism explicit by denying that there is any necessary connection between moral goodness (which they restrict to the transcendental level of a love with no specific content) and right action (which they isolate at the categorical level of inner-worldly behavior). But whether their legalism is explicit or not, all the dissenters hold that specific moral norms admit exceptions whenever, all things considered, making an exception seems the best - or least bad - thing to do. Most dissenters also think that specific moral norms that were valid in times past can be inappropriate today, and so they regard the Church’s contested moral teachings as outdated rules that the Church should change."

Dr. Grisez reminded his listeners at the Philadelphia symposium, "During the twentieth century, pastoral treatment of repetitious sins through weakness - especially masturbation, homosexual behavior, premarital sex play and contraception within marriage - grew increasingly mild. Pastors correctly recognized that weakness and immaturity can lessen such sins’ malice. Thinking legalistically, they did not pay enough attention to the sins’ inherent badness and harmfulness, and they developed the idea that people can freely choose to do something that they regard as a grave matter without committing a mortal sin. This idea presupposes that in making choices people are not responsible precisely for choosing what they choose. That presupposition makes sense within a legalistic framework, because lawgivers can take into account mitigating factors and limit legal culpability. But it makes no sense for morality correctly understood, because moral responsibility in itself is not something attached to moral acts but simply is moral agents’ self-determination in making free choices.

Repetitious sinners through weakness also were handicapped by their own legalism. Not seeing the inherent badness of their sins, they felt that they were only violating inscrutable rules. When temptation grew strong, they had little motive to resist, especially because they could easily go to confession and have the violation fixed. Beginning on Saturday they were holy; by Friday they were again sinners. This cyclic sanctity robbed many people’s lives of Christian dynamism and contributed to the dry rot in the Church that became manifest in the 1960s, when the waves of sexual permissiveness battered her."

Dr. Grisez went on to explain that, "Pastors free of legalism will teach the faithful how sin makes moral requirements seem to be alien impositions, help them see through this illusion, and encourage them to look forward to and experience the freedom of God’s children, who rejoice in the fruit of the Spirit and no longer experience the constraint of law..They will explain that while one sometimes must choose contrary to positive laws and cannot always meet their requirements, one always can choose in truth and abide in love. They will acknowledge the paradox of freedom - that we seem unable to resist freely choosing to sin - the paradox that Saint Paul neatly formulates: ‘I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate’ (Romans 7:15). But they also will proclaim the liberating power of grace, and help the faithful learn by experience that when one comes to understand the inherent evil of sin and intrinsic beauty of goodness, enjoys the support of a community of faith whose members bear one another’s burdens, begs God for His help, and confidently expects it, then the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead raises him from his sins, and he discovers that with the Spirit’s grace one can consistently resist sin and choose life."

We would have more vocations to the priesthood in the Worcester Diocese if young men witnessed fidelity to the magisterial teaching of the Church from pastors [not to mention the diocesan newspaper] and if orthodox candidates were not excluded because of their commitment to the Church's authentic teaching, especially in the area of sexual morality.

I should know.  I'm one of the excluded.


OurLadyCzestochowa said...

Father Tony was a true gift to our parish (Our Lady of Czestochowa) and to this diocese. His leaving represented a real loss. You know, the CFP keeps droning on and on about the four new priests but we just lost four more due to retirement. I count that as a loss of 3. But then, I can do basic math.

Rather than discouraging vocations such as yours, we should be welcoming and promoting vocations. But that too requires love. And that is in short supply here. Even if we do give it much lip service.

TfromWorcester said...

I gave up on the CFP. Reading it would induce nausea.

jac said...

In my opinion there are not two standards regarding the contraception in the catholic Church, but three. You listed the 1st and 2nd ones:
- The Pope's standard (Humanae vitae encyclical)
- The more laxist priest's standard, according to the human weakness: "In that matter, follow your own conscience"
- The faithful's standard: "The contraception is a private issue that nobody (neither the Church, nor the Pope) but only the spouses have the right to impose on themselves".
I was awfully apalled in discussing the matter with my brother and his wife since they looked to support the 3rd standard. Useless to say, the 3 kids they have no longer go to mass since years and are living in promiscuous sex.

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