Monday, July 30, 2007

Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun Interview

The First Things weblog (from some reason I don't like calling it just a blog, weird) has another excellent offering for us Catholic freeloaders today in the form of a lengthy interview with Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun. From reading it, you get the feeling that Zen is a very humble, careful, caring and smart person. It's a fascinating insight into the trials and triumphs, however few there may be at the moment, of the Catholic Church in China.

I can't help but wonder if the Church in China is experiencing what our Church in Canada, or the Church in the UK or the USA, will suffer through in the coming years, if as expected, unrestricted Catholicism becomes public-enemy number one to our governments. Certainly we have seen this happen in Boston and in the entire UK, where the local and national governments there have tried to force Catholic adoption providers to send children into homosexual relationships. In response, I'm sure you know, the providers chose not to continue their services, and, in Boston, have all closed down. Some call it the hard line approach, but you can't begin to compromise Catholic teaching just to make a few political points.

Which is something Zen says the Church in China didn't always do well, the hard line stuff. It cooperated frequently with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a government controlled body, in order to carry out its mission, even at the expense of its mission. This resulted in the two Churches, the Patriotic and the Underground, both of which, confusingly, have valid sacraments. The Patriotic Church receives its funding from the government, is controlled by the CCPA, and basically is the bureaucracy which administers the Church, officially, in China. It recently caused much uproar by allowing the illicit ordination of a bishop at the behest of the Communist government. If we look at things comparatively, we can see just what could happen in the West if the Church didn't take a hard line approach and maintain its autonomy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Richard Neuhaus on the NAB

On today's First Things blog, Fr. Neuhaus takes the New American Bible to task, again, for yet another ludicrous translation of a passage that is not only completely different in some ways to earlier translations of the passage, but ultimately misleading as well. Neuhaus writes:

The New American Bible (NAB), an unfortunate translation episcopally imposed upon Catholics for readings at Mass, has prompted earlier comment in First Things (see here and here). The problem keeps coming back, not least in pastoral counseling. Take the woman who had had it with her husband’s lying to her. I mentioned to her Our Lord’s admonition to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). That’s the way it reads in every widely used English translation, including the Douay-Rheims, an earlier English translation used by Catholics. Jesus obviously intended hyperbole, indicating that forgiveness is open-ended. Keep on forgiving as you are forgiven by God, for God’s forgiving is beyond measure or counting.

But this woman had been reading her NAB, according to which Jesus said we should forgive not “seventy times seven,” but “seventy times.” She had been keeping count, and her husband was well over his quota. Then there is Matt. 5:32 and 19:9, where in both passages Jesus says: “But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress.” In other widely used English translations, it is “unfaithfulness” or “marital unfaithfulness.” The Douay-Rheims says “excepting in the case of fornication.”

In both passages, the NAB puts it this way: “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery.” Meaning a previous marriage had not been annulled by the diocesan marriage tribunal? Whatever.

Now to be perfectly fair, in the three passages mentioned there are ancient authorities that lend some support for the NAB translation. For instance, some ancient texts of Matthew 19 read “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery,” which is closer to the NAB version. But in the tradition of translation, scholars have overwhelmingly decided that the manuscripts referring to unchastity or unfaithfulness are to be preferred.

Neuhaus has said time and time again, that legalistic literal accuracy should not be the driving force behind any translation of the Bible. Unfortunately, no one at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which owns the NAB and the right to enforce its use in every liturgy from Astoria to Atlanta, ever wants to listen to him. Which is a shame; American Catholics have thus been forced to read a drab, deconstructionist and awkward translation at every Mass. Neuhaus continues:

The NAB is a banal, linguistically inept, and misleading translation. Why did the bishops force it upon the Catholic people, demanding that it and it alone be used in the readings of the Mass? Various answers are given: Because it was produced by the guild of Catholic biblical scholars and, while it may not be very good, at least it is ours. Because the bishops hold the copyright, and charges for using the NAB in Mass guides and elsewhere is a cash cow for the financially strapped bishops conference. Because the bishops really don’t care whether Catholics use a worthy and reliable translation of the Bible.
So in the end, it's probably about the money. That's how it seems to me at least, in no small part to Neuhaus's constant polemicising, but also because no one at the USCCB has ever really explained the bishop's tendencies to become remarkably fascist when it comes to biblical translations. This understanding is given further credence, I think, by the fact that national bishop's conferences are not a mandated ecclessial bureaucracy and receive no monetary support from the Vatican. These conferences, most of which started up after Vatican 2, are therefore reliant on copyrights, fundraising and properties, and are having a hard time proving their relevancy to the laity (and probably Rome as well).

