Universalis, About this blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vatican does NOT change tune on condom use for HIV

So AFP reports that the Pope now allows condom use to reduce risk of HIV (reported here at TheAustralian.com.au), but in fact, he did not say that:
 There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
 When asked, "Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?" he replied:

She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.
[Italics are quoted from what Pope Benedict XVI said in the interview, emphasis is mine, however]
Apart from the link to Dr. Janet Smith's clarification of this above, Jimmy Akin provides more insights in the National Catholic Register.
The Pope says that condoms are not regarded as a real or moral solution, and if it is not moral, then it is immoral, and is therefore wrong. However, he speculates what is actually a valuable insight: it does demonstrate a growing awareness of responsibility or some moral consideration involved for one who would use condoms with the HIV risk in mind. This simply supports the point that the Holy Father is making: that not everything is simply permitted, and there ought to be a more human view of sexuality.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Questions for GotQuestsions: Foundations

GotQuestions starts off by laying down its foundations: "We strongly believe that the Bible is to be our guide for faith and practice. While we recognize the value of church traditions, we refuse to accept any tradition that is not clearly supported by the Word of God."

This is my response:

The books and letters of the nascent Christian Church were written over a long period of time, from St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians in the AD 40s to the book of Revelations in AD 90 or so. The oldest possible list that we know of that makes the New Testament canon (table of contents) codified or made official is from the Muratorian fragment, which might have been drawn up at the earliest in AD 170, supposedly. Synod-based canonization of the Bible is recorded from Rome (AD 382), Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). My questions then:
  • What then was the "guide for faith and practice" for the early Church before this canon of Scripture was authorized to the universal Church?
  • What is the basis for today's Christians to believe in the canon of the New Testament, and why should they trust these synods of bishops? After all, the Bible does not state which books and epistles are inerrant and God-breathed.
  • How does this professed doctrine of sola scriptura square with St. Paul's straightforward attribution to the Church as "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim 3:15)?
Now of course I am not belittling the value of Scripture. It is inerrant and God-breathed in a way that the Church Magisterium is not. The best that the Magisterium has is infallibility (can't teach error as truth) whereas the Bible has God as the primary author. But you can't have one without the other! They are both necessary and are both in God's plan, so neither one should be ignored, nor should they be used incorrectly. One such manner of using them incorrectly is to pit one against the other.

Questioning Catholicism

My sister points to this site, Catholic Questions - questions from Catholics and about Catholicism, and its questions that have gotten her confused. I'll try and sneak in my answers to the site's questions about Catholicism (from a Protestant perspective) and invite all who might wander in to chime in as you please. I'm not a trained Bible scholar nor a theologian, but I'll give it a go with what I have learned so far and what I find as I do some research. Please pray for me and my sister, and all whose faith is shaken by questions like these.

Government in the Church

Fr. Michael Sweeney has written two articles on this so far, and they are must-reads:
Part 1: Introduction & Collaboration Between Laity and Hierarchy and
Part 2: The Church is Neither an Absolute Monarchy nor a Democracy. There are probably rumblings about Church structure and governance in most parishes, especially in western/affluent countries. Some would even link this to the sex abuse crisis, giving too much credit to the structure and too little to sin, I think. But this topic is important for even more fundamental reasons, as I think Fr. Sweeney will make clear in those articles.

Thoughts on a New Knighthood

From Archbishop Charles Chaput. (Link to Catholic Exchange)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

At the massacre in the Syriac Catholic Church, even a 3-year-old was murdered

 “Among the victims of this senseless tragedy was a little boy named Adam. Three-year-old Adam witnessed the horror of dozens of deaths, including that of his own parents. He wandered among the corpses and the blood, following the terrorists around and admonishing them, ‘enough, enough, enough.’ According to witnesses, this continued for two hours until Adam was himself murdered.”

Catholic Bloggers Ignoring the Pope's "Fundamental Priority"?

From the Sacred Page: I would paraphrase it as "don't forget Domini in the (blogged) verbum. In other words, read Verbum Domini (and I haven't yet).

