Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mystici Corporis Christi: Pope Pius XII's Encyclical On The Doctrine Of The Mystical Body Of Christ

Pope Pius XII in 1924. His papacy was from 1939-1958.

Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi was issued on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, 1943. It is a document that explains the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. It is an invitation to all who are drawn to it by the Holy Spirit to study it; to receive the truths contained within it; and to act upon this knowledge and understanding with the performance of good works. Pope Pius XII deemed it fitting to develop and explain this doctrine with the hope that the entire flock of Christ would, "...[D]raw certain lessons that will make a deeper study of this mystery bear yet richer fruits of perfection and holiness." (11)

If you are new to Church doctrine, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is a doctrine. Doctrine is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, "a set of beliefs or principles held and taught by a religious, political, or other group." With specific reference to the Catholic Church, here is what the Catechism of The Catholic Church states about doctrine and the constitutive element of charity:
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. (25)
Thirty six pages printed, there is much one could include in writing about this encyclical, but for the sake of brevity, today's post focuses on some of the fundamental aspects of this doctrine: the origins of this doctrine; certain aspects of the Mystical Body; why the body in fact is mystical; errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of this doctrine; and the participation of each member to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ.

Pope Pius XII explanation on the origin of this doctrine begins at paragraph twelve, with the fall of Adam and the gift of Christ. God created Adam in such an exalted state that he was to hand on to his posterity the heavenly life of divine grace. After Adam's fall, the entire human race was "infected with a hereditary stain," in which it lost its participation in the divine nature. God's love for the world brought with it the gift of His only begotten Son. Christ's crucifixion not only appeased the justice of the Father, but had obtained for all mankind an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Christ to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church, that all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of redemption. It is significant to note that the establishment of the Mystical Body was willed by Christ, so that the sacred work of redemption would endure and continue throughout the centuries, in part due to the direct participation of His Body.

Pope Pius XII also noted that the establishment of the Mystical Body by Christ, had been reinforced by the teaching of Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. He cited Saint Paul's letter to the the Colossians, "Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church," (14) as well as Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Satis Cognitum, who asserted that the "Church is visible because she is a body." (14) 

Further on in the encyclical, Pope Pius XII identified who is included in the Body. The Body consists of the clergy and the laity: those who are of Holy Orders; cloistered in monasteries living a contemplative life; others who are active and living in the world in their apostolates; those in the state of matrimony, single laity and members of lay Catholic groups. He elaborated further on this when he stated:
...only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit. (22)
Pope Pius XII clarified that the Mystical Body of Christ is made up of holy individuals, saints and sinners as well. He noted that not every sin, grave as it may be, will sever man from the Mystical Body of Christ. He stated that if members of the Body have lost charity and divine grace through sin, they may not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope; spurred by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to prayer and penance for their sins. Such is not the case with much more serious matters such as schism, heresy or apostasy. 

Christ has provided for His Mystical Body by endowing it with the Sacraments. In so doing, as Pope Pius XII noted, He provided it with an uninterrupted series of graces to sustain it from birth to death, including generous provisions for the social needs of the Church. In particular, Pope Pius XII spotlighted the great importance of the correct religious education of children, in which he stated that without the "Mystical Body would be in grave danger." (20)

Continuing with his explanation of the Body, Pope Pius XII stated that, "Because Christ the Head holds such an eminent position, one must not think that he does not require the help of the Body." (44) Important to note that what ever need our Divine Redeemer has of us, ultimately we must remember His words, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 5:15) We, the Body, must always be cognizant of the fact that all advancement of "...[T]his Mystical Body towards its perfection derives from Christ the Head." (44) 

