Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let's get spiritual, spiritual ... Let's get spiritual, spiritual ...


I saw this online and loved it so much that I had to post it here for everyone. It fills me with such gratitude for the gift of being religious without being spiritual.

"The Bishops and the Catholic 'man-crisis'"


Matthew James Christoff, "The Bishops and the Catholic 'man-crisis'" (CWR, December 15, 2014). "The Extraordinary Synod held in October failed to adequately mention, address, and encourage two groups of Catholics.... Shocking Omission 1: Men; Shocking Omission 2: Intact Families."

The meaning of the entire Tolkien universe in 4 minutes

Should we care about that "Nuns" Document?

Guy Noir writes: "The final report on the Nuns is an embarrassing whitewash.... And a bit jawdropping in an age so keen on anti-sexism: if Betty White was not an old lady, would anyone find her shtick cute or adorable? Not, they'd find it gross. Likewise, if the nuns weren't 'grandmothers,' who'd be defending their nonsense. I think I shared with you my own experience with a nun when I tried to convert: she waived me away from the CCC with 'Oh, most people find that way to hard to read!'

"Here is some excellent commentary with amusing after-comments":

Matthew Archbold, "Why I Just Don't Care About that Nun's Document" (Creative Minority Report, December 16, 2014), writes:
The loooooong awaited report from the Vatican to religious sisters is reportedly a puff piece. I don't really care. I don't even really care enough to read the actual document.

I just can't really bring myself to care about any of it. Look, twenty years ago an investigation and apostolic visitation may have had some relevance. It might have guided religious sisters in the U.S. away from the precipice they were happily barreling towards. But let's face it, most orders in the U.S. went Thelma and Louise a while ago. They're over the cliff. You've seen the numbers.

The total number of religious sisters in the U.S. has reportedly fallen from about 180,000 in 1965 to about 50,000 in 2014. And there's more sisters over 90 than under 60 years of age. That's a cliff. A steep one. For many of the orders that have gone off the deep end, it's last one out roll up the yoga mats time. Fold up the Ouija board and turn out the lights.

There are reports (though conflicting) that some of the more traditional orders have seen an increase in vocations. If we will ever again see a large increase in the number of religious sisters I'm betting they'll spend more time in adoration of the Eucharist than on buses screaming about Congressman Paul Ryan.
After-comments:

"I'll wait for the enneagram translation. (*laugh*) Classic! I don't suppose one has to walk a labyrinth in order to decode it"

"According to the Vatican, the report was a love letter to American nuns. If one considers that most of these orders average 70 years in age, it sounds more like the report was a retirement send-off."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kreeft: Why everybody in the world should be a Roman Catholic


Dr. Peter Kreeft, "Seven Reasons to be Catholic" -- a loose transcription (courtesy of M.W.)
I will give you 7 reasons why everyone in the world should be Roman Catholic. They are, respectively, from:

1. Walker Percy,
2. Cardinal Newman,
3. C. S. Lewis,
4. The Nicene Creed,
5. Thomas Aquinas,
6. St. John of the Cross, and
7. Palestrina.

1. When Walker Percy was asked why he was a Catholic, he answered ”What else is there?” That was St. Peter’s answer to Christ’s question “Will you leave me also?”: “To whom else should we go? Thou alone have the words of everlasting life.” As a philosopher, I like to lay things out logically in order. There are 8 options or choices that any seeker of truth has to make.

(1) The very first choice he has to make is to be honest or dishonest. There is only one reason anyone should believe anything at all: because it is true. If that seems too simple or too tough minded to any of you, I ask “Do any of you believe in Santa Claus?” You did when you were three. And believing in Santa Claus when you were three gave you two of the most important things in the world: it made you very happy and it made you very good, generous, and moral. Do you remember how happy you were and how good you were before Christmas? Well, if you believed in Santa Claus now, you would probably be a better person and a happier person. And does not everyone want to be good and everyone wants to be happy? So, why don’t you believe in Santa Claus? Because it is not true. Truth trumps everything.

(2) The second choice is whether you love the truth, whether you’re passionate about it, whether you desire it. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, separates people into two groups. Not those who know the truth or not, but those who seek the truth and those who don’t. God says to Jeremiah “You will seek Me and you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” And Jesus says repeatedly “All who seek find.”

