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A review of Catholic affairs

The Spiritual Warfare of Lent Bishop Robert Barron Rev. Eugene O'Neill

Silence (and Latin) in the Liturgy Card. Robert Sarah Philip Kosloski

Ireland 100 Years after the Rising Michael Kirke Brenda McGann

Number 497· March 2016 €3 · £2.50 · $4


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Number 497 · March 2016 Editorial by Rev. Gavan Jennings

In Passing: A Flawed Vision of Mankind by Michael Kirke

Thoughts on the Centenary of the Rising by Brenda McGann

Revisiting the Spiritual Warfare by Bishop Robert Barron

The Case for Latin: 
 Why Worship Benefits From a Sacred Language by Philip Kosloski

Lent: A Time of Subtraction by Rev. Eugene O’Neill

Silence in the Liturgy by Cardinal Robert Sarah

Book review: The Global Sexual Revolution by Steve Weatherbe (LifeSiteNews)

Film review: Spotlight by John Mulderig Editor: Assistant editors: Subscription manager: Secretary: Design:

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Rev. Gavan Jennings Michael Kirke, Pat Hanratty, Brenda McGann Liam Ó hAlmhain Dick Kearns Víctor Díaz

Contact us The editor, Position Papers, P.O. Box 4948, Rathmines, Dublin 6
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Articles ©Position Papers, who normally will on application give permission to reproduce gratis subject only to a credit in this form: ‘Reprinted, with permission from Position Papers, Dublin’. Please note: the opinions expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect those of the editor nor of the Opus Dei Prelature of which he is a priest.

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Editorial W

e start this month’s issue of PP with a heartfelt In Passing column from Michael Kirke who, taking his 
cue from a recent New York Times article on the American experience of “powerlessness” reflects the sense of disenfranchisement which strikes him each morning, with a sense “of fear and loathing every morning as I make my way to work past the Irish parliament buildings”. Certainly he must speak for those Irishmen and women who are awake to last year’s Machivellian machinations which inveigled the electorate here to vote for same-sex marriage; the same machine is cranking up once more, this time to ensure we vote to repeal the constitutional protection of the unborn and so abandon their tiny lives to its mercy. In her reflections on the Irish Easter Rising of 1916 Brenda McGann strikes a similar note and asks “how those men who sacrificed their lives would see the Republic of Ireland now and what they might have to say to our political leaders and us the populace who seem to have sold out on so much of what our ancestors held dear i.e. the Christian principles and convictions that sustained and informed them through the centuries.” Certainly our centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising should provide the nation with an opportunity for a kind of stock-taking: what have we Irish made of the national project which began on the steps of the GPO in April 1916? Since almost the entire month of March falls within Lent, we are carrying two Lenten pieces this month: the first from Bishop Robert Barron who encourages us not to hide from the fact that in this life we engage in a battle – as Christ did in the wilderness – in combat with the personification of evil: the devil himself. We would he says, be foolish to neglect the weapons which Christ himself has given us to conquer in this fight: “Jesus has entrusted to his Church the means to apply

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this victory, the weapons, if you will, to win the spiritual warfare. These are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession), the Mass, the Bible, personal prayer, the rosary, etc.” Rev. Eugene O’Neill provides us with our second piece on Lent, in which he looks at the Lenten season as a propitious time to see through the “consumer-driven myth” which promises happiness through possessions: “Now, none of us can escape that consumer-driven myth. It’s the consumer culture of which we are all part. But we are Christians, so we must name this lie, recognise its effects and critique its claims. It will not bring the true happiness and deeper peace which it purports to bear. And, as Christians, we can act in a way that cuts across this comfortable and addictive lie – the lie that really is our ‘temptation in the desert’.”

Editorial

We also carry two articles related to the liturgy: in the first Philip Kosloski makes a very strong case for the place of Latin in the liturgy, showing how Latin helps to bring us into the mystery and transcendence of God in the Mass. The second piece relates to the place of silence in the liturgy; Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments invites us to rediscover the asceticism of silence, for prayer in general and for the Mass in particular. He makes a wonderful case in favour of silence, drawing from scripture, the tradition of the Church and its liturgical guidelines. Finally in our reviews we look at the recently translated book by Gabriele Kuby, The Global Sexual Revolution: the Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom and the film Spotlight. I have been looking forward to the arrival of the translation of Gabriele Kuby’s book; it is imperative for Catholics to be well-informed about the origins and nature of a perverse ideology which is set to dominate the twenty-first century: gender ideology. While many of us have long felt that we had reached saturation levels regarding clerical abuse scandals, it is important for us to be aware of the recent Hollywood production dealing with clerical sex-abuse in the diocese of Boston. This review looks frankly at the strengths and weaknesses of how Spotlight deals with such a sensitive theme.

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In Passing: A Flawed Vision of Mankind by Michael Kirke

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or most of the time ordinary people don’t want power. They just want to get on with their lives. Democracy relieved them of dictatorial, aristocratic and oligarchic abuses of power. In our democratic age we expect that all we have to do is choose, every few years, reasonable, just and capable people to look after our public affairs for us – and all will be well. That seems to be enough power to keep us going.

He related it to an essay by George Orwell reflecting on an incident in his time as a colonial policeman in Burma back in the 1930s. “In his essay”, Brooks tells us, “nobody feels like they have any power. The locals, the imperial victims, sure didn’t. Orwell, the guy with the gun, didn’t feel like he had any. The imperialists back in London were too far away.” He thinks this is the way much of the world is today, with everyone afflicted with a widespread sentiment that power is somewhere other than where you are.

But something radical has now happened. We do not seem to be in this comfortable place anymore. David Brooks reflected on “powerlessness” in a recent column in the New York Times.

Suddenly, we are not so sure that anything we think, say or do

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matters anymore. If it did why do I have to suppress this sense of fear and loathing every morning as I make my way to work past the Irish parliament buildings?

others just look on this as a vain hope, convinced that what they see as a mildly to severely corrupt political and media establishment will manipulate the system no matter who they choose. They just feel helpless in the face of a system which should be guaranteeing them a voice and freedom but which is instead taking their country away from them.

