Kennedy, Confessions, Comments, and Christians

September 2, 2009

cmocb-by George Vogt

Opinion (MetroCatholic) - Many Catholic figures whom I have much respect for have been clamoring about the “scandal” caused by Ted Kennedy’s Mass of Christian Burial.

I am not delusional about the terrible misrepresentation of the Catholic Faith and the obvious scandalous actions of Kennedy. We should definitely use the opportunity to shed further light on the plight of the unborn. We should use the opportunity to present the differences in Kennedy’s actions compared with the teachings of the Church.

We should absolutely use the opportunity to point out that there is NO place for a eulogy at a Mass for Christian Burial and, building on that, teach the beauty of the funeral Mass and the joy of dying Catholic, etc.

However, one should not say that he or she is not judging the final state of Kennedy’s soul and then say that he should be denied a Catholic funeral. Those are matters for his Bishop and priest (who was with him daily for weeks) to decide.

Nor should one state as a matter of fact that his funeral was a scandal.

Many have quoted Canon Law 1184

 ”manifest sinners … cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.”

 Two things about this Canon are important. First, it also states

“unless they gave some signs of repentance before death.”

 Second, it places the full and complete burden of the decision in this matter with the Bishop.

“If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.”

 ”Must be followed.”

Please notice that it does not say “unless they gave some PUBLIC signs of repentance before death.”

Whether the qualifications were met in this case, we do not know. I do believe that we would be well to assume as much. Regardless, this is now a matter between the Bishop and God.

“Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.” (James 1: 19,20)

Celebrating the Truth on the Fourth

July 4, 2009

- by George Vogt

flagLittle Elm, TX (MetroCatholic) - I wrote this piece 2 years ago. With a few modifications, it is even more relevant today.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our country’s independence, yet we should not forget our total dependence on God nor should we be afraid to lean on one another in times of need.

We celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We consider ourselves a “Just” nation.

However, we are a nation that does not recognize the value of life from the moment of conception until natural death. The science of metaphysics proves that, at the moment of conception, a “human being” does indeed exist. In short, at the moment of conception, a new and unique set of human DNA exists. This DNA, while obviously having characteristics of the father and the mother, is clearly not the father’s or the mother’s. It is a unique human being. Additionally, many would have us believe that the value of one’s life is dependant on his/her ability to be a “productive” human being. Created by God, we share in the dignity of “the image of God”.

The definition of liberty has been so twisted that even Webster now says one meaning is to do whatever one wishes. Surely this was never the intent of the “founding fathers” of our country as this promotes anarchy. Worth noting is a quote from Anton Levay (founder of the church of Satan in the USA) “Do what thy wilt shall be the whole of the law”). Various atheistic groups and even some who claim to be Christian hold that any form of religion is suppressive and that this nation should be freed from the values of the Natural Law in favor of self and self-reliance.

Many people believe that the pursuit of happiness means a guarantee of happiness. Our nation should always help those truly in need, but it should never confuse helping someone with blindly throwing money and resources at a person (or problem). Financial assistance without training, guidance, and accountability hurts, not helps one. This requires true empathy.

Justice is one of the four Cardinal Virtues. The other three are Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. As I consider whether we are truly just, I look to guidance from the Church to help me to understand such a complex topic:

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” CCC

I love this country. There is NO better place to live. However, true patriotism does not mean following blindly nor ignoring that which needs to be corrected or improved. True freedom attains perfection only when it is directed toward God.
From “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America” In Congress, July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

U.S. Marshals to Protect Abortion Providers But Who Will Protect The Babies?

June 2, 2009

prolife- by George Vogt

WASHINGTON, DC (MetroCatholic) -  The statement and actions of the Attorney General with regards to Dr. Tiller’s murder is exactly why pro-life people and organizations around the nation have felt compelled to be so vocal in denouncing such an action.

Of course his murder was wrong.  All murder is wrong.  Of course true pro-life people and organizations would in no way be supportive of such actions.  It is against the very essence of such a position.  All life is sacred.

