Monday, September 29, 2008

Tax-Exempt Churches

There was an interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last Friday about West Bend pastor, Luke Emrich. He is pastor at New Life Church and as reported this morning in the Journal Sentinel, he endorsed John McCain during his sermon. If the IRS goes after his tax-exempt status for doing so, he plans on filing a federal lawsuit against the IRS. Not endorsing candidates has been a concession that churches have given for their tax-exempt status since 1954.

I have mixed feelings about the issue. From a Catholic perspective, since the church is the People of God, I think that it is better for parishioners to make up their own minds. On the other hand, I never understood why churches were tax-exempt in the first place. I realize that taking that tax-exempt status away from churches would put a hit on the parish pocketbook, but tax-exempt status forms a partnership with the U.S. government that could compromise a church's message.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Marian Myths... Part II

I stated last week that the Marian doctrines point to Christ and speak real truths about Christ and about our future. Christ is the one without sin who will free us from sin (Immaculate Conception). Christ is the one who is pure of heart who will purify our hearts (Ever-virgin). Christ is the one who by his very nature is in intimate union with God and will bring us into a fuller and more intimate union with God (Assumption).

I am not denying that the Marian doctrines are not factual. I believe that they are mythical and speaking of higher truths, not facts; but I could be wrong. I just do not think they are important enough to give unneeded consideration compared to the truths concerning Christ - Who is the Word who took on humanity; living, teaching, and befriending us; dying for love us; and continuing to live in a resurrection that has transformed his earthly body into a new body (just as our earth will be transformed into a new earth). This I believe with my whole heart, body, and soul. And I believe that this Christ is especially near to us as we gather for Eucharist and that he is present in our bread and in our breaking of the bread. These are the truths that matter and these are the truths that should be the foundation or correcting apparatus for all other Christian statements of faith.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Marian Myths

It is one of our Catholic "myths" that Mary was conceived without original sin and never contracted original sin during her life - the Immaculate Conception. There is also the "myth" that remained a virgin her entire life and that at the end of her life she was raised to heaven, body and soul - the Assumption.

In one sense, I do not have a problem with these myths since are all suppose to be reflective of the new humanity in Christ. Her myth represents all the best that humanity is called to be - free from sin, living in purity of heart, and spending eternity in the divine presence.

Throughout Christian history Mary has been referred to as the Christian prototype - the ideal Christian. My issue with this is that these myths have so often been taken literally. When people takes these myths literally, they seem to take on an importance greater than the doctrines concerning Christ. When they are taken figuratively, the can be used as a help to guide us to Christ and a realization that Christ is the end, not doctrines concerning Mary.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Gay Saint?

According to a Catholic News Service report, John Cardinal Newman is nearing beatification. Cardinal Newman had had a 30 year friendship with Father Ambrose St. John with whom he lived and is now buried in the same grave, but in a separate coffin in England. The Vatican has plans and has received permission from England to exhume his body and transfer it to the Vatican.

Peter Tatchell, a spokesman for Outrage, reminded all involved that it was Cardinal Newman's express wish to remain in England with his friend. Tatchell contends that Newman probably had a celibate gay relationship and that separating these two companians is comparable to desecration. Whether Newman was gay or not, certain Vatican officials are disturbed by the very thought. They are responding with such words as "rubbish," "horrendous," "nonsense," etc. There is a homophobia implied in all these responses that cannot imagine that any candidate for sainthood could gay. These officials needs a reality check. Using simple statistical analysis, it becomes obvious that there must be plenty of gay and lesbian saints.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bishops a Little Too Harsh on Pelosi

According to Catholic, a number of US bishops are stating that House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, misrepresented Catholic teaching on abortion. On Meet the Press, she stated that church leaders for centuries have not been able to agree when human life begins. Augustine and Aquinas can be given as easy examples to illustrate her point.

Certain bishops, such as Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, have responded that she "misrepresented" the church's stance on abortion and that abortion has been affirmed as a moral evil since the first century.

There is a bit of a disconnect here. While Pelosi is using a well-known bit of knowledge as a justification for certain abortions, she is not stating that Augustine or Aquinas saw any justification for abortion. Rigali even admits that these distinctions of when human life began existed for determining the property penalty for the abortion.

In truth, the bishops are not disagreeing with what Pelosi has said about "official" church teaching, they are simply using this opportunity to reprimand a politician for her pro-abortion stance. It would be refreshing to have bishops, such as Rigali, state this as their intention, instead of pretending to disagree with what she said. I know that these bishops are educated, but it seems at times they are more interested in getting in a sound-bite... like a politician.

A Faithful Catholic