LifeNews has posted a vintage video interview with Mother Teresa. In the video, she is asked a couple of pointed questions about the proper role of women in the Church, abortion and birth control, and about whether it is true, as some pastors said at the time, that God made the AIDS virus to “punish” homosexual behavior. Interviewer Russ Barber also asked her advice to John Cardinal O’Connor who was, at the time of this interview, the new Cardinal of New York. Her answers are rather remarkable. Watch the video at LifeNews. I’ve posted her remarks in reply to these questions below.
Russ Barber: Mother Teresa told the conference on the women’s role in the Church that it is noteworthy that God had selected as the Mother of Jesus, Mary, an obedient, non-doubting woman. I asked her afterwards if dissident women asking for changes in the Church, including the ordination to the priesthood might also be responding to an authentic call from God.
Mother Teresa: I don’t think our Lord has chosen a woman to be a priest because nobody could have been a better priest than Our Lady, and yet, she remained only the handmaid of the Lord. We have a special role in the Church.
Russ Barber: Mother Teresa, what should be the role of women in the Church?
Mother Teresa: To be a woman. To be a mother, to be a wife or to be a consecrated virgin.
Russ Barber: Your opposition to abortion is world-renowned. What would you say to the critics of the Catholic Church who would suggest that Church teaching, opposing abortion and birth control, is contributing to the world population crisis and world famine and disease?
Mother Teresa: Abortion is not serving the difficulty of population. Abortion is creating evil because if a mother can kill her own child, what’s left, for other people to kill each other. But killing life and killing the image of God can never be, doesn’t matter who you are or what you are, it’s an evil. That’s why abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace today.
Russ Barber: As you know, we have a new Cardinal here in New York. From your many years of experience, would you have any advice for John Cardinal O’Connor?
Mother Teresa:Be only all for Jesus through Mary.
Russ Barber: There is a worldwide epidemic of something called AIDS, Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is a disease which is largely associated with the homosexual community. Some religion leaders have suggested that AIDS is a disease sent by God as punishment for a sinful lifestyle. Is it?
Mother Teresa: This is the first time I hear of it. I have not, but….
Russ Barber:Well, let me rephrase the question this way, then. Is it conceivable that God might bring a form of disease to a lifestyle…
Mother Teresa: Yes, God may allow it to happen. God will not make it, but God will allow it to happen, like the floods of the Old Testament, really. It’s to open the eyes of the people, and very often, through suffering like this, people begin to realize that it’s not alright what they are doing and it brings them to need to say sorry to God and to say sorry to each other.
Nothing pains me more than to see Catholics argue that it is right and good for Pope Benedict to say no to the Cross (his cross being infirmity due to age coupled with the duties of the papacy)…and even that the Holy Spirit has instructed him to do so.
If the Holy Spirit has told Pope Benedict to step down due to his cross, I see only one possibility here, and that is that the Holy Spirit is preserving the Church by telling a pope who will not accept the cross to step down. In this, the Pope would be doing what the Holy Spirit is telling him to do, not because it is okay to say no to the Cross, but because it is better for all of us to have a pope who will say yes to the Cross.
To suggest that it is good for the Church to have a pope who says no to the Cross is decidedly anti-Gospel.
Please….stop saying the Holy Spirit wants Pope Benedict to say no to the Cross. Please. You’re hurting my brain…a lot.
Tell me again, exactly how many popes are too many?
I would have headlined this post with the plural form of “Habemus Papam” but I can’t seem to find the plural for “pope” in my Latin translator. Go figure. Words (quite literally) just cannot describe what I’m feeling upon reading this, via National Catholic Register:
Bishop Paprocki then suggested that Catholics should view the word, “pope” as “an honorific, even a term of endearment (‘Papa’ in Italian). It is not the title of an ecclesiastical office.”
Thus, just as Catholics continue to call a priest “Father,” even though “he has resigned from the office of Pastor,” so Italians probably “will continue to call Pope Benedict Papa Benedetto even after he leaves office as the Bishop of Rome,” predicted the bishop, who lived in Rome for three and a half years while studying canon law.
