This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Veritatis Splendor - Chapter One

Given the size of this encyclical, I am posting this analysis in sections. My reactions, as well as the subject headings by St. JPII, are in bold. You can find the encyclical at

CHAPTER I - "TEACHER, WHAT GOOD MUST I DO...? " (Mt 19:16) - Christ and the answer to the question about morality

 "Someone came to him..." (Mt 19:16)

6. The dialogue of Jesus with the rich young man, related in the nineteenth chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel, can serve as a useful guide for listening once more in a lively and direct way to his moral teaching: "Then someone came to him and said, 'Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?' And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. 'He said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me' " (Mt 19:16-21).13

7. "Then someone came to him...". In the young man, whom Matthew's Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality. For the young man, the question is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life. This is in fact the aspiration at the heart of every human decision and action, the quiet searching and interior prompting which sets freedom in motion. This question is ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man's life. Precisely in this perspective the Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of moral theology, so that its teaching would display the lofty vocation which the faithful have received in Christ,14 the only response fully capable of satisfying the desire of the human heart.

In order to make this "encounter" with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church "wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life".15

 "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16)

8. The question which the rich young man puts to Jesus of Nazareth is one which rises from the depths of his heart. It is an essential and unavoidable question for the life of every man, for it is about the moral good which must be done, and about eternal life. The young man senses that there is a connection between moral good and the fulfilment of his own destiny. He is a devout Israelite, raised as it were in the shadow of the Law of the Lord. If he asks Jesus this question, we can presume that it is not because he is ignorant of the answer contained in the Law. It is more likely that the attractiveness of the person of Jesus had prompted within him new questions about moral good. He feels the need to draw near to the One who had begun his preaching with this new and decisive proclamation: "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:15).

People today need to turn to Christ once again in order to receive from him the answer to their questions about what is good and what is evil. Christ is the Teacher, the Risen One who has life in himself and who is always present in his Church and in the world. It is he who opens up to the faithful the book of the Scriptures and, by fully revealing the Father's will, teaches the truth about moral action. At the source and summit of the economy of salvation, as the Alpha and the Omega of human history (cf. Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13), Christ sheds light on man's condition and his integral vocation. Consequently, "the man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly — and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being — must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter him with all his own self; he must 'appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deeper wonder at himself".16

If we therefore wish to go to the heart of the Gospel's moral teaching and grasp its profound and unchanging content, we must carefully inquire into the meaning of the question asked by the rich young man in the Gospel and, even more, the meaning of Jesus' reply, allowing ourselves to be guided by him. Jesus, as a patient and sensitive teacher, answers the young man by taking him, as it were, by the hand, and leading him step by step to the full truth.

The young man was not asking about morality, indeed, the Lord said his morality was fine.  (Morality is about not messing up this life, not earning a seat in Heaven). Where the young man failed was in putting his comfortable life ahead of taking up his cross and following Jesus as he trekked through Galilee and then onto the sacrifice of Jerusalem.  This same Jesus also told his disciples to wash each other’s feet and not to copy those who lord power and authority over those they serve, seeking honors, accepting wealth and relying on their authority over real faith in God.  

The Gospel’s moral teaching, which is not what this scene is about, demands that we love perfectly as the Father loves perfectly and that our teachings be gentle and humble of heart, that the Master’s yoke is easy and his burden light.  This implies a moral code based in the nature of mankind and what brings it happiness in this life, not as a test of piety for the next.  If the latter were the standard Christ was imposing, he would not have rebuked the Pharisees for their focus on purity rules.  Some Catholic moralists are no better than those that Christ spoke against, including those in the CDF who helped John Paul with this encyclical.

 "There is only one who is good" (Mt 19:17)

9. Jesus says: "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). In the versions of the Evangelists Mark and Luke the question is phrased in this way: "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone" (Mk 10:18; cf. Lk 18:19).

Before answering the question, Jesus wishes the young man to have a clear idea of why he asked his question. The "Good Teacher" points out to him — and to all of us — that the answer to the question, "What good must I do to have eternal life?" can only be found by turning one's mind and heart to the "One" who is good: "No one is good but God alone" (Mk 10:18; cf. Lk 18:19). Only God can answer the question about what is good, because he is the Good itself.

To ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn towards God, the fullness of goodness. Jesus shows that the young man's question is really a religious question, and that the goodness that attracts and at the same time obliges man has its source in God, and indeed is God himself. God alone is worthy of being loved "with all one's heart, and with all one's soul, and with all one's mind" (Mt 22:37). He is the source of man's happiness. Jesus brings the question about morally good action back to its religious foundations, to the acknowledgment of God, who alone is goodness, fullness of life, the final end of human activity, and perfect happiness.

10. The Church, instructed by the Teacher's words, believes that man, made in the image of the Creator, redeemed by the Blood of Christ and made holy by the presence of the Holy Spirit, has as the ultimate purpose of his life to live "for the praise of God's glory" (cf. Eph 1:12), striving to make each of his actions reflect the splendour of that glory. "Know, then, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God", writes Saint Ambrose. "Know that you are the glory of God (1 Cor 11:7). Hear how you are his glory. The Prophet says: Your knowledge has become too wonderful for me (cf. Ps. 138:6, Vulg.). That is to say, in my work your majesty has become more wonderful; in the counsels of men your wisdom is exalted. When I consider myself, such as I am known to you in my secret thoughts and deepest emotions, the mysteries of your knowledge are disclosed to me. Know then, O man, your greatness, and be vigilant".17

What man is and what he must do becomes clear as soon as God reveals himself. The Decalogue is based on these words: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Ex 20:2-3). In the "ten words" of the Covenant with Israel, and in the whole Law, God makes himself known and acknowledged as the One who "alone is good"; the One who despite man's sin remains the "model" for moral action, in accordance with his command, "You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev 19:2); as the One who, faithful to his love for man, gives him his Law (cf. Ex 19:9-24 and 20:18-21) in order to restore man's original and peaceful harmony with the Creator and with all creation, and, what is more, to draw him into his divine love: "I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people" (Lev 26:12).

The moral life presents itself as the response due to the many gratuitous initiatives taken by God out of love for man. It is a response of love, according to the statement made in Deuteronomy about the fundamental commandment: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children" (Dt6:4-7). Thus the moral life, caught up in the gratuitousness of God's love, is called to reflect his glory: "For the one who loves God it is enough to be pleasing to the One whom he loves: for no greater reward should be sought than that love itself; charity in fact is of God in such a way that God himself is charity".18

11. The statement that "There is only one who is good" thus brings us back to the "first tablet" of the commandments, which calls us to acknowledge God as the one Lord of all and to worship him alone for his infinite holiness (cf. Ex 20:2-11). The good is belonging to God, obeying him, walking humbly with him in doing justice and in loving kindness (cf.Mic 6:8). Acknowledging the Lord as God is the very core, the heart of the Law, from which the particular precepts flow and towards which they are ordered. In the morality of the commandments the fact that the people of Israel belongs to the Lord is made evident, because God alone is the One who is good. Such is the witness of Sacred Scripture, imbued in every one of its pages with a lively perception of God's absolute holiness: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Is 6:3).

But if God alone is the Good, no human effort, not even the most rigorous observance of the commandments, succeeds in "fulfilling" the Law, that is, acknowledging the Lord as God and rendering him the worship due to him alone (cf. Mt 4:10). This "fulfilment" can come only from a gift of God: the offer of a share in the divine Goodness revealed and communicated in Jesus, the one whom the rich young man addresses with the words "Good Teacher" (Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18). What the young man now perhaps only dimly perceives will in the end be fully revealed by Jesus himself in the invitation: "Come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).

 By dealing with the question of God being Good, the Lord and his Evangelists are revealing who Jesus really is and what the Kingdom of God really is.  The moral law as highlighted by the entire Decalogue is not for God’s sake but for man’s.  We don’t honor God because God needs honor but because seeking him completes us, just as we don’t murder others lest their family murder us or our children.  Keeping the law avoids pain in this life, but something more is required for eternal life than morality.

 It is not simply a moralistic vision for the Church to take up from the Temple Priests, but rather a mission to and from the poor and disadvantaged, the outcast and the sinner, to bring to mankind what he cannot gain for himself by simply obeying moral codes.  It is Christ and his Church suffering death (and all but one of the Twelve did just that) to witness to the fact that Jesus came to experience the sufferings of sinful man in his isolation from God, as man could not make the journey himself as this would be a bold and silly claim.

