On Catholic oath of fidelity: It’s about time

Tracy A. Woodward THE WASHINGTON POST Kathleen Riley, left, and Alison Carroll, right, stand next to St. Ann Catholic Church … Continued

Tracy A. Woodward

THE WASHINGTON POST

Kathleen Riley, left, and Alison Carroll, right, stand next to St. Ann Catholic Church in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday July 5th, 2012. Both resigned as teachers at St. Ann’s Sunday School explaining they would not sign the new Profession of Faith required by their bishop.

I have two words for Bishop Paul S. Loverde: thank you. If I could add three more: it’s about time.

In May, the bishop announced that he would be mandating an “Oath of Fidelity”, requiring them to submit “will and intellect” to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I didn’t have to reflect for long on this new requirement to see its wisdom, and the more I think about it, the more grateful I am that Bishop Loverde has exercised his leadership in this attempt to preserve the traditions of my Faith from personal interpretation and distortion. I think that requiring a profession of faith for catechists makes complete sense and is justifiable for several reasons.

First, the church is a membership organization with the right to regulate its membership, just like any other organization. When a person is accepted into the Catholic Church, he or she must profess the faith and then be baptized. Membership is not compulsory, but in order to maintain one’s good standing, a person must continue to profess what the church teaches.

Secondly, contrary to popular desire, the church is not a democracy. Its members profess the faith given to us by Jesus Christ; they don’t create the faith. As members and representatives of the church, we follow its rules. In making a profession of faith, far from abandoning our reason (as is commonly asserted), we more easily avoid error and are freer to come to a greater understanding of ourselves and our relationship to God and neighbor than we would be able to achieve independently.

As Christ so elegantly in teaches in John’s Gospel, “the truth will set you free.” Once I accept the truth, I can use my reason to come to a deeper understanding of the things that I already know are true, rather than worry about whether I know anything correctly in the first place.


View Photo Gallery: With nearly one in four Americans in its fold, a powerful lobby and extensive charity work, the Catholic Church is one of the most influential institutions in America.

With so much of the spirit of confusion about who we are as a church and as individuals prevailing after Vatican II, it is appropriate that on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, our spiritual leaders would try to bring a renewed order and clarity to the transmission of the authentic teachings of the church, especially in educating our children who trust us so much. Last year, I signed a document similar to this one as a requirement to teach at a Catholic school in the diocese. At various points throughout the year, I recalled that I had signed that document, and it made me a better teacher because I was more careful to formulate what I taught in an accurate way. Oaths have that effect sometimes, for those who take them seriously.

So essentially, if I decide that I want to help out in my parish, a Catholic school, or other organization where I am representing the Catholic Church, then it is completely within reason that Church leaders would have the right to regulate what I teach in their name. It defies logic to assert that teachers of the Catholic faith should be free to misrepresent what that faith is.

Ultimately, I think we need to realize that what this comes down to is a classic case of don’t shoot the messenger. Bishop Loverde didn’t invent the teachings of the cChurch, Jesus did, and as bishop he is simply asking us to be honest in passing along those teachings when we call ourselves Catholic catechists. As a Catholic school teacher, a former CCD teacher, and now an aspiring seminarian, I am grateful to Bishop Loverde and our other church leaders who are working tirelessly to preserve the unity of our faith through a renewed and clear commitment to the truth who is Jesus Christ.

Bill Erwin is a teacher at Seton School in Manassas. He plans to enter the seminary this fall.

About

  • ThomasBaum

    Bill Erwin

    You wrote, “In May, the bishop announced that he would be mandating an “Oath of Fidelity”, requiring them to submit “will and intellect” to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

    Shouldn’t one give their “will and intellect” to God rather than to an instrument of God?

    You also wrote, “the more grateful I am that Bishop Loverde has exercised his leadership in this attempt to preserve the traditions of my Faith from personal interpretation and distortion.”

    Do you realize that these traditions were at one time someone’s “interpretation and distortion” and at the time they were given and before they became tradition that some of the “religious” of the day took great issue with some of them and treated some of the people that came up with them rather shabbily?

    You then wrote, “When a person is accepted into the Catholic Church, he or she must profess the faith and then be baptized.”

    But one does not sign over his/her conscience to anyone else including the Church and the Church teaches this in the Primacy of Conscience even if some wishes that it didn’t.

    You then wrote, “Bishop Loverde didn’t invent the teachings of the cChurch, Jesus did,”

    I agree with you that Bishop Loverde didn’t invent the teachings of the Church but there are many teachings of the Church that Jesus had no hand in whatsoever.

    Two that instantly come to mind:

    Celibate priesthood, which I have heard that there is suppose to be no discussion on this issue at all and yet the Catholic Church does ordain married men to the priesthood, kind of hard to think of this as a hard and set in stone, man-made rule I might add, that is anything but set in stone.

    The one hour wait before Communion which used to be 3 hours and before that from Midnight and as it is written, “When supper was ended Jesus took bread and looking up to heave He gave thanks…”, didn’t seem like Jesus had the Apostles wait at all, another man-made rule.

    When Jesus said, “I will send the Holy Spirit to guide you…”, He meant this for All an

  • Palladia1

    Somewhere farther down the thread, I asked how you have managed to have only five children.

    I asked that because my sister had a dozen. Having offspring is sort of the default position of the mammalalian reproductive system, absent contraception. How have you managed?

    I, myself, had only one, but was thereafter very careful about using contraception. My health is now considerably better than my sister’s, of course. So. . . tell me. . . how did you stop at just five?

