Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jewish Ladies

Catholic bloggers and blog readers may remember the blog Once A Chicken, Now A Fish by Janjan from the Boston area who recounted in her blog her religious journey from the Reform Judaism of her youth to Messianism and finally to the Holy Catholic Church. Janjan kept up with blogging for awhile, but eventually deleted all her posts except for her multi-post recounting of how she became Catholic along with her husband.

As is usually the case, I came upon Janjan's blog late in the game when her story was about done after reading about at Amy Welborn's Typepad blog. Janjan's story is one that I've kept in mind since I first read it not only because of its content, but also because Janjan bore a resemblance to a friend of mine, a Jewish lady who is also from the Boston area.

This afternoon I was checking up at a political blog I read now and then and I read a post by one of the blog's many contributors who goes by the nom de plume of Robin of Berkeley [California], a Jewish lady herself who has made her own journey from liberalism to conservatism. She recounted her experience in attending Christmas Eve Mass. It reminded me of Janjan's story and so I thought I'd post a link back to Janjan's old blog and Robin's post for consideration.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rorate: On the loss of Latin

This post from Rorate Caeli is a good starting point for investigating the anti-intellectualism that has come upon the Church in the last forty years.

Monday, December 07, 2009


In email or in posts at messageboards, little quotes at the end of each message have been a common sight since the beginning. Below is a series of quotes I've used over time that I rediscovered the other day when I was checking something out.

My indifference has shut me out. I live in a world of ghosts, a prisoner of dreams. I want God to put out his hand, show his face, speak to me. I cry out to him in the dark but there is no one there.
-Antonius Block, 'The Seventh Seal'

Block is of course the protagonist in Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Block here is expressing his existential crisis of faith as he struggles with Death to learn what comes after.

But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.
-Arwen Undomiel, 'The Lord of the Rings'

This passage spoken by Arwen the daughter of Elrond in an appendix of The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorites. Tolkien's elves are immortal, bound to the earth unto the end. Men on the other hand are granted at their creation the Gift: they are allowed to die and their souls pass beyond the circles of the World to heaven. Of course, immortal elves view death as a release while mortal men view death and the great unknown beyond as a punishment. Hence Arwen's words as she goes from immortality to mortality.

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.
-from "Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan

This is one of Frank Herbert's epigrams attributed to the protagonist that preceded each chapter of Dune. The idea that 'hard times' and 'oppression' bring out human ingenuity in coping and overcoming is certainly not new, but Herbert's expression of the concept is eloquent.

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.
-Roy Batty, 'Blade Runner'

All the best lines from the science fiction/cyberpunk classic Blade Runner are given to the antagonist Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer). In the movie, Roy is an artificially created and enhanced being whose ranks are used by Man to fight, to work in hazardous environments and to provide sexual services. Roy escapes in order to track down his creator in a bid to obtain more life (his kind live and die in a span of only a few years). In this quote, Roy expresses to the protagonist as the protagonist hangs off a building about to fall to his doom the sense of what it is to be a slave.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Zero Sum Game

It's been awhile since I've written about the People's Republic of China (mainland, communist China). The Holy Father issued his letter back in 2007 and after that, things in the Far East dropped off my radar screen.

Now we have this: China: One Bishop's About-Face Reignites the Dispute between Bertone and Zen by Sandro Magister.

I'll sum up very briefly: The secretary of state Cardinal Bertone believes that now is the time to come out of the shadows, even if it means accepting the directions of the communist regime; this is based on the Pope's phrasing on how the clandestine Church is not a natural state. He makes other points as well on the state of the clergy in China. Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong on the other hand believes that the Pope's words about the clandestine Church not being a normal feature of Church life, the Pope means that the Church should continue until the abnormal circumstances of communist oppression are at an end.

My first instinct in this matter is to go with Cardinal Zen and give nothing to the communist Chinese.

Just as it is easy to connect to the clandestine community Bertone's statement that "a truly Eucharistic community cannot retreat into itself, as though it were self-sufficient, but it must stay in communion with every other Catholic community."

This point of Bertone's quoted by Magister is on the outside convincing, but I am reminded of various instances throughout history when Christians have been persecuted or when a small, orthodox faction of Christians have been at odds with a far larger faction of heterodox Christians that have the backing of the State. Does communion with other Catholic communities trump the freedom of the Church to govern its own affairs? I would say no.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Health Care

I wrote this as a comment at TitusOneNine:

It’s a slippery slope. All the things that may end up left out of the bills now (abortion, euthanasia, etc.) may be slipped in later once control is handed over. What I am fearful of is that the bishops are either letting their own personal or ‘institutional’ (USCCB) opinions intrude or else simply being short-sighted by approving of a concept that will subvert the autonomy of the individual conscience.