Brooks, writing in the American context, speaks of the confusion he sees right across the social and political spectrum where every group feels it is being hard done by in the system. A Pew Research Center poll asked Americans, “Would you say your side has been winning or losing more?” Sixty-four percent of Americans, with majorities of both parties, believe their side has been losing more.

Brooks thinks that the feeling of absolute powerlessness can corrupt absolutely: “As psychological research has shown, many people who feel powerless come to feel unworthy, and become complicit in their own oppression. Some exaggerate the weight and size of the obstacles in front of them. Some feel dehumanized, forsaken, doomed and guilty.”

Taking this in an Irish context, some people afflicted by this “powerlessness” syndrome say “a plague on all your houses”. Over the past few years they have decided to abandon old party loyalties, support new ones or simply place their trust in “lone ranger” independent representatives.

He believes that the ultimate stand of the hopeless is a defiant but pointless one, and is made when they feel overwhelmed by isolation and atomization. Having lost all trust in their own institutions, they respond to powerlessness with pointless acts of self-destruction. Brooks

Others despair even of that when they look at the options that new fledgling parties provide. Still

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cites what is happening in the Palestinian territories as a classic example. “Young people don’t organize or work with their government to improve their prospects. They wander into Israel, try to stab a soldier or a pregnant woman and get shot or arrested – every single time. They throw away their lives for a pointless and usually botched moment of terrorism.”

ends up compounding the despair. Brooks sums up the American dilemma: “Americans are beset by complex, intractable problems that don’t have a clear villain: technological change displaces workers; globalization and the rapid movement of people destabilize communities; family structure dissolves; the political order in the Middle East teeters, the Chinese economy craters, inequality rises, the global order frays, etc.”

In the United States today, on a macro level, everyone seems to be scratching their heads and asking themselves how this particular electoral cycle leading to the election of their forty-fifth President got so crazy. On a micro level they are agonizing over the strange dysfunction of their legal and law enforcement system which two Columbia University journalism graduates have exposed in their riveting documentary series on Netflix, Making a Murderer.

Irish citizens seldom agonize over all of these issues – because they don’t expect their chosen representatives to have to deal with them. Our hapless and helpless representatives had to rely on an international troika of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank to dig it out of the mess they let the country fall into in the mid 2000s. The smug way in which the current political establishment now claims credit for the troika’s vigilance in having guided us to a reasonably

For Brooks the first is a perversion brought about by feelings of powerlessness. As regards the second, no one seems to have any answers. It all

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safe haven fools some but angers others.

the right to life of unborn children.

Is Ireland safe from the horrors of the unsafe verdicts and law enforcement shenanigans portrayed in Making a Murder? Irish radio recently spent some time debating whether the dreadful scenario presented in the series could happen in their blessed land. Indeed it could – and from time to time there have been suspicious signs that something like it has.

The same international coalition is now building up forces again to complete this work and get Ireland to join the world club of states which judicially take the lives of millions of innocent human beings every year. Ireland’s legislators will do this again with the help of handpicked lackeys to form “expert groups” and “citizen forums”, the modern equivalent of the packed juries of former times which put the veneer of justice on the killing carried out at the behest of their masters.

On the political front, thirtyeight percent of the Irish electorate looked on in dismay last year as a united phalanx of political and media forces, supported by overseas neocolonial cultural power-houses like Amnesty International and Atlantic Philantrophies, effectively consigned the already badly wounded natural institution of marriage to the rubbish heap of history by effectively redefining it out of existence. Two years earlier the same coordinated forces took the first step in removing from Ireland’s laws and constitution

The citizens who see these developments as catastrophes feel as powerless as victims confronted by an alien force from they know not where. Their fear is compounded by the fact that this force comes in the form of a human agency whose framework of values is totally at odds with everything they know about human nature, human dignity and natural justice. They no longer speak the same language of humanity.

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The consequences of this are the slaughter of the unborn, the termination of lives considered “limited”, whether youthful or aged, the destruction of family and the redefinition of human nature itself by the adoption of a crazy gender ideology.

will usher in a new era of persecution. In looking for a solution to the problem in his country Brooks argues: If we’re to have any hope of addressing big systemic problems we’ll have to repair big institutions and have functioning parties and a functioning Congress. We have to discard the anti-political, antiinstitutional mood that is prevalent and rebuild effective democratic power centres.

Some but not all of these things have arrived in Ireland. But they surely will and the feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it in the face of an entrenched alien force is breeding despair. How ironic is this in the very year in which Ireland’s people “celebrate” the centenary of the rebellion which led to their winning independence from Britain?

So it may be for America. In the Irish context are new parties the answer? It is doubtful that they are. Why? Because none of these parties have anything of the vision of mankind which would enable them to frame consistent policies – social, political or economic. Without this vision – and the truth about humanity which underlies it – they will never meet the needs of our nature and the hopes and

For more than 700 years Ireland was subject to the British Crown. For much of three centuries of that era, up to the later part of the 18th Century, her people suffered bitter and lethal persecution for adhering to the principles of their Catholic Faith. There are many who now fear that the Irish political and media establishment’s adherence to new definitions of humanity contrary to their Faith

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aspirations which arise from that nature.

will be fruitless. Until then the political and moral bankruptcy of our time will continue to corrupt and thwart the aspirations of those who set the Republic of Ireland up as an independent state nearly 100 years ago.

Some individuals within these movements have such a vision. But these are dismissed by the establishment as “sanctimonious� dreamers. These are the only hope that the powerless have. The fact is that there is no coherent collective voice in evidence yet which might convince the powerless that they might hope to have, even in the future, a government by which their country might be wisely and justly governed. Until this vision permeates those currently hollow shells which pass for policies, any new solution to their powerlessness

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Michael Kirke is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to Position Papers, and a widely read blogger at Garvan Hill (www.garvan.wordpress.com). His views can be responded to at mjgkirke@gmail.com.