Pope Pius XII stated very clearly, "Christ has need of His members." (44) As to the specifics why Christ needs His members, he elaborated on this point when he stated that Jesus is represented by the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn must call upon others to share in the solicitude of souls, lest he become overwhelmed by the demands of his pastoral office. Pope Pius XII also stressed that our Saviour does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, but instead He wills to be helped by the members of his Body, carrying out the work of redemption. The reason for this; Christ willed to be helped by his Body for the "greater glory of His spotless Spouse." (44) Pope Pius XII continued with this explanation when he stated that when Christ died on the Cross, He left the Church with the immense treasury of Redemption. Come time to distribute the graces, not only does Christ share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it would be due to her action. Pope Pius XII referred to this as a deep mystery: 
...that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His associates. (44)
As to why the Body of Christ should be called Mystical, Pope Pius XII began his explanation at paragraph sixty. So there may be no misunderstanding of what mystical means, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "having a spiritual significance that goes beyond human understanding." Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary,  definition of the Church's mystical component is as follows, "The Church is called Mystical because she is a mystery, which God revealed to be true but whose inner essence must be accepted on faith and without full comprehension by the mind." Here is the introduction to the mystical aspect of the Body from Pope Pius XII:
And now, Venerable Brethren, We come to that part of Our explanation in which We desire to make clear why the Body of Christ, which is the Church, should be called mystical. This name, which is used by many early writers, has the sanction of numerous Pontifical documents. There are several reasons why it should be used; for by it we may distinguish the Body of the Church, which is a Society whose Head and Ruler is Christ, from His physical Body, which, born of the Virgin Mother of God, now sits at the right hand of the Father and is hidden under the Eucharistic veils; and, that which is of greater importance in view of modern errors, this name enables us to distinguish it from any other body, whether in the physical or the moral order. (60)
To further clarify the Mystical aspect of the Body, Pope Pius XII compared the Mystical Body to that of a natural body. He stated that in a natural body, "...the principle of unity unites the parts in such a manner that each lacks in its own individual subsistence; on the contrary, in the Mystical Body the mutual union, though intrinsic, links the members by a bond which leaves to each the complete enjoyment of his own personality." (61) He explained further that the different members of the physical body are destined to the good of the whole alone; while the Mystical Body with its many moral associations are directed to the advancement of all and each individual member. He then pointed out the fact that Jesus established the Body and enriched it with the Holy Spirit; for it exists "...[F]or the good of the faithful and for the glory of God and of Jesus Christ whom He sent." (61)

A further comparison was made between a mystical and moral body. Pope Pius XII noted the difference between the two is not slight, but rather considerable and very important. Here is what he stated:
In the moral body the principle of union is nothing else than the common end, and the common cooperation of all under the authority of society for the attainment of that end; whereas in the Mystical Body of which We are speaking, this collaboration is supplemented by another internal principle, which exists effectively in the whole and in each of its parts, and whose excellence is such that of itself it is vastly superior to whatever bonds of union may be found in a physical or moral body. (62)
Pope Pius XII continued to explain that the Church, as a perfect society, is not merely made up of moral and juridical elements and principles; it is far superior to all other human societies. It is superior to all human societies because it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all that can perish. The Church is not found within a natural order, rather the juridical principles upon which the Church rests and is established derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ. Our Redeemer continues to penetrate and fill every part of the Church's being; He is active within until the end of time as the source of every grace, gift and miraculous power.

With respect to the many errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of some aspects of this doctrine, Pope Pius XII included many paragraphs (85-90). Of particular note is the error of "quietism." The error of quietism is one that assumes that the whole spiritual life of Christians and their progress is exclusively the result of the actions of the Holy Spirit; while neglecting the collaboration that is due of each member of the Body. No one should deny the inspirations and role of the Holy Spirit in the Church with each member, but at the same, each member should as Pope Pius XII stated, "...[A]dvance eagerly in grace and virtue, that they should strive earnestly to reach the heights of Christian perfection and at the same time to the best of their power should stimulate others to attain the same goal..." (87) He explained that the Holy Spirit will not effect all this unless members of the Body contribute daily with their share of zealous activity. 

