Oh and in case you were wondering... "Six mainline Protestant bodies among the 25 largest churches showed losses in membership in 2005. The United Church of Christ was down 3.28 percent; the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2.84 percent; American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1.97 percent; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1.62 percent; Episcopal Church, 1.59 percent; and United Methodist Church, 1.36 percent.
Three of these, the Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Church of Christ, lost more than 10 percent of their membership between 1995 and 2005. "
Back to Adams, one comment to his article which is worth repeating, for the sake of example... "I belong to this branch of Lutheran Church -- a southern congregation -- and have never seen anything remotely similar to this. They do say that they welcome people of all sexual orientations. But that is it. And I could care less who is praying next to me so long as they are quiet and respectful of the rights of others...However, this column is in fact disturbing. Let the Left criticize and belittle religious conduct (as they do so often with respect to conservative Christianity). But the right need not adopt the same tactics. If these people in the specific California church are attacking him personally, that may be a different story, but at least he should set the context." This is the problem with a lot of the "Mainline" churches and brings us to a second major crisis in Protestant Christianity. The more conservative folks sit back and think, 'sure there is some foolishness in my denomination, but certainly not at MY church, and certainly not MY pastor!' And so it goes, these people bury their heads in the sand, plenty happy going to their old churches, singing the old hymns, reading the Bible, and everything has the outward appearance of normalcy. I guess when salvation is such an individual matter of being saved, the greater decay of denomination and society doesn't seem as much of a problem. Still, I am sympathetic to these people, there really is no reason for them to believe that traditions, basic Christian morality, and simple common sense, won't triumph in their denominations, and yet, exactly the opposite occurs. Theological liberals are professionals at subverting mainline churches, they are the Delta Force of fighting the stealthy behind the scenes ideological battles. They have an impressive arsenal of mission statements and Orwellian double-speak about "diversity," and "inclusiveness." I would imagine they have a stranglehold on the seminaries in such a way that it would make even the most liberal Catholic seminary rector look like Pope St. Pius V. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and the liberals know how to squeak. While the good people go on making pot-luck suppers and having Bible-studies, the liberals sit on committees and take control of the purse-strings on a national level, hence the subsidized abortions, which I guarantee you, would probably come as a shock to many of the people in the pews on Sunday and would be bad for the collection plate to say the least! Now in fairness to the comment cited above, you can't judge a denomination based on one church. I would be a crying shame if Roman Catholics were judged by the craziness that goes on in more than a few of our parishes, such as St. Joan of Arc, which Gerald has blogged on frequently. However, as a Catholic, I know that such dissidents are just that, dissidents, they don't call the shots, and with each passing day it is more and more clear that their time is up. In the mainline churches, the momentum is going in the opposite direction. If I were a conservative member of the ELCA right now, no matter how good the sermons I was getting at my local church were, I'd be asking myself, why a semi-pagan group like "Herchurch" and I are sharing the same umbrella? What kind of crisis of authority has brought us to the point where being Christian is not necessarily an important part of belonging to a Christian church? I'd really be wishing that I'd left my church, before my church left me. The rural areas of the upper-Midwest are dotted with pretty little Lutheran churches, many from the 19th century, that have a very nice look and feel, it's almost idyllic. I'll bet being a pastor at one of these churches is not a bad gig either. It would be sort of like being the country vicar from old English novels, a kindly, mostly elderly congregation, a nice salary and housing stipend, respectability in the community, being able to help people with their problems, a bully-pulpit every Sunday to talk about religion, and a nice musical tradition of Bach songs to enjoy. Heck if you want to live the sort of distributionist lifestyle in the countryside that Chesterton wrote about, there you go! And hey, if you don't like it, you can always quit and try a new career. Nice, maybe, but a world of difference from the Catholic priesthood, instituted by Christ. When Jesus says, "Do you love me," and one says, "Yes Lord!" Jesus doesn't give us a pat on the back he says, "then follow me!" Following Jesus, as we all know is a road that is challenging, sometimes lonely, and even, in some cases dangerous. Following Jesus got Peter crucified upside-down, following Jesus brought Blessed Miguel Pro before a firing squad, following Jesus led St. Kolbe to death in a concentration camp. Needless to say, it is a road of continuous self-sacrifice, and it can be, the road of ultimate sacrifice. There are few who understand this better, or exemplify it more throughout history, than the men of the Catholic priesthood. Well when I started this post as a link to a funny a humorous article, I never thought it would end like that. Chalk that last paragraph up to some stellar homilies I've been hearing lately!