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Thoughts on the Centenary of the Rising by Brenda McGann

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aster Monday fell on April 24 in 1916 and was the day when a band of Irish Republican Brothers struck for independence the centuries’ old dominion of England and gain the freedom to be once again a sovereign nation. They proclaimed this Republic by occupying the General Post Office (GPO) and other buildings in the city and by reading the Proclamation of Independence on the steps of the GPO in the centre of Dublin city. Patrick Pearse was one of their most prominent leaders and he and the six other signatories were executed quite mercilessly, and without trial, in early May. Some months later the poet William Butler

Yeats described these happenings in his poem “A Terrible Beauty is Born”. Whether that is so, is for others to adjudicate on and is perhaps, a work in progress, on many levels. These men who led the rising were noble men, in the main writers, poets, dreamers, academics who had a vision greater than themselves for which they were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. Their courage and faith is something to be commemorated in this centenary year regardless of the merits of their political wisdom or military acumen. The War of Independence

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followed which ended with the signing of the Treaty with England in December 1921, a treaty which left the country divided; six counties of Ulster still part of Britain and an oath of allegiance to the British monarch one of its conditions. A bitter civil war ensued before what was called Irish Free State was established in 1922/23. It is not my intention, nor indeed within my competence, to comment on the rights and wrongs of the events of those few years – whether the injustices of generations of oppression justified them or not. That is for history and others to reflect and judge on.

centuries. It is true that Ireland has taken her place among the nations of the world and has much to celebrate in its contribution on the world stage – notably its people who are far flung, well educated across the range of human endeavours; gallant in the sporting arenas, imaginative and creative in the world of the Arts and more. We now have, among our citizens other many from other nations whose arrival and diversity are an enriching factor. They are very welcome and have much to contribute to the common good in an open democratic country endowed with beautiful scenery and fertile land.

It is, however, timely and salutary to consider how those men who sacrificed their lives would see the Republic of Ireland now and what they might have to say to our political leaders and us the populace who seem to have sold out on so much of what our ancestors held dear i.e. the Christian principles and convictions that sustained and informed them through the

What about the inherent contradictions in how the current political culture reflects the heritage and culture it has received from the time of Saint Patrick who brought the Christian faith to Ireland in 432 AD and largely influenced the men of 1916? This faith that cost of our ancestors very dearly down through the centuries through the penal laws, persecutions,

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loss of lands, language, and most painfully the freedom to practice their Catholic faith in the wake of the Reformation, this faith that was sustained by the Rosary, love for Our Lady and the heroism of priests who risked their lives by saying Mass on the mass rocks still to be seen throughout the country. Those many who emigrated, especially in the 1800s brought that faith with them steadfastly and often with great fortitude. On a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York some years ago I was very moved on reading that the people who gathered the money together to buy the site on Fifth Avenue where it now stands were the “Brigids” of New York as they were known by in those days – in other words the very many Irish women who emigrated and found work as nannies or domestic helpers in a city that was not particularly welcoming to Catholics. Thinking about the context of those times, I was impressed by their fortitude and their generosity but, most especially by their

faith in God which gave them the superiority complex to plan this magnificent cathedral which was to become the first Catholic cathedral built in the English speaking world after Catholic Emancipation was passed in the House of Commons in 1829! (The American civil war intervened so after the foundation stone was blessed and laid it was forty years before the building could start) – but undaunted, start it did! Let us not forget that the late 1800s and the first fifty or sixty years of the twentieth century saw Irish missionaries bring the light of the Gospel to far flung places long before phones, TV, texting WiFi, mass air travel etc made distances and partings bearable. Their legacy is there for all to see in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Today, there are inherent contradictions in the way aspects of our hard won sovereignty are conducted and our culture respected. (Bear in mind that the vast majority of people living in Ireland are

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baptised Christians.) For example; The preamble to our Constitution (written in 1937) begins as follows: “In the Name of the most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred…”. Nonetheless, referenda in recent times have voted into law things that contravene God’s law and most recently even the Natural Law. It would seem at least reasonable to either uphold the Preamble thus stated or take it out in the interest of legal integrity. Another thing to consider at this juncture is the fact that the only woman to be crowned Queen of Ireland is Mary, the Jewish girl from Nazareth of the House of David who became the mother of the son of God Jesus Christ. This coronation happened in Kilkenny Castle on May 13, 1210 and has never been revoked despite the vicissitudes of history since then. When Our Lady appeared in Knock in August 1879 she came as a Queen. This is worth

thinking about and remembering it was love for her and the praying of the Rosary that helped keep the faith alive in times of persecution. Thus, as we rightly celebrate this centenary it is fitting to be grateful for so many blessings of this past hundred years, not least the establishment of good relations between Britain and Ireland, not just politically, but in recognition that Baptism unites us in Faith in Jesus Christ who mandated us, as his followers to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole Creation”. There is a letter written two hundred years after the birth of Jesus to a Christian by the name of Diognetus that has survived which merits considering “Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body.” Does that resonate in our Christian hearts with great humility recognising the triumph of the Cross? This centenary commemoration in Ireland

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neatly coincides with the Jubilee year of Mercy that Pope Francis has called in the Church. Let us re-engage with our Christian faith asking God’s mercy for our neglect of it. It is a Faith that is confident in God and in itself, and has no fear of public debate about its principles and convictions. The men who died in 1916 would agree that the only true liberty for the human person is the recognition that God is the Lord of the cosmos and the creator of man. His most powerful message is Mercy when we turn to Him.

Logo of the centenary of the independence of the Republic of Ireland

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Brenda McGann lives in Dublin, and is the mother of grown up family and several grandchildren.

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Revisiting the Spiritual Warfare by Bishop Robert Barron

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n the sixth chapter of St Mark’s Gospel, we find the account of Jesus sending out the Twelve, two by two, on mission. The first thing he gave them, Mark tells us, was “authority over unclean spirits". And the first pastoral act that they performed was to “drive out many demons”. When I was coming of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was common, even in seminaries, to dismiss such talk as primitive superstition – or perhaps to modernize it and make it a literary device, using symbolic language evocative of the struggle with evil in the abstract. But the problem with that approach is that it just does not do justice to the Bible.