And does anyone else think it's ironic that the USCCB fought tooth and nail against the motu proprio, in lieu of Neuhaus's comments on the NAB? As far as I know, the NAB has not been translated back into Latin, which would mean that a different Bible would have to be used at Old Rite liturgies. That could mean lower demand for new NAB translations (which come out every other year for some reason) and higher demand for say, the Douay-Rheims. I'm sure the USCCB, in it's precarious financial state (all though not so precarious that it prevented the bishops from meeting at a five-star Las Vegas hotel for their last meeting) wanted nothing to do with a papal directive that could ultimately cost them their monopoly on Catholic Bibles in the US.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Demographic Divide?

The Cafeteria is Closed blog has an interesting link to a recent Time Magazine article in which a 'young, progressive Catholic' publicly discusses his desire for a universal, reverent, Latin 'Old Rite' liturgy, as opposed to the experimental forms of the vernacular Novus Ordo Rite. It has me wondering, is this an area in which young Catholics are in agreement, progressive or orthodox? In my conversations with other young Catholics, I have yet to encounter any opposition to the 'Old Rite', only curiosity, and hopefulness - hopefulness that one day the liturgy will be at least consistent between local parishes, if not around the whole world, and even with the Church of History.

On the other hand, I tend to encounter more concern from older Catholics, ages forty and up, particularly those who are either currently employed by the Church in some capacity or who simply were 'young Catholics' during the 1960s and 1970s. These concerns are now well published, in the wake of the Motu Proprio of course, and seem to revolve around the idea that different liturgies will factionalize the Church. And although I don't necessarily agree with that concern, it is valid: These are the folks who lived through previous liturgical changes, and they remember quite well that it wasn't a harmonious time for the Church by any stretch of the imagination.

All the same, I think those fears will ultimately be assuaged by the eagerness of young Catholics to recreate the Catholic identity through a more reverent liturgy, 'Old Rite' or Novus Ordo. And I think the Pope hopes for such an outcome as well. If there's one thing that most young Catholics can agree on, it's that the Haugen-Haas ice-cream liturgy has to go. Dominus Vobiscum!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Support Free Dominion

Free Dominion, a socially conservative blog, has been served notice that the ironically named Human Rights Commission is considering charging it with a violation of the Human Rights Act after a woman, Marie-Line Gentes, took issue with comments posted on that blog by a visitor. The complainant, who is not a Muslim, took issue with these remarks made by someone named Bill Whatcott:

04/24/06 "I can't figure out why the homosexuals I ran into are on the side of the Muslims. After all, Muslims who practice Sharia law tend to advocate beheading homosexuals."

03/09/06 "I defy Islamic censorship and speak about what I believe is the truth
about violent Islamism and its threat to religious liberty in Canada."


"How many of us pay nothing but lip service to the Muslim threat here in Canada?"
"Probably everyone want to jail a Muslim."
"I have to ask why we are importing them here?"
"Islamic fundamentalism and its threat to Canada's religious and civil liberties."

You don't have to personally support Bill's comments, or even read Free Dominion, to realise that something's amiss here. First, Bill should be able to tell anyone anywhere what his beliefs are; that's called freedom of speech and is of the utmost importance to the health of democracy. Second, an unelected, unaccountable, shadowy bureaucracy like the Human Rights Commission (HRC) should not be able to 'sue' Canadians based upon a person's sensitivity level. The HRC is supposed to deal with discrimination and authentic hate speech, not moderate public discussion, although opponents of the HRC have always claimed that's exactly what it was made for. Left or right, progressive or conservative, you have to admit that when something like this happens, all of our rights suffer.

Support Free Dominion, publish these quotes on your own blog. Cherish freedom of speech.

ps - To those who complain that this approach is heavy handed, of course it is. About as heavy handed than filing a complaint with the HRC about something you read on the internet.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Motus, Catholics and a Waning Summer

Phew. Time has just breezed by me again. I guess this time I do have an excuse for not posting in over two weeks: I started a new job (a crappy one, but an honest one) and my wife is pregnant (cop-out).

A lot has happened in the last two weeks, especially if you are a Catholic. The long expected motu proprio was released, finally, to applause from some and revulsion from many, especially the media and the media-friendly. And just after the motu proprio, the Vatican released a document which basically reaffirmed the 2,000 year old Catholic dogma that there is no 'Church' outside the one, true Church found by Christ Himself.