  • Banyansmom

    Palladia, a lot of faithful Catholics use NFP quite successfully to space their children, but doesn’t it ever occur to you that this might be a very painful question to ask someone?

  • IntellectOne

    Jesus said, ” I will build My Church (Jesus’s Church) upon this Rock, Peter means Rock! Also, Jesus says to Peter, “do you Love me” three times and after Peter says yes I do, Jesus tells him to “Feed My Sheep”. Peter is the Vicar of Christ and has been feeding Jesus’s Sheep ever since. The Roman Catholic Bishops are the Apostles of Jesus’s Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit not under a bunch of dead rocks that harbor the devil. The One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has an earthly Vicar of Christ, which is currently Pope Benedict XVI.

  • levarfan

    I always wonder, what exactly would you consider NOT a biased article? The reporter got information from the diocese, got quotes from those who disagreed as well as agreed, and attempted to talk to several sources within the church and diocese who chose not to. Is it just that the topic was covered at all?

  • IntellectOne

    Just a couple of weeks ago all of the Bishops of the United States of America had a General Assembly Meeting.. They were discussing the up coming decision by the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act “deemed passed” by the House of Representatives. This Law denies the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Conscience Clause that the Constitution of the United States guarantees every American citizen.
    The reason this Law denies Freedom is because this Law requires every man woman and child to participate and cooperate with financing intrinsically evil acts. (mandatory financing of abortifacients, elective abortions on demand, and sterilizations). Every man, woman, and child is required and demanded by force to buy health insurance coverage which will have these abhorrent and destruction of the Soul benefits included.
    In the Bishops meeting, Cardinal George of Chicago asked the question? What if The Supreme Court Upholds the Law?
    And so it was and so it is. Now it is Law under the Tax Provision. The Affordable Healthcare Act’ is a Tax, even on children. The Obamacare can now be known as ‘The Obama Signature Healthcare Tax’.

    The question now is “What to Do” ?

    This will affect 6,980 Catholic Schools, which has an enrollment of 2,765,872 students.
    This will affect 625 Catholic Hospitals with more than 550,000 patients.

    The Cardinals and Bishops have no ‘Choice’ but to layoff a large portion of the staff that do not have adherence to the ‘Profession of Faith’. (this would include all of the dissenters; wayward priests and nuns)
    Example:
    Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.”
    Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the needy, o

  • Skowronek

    “When a person is accepted into the Catholic Church, he or she must profess the faith and then be baptized.”

    Given how many are baptized as infants, I doubt they professed much. They may have protested the procedure, however. Many infants do.

  • Banyansmom

    Joan, how many children someone has really isn’t anyone else’s business, and contrary to Palladia’s assumption, there isn’t a necessary correlation between number of children and use of contraception, which I take it is what she’s trying to suggest. In the first place, unless someone tells us, no one here knows how old any poster is, or how long she’s been married. Second, NFP is quite reliable as a means of spacing births. And finally, the number of children doesn’t necessarily reveal the number of pregnancies–and women who may have suffered miscarriages do not need to be needled about the size of their families.

  • MeriJ

    As put forward in this diocese, the public oath is not just that you will teach only correct dogma, but that you privately disagree with none of it.
    The specific examples objected to by the women and specifically mentioned by a leading Catholic writer as disqualifying them from teaching were the beliefs that birth control is a sin and that women are not acceptable candidates for the priesthood.

  • Banyansmom

    @levarfan, the bias is in the way the article is framed. An unbiased article would begin with the midpoint, i.e. the Diocese of Arlington has instituted this requirement, and proceed with equal weight given to opponents and supporters. This article begins with the premise that the diocese has done something wrong because these women are resigning. There’s only a token quote from a supporter.

  • MeriJ

    I don’t recall Jesus mentioning either of those beliefs, although I’m sure someone will find some obscure statement that could be interpeted as such. Honestly, these two ideas are holdovers from archaic times and will probably change in our lifetime. I find it hard to see how questioning them in the privacy of one’s mind and heart makes one unqualified to serve as a teacher or other form of leader within the laity.

    This is a purge of one wing of the church by another. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem: cut back one serving per day on the kool aid. Just a little less per day is all you need to become a better Catholic.

  • IntellectOne

    Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. So is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that He Instituted. The Holy Chair Rules, The Vicar of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Peter, “I will pray for you”. That means that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Jesus’s Holy Catholic Church.

  • MeriJ

    Or you could drink a little more of it. That works too.

  • IntellectOne

    It is not a matter of how much kool-aid you drink; it is a matter of who you drink with. Sounds like you are drinking with the nether-world.
    Birth Control Pills which are ‘Abortifacients (cause abortions)
    Women priests?. Jesus Christ is the only High Priest, He so happens to be male and He has a bride ( His Church). The Ordained Priests Male are representatives of Jesus.
    Jesus’s Bride is not a Lesbian.
    The homosexual mentality and mindset is definitely not Priest material.

  • MeriJ

    I guess we’re not talking about the same Jesus. “Blind followers of the guys in power at the temple” wasn’t the expectation I got from that fellow in the New Testament.

    He seemed to have a thing for thinking. Should have been a Jesuit, except of course they didn’t have them back then.

