Sunday, August 06, 2017

Visit to Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ and here are some recollections of my too-brief visit to Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration, in 2005.

Wild Ride to the Mount of the Transfiguration

The first day we stayed on Mount Carmel, we rode off to visit Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration. We had to disembark from our buses at the bottom of Mount Tabor and wait a long time at a taxi stand where local Arab drivers pick up and ferry tourists up the serpentine road to the top.

Pilgrimage Group at the Taxi Stand, Fr. Koller Front Right
Whenever I remember my taxi ride to Mount Tabor I'm reminded of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Wind in the Willows. I was in the back seat on the passenger side, and ascetic Fr. Koller was in the middle.  As we sped along each of the sixteen or so hairpin switchbacks, even though I tried to hold onto anything within grasping distance, even going so far as trying to hold onto the fabric on the roof with my fingernails, the slender monk and not so slender I were thrown onto each other, back and forth, all the embarrassing way to the top.
Prohibito: Skimpy clothes, smoking, eating, guns, loud talking, animals

The Latin inscription on this mural in the Church of the Transfiguration reads, “And he was transfigured before them.”

Then after we finally got there, we were only allowed to stay a few minutes. I was so strongly moved by being at the site where Moses and Elijah had appeared with Christ at His Transfiguration in the presence of Saints Peter and John that when the tour guide told us it was time to go, I started to cry, and I told him I didn’t want to leave. Finally he persuaded me, and I reluctantly walked back to the taxi stand with tears streaming down my face while he gently but firmly propelled me along with his arm around my shoulders.

Excerpted from a three part series, "Carmelites Visit Mount Carmel", published at Dappled Things.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Improvisation: Good for Comedy, Bad for Catholic Liturgy

I wasn't around for the change-over to the Mass of 1969 because I left the Church in the mid-1960s and didn't return until the mid-1970s. From what I've heard and read, many devout Catholics who might have otherwise accepted the new Mass when it was first introduced at the start of the 1969-1970 liturgical year were turned off because many priests seemed to think the new Missal gave them permission−or even required them−to improvise.

After much experimentation with the Mass in local parishes while the Second Vatican Council[1] was in session, the Mass of Blessed Pope Paul VI was universally mandated for the Roman rite in 1969 after the council ended. To the dismay of many Catholics (and non-Catholics[2]), the artistically advanced and reverent form of the Mass that developed over centuries had been forbidden. Even though I started out obediently accepting the change, eventually I began to think that most Masses I attended were being celebrated in many cases as a Catholic-lite version of Ted Mack Amateur hour[3].  

I also often think of  Mother Angelica's quip to her biographer Raymond Arroyo that in many parishes, the  Catholic Church had become the Electric Church, because, "Every time you go you get a shock." I was happy to read that she said that; at last someone actually agreed with me there were abuses to be shocked about.

When I had left the Church in 1963, I had been a college freshman with a big head full of intellectual pridefulness. When I came back a humbled believer in the mid-1970s, after trying out just about every other competing set of beliefs along a spectrum from existentialist rejection of bourgeois mores to hippy LSD experimentation to Protestant fundamentalism, to my surprise I found that the Church I had thought I was coming back to was practically unrecognizable.

At first I obediently accepted the changed Mass in English with the priest facing the people along with more participation by lay people, because I had learned to love and trust the Church and Her decisions. However, I grew over the ensuing years to be uncomfortable with what Pope Benedict XVI later called deformations of the liturgy and other related changes that I witnessed week after week in dozens of churches all over the country. I was not shocked at what the Church actually mandated but by the innovations made according to the supposed "spirit of Vatican II."

Shock and Dismay

Over the years, I noticed a lot of disturbing things. During Mass, Christ and His sacrifice were often no longer the focus. Everyone was looking at each other. The priests were often playing to the crowd, sometimes even cracking off color jokes or reviewing R rated movies in their homilies. People unabashedly living "inappropriate" moral lives were handing out Communion. The communion bread was sometimes made with illicit ingredients, and sometimes Eucharistic Ministers were disposing of the leftover Body and Blood of Christ sacrilegiously. Musicians were self-serving and seeking applause, the instruments used and the rhythms were not appropriate for worship, the words in the songs were no longer the words of the Mass and were often doctrinally incorrect. For centuries when singing had been done at a Mass, the words of the Mass were sung. The change to hymn singing actually began years before the council, but the idea of singing the Mass had been forgotten in most places and music directors were leading the singing of any old thing at Mass.

Here is just a random sampling of specific shocks that come to my recollection:  I remember a children's Mass with a five foot tall Snoopy stuffed toy seated in one of the presiders' chairs behind the altar, creating what I was convinced would be a natural conflation in the young Catholics' minds between the unreality of a cartoon character and the realities of the Mass. That church in a prosperous community looked like an auditorium, and it had mostly folding chairs for seating and no kneelers. A jazz ensemble with a big piano, drums, and electric guitars prominently located to the left of the altar table provided the music. Soon after that Snoopy Mass, the woman who staged it left her job as youth coordinator at the parish and the Catholic Church after a divorce, for a denomination that allows remarriage, which to me is an indication of how shallow her relationship with the Church must have been.

In the first church I attended after my return to faith in Minneapolis, I remember a woman who told me she was serially promiscuous every night of the week; every Sunday at Mass, she acted as a Eucharistic Minister. She gazed into communicants' eyes, said "Receive the Body and Blood of Christ" followed by the person's name. Then she handed out chunks of communion bread made with baking powder, milk, sugar, and whole wheat, while a group of long-haired men and women with guitars sang and strummed songs in front of the altar.  At another church on the west coast, I heard unformed Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist discuss whether they should bother drinking the large amount of remaining consecrated wine left over after Mass or pour it down the drain.

The Sunday before Pentecost one year, I was appalled at the sight of dusty, tangled, white banners left over from Easter hanging from the ceiling looking like laundry left outside after a windstorm. Another year during the midnight Mass for Christmas, I heard a man dressed in black with silver studded cowboy boots and a cowboy hat sing and play the atheist anthem "Imagine" on a black and silver electric guitar.