"If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17)

12. Only God can answer the question about the good, because he is the Good. But God has already given an answer to this question: he did so by creating man and ordering him with wisdom and love to his final end, through the law which is inscribed in his heart (cf. Rom 2:15), the "natural law". The latter "is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation".19 He also did so in the history of Israel, particularly in the "ten words", the commandments of Sinai, whereby he brought into existence the people of the Covenant (cf. Ex 24) and called them to be his "own possession among all peoples", "a holy nation" (Ex 19:5-6), which would radiate his holiness to all peoples (cf. Wis 18:4; Ez 20:41). The gift of the Decalogue was a promise and sign of the New Covenant, in which the law would be written in a new and definitive way upon the human heart (cf. Jer 31:31-34), replacing the law of sin which had disfigured that heart (cf. Jer 17:1). In those days, "a new heart" would be given, for in it would dwell "a new spirit", the Spirit of God (cf. Ez 36:24-28).20
Consequently, after making the important clarification: "There is only one who is good", Jesus tells the young man: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). In this way, a close connection is made between eternal life and obedience to God's commandments: God's commandments show man the path of life and they lead to it. From the very lips of Jesus, the new Moses, man is once again given the commandments of the Decalogue. Jesus himself definitively confirms them and proposes them to us as the way and condition of salvation. The commandments are linked to a promise. In the Old Covenant the object of the promise was the possession of a land where the people would be able to live in freedom and in accordance with righteousness (cf. Dt 6:20-25). In the New Covenant the object of the promise is the "Kingdom of Heaven", as Jesus declares at the beginning of the "Sermon on the Mount" — a sermon which contains the fullest and most complete formulation of the New Law (cf. Mt 5-7), clearly linked to the Decalogue entrusted by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This same reality of the Kingdom is referred to in the expression "eternal life", which is a participation in the very life of God. It is attained in its perfection only after death, but in faith it is even now a light of truth, a source of meaning for life, an inchoate share in the full following of Christ. Indeed, Jesus says to his disciples after speaking to the rich young man: "Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life" (Mt 19:29).

Eternal life is not about morality, for morality is for this world.  Eternal life is about serving God in bringing about  His Kingdom to those who the world rejects, not for their sin but for their station in life.  Sadly, for many that has not changed in 2000 years.  We must love perfectly as God loves perfectly.  Being the instrument of God’s perfect love has nothing to do with berating sinners. Offering them succor from self-destructive behavior is part of it, but only after they are fed, clothed and housed. This is the part of the Eternal Law, as stated in Caritas in Veritate, Casti Connubii (119-122) and Rerum Novarum, which calls for justice for workers and their families, if necessary with involvement of the state, that some conservatives call optional, when in fact it is more integral than obsessing about human sexuality.

13. Jesus' answer is not enough for the young man, who continues by asking the Teacher about the commandments which must be kept: "He said to him, 'Which ones?' " (Mt 19:18). He asks what he must do in life in order to show that he acknowledges God's holiness. After directing the young man's gaze towards God, Jesus reminds him of the commandments of the Decalogue regarding one's neighbour: "Jesus said: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself' " (Mt 19:18-19).

From the context of the conversation, and especially from a comparison of Matthew's text with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, it is clear that Jesus does not intend to list each and every one of the commandments required in order to "enter into life", but rather wishes to draw the young man's attention to the "centrality" of the Decalogue with regard to every other precept, inasmuch as it is the interpretation of what the words "I am the Lord your God" mean for man. Nevertheless we cannot fail to notice which commandments of the Law the Lord recalls to the young man. They are some of the commandments belonging to the so-called "second tablet" of the Decalogue, the summary (cf. Rom 13: 8-10) and foundation of which is the commandment of love of neighbour: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 19:19; cf. Mk 12:31). In this commandment we find a precise expression of the singular dignity of the human person, "the only creature that God has wanted for its own sake".21 The different commandments of the Decalogue are really only so many reflections of the one commandment about the good of the person, at the level of the many different goods which characterize his identity as a spiritual and bodily being in relationship with God, with his neighbour and with the material world. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the Ten Commandments are part of God's Revelation. At the same time, they teach us man's true humanity. They shed light on the essential duties, and so indirectly on the fundamental rights, inherent in the nature of the human person".22

The commandments of which Jesus reminds the young man are meant to safeguard the good of the person, the image of God, by protecting his goods. "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness" are moral rules formulated in terms of prohibitions. These negative precepts express with particular force the ever urgent need to protect human life, the communion of persons in marriage, private property, truthfulness and people's good name.

The commandments thus represent the basic condition for love of neighbour; at the same time they are the proof of that love. They are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting-point. "The beginning of freedom", Saint Augustine writes, "is to be free from crimes... such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. When once one is without these crimes (and every Christian should be without them), one begins to lift up one's head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom...".23

Morality is for our good, on both tablets of the Decalogue, however, that is the basics of eternal life, not the advanced version.  We don’t love God or our neighbor for God’s benefit, or ever neighbor’s, but our own.  

14. This certainly does not mean that Christ wishes to put the love of neighbour higher than, or even to set it apart from, the love of God. This is evident from his conversation with the teacher of the Law, who asked him a question very much like the one asked by the young man. Jesus refers him to the two commandments of love of God and love of neighbour (cf. Lk 10:25-27), and reminds him that only by observing them will he have eternal life: "Do this, and you will live" (Lk 10:28). Nonetheless it is significant that it is precisely the second of these commandments which arouses the curiosity of the teacher of the Law, who asks him: "And who is my neighbour?" (Lk 10:29). The Teacher replies with the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is critical for fully understanding the commandment of love of neighbour (cf. Lk 10:30-37).

These two commandments, on which "depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt 22:40), are profoundly connected and mutually related. Their inseparable unity is attested to by Christ in his words and by his very life: his mission culminates in the Cross of our Redemption (cf. Jn 3:14-15), the sign of his indivisible love for the Father and for humanity (cf. Jn 13:1).

Both the Old and the New Testaments explicitly affirm that without love of neighbour, made concrete in keeping the commandments, genuine love for God is not possible. Saint John makes the point with extraordinary forcefulness: "If anyone says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (Jn 4:20). The Evangelist echoes the moral preaching of Christ, expressed in a wonderful and unambiguous way in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:30-37) and in his words about the final judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

15. In the "Sermon on the Mount", the magna charta of Gospel morality,24 Jesus says: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mt 5:17). Christ is the key to the Scriptures: "You search the Scriptures...; and it is they that bear witness to me" (Jn 5:39). Christ is the centre of the economy of salvation, the recapitulation of the Old and New Testaments, of the promises of the Law and of their fulfilment in the Gospel; he is the living and eternal link between the Old and the New Covenants. Commenting on Paul's statement that "Christ is the end of the law" (Rom10:4), Saint Ambrose writes: "end not in the sense of a deficiency, but in the sense of the fullness of the Law: a fullness which is achieved in Christ (plenitudo legis in Christo est), since he came not to abolish the Law but to bring it to fulfilment. In the same way that there is an Old Testament, but all truth is in the New Testament, so it is for the Law: what was given through Moses is a figure of the true law. Therefore, the Mosaic Law is an image of the truth".25

Jesus brings God's commandments to fulfilment, particularly the commandment of love of neighbour, by interiorizing their demands and by bringing out their fullest meaning. Love of neighbour springs from a loving heart which, precisely because it loves, is ready to live out the loftiest challenges. Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14). Thus the commandment "You shall not murder" becomes a call to an attentive love which protects and promotes the life of one's neighbour. The precept prohibiting adultery becomes an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body: "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment'. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment... You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:21-22, 27-28). Jesus himself is the living "fulfilment" of the Law inasmuch as he fulfils its authentic meaning by the total gift of himself: he himself becomes a living and personal Law, who invites people to follow him; through the Spirit, he gives the grace to share his own life and love and provides the strength to bear witness to that love in personal choices and actions (cf. Jn 13:34-35).

Loving our neighbor, from the right that our family and our workers (slaves) be given a Sabbath to preserving his life through gleaning and the years of Jubilee are all from the Decalogue.  The Samaritan acted from that command as well, even if the Churchmen of Jesus’ time would not because it would violate ritual purity.  Note the parallel to how the Church treats women in pregnancies (which are rare) where the child is doomed but has not yet died, where early termination is essential to the mother’s health.