As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.
—Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 79

If you want to talk about conscience, then feel free to discuss free will and each person’s willingness to give to charity to help those in need. But I for one do not accept the premise that government confiscation of revenue for whatever reason beyond the most basic necessities is a legitimate means to provide for those in material need.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pro-Life Advocates Beware

From Ave Maria Loses Catholic Moral Authority, Moves Focus to Pro-Life Crowd.

Everyone who frequents this blog should by now know of my fascination with all things Ave Maria and Tom Monaghan. is the premiere watchdog site that keeps track of the pizza baron and his great boondoggle down in Florida. In an article posted on Tuesday, Ave Watcher analyzed recent data points and draws the conclusion that with large segments of orthodox Catholicism onto his MO, Tom and his co-conspirators are moving to woo the pro-life movement at large in a bid to further the brand of Ave Maria.

Read it all, it's pretty damning.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

No More Crucifixes

Reuters/Yahoo!: Italy, Vatican in uproar over court crucifix ruling

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that crucifixes should be removed from Italian classrooms, prompting Vatican anger and sparking uproar in Italy, where such icons are embedded in the national psyche.

"The ruling of the European court was received in the Vatican with shock and sadness," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, adding that it was "wrong and myopic" to try to exclude a symbol of charity from education.

Read the whole thing for various responses, etc. Will Italy tell the EU courts to stick it or will it knuckle under? Only time will tell.

EDIT; Zenit's in my inbox, so here are more links...

Vatican "Regrets" European Court Ruling on Crucifix


Crucifix Ruling Seen as Severing Italy From Roots

"It ignores or neglects the multiple meaning of the crucifix, which not only is a religious symbol, but also a cultural sign," a communiqué from the conference stated. "It does not take into account the fact that, in reality, in the Italian experience, the display of the crucifix in public places is in harmony with the recognition of the principles of Catholicism as part of the historical patrimony of the Italian people, confirmed by the Concordat of 1984."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Notes on All Saints Day

I've read through the clarification from the Press Office on married men being ordained and I've read reaction and analysis to it around the blogosphere both saying that it both clarifies and muddies the issue. We'll wait for the apostolic constitution.

For those of you who have come upon this blog looking for information on papal appearances, I'm sorry to disappoint, but I do not have the fluency in Italian to serve as the Holy Father's social diary. I wish you well though in finding what you're looking for.

Rorate always has good posts compiling relevant excerpts from Catholic history and tradition: this is one of them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Disgusting Case

Dr. Edward Peters, the esteemed canon law expert, has posted this morning on the case of Sister Donna Quinn of Sinsinawa Dominicans who is known for serving as an escort at abortion clinics.

You can read more about the Sinsinawa Dominicans at the left under the Father Mazzuchelli link (yes, those sisters).

Dr. Peters suggests a few canons under which Sister Donna could fall, but he is not enthusiastic as to if any consequences will come from her actions. I wonder though if this lack of action on the part of the community could be brought before those undertaking the current examination of women religious here in the US?

Homeless Widows and Orphans

From the Belfast Telegraph care of Kendall Harmon:

At the moment when a Catholic priest retires, the church only has responsibility towards him.

But what if the priest was married, has a wife and family?

Where would they go if they had to vacate their parochial home? What would they live on? What would happen to clerical widows or, even more distressingly, orphaned children?

Secondly, how could the Catholic Church maintain its stance on clerical celibacy?

It cannot argue logically that it is permissible for married Anglican clergy to convert to full communion with the Catholic Church and yet deny Catholic clergy the right to marriage.

Bolding mine. I don't bring all these questions up in my posts because I'm opposed to this move by the Pope. On the contrary, I am all for it. The Anglican Communion has been a mess for years now and it's about time Rome stepped in in an authoritative way, especially with the TAC petitioning for entrance. However, these are all questions that are going to need to be answered in the Apostolic Constitution or any companion documents before people start coming over or else Rome is going to have a real mess on its hands as the usual circumstances of human life rear their ugly heads.

Kudos to Kendall Harmon for bringing together so many good links on all of this.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


From a Commonweal blog post linked to by Kendall Harmon:

A friend of mine, a former Anglican actually, brought up an issue that I hadn’t thought about with respect to the new Anglican rite: contraception. In 1930, the Lambeth Conference declared that contraception was not always immoral, and could be used (for serious reason) to regulate the number of children that a married couple had. That declaration prompted a negative response from the Roman Catholic Church–the encyclical Casti Connubii, which declared that the use of contraception was never morally permissible. As most people know, that stance was reaffirmed by Humanae Vitae.