  • Palladia1

    Banyansmom, I figure that HappyMother of Five is at least 20. And someone who uses a netname like that is making a statement. It sort of invites inquiry. In the case of my sister, her dozen children are practically the first thing she mentions when introduced to someone. Nobody has to ask. (g)

    The NFP method of spacing births seems to have a failure rate of 25.3% in the first year “as typically practiced.” I wasn’t actually “suggesting” much of anything; I was asking a question. It’s nice that you answer on behalf of HappyMother of Five. People who identify themselves with reference to their children are usually more than happy to discuss their children, children in general, and all things child-oriented as a topic. Far from being “painful,” it is usually very rewarding to them.

  • IntellectOne

    Again, Jesus gave His Power to Peter and also the Key to Heaven.
    Jesus said to Peter, ” What you Bind on Earth, will be Bound in Heaven and What you Loosen on Earth will be Loosened in Heaven.
    The Holy Chair of Peter speaks on earth for Heaven. Jesus said,” I will pray for you Peter”( Peter the Rock on Earth upon which I will build My Church) and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against The Church (which I have put you in charge)
    What Jesus are you talking about? What are you going to remove? The Sacred Tradition, The Sacred Scripture, or The Magisterium all Three were established by Jesus Christ Himself and you must believe in all (3) Three to be a Faithful Catholic.
    Are you trying to say the the servants are smarter than the Master?
    Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a Bind follower of the Magisterium. and had he not done so; Heaven would not have allowed the wonderful accomplishments and teaching of the ‘Faithful Jesuits.
    Are you speaking of the ‘Blind” followers that are ‘Not’ in Union with the Holy Father, Benedict XVI,? If so, you would be correct.

  • IntellectOne

    Just a couple of weeks ago all of the Bishops of the United States of America had a General Assembly Meeting.. They were discussing the up coming decision by the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act “deemed passed” by the House of Representatives. This Law denies the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Conscience Clause that the Constitution of the United States guarantees every American citizen.
    The reason this Law denies Freedom is because this Law requires every man woman and child to participate and cooperate with financing intrinsically evil acts. (mandatory financing of abortifacients, elective abortions on demand, and sterilizations). Every man, woman, and child is required and demanded by force to buy health insurance coverage which will have these abhorrent and destruction of the Soul benefits included.
    In the Bishops meeting, Cardinal George of Chicago asked the question? What if The Supreme Court Upholds the Law?
    And so it was and so it is. Now it is Law under the Tax Provision. The Affordable Healthcare Act’ is a Tax, even on children. The Obamacare can now be known as ‘The Obama Signature Healthcare Tax’.

    The question now is “What to Do” ?

    This will affect 6,980 Catholic Schools, which has an enrollment of 2,765,872 students.
    This will affect 625 Catholic Hospitals with more than 550,000 patients.

    The Cardinals and Bishops have no ‘Choice’ but to layoff a large portion of the staff that do not have adherence to the ‘Profession of Faith’. (this would include all of the dissenters; wayward priests and nuns)
    Example:
    Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.”
    Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the needy, over

  • Banyansmom

    Joan, I’m going to pray for you. Every day. Something is obviously very broken in your life.

  • Banyansmom

    Palladia, since HappyMotherofFive didn’t respond to your original question, my assumption is that she didn’t want to answer because she knew you were being snarky.

  • Cassandra77

    Palladia, I believe that number you’re citing includes several different methods of NFP some of which are more successful than others. And if you’re going to cite “typical” use rates, then the condom is about the same. “Typical” use for the pill isn’t so great, even though people almost always cite the 98% perfect use rate.

    My husband and I have used NFP for the course of our 8 year marriage — 3 kids (well, one of those is in utero right now) and no surprises. Many of my Catholic friends have similar experiences.

  • Palladia1

    Snarky? Maybe it’s because I have been watching, for years, as my sister’s health, emotional and intellectual state has deteriorated as a result of all those pregnancies. I remember her as a vivacious young woman, healthy and vibrant. She is in dementia; neither of our parents were, so it’s not a hereditary inclination.

    And it’s not as if all the kids added to the Church population, either. Not one is Catholic now, and none have more than two children. Some have none. Three are prematurely dead. They have, collectively, made their judgment of the Catholic Church.

    When her husband was “between jobs,” once, they approached their parish for financial assistance. They were refused. After that, they knew better. Her husband also died prematurely: worrying about how to feed a dozen kids can be a strain. My sister is still alive, sort of.

    Meanwhile, I’m flourishing, and my single son is, too. My sister has chronic problems, many the result of gestational diabetes, has had a mastectomy, several other surgeries. . . You think I’m “snarky? Maybe, just maybe, it’s justified.

  • jimwalters1

    I object to loyalty oaths in principle, but I can understand the need to get promises to only teach the official form of the Catholic faith. Placing a requirement for personal acceptance of 100% of the teachings is going overboard, however. That is because I beleive most Catholics would not call themselves 100% orthodox, and that most of those who would are fooling themselves.

    How many Catholics can honestly say that they 1) have read all 700+ pages of the official catechism, 2) have given serious thought to what they read, and 3) accept all of it as written without reservation or qualification? Very few would be my guess. I know I can’t, and I think I’ve read more of it than most Catholics.

    How many of those who hold themselves up as completely orthodox Catholics actually are? How many of the people who denounce Catholics who use unapproved birth-control are part of a sexually active couple of child-bearing age and are 100% reliant on approved birth-control techniques? (I considered adding “and who have never had an unintended pregnancy”, but that is a matter of practicality, not orthodoxy.)

    How many of those who condemn other Catholics for being insufficiently pro-life beleive the death penalty is only allowable in the most vanishingly rare cases? How many of the self-proclaimed orthodox ignore teachings on immigration and social justice that don’t fit their right-wing political beleifs?

