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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Father Z's War

Since Speaker Nancy Pelosi, self-described Catholic, spoke out on Meet the Press on abortion, Father Z has been on the job pointing out the gross misrepresentation of the Catholic teachings on this subject as well as keeping it on the forefront of his blog to promote continuing awareness of the subject.

His latest post on the subject is here and it provides a nice round-up of links. I know one of my most loyal readers is not in agreement with the Catholic position, but I think he would agree that San Fran Nan's position is not very tenable.

From the BBC

Priest cancels nun beauty contest | BBC News

An Italian priest who said he wanted to hold the world's first beauty contest for nuns has decided to cancel the project, saying he was misunderstood.

Antonio Rungi said he had never intended to put sisters on the catwalk, but had wanted to erase a stereotype of them as being old and dour.

He had wanted to hold the contest online on his internet blog.

Father Rungi said he changed his mind after the local religious authorities expressed their displeasure.

"My superiors were not happy. The local bishop was not happy, but they did not understand me either," Father Rungi told Reuters news agency from the town of Mondragone, near Naples.

"It was interpreted as more of a physical thing," he said. "Now, no one is saying that nuns can't be beautiful, but I was thinking about something more complete."

He said he had intended to showcase the good works that nuns do, especially in education and health care, so as to boost interest in religious vocations.

Right, pictures on a blog, vote for whom you like best... What could possibly go wrong?

"We have to draw more attention to the world of nuns, who are often not sufficiently appreciated by society," he wrote in his blog.

I agree with this sentiment.

"Nuns are - above all - women, and beauty is a gift from God," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper before he cancelled the project.

He had wanted nuns to send their photos to him, so that internet users could then choose the winner.

Father Rungi said the idea of the contest had been put to him by nuns themselves.

I'm not even going to try to comment on this. Take it for what it's worth.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Speaker Speaks Out

From Hot Air: Nancy Pelosi... Ugh.

Fine quotes from the Church Fathers. This one from Tertullian is most compelling:

“In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed” (Apology 9:8 [A.D. 197]).

“Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery.

“There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] “the slayer of the infant,” which of course was alive. . . .

“[The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive” (The Soul 25 [A.D. 210]).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pushing the Agenda

From the local paper... My comments in italics and red in some places.

Wanted: More Catholic priests | [Iowa City] press-citizen.com
Robert Daniel, August 22, 2008

The Rev. Jeff Belger has been a priest for five years.

Nice guy, good priest.

Formerly running camps for the YMCA in Eastern Iowa, he said he felt called at the age of 30 to become a priest in the Catholic Church. Following five years of seminary training at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, he came to Iowa City, where he splits his time between serving at St. Mary's Catholic Church and the Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa.

It was a job he said he felt called by God to do.

"Through prayer, I felt led to explore if this was (what God wanted)," Belger, 40, said. "As I learned about being a priest, I felt it was more of a calling."

Belger, however, is becoming more of an anomaly as the Catholic Church continues to deal with a shortage of priests that is becoming more severe as more and more of them retire. [...]

Here be dragons! a lot of the usual numbers detailing a decline in priests...

The Diocese of Davenport, which Johnson County Catholic churches belong, has not been immune to the decrease.

Even though the total Catholic population has decreased slightly from 105,715 in 1976 to 105,650 in 2006, the number of priests has dropped 48.6 percent, from 226 in 1976 to 116 in 2006, according to figures from the Official Catholic Directory and FutureChurch [remember that name], a Cleveland-based group that has pushed for ordaining women and married priests.

The priest shortage even led the diocese to decide to move St. Thomas More Parish from Iowa City to northern Coralville rather than start a new church to better serve Catholics in Coralville and North Liberty.

The Rev. Wally Helms, pastor of St. Thomas More, said the decision is reflective of what the Catholic Church is enduring worldwide.

"You reallocate your resources," he said. "That's true with anything."

