In Defense of Pope Francis

I am sick of listening to Catholics complain about the Pope because he isn’t Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Why do they think they can judge the Pope? Our Church teaches that the pope is picked by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the cardinals as they vote. Do his critics really believe this? In my opinion if you don’t believe this you might as well not be Catholic. If the pope is not selected by the Spirit and guided by the Spirit, we may as well join a Protestant denomination where they vote on doctrine.
The pope is answerable to only 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. His job is to do what they want not what some people want. He is guided by the Holy Spirit. He is also human, a sinner who also makes mistakes but so has every pope in history including Peter. Why do we focus on the negative? Do we really know what is going on or understand what the Spirit is doing?
I remember how many people criticize Paul VI for his teaching on artificial contraception. Most Catholics ignored it but now we are discovering the medical and societal consequences of contraception. Do you know breast cancer has increased 640% since the pill became common? Do you know how much damage was done to the environment because of the pill or how it contributed to the breakdown of families? I’m sure Paul VI had no understanding of all the consequences, but God did.
Do we understand where Francis is coming from or what God is trying to do? I see Francis emphasizing Jesus’ call to mercy. Didn’t Jesus eat with sinners and call sinners to join Him? Didn’t He say that He came for sinners not the righteous? Did He not say judge not lest you be judged, to forgive 7 x 7? Didn’t God say that He desired mercy not sacrifice? Doesn’t God want us to reach out to sinners? Didn’t Jesus die for them too? Didn’t he criticize the Pharisees for their emphasis on law rather than mercy? What do you think He wants Francis to do?
I hear a lot of criticism of Amoris Laetitia. How well do the critics understand the issue? I know people have deliberately misinterpreted it to suit their own purposes. Isn’t it true that no matter what Francis wrote they would do what they wanted anyway? Have they really thought about the issue of divorce? Jesus taught that what God has put together let no man put asunder. Has God really put all these marriages together? I doubt it. Our society has changed. People don’t wait to be married until they are sure. They certainly don’t seek God’s guidance in selecting a mate.
I know a Protestant minister who was married in the Catholic church at age 17. His bride was 16. It was a legal marriage, but I doubt if it was valid in the eyes of the church and should never have been performed by a priest. But he was in the Army. This was 1968 and it kept him out of Vietnam. His marriage failed, and he never sought an annulment because he thought it would make his 3 kids illegitimate. After he remarried he was told to leave the church. No one really investigated his circumstances and asked if annulment was possible. How many other people like him have left the Church?
I’m sure that a lot of marriages that failed were never valid in the first place. There must be a commitment to make it work, a willingness to be open to children and a commitment to be faithful among other criteria. Jesus said what God has put together let no man put asunder. Do you really think God put a woman with a man who would abuse his wife and children or someone who had no intention of being faithful?
I also heard criticism because a pro-abortion woman in the Netherlands received some award from the Vatican. That proves the pope isn’t pro-life. Some reporter claims that the Pope knows everything that goes on in the Vatican. Really? With his trip to Chile this past week and all the other things going on he will personally investigate every nominee for an award? I know this past week he came out with a strong pro-life statement.
I also heard criticism because the Pope apologized to people during his recent trip to Chile. It was stated that Jesus never apologized. I looked at the paper the same day and read that his apology was to victims of priestly abuse. I know Jesus never apologized but He also never encountered people who were abused by His priests. Think about it if you object to this apology it implies that you see nothing wrong with the abuse.
We must be cautious not to become like the Pharisees who failed to see God in their midst. We aren’t supposed to be a Church of perfect people before heaven. God calls us to reach out to all people. He died for everyone not just the righteous or the conservatives. Can we really be sure that we are so righteous? What about our attitudes of negativity, of judging people, our critical spirits? Can we be so sure that we aren’t the 5:00 workers Jesus referred to in His parable? Don’t we too often reject the Holy Spirit’s nudges?
As Pope Francis said who are we to judge? If we reject what the pope is saying and doing and publicly criticize him how are we different from Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Martin Luther or Archbishop Lefebvre? And what good does it do to criticize the pope? Can he hear your criticism? Is it God or Satan calling you to promote dissension within the Church?


