Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Former America Magazine Editor Say Bishops Embarrassing To Watch

In November, when the U.S. bishops met for their annual meeting in Baltimore, they did not pick up on the themes that are the signature features of the papacy of Pope Francis: concern for the poor and marginalized, criticism of the capitalism, and the mercy and compassion of God. Rather, they continued to worry about gay marriage and the contraceptive mandate and voted to write a statement on pornography. (Spoiler alert: They are against it.) It was truly embarrassing to watch the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in action in Baltimore, especially for those who remember the glory years when the bishops were prophetic voices with their letters on peace and the economy. It was as if they had missed the Francis memo.
This week, the bishops will have another chance to get on the Francis bandwagon as they meet Wednesday through Friday in New Orleans. Will they miss the bus again?
"Family issues" will again be front and center at the meeting in New Orleans. The bishops will get an update from their Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, chaired by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. This is the committee that fights gay marriage. They will also hear from Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, which is leading the fight against the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. 
Link (here) to the Fishwrap to read the full article by Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Jesuit Elephant

It seems that elephants roamed the Philippines not just in prehistoric times but as late as the 17th century, as Jesuit Ignacio Francisco Alcina in his multivolumeHistoria de las islas e indios de Bisayas(1668) as a “torre de carne” (tower of flesh) that some Christian saints referred to as “Goliath” because of the size. (The iconic Japanese monster Godzilla may not look like it, but its name when read in Japanese sounds like “gorilla.”)  Alcina noted that the Visayan word for elephant was “gadya,” and that the ivory (“garing” in Tagalog, hence one of the attributes of the Virgin Mary, “Tower of Ivory,” is “Torre ng Garing”) was used for bracelets, ear pendants, daggers and sword hilts, and even jewelry boxes.
described by the
According to Alcina, elephants were not to be found in the Visayas but in Jolo. These were smaller than elephants from Cambodia and India, and were prized for their: ivory tusks that were made into religious images of the Santo Niño, the Virgin Mary, and other saints; bones, similar to ivory, that were fashioned into jewelry; hide that was made into breastplates, helmets, and armor that protected the wearer from sword and lance but not from an arquebus or musket; and, last but not least, meat that was eaten, too!
Alcina wrote: “The natives of that island (Jolo) eat the flesh. One of our fathers who stayed there told me that he had eaten the meat and that it was tougher than beef and did not taste as good.” Elephants were said to be intelligent, hardworking, and fierce when provoked. They were modest, too. When told that elephants were never seen mating, that they concealed themselves when they mated, Alcina remarked: “A lesson in modesty for men who sometimes and even frequently lack the modesty which these brute animals observe so well.”

What I found fascinating, though, was the fact that Alcina saw elephants in Manila where they were received as gifts from Cambodia and neighboring countries. Alonso Fajardo, governor-general from 1618 to 1624, gave the Jesuits a tamed elephant that served them many years hauling logs, beams and posts during the construction of the Jesuit residence in the city.
Alcina talked fondly about their pet elephant and of its sad end:
“I have heard unusual and very strange stories related about it… I shall tell only one, which seems to have a connection with the friends of Bacchus (Greek god of grape growing and wine) of whom there are many here. It seems that if they were not watchful, he went to the wine cellar or store room, either at the Colegio or that of the Procurator General, sniffed out the casks which contained wine, very easily uncovered them with his trunk and siphoned out one entire cask at one time; thus showing his joy with a thousand gambols. If, perchance, he took in too much he would be intoxicated and cause some violence. However he was able to get out into the countryside until it passed; afterwards he returned to the house very docile.
“When he felt hungry, they say, he used to go among the houses of the natives; they knew what he wanted and gave him either rice or various fruits to eat. In this manner he went to many dwellings, as though asking alms, until he was satisfied. He approached the doors of the houses of those who would not give him anything and struck the posts and tore them off and flattened the houses, thus they were careful to give him something immediately so that he would not harm them. This happened when days passed without his returning to our house where what was needed was given him.
“He lived for years until a Brother of ours, angered by some mischief or other, whether stealing food or drink, who was in a house in the field where the elephant was taken to haul logs, which were newly cut, fastened the beast with strong ropes to a large tree and left him there to die of hunger. Since this animal had cost him little, he was little concerned about it perishing.”
Quite a sad end for the pet elephant in the 17th-century Jesuit house in Manila whose name is lost to history. I hope that inhumane Jesuit brother was castigated in life and in the hereafter for his cruelty.

