Paul III’s Sublimus Dei reaches across 500 years.


There has been much interest of late expressed in popular media and educational circles regarding the native peoples of America when the Spanish first arrived in the New World, as well as the English and French at later dates. Five years ago, I visited Mexico along with a number of other people from Nampa, Idaho, and spent 10 days there, staying in a village called Tizapan el Alto on the largest lake in Mexico called Laguna Chapala [40 to 50 miles south of the city of Guadalajara, State of Jalisco(central Mexico)].

It was a beautiful place–somewhat high desert, not unlike Idaho, mild weather, and a city or municipality [not unlike counties in the U.S.] with approximately 20 to 30,000 people. Approximately one-half the population, I was told, was working in the United States. I met a few people that were an Indian mix, including some that claimed to be the progeny of the Aztecs. (Not a difficult claim based upon the proximity to Mexico City).

Upon my return to the States, I read the “Conquest of Mexico” by the Spanish padre, Juan Diego. That journal of events read like a storybook, commanding my keen interest and attention. The book is to be commended to anyone interested in the earliest involvement of Europeans on the North American continent. Of course, the Catholic Faith flourished after the conquest. Some say that the Spanish treatment of the Indians was terrible. Indeed, many Europeans whether English, Spanish, or otherwise, automatically viewed the Indian peoples summarily as savages, incapable of believing in God and the Catholic Faith, and that as savages, they should be enslaved, their property to escheat to the crown, and freedom denied.

Of course, that is illogical. The Gospel is for all humankind. It knows no bounds. In fact, the Gospel civilized the savages of northern Europe 1200 to 1800 years ago.

To learn history is a life-long task. I am no a history scholar. On the other hand, there is much prejudice regarding the history of the Faith, the Church, and how the Indians were treated. There is no one uniform story, for when people believe in Christ and that His Heart is for all peoples in all times, will largely treat people rightly. Much good was done. However, with human involvement comes evil. No doubt the evil of slavery and ignorance abounded and still does to this day.

Regardless, the Faith was passed on and it is testified that after the Mexican conquest, millions of men, women, and children were baptized into the Catholic Faith.

As an early example of papal admonitions about how to deal with foreign peoples and social justice, the Roman Pontiff, Paul III, issued the following bull “To all faithful Christians” with regard to the treatment of the American Indians demanding that the native folk be respected, that their freedom be honored, and their right to possession of their property. He clearly demanded that the Indians not be enslaved, “should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

It still read as a short statement on how to treat people to this day: Respect the person, respect liberty and property, do not enslave.

Here is the bull in its entirety and simplicity, issued on May 29, 1537:

 

Sublimus Dei

Pope Paul III

 (Topic: the enslavement and evangelization of Indians)

To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction.

The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office ‘Go ye and teach all nations.’ He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.

 

Truth in charity.


The lay members of the Order of Preachers in the Western Dominican Province have new officers effective today, Wednesday, August 20, 2008, including Tony Galati, OPL as president of the Lay Provincial Council [I give a ‘virtual’ bow to, and continually pray for, Karen Woods, OPL, outgoing president of the LPC, for her years of hard work and attention to the Idaho Dominican Laity].  I was appointed by the executive committee of the LPC as the new promoter of peace and justice.

My prayer is to serve that purpose nobly with an eye for excellence in effort and charity, but clarity and with truth.   I will not always meet that goal but I ask you assist me in that direction.

I invite you to explore this blog.    I have tried to articulate my concern and many other people’s concerns.   At the same time, it is a personal education for me and I hope for you.    The purpose here is to aid all concerned to seek the Truth in key issues, to allow prudence and discernment be exercised where possible, to point out higher moral situations, and to facilitate the right judgment and good order in developing and working on peace, justice, and stewardship issues–with all of this in charity.

