Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Cafeteria Catholicism' doesn't work

A Rabbi speaks out!

"A common trend today is 'cafeteria religion.' Many spiritually sensitive people simply pick and choose a medley of beliefs that attract them from their own or other faiths, leaving behind on the spiritual steam table the beliefs that don't please their palates. This is what you're suggesting, and I think it's both wrong and destructive of the noble goal you embrace: strengthening the bonds between Catholics and the Church. Here are the reasons why Cafeteria Catholicism has no future and is a bad idea: First, in the cafeteria, you could leave behind the beliefs you most need to move closer to Christ and to the Church. You've actually done that in your selections. Abortion, for example, which you've left off your plate, is wrong not just because it's condemned by Catholic teachings. It's wrong because it is the taking of a human life, and that life is sacred; its claim trumps even the most agonizing sacrifices of the mother in helping bring a child into the world. Leaving behind this teaching (and others that disturb you) happens when you place your own personal judgments over the inherited wisdom of the Church. Would you say a slave-owner should have the right to construct his orher own personal brand of Catholicism in a way that allowed slavery? Sometimes the best reason to struggle with a moral teaching of one's faith is that it contradicts the conventional wisdom of secular society or of your own personal desires. You need the Church not to pander to you but to challenge you. Cafeteria Catholicism cannot challenge you."

Living with Archbishop Wolfgang Haas

Cathcon translation of an article
Leben mit Wolfgang in the NZZ Zeitung. Thank you as ever to

Hereditary Prince Alois von und zu Liechtenstein receives Holy Communion from Archbishop Haas.

Ten years ago, Pope John Paul II, elevated the conservative cleric, Wolfgang Haas to the Archbishopric of Vaduz. Since then he has thoroughly rebuilt the Church of Liechtenstein He has ousted laymen from church services, preached about purgatory, and in religious education, lipstick is a sin. Many believers still shun the shepherds when they can.

From Pascal Hollenstein

"Nil amatum nisi praecognitum», the Archbishop of Vaduz, Wolfgang Haas, has written on the home page of his website: "Only he who knows himself, can give love." The beautiful phrase comes from the Church Father, St Augustine. One mouse click and you can see an open church door, and read: "The door is open, much more the heart." Truly, beautiful and poetic verse.

The reality is more prosaic in Liechtenstein. The gate to the episcopal palace remains hermetically sealed. No, the Archbishop won’t give the foreign press an interview, advises his Vicar General Mark Walser without discussion. Even Walser himself has no desire for a conversation.

There would be too much to discuss. Exactly ten years ago, Pope John Paul II separated the Principality of Liechtenstein from the Diocese of Chur, elevated it to an Archdiocese and installed Archbishop Wolfgang Haas. The Papal decision was a reason to rejoice for many in Switzerland. In the Diocese of Chur, where Haas had served previously as Bishop, the church bells even rang in places. The arch-conservative cleric had made himself thoroughly unpopular for his reactionary views and ruthless personnel decisions. The cantons and the Cantonal Churches as well as parish priests protested, the Swiss Bishops' Conference appealed to colleagues for his resignation and even Foreign Minister, Flavio Cotti made inquiries in the Vatican. They all were relieved when the Pontiff promoted away the hated Haas.

Laity taking a back pew.
In Liechtenstein, all hell broke loose. The Prince went wild when the Papal Nuncio had to convey to him the news of the founding of the archdiocese, remembers someone who was present at the hour in question in the castle. His Highness did not receive the messenger, and the Nuncio therefore had to deliver the letter to the government buildings. Mario Frick was head of government. He remembers the moment as "extremely unpleasant", when the decision arrived from Rome: "I was immediately clear that there was the unluckiest mix, which you could think of: religion and politics - that can only go wrong."

Liechtenstein stood on its head in those days. The Prince compared the establishment of the Archbishopric to the opening of a branch of McDonald's. The Vatican a global fast-fry chain? The subjects understood the message. The Government and the Parliament refused to vote on the official appointment of Bishop Wolfgang Haas. The people demonstrated in front of the church , and the Archbishop took the back entrance. 8,492 Liechtenstein residents signed a petition that the country should remain in the Diocese of Chur.

Nothing has come of it. Wolfgang Haas celebrates this Sunday in the Vaduz Cathedral with a Pontifical Mass the tenth anniversary of the Archbishopric. The Chief Shepherd has used the time. Right at the beginning, Haas abolished the unwanted Deanery (Cathcon note- a sort of Lay Council), sending the laity to the rear pews in the church (Cathcon note- surely that should be pews- where they belong- if they wish to go to the back, that’s there problem). Liberal clergy left their posts either racked with nerves, or they were replaced with Haas-loyal clerics after their retirement. About staff shortages, the archbishop did not need to worry: about 50 priests have been incardinated by him and are always ready to serve their Lord (Cathcon-bit of liberal sarcasm here!). Even conservative believers are drawn to the little country. When Bishop Wolfgang reads a Mass, coaches from Switzerland and Austria stand in rows in front of the church.

"Liechtenstein has become a conservative refuge," laments Christel Kaufmann, a catechist from Balzers, who feels there is nothing left of the former People's Church (Cathcon note- the Catholic Church is not the People’s Church, it is God’s). Death and damnation are preached, as well as sin, purgatory and hell. In religion classes, they tell children that when a woman uses lipstick, it is a sin. "There are children who are have sleepless nights as a result," says Kaufmann.