Lastly, I should say, this is not Schadenfreude, I know we have some great Protestant readers, and I'll be curious to see what they have to say on this. I am not rooting for mainline denominations to collapse into post-Christian amorality, quite the contrary! That does nothing to advance the culture of life. Rather, I would like to see the good people in those denominations stop the slide and turn the tide and re-infuse their churches with the Christian morality of their ancestors. Good luck, my prayers are with you!
This probably seems like a real minor story, but it is sad none-the-less, to see Catholicism in Ireland dying by a thousand little cuts. The worse part of it all is that the Irish were subjected to some of the most fiendish attempts to stomp out the faith, and stayed strong. I guess a few years of economic prosperity are accomplishing what Oliver Cromwell and his thugs never could. H/T CWN... No skipping school for altar boys, Irish officials say Dublin, Apr. 27, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Irish education officials have called for an end to school policies allowing altar boys to leave school in order to serve at Mass, the Irish Independent reports. Several schools were reportedly told that they should not allow students to miss classes in order to serve at funerals. The policy change was ordered, the Independent said, because students were missing classes, and were not under the direct supervision of school personnel while they were serving at Mass. Irish school officials said that the practice of allowing altar boys to leave school had once been commonplace, and is now disappearing. Liam Neeson, who is a great actor, though his relationship with Catholicism is on-and-off with the same reliability as a junior-high relationship, once recounted how the most peaceful moments of his life were as a young boy, ridding his bicycle in the freezing pre-dawn darkness to serve as an altar boy at the daily Masses at his little parish church. A beautiful sentiment. Too bad the school system is ensuring that this venerable tradition becomes a relic of the past. We all know that vocations are born at the foot of the altar so this may be another nail in the coffin for Irish Catholicism. This article does raise a few questions though. I was under the impression that most schools in Ireland were run by the Church, so is this really going to affect a lot of altar boys? Also, does this mean that they don't have girl altar servers in Ireland? I would be kind of shocked if they didn't, but at the same time, I guess I hold a glimmer of hope that they haven't adopted that practice. Now in contrast to my dour tone, I will say, there is always room for some hope. I have faith in the good people of Ireland. Mass attendance and birthrates in Ireland are still the highest in Western Europe, also pro-life laws have survived many attacks and statistics show the great bulk of people believe in protecting the unborn. I think this is a case of Dublin vs. the rural areas. Dublin is increasingly becoming a clone of any other western European city, but I hear reports that in the countryside the Catholic Culture is still in-tact. Anyway one may wonder, what is happening to Ireland? Why is the great bastion of Catholicism losing the faith? Well I have five reasons... 1-Elite Eurocrats: The folks who are embarrassed by the fact that their nation is lagging behind the rest of Western Europe in pace of secularism, abortion on demand, and gay-marriage. 2-The Church: Yep, sorry to say, but not for being "too authoritarian" in the orthodox sense, or whatever liberals will say. The Church dropped the ball with some major scandals, and then folded. You may recall a few years ago some Irish seminarians were kicked out of seminary for kneeling during communion! Way to pre-empt men who were much needed as priests. Right now the Irish church has the same issue that many dioceses in the US have, wishy-washy old bishops and clergy clashing with the more orthodox and zealous JP-II generation priests. The good news is the young guys will be able to wait them out. 3-Money: Sure it may be unfair to blame the Irish for losing so much of their faith as soon as some prosperity comes their way, as no nation seems immune to this, so I'm just saying. 4-Americans: Yep, a lot of Americans have screwed up. It's not just the fact that the ranks of Irish-Catholics in America are dominated by names like John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and George Carlin, though that is a major problem. It is American tourists who basically turned holy St. Patrick's Day into a twisted version of it's real self. The St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Dublin are "Americanized" to the core. Also I just want to take a dig here at Irish-Americans who in the name of "rediscovering their heritage," developed some sort of neo-pagan, new age, concept of Irish culture, people who on their most Christian day love flaunting thier Celtic cross necklace, but would never pray the Rosary. 