Pope Francis Tells Synod15 Bishops to Butt Out of Communion Discussion

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
March 29, 2015

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — While generally not one to take topics off the table for discussion (except for the ordination of women), Pope Francis has advised his bishops not to waste a lot of time in the upcoming Synod of Bishops discussing whether divorced and remarried Catholics should continue to be barred from receiving the Eucharist. In his homily earlier this week, the Pope said that the whole question centers on ideology rather than on mercy, so it should be dropped. The bishops should not worry about giving “instructions from on high” and “not be obsessed by the thought of divorced Catholics receiving Communion.” This “focus on appearances” is not important.

Pope FrancisHe further pointed out that the resolution of this question is really not up to them. “When I was a boy, I was taught that the sacraments were instituted by Christ to give grace, and we that receive this grace as long as our souls have the right dispositions. The current Catechism,” he continued,“preserves this teaching. But it does not instruct the clergy to put themselves in the middle of making that judgment.”

As he has done in the past, the Pope warned against being a Church driven by small-minded rules. “Ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all.” Just put the question aside, he advised. Don’t worry about “appearances,” and “leave the sacramental giving of grace where it belongs – between the communicant and God.”

Getting Natural Law and Sexual Ethics Right

By The Cranky Thomist

The Cranky ThomistFinally! From a Notre Dame professor no less. Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex.

He is right. St. Thomas Aquinas made natural law a significant part of his moral philosophy. In his thought, natural law is driven by the primary principle of doing good and avoiding evil. The entire structure of morality, the intent of divine and natural law, as well as the virtues and grace, are all directed toward reasoning about which behaviors can move humans toward the love of God and toward the love of fellow creatures in charity. Morality consists of reason planning action so that good may be done and evil avoided. What is right is based upon what is good.

The primary law, upon which all other laws are based, is that good be done (i.e., flourishing into the love of God and the love of fellow creatures in charity) and evil avoided. Morality and law are thus drawn from that which makes humans grow toward the good.

“Since good is grasped as always desirable, the first premise in reason’s planning of action is that good is to be done and evil avoided. And on this are based all the other injunctions of the law in us by nature, which command us to do whatever reason, when planning action, naturally grasps to be good for man, whatever man naturally seeks as a goal” (Summa Theologica, 1a2ae. 94. 2).

Aquinas pointed out three derivatives of this natural law, seeing us first as living beings, then as physical creatures, and finally as reasoning creatures.

First, we must conserve human life and oppose death. Then, we must do whatever accords with our physical nature, which is what we have in common with other animals (e.g., having sex, raising children). Finally, we must do whatever accords with our rational nature, the thing that distinguishes us as human (“to know the truth about God, for example, and to live a social life; so the law in us by nature commands whatever is relevant to such inclinations, like avoiding ignorance and not offending those we live with” (Summa Theologica, 1a2ae. 94. 2).

Since natural law is based upon practical reasoning and our understanding of the reality around us, Aquinas believed it was knowable by all and applicable to all (with the caveat that it is humans doing the thinking).

As Gary Gutting says, “the church needs to undertake a thorough rethinking of its teachings on sexual ethics, including premarital sex, masturbation and remarriage after divorce. In every case, the old arguments no longer work (if they ever did), and a vast number of Catholics reject the teachings. It’s time for the church to realize that its sexual ethics are philosophically untenable and theologically unnecessary.”

