Tuesday, 15 December

22:06

A non-magisterial magisterial statement? [In the Light of the Law]

Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, is not something, I suggest, that can be switched on and off. Magisterium is either, according to objective (not subjective) criteria, engaged, or it isn’t. There are, of course, various degrees of magisterial authority in the Church and, yes, most folks hearing the word “magisterium” immediately, but usually wrongly, think that some grand ecclesiastical pronouncement is in the offing. But when popes and bishops publicly address themselves to matters of faith and morals, they are, I think, engaged in a magisterial act. A small act, usually, but nevertheless a real one. Protestations to the contrary—including treating magisterial acts as if their character were a matter of specific intentionality—do not change that fact.

Consider two scenarios.

First, some of Pope Francis’ unscripted remarks, e.g. his homilies during daily Mass, have caused confusion for the faithful. Early on, his spokesman, poor Fr. Lombardi, tried to steer controversial papal remarks into less problematic phrasings. Lombardi’s next step (well, after he declared he would no longer comment on unscripted papal remarks—a resolve that lasted a few days, as I recall) was to announce that Francis’ unscripted remarks were not part of the Church’s magisterium.

Excuse me?

Vatican press reps do not get to define what the “magisterium” of the Church is or what constitutes a “magisterial” act. Popes and bishops, addressing faith and morals, in public statements made during a constitutive part of a liturgy (see the definition of a “homily” in Canon 767), are, I think, engaged in a magisterial act, whether they expressly advert to that fact, or not (see CCC 87, 892, 2034; Canon 753). Of course, papal or episcopal remarks made under such circumstances rank near the bottom of the magisterial authority list but, once uttered (not to mention, recorded and published), they contribute, in some small degree at least, to the ordinary magisterium of the Church. Appreciating that point should, if nothing else, give prelates pause in how they express themselves in certain contexts.

Of course Francis is by office as well as by personality a unique figure in the Church so the concerns some might feel at how his press office treats the notion of “magisterium” could be assuaged by seeing it is as a necessary expedient. But lately, I fear, the ‘it’s-magisterial-only-if-we-say-it’s-magisterial’ line is appearing elsewhere in Rome. Consider a second scenario: the recent “Reflections on Theological Questions” published by the “Pontifical Commission for Relations with the Jews”.

In this document, signed by the cardinal president of a pontifical commission and co-signed by the bishop vice-president, “theological questions are further discussed, such as the relevance of revelation, the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant, the relationship between the universality of salvation in Jesus Christ and the affirmation that the covenant of God with Israel has never been revoked, and the Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism.” Now, if cardinals and bishops, appointed by popes to direct pontifical commissions, issuing statements on some important points of faith entrusted to those commissions and publishing them through the Holy See, are not engaged in a magisterial act contributing to the “ordinary magisterium” of the Church, who exactly would be?

To be sure, the PCRJ document is not “infallible” (as if only infallible assertions were part of the magisterium), nor is it directly papal in character (as if only popes could contribute to the magisterium), nor is every assertion therein ‘magisterial’ (as if, say, historical summaries were objects of magisterium). But the PCRJ document definitely, and in many places beautifully and insightfully, contributes to the Church’s ordinary teaching regarding, among other things, the relevance of revelation, the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant, the relationship between the universality of salvation in Jesus Christ and the affirmation that the covenant of God with Israel has never been revoked, and the Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism.

And yet the PCRJ text claims that it “is not a magisterial document or doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church”. Of course it is!

If Cardinal Koch had wanted to publish personal reflections on Jewish-Catholic relations he could have sent them to a scholarly or popular journal. Context would have satisfied all but the most scrupulous that such remarks were personal, not ‘magisterial’ in character. But that is not what Koch did. Instead, in his capacity as the prelatial head of a pontifical commission in charge of certain questions he issued a document expressing certain theological points. That makes this document a small, but definitely magisterial, exercise. If there are people out there who do not understand what it means, and what it doesn’t mean, to say that such-and-such a statement is part of the (here, ordinary) magisterium of the Church, then by all means, let’s explain matters to them. But let’s not downplay the character our own documents just to avoid setting off a tizzy of confusion among semi-informed observers.

But there is, I think, a deeper point to be appreciated in all this: the relationship between an intention behind, and the nature of, an act is complex; the lawyer in me knows that much. But lately, a rising number of persons seem to think that they can control the characterization of their act simply by declaring an intentionality for their act. That’s a very slippery slope. As a rule, I think an intention to perform an act is relevant to one’s responsibility for the act, but is not dispositive of the characterization of the act.