Now, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the prohibition against contraception is not a matter of “rite” or religious practice–it is a matter of natural law, binding not only upon Catholics, but upon all persons. So Anglicans who join the Catholic Church will be expected to conform to the prohibition There is no such thing as a dispensation from the strictures of negative moral absolutes. It’s true, of course, that many Roman Catholics make their own decisions about this matter, and come to their own private peace with God in the “internal forum” of their conscience. But the new influx of Anglicans will include people who will not be able to come to a purely private peace–the married members of the clergy, who will be required to follow Humanae Vitae no less than other married persons.

As far as I am aware, however, the morality of contraception under certain circumstances has been more or less a settled issue among Anglicans–even traditionally minded Anglicans. How will this change work out?

As we know, the leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion have already signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and they and their followers must be prepared to accept Catholic dogma and doctrine and all that it requires.

But for other Anglicans who may have issues with the Anglican Communion, but are not so interested in all that comes with Rome, one hopes Rome is prepared with its requirements for ordaining married Anglicans that this is singled out as a primary point.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


From Rorate, a quote by John Hepworth in an interview:

JH: Bishops in the new Anglican structure will be unmarried. This is out of respect for the tradition of Eastern and Western Christianity. But priests who come from Anglicanism will be able to serve as priests in the new structure, whether married or not, after satisfying certain requirements. The truly radical element is that married men will be able to be ordained priests in the Anglican structure indefinitely into the future. It is anticipated that Anglican bishops who are married when they joined the new structure will still be able to serve as priestly ordinaries, exercising some of the responsibilities of bishops.


...I was afraid of this. Ruth Gledhill yesterday:

A source in Rome tells me that the African bishops have been watching the Anglican developments with interest, in some cases with amazement. Even though England, Wales and the US have been quietly receiving married former Anglican priests to work as Catholic priests for decades, it seems that until this new Apostolic Constitution with its juridical implications was announced, the African bishops had no idea this had been going on.

Now that it is to get canonical standing, some of these bishops are asking, understandably, 'If they can, why can't we......?'

Maybe those who are suggesting the Anglican annexe about to be built onto Rome may be better described as a Trojan horse are on to something. Even the superbly-informed Francis Rocca is writing about the new light this throws on the celibacy issue, so you never know.

Ruth certainly represents a specific constituency (above the passage cited here, she was giving praise to NCReporter for its reporting on the Anglican ordinariate announcement), but if her source is reliable, then certainly such rumblings will have to be headed off immediately. Hard and fast rules are needed now to both clarify the situation for possibly incoming Anglicans and answer those Catholic clerics who are less attached to celibacy than the Pope, especially with Archbishop Milingo still in recent memory.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anglican Ordinaries

I don't have all the links to the statements and responses just now as I've been off to the dentist this morning. As it has been noted by various people, there are several key points that await clarification when the apostolic constitution is made public:

-There there be one uniform 'Anglican' liturgy?

-Will married clergy be permitted past the first generation?

-What are the differences between the new structure and existing ones?

And so on. Past posts at this blog do much to lay out the background of today's announcements.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quinceanera Season?

One of the top images provided by a search for the term 'quinceanera' at Google is found at this blog, specifically this post.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Twilight Zone


SOURCE: Obama will accept award on 'behalf of Americans and America's values'... Developing...



PAPER: This makes mockery of peace prize...

White House Aide: 'It's Not April 1st, Is It?'...

Carter: 'Bold statement'...

Lech Walesa: 'Too early. He has no contribution so far'...

Oslo 'political endorsement'...

The headlines off Drudge this morning as of 9:55 AM CDT. Everyone is a winner, right? :P

UPDATE: There are a lot of blog posts out there this morning on this subject. I'm not going to duplicate the effort, but the one observation I find most relevant is that nominations had to be in by February 1st. Do ten days worth of being a rookie president of the United States merit the Nobel Peace Prize? Apparently the committee thought so.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Or Else!

Via Drudge, we have this blog post from ABC News' George Stephanopoulos:

In a letter just released, the three Catholic bishops leading the Church’s efforts on health care warned Congress that “we will have no choice but to oppose the bill” unless current bills are amended.

The letter signed by Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester outlines three main areas of concern: “that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants should be met.”