Pascal said there are three kinds of people in the world: Those who have sought God and found Him, those who seek God and have not yet found Him, and those who do no not seek and have not found him. There is no one in the fourth class, those who found Him without seeking Him. Those in the first class, those who have found Him are reasonable and happy. They are reasonable, that is honest and wise, because they sought and happy because they have found. Those in the third class, those who did not seek, are not reasonable, because they did not seek, and not truly happy because they have not found. Those in the second class, those who seek but have not yet found, are reasonable because they seek and not yet happy because they have not yet found. However, everybody in that second class is guaranteed entrance into that first class. So the most important thing in the world is to seek the truth. You do not find it without seeking it.

Bertrand Russell asked one of the best questions ever asked by an atheist. A preacher asked him on his death bed, “What if you’re wrong, and there is a God? What would you say to Him?” Russell replied “Fair enough. I think I would ask Him ‘Why didn’t you give us more evidence?’”

The age of laity in the Church? A new angle ...

"I was pleased to see that some Catholic journalists and internet bloggers behaved as good soldiers of Christ and drew attention to this clerical agenda of undermining the perennial teaching of Our Lord."

- Bishop Athanasius Schneider, speaking on the October Synod of Bishops



"It was mainly by the faithful people that Paganism was overthrown ... the body of the Episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism ..."

- Blessed John Henry Newman, addressing what transpired
during the Arian heresy of the 4th century



"Treachery like that of Nestorius is rare in the Church, but it may happen that some pastors keep silence for one reason or another in circumstances when religion itself is at stake. The true children of Holy Church at such times are those who walk by the light of their baptism, not the cowardly souls who, under the specious pretext of submission to the powers that be, delay their opposition to the enemy in the hope of receiving instructions which are neither necessary nor desirable."

- Abbot Guéranger, commenting on the Nestorian controversy
in the 5th century, in The Liturgical Year, IV, p. 380.

[Hat tip to M.V. and L.S.]

While we're at it: Raymond Arroyo interviews Ridley Scott and Christian Bale

Raymond Arroyo interviews Austen Ivereigh, author of Pope's biography, 'The Great Reformer'


Although I remarked on Ivereigh's book earlier, I just watched this interview today, and I thought it had some interesting moments. At the end of the day, I'm not sure Ivereigh will have answered Arroyo's questions to everyone's satisfaction, but he raises some interesting questions. At around 15:17 into the interview, they take up the issue of Pope Francis' election and the question of pre-conclave "politicking."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Japanese high schoolers perform Mozart's Missa Brevis ... well!


Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Arne Duncan.

College: where faith and virginity are lost

"Controversy surrounding Rolling Stone’s reporting, or misreporting, of the UVA rape case, highlights the depressing and confusing reality of sexual violence on American campuses," writes Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, in "College: Where Faith and Virtue Go to Die" (Aleteia, December 8, 2014). As a reader said to me, it may be that there is more of a "hook-up culture" than a "rape culture" on campuses, a culture in which rape -- or something not-quite-rape but not-quite-wanted sex -- is simply a predictable by-product.

Excerpts:
But here’s a difficulty no one wants to talk about: colleges, most of them anyway, are not in the business of making people better. As a result of various intellectual fashions, colleges have essentially gotten out of the education business and into the activism business – the business of "changing the world" as many mottos boast.

This is another way of understanding the idea that colleges do not wish to act in loco parentis anymore. Such a notion suggests that colleges might aim to finish and complete the work of parents in forming young people – cultivating human, intellectual and spiritual virtues. Instead, most colleges today aim to remain agnostic about virtue, while imparting what they understand to be a neutral creed of self-protection and self-interest.

...

So colleges aren’t making people better at the most important thing anyone has to learn to do in life – know, love and serve God. Which raises a very interesting question: is it bad to go to college if it makes you worse at religion?

Provocatively, one could paraphrase [the remarks of President Eastman, President of Eckerd College in Florida – where two horrific sexual assault cases emerged in August of this year]. “Hardly anyone’s culture or character or understanding [of the most important things] is improved by attending college.” College certainly isn’t making the typical student any better.

Which brings us back to the difficulties inherent in addressing the perverse sexual culture on campus. The problem is bigger than even Eastman admits. He is right that rules and regulations alone can’t fix it. But it is also true that temperance and sexual restraint are weak recommendations. Religion is, in fact, the only real program for human improvement. Temperance and sexual restraint don’t come from a high-minded resolution to be good. They come from conversion and grace.

