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John Allen has posted the full text of Cardinal Stafford’s “apocalyptic” speech to the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family:
It is an essentially philosophical and theological reflection, although that, of course, is not what garnered attention:

For 51 years of priestly ministry I have been attentive to res sacra in temporalibus in American culture, i.e., “to the elements of the sacred in the temporal life of man” or, in a more Heideggerian idiom,“to man as the sacred element in temporal things”. In 1958 John Courtney Murray, S. J. was my guide. With further guidance from the Church over the years, I have learned that the nucleus of this principle, enunciated by Pope Leo XIII, maintains that the sacred element in secular life, especially our use of language, escapes the undivided control of the supreme power of the State. The secular life of man is not completely secular, nor totally encompassed within the State as the highest social organism, and subject ultimately only to the political power. The sacred word within man in secular life transcends the control of the supreme power of the State. A person’s public life is not encompassed within the State as the highest social organism, and not subject ultimately only to the political power.
President Thomas Jefferson’s celebrated 1802 letter to the committee of the Danbury Baptist Association asserting “a wall of separation between Church and State” formally denied the reality of res sacra in temporalibus. He introduced a latent and powerful virus which would eventually be used to diminish and then to wound mortally a theology of discourse in the public arena. It has led to the increasingly secularized states of the American union and their active hostility towards the Catholic Church. Some of these governments are threatening Roman Catholic adoption agencies because of their refusal to select same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. They are forcing Catholic hospitals to accept medical procedures which are contrary to the dignity of the human person. They are insisting on hiring practices which will destroy the Catholic identity of health and social services under Catholic Church auspices. They have not refrained from coercing the individual conscience. Here the federal and state governments are enshrining the primacy of secular laws over against religious principles. These decisions are the legal and moral progeny of Jefferson’s insistence on debarring personal faith from the public forum. And this is only a beginning. Their seeds can be found in the 1787 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom sponsored and promoted by Jefferson. His self-proclaimed epicureanism and crypto-utilitarianism furnish the hermeneutical keys for interpreting the opening paragraph of his 1776 Declaration of Independence.
This evening. I will cover the following areas: 1) the narrow, calculative, mathematical mind and its manipulation of the humanum and, more specifically, of human sexuality since 1968; 2) the response of the Church’s magisterium in the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae and teachings of later Popes; 3) other Catholic philosophical and theological responses to what John Rawls calls the “embedding module”, namely the increasingly disenchanted world in which we work and pray.


The whole talk is fascinating – but just skipping to the end, which found its way into the news, in garbled form:

On November 4, 2008 a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joseph Biden were elected President and Vice President of the United States together with a significant majority of their Party in the federal Congress supporting their deadly vision of human life. Americans were unanimous in their joy over the significance of the election of a Black President. However, if Obama, Biden and the new Congress are determined to implement the anti-life agenda which they spelled out before the election, I foresee the next several years as being among the most divisive in our nation’s history. If their proposals should be initiated and enacted, it would be impossible for the American bishops to repeat in the future what their predecessors described the United States in 1884 as “this home of freedom.”
While reflecting about the profoundly negative impact of Obama’s vision on the humanum (and also of Biden’s), I recalled how current are the reflections of Mauriac upon his contemporary, an influential European author. Even though Mauriac disagreed with him on almost every point, he acknowledged his great intelligence and personal attraction. “But under all that grace and charm there was a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to detect and resist any external influence which might threaten his independence. A state of alertness? That is putting it mildly: beneath each word he wrote, he was carrying on sapping operations against the enemy city where a daily fight was going on.”.
Similar characteristics were evident in Senator Obama’s talk before Planned Parenthood supporters on July 17, 2007 – tautness of will, a clenched jaw, etc. – where he asserted, “We are not only going to win this election but also we are going to transform this nation………The first thing I will do as President is to sign The Freedom of Choice Act……..I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law………..On this issue I will not yield..” During a town meeting in March 2008 in Johnstown, Pa., he spoke with equal determination on the necessity of universal sex education for preteens and teens, “I don’t want my daughters punished with a baby.” The President – elect did not qualify in any way the methods his single daughters might employ in the event they needed to avoid being “punished with a baby”, that is, giving birth to his grandchild. Obama’s vision is modernist and rooted in the Enlightenment. The content and rhetoric of Obama and Biden have elements similar to those described earlier: aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.
Catholics weep over Barack Obama’s words. We weep over the violence concealed behind his rhetoric and that of Joseph Biden and what appears to be that of the majority of the incoming Congress. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal?
First, our tears are agonistic. Secondly, we must acknowledge that the model for our tears is ancient. Over the next few years, Gethsemane will not be a marginal garden to us. A model, I suggest, is medieval. With an anonymous author, our restless minds search in a dark valley during this exhausting year. With him as our guide, we find a bleeding man on a hill sitting under a tree “in huge sorrow”. It is Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church and of mankind.
Thirdly, we listen to the words of Christ as narrated by our mediaeval ancestor. Jesus pointing to his gloved hands says that these gloves were given him when he sought his Bride. They are not white but red, embroidered with blood. He says that his spouse brought them and they will not come off. Fourthly, we focus our attention on the constantly repeated refrain of the Bridegroom and the reason for his “huge sorrow”, “Quia amore langueo – Because I am sick for love”. And finally, we find that before this vision of the wounded young man, our frustration and tears become one with his “huge sorrow” and we make his love for the unfaithful Bride whom he seeks and never fails, our own. I will close with a citation of this spousal model. It serves as a measure of what we need to recapture for the whole Church in 2008:
Upon this hil Y fond a tree,
Undir the tree a man sittynge,
From heed to foot woundid was he,
His herte blood Y sigh bledinge:
A semeli man to ben a king, (handsome enough to be a king)
A graciouse face to loken unto;
I askide whi he had peynynge, (suffering)
He seide, “Quia amore langueo. (Because I am sick for love).
I am Truelove that fals was nevere.
My sistyr, Mannis Soule, Y loved hir thus.
Bicause we wolde in no wise discevere, (because in no way would we part company)
I lefte my kyngdom glorious.
I purveide for hir a paleis precious; (prepared, a palace)
Sche fleyth; Y folowe. Y soughte hir so,
I suffride this peyne piteuous,
Quia amore langueo.
In the autumn of 2008 we must begin anew with that sentiment of our medieval brother. Quia amore langueo. With Jesus we are sick because of love toward those with whom we are so tragically and unavoidably at variance. The reader has now become one with the narrator who is addressed in line one as “Dear Soul”. As Humanae Vitae with the whole Catholic tradition teaches, we are to “be true with body and soul”.