Popes who make deliberate assertions about faith or morals in public remarks are contributing, in a small way, to the ordinary magisterium of the Church; dicasterial prelates who make deliberate assertions about faith or morals in materials published through the Holy See are contributing, in a small way, to the ordinary magisterium of the Church; the rest of us should be able to tell, without having to await (unqualified) clarifications from press offices and without having to scan dicasterial documents for (ineffective) disclaimers, whether the Church’s magisterium is in play. If it is in play, then we can worry about what level of magisterium is being applied.

Update: Jimmy Akin responds to my post, here. He makes some good points, as usual. Those reading his comments might be interested in my reactions.

(1) Of course the Holy See issues some non-magisterial statements. (2) I too think some examples of ‘non-magisterial magisterial’ statements can be found prior to Francis. (3) My approach does not make identifying magisterial statements “very easy”. Real thought still has to be applied. What my approach does do, I suggest, is underscore that magisterial character is not so casually turned off and on, and underscores that prelates need to exercise greater care in making assertions on faith & morals. (4) Jimmy’s analysis strikes me as having exaggerated the conscience-binding character of individual prelatial statements; rather than our looking, as I think the Church has traditionally done, at the magisterial teaching on XYZ as a whole, Jimmy seems to fear that my approach makes every individual prelate’s statement on XYZ into something binding on consciences. To avoid that, he prefers to let magisterial character be turned on and off much more readily than I think can be supported. (5) Jimmy seems to leave unaddressed my concerns that what I am calling ‘specific intentionality’ (whereby an action must be characterized as the actor intends it be to characterized, rather than characterized for what it really is) is, more and more, being allowed to determine the character of an ecclesial act (although this problem appears in several other areas of life), rather than just responsibility for an act. I repeat that I think this is dangerous path to have set out on.


20:12

True or False Pope – Foreword by Bishop Bernard Fellay [Instaurare Omnia in Christo - The Blog]

Available Now at AngelusPress.org

Presented below is Bishop Fellay’s foreword to our newest release, True or False Pope - Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors, by John Salza.  Given that his excellency found it worthy to comment on and promote it in such a special way, we are especially pleased to present this book to our customers.

Purchase now >>


 Foreword

When we reflect on the crisis of faith in the Catholic Church, our heart cannot but ache for its countless victims, both lay and clerical. The victims who most readily come to mind are those of the “left.” Through unwitting obedience to recent Popes, these now profess and practice a faith unrecognizable to our forefathers. Nevertheless, even if smaller in number, those of the “right” must not be overlooked. So scandalized by the deviations of recent Popes, these overreact by denying the papacy to such men. Left or right, both extremes result from the same error—an exaggerated notion of papal infallibility. Charity demands that we show both factions the errors and the dangers in their respective paths.

Concerning the left, the history of our Society bears witness to our constant effort to do just that. But until now—at least in the English-speaking world—only articles and booklets have been published against Sedevacantism and its related errors. A comprehensive and definitive refutation, firmly grounded in ecclesiology, has been sorely needed. We thus pray that True or False Pope? finds its way to many Catholics of good will, be they of perplexed mind at the moment. Mr. Salza and Mr. Siscoe’s book will surely afford much clarity to the reader, but the underlying mystery will remain: today’s crisis touches a mystery that can be confronted only by faith—the mystery of divine suffering.

As Pope Pius XII defined Her, the Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. At present She is re-living His Passion. Let us take the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood faithful by her Son’s Cross to the very end, as our model of fidelity. The Mother knew her Son to be God Almighty, but knew Him also to be the suffering servant. The suffering was real and not a fantasy as the Docetists taught. These ancient heretics renounced the Incarnation and the Humanity of Christ because of the scandal of the Cross. In like manner the Sedevacantists, succumbing to this same temptation, deny that the visible Church, during Her Passion, remains divine. Let us reassert our belief in the mystery of Her divine and human reality. The Catholic Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, yet composed of fragile members. She is founded on St. Peter and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her.

