Friday, September 7, 2012

Later Finally Comes!

What a week it has been! I have been in overdrive the last few days and catching news in snatches.  As for blogging: later, later, later, and later never comes!  I wonder how some other blogging priests do it - they must be great at multi-multi-tasking (sic).

Well the spectre of child abuse continues to raise its ugly head in Ireland.  This week the Church's internal auditing office released reports into four dioceses and three congregations: not good reading.  Some have not learned the lessons of the last two decades, and in some cases incredible naivety has been displayed by those who should know better.  To be honest it has been known for decades, centuries even, that sexual contact between an adult and a minor was wrong. 

That said, the bias in the media was made very clear again as news programmes spent a long time talking about the reports and getting reactions in comparison with the paltry coverage they gave to the recent report into the State's handling of child care and the deaths of 200 children in State care in recent times: ministers got off light as did the organisations involved.  But then we expect that now, double standards.

Fr Benedict Groeschel has also hit the headlines for unfortunate remarks.  I know Fr Benedict and he was a great help to me in discerning my vocation.  He is one of the holiest people I have ever met, a man who has spent his entire life in the service of the poor and downtrodden seeking nothing for himself but to serve Christ in the most poor and unwanted.  Few people can claim to have done that.  His books and talks have helped millions of Catholics and non-Catholics come closer to God, and as it seemed the Church was in meltdown and the lunatics taking over, he reminded us of the hope Christ offers and encouraged us to take up our baptismal responsibilities to live and proclaim the faith.  I remember one liberal priest once described him to me as "the most dangerous man I know" - indeed he was, he was pulling the rug from under the dissenters! 

Fr Benedict has not been well for some time, and as a saint (which I believe he is) he has tremendous compassion for all, even the most heinous of criminals and sinners.  Living in a culture where we are to understand that forgiveness and compassion are not to be shown to certain people because of their crimes, Fr Benedict's compassion will not be understood.   As Christians, though, we must remember Our Lord died alongside criminals and ate with sinners and, horror of horrors, forgave them, scandalising polite society.  And a note to liberals: as Christians when we speak of compassion it does not mean tolerance, support or condoning sins or crimes; I understand that secular progressives may have a different definition.  Given all he has been through in recent years, prudence failed him here and innocent people were hurt by his remarks.  He has apologised and withdrawn from broadcasting.  We should pray for all involved.

One of Fr Benedict's great themes was that of death and what happens when the last breath is squeezed out of us: where do we go?  Well there is a very good article by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on this.  As a priest I frequently meet Catholics who do not believe in hell or purgatory and who honestly believe that when we die there is no judgement but immediate entry into heaven.  There, surrounded by family and friends, they will continue the hobbies they had here on earth and live life their way.  A sort of Valhalla or happy hunting grounds, or indeed pastel-coloured clouds floating around the universe - the sort of thing we saw in the movie The Lovely Bones

Fr Lucie-Smith experiences the same issues concerning the afterlife and the last things.   The great presumption of these times is that we are all going to heaven the minute we die regardless of how we lived or served God.  This presumption is having devastating effects - people no longer see the need to live moral lives or worship God since we are all going to heaven, so it makes no difference what we do.  The irony here, of course, is that if this is true, then everyone ends up in the same blissful existence all together, even those our society spends so much time demonising.  Imagine it, permissive secular socialists on the same cloud as fundamentalist conservative traditionalist Catholics forever and ever and ever.......  That might get them thinking!

And finally, how do make pro-abortion, anti-God Democrats uncomfortable?  You just pray!  Here is the video of Cardinal Dolan's prayer at the end of the US Democrats National Convention. It was a pointed prayer, as they knew it would be - hence their initial refusal to invite him.  It was a very interesting convention - their pro-abortion and pro gay marriage agenda has now been set in stone and they began their discussions by taking God out of the equation, only to put him back in, though most at the convention seem to boo the reinsertion.  Strange goings on. 

Anyway, over to Cardinal Dolan.  My favourite bit is at 3.55 when he prays for Romney and Ryan, at that moment the camera is on a lady who seems to be expressing a difficulty at the idea of praying for the enemies, or at least that's how I read it.

And here's another video from the convention exposing the double standard that is at the heart of the so-called pro-choice position.

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