Of those, of course, abortion poses the gravest threat to the bill. The bishops simply don’t buy the argument that House Democrats found a way to block public funding for abortions with the Capps amendment, and they insist that the Hyde amendment doesn’t apply to the bills because they are not appropriations measures. A sizable bloc of House Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, agree and are pressuring for a clear prohibition on public funding.

Not really much new here, but the reference to /legal/ immigrants (my emphasis) is heartening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Ave Maria News

AveWatch: Safranek Wins Settlement from Ave Maria and Monaghan

Detroit attorney Deborah Gordon announced today that former Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek accepted a settlement offer in his October 2007 wrongful termination suit against Tom Monaghan, the Ave Maria Foundation, the Law School, and Bernard Dobranski (the recently-resigned AMSL Dean and President). The Law School’s Board of Governors will rescind its earlier revocation of Professor Safranek’s tenure; further, the Board will rescind the preceding suspension and all censures imposed by then-Dean Dobranski.

Lots of links and reaction. Check it out.


Peruse this article in American Thinker: The Catholic Bishops and ACORN by Mark Wauck. He goes into detail, quoting many previous articles, in describing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development's history and relations with the world of ACORN (before CCHD severed ties with it amid news of massive embezzlement at ACORN) and community organizing at large. (Guess which organization funded a few of our present president's jobs?)

Summing up:

The article [a CNS article quoted by Wauck] goes on to relate a CCHD spokesman's claims that CCHD subjects its grantees to a great deal of scrutiny, and that they had no suspicion of irregularities in voter registration drives. You can take those claims for what they're worth, but the fact remains that CCHD -- which is to say, the Catholic Church in America -- has for decades been funneling millions of dollars into an organization founded by radical leftists.

That's bad news. Bad for the bishops, bad for the Church, bad for America.

In an addendum written after the new revelation on CCHD's funding of pro-abortion and prostitution groups, Wauck refers to the widely-quoted words of Father Neuhaus of First Things regarding where the Catholic laity's money is going: down the rabbit hole:

He called the organization "misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice," and went so far as to urge that it be terminated. "What most Catholics don't know, and what would likely astonish them," wrote Fr. Neuhaus, "is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor." Neuhaus suggested that the bishops would do better to spend their money on more Catholic-related projects, such as "Catholic inner-city schools."

Bolding mine.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pretending and Reality

Father Z has pointed out an article at the website of the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding the actions of the local ordinary in dismissing a female religious for advocating on behalf of women's (pretend) ordination. They're also doing a poll.

Check it out.

Last checked: 6:10 PM CDT
Should the Church allow women to be ordained as priests?
Yes (1560) 55.85%
No (1157) 41.42%
I'm undecided (76) 2.72%
Total Votes: 2793

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dipping Into Health Care

His Excellency R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City has this to say regarding the health care debate (hat tip to

First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research.

We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have.

Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right.

The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion.

As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”

Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care.

Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization.

Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect.

Emphasis mine. The bolded parts are excellent illustrations of his point.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FUMARE has a post on monetary policy and the Pope's failure to address it in his encyclical. The post references a critique by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. in Taki's Magazine.

I'm not so interested on the monetary policy bits as I am the general response of Woods to Caritas in Veritate:

I actually didn’t want to write anything about the Pope’s encyclical. In 2007, I wrote a book, Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, in defense of the Pope’s restoration of the traditional Latin liturgy, an area in which Benedict XVI is quite knowledgeable and has much of value to say. I like this Pope. He is smart and serious, not frivolous or vain. He is in many ways a substantial improvement over his predecessor. (I cite as evidence the very fact that the media believes the opposite.) And having been viciously denounced and ridiculed by some pretty despicable people, he certainly has all the right enemies.

I have reluctantly yielded to the urging of quite a few correspondents and typed up a few thoughts. So here goes: Caritas in Veritate strikes me as at best a relatively unremarkable restatement of some familiar themes from previous social encyclicals. At worst, it is bewilderingly naïve, and its policy recommendations, while attracting no one to the Church, are certain to repel.

The response to the encyclical throughout the right-of-center Catholic world was drearily predictable: with few exceptions, it was a performance worthy of the Soviet Politburo, with unrestrained huzzahs everywhere.

It is one thing to receive a statement from the Pope with the respect that is due to the man and his office. It is quite another to treat his every missive as ipso facto brilliant, as if the Catholic faith depended on it. If his supporters are trying to live down to the Left’s portrayal of Catholicism as a billion-person cult, they could hardly do a better job.