New Survey Finds Catholics Enjoying Not Being Mortified by Hierarchy

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
March 10, 2015

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — As the two-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis approaches, a new survey shows a huge majority of Catholics view him favorably. “He’s the best,” said Lily Lonigan, a sixty-something Roman Catholic who works at the Polkadot Shamrock Bar, Internet Cafe and Daycare Center. “He acts like an actual Christian, which brings us back to the basics of the faith. But even more than that, his example has muzzled the crazies in the hierarchy,” she said. “Well, at least for the most part. What a relief. Before, if it wasn’t yet another story of a bishop covering up sexual abuse, it was some wing nut firing gay people or spouting off about the President of the United States being a Nazi. I mean, seriously. There was a time, you know,” said Lily, waxing nostalgic, “when the clergy and the bishops were acting in the public square doing honorable things and not embarrassing the faithful. They were on the forefront of the labor movement and of civil rights. Like Father Hesburgh, at Notre Dame. They don’t make them like that anymore. For the longest time, it was all, ‘oh let’s parrot everything the Pope says, that’s how we get ahead, and bag the big diocese and the red hat.’ And then the whole Fortnight of Freedom contraception thing? Really?”

Survey results support her opinion. Of Catholics surveyed, a majority chose “Doesn’t embarrass us” as the most frequent reason to like the Pope. (Multiple options could be chosen.)

Reasons why faithful like Pope Francis

And while the faithful await his evolution on issues relating to women, they appreciate what he has done to date. “I can’t wait until he comes and speaks to the U.S. Congress in the fall,” said Lily. “I’d like to see Paul Ryan blow his so-called Catholic smoke after the Pope’s speech, to try and justify the free market as a moral framework. That’s going to be a doozie!”

Pope Francis Asks for Alms to Support Home for Abandoned Hermeneutics

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
March 1, 2015

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — Upon returning from his Lenten retreat, Pope Francis asked Vatican staffers for small donations to support the Casa Famiglia per L’ermeneutica Abbandonati, or Family Home for Abandoned Hermeneutics. The family home, in a small apartment up on the Aventine Hill in Rome, houses the hermeneutics, or methods of interpreting the faith experience, that have been abandoned since the end of the papacy of Benedict XVI.

Home for Abandoned HermeneuticsIn his plea, Pope Francis said that “While we do not look at faith through these lenses much any more, we did at one time, so I hope you can support them with your generosity.”

The hermeneutics of rupture, discontinuity, and continuity were the first to move in to the small home, followed by their little buddy the hermeneutic of novelty in continuity. The hermeneutic of reform resides there as well, but keeps moving in and out. Other house members include once-popular catch-phrases such as the dictatorship of relativism, a hyper-secular modernity, and intrinsically disordered. While not strictly hermeneutics, they too were taken in, as they had nowhere else to go. Not infallible but irreformable is also a resident, but is not doing well, spending most of his days rocking back and forth wrapped in a blanket, muttering darkly that one day, currently fashionable hermeneutics such as the church of mercy and the holy-faithful-people will end up like them, discarded and forgotten.

LCWR Issues Apostolic Report on U.S. Bishops

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
December 17, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — The day after the Vatican released the long-awaited “Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America,” the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has released its own apostolic report, assessing the job performance of the U.S. Bishops.

Commenting on the report, LCWR chapter-head Sr. Mary Immaculata O’Finian O’Toole said that unlike the Vatican’s report, which took six years to prepare, cost 1.1 million dollars, and is only 12 pages long, the LCWR report only cost about $25 and was put together by volunteers in a day.

“As you will see, the contents of our report on the bishops reflect information that is patently obvious even to the most casual observer. We put it together last night after attending yesterday’s press conference on the Vatican report.” Sr. O’Toole also mentioned that while she was pleased with the generally gracious tone of the Vatican report, she was surprised by its lack of substance. “God knows what they were doing with all that time and all that money,” she said. “That 1.1 million dollars would have made a nice contribution to the Retirement Fund for Religious. But at least the hierarchy spared the Church yet another public relations disaster, which typically happens when they go after the nuns.”