For Greater Glory

A few months ago i saw on DVD the movie, For Greater Glory, starring Raul Julia. Excellent movie something every Christian especially Catholic should see. Around 1926 the President, Calles, decided the Catholic Church to be his political enemy and tried to suppress the faith. Churches were invaded and priests captured were executed on the spot. Mexico was a Catholic country, the last place you would expect this, much more Catholic than the U.S. is presently.
Think about it. If it happened in Mexico it could happen here. Look at the way this country is going. Our last president considered us to be his enemy and did every thing to oppress the Church that he could with his contraception mandate. And we let him get away with it. He was reelected with around 50% of the Catholic vote. How stupid can we be!
The Catholics in Mexico refused to sit by and do nothing. They fought back rebelling after peaceful protests failed. They with political support from the U.S. thanks to pressure from the Knights of Columbus forced Calles to give in and allow the churches to reopen and mass to be said.
We need to follow their example and fight back. Despite the change in the presidency the church is still under attack. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still being forced to pay a penalty or pay for abortion and contraception coverage. President Trump issued an executive order stopping this but the attorney generals of 5 states sued and a Federal Court threw out his order. They don’t care what the Constitution say. They don’t care about the results of the last election. They are still pushing the culture of death and immorality, still going after the faithful. The Lord help us if they actually win the next election

Reading Jeremiah, A Warning For America

One of the most frightening books in the Bible is the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was the prophet who warned about and witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BC. Not only was Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed but the people of Judah was dragged off into exile. Only a few poor were left behind.

What is frightening is that many of the things God said about the Judeans could be applied to us today. Jeremiah 2:17 asks the question”Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way”. We are going through a lot of turmoil, both political and economic. Could this have been brought on by the fact that many Americans have ignored God? Those who attend church regularly are a minority now. Europe is even worse than we are. Can we really expect God to take care of us if we ignore or deny His existence?

Jeremiah 6: 10 said “behold the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn they take no pleasure in it”. Can these words not apply to those who condemn and ridicule the Church for standing up for life and marriage? Is not the gospel message attacked today in our country?

In Jeremiah 7:26 God called the Israelites a stiff neck people, too stubborn to listen to the prophets. Can the same not be said of the Pro Choice Movement? Every reasonable compromise has been opposed. Nothing but an unlimited right to abortion at any time is good enough for some of them. Their attacks on pro-lifers are filled with vehemence. We are basically told to stick our heads in the sand and ignore everything. They don’t need our religion or the word of God.

Yet they aren’t the only ones who God might consider stiff-necked. What about some of the members of the Gay Community who seem intent on ramming their agenda down our throats? What about their attempts to disrupt masses? How might God feel?

Might the words of Jeremiah 8: “…They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return” also apply to us today? What about Jeremiah 8:6 “…no man repents of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?” Does not Jeremiah 8:9”…lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord and what wisdom is there in them?” Do these words not apply to America?

Jeremiah 9:5 reads” Every one deceives his neighbor and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.” Could these words be applied to the mess on Wall Street? Could they be applied to our politics with all of the vicious attacks on character? Could they be applied to the political candidates on both sides who refuse to tell the truth about the economy, Social Security and Medicare?

What about Jeremiah 12:2 “…thou art near in their mouth and far from their heart”? Do these words apply to the politicians who claim to be Christian and go after the Christian vote but contradict Christian morality on marriage and abortion?

How can we answer the question of Jeremiah 9:9 “Shall I not punish them for these things? Says the Lord; and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? How can we answer this question? If this isn’t frightening then I don’t know what is?

Yet all is not hopeless. For in Jeremiah 3: 12-13 God has a promise for the America of today. “Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord: I will not look upon you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord; I will not be angry for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the Lord your God…”He goes on to promise to bless them if they return in many ways applicable to the people of that time. Would He not do the same for America?

We need to look at ourselves and repent of any ways we have sinned. We need to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There should be long lines, not two or four people. We need to pray for those who have turned their backs on God. We should be praying for the conversion of politicians, those who fight for abortion and those pushing Gay rights. Just voting isn’t enough. We need to spend a lot of time praying. Over and over Mary has asked people to say the rosary. That would be a good place to start.

