15 January 2017

The Temporal Duties of the Church

Sub Tuum.

Absalon, Archbishop of Lund
A warrior bishop and statesman.
That there are segments of the Church hierarchy devoted to the temporal authority of the Church Militant here on earth is nothing new* and indeed is an essential element of the very fact that the Church, while not of this world, is nevertheless in this world. To shun that aspect of the Church in favor of spiritual piety only is to deny the fundamental nature of Christ's Church on earth. As Christ on earth had a dual nature - wholly God and wholly man - so, too does His Holy Church have the same dual nature. There is spiritual authority, and there is temporal authority. The latter flows from the the former. Both carry out the essential function of our Lord on earth. Even in today's world, where secular governments have experienced significant change in their form from earlier times in history, this dual nature of the Church is as relevant as ever, if not more so. If we claim it is irrelevant because at present we no longer rule territory (or much territory), we are guilty of ceding the legacy of the Church of establishing Christ among all men to the governments that are merely of this world. That which one has as a right given by God can not be taken away, but can only be given away. We must not and will not give away that which is our sacred right and our sacred duty to maintain. There is much to be done outside of the parish walls. It is by those to whom the legacy of the temporal authority of the Church has fallen that must provide the leadership for such work out in the world, even if that leadership is only provided by example. We can always hope for better times, but then no time in history is ever perfect. We live in this time period. We do not live in the past or in the future. We draw strength and guidance from the past. If we want a brighter future, then we must make it ourselves with the help of God. That is the duty of the temporal defenders of the faith. It always has been and always will be. Deus vult.

+Rutherford, Cardinal Count of Sainte Animie

* "One need not assume that on joining the church hierarchy young noblemen lost any of their military ambition or their taste for the knightly life. These were merely now channelled into the service of a church only too happy to make use of such qualities. Not surprisingly, these churchmen tended to show less concern for piety. Rising perhaps to become bishops and archbishops of the Empire, these noblemen more often administered the power than the sacraments of the church. In contrast to the communal living practiced by their brothers in the monasteries, many enjoyed themselves in their favourite estates or town houses. It is said that by the thirteenth century only lavish feasts and special delicacies could interest noble-born members of the Cologne church chapters in attending religious observances. Indications are, however, that for many men of the church active participation in military conflicts required considerably less incentive. A church hierarchy dominated by the offspring of the rural aristocracy, frequently practicing the quarrelsome lifestyle of their feudal relatives, undoubtedly succeeded in earning the mistrust of the urban bourgeoisie. Even an archbishop of Cologne was bound to be viewed not simply as a man of the church, but also a representative of a class whose values and interests frequently clashed with those of the new urban elite."
From "The Battle of Worringen, 1288: The History and Mythology of a notable Event" Thesis at the University of Alberta by Jan Mähler

10 January 2017

Married Clergy, Priests, and Bishops

Sub Tuum.

As if there are not enough real problems in the world today - as in any era - that should unite Christians together in commonality of purpose, Christians sadly find reasons to nitpick and poke at each other. Such scenarios are frequently used as justification for lack of charity and refusal to collaborate for the common good. One thing about the Patriarchate of St. Stephen of which I have always been proud is that, under the guiding principle of cooperation without compromise, we have always worked with other jurisdictions for the preservation of the Christian faith and for the good of humanity. We seek to find common ground to work together rather than focusing on differences to justify lack of Christian brotherhood. 

Cardinal René de Birague, Chancellor of France
whose wife, Valentine Balbiani, was the inspiration
for the sculpture "The Cardinal's Wife."
One issue that causes infighting and separation is, ironically something that is inherently about union, and that is marriage of clergy, priests, and bishops within Catholic jurisdictions. Although this might be something thought to be limited to traditionalist circles, it is not. There are plenty in the Novus Ordo that simply cannot comprehend the notion of a married Catholic clergyman. That is even more baffling considering that there are quite a number of married Catholic priests within the Roman Communion, not to mention the even larger number of married Catholic deacons. And remember that Catholic deacons are ordained clerics in major Holy Orders, not "laymen at the altar," as so many Catholics today erroneously believe. So why all the commotion?