The fullness of the law is Christ, who preaches that his yoke is easy and his burden light, who gave his life not to placate the Father (as if he were a sacrificial bull or sparrow) but to experience our human brokenness in his divinity by suffering on the Cross and abandoning himself there, thereby bringing about the Kingdom of the Father.  

"If you wish to be perfect" (Mt 19:21)

16. The answer he receives about the commandments does not satisfy the young man, who asks Jesus a further question. "I have kept all these; what do I still lack? " (Mt 19:20). It is not easy to say with a clear conscience "I have kept all these", if one has any understanding of the real meaning of the demands contained in God's Law. And yet, even though he is able to make this reply, even though he has followed the moral ideal seriously and generously from childhood, the rich young man knows that he is still far from the goal: before the person of Jesus he realizes that he is still lacking something. It is his awareness of this insufficiency that Jesus addresses in his final answer. Conscious of the young man's yearning for something greater, which would transcend a legalistic interpretation of the commandments, the Good Teacher invites him to enter upon the path of perfection: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).

Like the earlier part of Jesus' answer, this part too must be read and interpreted in the context of the whole moral message of the Gospel, and in particular in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12), the first of which is precisely the Beatitude of the poor, the "poor in spirit" as Saint Matthew makes clear (Mt 5:3), the humble. In this sense it can be said that the Beatitudes are also relevant to the answer given by Jesus to the young man's question: "What good must I do to have eternal life? ". Indeed, each of the Beatitudes promises, from a particular viewpoint, that very "good" which opens man up to eternal life, and indeed is eternal life.

The Beatitudes are not specifically concerned with certain particular rules of behaviour. Rather, they speak of basic attitudes and dispositions in life and therefore they do not coincide exactly with the commandments. On the other hand, there is no separation or opposition between the Beatitudes and the commandments: both refer to the good, to eternal life. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the proclamation of the Beatitudes, but also refers to the commandments (cf. Mt 5:20-48). At the same time, the Sermon on the Mount demonstrates the openness of the commandments and their orientation towards the horizon of the perfection proper to the Beatitudes. These latter are above all promises, from which there also indirectly flow normative indications for the moral life. In their originality and profundity they are a sort of self- portrait of Christ, and for this very reason are invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ.26

Life with Christ is about Love, not legalism.  Jesus was offering the young man a life of selfless love and it was too much for him. Legalism is the easy path.  The hard path is to love as God loves and who he loves, which is, in particular, the poor.

17. We do not know how clearly the young man in the Gospel understood the profound and challenging import of Jesus' first reply: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments". But it is certain that the young man's commitment to respect all the moral demands of the commandments represents the absolutely essential ground in which the desire for perfection can take root and mature, the desire, that is, for the meaning of the commandments to be completely fulfilled in following Christ. Jesus' conversation with the young man helps us to grasp the conditions for the moral growth of man, who has been called to perfection: the young man, having observed all the commandments, shows that he is incapable of taking the next step by himself alone. To do so requires mature human freedom ("If you wish to be perfect") and God's gift of grace ("Come, follow me").

Perfection demands that maturity in self-giving to which human freedom is called. Jesus points out to the young man that the commandments are the first and indispensable condition for having eternal life; on the other hand, for the young man to give up all he possesses and to follow the Lord is presented as an invitation: "If you wish...". These words of Jesus reveal the particular dynamic of freedom's growth towards maturity, and at the same time they bear witness to the fundamental relationship between freedom and divine law. Human freedom and God's law are not in opposition; on the contrary, they appeal one to the other. The follower of Christ knows that his vocation is to freedom. "You were called to freedom, brethren" (Gal 5:13), proclaims the Apostle Paul with joy and pride. But he immediately adds: "only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another" (ibid.). The firmness with which the Apostle opposes those who believe that they are justified by the Law has nothing to do with man's "liberation" from precepts. On the contrary, the latter are at the service of the practice of love: "For he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself' " (Rom 13:8-9). Saint Augustine, after speaking of the observance of the commandments as being a kind of incipient, imperfect freedom, goes on to say: "Why, someone will ask, is it not yet perfect? Because 'I see in my members another law at war with the law of my reason'... In part freedom, in part slavery: not yet complete freedom, not yet pure, not yet whole, because we are not yet in eternity. In part we retain our weakness and in part we have attained freedom. All our sins were destroyed in Baptism, but does it follow that no weakness remained after iniquity was destroyed? Had none remained, we would live without sin in this life. But who would dare to say this except someone who is proud, someone unworthy of the mercy of our deliverer?... Therefore, since some weakness has remained in us, I dare to say that to the extent to which we serve God we are free, while to the extent that we follow the law of sin, we are still slaves".27

The Commandments are about maximizing human freedom and well-being, but what the young man was called to do, and refused because of his love of his own comfort, was to surrender that freedom to the service of others.  While this service makes us more free to come into union with the Lord, this is about perfect love (which is of God), not perfect morality (which is only for man).

18. Those who live "by the flesh" experience God's law as a burden, and indeed as a denial or at least a restriction of their own freedom. On the other hand, those who are impelled by love and "walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:16), and who desire to serve others, find in God's Law the fundamental and necessary way in which to practise love as something freely chosen and freely lived out. Indeed, they feel an interior urge — a genuine "necessity" and no longer a form of coercion — not to stop at the minimum demands of the Law, but to live them in their "fullness". This is a still uncertain and fragile journey as long as we are on earth, but it is one made possible by grace, which enables us to possess the full freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21) and thus to live our moral life in a way worthy of our sublime vocation as "sons in the Son".

This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals. The invitation, "go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor", and the promise "you will have treasure in heaven", are meant for everyone, because they bring out the full meaning of the commandment of love for neighbour, just as the invitation which follows, "Come, follow me", is the new, specific form of the commandment of love of God. Both the commandments and Jesus' invitation to the rich young man stand at the service of a single and indivisible charity, which spontaneously tends towards that perfection whose measure is God alone: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes even clearer the meaning of this perfection: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).

"Come, follow me" (Mt 19:21)

19. The way and at the same time the content of this perfection consist in the following of Jesus, sequela Christi, once one has given up one's own wealth and very self. This is precisely the conclusion of Jesus' conversation with the young man: "Come, follow me" (Mt 19:21). It is an invitation the marvellous grandeur of which will be fully perceived by the disciples after Christ's Resurrection, when the Holy Spirit leads them to all truth (cf. Jn 16:13).

It is Jesus himself who takes the initiative and calls people to follow him. His call is addressed first to those to whom he entrusts a particular mission, beginning with the Twelve; but it is also clear that every believer is called to be a follower of Christ (cf. Acts 6:1). Following Christ is thus the essential and primordial foundation of Christian morality: just as the people of Israel followed God who led them through the desert towards the Promised Land (cf. Ex 13:21), so every disciple must follow Jesus, towards whom he is drawn by the Father himself (cf. Jn 6:44).

This is not a matter only of disposing oneself to hear a teaching and obediently accepting a commandment. More radically, it involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus, partaking of his life and his destiny, sharing in his free and loving obedience to the will of the Father. By responding in faith and following the one who is Incarnate Wisdom, the disciple of Jesus truly becomes a disciple of God (cf. Jn 6:45). Jesus is indeed the light of the world, the light of life (cf. Jn 8:12). He is the shepherd who leads his sheep and feeds them (cf. Jn 10:11-16); he is the way, and the truth, and the life (cf. Jn 14:6). It is Jesus who leads to the Father, so much so that to see him, the Son, is to see the Father (cf. Jn 14:6-10). And thus to imitate the Son, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), means to imitate the Father.

20. Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12). The word "as" requires imitation of Jesus and of his love, of which the washing of feet is a sign: "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (Jn 13:14-15). Jesus' way of acting and his words, his deeds and his precepts constitute the moral rule of Christian life. Indeed, his actions, and in particular his Passion and Death on the Cross, are the living revelation of his love for the Father and for others. This is exactly the love that Jesus wishes to be imitated by all who follow him. It is the "new" commandment: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:34-35).
The word "as" also indicates the degree of Jesus' love, and of the love with which his disciples are called to love one another. After saying: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12), Jesus continues with words which indicate the sacrificial gift of his life on the Cross, as the witness to a love "to the end" (Jn 13:1): "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13).

