Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Signs of the Times

It is not terribly shocking to hear that Fr. Alberto Cutié has decided to defect from the Catholic Church, and go to one (the Episcopal - that is, Anglican-in-America) in which things will be more to his liking. For one, they don't mind his inability or lack of ongoing commitment to celibacy. Fair enough - they don't require or esteem celibacy in the first place. More intriguing is the fact that they don't mind that he is an oath-breaker. He made solemn promises of obedience and celibacy, and now has unilaterally dodged them both in one fell swoop. They don't suit him anymore. One would think that Fr. Cutié's new superior would at least want to be sure that he can stick to a vow, no?

Well, it's perhaps fitting, after all. After all, the Anglican Communion was founded when an oath-breaking king became tired of his promises regarding sexuality, and decided to put away his first wife for another. And another. And another. One wonders how many churches Fr. Cutié will put away to suit his evolving tastes before the whole thing is done. It's a little known fact that England and her kings were legal vassals (governmental subordinates) of the Pope until Henry VIII broke his forefathers' faith. In most of Europe, the Pope could take up special collections and so forth; in England, he could collect taxes and call for soldiers. Henry VIII would rather have things his own way, though, rather than honoring the promises of his fathers. Now that Fr. Cutié has broken with Rome, one must wonder if he will really let himself be governed by another master, or if he will be his own... if perhaps he is already his own master. That's the devil's motto, in Milton's Paradise Lost: "I will not serve." That and his television show frankly smack of a towering pride.

Meanwhile, our President has named an ambassador to the Holy See: Miguel Diaz. He is Catholic, in the way that the Sandinistas are. He is "pro-Life," in the way that Douglas Kmiec and the President are. He publishes on presses that call themselves Catholic but are either notorious for dissent, uncommitted to the teachings of the Church, or flat out deny the entirety of Christian revelation. Like Fr. Cutié and the President, he is young, good looking, smooth, and charismatic. He has a track record of supporting social justice issues for the poor and weak (except for, as one commentator has pointed out, the poorest and weakest, i.e., the unborn). He is suave and probably very convincing, and will probably be charged by the White House with getting the Vatican to believe that white is black and black is white, that good is evil, and evil good.

And against these slicksters, whom can Holy Church send forth, tattered and bruised by her own conduct as much as by that of her enemies? The likes of this man:

Now, don't get me wrong. Archbishop Favalora of Miami is likely a very competent administrator, strong shepherd, and loving father. He has enormous responsibilities of which, dear reader, you and I cannot even dream. I wouldn't criticize a bishop to save my life, I hope. I used to, but I'm done with that. It just helps out our enemies. And His Excellency's words regarding Fr. Cutié strike me as very well chosen. Still, looking at him and hearing his words will not be very convincing to most Americans - Catholic or otherwise - when the likes of Fr. Cutié or Prof. Diaz is sitting on the opposite side of the talk-show host. The Archbishop certainly has authority over both them (well, over Diaz only indirectly, since Diaz doesn't live in his diocese), and his reasoning is doubtless sounder than that of Cutié. All the same, I have a sickening feeling in my gut that many, many of the priest's fans, preferring to have their ears tickled, will choose him over Jesus' plump, wrinkly old vicar in Miami.

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths," 2 Tim 4:3-4.

A close friend of mine is being ordained a priest this weekend in Burlington, Vermont. Several more friends from my time in seminary will be ordained priests and (transitional) deacons in the next few weeks. They are young. Some are more charming and charismatic than others, but they are all very good men and that shines through. They believe in Jesus. They love and obey his Church. They defend life. I couldn't close without pointing out a few stars amid the dark night sky.

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