Woods then launches into an explanation of the concepts of his book and how economics should be viewed only as what it really is, an objective study of economic processes and the theories that attempt to describe those processes. Then Woods goes on:

Nothing in the Deposit of Faith even comes close to deciding this and countless other important economic questions one way or the other. Not even the most uncomprehending or exaggerated rendering of papal infallibility would have the Pope adjudicating such disputes as these. Yet misunderstandings or ignorance regarding such seemingly abstruse points are so often at the heart of the policy recommendations that bishops’ conferences propose and papal encyclicals can seem to imply.

It is obviously not “dissent” merely to observe that the cause-and-effect relationships that constitute the theoretical edifice of economics are not a matter of faith and morals. They simply do not fall within the range of subjects on which a Catholic prelate is endowed with special insight or authority. Catholic laity cannot head up petition drives against them. They are facts of life. Facts cannot be protested, defied, or lectured to; they can only be learned and acted upon. There is no use in shaking our fists at the fact that price controls lead to shortages. All we can do is understand the phenomenon, and be sure to bear it and other economic truths in mind if we want to make statements about the economy that are rational and useful.

Woods closes out the section of his critique by basically saying what we already know in the real world (and the Holy Father does in his Catholic world when dealing with Catholic things): just saying it should be this way won't make it so, especially when economics is a trade-off. One can't ask for higher wages for all bread winners and expect employers to be able to pay to hire as many bread winners as before.

Anyway, go read through the rest. It's pretty interesting.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Unidentified Body

I follow a few cases at including the following:

We have a few readers out that way. Leave a comment if you know anything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Canonization of John Paul II

Damian Thompson at his blog Holy Smoke takes a look at a post by a law student named Eric Giunta at RenewAmerica.

Thompson includes long excerpts of Giunta's column, including:

Though Catholics and others are loathe to admit it of an otherwise beloved Pope, John Paul II oversaw a church which deteriorated in both its inner and outer life. His callous indifference toward the victims of priestly sexual abuse in refusing to meet personally with a single one of them, and his stubborn refusal to compel the resignation from office of any of the bishops who aided, abetted, and covered-up the abuse, are testamentary to his utter failure: not as a Catholic or a theologian, but as a Pope.

And so on. Read the entire thing at RenewAmerica, but that's the gist. After the long excerpts, Thompson concludes with the following:

I don’t endose these views: in fact, it seems perfectly obvious that the reign of John Paul II was one of slowly growing orthodoxy in the Church, nurtured by his Catechism and a series of magnificent encyclicals. And those Catholics who want to draw a sharp distinction between the agendas of John Paul and Benedict are overlooking the fact that the theological direction of the last pontificate owed an enormous amount to the current Holy Father, who would be horrified by Giunta’s article.

Yet this debate is clearly gathering pace. JPII loyalists are also on the warpath. (George Weigel is using the Maciel scandal as a stick with which to beat this administration, not the last one.) So I’d be interested in your views.

Though Mr. Thompson is right that a lot of good that we're seeing now began first during the pontificate of John Paul II through the continued influence of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, I think that Mr. Thompson ignores by painting over Giunta's comments as just more anti-JPII rhetoric that Giunta's points deserve at the very least direct refutation since they aren't dealing necessarily with /theology/. John Paul II was by most accounts an indifferent administrator at best. Whether that in itself is grounds for blocking canonization I cannot say, but that indifference certainly had consequences that we're living with and cleaning up to this day.

This comment left by Hamish McGlobbie contains the best advice:

I think we could wait 20 years or so before rushing to canonize anyone. Presumably it is God who decides whether they go fast-track to Heaven, rather than a Vatican committee, and it will be easier to make such evaluations when we have had more time. JP2 = good guy? (yes). JP2 = saint? (hard to tell).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Great Quote

To be Roman Catholic, on the other hand, is to join a motley crew. We come from all classes. We are sometimes desperate in our prayers and excessive in our devotions.

And further on:

Yes, let us continue to bring a greater dignity and reverence to Roman Catholic liturgy, and yes, in this let us learn something from Anglo-Catholics if we can. But let us never lose sight of who we do it for. Someone once said to Newman, dismissively, ‘Who are the laity, anyway?’ To which Newman quietly replied: ‘The Church would look pretty foolish without them.’

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cardinal Newman's Cause

Cardinal Newman's cause is coming along. I was glancing through the website for bits of material and decided to share with you all.

