Saturday, 19 February 2022

Now this may seem trivial but...

 People just don't seem to know! Thousands of baptisms declared invalid in Arizona.

The article talks about baptism as a "rite of passage". NOPE. If it was just a rite of passage, there wouldn't be all this fuss. And I can't believe that a Roman Catholic priest would have made this error unknowingly. Come on!! So, maybe seminary training "ain't what it used to be"???

Now to be fair, I am sure that the reporter of this story looked up "baptism" (probably on Wikipedia? I haven't checked) and saw it was a rite of passage. Good enough? If we were talking about the United Church of Canada or the Reformed tradition Protestant churches, that would have been good enough. In those Protestant denominations, for example, baptism welcomes the infants or adults into the Christian community. Baptists perform adult and child baptism so that the decision is one made by the individual. (NOTE: if you are in one of the Calvinist traditions, there is nothing that can be done about original sin - you are born with it and you die with it)

 However, in Roman Catholicism and even the Lutheran church, infant baptism is performed to remove the stain of Original Sin. If the stain of original sin is not removed then there is no possibility of redemption - hell is awaiting after you die. And the rite must be done correctly. The purpose of baptism is to take away original sin - the community cannot do that. Only God can do that. Did no one learn about the Donatists - the priests may not have to be free from sin, but, by God, the rite MUST be done correctly. The mess that is occurring in Arizona has been caused by a lack of understanding that Augustine supported the holy war against the Donatists. It is the sacrament that takes away original sin, and the sacrament MUST be performed correctly (redundancy sometimes works to get a point across).

I can only hope that Pope Francis is going to find some way to introduce retroactive measures into this parish.

The things that I learned after I began to study religion as an academic discipline. I was raised in the UCC; needless to say that original sin wasn't even on the radar! 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Told you so!!

Traduzione in lingua inglese

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium
regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex

Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?


Explanatory Note

In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of growth in faith, “so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives”[1].

On such paths, listening to the word of God, prayer, participation in ecclesial liturgical actions and the exercise of charity can play an important role in sustaining the commitment to read one's own history and to adhere with freedom and responsibility to one's baptismal call, because “God loves every person and the Church does the same”[2], rejecting all unjust discrimination.

Among the liturgical actions of the Church, the sacramentals have a singular importance: “These are sacred signs that resemble the sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions of life are sanctified”[3]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies, then, that “sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it” (#1670).

Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life”[4]. In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession”[5].

Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex[6]. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing[7] invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”[8].

The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.

The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations, and will know how to find the most appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness. At the same time, they should recognize the genuine nearness of the Church – which prays for them, accompanies them and shares their journey of Christian faith[9] – and receive the teachings with sincere openness.

The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations[10], who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God[11].

At the same time, the Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world, because for Him “we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit”[12]. But he does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact “takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are”[13].

For the above mentioned reasons, the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex in the sense intended above.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of this Congregation, was informed and gave his assent to the publication of the above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium, with the annexed Explanatory Note.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 22nd of February 2021, Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle.


Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.

✠ Giacomo Morandi
Archbishop tit. of Cerveteri


[1] FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 250.

[2] SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly, 150.

[3] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 60.

[4] RITUALE ROMANUM ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. Il promulgatum, De bendictionibus, Praenotanda Generalia, n.9.

[5] Ibidem, n. 10.

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357.

[7] In fact, the nuptial blessing refers back to the creation account, in which God's blessing on man and woman is related to their fruitful union (cf. Gen 1:28) and their complementarity (cf. Gen 2:18-24).

[8] FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 251.

[9] Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Homosexualitatis problema On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 15.

[10] De benedictionibus in fact presents an extended list of situations for which to invoke the blessing of the Lord.

[11] CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Homosexualitatis problema On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 7.

[12] FRANCIS, General Audience of December 2, 2020, Catechesis on Prayer, the blessing.

[13] Ibidem.

[00330-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

Friday, 8 May 2020

KUDOS to Doug Ford.

A post from my Facebook status:
I never thought that I would utter the following words: KUDOS to Doug Ford.
I live in the "northern region" of Ontario and we have few cases of COVID19. (16 in the Algoma Public Health Unit). However, 3 of the cases registered on May 4th were in one of the city's nursing homes - a lot later than in southern/eastern Ontario. The last thing we need is people moving around. We haven't been told how/where COVID19 got into the nursing home. If the northern regions open up, then people from the closed regions will show up - you know that's true! People being people!! I can just see people start moving around to areas that are opening up, and low and behold our numbers start to rise.
I had a bad case of "cabin fever" yesterday, but I got over it. Lunch with friends will have to wait. Movies with friends will have to wait. The library visits will have to wait. I want my students in a class, not on Zoom. But there it is. On the upside of things, I can watch all the freebies from the National Theatre in London - a new play every week - heaven!
I do not want this virus - even if I don't die of it. I get a flu shot every year; I avoid people with colds like it was the plague. Life is short enough - I have no interest in it being shortened by something avoidable - so "self-isolation" it is: limited movement, masks, social distancing etc. Yes I would like to see my children and grandchildren in person on Sunday - not on a video call. The benefits are being extended for businesses and those unemployed by this disease. I am one of the lucky ones. All my contracts have been or are being honoured, although teaching on-line for the one that continues is rather taxing, but I am getting used to working from home.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Go Listen to our Podcast: "Profiling Criminal Minds" (the TV Show, of course)

Needless to say - if you are a fan of the the show!