And this is another grievous thing I cannot unremember. I saw a priest, the chaplain at a Franciscan retreat house, who acted out the Gospel of the Sunday in the middle of the aisle; after reciting a passage in which Jesus spoke against divorce, the priest in his homily assured the congregation that Jesus wasn't actually against divorce, that the passage he had just read was an interpolation by the "Matthew" community, who had created that particular Gospel according to their own agenda. When he was done, a group of Franciscan religious sisters in sweat shirts and jeans danced "the gifts" up to the altar. When I asked the priest later in his book-lined study how he could contradict the words of Christ, he told me that a prominent theologian had said so. That was the first time I heard anyone imply that theologians were allowed to redefine doctrine.

But then I had glimpsed something along that line at the University of Minnesota Newman Center soon after I'd returned to the Church; I saw an issue of the Jesuit America magazine on the chaplain's desk with the title of one the articles inside: "Should Divorce Be a Sacrament?" written by a religious sister with a degree in theology. These are just a few of many instances I have witnessed where theological speculation was being taught as if it was defined doctrine, even when the speculations had been identified as false by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Because many of the proponents were out of sympathy with Rome (for example, one "moral theologian" taught his classes that it would be morally infantile to follow the Pope and the Magisterium), the CDF condemnations didn't have any effect on what was being taught[4].

Some rogue theological positions I have been exposed to in homilies and in classes taught by professors at Catholic universities and by diocesan clerics, including a bishop, are the following: the Vatican II teachings on the role of the laity in the Church means that lay people, male or female in any state of life can and should be able to lead parishes[5], the Eucharist forgives mortal sins[6], lay people will be able to consecrate the Eucharist, and authority and doctrine comes from below in the local churches. Besides all this, many of them claimed, morality has to change, and we all have to make up our own moral rules.

Along with the deformations of liturgy, I realize I've also described deformations in the worship environment, in the roles of the laity during Mass, and in doctrine, but its obvious at least to me that they often go hand in hand.

Pope Benedict frankly wrote against what he called "deformations of the liturgy" in his instruction to the bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum in 2007.  The now-Pope-Emeritus observed that many fervent Catholics wanted to hold onto the old form of the liturgy, not because they are sentimentally attached to the older form, as their critics believe, but because many uncalled-for innovations were introduced into celebrations of the new form of the liturgy, innovations that deformed the new Mass and hid its merits.
The desire of at least some of those who wanted to recover the old form of liturgy 'occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... caus(ing) deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.'”
Pope Benedict recommended more faithful observance of the Missal of Paul VI as the only way to prove that the new Mass could be as spiritually rich and theologically deep as the form of the Mass it had replaced: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."

Baffled at the Ostracism

It is not only shocking but also baffling for me to find out that during the past almost-fifty years, those who loved the beauty and reverence of the pre-Councilar Mass were suddenly totally denied access to it and and were belittled for their preference. I also found out that Priests were punished who wanted to keep on celebrating it. Dissent among the laity was labeled immature, dissent among the clergy was labeled divisiveness, and dissent was not allowed.

For example, Father William Young of San Francisco, who was in his late 70s when I interviewed him about four years ago, began to love the traditional Latin Mass as an altar boy. By the time he was in seminary, the new Mass was the only Mass allowed.  After a while in a parish assignment, he decided he would not say the new Mass any longer. He said it wasn't that he and other priests like him believed the new Mass was invalid. They objected because they believed it was doctrinally and aesthetically inferior.

Father Young was relieved when the archdiocesan human resources director assigned him to an out of the way hospital ministry in which he was allowed to continue to say the pre-1969 Mass, because the archdiocese thought that would contain his "divisiveness." Other diocesan priests he knew who continued to say the traditional Mass were removed by their bishops from their ministries. People started hiring priests under the radar to celebrate traditional Latin Masses in private homes and meeting rooms.

After thirty years of all this, I joined the St. Ann Choir under Prof. William Mahrt[7] in Palo Alto because they were singing chant, which I had learned in grammar school, and thought I knew. The beauty of the chanted liturgy was opened to me, along with the enormous amount and variety of chants for the Latin rite. The choir sang at Ordinary Form Masses, but the choir was singing the ancient Gregorian chant, along with polyphonic motets, and the music was beautiful. After a while I found I did not want to go back to other Masses where the traditional sacred music was lacking. Then in 2007, after Summorum Pontificum came out, I started singing with a new choir that was forming at an Oratory where only the traditional Latin Mass was being celebrated. The Second Vatican Council document on the liturgy mandated that Latin be retained, never outlawed ad orientem, and encouraged the singing of Gregorian chant as a treasured part of our Church's sacred patrimony. So there is no rebellion or disobedience when these practices are followed. The improvisers are the ones that are rebellious and disobedient.  And if the traditional Latin Mass is often the only place to find a reverent Mass with appropriate sacred music, that's where my preference lays.

Another Kind of Martyrdom

It must have been heartbreaking for those who lived through the changes that were made at one blow on the first Sunday of Advent in 1969 with no exceptions allowed. It makes me sad to hear about what happened to lovers of the traditional Latin Mass, especially about the disdain that came their way. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said the following about how people who loved the traditional form of the Mass were treated as lepers and how intolerant his otherwise tolerant "episcopal brethren" were being.
For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so any of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church. … I must say, quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance… ." - J. Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002, 416.
I pray for an end to the intolerance and an end to the deformations, in the church environment, in the roles of the laity, in doctrine, and in the liturgy itself.

Even though I don't have space to go into more detail here, I want to mention that San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone started several initiatives to not only make the Extraordinary Form Mass more available but also to  help to remove the deformations in how the Ordinary Form of the Mass is sometimes celebrated. To that end, for example, he created the aptly named Benedict XVI Institute of Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy at the St. Patrick's Archdiocesan Seminary to educate interested seminarians in the Extraordinary Form. Importantly, a primary goal of the Institute is to form both future priests and any laity who perform ministries during Ordinary Form Masses so they can celebrate and worship at the Mass reverently in a manner consistent with actual Church liturgical directives and authentic doctrine[. 