Although the Liechtenstein citizens are through and through Catholic, they are also a micro-state with 35000 inhabitants, "which has arrived in the 21st Century" says ex-Prime Minister Frick. The Liechtenstein voters have sent downriver an initiative for a comprehensive ban on abortion, which was supported materially by Haas. And Parliament has only recently voted for the introduction of a registered partnership of homosexuals, although Haas has thundered in the newspaper "Vaterland”, that homosexuality is" objectively a grave sin ".

Even in matters of faith, Haas' authority is rather low. Against him. one thousand Catholics formed themselves into a "Union for an Open Church". The association organized worship services with foreign priests with a liberal attitude, confirmations without Wolfgang Haas in the Einsiedeln monastery and, more recently, the First Communion in the convent of St. Elizabeth, in Liechtenstein, but not under the archbishop.

The Association is presided over by attorney Wolfgang Seeger, who was once to the locals even known as "Bishop Wolfgang” (Cathcon note- but he is not – the only authority he has comes from the people- or is he a self-appointed representative of the people?). Does he split the church? Seeger rejects the accusation. "We are Catholic and want it to remain so happily, even though Wolfgang Haas and the Archdiocese has led the country into pastoral isolation. The theologian, Christoph Klein, the executive director of the association, says the "Open Church” is concerned with provisions that lead to the safeguarding of religious peace: without our activities many people would have left the Church behind. (Cathcon note: this is a threat, not dissimilar to the response of Muslim communities in the West- you respect us or……)

Not in all eternity
In contrast to Switzerland, withdrawal from the church in Liechtenstein brings no tax savings. The Catholic Church is, according to the Constitution, the state church, their financial needs satisfied by the regular budgetry payments from municipalities and country. Since it is has become a Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the pressure has risen to change this situation.

Prime Minister Otmar Hasler now has a project for unbundling church and state. The Protestant-Reformed Church and the Lutheran Church are to be put on equal footing with the Catholic Church. Other religious communities could also be recognized. The taxpayers could then decide which church they could give their money to. If they choose not to decide, the money flows into the general state budget.

And why not simply reduce the tax for those who belong to any church? What he proposed was certainly "a church friendly solution," admits Hasler, but the state could "not be interested in departures from the church for financial reasons". Liechtenstein should not be a "secular state".

That the Vatican will abolish the Archdiocese, noone really believes. But also an Archbishop is not in office forever. Haas is 59 years old. During lunch at a traditional local in Vaduz one of the influential citizens of the country pushes a piece of Vaud Saucisson onto the fork. "Oh, Wolfgang, 'he says and grasps the wine glass:" Perhaps one day he will burst so easily. " (Cathcon comment- the nasty comment of a liberal - which I thought not to translate, but an excellent of example of a certain way of thinking.)

The Lion of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner


Cardinal Meisner clobbers allegedly Catholic politicians.

Cathcon translation.

Meisner is correct to heavily criticise Schavan
Cardinal Joachim Meisner, has accused the German Research Minister Annette Schavan of having abandoned her Christian principles. In fact, the Christian Democrat has displayed an unbelievable balancing act between Christian morality and political thinking required to get your way.

Cologne's Cardinal Joachim Meisner is known for his strong, often provocatively formulated announcements of his position, indeed notorious. Regularly they provoke in the left-liberal media an increasing storm of indignation, especially with the anticlerical Greens, such as Claudia Roth and Volker Beck. This time, these two side with Meisner, surprisingly compliant:

"Where he is right, he is right," said Beck, Parliamentary manager of the Greens on the philippic of the Archbishop of Cologne against Annette Schavan. The German Research Minister (CDU) had put through the CDU Party Conference, using a finely threaded procedural method, with a sudden vote, a demand for the relaxation of the stem cells law.

Now, she stands as a “U-turner” a minister who, as Meisner says, "abandons Christian principles" and thus turns against the Catholic Church, to which she herself belongs.

Undoubtedly, the Cardinal is right, although some Catholics should ask whether Catholic or Christian can still claim priority in the Christian Democratic parties. In too many areas, the CDU and CSU in recent years, have to adjust themselves to the general trends, in order to remain electable. For conservative critics, this is that the unique feature of the Union parties nowadays: arbitrariness.

This was, as in the abortion issue, satisfied with a compromise formula or the subject of maneuvers as with the family policy. The mandatory " foundation of values" (Meisner), which justifies the "C" in the party name, has been lost.

A policy that accepts that research will lead to the death of embryos in exchange for the potential healing of people, leaves behind self-imposed ethical foundations. And this is shortly solved, as the science of breakthrough in the research of skin cells seems to have succeeded.

That Annette Schavan after outbreak of criticism her decision, as she always as a minister funded adult stem cell research,said this is no in comparison to the use of embryos not promising enough, shows a totally unbelievable balancing act between morality and expediency. One cannot just believe a little bit in God and His ordering of creation, but totally - or not at all.

The actual addressee of Meisner’s harsh criticism is Angela Merkel, who in the vote threw the entire weight of the majority of the Party Congress against restrictions on stem cell research. After all, the Chancellor knows that the SPD majority in the Bundestag will vote for the increased import of stem cells - and that the coalition will be united. Power politics and all power to research are a game of cards.