Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on “zero tolerance” for sex abuse…

“Zero tolerance” for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as “change,” “hope” and “progress,” which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way. In American Catholic parlance, however, the term “zero tolerance” does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms…

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I have come to cast a fire on the earth — A homily for Pentecost Sunday…

What a wondrous and challenging feast we celebrate at Pentecost! A feast like this challenges us because it puts to the lie a lazy, sleepy, hidden, and tepid Christian life. The Lord Jesus said to the apostles, I have come to cast a fire on the earth. This is a feast about fire, a transformative, refining, purifying fire that the Lord wants to kindle in us. It is a necessary fire, for as the Lord first judged the world by fire…

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Chief Justice John Roberts sides with Democrat-appointed justices as Supreme Court backs California coronavirus limits on churches…

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of California’s limits on the number of people who may attend a church service, in a decision that saw justices debating whether religious services were being treated more strictly than similar gatherings under restrictions aimed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Chief Justice John Roberts, a President George W. Bush appointee, joined four Democrat-appointed justices in the 5-4 majority Friday…

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Pentecost Sunday: “Let us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does”…

Pope Francis urged Catholics to view the Church “with the eyes of the Spirit” as he celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily May 31, he cautioned against seeing the Church in worldly terms. He said: “The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord — Jesus — and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters.”

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I Have Come to Cast A Fire on the Earth – A Homily for Pentecost Sunday

What a wondrous and challenging feast we celebrate at Pentecost! A feast like this challenges us because it puts to the lie a lazy, sleepy, hidden, and tepid Christian life. The Lord Jesus said to the apostles, I have come to cast a fire on the earth (Luke 12:49). This is a feast about fire, a transformative, refining, purifying fire that the Lord wants to kindle in us

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Full text: Pope Francis’s homily on Pentecost Sunday

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4), as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians. He continues: “There are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (vv. 5- 6). Diversity and unity: St. Paul puts together two words that seem contradictory. He wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings together the many; and that the Church was born this way: we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit.

Let us go back to the origin of the Church, to the day of Pentecost. Let us look at the Apostles: some of them were fishermen, simple people accustomed to living by the work of their hands, but there were also others, like Matthew, who was an educated tax collector. They were from different backgrounds and social contexts, and they had Hebrew and Greek names. In terms of character, some were meek and others were excitable; they all had different ideas and sensibilities. They were all different. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. The union comes with the anointing. At Pentecost, the Apostles understand the unifying power of the Spirit. They see it with their own eyes when everyone, though speaking in different languages, comes together as one people: the people of God, shaped by the Spirit, who weaves unity from diversity and bestows harmony because there is harmony in the Spirit. He himself is harmony.

Let us now focus on ourselves, the Church of today. We can ask ourselves: “What is it that unites us, what is the basis of our unity?” We too have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities. But the temptation is always fiercely to defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. And that’s a bad temptation that divides. But this is a faith created in our own image; it is not what the Spirit wants. We might think that what unite us are our beliefs and our morality. But there is much more: our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children, all the same, in this, and all different. The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord — Jesus — and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters! Let us begin anew from here; let us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does. The world sees us only as on the right or left, with this ideology, with that one; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus. The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy. The Spirit loves us and knows everyone’s place in the grand scheme of things: for him, we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.

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Bad Sects

I know. I know…it’s a click bait headline.

But there’s a serious question here:

Are you a member of a sect? I can remember learning the difference between a sect and a cult. A sect is a separated group of Christian believers. A cult has evolved from a sect into a separate religion. There are certain characteristics that are common to both sects and cults and when these behaviors are unchecked a sect can become, if not a cult exactly, certainly a place where cult-like experiences and pressures take place.

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