As he calls the young man to follow him along the way of perfection, Jesus asks him to be perfect in the command of love, in "his" commandment: to become part of the unfolding of his complete giving, to imitate and rekindle the very love of the "Good" Teacher, the one who loved "to the end". This is what Jesus asks of everyone who wishes to follow him: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24).

21. Following Christ is not an outward imitation, since it touches man at the very depths of his being. Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:5-8). Christ dwells by faith in the heart of the believer (cf. Eph 3:17), and thus the disciple is conformed to the Lord. This is the effect of grace, of the active presence of the Holy Spirit in us.

Having become one with Christ, the Christian becomes a member of his Body, which is the Church (cf. Cor 12:13, 27). By the work of the Spirit, Baptism radically configures the faithful to Christ in the Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection; it "clothes him" in Christ (cf. Gal 3:27): "Let us rejoice and give thanks", exclaims Saint Augustine speaking to the baptized, "for we have become not only Christians, but Christ (...). Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ! ".28 Having died to sin, those who are baptized receive new life (cf. Rom 6:3-11): alive for God in Christ Jesus, they are called to walk by the Spirit and to manifest the Spirit's fruits in their lives (cf. Gal 5:16-25). Sharing in the Eucharist, the sacrament of the New Covenant (cf. 1 Cor 11:23-29), is the culmination of our assimilation to Christ, the source of "eternal life" (cf. Jn 6:51-58), the source and power of that complete gift of self, which Jesus — according to the testimony handed on by Paul — commands us to commemorate in liturgy and in life: "As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26).

 The Father is perfect and merciful in his Love.  Living in Love is to treat others as the Father would treat him and is impossible to do just from following the teachings of the Church.  It requires encounter with God, a.k.a., following Him unselfishly, even when doing so involves standing up to the Church on occasion when it lives in the past or acts as Christ once condemned the Temple Priests and the Scribes for acting.

"With God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26)

22. The conclusion of Jesus' conversation with the rich young man is very poignant: "When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions" (Mt 19:22). Not only the rich man but the disciples themselves are taken aback by Jesus' call to discipleship, the demands of which transcend human aspirations and abilities: "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, "Then who can be saved?' " (Mt 19:25). But the Master refers them to God's power: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).

In the same chapter of Matthew's Gospel (19:3-10), Jesus, interpreting the Mosaic Law on marriage, rejects the right to divorce, appealing to a "beginning" more fundamental and more authoritative than the Law of Moses: God's original plan for mankind, a plan which man after sin has no longer been able to live up to: "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Mt 19:8). Jesus' appeal to the "beginning" dismays the disciples, who remark: "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry" (Mt 19:10). And Jesus, referring specifically to the charism of celibacy "for the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 19:12), but stating a general rule, indicates the new and surprising possibility opened up to man by God's grace. "He said to them: 'Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those to whom it is given' " (Mt 19:11).

There was no divorce, but there was no formal marriage either in the beginning.  Divorcing one’s wife in order to marry another is adultery.  There can be no doubt about it and the act of marriage is simply cover for the adultery.  That is not to say that if a marriage is already ended that the wronged party should be denied another marriage, or even that it is his or her fault in doing so if the marriage was broken by the other party through adultery, abuse or addiction.  While the wronged party certainly can forgive, they should not be made to.  These are not rules for Heaven but for this life. Mosaic law on marriage was an attribution to Moses of what was the adaptation of a story told by rabbis during the Babylonian exile.  The body of law being discussed was but a few centuries old. As for celibacy, this justification is weak gruel. Indeed, most of the disciples were married and as a likely Pharisee and possibly resident Rabbi of Capernaum, Jesus was probably married. Celibacy became fashionable when the Neo-Platonists imposed the practice of sacred continence upon the rest of the Church and our sexual morality has suffered ever since, becoming as onerous as the purity rules under the Old Law.

To imitate and live out the love of Christ is not possible for man by his own strength alone. He becomes capable of this love only by virtue of a gift received. As the Lord Jesus receives the love of his Father, so he in turn freely communicates that love to his disciples: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love" (Jn 15:9). Christ's gift is his Spirit, whose first "fruit" (cf. Gal 5:22) is charity: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). Saint Augustine asks: "Does love bring about the keeping of the commandments, or does the keeping of the commandments bring about love?" And he answers: "But who can doubt that love comes first? For the one who does not love has no reason for keeping the commandments".29

23. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:2). With these words the Apostle Paul invites us to consider in the perspective of the history of salvation, which reaches its fulfilment in Christ, the relationship between the (Old) Law and grace (the New Law). He recognizes the pedagogic function of the Law, which, by enabling sinful man to take stock of his own powerlessness and by stripping him of the presumption of his self-sufficiency, leads him to ask for and to receive "life in the Spirit". Only in this new life is it possible to carry out God's commandments. Indeed, it is through faith in Christ that we have been made righteous (cf. Rom 3:28): the "righteousness" which the Law demands, but is unable to give, is found by every believer to be revealed and granted by the Lord Jesus. Once again it is Saint Augustine who admirably sums up this Pauline dialectic of law and grace: "The law was given that grace might be sought; and grace was given, that the law might be fulfilled".30

Love and life according to the Gospel cannot be thought of first and foremost as a kind of precept, because what they demand is beyond man's abilities. They are possible only as the result of a gift of God who heals, restores and transforms the human heart by his grace: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Jn 1:17). The promise of eternal life is thus linked to the gift of grace, and the gift of the Spirit which we have received is even now the "guarantee of our inheritance" (Eph 1:14).

Augustine is wrong. While loving includes keeping the commandments, simply doing so is obedience, not love, and is both self-preservation and self-centered.  True love comes from encounter with God.  Simply following rules, regardless of their source, does not. Morality is weak gruel. Encounter with God, which includes morality, involves both charity and justice in love of the other.

24. And so we find revealed the authentic and original aspect of the commandment of love and of the perfection to which it is ordered: we are speaking of a possibility opened up to man exclusively by grace, by the gift of God, by his love. On the other hand, precisely the awareness of having received the gift, of possessing in Jesus Christ the love of God, generates and sustains the free response of a full love for God and the brethren, as the Apostle John insistently reminds us in his first Letter: "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love... Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another... We love, because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:7-8, 11, 19).

This inseparable connection between the Lord's grace and human freedom, between gift and task, has been expressed in simple yet profound words by Saint Augustine in his prayer: "Da quod iubes et iube quod vis" (grant what you command and command what you will).31

The gift does not lessen but reinforces the moral demands of love: "This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another just as he has commanded us" (1 Jn 3:32). One can "abide" in love only by keeping the commandments, as Jesus states: "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (Jn 15:10).

Going to the heart of the moral message of Jesus and the preaching of the Apostles, and summing up in a remarkable way the great tradition of the Fathers of the East and West, and of Saint Augustine in particular,32 Saint Thomas was able to write that the New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given through faith in Christ.33 The external precepts also mentioned in the Gospel dispose one for this grace or produce its effects in one's life. Indeed, the New Law is not content to say what must be done, but also gives the power to "do what is true" (cf. Jn 3:21). Saint John Chrysostom likewise observed that the New Law was promulgated at the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven on the day of Pentecost, and that the Apostles "did not come down from the mountain carrying, like Moses, tablets of stone in their hands; but they came down carrying the Holy Spirit in their hearts... having become by his grace a living law, a living book".34

"Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20)

25. Jesus' conversation with the rich young man continues, in a sense, in every period of history, including our own. The question: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" arises in the heart of every individual, and it is Christ alone who is capable of giving the full and definitive answer. The Teacher who expounds God's commandments, who invites others to follow him and gives the grace for a new life, is always present and at work in our midst, as he himself promised: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20). Christ's relevance for people of all times is shown forth in his body, which is the Church. For this reason the Lord promised his disciples the Holy Spirit, who would "bring to their remembrance" and teach them to understand his commandments (cf. Jn 14:26), and who would be the principle and constant source of a new life in the world (cf. Jn 3:5-8; Rom8:1-13).

The moral prescriptions which God imparted in the Old Covenant, and which attained their perfection in the New and Eternal Covenant in the very person of the Son of God made man, must be faithfully kept and continually put into practice in the various different cultures throughout the course of history. The task of interpreting these prescriptions was entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and to their successors, with the special assistance of the Spirit of truth: "He who hears you hears me" (Lk 10:16). By the light and the strength of this Spirit the Apostles carried out their mission of preaching the Gospel and of pointing out the "way" of the Lord (cf. Acts 18:25), teaching above all how to follow and imitate Christ: "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21).