[1]"[T]he form of the Mass seemed to be changing by the month, and no sooner had one novelty been introduced then it was replaced very quickly by something else. A number of priests took the opportunity to introduce their own whims and fancies, which only exacerbated the problem[1]." − "The 1971 'English' Indult - a Recollection"

[2] "The Fascinating Story of the Agatha Christi Indult" describes how a petition was circulated among musicians, artists, writers, and intellectuals to request that the traditional Latin Mass be allowed to be frequently and regularly be celebrated alongside the new Mass in the local languages. The appeal compared the planned obliteration of the centuries-old Mass to a senseless decree that would destroy equally venerable basilicas or cathedrals. Agatha Christi was one of several non-Catholic writers, artists, and other intellectuals who signed it. As the story goes, Pope Paul VI responded favorably to the appeal because he recognized Agatha Christi's name, and he granted permission for the traditional form of the Latin Mass to be celebrated, but only on special occasions with the consent of the local Roman Catholic bishop, but only in England and Wales.

[3] The Ted Mack Amateur Hour when I saw it as a child was a TV show on which amateurs competed for prizes. Their order of appearance was determined by spinning a wheel. As the wheel went around, the announcer would say, “Round and round she goes and where she stops nobody knows.” Nobody knows indeed.

[4] "No Recipe for Morality Says Bay-Area Jesuit"

[5] "Ordination's No Object: San Jose Diocese's Continuing Revolution"

[6] "Is Penance Relevant? What San Jose Diocese Teaches Lay Leaders about the Sacraments"

[7] "Miracle in Palo Alto: How the St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years"

[8] "Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone: Leading By Example"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Miracle and the Hope: Cardinal Kung's Requiem and Burial

Five Wounds Portuguese National Church before a Requiem Mass
Many think it was providential that Ignatius Cardinal Kung of Shanghai got his wish to have a traditional Requiem Mass in spite of how it was nearly impossible to get permission for the pre-Vatican II form of the Mass at the time of Kung's death in 2000. This story describe why the permission was requested, and how the permission was obtained—after a few setbacks. This story also tells about the hope that motivated Cardinal Kung's nephew to bury his uncle in Santa Clara, California, far from his uncle's place of death on the East Coast of the U.S. and even farther from the Shanghai Cathedral where exiled Cardinal Kung had longed to be buried under the altar as its bishop.

This is a follow-up to another article about the Cardinal Kung: "Bishop Kung Was Tricky That Way, and Other Stories of the Saintly, Stubborn, Persecuted Ignatius Ping-Mei Kung of Shanghai."

To briefly summarize the main points of his life: Father Ignatius Kung, a fifth generation Chinese Catholic, was ordained Bishop of Shanghai just before the Communists took over China, and he was imprisoned in 1950 for thirty years because he would not renounce the pope and join the Chinese Patriotic Association that the Communists created as a local version of the Church under their control. Five years after his arrest, Kung was convicted of treason and sentenced to life. While he was in prison, he was forbidden to correspond with anyone, even family members, forbidden to say Mass, and not permitted to read the Bible.

During his imprisonment, the world did not forget his heroic sacrifice. Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his Mission magazine in 1957: “The West has its Mindszenty, but the East has its Kung.” (Jozsef Mindszenty, as you may already know, was the leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary, who was given a life sentence by the Communists in 1949 because of his resistance to the their policies.)

In 1979, while still in prison, Kung was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in pectore. In pectore means secretly, in the heart of the Pope. Elevations in pectore are sometimes done when a pope wants to honor a cleric while not putting him or other Catholics in danger in a situation where the Church is being persecuted.

Cardinal Kung's Death in CT

When Ignatius Cardinal Kung died in March of 2000 at the age of 98, he was in exile far away from his Shanghai homeland, living in his nephew's home in Stamford, CT.  As Fr. George W. Rutler wrote in a Crisis magazine article, when Kung first went to Hong Kong from Shanghai for medical care after his release, he had been unsettled by how much had changed in the Church while he had been in prison. Just for one small example, Kung "was amazed that Catholics no longer observed the Friday abstinence that he had kept for 30 meatless years."

Kung preferred the traditional Latin Mass partly because Latin was (and still is) the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. The Communist authorities preferred Chinese-language Masses because they were more in keeping with their goals to have their patriotic association replace the Catholic Church. Catholics who resisted the patriotic association went underground, and years after the priests who had joined the patriotic association started celebrating the newer form of the Mass, priests in the underground Church had kept on celebrating the older form.

In order to realize how difficult it was going to be for Cardinal Kung's friends and relatives to be able to arrange for a traditional Requiem Mass after he died, you have to realize that after the revised Mass of 1969, now called the Ordinary Form, was introduced, the new form of the Mass became almost the only Mass there was for the Roman rite of the Catholic Church all over the world. The older form of the Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form, was almost completely banned in practice along with Latin, and along with Gregorian chant, between 1969 and 1982, and the Extraordinary Form Mass was still greatly restricted in the year of Kung's death.

Cardinal Kung's Requiem Mass in CA

Cardinal Kung's Requiem Mass was remarkable because it was unusual in many ways.

The year 2000 was thirty-one years after the virtual ban of Latin and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, along with Gregorian Chant, after the Second Vatican council. When Cardinal Kung died, sixteen years after the 1984 indult that allowed bishops to give permission in some cases for the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated, and twelve years after the 1988 motu proprio in which Pope Saint John Paul II urged a "wide and generous" application of the 1984 indult, permission was still hard to come by.

Ignatius Kung died seven years before Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum further relaxed restrictions against the traditional Latin Mass and opened the way for more frequent celebrations.

Five Wounds Portuguese National Church
Arrangements were made for the Requiem Mass to be celebrated at the Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in San Jose. Five Wounds is a distinctive church modeled on a Portuguese basilica, which preserved its traditional arrangement after the Second Vatican Council. To this day, the building still has a high altar at the top of many steps with an altar rail at the bottom, rows of pews face the altar, and scores of statues of saints abound. The only architectural modification to suit the new Mass that is apparent in Five Wounds Church is the insertion of a freestanding altar in front of the high altar, to allow what is now the usual celebration of the Mass with the priest facing ad populum, towards the congregation.

For a while, things seemed to be going smoothly. Cardinal Kung would not only get his wish for Requiem Mass, but Cardinal Shan of Taiwan agreed to celebrate a Pontifical Requiem Mass in his honor.
Then Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose gave permission for Kung’s Requiem Mass, but with one restriction, that the Mass would be celebrated facing the congregation in the ad populum direction.

In the celebration of Extraordinary Form Masses, the priest faces the altar, which is understood to be the "liturgical East," so that posture is called ad orientem. The symbolism behind ad orientem celebrations of the Mass can be glimpsed in the definition of the Latin word orientem, which means: daybreak, dawn, sunrise, east. The sun rises in the East, Christ is called the Sun of Justice, the dawn from on high, and His Second Coming is expected from the east.

Some people have been taught to believe a priest facing ad orientem is offensive because the priest is "turning his back to the people." But the result of the priest praying the Mass ad orientem is to take the focus away from the priest and to focus our attention on God. In that way, the priest together with the people face together in the direction from which we look for the Second Coming of the Lord. Even though the ad populum orientation became common after Vatican II, the council did not mandate it.

When the bishop of San Jose at first made his stipulation, consternation ensued. It must have been hard to imagine how the ad populum orientation could have been carried off in an Extraordinary Form Pontifical Mass. Then at some point, to the relief of all those who were trying to organize the Mass, the bishop changed his mind, and he agreed to allow Cardinal Kung’s Requiem Mass to be celebrated ad orientem.

Some say that the bishop removed his restriction because Cardinal Shan of Taiwan was going to be the celebrant, and it would be impolitic to contradict the wishes of a living Cardinal, even if he was willing to contradict the wishes of a dead one.

Cardinal Kung’s nephew, Joseph Kung, has written at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website that the bishop’s change of heart was due to intercessory prayers of the his dead uncle, and also that the bishop's allowing them to celebrate the traditional Requiem facing the liturgical East was Kung’s first miracle.

On March 20, 2000, an astounding one thousand people attended Cardinal Kung’s Pontifical High Requiem Mass. The St. Ann Choir sang the Gregorian chant for the Mass along with Renaissance polyphony under the direction of Stanford Musicology Professor William P. Mahrt.

The St. Ann Choir is also remarkable for its endurance, because it had providentially been able to keep on singing Gregorian chant and polyphony at Masses in nearby Palo Alto for more than thirty years by then before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council, long after that type of Sacred Music was virtually banned. (For more about the St. Ann Choir's remarkable achievement, see Miracle in Palo Alto: How the St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years.)
Requiem Mass at Five Wounds in 2009

The choir sang the hymn “Tu Es Petrus” (You are Peter), which uses the words Christ used when He made Peter head of the Church. For those who know the stories of Kung's life, as described in the article mentioned earlier, “Tu Es Petrus” was a poignant reminder of Kung’s long martyrdom. In addition, “Tu Es Petrus” was a celebration of the canny way Kung was able to convey his courageous refusal to deny the pope to Cardinal Sin in the face of Communists trying to keep them apart during a show visit.

Kevin Rossiter, who had only recently joined the St. Ann Choir at the time of Kung’s funeral, sent me these recollections.“There were a lot of photographers and people apparently from the (non-communist) Chinese press. The homily alternated between Chinese and English and was very good, telling the usual stories about him (the show-trial, about the singing “Tu Es Petrus” ) but also explaining his political strategy from very early on (e.g., in preparing lay catechists for the time when he knew the church would have to go underground). The cardinal used the occasion to announce the beginning of the case for his canonization. The cards for the funeral with his picture were very beautiful—I have one somewhere, but it has been misplaced during moves, so it's still probably in a box or pressed into a book. Those are the things I remember most. The atmosphere was very joyful.”

Choir Director Professor Mahrt shared some of his recollections of Kung’s Requiem Mass also. “At some point the casket was opened for the congregation to pay their respects, and all filed by the casket. At the time I thought, ‘I will probably never again witness the funeral of a saint or see him resting in a coffin.’”

Burial in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery

After the Requiem Mass, Cardinal Kung’s body was interred in an above-ground vault in the Saint Clare Chapel at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.

Before I knew anything about Cardinal Kung, somebody pointed out his marker to me at the doorway to the chapel, and I wondered how it came about that a Shanghai cardinal came to be interred there. Now I understand.

Six years previously, the body of Archbishop Dominic Tang of Canton, another Chinese member of the Church's hierarchy and friend of Cardinal Kung, had been placed in a nearby vault. In a chapter about Archbishop Tang in his book Cloud of Witnesses, Fr. George Rutler recounted that when Dominic Tang was a young priest in Shanghai, Tang “cycled with his friend Rev. Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei from parish to parish to hear confessions.” Tang had been appointed as apostolic administrator of Canton in 1950, the year after the Communists took over. Like then-Bishop Kung, who accepted his ordination as bishop of Shanghai that same year, Tang realized and accepted the persecution he would be forced to undergo as the result of his ordination. Three years after Bishop Kung was arrested, Tang was also arrested,and he spent twenty-two years in prison without trial.

After they both were released and forced into exile, they maintained their friendship. Archbishop Tang had died while visiting Cardinal Kung in Stamford in honor of the cardinal's 65th anniversary as a priest and his 45th anniversary as a bishop. Archbishop Tang died in the presence of his friend Cardinal Kung, on June 27, 1995. After Tang's death, Cardinal Kung’s nephew Joseph Kung had brought Archbishop Tang's body to Santa Clara for interment. It was fitting that after Kung's funeral, the two friends were reunited.

Father Rutler wrote, “His Eminence was buried next to his friend, and both bodies face the horizon in the expectation that the two old men who, in youth had bicycled together will in a great dawn be buried in their cathedrals in Canton and Shanghai."

Joseph Kung wrote these additional details about the burial in Highlights of the Funeral at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website :
"That the bodies of these two Chinese bishops, ever faithful to the Successor of Peter and devoted to their flocks in Canton and Shanghai despite all adversity, are interred above ground expresses the hope that one day their mortal remains will be transported to China and interred, each at the foot of the altar of his respective cathedral. The same hope was expressed when Cardinal Mindszenty was interred above ground in Austria; and the hope was rewarded when his remains were transported back to Hungary.”
Please pray for this intention, and for the canonization of Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei.
For more about Cardinal Kung, check out the trove of information at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Opposing Amoris Laetitia: Not Envious Bitterness, But Love and True Mercy

In “Moral Theology: Embittered Moralizing," in The Valley Catholic, the San Jose diocesan newspaper, on February 21, 2017, columnist Fr. Ron Rohlheiser engaged in ad hominem attacks against his opponents' motives without considering the merits of their arguments. Even though Fr. Rolheiser wrote in the first person plural, implying that he was not pointing fingers, he clearly is implying that anyone who objects to unrepentant sinners receiving Communion is an “embittered moralizer,” like the older brother of the prodigal son, “angry and jealous.”

The article begins:

One of the dangers inherent in trying to live out a life of Christian fidelity is that we are prone to become embittered moralizers, older brothers of the prodigal son, angry and jealous at God’s over-generous mercy, bitter because persons who wander and stray can so easily access the heavenly banquet table.

According to Fr, Rohlheiser's reasoning, St. Paul must have been an embittered moralizer when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:27: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord."

Ad hominem is a logical fallacy used to distract from the merits of the opponent’s arguments.

In this article, Fr. Rolheiser takes a typical ad hominem approach; the opponent’s words or actions are not taken at face value but are pseudo-psychoanalyzed. It’s a cheap and unfortunately effective trick to smear your opponent when you don’t have a good defense against an objection raised in an argument.
Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI
Like others who psychoanalyze opponents instead of addressing the validity of their arguments, Fr. Rolheiser claims to know things his opponents do not know about their deepest motivations. He posits that those who believe what the Church has consistently taught on this matter are mean and judgmental, not merciful as God the Father is merciful.

Fr. Rohlheiser does not seem to understand an important point: the Church exercises real mercy when it gently reminds sinners not to bring great spiritual harm upon themselves.

Although Fr. Rolheiser did not reference Pope Francis' post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia or its much-disputed footnote 351, when Fr. Rolheiser refers to "persons who wander and stray" being allowed "to so easily access the heavenly banquet table," he clearly refers to the controversy around whether pastors should grant access to communion for some of those who are divorced and remarried in an illicit marriage and who are not committed to living together as brother and sister.

It is not being an embittered moralizer or angry or jealous to ask in shocked amazement, how can a document released by a pope contradict previous clear teachings of the church?

The meaning of the controversial passages in Amoris Laetita is contradictorally explained by sources at the Vatican, so it seems there is intentional murkiness about how it is to be interpreted. Cardinal Coccopalmanio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, recently wrote a 30-page booklet, published by LEV, the Vatican publishing house, which states that Amoris Laetita means that there is a change in practice to allow some people who are cohabiting after a divorce from a valid marriage to receive Communion even if they are sleeping together. Even though Amoris Laetitia quotes what Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his own post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World in 1981, Amoris Laetitia's use of terminology such as the "law of gradualness" and its conclusions contradict what John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio.

Following are some excerpts from Familiaris Consortio, which contradict Amoris Laetitia (italics added):

"Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. "And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations. ...

"[T]he Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the

"Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."

These are troubling contradictions indeed. Not a cause for bitterness, anger, or jealousy, but for bewilderment and sadness and concern for souls, on the part of those who believe, as I do: morality is not something mutable that can change from one papacy to the next, and St. Paul's warning about the harm that comes to those who receive the Eucharist unworthily should still be heeded.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Atheists Bring Down a Historic Cross in Santa Clara, CA

In the Santa Clara WEEKLY that I picked up yesterday, I learned that atheist activists won yet another battle locally to eradicate religious symbols from public life.  Removal of Park Cross: City Cave-in or Prudent Compromise? described the removal from city property of a 14 foot granite cross that stood in the Mission Cross Park in Santa Clara for nearly 64 years. 

Much pressure is being put on cities to remove Christian religious symbols. Sometimes even when Christian images are banned, by some lapse of logic, pagan idols are not. Near where I live in San Jose, for example, nativity scenes were forbidden for a while in the yearly Christmas in the Park event. Wrap your mind around that idea for a second: scenes of the birth of Christ were not being allowed at a Christmas event! What made the situation even more irrational is Christmas in the Park is held in the same city park that features a sculpture of an Aztec god. That offensive sculpture is not only a homage to Quetzalcoatl but is notorious for its distastefully scatalogical appearance. (See Mama! Mira! Caca en la Plaza! for more about that particular waste of taxpaper money.)

So it's distressing to see the intolerance spread to Santa Clara. The Mission Park Cross in Santa Clara was erected by the Lion's Club in 1953 to mark the second location of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis established by Franciscan missionaries in 1779. The article noted that local residents are protesting that the public was not aware of the decision until the cross was gone, and the WEEKLY did not know either until a local resident, Gary Sudano notified the press. Sudano was upset with the City for giving away the cross, stating, "There was no news locally that this was going to be done–and the cross was suddenly gone."

A photo in the article shows Sudano along with a few others, standing around the empty 8' x 8' square of concrete on which the cross used to stand but which was left behind, taking up lawn space, looking useless and ugly.

The historic significance of the Mission Park Cross is obvious. The mission is part of the identity of the city of Santa Clara, which got its name from a mission that was founded by Franciscan missionaries as part of the chain of missions started by sainted Friar Juñipero Serra.  

The first Santa Clara Mission site on the Guadalupe River was flooded out in 1779. a second temporary mission was soon built at Martin Avenue and De La Cruz Boulevard on the now-buried Mission Creek, at a site about 1,300 feet away from the first site. St. Juñipero Serra himself blessed the second, temporary, church on November 11, 1779. 

For a time during the twentieth century, two competing sites claimed to be the second site.  One of the contending locations, which turned out actually to be the third site, is on Franklin Street and Campbell Avenue in Santa Clara. The adobe mission complex built on the third site fell in an earthquake in 1818. Another temporary mission was built on a fourth site, until construction at a fifth and final site began in 1822.

The fourth and fifth sites are now incorporated into the restored Mission Santa Clara, which serves as the chapel of the University of Santa Clara.
Long shot of Mission Santa Clara
My Mission Santa Clara Quick Sketch

According to the story in this week's Santa Clara WEEKLY, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) of Wisconsin filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court about the Mission Cross on April 20, 2016. The complaint was brought up at the City Council meeting of November 22, 2016, supported by Andrew DeFaria, a Santa Clara resident, who is an FFRF member and co-plaintiff on the lawsuit.

Cowed by the fear of protracted legal fees if they fought to have the cross retained as a historical marker, the city council voted on what some claim was a good compromise. They voted to give the cross to Santa Clara University. A donor paid to move it from the park. The cross is now in storage, but the university plans to find a place for it to be displayed again. 

The compromise neglects to acknowledge that the cross was created to mark a particular historic spot, and it will lose its significance when it is erected in a new spot. What is the new plaque going to read? 