“I don’t think people will have a hard time wrapping their minds around having a Pope who is no longer the Roman Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, etc. Certainly, in direct address, one would never address him as anything but, ‘Your Holiness.’”
I predict mass confusion.
I also recommend this homily from a priest here in Kentucky. Please pray like you’ve never prayed before.
As much as it pains me to say so, what Ross Douthat writes in his column today at the New York Times about the diminishing influence of Catholics in the public square is all too true. Though they would certainly deny it, the Democratic Party has abandoned Jesus Christ for the philosophy of Karl Marx while, though they would also certainly deny it, the Republican Party has abandoned Jesus Christ for the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
If this era is now passing, and Catholic ideas are becoming more marginal to our politics, it’s partially because institutional Christianity is weaker over all than a generation ago, and partially because Catholicism’s leaders have done their part, and then some, to hasten that de-Christianization. Any church that presides over a huge cover-up of sex abuse can hardly complain when its worldview is regarded with suspicion. The present pope has too often been scapegoated for the sex abuse crisis, but America’s bishops have if anything gotten off too easily, and even now seem insufficiently chastened for their sins.
Few may recognize that the failures in the institutional Catholic Church led ultimately to the Tea Party and Occupy movements, but it should be obvious to anyone who understands human nature. Over a billion people worldwide identify as Catholic. Here in America, one in five people identify as Catholic. People naturally put their trust in leaders and in the institutions that are staffed with those leaders. When (1) the institutional aspect of the Catholic Church failed, and (2) it became clear that our educational institutions are run, in large part, by radicals, and (3) it became common knowledge that our political parties are run by the almighty dollar, people had no institutions left that they deemed worthy of trust. The Tea Party and Occupy movements arose in defiance of both parties and in defiance of each other, with the Tea Party movement having a love affair with Ayn Rand and the Occupy movement having a love affair with Karl Marx.
If I were to have my way, this transition from Church to leaderless (anarchist) movements based on Randian and Marxist philosophy respectively, would be what our Catholic history books reflect prominently about this time in our journey as a Church. One need not know who Karl Marx was to adopt his theories, which are in opposition to Catholic thought, and one need not know who Ayn Rand was to adopt her theories, which are in opposition to Catholic thought. The problem is not so much Karl Marx and Ayn Rand as it is with the philosophies they formulated which are embraced by people who look for solutions to the world’s problems apart from the solutions offered by Jesus Christ – love God and love thy neighbor. Had they looked for a philosopher who wasn’t Christian, they’d have all been better off looking to the pagans Aristotle and Plato, but resentment has sent them to Marx and Rand, instead. So the history books should say, though I doubt many will.
Leaderless anarchy never lasts for long, though, and both of these movements have diminished significantly as this reality of human nature, that people will always seek leaders and institutions for themselves, has taken hold. Naturally, we will look to leaders to speak for us in organizations and parties, to obtain power over “the enemy.” To a person of faith, the enemy is Satan, not other people. To the faithless, the enemy is manifest in opposing organizations and parties. Hence, the failure of the insitutional Catholic Church, and the failure of those charged with preserving the integrity of our educational institutions and political parties, has led to more polarization and more resentment and hatred in America.
The recent turn away from Catholic ideas has also been furthered by a political class that never particularly cared for them in the first place. Even in a more unchurched America, a synthesis of social conservatism and more egalitarian-minded economic policies could have a great deal of mass appeal. But our elites seem mostly relieved to stop paying lip service to the Catholic synthesis: professional Republicans are more libertarian than their constituents, professional Democrats are more secular than their party’s rank-and-file, and professional centrists get their encyclicals from Michael Bloomberg rather than the Vatican.
This is true, but it is not so much the fault of the “elites” as it is of the people who continue to put their faith in them and to remain loyal to them to the end – an end that is decidedly bitter. Just as many Catholics, myself included, were afraid to speak against bishops who had done wrong because outside the Church (writ large) are the fires of hell, so, too, the unchurched fear speaking against their leaders when they see the alternative — the far opposition — as being much worse than they are. Again, it is human nature to act this way, and we must remember that it is only God who can enable us to rise above it. Without God, there is always an enemy somewhere who is another human being. With God, we are all His children.
