Browsed by
Author: Brian Killian

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.
Misunderstanding Veritatis Splendor: A reply to E. Christian Brugger

Misunderstanding Veritatis Splendor: A reply to E. Christian Brugger

Veritatis Splendor has always been the favorite encyclical of those who are unhappy with the theological direction of Pope Francis.  It is their source of authority for their condemnations of Amoris Laetitia especially. In one recent example, E. Christian Brugger pits Pope John Paul’s Veritatis Splendor against Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia in an article published and hosted by National Catholic Register called ‘Amoris Laetitia’ vs. ‘Veritatis Splendor’: You Say You Want a Revolution?.

The subtitle is: ‘The Joy of Love’ threatens the moral foundation of the Church.

Goodness, the foundation itself of the Church? That’s quite the claim!

But Brugger, like Joseph Seifert before him, can’t back it up. Instead, he manages to completely misunderstand the real target of Veritatis Splendor and mangles the theology of Amoris Laetitia. Here’s how.

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

Responsible parenthood as a corporal work of mercy

Responsible parenthood as a corporal work of mercy

A few years ago Pope Francis made headlines by saying that Catholics did not have to ‘be like rabbits’.

“That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is a an irresponsibility That woman might say ‘no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this.”

He was contradicting an idea present in some corners of Catholicism that good Catholic spouses should strive to have as many children as possible. Pope Francis pointed out that the correct approach here is responsible parenthood. In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI said, “responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”

Catholics have argued about these “serious reasons” for some time and there are those who are inclined to interpret “serious reasons” in a very narrow, limiting way. But my question is this.

Is not love itself a serious reason? Here’s what I mean.

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

Three Popes, Two Conclaves, One Church

Three Popes, Two Conclaves, One Church

For a long time, Pope John Paull II was the only pope I knew. He was the pope of my childhood, and I was married with four kids by the time he died.

But his death, the funeral, and the conclave, they all unleashed a torrent of grace over the Church. It was a spiritually dark time for me and the whole series of events was a time for personal renewal and a new beginning. It wasn’t just me, many other people experienced the same or similar things.

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

The Mustard Seed and a New Pastoral Paradigm

The Mustard Seed and a New Pastoral Paradigm

In a previous post I mentioned that the law of gradualism was not like Jack’s Magic Beanstalk that springs up to the sky over night, but more like the mustard seed that is the smallest of all seeds but eventually becomes a tree in whose branches the birds make their nests. I want to elaborate on that and show how this requires looking at human beings and their moral efforts from a different perspective, one that may qualify as a new paradigm.

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

Reality is Greater than Ideas

Reality is Greater than Ideas

Pharisees: “That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath.”

Blind Man: “Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of someone born blind; if this man were not from God, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

These two reactions represent two fundamentally different ways of dealing with reality, especially when it is unexpected.

The first begins from an empty, narrow, and legalistic premise: “it is not lawful to heal on the Sabbath”, and then proceeds to a self-serving conclusion, “this man cannot be from God”.

The second starts from experience and reality: “ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of someone born blind”, and ends in an astonishing but reasonable conclusion, “if this man were not from God, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

The Pharisees look for a pretext in the law to force reality to become what they wish it to be. The blind man does not reject the law, but he begins with the stark facts of reality and experience and then, together with the law, he comes to a new and bold conclusion.

The Pharisees force reality, the blind man embraces it.

The blind man’s eyes are opened. The Pharisees’ remain closed.

When Jesus healed the man’s blindness, he revealed the blindness of the Pharisees.

Of course, this kind of blindness continues in our own day.

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

With Man All Things Are Possible

With Man All Things Are Possible

Some Catholics wield Trent like a baseball bat. In their hands, Canon XVIII is a blunt instrument to beat the weak over the head with. Early in his pontificate Pope Francis criticized these Catholics for being what he called “self-absorbed Promethean Neo-Pelagians”. The mentality of the neo-Pelagians is an attitude that values strength and sufficiency, and likewise despises weakness and dependency. “With man all things are possible” is really the opposite of what Scripture says, but it makes a good motto for the Neo-Pelagians, which can be seen even in the way they that use that council.

Whenever it is confessed that the perfect observance of the law is not practically possible because of weakness or coercion, one can be sure that a smug Canon XVIII quote is forthcoming as a rebuttal. That canon says:

If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

But is this the GOTCHA that people think it is?

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.

Thomas Aquinas: Ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia

Thomas Aquinas: Ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia

 

Pope Francis has stated multiple times that Amoris Laetitia is rooted in the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas. The citations to Aquinas in Chapter eight have been commented on by others, but quotations from the works of Aquinas are not the only way in which Amoris Laetitia (AL) draws on the Angelic Doctor. More fundamental is the Thomistic foundation that is not directly alluded to in AL but which nevertheless grounds much of the controversial statements of chapter eight.  That foundation consists of  Aquinas’ answer to the question: “Can mortal sin become venial?”

So what was the saint’s answer?

(more…)

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, pianist non-theologian. Used to live amongst the Christmas trees, now lives surrounded by cacti.