Now it is time for a bit of history. The discipline of celibacy (which refers to being unmarried) in the Christian Church only dates back to the eleventh century as mandatory (with some exceptions). It was primarily a means to prevent legitimate heirs to clerics so that lands and titles belonging to (or desired by) the Church could not be inherited - at least not without permission of the Church. Of course, both celibacy and marriage were legitimate and accepted options for clergy before that. (For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. - Matthew 9.12)  Eastern clergy continued to be able to be drawn from among married men. There is indeed quite a long list of married clerics, married priests, and yes, even Bishops - including the first Pope, Blessed Peter the Apostle. Saint Paul in his first Epistle to Timothy refers to the Bishop as being the husband of one wife. (A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. - I Timothy 3.2)  Plenty of other Scriptural evidence exists for both married and celibate clergy. And, one should guard against the quite Protestant approach of prooftexting. The overarching point is that whether a specific clergyman can marry or be married is a matter of canonical discipline and, within the bounds of that discipline, a matter of personal choice of conscience. Good married men of faith have served as clerics over the past two thousand years of the Christian Church. 

Mgr. Salamão Barbarosa Ferraz
Roman Catholic Bishop who was
married with children.
Perhaps I am biased in this matter since I myself am married. For me, the Countess makes my ministry, not to mention my life in general, more effective, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. And, my marriage is in accordance with the particular canons of the Patriarchate, with special dispensations from any irregularity granted by proper authority. The same applies to all married clergy of the Patriarchate - and at the time of this writing, all priests and seminarians happen to be married. Under present law, we cannot remarry after ordination to the Sub-Diaconate.

Then again, I am not the only married Cardinal in history. Cardinal René de Birague, Chancellor of France (though born in Italy), was married to Valentina Balbiani, who was "immortalized in art" in a sculpture known as "The Cardinal's Wife" by Germain Pilon. Cardinal Birague, to be fair, did not take Holy Orders until after his wife died, but such were the specific rules that applied to him at the time. Even when not permitted to contract sacramental marriage, plenty of churchmen from at least the latter portion of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and even into the modern period have had mistresses who were effectively common-law wives. Indeed, for quite a long period of the Church's history, it seems high-ranking Church officials were practically expected to have a mistress, or even several mistresses, just like their secular counterparts. Pope Julius II had a mistress (common-law wife) by whom he had a daughter that bore the surname of his own noble family, Felicia della Rovere. She was a prominent Italian noblewoman of the day and wielded great influence. The children of Pope Alexander VI are well known and include Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia Borgia. Alexander's mistress was given a funeral equivalent of that of a queen by Pope Leo X, effectively recognizing her status. Pope Paul III's son was given the title of Duke of Parma and started the great line of dukes of the House of Farnese. Cardinal David Beaton (de Bethune), Archbishop of Saint Andrews in Scotland, had a mistress and is even an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II. The list goes on and on. At least those who were able to marry their lady consorts sacramentally have been able to "make an honest women of them." The issue of inheritance of land and titles simply does not apply under the circumstances of the world in which we live today.

And then there was Mgr. Salamão Barbarosa Ferraz, Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janiero. He was consecrated in the Duarte-Costa line of Apostolic Succession. (Mgr. Duarte-Costa had a persisting conflict with Rome over the alleged support of Pius XII for Hitler during World War II, an accusation that we now know was false, but which one could be forgiven for thinking that at the time). Mgr. Ferraz was married with several children. He was received (without further ordination, even sub-conditione) into the Roman Communion by Pope John XXIII, while still married with children. At the invitation of Pope Paul VI, he participated in a committee of the Second Vatican Council, again while his wife was still very much alive and while still very much married with children. It is clearly canonically possible, even if rare. But rare does not mean wrong, and rare does not mean bad or inferior.