Another error that Pope Pius XII warned about is the assertion by some who have given little importance to the frequent confession of venial sins. He explained that although venial sins are forgiven and expiated at daily Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation provides for more rapid progress in virtue. Here is what he stated on the encouragement of frequent confession:
...We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior... (88)
Participation of each member to strengthen and build up the The Mystical Body of Christ, is specifically mentioned and encouraged at paragraph ninety eight. Pope Pius XII began this paragraph with the love that Christ has for His Body; a love that is to be reciprocated by its members. Of particular note, Pope Pius XII mentioned the Italian Catholic lay group, Catholic Action, which spotlighted the importance of the laity's role in the Body. Pope Pius XII pointed out that as Jesus laboured unceasingly to establish and strengthen the Church, that all of its members should endeavour to do likewise. This encyclical was issued during the middle of World War II, which Pope Pius XII referred to as the "present circumstances," the significance of which he spotlighted by stressing how important it was for everyone to realize the urgent necessity of their energetic zeal in working for the Body

Further aspects of each member's participation in the strengthening and building up of the Body, is included at paragraph one hundred and six. Pope Pius XII stated that we should pray for the Lord to send labourers into His harvest and that our daily prayer should be united in praying to the Lord for all members of the Mystical Body of Christ. He elaborated as to how we can effectively work for the Bodydrawing God's graces upon it in the process:
For although our Savior's cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God's inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God's hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, "we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church." (106)
In publishing this post today, it is my hope that an increasing number of Catholics will read and study this encyclical and; thus, come to a better understanding of the Body, that is the Church. May it encourage many to strive with a firm resolution to sincerely work to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ. In so doing, may each one of us be cognizant of each member's role and dignity, to which we have been called by our Head, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. 

May Our Lady Queen of Peace intercede for us.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ontario College Of Physicians And Surgeons External Consultation and the Inappropriate Forum Moderation

Screen shot of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons own forum post

Today's post is an update to my previous post, Professional Obligations and Human Rights - An Anti-Life Policy From Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons. If you have not been following the freedom of conscience issue surrounding this policy, I respectfully encourage you to read my previous post. Here is some basic information you need to be aware of. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons or CPSO has drafted a new policy entitled, Professional Obligations and Human Rights as part of their policy review cycle. It is to replace and build upon the previous 2008 policy, Physicians and The Ontario Human Rights Code. According to the CPSO's web site, this new draft policy has been approved by Council and "...sets out physicians’ existing legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), and the College’s expectation that physicians will respect the fundamental rights of those who seek their medical services. The draft policy also sets out the College’s expectations for physicians who limit the health services they provide due to their personal values and beliefs." Part of the CPSO's policy review process includes an external consultation in which the public are invited to provide input in the form of an email, on line survey or forum at the CPSO's web site.

My initial post on the CPSO's policy development was my effort to identify and denounce what was morally wrong with this draft policy, as well as to spotlight the new inclusion of gender ideology language that was never apart of the 2008 policy. Since that initial post, there have been other troubling developments in the form of inappropriate forum moderation and public comments made from the CPSO's past president, Dr. Marc Gabel and its current president, Dr. Carol Leet.

Anyone who is concerned about the sacredness of human life needs to read the draft policy and participate in the CPSO's external consultation. In would be an effective way to put faith into action. To quote scripture, "What good is a faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless." (James 2:17) We all need to defend life, support the freedom of conscience and stand in solidarity with Catholic physicians and surgeons and others of good will.

