Behind the Masks
Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer's Líbera Nos a Malo column on abortion as a demonic industry ("The Demon of Child Sacrifice & the Valley of Slaughter," June) was very interesting. But I have never thought that we could blame the Devil for all evil; we are quite capable of evil ourselves, though he and his minions are certainly active in the widespread assaults on the natural law.
The Devil is a chameleon; he infiltrates cultures using many ideological masks. Perhaps this is why we find so many convergencies in secular philosophies, hedonistic lifestyles, and totalitarian machinations. Some, of course, are worse than others, but they all share the same common ground as worldly beliefs, and abortion happens to fit into all, or most, humanistic, man-centered ideologies.
God, on the other hand, is unique and immutable. He never changes. His objective nature, His laws, and His commandments are the same in all times, all cultures, and all places.
Matthew F. Terranova
Hackensack, New Jersey
Fr. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, makes a good case for the inherent evil behind the abortion movement. However, in dissecting the abortion industry, he neglects to identify the glue that holds the whole grotesque apparatus together, at least in the U.S.: the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party is, undeniably, the organization in which all the various components of the abortion coalition gather to build the necessary political force that provides the legal framework for killing the unborn. And now the Democrats and their allies are urging that abortions be funded with tax dollars, making the entire nation complicit in their barbarism.
That the Democratic Party, traditionally the political home of Catholics, has morphed into the Party of Death is a failure of the Catholic bishops, past and present. Statistics have shown that a lopsided percentage of pro-abortion congressmen comes from states with sizable Catholic populations like Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and so on, whereas the largest percentage of prolife congressmen comes from states with a low percentage of Catholics.
This, more than the homosexual clerical scandals, is the most telling sign of the deep corruption in the institutional Church. One can argue that, given the cultural trends let loose in the 1960s, the Church could not have stopped the legalization of abortion. Perhaps. Yet any impartial observer can see that the bishops have used but a small fraction of the resources at their disposal to fight this Moloch-inspired evil. I am under the impression that the majority of our Church leaders does the bare minimum when it comes to opposing abortion, just enough so they can technically claim that they are for life. But their hearts are not in it.
I have known men who have been parties to abortion and who subsequently have become enmeshed in such perversions as pornography addiction, gerontophile molestation, and homosexuality. I have met women who have had abortions and who continue to practice "serial monogamy" with indifferent men, expecting a different result with each affair, thereby meeting the classic definition of insanity. I am a layman operating on anecdotal evidence, but I believe that those who involve themselves with abortion, and who do not repent, make themselves vulnerable to demonic possession.
I thank the NOR for publishing the Líbera Nos a Malo column series by the great prolife crusader and exorcist, Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer.
FR. EUTENEUER REPLIES:
To Matthew Terranova
The Church blames temptation and evil not exclusively on the Devil but on three things: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. As a result, we should not see demons around every corner or say, like Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it," when we can attribute sin and evil to human devices. That is not to say, however, that the Devil is not to blame for some things! We have to distinguish the source of all evil from its active agents. We can rightly blame the fallen seraphim angel Lucifer for being the original cause of all the evil in the world. He was not tempted who would have tempted him at the beginning? he rebelled and became the font of all evil, tempting the rest of the angels and men. He goes about corrupting others, sometimes very effectively, and seducing them into his original rebellion. There is plenty of corruption in society perpetuated by the Evil One through the use of human agents.
The abortion industry was the focus of my June Líbera Nos a Malo column, and it is a perfect example of this "source vs. active agents" distinction. The Devil wants to set up his own kingdom of evil and receive worship like God. The blood of innocent babies is his ideal form of worship. Through blood sacrifice, the Devil mocks Jesus' eternal sacrifice made with His own blood. Abortion is perpetrated against completely innocent human beings, like the killing of the Innocent One on Calvary. And it is ritualized like the Church's liturgical worship of the true God. The Devil is clearly the source of the abortion holocaust, but he relies on numerous human agents to carry it out.
To Pete Skurkiss
The reason I entitled my new book Exorcism and the Church Militant (published by Human Life International; 800-549-LIFE; www.exorcismbook.com) is that I believe only a spiritually militant Church will be sufficient to deal with the great evils that have entered our world. It comes down to this: Inveterate evil needs a superior authority of good to cast it out. The armies of Satan have been unleashed against mankind like never before. St. Paul speaks of the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess. 2:3) as being restrained in the practice of evil, but all restraints seem to have been taken away in our age. Ask any elderly person if this is true. They all know how radically society has changed, and part of that radicalism is spiritual. Many are the reasons for this change in society, but the primary reason is the spiritual weakness of the Catholic Church and her leadership. When the Church is strong, all of society is strong and when society is strong it is because the Church is strong.
