Sunday, September 10, 2006

What is a Catholic?

Well, nobody seems to be touching this subject with a ten-foot pole, so I guess I'll dive in; fool that I am.

Oh wait. No, I'm wrong. Somebody else did go after this one; and in as predictable a fashion as I would have expected.

Any Catholic who attended church in Canada this morning will likely have heard some version of Pope Benedict's harsh criticism of "the exclusion of God from the public sphere" in Canadian society. From Lifesite:


He acknowledged the "false dichotomies" such as 'tolerance' giving way to homosexual 'marriage' and 'freedom of choice' to abortion, "within the Christian community itself." It is "particularly damaging," he added, "when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls."


That is an interesting point. To what degree should Christian, and especially Roman Catholic political leaders, be influenced by their religious values? Lifesite notes that "until the current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, all Canadian Prime Ministers since Trudeau in the 1960s have been Catholic except for the very brief reign of two months by the Conservative Kim Campbell government."



Moira McQueen, Professor of Theology at the University of Toronto, says in a Globe report:

"Any Catholic politician who was moving along the lines of same-sex marriage and totally ignoring what Pope Benedict was saying, isn't really following their conscience from a Catholic perspective."




James Loney and his partner Dan Hunt consider themselves to be Catholics. (Source: Record - Sept. 9)

But Loney and Hunt say they remain Catholics partly because they find beauty in the traditions of their church.

They attend a monthly healing mass to support people affected by HIV and AIDS, but they haven't found a parish where they feel spiritually nourished.

Hunt said he loves the church's social teaching to help the poor. He also said the church's teaching on the supremacy of following one's conscience enables them to remain Catholic while contradicting church teaching.

(I'm not sure if the Pope sees it that way, but whatever.)


Locally, some Catholics are upset about Bill Clinton coming to speak at the Catholic Counselling Centre, because of the obvious dichotomy of viewpoints between those of the former American President, and those of the Church.

So, what makes a Catholic "Catholic"? Is it a birthright? Is it a convenient label when asked what your faith is? Is it a beautiful ceremony? Is it a comfortable pew?

Or is it some kind of worldview; some set of precepts which helps guide the individual through the path of life? What do you think?

* * * *

Update: Seems that Suzanne was not pleased with this 'scolding'. Interesting comments follow.

She links to an earlier Lifesite entry that says Dalton McGuinty is a Catholic too! What is it with politicians and Catholicism?

The Ontario Bishops think McGuinty's o.k. apparently, because he "included a provision protecting religious objectors to same-sex “marriage” from prosecution. All other Ontario citizens are not protected by the legislation." So, the Bishops supported it because the clergy were protected. (From Feb. 23/05)


VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE!!! Please read Phantom Observer's The Liberal Faith Report. H/T to Suzanne.
I had no idea the Grits were so pious.


More at Blogging Tories forum. Anyone can join in. Even the Pope.
Sames-sex marriage topic.
Abortion topic.


Message from Bishop Fred Henry.
Man forced to marry goat. Funny, but still...

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Practically, the thing that makes a Catholic "Catholic" is quite simply whether or not they take the Pope's edicts as sacrosanct; they have full communion with the Pope. It is the total subjugation of individual interpretation and not some wishy-washy aesthetic concept that defines a Catholic.

I get the sense that you're hinting at general personality characteristics, character of moral judgement or a certain relationship with the divine that encompasses all 'true' Catholics. There is no such overarching theme. A Catholic is someone who doesn't question or challenge the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

What is or is not catholic needs to be determined by the catholic church. The church looks foolish when it plays nicey nice with people who show up for mass on Sunday then repudiate everything the church stands for. Excommunication may seem extreme but the Joe Clarks and Paul Martins of this country must be forced to make make a clear decision. If they want to be a secular humanist then let them. If they want to be catholic then let them abide by the teachings and traditions of the church. The choice is clear and must be made by each individual. The church must stop dithering like so many Liberal politians. Such dithering only serves to make the church weak and ineffectual.

Red Tory said...