Apostolic VisitationTurning to the contents of the LCWR’s apostolic report on the U.S. Bishops, Sr. O’Toole said that it “captures and summarizes what any reasonably sentient Catholic knows about the American bishops.” The report expresses gratefulness for the role that bishops play in the ongoing operation of the Church by keeping the wheels of bureaucracy turning. But it points out that bishops, unlike nuns, have not shaken off the structures of autocracy as the primary mechanism of governing the Church. “It has been almost fifty years since the close of Vatican II,” said Sr. O’Toole. “That’s almost two generations. In that time, orders of religious women have significantly evolved their governance structures, while the bishops still rule under the old model of the 18th century royal court. Of course,” she continued, “I expect that is what terrifies the bishops the most, and is what generated the visitation in the first place. The Church is still run as an autocracy, with a very distinct power structure,” she explained. “One is obsequious to one’s superiors and demanding of obedience from one’s subordinates. The thought of people actually having dialog, of letting the power of faith-based rational ideas shape the path forward, of admitting that the path forward might be unknown, of trusting the process rather than controlling the outcome—this presents an existential threat to autocrats that has got to send them screaming into the night. We send a frightening message by presenting a living model of how the Church could operate if it so desired.”

Sr. O’Toole says that she hopes the U.S. bishops will respond fully, honestly, and in a collaborative fashion to the LCWR report, even though she realizes it will be met with apprehension and suspicion by some bishops, which would be a painful disappointment. She thinks the report offers a great opportunity for respectful and fruitful dialogue going forward. “I hope they are willing,” she said, “But I am not holding my breath.”

Pope Francis Gives Progressives Acute Case of Cognitive Dissonance

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
December 11, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — Our sources in the Catholic Commentariat are reporting an alarming rise in the incidence of cognitive dissonance among the progressive cohort of the Roman Catholic Church. While discomfort among conservatives is to be expected, what with the Pope’s clear affection for the Good News of the Gospel and its valuing of love and mercy and whatnot, disturbances on the left come as more of a surprise.

Feathers have been ruffled. Noses have been bent out of joint. Umbrage has been taken.

The cohort appears to be resolving into two separate camps: The Aggrieved and The Apologists.

Progressive cognitive dissonance

On the one hand, the aggrieved progressives such as Sr. Mary Immaculata O’Finian O’Toole are outwardly indignant, citing in particular the flaws in the attitude Pope Francis takes toward women. “Feminine genius? Women theologians as the strawberries on the cake? I’ll give him strawberries,” she fumed. “Maybe even some raspberries!” The apologists, on the other hand, point to his age, his cultural context, as well as the peculiarities of rendering his words in English. “If you read what he says in the Italian,” said one apologist, “it’s only mildly insulting.”

The dissonance continues, and if nothing else, provides a spot of bitter joy for the otherwise beset conservatives.

Pope Francis: OMG Stop Firing Gay People

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
December 5, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — According to several people familiar with the conversation, Pope Francis was heard sounding off in a quite vexed manner about the too-popular habit of firing staff who have violated the letter of the law when it comes Church doctrine or teachings, but only after such violations have become public.

(NOTE: What follows is an informal English translation by our young staffer at the Vatican of the gist of the Pope’s concerns. It is expected that neither the official Italian version or an official English translation will be made available.) 

“Oh.  My.  God,” the Pope is reported to have said. “What is with these people? All the firings of the faithful who have been known for years to be gay? Or living together outside marriage? But only after it becomes public knowledge?! What, were these actions not considered sins before, when everyone involved knew exactly what was going on? And now with the contracts??”

cincinnati teachers contract

“Here’s the problem,” he continued. “When you fire someone, you make it a thing. It’s in the news. Then the person reacts, and there is a lawsuit. So it creates another thing. Then there’s a third thing, because none of this would have happened had the information not become public, which makes it about the publicity, not the action itself. This paints the Church into a corner, having to deal with all these self-inflicted things, out of which no good could possibly come. That church music director in Chicago? I just put the new archbishop in place there, and now he has to deal with this? And those teacher contracts with morality clauses in Cincinnati? All they do is make the firing more efficient. No wonder we’ve lost an entire generation of young people.” The Pope shook his head. “This is a scandal. The valuing of the appearance of purity above all else.”