  • jack824

    MeriJ – There are those in the Church who find it easier not to exercise their conscience, but rather to accept what is offered. You’re a patient person for trying to find a bridge.

  • FriendofKeyserSoze

    How nice, the words of a true believer, defender of a religion that employs and protects child rapists.
    No thanks.

  • nkri401

    GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.

    If the premise is wrong, regardless of the length of the argument, the conclusion has no merit.

    If the Church were intrinsically good, it would not threaten to withhold the charity.

  • nkri401

    When an organization need to demand an “Oath of Fidelity”, the said organization may need to examine if it’s the organization that does not deserve the Oath anymore.

  • IntellectOne

    The Church is not threatening to withhold the ‘Charity’ . The “‘Choice” was not given the employers, employees of the Taxpayer. It is a Forced Tax on every man woman and child. to pay for insurance that has intrinsically evil benefits. The premise proposed above is correct because that is the only way that The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church can remain ‘Faithful’ to its ‘Primary Mission’;. ‘Go out and preach to all Nations the Word of God the Father”! Not accepting the Gift from God,,( not open to Life and killing the Gift) is one of the most heinous acts and is intrinsically Evil. To cooperate and finance Evil is not ‘Charity’. Charity is Love which is Truth. Reality Check! .

  • nkri401

    “…that would mean 1.25 million less meals to be served.” seems like withholding charity to me.

    BTW “…. intrinsically evil acts.” can apply to the atrocities that Catholic Church committed through out its history.

  • IntellectOne

    The Catholic Charities are forced to layoff workers; so that will be the reason they cannot prepare and service food to anyone that is not a Catholic; those are the demands of the HHS, Obama Healthcare Tax regulated and enforced by IRS. Who is the ‘One’ with no Charity.? You better accuse the current administration of ‘No Charity’. Good Luck on you voting. By-the-way The One Holy Catholic Church is Always Holy. it is the members that want to promote the atrocities in the Church, just like the members in government. It is the government that wants to accuse The Holy Church and has done that exactly throughout history. Reality Check!

  • IntellectOne

    Just a couple of weeks ago all of the Bishops of the United States of America had a General Assembly Meeting.. They were discussing the up coming decision by the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act “deemed passed” by the House of Representatives. This Law denies the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Conscience Clause that the Constitution of the United States guarantees every American citizen.
    The reason this Law denies Freedom is because this Law requires every man woman and child to participate and cooperate with financing intrinsically evil acts. (mandatory financing of abortifacients, elective abortions on demand, and sterilizations). Every man, woman, and child is required and demanded by force to buy health insurance coverage which will have these abhorrent and destruction of the Soul benefits included.
    In the Bishops meeting, Cardinal George of Chicago asked the question? What if The Supreme Court Upholds the Law?
    And so it was and so it is. Now it is Law under the Tax Provision. The Affordable Healthcare Act’ is a Tax, even on children. The Obamacare can now be known as ‘The Obama Signature Healthcare Tax’.

    The question now is “What to Do” ?

    This will affect 6,980 Catholic Schools, which has an enrollment of 2,765,872 students.
    This will affect 625 Catholic Hospitals with more than 550,000 patients.

    The Cardinals and Bishops have no ‘Choice’ but to layoff a large portion of the staff that do not have adherence to the ‘Profession of Faith’. (this would include all of the dissenters; wayward priests and nuns)
    Example:
    Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.”
    Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the ne

  • Catken1

    Now, will you be complaining when a Gaian owner, concerned with the sin of overpopulation, refuses to co-operate in the “Mandatory Evil Act” of funding a Catholic employee’s third or subsequent pregnancy or childbirth via health insurance?

    If you act as a public business, or a charity serving all and getting tax benefits and taxpayer funds from all, you must abide by the laws that apply to all. Pure and simple. If you want purity, don’t take funds from those you want to force to comply with your wishes.

    That includes the higher insurance costs and societal costs from all those unplanned pregnancies you would push on women, Catholic or not – birth control costs ALL of us a good deal less than unwanted pregnancies. Practically speaking, it is we who pay for your right to push your dogma on unwilling employees and charitable recipients, not you who pay for compliance with the law.

    And while the Church continues to fight the rights and freedoms of non-Catholics who do not wish to adhere to Catholic dogma when, for example, choosing a consenting adult spouse or deciding whether one’s own body and internal organs shall be used by another or not, your whines that your religious liberties are being taken away are not particularly convincing. Somehow “religious liberty” in Catholic leadership eyes seems to include “the right to pressure, through preferential and discriminatory compensation, my employees, charitable recipients, and patients to follow my religious beliefs,” but not “the right to a secular, civil marriage that disagrees with Catholic dogma,” or “the right to be treated as a full citizen and a human under secular law when Catholic dogma deems one a brood mare or a piece of property to be used until broken and then thrown out.”

  • Catken1

    Ah, yes, when Catholics do good, that’s because the Church is superior morally – when they do evil, that’s because people are imperfect (even when they’re acting in the Church’s name with the blessing of the leadership…).

    And if it’s more important to you to push women to follow your dogma of “celibacy or brood mare to be used till you break, then thrown out” than to serve the poor, that’s your choice. Others will step in and have stepped in to take your place, others who aren’t as concerned with forcing all women everywhere to abide by your dogma defining them as less-than-human.

    By the way, where’s your support for the religious liberty of gay and lesbian folks who don’t want to adhere to Catholic restrictions on what consenting adult spouse they may select? Or do non-Catholics have no more religious liberties than “the right to do what the Church says you should or sit down and shut up?” Does religious freedom only apply to Catholics?