What does it mean to be a Catholic? Well if it’s anything like the Church of England, I have a two word explanation for you: tea and biscuits.

Oh sure, my mum and I would go to church (heck, the local abbey in Sleights was literally a stone’s throw away from our house across the road) and attend Sunday mass. The vicar would read his sermon -- blah, blah, blah, blah… We’d sing some hymns, then, when all that nonsense was dispensed with -- “tea and biscuits!” Wherein all the local pepperpots would congregate in the basement to gab and gossip about the latest goings on in the village while all of us kids were put to work dispensing the victuals. Yes, quite a stirring experience, I must say.

The church itself was an old pseudo-Gothic, medieval heap; there was lots of stained glass depicting battle-hardened saints wielding swords, slaying dragons and other godly acts of daring-do that provided some distraction during the yammering part of the service. But I actually preferred going there during the week when no one was about and the place was like a vacuum that existed out of space and time. To me, there was a profound emptiness to it that I couldn’t quite fathom. Well, I was only six years old, after all.

There was a Catholic church were we lived as well that could also be seen in the distance from our house. It was a sorry little affair in my childish estimation. One of these “modern” churches –- very bland and boxy looking. I often wondered who these so-called “Catholics” were and what they did there, why the heck did they have such an ugly church and why are there different faiths in the first place if there’s only one true God? I couldn’t figure it out. I asked my parents and don’t recall getting a satisfactory answer other than a wearisome, “it’s a long story” or some such response.

hunter said...

I'm a Catholic, my husband was raised in a different faith. He now likes going to Mass more than attending his Church. He loves the pagentry of the Catholic Church.

I love the surety of the Church. I know that they do not change their stand on issues such as abortion or SSM because it is popular. We have been calling for priests to be able to marry ever since I can remember, hasn't happened yet. So, I might not agree with everything the Church wants, but I deeply respect the Church for taking a position and not changing it because of political or any other type of pressure.

Last time we went to my husband's Church, he said, never again, it just didn't feel like being in Church, it had no meaning. Since then he has been quite happy going to Mass.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This is great! I'm not going to interject my own opinions just yet. Mainly because I am still in shock from one of our computers totally frying itself today, as I mentioned to Red in a previous thread.

Maybe I should say a prayer that the data on the hard drive can be retrieved...

liberal supporter said...

Look up Holy Catholic in wikipedia. Catholic means "universal".

The Holy Catholic Church is what is also called "Christendom". All those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church is a religious institution that claims a monopoly on catholicism. It claims to be the "Holy Catholic Church" in its entirety, and not just a part of it. It is not. This is well ingrained in the members.

For example, I recall a woman with Polish as her first language, who, at least in English, would use "Roman Catholic" and "Christian" interchangeably. Only the Roman Catholic churches would she refer to as "Christian". I don't know what she called the Anglicans and Presbyterians, but I believe "heathen" was the correct word in my mother's day.

The Roman Catholic Church, under some Popes, acts like many evangelicals, when the clergy try to give orders to government officials who are members of their sect.

The Roman Catholic Church will not use excommunication on uncoorperative politicians. For one thing, it will cause too many of the faithful to question why is the church interfering in politics.

Excommunication is the very symbol of church interference in civil life. When someone has been excommunicated, all laws protecting that person become inoperative. You may freely assault, rob, and kill and excommunicated person, and the local priest will commend you for doing God's work. Naturally, in those days, no government would oppose this, under threat of excommunication as well.

It seems, unfortunately, that the church does best when suppressed. I think it is clear that Pope John Paul the Great had a direct effect in the fall of Communis. The church was suppressed in the iron curtain countries. Many of the early martyrs come from times when the church was suppressed and outlawed. Some later ones were killed with the church's blessing before the mistake was later acknowledged.

With separation of church and state, the churches in most countries were free to exist without being suppressed. Sometimes church leaders emerge who take their exalted status as meaning they should direct government as in the old days.

PGP said...

What is a Catholic?
No easy answer there!
The dedication and integity of Catholics spans the whole gammut of human experience!