The Pope was then reported to go off to pray.

Pope Praying

Pope Announces New Congregation Charged with Noticing the Modern World

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
December 1, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — The Vatican announced today that as part of the reorganization of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis is establishing a new congregation charged with the study the modern world. Called the Congregation for Modernity, it is to be headed by Archbishop Madre del Dio Obviamente.

“Ever since the Enlightenment,” said Archbishop Obviamente, “and especially since the First Vatican Council, the Church and the modern world have had a bit of a rocky relationship. The church is slowly starting to recognize, if not outright admit, that some teachings from that time, although considered ‘doctrine,’ may have in fact been slightly flawed. This includes the papacy’s longstanding condemnations of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion for other faiths, freedom of speech, participation in elections, democracy, historical analysis, ecumenism, literary criticism of the Bible, and the study of the early Church Fathers.”

“As it says in Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes,” he continued, “we must notice ‘the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theater of man’s history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs.’ Thus, it is time to consider the advancements the modern world has made, in accordance with the natural law, and in light of the actions of the Holy Spirit, who can choose to work outside the friendly confines of Holy Mother the Church.”

When asked the scope of the new Congregation’s inquiry, the Archbishop replied that it would delve into what the secular world considers “progress,” focusing in particular on issues of good governance, including democracy, fair representation, checks and balances, the rule of law, free speech, accountability, transparency, and modern standards of justice. When asked whether any lessons learned would be applied to the governance of the Church itself, Archbishop Obviamente had no comment. He also noted that while the modern world has made great progress concerning the rights of women, the question of gender equality in the Church will not be addressed, due to the special dignity in which women are held.

Other sources in the Vatican were quick to point out that while the Congregation for Modernity is studying the matter, it should not be inferred that any doctrine will ever change. Likewise, Vatican City State will continue to be governed as an absolute monarchy, with the Pope as the Head of State, holding full legislative, executive and judicial powers.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Speaks Honestly; Church Fails to Collapse

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 17, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)CHICAGO, IL (TPF) — As the terminator crossed from east to west and Monday morning dawned in Catholic America, early Masses were offered, young Catholic girls and boys trotted off to school, monasteries chanted Lauds, Catholic hospitals changed shifts, Catholic social service organizations opened their doors, and Catholic high schools, colleges, and universities continued to educate their students. The fabric of the Catholic Church in America remained intact, despite the fact that on the previous day, on national television, a Cardinal Prince of the Church reprimanded the powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley of Boston, interviewed on “60 Minutes,” said that the CDF’s investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States, was “a disaster.” He also allowed that if he founded a church, he would ordain women.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, Chicago

Yet the Church has not caved in, crumpled, or otherwise collapsed. Belief in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the sacraments remains intact, such as it is. The only sound that could be heard was the deep, rumbling wail of the episcopal groupthink slowly beginning to crack open.

Cranky Thomist Blasts Bishops’ Toxic Natural Law Groupthink

The Fool is delighted to introduce a new voice from the peanut gallery that is The Pope’s Fool … The Cranky Thomist!

The Cranky Thomist

November 16, 2014
By The Cranky Thomist

I think therefore I am. But what a minute! What happens when I space out? Do I cease to exist? And do I exist again when I start thinking again?

Agnes cartoon by Tony CochranPhilosophy is awesome! However, unorthodox, anti-scientific pseudo-philosophy is not. Case in point—the toxic natural law idea that has gotten firmly stuck in the papal and episcopal mindset for decades now.

The groupthink goes like this: Natural law means that you look at nature and figure out morality from that. First you see that God made man and woman. And then you see that men and women make babies. And then you conclude that contraception is immoral. And homosexuality is intrinsically disordered. And in vitro fertilization is a sin (rather than a blessing that helps people create families). And then you say that all of it is based on the “observance of the precepts of the natural law.” Seriously???

