Category Archives: Life Issues

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Advice On Keeping the Faith in Dark Times

George Dunlap, November 16, 2020. I still remember, my 4th grade elementary school teacher reading The Hobbit to our class, to this day. As I grew older I moved on to reading The Lord of the Rings series, and finally the LOTR movie version. I have always been fascinated with Tolkien’s writings, life, and Catholic Faith. The below is a wonderful article about how Tolkien dealt with “The Dark Times, in our…. faith, comes strength. Enjoy this article.

Jul 17th 2019 by Genevieve Cunningham

From the 1950s until now, readers of countless backgrounds and beliefs have been mesmerized by The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. But the name of J.R.R. Tolkien is well known even to those who have no taste for fantasy literature.

Despite his fame, many fans of this literary genius are unaware that he was a devout Roman Catholic whose faith profoundly influenced his work. It was, in fact, Tolkien’s faith and frequent reception of the Sacraments that sustained him through the trials of personal life, the darkness of two world wars, the disappointment and suffering inflicted by members and leaders of the Church, and the scandal caused by destruction of the sacred liturgy.

I recently discovered a letter he wrote on November 1st, 1963 to his son Michael to provide encouragement in a time of upheaval. It is an astonishing letter, most especially because it feels as though it had been written today in the wake of egregious sins committed by some of our Catholic clergy.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS – ELECTION 2020

Dear Catholic Bishops, The poet John Milton wrote: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” Church leadership is called upon to do the right thing, especially in difficult times: to speak the truth boldly and lovingly and to watch over those entrusted to their care. When bishops fail to fulfill this sacred obligation, the lay faithful are left feeling confused, neglected, and abandoned.

Such is the situation as we approach our national election in which a clear and obvious divide exists on essential matters related to earthly wellbeing and eternal welfare: the protection of God-given life from conception to natural death; the safeguarding of the family and the wellspring of sexuality; the dignity of all persons, including the rights of conscience and the freedom to live and worship without interference from the state or persecution from the culture.

The Democratic Party that once championed the civil rights of all has now become hostile to Christian faith and those who practice it. Their shrunken tent has no room for those who are pro-life, no room for those who profess what has been called mere Christianity, nor for any who believe in the value of patriotism insofar as patriotism embodies a natural preference for one’s own country.

Moreover, the Democratic presidential candidate himself can be considered Catholic in name only, for in nearly a half-century of public life he has routinely, repeatedly, and systematically rejected what the Church teaches: on life issues, on sexual morality, on religious liberty. When asked recently whether he would support an eight-year old’s decision to change gender, he answered in the affirmative.

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Can We Accept The Truth – Election 2019

Fr. Edward Meeks speaks the truth, but, will we hear, will we see, will we accept the TRUTH. I urge you and your family to spend 27 minutes and truly understand our journey with God on Earth. As men we have lost our way and with faith we can lead our families to the light. God Bless you and your family.

Staring into the Abyss with Fr. Ed Meeks, 10/11/2020

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU; JUDGE BARRETT, A CATHOLIC, A WIFE, A MOTHER, AND A VERY SMART WOMAN.

GEORGE DUNLAP, SEPTEMBER 30, 2020. A good friend, of mine, from my days at Bowling Green State University, has a daughter who was a student of Amy Coney Barrett, from her days at Notre Dame Law School. She has opened my eyes to this smart Catholic woman, mother and Judge. Patrick Deneen tells us so much about the Judge.

First Things

Amy Coney Barrett is my neighbor and friend. This fact, along with my complete lack of familiarity or expertise in her scholarly and judicial work, gives me no special insight into how she will adjudicate as a justice of the Supreme Court, assuming she is confirmed by the Senate.

But neither does anyone else know how she will adjudicate—quite possibly, not even Judge Barrett herself. The fact is, even her closest friends, and experts with the most advanced knowledge of her legal and judicial writings, have no special insight into how she will eventually rule in some of the most contested cases likely to come before the Court in future years. In coming days and weeks, we will be subjected to competing narratives over Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy, presented with confident certainty about how she will decide cases in light of previous writings and decisions. Color me skeptical over what the experts tell us to expect.