So long as we are wedded to a model of college education completely devoid of religious formation, we are bound to remain mired in the miseducation of our youth. It isn’t college that’s so dangerous after all: it’s college without God.
[Hat tip to JM]

Pastoral crisis? What pastoral crisis?

Kevin O'Brien, "Pope Francis, Remarriage and Flag Burning" (Waiting for Godot to Leave, December 11, 2014), says that the following is a sample of what he's been emailing a few friends lately:
In 1974, when I was 14, and still an atheist, I served as godfather at my nephew's baptism. It was my first time inside a Catholic church. I was neither novice nor professed in the Faith [to be professed in the faith is what the 1917 Code of Canon Law required for all godparents]. Had the parish priest been even minimally vigilant, he would not have allowed this.

And so I wonder, as I have for a while now, why we are so worried that, while doctrine cannot change, the practice of it can? For over forty years unchanged doctrine has been abandoned at parishes, at schools and in living rooms. Our infallible teaching has simply been ignored.

So why the hand-wringing all of a sudden in Rome? If there's a problem in the Church, it's certainly not a lack of pastoral care for bigamists. Honestly. Matrimony is in a shambles, and "remarried" Catholics don't seem to have consciences that trouble them. Where's the pastoral crisis?

Why is this suddenly an issue?

Do you remember when the Republicans won Congress in 1994 or thereabouts with their "Contract for America"? They took their win as a license to make sweeping change. And what was the first change they tried to implement? They wanted to pass more strict legislation against flag burning. Flag burning! A thousand things seriously wrong in America, and they went after flag burning! I don't think a U.S. flag had been publicly burned at that time for maybe 20 years.

And now, with the Faith in crisis and marriage in shambles, the pope is concerned about pastoral care for "remarried" Catholics???? That's what amazes me about this.
Quite seriously, I would add that if there is a crisis in this matter, it is the utter lack of solicitude toward those spouses who have been unjustly injured by abandonment, divorce, or even carelessly-granted annulments. Why should all the "pastoral concern" lie on the side of the adulterers, bigamists, and sodomites?

[Hat tip to JM]

Is Catholic culture feminine? Is Evangelical culture masculine?

Upon reading Mark Shea's "Masculine and Feminine, Evangelical and Catholic" (NCR, December 11, 2014), Guy Noir immediately picked up his sharpened quill and wrote:
Heaven help me, but this piece by Mark Shea is actually very good. Even if I still find him to be a jackass.

Also, I think it ignores a rather key factor, and that is Scripture, in its presentation of prayer, certainly seems to favor a masculine approach. That does not mean Marian prayer is thus anti-scriptural, but it does mean the gender classification, though interesting, may be somewhat artificial. I think Fulton Sheen and JPII's prayers seem Marian and rather masculine. The other element he plays fast and loose with is this: Catholics do not worship Mary, but we pray to her. Essentially. For Protestants, that is basically the same thing as worship. Lastly, if Catholic culture is feminine, we would have to ask, "Why?!" Especially given an all male priesthood. If its focus is Christ, and not Mary, and we pray to God the Father, and the priests are all male, how on earth could it be construed as a feminine spirituality?

Meanwhile, given I still think the piece is pretty good, does this mean I might have found Louis Bouyer a jackass?! I hope not! I mean, he was French. I cannot imagine him not finding Shea painfully bourgeoise. I have no room to talk, but still, I laugh ...

Iconoclasm - Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic

Fr. Ray Blake, "Happy St John Damascene Day" (Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, December 5, 2014)

St. John Damascene Priest and Doctor of the ChurchHappy St John Damascene day!
I don't know if it is by accident or design that he is celebrated during Advent, but he is one of the great defenders of the Incarnation.

I thought I would have fun this morning, w3e had a class of 9/10 year olds in for Mass this morning, so I tried explaining iconoclasm and iconophilia to them.
https://classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com/815/flashcards/923815/jpg/picture151324159897291.jpg
St John of course was a resident of Damascus, in Syria which until 636 had been a Christian city, John was born 10 years after it conquest by Islam. It is worth noting that the Koran says more about Jesus than Mohamed, it is Jesus, not Mohamed who will come as judge at the end of time. Islam denies the idea that God could ever become Man and could suffer and die on the cross.

St John saw Islam as being a Christian heresy, a re-capitulation and extension of Arianism, which ends up by denying God's ability to transcend himself and become one with his creation. The doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation affirm God becomes one with us, he descends to us, becoming Man, and raises us up so the we might become Divinised. For Islam at best man may become a servant or slave of God, but never a Son.