Natural law has been around since ancient Greece and was embraced in the Catholic intellectual tradition by St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s easy enough for anyone to understand, and has nothing to do with looking at nature and making stuff up.

According to Aquinas, natural law works like this. The primary natural law, upon which all other laws are based, is that good be done and evil avoided. So we figure out what makes humans grow towards the good and derive morality and law from that (with good in the Christian sense being defined as that which moves us toward the love of God and fellow creatures in charity). As Aquinas says, “Since good is grasped as always desirable, the first premise in reason’s planning of action is that good is to be done and evil avoided” (Summa Theologica, 1a2ae. 94. 2).

Continue reading

Pope Francis Issues Starter Catechism for U.S. Bishops

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 14, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — The Vatican has released a short, basic catechism of the faith designed for the U.S. bishops and approved by Pope Francis.

Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this special Bishop’s Edition encapsulates the foundations of Christianity, walking the reader through the moral hierarchy of the New Testament by way of its parables. It starts with a meditation on the greatest commandment, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself, there are no other commandments greater than these.” Each subsequent chapter focuses on key moral concepts and their related parables, including God’s Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness (the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son), Christian Love (the parable of the good Samaritan and the parable of the unmerciful servant), and Self-Righteousness and Humility (the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector). The Bishop’s Edition also includes summaries of the theological virtues, the cardinal virtues, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis

Included as well is an appendix on the natural law. A Vatican source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is prohibited from publicly discussing the matter, explained its importance. “The bishops really have no clue about the natural law, which quite honestly, Pope Francis finds rather annoying. Look at nature and derive morality from that? Really? They need to read their Aquinas. We hope this little catechism helps.”

U.S Catholics to Make Nationwide Novena for Bishops, “That They May Get a Clue”

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 10, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)CHICAGO, IL (TPF) — The nation’s largest association of Catholic lay people today announced a nationwide novena to pray for U.S. bishops, called “That They May Get a Clue.” The novena, a series of prayers repeated for nine successive days, asks the faithful to call upon the intersession of both St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, and St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes.

That They May Get a Clue “We need to pray for our bishops,” said a spokesman. “It’s a new era in the Church today; Pope Francis is challenging all of us. But the bishops are looking particularly confused, so I think we need to ask the Lord to give them special graces. You see,” he explained, “the old party line just doesn’t cut it anymore. In the old days, it was enough to repeat whatever the Pope said, condemn contraception, and judge people and whatnot. But now the Pope is asking them to actually think about what it means to be a Christian and a Catholic, and, you know, spiritually lead us. But they’ve been episcopally cocooned for so long, and so allergic to the world with all its relativism and secularism and such, that they really have no idea where to begin. Yet they’re all we have by way of leadership. So we will offer up our prayers for them, “That They May Get a Clue.”

The novena will be prayed from Sunday, November 16th through Monday November 24th.

Progressive U.S. Catholics Not Falling for “Speak Frankly” Appeal; Vast Majority Take a Pass

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 10, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)CHICAGO, IL (TPF) — At the beginning of the October 1014 Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, Pope Francis instructed the bishops to “Speak frankly. Let no one say, ‘This can’t be said.’” As excited as U.S. Catholics were to hear this from the Pope, a TPF News Service poll shows that most progressives are not yet willing to fully exercise such an invitation to frank speech. According to the TPF News Service, only 5% of those who are ordained or hold an office in the Church are willing to freely speak their mind.

“It’s all well and good for the Pope to say ‘Speak frankly,’” said one priest, who requested anonymity. “But Canon Law hasn’t changed, and Canon Law required me to make an extended profession of faith and an oath of fidelity when I was ordained, and made me subject to sanctions. If someone decides to go after me, I can be silenced, investigated, sucked up in some so-called ‘visitation,’ or worse. And let’s not kid ourselves. Calling the Church’s judicial procedures medieval is an insult to the medievals.”