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Restoring MLK’s Dream

BY: George Dunlap. I remember April 4, 1968 well, the day Dr. King was killed. I just turned 13 years old the week before. I was in 8th grade, Cutler Ridge Jr High School, Cutler Ridge, Florida. I remember it well and I will never forget how my parents talked to my brothers and I. Telling us that as faithful Catholic/Christians we are to love all of God’s children. My father told me that God, created us all, in his vision, and we were to always be kind. As I read Eduarado J. Echeverria post below, I relived that time of the school segregation challenges and the death of Dr. King. It was a very troubled time and by the grace of God we worked hard to build a better community. I remember Dr. King and the times well, I will not forget.

By Eduardo J. Echeverria Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a Dream” speech before a huge crowd at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, D.C. The key to understanding King’s speech is his appeal to the notion of a “promissory note,” of principles asserted in the “Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”

Martin Luther King, Jr, I have a Dream 8/28/63

Significantly, King was not a proponent of “identity politics,” of black power, because he argued, as the African-American scholar Shelby Steele correctly states, “whites were obligated to morality and democratic principles.” Steele adds that black Americans are obligated “to principles,” not “to black people as a class.”

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True Beauty – The Apostles Creed Sung by Rebecca Gorzynska

George Dunlap, January 23, 2020, Morning musings; while enjoying a cup of hot coffee on a cold and damp morning.

As I read the morning Catholic and secular news blogs, I read of wars and sadness. Many times I endure, past those stories, and at times I am greatly saddened by the pain man inflects on his brothers. But today, I am blessed with Hope and Beauty. Please enjoy The Apostles Creed as sung by Rebecca Gorzynska. This is Beauty and Joy.

Have a Blessed Day.

Please join your brothers for faith and fellow-ship, for a weekly journey with TMIY, every Saturday @ 6:30 AM, Iron-Sharpens-Iron.

The Coming Storm

Robert Royal Thursday, February 21, 2019

Many people – even many Catholics – who only follow Church matters vaguely, have been puzzled by the Vatican’s conspicuous lack of a sense of urgency about the sexual abuse crisis. Yes, there’s a “summit” on abuse that starts today, but only after months and with a program that looks very carefully stage-managed to keep the most troubling questions at a distance from the Vatican itself.

And it is strange, given that – as many in Rome are certainly aware – instantaneous communications in our digital world make the slow response look less like the Vatican’s usual leisurely procedures and much more like a desire not to know too much – or how high the problem may reach.

But it’s rapidly becoming impossible to keep the lid on. Just two days ago, for example, The Washington Post carried a story about a case in Argentina (available here) involving the abuse of minors at an institute for deaf children. An Italian priest, Nicola Corradi, was spiritual director there and later at a similar school in Italy, and along with others abused dozens of underage children for decades.

This story is not entirely new – there had been reports about abuse at the Argentinean school for several months. In many ways, it seemed to be just one more case of sexual exploitation of the vulnerable and a lack of Church oversight.

What is new, however, is quite shocking: “The Italian victims’ efforts to sound the alarm to church authorities began in 2008 and included mailing a list of accused priests to Francis in 2014 and physically handing him the list in 2015.” If the accusations are to be believed – and they seem quite credible on the basis of the Post’s investigative reporting – this means that the pope knew of the abuse of minors, at an Italian school under the supervision of the Vatican. And either he or those who, under his direction, should have acted, did essentially nothing.

That story has been widely circulated in America and victims in Argentina and Italy are now demanding justice – one has even begun a hunger strike. But if you think that it has caused much of a reaction in Italy or in Rome, you would be wrong. And that may be one reason why officials in the Vatican seem to continue to believe that they can manage the revelations that have come out and, no doubt, the others that we will see in the next few days. But they can’t.

It may be difficult for most American Catholics to believe, but there’s little interest about the abuse summit in Italy, or most of Europe, at the moment. The New York Times, in its bigoted anti-Catholicism, may run “news” stories intended to discredit the Church almost every day. But in a way, that’s a backhanded tribute to the fact that even the Times believes that the Church means something and is worth the trouble of attacking.