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Glenn Juday

posted November 21, 2008 at 4:42 pm

We read the words of Jesus himself in the Book of Revelation (3:15-18) directed to the Church of Laodicea:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. Since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
It always has been difficult, of course, to avoid drawing parallels between the Church in an ancient place known for its wealth and sense of self-sufficiency (not the good kind) and the Church in modern America, the wealthiest society ever know to mankind. But until the recent spiritual, moral, vocational, and criminal collapse of the Catholic Church in the U.S. it was hard to see the parallel between an ancient Church of complacency and the mostly orthodox zeal of mid 20th century American Catholicism. In the early 21st century, though, spiritual indifferentism in the Church in the U.S. makes a parallel with ancient Laodicea seem not so remote at all.
So, given that trajectory, how can the final stroke in the portrait painted by this passage in the Book of Revelation be seen as unthinkable? And what is the final stroke in the portrait? It is persecution and the reaction to persecution of the Church.
When you see the word “therefore” in Scripture you need to ask yourself what is it there for – and then pay particular attention when the answer is written out for you, and pay an order of magnitude more attention when our Lord and Savior himself gives the explanation. “Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ”
The gold is our precious inheritance of the family treasure made possible by our adoption (baptism) into the royal family of our heavenly Father through the ransom paid by our kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ the Son and our elder brother in the family of faith. The refining of gold by fire represents the tests and trials that we as members of the Church face through the opposition, hatred, and persecution of those who do not have or do not cling to the treasure. So Jesus is telling us that this refined (tested) gold is the treasure we need to focus on storing up, not our investment portfolios, or awards, or secular approval.
Jesus is also telling us to “buy” our white robe from Him. The robe is the cloak of grace placed over us at baptism. The price that we must pay to buy the robe is our suffering, maybe even the shedding of our blood mixed with His. Later in Revelation it is explained: “Then he told me, ‘These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.’” (Rev. 7:14).
The final stroke in the portrait, then is of a wealthy, spiritually indifferent Christian community whose members as a consequence can’t withstand persecution, so that Christ can only spit them out. Christ who so loved us even as we were in sin that he suffered and died for us is powerless in the face of only one thing – our indifference to him.
So, is a Catholic Christian who sees the signs of the times pointing to “… terrible suffering …” an alarmist, or crazy …… or a maybe a prophet?
A prophet is not, primarily, one who sees future events, although that can be a consequence. A prophet is one who calls the people of God back to covenant faithfulness. The Church speaks of martyrdom, literally testimony or witness to Christ, as a crown. So the Book of Revelation seems to have anticipated a situation where a wealthy , spiritually indifferent Church will be offered one last chance to avoid being spit out from Christ, and that is the purchase of the robe by blood, both His precious blood of grace available to us through the sacraments, and possibly our own blood, if we have the salve of grace to see with the eyes of faith. Not the taking or shedding of the blood of others, but the offering of our own blood made powerful through our union with Christ.
Of course, none of the potential earthly “great suffering” needs to happen, as long as … As long as you just give up some vital tenant of the Catholic Faith. Just drop it, don’t insist, just go along, just construct an opt-out form and call it Catholic, and you won’t have to suffer. If this portrait is correct, the Church in question is “… wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
But if you adhere to the whole of the Faith, heedless of the charge of being a “fanatic” you will be tested by fire. Does the Catholic Church in the 21st century U.S. contain any who are prepared to buy the robe with the price that will gain the crown? We may be about to find out.

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posted November 22, 2008 at 7:56 am

I do not think the Cardinal was speaking only for himself. I think he spoke for Benedict XVI also. It is the message that one would think our hierarchy would thoughtfully embrace. I have not seen any comments about this speech coming from many -any- of them. That is sad if true.

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