Likewise, only 15% of those who teach in a Catholic university are willing to move past self-censorship to speak out on urgent yet controversial topics. “Let’s face it,” said a faculty member. “That John Paul II constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae is still in effect. All professors of theology are still required to have a mandate to teach granted by the local bishop who presumably can yank that sucker anytime he wants. This frank speech stuff doesn’t change that reality. I, for one, won’t be sticking my neck out. I don’t want to lose my job. I’ll stay happily self-censored for a while yet, until I see how this all plays out. Hey, the Jesuits put up with being suppressed for decades.”

“You have to understand,” commented a third. “Conservatives in the U.S. can say anything they want. Like good party apparatchiks in the old days, they just spout the party line. But despite how Pope Francis acts, the Church is still an absolute divine right monarchy. Bishops and pastors still reign supreme. They exercise complete legislative, executive, and judicial power. If you get on their wrong side, watch out.”

“We might want to stick with a blighted intellectual life for a while yet,” said another, also requesting anonymity. “Let the lay people speak up; they have less to lose. I’ll start speaking up when I see the end of the ‘visitation’ of the LCWR, when I see the USCCB un-reprimand Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, and when I see the Vatican un-denounce Sr. Margaret Farley. And that Irish priest, Fr. Tony Flannery, who speaks out on women’s ordination, contraception, and gays? He got stripped of his ministry by the Vatican and threatened with excommunication for heresy. Thanks but no thanks,” he continued. “It’s one thing to say, ‘speak frankly,’ and it’s another thing to actually protect those who do. When the Pope starts repudiating these intellectual smack-downs and standing up for people who speak honestly about the crucial issues facing the Church today, then I’ll start paying attention.”

Pope Declares Obsequiousness No Longer Fashionable; Wants Bishops to Man Up

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 5, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — Ending an unspoken code that has shaped communications among members of the hierarchy for decades, the Pope has quietly rescinded the practice of obsequiousness, wherein servile deference and fawning to one’s superiors is mirrored by expectations of unwavering obedience from one’s subordinates.

“Enough already,” said the Pope, in his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square today. “It’s sad when you see a man who seeks this office and who does so much to get there and when he makes it, he doesn’t serve, but struts like a peacock, living only for his own vanity,” the Pope said. “We don’t need sycophants and servile flatterers.”

Pope Francis

He said he wants the world’s bishops to be servants and shepherds who use their position to care for people and the faith, not to seek power and boost their pride. This is why the role of a bishop “is not a position of prestige or an honorary office,” he said. “It is a service. Jesus wanted it to be like this.”

Our correspondent on the ground in Vatican City reports feelings of confusion and betrayal among the ranks of many of the bishops, Vatican staffers, and Curial hangers-on. “That’s easy enough for the Pope to say,” muttered one. “He hasn’t been here for decades; he hasn’t been living with this stuff day in and day out for years on end. He expects us to change overnight. But it ain’t gonna happen.”

Pope Delivers Stoles of Mercy to Bishops Worldwide; Many Take a Pass

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
November 3, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — As a followup to his October 31 homily, in which Pope Francis lamented the case of Christians who are so attached to the laws that they neglect the concepts of love and justice, the Pope has sent a gift of a Stole of Mercy, or Stola della Misericordia, to each of the over 5,000 bishops in the world.

In his homily, which followed the Gospel reading about Jesus upsetting the Pharisees by curing a sick man on the Sabbath, Pope Francis said the following, referring to the Pharisees. “This way of living attached to the laws, distanced them from love and from justice.  They followed the laws and they neglected justice. They followed the laws and they neglected love. … And for these people Jesus had only one word (to describe them): hypocrites.”

The Stole of Mercy

Upon hearing of the gift, a spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said, “We are of course grateful to the Holy Father for his generosity. However, in deference to the long Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, the bishops will take under consideration just how far to go in implementing this whole love and justice thing. Practically speaking, we do still have a church to run.”

The stole is of a golden material, and emblazoned with the papal coat of arms.


