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Updated: 17 min 16 sec ago

We must become 'new men,' Archbishop Chaput says

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 07:00

Phoenix, Ariz., Feb 4, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At the Catholic Men’s Fellowship Conference, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia challenged more than 1,300 men to remember how masculinity was lived in the past by faithful Christian men.

“We’re here to recover what it means to be men, and especially how to live as Christian men of substance and virtue,” he said at the Feb. 3 conference in Phoenix.

The conference was themed “Into the Breach,” after a recent pastoral letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, who released his new book “Manual for Men” at the event.

Among the event’s speakers were Father Sean Kilcawley, Diocesan Director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Lincoln; Hector Molina, an international Catholic speaker; and Terry Kennedy, former All-Star Major League Baseball catcher.

Chaput said that history plays an important role in Christian culture. “Just as memory anchors each person’s individual story, history plays the same role for cultures, nations and communities of faith. History is our shared memory. … A community dies when its memory fails,” he said.

Pointing to the Poor Brothers of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, The Knights Templar, Archbishop Chaput expressed the need for men to remember the order’s courageous commitment to charity, truth, and chastity.

The Knights Templar began 900 years ago, after the First Crusade recaptured Jerusalem from Muslim rule in 1099. The religious community was established to defend pilgrims journeying on the roads near Jerusalem, protecting them from Muslim raiders and highway criminals who robbed, raped, killed, and kidnapped, Chaput said.

“As warriors, the men had skills,” he explained. “The men had taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. And their first task, under obedience, was to patrol the roads.”

Archbishop Chaput said this was a “new knighthood,” different from those medieval knights who were “heavily armed male thugs – men obsessed with vanity, violence, and rape.”
 
The church took knighthood and made it into something holy, he said, noting that while some men didn’t live up to Knights Templar ideals, most embraced the prayer, courage, and chastity the order called for.

“[Knighthood] provided the animating ideal at the core of the Templars: to build a new order of new Christian men, skilled at arms, living as brothers, committed to prayer, austerity, and chastity, and devoting themselves radically to serving the Church and her people, especially the weak.”

Christianity is still a “fighting religion,” said Chaput, borrowing the phrase from C.S. Lewis, because “living the Gospel involves a very real kind of spiritual warfare.”

“Our first weapons should always be generosity, patience, mercy, forgiveness, an eagerness to listen to and understand others, a strong personal witness of faith, and speaking the truth unambiguously with love,”  he added.

The archbishop said “Christian equality” understands “the reality of the differences and mutual dependencies of real men and women.”  

“As men, we’re hardwired by nature and confirmed by the Word of God to do three main things: to provide, to protect, and to lead – not for our own sake, not for our own empty vanities and appetites, but in service to others.”

How do men reclaim Christian masculinity?

Chaput said men must become the living proof of what the church teaches: “the personal example of her saints.”

“Do love the women in your life with the encouragement, affection, support and reverence they deserve by right. Do be faithful to your wife in mind and body. Do show courtesy and respect to the women you meet, even when they don’t return it. …. Finally, those of you who marry, do have more children, and do invest your time and heart in them.”

He condemned the recent sexual harassment scandals involving celebrities as the “symptom of an entire culture of unhinged attitudes toward sex. Women are right to be angry when men treat them like objects and act like bullies and pigs.”

But a change in culture will only come through changes of the heart, he said, when a man  “discovers something to believe in that transforms and gives meaning to his life; something that directs all of his reasoning and desires.  In other words, when he becomes a new man.”

“A real reform of male behavior will never come about through feminist lectures and mass media man-shaming by celebrities and award ceremonies. ... A man’s actions and words change only when his heart changes for the better.”

“So my prayer for all of us today is that God will plant the seed of a new knighthood in our hearts – and make us the kind of ‘new men’ our families, our Church, our nation, and our world need,” concluded Archbishop Chaput.  

 

Debate IRL: Douthat/Faggioli debate moves from Twitter to Fordham campus

Sat, 02/03/2018 - 13:00

New York City, N.Y., Feb 3, 2018 / 11:00 am (CNA).- After public disagreement in dueling op-eds, and frequent disagreements on Twitter, one could be forgiven for expecting the debate between New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and Villanova Professor Massimo Faggioli to be a little fiery.

