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Chaldean Catholic patriarch in San Diego suspends 10 priests who fled Iraq; Priests appeal to Pope

by Lisa Graas on October 23, 2014


ABC 10 News reports:

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday was the deadline.

The priests, though, are refusing to leave and are now waiting on Pope Francis to tell them what to do next.

Read more here.

It’s reported that if these priests are ordered back, there will be only four priests left to serve the Chaldean Catholics in the diocese.

Video report:

Please pray for everyone involved in this situation, including Pope Francis.

Communion for the Divorced and Remarried is not a ‘Life Raft’

by Lisa Graas on October 22, 2014


Cardinal Kasper has referred to Communion for the divorced and remarried as a “life raft” for the shipwrecked.

Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.

He is not clear here about what he means by the “second boat,” but it is likely that he is referring to those who leave the Catholic Church for protestant churches who will accept the divorced and remarried as members. The problem with this is that it reflects a flawed understanding of the nature of the Church, the nature of marriage, and the nature of Holy Communion.

In regard to the nature of the Church, anyone who is properly baptized is a member of the Catholic Church. Let’s consider the scenario of an atheist and a Jew who are stranded on an island together and the atheist, recalling things that he was told about God from his anti-Catholic Baptist parents, decides that he wants to convert to Christianity. The atheist, who is familiar with the valid process for baptism, asks the Jew to baptize him. The Jew does not believe in baptism at all, but out of compassion to set his atheist friend’s mind at ease, he agrees to baptize him. Even though the person performing the baptism does not believe in baptism, and even though the person being baptized has animosity toward the Catholic Church, as long as the correct procedure for baptism is followed, that atheist has become a member of the Catholic Church. Every time a baptism occurs, the person being baptized becomes a member of the Catholic Church. Membership does not depend (initially) on obedience to Catholic teaching. Membership depends on baptism.

From CCC 818:

All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.

There is only one “ship,” and that is the Catholic Church. Even many people who hate the Catholic Church are members of the Catholic Church, objectively.

Note, however, that to those who are Catholic and who understand the teachings of the Church — a Cardinal, for example — much more is required by God.  In the catechism, we are told that heresy, apostasy and schism are wounds to the unity of the Church and that these wounds never occur without sin. We also learn from the catechism that “harmony and unity arises from virtue. That is, faithful obedience.

CCC 817:

In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.”

The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism – do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

Some would have us believe that harmony and unity arise from division (such as divorce), or from heresy (such as Communion for the divorced and remarried), or from disputes (such as Synods where heresies pronounced by bishops are welcomed.) The catechism, however, is clear. Harmony and unity arise from virtue, which comes from God through our obedience to the Faith. There is no virtue without fidelity.

Cardinal Kasper betrays the nature of marriage if he does not understand that a second marriage is actually the “second boat” that people take, as if it were a “life raft,” when actually they are leaving the one ship to salvation, the Catholic Church. If your brother is climbing off the ship to salvation, which is the Catholic Church, you do well to encourage him to return, but he cannot both return and remain on the boat that is taking him away from the Church. He has to make a decision. There is only one way for him to return and that is to make a choice between the two. Having said that, there are many divorced and remarried who now live together as brother and sister. In this case, they may return to Holy Communion. If they are not living as brother and sister, but rather as a married couple, then they are living in adultery. To say that they may validly receive Communion while not in the state of grace is heresy which, as noted, disrupts the harmony and unity of the Church.

While it is true that what people do privately can hardly disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church, bishops speaking out for them to receive Holy Communion while in a state of grave sin DOES disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church. It is for this reason that so many are saying, rightly in my view, that there is no reason for a Synod on these matters and, in fact, it can be argued that the Synod itself has (so far) done nothing more than disrupt the harmony and unity of the Church. Who can argue the contrary? Who can say, in all honesty, that the Synod has so far served to bring Catholics closer together? No one can say that with a straight face unless he is deluded.