The current process for canonization is a bit too streamlined and modernized for my tastes, but the venerable Cardinal Newman is I would say more than worthy of being raised to the altars.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Dead At 92

The former CBS News anchor is dead at age 92. Walter Cronkite is a bit before my time, though of course I've known of him for as long as I can remember. Kind of like waiting to have the telephone installed, gas pumps with analog dials and a world without cable, Uncle Walt represented a different era.

Rest in peace.

Pope Breaks Wrist, Has Surgery

Not much to it. He fell in the night, probably stumbling around in the dark on the way to the kitchen.

AOSTA, Italy (AP)—Doctors say Pope Benedict XVI will have to stay in a cast for a month after breaking his right wrist in a fall in his chalet while vacationing in the Italian Alps.

Pierluigi Berti, the director of the Umberto Parini hospital in Aosta, said doctors had successfully performed a 20-minute operation and the pope would be released later Friday.

The surgery was performed under local anesthesia to reduce the fracture, a procedure to realign the broken bone fragments.

A Vatican statement said the 82-year-old pope fell in his room in a nearby chalet overnight and despite the accident, celebrated Mass and had breakfast before going to the hospital.

Thankfully it isn't anything worse than that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sistani Redux

Read this: August 2007

Then read this (from Pajamas Media, quote below from Threatswatch):

This is a huge development. One of the biggest questions I and others have had since the Iranian protests/revolt/revolution began was whether Mousavi would be any different in tangible effect (Hizballah & Hamas support, etc.) than Ahmadinejad and whether Rafsanjani was seeking to sack ‘Supreme’ Leader Khamenei simply to acquire the powerful position for himself. That question perhaps may have been answered today. My ears first perked up when word made it through the grapevines over the weekend that Rafsanjani had been meeting with other Ayatollahs and clerics in Qom, and had among them a representative of Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Why? Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in 2007 made two very critical statements: that “I am a servant of all Iraqis, there is no difference between a Sunni, a Shiite or a Kurd or a Christian,” and that Islam can exist within a democracy without theological conflict. You will never hear such words slip past the lips of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. Ever. Sistani’s presence at the Rafsanjani talks in Qom, Iran, through a representative brings therefore added significance. And the al-Arabiya report above seems to suggest that Rafsanjani is not seeking Sistani’s support for superficial reasons. In November 2007 at National Review Online, I wrote about this aspect of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, including a reference to another analysis I had written earlier in the spring.

Sistani’s appeal does not end at the Iraqi border, as Iranians increasingly observe his leadership with interest and fondness. Some are “intrigued by the more freewheeling experiment in Shi’ite empowerment taking place across the border in Iraq,” which is fundamentally different in approach than the Iranian theocratic brand of dictated observance and obedience. The Boston Globe’s Anne Barnard reports that within Tehran’s own central bazaar, “an increasing number of merchants are sending their religious donations, a 20 percent tithe expected from all who can spare it, to Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric.”

If that didn’t quite sink in, go read that paragraph again. many Iranian merchants have been sending their 20% tithes to Sistani, not Khamenei. Since at least 2007. I spoke to the significance of Rafsanjani seeking Sistani’s support earlier on ‘The Steve Schippert Show’ on RFC Radio just before the al-Arabiya story broke. His name is an attention-getter for those aware of players and forces in both Iran and Iraq. And for good reason. Perhaps in Iran, just as in Iraq today, true democracy can exist “without theological conflict” with the Shi’a faith. And perhaps the most unlikely cast of available men in Iran are set to bring that to be. Perhaps only something close, or closer. But whatever the change, and the extent of the change - and it appears the intent is significant change and not simply a game of Shuffling Ayatollahs - it will be positive for Iranians, for the region, for Americans and for the entire world. I think it is nearly inevitable at his point, and time is not on the regime’s side.

This is huge if Sistani is truly playing a part in whatever is going on in clerical circles in Qom. Sistani is the most senior cleric in Shi'ite Islam and any move by the Iranian clerics toward him and the tradition he represents would be as the quote says truly beneficial for Iran and the Middle East.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Theological Underpinnings

According to reports, things in Iran are mostly quiet. The threat of using the Revolutionary Guard to put down further revolt has been made, but plans are allegedly being made for a general strike.

Reza Aslan at The Daily Beast has a new post up on the origins and theological underpinnings of the religious portions of the Iranian government.

Called Valayat-e Faqih, or “Guardianship of the Jurist,” this unique religio-political system was the brainchild of the founder of the Islamic republic, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1988. In theory, the faqih—what the West calls the supreme leader—was supposed to be the most learned religious authority in the country. He was originally supposed to be a sort of pope-like figure that would ensure the Islamic nature of what would otherwise be a democratic state. He would have moral and spiritual authority, and he would certainly wield enormous political influence, but he would by no means maintain direct political control over the state.