The biblical authors knew all about “evil” in both its personal and institutional expressions, but they also knew about a level of spiritual dysfunction that lies underneath both of those more ordinary dimensions. They knew about the world of fallen or morally compromised spirits. Jesus indeed battled sin in individual hearts as well as the sin that dwelt in institutional structures, but he also struggled with a dark power more fundamental and more dangerous than those. What, or better, who is this threatening spiritual force? It is a devil, a fallen or morally compromised angel. Imagine a

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truly wicked person who is also very smart, very talented and very enterprising. Now raise that person to a far higher pitch of ontological perfection, and you will have some idea of what a devil is like. Very rarely, devils intervene in human affairs in vividly frightening and dramatic ways. But typically, devils act more indirectly and clandestinely, through temptation, influence and suggestion. One of the most terrifying religious paintings in the world is in the Cathedral of Orvieto in Italy. It is a depiction of the Antichrist by the great early renaissance painter Luca Signorelli. The artist shows the devil whispering into the ear of the Antichrist, and also working his arm through the vesture of his victim in such a way that it appears to be the Antichrist’s own arm, thereby beautifully symbolizing how the dark power acts precisely with us and through us.

figure. He is often called diabolos in the Greek of the New Testament, a word derived from dia-balein, to throw apart, to scatter. God is a great gathering force, for by his very nature he is love; but the devil’s work is to sunder, to set one against the other. Whenever communities, families, nations, churches are divided, we sniff out the diabolic. The other great New Testament name for the devil

What are his usual effects? We can answer that question quite well by examining the names that the Bible gives to this

Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy

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is ho Satanas, which means “the accuser”. Perform a little experiment: gauge how often in the course of the day you accuse another person of something or find yourself accused. It’s easy enough to notice how often dysfunctional families and societies finally collapse into an orgy of mutual blaming. That’s satanic work. Another great biblical name for the devil is “the father of lies”. Because God is Truth, truthfulness – about oneself, about others, about the way things really are – is the key to smooth human relations. But how often we suffer because of untruth! Perhaps many years ago, someone told you a lie about yourself, and you’ve been wounded by it ever since. Perhaps you’ve deliberately lied about another person and thereby ruined his character and reputation. Consider how many wars and genocides have been predicated upon pervasive misperceptions and fabrications. Finally, the author of the first letter of John refers to the devil as “the murderer from the beginning”. God is life and thus the fosterer

of human life. The devil – like an unhappy person who likes nothing better than to spread unhappiness around him – is the enemy of human flourishing, the killer of life. Does anyone really think that the massive slaughters that took place in the twentieth century – the piling up of tens of millions of corpses – can be adequately explained through political or psychological categories? An extraordinarily important aspect of the good news of Christianity is that Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has won victory over these dark forces. St Paul said that we battle, not simply flesh and blood, but spiritual powers and principalities. But then he reminded us that nothing – neither height nor depth, nor any other power – could finally separate us from the love of Christ. Jesus has entrusted to his Church the means to apply this victory, the weapons, if you will, to win the spiritual warfare. These are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession), the

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Mass, the Bible, personal prayer, the rosary, etc. One of the tragedies of our time is that so many Catholics have dropped those weapons. Allow me to focus a bit more attention on Confession by switching from a military to a medical analogy. An open wound – untreated and unbandaged – will rapidly become infected by germs and bacteria. Think of a pattern of serious sin as a sort of open wound in the spiritual order. Untreated, which is to say, unconfessed, it becomes a point of entry for less than savory spiritual powers.

empowers his church to do the same. Don’t be reluctant to use the weapons – and the healing balms – that he has given. This article first appeared at: www.wordonfire.org.

Jesus sent out the Twelve to battle dark spirits. He still

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Bishop Robert Barron is an author, speaker, theologian, and founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry. This article has been reprinted with the kind permission of the editors.

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The Case for Latin: Why Worship Benefits From a Sacred Language by Philip Kosloski

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oes it matter what language is used to worship God? Shouldn’t the congregation understand what is being said at Mass? Isn’t Latin outdated and no longer have a place in our modern world? Even in the midst of such questions the Catholic Church unequivocally states that the “Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36). This displays that while the modern world may defend the vernacular in worship, the Church has her reasons why a dead language is to be safeguarded. I believe that the revival of Latin is not only what the

Church desires, it also adds to the sacred character of the celebration of the liturgy and fosters a greater sense of prayer. Worshipping in an ancient language should not be a hindrance to authentic prayer, but instead open our hearts to a profound sense of the presence of God.  To start off, there is a common philosophy regarding worship in today’s world: it must be intelligible. All a person has to do is interview a handful of parishioners at a local parish to discover the frustration that occurs when a priest says a few prayers in Latin during Mass. The main argument over and

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over again is, “We don’t know what he is saying,” or “We don’t know what the choir is singing,” or “I don’t know Latin.” We tend to have an innate belief that the words said or sung at Mass must be immediately intelligible. Interestingly enough, this idea is rather new in the Church and developed around the time of the Reformation. The Protestant reformers believed that “divine worship [was] essentially a proclamation of the Word of God [and] made them conclude that using a language that was not intelligible to the assembly was contrary to the Gospel” (The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language, 155). From this point of view, it makes sense why the vernacular would be chosen over a foreign language like Latin. So then what is the Mass? A simple proclamation of the Gospel? Is the church simply a “lecture hall,” where we go to sit and listen?

While it is true that part of the Mass is meant to be instructive and intelligible, the overall character of the liturgy is meant to be much more. Instead, what is meant to be the focus is that, in the “liturgy, heaven joins earth, the invisible becomes visible, and the symbolic is the real (sign and reality)” (Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass, 27). This hidden reality should then be expressed in the language that is used at Mass, for “the language that we use during the liturgy is the Mystical Voice of the Mystical Body, a ‘hymn of praise that is sung through all the ages in the heavenly places’” (Ibid, 29). Rather than being a mere proclamation of scripture, the liturgy is meant to bring others into a mysterious realm where one can peer through a window into Heaven. The use of the Latin language accomplishes this mystical goal of the liturgy just like the iconostasis veils the Divine

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Mysteries in the Eastern Church. Parish priest, Father Christopher Smith, explains what many have discovered in this way, “In the West, the function of icons and veils is taken in part by [the Latin] language. It emphasizes the mystery and the transcendence of a God who, despite His closeness to us, is still always beyond our reach” (New Liturgical Movement).

in the Catholic Church. Even today the use of an iconostasis is still an essential part of the Divine Liturgy. It frustrates our desire to know what is going on and places a barrier to our curiosity.