On the other hand .... most Catholics of my aquaintance are quite content to live within the edicts of the church and I would not knock them for their faith and dedication.


As for the behaviour of some Catholics...what difference is there with any group?

Red Tory said...

Meet Bill Donohue President of the Catholic League. Maybe he can answer your question.

SUZANNE said...

The church looks foolish when it plays nicey nice with people who show up for mass on Sunday then repudiate everything the church stands for.

***LOUD APPLAUSE***

Liberal Supporter wrote:

The Roman Catholic Church is a religious institution that claims a monopoly on catholicism. It claims to be the "Holy Catholic Church" in its entirety, and not just a part of it. It is not. This is well ingrained in the members.

That is THE BLOODY PROBLEM!!! The clergy won't do a *%&@!! thing about it. ESPECIALLY the priests. They do not teach the Faith.

The Roman Catholic Church, under some Popes, acts like many evangelicals, when the clergy try to give orders to government officials who are members of their sect.

That's a distortion of history. As a matter of fact, more often than not, when the Church pushed for her way, the pope and the papal States got a taste of secular wrath.

Excommunication is the very symbol of church interference in civil life. When someone has been excommunicated, all laws protecting that person become inoperative.

Not true. Excommunication means you are prohibited from taking sacraments and operating in any function in the Church.

You may freely assault, rob, and kill and excommunicated person, and the local priest will commend you for doing God's work.

BULLSH*T. That simply does not exist in Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic Church will not use excommunication on uncoorperative politicians. For one thing, it will cause too many of the faithful to question why is the church interfering in politics.

And you think the faithful among us, those who are very devout, are afraid of this? I don't care if one or a thousand leaves over this. In John 6, Jesus taught about the Eucharist: he knew the teaching would cause scandal. He still taught it. That should be the attitude of the Church, but it's not.

SUZANNE said...

What makes a Catholic a veritable Catholic in the TRUEST sense of the word is the belief that God revealed his Revelation through Jesus Christ and that Jesus commissioned the Church to infallibly teach the Truth about Revelation and to therefore accept the Church's doctrinal authority in matters of Faith and morals; AND to live in a manner that is more or less consistent with this doctrine, i.e. not in a state of mortal sin.

Anyone who does that is a true Catholic. Those who do not do that are not true Catholics-- they are either ignorant or obstinate. Some are just passively obstinate, and some are actively so. They should be disciplined.

Kunoichi said...

As I understand it...

The word "catholic" means, as mentioned before, "universal church." As such, all Christians can be considerred catholic. Who is a Roman Catholic is determined by baptism. If you are baptised in the RC church, you are considerred RC, regardless of whether or not you are practicing, unless you have yourself removed.

A (big C) Catholic is someone who's beliefs are outlined in the Niacine Creed (not sure I spelled that right). "I believe in God, the Father Almight, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord...." etc. At least I think so - it may be an RC thing, too, but I can't say for sure.

Surecure said...

I thought I'd read everything until I came across this:

"Excommunication is the very symbol of church interference in civil life. When someone has been excommunicated, all laws protecting that person become inoperative. You may freely assault, rob, and kill and excommunicated person, and the local priest will commend you for doing God's work. "

What absolute nonsense! What complete drivel! Are you out of your freaking mind or just stupid?!?!? The priest will comment you for killing somebody? Give me a break... you are an absolute moron for even thinking this to be true let alone taking the time to type it out and then have it set in your brain long enough to hit that publish button.

You are a fool.

I was born and raised a Catholic. I am not anymore because I do not believe in what the Catholic church teaches. But unlike liberal supporter here who has some obscene interpretation with what it means for the Church to interfere with civil life, I understand that a Catholic is not a Catholic simply because he or she would like to believe it to be so.

When a person claims to be a member of any religion or sect, what determines the validity of that claim is not the claim itself but rather the actions that support it. I could call myself a Hindu and then call the pillars of Hinduism complete nonsense. Does that make me a Hindu?

liberal supporter sounds like one of those people who thinks the Catholic Church should be silent when a supposed member (not to be confused with a follower) uses his or her position to undermine the Church's teachings. I'm sorry, but you can't get a little bit pregnant, and you can't break somebody's kneecaps with a baseball bat and call yourself a friend.

A Catholic is somebody who doesn't identify his or herself as a Catholic. A Catholic is somebody who follows the teachings and the edicts of the Holy See and shows allegiance and support to the Church as a whole. A Catholic is somebody who attends Mass, takes part in Confession and receives Holy Communion on a regular basis... not just on holidays or holy days.

Fair-weather Catholics are no more honest than fair-weather friends.

Suzanne is right on the mark when it comes to excommunication. You see, we have a choice. That is part of the freedom of being human and is even written in the Bible. But while humans have freedom of choice, the Church does not. The Church is not a democracy, it is a theocracy by its very definition. If the Church decides to excommunicate somebody, it is not interference with civil life. In fact it is the exact opposite: excommunication is the removal of interference by civil life on the Church.

Execution would be interference with civil life, not excommunication. If you don't like what the Church teaches and you don't want to follow it, you are free to leave any time. I did. It doesn't mean I dislike the Catholic church. It doesn't mean I want to change the Church to suit my needs like so many so-called Catholics -- which is the ultimate hypocrisy in my books. It means that I saw through the BS of calling myself a Catholic when I didn't believe what the Church was teaching. It is a scary thing to abandon an identity one has held their entire life. No wonder certain politicians don't have the mettle to acknowledge that one cannot attack one's own faith and call that faith a friend in the same breathe.

In the end, my answer to Joanne's question is simple: being Catholic is not a label or a bumper sticker one puts on to conveniently describe who they are; it is the way one lives their life everyday.

Surecure said...

...that should have read *commend* not *comment* in my first paragraph. I was a little angry at how anybody could be so utterly insane.

I guess I just hold this child's view as calmly as I do those uneducated idiots who say that religion has caused more wars than anything else.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

In the end, my answer to Joanne's question is simple: being Catholic is not a label or a bumper sticker one puts on to conveniently describe who they are; it is the way one lives their life everyday.

I couldn't agree more.


BTW, could someone please let me know where this notion came from about priests saying it is o.k. to kill an excommunicated person? Is there a link or something? I think I missed that in my catechism classes.

Surecure said...

It's never been said or suggested that a priest would approve of killing anybody, let alone somebody who was excommunicated.

I just think a loon went of his meds. It's idiots like that who give small "l" liberals a bad name.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Surecure, good point. We shouldn't paint them all with the same brush, based on the actions of a radical few.

Mary said...

The thing that makes me Catholic.

I call myself a Christian Catholic not a Roman Catholic.

My allegiance first and foremost is to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as mentioned in the Nicene creed. Begotten not made as it says there, one in being with the Father through him all things were made.
My way of worshipping God is by partaking of and being fed by him through Holy Communion, called the Eucharist, which essentially means to give thanks!

My equal allegiance is through reading his holy word each day called the bible. His sacred word is just as important as the Eucharist is to me, to read each and every day because through reading his word I know somewhere in the reading God is going to zoom in on a word or phrase meant just for me just for that day. And for this also I give thanks to God!

That is my Christian Catholic faith.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thank you, Mary. Very well said, and quite courageous too, considering the secular world we live in today.

Mary said...

Now I am going to be more courageous and take a chance and say the following:

This being Sept. 11, it brings to mind what happened 5 years ago into focus and what has transpired since.
No new attacks have taken place in North America due to the vigilance of our countries. But on reflection I wonder that if Osama and his crowd had just been patient long enough, a lot of people would not have lost their lives, in New York, Spain, England, Russia, etc.

Just think of it, by sheer immigration of Muslims to the U.S. and Canada, Europe and other countries around the world, with their birth rates soaring till they are the majority of the culture, they can then apply their strict Sharia law to apply to any country they choose to re-make into the kind of a state they want.