26. In the moral catechesis of the Apostles, besides exhortations and directions connected to specific historical and cultural situations, we find an ethical teaching with precise rules of behaviour. This is seen in their Letters, which contain the interpretation, made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of the Lord's precepts as they are to be lived in different cultural circumstances (cf. Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 11-14; Gal 5-6; Eph 4-6; Col 3-4; 1 Pt and Jas). From the Church's beginnings, the Apostles, by virtue of their pastoral responsibility to preach the Gospel, were vigilant over the right conduct of Christians,35 just as they were vigilant for the purity of the faith and the handing down of the divine gifts in the sacraments.36 The first Christians, coming both from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, differed from the pagans not only in their faith and their liturgy but also in the witness of their moral conduct, which was inspired by the New Law.37 The Church is in fact a communion both of faith and of life; her rule of life is "faith working through love" (Gal 5:6).

No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-13). The Apostles decisively rejected any separation between the commitment of the heart and the actions which express or prove it (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). And ever since Apostolic times the Church's Pastors have unambiguously condemned the behaviour of those who fostered division by their teaching or by their actions.38

27. Within the unity of the Church, promoting and preserving the faith and the moral life is the task entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles (cf. Mt 28:19-20), a task which continues in the ministry of their successors. This is apparent from the living Tradition, whereby — as the Second Vatican Council teaches — "the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to every generation all that she is and all that she believes. This Tradition which comes from the Apostles, progresses in the Church under the assistance of the Holy Spirit".39 In the Holy Spirit, the Church receives and hands down the Scripture as the witness to the "great things" which God has done in history (cf. Lk 1:49); she professes by the lips of her Fathers and Doctors the truth of the Word made flesh, puts his precepts and love into practice in the lives of her Saints and in the sacrifice of her Martyrs, and celebrates her hope in him in the Liturgy. By this same Tradition Christians receive "the living voice of the Gospel",40 as the faithful expression of God's wisdom and will.

Within Tradition, the authentic interpretation of the Lord's law develops, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who is at the origin of the Revelation of Jesus' commandments and teachings guarantees that they will be reverently preserved, faithfully expounded and correctly applied in different times and places. This constant "putting into practice" of the commandments is the sign and fruit of a deeper insight into Revelation and of an understanding in the light of faith of new historical and cultural situations. Nevertheless, it can only confirm the permanent validity of Revelation and follow in the line of the interpretation given to it by the great Tradition of the Church's teaching and life, as witnessed by the teaching of the Fathers, the lives of the Saints, the Church's Liturgy and the teaching of the Magisterium.

In particular, as the Council affirms, "the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether in its written form or in that of Tradition, has been entrusted only to those charged with the Church's living Magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ".41 The Church, in her life and teaching, is thus revealed as "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" ( 1 Tim 3:15), including the truth regarding moral action. Indeed, "the Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls".42

Precisely on the questions frequently debated in moral theology today and with regard to which new tendencies and theories have developed, the Magisterium, in fidelity to Jesus Christ and in continuity with the Church's tradition, senses more urgently the duty to offer its own discernment and teaching, in order to help man in his journey towards truth and freedom.

 The Love of the Father that commands us to love as the Father loves is beyond us and is beyond natural law, which is available by reason only and is possible to discern without the grace of the Church, although the Grace of God may be available to any who seek the Truth, whether they are Catholic, Christian or not.  When natural law does encounter Christ, it becomes a tool for human fulfillment, not a chastisement of those the Church finds unworthy (and we know who that is). To chastise such people is to absent the Church from that Perfect Love which is of the Father, which is why one of the moral demands of Love is to speak out in the Spirit of Prophesy, as Jesus did to the Temple Priests and his own Pharisee party. Neo-Platonism is a Greek invention and is not of Christ and the Church errs when its sexual teachings are more stoic than Apostolic.  

The Law of Love is Eternal and the Church is charged with teaching it unto the ends of the Earth, but it must also follow that law of love when putting burdens on the faithful out of a sense of piety rather than reflecting human nature as we continually discover it within the Spirit. More souls are lost then saved when the Church fetishizes a sexual law from an imagined realm of ideals and the natural sexuality of its asexual celibate clergy (which is not natural for the rest of us). As for the reference to Magisterium, I suspect St. JP was referring not so much to the Second Vatican Council as continuity with the First.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Veritatis Splendor - Introduction

Given the size of this encyclical, I am posting this analysis in sections. My reactions, as well as the subject headings by St. JPII, are in bold. You can find the encyclical at

Jesus Christ, the true light that enlightens everyone

1. Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, "the true light that enlightens everyone" (Jn 1:9), people become "light in the Lord" and "children of light" (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by "obedience to the truth" (1 Pet 1:22).

This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging "the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). Man's capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.

But no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man's tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life. The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.

There is nothing mysterious about the Eden story if you read it with an open mind and heart. Satan tempts Eve with the thought that she is entitled to the knowledge of God, not what is good and what is evil, but who is good and evil.  Eve blamed God for that, then Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple. This was not about some cosmic act of disobedience but a parable about human nature, cleverly crafted by the Rabbis of Babylon, if not by the Babylonians themselves.

Obedience is a human concept. God’s desire for us is to behave according to our human nature as he created us, maximizing our happiness.  Anything that makes it hard is not from God. It is like the Pharisees and Scribes who loaded rules upon the people in regard to purity.  The asexual clergy of the Roman Church and all manner of Catholic and Orthodox bishops is based not on their human nature but on the attachment dysfunction inherent in the Asexual Orientation, which is common in our celibate clergy and episcopacy.  

It is that spark of light from the creator that had Jesus protest the burdens of his age and which has Catholics rebel when the Vatican puts forth codes of sexual morality that are outside what God wishes for us, which is happiness and freedom to be who we know ourselves to be, both gay and straight, rather than the warped teachings of a clergy that is not even in touch with its own sexuality.

2. No one can escape from the fundamental questions: What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil? The answer is only possible thanks to the splendour of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness: "There are many who say: 'O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord' " (Ps 4:6).

The light of God's face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), the "reflection of God's glory" (Heb 1:3), "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14). Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6). Consequently the decisive answer to every one of man's questions, his religious and moral questions in particular, is given by Jesus Christ, or rather is Jesus Christ himself, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: "In fact,it is only in the mystery of the Word incarnate that light is shed on the mystery of man. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of the future man, namely, of Christ the Lord. It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father's love".1

Jesus Christ, the "light of the nations", shines upon the face of his Church, which he sends forth to the whole world to proclaim the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15).2 Hence the Church, as the People of God among the nations,3 while attentive to the new challenges of history and to mankind's efforts to discover the meaning of life, offers to everyone the answer which comes from the truth about Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Church remains deeply conscious of her "duty in every age of examining the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, so that she can offer in a manner appropriate to each generation replies to the continual human questionings on the meaning of this life and the life to come and on how they are related".4

We all share Jesus, not just the clergy or the hierarchy.  Jesus is the light of nations, not the Vatican. Piteousness is lovely at Mass, but it is not a requirement for clear thinking about a morality that derives from the nature of man as created by God.

3. The Church's Pastors, in communion with the Successor of Peter, are close to the faithful in this effort; they guide and accompany them by their authoritative teaching, finding ever new ways of speaking with love and mercy not only to believers but to all people of good will. The Second Vatican Council remains an extraordinary witness of this attitude on the part of the Church which, as an "expert in humanity",5 places herself at the service of every individual and of the whole world.6

The Church knows that the issue of morality is one which deeply touches every person; it involves all people, even those who do not know Christ and his Gospel or God himself. She knows that it is precisely on the path of the moral life that the way of salvation is open to all. The Second Vatican Council clearly recalled this when it stated that "those who without any fault do not know anything about Christ or his Church, yet who search for God with a sincere heart and under the influence of grace, try to put into effect the will of God as known to them through the dictate of conscience... can obtain eternal salvation". The Council added: "Nor does divine Providence deny the helps that are necessary for salvation to those who, through no fault of their own, have not yet attained to the express recognition of God, yet who strive, not without divine grace, to lead an upright life. For whatever goodness and truth is found in them is considered by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel and bestowed by him who enlightens everyone that they may in the end have life".7

 Most members of the clergy are not even aware that they possess a separate sexuality with its own traits, including an inability to relate to the sexuality of others.  It is decidedly NOT an expert on man and especially not about woman. Nor is it expert in non-Catholic experience.  The Church has only recently been beaten into submission on the fact that non-Catholics go to Heaven.