We don’t have to understand or know any Latin to benefit from its use. Actually, it may even beneficial if we don’t know any Latin. For most of Salvation History the worship of God was veiled and few if any people ever saw what was going on in the liturgy. This was the case in the Jewish Temple and remained the case for centuries

It reminds us that we can not fully grasp God here on earth. He is a mystery and mysteries are not always meant to be fully understood. Mysteries create in us a sense of humility, but also a sense of awe and wonder. The Latin language is very beautiful if we allow it to penetrate our modern hearts. We need to stop looking at the liturgy as a lecture and start appreciating its mystical character. Latin reminds us that the liturgy is a meeting of Heaven and earth and that there is much more to this world than

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meets the eye. We have to take off our scientific glasses for a while and simply appreciate the mystery that unfolds before us. To draw an analogy, there are two approaches to star-gazing. We can either step outside our door, look up at the sky and say, “Look at all of those luminous spheres of plasma,” or we can appreciate their beauty and proclaim, “How wonderful and beautiful are the stars!” We don’t necessarily need to know what the stars are and how far they are from earth to appreciate them. We can simply gaze at them and stand in awe of God’s creation.

Latin is a great gift and once we begin to understand that and appreciate its ability to veil the mysteries of God, our hearts will be open to a much more profound way of prayer. This article first appeared on www.philipkosloski.com and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Philip Kosloski is the author of In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II’s Visit to Wisconsin. His articles have been featured in Crisis Magazine, Catholic Exchange and New Advent, National Catholic Register and Aleteia.

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Lent: A Time of Subtraction by Rev. Eugene O’Neill

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rimary school teachers often say that the first month of every new school year is spent simply getting the pupils to remember all that they knew in June but have forgotten during the long summer holidays. September is the “catch-up” month. Especially children who take a laid-back approach to learning – as does my eight year old neice. I asked her at the end of the summer to multiply three by five. She paused, thought for a moment and answered with an unconcerned shrug, “Fifty-three?” before returning to combing her hair. Much to the chagrin of her father – himself a teacher – who is always telling me how advanced she is!

Which brings me to Lent. What is Lent about – if you had to put it into one word? For me – in a word – Lent is about subtraction. Here’s what I mean: Lent is a reasonably short period each year – forty days, about six weeks – when we are asked to subtract a few things from our lives, for the benefit of our souls. We are asked by the wisdom embodied in the ancient practices of the Church. And this is profoundly counter-cultural. Almost every single cultural influence working on us says the opposite: TV, the online world, advertising, much of the rhetoric of the educational establishment tells us that we need to add to our lives. To be happy, we need more. Add more holidays; add better

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furniture to the house; add a new kitchen; upgrade your SKY package; get a better car – get a second or third car; get more stuff; get better trainers – add and you will improve your life and you will be happier. Of course, that’s not true. But the message comes at us a hundred times a day – explicit or implicit: “You need more!” Often, in the words of the famous shampoo advert, “Because you deserve it.” Let’s be honest: most of us have much, much more than our grandparents or greatgrandparents. I don’t believe for a second that in general, our lives are happier or richer emotionally or culturally; that we laugh more or are more secure than they; or love our children better. Mostly, we just have more stuff. Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to live in the past. Even if I’m sure the I could be as content as a sheep farmer in the Glens of Antrim or a cattle dealer in Ballymena as were my great grandfathers, I would not want to live in a world without antibiotics, anaesthetic or paracetamol. That much of modernity – together with warm houses, soft beds and

medicine – is a blessing. What is definitely not a blessing is the myth that having more equals being happier. And so many are obsessed with it, aren’t they? It’s an obsession that can grip us all at times: “If only I had that … I would be better and feel more fulfilled.” I think we all know from experience, that as soon as one gets what one dreams of, materially, no lasting satisfaction arrives in its trail: one simply starts to want the next thing up the food chain. I had a humbling experience of this in my own life some years ago. I was upgraded to business class on a long-haul flight. I’d never had that experience before and was excited like a child at the flat-beds, the luxury pods, the champagne, the intimate service – “How would you like your steak cooked, sir?” My travel companion, a frequent flyer, was upgraded to First Class on the same flight and, during the flight sneaked me up to have a quick peak at his cabin. I was gutted! It was so much nicer than my upgrade: the flat-beds seemed flatter, the pillows softer; they had Krug champagne, whilst I had to manage with Pol Roger! Seeing First took the goodness,

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the thankfulness, from my heart! Later in the flight, as I reflected on this strange succession of feelings from my flat bed, I realised that God had given me a very important lesson for life: aspiring to more material things, better experiences, more comfort … simply “more,” is a never-ending cycle. It feeds on itself and creates not only dissatisfaction but, worse, anxiety, once a certain basic level of comfort is achieved. Creating the want for more, is creating the craving on which all consumerism is based. It’s saying: the key to your happiness, the meaning of your life, is in addition. Now, none of us can escape that consumer-driven myth. It’s the consumer culture of which we are all part. But we are Christians, so we must name this lie, recognise its effects and critique its claims. It will not bring the true happiness and deeper peace which it purports to bear. And, as Christians, we can act in a way that cuts across its comfortable and addictive lie – the lie the really is our “temptation in the desert”.

Naming the lie, critiquing it and counteracting it in our own lives: this is what Lent is for. It’s about subtraction. It is saying: instead of looking for happiness by adding more, subtract a few things from your life, and wait to see what happens. That is what is really at the core of all that we have been traditionally taught that Lent involves – the “giving up” and the “taking up” that we usually do in these weeks. And that is what is meant by the old mantra that Lent is a time of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Each of these is about subtraction. Subtracting a little food - meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and from our own choices at other times: that’s fasting. Subtracting some of the money we spend on ourselves or on the “more” that obsesses us, and giving it to the needy: that’s almsgiving. Subtracting some of the time we give to ourselves, our pleasures and our pursuits, and giving that time to God: that’s prayer. It’s about less of me… less for me… But for a purpose: not to make life glum, but to clear a little space in our packed, demanding and material-stuffed lives for our true selves; to try to become

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quieter, to listen and to catch that gentle voice that speaks, we are told, softly: the whispering of the One who made us for himself and with whom generations have witnessed we have our only hope of true happiness. “Man does not live by bread alone….” The Spirit who led Jesus out into the desert, is leading our and me into Lent and holding out a similar invitation. He is saying: “Move away from the “stuff” for forty days, and let me show you who you really are…” I think it’s important as we do to meet each other in honesty. Lent is tough. For the last two years, Lent for me has bombed. But this year, I’m trying again. That consoling glass of wine with

supper in the evening has gone for a few weeks; TV can wait till Easter Day; pudding and chocolate – well… I’ll will do my best! And the time saved: for prayer, for others, for Him. A very limited fasting of the body, a very restricted fasting of the senses, I know; but all part of the subtraction of Lent – and the spiritual wisdom of the Church, that if taken up in sincerity of heart, can break the headlong rush of materialism; that can teach us again what can so easily be forgotten during the rest of the year; and that can allow us to hear and feel God.