However, I am sure there have also been fears of repercussions and such.  Apparently, those fears have been substantiated.

Each day in the United States, as many Americans are murdered through abortion as those whose lives were taken on September 11, 2001.  Each year since Roe v. Wade, more Americans have been murdered through abortion than all lives lost (military and civilian) in all wars and military actions combined since the Revolutionary War.  You read that correctly.  Each year.

Has the government sent Federal Marshals to protect these innocent lives?  No.  Has the President of the United States informed the nation that these murders have “shocked and outraged” him?  No.

The following articles tell the rest of the story.

Statement of the Attorney General on Murder of Doctor George Tiller

“The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.”

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Attorney General Directs U.S. Marshals to Protect Abortion Providers After Murder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the U.S. Marshals Service to protect “appropriate people and facilities around the nation” in the wake of the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday morning.  Read more

MetroCatholic to change pace during Holy Week, Octave of Easter

April 6, 2009

Editorial (MetroCatholic) - Dear Readers, While the intention of MetroCatholic is always to promote the faith and to assist its readers in their efforts to stay informed on important issues, some topics stir emotions that may possibly lead one to think adversely of other human beings, even if temporarily.

During Holy Week and through the Octave of Easter, you will notice that MetroCatholic will be scaled back. This will allow us all to more properly reflect on the reverence due to this special time.

Were you there when they crucified the Lord? (A Holy Week reflection)

April 3, 2009

- by George Vogt (with special acknowledgement)

eastsunriseEditorial (MetroCatholic) - Holy Week will be upon us next week. There will be opportunities for us to spiritually walk with Christ as He is received with shouts of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”; as He institutes the Eucharist at the last supper and the priesthood in the washing of the feet; the opportunity to stay and pray or to fall asleep in His darkest hour. We will have the opportunity to walk with Him as He is betrayed, deserted, beaten, illegally tried, condemned, inhumanely tortured, spit upon, and ridiculed. We will have the opportunity to walk with Him as He carries the cross, falls under the weight of the cross, perhaps even crawls under the weight of the cross, already so near death that Simon is forcibly pressed into service to help Him. We will have the opportunity to witness Him take our sins upon Himself so that the chains of sin can be broken. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life thus bringing death into the world. Now Jesus, the Lamb of God, hangs on the tree of death bringing everlasting life into the world. We will have the opportunity to be present as our Lord gives us to His mother and as He gives his mother to us. We will have the opportunity to be there as He gives up His Spirit, dies for us, and is laid in the tomb.

As we prepare for Holy Week, I would invite you to reflect on some of those who were there then. How do we, today, identify with them? How are we like them?

Are we sometimes like…

The Pharisees – Knowledgeable of religion, its practices and traditions, but unable to see that God is in our midst; so busy with what we think is important that we are deaf to what Jesus is telling us is really important.

Peter – When we allow fear to overwhelm us. When we are afraid to stand up for what is right and true. When we are afraid to proclaim or even acknowledge our Faith. When, although we have walked with Jesus, touched Him, spoken with Him, seen the wonders He has done right in front of us, run away at the most critical of times.

The crowd – When we close God out and listen to others and allow them to influence us to accuse others wrongly or to shout for blood.

Herod – Reducing Jesus to some small wonder-worker or looking for some magical sign.

Pilate – When we give in to the crowd telling us what to do, pressuring us to do something…even when we know it isn’t right. Or when we are so caught up in ourselves and our own worries that we attempt to create our own truth or deny there is such a thing as truth…even when THE TRUTH, Christ is there before us.

The soldiers – When we continue to sin, although our sins tear at, bruise, scourge, and pierce our Lord…all while He is pleading for us, “Father, forgive them.” Here, the word He uses is ABBA, a word that was really used by young children when addressing their fathers. A word that may be better translated as “Daddy”. “Daddy”, forgive them.

The scoffing criminal crucified next to Jesus – When we allow ourselves to become so angry and bitter that we are actually angry and bitter with God.