5-Socialists: I love the Irish Pub music, why is it that so many of these guys are socialists? I guess once again I am meaning Americans here. There are some great Irish bands, but there are way too many with some sort of Che T-Shirt spirit Socialism that is not really part of the Irish tradition. Maybe this portion of my complaints should have been filed under number 4. Anyway I think that maybe they are trying to be more "authentic," but these are usually the same bands that wear suspenders and old time newsy caps, thus telling me that all their concepts of Ireland are based on stereotypes and a few clips from Titanic. Yes, some of the big names of the 1916 rebellion were socialists, but maybe that's why they failed? Anyway this brings me to insert name of other radically anti-British groups and such that are Catholic in name only. Now believe me, I am the first person to bash on what the English did to Ireland. However many (by no means all) people marching against the English today give me the Al Sharpton v. Don Immus vibe. That is to say, these folks are perpetuating a movement, just so it still exists, though it has no real purpose or roots (as it may have had, had it stayed truly Catholic). Look, if there was some sort of real oppression of Irish Catholics on religious grounds, I would be backing these people to the bitter end, however, of what I've seen of such rallies, there is a strong anti-clerical bend and an eerie sort of secularism. Sorry Irish Socialist radical types who are the ultimate Catholics in name only. If I saw you people leading the charge in some kind of Catholic revival in Ireland the check would be in the mail tomorrow, if you are just essentially clinging to the Catholic identity so you can play the victim game you have lost my respect. Consider this gem from Sinn Féin the "Catholic" and "Nationalist," party of Ireland... IRA Party Sinn Fein Passes Pro-Abortion Motion "At its weekend conference, the Irish Republican Army associated Sinn Fein Party has passed a motion calling on a change to the Southern Constitution to permit "a woman's right to choose". Sinn Fein also gave support to the Irish Family Planning Association's campaign for free abortion both North and South of the Border." Hey guys, I understand your rage when rocks and insults get thrown at Catholic girls on the way to school, thank God we don't have those problems in America, and if we did I'd be more than willing to put myself between the rocks and the children... but take your faith up a notch and be just as adamant about defending your own unborn, and your culture in general. The less Catholic Ireland becomes, the more it looks to me like Wales or Scotland, areas which have some unique history of their own but when it's all said and done, put the U in U.K. Also, worth asking, who knows, maybe the whole "sectarian" conflict in Ireland would have been over-by now by virtue of demographics if so many people weren't flaunting Church teaching these past thirty years? I mean in the US Episcopalian leaders not to have children, and the Anglican church was the first to green-light contraception, they've had a demographic handicap for like 70 years! You were probably one generation away from making Irish Anglicans as much of a factor of influence as Sikhs in Idaho. Rest assured I will be keeping a close eye on events in Ireland and blogging on the state of the nation much more in the future.
“We have to look at the reality and the ethical dimension and the Catholic moral dimension to the situation,”Good enough, so we now know that Bishop Aymond so far agrees with Catholic teaching that states (CCC 2276) Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible. But then Bishop Aymond makes the mistake of publicly making a stand with the ethics committee that creates this scandal by making the following statement:
…while his heart goes out to Emilio’s mother and the difficult decision she’s faced with, he says he believes the Pediatric Ethics Committee at Children’s Hospital has made the right decision to remove Emilio from life support.Let’s not mince words here; Bishop Aymond said “he believes the Pediatric Ethics Committee at Children’s Hospital has made the right decision to remove Emilio from life support.” Incredible. Though after reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church carefully it seems that Bishop Aymond falls within Catholic teaching, but due to his public stance, has created a scandal because of such a controversial and sensitive subject. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2268) The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.(Gen 4:10) “…that cries out to heaven for vengeance.” Vengeance is His. Bishop Aymond, assuming he is within Catholic teaching, is treading a very difficult position here. If he is wrong, vengeance is His. Is this morally imputable? Does this exonerate Bishop Aymond? Let’s see what the Catechism says, (2268 cont.) unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someones death, even without the intention to do so. Bishop Aymond defends his actions by saying:
“The Catholic Church would teach if there is no possibility of recovery, that extraordinary means can be withdrawn, and it’s not taking the life of a person, but simply allowing them to die naturally and with dignity,”I beg to differ, the Catechism states (2269) The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person's death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger. Baby Emilio's mother represents my own, "shock".
Bishop Aymond says he’s based his moral and ethical decision on the medical reports and consulted with theologians across the world.Houston's own Dr. Joseph Graham of the University of St. Thomas objects:
“Baby Emilio is not dying in any immediate sense. He will continue to live if he is kept on the ventilator. It is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that parent[s] have primary responsibility for the welfare of their children – not hospital administrators.”One more thing, Bishop Aymond pretty much violates the 5th Commandment, 'You shall not kill', if the attempts at saving baby Emilio are ordinary instead of extraordinary circumstances*. I can only assume that Bishop Aymond views the procedures that are prolonging baby Emilio's young life as extraordinary instead of ordinary. To read the article that my posting is commenting on click here. To read about the Catechism of the Catholic Church click here. (Hat Tip: Catholic Report) *[see CCC 2278: Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected. (emphasis mine)]
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