Cardinal Kasper betrays the nature of Holy Communion if he believes that anyone who is divorced and remarried can benefit from receiving the Sacrament. As I wrote two days ago:

Everyone is required to “live up to” the Catholic Faith. No one is exempt from the call to sainthood. People who see this as lacking in compassion have no idea what Jesus has done for us on the Cross. When we bear a cross of suffering and hardship in life, He gives us the grace to bear it. It is in our crosses where we meet Jesus in His love for us. He poured Himself out for us, and our cup runneth over with Him only when we first empty ourselves to receive Him in that pouring out.

Anyone can say that they know Jesus. Certainly, He welcomes all to His supper, but what good is it to welcome those who are already full? They have no desire to be filled with Jesus if they are already full of worldly things that satisfy their bellies. They do an injustice in coming to the table completely full and pretending to be receiving Jesus when they are not actually receiving Him. They may as well be dropping Him on the floor as receive Him in the Eucharist because there is no emptiness there for Him to fill. It’s all a show so that they can “feel welcome.”

I know this reality in my own life as a divorced and celibate Catholic. My conscience, guided by the teaching of the Catholic Church, tells me that it would be an appalling injustice for me to find another “husband” when I am already objectively married in the eyes of God. It is the state that says I am divorced, not God, which makes this issue a religious freedom issue as I discuss here. Further, my sacrifices in life are redemptive and, as such, may help my husband get to heaven, which is in accordance with my duty as his wife in the eyes of God. Jesus requires us to love even when people reject us, does He not? Where is the visible fruit in this? For one thing, my children have learned that they had better know what they are getting into when they walk down the aisle because marriage truly is life-long, and they know also that a second marriage would be quite disruptive to their harmony and family unity. My hope is that what is reflected in our family life is the love of Christ through sacrifice for even those who reject us.

Many disagree with my Catholic belief on this. That is a disagreement of minds where one mind is willing to sacrifice the body and the other is not. Bishop Morlino is correct in saying that at the core of the issues being debated at the Synod is what he calls the “mind-body split,” and it has far more ramifications than mere disagreement about sacrifice in marriage.

Bishop Morlino:

There are more issues to be brought up, but the real underlying issue of the synod which just stays beneath every question and every topic is the mind-body split, and if one were to read the Instrumentum Laboris that way, you see that it’s about many different issues, but in the end it’s about one thing, the relationship of the human mind to the truth. Whether human freedom is meant to dominate nature and biology, or whether human reason should be accountable to nature, and so direct freedom according to the Natural Law.

Certainly, we all want more harmony and unity in the Catholic Church, but the way to bring that about is through virtue. Heresy destroys harmony and unity. Virtue builds harmony and unity. The catechism itself could not be more clear on this.








Chicago Tribune interview of Cardinal George shows inability to distinguish between love and hatred

by Lisa Graas on October 22, 2014


Cardinal George of Chicago is suffering from advanced cancer and has stepped down as Archbishop. His replacement has already been named. One would think that the Chicago media would want to show at least some respect for this great leader of the Church in their community, but this is not the case; at least not with the Chicago Tribune. In an interview with Cardinal George, the Tribune highlights a question on same-sex marriage that is audacious in its shamefulness. Rather than being shown the appreciation due to him for his defense of the institution of marriage, and rather than being treated with even the most basic respect for his opinion in which he values the institution of marriage which results in the creation of our most precious resource (children,) he is accused of causing pain.


You will not want to miss his response (HERE) to this shameful question which is a futile attempt to shame him and which is a question that actually caused him pain. Why did it cause him pain? It caused him pain because the question itself demonstrates an inability to distinguish between love and hatred. If they had any Christian love in them whatsoever, they would not have been able to come up with such a question. They do not get that ad hominem against another individual human being is hatefulness itself.

Cardinal George replied, in part, to the question about his defense of marriage causing people pain:

“I regret if I’ve spoken in a way that people weren’t able to hear,” he said.

“If I’m to be silenced for fear of hurting someone now, what happens to the conversation?” he added.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt anybody. But if you say, ‘Unless you agree with me I’ll be hurt,’ well, that’s not a just demand. I’m hurt by that.”

Please watch the whole thing.

The question is based on the belief that we hate people because we love marriage. It is a false accusation, invented by Satan, that we hate people simply because we believe in Jesus’ love for humanity in accordance with His perfectly expressed sacrifice for the will of the Father. The ideology that this claim is born from is reminiscent of the accusation of blasphemy against Jesus by the authorities of His day.To be accused of the very thing that you are least guilty of in your belief about something is reminiscent of that false charge.