Perhaps we are like some of these people. Perhaps we are like all of these people. One thing is for sure though. We are, each and every one of us, like:

Barrabas – the notorious sinner who truly deserved to die, and in fact had already been condemned to death; but instead, Jesus, our God who humbled Himself and became one of us, took our place on the cross and died for us so that we might live.

Indeed, we will have many opportunities next week. The question is, will we make the most of those opportunities? How will we approach Holy Week and all that our Lord is offering to us in its meaning? May we be his companions all the way to the tomb, and may we rise with Him on Easter morn.

I wish to acknowledge that this reflection has been and continues to be a work in progress as is my own life.  Special thanks to Tony DalPra, Dominick Gullotta, Fr. Dennis Hayes, Fr. Timothy Heines, and others who have contributed to this reflection through their own teaching, preaching, and testimonies.

Related :

Government to teach children how to have safe sex? Is this for REAL? (Opinion)

March 18, 2009

by George Vogt

North Texas (MetroCatholic) - I ran across some information through the mainstream media today regarding “the REAL Act”, which stands for Responsible Education About Life. 

Apparently, this has been flying below my radar. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) were set to formally introduce a bill yesterday that would authorize federal funding for so-called “comprehensive sex education”. I have yet to confirm that the bill was indeed introduced.

Of course this is another attack on our youth in the guise of “helping” them. Supporters of this bill attack abstinence programs, calling them “ineffective” and those who promote them as “misleading”.

Said Lautenberg, “Growing up isn’t easy and our young people find themselves in tough situations every day. They need all the information to make smart choices, and ‘abstinence-only’ programs simply aren’t working. It’s time for our nation’s young people to get the education they need to take on the real life situations facing them every day”

Isn’t the “smart choice” abstinence? And the rhetoric about “taking on real life situations facing them every day” makes it sound so critical that, once again, the almighty government needs to come to the rescue. Government needs to bail out our children, I suppose, and take its rightful place in teaching them that morality just doesn’t work. Wow!

And from Lee, “It’s time for us to get real about sex education. We should absolutely be teaching young people about abstinence, but we shouldn’t be holding back information that can save lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead of ‘abstinence only,’ what we’re proposing is ‘abstinence-plus.”

Let’s see…if a person abstains, how does that put them in a position which requires life-saving? Additionally, if one abstains, it is the ONLY sure way to avoid pregnancy, save the Incarnation. “Abstinence-plus”? No, the key here is Lee’s referral to so-called “unwanted pregnancies”. It is just another way to say that having children is a problem and an inconvenience. Undoubtedly, this terminology would be a central theme to such “education”. Its use tells our children that pregnancy is not something wonderful and beautiful, but simply an obstacle to an enjoyable life for themselves.

I can hear the argument now. “Well, they are going to do it anyway, we should teach them how to be ’safe’.”  Ha! Safe? Well, you know your teens are going to drink alcohol right? Come on, you were a teen once too. So, why not just tell them to be “safe” about it. Go ahead, let the school teach them. Better yet, let the school hand out free beer! That will do the trick. We can just tell them to be careful with the beer and not to drive after drinking. Wow! Isn’t it wonderful how the school just saved their lives?

“But we have to teach them about STD’s!” Great! Show them pictures of what STD’s do to the human body. Show them video interviews with people who have STD’s to show that the effects go beyond the physical. Don’t thik that you are doing them a service by giving them a false sense of security through false teaching.

Advocates for Youth President, James Wagoner says, “The REAL Act is a necessary first step if we are serious about providing young people the important education and information they need to make responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”

There you have it. This is the “first” step. What’s next?

I’ll give you a hint. “NARAL Pro-Choice America” loves this bill and is actively lobbying for it’s passage.

Do you really think that Bishops Farrell and Vann need us to tell them what to do?