Our venerable founder, a true son of the Church, suffered very acutely at the sight of his Mother in such a pitiable state. The victims of Sedevacantism who failed to accept this great mystery of the divine suffering augmented his own. Yet, in spite of his suffering, even at the hands of the men of the Church, he refused to abandon Her during Her Passion. It was in this spirit of fidelity that he had founded the Society; it is this spirit that we strive to keep. May Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Church, lead us through the narrow gate and the strait way that leads to life, erring neither to the left nor to the right.
+ Bernard Fellay

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 1.09.35 PM

Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X

Feast of All Saints, November 1, 2015

17:04

Our Power of Estimation [Tęsknota]

“Dear Jesus, bless our power of estimation. Grant that we may quickly sense dangers to chastity, instinctively flee from them, and that we may never turn away from higher and more difficult goods for the sake of sinful self-indulgence. ‘For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?’ (Mk. 8:36)”

The prayer above is the long form of one of the petitions member of the Angelic Warfare Community pray daily. As you may know, a group from Frassati enrolled in the Confraternity a few weeks ago, and it has been a powerful source of grace already. I can understand why Bl. Pier Giorgio was a member.

The prayer for our “power of estimation” has been a particularly important one for me. “Estimation” means your ability to size up a situation quickly–i.e., whether a particular situation may lead you in to sin or not and how prudent it is to remain in the situation. To sum it up in the words of a priest I know: “If all you can handle is a kiss on the cheek good night, then just stop there.”

But the power of estimation, I’ve come to realize, isn’t just about chastity but about all of God’s commands, positive or negative. Estimation is knowing when you’re about to make a nasty comment that will lead you and your friend into gossip. Estimation is about knowing that if you put your prayers off until “later,” later will never come. Estimation, in the end, is about knowing yourself in the light of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, being able to be honest with yourself about your limitations, and saying to yourself, “It’s ok if I’m weak, because God’s strong. It’s ok to acknowledge that this is my limitation. I don’t have to be ashamed for leaving the party/stopping the conversation/putting down this drink because in the end, doing so is going to keep me closer to God.”

The thing is, knowing ourselves takes time, prayer, attentiveness, extended times of silence. It doesn’t come to us like magic, and, if you’re anything like me, it’s going to reveal as many wounds as it does insights. But it shouldn’t leave us discouraged, because God rewards even the smallest acts of faith. Sometimes we pray for God to help us see our faults half-heartedly and then boy do we suddenly see them! Instead of being frustrated or afraid, remember that God gave us time so that we could figure things out day by day and not all at once. Trust that the Lord is at work in you even when you don’t see it–especially then.

O come, o come, Emmanuel!
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!


14:57

1 Corinthians 1:12-13: Lather, Rinse, Repeat. [Dyspeptic Mutterings]

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,”or “I belong to Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? One of the many diseases of the modern Church is hero-worship, the seeking after a man on horseback to solve problems.  The cult of personality invariably follows. This

14:04

On the 'conversion' of Jews: The new Vatican statement [CatholicCulture.org - In Depth Analysis of Catholic Issues]

Our initial news story on the recent document issued by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews was somewhat misleading (see New Vatican document: Catholics should not seek to convert Jews). The term “convert” in this context is usually used to describe the acceptance of Jesus Christ by Jews, a process which the headline seems to dismiss. But in fact the document insists that Christians are still to bear witness to the fulfillment of Judaism in Christ.

12:33

The Pseudo-Distinction Between Rose and Pink [Sancrucensis]

After Gaudete Sunday I noticed a number of priests on social media posting on the supposed difference between rose and pink. I claim that this distinction has very little foundation in reality; it has more to do with contingent cultural associations with the word “pink” than with a fair reading of the rubrics of the Roman Missal, or of the actual tradition of vestment making in the Roman Rite. The rubrics indeed speak of rose, but this could just as well be translated pink, since Latin does not have a separate term for pink. Indeed many languages (eg. German) make no distinction between the two colors.

Both of the English words are derived from flowers, but roses and pinks come in myriads of overlapping shades.

Pink (Dianthus) Rose

Indeed, as soon as one begins to think about the naming of colors, one’s native Platonism begins to give way, and one begins to suspect that there is something to the structuralist argument for the division of reality by naming as being a bit arbitrary. One doesn’t have to swallow de Saussure’s theories whole to see that the imposition of color names involves a certain amount of arbitrary choice. To Homer, after all, the sea was the color of wine.

