Friday, February 12, 2010

Today on Kresta - February 12, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 12
The Best of Kresta in the Afternoon

4:00 – Haiti: 4 Weeks Later
Nearly one month after a powerful earthquake brought this country to a halt, Haiti is tumbling headlong through a crisis that has not begun to abate, with evidence everywhere that current relief efforts are falling short. Despite the good intentions of the United States and the world community, weary relief workers say the coming weeks will severely test the resolve of those foreign contributors and the resourcefulness of a Haitian government that remains all but invisible. Pressure will grow on a fledgling food distribution network backed by U.S. soldiers that so far has largely managed to deliver only rice. From surgery to shelter to sanitation to schooling, the needs are vast and the international commitment unproven. Jim Cavnar brings us up to date on the situation and the work of Cross International Catholic Outreach.

4:20 – The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture
Penned by the leading intellectual in the American Catholic hierarchy, the book The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture, by Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago brings together some of the most influential writings on the Catholic vision—not just the Church itself but of the relation and unity of all people. Weaving together intellectual insight and personal wisdom, this investigation offers a luminous Catholic vision of communion, illustrating the Church’s relation to numerous religions as well as the secular world. Drawing from both the author’s observations of Catholicism in cultures around the globe and countless theologians’ perspectives—including Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Thomas Aquinas, and Francis of Assisi—this analysis demonstrates how to recognize the self-giving, liberating God who provides freedom from the competitive, oppressive gods of secular modernity. Cardinal George is our guest.

4:40 – A Deacon’s Retreat
Pope Benedict XVI’s inspiring first encyclical contains the passage, “The good pastor must be rooted in contemplation. Only in this way will he be able to take upon himself the needs of others and make them his own.” The Institute for Priestly Formation seeks just that. The Institute’s programs exist to help diocesan seminarians and priests become “contemplatives in action,” i.e., to learn how to pray in such a way that they meet God in the midst of everyday busyness and are thus able to help the people of their parishes and dioceses do the same. To that end Deacon James Keating, Director of Theological Formation for the Institute, has written a self-directed retreat for deacons in the Catholic Church designed to lead the deacon into silent adoration and deeper appropriation of his call from Christ to become a deacon.

5:00 – Kresta Comments – New Ways Ministries
The president of the US bishops' conference has issued a reminder that New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that works with homosexuals and lesbians, "has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church." Cardinal Francis George of Chicago added that New Ways Ministry fails to provide "an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching." "Like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of church teaching," the cardinal observed, New Ways Ministry does not speak for the Catholic faithful. The group's founders, Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, were warned by the Vatican in 1999 that their public statements on homosexuality contained "ambiguities and errors." They were ordered not to speak or write on the topic-- an order that Nugent has observed but Gramick has defied. New Ways Ministry issued a statement of its own claiming to be "astonished" by Cardinal George's public caution and complaining that the group was not notified that the cardinal would be issuing such a statement. Al has experience with the group and tell us about them.

5:20 – Marriage, Prop 8, and the Battle for Hearts and Minds
Should the pro-marriage votes of Catholics, Baptists and other people of faith in California be disregarded as irrational, “discriminatory” and unconstitutional? That’s the extraordinary question being asked in a federal lawsuit argued on behalf of two same-sex couples to overturn Proposition 8, the 2008 measure passed by 52% of California voters to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. During two and a half weeks of rapid-fire testimony in San Francisco, the plaintiffs’ legal team worked to build a case claiming that Prop. 8 should be thrown out, in part, because it was swept to victory on a tsunami of “irrational” religious “prejudice and hostility,” generated by discriminatory “messaging” put out by a broad coalition of Mormons, evangelical Christians and Catholics. We caught up with Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage at the Legatus Summit last week. We share that interview with you now.

