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What the Holy Father Said About Rabbits and Why

February 18th, 2015 Comments off

This article was first posted January 26, 2015, at National Catholic Register.

The recent news-cycle flap over Pope Francis and the bunnies has confused many people inside and outside of the Catholic Church.

Lots of people continue to be concerned that the Holy Father ought to be clearer in his manner of speaking. I would like to make something good out of this latest situation. Read more…

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Two Things Pope Francis Will NOT Say in His Encyclical on the Environment

January 10th, 2015 Comments off

…and how we Catholics can help him

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at The Daily Caller on January 9, 2015 and at aleteia.org, January 10, 2015.

Pundits left and right have been jockeying for position in anticipation of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. This is quite amazing, considering that even the publication date hasn’t been published yet!

I do not know what he is going to say. Neither, dear reader, does anyone else whom you are likely to read. However, I can tell you two things that he will certainly NOT say. And those two unsaid things have the potential to speak volumes, if only we will listen. Read more…

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Did the Christian god rape Mary?

December 24th, 2014 Comments off

This article was first published December 26, 2014, at ChristianPost.com.

In the midst of all our preparations for our Christmas celebrations, something serious appeared on the horizon. A former Evangelical, Valerie Tarico, wrote an article on Salon called “Why rape is so intrinsic to religion.” With a title like that, the week before Christmas: one can only surmise that she intended to provoke.

I feel called to respond to this article, as a Roman Catholic woman intellectual. I know that I have many non-Catholic

Not a rape scene: Federico Barocci's Annunciaton, 1592

Not a rape scene: Federico Barocci’s Annunciation, 1592

readers among my Ruth Institute friends, but I have to speak as a Catholic for two reasons. First of all, that is what I am. Secondly, non-Catholic Christianity is not a well-defined thing. One can readily point to non-Catholic Christians who believe all sorts of things. There is no non-Catholic Christian “definitive” or “traditional” interpretation of anything. Say what you like. Believe what you like. But Catholicism has at least this virtue: one can figure out what it actually says and does not say.

Dr. Tarico cites numerous examples of rape stories in a variety of religious traditions: Zeus, Jupiter, Zoroaster and so on. Tucked away within those stories is the story of the virginal conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. I’m reminded of the old Sesame Street song: “One of these is not like the others.” Read more…

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Christianity without Christ

November 30th, 2014 Comments off

Jody Bottum’s new essay at The Weekly Standard explores the way religious themes are emerging in some of the most radically secularized movements of our time. He observes that “white privilege” has become the modern equivalent of original sin. Political correctness includes the “shunning” of sinners, akin to that practice by sects such as the Amish and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He notices that book burning has returned. The apocalyptic nature of radical environmentalism allows its advocates to abandon the practices that are part of normal life, in favor of taking radical measures to deal with the impeding Weekly Standard cover .Bottum.DaveCleggend of the world as we know it.

This is all very interesting, and no doubt, mostly correct. I feel called to add to Bottum’s point, however. I take as my starting point, the unapologetic position that Christianity is true, and that the Church is not just another political or social institution. Accordingly, I believe that each and every person has a desire for God, implanted into their hearts by God. The desire for Truth, Goodness and Beauty are all manifestations of that desire.

This is why the attempt to create Christianity without Christ has failed. It is why the further attempt to eliminate all vestiges of Christianity has not worked either. Even its enemies cannot resist using Christian tools. Almost in spite of itself, the modern world smuggles Christian concepts back into society.

Even more pointedly, Bottum asserts that the modern world uses these Christian concepts but without the coherence and systematizing of Christianity. So for example, the secular version of the public shunning of sinners does not include any Read more…

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What should Conservative Catholics say when someone says “I just love this new pope?”

November 24th, 2014 Comments off

We are in the midst of a curious phenomenon. Everyone loves the pope except conservative Catholics.

Elton John loves Pope Francis

Elton John loves Pope Francis

Elton John loves the Pope. I think he thinks the Pope is about to change Church teaching on homosexual practice and the definition of marriage.