Father Edward McNamara gives a sort of Newtonian-objectivist account of the supposed distinction between rose and pink:

Rose (“rosaceo“) is defined by the dictionary as “a moderate purplish-red color; purplish pink.” The liturgical color is thus a lightened violet and is darker than the pale hue usually associated with pink. It is rather a tincture closer to that of a pale incarnadine or the reddish “Naples yellow” used by artists. Pink, “any of a group of colors with a reddish hue that are of low to moderate saturation and can usually reflect or transmit a large amount of light; a pale reddish tint,” is not counted among the liturgical colors.

If one takes a less Newtonian and more Goethian approach (surely more applicable in aesthetic matters), or simply the approach that one took as a child learning to mix paint, then one could say that on Fr. McNamara’s account rose is mixture of red, white, and a little blue, whereas pink is a mixture of only white and red. But persons who have made a study of Latin color names are by no means unanimous in confirming such a view. The Calabrian Renaissance poet Antonia Telesio, has the following to say about rose:

Iucundissimus omnium est color roseus, atque humano corpori, si id formosum est quam simillimus. Itaque os, cervicem, papillas, digitos roseos poetae dicunt: id est candidos, rubore sanguinis penitus diffuso cum venustate: isque color proprie est, quem communis sermo incarnatum vocat. Refert enim maxime omnium pueri nitorem ac virginis: rosam non Milesiam intelligo quae nimis purpurea ardere quodammodo videtur, nec rursus albam: sed quae utrinque decorem accepit, et quia corpus hominis imitatur, quod lingua vernacula carnem appellat, eadem id genus rosarum incarnatum nominavit. Cicero colorem hunc suavem dixit.

That is to say, rose according to Telesio, is the color of human flesh— resulting from the red blood shining through the white skin.

Learned bloggers have indeed argued that the history of dye making argues for an admixture of blue in liturgical rose, but if one looks at actual historical examples, one can find all manner of shades of rose from almost red to almost violet to the palest of pastel pink:

07_03_18_vest_det3_25 cope detail PC060022

And such diversity is quite normal. Usually liturgical colors allow for a wide variety of shades; just consider the different shades of liturgical green that one can find often from the same place and time. So whence comes the pseudo-distinction of rose and pink? We can get a clue from a post from the early days of the excellent New Liturgical Movement blog:

 

I’ve often found too many “rose” vestments to be far less rose coloured than they are pink. It seems to me a deeper, almost purplish hue of rose (sometimes referred to as “dusty rose”) would be more befitting the sacred rites, and also the masculine nature of the priesthood, and that the other can be quite distracting and not as befitting the former.

The reference to “the masculine nature of the priesthood” is I think the key to the problem. In many parts of the world pink is considered a sort of effeminate, missish color unbefitting to men. This seems a rather arbitrary convention, but perhaps not entirely arbitrary, since the flesh that Telesio describes as candidos, rubore sanguinis penitus diffuso is found maxime in virginibus (though also, I note, in pueris).


11:35

The Faithful [Edinburgh Housewife]

If you get annoyed by traddies grumbling about the Novus Ordo, this would be a good time to click away (or skip to the bottom). Or, if you're curious, keep on reading. I shall strive for a pleasant tone. Minimal snark.

On Sunday Benedict Ambrose and I took the the train north to visit his mother. We were under the impression that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass would be available in her town that day, but we were wrong. Alas. We took the train back south and debated how to fulfill our obligation. And yes, "how to fulfill our obligation" is a wretched way to think about Mass.

"Polish Mass," I said as B.A examined our options via train wifi.  "Polish Mass."

B.A. did not look too happy at the thought of Polish Mass.

"You won't understand the homily, but I have it on good authority it's usually kind of boring. You could play a [mental] drinking game to it. Every time the priest says "miłosz" (love), you get a sip."

B.A. did not look amused. Tappity tappity.

"There," he said, pleased, and I looked to see an English-speaking Mass at a church not too far from the railway station.

"But will we get there on time?" I asked.

"Chalice veils," said Benedict Ambrose, which refers to his belief that the absolute bare minimum to Sunday Obligation is being at Mass between the Offertory, when the chalice is (or was) unveiled and when the chalice is covered up again after the Communion of the Faithful.

I was not happy. I would rather have gone to Polish Mass than show up late for English Mass, but I admit that Polish Mass can be rough going if you don't understand Polish or aren't moved by the traditional hymns. The English Mass started before the train pulled into the station, and I wondered if we could still get to Polish Mass on time if we missed the bare-minimum moment. I hoped there would be a long homily, even if the long homily was about how rotten the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is and how silly the people who want us all to go back to it.