However, in the years following the revolution of 1979, through a series of constitutional amendments pushed through parliament, the position of faqih [supreme leader] was gradually transformed from a symbolic moral authority into the supreme authority of the state.

Aslan then goes on to explain how this new system when originally conceived ran counter to a thousand years of Shi'ite clerical non-meddling in politics as all government was illegitimate until the coming of the Madhi, the messiah figure of the Islamic end times. Khomeini though adopted for himself the trappings (if not the actual title) of the Madhi for himself as supreme leader; his thought was that as agents of the messiah, the clerics must work to build his kingdom of earth before his coming.

But by far the most overt connection Khomeini established between himself and the messiah was his doctrine of the Valayat-e Faqih. In Khomeini’s view, the faqih would have more than just supreme authority, he would have infallible and divine authority—authority that, in fact, would be equal to the authority of the Prophet Muhammad.

Khamenei was chosen to succeed Khomeini because he was considered a safe bet, someone who would not rock the boat, someone who could be easily controlled by more powerful, more charismatic figures who chaired the various clerical subcommittees, like his fellow revolutionary Hashemi Rafsanjani (now an ayatollah himself), who was instrumental in Khamenei’s selection to the post of supreme leader.

This leads us to the present situation. Khomenei's power was slowly diffused among the committees of the clerics, but Aslan points out that this crisis is his attempt to reassert absolute control.


Simply put, Khamenei’s reckless and rambling Friday sermon has changed the tenor of Iran’s uprising, making it as much about his own leadership and the nature of clerical rule, as it is about Ahmadinejad’s presidency. He has, in other words, helped create a revolution.

Thanks to Hot Air. I also suggest reading this primer on the geopolitical situation for Shi'ites across the Middle East and into South Asia as detailed by Spengler.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 20, 2009

I'll make no claims as to accuracy, but this is the young woman's Wikipedia bio that has been quickly put together.

1982 - 2009

Seen this yet? Horrified? I'm sick to my stomach just looking at the still image of the video embed when I preview this post. Say a prayer that these people may be delivered from bondage.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ave Maria

Greetings to you all. To my priestly readers (probably few in number...), happy Year of the Priest to you.

There seems to be much going on of late, but little of it interests me enough to mount an effort at posting. There are plenty of sources out there with more in-depth coverage.

But I have found one thing that has developed further that always interests: Ave Maria and Tom Monaghan.

Check out this headline from AveWatch: Monaghan Legal Claim: Ave Maria School of Law is a “Religious Institution” with “Ministerial” Professors.

In a stunning legal maneuver that could trigger unintended negative consequences involving a host of sources (Catholic legal academics, the American Bar Association, Ave Maria students/employees/alumni/recruits, official Church authorities) — Tom Monaghan’s lawyers argued in court on Wednesday that Ave Maria School of Law is a “religious institution” claiming “ministerial exception” such that any inquires into their “underlying motivation for a contested employment situation” should be barred from government courts. They also argued that AMSL’s law professors are “ministerial employees”, claiming that the “legal doctrine of ‘ecclesiastical abstention‘ is pertinent to the court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction of AMSL’s employment decision and the allegations concerning AMSL’s governance”.

Nice, huh. AveWatch has all kinds of analysis in that post, go check it out if you're so inclined. The crew at Fumare took a look at the development from a civil standpoint and Doctor Ed Peters from a canon law standpoint.

Mr. Monaghan's latest legal maneuver comes on the heels of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that upholds a lower court's order for Monaghan to turn over his notes regarding Ave Maria School of Law, formerly of Ann Arbor, MI and soon to be of Naples, FL, for the lawsuit of former three professors.

The saga of Monaghan and the various incarnations of Ave Maria (the college, the university, the law school, the town, etc.) is covered with great attention by AveWatch and Fumare, but despite Monaghan's tendrils throughout the more traditional wing of American Catholicism, his allegedly less-than-ethical affairs don't receive much attention from more mainstream Catholic blogs. Hopefully this latest clain will draw some attention given just how ludicrous it is.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Help Needed

A long time ago, I was reading an article at a sedevacantist website about the liturgical reforms that culminated in the Novus Ordo in 1970. The article looked back to the reforms of the early twentieth century.

What made this article memorable was that it had this graphic, a larger rectangle divided up into smaller rectangles. They each contained a specific year when a reform was promulgated (for instance '1945' for when the Psalter of Pius XII came out). The years went from left to right from earlier to later. The first box was white and as one went left, each box was greyer than the one before it, representing the supposed diminishing of the liturgy.