If you are not a Christian, in the sense of truly having within your heart the love of Christ, you probably don’t get what I am talking about. You may even feel pain because I said it, but as Cardinal George rightly says, that is your choice. Your inability to distinguish between a love for marriage and hatred of other people is something that has occurred within you by your personal choice.

My choice is to believe that all human beings (myself included) have disorder that keeps us from heaven unless we rely on the help of God Who elevates us to sainthood through our willing participation and sharing in the Cross of our Lord. Our Lord has given us within Himself the true model of sacrifice for others, but not only that. He has made our sacrifices in union with His to be redemptive. The beauty of this is that Cardinal George’s graciousness in his response, wherein he clearly feels pain from the question and not anger, is redemptive. The pain he feels in being asked the question has been made redemptive by the Sacrifice of our Lord.  Cardinal George says, for the benefit of all of us who must endure these accusations and are consoled by his response, that such a claim is born of self-righteousness. Cardinal George is a model to all of us on the specific issue as Christ is the model for all of us in the sacrifices that we make in explaining civilly to others what our actual position is on this issue. So, as much as the reporter asking the question may have wanted to shame Cardinal George, the actual result is that she has added to the glorification of our Lord, and has given Cardinal George an opportunity to share in Christ’s humiliations for the benefit of all, not only in teaching us through example, but also in offering such a trial for the sake of souls through the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ.

In short, the reporter is spinning her wheels. God will take this spiritual offering from Cardinal George and make more good from it than she could ever hope to destroy. That we believe these things is the very reason that they will never stop us from believing these things, even if they kill us, as our Lord was also killed.

African Catholics you should follow on Twitter

by Lisa Graas on October 21, 2014

Given the “profoundly sad and scandalous” remarks by Cardinal Kasper about African Catholics, I thought you might like a list of African Catholics to follow on Twitter!

First, of course, you must follow Cardinal Napier.

Cardinal Napier

Radio Veritas

Communications Office of the Catholic Bishops of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.

SACBC Parliamentary Liaison Office

Catholic Leadership Academy, Cape Town

Archbishop Brislin, Cape Town

If you have others you would like to recommend, please send me a tweet and I’ll post them along with these.

If you find yourself unable to carry the cross, perhaps it is too light

by Lisa Graas on October 20, 2014

St. Paul of the Cross, pray for us.

St. Paul of the Cross, pray for us.

I am still thinking, on this Feast of St. Paul of the Cross, about Cardinal Dolan’s remarks today in which he said that some people are “unable to live up to” Church teaching. I imagine that a lot of kids in New York are going to be telling their parents now that they are “unable” to honor their parents, or that they are “unable” to keep from stealing candy bars from the food mart, or that they are “unable” to stop gossiping about their friends.

That makes me sad.

A reader takes issue with my criticism of Cardinal Dolan’s remarks. “Not everyone is a saint,” I am told. True, not everyone is a saint, including myself, but everyone is called by God to become a saint, according to the Church, therefore everyone can become a saint. Everyone. And it does not depend on Cardinal Dolan’s golden tickets of salvation to Willie Wonkie’s Heaven Factory that he may be planning to pass out. It requires, rather, a conversion of heart to our Lord. Even if Cardinal Dolan manages to continue to hold up the canonization cause of Archbishop Sheen, it will not keep Archbishop Sheen out of heaven, and even if Cardinal Dolan tells “Joe the Barmaid” that he who calls himself a “she” and has sex with boys will be able to get to heaven if Cardinal Dolan provides the golden ticket, it will not make it so.

Certainly, our bishops can “bind and loose” on disciplines. A cancer patient need not ask Cardinal Dolan for an excuse note to refrain from fasting during Lent. This dispensation is provided for specifically in Church teaching, that those who are sick (and certain others) need not fast during Lent. Cardinal Dolan may also “bind and loose” to a certain degree on how many Latin Masses are offered in his diocese, or “bind and loose” where two completely different doctrines may be applicable in the same situation. Doctrines are for everyone, however.