We got off the train and scurried through the station and ran through the dark, wet streets to the handsome old church, which glowed in the night, and found ourselves among 160 or so people saying the Nicene Creed. Great was my relief. We scurried to the very back, and I hoped we didn't stick out too much in the half-empty church. We could have taken a pew of course but like most people who go to the EF week after week, we're allergic to the Sign of Peace.

This is not because we are jerks but because we take Mass seriously. If we really were jerks, we would really yuk it up during the Novus Ordo, crossing the aisle to shake hands, kissing the prettier people, blessing the babies, singing twice as loudly as everyone else, in a spirit of angry irony. Oh dear, how wicked that would be.

Anyway, we stood at the back, behind the last pew, in which two cherubic moppets played a slapping game, which we found very distracting, but hey--their parents may have picked the back pew for a reason. And I noticed two things that shocked me although mentioning the first one is an old traddie cliché.

1. The priest prayed at the congregation.

First of all, I know this was not his fault. Once I had a look at the "how to say liturgy properly" book that came out in 1971 or so, and it was adamant that priests really had to put their back into presenting the prayers with emotion, expression and volume. And this priest obediently did that. He was miked, and so although he was purportedly praying to God, he was obviously speaking to/for/at us, the congregation. In his defense, his delivery was not all about him. He didn't show off, mug, make jokes, chat wittily or do any of those populist-priest things that some people love, and I loved myself until I went to BC.

2. The priest sang to the congregation.

The congregation did not sing, but a pleasant male voice sang the offertory and communion hymns through a microphone to the organ accompaniment. I looked in vain for the excellent cantor before realizing he was the priest. The congregation sat in silence while the priest sang verse after verse. I looked over at another man standing at the back, and although he was reading the hymn paperback, he wasn't singing either. Afterwards, B.A. explained to me that these were difficult hymns for a congregation to sing, and he thought the priest should have picked hymns the congregation would know.

It was Gaudete Sunday--the priest was not wearing rose vestments but sad old purple--but I didn't feel very happy. I looked at the singing  priest and the sparse congregation, and wondered how long this state of liturgy can continue. It was a big church, but in the 1950s it would have been packed to the door with Scottish Catholics whose faith too often meant social marginalization  but was strong nonetheless.

Those Catholics, though, had the solemnity, grandeur, silences, music, rhythms and certainties of the Old Mass. These faithful 160 do not--or don't know they do--but still they came to Mass on a wet Sunday evening. Still they fulfilled their obligation. Many received communion from either the (surely redundant) Extraordinary Minister or the priest. Some brought their children. "It's a miracle," I told B.A.

When I didn't recognize the recessional hymn, I nudged B.A. and off we went into glistening night. I have been to Sunday Mass almost every Sunday of my life, and missing Mass feels like a minor trauma. "Chalice veils" is really not enough. However, my husband has been a trained liturgist since he was a child in a fine Anglican choir, and public worship is very important to him. Witnessing a shift in the focus of worship from God to the community hurts him, just as bad singing hurts my musician brother, who has perfect pitch.

But as for me, if others can be bi-ritual, surely I can be bi-form. I never knew anything but the Novus Ordo from birth to the age of 37, and I do believe it can be done well, can be made a true child of the Mass of Ages, and I think merely turning the focus of the priest from the congregation back towards God, facing the same way as the congregation, is the best place to begin. Will the faithful accept it? Thinking of those faithful 160, I would hazard that the remaining faithful of Scotland will accept just about anything.

***
The O Antiphons. I was going to write about the O Antiphons today, but I was moved to write about  our experience at Sunday Mass instead. Here is an article about the O Antiphons by our friend Gregory DiPippo

***
Update: I've been reading through the Father Z comments on Sunday obligation, and I was struck by a comment about a woman who came to Mass for the barest of the bare minimum, lit a candle before the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was on her way. It occurred to me that this woman's trip to church might be longer than the time she spent in church. The journey itself was less tedious to her than an extra minute spent in church. Why? The commentator assumes the woman was caring for the sick; I wonder if she wasn't a brokenhearted trad.

05:30

Justifying Origen [Eastern Christian Books]

Controverted though he has been, Origen remains nonetheless (perhaps in part because of the controversy) an early Christian figure on whom books continue to be published year in and year out. His influence then and since has been vast in many areas.