The reasons why fewer men are entering the priesthood are varied. The Rev. Marty Goetz, who is the vocation director for the Davenport Diocese, said factors such as materialism discourage some who decide to pursue a more secular job rather than the priesthood. Other factors, such as the requirement of celibacy for priests and the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church has endured in recent years [yadda yadda yadda], have played a minor role in knocking down interest as well, he said.

However, he said a major reason could be fewer men heeding "a call from God."

"The vocations are out there," Goetz said. "But people are not listening to God's call."


Possible solutions for the priest shortage are as varied. Since priests are the only church members who can lead Mass and celebrate the Eucharist, some Catholics, such as members of FutureChurch [haven't we read about a similar movement here? Nearly same agenda too :P], have pushed for ordaining married priests as well as women.

Helms said it is unlikely changes will occur any time soon though he would welcome them.

"I don't have any problem with women priests or married priests," he said. "Lots of other Christian religions have that and they seem to be doing that."


Not my parish, thank God.

Goetz said it is a matter of current priests having a "sense of true joy" in their work as clergy and displaying it for others to see.

"When we find that joy, we celebrate through prayer and daily contact with people," he said. "We learn this is a wonderful life that way. It's not easy, but I believe if God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it. We have to trust God is there."

Belger said those considering becoming priests have to be willing to listen to God.

"(It's) asking God what He wants for your life as opposed to your desires," he said.

Reach Rob Daniel at 339-7360 or rdaniel@press-citizen.com.

Okay, this post is a /little/ mistitled as Mr. Daniel does a fairly good job of keeping it balanced by having some decent quotes from the vocations director and Fr. Belger. Might have been a better article if the reporter had mentioned the return of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII/St. Pius V/St. Gregory the Great/etc. to the area, but we can live without it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Immigration in Rhode Island

The bishop of Providence, Thomas J. Tobin and various members of the clergy of that diocese, have released a statement that urges "Stephen Farquharson, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), Boston Regional Office, to declare a moratorium on immigration raids in Rhode Island. The clergy also encouraged ICE to allow agents to excuse themselves from participating in raids if such actions are not in conformity with their faith and conscience."

It then goes on to say, "The bishop and pastors met at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Providence on Tuesday afternoon to: assess the current situation with the immigrants in various communities throughout the diocese; determine their needs; and discuss possible diocesan assistance."

Along with the statement are excerpts for the letters sent by His Excellency and the pastors to Mr. Farquharson which you may go and read yourself.

Of note is this quote from the letter in the release: “We the undersigned…urge you to declare a moratorium on immigration raids in the State of Rhode Island, until our nation can implement a comprehensive and just reform of our immigration laws,” wrote Bishop Tobin and Catholic priests. “It is our hope that such reform will make immigration raids obsolete. Until then, we believe that raids on the immigrant community are unjust, unnecessary, and counter-productive.”

Notice the lack of distinction between legal and illegal immigration except insofar as the bishop hopes that 'reform' will eventually render the raids unneeded. Very subtle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Leeds Crisis

Damian Thompson has been keeping abreast of this at his blog Holy Smoke. In his latest post, Mr. Thompson describes the reaction of the bishop of Leeds to the recent protest actions of parishioners whose parishes are being closed rather arbitrarily under false pretenses.

The whole thing came up at Mr. Thompson's blog with the issue of the bishop wishing to deal with one Father Lawler, the pastor of St. John the Evangelist at Allerton Bywater for being insubordinate. But Mr. Thompson indicated it had more to do with the good father's using Latin in the Mass and saying Mass while facing liturgical east.

In the latest post:

This whole business stinks, and I hear that the smell is beginning drift as far afield as the Vatican.

Bishop Roche I think has overplayed his hand. As Mr. Thompson has stated repeatedly, he's a member of the magic circle that dominates the English hierarchy and is in the running for succeeding to the archbishopric of Westminster. Coming to the Vatican's attention now not only exposes him as a member of that magic circle that has caught flack before for its /resistance/ to the pope's initiatives, but it also gives truth to the position that /all/ of that group is pretty much unfit for office. If Cormac and his chums hope to retain the see of Westminster, they'd do well to step in and tell their friend Bishop Roche to stop making waves.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

South Ossetia V

This post at Hot Air is pretty damning. Sarkozy negotiating away Georgia's sovereignty for a ceasefire... That's pretty sad.

So why are the Russians packing it in for a 'retrograde maneuver?'

Obviously, the cease-fire agreement did not chase the Russians back into South Ossetia. So what did? The unexpectedly strong American response is most likely responsible for the Russian reconsideration. George Bush went from oddly passive in the first hours of the crisis to angry within days. His order to start military airlifts to provide, ahem, “humanitarian” aid to Georgia probably took Russia by surprise. The EU move to kick Russia out of the G-8, where they don’t belong anyway, may also have gotten Putin’s attention.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

South Ossetia IV

Tip of the hat to TitusOneNine for this blog post and link to the column.

George Pitcher's words in the Telegraph (scroll down a bit):

Pope Benedict XVI managed, from his holiday in the Italian Alps, to call for an "immediate" end to hostilities in South Ossetia and urged negotiations between Russia and Georgia over the contested province.

But it sounded like a rebuke to two squabbling children, not a plea for an end to a bloodbath, and carefully made no reference to the wider incursion into Georgia.
[...]

Not only will politicians, such as Gordon Brown and his foreign secretary, David Miliband, not break their holidays, but the Pope won't leave his ski chalet either.
[...]

But it's worth noting, for all the talk of unity between Christians when Anglicans bicker about their internal divisions, or Catholics talk of irreconcilable divisions over women priests, that when Christian unity really matters, an ecumenical Church is nowhere to be seen.

While I have neither the time nor the inclination to defend the slew of politicians whom Mr. Pitcher lists in his column, I do think that his words regarding the Holy Father's actions thus far are a bit unfair. Rereading Benedict's words now, they do seem rather pale compared to the condemnations from the US, but I wonder what Mr. Pitcher expects an octogenarian to do in the face of the KGB man Putin and his oil-funded army?

The pope's only weapon is his office's reputation for even-handedness. While condemning Russia directly would have been well and good, I doubt Mr. Putin would have batted an eye given the fact that he seems not at all publicly intimidated by the likes of the United States.
The Living Church: Revisiting Vatican II | The New York Sun
By RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS | August 13, 2008

An interesting article. Go check it out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

South Ossetia III

Russia has moved out of South Ossetia proper and is moving through Georgia now. Reports indicate that Russia has cut the country in two by taking the main highway and is moving to cut off Abkhazia so they may fully occupy it as well.

This is a good primer on what Russia's been up to for the last eighteen years.

The Holy Father commented yesterday. This is part of the CWN article:

In his reference to the conflict, Pope Benedict remarked that the violence had already caused the deaths of innocent civilians, and forced many more to flee their homes. The fighting could escalate if it continues, the Pontiff added.

Making an appeal to the "shared Christian heritage" of Georgia and Russia-- both predominantly Orthodox nations-- the Pope promised that Catholics would pray for a quick resolution of the conflict.

He also asked international leaders to "make every effort to support and promote initiatives aimed at reaching a peaceful and lasting solution."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

South Ossetia II

Danger Room is a fine source for in depth info on what's going on in Georgia. The latest post is about the cyber warfare going on as Georgia's government servers are being attacked.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

South Ossetia I

Georgia: Protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russia: Merely following the Kosovo precedent as established by the peace-loving West.

This is a hot war where neither side can escape fault nor be faulted for starting it.

Of course, the Russians have already bombed a Georgian city and there are unconfirmed reports the Georgians are engaging in ethnic cleansing...

I just went through all my bookmarks and Catholic news outlets are silent on a war between two Christian countries, even if they are by and large Orthodox.

A Fallen Hero

Like many others, I know Solzhenitsyn through his many works exposing the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union for what it was. Since his death a few days ago, the paeans have been many both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere. But The New York Sun had a column on the 8th that paints a somewhat different picture.

For Solzhenitsyn, a survivor of the gulag system enforced by the KGB, the desire to see Russia as a great nation, its eternal spirit superior to the West's vulgar materialism, found him in old age supporting an ex-KGB man, Mr. Putin, who once said that there is no such thing as an ex-KGB man and who sees the Soviet Union's collapse as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of modern times. Despite this, Solzhenitsyn seemed to accept Mr. Putin as a "good dictator," whose silencing of his critics enhances Russia's soul.

The author, Nina Khrushcheva, goes on to describe Solzhenitsyn's later works in his old age as "backward, preachy, conservative, unenlightened, at times even anti-Semitic..." She concludes with the following which quite adequately sums up a legacy:

The tragedy of Solzhenitsyn is that, although he played a mighty role in liberating Russia from totalitarianism, he had nothing to say to ordinary Russians after their liberation, except to chastise them. Yet perhaps one day we Russians will escape our false dreams, and when that day comes, the heroic Solzhenitsyn, the Solzhenitsyn who could never surrender or be corrupted, will be restored to us. But it is now that we need that Solzhenitsyn most. For to paraphrase Milton's "Paradise Lost" on the illumination of Hell, "Solzhenitsyn's is no light, but rather darkness visible."

Suppression: Such a Harsh Word

Damien Thompson is reporting the suppression of a parish and the punishment of its priest.

The priest:

Fr Lawler told me [Thompson] today: "This is a parish that does exactly what the Holy Father tells us to do, celebrating the Mass reverently in the old and new forms. The bishop is determined to squash it, and to destroy me because he doesn't want me moving to another parish and doing the same thing."

The chancery:

Instead, the Vicar General, one Mgr McQuinn, has written to him [Father Lawler], telling him: "The Bishop ... believes your ministry to be divisive, is uncertain that ordinary pastoral care of parishioners is taking place and does not have confidence that you will celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass with a generous heart for the vast majority of parishioners who expect Sunday and weekday Masses to be in English and at an altar facing the people."

Apparently Father Lawler has been on the bishop's list for awhile and this seems to be the climax of much tension. The parish has retained a canon lawyer and appealing to Rome.

I would assume that Mr. Thompson would not report such a blatant act as this without first getting his ducks in a row. That the bishop of Leeds would take such drastic action is telling. I would personally like to know the circumstances behind the 'planned' round of closings and if this church was slated for closure before or after all this cropped up. That would be even more damning.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A New Link

Rorate Caeli has a link to the new Institute of Christ the King website. After browsing through it, I put the link down the left hand column along with a link to the FSSP.

The ICK website is very pretty and well designed, quite easy to navigate. Go have a look.

Should I Send This?

Dear Father Z,

If you are looking for a change of pace and wish to form a group, I humbly invite you to join my blog. Since I had surgery last year, I've been less than diligent in posting regularly, but with a partner of your caliber, I'm sure good things will happen while we share the workload. What do you think? Interested?

On the other hand, if you're looking for a partner for your blog, I'd be happy to offer my services. I have little knowledge of the inner workings of the Church beyond what I've read in the blogosphere, but I like to think I've learned some good places to check the news and then comment appropriately. Interested? ;)

Yours in Christ,
...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Huzzah!

I think Google has deemed that the blog is not spam. I didn't get the warning message on the dashboard page.

Reminder:

When: Sunday, August 3rd, 1:30pm

What: Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite aka the Gregorian Rite aka the Mass of Pius V aka the Mass of Blessed John XXIII aka the Traditional Latin Mass

Where: St. Wenceslaus' Church, 623 Fairchild Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52245

I may take the camera for pictures, but don't get your hopes up.