Link (here) to The Inquirer

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jesuit Abducted By Taliban In Afghanistan

Vatican Radio is reporting that Afghan forces have arrested a man in connection with the abduction of Father Alexis Prem Kumar. It says the kidnapped Indian Jesuit has been located in the Gilan district of Herat, Afghanistan. According to the Hindustan Times, Father Kumar, 47, country head of Jesuit Refugee Services, was kidnapped on Monday by six gunmen from Zenda Jan district in Heart province.
The abduction came nearly 10 days after an attack on the Indian consulate in Herat by four heavily-armed gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. On May 29, the Indian mission in Herat had issued an advisory asking its nationals to exercise extreme caution while venturing out.
"We are deeply shocked by Prem's abduction. We are in contact with all the relevant authorities and doing everything possible to ensure his safe and speedy return. Meanwhile, our prayers are with Prem and his family and friends at this difficult time," said Jesuit Father Peter Balleis, International Director of the NGO working for refugees around the world. JRS said that Father Kumar had accompanied teachers on a visit to a JRS-supported school for the returnee refugees in Sohadat township, half an hour from the city of Herat. He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat. 
Link (here) to Aleteia

Monday, June 2, 2014

Liberation Theology Is Very Archaic, If Not Already Dead

While in Rome last week, the president of the Latin American Bishops’ Council said at a news conference that the Church in the region has fortunately moved beyond liberation theology. “The relevant figures of liberation theology are all very elderly, and liberation theology as such, as the expression of what it was, is very archaic, if not already dead,” commented Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla May 27 at the offices of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
"There were efforts by some liberation theologians to clarify their theology,” he said. “But that was during the 1970s and 80s, and today, thank God, we have a much wiser theological reflection that does not neglect the necessary, comprehensive, liberation of man.” "Now it is not about class warfare, with the confrontation between rich and poor, because as we know, for the Church this is not the way to social liberation.”
Archbishop Aguiar explained that liberation theology "had been put forth with a sociological foundation that did not square with theological foundations," and that consequently "that is where it fell apart." True liberation, he said, "is showing the merciful face of God the Father, the tenderness of God among us”; this strengthens the human condition, the family as the place where the person matures and is educated, and prepares future generations to be leaders in all areas of society, "whether social, economic, or political." This task, Archbishop Aguiar reflected, “is one that Pope Francis has described in ‘Evangelii Gaudium.’”
Link (here) to CNA 
Tons of stuff on Liberation Theology and Jesuits (here)

Fr. James Martin, S.J. On Liberation Theology

Pope John Paul II admonishing  Fr. Ernesto Cardenal, S.J.
In its heyday, liberation theology was not without controversy: some in the church, and some in the Vatican, thought it skirted too close to Marxism--including Pope John Paul II.  On the other hand, John Paul didn’t shy away from personally involving himself in direct political activism in Poland.  It was the Latin American version of social action that seemed to bother him more.  But even John Paul affirmed the notion of “preferential option for the poor,” as did Paul VI before him.  “When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration,” John Paul wrote in his great encyclical Centesimus Annus, which celebrated 100 years of—uh oh--Catholic Social Teaching. “Liberation theology” is easy to be against.  For one thing, most people don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.  (It even sounds vaguely suspicious, too.)  It’s also easier to ignore the concerns of the poor, particularly overseas, than it is to actually get to know them as individuals who make a moral claim on us.  For another, there are lots of overheated websites that facilely link it to Marxism.  My response to that last critique is to read the Gospels and count how many times Jesus tells us with should help the poor and even be poor.  In the Gospel of Matthew, in fact, Jesus tells us that the ones who are to enter the Kingdom of heaven are those who help “the least of my brothers and sisters,” i.e., the poor.   After that, read the Acts of the Apostles, and read about the apostles “sharing everything in common.”  Then let me know if helping the poor is communist or simply Christian. I have no idea if President Obama subscribes to liberation theology. But I do.
Link (here) to read the full post entitled, Glenn Beck and Liberation Theology by Fr. James Martin, S.J.
Link (here) to the photo and lengthy  story of “Pope John Paul II on his 1983 arrival in Managua, publicly reprimanded Jesuit priest and Sandinista Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal."

More on the subject
An interview with sanctioned Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J. in Sojourners Magazine (here)
More on Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor program in Washington, D.C. (here)
Read about the Italian Father Alighiero Tondi, S.J. and his Communist connections with the Catholic Action Movement (here) as told by Time Magazine
Jesuit Education and Social Change in El Salvador By Charles Joseph Beirne, S.J.
Go (here) to read the one time Jesuit Fr. Malachi Martin on Liberation Theology in his famous book entitled, The Jesuits.