If you are wondering if I have participated in the CPSO's external consultation, think no further. My forum comment was submitted on January 10, 2015 at 2:55am. It is listed as forum post 80 with the respondent categorization as "Member of The Public." It was a scaled down version of my initial blog post, but it included the main points that identified what was morally wrong and unacceptable. After a few days, I checked it and discovered that it had not been published; its status was "pending." It took approximately ten days before my comment was posted. Clearly there was something about my post that concerned the CPSO and only after they published a moderated version, did that concern become abundantly clear. The CPSO omitted a segment on gender ideology; which was inappropriate considering that it was a new inclusion from the 2008 policy. Below is the gender ideology text in bold that was omitted from my comment: 
...If there is any intention to encourage conscientious Catholic medical students and others of good will to pursue careers as physicians and surgeons in Ontario, then freedom of conscience and moral and religious beliefs must be guaranteed and protected. The college must also illustrate that it recognizes and acknowledges the truth and dignity of the human person. Such an illustration can begin with the removal of the gender ideology wording of "gender expression and gender identity," that are current inclusions at line 39 under the subheading, Human Rights, Discrimination and Access to Care. Such wording does not reflect the truth and reality of the human person. An individual's sex is not determined by desires, perceptions or feelings. A person is either male or female and for anyone to deny this reality and consider themselves contrary to what is biological true, is to give way to delusion and deception. Gender ideology has no place in the policy...
As to why the above noted text was omitted, one can only speculate that it is a function of political correctness, which sadly these days, caters to the homosexual agenda. The college does state at its Posting Guidelines that:
The College reserves the right to refuse to post feedback, in whole or in part, that, in its sole discretion: it deems to be unrelated to the policy or issue under consultation; contains complaints and/or compliments about identifiable physicians; contains personal identifiers and/or other information that may identify a third party; is abusive, obscene, harassing/threatening or otherwise inappropriate; may include defamatory or libelous comments; or does not comply with the College’s Privacy Policy or its Social Media Terms of Use.
Although the college's Posting Guidelines do seem to be fairly reasonable, it does grant the college a "carte blanche" to remove any aspect of a comment that they deem inappropriate for what ever reason. Does the omitted part of my forum post qualify as such? In my view, it does not. The omitted comment deals directly with actual text inclusions of the draft policy, that is in fact part of the deceptive language emanating from gender ideology. I consider the omitted part of my comment an inappropriate moderation of the forum.

In addition to other respondents whose comments have also been "moderated," in a similar like manner, as discovered through my social networking, there is another reason why I consider the forum to have been inappropriately moderated; the college's effort to defend itself against a misquote of its past president, Dr. Marc Gabel. The misquote came from the National Post's Margaret Somerville who in her article, Margaret Somerville: A modest proposal for respecting physicians’ freedom of conscience wrote that Dr. Gabel was reported to have stated, "...physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience should not be family physicians..." In response to this misquote, the college posted a reply on its own forum on January 29, 2015 at 4:40pm. The college took the liberty of posting this same reply several times throughout the forum, categorized at times as "Anonymous" and other times as "Organization." The above image published with this post captures that first instance. The CPSO's inappropriate forum moderation was first noted by Sean Murphy of The Protection of Conscience Project, whose article was published by LifeSiteNews. Below is a list of all the instances of this same reply at the CPSO's forum:

  • January, 29, 2015 at 4:40pm Forum Post 225 - As previous mentioned, the college inappropriately posted a comment in its forum, identifying itself as "Organization." 
  • January 30, 2015 at 4:45pm Reply To Forum Post 226 - The college posted the same comment, this time not identifying itself, but listed the respondent as "Anonymous." (screen shot)
  • January 30, 2015 at 4:46pm Reply To Forum Post 169 - The college posted the same comment and again, did not identify itself, but listed the respondent as "Anonymous." (screen shot)
  • February 2, 2015 at 11:31am Changed Respondent Identity - At their reply to forum post 169, the college changed the respondent's identity from "Anonymous" to "Organization." (screen shot)
  • February 2, 2015 at 11:59am Reply To Forum Post 228 - The college posted their comment again, this time as a reply to forum post 228 and identified itself as "Organization." (screen shot)

The Posting Guidelines at the CPSO specifically states that, "The College does not review any content of any feedback for accuracy. The College does not review any references or links in any feedback either for accuracy or with respect to the content of the document referred to or the site linked, and the College is not responsible for any content of any document referred to or site linked." According to these guidelines, it was inappropriate for the CPSO to have published a reply to the misquote at every instance when the National Post's article by Margaret Somerville was referenced in respondents' comments.