With this end in mind, a key aid in that endeavor is the following link to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, a key document in the study of social justice issues, issues hierarchy, the moral and practical implications, and other matters.  Look here:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Over the next few weeks, it is my hope to explore the study of Cosmology, the study of the movement of the heavenly bodies in the universe.  Why Cosmology?  First, many in the Order of Preachers are calling for an integration of a “new” Cosmology into the theology of the Church, ranking creation and the environment on par with humankind.     We are called to be good stewards of creation, but ranking the material world with humankind negates the reality of the metaphysical, the nature of humankind as body and soul, and the doctrine of original sin.    Second, frankly, it is an effort to try and understand the meaning and purpose in this new effort to amend the Church’s teachings.     Finally, this call for a “new” Cosmology is where the spiritual battle is raging.  There is a deep divide among Catholic people over these matters.  It has found a home in the Dominican Order.

The real concern of social justice efforts should be focused on true human concerns, including the poor, the suffering, the enslavement of people, the ravages of war, and most notably, the killing of kids in the womb and of the disabled, the infirm, and the dying. 

If you wish to make comments, please click on the comments button and go for it.  If you wish to contribute a post, send it to me at my chapter’s email address: chapter[“at sign”]dominicanidaho.org.   You are welcome to do so and I will post all reasonable comments.   In our spiritual father, St. Dominic,  Peace & faith, John

 

A Catholic Perspective on the Environment.


The key to conservation of the environment is to remember that the environment is not a habitat for a mystical-based polytheistic religion and fog-headed residents, but to remember that is in the order of creation, that God made all creation out of nothing, that He made humankind first in the order of creation, and that it is humankind’s duty to be good stewards of God’s creation and the environment.  This link  explains it well: 

 http://conservation.catholic.org/index.htm

Letter to LPC on Social Justice: “New Cosmology” and “The Earth Charter.”


Thursday, July 03, 2008

 Dear Members of the Lay Provincial Council:

           Greetings from the members of the Blessed Margaret of Castello Lay Chapter here in Idaho.  Please visit our beautiful state and our local Chapter.

          As you may recall, at the LPC meeting in 2007, the Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter in Boise forwarded to the Lay Provincial Council [LPC] a document titled, “On Social Justice Issues.”  That document was authored by the undersigned after much discussion among chapter members, which was unanimously endorsed by the Boise Chapter. 

That document can be found at the following link.[i]  Its purpose was to express concern about some of the social justice issues and causes that the Order of Preachers in general, and the laity in particular, are involved and to call upon the,

lay members of [the Order of Preachers] to responsibly review each social and political issue very carefully so that it reflects the moral order, conscience, issues and efforts so dear and close to the Church–not the whim of ideology and political ideas that benefit from currency or fancy. 

On Social Justice Issues.  This letter is only a primer and will explore and discuss with renewed vigor the goal of a proper and moral approach to key social justice issues the Lay members of the Order of Preachers must face as an ecclesial institute.

          In good faith and with prayers, the undersigned truly and humbly hopes that this letter helps in some small way—with God’s help and your prayers—regarding the defects in the social justice efforts now manifest.

          The Boise Chapter has prayed for and continues to pray for and honors each and every lay promoter and officer of the Lay Provincial Council in thankfulness for services rendered to the lay members of the Western Province of the Order of Preachers. 

          First, this letter will discuss the nature of some of the issues, concerns, and efforts being made by members of the Order of Preachers.  Often the most resourceful place to view these issues is to review the various websites that inhabit the internet. 

          The second aspiration this letter is to review our role, as laity, in our own personal and chapter apostolates—as well as members of a Catholic lay ecclesial institute—in the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic.

          Finally, this letter will review possible alternatives and approaches to this current problem. 

          There are issues we must face as lay members of the Order.

First, let’s take a look at “Dominican Life USA” a resourceful website that rightly dubs itself as “A web crossroads for the Order of Preachers.”  See, www.domlife.org.

That website provides a virtual storehouse of current information regarding the Order.  Also, at the “domlife.org” website is a link to “Peace, Justice, and Creation,”[ii] where a number of links are available to key issues, including:

Global Warming, Africa, Columbia, Death Penalty, Disarmament, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Human Trafficking, Migration, United Nations, and Earth Charter.   