More modernly, there are two Ordinaries of the Anglican Ordinariate, founded by Pope Benedict XVI, who were former Episcopalian bishops. They were ordained de novo as Roman priests and then given ordinary authority. They were/are (one has retired) effectively bishops, even though not ordained as such - and there was even talk that one or both could be made a Cardinal. One frequently heard "Monsignor and Mrs." in reference to them and their wives. There would have been nothing stopping Benedict XVI from ordaining the two Ordinaries in question as Bishops. It is my opinion that the political and social construct within the present Roman Communion simply did not allow it, though I will not presume to state what was in the heart and mind of the Holy Father. 

Indeed, plenty of Ordinariate clergy are married and are just as effective than their unmarried counterparts. However, it seems the days of married clergy as the norm within the Ordinariate are numbered, as there has already been much criticism of their presence. Quite sad, really. The accomplishments of one that comes to mind include building a most impressive parish and Catholic school that serves as a shining example of Catholic education and tradition amidst the modern darkness. 

Certainly the norm in the Church is for celibate (unmarried) clergy. Yet, there have been plenty of married clergy, priests, and bishops who have served faithfully. There have been even more clerics who have had common-law wives, often producing children that were recognized and which became highly placed in society, benefiting the Holy Church and leaving their mark on history. Being in the minority does not mean one is inferior or an abberration. It is time that we bury this ridiculous and divisive argument and not let it be yet another rationale for brother fighting brother.

11 November 2016

Statement of the Cardinal Patriarch of St. Stephen on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the U.S.

To those who are concerned about the direction of the United States, or of any other country in the world, or of the world in general, get off your ass and do something positive to help other people. Facebook posts might spread messages, but they aren't action, and they don't give you the right to complain as if you have actually done something. It's no different than hobby priests who play on Facebook and do nothing more than share ready-made memes and articles as if that by itself is real engagement in ministry. What kind of cleric would I be if I sat around all proud of myself for being a successor to the Apostles or waxed poetic in romantic nostalgia about the church in Rome tied to my red hat instead of getting out in the world at least to try to make a difference in other people's lives each and every day? What kind of human being would each of us be if we don't try to make a difference in other people's lives each and every day? If you think there are problems in the world, you're right. There are always problems in the world. Stop complaining and do what YOU can to make things better. You'll lose some friends in the process. You'll gain enemies. Some friends will give you blank stares as you try to encourage them to do what they ought to do. Laziness and lethargy are curses of humanity, but don't let that stop YOU, even if you have to go it alone.

It's time to realize that PEOPLE are what matters - and that's the message of the Holy Church. Countries come and go, so why focus on something transient? If you're an American and claim you serve the Constitution, but forget that the only valid purpose of the Constitution is to serve and protect the real human beings that live in America, then the focus of your service is misguided. The laws of God that uphold human dignity of mankind are eternal. The law of the land - any land - is not. Focus on the permanent. Focus on the eternal. That gives you a solid rock of stability when there is chaos around you.

So, you don't like that Mr. Trump is going to be the next American President? Do something positive to make your country better. Start with your family and community. Make it the place you want to live in. And if you do like that Trump is going to be President, don't act like Trump is the solution to the problems in America or anywhere else in the world. I'll give the same advice as I gave to those who are upset by the result: Get up, get going, and make the place you live the place you want to live in. Turn off the television; turn off the internet; turn off the radio. Engage with people in person on a personal level. Like I said, the internet has its merits, but simply sharing memes and articles of others or venting your frustrations isn't real action.

It's time to realize that WE are responsible for the world we live in. The United States hasn't made it 250 years as a separate country. There were Europeans and indigenous people in America long before that. So stop acting as if the choice of President is the one factor or even the primary factor upon which all good or evil depends. YOU - each and every one of you - have the power to make a difference at least to the people around you. Don't sit back while those who are trying to lead by example end up doing all the work. Get off your asses, roll up your sleeves, pitch in, and get the job done. You want a better country? Build one. You want a better world? Build one. Things are tough? Hang in there and keep going. Even Christ on the Cross didn't give up. Things aren't working as well as you had hoped? Make what progress you can. Don't have enough people with you and you're feeling alone? Keep going and don't be one of the lazy people who have abandoned you. Others are telling you not to do what you're doing to make things better? Ignore them as the irrelevant jerks that they are. Pray for them that their hearts may be turned, but don't give in and turn to hate yourself.