5:40 – Pope’s Intervention on Britian “Equality Bill” Stirs the Pot
Pope Benedict told a group of bishops last week that the equality bill before Britain's Parliament might force it to hire gays, violating church doctrine, among numerous other moral problems. The bill seeks to address a host of inequalities, from low wages to women to limited educational opportunities for the poor. Britain's parliamentarians are mulling a radical equality law that its sponsors claim has the power to reshape the country into a fairer, less class-driven and discriminatory society. But in some circles in England the bill is stirring unease because, in its quest for equal treatment for all, it appears to require private organizations to make hiring decisions that conflict with their deeply held beliefs. British Catholic journalist Joanna Bogle weighs in.


  1. Re: Cross International Catholic Outreach and Haiti

    I usually shy away from overtly religious charities such as Cross International Catholic Outreach, but James Cavnar's sincerity and honesty is compelling.

    Cross International has a Protestant version (Cross International), and a Catholic version (Cross International Catholic Outreach). Al's Guest Archive for Feb. 9 shows a link to Cross International Catholic Outreach. That link, however, took me to Cross International, the Protestant version.

    The fact that Cross International needs two separate versions for its mission shows just how badly the Christian "church" is split.
    The Protestant version of Cross International has a Statement of Faith; the Catholic version does not. The Statement of Faith in the Protestant version has 7 statements, and I think all but the first could be accepted by any Catholic. Three words in the first statement leave no doubt that it is Protestant: "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God."

  2. Re: Al Kresta's take on the suffering in Haiti

    I want to go back to Feb. 10, when Al interviewed William Dembski. Al set up the interview with a reference to the suffering in Haiti. Here's a part of what Al said:

    "It's also important to recognize, since we're inundated by so much bad news, that the intensity of suffering never magnifies beyond one. The person experiencing the suffering can only experience so much, and then they pass on into eternity. And you might say, 'Well that happened to a hundred thousand people.' But, really, it means it happened to one person a hundred thousand times over."

    Al was trying to calm us down and reassure us by getting us to look at the suffering of individual persons rather than the totality of human suffering. Think of human suffering as an inch deep and a mile wide. Does it make you feel better? (Never mind the suffering of non-human animals -- they don't count.)

    Al misspoke when he said "it [the cumulative suffering of a hundred thousand people] happened to one person a hundred thousand times over." No. The cumulative suffering of a hundred thousand people happened to a hundred thousand people with varying intensity. What Al described, when he misspoke, was a short segment of the hell experience.

    Recall that Al said this: "The person experiencing the suffering can only experience so much, and then they pass on into eternity." Eternity means either heaven or hell. That's it. There's nothing else. For those going to hell, it will in fact be the case that suffering happens to one person, not just a hundred thousand times over, but a countless number of times over. That blows away the limited experience of suffering Al wants us to take comfort in. (I suppose Al was directing his comments to the justified.) But it gets even worse if we ponder how intense the suffering in hell could be at any instant. Is the intensity even worse than anything experienced on earth? It boggles the mind.

  3. Re: God and Hell

    While I'm on the topic of hell, I might as well mention something that has puzzled me for some time: on the one hand, being in hell means being separated from God; on the other hand, we exist only if God continually wills it. If God continually wills our existence in hell, are we really separated from Him?

    Look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Citation 1035 declares that being in hell means being separated from God: "The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, 'eternal fire.' The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs."

    But, Citation 301 in the Catechism declares that a thing cannot exist without God continually willing it to exist: "With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence: [the Catechism now cites Wisdom 11:24-26] For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living."

    Frank Sheed tells us how this "separation" works:

    "Faced with a choice between God and self, they had opted for self: love of self grown monstrous turned them to hatred of God, and in this hatred of God their wills were now set so that they would not change. Totally without God they could not be, if they were to continue in existence at all; but by their own choice they were to have, from now on forever, nothing of God but His presence sustaining them in being. They would not accept anything else He might do for them." [Theology and Sanity, pages 181-182]. Sheed is talking about the rebellious angels here, but the same applies to man.

    How sad for God. What an ugly and depressing burden it must be to maintain for eternity the tortures of hell and the creatures trapped inside. I almost feel sorry for Him.