In back-to-back opening keynote addresses July 25 at the ninth annual Napa Institute, well-known conservative Catholic commentator George Weigel and high-profile papal critic Cardinal Raymond Burke exhorted the assembly to fight pervasive error, division and apostasy in the church and embrace its immutable teachings.
Both called the nearly 700 participants at the July 24-28 event in Napa, California, to “more thorough, intense Catholic lives” and “missionary discipleship,” in Weigel’s words.
It was the cardinal’s first appearance at a Napa Institute conference, staged at the elegant Meritage Resort and Spa, which is among holdings of institute’s co-founder, Tim Busch.
Burke was pointedly critical about the working document for the Vatican’s fall Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, which includes discussion of potential priestly ordination of widely respected married men to enhance access to sacraments in that region.
“Celibacy stems from the example of Jesus Christ,” said the cardinal. “Our great high priest made this choice” and it provides an example of “perfect continence” for priests.
Weigel agreed. “To relax or remove or dispose of the 1,000 or so years of tradition that lie behind the celibate priesthood is to surrender in a very profound way to the siren song of the sex-saturated culture that is killing itself and its offspring,” he said.
Titled “Proclaiming the Truths of the Faith in a Time of Crisis,” Burke’s address centered on a review of a recent 40-point “declaration” signed by him and four other prelates — a retired cardinal from Latvia (Janis Pujats) and three bishops from Kazakhstan (Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Tomash Peta and Archbishop Emeritus Jan Pawel Lenga).
Among the 40 “pervasive errors” noted by Burke at Napa were:
• “Confusion” about working to bring Muslims or Jews to Christianity: Many feel both religions “claim their own integrity” and that “it is wrong to work toward their conversion,” but “there is salvation through faith in Christ alone,” he said to applause.
• Lack of clarity that the church does permit civil authority to exercise capital punishment, a statement that seemed to conflict with Pope Francis’ recent description of the death penalty as “a serious violation of the right to life of every person” and the U.S bishops’ move to re-cast the U.S catechism on the topic.
• “Serious implications for the entire life of the church” when priests’ “divinely appointed” role “acting in the person of Christ” at the consecration at Mass is misunderstood: an error “currently going about is that if no ordained priest” is available, “it is sufficient for the faithful to just designate one of their number to offer the sacrifice,” he said.
• Sidelining church doctrine that “the only moral exercise of sex” may take place “within a valid marriage” of a man and woman.
Weigel said a well-lived life centers on the question, “How have I brought others to Christ?”
Advocating “all-in Catholicism,” Weigel argued, “We will not attract others to Jesus” unless “manifest in our lives” are “service to the poor and marginalized and the walking wounded in our decadent culture” as well as rigorous sacramental practice.
In that vein, he said pro-life Catholics must do more than debate the abortion issue and should support pregnant women in crisis.
Full story at National Catholic Reporter.