Iconoclasm is more than denying that God can be portrayed, on its simplest level it is about the destruction of icons but underlying that thought is a dis-ease with the notion that God can become one with us, that he can be seen in flesh and blood, the next stage of course is to deny that Holy Eucharist or the Sacraments can be a meeting with the Divine, and beyond that, that we cannot encounter sanctifying Grace.



A RE-ORDERING AT JOSEPHIUM , OHIO
The Protestantism of the 16th Century was the Wests Iconoclastic crisis, the Counter Reformation the triumph the Iconophiles. Perhaps our problem is that in the West we have never quite taken Second Council of Nicaea seriously enough and so the period after the Vatican II becomes another period of Iconoclasm. It can be seen literally in the purposeful destruction of imagery in churches.

 More than that, it has lead to the profanation of the Sacred Liturgy, to reducing the sacraments to something self referential, to seeing the Church as something quite human rather than of Divine origin and end, and of God's presence in the world. It sees the priesthood and episcopate as mere jobs that even someone in serious sin can do.

Vatican PopeIn many ways the Extra-ordinary Synod on the Family was a battle between iconoclasts and iconophiles, those who believe marriage is an image of the unbreakable union of Christ and his Church and those who don't.

There is an iconophile mindset that always wants to see the image of God and experience his presence, just as there is an iconoclastic mindset wants to move away from God and to shut him out. Iconoclasm is dangerous. |Euthanasia and abortion become so easy if we do not see in the vulnerable the image of God.

I am concerned by a iconoclastic mindset in the Church, not only does it 'wreckovate buildings' but it excludes images of Christ and ultimately the person of Christ from the Church's life, I was given some posters recently to be distributed advertising a Catholic event, lots of pictures of bishops, none of Christ: that is an iconoclastic mindset.

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

And the word on "Exodus" is ...


Courtesy of Guy Noir again: Josh Craddock, "What Exodus: Gods and Kings Gets Right" (NRO, December 13, 2014).

Very interesting. And then, here's "Fed Up's" comment:
"A director must avoid mere rehash of previous tellings...That's a difficult task when some 3.8 billion people believe the source matter is sacred revelation from God himself."

"It’s worth seeing Exodus in theaters solely for the experience of watching the ten plagues unfold on a big screen in 3D."

"...pointing out the difficulty of representing God in film and wondering what plausible alternatives might be."

Appreciate the review and this Christian plans to see it. I expect some deviations because it is, after all, a product of Hollywood who hasn't made an honest picture in 30 years.


The statements above is why I make mine. It is not a difficult task to portray God in this instance because the Bible does so quite specifically. It's not really open to interpretation at all. He manifests Himself in a burning bush to Moses. Period. What's so vague, ambiguous or hard about that? Taking Craddock's three points in order, if 3.8 billion believe the Bible and Scott could render most of the movie accordingly than why couldn't he render one of the most important points according to very specific descriptions? If he could show the plagues literally why not a burning bush?

Because he did as Aronofsky did much worse in Noah and chose the central moment to make an arrogant and silly, humanist point. To supplant God as described very distinctly in the source with a contemporaneous human, rebellious version. Not very different from what Pharaoh did as it happens.

This is why Hollywood is suspect. They simply cannot make an honest, forthright picture anymore. They have to impose their views and messages. At least Scott seems to have learned his lesson from Kingdom of Heaven about going too far in rewriting the tale.

Still, I'll see it because I love modern effects and because reports, like this one, indicate Scott didn't stray very far. Not so for Noah. Noah was so perverted and distorted that about the only resemblance to the biblical story was the movie showed a guy building a big boat.
Then here is the verdict of Nick Olszyk, in "An "Exodus" Plagued by Extravagant Mediocrity" (CWR, December 13, 2014), an overall a sharp review:
There are several film and television adaptations of the story of the Exodus and subsequent events—most notably, of course, Cecil B. DeMille's classic 1956 epic, The Ten Commandments—so director Ridley Scott had to do something distinct with Exodus: Gods and Kings. Unfortunately, aside from one interesting (but not positive) development, most of the film’s 150 minutes consists of a rehashing of old approaches and a reworking of ideas that covered many times already.

Granted, these do come with some pretty awesome special effects, although the parting of the Red Sea is still better in DeMille’s version, despite being produced almost sixty years ago, with obvious technical limitations. In short, Exodus isn’t a bad movie, just one that’s better enjoyed on DVD, with doughnuts, while writing a high school religion paper comparing the biblical account to the cinematic re-telling.