So once again, you want a better society? It's up to YOU. YOU. YOU. Don't try to lay it at the doorstep of the President, a King, or any other leader. That's the weak way out, and if you take that path, don't even think you have the slightest right to complain. To make a better world, love your neighbor. If you love your neighbor, you'll put that love into action. So God bless and get moving.

26 October 2016

The Common Goals of Mankind - Seeking Peace in a Polarized World

Sub Tuum.

Once again it is worth reminding that I believe that most people in the world ultimately want the same basic things. They may differ in how to get there. Yet, as we compete for scarce resources, mindful that there are many of low morals and high greed that will try to take more and more at the expense of others, it is all too easy to view those that disagree as the enemy and become more and more polarized. And, there are those who profit off of disharmony, conflict, and polarization. The people of the world are being split apart by a few who do so for their own selfish ends. When people sit down and discuss issues in a framework of respect, openness, and reconciliation, however, many things are possible.

14 June 2016

Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting

Sub Tuum. 
 
 Sunday the United States saw a major shooting incident in Orlando at the hands of an Islamic militant bent on the destruction of human life. It is not the worst shooting incident in U.S. history, for the incidents at Waco and Wounded Knee, slaughter at the hands of the government, had a higher death toll. However, it is nevertheless a tragic event. It is one that the Holy Land knows on a regular basis as a routine event, though it has thankfully thus far been very rare in the United States. What we are dealing with is not a gun control issue or any other political issue. What we are dealing with is a fundamental lack of respect for the sanctity of life. That is a problem that plagues the United States, Europe, and indeed the world of today as a whole. We cannot point the finger at the Orlando shooter without acknowledging the sickness that plagues modern society as a whole. If we clamor for action over the pointless death of fifty people in Orlando, but stand silently by while crimes against human rights are committed and over 1,000,000 children are murdered legally every year, we as a society have as much blood on our hands as does the Orlando shooter. Nothing will heal what ails the nation until we turn to the love as exemplified by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

12 June 2016

Love & Judgment

Sub Tuum.

These days we hear "Judge not" as the end-all unifying and supreme verse of Bible. Relativism has been promoted as the correct Catholic belief, not to mention the philosophy underlying the modern way of things in society at large. The problem is, like anything relativistic and anything that takes only one slice of the Christian faith as the totality, it leads to contradictions that weaken our individual faith and spirituality. We should love our neighbor with all their imperfections just as Christ loved the world that nailed Him to the Cross. Yet Christ did not hesitate to proclaim the faith and point out the difference between right and wrong. We love the sinner even while hating the sin. The makes sense, for how can we help the sinner if we drive the sinner away through arrogant judgmental action? Still, Scripture tells us that we should fight evil. 
 
So, there is a proper framework in which we must be. First, we must accept and acknowledge taht we are all sinners. When we observe the sin in others, we must consciously recognize the sin that is in us as well. We cannot judge in a way that puts us in a superior positions to those who sin, for that is ignoring our own shortcomings. It is finding fault in others in order to make ourselves feel better. If we condemn others for sin, we condemn ourselves in the process. However, if instead we notice sin in others and also in ourselves at the same time, if we turn the microscope on ourselves, we realize that the other person not only needs help, but needs help in the same way that we do. They not only have issues with which they are straggling, but are straggling with those issues in ways similar to us. In that way we see ourselves in other people. We see our own faults in the faults of others, even if those faults are not the same. It becomes a framework of brother helping brother rather than some sort of Puritanical condemnation of those who fail to keep the standards. We as humans all fail. Puritans tolerate no failure. To be Catholic, though, is to realize that we all fail and that failure is part of our journey.
 