Mr. Skurkiss blames the Democratic Party for the evils of this age, but really, it is just a pawn, an effective instrument for doing the work of the Devil. It will take righteous men and women in politics to put an end to this situation, but we have so few righteous men and women in public life. The disciplinary authority of the Church has not been used effectively against those who exploit their positions in politics and the culture to lead the masses astray from God and His law. Whenever we see an authentic exercise of episcopal leadership against the wolves in sheep's clothing, the evil is broken, or is at least decreased in force. If even a fraction of our bishops and clergy would stand like Joshua's army against these evils, "the gates of Hell would not prevail."
I don't have an answer for the lack of leadership in the Church. I wish I did! I can only ask everyone to pray for the transformation of our Church leaders into men of spiritual warfare and for the formation of the next generation of priests into authentic leaders. To the extent that we already see more spiritual, more orthodox young priests coming down the pike, praying at abortion mills, teaching us the true faith, and giving proper leadership, we see signs of hope. We need this hope when all around us is so dark.
To Jim Macri
Women do not necessarily get possessed by having an abortion, but it certainly makes them vulnerable to demonic infestation, which could eventually lead to possession. It also makes them much more likely to engage in behaviors and assume lifestyles that will keep them mired in sin and open to a more penetrating influence of demons. Abortion tends to throw everything in a person's life into chaos because of its intrinsically evil nature. It is perceived to be a good for women, but there is nothing good about it. It eventually leads them further away from God. With this serious sin of abortion, as with all sins, repentance and healing are necessary elements.
I once met a woman who had had three abortions. In one of them a demon entered into her. Thankfully, that demon was easy to expel, but the woman suffered greatly from it for many years, and she herself identified the abortion experience(s) as the source of the demonic infiltration. Many women who go through post-abortion counseling, and healing retreats, experience "deliverance" from evil spirits. This is different from an exorcism these deliverances are from some lesser degree of demonic infestation. Women who go through it come to understand that the force multiplier of their grief was something more than just the loss of a baby.
Abortion is both a sin and a violent medical procedure in a very vulnerable area of the body, and it creates a "wound" and a trauma that could be a doorway to evil. It is important not to presume that women who have abortions are always under attack by demons, but some of them are, and the success of the prayer-oriented approaches to post-abortion healing is proof that the spiritual evil that abortion brings into women's (and men's) lives can be healed by Christ's Church.
The NOR must stay in print. We need it to keep our adrenaline flowing, to stir our complacency, to reveal to us knowledge that we sometimes deny. It is an all-around stimulating read!
Not So Far Apart
Stephen M. Rombouts's article "The Holy Eucharist & Salvation by Faith" (June) helped me better understand Catholic teaching on salvation. I converted to Christ 44 years ago, when I was 22, and though I've remained a Protestant, I am willing to listen to and consider the viewpoints of others not of my persuasion. After I read Sheldon Vanauken's wonderful book A Severe Mercy in 1979, I wrote to him and we maintained a steady correspondence that lasted until 1990. Vanauken answered a lot of my questions about why Catholics believe what they do he converted to Catholicism in 1981 and he also introduced me to the NOR he was a contributing editor. Vanauken also led me to Peter Kreeft's excellent book Making Sense of Suffering, which helped me a great deal during a difficult period in my life.
In my early years I spent time in a fundamentalist Baptist church, where I discovered that I was receiving large doses of erroneous teaching; their aggressive anti-Catholicism bothered me as well: Aren't we supposed to be like Jesus and love those who love Him? Jesus said we are to hunger and thirst after Him and His righteousness, and without holiness in our lives no one will see the Father.
From much of what I read in the NOR I often think that we are not so far apart in many things, including the doctrine of salvation. I guess you could call me a "thoughtful Protestant leaning toward Catholicism." I thank the NOR for keeping Christian thinking alive and interesting.
What Rogers Wrought
John Beaumont asks: "Do You Despair Over the Current Crisis in the Church?" (article, June). My answer: No, but I've seen it coming for a long time.
