November - December

Notes from Across the Atlantic

Richard John Neuhaus FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

WHAT UNDERMINES THE FAMILY?

A recently received manuscript laid out in tediously precise detail the six social dynamics undermining respect for the family. Not five, mind you, and not seven, but six. The author was insistent about that. There is a type of mind that seems to think nothing is said precisely unless it is numbered. Peter Altenberg, a major figure in Vienna’s...

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The Church and the New World Order

Editorial FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

A Global Crisis

It is always a truism to observe that we live in troubled times. Every era thinks of itself as troubled. Neither is it anything new to...

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Children: Bad for this Planet?

On the 6th May last the Sunday Times published an article which suggested that having large families was an ‘eco-crime.’ It quoted John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family...

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The Servant of God: Pope John Paul II

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

“Theology, philosophy and science all speak of a harmonious universe, of a ‘cosmos’ endowed with its own integrity, its own internal ,...

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The Return of Nuclear Power and Political Correctness

Reality can be ignored for a while, but eventually it forces us to face the facts. Gradually, inexorably, it is becoming clear that there is no safe and practicable way to provide our energy needs...

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The Undermining of the Family: Where are we at?

The Catholic Church and Christian values in general are suffering considerable opposition in society on a variety of issues. As a result our influence is ebbing from public life and we are...

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Father Fleming Replies to Father Quigley

I am grateful to Father Quigley for being so ready to respond to the criticisms I have made of the All That I Am (ATIA) even if I find the response disappointing in so far as it does not clearly...

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Reclaiming Economics for Christians

Edward Hadas FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

 “He has let us know the mystery of his purpose... that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the...

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Post-Modern Globalisation: A Portrait

Marguerite A Peeters FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

A Global Cultural Revolution

Since the end of the Cold War, hundreds of new concepts have spread like wildfire to the remotest corners of...

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Meditation: Healing Society and Human Sanctity

The Church teaches many things about the way in which society should work: about the laws we make, about how we treat one another and respect each other’s rights, about behaving justly with...

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Guidance in an Age of Unethical Charities

As anti-life values permeate more and more Charities of once great integrity one has to choose carefully how to live out one's duty to give alms. Parishioners in our under-catechised Church...

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The Cause of Post-Modernism

The first principle of the Reformation was the denial of the inerrancy and the infallibility of the Church... Insofar as Humanism and Neo-Modernism sweep whole provinces of the Church - Benelux,...

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

OUR SACRAMENTAL VISION

Dear Father Editor

Thank you for the last issue of FAITH. I found Fr Nesbitt’s piece on baptism helpful and quite moving –...

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Comment on the Comments

Comment on the Comments

William Oddie FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

THE CONTINUITY OF EPISCOPAL SELF-DEFENCE

The implications of the Pope’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum continue to ripple out. The first...

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Pope Benedict on the Modern Cultural Crisis

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi S. J. has commented on the Holy Father’s question-and-answer session in late July with priests from two...

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The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

Ecumenical and inter-religious developments in the search for a modern apologetic

POPE BENEDICT PICKS UP THE THEME

In his sermon at Mariazell, while on a...

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Cardinal Newman, Pope Benedict and Liturgical Words

In the Authorised Version of the Bible, St Paul tells Timothy, ‘hold fast the form of sound words’ (2 Tim 1:13). It relates to matters of doctrine, but John Henry Newman applied it to...

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Sunday by Sunday

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007
Our regular guide to the Word of God in the Sunday Liturgy

Sunday 4th November
31st Sunday in ordinary time Year C
Lk 19:1-10

The comical character of Zacchaeus...

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Jesus of Nazareth
by Pope Benedict XVI, Bloomsbury, 374pp, £14.99

Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt
by Anne Rice, Random House, 350pp, £6.49

It may seem incongruous to review a book by a...

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Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge

FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

A special feature keeping us up to date with issues of science and religion

RATIONAL ATHEISM?

In an ‘open letter’ in the September issue of...

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  • Notes from Across the Atlantic

    Richard John Neuhaus FAITH Magazine November-December 2007

    WHAT UNDERMINES THE FAMILY?

    A recently received manuscript laid out in tediously precise detail the six social dynamics undermining respect for the family. Not five, mind you, and not seven, but six. The author was insistent about that. There is a type of mind that seems to think nothing is said precisely unless it is numbered. Peter Altenberg, a major figure in Vienna’s café society at the beginning of the last century, wrote: “There are only two things that can destroy a healthy man: love trouble, ambition and financial catastrophe. And that’s already three things, and there are a lot more.” Precisely.