The purpose of the present Encyclical

4. At all times, but particularly in the last two centuries, the Popes, whether individually or together with the College of Bishops, have developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life. In Christ's name and with his authority they have exhorted, passed judgment and explained. In their efforts on behalf of humanity, in fidelity to their mission, they have confirmed, supported and consoled. With the guarantee of assistance from the Spirit of truth they have contributed to a better understanding of moral demands in the areas of human sexuality, the family, and social, economic and political life. In the tradition of the Church and in the history of humanity, their teaching represents a constant deepening of knowledge with regard to morality.8

Today, however, it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church's moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied. In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church's moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable; and the Magisterium itself is considered capable of intervening in matters of morality only in order to "exhort consciences" and to "propose values", in the light of which each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices.

In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology, with regard to questions of the greatest importance for the Church and for the life of faith of Christians, as well as for the life of society itself. In particular, the question is asked: do the commandments of God, which are written on the human heart and are part of the Covenant, really have the capacity to clarify the daily decisions of individuals and entire societies? Is it possible to obey God and thus love God and neighbour, without respecting these commandments in all circumstances? Also, an opinion is frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality, as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality a pluralism of opinions and of kinds of behaviour could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts.

This is the same old attempt to ignore that natural law reasoning must be based on an understanding of the human person, which has and should evolve with the advancement of science, rather than on tradition, which must ignore change in order to survive.  The attempt to do so here is as incoherent as the attempts made in Quanta Cura and the Syllabi of Errors by Popes Pius IX and X. Relativism is not the problem.  What St. John Paul sees as relative is merely the advancement of knowledge.  Indeed, he and Benedict have carved out a Catholic Relativism where their truth is traditional while the Church is left in the dust of scientific and even theological advancement.  The ability to threaten theologians is much weaker when there are so many to examine. Indeed, the CDF only examines the ones who strike a chord of truth because they are the ones who have been noticed by society.

5. Given these circumstances, which still exist, I came to the decision — as I announced in my Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini,issued on 1 August 1987 on the second centenary of the death of Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori — to write an Encyclical with the aim of treating "more fully and more deeply the issues regarding the very foundations of moral theology",9 foundations which are being undermined by certain present day tendencies.

I address myself to you, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, who share with me the responsibility of safeguarding "sound teaching" (2 Tim 4:3), with the intention of clearly setting forth certain aspects of doctrine which are of crucial importance in facing what is certainly a genuine crisis, since the difficulties which it engenders have most serious implications for the moral life of the faithful and for communion in the Church, as well as for a just and fraternal social life.

If this Encyclical, so long awaited, is being published only now, one of the reasons is that it seemed fitting for it to be preceded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains a complete and systematic exposition of Christian moral teaching. The Catechism presents the moral life of believers in its fundamental elements and in its many aspects as the life of the "children of God": "Recognizing in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life 'worthy of the Gospel of Christ' (Phil1:27). Through the sacraments and prayer they receive the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit which make them capable of such a life".10 Consequently, while referring back to the Catechism "as a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine",11 the Encyclical will limit itself to dealing with certain fundamental questions regarding the Church's moral teaching, taking the form of a necessary discernment about issues being debated by ethicists and moral theologians. The specific purpose of the present Encyclical is this: to set forth, with regard to the problems being discussed, the principles of a moral teaching based upon Sacred Scripture and the living Apostolic Tradition,12 and at the same time to shed light on the presuppositions and consequences of the dissent which that teaching has met.

Everyone who advances spiritually must have a crisis of faith where they have to chose between loyalty to what they have been taught and trust in God that all will work out.  The Popes of the last two centuries have failed the test in many instances, at least when they try to stop the flood of advancing knowledge.  The Apostolic Tradition is the continuing witness of the Resurrection to each generation.  It is not the continuing belief in the Neo-Platonism adopted by St. Augustine and those who share his quite unique Asexual Preference, which has no mention in the Gospel (and, no, Jesus was not a celibate asexual, as a Rabbi and Pharisee (according to John), he would have been married and decidedly heterosexual).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cardinal’s Appeal 2018 Response on ENDA

Joseph M. Glimer,
Executive Director of Development
Archdiocese of Washington

Dear Joseph,

Thank you for acknowledging my $200 contribution for the Cardinals Appeal for this year, which will be taken from my account in $20 a month increments. Fate would have it that my other monthly donation to the Human Rights Campaign is for the same amount. Their project is the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which seeks to insure equality in the workplace for gay and lesbian individuals. I know that the Church shares that goal in the abstract but is currently having difficulty when these employees decide to enter into civil marriage appropriate for their gender identity. Instead of throwing the couple a party, or even blessing the union, they fire the employee.

Please stop doing that. As I learned in the Baltimore Catechism, all civil marriage is considered less than sacramental, yet heterosexual couples are not fired when they contract such unions. I imagine they do get a party and even an offer to bless the union at a later date. That fidelity (and ending promiscuity) is celebrated for one group and not the other is sheer bigotry and sour grapes, considering the leading role the Church played in opposing marriage equality. Its time for the Church to put on its big boy pants and admit it was wrong in this instance.

Gays are differently made. The discovery of Epigenetics proves it, although we should have simply believed these individuals when they told us that they were born this way. It is not a chosen orientation, anymore than those priests for whom celibacy comes naturally chose their asexuality. Many think that those asexual feelings should be a guide to us all. They are not, from sacred continence to unitive sexuality within marriage. Gays and lesbians are open to raising children, if you only allow them to adopt or use IVF, are functional if you leave your preconceptions behind, and marry each other, with the officiant as witness, just like all sacramental unions.

Of course, I am not asking you to solemnize such unions yet, although I will when my daughter is old enough to marry her girlfriend. I am merely asking you to stop indulging in sour grapes and bigotry and in so doing have my contributions cancel each other out.

Of course, to speak prophetically a bit more, you are aware that there is a lawsuit that is using the gay marriage decisions as precedent to declare that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already protects gays and lesbians in their employment rights. There will be no exceptions and I suspect that the next Congress would not enact any, nor would the Court not agree with me that sour grapes is not a justified reason to fire gay employees who marry. While there are those lawyers who would encourage you to let them take that case, I am asking you not to. Indeed, I suspect many of my fellow donors agree. You have our addresses. Just ask us.

Yours in Christ,


Monday, March 12, 2018

The Anachronists

When dealing to those who use Modernism as a religious slur, the chief difficulty is naming them back. Simply calling them anti-Modernists is using their term back at them, but it is not descriptive. Calling them Ultramontinists gets at the governance preferences, but does not really describe their overall epistemology. After Mass yesterday, the word came to me. Anachronist. This captures the full range of their error, whether it is in describing Marriage as an early sacrament (it certainly was not, at least in the Church, until the high Middle Ages),

The biggest Anachronist error is inferring that St. Paul was speaking about mortal sin, which had not been defined as such, when he wrote about receiving Communion unworthily. Paul was obviously talking about receiving without believing, something some Cardinals who have their doubts about the existence of God do today to save face. Whether doing so is a sacrilege or not depends on whether the pastoral interpretation of Paul is correct. Jesus may wish this form of Communion, even from those in crisis.

The second biggest error is inferring that Jesus was talking about all divorce and remarriage in the text where he condemns divorcing one spouse to marry a better one. That is obviously adultery. Being divorced and finding love again has nothing to do with the prior spouse, so it is not adultery against them. Once they divorce you, their property interest in you is done. Indeed, the entire Anachroinist view of marriage, where the wife is subordinate to the husband as the Church is to God is no longer applicable in modern society, on several levels.

Of course, the defiling Anachronism is continued belief in the Garden of Eden myth as fact (whether there were an actual Adam and Eve or two first parents lost to history in the Savannah's of Africa. Some even deny Darwin because of this belief. It is easier just to change how original sin is viewed. The text of Genesis is actually fairly obvious that the sin of the Fall is blame. Satan blames God for not allowing Eve to know who is good and who is evil (sinful), which is the province of God alone. Adam blamed Eve for the apple, Eve blamed the Serpent, thus completing the cycle, which was originally not about salvation, but about why we must farm rather than picking fruit from the trees.

