October 21, 2023 Column Father De Celles News

THE COMING ELECTIONS. Voting is the most fundamental building block of our nation, and the foundation of all our freedoms. But so many of us don’t bother to vote, and when we do vote, we often vote based on very little knowledge of the candidates, and over secondary issues. Sometimes we even vote based on some irrelevant attribute of the candidate: e.g., their looks, color, education. etc.. All this instead of finding out what the candidates plan to do in office, and where they stand on the most important issues on the table.

                 And by “the most important issues,” I don’t mean our pet projects, but the issues that are most fundamental in maintaining a moral and free society.

Virginia State and County elections are now only 16 days away, on Tuesday, November 7 (although you can still vote-early-in-person). Sadly, many Virginians will not vote in this so-called “off year election,” even though it will decide who writes most of the laws and policies that govern our daily lives, especially the lives of our children as we elect School Board members, State Senators, State Delegates, and County Supervisors.

You must inform yourselves about the candidates and where they stand, especially, it seems to me, on abortion, parents’ rights in educating and raising their own children, the “LGBTQ+ agenda” in schools, and school choice.

And you must vote! I am confident in saying, if you are eligible to vote, it is a grave sin not to vote in this election: we cannot let the radical leftists and secularists destroy our culture, society, and families. We must elect officials who will represent us and the principles that have made our state and nation great.

THE SYNOD AT THE VATICAN. It’s hard to follow exactly what’s happening inside the Synod since there is largely a “cone of silence” placed over most of the proceedings. But here are a few things that are surely affecting the discussions.

Laudate Deum. It seems deliberate that on the first day of the Synod Pope Francis issued a document entitled Laudate Deum. Here is an excerpt of Fr. Raymond de Souza’s analysis (National Catholic Reporter).

“Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum (Praise God), is a personal, impassioned public-policy plea for action on the “climate crisis.”

“…On scientific matters, it has been 400 years — during the Galileo affair — since Roman authorities took such specific positions on scientific matters. Laudate Deum itself does not offer a rationale for magisterial pronouncement on climatological scientific research, but asserts that such scientific results are “indisputable.”

“Some critics will dismiss Laudate Deum as a document more fitting to the U.N. secretary-general, an epistolary emission from the vicar of climate rather than the Vicar of Christ. …It does read like a United Nations climate text. It could have been issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main U.N. resource on climate change. About a third of the 44 footnotes are to IPCC and related studies; most of the remainder are citations from the Holy Father’s previous encyclicals.

“…Laudate Deum is a different kind of papal document; Pope Francis lays out in detail scientific data, complete with predictions to establish the need for urgent action, writing that ‘despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident.’

“Magisterial documents refrain from committing the teaching authority of the papacy to scientific data or political processes. …Laudate Deum …contains a definitive declaration that there be a ‘necessary transition towards clean energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels.’

“Laudate Deum is wide-ranging, commenting upon the disposal of nuclear waste, ‘meritocracy’ and privilege and the entire structure of the economy, including this passage: ‘The mentality of maximum gain at minimal cost…makes impossible any sincere concern for our common home and any real preoccupation about assisting the poor and the needy.’

“Laudate Deum leaves aside questions about what kind of economic system…might be better at protecting the environment or lifting up the dignity of the poor.

“…The weakness of Laudate Deum is that human calculations have taken the place of theology, the things of God.”

Dubia and Blessing “Same-Sex Marriage.” Two days before the Synod started, five highly respected retired cardinals asked the Pope to clarify their confusion about his answers to several questions (dubia) they had previously submitted to him. This is an excerpt from Fr. Gerald Murray analysis of one of the Pope’s initial answers they found “confusing” (from “The Catholic Thing”):

“The responses include some very troubling assertions, especially about the blessing of same-sex unions. Pope Francis has, regrettably, authorized bishops and priests – after some undefined process of ‘discernment’ – to confer a priestly blessing upon same-sex couples. …

“Pope Francis began his answer…stating that ‘[t]he Church has a very clear understanding of marriage: an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to procreation. Only this union can be called ‘marriage.’’ …For this reason, the Church avoids any type of rite or sacramental that might …suggest that something that is not marriage is recognized as marriage.’

“So far, very good . . . but then, he veers into a justification of blessing same-sex unions. …

“‘Therefore, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage.…For when a blessing is requested, it is expressing a plea to God for help, a supplication to live better…although there are situations that are not morally acceptable from an objective point of view, the same pastoral charity requires us not to simply treat as ‘sinners’ other people whose guilt or responsibility may be mitigated by various factors affecting subjective accountability.’

“Let’s be frank here. The request for a blessing is not in order to live better in the sense of living according to God’s unchangeable moral law. It’s a request for reassurance that the Church agrees with them in considering that God’s law forbidding sodomy no longer applies….

“Whatever is objectively morally unacceptable is also subjectively morally unacceptable. No one can exempt himself from God’s law by claiming it does not apply to him…When someone wants to commit a sin, and denies that it is a sin, this does not make it suddenly no longer a sin.

“Why is the word ‘sinners’ in scare quotes in the passage above? That usage usually suggests that something is ‘so-called’ or ‘alleged.’ …Are people who publicly promise to commit grave sin with each other not sinners, plain and simple?

“And why are factors mitigating subjective culpability introduced here? God alone knows the degree of culpability for any sin one commits. Christians who want to follow God’s law examine their conscience to discover where they are conscious of having turned away from God.….no matter what they may claim to justify their behavior. The claim that one is often unable to fulfill God’s commandments may be true – due to weakness and bad habits. But it is false if it means that obedience to God’s commandments, with the help of God’s grace, is impossible.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles