Category Archives: Faith & Reason

BC Jesuits get backbone in teaching theology

The Jesuit-run School of Theology and Ministry has had a priest on their faculty who’s refused to function as a Catholic until he gets an adequate explanation as to why women are not ordained as Catholic priests. He wrote to the Cardinal stating his position. John Shea, professor of pastoral care and counseling, now leaving his position because of dissent from Church teaching. Thanks be to God. The Jesuits have tolerated this act of scandal for too long. Shea’s work in the classroom and beyond is not in line with his role as a professor who trains men for priesthood and the laity for ministry. He’s not to pose his thinking as Catholic teaching nor is he asked by the Church to teach students for priesthood and ministry in dissenting theology. Recall: Saint Ignatius of Loyola asks an attitude of “thinking with the Church” not dissenting from the truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.

The Jesuits at BC and when Weston Jesuit School of Theology before subsumed into Boston College existed, have long accepted and promoted professors who not only challenge Church teaching but openly reject the teaching authority of the Church as a matter of pride. Thinking with the Church was no longer an accepted method of “doing” theology. When I was at WJST we had several Jesuits under investigation for their divergent teaching. Each one of them saw ecclesial investigation as a badge of honor; their investigation was act of imperialism by the Vatican. One Jesuit priest actually said that not dissent from the Church is a sin against the Holy Spirit and another said that the Society of Jesus is the loyal opposition to the Church. Really.
Good for BC, but I doubt the Jesuits are doing this because Father Shea is a dissenter and harming the formation of students.

Erroneous judgement –what does the Church teach

Many of say that conscience rights is under attack. And with good reason. Take for instance the US Senate’s recent rejection of conscience rights viz. President Obama’s healthcare fiasco. So, a reasonable question is what the understanding of the role of conscience in moral decision making?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 1790-93) states the following about erroneous judgement:

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

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“Building a New World”: exploring human and spiritual issues through film

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“Building a New World” is new initiative Interdisciplinary Centre  for Social Communications of the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome, Italy) beginning today, Friday, 2 March.

This project is focused on film and the power film has in our lives. The premise is: a good film liberates, forms and calls us to a new way of seeing and engaging in reality. Therefore, the good people at the Gregorian are exploring how a good movie or documentary can invite people to greatness through the imagination and research how a poorly written movie with mediocre images can severely handicap one’s openness to the true, the beautiful and the good. Just think of the good Father Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” project is doing for those learning the Catholic faith for the first time or those renewing their faith; or how damaging “The Deputy” was to to the person of Pope Pius XII and the rest of the Church.

Jesuit Father Lloyd Baugh, a professor of film,  told Vatican Radio that the initiative honors the 30th anniversary of the University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study. It is popular these days to get at human, theological and philosphical issues by the use of film. Friends of mine do it regularly in the schools in which they instruct young minds: Benedictine Father Bede Price teaches a theology and film course at his abbey’s Priory School (St Louis, MO) and Jesuit Father Edward Oakes does so at Mundelein Seminary (outside Chicago, IL). Father Baugh he teaches theology using film as the text for class: Christology through the “Jesus films,” moral issues through the “The Decalogue” of Kieslowski, interreligious dialogue through a whole series of films from different religious traditions and so on.

The current cycle of films starting today will be inaugurated by the Gregorian University Rector Jesuit Father Dumortier, Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, of Jesuit Father Savarimuthu, director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Gregorian University, and Father Baugh.

The first film is “Welcome.” which focuses on a young Kurdish boy who attempts to illegally enter England, and in doing so encounters other people changing their vision of the world, and ultimately their lives. “Welcome” is a award 2009 winning film directed by Philippe Loiret.

Other films include

March 23: “Water” (2005 Deepa Mehta film) focuses on Asia and on “the right to Freedom” drawing attention to the tragic reality of millions of young girls in India who are promised in marriage to elderly men and widowed shortly thereafter, leaving them destitute for the rest of their lives.

April 20: “La Zona” (2007 Roderigo Pla film) dedicated to the “Americas” and to the “right to Justice”, highlighting the persistent and ever-growing disparity between rich and poor particualrly in Latin America.

May 4: “Son of Man” (2006 Mark Dornford May) looks at the plight of the African continent and its “right to Hope”. May directs a narrative of the Gospel and situating the contemporaneous of the biblical reality of a township outside of Cape Town. The desire for peace is continuously punctuated by violence. It is a look at how Jesus would respond to the human reality before his eyes and what he does to change people’s hearts.

Screenings are free and everyone is welcome. For more information visit: www.unigre.it

Wisdom … our life … in Christ

It was brought to my attention that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. We need help. So ask for it. Let’s look at what the Church said at the Second Vatican Council about our own times in Gaudium et Spes:

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows.

Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.


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Orthodox bishops rally faithful to protest the Obama administration


Bishops of the Orthodox Churches –those of the various jurisdictions in the USA– have called upon the Orthodox faithful to protest the Obama Administration’s ruling which affects matters of conscience. Since this is NOT a Catholic issue –one needs to say it’s a matter for all people, regardless of profession of faith. Exercising one’s right to speak out against injustice, here it’s a matter of injustice done by the government, Christians need to unite their hearts, minds, and voices and work for substantial change.

One doesn’t hear of the Orthodox Church on Pro-Life matters too often but you do see a greater presence of the Orthodox Church at events like the Pro-Life March in Washington, DC. In recent years their bishops, priests, seminarians (from St Vladimir’s) and laity have begun to show up to the March. They gather at the Orthodox Cathedral and walk with the others.

Here, we all need the Orthodox witness. Thanks goes to Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Savas (Pittsburgh) for his good work on the project.

Assembly of bishops.jpgThe Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North
and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in
the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent
decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
,
and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected
representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the
sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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