So where to begin? I admit that I haven't written my Bishop to demand a Tridentine Mass just yet. I understand that it will take some time for my local priests to learn it and even more time for my Catholic peers to be comfortable with the celebration of a Mass so foreign to our current liturgical norms. But once I know there is a priest who can celebrate a Tridentine Mass I will demand/attend. Why? I'm no fan of Latin particularly, although as a self-styled pragmatist I do support the return of widespread use of the universal Catholic language. I think my interest in that Mass has to do with one of my experiences at WYD 2005. I met a young priest who was a member of the Society of St. Paul, which is an order that is permitted to only celebrate Mass in the Tridentine Rite. This priest told me that there was no better liturgy in which to contemplate the sacrifice and the gift which Christ gives at every Mass. It's been two years now, and I'm getting ancy.

Of course the press, and some unremarkable Bishops, had a field day creating a public litany of complaints after the release of the motu proprio. Most felt it was a 'conservative' reform of the reforms of Vatican 2, which, to anyone with a brain, it isn't, because the Paul VI Mass has nothing to do with directly with Vatican 2, and everything to do with the need introduce the vernacular and congregational participation into the liturgy, a need which was first articulated by the famous liturgist Romano Guardini in the early 1920s, some 40 years or so before the Council.

And if you think it stopped there, you we're wrong. As I mentioned before, the Vatican followed up the motu proprio with a statement on the nature of the Catholic Church and other Christian churches. The true faith, according to us Catholics, resides in the Catholic Church. Other Christian churches thus are not Churches in the same sense as the Catholic Church, but 'ecclesial bodies' in which the Holy Spirit resides and graces are found, but which lack the full efficacy of the Catholic Church. So basically, the Vatican decided to drop this oft-forgotten facet of Catholicism just after it had already dropped the motu proprio bombshell. While it made for a busy two weeks for journalists, bishops, and commentators with an axe to grind with orthodox Catholicism, it also got everything out of the way at once.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Just what were they raising awareness about?

For those of us questioning the logic behind holding several environmentally wasteful concerts just to 'raise awareness', we know have an answer.

Someone certainly raised awareness.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Live Earth is now dead

It's over. Some 74,500 tons of green-house gases were emitted/created/produced to put on the show, but hey, at least a few million Westerners (give or take a few million, probably take) got to rock out, feel good about feeling good about doing nothing, and help raise awareness.

Now tell me, if I were to burn down a grocery store to raise awareness about over consumption or destructive farming techniques, what would the reaction be? I earnestly hope people would deem me a madman without any second thought, seeing as I created a big mess just to protest a big mess. And what if the big mess I was protesting wasn't even proven to be a big mess at all? What then?

If those who attended any of the Live Earth concerts set any standard, no one would care. They'd just be happy that I invited a few modern day pop stars to help make the mess. Private jet? No problem - she's raising awareness, don't cha know. In our age of enlightenment, raising awareness is practically a cause for secular sainthood. It doesn't matter that a person's lifestyle contradicts their message, just as long as they make sure they insert a few catch-phrases to their songs and smile to the media, they're totally above criticism.

Perhaps the best quote of all, which sums up the entire problem of Live Earth and the slacktivism of global warming came from a British punter named Jayme Fine, "People leaving their lights on at home when nobody's there is going to eat up electricity. If we all just remember to shut those off, it's OK for us to have an event like this."


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Live Earthypocrisy

If ever there was a stupid idea, it the idea of using rock concerts to promote environmentalism. I've been to several concerts and festivals and they all do one thing the same and very well: Create mass amounts of garbage. Not only that, the performers themselves are usually amongst the worst consumers of energy and resources and often lead the most shallow, callow, and hollow materialistic lives visible to the public eye. The last festival I went to, Sasquatch (held annually in the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state) tried to be 'green' by simply blasting 'green' slogans on electronic billboards from time to time. There were no recycle bins, no biodegradable utensils (even WYD 2005 had those), yet there were several young Al Gore enthusiasts handing out free copies of 'An Inconvenient Truth' - each with its own double plastic wrapping.

I guess on the other hand that if your real goal is simply to boost your own popularity and sense of importance, perhaps to bolster a sagging political portfolio, organizing such an event is good thing to do.

All the same, the Live Earth concerts aren't even selling that well in Europe, which many thought would be the safest and most profitable venues. The city of Hamburg is now handing out tickets for free to visitors, and several of the original 'Live {insert cause here}' promoters like Bob Geldof have already distanced themselves from the concerts.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Dominion/Canada Day +1

I had a great weekend. My wife and I celebrated our 6-month anniversary at a wonderful lodge just 20 minutes out of Victoria. Today had breakfast with my parents, went to Mass, then watched two U-20 World Cup games. All in all, a great and glorious day given to us by God.

ps - Nigerians really know how to watch soccer. And to all the drunken Canadians, beer does not darken the skin and gift you rythym.