By contrast, you’d have to work hard to find news about the summit or the abuse crisis in Europe’s mainstream media. There’s been a little interest in a related story that just appeared about the Vatican’s rules about how to handle the children of wayward priests – 50,000 of them according to the Vatican itself. But about the global abuse crisis and the lack of response by figures from the pope on down, all but nothing.

[Late addition: Owing to time changes, this couldn’t be included in the original article, but the BBC, which takes an interest in Britain’s former colonies, is reporting that Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias also failed to act on allegations about abuse that were brought to him. Furthermore, Gracias is one of the four main organizers of the summit. And as is the case with Pope Francis, this did not happen in some distant past when policies were different but as recently as 2015.]

An Italian journalist who, though a serious Catholic, has worked at the very highest levels of the secular media here, told me the other day that most Italians are virtual “nihilists” (his term) when it comes to corruption in the Church. They believe that it’s always been that way and always will be. They don’t show anything like the anger and outrage – or simple surprise – that is common in places like America and, increasingly, Latin America.

Italian friends who know the Roman landscape well say that the gay lobby in the Vatican – and the Vatican more generally – continue to exercise a very effective, old-school-style control over Church-related news. And not only locally, but in some of the most prestigious news outlets in Italy.

Vatican officials have for some time made it clear that they believe that, by contrast, the  American bishops mishandled the abuse crisis and let things get out of hand in the American press. They even occasionally give the impression that they – and perhaps the pope – think the American bishops are their enemies.

Neither charge is true. In fact, it would be truer to say that the bishops in America have a better – not perfect, but better – grip on the priestly abuse problem now than do bishops in any other country. (Holding bishops accountable, of course, is still unfinished business – and Rome hasn’t much helped with that.)

Their conflicts, such as they are, with Pope Francis mostly stem from the fact that – given constant media exposure, criminal investigations by civil authorities, and demands of justice for victims – they can’t count on media to ignore problems or a largely cynical laity to just go along, as in Europe. They need to act – and be seen to act.

And it’s not only in America that a storm is brewing. Abuse survivors from several continents met yesterday with the organizers of the summit – though not with the pope, a sore point among them. It’s hard to say whether their collective efforts will bring enough pressure to bear on the Vatican that it will break through the logjam. On the whole, you’d have to say: it appears not. But the victims are playing a prominent role now and are not going away.

To really address the problem would mean some painful moments of truth, such as we have experienced in the United States. Corruption this serious would, of course, require that some heads roll (not only McCarrick’s), in the Vatican and elsewhere, and that there be public acts of repentance. But the very general and broad program the organizers have published seems designed to make sure no one in the Vatican will need to lose much sleep.

I’ve been expecting for the last several weeks that there’s going to be some surprise announcement near the end of the summit, some striking move that will dominate news coverage creating the impression that some radical breakthrough has been achieved.

I don’t know exactly what that would be or whether it would be some real step forward or mere window dressing. But just as “synodality” materialized out of nowhere at the end of Synod on Youth, there is probably some plan in place to do something newsworthy to make it appear that the Vatican has turned a corner in dealing with abuse.

It’s had to believe that that will be really so or that it will convince the victims who have now assumed a public role in holding Church officials accountable at the very highest levels. But keep an eye on those victims. They will provide us with the best insights into what, if anything, has changed.

De-homosexualizing the American Church

 

De-homosexualizing the American Church

Note: Professor Carlin makes an argument here about changing discipline on priestly celibacy that is not my own or, it hardly needs saying, that of The Catholic Thing (which takes no official positions). It’s an extreme remedy for what may soon be revealed to be an extreme problem. We publish it as a spur to conversation about the extent of homosexuality among Catholic clergy and what may be necessary to deal with it. – Robert Royal

For years I’ve been opposed to the proposal that the Catholic Church drop its priestly celibacy requirement.  I’ve opposed it for two reasons.  First, it was a proposal put forward by “liberal” Catholics. Since I believe that a drift toward liberalism is gradually ruining the Catholic Church in America, I fear that giving in to any liberal demands – even sensible ones – will further contribute to the ruination of the Church.  Second, I fear that an end to mandatory celibacy will be an awful shock to ordinary Catholic believers who want the Church to maintain its traditions.