  • Catken1

    “Jesus’s Bride is not a Lesbian.”

    No, apparently he’s a gay man. You’re a bit confusing there. Technically, if the church is Jesus’s bride, shouldn’t it be staffed entirely by women?

    Nor do I recall Jesus saying ANYTHING about “Don’t use birth control,” or “I want only male priests”.

  • nkri401

    “The One Holy Catholic Church is Always Holy. it is the members that want to promote the atrocities in the Church…”

    If the Holy Catholic Church lets its members to commit atrocities,
    it’s not a very Holy Church, is it??

  • nkri401

    IntellectOne,

    Your argument boils down to: I brought the ball and if you don’t want to play by my rule, you are FORCING me to take the ball with me.

    Is this the Christian love for all?

  • BillErwin

    I am a true believer, yes. And I recognize that there are sinful people within my church, as well as good people. What I believe in is the teachings of Jesus Christ as transmitted to us by the Apostles and their successors.
    The moral character of individuals within the Church has nothing to do with making an oath of fidelity to the teachings of the Church. You are changing the argument. The question is whether it’s reasonable for people who teach in the name of the Catholic Church to be required by that same institution to represent it correctly, and I am arguing that it’s rational. If you would like to dispute that argument, then please begin a discussion, but do not substitute your own ad hominem attacks for real discussion.

  • BillErwin

    Sir,
    First of all, thank you for actually addressing the issue at hand in your comment.
    I would say that I can believe what the Catholic Church teaches 100% even though I don’t know it fully because I believe that the Church has received from Jesus Christ a deposit of faith. That is, it has received – and passes on through its teachings – the saving truth which God himself placed in her care. So if I believe that one thing, then when I find myself at intellectual odds with the Church, it’s probably not the Church who is wrong!
    This is not to diminish the role of creativity in expressing the faith, or of trying to come to a personal understanding of the truth. Also, there is opportunity for legitimate discussion on some points which are not fully resolved, or on practical matters which aren’t part of the faith per se. For example, one might try to reconcile the belief in the sovereignty of nations and rights to personal property with the requirements of charity to help immigrants. Etc.
    Interesting thoughts, thank you for sharing!
    Bill

  • BillErwin

    I thought about addressing infant baptism in the article, but it seemed outside the scope of the discussion. This is a good place for it.
    When infants are baptized, someone speaking in their name makes a request of the Church and says the profession of the faith. Compare this to parental rights over children who speak in their name as to their education, health choices, etc. If parents are responsible for their children’s physical and intellectual health, so much more are they responsible for their children’s spiritual well-being. Scripture and the long tradition of the Church support infant baptism.
    I did think your remark about them protesting baptism was humorous, though.
    Bill

  • BillErwin

    ThomasBaum,
    Thank you very much for your response to my article. You raise some very interesting points, which I will attempt to address as best I can, although of course a blog comment is no substitute for serious intellectual discussion and research!
    I would say that one should absolutely give one’s will and intellect to God alone. But God acts through human beings, and has done so throughout history. I think this is because He wants to bring us closer to him, and because we are made in his image, which you mentioned. So if I profess my fidelity to the Church, which is in a real but mystical way God’s presence on earth, then I am professing my faith to God through his ministers, and not to the ministers as mere creatures. In doing so, I do not give up my responsibility to know the truth and refuse to cooperate with anything evil, even if authorities in the Church might demand it.

    You mention two doctrines of the Church, celibate priesthood and abstaining before Communion. Technically these are not doctrines, but are practices introduced to help us understand doctrines more clearly. If I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, then avoiding any food before I attend Mass and receive Communion is a way for me to recognize and honor that belief. But if I’m sick, or have a medical condition, etc., then I am not bound to follow that practice. Same with celibate priests – if a priest is a servant to the Church, called by God to offer sacrifice and dedicate his life to serving others, then a family is probably going to be an impediment to fully realizing that, and celibacy is a good sign of what the priest’s purpose is.

    I’m not sure what you meant about the Holy Spirit guiding people…

    Thank you again for your comments.
    Bill

  • levarfan

    Mr. Erwin, the oath of fidelity has nothing to do with “representing it correctly”. It has to do with private thoughts or disagreements about stances of the bishops. For example, the spokesperson in the article said that private disagreement with the “Fortnight for Freedom” would represent deviance. The catechists who are resigning (and there are far more than the number in the article) were completely willing to pledge that they would be 100% faithful to Catholic teaching in the classroom. It is not difficult to answer a question with a factually correct answer, and if there is any problem, the DRE is available to help.

  • elizdelphi

    Amen to what Bill Erwin said. When a baptized non Catholic Christian (a protestant for instance) enters the Catholic Church, he or she makes a statement before the Church that he or she believes all that the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God. In actuality, the Catholic understanding is that every person approaching to receive Communion in the Catholic Church is implicitly attesting that they believe all that the Catholic Church teaches, and are a Catholic in the state of grace to the best of their understanding. Someone who really can’t say that of themself has a responsibility themself to abstain from Communion (frequently sacramental confession can resolve the problem) and has a responsibility not to represent their dissenting beliefs as being the Catholic faith. Not long ago the Supreme Court upheld that churches have a right to hire teachers who reflect their own beliefs; no one should find it outrageous that the Church would also take care to have volunteer catechists who believe in Catholic teaching and teach the faith accurately. This is a good move that I hope will be adopted by my diocese and many others.

