14 Oct 2014


Lots of reactions and interpretations have been flooding the internet and media publications regarding the latest pronouncement by the on-going Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome on same-sex marriage. Below is an extract of the translation of the seemingly controversial document:

Part III
The Discussion: Pastoral Perspectives
Welcoming Homosexual Persons
     50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. 
Earlier in June 3, 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under Joseph Card. Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus) as the Prefect had concluded that:
“The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.” (Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, No. 11).
In the face of the babel of reactions for and against this latest pronouncement, my questions are: What is our problem with the Church’s opinion to approach homosexuals and lesbians with Love, Charity and Forgiveness as fellow sinful children of God who also need to be saved? If Jesus had encountered any of them like he met Mary Magdalene (Lk. 8:2; Mk. 16:9), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26), or the woman condemned for adultery (Jn. 8:1-11), do we think he would have driven him or her away with a whip as he did to those buying and selling in the Temple (Mtt. 21:12)?
Without prejudice to the fact that their case is an abnormality and a sin, I think that we need a genuine Christian spirit like the one inspiring the Church, for us to understand and appreciate this move. Moreover, the Church has not declared Same-sex Union as a right practice and a valid form of Matrimony unlike some civil societies and Protestant Denominations have done. Rather, the Church is simply working on a hypothesis of acknowledging people with this disorder as fellow sinful Christians who are also in need of that same salvation which is the primary goal of the Church. Let us not forget what St. Paul said about the weak versus the strong (Rom. 14:1; 15:1; ICor. 9:22; Gal. 6:2; IThess. 5:14, etc). 
Thanks be to God that you and I did not find ourselves in this disorder either by human influence, gender crisis, biological or psychological abnormal sexual orientation or instinct, etc. I bet you, we may have done just little or nothing about it.
So, let us not allow this seeming bombshell to move or affect our faith in the Church’s wisdom of decisions. It is still in the offing and not yet a conclusive declaration. So help us God. 

16 Aug 2014


Christians have always condemned contraceptive sex. Both forms mentioned in the Bible, coitus interruptus and sterilization are condemned without exception (Gen. 38:9–10, Deut. 23:1). The early Fathers recognized that the purpose of sexual intercourse in natural law is procreation; contraceptive sex, which deliberately blocks that purpose, is a violation of natural law.
Every church in Christendom condemned contraception until 1930, when, at its decennial Lambeth Conference, Anglicanism gave permission for the use of contraception in a few cases. Soon all Protestant denominations had adopted the secularist position on contraception. Today not one stands with the Catholic Church to maintain the ancient Christian faith on this issue. 
How badly things have decayed may be seen by comparing the current state of non-Catholic churches, where most pastors counsel young couples to decide before they are married what form of contraception they will use, with [...] quotations from the early Church Fathers, who condemned contraception in general as well as particular forms of it, as well as popular contraceptive sex practices that were then common (sterilization, oral contraceptives, coitus interruptus, and orally consummated sex). 
Many Protestants, perhaps beginning to see the inevitable connection between contraception and divorce and between contraception and abortion, are now returning to the historic Christian position and rejecting contraceptive sexual practices. 
It should be noted that some of the Church Fathers use language that can suggest to modern ears that there is no unitive aspect to marital intercourse and that there is only a procreative aspect. It is unclear whether this is what some of them actually thought or whether they are intending simply to stress that sexual activity becomes immoral if the procreative aspect of a given marital act is deliberately frustrated. However that may be, over the course of time the Church has called greater attention to the unitive aspect of marital intercourse, yet it remains true that the procreative aspect of each particular marital act must not be frustrated. 