The changes introduced by Vatican II were relatively minor, but these minor departures from tradition proved to be a tremendous shock for many Catholics, including many priests and nuns.

But I’ve changed my mind – thanks to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington DC, who was the other day exposed as a homosexual who on at least one occasion, fifty years ago, was guilty of sexually abusing a minor.  The best account of the McCarrick horror story that I have so far read was written by Rod Dreher under the title:Cardinal McCarrick: Everybody Knew.”

According to Dreher’s account, McCarrick’s sexual misbehavior was not limited to one case early in his priestly career.  Far from it.  Very far.  He engaged in homosexual seduction and conduct with young adult men – seminarians and young priests – when he was the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey.  Dreher doesn’t tell us what happened when McCarrick rose higher in the ecclesiastical world, becoming the archbishop first of Newark and later of Washington.  I assume we’ll be hearing more of the story soon.

I don’t know how many Catholic priests are homosexual.  I doubt that anybody really knows.  I’ve read of estimates ranging from fifteen percent to fifty percent.  Everybody in a position to make an intelligent guess seems to agree that the percentage of gay priests greatly exceeds the percentage of gay adults in the general population (about 2 or 3 percent).  Of course, not every priest with a homosexual orientation is a practicing homosexual.  And since so many of our priests are elderly, it is likely that many who used to engage in homosexual conduct no longer do so.  Either the urge has waned, or they can no longer get a date.

And it’s not just that we have too many gay priests.  It’s that they form networks within the priesthood.  They stick together.  They protect one another.  They help one another advance.  The McCarrick case is a splendid example of this.

It was no secret to insiders that he was a practicing homosexual, yet this did not prevent him from climbing the ecclesiastical ladder, from ordinary priest to bishop of a minor diocese (Metuchen), and then to Archbishop of Newark, and then to Archbishop of Washington, and finally to prince of the Church.  And nobody stopped him along the way.  He was well protected.

A sub-group doesn’t have to represent 51 percent of the whole in order to dominate the entire group.  In big corporations, 10 percent ownership is often enough to win control of the whole corporation.  In the old days, a well-organized gang of fifteen train robbers could rob a thousand passengers.

The Catholic Church in the United States, it is evident, has a homosexual tilt.  If (like me) you had some doubts about this before today, the McCarrick horror story should be enough to remove these doubts.

No wonder it is a rare priest – a very rare priest – who denounces homosexuality or same-sex marriage from the pulpit.  No wonder bishops don’t fight back against the gay movement, even though this movement is every day persuading thousands of young Catholics that their religion is wrong, and has been wrong for 2,000 years, in teaching that sodomy is sinful and unnatural.

And no wonder that the Church in America puts up virtually no resistance to our culture of sexual freedom.  How can a homosexually tainted religion complain about fornication and unmarried cohabitation?  Can it even complain about adultery?

And can anybody be surprised that our Church in America is feeble in its opposition to abortion?  For if you fight against abortion, you will have to fight against sexual freedom; and if you fight against sexual freedom, you will, of course, have to fight against sodomy.  One domino after another.

And will a priest, even one who is quite definitely non-gay, be able to be a good sexual counselor – regardless of whether the person he is counseling is straight or gay – in a Church that has a “soft spot” for homosexuality?

The Church must be de-homosexualized as soon as possible.  The best way of doing this, maybe the only way, is to open the priesthood to married men, the way the priesthood has been open to married men for many centuries in the Orthodox churches.

This is risky.  It will be a shock to many old-fashioned Catholics.  It will encourage liberal Catholics to intensify their demand that the priesthood be open to women.  Ironically, it will encourage liberals to demand that the Church ordain openly homosexual men (and women) to the priesthood provided they sincerely take a vow of celibacy.

But the risk has to be run.  Not to do so would be madness.  Thanks to the exposure of McCarrick, the secret is out.  It will no longer be possible to fool the average parishioner.  We are moving in the direction of becoming a gay-dominated religion.  There are many factors, not just this one, tending to ruin the Catholic Church in America.  But this one is especially lethal.

Let us hope it is not too late.  Let us hope we still have in our midst a critical mass of courageous bishops who are untainted and uncompromised.

 

David Carlin

David Carlin

David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.