  • levarfan

    As both a mom and a CCD teacher, I think there is a much bigger problem with socially conservative teachers inserting opinion and incorrect doctrinal claims into the classroom, perhaps because they are emboldened by how much of the GOP platform makes it into the Church’s stances that they become confused. I’ve had teachers tell my kids things like “Anyone who votes for Obama will go to h3ll” or “God wants us to defeat the Muslims”. Ironically, some of THESE teachers are the ones who are excited to sign the fidelity oath. Go figure.

  • IntellectOne

    Those are the HHS Regulations and ‘Sanctioned’ by the Supreme Court. Obviously, you are not paying attention. In order to get ‘Exemptions’, like the Unions and McDonald’s did. The Catholic employer must pay for Insurance for their employees that include benefits that are intrinsically evil. As stated above all the Schools and Hospitals and Charities must abide by the HHS Regulations, Obama and his HHS Sebelius demands it. It is called the Affordable Healthcare Act aka The Obama Healthcare Tax now because that is what the Supreme Court said..
    The Catholic Schools and Hospitals were built by monies after taxes. They are Private. The Catholic faithful sacrificed much, because they had to pay taxes for the Public Schools and still had to pay tuition for their children to go to a private Catholic School. Also the Catholic School children were not allowed to ride the buses.The Roman Catholic Church has the ‘Right’ to the Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience Clause of the United Stated of America. That includes all of its affiliates, so if the HHS demands that they only administer to the Catholics so be it, the American Cardinals and Bishops have no ‘Choice’ or they would be complicit in financing intrinsically Evil benefits. It is called directly participating and cooperating with Evil since they are forced to finance, providing insurance that covers anything as so evil and horrific as Elective Abortion on demand and Sterilizations, Birth-control Pills (all abortifacients cause abortions).
    There is nothing to argue, facts are facts, the ‘Choice’ to employee or administer to non-Catholics or Catholics that are dissidents is not a possibility and remain Faithful to the Teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.. Remember nobody is forced to be a Catholic nor work for a Catholic Organization or any of their affiliates. The employees know going in what the expectations and rules are going in, but now the Catholic Organizations have no ‘Choice’ to hire th

  • IntellectOne

    The CCD teacher would be correct. Obama is causing h3ll on earth!
    Lifted every abortion restriction he could find.
    Ignores the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) .
    Same-sex pseudo Marriages is Obama’ s Signature
    Obama’s Signature Healthcare Tax forced on every man woman and child. Benefits must include Elective Abortions on Demand, Sterilizations.
    Yes, you are directly participating and cooperating with Evil if you vote for Obama.

  • BillErwin

    Hello levarfan,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I believe if you read the oath carefully, you will realize that disagreeing with the “Fortnight for Freedom” would not represent deviance. FFF is not contained in the Word of God, definitively proposed teaching regarding faith or morals, or the authentic teaching of the Pontiff and/or Bishops. Therefore, you would be free to reject the Fortnight for Freedom on several grounds, provided those grounds were not contrary to the Faith. Whether it would be prudent to do so is another matter.

    I think part of the debate over this document arises from a confusion as to 1) what the Church is and 2) what is official teaching. The Church’s job is to tell people what to believe and how to act. That’s why it exists. Those beliefs, however, must be formulated carefully, and are very specific. You can say “I disagree with the practice of priestly celibacy” and not be going against the Church’s teaching. However, you cannot say “I disagree with an all-male priesthood” because that is part of the deposit of Faith. As a CCD teacher, it’s important to be able to make that distinction. I believe that such an oath will inspire honest teachers to learn their faith better so they don’t inadvertently teach anything against the faith.

    The Bishop just wants to make sure there exists an integrity in what is being taught, and of course, it wants its teachers to believe what they teach.

    Whether certain Catholics with radical ideas about the faith should be teaching is another matter entirely. Those would be wrong to say “you’re going to hell if you vote for x” because they cannot possibly know that. However, they can say that “voting for a president who will promote the murder of unborn children, when there is an alternative candidate (and there are many), is an objectively gravely wrong action.” Then it’s up to God to decide where that person ends up, but it’s on his/her conscience that they contributed to murder of innocent children in some

  • jimwalters1

    When you say “I would say that I can believe what the Catholic Church teaches 100% even though I don’t know it fully” I find that incomprehensible. You can’t believe something if you don’t even know what it is you are claiming to believe.

    On the Chiurch always being right because its teachings come from Jesus, I would remind you that there is no record of Jesus expressing an opinon on a lot of topics that the Church has taken positions on. The Church is interpreting, applying and extending His teachings into new areas. Of course, the Church teaches that the magisterium is infallible, but that has issues worth discussing. First, the concept of infallibility is not explicit in scripture. It is an interpretattion of scripture that may have other plausible interpretattions, and to claim that interpretation is infallible in order to use it to prove infallibilty of the Church’s interpretattions is circular logic. Second, not all teachings of the magesterium are infallible. If the heirarchy shauts down discussion in areas where infallibility does not apply they are overreaching their mandates. I frequently get the feeling that is what is happening.

    I guess what I am trying to argue for is humility on the part of the hierarchy and a willingness to listen -truly listen and consider – to the laity and to explain teachings adequately. As an example of failure to explain properly, I would hold up the Church’s teachings on birth control. I’ve never heard an explanation that didn’t either fall apart after 5 minutes of rational analysis or boil down to “because I said so”. Arguments against unapproved “artificial” birth control usually apply equally well to approved “natural” birth control, and the very distinction between “artificial” and “natural” birth control itself appears very artificial. In the face of this vacuum most Catholics will fall back on pragmatism and use birth control that actually works rather than birth-control that is theologically correct.