A Privileged Generation

I wonder if American Catholics realize how privileged this generation of American Catholics are. We alone of all the Catholics in the history of this country have the opportunity to stand with the heroes of our faith, people like St. Thomas More, St Thomas Becket and St Margaret Clitherow, all Englishmen who stood up for their faith against the persecution of tyrants. We can stand with the Apostles and early martyrs. We can stand with those in Spain who were persecuted by the Moors and later the Socialist government of the 1930’s. We can join with the Catholic heroes of Japan who kept the Church alive underground through 2 centuries of persecution. We can stand with those in Vietnam and Korea oppressed by first their emperors and later the Communists. We can join the priests in Revolutionary France who refused to renounce the papacy and the Mexican priests executed during the 20’s.We have the opportunity to join with the members of the Underground Church in China today who stand for the true faith.
We are challenged today to decide who we really are. Are we Catholics in name only, Catholic because our parents had us baptized or are we Catholic because we really believe in the mystery and power of our faith? Do we understand the gift our parents gave us especially the power and privilege of receiving the Eucharist? Do we understand we can’t make it in today’s world without receiving Jesus in Communion? Do we know what a treasure we have?
Do we know how awesome our faith is? For two thousand years we have stayed true to the faith despite persecution and political pressure. Individuals have broken but the Church has stayed true to the mission given her by Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel and lead people to heaven. Always, always despite persecution, political correctness and pressure by politicians there have been Catholics willing to say no, to lay down their lives rather than compromise their faith. Unlike other religions which seem to change with the times we’ve stayed true to the teachings of Christ. Our liturgy may have evolved, fasts may have changed but the core of our faith, our understanding of the Commandments and Christ’s teachings have remained true. We should be proud of our faith and angry over our government’s attempt to change it, to force Catholics to go against it.
As we say in the Creed, we “believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church”. We are called to be a holy people, set apart, living by God’s standards and not the World’s or the president’s. We are a people called to sacrifice, to follow the “narrow road”. Too many people have forgotten that and fallen for Satan’s lies. No issue has been more divisive in the Church than the issue of artificial birth control. Too often our viewpoint has been shaped by those with something to gain, who distort the truth for profit or political gain.
What would we see if we looked at the issue from God’s perspective? Would we see the 600 percent increase in breast cancer since the Pill became popular? Would we see the danger of thrombosis, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, strokes and deaths attributed to the Pill? Would we see the millions of girls hurt and abandoned because they were conned into having sex before they were mature enough to make the right decision? Would we see the emotional damage caused by an anything goes lifestyle? Would we see the millions of marriages destroyed because one partner was too emotionally damaged to fulfill a permanent commitment to their partner? Would we see the extent of adultery made possible by the Pill? Would we see the decline in morals destroying our society? Would we see all the pain caused by the promotion of an immoral lifestyle? Would we not want to protect people from the pain?
Would we see the benefits of natural family planning where couples work together and practice discipline? Would we see marriages strengthened rather than weakened by the need to work together? Would we see families growing in their commitment to their faith and to each other? Would we see people growing in holiness?
We should be grateful to belong to a Church that believes us capable of greatness with God’s help, that sees our potential for true love rather than lust that believes us to be capable of controlling ourselves, that recognizes the strength of our character and calls us to follow Christ through the “narrow gate”. We should be proud to belong to a Church that has the courage to stand up for truth, no matter how unpopular it may be to do so.
We have the opportunity to share in a small way with the sufferings of millions of Catholics who gave their lives for the faith, who found our faith worth dying for. We have the chance to stand with them with St. Thomas More, Thomas Hemerford, Robert Ludlam, Edward Waterford, Margaret Clitherow and the other Englishmen who died for their faith. Or you can stand with the President, Henry VIII and Cardinal Woolsey who betrayed the Church. What do you choose?

Time To Save America

I know many people upset with the election results and all the radical changes taking place in America. There is a sense of powerlessness. We desperately need to do something to save America but what? What does God say?
Two verses from the book of Revelation seem to be speaking to the American Church
Revelation 2: 4 really challenges us. “Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first”. Even more thought provoking was Revelation 3:16; “So, then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
Haven’t we lost the love of Jesus that we should have? Isn’t the problem the fact that we have been lukewarm? We are supposed to be on fire for the Lord. He is supposed to be the center of our lives. We are supposed to point to the Lord at every opportunity. Have we?
Today our Church is challenged. Society and the government want us to be a people, who go through the motions, go to mass on Sunday if we want but keep our mouths shut about the sinfulness in this society. We are expected to go along with laws that contradict our faith. As far as the world is concerned our faith should be restricted to an hour on Sundays.
Yet the Bible reveals that our faith and love for Christ must be the driving force of our lives. Everything we do should be rooted in our love for God. We are called to be a light in the darkness, an agent of love and change in society, changing or at least challenging society to be better rather than surrendering to society.
The book of Revelation tells us that we are involved in a spiritual battle, not a political battle. Our enemy is more than the politicians and activists. We are challenged to stand up and fight. We are fighting for the souls of those around us and the soul of America. Prayer and the Sacraments must be our weapons. We need to pray as we have never prayed before, for our family, friends, our country and our Church.
Is not our country in such a sorry state because we have been lukewarm? We have failed to bring Christ’s love to the rest of society. We have not been on fire. We’ve been more concerned with winning votes than souls. We have not been praying like never before.
Yet the only thing that can save America is prayer and Adoration. We possess such powerful weapons in The Eucharist and Rosary yet we use them so rarely.
We desperately need to pray for the conversion of our nation especially the lukewarm and fallen away Catholics. We need to pray seriously, passionately every day for the salvation of souls. Every day more and more lost souls are dying. How can we do nothing?
Don’t wait. Start now! Say the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, whatever prayers you choose for the conversion of those you know and our country. This is what we are called to do.
It can’t wait! People are dying today. Our society is spinning out of control morally. Politics isn’t the answer. God and prayer are.