February 23, 2009

Bishop Kevin Farrell - Bishop Kevin Vann

Bishop Kevin Farrell (DAL) - Bishop Kevin Vann (FW)

 by George Vogt

Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX (MetroCatholic) – A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a very respectable member of my parish. The e-mail was a blanket request for the recipients to sign a petition. A portion of the e-mail reads:

“Dear Friend, I recently completed a petition to Withhold Communion from prominent Catholics in public life that dissent from the Church’s teaching on a variety of serious moral issues including abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, homosexual marriage, and embryonic stem cell research to name a few. I encourage you to do the same.

The e-mail then goes on to state “Canon 212 S3 of the Catholic Church states that the Catholic faithful have ‘..the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.’”

The e-mail goes on to encourage the recipient to visit a website and “sign” the petition.
I noticed that other respectable Catholic websites have published articles regarding this petition as well.

While I am certainly concerned that “prominent Catholics in public life” by virtue of their high visibility have the potential to confuse or even mislead some of the “faithful” who may not be properly formed in their own faith, I do not share the view that joining this effort is necessary or even helpful in the Dallas and Fort Worth Dioceses.

First of all, let’s clarify that the Canon that is quoted above goes on to state “They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.”

I cannot say for certain why this important portion of the Canon was left out, but when one sets out to lead others in matters of the Faith, one is more culpable for his/her actions. Certainly someone or some group who intends to accuse others of manipulating the Faith should be more diligent at best.

Next, I would like to state some concerns I have with this effort and especially as they pertain to Dallas and Fort Worth. If you are a parishioner of another Diocese, I suggest that these concerns might also be beneficial to your particular situation as well.

While the following information is correct to the best of my research and personal understanding, I am not an expert in this area. So as you read this, understand that this is my opinion and a different perspective on the matter.

While it may be assumed that the petition seeks to generate emotion over the recent high-profile issues with regards to Catholic politicians, none of those politicians are members of the Dallas or Fort Worth Dioceses.

The petition is not sent to all Bishops. It compiles the names, addresses, and Dioceses of the petitioners, and then sends those to the respective Bishop. Thus, Bishops Farrell and Vann will receive this petition from respective members of their Dioceses, and the names of Dallas and Fort Worth petitioners will not go to other Bishops, namely those who are the pastoral leaders of the aforementioned Catholic “dissenters”.

I am of the opinion that his is another area where perhaps we should spend more time examining ourselves and less time examining others and especially our Bishops. You know, removing the plank from our own eyes before removing the speck in our neighbors’. Or, how about not casting that stone unless we are without sin?

Part of the continued confusion that people have in this area is a misunderstanding of excommunication. The topic of excommunication is a difficult and complex one. I believe that most people think that excommunication only takes place with an official proclamation. Ironically, this matter has recently surfaced in the comments section of DFW Catholic as well. Some of this information has already been discussed there.

When one acts against the communion of the Church, he/she incurs excommunication latae sententiae (incurred as soon as the offence is committed and by reason of the offence itself).

In some instances, a Ferendae Sententiae is inflicted on the culprit only by a judicial sentence. That being said, such person has already incurred the latae sententiae and is now having the already existing condition brought to a higher level of awareness.

Even under this condition, the general public may not necessarily be made aware of the official imposition since it may take place in a private meeting as a means of persuading the individual to reconcile first.

Excommunication does not mean one is no longer Catholic, it means that Catholic is no longer in communion with the Church and unable to participate in the Sacraments. One may see this as a matter of semantics but it really isn’t.

Additionally, while there might be Catholics in the Dallas or Fort Worth Dioceses who fall into this category, without doing research, I am unaware of any and think the same will hold true for most of other people in the metroplex as well.

That said, bringing the matter to the forefront may not only impede Bishops Farrell and Vann from taking the matter up privately, but may actually increase the scope of any scandal (if any) which has taken place.

I would like to emphasize that Bishops Farrell and Vann have proven in a very short time that they are committed to the overall well-being and formation of those in their Dioceses.

My intention is not to speak as an authority in these matters, but to suggest that our best efforts might be prayer and seeking ways we can help our Bishops by being effective in their pastoral visions.