  • cricket44

    Did you read the document? This is NOT about making sure the right beliefs are taught.

    People can be so very clueless. No thinking person would sign that document.

  • ThomasBaum

    I agree cricket44 with your statement “No thinking person would sign that document.” and in addition to that, it goes against Catholic teaching.

  • BillErwin

    In what way do you think it goes against Catholic teaching?

  • ThomasBaum

    In my opinion the following:

    “With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

    I also firmly accept and hold each and every thing definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”

    God did not create anyone to be a clone, we are unique individuals and each and everyone of us has a different path to walk and no one else can know just what that walk is except for God and it is with God that we are to do that walk.

    God gave me a conscience and I am suppose to use it.

    I would rather be wrong in using my conscience than right in letting someone or something else be my conscience.

    I would also rather be the worst follower of Jesus than the best follower of the best follower of Jesus, seeing as Jesus’s invitation was to “Come follow Me” which happens to be contained in the “Word of God” mentioned up above if that is referring to the bible.

    God is my Judge, not the Pope, not the Magisterium, not anyone else.

    God chose me for a very specific “job”, I have said YES.

    Did John the Baptist get permission from the “religious authorities” to do what God chose him to do?

    To put it simply: God trumps all.

    When I met Who is referred to as God the Father, I came to the realization that the simple statement, God Is Love, is quite literally True and as I said, God trumps all, Love trumps all.

    As it is written: “It is God’s Will that ALL be saved”, maybe we should Proclaim this Good News as Jesus asked us to do rather than making sure that we are all in lockstep with all of the rules and regulati

  • dcrswm

    “Once I accept the truth, I can use my reason to come to a deeper understanding of the things that I already know are true, rather than worry about whether I know anything correctly in the first place.”
    or
    “Hey pope, please free me from having to have critical reasoning…just tell me what to think, it’s easier.”

  • IntellectOne

    And I suppose you know what the ‘Good News’ is? Do you and you alone have the “Right” definition and interpretation of what the Good News is? Is that why there are more than 3,333 different interpretations on Who is Jesus? What did Jesus mean when He said, “pick-up your cross and follow me”? And then again, what did He mean when He said, “We shall all be One”? How do you accomplish such a request? ‘:Love’ what is the definition of Love?
    Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Light., but what Jesus are we talking about? The 3,333 plus interpretations or The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church definition of Jesus. The definition that Jesus Himself taught the Apostles and implemented by the First Pope, a simple fisherman picked by Jesus named Peter, the Rock.

  • IntellectOne

    Peter was given the Key and the Power, yet never were the Dogmas of what Jesus taught been changed or abrogated. The Apostles were the ‘Witnesses’, The Sacred Tradition, The Magisterium, The Sacred Scripture all (3) must be followed to be an ‘Authentic’ Catholic. Let us face it, how is it that this ‘cult’ as you call it, still be standing strong after 2000 years? ‘Solo Sacred Scripture’ cannot give you the fullness of the Faith. It is a start, but not the ‘Fullness’ as Jesus Personally instructed.

  • IntellectOne

    Just a couple of weeks ago all of the Bishops of the United States of America had a General Assembly Meeting.. They were discussing the up coming decision by the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act “deemed passed” by the House of Representatives. This Law denies the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Conscience Clause that the Constitution of the United States guarantees every American citizen.
    The reason this Law denies Freedom is because this Law requires every man woman and child to participate and cooperate with financing intrinsically evil acts. (mandatory financing of abortifacients, elective abortions on demand, and sterilizations). Every man, woman, and child is required and demanded by force to buy health insurance coverage which will have these abhorrent and destruction of the Soul benefits included.
    In the Bishops meeting, Cardinal George of Chicago asked the question? What if The Supreme Court Upholds the Law?
    And so it was and so it is. Now it is Law under the Tax Provision. The Affordable Healthcare Act’ is a Tax, even on children. The Obamacare can now be known as ‘The Obama Signature Healthcare Tax’.

    The question now is “What to Do” ?

    This will affect 6,980 Catholic Schools, which has an enrollment of 2,765,872 students.
    This will affect 625 Catholic Hospitals with more than 550,000 patients.

    The Cardinals and Bishops have no ‘Choice’ but to layoff a large portion of the staff that do not have adherence to the ‘Profession of Faith’. (this would include all of the dissenters; wayward priests and nuns)
    Example:
    Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.”
    Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the ne

  • dcrswm

    You cannot claim an unprovable position as a truth, it’s a belief or theory. Or is that to complicated for people that believe a spooky jewish ghost is the son of a magical sky wizard?

  • ThomasBaum

    ScottinVA

    You wrote, “Of course Thomas makes up his religion as he goes along.
    Everything is saccarine, and there is no judgement or hell;”

    First off, I have never said that there is no judgement or that hell is not real.

    I have most definitely said that hell is real and that if one were to die and wake up in hell, so to speak, that they will come to the realization that they built it themself.

    I have also said that Jesus went to hell, as a matter of fact being God-Incarnate and taking upon Himself ALL of the sins of all of humanity, He went to All of the hells constructed, so to speak.

    In doing this, Jesus “won” the “keys” to all of these hells and will use these keys in due time, God’s Time.

    Two of the things that I have said many times: God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.