We can only solve our problems through the grace of Jesus Christ and through the efforts in us inspired by faith in Him. Christ hung on the Cross for us all, but remember that we are to take up our own crosses. Doing that unifies us with the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the only way in which we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and seek true amendment of life. This is the frame of mind in which we must always be if we are to observe the errors of others. When we judge others, if we are to be Christian, we must judge ourselves at the same time and, realizing we are all sinners, join ourselves to our brethren who are in sin and strive through the power of the Cross to bring them up.

27 May 2016

Transcript of the Patriarchal Address on the Feast of Corpus Christ 2016

Sub Tuum.
To the Members of the Court of St. Mary of Walsingham, to all the clergy and faithful under Our pastoral care, and indeed to all the clergy and faithful in Christ around the world, that all may be one, the grace and peace of our Lord, and Apostolic Blessings on this Feast of Corpus Christi in the year of our Lord 2016. As the Trinity season begun on Sunday, a mere four days ago, we will remark again that we consider the Trinity Season a great gift as a period of reflection on all that has recently been experienced. From the beginning of the liturgical year in Advent, we prepare for and experience the coming of our Lord to earth as man, the chief occasion being the Nativity. Then comes the period of the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in which we welcome Christ likewise into our homes and our hearts. Next comes Lent, during which time we focus on the earthly ministry of our Lord, culminating in the going up to Jerusalem, the Passion, and the Crucifixion. Then comes the moment for which the world long waited and for which we wait in anticipation each year, the most important day of the liturgical calendar, the Easter Vigil and the Sunday of Resurrection, when the victory over the grave is complete. Yet Christ did not merely rise from the grave and disappear. He had more to do. He had to make plain His great victory, that all might believe and be saved. Thus begins the forty days from Easter to the Ascension - a marvelous time in which there is much to absorb. And, of course, the Feast of Christ's glorious Ascension itself does not even mark the end of Paschaltide, for our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit. That we celebrate on Whitsunday and throughout Whitsunweek, inviting the Holy Spirit again into our hearts and renewing our openness to the work of the Spirit in Christ's Holy Church Militant. And so it is that Paschaltide ends immediately prior to the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. God the Father was made known first to the Hebrew people. Then God the Son was made manifest on earth. Once our Lord's ministry on earth had been fulfilled, indeed in very fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, He send the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. It is truly right and even logical that the end of the Easter season ends with the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

So great and so deep is the mystery that we cannot hope to comprehend it all. There is much to learn each year. There is much personal growth that can take place if we only open our hearts to the truth of Christ. Thus we are given the marvelous gift of the Trinity season each year, following Paschaltide and continuing until the beginning of the next liturgical year with Advent. As the liturgy shows us the Persons of the Holy Trinity in Christmas and Epiphany, Lent and Easter, and Pentecost, the Trinity season lets us relax and reflect, taking in all that we have experienced, and marvel at the mystery and power of the combined Trinity.

Less than a week into Trinity season, though, comes the Feast of Corpus Christi. We celebrate and worship the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, the founder of the Holy Catholic Church, and the Supreme and Eternal King and Priest. We celebrate the fact that our Lord remains with us here on earth through His presence in the Most Holy Sacrament. Christ lives on the altar, which remains a true and living Sacrifice to which we may all join ourselves. As we begin Trinitytide, we receive the bold reminder of Christ's presence on earth so that we do not wander through Trintytide aimlessly, merely waiting for it all to begin again next year at Advent, but instead walk through like pilgrims with purpose. May we in our Patriarchate be pilgrims with purpose, letting our lives be as a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Let us all seek Christ in all that we do and thereby lead a life filled with divinely-inspired purpose.

We are blessed in the Patriarchate of St. Stephen, the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, to continue the legacy of Walsingham, of Rome, of Florence, and of Jerusalem. Our legacy is ancient and deep, and we drive forward in humility. To the members of Our Curia and Houeshold without whose assistance We could not so effectively serve, We thank you sincerely and give Our special blessing. And now, all may prepare to receive the blessing of our Lord.

Et Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, + et Filii, + et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos and maneat semper. R. Amen.