Come for the reviews of Criminal Minds, stay for the rambling digressions about child abuse and celebrity culture!

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Inside

I have just finished watching a wonderful TV show called "The Inside" from 2005. There are only 13 episodes, and it was cancelled. We have a podcast called "Profiling Criminal Minds"  - a meta discussion of the TV show, Criminal Minds. Between  our analysis of Season 5 & 6, we discuss "The Inside" to put Season 6 into perspective. Yesterday, we finished creating the bonus 7-part mini-series that discusses "The Inside". It will begin to air in September alongside our weekly podcasts.

To get it out of my head, I decided to write this blog post - I do have to do other work completely divorced from this topic!

Everyone who is interested in issues of the long-term impact of child abuse should watch this series. It contains a  brilliant character study of the main character - a woman who is working in the FBI as a profiler in the Violent Crimes Unit in Las Angeles. She was kidnapped at age 10, and escaped her kidnapper 18 months later. Created by Tim Minear and Howard Gordon, I was stunned by its focus and its character creations. Not that I should have been surprised given the creators. My podcast co-host had been raving about this show for ages, and he was right.

I won't go into details, but it rang true to me. There were many difficult moments in the episodes as Rebecca's story and life unfolds. As a survivor I recognized, empathized with and had some difficult moments with the content. You can hear my reactions if you wish to listen to the podcast later this year. It certainly made me have more than a few mini-reflections on my past - even though the situations (with which readers of the blog are familiar) were different. Even my co-host had moments of reflection on his past - and that almost never happens.

Kudos to Minear and Gordon and all the writers, directors, actors etc. on the show.

And many thanks to Chris from England for putting this playlist together, I assume that he taped them from ITV4 mainly. It is the only way to get them - they aren't available on DVD. Just a note: Episodes 4 and 5 are out of order on the Youtube playlist - you should watch Pre-filer before you watch Loneliest Number.

And here is the link for the playlist:

I should note that this is a very dark television show, as I say in the first podcast. I am not surprised that it was cancelled. It is harder to watch than anything else on the subject. It handles difficult issues with a tightness of control that is seldom seen in television. I have no idea how we are going to go back to Criminal Minds after watching this - but we will - we committed ourselves to talk about the entire show, and we will.

Monday, 3 December 2018

I Told You So! - #2

Be celibate or leave the priesthood, pope tells gay priests

Because homosexual acts are sinful.

I have to admit that I do feel sorry for all my friends who had such high hopes, but I would say "What did they expect?"

This is a doctrinal issue at the core of Roman Catholic theology.

Furthermore, do not expect "married priests" or "female priests" any time soon. Because you must remember that outside of the holy sacrament of marriage, sexual acts are all sinful. And, of course, since "God" chose to incarnate as male............................. need I go on??

Read my dissertation. It is a problem within Christian sexual morality that is not Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, etc., etc., etc. (For a Protestant discussion of this issue see Fred Clark's blog The Slacktivist: Here’s that ‘Anything Goes’ rant about evangelical sexual ethics

Oh well, it's not that I like being right about these issues - but at least, I don't get surprised or disappointed.

Monday, 12 November 2018

I Told You So!! And the schism continues to grow

And if you hadn't read my blog, well, you can always start to read it now.

Everyone was so sure that Pope Francis was just the best thing in the world. 
The best that I could do was tell my friends that I will give him the benefit of the doubt - but I didn't believe for a second that things would be different. Like John Paul 2, Pope Francis' change is paper thin.
I'll bet between his bouts of tears (which I do think he sheds), Ratzinger (Benedict 16) thinks about how glad he is that he retired. 

The one thing that I can say is that the Vatican has just the "Best-ever" window dressers. 

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The forgotten real-life story behind Lolita

In 1948, an 11-year-old girl named Sally Horner was kidnapped by a convicted rapist who made her pretend to be his daughter. Her ordeal inspired Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita - but Sally's story has been forgotten, and she died before she had a chance to tell it herself. Michael speaks with Sarah Weinman, the author of 'The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World'.

Now this may seem trivial but...

 People just don't seem to know! Thousands of baptisms declared invalid in Arizona . The article talks about baptism as a "rite of ...