    We have free will and it is up to us whether or not we take responsibility for our use of our free will, but we are responsible for our use of our free will whether or not we own up to that responsibility.

    You then wrote, “God is some Santa Claus in the sky, to Thomas, who let’s rapists and murderers into His heaven alongside the martyrs and saints.”

    Do you remember that it is written that when Jesus was on the cross that one of those next to Him, who has been described as a thief but was probably an insurrectionist, said to Jesus, “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” and Jesus said, “Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise”?

    Are you going to tell Jesus that He went too far in forgiveness?

    Are you going to give God a list of those things that you have decided that God should not forgive?

    As I have said before: Sometimes, I wonder just who will be more surprised when they meet God, those that believe in God or those that do not believe in God.

  • ThomasBaum

    IntellectOne

    You wrote, “And I suppose you know what the ‘Good News’ is?”

    Have you ever thought that the “Good News” just might mean what it seems to say, that being “Good News”.

  • ThomasBaum

    ScottinVA

    Did you bother to read this part?

    You then wrote, “God is some Santa Claus in the sky, to Thomas, who let’s rapists and murderers into His heaven alongside the martyrs and saints.”

    Do you remember that it is written that when Jesus was on the cross that one of those next to Him, who has been described as a thief but was probably an insurrectionist, said to Jesus, “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” and Jesus said, “Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise”?

    Are you going to tell Jesus that He went too far in forgiveness?

    Are you going to give God a list of those things that you have decided that God should not forgive?

    As I have said before: Sometimes, I wonder just who will be more surprised when they meet God, those that believe in God or those that do not believe in God.

    God became One of us for for sinner’s sake, didn’t He?

  • nkri401

    BillErwin,

    If you are moral only because you are a true believer, does it mean you would be an immoral person if you were a non-believer?

    Were you immoral before you became a true believer?

    That you are a true believer makes you no more or less moral than a true non-believer.

  • nkri401

    BillErwin,

    “The Catholic Church requires me to be a good American, but faith always comes before country. ”

    Above is a dangerous statement – Many religious wars and persecution was done under the above banner.

    “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” – St. Thomas More

    That is why We the People decide not to have Kings or Gods before the “Constitution”, not a divine edict but an agreement among We the People.

  • nkri401

    You are entitled to your opinion; however, it seems to be based on many incorrect understanding of the foundation of this nation.

    That any religious test is forbidden in the constitution explicitly says a lot more factually than your opinion.

  • ThomasBaum

    ScottinVA

    You wrote, “We the people of the Christian nation called the United States of America”

    A nation can not be Christian, only a person can.

    You then wrote, “This nation was founded by people who wanted to get away from those who demanded fealty to the state over fealty to God.”

    Seems to me that it was “founded” for quite a number of reasons and one of those reasons is that no one can shove their version of God down any one else’s throat.

    You also wrote, “One cannot be a true and proper patriot without his first allegiance belonging to Jesus Christ.”

    So in other words, to be a “true and proper patriot” one needs to throw away the Bill of Rights, is that what you are saying?

  • jburnetti

    You’ve got it all wrong. People owe their loyalty to God, not to the teachings of a celibate clergy that arrogantly eliminates half the flock because they have no male sex organs, and most of the rest because they use them. Would Jesus really want 99% of people eliminated from spreading his word? When you eliminate most of the flock from positions of authority – the remaining talent pool by definition eliminates most of the best people, and you are forced to include people with some rather strange ideas. If a large proportion of the clergy considers pedophilia okay, what makes you think their other teachings should be accepted without question? This Bishop O’Hara grad thinks its time for the Church leadership to take a look at itself, and ask whether it looks like all of God’s creation.

  • BillErwin

    Is pedophilia a Catholic Church teaching? No. Nobody is suggesting we swear an oath to pedophilia.
    This is about whether a Church can regulate its representatives so that they correctly transmit the Church’s teachings, which you are not.

  • BillErwin

    nkri401,
    Morality is first and foremost about behavior. However, behavior follows belief.
    What about this article makes you think I am claiming some kind of morality? I am merely saying that an institution such as the Catholic Church has the right to regulate those who represent it officially. Do you agree or disagree?

  • BillErwin

    Since it seems to be causing some confusion, please note that I use the term “king” as a synonym for “government.” I was quoting the movie “Man for All Seasons” which I highly recommend.

  • ThomasBaum

    I have met Dad and I have met the Holy Spirit Who revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus so I know that God Is a Trinity and Is a Being of Love.

    For one thing, the pledge is not the Bill of Rights.

    The Bill of Rights is for freedom of religion not just for those that are Christian.

    If freedom of religion is not for all religions and for one to not believe in God than it is not freedom of religion at all.

    This freedom of religion is for anyone to believe whatever they wish to about God including to believe that there is no God whether you like it or not.

    I am not all of the founding fathers of this country and for that matter I am not even one of them so there is no way that I can tell
    anyone else just what they believed concerning God, seems to me that there was quite a wide spectrum in their beliefs, this could be one of the reasons why they came up with this freedom in the bill of rights in the first place.

  • muusk

    An oath will do nothing to ensure that the representatives correctly transmit Church teachings. The thinking people who are aware that they have concerns or disagreement would never have let those opinions into the classroom anyway. Good catechists teach history and doctrine, not opinions. The people who have no idea that what they are teaching is wrong — for example,the catechist who told my son’s class that Catholicism endorsed capital punishment due to the biblical “eye for an eye” — will cheerfully sign the oath and continue their incorrect teaching.

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