In my view, what the CPSO should have done is publish a statement addressing their concerns at their Professional Obligations and Human Rights external consultation page. That statement could have also included the letter by Dr. Carol Leet that was sent to the editor of the National Post. This would have afforded them an opportunity to express their concerns in full about the National Post's article without compromising the integrity of the forum. Another option for the CPSO would have been to create a separate web page under the "external consultations" section of their site and detail the above noted information.

To be fair to both Dr. Gabel and Dr. Carol Leet, the article from the National Post is in need of correction and should be edited and republished as soon as possible. A retraction from Margaret Somerville is in order. This is basic responsible journalism. Regardless of the issues of this draft policy and different points of view and beliefs, Sean Murphy did paraphrase Dr. Marc Gabel in his article, Ethical Cleansing in Ontario. This is what was used by Margaret Somerville as an official quote, which we have learned, is not an accurate one. 

If we take a look at what Dr. Gabel actually did say, there is good reason to be concerned; in essence, his comments amount to what has been misquoted by Margaret Somerville. The source that properly quoted Dr. Gabel comes from an article written by Michael Swan from The Catholic Register entitled, Catholic doctors who reject abortion told to get out of family medicine. Below is what Michael reported:
Catholic doctors who won’t perform abortions or provide abortion referrals should leave family medicine, says an official of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. “It may well be that you would have to think about whether you can practice family medicine as it is defined in Canada and in most of the Western countries,” said Dr. Marc Gabel, chair of the college’s policy working group reviewing “Professional Obligations and Human Rights.”
In addition to the The Catholic Register, comments made by Dr. Gabel have also caught the attention of LifeSiteNews, which published an article on December 19, 2014, by Steve Weatherbe entitled, Doctors who oppose abortion should leave family medicine: Ontario College of PhysiciansIt included further disturbing comments from Dr. Gabel, whose language was intimidating and served as a warning for doctors who do not intend to comply with the policy: 
Dr. Marc Gabel, a Toronto psychotherapist and past president of the college, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday that if his committee’s proposed revision of the college’s “Professional Obligations and Human Rights” is adopted, then if doctors refuse to refer patients to abortionists, or to doctors willing to prescribe contraceptives, they could face disciplinary action.
“If there were a complaint, every complaint is investigated by the complaint committee,” Dr. Gabel said. The complaint committee could deliver a mild private rebuke or turn over the matter to the disciplinary committee, which Gabel chaired for several years.
The draft policy potentially becomes a foundation with which to implement disciplinary penalties and persecute doctors on a professional level. This is further supported by the comments made by Dr. Carol Leet, the CPSO's current president, which was noted in the same LifeSiteNews article:
According to Dr. Carol Leet, the new president of the college, a doctor found guilty of professional misconduct by the disciplinary committee could face anything from remedial instruction to loss of his or her medical licence...Dr. Leet believes that "the religious beliefs of some doctors cannot outweigh the patients’ right to choose” whatever medical service they believe is appropriate. Patients have a right to receive “an effective referral” from any doctor.
Compounding the concerns of this draft policy is the recent Supreme Court of Canada Carter vs. Canada euthanasia decision, making "doctor assisted suicide" legal which is nothing but an exercise in "judicial activism." Is it not fair to assume from the language of the draft policy, that euthanasia if not already, will be considered as an inclusion in the college's "elements of care" or part of "health care services." Such ambiguous language is used by the CPSO with no reference to what exactly they include; they can be found at lines 49, 52, 138, and 156. 

There is much to be concerned about with the Professional Obligations and Human Rights draft policy. At stake are: two fundamental aspects of human rights, the right to life and the right to refuse to take part in committing an injustice; freedom of conscience for physicians and surgeons; the opportunity for Catholic medical students and those of good will to pursue a career as a physician or surgeon; and the opportunity for patients to have a Catholic doctor available who will practice medicine in accord with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

The draft policy demands a proper response by all Catholics and people of good will. Help restore Canada to a "culture of life." Please consider participating in this external consultation which closes on February 20, 2015.

Most importantly of all, pray and fast for a total revamping of this draft policy.