Banker Sam with his millions may find himself “personally unable” to carry the cross of matrimony after divorcing his wife who has been left in a vegetative state after a car accident, but his duty to her under God remains the same, no matter what the judge down at the courthouse says. If Sam divorces her and remarries without an annulment, he may not receive Holy Communion because, objectively, he has abandoned his wife. The same holds true for Mary the airline stewardess whose husband was unfaithful to her. If she divorces him, she is still married to him in the eyes of the Church, and she must remain celibate for the rest of her life….unless the Marriage Tribunal were to decide that the marriage was never valid to begin with, in which case Mary was objectively never married and she can then marry someone else for the first time.

Everyone is required to “live up to” the Catholic Faith. No one is exempt from the call to sainthood. People who see this as lacking in compassion have no idea what Jesus has done for us on the Cross. When we bear a cross of suffering and hardship in life, He gives us the grace to bear it. It is in our crosses where we meet Jesus in His love for us. He poured Himself out for us, and our cup runneth over with Him only when we first empty ourselves to receive Him in that pouring out.

Anyone can say that they know Jesus. Certainly, He welcomes all to His supper, but what good is it to welcome those who are already full? They have no desire to be filled with Jesus if they are already full of worldly things that satisfy their bellies. They do an injustice in coming to the table completely full and pretending to be receiving Jesus when they are not actually receiving Him. They may as well be dropping Him on the floor as receive Him in the Eucharist because there is no emptiness there for Him to fill. It’s all a show so that they can “feel welcome.”

Is that what Cardinal Dolan wants? I find that hard to swallow.

If you find yourself unable to carry the cross, perhaps your cross is too light. It is not a coincidence that the African bishops are stronger defenders of doctrine than Western bishops are. You see, in Africa, their crosses are generally heavier. In Africa, they are dying for the Faith. They are emptier vessels, having no fluffy cushions to sit on, so they are more hungry for our Lord, perhaps. When you are called to die for the Faith and are willing to do so, you will naturally find it more difficult to fudge on doctrine. Heavier crosses require a more serious decision about whether you want to be a Christian. If your decision to be a Christian means that you could die, you will find only seriously committed people professing to be Christian. If your decision to be a Christian means that you might have to give up your illicit sexual practices, you might claim inability to do that, because you’re all about what feels good instead of about what God expects from you. If you are about what feels good to you, your cup is full of the world, and Jesus won’t have anything to pour Himself into. Your appearance at Communion, then, is only for show or to make you feel better. Those who desire first and foremost to feel better won’t get anything out of the Eucharist. What’s more, those who receive while in state of mortal sin are piling sin on top of sin. God judges that, though I cannot.

Cardinal Dolan says some are ‘unable to live up to’ Church teaching

by Lisa Graas on October 20, 2014


During the Obamacare debate, Cardinal Dolan said to Catholic News Service: “You can’t compromise on principle.”

In the matter of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Pat Archbold very rightly calls Cardinal Dolan’s decision not to condemn the decision to allow “gay identity” groups to march in the parade and his decision also to be Grand Marshall of that same parade: “total capitulation to gay identity groups.

During the Synod, Cardinal Dolan praised the African bishops in Catholic media for drawing the Western bishops back to the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Today, I am very disappointed to hear him say on ABC News that some Catholics are “unable to live up to” Catholic teaching.

With all due respect to Cardinal Dolan, they are not unable, as the Scriptures attest. No one is unable to live the Gospel. NO ONE.

I had some nice things to say about Cardinal Dolan in my interview today (recorded yesterday) with Brian O’Neil of WLEA radio in New York. I don’t regret what I said but I do wish Cardinal Dolan were not so flip-floppy, depending on which reporter he’s talking to, apparently.

My interview, embedded below, discusses the Synod.




Happy Feast of St. Paul of the Cross!

by Lisa Graas on October 20, 2014


Today is the Feast Day of St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists. If you are faced with any kind of suffering in life (and this would include everyone at some point or other), you should get to know St. Paul of the Cross whose life’s mission included love of the Cross wherein we find our Lord’s Suffering and redemptive power.