The first half is almost verbatim a combination of The Ten Commandments and Dreamworks' animated 1999 feature, The Prince of Egypt. Like Commandments, Scott paints an epic world of towering statues, brilliant costumes, and exotic accents. Like Prince, Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) were raised together “as close as brothers,” then gradually grow apart when a closely guarded secret is discovered.

Many good actors have played Moses, including Charlton Heston, Val Kilmer, and Mel Brooks. Bale’s prophet is a pragmatic general who puts his faith in knowledge and skill rather than the Egyptian religion. He would rather speak to the Hebrew elders than kill them, not because they are equal but because it will halt sedition. Edgerton’s Ramses knows the responsibility that will pass to him, and he wants to lead well, but he is often blinded by his own arrogance. It’s bad enough being an only child; being constantly told that he is a god does not make things easier.

In typical fashion, Moses is exiled, falls in love with Zipporah, and becomes a shepherd. Never a believer, he suddenly meets God in a strange encounter that almost completely ignores the biblical narrative. When Moses returns to Egypt, he first organizes a Hebrew army that engages in guerilla warfare before God takes over and tells him to “sit back and watch.”

The ten plagues begin with a swarm of crocodiles attacking a fleet of ordinary Egyptians. This feeding frenzy—which is very graphic for a PG-13 film—causes the Nile to turn red, which in turn drives frogs onto the land, which then dry and decompose, bringing swarms of gnats. The implication is that although God is the impetus, these calamities are perfectly reasonable from a scientific standpoint.

It is in the depiction of the suffering people that Exodus finds its most powerful theme. Watching poor farmers starve and a woman suffocated by flies creates an intense empathy for the Egyptians. The worst plague brings the Angel of Death, who steals the breath of children in the night, leaving them lifeless. Ramses is not spared this divine wrath as he finds his adorable infant son lifeless in his crib. Wailing uncontrollably, he tries to wake his only child, shaking him like a ragdoll. “Is this your God,” he asks Moses, cradling the swaddled corpse, “a child killer?”

It’s an incredibly honest question, and Moses seems taken aback by it. God does not author evil. Rather, this action was the direct result of the Ramses pride; his son was a holy innocent, just like the poor children who died at Herod’s hand or David and Bathsheba’s first son—and the millions of children who die from infanticide, abortion, in vitro fertilization, malnutrition, starvation, and abuse. They die because sin is present in the world, and every person of good will has the solemn responsibility to protect them. “The Hebrew children lived,” Moses responds. They were saved because their parents cared enough to follow God’s law and place their trust in him.

Other than that brief exchange, Exodus rarely rises above the level of mediocrity. Its depiction of God is strange and uneven at best. First, Moses does not encounter God in the burning bush (see Exodus 3). Instead, God appears to Moses with the bush (in the background) after the prophet nearly dies in a rockslide, allowing the viewer the option of believing that the revelations seen and heard by Moses were mere hallucinations. Later, when Joshua catches Moses talking to God, it appears that Moses is simply talking to himself. Second, God is portrayed by a young boy (Issac Andrews) who is quite pushy and rather scary. The credits claim he is actually an angel, but the film is unclear.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic film of great scale and with impressive effects, but with little substance or depth. Scott spends millions of dollars on displaying combat and miracles but misses huge opportunities to flesh out the story and enter into the real drama. The writing is uneven and sometimes awkward, and major figures—notably Aaron, the brother of Moses, and Joshua, the successor of Moses—are essentially ignored. Aaron Paul, the multiple Emmy winner from the mega-hit show, Breaking Bad, is cast as Joshua but has only about five lines. Other fine actors, including Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley, are hardly used. And, finally, major events are given short shrift: it takes ten minutes for Moses to walk across the desert in exile, but the golden calf and the giving of the commandments at Mount Sinai are glossed over in seconds.

This film simply doesn’t bring much to the story and, at times, undermines the story. I rarely ever say this, but the book really is better. Much better.
One notable detail here is the clear discomfort of even an orthodox Catholic reviewer with the elements of punishment in the story:
Ramses is not spared this divine wrath as he finds his adorable infant son lifeless in his crib. Wailing uncontrollably, he tries to wake his only child, shaking him like a ragdoll. “Is this your God,” he asks Moses, cradling the swaddled corpse, “a child killer?”