Forthcoming early in 2016 will be a paperback edition of a book first published in 2008: Thomas Scheck, Origen and the History of Justification: The Legacy of Origen's Commentary on Romans (UND Press, 2016), 312pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:


Standard accounts of the history of interpretation of Paul’s Letter to the Romans often begin with St. Augustine. As Thomas P. Scheck demonstrates, however, the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) was a major work of Pauline exegesis which, by means of the Latin translation preserved in the West, had a significant influence on the Christian exegetical tradition.
Scheck begins by exploring Origen’s views on justification and on the intimate connection of faith and post-baptismal good works as essential to justification. He traces the enormous influence Origen’s Commentary on Romans had on later theologians in the Latin West, including the ways in which theologians often appropriated Origen’s exegesis in their own work. Scheck analyzes in particular the reception of Origen by Pelagius, Augustine, William of St. Thierry, Erasmus, Cornelius Jansen, the Anglican Bishop Richard Montagu, and the Catholic lay apologist John Heigham, as well as Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and other Protestant Reformers who harshly attacked Origen’s interpretation as fatally flawed. But as Scheck shows, theologians through the post-Reformation controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries studied and engaged Origen extensively, even if not always in agreement.
An important work in patristics, biblical interpretation, and historical theology, Origen and the History of Justification establishes the formative role played by Origen’s Pauline exegesis, while also contributing to our understanding of the theological issues surrounding justification in the western Christian tradition.
“Thomas Scheck's Origen and the History of Justification is first of all invaluable for increasing readers' exposure to a primary text of an exegete and theologian who will always be very relevant for the church—Origen. Second, this work is invaluable for presenting all sides of the debate today on the meaning of justification. All who weigh in on the doctrine of justification must consult this work in order to understand the seismic quakes that still affect Christians' balance on this issue. And third, since this book focuses on Origen's Romans commentary, it must be read by all Romans students who want to be able to discern the magnetic fields that still powerfully pull readers of Paul's letter in different directions.” —Mark Reasoner, Bethel University
“The interpretation of Paul’s Letter to the Romans has been a central and continuing preoccupation in the western Christian tradition. Origen’s contribution to its interpretation was seminal, subtle, and suggestive. But the expansiveness of Origen’s Commentary on Romans, combined with later controversies about Origen’s views, appears to have inhibited scholars from tracing the reception of Origen’s commentary in the West. Thomas P. Scheck’s book ably and admirably remedies this oversight.“ —Theodore de Bruyn, University of Ottawa
“Thomas Scheck demonstrates the range of Origen's influence and establishes his as the real alternative to the Augustinian understanding of the divine operation in Christians. His study raises again the questions posed by Robert O'Connell of Augustine's appropriation of and dissent from Origen. In each chapter, Scheck both reports and advances the existing scholarship on Origen's influence.” —Patout Burns, Vanderbilt Divinity School

03:31

Middle Eastern Christians Face Discrimination [Steeple and State]

iraqi sr diana dominican

Just this past September, my attention was caught by a headline on the Yahoo! News homepage. It read: U.S. weighs ‘genocide’ label for IS in Iraq. It was a moment of profound relief. Finally, the US was going to take a public and vocal stand against atrocities that have been destroying the Christian community in Iraq since the Islamic State publicly kicked off its reign of terror over a year ago. Finally, the shameful silence that had blanketed this nation was going to be broken and we would at last speak up and support these desperate people.

However, when I clicked on the article I was appalled to discover that the Christian (largely Catholic) community was not even mentioned! Instead, the article discussed the plight of the Yazidi community, a religious minority that is also undergoing an ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Islamic State.

There is no doubt that the Yazidis are in the crosshairs of the Islamic State, but the Christian community has faced equal brutality and purposeful slaughter and they represent an even greater number than the Yazidi and other minorities. It is absolutely true that the Yazidis are the victims of genocide, but it is ludicrously illogical to recognize a part, but ignore the group that makes up the greater half of the whole.

In truth, the Obama administration’s failure to recognize or even mention the Christians’ plight is such a glaring and ongoing omission it can only be translated as a deliberate bigotry and direct discrimination against Christians on the part of the President and the administration that represents him. If his silence on this apartheid needs further evidence, it is readily found.