We know as Catholics that the Church will last until the end of time, as Christ promised. Fortunately, He sent us forth equipped with the graces of the Sacrament of Confirmation to be His soldiers here on earth. Well, this soldier wants to elaborate on Beaumont's eighth point: "What has been much more effective is the definitive disavowal of the sexual-psychological theories of such as the late Carl Rogers, used at one time in many seminaries and religious houses" (emphasis added).
Unfortunately, such popular teaching programs as DARE in Catholic and public schools, and Quest in public schools, are rooted in Rogers's theories and are still in use. They represent values-neutral education "your opinion is as valid as mine" in a word, relativism. Rogers, before he died, recanted his theories. His colleague, William Coulson, toured the U.S. twenty years ago to spread the word about the fallibility of programs based on Rogers's theories.
Teaching the truth of Jesus Christ bravely and in its entirety will supplant any errors "homogenized" into today's curricula and make our students better equipped to handle the challenges of the world.
Mary Kay Truckenmiller
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The Bard on Bad Priests
I was reading Hamlet in modern English and found ol' Will Shakespeare's comments on "bad priests" to be of interest. Back in the 16th century the Church had pedophile and philandering priests, and likely all the way back to the first century too, as shown in St. Paul's reprimanding epistles. It's comforting to know the Church has survived the gates of Hell for two millennia, despite the best efforts of countless "Judas" priests to destroy her.
In Shakespeare's original (act I, scene 3, lines 46-50), Ophelia responds thus to her brother Laertes's good advice about love:
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.
In the modern English translation found in SparkNotes' "No Fear Shakespeare" edition, Ophelia says to Laertes: " don't be like a bad priest who fails to practice what he preaches, showing me the steep and narrow way to heaven while you frolic on the primrose path of sin."
And now, my little "heroic couplet" in the stinging style of Alexander Pope:
Bad priests who fail to practice what they preach
Show Heaven's narrow path, but frolic in the breach.
Richard M. Dell'Orfano
San Marcos, California
Fallacious Argumentation, Troubling Non-Sequiturs
In his letter (June), Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas attempts to refute Fr. Regis Scanlon's article ("The Validity of Homosexual Vows of Chastity in Religious Life," March), which postulated the moral danger of combining homosexual and heterosexual men in a seminary setting. Fr. Stravinskas's argument is marred by fallacies and non-sequiturs. His claim that he has never seen Fr. Scanlon's argument advanced in theological literature does not in any manner discredit its veracity. He questions the validity of Fr. Scanlon's conclusion that because a homosexual cannot pledge abstention from that for which he has no desire namely, marital union his vow of chastity has no point of reference. It logically follows that neither can a homosexual take a vow to abstain from homosexual acts since God forbids sodomy.
Fr. Stravinskas suggests that depriving a homosexual from taking a vow of chastity is similar to depriving a poor man from taking a vow of poverty, since he has nothing to give up. This is an obvious fallacy because the poor man, although without wealth at the moment, has the potential to acquire it. His vow has nothing to do with his present financial situation and is perfectly valid.
Fr. Stravinskas writes that if homosexual men must be barred from living in proximity to heterosexual men in seminary and taking a vow of chastity, then heterosexual men should be prohibited from taking the vow too since their post-ordination ministry will inevitably bring them into contact with women. This irrelevant conclusion evinces a complete misunderstanding of the precept "occasion of sin." A priest is in contact with all the faithful, not just women. The vow of chastity is his buckler and his shield against threats to his vocation.
Finally, Fr. Stravinskas makes the startling admission that he has never been a fan of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, which he claims is Puritanical, Jansenistic, and overly pious, tending to pervert sexuality. After casting John Paul II's masterpiece into a fiery cauldron, it is to be expected that he would add to that pot the theological conclusions of Fr. Scanlon, an orthodox theologian in complete conformity with the Magisterium.
I am normally very appreciative of the reflections of Fr. Peter Stravinskas. He has always seemed very orthodox and incisive. However, part of his letter (June) critiquing Fr. Regis Scanlon's article (March) violates a Latin philosophical precept: Error in generalibus ("There is error in generalities"). Fr. Stravinskas writes that "after the Fall all sexuality is deeply wounded and disordered." He is certainly correct, but not sufficiently specific. The heterosexuality of mankind is indeed disordered. Nevertheless, heterosexual acts, if properly exercised in marriage, are sinless. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is not only disordered, but, no matter the context in which they occur, homosexual acts can never be sinless. The only moral choice for a homosexual is sexual abstinence.
Constantine C. Kliora
Flannery O'Connor: Clown-College Cheerleader
In her book The Abbess of Andalusia, Lorraine Murray calls for the sainthood of Flannery O'Connor, and even further that O'Connor be declared a Doctor of the Church, on a par with Ss. Theresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena.