“He is a compassionate, loving man who wants everybody to be included in the love of God,” John said of the Pope. “It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that’s what we need in the world today.”

James Robison, conservative Evangelical Southern Baptist, also loves the Pope. I think he thinks the Pope is leading people more to have a fervent, personal experience of Jesus Christ. Robison described his meeting with Pope Francis this way:

He said he wanted everyone to have a personal life-changing encounter with Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and become bold witnesses for the Gospel. Religion is not the way; Jesus is.

So fervent was his message that as he concluded I said, “As an evangelist, I want you to know what you just said deserves a high five!” The translator communicated what I was saying and in a moment of exuberance he raised his hand and gave his first high five ever. What a beautiful picture of love and supernatural oneness for the sake of the Gospel and those Jesus came to redeem.

Read more…

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Tough Love is Still Love

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

My Latest, over at MercatorNet. November 19, 2014

The recent two-week-long synod on the family in the Vatican has been an on-going source of headlines around the world, and not just in Catholic media. After a year of reflection, it will resume next year. In the meantime, many critics are claiming that it is impossible to reconcile traditional Catholic teachings on sexuality with 21st century compassion. Jennifer Roback Morse sees things differently.

* * * * * * *

My husband I attended a marriage preparation retreat in a small town in central California a few weeks ago. We were by far the oldest people there. The retreat was developed by an order of priests who are very orthodox in their teaching about marriage, family and human sexuality.

They do not soft-pedal anything. They do not cut corners. In fact in the small-group breakout sessions, one of the young couples said “this is not the easiest place in town to get married.” All the other young couples in the group nodded in agreement. “But this is my parish. This is where I was baptized. We wanted to get married here.”

So I feel confident when I say that these priests are holding the line on orthodoxy. Over the course of the weekend, the presenters told their personal faith journey. Almost all of the presenters at this conference had had some significant irregularity in their marriage situations.

What I saw was the Church “welcoming sinners.”

One couple recounted their journey from civil marriage to sacramental marriage. Their priest asked that they live together “as brother and sister” in the months leading up to the con-validation of their marriage in the Church.

For the uninitiated, this means: they had already been married civilly for some time and had children. One party had become Catholic. They Read more…

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Thinking Strategically and Faithfully, about the Pope

November 18th, 2014 Comments off

I have received many responses to my somewhat tongue in cheek article last week, “Mom’s Home,” imploring my fellow Conservative Catholics to stop disrespecting the Pope. The responses were all over the map. I thought it would be well to offer a window into my strategic thinking. This post should help you understand what I’m trying to do. Although I am largely speaking with my fellow Catholics, the proper response to Pope Francis concerns everyone who cares about the future of marriage and family.

Pope Francis w Cardinal Muller, who organized the recent Humanum Colloquium on Complementarity of Men and Women

Pope Francis w Cardinal Muller, who organized the recent Humanum Colloquium on Complementarity of Men and Women

Let us begin with what we know, and reason from there to what tactics make sense.

What we know about the Catholic Church:

  • The office of the Papacy is bigger than any man who occupies it.
  • The Pope will not change the doctrine: he does not have the authority to change doctrine.
  • However, he can change the practices surrounding the implementation or promulgation of the doctrine on marriage, divorce and the family that serve it more or less well.
  • The Pope can err on prudential matters, and frequently does. For instance, the track record of Vatican diplomacy over the centuries is not particularly stellar.

What we know about this particular pope:

  • The Pope knows he does not have the authority to change Catholic doctrine.
  • He is charming and exuberant and spontaneous. Many people love him and find him attractive.
  • He loves Jesus and hates the devil.
  • He is not executing his teaching office regarding marriage as well as the world needs him to, and certainly not as well as his remarkable predecessors. If the students are confused, the teacher is not performing well.
  • He has left room for interpretation on some points, and has not clarified some issues.
  • We do not know what he is thinking or planning by this lack of clarity. He may have some wise hidden plan. He may have some nefarious hidden plan. He may just be careless. The fact is, we do not know.