The two met on January 31 on Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. The event, titled “Francis@Five: Assessing the Legacy of Pope Francis Five Years After His Election,” was a 90-minute discussion some observers described as “tense.”

Though their discussion was civil, and no one was accused of heresy, the two presented sharply contrasting assessments of what the first five years of Pope Francis’ papacy have meant for the Church and its future.

The discussion was moderated by David Gibson, the director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture.

The differences centered around the roles of tradition and doctrine--and whether and how they should shape the future of the Church.

The central point of debate was the now-infamous “Footnote 351” in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which, some interpreters claim, contradicts the Church’s teaching on marriage.

On the issue of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Douthat had a far more alarmed take than Faggioli. While acknowledging that the debate was an “elite battle” that most ordinary Catholics don’t really know much about, he said it was part of a larger “civil war” between liberal and conservative Catholics.

Douthat he said that he feared that Francis’ perspective on communion for those who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, as he understood it, could have the potential to cause a schism, with the “losing side” of that debate simply forming their own faith.  

Faggioli admitted that he had “underestimated” the resistance to some interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, adding that, in his view, resistance to the Second Vatican Council is also a “North American problem.”

Douthat said that the Church has no obligation to “evacuate teachings” (on marriage) under the guise of being “pastoral,” and that this was the “core tension” of Pope Francis’ papacy. He warned that this could potentially create a proto-Anglican model for the Church, where teachings are different in different parts of the world.

Faggioli disputed this, saying that Pope Francis was not seeking to undermine marriage, and that Jesus had spoken out against divorce. On the contrary, he said it is necessary for the Church to minister to the needs of people who are already divorced--which was the point of the 2015 Synod on the Family that preceded Amoris Laetitia.

Douthat warned that pastoral changes unchecked by doctrine have the potential to turn the Church into “liberal Protestantism in Catholic dressing,” but that it will take years before the Pope’s impact is truly understood.

Faggioli argued that “adjustments” on certain Catholics teachings were not a sign of an imminent rupture of the faith. Faggioli said that with 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, 50 percent of children might never see their parents receive the Eucharist, which is not ideal for either evangelization or for the Gospel. This, he argued, is a reason why the Church must change her pastoral practice.

“There are different responses to the same question in different times,” Faggioli said, when asked whether withholding communion to the divorced and remarried had always been wrong.

While disagreement between the two was sharp, they found agreement on two issues: the Pope’s 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato si --both are fans of it, albeit for different reasons--and the importance of women in the Church’s life.

Faggioli said he would approve of ordaining female deacons “tomorrow,” whereas Douthat said he was “agnostic” on the issue of women in the diaconate, but did concede that putting women in positions of ecclesial responsibility is one of the “more reasonable” parts of liberal Catholicism.

Neither gave a true closing statement to finish off the night, but Faggioli perhaps summed up the dispute best when he described Catholic teaching and tradition as an “animal” capable of moving and adapting.

While he only grinned wryly in response, Douthat probably had a different take.

Denver archbishop spotlights Humanae Vitae in new pastoral letter

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 21:00

Denver, Colo., Feb 2, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new pastoral letter honoring the 50-year anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver underscored the perennial significance of the church’s sexual teachings, saying they are a gift and a light in darkness.

“I write this pastoral letter to you, my brothers and sisters, to affirm the great beauty of the Church’s consistent teaching through the centuries on married love, a love that is so desperately needed today,” Archbishop Aquila wrote in his Feb. 2 pastoral letter.

“Defending this love in our culture requires strong commitment,” Aquila continued, saying “it is crucial to reaffirm our commitment to the truth, goodness and beauty of Christ’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.”

According to Archbishop Aquila, Blessed Pope Paul VI “prophetically defended the integrity of married love and warned us against the danger of reducing sexuality to a source of pleasure,” in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Published in 1968, Humanae Vitae will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 25 of this year.

Aquila noted in the years since its publication, the Church has remained steadfast in her teachings on truth, as theological reflection on Humanae Vitae has continued to develop.

One positive development, according to Aquila, was Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” which has “deepened our understanding of the great gift of human sexuality, which requires nothing less from us than a complete gift of self.”

Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Aquila said, have also been instrumental in further reflection on Humanae Vitae’s theology of love. Additionally, Aquila pointed to the “great advancements” in natural family planning, which has been a helpful resource for countless families over the years.

