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Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Quick Hits: Bad news about that 'flash of light,' beware priests who don't want to be 'set apart'

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | May 23, 2016

  • Many pro-lifers ( including yours truly) were captivated by the recent announcement that a flash of light occurs at the moment of human conception. Unfortunately it’s not true. Stacy Trasancos explains in this cautionary piece in the National Catholic Register that the light was caused by a chemical process, performed on eggs that were fertilized in a laboratory. The test demonstrated a spike in calcium levels within the fertilized eggs—which is interesting, but not a game-changer for the debate on the humanity of the unborn. What’s more interesting, sad to say, is that the tests—and thus all those stories about the “flash of light”—were the result of immoral manipulation. If we’re really concerned about the dignity of unborn human life, then, we shouldn’t welcome this news.

  • Is there a “Pope Francis effect” evident in the latest crop of young men training for the priesthood? Father Phillip Brown, rector of the Theological College seminary at Catholic University, says there is, in a report for the National Catholic Reporter. Matthew Pinto adds some interesting reflections on this “new wave” of seminarians. One difference, as reported by Father Brown, is that the younger seminarians embrace a “theology of encounter”—or, to put it somewhat differently, they show less interest in defending controversial Catholic teaching. “The latter often involves confrontation, which few prefer over harmonious relationship,” Pinto explains. Here I confess that I feel a bit disoriented—as I often do, when I hear denunciations of “harsh” and “judgmental” clerics. Where are all the older priests who prefer confrontation? I haven’t met them. In fact, in the past twenty years or so, when I’ve witnessed confrontations between priests and laity, the lay people being scolded have invariably supported Catholic teaching. Pinto goes on to report that Father Brown “believes that the new wave of seminarians is less focused on the “sacerdotal” nature of the priesthood, i.e., that priests are “set apart” with particular sacramental powers.” Pinto adds: “I hope this is not the case.” On that point—Pinto’s point, I mean—I couldn’t agree more strongly. If Catholic priests do not understood that they are “set apart,” and convey that understanding to other young men, soon there will be no one “set apart”—that is, no priests—to serve the faithful.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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