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Rev. Eugene O’Neill is parish priest of Killyleagh, and of Crossgar, Co.Down and is a regular contributor to A Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster.

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M

Silence in the Liturgy by Cardinal Robert Sarah 1. Silence as a Christian ascetical value

through cowardice, egotism, or hard-heartedness.

In the negative sense, silence is the absence of noise. It can be exterior or interior. Exterior silence involves the absence of sounds both in words and in actions (noises of doors, vehicles, jackhammers, and airplanes, the noisy mechanism of cameras, often accompanied by dazzling flashes, and also of that horrible forest of cell phones that are brandished at arm’s length during our Eucharistic liturgies). Virtuous or mystical silence obviously must be distinguished from reproachful silence, from the refusal to speak to someone, from the silence of omission

Of course, exterior silence is an ascetical exercise of self-mastery in the use of speech. First of all it may be helpful to recall what asceticism is; this word is not praised to the skies by our consumer society – far from it! – and, we must admit, it frightens our contemporaries, including very often the Christians who are influenced by the spirit of the world. Well, then, what is asceticism? Asceticism is an indispensable means that helps us to remove from our life anything that weighs it down, in other words, anything that hampers our

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spiritual or interior life and therefore is an obstacle to prayer. Yes, it is indeed in prayer that God communicates his Life to us, in other words, manifests his presence in our soul by irrigating it with the streams of his Trinitarian Love: the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. And prayer is essentially silence. Chattering, the tendency to externalize all the treasures of the soul by expressing them, is supremely harmful to the spiritual life. Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the chatterer cannot help being far from God, superficial and incapable of any profound activity. The wisdom books of the Old Testament are chock-full of exhortations aimed at avoiding sins of the tongue (in particular, slander and calumny). The prophetic books, for their part, mention silence as the expression of reverential fear of God; it is then a preparation for the theophany of God, in other words, the revelation of His presence in our world. The New Testament is not outdone in this respect. Indeed, there is the

Letter of James, which clearly remains the classic passage about controlling the tongue (Jas 3:1-10). However, we know that Jesus himself warned us against wicked words, which are the expression of a depraved heart (Mt 15:19) and even against idle words, for which an accounting will be demanded of us (Mt 12:36). In contrast, we can only be impressed by the silence of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the Roman governor Pilate and King Herod: Jesus autem tacebat (Mt 26:63). Herod asked him to work a miracle for him personally, and his courtiers would have been amused by it. But Jesus Christ, who was in chains – he, the God of majesty – did not consent to become the buffoon of King Herod, nor to do for that proud man whose curiosity was unhealthy what he granted so generously to the humble and the uneducated. In reality, true, good silence always belongs to someone who is willing to let others have his place, and especially the Completely-Other, God. In contrast, external noise

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characterizes the individual who wants to occupy an overimportant place, to strut or to show off, or else who wants to fill his interior emptiness, as is the case in many stores and public facilities, and also particularly in the waiting rooms of some dentists, hairdressers..., where they impose incessant background music on you. As for interior silence, it can achieved by the absence of memories, plans, interior speech, worries…. Still more important, thanks to an act of the will, it can result from the absence of disordered affections or excessive desires. The Fathers of the Church assign an eminent place to silence in the ascetical life. 2. Silence as a condition for contemplative prayer The Gospels say that the Saviour himself prayed in silence, particularly at night (Lk 6:12), or while withdrawing to deserted places (Lk 5:16; Mk 1:35). Silence is typical of the meditation by the Word of God; we find it again particularly in

Mary’s attitude toward the mystery of her Son (Lk 2:19, 51). The most silent person in the Gospels is of course Saint Joseph; not a single word of his does the New Testament record for us. Saint Basil considers silence not only as an ascetical necessity of monastic life, but also as a condition for encountering God. Silence precedes and prepares for the privileged moment when we have access to God, who then can speak to us face to face as we would do with a friend […]. It is nonetheless true that silence is above all the positive attitude of someone who prepares to welcome God by listening. Yes, God acts in the silence. Hence this very important remark by the great Saint John of the Cross: “The Father said only one word, namely his Son, and in an eternal silence he always says it: the soul too must hear it in silence.”[1] The Book of Wisdom had already noted in this regard the manner in which God intervened to deliver the chosen people from captivity in Egypt: that unforgettable act took place during the night: “For while

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gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne” (Wis 18:14). Later, this verse would be understood by Christian liturgical tradition as a prefiguration of the silent Incarnation of the Eternal Word in the crib in Bethlehem. As for Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, she would insist on silence as a condition for contemplating God the Holy Trinity. And so we have to make silence: this is of course an activity, and not a form of idleness. If our “interior cell phone” is always busy because we are “having a conversation” with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he “call us”? We must therefore purify our mind of its curiosities, the will of its plans, in order to open ourselves totally to the graces of light and strength that God wants to give us profusely: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” Ignatian “indifference” is therefore a form of silence too.