“NFP… enables couples to accurately understand their fertility, maintain openness to life, and grow in the kind of self-control that is necessary for a happy marriage,” Aquila said, noting that sacrificial love is crucial to the practice of NFP.

Aquila explained that contraception disrupts the procreative nature of the marital act, which “harms the unitive dimension of sex.” Blessed Paul VI did not reject contraception simply because it was artificial, Aquila said, but because it fundamentally damaged the most intimate part of the conjugal act between spouses.

The archbishop also lamented cultural decline over the past 50 years, which, he said, was predicted by Blessed Paul VI. He specifically pointed to the widespread use of contraception, which has led to higher divorce and abortion rates.

Pornography, sex trafficking, government-imposed contraception, a rise in STDs, low birth and marriage rates are also some negative consequences, according to the Denver archbishop. He added that technology has become a major player in the realm of sexuality, causing more complications.

“Sex itself has been changed from a gift and source of life in the family to a means of pleasure and self-satisfaction,” Aquila said.

“Once sex and marriage has been redefined and trivialized in this way, it is possible to change the definition and makeup of marriage or anything related to sexuality,” he continued.

However, Aquila believes that Humanae Vitae and the theology of the body reveal the antidote to “the widespread false ideas of freedom and the purpose of sexuality that so many are suffering from today.”

“Blessed Paul VI teaches us the truth about married love, listing its four essential qualities: it needs to be fully human, total, faithful and fruitful,” Aquila said, also noting their inseparable connections.

Despite the cultural distortion of sexuality and marriage over the years, Aquila noted that the goodness of sexuality remains through the dignity of each human person.

“We also know from Scripture…that our dignity comes from being made in his image and likeness,” Aquila said.

“God, the source of all life and love, planned from the beginning that the love between a man and a woman should image his own love and bring forth new life in the context of family,” he continued.

Humanae Vitae teaches procreative love is an “extremely important mission” with both “supernatural and eternal” effects, the archbishop said. Aquila calls this the “very nature of married love,” which also prompts a husband and wife together towards holiness.

“Through the sincere gift of themselves, spouses discover their authentic identities as children of God the Father, and their love radiates beauty and the splendor of the truth,” Aquila said.

While Humanae Vitae proclaims the bold beauty behind the Church’s teachings on sexuality, it also reminds the faithful of the Church’s mission of evangelization, Aquila noted.

“Every Catholic has a mission to live and share the good news of God’s plan for human sexuality,” Aquila said, saying this proclamation requires courage.

“We evangelize first by witnessing to what God has done in our own lives and by living out Christ’s teaching in our family and work,” he continued, saying that “pointing people to the teaching of Jesus is not confrontational, but an act of love.”

The first evangelizers of society, Aquila said, are parents and married couples, who are the primary educators of children. Because of this, parents and couples have the responsibility to faithfully teach their children in the truths of the Church.

Unfortunately, today’s children are bombarded with distorted sexual ethics at a young age, with exposure to pornography and the lure of casual sex, the archbishop said. These dangers present new challenges to parents in their efforts to raise children of God, but Aquila encouraged honest conversations with children to promote healthy relationships.

He also pointed out that priests and deacons are called to evangelize to their own flocks. Aquila advised priests to be “gentle and merciful in confession,” and re-commit themselves to their work with engaged and married couples.

Aquila also addressed individuals in the workforce, encouraging them to give witness to the truth in their everyday lives. He also specifically addressed engaged couples, asking them to “make the most of your preparation for marriage.”

Aquila concluded his pastoral letter by mentioning the endless measure of God’s love, and encouraged individuals and couples everywhere to reflect this true love through “a complete gift” of themselves.

He challenged married couples to be generous in their love and to imitate Christ’s ultimate sacrificial love as the way “to find true happiness.” Aquila also pointed back to Humanae Vitae, saying its 50th anniversary is the perfect occasion for a renewed commitment to sharing the liberating truth that it proclaims about sexuality.

Humanae Vitae was a gift for the Church and for the world, a courageous prophesy about the beauty of human life and married love,” Aquila said, calling the encyclical “a great light in the midst of a dark and confused world.”

“We ask for the prayers of Blessed Paul VI as we look to his guidance for handing on and living according to the teachings of Christ in the world today.”

 

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