It’s an incredibly honest question, and Moses seems taken aback by it. God does not author evil. Rather, this action was the direct result of the Ramses pride; his son was a holy innocent, just like the poor children who died at Herod’s hand or David and Bathsheba’s first son—and the millions of children who die from infanticide, abortion, in vitro fertilization, malnutrition, starvation, and abuse. They die because sin is present in the world, and every person of good will has the solemn responsibility to protect them. “The Hebrew children lived,” Moses responds. They were saved because their parents cared enough to follow God’s law and place their trust in him.
Then, as Noir observes:
His last line, quoting Moses, is a bit better. The Hebrew children lived, yes. But I would be interested in hearing seminarians work this over. In my view, the Israelite young did not live because of their faith or their parents faith. That is not on the story at all. They lived because God willed it. Period. Herod killed the Holy Innocents, but the Lord killed the Egyptian first borns. Quite a big difference. Herod was responsible for raising God’s ire, but the actual punishments where NOT natural outworking of sin. In fact, the review here engages in the “ naturalism” he criticizes in the film’s own handling of the plague of plagues. It brings me back to one of my ongoing criticisms of modern Catholicism: it wants to depict God exclusively in terms of the Gospels, and not also in harmony with the OT and Revelation. There just is no place for judgement or a God who is above our criticisms.

The Kasper proposal still very much alive

[Advisory and disclaimer: Rules ## 7-9] Guy Noir just called my attention to the following post by Dale Price. Traditional -- and I would add "conservative" -- Catholics need to seriously deal with this, he suggests: "The question is not about if Francis is right. He's not. The question IS, however, what is the right pastoral response to a Church that is over half-filled with divorcees, cohabitors, and gay priests. How can we see this play out? Francis says the following [what Price relates]. What do we heartless [conservatives and traditionalists] say in response, not to him, but to our divorced and remarried siblings? He is talking to them; we are talking to each other. If we don't change course, he will 'win'":

Dale Price, "It's baaaaaack!" (Dyspeptic Mutterings, December 11, 2014):
I have been assured, over and over again, sometimes condescendingly and sometimes not, that the Kasper Proposal is a dead letter.

First it was Cardinal Muller's letter in L'Osservatore Romano. Then it was some random papal comment affirming marital indissolubility (which ignored the fact Cardinal Kasper swearsies he's all about keeping marriages intact). Then, most recently, it was the supposed door-slamming vote at the end of the Synod, which asserted that the matter was--this time for sure, how could you ever doubt it?--done. Over. Locked into a safe, wrapped in chains and dumped square in into Challenger Deep, where it could never be seen again, thanks to our Papal Guarantee of Unassailable Orthodoxy. Take that, Huns!

Well, I was skeptical about that. Very much so.

And it appears my skepticism was warranted. Like the villain in a bad horror movie, the damned thing keeps rising from assured death to menace the protagonists again. Behold Question 38, straight from the Pope's handpicked secretary at the Vatican:

38. With regard to the divorced and remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied, including assessment of the Orthodox practice and taking into account “the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances” (n. 52). What are the prospects in such a case? What is possible? What suggestions can be offered to resolve forms of undue or unnecessary impediments?

So much for the matter being closed, shut, finito. There's a wake-up call, for those so inclined to grab the receiver.

And then there's the Pope's words, just this week, offered in the Time-Honored Magisterium of Newspaper Interviews:
[Q:] In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion?

[A:] Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration.[Emphasis added] They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact!

Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why cant they be godfathers and godmothers? "No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?" The testimony of a man and a woman saying "my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on."

Anything more Christian than that? And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, [was] chosen to be somebody´s godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption?

Things need to change, our standards need to change.
"Communion alone is no solution." That's an...interesting formulation. There are other problems with the interview, too, as someone less biased on the topic than I am has noted. This one is particularly insightful, and warrants a careful read.

Those of you who are Anglicans will have seen this movie before: dialogue does not end until the proper result is reached. Then it becomes the Laws of the Medes and Persians, hater.

Given what the Vatican just issued, the most recent interview shows the Pontiff's mind quite clearly (not that it was particularly opaque before). Throw that in with the papal power-invoking rhetoric in the wildly-overpraised speech he gave at the conclusion of the 2014 Synod (reinforced by more explicit authority to depose), and I think it's more likely than not that he forces through some variation on the Kasper proposal in 2015.

Welcome to horribly interesting times.