3. The silence prescribed by the liturgical norms Prayer is a conversation, a dialogue with the Triune God: although at some moments we address God, at others we make silence so as to listen to him. It is not surprising therefore that we must consider silence as an important component of the liturgy […]. Vatican Council II prescribed keeping a time of silence during the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Thus the Constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, §30, decreed that “to promote active participation … at the proper time a reverent silence should be observed.” The General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) of Blessed Pope Paul VI, revised in 2002 by Saint John Paul II, specified the many places in the Mass where it is necessary to observe such silence […]. How sad it is – it’s almost a sacrilege – to hear sometimes priests and bishops chattering uninterruptedly in the sacristy, and even during the entrance

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procession, instead of recollecting themselves and contemplating in silence the mystery of the death of Christ on the Cross that they are getting ready to celebrate, which ought to inspire them with nothing but fear and trembling! The first moment in particular in which silence is prescribed is the penitential preparation: “The Priest calls upon the whole community to take part in the Penitential Act, which, after a brief pause for silence, it does by means of a formula of general confession” (§51). Then, for the collect: “…the Priest calls upon the people to pray and everybody, together with the Priest, observes a brief silence so that they may become aware of being in God’s presence and may call to mind their intentions” (§54). Then, “the Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to favour meditation, and so any kind of haste such as hinders recollection is clearly to be avoided. In the course of it, brief periods of silence are also appropriate, accommodated to the assembled congregation; by

means of these, under the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared….” (§56) … Finally it becomes a genuine prescription addressed to the faithful for the Eucharistic Prayer, when “the people, for their part, should associate themselves with the priest in faith and in silence…” (§147). We find again the possibility of remaining in silence after Holy Communion (cf. §164), or to prepare to listen to the “Postcommunion” prayer (§165). In Mass celebrated in the absence of a congregation, a moment of silence is even recommended to the celebrant: “After the purification of the chalice, the Priest should observe a brief pause for silence...” (§271). Silence is therefore not at all absent from the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, at least if we follow its guidelines and celebrate in the spirit of its recommendations. Unfortunately, too often “it was forgotten that the Council also included silence under actuosa

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participatio, for silence facilitates a really deep, personal participation, allowing us to listen inwardly to the Lord’s word. Many liturgies now lack all trace of this silence” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, with Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report). Moreover, apart from the homily, all other speeches or introductions of persons should be forbidden during the celebration of Holy Mass. Indeed, we have to avoid turning the church, which is the house of God intended for adoration, into a theater in which people come to applaud the actors who are rated according to their ability to communicate, to use an expression that you often hear in the media. Nowadays, you sometimes get the impression that Catholic worship … has gone from adoration of God to the exhibition of the priest, the ministers, and the faithful. Piety has been abolished, including the word itself, and has been liquidated by liturgists as devotionalism, but they have made the people put up with liturgical experiments and rejected spontaneous forms of devotion and piety. They have

even succeeded in imposing applause on funerals in place of mourning and weeping. Did Christ not mourn and weep at the death of Lazarus? “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy…it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared….” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy). 4. The importance of silence for the quality of the liturgy Finally, we must strive to understand the motivations of this liturgical discipline concerning silence and to become imbued with it. Two particularly well-qualified authors may help us in this area, and therefore succeed in convincing us of the need for silence in the liturgy. In the first place, Msgr. Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, expresses the general principle in these terms:

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A well celebrated liturgy, in its different parts, plans a happy alteration of silence and speech, in which silence animates speech, allows the


voice to resonate with an extraordinary depth, and keeps each verbal expression in the right atmosphere of recollection…. The required silence must not … be considered as a pause between one moment in the celebration and the next. Rather, it should be considered as a true moment of the ritual, complementing the words, the vocal prayer, the song, and the gestures (Guido Marini, La Liturgie: Gloire de Dieu, sanctification de l’homme).

a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one things necessary […]. This is therefore a silence in which we simply look at God and allow God to look at us and to envelop us in the mystery of his majesty and love. Cardinal Ratzinger also mentioned several particular moments of silence, for example this one: In some places, the Preparation of the Gifts is intended as a time for silence. This makes good sense and is fruitful, if we see the Preparation, not as just a pragmatic external action, but as an essentially interior process…. We ourselves are, or should be, the real gift … through our sharing in Jesus Christ’s act of self-offering to the Father […].(The Spirit of the Liturgy).

Indeed, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had already noted in his famous book, The Spirit of the Liturgy: [S]ilence is part of the liturgy…. [T]he greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which

In this regard we must deplore the long, noisy offertory

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processions, involving endless dancing, in some African countries. They give the impression that one is attending a folk dance performance, which distorts the bloody sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and removes us from the Eucharistic mystery; it should be celebrated instead in recollection, because we too are plunged into his death and his self-offering to the Father […]. Finally, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, for their part, “the silent prayers of the priest invite him to make his task truly personal, so that he may give his whole self to the Lord…. These priestly prayers…do exist – they have to exist, now as

before.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy). Finally, for everyone, “the silence after [the reception of] Communion … is the moment for an interior conversation with the Lord who has given himself to us, for that essential ‘communicating,’ that entry into the process of communication, without which the external reception of the Sacrament becomes mere ritual and therefore unfruitful” (The Spirit of the Liturgy). This is an abbreviated form of an essay first published in Italian in L’Osservatore Romano on January 30, 2016 and translated by Michael J. Miller for the Catholic World Report.

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR Cardinal Robert Sarah is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He is the author, with Nicolas Diat, of God or Nothing (Ignatius Press).

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Book review: The Global Sexual Revolution by Steve Weatherbe (LifeSiteNews)

T

he Global Sexual Revolution: the Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom details and dissects the insidious and totalitarian promotion by cultural elites and governments of sexual perversity and the destruction of the traditional Christian family. The author is Gabriele Kuby, a sociologist and adult convert to Christianity whom Pope Benedict XVI described as “a brave warrior against ideologies that ultimately result in the destruction of man”. Benedict’s comment (found in the preface to the original edition published in German and translated in the new version) reminds us chillingly

how far those ideologies have advanced – to the very doors of the Vatican – in a short time since his resignation. Kuby’s grand and magisterial sweep of a book does not need an update, but the new edition does provide a survey of cases in Europe and the U.S. of government enforcement of the new sexual ideology with fines, threats, and actual imprisonments of Christian holdouts. Kuby says the homosexual “rights” movement drives the ideology, but the problem also presents itself as radical feminism and, increasingly, gender fluidity and