6 Jun 2014


Painting the Catholic Church as "out of touch" is like shooting fish in a barrel, what with the funny hats and gilded churches. And nothing makes it easier than the Church's stance against contraception.
Many people, (including our editor) are wondering why the Catholic Church doesn't just ditch this requirement. They note that most Catholics ignore it, and that most everyone else finds it divisive, or "out-dated." C'mon! It's the 21st century, they say! Don't they SEE that it's STUPID, they scream.
Here's the thing, though: the Catholic Church is the world's biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It's given us some of the world's greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to René Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it's not that they're a bunch of crazy old white dudes who are stuck in the Middle Ages. 
So, what's going on? 
The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That's it. But it's pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it's probably never been as salient as today.
Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
1.   General lowering of moral standards
2.   A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3.   The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men. 
4.   Government coercion in reproductive matters. 
Does that sound familiar? 
Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years. 
As George Akerloff wrote in Slate over a decade ago,
By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.
Instead of two parents being responsible for the children they conceive, an expectation that was held up by social norms and by the law, we now take it for granted that neither parent is necessarily responsible for their children. Men are now considered to be fulfilling their duties merely by paying court-ordered child-support. That's a pretty dramatic lowering of standards for "fatherhood."
How else are we doing since this great sexual revolution? Kim Kardashian's marriage lasted 72 days. Illegitimacy: way up. In 1960, 5.3% of all births in America were to unmarried women. By 2010, it was 40.8% [PDF]. In 1960 married families made up almost three-quarters of all households; but by the census of 2010 they accounted for just 48 percent of them. Cohabitation has increased tenfold since 1960. 
And if you don't think women are being reduced to objects to satisfy men, welcome to the internet, how long have you been here? Government coercion: just look to China (or America, where a government rule on contraception coverage is the reason why we're talking about this right now). 
Is this all due to the Pill? Of course not. But the idea that widely-available contraception hasn't led to dramatic societal change, or that this change has been exclusively to the good, is a much sillier notion than anything the Catholic Church teaches. 
So is the notion that it's just OBVIOUSLY SILLY to get your moral cues from a venerable faith (as opposed to what? Britney Spears?).
But let's turn to another aspect of this. The reason our editor thinks Catholics shouldn't be fruitful and multiply doesn't hold up, either. The world's population, he writes, is on an "unsustainable" growth path.
The Population Bureau of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations sees (PDF, h/t Pax Dickinson) the rate of population growth slowing over the next decades and stabilizing around 9 billion in 2050…and holding there until 2300. (And note that the UN, which promotes birth control and abortions around the world, isn't exactly in the be-fruitful-and-multiply camp.)
More broadly, the Malthusian view of population growth has been resilient despite having been proven wrong time and time again and causing lots of unnecessary human suffering. For example, China is headed for a demographic crunch and social dislocation due to its misguided one-child policy.
Human progress is people. Everything that makes life better, from democracy to the economy to the internet to penicillin was either discovered and built by people. More people means more progress. The inventor of the cure for cancer might be someone's fourth child that they decided not to have.
So, just to sum up: 
·         It's a good idea for people to be fruitful and multiply; and
·         Regardless of how you feel about the Church's stance on birth control, it's proven pretty prophetic.

5 Jun 2014


  1. Warn your Girl Child Never to sit on anyone's laps no matter the situation, including uncles and older male cousins.
  2. Avoid Getting Dressed in front of your child once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
  3. Never allow any adult refer to your child as 'my wife' or 'my husband.' 
  4. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
  5. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
  6. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
  7. Carefully educate your grown-ups about the right values of sex. If you don't, the society will teach them the wrong values.
  8. It is always advisable you go through any new Material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves. 
  9. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
  10. Teach your 3 year olds how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas, including you.
  11. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (e.g., music, movies and even friends and families).
  12. Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
  13. Once your child complains about a particular person, don't keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them. Remember, we are either parents or parents-to-be.

14 May 2014


What is the leadership of the priest? It is about serving people with love. A bishop or priest who does not know the meaning of service is not a good shepherd, even if he has many other qualities. This was one of the most important moments in the conversation which Pope Francis had on Monday morning, 12 May, with the students of the Pontifical colleges and universities of Rome.
He recalled that, before cell phones existed, the old parish priests of Buenos Aires slept with the telephone next to them, thus no one died without the sacraments. The people called them at any hour, the priests got up and went. That is true leadership in a priest.
In the Paul VI Hall, the Bishop of Rome answered for more than an hour and a half eight questions of the seminarians and priests who study in the city. The result was a picture of a priest for today, one who has strengths to be sought after and downfalls to avoid. The Pope warned of two risks: “love for money” and “vanity”, that is, those sins which “the people do not forgive of their own pastors”. Because the people will not forgive those who are attached to their money or are vain and do not treat others well. Therefore leadership must translate into service with personal, individual love for every person entrusted to him.
And it is through nearness that service materializes, that is, in the neighborhood, in that humble act of leaving ourselves to go to the outskirts – now a common theme for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who offered to the young and future priests all of his experience as a Jesuit priest and as Bishop of Buenos Aires and then of Rome.
At the beginning of the meeting, responding to the greeting of the Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, noted the presence of the more than 150 seminarians from the Middle East, Pope Francis assured them of his prayers for the people “in this moment of suffering” and to the people of Ukraine, where the Church is suffering.
  • L’Osservatore Romano, 2014-05-12
  • news.va