This goes to the heart of the Faith, which for Anachronists is a noun depicting a group rather than trust in God. Anachronists believe in the transactional salvation of St. Anselm, which was used to justify indulgences and hearkens back to the Temple sacrifices to placate an angry God. This is as opposed to a modern view that Christ’s sacrifice was the emptying himself of both his mission and divine origins when he gave Mary unto John’s care in the same way a suicide gives away his stuff, from whence he cries out to God in despair, then drinks of the fruit of the fine and gives up his Spirit, making Calvary a placation of us, not the Father. The Anachroists will never consider such questions, which is their loss, their loss being a more adult faith.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Third Sunday of Lent (B)

I have not been blogging the readings this season, but something about them this Sunday made me feel inspired.

First, we have the Decalouge from Exodus. It is clear from the passage that whomever penned this part of the book also penned Genesis, especially regarding the Third Commandment. I am actually writing this early Monday morning, so I am not breaking the Sabbath, of course I don’t work six days. At Mass today, the Priest did not read the parts in brackets which had your son and daughter and servants and aliens not work. The language of the Commandment does not allow Sabbath swapping. As it is, I could have used a swap while in High School, since I went to work five days and worked at least one or two weeknights and both weekend days washing dishes. The Commandment is for my protection, not to make sure I attend Mass, which was an added obligation, not a mercy.

They also left out the part about graven images, which every Catholic Church is full of, especially if you count the Tabernacle. There is something in the human psyche that likes to direct worship at an external object rather than the unseen God, even when we have received that God in the flesh into our very selves. Finding God in he fleshy experience of Communion provides grace. I have never found the same grace staring at a Monsterance or cross, atlhough I can’t seem to escape the habit of genuflecting before what is only the potentiality of an encounter with God. Of course, the original ban on idols was attributed to God but was of human origin. It can be changed, and if it can be changed, so can all of moral teaching. Still, iconoclasm rings true, even when dealing with the Eucharist.

Last thing on the Commandments, on coveting, note the neighbor’s house is put before his wife. This just reeks of the treatment of women as property in the ancient world. Until we ordain them, they still are.

The first chapter of First Corinthians begins the theme of the Wisdom of Love and its pressence in the death and ressurection of the Christ, with the foolishness of all else. Indeed, that includes all other forms of morality and worship.

The Decalogue is for our benefit, not God’s. Man seeks certainty rather than responsibility. The sacrificial animals and the sacrifices themselves were that certainty. Sacrifices bought off God, which is folly. We are not saved by paying for our sins (or having Christ do it for us), but by seeing Christ’s sacrifice as an act of solidarity with our sinful natures and accepting the gift of Love (the Spirit) into our hearts. The standard of our conduct then goes from following rules and bribing God as necessary with a sacrifice (the marketplace in the temple was but a symptom) or by going to Confession and performing some work to earn an Indulgence, but by praying constantly to love others as God loves them, which is perfectly. It is easy to traffick in sins, penances and indulgences. It is impossible to love others as God loves them, we we can only pray to try with God’s help. That is the true worship and religion of the temple which is Christ.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Letter to the Nuncio regarding Bishop Paprocki denying Eucharist to Senator Durbin

Your Excellency.

The actions of Springfield bishop Paprocki regarding Senator Durbin cannot stand.

Firstly, when St. Paul wrote in Corinthians regarding unworthy reception of Eucharist, he was referring to non-belief in the Sacrament itself, not any idea of mortal sin.

Second, Dignitas Humanae does not require Catholic politicians to turn secular nations into Catholic ones.

Third, this matter, in genenral, was discussed by the American bishops in the guise of the McCarrick commission and the positioin announced by Bishop Paprocki violate that collegiality.

Fourth, while the Congress can, under the 14th Amendment’s enforcement provisions, dictate the stage at which abortion, which is protected because the unborn life is not legally recognized, becomes infanticide, where that life is, (requiring sanctions on both mother and doctor), such language was not added to the bill in question, making the subjectd legislation unconstitutional, or at least apparently so. Neither was there any notion of compromise, which would include a living wage of $1000 per child per month via some kind of tax rebate payable with wage, as mandated by Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii 119-122. That there are political options makes the Bishop’s action inappropriate at the very least and shows that the position of some American bishops is partisan Republicanism, which is a scandal that your Excellency must address.

Fifth, because the Bishop is using the Eucharist to punish the Senator for what the Senator rightly believes is upholding his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, the action of the bishop amounts to Sedition in fact, although not dejure as the Sedition Act has expired.

Sixth, this is not the first time that this bishop has put his fealty to party before his duties to Christ. I ask you to please take appropriate action and remove his office, as he is unfit for Ordination. Please do not simply transfer him to Rome or your dilomatic corps. The Holy Father has enough problems with the Curia without adding Bishop Paprocki to the mix.

Yours in Christ,

Michael Gerard Paul Bindner

Friday, February 16, 2018

Hey, Michael Sean!: Food baskets come with a Gilded Age moral lesson

Hey, Michael Sean!: Food baskets come with a Gilded Age moral lesson: MGB:_This budget is more than dead on arrival, FY19 appropriations have already been passed. Doing so largely mitigated the damage that could have been caused by the tax cut, but it is the spending that will cause jobs, not the tax cut. If the nation is insane enough to keep the GOP in office, there may be later spending cuts which will lead to a recession, but if we keep spending until Democrats can raise taxes again, there will actually be economic growth (mostly because the Democrats traded letting defense cuts pass to get domestic spending).

The tax system is ripe for reform, not just by raising rates on the rich but by removing the more from the tax roles, transferring this tax payment to consumption taxes (the income taxes of workers are essentially a hidden consumption tax), including a subtraction VAT which contains a credit of $1000 per child per month paid with wages, that living wage that Catholic social teaching not only favors, it mandates some form of distribution like that. Having such a credit can result in an end to SNAP, so no food boxes would be necessary. About 74% of abortions would not be necessary either.

People on SNAP do eat badly. This is because the amounts are under what is needed to buy food. Entitlements were cut so that when AFDC was turned to TANF, states would not simply switch to SNAP to take care of the job resistant (these are now either abandoned from the rolls or steered to disability). SNAP is now is even worse for people who need cash (everyone) to buy toilet paper or diapers, so they are forced to trade their cards for fifty cents on the dollar. Including a cash grant is much more essential than a box of food, which many SNAP recipients already get from local food pantries.

Sadly, much of that food is donated from super markets when it has reached the expiration debt (although some of this is simply sent to minority neighborhood stores for sale in food deserts). SNAP is not charity, it is justice, but if it were charity it would disgraceful in in paucity. Food pantry boxes often contain food that is or is about to spoil. Matthew 25 says that when we feed the hungry, we are feeding the Lord. Boxed excess food is often second rate. Is that what we would truly feed Jesus? Are we giving the sacrifice of Cain, which was not accepted and caused him to kill his brother who did give a good offering? Give people money instead and more heavily regulate the quality of food in poor neighborhoods.

Full disclosure. I spent much of last year using pantry food to supplement my disability income. If I am forced to stop drawing from my IRA because of value loss, I will be doing so again, so I know how bad the food can get, not through any malice but because everything donated is distributed (even if it should be composted). I cannot imagine the government doing better.

Conservatives believe we must punish the poor (not a Christian attitude) because if we suppor them (or rather if you suppor us), we will lose the incentive to go and invent the next version of the Internet, join the military and be shot at by the Taliban or simply be there to give you your morning coffee because you are too stupid to use an espresso machine or too lazy to clean it with each use. A servant economy depends on having poor people to be servants. Suffering is seen as a way to enforce conformity to society’s worthies (like our billionaire President).

Giving people a tax cut for each child will take people out of the labor force and allow them not fear poverty If they chose to work in a theater or library or sell hot dogs at the ball park. It may require higher prices to pay the taxes and any higher minimum wage (since no one should have to work for peanuts just to get a child tax credit, but that uncovers the problem with a sane economy that serves everyone, rich people are cheap, entitled and resentful of the poor. It is still hard for the rich to gain the kingdom of God, not (just) in Heaven, but in the earthly kingdom on earth (Thy kingdom come).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Catholic Idols?