Europe is now in the grips of a declining birth rate so much so that France is offering incentives to women of European decent to have more babies instead of aborting them. We ourselves are not replacing ourselves due to easy to obtain abortions. So it is just a matter of time, when we will all be living under Muslims limitations.
So Osama don’t bomb us, just be patient and wait till you overtake us with your birthrate. That way no one loses their lives now, but the future generations will have to deal with this thorny issue.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mary, I think you make a very interesting point, but we must be careful not to paint all Muslims as terrorists or Islamic extremists. But I understand what you are saying.

Mary said...

Jo
I think I said "Osama". And I think it is Osama that wants to conquer the world. Well my point was that he could do it peacefully just by keeping the cradle full each and every year and since we are not producing but are going one step farther, we are aborting ours the sheer numbers will be very visible soon.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ah, yes Mary. Thanks for clarifying that. ;)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Wow! Check out Jeff Allan's line-up tomorrow on 570!

At 10:30 he will be addressing this topic with some very interesting guests!!!

SUZANNE said...

BTW, could someone please let me know where this notion came from about priests saying it is o.k. to kill an excommunicated person? Is there a link or something? I think I missed that in my catechism classes.

Joanne, Church History is my hobby. I don't know the EXACT origin of this practice, but I can suggest a possible starting point.

In Medieval times, there was the practicing of outlawing, where the secular power declared open season on the the outlaw-- he could be killed with impunity, and his rights did not have to be respected.

I suspect that excommunication and outlawing somehow intertwined-- that excommunication signified being outlawed. But it's clear that excommunication never signified being automatically outlawed. There are plenty cases of people being excommunicated without being outlawed.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Suzanne. That puts a bit of perspective on things. So Liberal Supporter is talking about something as relevant to modern times as the crusades; which is to say not relevant at all.

Surecure said...

I believe there have been a whole 2 people in all of history that were simultaneously (or nearly so) excommunicated and outlawed. As for that oh so common element of those who were excommunicated with priests turning a blind eye to their murder... well...

...let's just say there were even less.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I'm not holding up Catholics or clergy as paragons of virtue, by any means. All I'm asking is could we please have a display of integrity in our elected officials?

Could we please see some underlying ethics that govern their behaviour? I know it's difficult in public life, but it would be so refreshing!

Again I point to Peter Stoffer as an example of integrity in a vast wasteland of political mind manipulation. Oh, and did I mention he will be on Newstalk 570 tomorrow?

http://www.570news.com/shows/jeffallan.jsp

liberal supporter said...

Suzanne: Thank you for researching this, and thank you for limiting your attacks to the statements I made. I waited, mainly to see if Joanne would enforce her rules against personal attacks with "surecure", and partly to see if "surecure" could come up with any original insults, but to no avail in either case. But it's Joanne's place and she should run it as she sees fit. I could be wrong, perhaps "surecure" is actually an MD who is qualified and licenced to give medical diagnoses, such as describing the inner workings of my brain, and declaring me a loon, a fool, off my meds, and certifying me as insane. Entertaining but not helpful or new.

Despite the initial shouting "BS", you stayed focussed on attacking the statement, and for what it's worth, you have greatly increased my respect of you for that.

I was stating that excommunication is an example of the interference of church in state. Though I did mention "in those days", I was remiss in not stating clearly that I was referring to medieval times. As you point out, excommunication and outlawing were intertwined, I would think that is because the church and state were very unseparated in those days.

Joanne, I disagree with it being "not relevant at all" because it is "as relevant to modern times as the crusades". An interesting choice of metaphor. In another thread here on 9-11, there is discussion of Muslims. I believe their radicals refer to us as "crusaders", and in their calendar it is the year 1427. We certainly see medieval behaviour from radical parts of the Muslim world, with fatwas for blasphemy, in which it is said to be a religious duty to carry out the killing, and declared jihads, also said to be a religious duty to participate.

But just as excommunication today is a means of encouraging repentence (the excommunicant is still a Roman Catholic and expected to continue to attend Mass, though denied the sacraments), modern Muslims will tell you jihad is a spiritual struggle with oneself.