Douthat does not put much hope in the idea that the election of a new pope will change things much.
Nothing that happens in Rome over the next few months is likely to convert the Acela Corridor’s donors and strategists and think tankers to a more Catholic-friendly worldview. The next pope may be more effective than Benedict, or he may be clumsier; he may improve the church’s image in this country, or he may worsen it. But if there is another Catholic moment waiting in our nation’s future, it can only be made by Americans themselves.
I have a great deal of love and respect for Pope Benedict XVI. He has far surpassed my expectations for him, since his election in 2005, and I would not have preferred anyone else to be pope in his stead. Having said that, it seems clear to me that the task ahead is for all Catholics, including the new pope, not apart from him. Whether the next pope can change the world as we saw with the fall of the Soviet Union will certainly depend on whether there is another Lech Walesa in politics to help lead the way. We need a good pope, and we need good people to join with him to bring humanity together under God. This will be my prayer. I hope that you will all join with me in it.
Cardinal Roger Mahony has written on his blog that God is calling him to be disgraced and humiliated in the face of revelations from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles regarding his role in the priest sex abuse scandal.
Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God’s grace finally helped me to understand: I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility. Rather, I am being called to something deeper–to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.
I was not ready for this challenge. Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.
To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation. I’m only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.
Cardinal Mahony says he was not ready for this challenge. I am not sure that I am ready, this morning, for the challenge of offering opinion on his blog post, and I am certainly not up to the task of opining about his spiritual status, but I do think I should say something about humiliation in general. Humility requires understanding exactly who you are.
Humility — The moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors.
One should not consider himself to be either less than or greater than he really is in the sight of God. Many will have opinions about who Cardinal Mahony is in the sight of God, but it is God alone Who knows that with all certainty. It is Cardinal Mahony’s job to figure out whom God has called him to be, and to become that person, just as it is the job of each of us to figure out whom God has called us to be, and to become that person. It’s pretty clear that Cardinal Mahony is at least thinking about these things. For that, I am grateful.
It’s clear, also, that his job as a Cardinal is to be an example to the faithful. Many there are who say that Cardinal Mahony has already utterly failed in being a good example and that he deserves humiliations at this time. It’s not for us to say, though, how much or how little humiliation is deserved here. That is God’s arena, not ours. Our job is not to judge hearts, but we must make judgments about overall character and/or competence that has become manifest, for the sake of our children. While we cannot truly judge Cardinal Mahony’s level of culpability (or humility) before God, we would be failing in our duty if we allow people who have not shown themselves to be trustworthy to be in charge over our children. There is a difference between being judged and forgiven by God, being forgiven by human beings, and being worthy of the trust of parents. We should be able to forgive all of those who have done harm while not being open to placing them in positions where they may fail again in the same manner, particularly when our children may be at risk.
The manner in which Bernard Cardinal Law conducted himself in the midst of public revelations about the sexual abuse scandal in Boston is very different from the manner in which Roger Cardinal Mahony is conducting himself today. Personally, I admire the way that Cardinal Law conducted himself. He took responsibility and resigned. He lives today in Rome in a state of quiet acceptance of the public humiliation that continues to be poured out on him, even to this day. I have corresponded with him, in the spirit of compassion and forgiveness, and he has exhibited gratefulness to me for what he seems to feel he does not deserve. That is humility. I have no concrete opinions about Cardinal Mahony. It is important that we all pray for him. We should be grateful that he is thinking about the subject of humility. Whether his blog post is an act of humility or of pride, I don’t really know, and I’m not sure I have the capacity to know.
An unidentified Cardinal puts ash on Pope Benedict XVI’s head during the celebration of Ash Wednesday mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, in Rome, Wednesday, Feb. 17 2010. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter. (AP Photo/Alessia Pierdomenico, pool)
Today at the Vatican news website is an article explaining what must be learned from the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, including his resignation: New Paths.
