Did You Know - How We Change

Sixth in a series by John Houk

There are some things our Church believes that you will not find in our Catechism.

The October, 2005 Synod on the Eucharist has come to a close. Some 250 bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to deliberate on our central act of worship. One of the topics under discussion was the reception of Communion by remarried Catholics. The rules for those who have remarried without an annulment exclude them from Communion. After deliberation the world’s bishops have apparently retained this rule because remarried Catholics (to quote one bishop) find themselves in a situation that "objectively contrasts with God’s law". The God’s law that he is referencing is the indissolubility of marriage. This is where the fine print becomes interesting.

Did You Know - How we Change

Fifth in a series by John Houk

From defective and veiled to --- what???

Each age has its changes to work through. The role of women is one of ours. In recent years there have been numerous Church pronouncements on the role of women with some reversing the position of the previous one. For example in 1980 John Paul II said no -no to girl altar servers and in 1994 reversed that decision and said that local bishops had the choice. The USCCB tried for several years to write a pastoral letter on women and gave up because each new draft was less helpful than the one before. Yes, this is an issue for our time. Here is some history:

Did You Know - How we change

Fourth in a series by John Houk

From divine plan to intrinsic evil

What possible human activity could change so radically in the minds of Christians that it became a sin at all times and in all places after being understood for centuries as part of God’s plan and part of the natural order? A human activity that fits this description is the cultural practice of one person owning another person as property, that is the practice of slavery.

Most of us are aware that slavery existed in ancient times, including biblical times, and we are aware that it existed here until the Civil War. What is sometimes not so well known is that slavery was practiced in the Christian world through all of those intervening years. Slavery did not become black until Christian Europeans began to explore the coast of Africa in the 15th century. During these years from Biblical times to our Civil War there were numerous Church pronouncements which accepted slavery as a cultural norm and part of the divine plan for human relationships. Here are a few examples:

Did You Know - How We Change

Third in a Series

by John Houk

This is the third in the series devoted to changes in the Church’s position on important matters demonstrating that our Church is really alive as our new pope has so forcefully proclaimed. The subject here is the science of evolution. We continue to read of various Church groups that lobby to prevent the science of evolution being taught in schools or they support including the “science” of “intelligent design” in the classroom. Our own Church has a history of evolution on the topic of evolution.

Did You Know -- How Things Have Changed

Second in a Series

by John Houk

This is the second in a series on how the Catholic Church “reads the signs of the times”. Such engagement and adaptation of teaching and practice are sure signs that the church is alive and wise enough to recognize the need for change when the time is right. Here is a brief history of our teaching on religious freedom which is both an individual issue and a social issue. For individuals we have gone from “error has no rights” to “the human person has a right to religious freedom”. For society and governments we have gone from using the “secular arm” to compel and even punish people who have fallen into “heresy” to “religious freedom must be given effective constitutional protection (by governments) everywhere”. Here are some quotes:

No matter who is pope I WILL keep on keeping on

by Don Rampolla

No matter who is pope there is a lot of work for me to do in this world. I have a wife to love, children and grandchildren to love, 6 billion other people to love. There are wars to be stopped, peace to be made, social and economic justice to be achieved. And I have the daily tasks of living --- my share of housekeeping, shopping and income earning.

Who is pope may make a difference in the effectiveness of my efforts, for example in working for a living and in working for peace and social justice. And certainly I will have feelings about the effectiveness of my work --- seeing a large effect is certainly more satisfying than seeing a small effect or none. But whether my efforts are rendered more or less effective by the top hierarchical leadership of the Catholic Church need not be an influence on my decision to make an effort, and the enthusiasm I put into that effort. If I’m doing what I’m doing out of love for God and people then as has been said (by Mother Teresa?) faithfulness is more important than effectiveness.

Did You Know -- Sins that became virtues.

A first of a series

by John Houk

What was a sin sometimes becomes a virtue. Our new pope Benedict XVI used the phrase “Our Church is Alive” six time in his recent homily. To be alive means to be in motion, to interact with your environment and to be forever adapting - or you die. Our pope is correct. This is the great unknown reality of our Church. Some people like to refer to our Church as a “rock”. It is comforting that our Church does not change (adapt) with every new idea. It should change cautiously, but it does change. This “Did You Know” begins a series that will recount how the Catholic Church’s position on important matters has changed.

The purpose of the series will be to show how wise , and alive, we Catholics can be when faced with new knowledge and understanding. We do change, often completely reversing our earlier position. People who feel threatened by change need to remember that to change, when given new information, is a sign of mental/institutional health. It is also a sure sign that our Church is alive as our new pope seems clearly aware.

On Stewardship

by Don Kretschmann, lifelong farmer

A few years ago, I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. If you’ve ever been there, you know how immense it is! You just keep trying to get it all into a picture—but you can’t. We listened to a park ranger explain that from where we were standing, we could see strata of rock near the bottom of the canyon almost one billion years old. The gray shale strata was 250 million years in the making, and above that another layer of red sandstone was 450 million years old… We were looking at a big chunk of the history of the earth. The ranger explained that dinosaurs were around long enough to see one huge strata of rock deposited. Mammals have been around long enough to see another deep deposit made.