Before Mass on Sunday, I was making my way to my pew and came across an old Latina woman kneeling before a statue of Mary with a look of rapturous love on her face. If Mary herself had been walking by, she would have likely admonished the woman for giving worship to a graven image. Of course, what Mary knew came from the teachers of her time and was not far removed from the exile, where much of Judaism was codified, including the part about graven images. It may have originally come from the a meditating Moses on Mt. Horeb, however the reality of that encounter is lost to time, save for what could be an altar with twelve pillars that has been found at the foot of the mountain. Legend has it that Moses heard a voice, but it could have been his own thinking, which is good news for the woman at Mass who is merely violating a suggested moral dictum. There seems to be something in humans that wants a visible icon for worship and or veneration. The Monstrance is such an image. It meets a human need, but it delivers no grace until its contents are ingested. Still, if it gives people hope to get to the next world, it cannot be a bad thing, even if we contradict ourselves by allowing it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Another Catholic Voice in the Public Square – February 2018 edition

It was disappointing, but not unexpected, that this bill went down to defeat.  I have no doubt it was meant to, because a successful abortion bill would have to be bipartisan and that would be the end of the game for the use of abortion as a way to get out Republican and Democratic voters.  I have already blogged about this issue in response to the coverage by National Catholic Reporter at  

First of all, with Pence presiding, they could evoke the Nuclear Option and passed with 50 votes. This was choreographed, and Dolan is playing his part. The last thing the USCCB wanted was a win because a win would have ended the issue and forced the bishops to call poverty an intrinsic evil (which it is). These procedures are incredibly rare, but if this bill is fixed correctly the issue could be ended with the right references to the Constitution. 
Second, this bill could have been made constitutional by tying it to the enforcement power of the 14th Amendment and by including standard exceptions for rape, incest, threat to life (already in the bill) and threat to health when the fetus is doomed to be stillborn (needs to be added). It would also have to consider all abortions after 20 weeks to infanticide, with penalties on the mother as well. Equal protection under law requires it and those who don’t understand that need to find a new issue. One final thing, an excepted abortion must be limited to induction or Cesearean or required fetal pain elimination. 
Third, a bill to settle the issue would need to increase the Child Tax Credit to $1000 per child per month, which is what the USDA says it costs to properly raise the child, although it could be varied if states paid part and only up to local cost. There few abortions in any trimester if the GOP acedes to this, of course, this is where they start talking about people taking individual responsibility. How is that pro-life if such a requirement causes three-quarters of all abortions?

Calling The Susan B. Anthony Fund a pro-life organization rather than a Republican front group, especially given its propensity to go after pro-life Democrats (especially after the Affordable Care Act passed), is outrageous.  Citing the Washington Times as anything but a Republican Rag is not something that should be done if you are speaking for the entire parish.

The women's rights issue is settled as long as you wish to regulate abortion as a medical procedure, which the bill did, rather than using Congressional power under the 14th Amendment to grant personhood to the unborn constitutionally (which is the only way that matters in Court and Congress) and which exposes women who procure abortions at that stage in pregnancy to a charge of infanticide.  Attempts to have it both ways are a great way to elect Republicans, but the deaths of millions of fetuses are as much on your hands for not seeking a real solution.

The Old Testament law on abortion includes mandating it if adultery is suspected (Num 6) and the penalties for loss of a fetus demonstrate that the unborn child was considered property, not a person, whose death could be punished with a cash payment.  Pre-Roe abortion law was in that class.  It was only because Roe considered such behavior to be what it was, an attempt to regulate female fertility, that abortion could be banned.

A deal is easily made in Congress.  The parameters seem to be 20 weeks on the right (throwing first trimester and early second trimester fetuses under the bus) and viability. Assisted viability without long term complications at 25 weeks is probably the end point of any negotiation, except neither side is willing to negotiate.  It would end the issue, cost too much campaign cash and too much volunteer time on both sides.

That Mrs. Clinton did not, as I recommended to her and to President Obama (who followed my advice through my friend Alice Germond), cite the campaign nature of the debate (as if any Democratic woman would vote against her) is what helped lose the election, although recent disclosures from Black Lives Matter show it is more that she did not do enough for that vote and that she was being punished for her husbands mandatory minimums probably had more to do with her loss than any debate points on Partial Birth Abortion or the countless letters from bishops in the Midwest on the issue. Catholics did not win it for Trump. BLM lost it for Clinton in Detroit, Philly, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Still, supporting Trump and his racism cries to Heaven for Vengence.

I would not call women's healthcare a constitutional right because providing it is done as a matter of positive law.  The only way it can be considered a right is that if health care is provided to an eligible women, that denying her reproductive health is an interference with a positive right being granted, which would be unconstitutional sexual discrimination, even if Republicans get away with it.  Federal abortion funding is only provided under the exclusions in the Hyde Amendment and I am sure that it is not what VOT (almost sounds like VOTE, how unfortunate) was referring to.

Regarding the list of "Facts:"

The right to life in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments is limited to governmental action.  For instance, if state welfare agencies decided that after the fifth child, Medicaid beneficiaries were required to have abortions, or if you executed a pregnant woman, that would be a violation of the right to life. China has mandatory abortion. We do not.  For the same reason, mandating birth control in a criminal proceeding, which has been done, or limiting the amount of TANF benefits you can get if you have additional children, which is the law as passed by Gingrich and signed by Clinton, is probably unconstitutional.  While the pro-life side did object to this provision, its objections have died out, which is shameful.  If you want to defend life, start there with the lives you don't particularly want to defend.

Funding for Planned Parenthood does not result in funding for abortion, unless of course you consider the unscientific view preventing a blastocyst from attaching is abortion.  It is not.  A blastocyst contains undifferentiated cells inside of the thoroblast, which is not a part of the child and is eventually delivered as the placenta.  The stem cells are not a person until they begin to organize, this being evidence some kind of organizing energy, force or soul.  Taking cells out a a thoroblast does not harm the eventual child.  After gastrulation, limbs are missing.

The sexuality of a human being is decided both by genetics and whether epigenetic events take place.  We are not sure how gender dysphoria occurs or why some children are born with intersexed genitalia, but research continues and that fact that these things are naturally occurring, and should be respected when these children decide how to live out their GOD-given sexuality is beyond question.  The Church should not interfere with the latter.

Until the thoroblast and stem cells are separated, the development of the zygote is known to be controlled by the maternal genes.  Gastrulation is the first time the male contributions have any say in the development of the child.  That is not theory, but scientific fact.

74% of abortions are financial. 5% are health related (although I suspect that quite a few therapeutic abortions would have occurred to those who hurriedly received an elective abortion. The difference are women who are not sociopaths, but who unthinkingly chose abortion for sociopathic reasons. Nothing the movement has ever said will stop them from such a course and the movement's inability to get behind a $1000 per month child tax credit shows that there are plenty of sociopaths on the Republican side as well.  There is no more sociopathic view than to be pro-life but to deny the need to help all families with children have a middle-class income just because they don't want to pay a bit more in taxes, and certainly no more than they can afford.

That the law contains restrictions on using women's health money is beyond question.  The assertion that all funds are fungible toward abortion is just plain wrong.  There are two OMB circulars relating to financial management by non-profits grantees.  If you think PPUSA offices are not meeting their requirements, even in the face of audit evidence that the really are, make a complaint to the sponsoring agency but quit lying about it in the public square.  The two circulars are A-110 and A-133.  Read them yourselves. Consult a real lawyer before for you repeat calumny about PPUSA.

The question of why women get abortions and why doctors provide them is fundamental  PBS Frontline did a special Emmy-winning episode called The Abortion Clinic where one of the doctors explained that they get into this grim task not because they like it but because they know that the alternatives for these women are bad care or self-induced abortion.  Anyone who is sure they know how evil these doctors are should watch the episode.

Has this newsletter made a difference? That depends.  If you wish to justify your side, then yes. But you are not speaking for all of the parish who can have faith-filled positions and disagree with you, as I have.  I suggest posting all of your pieces on either the parish site or on your own and allow comment, including a box to check designating one is a member.  Dialogue is necessary on this issue or it will be continually categorized as an election year screed.  When that is successfully done, Catholic votes tend to match votes in society at large, as they did in 2008.  It is only by letting us all speak and respond that we might approach not only the truth, but a common strategy to eliminate abortion by eliminating the need for it.

I am still surprised that the March on Washington did not receive its own issue.  I commented extensively at