In addition, there is also a link to a Dominican Call to Justice 2007 document.[iii]  That document contains the same issues as noted above. 

At the top of the domlife.org website, it provides a link to the Dominican Leadership Conference [DLC].[iv]  In its own words, the website notes the purpose of,

The Dominican Leadership Conference is the networking organization for elected leaders of Dominican congregations and provinces in the United States. It serves 29 congregations of sisters and four provinces of men. This represents about 6,000 Dominican men and women in the US.

[See, at this DLC link[v]].  On the DLC website titled “Peace,”[vi] it identifies Dominicans doing Justice.  Prominently on that website, it identifies a number of issues and concerns.  These include the Dominican Call to Action, Iraq,[vii] death penalty,[viii] human trafficking,[ix] School of the Americas,[x] global warming,[xi] and our Dominican Family in Iraq. 

          On the page entitled “Dominicans Doing Justice” at domlife.org, it states,

Dominicans see the significance of the New Cosmology as the critical lens from which all preaching needs to flow and all justice action should emerge. It is for this reason that our work for justice and peace is situated within the context of care of creation.

Dominican Life Justice Website[xii] (emphasis on website). The website is void of any explanation of the term “New Cosmology” and how that term became the “critical lens from which all preaching needs to flow.”   

If the “New Cosmology” is the ‘critical lens’ through which the key charism of the Order of Preachers should flow, then a logical question arises, what does the term “New Cosmology” signify? 

As the term appears on a key Dominican website, I examined internet sources regarding the term.   

A university in Oakland, California sponsors the Sophia Center located at the Holy Names University, two Dominicans are listed as “Outstanding Scholars and Teachers of New Cosmology.”[xiii]   The first is Sr. Miriam MacGillis, OP, MA, of Caldwell, New Jersey congregation, who is identified as an “earth activist and artist … [co-founder of] Genesis Farm.”[xiv]  She is also a Dominican Sister. 

          The other Dominican listed on that website is Albert Nolan, OP, a founding member of the Institute for Contextual Theology in Johannesburg, South Africa.

That term “New Cosmology” is also referenced at www.earthlight.org, where it records a 2001 conference at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, entitled “Earth Spirit Rising” attended by “author and University of Creation Spirituality president” Mr. Matthew Fox, a past Dominican friar and now Episcopalian priest, and Dominican sister, Miriam MacGillis, OP, mentioned above.   See, here.[xv]

At that website, Mr. Fox related his “’Ten Blessings’ we receive from being awakened by the New Cosmology.”  These new cosmology blessings include “rediscovery of the Cosmic Christ as wisdom,” “redeeming the word ‘flesh,’ as holy and imbued with spirit,” “redeeming of darkness, facing nothingness & emptying,” and “reinventing education to integrate all chakras.” 

          Dominican sister, Miriam MacGillis, OP, whose presentation included her recent trip to Ireland, where she says her, “ancestors communicated both cosmology and faith” to her, and that Ireland, was originally the body of, “the [s]un [g]oddess. … I learned that the early [g]oddess was benevolent. She was about abundance and fertility, and [h]er gift was fire and the renewing cycle of the seasons.” [See, here].[xvi] 

          Sr. Miriam MacGillis, O.P., helped start Genesis Farm near Blairstown, New Jersey.  Genesis Farm’s vision “is rooted in a belief that the Universe, Earth, and all reality are permeated by the presence and power of that ultimate Holy Mystery that has been so deeply and richly expressed in the world’s spiritual traditions. We try to ground our ecological and agricultural work in this deep belief. This Sacred Mystery, known by so many religious names, is the common thread in our efforts.” [See, here].[xvii]

Sr. MacGillis’ “mystical” reference is not to the worship of the Triune God but to a type of scientific and evolutionary mysticism that starts with the beginning of the Universe, 14 billion years ago to the evolution of life on earth, and to human life today. 