Progressives and Conservatives Bring It On in St. Peters Square

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
October 31, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — After dancing around each other in various columns and speeches since the close of the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the Family, representatives of the progressive and conservative cohorts of the Roman Catholic Church have finally decided to bring matters to a head with an arm-wrestling contest in St. Peter’s Square.

Representing the progressive side is Sr. Mary Immaculata O’Finian O’Toole, a bit long in the tooth but still full of vim and vigor. She is head of the local chapter of the LCWR, a volunteer for Nuns on the Bus, and a passionate defender of Vatican II and the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Representing the conservative side is Mr. Eberhardt Richtig, a Third Degree Knight of Columbus and Vice President of the Holy Name Society in his parish, Sts. Melodius and Catheter. Mr. Richtig also organizes the Natural Family Planning outreach for his parish.

Crowds in St. Peter's SquareThe contest started at noon today, Rome time, with ever-increasing crowds gathering around as word got out on social media. So far the crowd has been reasonably well-behaved, limiting themselves to shouting out encouragement to their champions and theologically heckling the other side.

“Hey! Who appointed you arbiter of all that is orthodox? Didn’t you read John O’Malley in America Magazine?” shouted one supporter of Sr. O’Finian O’Toole.

“Yeah! ‘A self-identification without credentials to validate the claim!’” roared another. “Booyah!!!”

“Afraid of a little Christianity?” heckled a third. “Read the New Testament, will ya??? And either learn a little something about natural law or stop quoting it, for Heaven’s sake!!!”

Supporters of Mr. Richtig responded in kind. “You always want everything to be so logical! Sometimes you just need to hang onto the faith and believe!” bawled one. “And go read Douthat’s response!”

“You’re always trying to reform authority when you should be reinforcing it!” bellowed another. “It’s how we know who we are and how we keep tradition alive!”

“You can’t cave in on doctrinal or moral issues or the Church will wither and die!” pleaded a third.

As of this writing, brows have been mopped and water and snacks provided to the wrestlers.

The contest goes on.

Cardinal Shocked that Birth Control Encyclical Lacks Natural Law Argument

By The The Pope’s Fool News Service
October 28, 2014

The Popes Fool News Service (We Make Stuff Up)VATICAN CITY (TPF) — Overheard by our source on the street in a trattoria in the Trastevere district of Rome, just down the river from the Vatican.

“Holy crap, Andy! I haven’t read my Aquinas in a while, but looking through this thing,” he said, pointing to a printout of the birth control encyclical Humanae Vitae sitting on the table between them, “I’m hard-pressed to find an actual natural law argument in it.” The speaker was Cardinal Jann Lazzamotti, newly appointed member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican congregation responsible for promoting and safeguarding faith and morals throughout the Catholic world.

“When’s the last time you’ve read through it, Your Eminence?” asked his associate, auxiliary Bishop Andrew Blackwood.

“Probably when it came out, over 45 years ago,” replied the cardinal.

“Indeed,” said the bishop. “Be that as it may, you raise a good point, a point that was made more than once at the time of the encyclical’s release. You might recall the uproar it caused and the push-back against it, not only from theologians and the faithful, but even from the bishops. As I recall, fewer than half of the world’s bishop conferences received it without attempting to mitigate its message. The point you raise might also explain why 95% of the faithful have studiously ignored it.”

“It’s just a reiteration of previous papal teaching banning birth control, except for the Pope Pius XII carve-out for natural family planning,” he continued, picking up the encyclical and waving it in front of him. “There is no natural law argument in this, just declarations! And they don’t even make sense!”

“That is unfortunate for what is alleged to be a natural law argument,” replied the bishop, “which by its very nature is a creature of reason, and therefore must make sense. Your Eminence might reflect upon the possibility that the faithful intuitively figured this out a long time ago.”

The cardinal stared at the bishop for a few seconds, and then at the encyclical in his hand. After that, he flagged down the waiter and ordered another bottle of wine.