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transgenderism. Its goal, she says, “is absolute freedom, unfettered by any natural or moral limitations”. The great liberal ideal, writes Kuby, has shifted from the political arena through the economic to the sexual. The revolutionaries seek not the destruction of feudalism, monarchies, or capitalism, but the “tyranny of nature”. They strip masculinity and femininity of their normative meaning in the name of freedom and pleasure. According to Kuby, “the concrete weapons in this war include deconstruction of male-female sexuality, alteration of the population’s social norms and attitudes (especially among youth), complete legal equivalency of homosexual partnership with marriage, and even social ostracism and legal criminalization of any opposition to these new ‘norms’.”

public square. Their message that sex is a powerful force that must be regulated and linked to the inherently sacrificial institution of marriage and family is now persecuted – and prosecuted – as homophobic. In a book that moves seamlessly from details to the big picture, it is no surprise to find the actual origins of the term “homophobia” explained and critiqued. It was, Kuby reports, “coined in the late 1960s by psychoanalyst and homosexual activist George Weinberg to make people who reject homosexuality appear mentally ill.” The Orwellian revolution in thinking this represents (homosexuality was considered a mental illness; now those who think this are themselves

Kuby chronicles the intellectual infiltration and conquest of virtually all other value-making institutions, leaving Christianity and its individual members standing virtually alone in the

Gabriele Kuby from Rimsting, Germany

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considered mentally ill) goes well beyond homosexuality, we learn from Kuby. In Germany, the entire language is being reconstructed to free it from male-dominated pronouns, while in Europe and America, gendered terms such as “mother” and “father” are increasingly being expunged from official record-keeping. Kuby asserts that the nuclear family has resisted previous totalitarian exercises such as Marxism and Nazism and provided the source of regeneration when they collapsed: “After every catastrophe, the green growth of Christianity sprouted back, eventually in the unification of Europe on the bedrock of its Christian founders’ higher values.” And it is happening again: she relates the rise across Europe of popular pro-family movements in the past decade and makes passing reference to similar responses in the U.S. If these movements fail, Kuby predicts that the truly tolerant, liberal societies of Europe and the English-speaking world must fail, too. She cites a former

constitutional judge in Germany, Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, to make her point. “A liberal state,” he once wrote, “can only survive if the freedom it grants its citizens is regulated from the inside through the moral substance of the individual and the homogeneousness of the society.” If the state must force its definition of freedom by restrictive laws and prison sentences, says the judge, it is no longer liberal. The Founding Fathers of the United States similarly believed that the democracy they were creating depended on the moral development provided individual Americans by their diverse Christian churches, even though many of those founders were far from being orthodox, if they were Christians at all. Kuby, therefore, is warning against not merely the newly powerful ideology of pansexualism, but also the insidious return of totalitarianism, of the wolf clothed as a lamb, and of the tyrant masked as a defender of freedom. Reprinted with permission from LifeSiteNews.com.

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Film review: Spotlight by John Mulderig

T

he clergy abuse-themed drama Spotlight (Open Road) is a movie no Catholic will want to see. Whether it’s a film many mature Catholics ought to see is a different question entirely. This hard-hitting journalism procedural – which inescapably invites comparison with 1976’s All the President’s Men – recounts the real-life events that led up to the public disclosure, in early 2002, of a shocking pattern of priestly misconduct within the Archdiocese of Boston. In the process, the equally disturbing concealment of such wrongdoing on the part of high ranking Church officials also was laid bare.

One of the picture’s themes is the way in which Beantown’s inwardlooking, small-town mentality contributed to the long-standing cover-up. For the supposed good of the community, locals suppressed the knowledge of what was happening, subconsciously choosing not to see what was transpiring just behind the scenes. So it’s appropriate that the whitewash begins to peel away with the arrival of a stranger to the Hub, the newly imported editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Marty’s outsider status isn’t just based on his geographical origins; he’s also Jewish. Perplexed that his paper has devoted so little attention to

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the earliest cases in what would become, over time, an avalanche of legal actions against clerics, Marty commissions the investigative unit of the title, which specializes in in-depth investigations of local stories, to dig deeper.

whose semi-willful blindness to the problem typifies the attitude discussed above.

Led by even-keeled Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton), the Spotlight team – which also includes tightly wound Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), intrepid Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and relentless research whiz Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) – uncovers a widespread and sickening scandal involving scores of clergymen and hundreds of young victims. Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy maintains a taut rhythm as he focuses primarily on the dogged professionalism required to breach the walls of secrecy surrounding a respected, and therefore protected, institution. And his script, penned with Josh Singer, apportions blame across a broad spectrum that includes the Globe itself – John Slattery plays veteran editor Ben Bradlee Jr.,

Like most of his colleagues, Slattery is a former Catholic, distanced from, but not – initially at least – embittered toward, the faith in which he were raised. Witnessing the further fraying of the reporters’ already fragile ties to the church adds to the overwhelming sense of grief Catholic viewers will feel throughout Spotlight. Yet this generally accurate chronicle can provide them with a valuable insight into one of the darkest chapters in ecclesiastical history. The movie is open to a few criticisms, large and small, however. The portrayal of Boston’s then-archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou), is predictably negative. But it also includes details that are subject to interpretation. Thus Cardinal Law’s gift to Marty of a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is treated as a both a religious and social snub. Yet Cardinal Law played an important role in translating that landmark text into English, so his gift may have been motivated

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more by a sense of pride in one of the most significant accomplishments of his career than by a desire to cut the newcomer down to size. Much more significantly, the screenplay’s uncritical adoption of the results of research conducted by ex-priest A.W. Richard Sipe (a figure heard but not seen) opens its analysis to legitimate questioning. The thesis that the scandal was the inevitable outcome of the Latin church’s tradition of priestly celibacy – a discipline Sipe maintains is routinely violated by fully half the clergy, thus creating a culture of secrecy among them – is ill-founded, to say the least. To dispute that theory, however,

is not at all to downplay the horrifying nature of what unfolds under this otherwise painfully illuminating Spotlight. The film contains mature themes, multiple, sometimes coarse, references to perverse sexual acts, several uses of profanity as well as a few rough and numerous crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Reprinted with permission from CNS.
 www.catholicnews.com

ABOUT THE
 AUTHOR John Mulderig is a reviewer for Catholic News Service. Copyright (c) 2016 Catholic News Service.

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Position Papers - March 2016  

A review of Catholic affairs

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