Steps forward, steps backward

January 23, 2009

- by George Vogt

(MetroCatholic) – This past week has been marked by progress, challenges, and set-backs alike.

The participation in the Roe v Wade Memorial events in Dallas has never been higher. While there was some secular media coverage, it was not what one would expect considering approximately 5,000 people participated.

Our nation saw its’ first African-American President sworn (and re-sworn) in. While this marks a new chapter in our nation’s journey to racial equality, it also sadly marks a new chapter in a different kind of discrimination, one of age, against human children who will not be allowed to completely form in the womb. Sadly ironic is that a main objective of Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was to “exterminate the Negro population”.  An objective which would seem to have been achieved since most Planned Parenthood abortion mills are located in inner cities. An objective which would seem to have been met considering the 1400 African-American children aborted every day.

The White House published its’ agenda addressing various social issues that, if properly implemented, have the potential to help the less-fortunate in this nation. However, it is hard to overlook the items that will increase the assault on the unborn, on marriage, and on family values, along with proposed legislation which discriminates against heterosexuals and against true religious freedoms.

Hundreds of thousands participated in the March for Life in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v Wade. However, once again, the event was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Our new President rightly addressed the use of torture, virtually putting an end to it. This pro-life success is marred though by the seemingly impending intention of his to repeal the “Mexico City Policy”, a Reagan-era policy that restricts overseas funding to groups that offer or aggressively promote abortion.

Let us pray for our President, and let us pray that his heart will not be hardened to the cry of the unborn.

“You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- Matthew 5: 43-48

DFW Catholic December 30, 2008

December 30, 2008

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Tried as an adult at 8 years old?

November 10, 2008

Little Elm, TX (DFW Catholic) – In Arizona, there is an 8 year old boy who is charged in the shooting death of his father and his father’s business partner. 

I really do not intend to get into the specifics of the case or other circumstances in the boy’s life, although these things are “screaming” for a thorough investigation. 

What disturbs me is that while watching an Associated Press video report on the incident, I learned that “Police are pushing to have him tried as an adult.” 

What?  The boy is 8!   

The issue of trying juveniles as adults has “burned” at me for some time.  Either a person is an adult, or he / she is not.  It really seems simple to me.  What is at the heart of charging children as adults anyway?  It would seem that harsher sentencing is the only reason. 

Don’t think it happens a lot?  Don’t think aggressive police, prosecutors, and politicians have pursued this with the intention of “exterminating” young offenders?   

An American Bar Association report showed that from 1976 to March of 2004, there were 22 executions of persons under the age of 18.  At that time, there were another 73 on “death row”. 

Oh, and “God bless Texas”?  59 percent of those executions happened here, where we do everything “big”.  Texas executed 13 juveniles and there were another 28 on death row at the time of the report. 

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the “eighth and fourteenth amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed.” 

Now prosecutors argue for life in prison without the possibility of parole, but they’ll be satisfied as long as these juveniles enter the adult prison population.  The interesting thing about that is that the ABA has also reported that juveniles incarcerated in an adult population are not only more likely to become repeat offenders, but they are more likely to become more violent than at the time they entered prison. 

I am not sure what will be the ultimate charge or outcome in this particular case, but does anyone really think that an eight year old boy has no chance of being “rehabilitated”?  Surely most people understand that our prison system is punishment, not rehabilitation.   

The latest reports that I have seen show that all 50 states allow 16 year olds to be tried as adults.  Obviously the age is much lower in some states. 

Let me get this straight.  Age at which one’s reasoning ability allows: 

Being tried as an adult?              16, some states allow at younger ages.

Smoking?                                 18, some states trying to raise this to 21.

Drinking Alcohol?                       21.

Getting Married? (W/o pc)         18, Nebraska 19 and Mississippi  21.

“Consensual” Relations?            Average age is 16, varies from 18 to 12. 

A brief comparison of the last 2 items further clarifies that something is wrong with our adult thinking.  But that is another story.

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