30 Apr 2014


When Catholics fall into the ways of the world and pick and choose what elements of the church they think is true and reject other parts they really, in a profound way, cease to be Catholics because by doing so they are saying, "This is not a revealed religion. This is, after all, simply a man-made rule of a man made institution. I can therefore do what I like." What the Catholic Church needs now more than ever are good, solid, supernaturally inspired, joyful, dynamic and energetic Catholics. What we need are Catholics who are empowered by the supernatural vision of the Church of Christ alive in the world as an objective reality –not something that exists - only if you happen to like it.
Too many people think that if you believe something it makes it so, and if you do not believe something that makes it so. How often have you heard people say, "Well, I don't believe in Hell." Then they go on living like the devil-imagining that just not believing in Hell makes Hell go away.  
Likewise a good number of religious people think that just by believing a particular doctrine makes it so. This is not belief. It is wishful thinking.
This form of relativism is sometimes expressed as "If that belief works for you, then that's good. It doesn't work for me." This is not faith it is utilitarianism. A person chooses a belief according to how useful it is.  
Most non Catholic Christians treat the church as simply a useful, man-made institution.  They do not stop to think what might be the true church, because they don't think such a thing exists. Instead church is like a fast food franchise. You choose which one works for you and you can "have it your way."
An increasing number of Catholics operate the same way. They choose the items of church belief and practice they like best, and reject what they don't like. St Benedict named four types of monks, and these he called the "gyrovagues". He writes in the Rule,
"They are never stable throughout their own lives, but wanderers through diverse regions, receiving hospitality in the monastic cells of others. Always roving and never settling, they follow their own wills, enslaved by the attractions of gluttony.
He calls these church shoppers gluttons! No wonder we call them "Cafeteria Catholics". Like diners at a buffet they sniff out what they like and don't like and take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 
The reason St Benedict links this kind of Christianity with gluttony is because the church shoppers are driven by pleasure. Cafeteria Catholics choose what they like and reject what doesn't suit them, never realizing that in doing so they are undermining the very Catholicism they profess. 
If you choose to believe in something just because it attracts you or because you think it is useful, then you are living in Never Never Land with Tinkerbell. We don't believe Catholicism because we find it useful or attractive; we believe Catholicism because it's true.  
Catholicism is solid and real. It is based on the life, teaching, passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ –a real historical figure who was God in human form. He founded the Catholic Church by giving his apostles his own divine authority on earth. That Catholic Church is a real, historical institution. It has laws and property and prelates and priests and people. Each element of the Catholic Church is part human and part divine. The Body of Christ is incarnate today in a real and solid way within the structures and teachings and people and sacraments of this church.
It is not fairyland. It is not a fantasy. It is not something that happens to be true if you happen to choose to believe in it. The Catholic Church does not exist because you clap your hands.
By Fr Dwight Longenecker
Parish Priest, Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville,
South Carolina. 
< catholic.org

25 Mar 2014


According to Lisa Steadman, a relationship expert, a breakup can definitely bring out the worst in people. But rather than letting your ex see your hurt or vindictive side, try focusing on the positives of a breakup whenever possible.
Everyone processes a breakup differently. But to accept it and move on, Steadman advises her clients to avoid these four common pitfalls when it comes to finding new happiness after a breakup.
1. Focusing on Your Ex: All that energy is really a waste though, because it only heightens the negative emotions. "It's really easy to focus on what's next for an ex –who will he date, what he will do –but a woman should really refocus on herself instead."
2. Cyber-stalking: Though the temptation is strong, avoid following your ex online. "The best approach is to just remove him from your social media pages," said Steadman. "It will only upset you and make you feel like you're missing out."
3. Rebound Sex: "Rebound sex can actually send you running back into the arms of your ex," said Steadman. "You miss the comfort from the relationship sex and when it's not the same, it can be very unsettling."
4. Self-loathing: No matter who's responsible for the breakup, women tend to shoulder the burden and turn it into something deeply personal, especially as they get older, according to Steadman. "Women see all of their friends settling down, getting married, and having kids... they think, what's wrong with me? Now I have to start all over again," said Steadman. "And it can feel very exhausting."