The evolutionary “new cosmology” supplants the reality that humankind was created in the image of God, and in denying order puts humans on evolutionary par with all creatures and all of creation, ignoring the centrality of the Gospel, the place of humankind in creation as described in the Holy Scriptures, and the social justice message.  For instance, as it says in Genesis,

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”  God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26, 27.  See, also, Wisdom 9, Psalm 104.  As stated by a Catholic ecologist, Bill Jacobs, about the “New Cosmology” that

[a]t times, Creation theology involves the worship of Creation more than, or in place of, the worship of the Triune God.  The Most Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is often ignored or denied by the proponents of the “new story.”  This contributes to a grave (and old) anthropological error that is widespread today:  Instead of carrying out humankind’s role as cooperator and co-creator with the Triune God in the work of Creation and Redemption, people set themselves up in place of God, thereby provoking a kind of rebellion on the part of Nature.  In some expressions of Creation theology today, Creation and/or humankind become gods.[xviii]

[Emphasis here]. This “new cosmology” blends a form of neo-paganism with a variety of nature worshipping, Earth-based secular environmentalism, new age, goddess-based, Gnosticism in contrast to the Judeo-Christian religion and the change that Christ wrought to the universe in His Passion and death on the Cross.

          It is true that it is a priority that we must care for people first, and in the order of the world, we must care for creation, recognizing that God created the world and by His Word created it into existence. 

As John Paul II said that as Christians we believe, “that the death and resurrection of Christ accomplished the work of reconciling humanity to the Father, who ‘was pleased … through (Christ) to reconcile to himself ALL THINGS, whether on Earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross’.  Creation was thus made new.” 

The highest point of the work of creation ends in the greatest work of Redemption.  For an excellent discussion on conservation of creation grounded in Catholic thought and culture, see, “’Peace with God—Peace with all of Creation’: A Reflection on the Holy Father’s 1990 World Day of Peace Message,” or “The Ecological Problem Today: the Relation Between the Human Person and the World,” both by Sr. Marjorie Keenan, RSHM, Member, Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice. [See, here].[xix]

 

Plainly stated, the “old cosmology” is the story of creation as set out in the Scriptures.  The “new cosmology” is mulled-over man-centered Gnosticism. 

          The Dominican Life USA and the Dominican Leadership Conference websites identified above, also have links to “The Earth Charter.”  The charter can be found at http://www.earthcharter.org/.   

          The Earth Charter has published a book that explains the Charter purposes and goals.  It is called “Toward a Sustainable World: The Earth Charter in Action” published by the Royal Tropical Institute (2005 The Netherlands).[xx]

          The Earth Charter presents a great concern.  At first impression, the Charter and its goals looks quite impressive.  It’s preamble notes that humanity stands at a critical moment in Earth’s history and that “[w]e must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, Preamble. 

          However, the authors of The Earth Charter admit that the challenge of the Charter is to make it “an effective instrument of global governance, and international law …”  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, History and Provenance of the Earth Charter. 

         

          In 1987, the U.N. Commission on Environment and Development called for a document that would set forth fundamental principles for “sustainable development.” 

 

In 1994 and thereafter, Maurice Strong, Steven Rockefeller, and Mikhail Gorbachev worked together to draft The Earth Charter.  It was released in A.D. 2000 and is hailed as a “declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st Century.” 

 

As noted by Mikhail Gorbachev at his founding speech of “Green Cross International” at Kyoto, Japan on April 20, 1993, “The emerging ‘environmentalization’ of our civilization and the need for vigorous action in the interest of the entire global community will inevitably have multiple political consequences.  Perhaps the most important of them will be a gradual change in the status of the United Nations.  Inevitably, it must assume some aspects of a world government.”  (Emphasis added). 

 

The authors of the Earth Charter also note that in order to obtain their goals, that “multiple ways of looking at global governance are necessary and imminent.” 

 

This is not a faint claim.

 

          The Earth Charter document does not acknowledge God as the author of life and of creation.  It seeks a type of evolutionary state that will seek the redemption of the environment by all peoples yielding to global government and the necessity of saving creation through tough environmental regulation and a type of forced sustainable development.

 

In reality, the earth cannot be healed—redeemed—without God.  There is no number of men and women, commissions, committees, corporations or global government that is able to change the nature of humankind without the Redeemer. 

 

In addition, the Earth Charter provides no protection for unborn children.  In fact, the population is seen as a burden upon society and the environment.  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, Preamble. 

 

If the Earth Charter makes a plea for justice, what justice can there exist if the most innocent people among us, who are surely blind, have no choices, and have neither experienced love nor life in full, are not protected by operation of law?

 

          Unlike the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the Charter does not recognize that God is the author of life and liberty.

 

          Lastly, the Earth Charter should not be used to supplant Catholic Social Teaching, which is based upon objective truth, inalienable rights derived from our Creator, and in His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. 

 

           As the foregoing demonstrates, the ideas of a “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter” have woven their way into the Dominican Order.  In addition to examples above, you may see, as an example, Preacher Exchange.[xxi]  These concepts present serious questions.

 

It requires prayer, discernment, and care, but also love for the charism of St. Dominic in the work of the Order, his friars, religious, and laity, and the love of our Father in Heaven, to work through this serious matter with clarity and with profound charity. 

 

For example, there is irony in these issues of the “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter,” as it reveals a profound naiveté, if not foolishness, with regard to the truth of Original sin.  The goals of the “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter” with regard to peace and security, while commendable, are not obtainable without the Redemption of humankind through Jesus Christ

 

This is not a new problem.  It is as old as human history where humankind seeks to displace God with its own knowledge, its own idols and its own objects of worship.  It’s been tried repeatedly with great failure.  Collaboration with this ancient rebellion has occurred. 

 

As St. Catherine of Siena succinctly states in The Dialogue, “You cannot imagine how great is people’s foolishness.  They have no sense or discernment, having lost it by hoping in themselves and putting their trust in their own knowledge.” 

The Dominican Laity plays a role in restoring right order, reasonableness, and priority to the justice and peace agenda.  First, please pray. 

Please pray for the Order, that St. Dominic’s charism and traditions set down before us be renewed and held in honor.  The Adaptation and Renewal of Christian Life (Perfectae Caritatas), para. 2(b) (October 28, 1965).

The laity must live in holiness.  This will help tend the seed bed of the Word of God.   We must seek to organize temporal affairs in accord with Christ’s mind, to bring praise and glory to the Father and His Son.  [Lumen Gentium 31]. 

          Further, as John Paul II said in Christifideles Laici,

Charity toward one’s neighbor, through contemporary forms of the traditional spiritual and corporal works of mercy, represent the most immediate, ordinary and habitual ways that lead to the Christian animation of the temporal order, the specific duty of the lay faithful. (No. 41).

The exercise of these virtues are a sure way to help reform the temporal order, by exercising virtue, prayer and fasting, and working consistently for right order in our own lives. 

The Laity can be real witnesses to Christian religious principles in society, where religion is a private practice but also where religious principles of truth, humility, character, and integrity are a public practice.

The exercise of the spiritual works of mercy are especially connected to St. Dominic, as preaching is the key charism of the Order of Preachers as Dominicans can help to convert, to instruct, to counsel, and to comfort others. 

This call to evangelization is for the Laity, especially in our own lives, whether in our home, business, government, or elsewhere.  

Thank you for the opportunity to present this to you.  I hope that it aids in the effort by the LPC to focus on true justice and peace issues that plague our world including the aid and help of the poor and for protecting and preserving life from conception to natural death. 

Please pray for me as I pray for all the members of the Lay Provincial Council.

                                                Peace & faith,

 

 

                                                John Keenan, J.D., O.P.L.

                                                LPC Representative

                                                Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter

 

 


[ii]               http://www.domlife.org/Justice/index.html

[iv]              http://www.domlife.org/DLC/default.htm

[xiv]             http://www.genesisfarm.org/

[xix]              http://conservation.catholic.org/index.htm