Update: Five noteworthy points from the exhortation, provided by The New Theological Movement.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Define happiness

So a UK study concludes that only-children are happier than those with siblings. But what constitutes being happy? It is a very subjective word, and if it is characterized (as in the quoted survey questions) as the absence of competition within the family, or adversity, then yeah, I might buy that. But are those the only things that constitute happiness? Are those even the notions of happiness that will ever matter to us in the real world? Hah!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jihadists, Truth and Father Raymond J. de Souza « The American Catholic

From American Catholic. And when you hear of so-called martyrs wearing bomb vests who detonate themselves and other people in their vicinity, remember that a martyr is, literally, a witness. What witness do they offer in these acts of violence? Long before such witness was ever conceived, Christian martyrs have been witnesses of a different sort. They were martyred in the coliseum, shredded by lions. Or on crosses, to die of asphyxiation after hours or days in agony. Or bludgeoned to death with rocks, fists or kicks. In all these, their witness was of a different sort, because they were unarmed. All they had was faith. Sometimes, they had words, but always, unarmed (or they would not be declared martyrs of the Christian faith).

Is that tragic? Yes, truly tragic, but not for them, for in their defenseless deaths, if they were not burning with hatred, they are victorious. The tragedy is for those who hear of these murders and shrug their shoulders in complete apathy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Population bomb still a fizzer 40 years on | The Australian

Full article from The Australian

Did that read like a "rant," perhaps a tad "inflammatory?" No, I didn't think so, and yet that's how it sounded to one commentator. I guess I'm commenting on how people can react when they hear something that they are passionately opposed to. I hear it from my 10-year-old from time to time, and I guess that goes with the age.

But on to the population issue -- being a best-effort (but far from perfectly) orthodox Catholic, I would naturally go with the author: let's be reasonable. I think this debate can do with some balance. We can't blindly advocate for 10 children per family (I have four and that's it), but we can't go the other extreme either. Children are good, in and of themselves. I can't, for the life of me, understand why rich couples would settle for two children! For the rest of us, parents do have to be responsible enough to weigh everything, in prayer, and come up with what's reasonable for them. Applying population science to family sizes, however, is going overboard. Apart from the fact that each family is different, population science can miss many factors, such as man's ingenuity and ability to increase production of needed resources -- without harvesting wheat or taking meat from bovines to extinction. Add to that the complexity of the socio-economic and cultural issues involved.

Let's not forget that today's environmental problems will not be solved simply by tightening belts. We need brilliant minds and mighty sinews for that, which calls for new generations to be born. The way I see it, there's so much going wrong in the world that the best thing we can do -- assuming reasonable prospects for success, is we raise up and throw our best and brightest at those problems. We have to feed them though, and train them up right, but you have two choices when your house is getting cramped: you start throwing people out or you build yourself a bigger house. Which one will it be?

Jesus statue in Poland now taller than one in Rio de Janerio :: EWTN News

Full story from EWTN News

Probably not the most important project to embark on right now; the world needs a living witness, and that would be a Church that was faithful to Jesus and keeps his commandments.

On the other hand, if there were no other pressing matters, there shouldn't be hard feelings about whose statue is taller. Wouldn't it be great if every country had a visible witness that Christ is King? (BTW the feast is coming up: 21 November).

Today my doctor (!) shared an exegesis of the scene where Judas had to kiss Jesus in order to identify him from among his disciples. Why was the kiss needed? Because his faithful disciples (Judas not among them) had become so like Jesus that it really was hard to tell them apart. And that's the challenge to all Christians. As St. Josemaria Escriva says in The Way: How I wish your bearing and conversation were such that, on seeing or hearing you, people would say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ.

That's all of us: living witnesses, every one. And that's a more powerful witness than 33-meter-high statues.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Story About Life (abortions in Victoria)

The usual lines in 2008 from members of parliament were "it only legislates what is already reality" and "it will not increase the number of abortions." One is a false and evasive statement and both were proven to be incorrect.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The joy of life, a life of joy

The culture of life, in the Catholic tradition, is for both: life is a cause for joy, and life is about happiness. But it is so important to understand what these words fully mean, and to settle for no less than their fulfillment. God is the ultimate joy, and the fullness of life. And He means them for us in superabundance.