It was a surprise at his election when inspired by the father of western monasticism, he chose the name Benedict to revive the importance of his rule of life centred on the principle that nothing must be put before Christ. As Pope, Ratzinger has always disseminated and encouraged this rule as the primary reference point for every Christian and at every level of responsibility. And it was in the light of this rule that he defined himself immediately after his election as a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
Regular readers know that I am always talking about finding our identity in Christ. Some say it is an “obsession” on my part, but those who say this mistake love for Jesus with “obsession.” Our identity in Christ is the most important thing there is, and we see it expressed time and time again from the Vatican and from this Pope, including in today’s article about his retirement.
“Catholic identity,” not “identity in Christ,” has become “the” issue among faithful Catholics these days. We are obsessed as a Church, it seems, with preserving our “Catholic identity” in our institutions. This is all well and good — indeed, it is very important — provided that we are clear that Catholic identity depends on each of us finding our identity in Jesus Christ — in following the will of God in all things, no matter what that requires us to suffer, as Jesus did. The Holy Father has given us, in his resignation, a prime example of finding our identity in Christ. As it says in the article today, on Ash Wednesday as we begin Lent, “Nothing must be put before Christ,” and as we see from the Holy Father, this includes even the Chair of St. Peter.
Certainly, the Chair of Peter is the seat of authority for all Catholics, and has been throughout the history of the Church. The first concrete example of this is the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, when the issue of circumcision was settled by the teaching of St. Peter. St. Paul could have started his own church, like Martin Luther did during the “Protestant Reformation” centuries later. He could have claimed authority over Peter among the Christians at Antioch. Instead, he traveled over 300 miles, before the days of Twitter and email, and before mass transit and automobiles, across the Mediterranean Sea to Jerusalem where the Church was seated in Council. It was St. Peter who delivered the correct teaching to settle the matter, which was affirmed by St. James, as was his place to do as the Bishop of Jerusalem at the time. This teaching of St. Peter on circumcision thus became doctrine for the entire Church worldwide, and remains Church teaching even now. This is our model for the Church today, with Pope Benedict XVI in the Chair of Peter. Though the world may reject this, it is the will of Jesus, having given Peter the keys, a symbol of authority, and having given all the apostles the authority to “bind and loose.”
So it is that we always turn to the Chair of Peter to resolve our disputes, which keeps the Church and her institutions “Catholic” meaning “universal.” This is why any Catholic may go to Mass anywhere in the world and it is essentially the same Mass. Understanding this reality is at the center of my conversion to Jesus, having found Him on the altar the first time I attended Mass 21 years ago today. Like St. Paul, I was many miles from home at the time, but I knew that what mattered was not my location, but that Jesus is in the Church everywhere, and that all is held together by the Chair of Peter. In two millennia, the Church has often clarified the Gospel as new issues have come along, as St. Peter did on the matter of circumcision, but not once has a direct contradiction been promulgated as doctrine.
If we fail in following the example of Acts 15, we are not being what God has called us to be as Catholics. This is why the preservation of “Catholic identity” is so important in our institutions. The Chair of Peter is an office that, though held by an individual, transcends the individual who is holding it in the hearts of all the faithful, including in the heart of any truly humble Pope who holds the office. It is precisely the understanding in our hearts of this transcendence that ensures there is no panic when the seat is vacant. In like manner, it is this transcendence that makes it possible for Pope Benedict XVI to understand that he is free to retire if he is unable to fulfill his duties. What makes it transcendent, though, is Jesus Christ. Not one of us, not even the Pope, is allowed to put our own will above God’s will.
This is a great lesson for all of us for Lent. No matter where you find yourself today, turn your heart to God and ask Him what it is that He wishes to make of you. Not our will, but God’s will, be done. Jesus Himself prayed in the Garden that the Cup (the Cross of Sacrifice) should pass from Him if it be the will of the Father. Let us follow His example and accept the Cup that the Father has in store for us this Lent, for it is only in accepting it that redemption will come.
May God bless Pope Benedict XVI and all of us as we enter the holy season of Lent.