Instead of worrying what everyone else is doing, though, Steadman says you should just zero in on what's positive in your life and remind yourself of what was wrong in the relationship. "Don't view a breakup as a failure," she said. "It isn't about everyone else. It's about you and your next steps."
Rationality is not always easy to come by when matters of the heart are at stake, but putting a positive spin on a breakup can bring closure and peace faster.
Think about all of the good stuff in your life, like healthy friendships, how well school or your career is going, how supportive your family is and what your next steps are in terms of chasing what you're passionate about. A bad relationship can hold you back, so you're much better off with this fresh start.
"The best news ever is when a woman looks back and says that she's glad she broke up with an ex," said Steadman. Just remember that you'll be okay, and you will find happiness again.
FROM: Just Break Up? Don't Do These 4 Things –K. Parsons for GalTime.com

21 Mar 2014


 The daily lives of children are not all about positive feelings. All children have moments of disappointment, discouragement and self-doubt. In every family, there will be moments of anger and misunderstanding. In healthy development, children recover from these moments. Whether on their own or with our support, most children bounce back. Too often, however, children do not quickly bounce back. Painful feelings linger longer than they should. Vicious cycles are then set in motion, and bad feelings lead to bad attitudes and bad behavior. Criticism and punishment lead to anger and defiance or secretiveness and withdrawal; and then to more criticism; and then to more defiance and more withdrawal.
Our task, as parents and guardians is to recognize these moments and begin a process of repair. Children learn invaluable lessons from moments of repair. They learn that, although it is not always easy, moments of anxiety, sadness and anger are moments and can be repaired. Disappointments are disappointments, not catastrophes, and bad feelings do not last forever.
A Pathway Toward Emotional Maturity
We have now opened a pathway toward emotional maturity. In these moments, children begin to develop a more balanced, less all-or-nothing perspective on the disappointments and frustrations in their lives. As a result, they will be better able to "regulate" their emotions –they will be less urgent in their expressions of distress, less insistent in their demands and able to think more constructively about how to solve emotional problems.
Moments of repair may also lead to a reduction in the level of stress hormones and other stress-related physiological processes that, when prolonged, are damaging to children's physical and emotional health.
Ten Minutes at Bedtime
I therefore recommend that parents and guardians set aside some time, every day (perhaps 10 minutes at bedtime), for kids and parents to have a chance to talk and to use this time to repair moments of conflict and misunderstanding. This may be the most important ten minutes of a child's day.
In these brief daily conversations, we should ask kids if there is something they might want to talk about –perhaps a problem he\she is having at school or with friends, something he\she is angry with us about or what she may be anxious about the following day. 
When there has been conflict in our relationship with our kids, it is especially important for us to take the lead and begin to repair hurtful interactions. We need to make a deliberate effort to set aside criticism and judgment as long as we can and hear her side of the story. Discussion and disagreement, even problem solving, can come later. Don't stay angry.
I also encourage parents and guardians to take responsibility for their own emotional responses, acknowledge their errors and, when appropriate, apologize to their child. (We can say, for example, "I know I was really angry at you earlier. Maybe I got too angry.")
Some parents express concern that, in apologizing to their children, they may implicitly condone their child's disrespectful or defiant behavior and diminish their authority as parents. This fear is understandable, but unfounded. Our apology does not excuse our child's bad behavior. ("You still should not have hit your sister.")
In my opinion, when a parent initiates repair and offers an apology, he has modeled an important lesson in interpersonal relationships and gains authority with his child, because our children's acceptance of adult authority is, ultimately, based on respect.
Of course, children do not always make this easy. And sometimes we may not know what to say. But our willingness to make the effort is important in itself.
Patient listening receives far less attention than it deserves in current parenting debates, in our understandable concern with children's achievement and character development. In my experience, however, there is no more important parenting "skill" than this and nothing we do as parents that is more important for our children's emotional health –and for their success in life.
Original Article: “The Most Important 10 Minutes of a Child's Day”
< K. Barish, Ph.D.