My reading on this includes a book "The Bad Popes" by E.R. Chamberlin. Not at all a bashing of the Church, it describes Popes who changed the course of Church history.

And for dr. surecure, the "2 whole people" includes:
Robert Bruce
Martin Luther (and all confessors of his doctrine)
Elizabeth I
Goliards in the 1250s (stamped out by 1300)
The entire population of Florence (Gregory XI in 1375)
Frederick II
Joan of Arc (not actually outlawed, just excommunicated and burned at the stake)

Hailey said...

The person that believes that excommunicated people can be done away with and the Priest is totally out to lunch.

I think that people who are baptized into the Church will always have some identity as Catholics and have some ties to the Church because of that but, really, they are not people who are faithful to the Magistrium and not people who should be considered Catholics.

I am a non-Catholic though so my opinion probably doesn't count for much!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I am a non-Catholic though so my opinion probably doesn't count for much!

Hey, you are absolutely entitled to your opinion, and it counts for a lot here!

I'm interested to see how non Catholics view this somewhat hypocritical attitude of politicians when they wave their religious banners, but don't put it into action.

Catholic politicians are among the worst because the beliefs are clearly defined; unlike many other faiths where there is a huge division in official dogma.

The Catholic religion has the advantage (or disadvantage) of being one of the only faiths where dogma is not based on popular and changing belief systems.

How can a politician call him or herself a Catholic and still be in favour of abortion, gay-marriage, euthanasia, swingers' clubs and decriminalized prostitution?

And when that politician then goes and takes communion, it is deeply offensive to many Catholics.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I waited, mainly to see if Joanne would enforce her rules against personal attacks with "surecure",

I've been a bit lax in that regard, mainly because JDave is on holiday and so Comment Moderation is off. When he returns with his potty-mouth I shall be very vigilant.

Just don't use any vulgarity, o.k. guys? Thanks.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I was stating that excommunication is an example of the interference of church in state.

I totally disagree with that statement.

SUZANNE said...

Liberal Supporter wrote:

Despite the initial shouting "BS",

I did kind of think it was a bit harsh on second thought, Liberal Supporter. Sorry about that.

The Catholic religion has the advantage (or disadvantage) of being one of the only faiths where dogma is not based on popular and changing belief systems.

That's a bit strong.

Catholicism will draw on what is compatible in secular belief systems. This is an orthodox practice, and many people do not realize this. St. Augustine drew on the ambient Neo-Platonism of his day, St. Thomas Aquinas drew on Aristotle, Pope John Paul II drew on the philosophical system known as "phenomenology". They were all inspired by these systems to develop another understanding of doctrines. All Truth is interrelated, and whether a religious person discovers it or a secular, it's still Truth. It sheds light on other truths.


What distinguishes the Church from many other religious communities is that once the Church admits a doctrine to be true, it never rejects it. So the Church will never reject all those unpopular hot button doctrines that lefty dissidents routinely criticizes. There will be no contraception allowed, no abortion, no gay marriage.

A hundred years ago, it was said the Church would give in on its teachings on divorce and marriage. It hasn't.

That is why it is so futile for dissident to try to change the Church. It's been attempted before. It was attempted by all the Christological heretics of the first 8 centuries; it was attempted by the heretical movements of the Middle Ages; it was attempted by the Protestants; it was attempted by the rationalists; it was attempted by modernists; and in the last fifty years it was attempted by socialists.

It simply does not work.

The Church, whatever the sins of her children, always, as a whole, clings to her doctrines. That has always been the case, it will always be the case.

Dianne said...

Great Suzanne! To be a Catholic is to believe in the Eucharist and in Transubstantiation, to be in full communion with the Pope, to believe in the saints, the 7 sacraments...The whole Niocene or Apostle's Creed.
And a Catholic is one who is working on becoming holy.

Anonymous said...

The teachings and tenets are spelled out in the Faith before you join or if you disagree are free to leave and join a faith
you can live by.
Keep in mind that being in a Church or Mosque every week makes you no more a Muslims than me living in a garage would make me a Car.