    CATHOLIC THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

    Avoiding contact with those with whom you disagree is a “sophomoric strategy”. So said Prof. Daniel Finn of St. John’s University in Collegeville in his valedictory address as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). The CTSA has been somewhat marginalised in recent years. Ten years ago, Bernard Cardinal Law called it a “wasteland”, and Avery Cardinal Dulles, a former president of CTSA, said it “constitutes a kind of alternative magisterium for dissatisfied Catholics”. Finn said that CTSA’s frequent statements criticising the Magisterium of the Church were counterproductive, alienating church leadership and reducing support for changes desired by CTSA members. His theme was power as “part of the software of daily life”, and the ways in which academics havedistanced themselves from that reality. Closely related to the question of power, he noted that the organisation was losing members because “conservative” theologians wanted nothing to do with it. On his mind may also have been the awareness that a substantial number of distinguished theologians have been making plans to establish a new theological society for scholars more attuned to the Magisterium. Finn’s address received a standing ovation, but what difference it will make for the future of CTSA is very much in question. Finn was careful in not repudiating former statements but suggested that in the future such criticisms of Rome might better come from individual theologians rather than from the CTSA as an organisation.

    INCREASING LAY MINISTRY

    The number of priests is in decline but “lay ecclesial ministers” (LEMs) are popping up all over. The late Msgr. Philip Murnion, a sociologist who founded the National Pastoral Life Centre, called the phenomenon “a virtual revolution in parish ministry”. Many see the revolution as a very good thing, a remedy for a “priest-ridden” Church, to use a favoured locution of classic anti-Catholicism. There are today 31,000 certified lay ecclesial ministers working in American parishes today and 18,000 more are in training. The total number of priests is 43,304. In many cases, LEMs run parishes and are the ministry of the Church for everything except sacramental acts requiring a priest. In such cases the LEM hires, so to speak, a priest for piece work. (With the permission of the bishop, to besure.) If it is not a revolution, this is certainly a radical change in the understanding and practice of ministry in the Catholic Church. John Allen, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, highlights an additional dimension of the phenomenon that is worrying many. Eighty percent of LEMs are women. David DeLambo of the aforementioned pastoral centre says this, too, is a very good thing. Women ministers, he says, “bring sensitivity to lay concerns and to families, as well as to issues related to gender and inclusion”. Critics disagree, pointing to the increasing “feminisation” of the Church. In 1999, Leon Podles published The Church Impotent: The Feminisation of Christianity. A First Things reviewer (October 1999) thought he got much of his historywrong, but even casual observers know what scholars have documented, namely, that religion is disproportionately a “woman thing”. As Podles puts it with a charming bluntness, “Women go to church, men go to football games.” Christianity’s alienation of males is the theme of a more recent book by David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church. Murrow, a specialist in media and advertising, says: “It’s not too hard to discern the target audience of the modern church. It’s middle-aged to elderly women.” They have what churches need, time and money. In addition, says Murrow, “If our definition of a ‘good Christian’ is someone who is nurturing, tender, gentle, receptive and guilt-driven, it’s going to be a lot easier to find women who will sign up.” Which leads Allen to ask thequestion, “If the tone in most parishes is being set by female ministers, what will that do to the comfort level of men, given that women are already over-represented?” Some think that women LEMs are a step toward the priestly ordination of women. Others, recognising that that is not going to happen in this millennium or the next, see LEMs as virtual priests without ordination. So why don’t bishops recruit more men to be LEMs? In large part, Allen plausibly suggests, because they want to recruit men to the priesthood. Or, in the case of married men, to become permanent deacons, another fast-growing group that is also compensating for the shortage of priests. (Permanent deacons are men ordained into the sacramental ministry of the Church and are to be distinguished from “transitional”deacons who are seminarians on their way to priesthood.) Some dioceses in this country are rich in priestly vocations. More generally, the precipitous decline in vocations has bottomed out, with signs of a reversal underway. Embracing the intended slur, a friend says, “Of course, Catholicism is priest-ridden. Always has been, always will be.” He’s probably right about that, although, if the reversal doesn’t accelerate dramatically, the takeover of the LEMs may be hard to undo.