13 Mar 2014


Dear Son,
It seems like yesterday you were blowing poop out of your diaper onto your mother's lap. Yet here we are, on the verge of the birds-and-the-bees conversation. The poop was way easier.
Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I'll shun you or shame you if you don't put them in that order -- although I hope you will -- but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.
Buddy, you're probably going to want to get married for all the wrong reasons. We all do. In fact, the most common reason to get married also happens to be the most dangerous: we get married because we think it will make us happy. Getting married in order to be happy is the surest way to get divorced.
There are beautiful marriages. But marriages don't become beautiful by seeking happiness; they become beautiful by seeking something else. Marriages become beautiful when two people embrace the only good reason to get married: to practice the daily sacrifice of their egos.
Ego. You may be hearing that word for the first time. It probably sounds foreign and confusing to you. This is what it means to me:
Your ego is the part of you that protects your heart. You were born with a good and beautiful heart, and it will never leave you. But when I was too harsh toward you, or your friends began to make fun of your extracurricular choices, you started to doubt if your heart was good enough. Don't worry, it happens to all of us at some point.
And so your mind began to build a wall around your heart. That happens to all of us, too. It's like a big castle wall with a huge moat -- it keeps us safe from invaders who might want to get in and attack our hearts. And thank goodness for your ego-wall! Your heart is worthy of protection, buddy.
At first, we only use the ego-wall to keep people out. But eventually, as we grow up, we get tired of hiding fearfully and we decide the best defense is a good offense. We put cannons on our ego-wall and we start firing. For some people, that looks like anger. For other people, it looks like gossip and judgment and divisiveness. One of my favorite ego-cannons is to pretend everyone on the outside of my wall is wrong. It makes me feel right and righteous, but really it just keeps me safe inside of my ideas. I know I've fired my ego-cannons at you from time to time, and for that I'm truly sorry.
Sometimes we need our cannons to survive. Most of the time we don't.
Both men and women have ego-walls with cannons. But you're going to be a man soon, so it's important to tell you what men tend do with their ego-walls -- we justify them by pretending they are essential to being a "real" man. Really, most of us are just afraid our hearts won't be good enough for the people we love, so we choose to stay safe and protected behind high walls with lots of cannons.
Can you see how that might be a problem for marriage?
If you fall into the trap of thinking your ego-wall is essential to being a man, it will destroy any chance of having an enduringly joyful marriage. Because, in the end, the entire purpose of marriage is to dismantle your ego-wall, brick by brick, until you are fully available to the person you love. Open. Vulnerable. Dangerously united.
Buddy, people have sex because for a moment at the climax of it, their mind is without walls, the ego goes away and they feel free and fully connected. With sex, the feeling lasts for only a moment. But if you commit yourself to marriage, you commit yourself to the long, painful, joyous work of dismantling your ego-walls for good. Then, the moment can last a lifetime.
Many people are going tell you the key to a happy marriage is to put God at the center of it, but I think it depends upon what your experience of God does for your ego. Because if your God is one of strength and power and domination, a God who proves you're always right and creates dividing lines by which you judge everyone else, a God who keeps you safe and secure, I think you should keep that God as far from the center of your marriage as you can. He'll only build your ego-wall taller and stronger.
But if the God you experience is a vulnerable one, the kind of God that turns the world upside down and dwells in the midst of brokenness and embraces everyone on the margins and will sacrifice anything for peace and reconciliation and wants to trade safety and security for a dangerous and risky love, then I agree, put him right at the center of your marriage. If your God is in the ego-dismantling business, he will transform your marriage into sacred ground.
What's the secret to a happy marriage? Marry someone who has also embraced the only good reason to get married.
Someone who will commit to dying alongside you -- not in 50 years, but daily, as they dismantle the walls of their ego with you.
Someone who will be more faithful to you than they are to their own safety.
Someone willing to embrace the beauty of sacrifice, the surrender of their strength and the peril of vulnerability.
In other words, someone who wants to spend their one life stepping into a crazy, dangerous love with you and only you.
With my walls down,
< Kelly M. Flanagan, Clinical Psychologist,