Wednesday, December 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following note concerning the signing of the recent decree on the heroic virtues of Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

  "The Pope's signing of the decree 'on the heroic virtues' of Pius XII has elicited a certain number of reactions in the Jewish world; perhaps because the meaning of such a signature is clear in the area of the Catholic Church and of specialists in the field, but may merit certain explanation for the larger public, in particular the Jewish public who are understandably very sensitive to all things concerning the historical period of World War II and the Holocaust.

  "When the Pope signs a decree 'on the heroic virtues' of a Servant of God - i.e., of a person for whom a cause for beatification has been introduced - he confirms the positive evaluation already voted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. ... Naturally, such evaluation takes account of the circumstances in which the person lived, and hence it is necessary to examine the question from a historical standpoint, but the evaluation essentially concerns the witness of Christian life that the person showed (his intense relationship with God and continuous search for evangelical perfection) ... and not the historical impact of all his operative decisions".

  "At the beatification of Pope John XXIII and of Pope Pius IX, John Paul II said: 'holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise of the divine grace which shines resplendently in them'.

  "There is, then, no intention in any way to limit discussion concerning the concrete choices made by Pius XII in the situation in which he lived. For her part, the Church affirms that these choices were made with the pure intention of carrying out the Pontiff's service of exalted and dramatic responsibility to the best of his abilities. In any case, Pius XII's attention to and concern for the fate of the Jews - something which is certainly relevant in the evaluation of his virtues - are widely testified and recognised, also by many Jews.

  "The field for research and evaluation by historians, working in their specific area, thus remains open, also for the future. In this specific case it is comprehensible that there should be a request to have open access to all possibilities of research on the documents. ... Yet for the complete opening of the archives - as has been said on a number of occasions in the past - it is necessary to organise and catalogue an enormous mass of documentation, something which still requires a number of years' work.

  "As for the fact that the decree on the heroic virtues of Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII were promulgated on the same day, this does not mean that from now on the two causes will be 'paired'. They are completely independent of one another and each will follow its own course. There is, then, no reason to imagine that any future beatification will take place together".

  "It is, then, clear that the recent signing of the decree is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Rather we trust that the Pope's forthcoming visit to the Synagogue of Rome will be an opportunity for the cordial reiteration and reinforcement of ties of friendship and respect".
OP/DECREE PIUS XII/LOMBARDI                                             VIS 091223 (660)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Venerabile Est!

Good news! Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree today recognizing the heroic virtue of the Servant of God John Paul II. This means he's now the Venerable John Paul II. This means all that remains for beatification is the vote of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on the miracle already attributed to him and the approval of the Pope recognizing the miracle, should the Congregation approve it.

Bl. JP II in 2010? It's possible. But we await the prudent timing of Rome.

Also interesting is that Pius XII is now Venerable Pius XII.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Dignity" or Right to Reject Moral Teaching

There is a sad note today in the body of Christ as a whole, as an ecclesial community "elects" as bishop yet another person who has embraced a lifestyle contrary to the moral teachings of Christ, His holy apostles, and two millennia of Christian tradition.

Those advocating the election of someone who is living with a lover of the same sex claim that this is about respecting the dignity of such a person. In other words, it is necessary, according to them, to elect this person in order that their dignity may be upheld.

But the issue is really not about dignity. That person would have their dignity no matter what, even if they are living in sin, though they would not be living according to the dignity of the sons and daughters of God. Still they would need to be respected as a person. But respect as a person does not mean you elect them to a position within the body of Christ that requires, even demands, a spotless moral life (which is why it is a serious scandal when people in said position do not live according to the mystery of the passion of Christ and fall into serious sin). It seems apparent that the real issue at stake is not a pseudo-claim at dignity but rather an attempt to reaffirm this particular denomination's rejection of the centuries of Christian moral teaching.

And that teaching is clear:

The tendency of same sex attraction, though disordered in its nature, is not in itself a sin, since that tendency is not the moral choice of the person with said tendency. Such persons are called to chastity outside of the sacrament of matrimony (just like everyone else).

Persons with same sex attraction are not to be discriminated against due to their tendency.

However, in the case of a person who engages in the sin of same sex intercourse, it is right for the Church to exclude from certain offices such a person based on the bad example of their moral life. Since the act of same sex intercourse is within the decision making capability of the person with same sex attraction, that act can indeed be deemed culpable to the person. Of course, moral theologians explain that the severity of the culpability may be mitigated by the psychological maturity of the person or due to other factors, etc, and so though the sin itself is to be condemned as grave, none of us can condemn the person (say they are going to hell). However, we are called to solicite the conscience of the person (remind them of the gravity of the sin) that they may repent so that they may not be lost, should they be gravely culpable. None of this is to cast dispersion upon the dignity of the person with same sex attraction, but rather to be sure that they do not sin and infringe upon their own dignity and the dignity of holiness that Christ looks to bestow upon us.

No. We do not have the right as Christians to place those who are living immorally into positions of leadership and those in such positions will have a greater accounting before the judgment seat of Christ (I tremble myself when I think of this). Neither should we Christians mask the rejection of Christian moral teaching under the guise of respecting dignity. This is an age old trick of hiding evil under the mask of good (though I am not claiming that those who are saying they are "respecting dignity" are aware that they are masking evil under the guise of good... they could simply be deceived.).