In April of this year, Chaldean Catholic nun Sr. Diana Momeka applied to the U.S. State Department for a vistor visa. Sr. Diana was travelling with a number of other representatives coming to testify on behalf of their various communities and the horrors being committed against their people in the Middle East. The State Department granted visitor visas to all the representatives but one: Sr. Diana. The State Department claimed that Sr. Diana was a “Displaced Person,” and so there was a risk that she would breach her visa limitations and remain illegally in the United States.

In a thorough piece in the National Review, The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea pointed out that Sr. Diana was employed in Iraq with her community of Dominicans in humanitarian relief and aid work, nothing suggested that she would not return, and no other members of her community had ever set a pattern by entering the US and then staying illegally. Very tellingly, National Review highlighted that every single other representative of the delegation (to whom the State Department did issue visas) were in the exact condition that Sr. Diana was in, and could therefore also be labeled “Displaced Person” yet they were all granted visitor visas. This was a deliberate and obvious targeting of a single member of class where the only distinguishing factor was the woman’s religion.

Public pressure eventually forced the State Department to issue a visa to Sr. Diana, but not before they had contacted Ms. Shea and requested she amend the initial article in which she reported they had denied the nun a visa:

The State Department is apparently trying to cover up an embarrassing, politically damaging, and possibly discriminatory act. In an e-mail sent to me on Thursday, Kathryn Fitrell, press-unit chief of the Office of Policy Coordination and Public Affairs with State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, requested that I revise the text of my National Review article on the denial of a visitor visa to Sister Diana Momeka. I refused, and then on Friday — as the Department honored World Press Freedom Day — the Bureau contacted my employer, the Hudson Institute, with the same request. DOS has offered no legitimate reason for us to comply.

Not only will the administration not mention the crisis Christians face in their homeland, not only are they willing to deny a non-threatening visitor a visa, they have actively rejected asylum seekers who are Christians.

In August of this year the San Diego Tribune reported that twelve of the twenty-seven Chaldean Christians detained at the border by ICE would be deported, despite the fact they had family and sponsors vouching for them in the United States.

Twelve of the 27 Iraqi Christians being detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility are set to be deported in coming weeks, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday.
An immigration judge ordered their removal in the last two weeks, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said. She declined to provide specific information about why the immigrants are being deported and where they will be taken, citing privacy issues.

Of course, discrimination against Christians is par for the course in the United States today. Our faith and beliefs are widely mocked across popular media and our freedom of religion is under sustained and aggressive assault by the Obama administration. From the injustices of the HHS mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor to bakers and photographers across the nation whose lives and livelihoods are being destroyed at the hands of reverse bigotry, Christians face widespread and mounting discrimination. Is it any real surprise that this prejudice would be extended to foreign Christians seeking recognition and help?

If this account leaves you relatively unmoved, supplement any other religious group or racial demographic in for Christian and realize how appallingly “intolerant” this behavior would suddenly seem. Realize how harshly the general public would respond. Who else is subjected to such deliberate discrimination with so little protest?

In her address to Congress, Sr. Diana had one particular plea, a call to action to Americans across the nation: do not be silent. “I call on all Americans to raise your voices on our behalf so that diplomacy and not genocide, social well-being and not weapons, and the desire for justice, not selfish interests determine the future for Iraq and all of her children.”

For her sake and our own, don’t be silent.

01:00

Warum als Mönch ich dichte? [BRUNONIS]

Pourquoi, moine, ecrire des vers? 

«Warum als Mönche ich dichte?
Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE
Das weiß ich selber nichte.
Ein unbescheiblich Drängen,
Ein Flüstern von Gesängen
Mir vom Gemüte fallen
Und tief im Herzen hallen.
 ...
Warum als Mönche ich dichte?
Das weiß ich selber nichte,
Ein Säuseln läßt mich reden;
Es macht mich zum Poeten
Und läßt mich so bezeugen
Die Liebe und das Schweigen.»

* * * * * * *

«Pourquoi, moine, ecrire des vers?
Moi-meme je ne le sais point.
Une force en moi qui l'exige,
Un murmure fait de chansons
Me viennent du fond de mon ame
Et, violents, sonnent dans mon coeur.
...
Pourquoi, moine, ecrire des vers?
moi-meme je ne le sais point.
Un bruissement me fait parier
et de moi il fait un poete;
il m'ordonne de temoigner
et de l'amour et du silence.»

(Analecta Cartusiana 2015)



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