What we know about the advocates of the Sexual Revolution: Read more…

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My prediction about the Vatican’s “Humanum” conference

November 16th, 2014 Comments off

According to the Catholic News Agency, “the Vatican is hosting a colloquium seeking to find ‘new and creative language to speak to people where they are.’ This is according to Helen Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason University, and communications liaison for the Humanum Colloquium, which will run from Nov. 17­-19 at the Vatican.”

Helen Alvare, communications Liaison for the Humanum Colloquium

Helen Alvare, communications Liaison for the Humanum Colloquium

I have a couple of predictions about this event. My predictions are based on the full title of the event, as well as my knowledge of the participants.

The full title of the event is: “An International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman.” Sexual complementarity is not a topic that marriage re-definers call attention to. Ever.

Here is my take on the participants:

  1. Helen Alvare, the communications liaison referenced above, is simply an outstanding spokeswomen for the authentically Catholic view of marriage, family and human sexuality.
  1. I am acquainted with many of the speakers. The line-up includes pro-marriage faith leaders from across the religious spectrum.

One of them, Ignacio Ibarzábal, is the Executive Director of Grupo Sólido, an Argentine pro-marriage organization founded by young adults. A number of their members have attended Ruth Institute events over the years. I have the highest respect for Ignacio and his group. Read more…

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Mom’s home: A word to Conservative Critics of Pope Francis

November 13th, 2014 Comments off

For purposes of this article, I set aside my Ph.D. degree: I am speaking strictly on the authority of my MOM degree.

Archbishop Kurtz' contribution to the working group was wonderful! Did you read it?

Archbishop Kurtz’ contribution to the working group was wonderful! Did you read it?

Ok, everyone. I realize I have been out of the loop for a while. I have been trying to finish a book. And I had an unexpected family emergency to deal with.

But Mom’s home now. Time to shape up.

What have you kids been doing, talking about your Father like this? Just today on my Facebook feed, I found someone referring our Holy Father Pope Francis as a “world class smart ass!”  And this person evidently considers himself a good Catholic! A better Catholic than the Pope!

Some of you are hysterical over the Synod, as though the Holy Father were plotting to change Church doctrine. Haven’t you seen this report from the National Catholic Register? The four American bishops said at their press conference, “There must have been two synods, and the four of us must have happened to be at the wrong one.”

I don’t know what in the world you kids are thinking. You certainly realize that the Holy Father has no authority to change Church doctrine. And he knows it.

Some of you are upset because all the wrong people seem to like the Holy Father. I realize there is a battle to capture the symbolic value of the Papacy. The “Progressives” who want the whole Sexual Revolution, would love to claim the moral authority of the Papacy and the Catholic Church for their team. But do you realize that every time you repeat the liberal media talking points like this, you are scoring for the “Progressive” team? Read more…

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Mercy, Compassion and Orthodoxy

November 10th, 2014 Comments off

My husband I attended a marriage preparation retreat in a small town in central California a few weeks ago. We were by far the oldest people there. The retreat was developed by an order of priests who are very orthodox in their teaching about marriage, family and human sexuality.

They do not soft-pedal anything. They do not cut corners. In fact the small-group breakout sessions, one of the young couples said “this is not the easiest place in town to get married.” All the other young couples in the group nodded in agreement. “But this is my parish. This is where I was baptized. We wanted to get married here.”

So I feel confident when I say that these priests are holding the line on orthodoxy. Over the course of the weekend, the presenters told their

The Prodigal Son: The Turning Point

The Prodigal Son: The Turning Point

personal faith journey. Almost all of the presenters at this conference had had some significant irregularity in their marriage situations.

What I saw was the Church “welcoming” sinners.

One couple recounted their journey from civil marriage to sacramental marriage. Their priest asked that they live together “as brother and sister” in the months leading up to the con-validation of their marriage in the Church.

For the uninitiated, this means: they had already been married civilly for some time and had children. One party had become Catholic. They wanted to get their marriage validated so they could have a sacramental marriage. Since they were not married in the eyes of the Church, they could not licitly have sex with each other. So their priest asked them to abstain until their wedding.

I heard no whining and complaining from this couple. What the husband had to say Read more…

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