"This cross used to mark the second location of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis at Mission Cross Park. The Freedom From Religion organization forced this cross' removal from city property.  The university was willing to give the cross a new home, which is why you are seeing it here."

The FFRF claims the constitution and reason were served. On the contrary, the constitution does not say that separation of church and state means that that we cannot display religious symbols in public. But the haters got to hate, and in this case as in many others, a misinterpretation of the constitution was forced on a city by threats of litigation, so fears of depleted city coffers won the day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Latest Writings

After my last update in November, I took over a month off from my more usual types of writing to revise  a collection of creative nonfiction stories I've worked on over the years using the techniques of fiction. I was preparing the collection for a literary magazine competition (results to be announced in June).

Study for an illustration for "Skinner's Remains"
In addition, I rewrote a short story called "Skinner's Remains," which was originally included in my thesis for my M.A. in writing.  Dappled Things has accepted that story for its print magazine. After the story is published in an upcoming issue, I'll republish it at this blog.

 My review of a lectionary study aid, Index Lectionum: Scripture Usage in Roman Catholic Masses Before and After Vatican II, points out the kinds of things you can learn when you compare the new lectionary with the old using the tables in the book. Even though the goal of a three-year cycle of readings was to include more scripture, it's alarming to some how many important doctrinal verses have been omitted.  I submitted the review in September to Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and it was published in January. It was listed in National Catholic Register's "Best of Catholic Blogging"  and republished or listed at Catholic Canada, at Traditional Latin Mass in Maryland,  and at other sites around the web.

These two articles of mine were published in the last two weeks.

From the article: "Four years ago, on February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked me along with the rest of the world when he announced he would be resigning from the papacy on February 28. Recently I have been reading and thinking quite a bit about Pope St. Celestine, who also resigned—719 years before Pope Benedict—on December 13, 1294,  and who was the only other pope who ever voluntarily stepped down from the papacy. One thought-provoking contradictory fact about St. Celestine is that although he is a canonized saint, the great poet Dante doomed him to eternal suffering in the anteroom of hell. Many other aspects of  the life of this sainted hermit monk who became pope against his will are equally bizarre and fascinating, including the fact that he ran away twice from the papal role that was forced upon him."
  •  "Abortion, Underlying Myths, and a Skewed Idea About Mercy" was published at Catholic Stand  as the first of what will be a monthly column with them. The article was picked up by as one of the featured posts on the TUESDAY MORNING EDITION, February 14, 2017. CERC (Catholic Education Resource Center) listed the article as an Editorial of Interest and used this quote I included from the writer, teacher, and pastor Donald Williams as a pull quote. "Surely killing one’s children in the sanctuary of the womb is not an acceptable way to manage one’s sexuality."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Unequal Rights for Women

I have known many men who profess strong feminist views because doing so makes points with feminist women.

In an odd way by pretending to care about women's issues, a man does not have to care about individual women. In fact it's the opposite. A man who supports what is erroneously called women's rights doesn't have to court a woman, be tender to her, marry her, love her, support her, give her children, give her a home, or care for any children she conceives while being used for the man's pleasure. 

From many men's point of view, the man and the woman are perfectly happy to have what I call "guy sex" together: uncommitted, unfruitful, unloving, just for the thrills, and not for anything more life-enhancing. Many men have the attitude that since an uncommitted "relationship" is exactly what they want, their female partners must be satisfied if the "sex" is good for both of them.  But they and we really do know better. 

I read an survey one time that found that even Playboy bunnies want to find a husband and have children. It is sad to see Hugh Hefner's live-in women clutching their pet dogs for comfort while being photographed, videoed, paraded on television in little or no clothing to satisfy men's egos and their lust. Did you ever stop to realize that calling a woman a bunny is totally inappropriate--not to mention degrading?  Bunnies are renowned for reproducing, but these vulnerable-human-forever-young-because-perenially-replaced women called bunnies are relegated to sterile unnatural sex and must be satisfied with the empty thrills and financial rewards that being desired bring, as long as they remain desirable, that is. 

Hefner keeps getting older and his bunnies keep getting younger.  In 2012, he married a 26 year old at the age of 86. (She has been quoted as saying that Hef doesn't turn her on and that making it with him only lasts a few seconds. Another former bunny wrote about how when she lived in his Playboy Mansion all the women there would be invited to Hefner's room after he took Viagra, and they would be supervised by the main "girlfriend" as they each took turns for a brief time as he lay prone on the bed.)

Women are actually being abused and thwarted physically and emotionally by these so-called "freedoms." Women's sexuality is being limited to the act of intimacy alone, and they are forced either to take dangerous hormones or use devices and sperm killers to prevent the natural result that is built into their very being. Women's full sexual expression requires much more than the act of intimacy. To be fully realized, it needs  love, commitment, tenderness, pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and caring for the children that are the result of the marital act.

Several women who are "sexually active" have told me they don't have orgasms.  I believe it's partly because many men don't even pretend to love their bed partners any more.  Intimacy is much more profound when the woman feels loved, so cads pretend love to fraudulently reap a full response from the woman.

The new sins are to be possessive or jealous. The advice women have to live by is to not scare a man away by letting him know you want to be married and have children.

We all know that women are heartbroken and degraded when they are used. But we pretend that equal rights means that sex means nothing more than what the worst of men want it to mean, which is nothing at all. 

Equal rights would actually mean that women wouldn't have to unsex themselves to make points with men.


Photos:  Now 90, in 2012, Hefner married one of his girlfriends and posed for wedding photos with her dog.  He was 86 and she was 26.  Another earlier girlfriend is shown with several dogs on the lawn of the Playboy Mansion.

Monday, October 17, 2016

First Comes Love .... Not Anymore!

Do kids still sing this "playground song" to embarrass a boy and a girl that give signs of liking each other?
Name and name are sitting in a tree
K - I - S - S - I - N - G
First comes love, then comes marriage.
Then comes baby in a baby carriage.
Whether or not children are still singing about that once commonly expected sequence of attraction between the sexes, hardly anyone  believes that love progresses that way any more.

What would be a modern revision?  The way we live "relationships" now is so complicated that it wouldn't scan as a playground song. To eliminate just some of the myriad possible permutations, my off-the-cuff revision here assumes that the couple who is kissing in the tree consists of a male and a female.