Passionist Nuns:

When our Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, was but twenty-six years of age, God revealed his life’s mission through a number of visions. One morning in the autumn of 1720, he was returning from the Capuchin church where he had attended Mass and received Holy Communion. Suddenly, in spirit, Paul saw himself clothed in a rough woolen tunic; it was black, and over the heart he saw a white cross beneath which was the Holy Name of Jesus. At the same moment, an interior voice said: “This signifies how pure and spotless that heart should be which bears the Holy Name of Jesus engraved upon it”

A long tradition in the Passionist congregation tells us that the Mother of Jesus herself came to St. Paul of the Cross and showed him the Passionist habit. She revealed that God wished him to found a new religious Institute whose members would be clothed in black as a sign of mourning for the suffering and death of her Divine Son. That experience gave meaning to Paul’s future life and all the sufferings to come.

The Passionists:

Paul wrote the Rule for his yet unfounded community in 1720 committing himself and his future followers to remembering the Passion of Jesus. This was not meant to be merely a historical remembrance but a lived experience.

I am a Passionist Oblate Associate, offering up my sufferings daily for the intentions of the Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from St. Paul of the Cross:

“Build an oratory within yourself, and there have Jesus on the altar of your heart. Speak to Him often while you are doing your work. Speak to Him of His holy love, of His holy sufferings and of the sorrows of most holy Mary”

“From this valley of tears, turn your gaze continually to God, ever awaiting the moment when you will be united to Him in heaven. Often contemplate heaven, and fervently exclaim:
‘What a beautiful abode there is above! It is destined for us!’

“Oh my God! teach me how to express myself. I wish that I were all aflame with love! More than that: I wish that I could sing hymns of praise in the fire of love, and extol the marvellous mercies that uncreated Love has bestowed on us! Is it not truly a duty to thank God for His gifts? Yes, for sure, but I know not how. I wish to do so, and I know not how. To faint away with the desire to love this great God more and more is little. To consume ourselves for Him is little. What shall we do? Ah! we shall live for that divine Lover in a perpetual agony of love. But, do you think that I have said enough? No; I would say more if I knew how.
Do you know what consoles me somewhat? To know that our great God is an infinite good, and that nobody is capable of loving and praising Him as much as He deserves.”

“Have you ever noticed rocks in the sea, beaten by the tempest? A furious wave dashes against the rock, another and yet another does likewise, yet the rock is unmoved. But look at it after
the storm has subsided, and you will see that the flood has but served to wash and purify it of the defilement it had contracted during the calm. Hereafter I wish you to be as a rock.
A wave dashes against you? Silence! It assails you ten, a hundred, a thousand times? Silence! Say, at most, in the midst of the storm, “My Father, my Father, I am all Thine! Oh dear,
O’ sweet will of God, I adore Thee !”

“The statue must be chiselled with very sharp tools before it is fit to be placed in the grand gallery.”

Today, I profess my gratitude in being a Passionist in which I have learned, and learn more as time goes on, that the greatest joy and comfort for mankind, especially those who suffer greatly, truly is in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

VIDEO: Archbishop Kurtz explains what we all really need to learn from the Synod

by Lisa Graas on October 20, 2014


Archbishop Kurtz does this bishop thing pretty well, huh? He explains here what (I think) we would all do well to learn from this Synod. As a lay person, I bring my own personal perspective into things. As a bishop, he has to make us see the big picture that covers everyone and he does that really well. I have been rather frustrated at times because it’s only natural to want to hear my own personal situation reflected in that ‘big picture’ message, so my humility muscle that is rather flabby has gotten some exercise in being patient with Archbishop Kurtz. Really, he’s done a lot in bringing me peace in all of this, though it’s been painful at times…but see, that’s the point I’ve been making. There is redemption in suffering provided that we align our will with God’s will, and God really does want me to be patient with our bishops, as well as with the Pope. In trying to work on that in myself, I have not been disappointed because Archbishop Kurtz is himself a good model of patience and obedience.

Also, I’m trying really hard not to engage in any flattery here. Really. I mean every word. Forgive me if tomorrow I blow up at him on Twitter. I am an impatient Passionist, which is kind of yucky, isn’t it?

Video via Catholic News Service: