Friday, March 31, 2006

I go to my father's house (I)

A year has passed and the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI seem like only yesterday (or at least only a few months ago). The first anniversary is the death of John Paul, when thousands camped out in St. Peter's Square and millions more camped out in front of their televisions.

My paternal grandparents have in their home a picture of their daughter, my aunt, reaching out, surrounded by hundreds of people, with John Paul passing by and touching her hand for a brief moment. In a way, that picture is emblematic of the man: a larger-than-life figure with the power to inspire millions, but nevertheless a figure who slips through one's fingers and is gone as quickly as he came.

This is supposed to be about John Paul, but in a way, I can't really write about him in any meaningful way. For twenty-four years, he was 'the Pope', end of story. He was here before I was; he was never really mine. By the time I was conscious of him as an individual, he was already old and worn down. The stories about him skiing and hiking and being a dashing, handsome figure of a pope were simply stories that seemed hardly real when compared to an old man who was slugging it out with his body and well aware that it was a losing battle...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Vatican speaks out... where exactly?

Vatican official expresses concern about proposed US immigration reform

Mexico City, Mar. 28, 2006 (CNA) - The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, Msgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, said this week that the Holy See is concerned about legislation on immigration reform currently before the US Senate which includes proposals to build a wall on the US/Mexican border and to make it a crime to help illegal aliens.


He said he did not intend his comments to be “a statement against a law,” but emphasized that “man has the right to immigrate and communities and nations have the right to receive those who immigrate and the right to establish certain norms.”

Msgr. Sanchez added warned against allowing immigration to “become clandestine” because that would mean a further trampling of human rights.

They're his comments, okay...

That last part about not allowing immigration to become clandestine... Since the Monsignor makes no distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigration in his comment, I can only theorize as to what he is referring to here. Because as it stands, human trafficking is ALREADY clandestine because ILLEGAL immigrants are doing something ILLEGAL, so they do it out of sight of law enforcement.

Ratzinger goes to China... or not

AFP via Yahoo! reports that the Holy Father has stated that he will go to China, "when it is God's wish," or something to that effect (I paraphrased).

I myself take this to mean, "There's not one chance in Hell that I will go to China before we see some REAL reform. In the meantime, they can beg and beg for the photo op and I'll try not to enjoy watching them do it."

Orthodox 'irrational exuberance'

The Russian Church denies reports about negotiations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the Ukrainian problem

Moscow, March 19, Interfax - Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations secretary for inter-Orthodox relations, has stated that the Russian Church is not aware of any activities by the commission of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the Ukrainian problem.

Commenting on the report that this commission ‘conducts talks both with the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and the clergy of the Kievan Patriarchate,’ the priest underlined that ‘no negotiations have been held with it.’

In a talk with an Interfax correspondent, he also said that no answer has been received yet to the request sent to Constantinople a year ago concerning the statements made by Archbishop Vsevolod (Maidansky) of Skopelos about the refusal to recognize the incorporation of the Kievan Metropolitanate in the Moscow Patriarchate in the 17th century.

The Tserkva web-site of the Kievan Patriarchate, not recognized by any in the Orthodox world, reported earlier that Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko ‘asked the Ecumenical Patriarchate for its intervention and the patriarchate set up a commission made up of the Holy Synod Chief Secretary Archimandrite Elpidophoros and Archimandrite Athenagoras Chrisan.’

The publication also noted that ‘Yuschenko’s open support for the Kievan Patriarchate inspires to energetic actions’ aimed to ‘recognize Patriarch Philaret of Kiev and All Russia-Ukraine who was excommunicated by the Moscow Patriarchate’.

Last September, I linked to a piece at Interfax. This new article provides some interesting updates on what was reported in the September article. First off is this reference to a commission set up by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Notice too how the Russians deny any kind of talks, much like they did the other day with Cardinal Kasper's comments.

Second and more interesting is the later reference to President Yuschenko's invitation for the Constantinople Patriarchate to intervene and help figure out the question of which Orthodox Church in Ukraine is in fact the 'real' one. The reference to Yuschenko's support of the Kiev Patriarchate is of course a perfect example of the president's continuing struggle to get his country out from under the thumb of the Russians, both in foreign and internal affairs.

If I had to prognosticate, I can seriously see this ending up with Constantinople recognizing an independent Kiev Patriarchate and encouraging the two current patriarchs to unite their two factions. Where that leaves the Russians is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Catholic 'irrational exuberance'?

Moscow Patriarchate does not share Cardinal Kasper's 'excessive optimism' about progress in Orthodox-Catholic relations

Moscow, March 28, Interfax - Officials of the Russian Orthodox Church were reserved in their reaction to cardinal Walter Kasper's words about a progress in the Orthodox-Catholic relations, including the Pope's visit to Russia in the near future.

'The position of our Church has not changed. A meeting of the Primates of the two Churches would be justified, if they were to reach a solution for the problems existing between us, such as proselytism and expansionist actions of the Greek Catholics towards Orthodoxy in Ukraine', deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax on Tuesday.

According to him, a question of Pope's visit has not been discussed in the course of recent interchurch contacts.

Professor of the Moscow theological academy deacon Andrey Kurayev also disagrees with cardinal Kasper's words about 'a new spirit' in the relations between the Russian church and the Vatican.

'My sense of smell is not so fine as to sense this spirit. As a rank and file clergyman, I do not see any improvement in the relations between Russian church and Vatican', Rev. Andrey told Interfax on Tuesday.

He founds cardinal Kasper's statement that the problem of proselytism (the enticing of believers - IF) could be 'easily solved' by the Catholic side unjustified.

'As far as the problem of proselytism is concerned, the recent transfer of the chair of Ukrainian uniates from Lvov to Kiev approved by Vatican can in no way be regarded as a friendly gesture', Rev. Andrey noted.

Israel voting today

The Israelis are at the polls voting today. Kadima, the centrist party founded last year by the stroke-felled Ariel Sharon, is expected to win 34 seats in the Knesset. Mr. Olmert, the current prime minister who succeeded Sharon as both PM and head of Kadima, has suggested that 40 seats for his party are needed to form a stable government. There are 31 parties vying for seats.

Story at BBC News

Olmert needs this. According to a CNN report yesterday, it was Olmert who was aggressively persuading Sharon to pull out of Gaza and the West Bank. The job is only half done and if Olmert is going to pull it off, he needs a stable government. Labor is expected to come in second and would be the most obvious candidate for a coalition depending on how things turn out. Netanyahu and Likud are projected to come in third.

We'll see how this turns out.

The conditions

Magister looks at the comments made by the Secretary for Relations with States Lajolo.

On the relations between Beijing and the Holy See, Lajolo first stipulated that “Chinese Catholics do not feel any less Chinese because they are Catholic,” even though, obviously, “one cannot be Catholic without being in communion with the pope.” He then asserted that whenever “open and stable relations between the Chinese government and the Holy See might be established, any tensions could be overcome afterwards without any ambiguity.”

The Holy See – Lajolo also said – “has always expressed clearly what it asks and what it is ready to concede,” and also “what it cannot renounce while remaining faithful to itself.” He added: “In our opinion, the time is ripe”; the Chinese authorities “cannot ignore the expectations of their own people, nor the signs of the times.”

From all accounts, it looks as though the Chinese are just dying for the nunciature to be moved from Taipei and for the pope to visit before the Olympics. Do we know what that gives Rome?


I am pleased the Holy Father made Cardinal Zen a cardinal. It is a strong message in itself.

This week, a retrospective

A man at St. Mary's in Dublin last April 2nd.

This week, we'll be remembering John Paul II with news on remembrances and a retrospective on April 2nd.

The vigil in St. Peter's Square.

VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2006 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 5.30 p.m. on Monday, April 3, Benedict XVI will preside at a Mass marking the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

At 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, a year to the day after the late pontiff's demise, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar general for the diocese of Rome, will preside at the recitation of the Rosary in St. Peter's Square. Following the recitation, the Holy Father will greet those present from the window of his private study.

Photo: 1) REUTERS/Darren Staples, 2) Vatican Watcher collection

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rumor has it...

Michael at Annunciations is reporting here that the rumor on the via in Rome is that Archbishop Marini, the papal liturgist/master of ceremonies has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.

We will of course keep track of this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This is just ridiculous

I ordered my copy of the Compendium on January 4th of this year.

It was supposed to be here in February, but the USCCB pushed it back to March 31, which is only a few days away.

I got an email this morning to reapprove my order (again). The new delivery estimate from Amazon is 'April 27, 2006 - May 15, 2006'.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

No winners out of this

Pope makes Afghan convert appeal - BBC News

Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Afghan president to show clemency towards a man facing possible execution for converting to Christianity.

Abdul Rahman has been charged with apostasy, a religious offence.

The Vatican said the pontiff had appealed to President Hamid Karzai to respect human rights guarantees enshrined in the Afghan constitution.

The Afghan government has been holding talks on the fate of Mr Rahman, who officials say "could be released soon".

Mr Rahman is on trial charged with rejecting Islam. He could be executed under Islamic Sharia law unless he reconverts.

If Mr. Karzai gives in, he's kowtowing to the West. If Mr. Rahman ends up being executed, it only makes Islam look all that more barbaric and the US gets burned for having supported a government that is simply the Taliban with a nicer face. Why this man did not receive asylum in Germany I do not know. Did they know he was a Christian? Did they not consider the fact they were sending him home to be ratted out by his family and face being put to death?

Islam is going to take decades, even centuries (if ever) to moderate and end up like Christianity in the West. The best the West can hope for is that Islamic law will in the meantime be administered fairly. As it stands, in a lot of places in the world, the so-called clerics who are supposed to be experts in Islamic law are not very well educated and are more arbiters of tribal custom than judges of a centuries-old legal system.

There are no winners here except Mr. Rahman if he does in fact escape with his life.


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Friday, March 24, 2006

Stopping AIDS in Africa

Burundi's HIV church wedding ban - BBC

Roman Catholic Church leaders in Burundi have told priests not to conduct wedding ceremonies for people who are HIV positive.

Couples in the central African state will have to give an HIV test certificate to the priest. Aids activists said this was discriminatory.

Guidelines in a booklet issued by the church authorities also forbid church weddings for pregnant women.

Roman Catholics are Burundi's largest religion group.

This statement from ANSS, an association of persons with HIV/AIDS is interesting.

But an association of people with HIV, ANSS, said it was against "forced tests", reports the Reuters news agency.

"The church has a duty to moralise to people, but to moralise to people or give good advice... does not mean becoming a policeman or giving orders," ANSS head Jeanne Gapiya said.

I can't find anything about ANSS. The link to its website provided by a Google search reveals a directory with no actual webpages available for viewing.

In any case, the Church's position is perfectly valid. A person with AIDS who knows he or she is carrying it can stop spreading it and seek what medical help there is available. A person with AIDS who doesn't know (and refuses to find out) is simply being irresponsible and homicidal.

In the context of getting married, there are several reasons why this policy should be implemented. Brides and grooms ought to know the physical condition of each other and what that will mean for the coming marriage. If either refuses the test, that says something about trust and sharing that will certainly be an indicator as to the health of a future relationship.

Consistory summary: the assignments

A reader makes a few points on the assignment of the titular churches.

Cardinal Rosales did NOT get S. Maria ai Monti, the titular of Cardinals Santos and Sin since it was erected in 1960.

The titles of S. Callisto and S. Onofrio remain vacant, despite nearly 500 years of heritage,while titles erected in the 1980s were all re-bestowed.

To a lesser degree, Cardinal Canizares Llovera did not get the title (S. Agostino) of the deceased Cardinal Gonzalez Martin (a predecessor in Toledo deceased since the last consistory).

The degree to which a particular title is linked to a particular see varies,but no such connections appear to have been honored this time?

Consistory summary: a montage

The Knight of Malta sings Mr. Prodi a lullaby.

"Holy Father, your take-out has arrived."

The Chinese celebrate their monopoly over take-out with a little flag waving.

"It's dark and I'm wearing sunglasses."
"Hit it!"

"Great smelling breath, my friend."

"Someone forgot my invitation!"

Photos: Yahoo!, Wildlife

In case you didn't notice

There was a consistory this morning (3:30 AM CDT). Yesterday was a long day and I did not have the fortitude to say up for a ceremony I could only watch and not listen to, so off to bed.

Yesterday, I met with the vocations director of the Wisconsin province of the Society of Jesus at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. It was a cordial meeting as we discussed prospects of a vocation with the Jesuits.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dr. Peters is at it again!

The Net's foremost expert on canon law sounds off here on dropping the 'Patriarch of the West' title and what it could mean.

They're in there now


VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2006 (VIS) - A day of reflection and prayer, called by the Pope prior to tomorrow's consistory, began at 9.30 a.m. today in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of the members of the College of Cardinals.

At the beginning of the meeting Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked Benedict XVI in the name of all those present for having called them to this day of prayer as an encouragement "to joint action more in keeping with the pastoral challenges of the present time".

Today's meeting, he said, "shows the importance Your Holiness attributes to the College of Cardinals. For our part, we undertake to abide by the mission the Church expects from us".

In his brief address, Cardinal Sodano recalled how the cardinals help the Pope "both when gathered collegially, and when acting individually within the Roman Curia". In this context, he stressed the "complementarity" between the two consultative bodies at the disposal of the Roman Pontiff: the Synod, created following Vatican Council II, and the College of Cardinals.

"Your Holiness," he concluded, "will now inform us of the themes upon which you wish to hear our opinion and to take counsel. As dean, it is also my honor to extend to you the devoted greetings of all members of the College of Cardinals who are absent because of urgent appointments or through reasons of health - such as Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus - and who are present in spirit".

During the meeting there will be free discussions and exchanges of opinion among the participants, in a manner similar to the congregations of cardinals prior to last year's conclave, which were presided over by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals.

The day of reflection and prayer, which will continue this afternoon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is being held before tomorrow's Ordinary Public Consistory during which the Holy Father will create 15 new cardinals.

Looking at the live feed of St. Peter's Square, the sections of chairs are all set out and ready to go for tomorrow. It's overcast and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. For tomorrow and then Saturday, there are chances of rain, tomorrow in the afternoon and on Saturday in the morning. The highs on both days will be in the low sixties.

Roman local weather -

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In the overnight

This evening as readers might have noticed was dedicated to putting some new features into the blog, including RSS, linking and a lot of time and patiences.

One of the suggestions I read tonight was to call out all the lurkers and have them leave a message. So yeah.

Leave your name or pseudonym if you're shy.
Leave your general area (state, province and country).
Leave a URL to your site if you've got one.
Leave any other comments (anything other than 'love the blog', I'll already know you're reading).

Thanks for participating.

See you all in the AM CDT.

Testing complete

When I first got the blog going, I wanted a trackback feature. So I added Haloscan code. However, Haloscan's trackbacks are added manually and thus no one hardly uses them. Along with that, some readers aren't able to leave comments, which is disappointing as well.

I'd go back to Blogger's built-in comment feature, but I don't have the code-savvy to excise the Haloscan code and replace the Blogger comment code.

What I can do is add Blogger's new linking feature, as the code is relatively simple to add to the template and it updates automatically. I have a compromise of sorts for the moment. :)

Differing opinions

Father Jim weighs in on the news out of the Diocese of Arlington:

What's liturgically untraditional isn't so much the sex of the server, as the fact that both the altar servers and the lectors are specifically and unambiguously *lay* ministries in the Novus Ordo, as opposed to clerical roles as they had always been before. That's the reason that altar boys dress up like little clerics (chierichetti, as they're called in Italian) in cassocks and surplices -- they're "disguised" as the minor clergy for whom they substituted. Traditionalists will recognize this in the way we "dress up" a seminarian (or, in necessity, even a pious layman) as a subdeacon for High Mass in the Old Rite, even though he's not been ordained as such yet. In the Old Rite, if you have a liturgical function on the priest's side of the altar rail, you dress as a cleric because it's presumed that you are a cleric (even if you really aren't). The New Rite doesn't presume that at all. I wish it did, but there's no use in pretending as if that didn't change. Once Pope Paul VI disconnected those liturgical ministries from the domain of the clergy, where they had always been before, I think it was inevitable that the Novus Ordo would have women washing the priest's fingers and men in neckties reading the Epistle. Which is why I'm not really bothered by the fact that there will be altar girls in some parishes of the diocese now. In fact, if that's the price of the two "Tridentine" Masses, I think it's quite a bargain.

Arlington diocese resident Mattias doesn't think the price is worth it:

Today, however, at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, VA, Loverde gathered his priests for their annual priest retreat during lent. He had some news. For now forward at the discretion of pastors—in consultation with their parish counsels and parochial vicars, something NEVER required by cannon law—they may permit altar girls. No obligation of course. For now. Oh yes, and two parishes in the diocese, just two, may have the pre-1962 Mass.

The timing is questionable: Why the middle of Lent? The Church's liturgical year starts the first week of December during Advent. And why just wait until after your big fundraising push of the year? Don't you know such deception can be considered negligent out in the real world, let alone quite deceptive before your flock? Of course, you will cite the women who clamored for it. Or the little girls who all will be inspired to be nuns because of it. Show me the statistics that vocations for women have increased since altar girls were allowed in 1994? Show me the women that are upset. And I'll remind them the priesthood is a path to service not to power.

Both posts raise points. Check them both out in full.

Why we need to teach more US history

Author and lifelong Catholic Robert Blair Kaiser:

“The tradition in Boston and the United States is liberty, and freedom, and constitution, people, so I say we need a people's church in the United States, a homegrown Catholicism would look more like the country itself,” he says. “The Catholic Church has to change or it is going to end up as a museum piece.”

Read the complete article Expert Says Time For Change In Catholic Church from CBS 4 Boston.

Mr. Kaiser is definitely a man who has been poorly served by the schools of wherever he grew up. His grasp of US history is just not very good. Let me explain.

Back in the eighteenth century when the US had won its independence and was playing around with which system of government it wanted, men of Massachusetts such as John Adams were naturally distrustful of the masses and the mob mentality. The top expressions of this is the electoral college for the election of the president and the legislatures of the states electing senators.

Once the constitution with its checks against the mob mentality of the majority had been approved by the states, Massachusetts and Boston were again the bastions of the Federalists, who believed in the concept of a strong central government to keep the states in check so that they couldn't go off and do their own thing.

Now, if Mr. Kaiser were from Virginia and the Jeffersonian tradition, he might have a leg to stand on, but as he is speaking for Massachusetts and Boston, I can only point out that he is just not very well informed on the state's history.

It is a shame that Mr. Adams was not a papist, as its ideas of central authority to keep in check efforts of those who would strike out on their own heretical paths so much mirror his own.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Before the Great Schism, there was Chalcedon

In the year of the Lord 451, the Council of Chalcedon was convened.

From Wikipedia:

The Council of Chalcedon was an ecumenical council that took place from October 8–November 1, 451 at Chalcedon, a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor. It is the fourth of the first seven Ecumenical Councils in Christianity, and is therefore recognized as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. It repudiated the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, and set forth the Chalcedonian Creed, which describes the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity.

The near-immediate result of the council was a major schism. The bishops that were uneasy with the language of Pope Leo's Tome repudiated the council, saying that the acceptance of two physes was tantamount to Nestorianism. This is the origin of Oriental Orthodoxy, which still today rejects the results of this council.

Fast-forward 1555 years to the present.

Pope Voices Desire to Mend a 1,500-Year Split

Promotes Unity With Armenian Apostolic Church

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2006 ( Benedict XVI signals his desire to promote unity with the Armenian Apostolic Church, a Christian confession that separated from Rome in the fifth century.

The Pope expressed his desire for unity today when he received in audience His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Catholic patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Lebanon, with members of the patriarchal synod and a group of pilgrims.

The Mideast-based patriarch leads 600,000 Catholic faithful in communion with Rome, assisted by 120 priests and about 90 women religious, according to Vatican Radio.

By contrast, more than 90% of the Armenian Christians are under the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate, which separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. A key step toward overcoming this division was taken in 1996 when Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Karekin I signed a joint declaration on the nature of Jesus. [...]

Everyone, everyone (!) gets a seat on the Benedict Bus to Greater Communion. It is of course to be expected. As CWN points out in its own article, John Paul II and the late head of the Armenian Church signed a joint statement "essentially ending the doctrinal disputes that caused a split after the Council of Chalcedon in 451."

The question then of course becomes just how one brings the two churches together. Would the Armenian Church unite with its Eastern Rite cousins? Would it become an entirely separate Eastern Rite? Such questions will need to be answered.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The bombshell


Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of "Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church."

March 20, 2006

A hundred years from now, women will remember Don Marco Valentini, a 39-year-old parochial vicar of the Church of San Girolamo a Corviale in the Diocese of Rome. At a meeting with other priests of his diocese on March 2, Don Marco asked his bishop, who happens to be Pope Benedict XVI, why not include women in the governance of the church?

Then Benedict dropped an ecclesiastical bombshell, proving his merit as a historian and a pastor. He said that sacramental ordination to priesthood was not the only avenue to ministerial service, but "nevertheless, it is right to ask oneself if more space, more positions of responsibility, can be given to women, even in the ministerial services."

He did not elaborate.

Why is this such a bombshell? The priest asked about governance and ministry, each of which is restricted to the clergy. The pope answered that each might be possible for women.

How? Well, the word was not mentioned, but the ancient order of the diaconate is an ordained ministry of the Catholic Church, demonstrably open to women. Two ecumenical councils agreed to by all Christendom - Nicea (325) and Chalcedon (451) - speak to the ordination of women to the diaconate. Copious evidence demonstrates the continuance of that tradition well into the 11th century.

The, ah, bombshell may not be quite that much. Though he examines it in a different context (Phyllis Zagano was correcting him on something else it seems), John Allen in The Word from Rome provides an informative quote:

In 2002, the International Theological Commission, the main advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published a study on the diaconate. It concluded that deaconesses in the ancient church "cannot purely and simply be compared to the sacramental diaconate" today, since there is no clarity about the rite of institution that was used or what functions they exercised. Second, it asserted that "the unity of the sacrament of orders" is "strongly imprinted by ecclesiastical tradition, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium." The document said there is a need for "discernment about what the Lord has established for the church."

An interesting link on the subject: A Resurrecting, Remembering & Re-enacting.

This document is a script for the commentated reconstruction/dramatization of the ancient liturgical rite through which women were ordained as deacons in the Catholic Church. The rite we have derives from the Greek-language, Byzantine part of the Early Church (Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Cyprus, Crete, South Italy).

Click to enlarge.


The debate continues to rage over Cardinal Mahony's instructions to his priests to ignore future immigration laws while cloaking his justification in biblical verse. He is not the first to do so. Cardinal McCarrick the archbishop of Washington, DC, has also made a similar claim about current immigration laws. It is this author's opinion that such exhortations are prima facie evidence of preaching and practicing sedition. It is further suggested that the rampant, willful continuance of unlawfully 'aiding and abetting' illegal aliens by the Catholic Church, Catholic Charities and others, is ALSO a form of sedition.

Read the complete article Catholic Church & Charities ~ Preach & Practice Sedition from American Chronicle.

Despite the tenor of the article, it's rather quite informative in its look at the definition of sedition and how Archbishop Mahony's comments and efforts pretty much fit the bill. The quote of Romans 13 in bright red text is also quite powerful when taken in the context of what author Daneen G. Peterson, Ph.D. is arguing. Ms. Peterson also examines how the Church's non-profit status could be in jeopardy.

Included in my parish bulletin yesterday that I picked up as Mass was an insert entitled 'MYTHS ABOUT IMMIGRATION'. Made up of various sections, each one starts out with a myth and then an answer to that myth. It represents what I think is a disconnect between what the Catholic Church is telling the public it supports and what it actually supports.

For example from the insert:

Around 75% of today's immigrants have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the 25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (non-immigrant) visas.

On the one hand, as this insert with its facts and figures pointed out, most immigrants in this country are legal, law-abiding people who are integrating, working hard and basically living the American Dream. With the facts and figures about these legal immigrants, the Church seems to want to tell us that all is well.

The disconnect comes when one looks at what Cardinals Mahony and McCarrick are suggesting when it comes to disobeying the law. They want Catholics to be convinced by information on legal immigration to support their efforts to subvert US efforts at dealing with illegal immigration.

Is that supposed to make sense?

McCain-Feingold for canonization?

From the left, John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Russ Feingold (D-WI).

In case you're not familiar, the McCain-Feingold Act limits campaign spending in the United States' electoral process.

New monthly will provide ongoing information about beatification of John Paul II

Rome, Mar. 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Vicariate of Rome has announced that they will launch a new monthly magazine that will provide ongoing information about the process for the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II.

The publication, which will be called “Totus Tuus” in honor of Karol Wojtyla’s papal motto, aims “to become a valid instrument of unity between all those who await the conclusion of the process and support spiritually and materially.”

Actually, I don't see anything wrong with this. It is John Paul II after all. In fact, I'm going to the website to request a copy of the first issue as well...


Friday, March 17, 2006

25th anniversary

Today is of course March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. It is an optional memorial in the US calendar.

Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland. Escaping, he was later ordained and then returned to spend the rest of his life successfully converting the Celts to Christianity and solving the large snake problem that Ireland had at the time. A full biographical sketch can be found here.

March 17th also marks the 25th anniversary of my baptism. It took place at Corpus Christi Church in Fort Dodge. Readers will of course recall my piece on the remodeling of that church. According to accouts from my baptism and before, Corpus Christi was still rather magnificently decorated back in 1981 before the first renovation.

The parish is the oldest in the Diocese of Sioux City, having been founded in 1855. A priest sent by the Bishop of Dubuque to serve the needs of the rural community.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rocco's master list of indults

In alphabetical order for ease of reference (and because I'm excessive compulsive at times):

Des Moines
Fall River
Fort Wayne-South Bend
Fort Worth
Grand Rapids
Great Falls-Billings
Green Bay
Jefferson City
Kansas City in Kansas
Kansas City-St. Joseph
Los Angeles
the Military Services
Monterey in California
New York
Oklahoma City
Palm Beach
Portland in Maine
Portland in Oregon
Rockville Centre
San Antonio
San Bernardino
San Francisco
Springfield in Illinois
St. Augustine
St. Louis
St. Paul and Minneapolis

Finally for today

Chef quits the South Park Elementary School cafeteria

SOUTH PARK, CO - Chef, the long-time cook at the South Park Elementary School cafeteria quit after the school served up a disgusting version of a dish from Chef's culture. Speaking outside the school, Chef complained that such a disgusting dish only made his culture look bad and that he had to quit because of it.

School officials defended the choice of food at the cafeteria, saying that in the past, Chef gladly served up dishes that were pretty distasteful to other cultures with his usual gusto and advice to the little school children.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue said that it “is nothing short of amazing” that the school is charging Chef with intolerance and bigotry for not complaining earlier about all disgusting things the school served up to the kids.

The Opus Dei encyclical

Pope Benedict could be preparing his first social encyclical

Vatican City, Mar. 15, 2006 (CNA) - Sources close the Holy See have indicated that Pope Benedict XVI is preparing his first social encyclical, which may be entitled “Labor Domini,” or, “The Work of the Lord.”

According to the report, which has not yet been officially confirmed by the Holy See, the encyclical would present a Christian vision of human work and address the importance of work for society. Likewise, it would explore the necessity and duty of the human person to work in some capacity.

A central theme of the document looks to be work as a participation in the creative action of God and, as a consequence, a means of sanctification.
It may also address the challenges of “neo-liberalism” and of a lack of solidarity in the world. Sources add that the document would probably not be issued until at least Christmas.

Since Pope Leo XII, every pontiff has issued social encyclicals coinciding with the date of the first social encyclical, “Rerum Novarum.”

The last social encyclical, entitled “Centesimus Annus,” was released by Pope John Paul II to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo’s historic document.

The Church will celebrate the 115th anniversary of the encyclical this year.

Saint Josemaria has been growing on me of late. Must be all the subtle references to him in my copy of the Daily Roman Missal. The sanctification of work is not a new issue of course. But to a larger Catholic audience that will be reached by a papal encyclical, that particular phrase is pretty much synonymous with the mission of Opus Dei.

Pittsburgh weighs in

Catholic News Agency has a follow-up to the story of Matthew, the autistic boy out in the Diocese of Phoenix. The story is largely a recap of the details of the original report along with some response from the diocese. What is most interesting is the evidence provided by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which at the time of the original story in The Arizona Republic was not yet known.

They say that although it has been reported that Matthew cannot receive communion without spitting it out, evidence from the Diocese of Pittsburgh disputes this.

That diocese provided Phoenix officials a statement from the boy’s catechist there which said that “After many practices in the classroom, (Matthew) was able to consume some unconsecrated hosts”, and “did sip the unconsecrated wine.”

Gutierrez and Rice also cited Fr. David Driesch, pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Pittsburgh, who stated, “On the day of his First Holy Communion, I gave Matthew the consecrated host, he received it and consumed it in my presence.”

The Diocese of Phoenix is now asking what happened? The editorial stated that “The documents from the Diocese of Pittsburgh clearly prove that Matthew is able to receive the Eucharist in the manner prescribed by the Church and in the manner in which he received at his First Holy Communion.”

Gutierrez and Rice added that “accordingly, the Diocese of Pittsburgh never endorsed the present practice of just touching the consecrated host to Matthew’s mouth or tongue. Therefore, Bishop Olmsted has never denied the Eucharist to Matthew.”

I don't want to be uncharitable towards the parents, but if all this is in fact true, then there's certainly something going on here. Maybe the boy's condition has changed or something? I don't know. But regardless, we should all remember Matthew, his parents and Bishop Olmsted in our prayers.

The money pit

Maybe Tom Hanks will stop by and inadvertently bring along some Coders with him?

Washington papal center became costly dream

In 2004, Vassallo, the donor from Woodhaven, visited the center with his wife and teenage grandson. They found the parking lot and galleries so empty they were unsure whether the center was open.

A guard said it was fine to walk around, so they wandered through displays of papal memorabilia, including a pair of Pope John Paul's skis. They weren't impressed with much else.

"That makes me so sad for Maida," Vassallo said. "I think he never should have gotten all caught up in that aura in Washington. He should have just stayed home and spent more of his time as the cardinal of Detroit."

The part about the foul-up over a climate-controlled gallery is instructive. If the purpose (or one of the main purposes) is to build a North American branch of the Vatican Museums, I think you'd build the building around the works of art rather than build the art once you have the building... I'm not an architect or a general contractor, but it just seems like the horse ought to pull the cart, not push it.

In software design, there is always a problem with 'feature creep', where each successive version of a piece of software has more and more features than the previous version. These features don't necessarily add to the software and all too often slow it down and make it buggy. The lesson of feature creep can be applied to anything, including massive papal centers with no clear mission statement.

The Romney vertical file grows

Romney files 'religious freedom' bill on church and gay adoption (Must be a quirk of the Massachusetts legislative system that the executive branch can 'file' bills with the legislative.)

By Brooke Donald, Associated Press Writer | March 15, 2006

BOSTON --Gov. Mitt Romney filed a bill Wednesday that would exempt the Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities from a state anti-discrimination law that says it must provide adoption services to gay and lesbian couples.

Romney's bill, "An Act Protecting Religious Freedom," would exempt religious organizations from the state's anti-discrimination requirements when providing adoption or foster placement services. He said the exemption would not allow discrimination based on race, creed, national origin, gender or handicap.

The Republican governor, who is a potential candidate for president in 2008, said he was concerned that the legal requirement that gays be given equal consideration as prospective adoptive parents violated Catholic Charities' religious beliefs.

"It is a matter beyond dispute, and a prerequisite to the preservation of liberty, that government not dictate to religious institutions the moral principles by which they are to carry out their charitable and divine mission," Romney said in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

He said Catholic Charities' withdrawal from providing adoption services creates a void in the child welfare system.

"In this case, the needs of children must come before the rights of adults," he said.

I'm all for this, of course. I'm just considering which would be the better way of going about it. Given there is a Republican governor of the commonwealth who seems quite eager to go to bat for the Catholic Church, that's certainly a good thing. The courts would be another avenue as far as pursuing religious freedom, though given the slant of the courts in Massachusetts, that might not be the most effective way of going about it even though a court ruling would have the effect of going nationwide if the case was litigated past the state level. That would take years and dollars that Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese doesn't have.

With 08 around the corner, Mitt continues to make a case for himself on social issues. We'll see what else has up his sleeve. Plus, he'd better start coming to Iowa a bit more often.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Never fear...

I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Islam in the schools

Sandro Magister in Renato Martino, a Cardinal Out of Control at www.chiesa details the how exactly Cardinal Martino is out of control in regards to his positions vis-a-vis those of the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

One of the primary issues where Cardinal Martino has placed himself on the wrong side compared to the Holy Father is an hour of Islam instruction as an alternative to Christian instruction in the public schools of Italy.

He [the cardinal] made the second statement on Thursday, March 9, in a press conference at the end of a conference on “The Ways of Peace” held at the Saint Louis of France Cultural Center in Rome. He said: “If there are a hundred Muslim children in a school, I don’t see why one cannot teach them their religion.” And again: “If we said ‘no’ until we saw equivalent treatment for the Christian minorities in the Muslim countries, I would say that we were placing ourselves on their level.”

The newspaper of the Italian bishops responded to Cardinal Martino's comments, echoing then-Cardinal Ratzinger's comments on such a proposal for German schools back in 1999.

But it was above all the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, “Avvenire,” that, in a front page editorial on March 11, criticized at its roots the sustainability of the “hour of Islamic religion” evoked by the cardinal without any methodical precaution, and in particular without any reference to the reciprocal acknowledgment of the constitutional principles of the nation and of Catholicism as the founding heritage of the Italian identity, which is at the basis of the “concordat” between Italy and the Church, and of the teaching of the Catholic religion in the public schools.

These considerations of the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference are all the more interesting in that they coincide with the conditions that the then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had placed – in a 1999 interview with the weekly magazine “Welt am Sonntag” – on the eventual teaching of the Muslim religion in the German schools.

I should just start off with a disclaimer. Since I don't live in a country where Christianity enjoys certain treaty-defined priviledges, such concerns as 'identity' and the 'concordat' may not factor into this as much as they should.

The issue of reciprocity is an important one, but quite frankly, it can't be the overriding concern. If Muslims are not learning about their religion in the schools where the state can control the curriculum, they're going to be learning about it at home and in the mosques. Most parents and most imams are law-abiding citizens of Italy who I'm sure are doing their best to teach their children that Islam is not a religion that advocates strapping on a bomb-belt and blowing one's self up in the middle of a plaza.

It's the kids who slip through the cracks of such a private system and fall into the hands of the extremists who end up hating the West and who one day may find himself listening to the local al-Qaeda cadre leader explain where the best place is to kill as many Romans as possible.

Cardinal Martino's thought on Islam in the schools is right, but for the wrong reasons. He seems to want to give the hard-line Muslim clerics whatever they want. The reason why such a curriculum should not be dismissed out of hand is that the state can offer an informed and balanced view of Islam that will show young kids just what is going on with their religion and hopefully mold them into Muslims who become loyal adult citizens of the Italian state.

Monday, March 13, 2006

It has been posited... fellow blogger Rocco here that with the audience of Mubarak with the pope and the posting of Fitzgerald to Cairo that Egypt is shaping up to play some kind of part in the Holy See's Middle Eastern policy.

First, a look back:

Mubarak is a smart guy who's been hanging onto power in Egypt ever since Sadat was assassinated. His government has walked a fine line in keeping the citizenry happy by allowing rampant anti-semitism while Mubarak struts around the international stage doing his best to portray Egypt as a partner for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The economy is propped up (as usual) by the United States, which has since 1979 provided on average $2.2 billion per year.

Whether or not Egypt can have any meaningful reform remains to be seen. While Mubarak has eased up and allowed multi-candidate elections for president (he won last time around), most observers believe that the minute free and fair elections on a large scale are held, the Muslim Brotherhood would be given control by the people.

If the Holy See wants to make any place the cornerstone of its Middle-Eastern policy, it ought to be Iraq. Iraq has a sizeable Christian population that is loyal to Rome. It is also Shi'ite majority and those Shi'ites for the most part follow the cleric Sistani, a man who has shown much moderation towards the West.

Let's face it, thanks to Saudi exporting of Wahhabism to the four corners of the Sunni world, the Sunnis are a lost cause. If the cartoons taught us anything, it is that jihadists all around the world are in positions to easily and effectively whip up anti-Western rioting and destruction and local governments are pretty much powerless.

It's time to stop waiting for reform and start going to those who have already reformed.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Liu is in so much trouble

After Liu Bainian's hard-line faux pas last week, the People's Republic is out to mend fences. Chinese Bishop Fang Xingyao (CPA flunky or honest-to-God bishop? This says it all: 'vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Bishop's Regiment') was trotted out to make some peace offerings toward Cardinal-to-be Zen and company.

China's state-controlled Catholic church may invite Hong Kong's newly appointed cardinal, Joseph Zen, to visit the mainland in hopes of improving Sino-Vatican relations, a newspaper reported Sunday.

"The normalization of diplomatic ties between China and the Vatican is very important, and we hope Cardinal Zen can make a personal effort to help solve the issue," Fang was quoted as saying in Beijing on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's ceremonial legislature.

Read it all from The China Post

Liu noted last week that "the Roman Catholic Church was active in toppling communism in Poland in 1989. He suggested that Zen's appointment was part of a similar strategy in China."

Now there's a guy who knows how to spot a threat to the regime. The problem is you're not supposed to say it out loud to the press. It's a big no-no.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The end of the world as we know it

In the year of the Lord 1945, the United States of America detonated two atomic weapons over two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagaski. The detonations led to the prompt surrender of Japan, thus ending World War II. The beginning of US nuclear primacy can be dated exactly to August 6th, 1945. This primacy was defined as the ability of the US to wipe out any other state's nuclear arsenal completely, eliminating the possibility of a retaliatory attack.

For most of the next twenty years, the US enjoyed this primacy and the advantages it brought in ensuring that the Soviet Union didn't get any ideas about using its conventional military superiority in eastern Europe to invade western Europe. However, by the early 1960s, the paradigm was swiftly changing as the era of mutual assured destruction began. MAD simply meant that with the Soviets having reached a level of parity with the US, it was no longer possible for the US to successfully wipe out the Soviet nuclear arsenal in a first strike. Whoever fired first could not do so with impunity, as the other side would then fire back and the consequences for the attacker would be equally catastrophic.

Up through the end of communism and the end of the twentieth century, MAD has dominated... until now.

In the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs, Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press present in the article The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy the evidence behind their assertion that MAD is now a thing of the past and that the US has regained its nuclear primacy after forty-five years. Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian nuclear arsenal has completely crumbled. At the same time, the People's Republic of China has done little to improve the quality of its nuclear weapons or their platforms for launch. Meanwhile, the US has slowly but surely improved and modernized its nuclear forces. The result, according to Lieber and Press, is that even in a conservative scenario, at this point in time, the United States could launch a nuclear first strike against either Russia or the PRC and completely wipe out either's nuclear arsenal.

The authors then at the end examine the implications of this change in the world order.

Ultimately, the wisdom of pursuing nuclear primacy must be evaluated in the context of the United States' foreign policy goals. The United States is now seeking to maintain its global preeminence, which the Bush administration defines as the ability to stave off the emergence of a peer competitor and prevent weaker countries from being able to challenge the United States in critical regions such as the Persian Gulf. If Washington continues to believe such preeminence is necessary for its security, then the benefits of nuclear primacy might exceed the risks. But if the United States adopts a more restrained foreign policy -- for example, one premised on greater skepticism of the wisdom of forcibly exporting democracy, launching military strikes to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and aggressively checking rising challengers -- then the benefits of nuclear primacy will be trumped by the dangers.

After getting this far in the post last night, I stopped to consider just what the Holy See might do with this new situation and what I would personally recommend. I talked about this topic with a reader of this blog and summarized my thoughts in two instant messages to him. I would go on all day in overanalyzing, so I'll just quote my IMs and then explain a bit more after. They've been sanitized (bad spelling, grammar, etc.)

Jacob: Nuclear weapons aren't going away. The Vatican can either accept the fact that the ability to wipe out the Chinese [PRC] or Russian arsenals in a first strike lies in the safe hands of the US and proceed from there or it can continue the usual position of full disarmament, even though jihadists, communists [and others, the explanation below] won't care one bit about such things.

Online friend: So what do you think? Personally, I can understand that the Vatican has to be officially pacifist in pretty much every position it takes.

Jacob: The Vatican isn't exactly a stranger to realpolitik. I would personally recomend that it ignore the US capability and concentrate on non-proliferation and keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists and rogue states.

Places like India, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China and Iran are not going to give up their nuclear capabilities if everyone ask nicely. Nuclear weapons are a reality and wishful thinking will never do away with them. We have the United States on the other hand that for better or for worse has emerged as the hyperpower of the twenty-first century. One day, Bush will be gone and perhaps a cooler administration will come into power, but regardless of who is in the White House, the world will still look to the US to be the police and manage the international stage to keep things from getting out of hand. If the US can effectively wipe out any large-scale nuclear threat (loose nukes, suitcase nukes are another matter), so much the better.

A policy of letting the US be and using its world-wide influence to limit the spread of nuclear weapons into the hands of those who are empirically less responsible than the US would be a worthy goal of the Holy See. That's been pretty much the status quo up to the present anyway. So there's no reason to really change now.

Shameless plug

Awhile ago, I joined Frappr. The blog's map can be found here. Leave a message if you're feeling up to it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Is there a Catholic equivalent of Joseph Conrad?

The Conrad question has nothing to do with this really, it just sprang to mind when I read that the letter in question was addressed to the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, located in a historical hotbed of Zapatista activity.

Vatican City, Mar. 09, 2006 (CNA) - Through a letter sent to the Bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas (México), Bishop. Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, the Holy See decided to put an end to the so-called “Indigenous Church,” influent especially in southern parts of Mexico and throughout Latin America.

The letter is signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Cult and the Discipline of Sacraments. He deplores the influence of the ideology of the "autoctonous church,” inherited by Bishop Arizmendi from his predecesor Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia and remarks that the new policy should supress the overreliance on the ordination of permanent deacons in this diocese.

Bishop Ruiz prevented many different movements and religious orders to be active in the diocese, and seriously discouraged religious vocations to celibate priesthood and above all, he promoted the massive ordination of permanent deacons, valuing that in little time the Church would end up accepting the practice of married priests, which according to him was better adapted to the vision of an "indigenous" or “autochthonous church.”

Read the complete article Holy See reminds its opposition to an “indigenous church” and to married priesthood in Latin America..

Having read about Bishop Ruiz before, it's good to see that good Cardinal Arinze is moving to suppress this kind of activity. One has to admit though that the bishop's efforts were rather clever. Ordaining a lot of permanent deacons (presumably married before their ordination) would be an excellent way of slowly indoctrinating the masses in the idea of a married clergy.

The nuncio on relations with Russia

From AsiaNews: Nuncio in Moscow: modest progress with Russia and patriarchate

This interview of Nuncio Monsignor Mennini by the Russian Catholic newspaper, Svet Evangelia, starts out typically enough.

He [Mgr Antonio Mennini] said that especially as regards links with the Orthodox, one should not “waste time in sterile research about who is in the wrong and who is in the right. We are called to build real brotherhood. Let’s now allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the unhappy experiences of the past.”

The nuncio's comments fall back to earth though with a bit of realism.

In a long conflict, usually both parties hold a measure of responsibility. In the name of charity, we are always called to be the first to stretch out our hand and to smile. And perhaps we must do it not only once, but more times: on the other hand, there is no other way, and this is not out of “professional duty”, but rather to implement the Christian vocation we are called to.

With all the hand-holding that the Vatican has done over the years vis-a-vis the Russian Orthodox Church, the second quote listed by the monsignor has to be the most realistic and Christian justification for the continued work done with the patriarchate I've read. 'We have to keep doing it because that's what Christ would do'. I'd rather read that than certain other officials' statements that all is well and definite progress is being made while at the same time Patriarch Alexi is accusing Rome of some new slight.

Islam in public schools is good

Vatican OKs Islam class in schools

Cardinal urges Italy to accept proposal from Muslim group

(ANSA) - Rome, March 9 - The Vatican on Thursday expressed firm support for the idea of lessons on Islamic religion for Muslim children in Italian schools .

Cardinal Raffaele Renato Martino voiced his openness to the inclusion of an 'Islam hour' in timetables following a proposal to this effect from an Italian Muslim association .

"If in a school there are 100 Muslim children, I don't see why their religion should not be taught. This is simply respect for human beings," said the Italian prelate, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace .

As long as the Italian government maintains oversight over what is being taught in these Islam classes, there's absolutely nothing to lose by this. In fact, there is so much to be gained. It is better that these children are learning about a religion of peace in school than a religion of jihad from other sources that aren't under the control of the government.

They just need to make sure they don't hire any Saudi-educated closet Wahhabis.

The day after

Last night I watched (you guessed it) The Day After, the story of a nuclear war and its consequences for Lawrence, Kansas that aired on the ABC network in 1983.

As a former political science major and one-time debater, a favorite fantasy is what exactly would happen in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Would the government survive? Would society break down completely? Would it be 'the end of the world as we know it'?

Given the scope of my current interest, my mind after churning around for awhile turned its attention to the Catholic Church. Would Rome survive a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union? If it didn't, what would become of the Catholic Church?

In the year of the Lord 1984, the remaining cardinals of the Catholic Church gathered in Sao Paulo to elect a successor of Peter. This conclave would see a number of firsts, but there would hardly be any reporters present to cover the story. Despite the high number of cardinals in the Third World who survived the war the year before, many cannot make the journey due to the lack of transportation while others are busy shepherding their flocks through civil war. In the end, the conclave consisted of only a handful of cardinals, though they were fully recognized by their brethren.

After locking themselves in the cathedral, the voting was swift. There were few candidates left to consider anyway, as more than two thirds of the College of Cardinals had been killed in the northern hemisphere. The Brazillian cardinal chosen to lead the Church took the name John, recalling the disciple of the Book of the Apocalypse...

The new pope faced many challenges. His see was a smoldering ruin, the heartland of his Church ruled by opposing generals commanding troops dressed in space suits. Records were lost forever, the government of the Holy See was extinct. Communication was reduced to letters or the occasional rationed phone call or radio message. How would the Church survive rapid decentralization?

Christian fiction is for obvious reasons apocalyptic. What would be far more intersting is the post-apocalypse (the man-made kind at least).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The PRC: People's Republic of Confusion

From AsiaNews is the tale of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing in the PRC.

Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, on Monsignor Zen's elevation to the cardinalate, March 9th:

An act of hostility to China.

Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, March 7th:

Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong, and its people are our compatriots. China is happy to see the achievements made by these compatriots.

Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, on Monsignor Zen's elevation to the cardinalate, February 23rd:

If the new cardinal would like to visit mainland China and help rebuild Sino-Vatican relations, he would be welcomed.

Cardinal-designate Zen's letter in response can be found here in full.

My prediction: Liu Bainian, for his sudden change of opinion, will soon go on vacation to some nice spot where he will be incommunicado for several years.

This ought to be interesting

Vatican-Egypt: Mubarak to meet Pope on Monday

Rome, 9 March. (AKI) - Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, is expected to have an audience with the Pope in the Vatican next Monday, at the end of a brief European tour. Mubarak arrived in Rome on Thursday on the first leg of a tour of European capitals that includes Berlin and Vienna. He was meeting prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, foreign minister Gianfranco Fini and Italy's president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi for talks focusing on developments in the Middle East, the stalled peace process and international terrorism.

The Vatican visit has been penned in for next week as Pope Benedict XVI suspended audiences this week because he is involved in spiritual exercises at the start of the Catholic Church's solemn pre-Easter season of Lent.

The Egyptian president is reported to consider the meeting with the Pope as very important, especially in relation to efforts to foster dialogue between different faiths.

I like that last line. I would assume that Mr. Mubarak is going to learn all about the Catholic position on reciprocity by Islamic states.

Mubarak is a smart guy who's been hanging onto power in Egypt ever since Sadat was assassinated. His government has walked a fine line in keeping the citizenry happy by allowing rampant anti-semitism while Mubarak struts around the international stage doing his best to portray Egypt as a partner for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The economy is propped up (as usual) by the United States, which has since 1979 provided on average $2.2 billion per year.

Whether or not Egypt can have any meaningful reform remains to be seen. While Mubarak has eased up and allowed multi-candidate elections for president (he won last time around), most observers believe that the minute free and fair elections on a large scale are held, the Muslim Brotherhood would be given control by the people.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mitt continues his pre-presidential groundwork

I just want to say that this article is rather impressively unbiased aside from the 'conservative' quip at the bottom. Most of the time when 'gay' sites report on the Church, it's fire and brimstone reporting.

(Boston) Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday that he will seek a way of allowing the Catholic Church an exemption to the state's human rights law that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.

The state's four bishops have called for an exemption to allow Catholic Charities to refuse to allow gays and lesbians to adopt children.

The bishops say the state law threatens the church's religious freedom by forcing it to do something it considers immoral.

Political leaders on both sides of the aisle at the State House are opposed to amending the law and at first Gov. Romney also rejected the idea.

But Romney, who is expected to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, this week changed his mind.

Under the Massachusetts constitution Romney cannot unilaterally exempt Catholic Charities from the state's anti-discrimination laws, but he said Monday that he wants to find a way of exempting the Church agency.

Pressed by reporters on how he would do that, given the opposition in the legislature, Romney would not elaborate.

Read the complete article Mass. Gov. Promises Catholic Church Exemption To Gay Civil Rights Law from

I don't know about Mitt. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if all this is serious or if he is just wooing the base to get himself a nomination if/when he runs for the presidency.

Re: Regurgitating Christ

It's been a few days with this story floating around and Dr. Peters has weighed in with a look at what canon law allowes and does not allow. There is a lot of effort made to ensure that special needs persons have the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the reception, but that does not mean as the doctor points out that it is at all costs.

But a clear canonical preference for sacramental access, augmented by the accommodations that special needs persons deserve, does not amount to a "reception under any circumstances" rule. There are other important values that need to be considered here, and some of these necessarily guard against the profanation (intended or not) of the Eucharist. Both the parents and pastoral ministers in this case have, it seems, sincerely tried to find a way to let this boy receive the Eucharist and avoid profaning the Host. Still, the bishop, among whose duties is to monitor the celebration of the Eucharist in his territory (See, e.g., 1983 CIC 389, 392, and 838), has determined that those efforts were not successful. That is a reasonable conclusion within the scope of the bishop's authority. The situation is no one's fault, but it does mean that parents and parochial ministers will have to think of something else.

As a layman, that makes absolute sense. I would also like to see Dr. Peters comment on the issue of if swallowing is needed for the 'take and eat/drink' definition of Communion, though I think think that while it is pretty 'technical', it's pretty clear-cut. You're not consuming Christ, therefore you're not receiving Him...

In associated news, Critics speak out against Phoenix Bishop in Controversial Eucharistic practice.

Phoenix, Mar. 07, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix has put into question a controversial practice to administer Communion to an autistic child, a decision which has sparked critics against the Church from people unfamiliar to Catholic teaching.

The publisher of 'The Church Report' Magazine and CEO of Christy Media Questions the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for its decision on this practice. Jason T. Christy, an evangelical, unfamiliar with the questions and practices within the Catholic Church about Communion said that “Once again, the Catholic church has demonstrated its inability to relate to its parishioners and error on the side of good.”

Another comment came from Denise Resnik, board chairwoman for the Southwest Autism Research Center and the mother of a boy who is dealing with autism. "We often seek comfort in our religion, and it would be nice to think the church would support them to the best degree possible."

I read the other day about how the Catholic Charities issue in Boston is a 'teaching moment for Cardinal-to-be O'Malley. Bishop Olmstead has an excellent opportunity here to come out and explain not only to the diocese, but those who live in the area who aren't Catholic just what we believe when it comes to Communion.

Transubstantiation is not a well-understood concept in the best of times and this particular example is a good way of illustrating why we do what we do when it comes to receiving Christ.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Feel the love!

Pope is invited to visit Britain

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 6 - The Catholic Church of England and Wales has invited the pope to visit Britain, according to a spokesman for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the primate of British Catholics. A statement issued by the cardinal's aide indicated that there was no word yet from the Vatican on whether Benedict intended to accept the invitation .

"It's too early to say what this visit will be about or if it is going to happen at all, given the Pope's engagements and the many invitations he has already received from every part of the world," it said. "But Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor wants the Pope to know how glad the British people would be if he decided to accept the invitation", it continued

The bolding is mine of course. When John Paul II visited in 1992, he joined the Archbishop of Canterbury in a celebration at the Canterbury Cathedral. For some reason, I wouldn't anticipate such cordial relations next time around.

Celibacy is not the issue

Stoning the Catholic Church for Child Abuse Anyone?

Kevin Roeten

If you’re convinced that the Catholic Church is THE player in child pedophilia, it’s time to get an informational overhaul. ‘AP’(2/4) “Chicago priest abuse scandal raises doubts about reforms”, unearthed deeply embedded feelings that need to be changed.

It charges new doubts about Catholic bishops to eliminate cleric abuse. Let’s make it crystal clear--anyone, including a Catholic priest, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the heinous crime of molestation.

[Kevin Roeten paraphrases the surveyor Jenkins] Literally, every religion has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve ‘non-Catholics’. Yet Catholics continue to be the ‘whipping boy’ of most media. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had numerous scandals, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jews, etc., etc… One Canadian Anglican diocese is on the verge of bankruptcy resulting from numerous lawsuits from years of systematic abuse, yet the ‘Episcopal’ Church does not demand celibacy of its clerics.

In 1994, an Ad Hoc Committee issued guidelines for the nation’s 191 Catholic dioceses to develop policies against sexual abuse of minors. As a Religious Education teacher, I have been part of special projects eliminating child abuse, have a female partner in class continuously, and have had background checks for any possible past incidents. Our pastor was checked the same way.

Why has justified anger over a few appalling cases been turned into ill-focused attacks on innocent clergy by the media? Despite discrimination, hate, and prosecution the Catholic Church was around in 33 AD, and will be around in the ‘end’. Anyone wonder why?

The removed portion is the analysis of the survey by Philip Jenkins of the priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Jenkins' own explanation of the survey offers more details.

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination -- or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.

Professor Jenkins is the Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State. His work includes "Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis", which was published by Oxford University Press in 1996.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The world is different, but some things stay the same

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.

- John Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 20 January 1961

When it suits them

There is a column floating around out there by E.J. Dionne, Jr. on the topic of the House Democrats and their open letter on abortion. It can be found here at

It starts out with the John F. Kennedy quote.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act," Kennedy told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in September 1960. "I do not speak for my church on public matters — and the church does not speak for me.

I hate how people quote John F. Kennedy when it suits them. That quote is over forty years old and was said in another time and another place. That America is long gone. The problem with Democrats today is they keep quoting Kennedy when it suits them, but when they protest the war in Iraq or anywhere else, they are forgetting what I consider to be the single greatest statement of the US agenda in the second half of the 20th century, Kennedy's Inaugural Address.

(Teddy, how earnestly you revere and invoke your brother, except when his eloquence doesn't suit you...)

Of course, Dionne says something along the same lines right after the quote, but it's too late. The name of Kennedy has already been said and has thus framed the entire column.

After quoting the House Democrats' letter and mentioning that a lot of the Catholics who signed the letter are pretty hardcore pro-life types, the column gets into the other 'life' issues and how they're being drowned out by abortion.

For Catholics with moderate or liberal leanings, the argument from some bishops that they could only vote for staunch foes of abortion posed a wretched dilemma. It seemed to demand that such voters cast their ballots for conservative or right-wing candidates with whom they might disagree on every other question — social justice, war and peace or the death penalty. All are areas where liberals are often closer to the church's view.

"Our faith does and should affect how we deal with issues," says DeLauro. "But we're rebelling against the idea of a one-issue church."

The Democratic Party really is pitiful. It could have turned out to be the party of Catholics in the United States... Except for the fact that it became a one-issue party. That issue is sex, in all its myriad manifestations and consequences.

The People's Congress is for all people

Chinese bishop hopeful on Vatican ties

BEIJING, March 6 (UPI) -- China and the Vatican could resume ties "in the near future," a Chinese Catholic bishop, who is also a National People's Congress deputy, said in Beijing.

Bishop Zhan Silu, who was consecrated in January 2000 with two other mainland Chinese bishops, was speaking on the sidelines of the NPC meeting this week in Beijing, the South China Morning Post reported.

He is one of a rising generation of bishops endorsed by the pope, and is widely seen as a future leader of the Chinese Catholic church.

A Chinese Catholic bishop who is also a National People's Congress deputy? I would guess that priests and bishops of the patriotic association are 'encouraged' to attend the premiere propaganda event of the year in the People's Republic. I find it interesting though that they are included as People's Deputies.

Church observers said Pope Benedict's recent elevation of Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen to the position of cardinal was a friendly gesture toward the Chinese people, even though Cardinal Zen is considered a troublemaker in pro-Beijing circles.

Which church observers are those?

The Catholic Church in China is facing a succession crisis, with most of its leaders aging. Bishop Zhan said three of the country's eight bishops were too old to attend the NPC meeting this year.

And whose fault is that? As for those three who are too old, given the fact that this is the PRC (also known as the Twilight Zone), such declarations of age and ill health are usually code for house arrest and silent protest... Or they could just really be too old and sick. But who knows?

China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the Communist Party took power. Beijing insists the Vatican must give up diplomatic relations with Taiwan before the two sides can re-establish ties.

Blackmail isn't going to work, Beijing. Benedict XVI is in the house!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Regurgitating Christ

There was once a Saturday Night Live sketch where this guy brought his date home to dinner with his parents. The father, Will Ferrell, promptly started eating his son's food and then giving the son the chewed food to swallow.

As the girlfriend registered disgust, the parents made an impassioned plea for their son, "He has no saliva glands!"

From The Arizona Republic:

The Catholic Church has told the parents of a 10-year-old autistic boy that, because the child cannot consume the host, he is not receiving Communion properly. Until he does, church officials say, he cannot partake of the church's most meaningful sacrament.

According to a letter from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, delivered to the Lake Havasu City family on Feb. 12, the boy cannot accept Communion in the Catholic Church until he can "actually receive the Eucharist, actually take and eat."

Because of his condition, Matthew Moran cannot swallow foods with certain textures.

So Matthew, who received his First Communion nearly three years ago in Pennsylvania, participates in Communion in an unusual way. As his father watches, the boy takes the Communion wafer and places it in his mouth. His father, Nick Moran, then removes it and consumes the host himself.

Otherwise, Matthew would spit it out, his father says.

Moran, who takes only the one host for himself, says it remains in the boy's mouth for several seconds.

He says the bishop's letter has caused anger, anxiety and frustration in his home.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Not a bad idea...

Rocco's keeping score on the indults for St. Patrick's Day:

In the diocese of Sioux City, Bishop Walker Nickless will not grant the indult -- a release from the chancery makes explicit note that 17 March remains a day of abstinence. As Nickless' parents ran a butcher shop in Denver, you would think that he'd be eager to help a brother out.

St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday this year. Northwest Iowa does not have an especially large Irish population really except for one place: Emmetsburg. It is a small town of less than 4,000. However, up to the 1990s, there were two different Catholic parishes in town and the Irish and Catholic identities remains strong. The three-day celebration that falls on the weekend closest to March 17th is quite extensive, with dignitaries from Dublin flying in, a parade, etc.

From the Emmetsburg website on the parliamentarians:

Since 1962 when Emmetsburg and Dublin, Ireland, were officially declared “Sister Cities,” it has been a privilege and honor for the St. Patrick’s Association to host a member of the Irish Parliament to reign over the three-day celebration. Through this association, many lasting friendships have been formed.

While visiting here, the Parliamentarians from Ireland are given the opportunity to watch Iowa’s governing bodies at work and are invited to address both sessions of the Iowa State Legislature. Although some have left political life and returned to successful businesses at home, these Parliamentarians keep actively in touch with affairs of the government, both at home and abroad.

That St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday is something of a hardship, but given that the principal celebrations of the day in Northwest Iowa extend from Friday on through Saturday and Sunday, the lack of an indult is not the end of the world.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who's William Holden? Gloria Swanson?

It’s Sunset Boulevard for the Cardinal Secretary of State

It’s Sunset Boulevard for the Cardinal Secretary of State
He should be the pope’s foremost collaborator. But for Benedict XVI, cardinal Angelo Sodano is more of an obstacle than a help. Especially after his failed maneuver against cardinal Camillo Ruini

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, March 2, 2006 – For the Vatican curia, the upcoming consistory from March 23-25 will be very Lenten, and really hardly festive at all.

Only three of the curia heads waiting for the cardinal’s purple will receive it. Of those left standing at the gate, the most famous, archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, not only was not promoted as a cardinal, but was demoted as a nuncio in Egypt.

Step by step, with a few well-aimed decisions, Benedict XVI has already expunged two of the bastions in the curia that were opposed to him: the Congregation for the Liturgy, with the appointment as secretary of an archbishop of Sri Lanka in his trust, Albert M. Ranjith Patabendige Don, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with Fitzgerald’s dismissal as president.

And now everyone in the curia is waiting – or fearing – for the next blow to fall against the secretariat of state, with the retirement on account of age of its senior office holder, cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Magister is just so much fun to read sometimes...

The reports that the CEI (Italian conference of bishops) would choose itself a successor to Ruini: false.

In 1991, 1996, and 2001, John Paul II, each time before he made Ruini head of the CEI, asked for the advice of the presidents of the sixteen regions into which the Italian episcopacy is subdivided.

But this time – and this was at the end of January – rather than the pope, the secretariat of state extended the consultation to all of the 226 bishops in office. To each one, the nuncio in Italy Paolo Romeo sent a letter under the seal of pontifical secrecy, asking the recipient to “indicate ‘coram Domino’ and with gracious solicitude the prelate that you would like to suggest.”

But there’s more in the letter. It begins by stating in no uncertain terms that “next March 6 the mandate of the Most Eminent Cardinal Camillo Ruini as president of the CEI will come to a conclusion.” And it continues by asserting that “the Holy Father thinks that a change in the office of the presidency is in order.”

On February 6, the nuncio who signed the letter, Romeo, was called by Benedict XVI for an audience. The pope asked him how and why this initiative came about. Romeo left the audience in shambles, but Sodano was the one who was really trembling.

This is not the first example of the Secretary of State doing his own thing and getting burned for it. Aside from such maneuverings crashing and burning, there are other examples of the tsunami of curial change that have been under the radar but are proof that Benedict XVI's pontificate is bearing administrative fruit.

1. China.

For example, Sodano has always pursued a very submissive policy with China, in agreement with the most pro-Chinese of the cardinals in the curia, Roger Etchegaray of France, the author of a book on this subject that is almost utterly silent on the oppression of which Christians are the victims in that country.

Sodano once said that, in order to establish diplomatic relations with China, he was ready to move the Vatican nunciature from Taipei to Beijing “not tomorrow, but this very evening.” This statement provoked great irritation among the persecuted Chinese Catholics, and in particular with the combative bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, according to whom religious liberty should come before any sort of diplomatic accommodation.

It is bishop Zen who is the most closely watched of the new cardinals chosen by Benedict XVI. He will be the one to suggest the how and the when for a new policy on China for the Church.

Long time readers are aware of my thoughts on the People's Republic and the recent 'thawing' of relations between the Holy See and the communist regime. In case readers have missed those posts, try this search for 'China'. A policy of ensuring change before rewarding China is a much better one than the 30s policy of rewarding dictators for invading demilitarized zones and violating major treaties.

2. Asia in general.

One of these is the archbishop of Seoul, and the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, who is impatient to enter as a missionary into North Korea and is a staunch defender of life and of the family in a country that is a theatre of reckless experimentation in biotechnology.

Another is the archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio B. Rosales. The Philippines is the most Catholic country in Asia, with millions of emigrants all over the world, many of whom are persecuted on account of their faith in the Muslim countries where they work.

In the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk, Asian cultures like Japan and China are often portrayed as the bastions of genetic manipulation. Magister's turn of phrase in reference to Korea only too clearly illustrates that fiction has become reality and the future is now in societies with no moral or legal restrictions on fundamentally changing what goes into being 'human'.

3. Relations with Islam.

[...] In removing archbishop Fitzgerald from the curia, the pope has said the last word on the symposia that he loved to organize with Muslim leaders like sheikh Yussef-Al-Qaradwi or the heads of Al-Azhar, who signed ceremonious appeals for peace with the Vatican and then, the next day, inflamed the crowds by exalting holy war and the suicide terrorists.

[...] Sodano was a great admirer of Yasser Arafat, and is a supporter of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is ardently pro-Palestinian. But pope Ratzinger immediately flanked Sabbah with a more moderate auxiliary who will succeed him in two years, Fouad Twal of Jordan, previously the archbishop of Tunis. And is planning to appoint as the bishop of the Hebrew Christians who live in the state of Israel the present custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is viewed very favorably by the Israeli authorities.

At WYD 05 in Cologne, the Holy Father met the Muslim representatives in the unique setting of him sitting with a large cross behind him on the wall. The fact that he is now putting in place the personnel to ensure that his gestures become more than just gestures is heartening to see in a world where cartoons can spark so much destruction.

4. Reforming the clergy.

With him [Cardinal Sodano] gone, also gone will be a barrier to a decision on the fate of the powerful founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, with whom Sodano is very close. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has completed a thoroughly detailed preliminary investigation of the accusations against Maciel – sexual abuse of his seminarians and violation of the sacrament of confession.

Last Good Friday, shortly before he was elected pope, Ratzinger indicated this sort of “filth” as one of the evils that must be eliminated from the Church.

This search leads to some posts that provide a bit of background on Father Maciel and his case that has been investigated since before Cardinal Ratzinger's election.

The reform of the clery and the elimination of abuse is probably one of the most heart-felt subjects for Benedict XVI and with any remaining obstacles out of the way, the house cleaning will begin in earnest.