Not Just K-I-S-S-I-N-G but G-O-I-N-G A-L-L T-H-E W-A-Y

Say that Dick and Jane are sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Next, and at a very early age, comes intimacy, usually with contraception, which is often provided by the fond parent or the school. Kids are going to do it anyway, they think, so let's help Dick and Jane have "safe" sex. Although that term strictly means sex without venereal disease, most young people think it means sex without babies.  The safety of the minds, emotions, bodies and souls of the couple is not considered by those doting enablers of extramarital intimacy.

Another thing "everybody knows" is that it would be foolish to not try a potential marriage partner out before marriage, ignoring the fact that studies show that couples who marry without having sex beforehand stay married and enjoy their marital intimacy much more often than those who don't wait. I still remember reading a Playboy magazine survey during the 1970s whose results showed that couples who practiced traditional sexual morality were more satisfied. The editors were shocked.

Love, Only Maybe

Sometimes after a long time, ever so cautiously, Love might be mentioned between the couple, but only if the person who says it first is sure it won't come across as needy and scare the other person away.  Then only if Dick and Jane both agree that the word applies to what they are doing, then Love is allowed to be mentioned.

I always thought this Steven Sondheim song sung by Judy Collins is about what happened when the woman revealed she is in love, then realizes she had miscalculated, and the man doesn't want what she wants.  In circuses, they send in the clowns to distract the audience when there has been a terrible accident. In the story in the song, the woman calls for the clowns to divert attention from her mistake and the resulting shame and dismay.

Isn't it significant that when couples make what used to be called love, they are now seen as merely making "it." 

Marriage, Only Sometimes

For our hypothetical Dick and Jane, marriage is out of the question, because they are too young. But with more-mature couples, more often than not, it's the woman who wants to marry. Men are often quite happy to keep enjoying all the pleasures of modern intimacy and cohabitation without commitment.

One other cultural reference. We don't talk about the cruelty and pain involved when people use each other for sex, but sometimes reality even slips into the movies. In "Jerry Maquire," the athlete character Rod, who Cuba Gooding played, confronted Tom Cruise's character, his sports agent, Jerry, because he was using Dorothy, the Renee Zellwegger character, for sex. And Jerry finally had to admit it and agree it was wrong.
A Real Man Wouldn't Hijack the Pootie

Often the man (and less often the woman) knows that the partner is not someone he or she would ever marry, or simply never wants to be married, but keeps the "relationship" going as long the Marriage ultimatum can be avoided.

Couples who aren't married are often referred to as"significant others." But when the partners do not want to commit to marriage, doesn't that really make them "insignificant others"?

Only if both of them desire marriage, and each of them finally decides that he or she can't reasonably expect to find a more perfect partner, and they both agree that the other person is worthy, a proposal may be made and accepted, and Marriage may occur. But since Marriage is optional, totally up to the whim of the couple, and it costs 10s of thousands of dollars to stage the kind of royal spectacle couples have come to expect, for those and many other reasons, a wedding may never actually take place.

Another result of premarital intimacy is loss of romantic feelings. I remember reading several years back that there was a fad for engaged couples to abstain from intimacy for a time before their wedding day, not from any religious considerations, but just so they could regain lost passion so they could better enjoy their honeymoon. People who work at resorts frequented by honeymooners tell stories of bored couples fighting with each other, since there is nothing new for them to look forward so after the big wedding shebang is over. The honeymoon was over before it began.

One unspoken reality is that "free love"  inhibits joy.  When intimacy is experienced outside of love and marriage, love is not supposed be expressed. When commitment is not there, trust is not possible. All these combined with fear of being found wanting and rejected can inhibit the couple, especially the woman. Women and men are cheated out of the pure, uninhibited joy of being able to give love - without fear - to a partner you know loves you and who has promised to be with you 'til death you do part.

For those who don't believe in the permanence of marriage, there is always the fall back position; if the marriage doesn't "work out," even after the extensive pre-marriage period of trying-the-other-person-out, Dick and Jane can always divorce, as everybody know.

And Pity Poor Baby

Baby might arrive at any stage in today's conditional love sequence: the widespread acceptance of intimacy outside of marriage is based on an assumption that contraception won't fail. This assumption ignores the statistics that show that even when contraception is perfectly practiced, inside or outside of marriage, whether  there is love or no love, babies do result: Planned Parenthood statistics show that up to six out of every hundred women who faithfully take the pill conceive a child, six out of 100, every year.  A baby usually won't be welcomed unless the couple has moved to the Marriage stage. When a woman's motherly heart prompts her to not kill her child, she often finds she has to face losing the father and the wrath of her otherwise tolerant family.

It used to be that the conception of a baby was seen as a blessed event between a married couple, as the fruit of their love. Nowadays, only if the Baby is wanted by both, will it be allowed to live long enough to be wheeled around in a baby carriage. Close to a million abortions are performed every year in the United States alone.

It is too easy to go down to the same Planned Parenthood clinic that dispenses contraception to have an inconvenient baby killed. Their door is always open for Jane if she has the cash.  Planned Parenthood knows the statistics very well, and their business model depends on services that abort the babies who predictably are conceived from failures of the contraceptives they prescribe.

A New X-Rated Playground Song

Dick and Jane Sitting in a Tree
First Comes Sex Ed
Then the Pill
And an Abortion Appointment is Only a Phone Call Away

Love is Conditional
Marriage is Optional
Divorce is Expected
And We've All Lost Far More than We Know

How to Fix It?

The solution is too complex to fully cover here, but we have to start by shouting the truth.  "Sexual freedom" is not freedom and it's not even satisfying. It is not healthy for the bodies,  emotions, and souls of those who practice it. Marriage is not an automatic guarantee of bliss. But a return to traditional Catholic morality would eliminate most if not all of the heartbreak and other evils I've described.

A couple that is chaste before and after marriage, which means to be celibate while single and faithful while married, is going to live a happier and healthier life. One great benefit is that a person who is pure before and during a marriage cannot catch a sexually transmitted disease, except through a freak occurrence such as getting tainted blood transfusion.

When the pill is not used, the woman is spared being poisoned by hormones for years of her life. When female sterilization and male vasectomies are not used, the couple's bodies are not mutilated. When barrier methods are not used, no physical or chemical obstacles are put up between the man and woman in the act of marital intimacy.