As interesting as her fiction is what there is of it, because it's a slim package, perhaps due to her early death, although, by her own report, apart from her health she struggled for inspiration late in her career O'Connor was no saint. Rather than a rebuilder of the faith like Theresa or Catherine, she was a closet liberal who helped get us into the mess we're in today. O'Connor was a cheerleader for liberal theologians of the most extreme type, of Karl Rahner, of Teilhard de Chardin, of the whole clown college of relativists who have sought to dismantle the Church in order to allow mankind to evolve. Teilhard taught that, for mankind to advance, to evolve to our next stage, the Church had to wither away. So many of the subsequent actions that have so hurt vocations and the priesthood were simply blows against the Church by her own sons.
Most traditional theologians call Teilhard the spirit of Vatican II personified. O'Connor adored him. She wrote a book named for one of his concepts, and reviewed his work with enthusiasm. This alone disqualifies her for anything but the acclaim due a talented but flawed fellow-traveler of a whole lot of good Catholic people who are only now beginning to wake up. Perhaps O'Connor herself would have seen the pattern being revealed, had she lived. For sure, we should pray for her, as well as for our Church so wounded by her best intentions, but not to her as a saint.
The NOR should be ashamed for hopping on the bandwagon by publishing Tracy Jamison's article praising her aesthetic hocus-pocus ("Flannery O'Connor & the Representation of Mystery," June).
TRACY JAMISON REPLIES:
Flannery O'Connor will never be declared a Doctor of the Church, but she was directly influenced by the Doctors of the Church, whom she certainly admired more than Teilhard and Rahner. Of course, O'Connor was in part a product of her times, but Baker's claim that O'Connor theologically was a closet liberal simply does not square with what we know about O'Connor. O'Connor did not hesitate to criticize theologically liberal views, and in the face of such views was known to make acerbic remarks like "If the Eucharist is merely a symbol, then to hell with it." Theologically informed friends considered her something of a Catholic fundamentalist.
My own academic friends consider me something of a philosophical fundamentalist, embracing as I do the 24 Thomistic theses of Pope Benedict XV, and I share Baker's concern to protect the deposit of faith from all forms of modernism and liberalism. But my reading of O'Connor is quite different from hers. Of course, I wince when O'Connor praises Teilhard or Rahner in her letters, but I also find her stories spiritually uplifting and full of traditional Catholic mysticism, as my article attempts to explain. And I would simply add the testimony of my own spiritual enlightenment: After a devout evangelical Protestant upbringing and education, reading O'Connor's stories was one of the uncomfortable experiences that first led me to take the ancient Catholic tradition seriously. In the right hands, the grotesque is a very effective vehicle of truth.
Baker's mode of criticism is not constructive but deconstructive, and in the usual manner it attempts to establish guilt by association and oversimplification and then shifts the burden of proof. Unfortunately, it is characteristic of our own times to entertain such untenable suspicions and to believe them. And, unfortunately, this hermeneutic of suspicion is found in orthodox Catholic circles as well. Perhaps the only good thing about it is that it gives us the opportunity to address misguided suspicions publicly and to indicate obvious virtues in those who are unable or unconcerned to defend themselves.
Sad & Frustrating
Thank you for publishing Andrew M. Seddon's article "Pike or Pius?: If Only the Anglicans Had Listened" (June). It made more sense to me than any article I have read on the topic in many years. As a former Episcopalian from 1971 to 2008, and now an active member of the Anglican Church in North America, Seddon clearly set forth my thoughts and feelings and concerns. It is sad and frustrating to see the "leadership" of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. driving the denomination toward a theological cliff. If not now, it will soon be a Christian cult rather than a mainstream church.
Keep up the good work of giving your readers articles of this quality and clarity.
David H. Grafft
Elk Grove, California
Getting Better All the Time
About two years ago I considered letting my subscription to the NOR lapse because I thought it was too narrowly focused and too negative. Gradually, however, I began to notice a change, and I am delighted with the past two issues. They are full of articles that incite reflection and discussion. I especially appreciate Tracy Jamison's article on Flannery O'Connor, Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer's Líbera Nos a Malo column on child sacrifice, and Anne Barbeau Gardiner's guest column on homosexuality and the Apocalypse (June). Thank you for this wonderful magazine that invigorates my faith and makes me think!
Sylvia Sue Bergman