Intimacy between a man and woman is far more satisfying when it is experienced within a sacramental marriage.

Of greatest importance is the fact that no child will be unwanted or aborted if men and women come to see again that the creation of new life is a desirable part of marital happiness. Even if an inconvenient and even difficult pregnancy occurs, no thought of abortion can be seriously entertained when the couple realizes that God wills each child into existence.

Throw out the Playboy philosophy and tell the world. Free love is not love and it comes with a great price. Those who are able to see the wisdom of rising above the culture and of living by the rules our loving Father ordained for our happiness find that they gain far more than they could ever imagine.

Do You Ever Wonder Why Prominent Catholics Openly Defy Church Doctrine?

Do you ever wonder why many prominent Catholics, such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Tim Kaine, claim to be Catholic and still support certain immoral actions that contradict Church doctrine? If you read this column "Moral Theology: Software, Moral Formatting and Living in Sin," which was published in this week's Valley Catholic (from the Diocese of San Jose), it might help you better understand.  The author, Reverend Ron Rolheiser, is a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, president of the Oblate School of Theology and a popular writer who has had a column running in the Valley Catholic, and I assume other diocesan papers, for years.[1]

Fr. Ron, or just Ron, as he refers to himself at his website, is one of the open-shirt-collar-wearing-no-clerical-collar-I'm-just-one-of-you-guys moral theologians (Jesuit Fr. James Bretzke[2] is another) who I've run across who seem to me to be expert at making clear doctrinal matters obscure. The writings of theologians like them are so nuanced that they make it seem reasonable for Pelosi/Biden/Kaine-type-Catholics to think they can disagree with traditional Catholic teachings about what is sinful and still remain convinced they are mainstream Catholic believers.
In this column, Fr. Rolheiser used a weak analogy when he compared classical Roman Catholic moral theology to "a highly specialized software ... that was honed, nuanced, and upgraded through centuries."  The analogy is weak because software determines how applications behave.  If Roman Catholic moral theology is software, then shouldn't it program how Catholics behave?

Fr. Rolheiser believes that the classical software has to change. He writes that he believes in the principles of classical moral theology, but we can no longer use its way of naming sin.  Why? Because much of our culture and many of our churches no longer understand that language, and, so, oh my goodness, many "good" people who are living in sin will be offended if we tell them that the way they are living is inherently disordered.

What is a modern "moral" theologian to do?  Teach people so they do understand the language of the Church's moral teachings? Defend Church teachings as inspired by God and existing for our benefit? No! Change Catholic theology! "We need a new software, a new way of morally formatting things."

That strikes me funny. I would like to find out what any of the many programmers I worked with during my career as a technical writer would think of the idea of a software program formatting such a thing  as morality. If you don't reject Fr. Rolheiser's analogy out of hand, his logic falls on its face because redefining a value changes how you treat it. If your moral theology software no longer defines a value as sinful or immoral, the program would no longer logically need to include any routines that would define how to change the no-longer-sinful value. 

Fr. Rolheiser describes a few different individuals (such as a housekeeper has been married many times and, like the woman at the well, living with a man who is not her husband) and a few different types of people who objectively are living in sin in other ways as having "life-giving" relationships, as good people who "bring oxygen into a room." 

So instead of having the kindness to tell sinners that if they die in sin they are in serious danger of being condemned to hell for eternity and if they go to Communion with unconfessed and unrepented mortal sin they are committing sacrilege and, according to St. Paul, are making themselves guilty of the death of Christ[3], he seems to want the Church tell sinners that they are just fine the way they are and not challenge them to change sinful behavior. That way they won't be offended.

I believe that Jesus would tell him there are worse things for a sinner to endure than being offended.

Fr. Rolheiser doesn't seem to consider that a more merciful way would be to not affirm people in their sinful ways, but to tell them the way to heaven, and to lead them to repentance, conversion, penance, and to make amends for their sins. Jesus did not leave the woman at the well satisfied with how life-giving her lifestyle was. 

And that, boys and girls, is one example of why Pelosi/Biden/Kaine-Catholics are confused and are convinced they are justified in contradicting Church teachings, and why they despise those of us who don't agree--because we are backward. They were taught this kind of modern "moral" theology in Catholic schools, in classes led by modern "moral" theologians like Fr. Rolheiser or by teachers who were trained by teachers like him.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.  
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.

The following quote from Saint John Paul II's encyclical on moral theology seems to apply to theologians like Fr. Rolheiser.

" Certain currents of modern thought ... exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. . . [T]he traditional doctrine ... is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable; and the Magisterium itself is considered capable of intervening in matters of morality only in order to `exhort consciences' and to `propose values,' in the light of which each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices." 

[1] I found out from his Wikipedia page that Fr. Rolheiser has "a regular column in the Catholic Herald which is featured in approximately 60 newspapers in five different countries." Fr. Rolheiser is a mainstream, modern moral theologian, who has a doctorate from the University of Louvain.

[2] James T. Bretzke, S.J., is currently professor of moral theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  I met Fr. Bretzke when I was a student of his while he was teaching at the University of San Francisco and moonlighting as an instructor at the San Jose Diocese's Institute for Leadership in Ministry. In his book A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology and in his courses, Fr. Bretzke teaches complex methods for evaluating the morality of actions - while Catholics who follow traditional teachings would call the same actions "sins" without Bretzke's methods. Putting individual conscience above Church teachings identifies Fr. Bretzke with a breed of theologians who believe the Vatican II Council licensed them to redefine what the Church teaches and to claim that traditional Catholic morality is wrong. People who think the way Fr. Bretzke does never bother to explain why they stay in a Church they believe was so misguided for so long, or how they were granted the exalted wisdom that made them able to understand what is moral better  than the great saints that came before them. I've written in several blog posts and elsewhere against Fr. Bretzke's teachings, for example, this article from San Francisco Faith newspaper: No Recipe for Morality Says Bay Area Jesuit.  Fr. Bretzke writes often for America magazine, including this recent article, "In Good Conscience" about Amoris Laetitia.

[3] Corinthians 11:27-32 is left out of the modern lectionary as a "difficult" passage, so Catholics are no longer taught these hard truths, that whoever received the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is "guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. According to St. Paul, many of those who do so sicken and die.

Corinthians 11:
27 Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord. 30 Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you: and many sleep. 31 But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.