I'm doing some reading on the subject and if anyone knows of this website and can direct me to it, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Central African Confusion

Reader Louis pointed this out to me yesterday in an email. I have no idea what is behind this. Perhaps some of our more knowledgeable readers could help us in figuring out why two bishops from the Central African Republic, both in their fifties and well short of retirement, have resigned this month.

Paulin Pomodimo, archbishop of Bangui, resigned on May 26 (today), just short of his fifty-fifth year.

François-Xavier Yombandje, bishop of Bossangoa, resigned on May 16 (a week ago Saturday), just short of his fifty-third year.

Both men were consecrated by Joachim N'Dayen, archbishop emeritus of Bangui.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tu esse Pietro.

Or something. I don't remember the exact Italian quoted by Oskar Werner in his conversation with Anthony Quinn.

In case you all haven't guessed yet and don't have TCM, The Shoes of the Fisherman was on this afternoon. I was flipping back and forth between that and Family Feud. The movie has great production values. It's an MGM film made during that time when MGM still made films that looked truly epic in scope. The only part that really looked fake was the final balcony scene where the balcony was superimposed over the real thing at St. Peter's. Just not quite convincing. But aside from all that, I found the film to be slightly annoying with the annoyance growing as the movie went on.

If you haven't seen it and don't know the resolution of the plot, I won't spoil it, but I will say that it is pretty unbelievable in the first viewing and its hokey-ness only increases in subsequent viewings. Seeing it tonight and knowing it was coming, it just worked against the entire thing. The movie is a positive portrayal (to me) of the Church and I want to like the movie for that reason and because it looks so cool, but the plot just totally turns me off.

The actora were all great. About the only problem I had with the actors was the performance of Oskar Werner as the heterodox priest in his interview with the commission from the Holy Office. His views were actually not that hard to understand and his final answer to their question was actually pretty interesting, but he answered everything in such a convoluted way, he basically gave the commission no choice but to condemn his works. Father Telemond comes off as not very articulate.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Notre Dame: Those Outside Looking In

While the Catholic blogosphere has been doing its thing lately in looking at Notre Dame and all that, I've found interesting the look by 'secular' blogs at the Catholic divide.

To wit: Laura Ingraham: Notre Dame’s no longer a viable Catholic institution at has two lead bloggers, one of them Catholic and the other atheist, both conservatives. The atheist's view on ND and the Church's overall response to Obama:

The real question here isn’t whether Notre Dame is still Catholic in any meaningful sense, it’s what it means to be “Catholic” in America today. 54 percent of Catholics voted for The One last fall and 67 percent approved of his job performance as of three weeks ago; majorities approve of torture in at least some circumstances and say they’re more likely to consider common sense and experience when making decisions than Church teachings; a narrow plurality think priests should be allowed to marry. Even on abortion and stem cells, those calling themselves Catholic are almost indistinguishable from non-Catholics (although there are sharp differences between non-Catholics and Catholics who attend mass regularly). And of course the Vatican itself is as squishy as can be when it comes to taking on Obama for his stances. The Church, ironically, seems to have the opposite problem from the GOP these days: They’re so comfortable with “centrists” that it’s no longer clear what American Catholicism stands for. Which puts Notre Dame squarely inside the mainstream.

While the traditional, orthodox elements of the Church work on renewal and are seeing signs of life from the US episcopate, at the same time, what should be the Church's allies in political life look in from the outside and they don't seem that encouraged, especially by the Vatican itself and the whole deal with L’Osservatore Romano's efforts of late in wooing Obama.

Anyway, food for thought.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

L’Osservatore Romano: All the News That's Fit to Spin!

So I had a subscription to the weekly English edition of L’Osservatore Romano that I got a Christmas or so ago. It seems to have run out this spring and not a moment too soon! I had been impressed with the tenor of the paper and even had a few clippings (an essay by Ruini, etc.).

But I have missed out on the last few weeks of the paper's efforts to get along with Mr. Obama (though editorials didn't find their way into the English edition too often anyway). And so we have this latest post from Father Z:

Who else could be it be but the Vatican’s Secretariat of State?

Think about it. What could produce such a dopey article if not for the section of the Secretariat of State involved with the relations with states?

Leaving aside the personal political tendencies of many who work up there, the President is scheduled to go to Rome in, ... what is it, ... July?

The diplomat elements in the Secretariat of State probably don’t want anything to spoil the planning.

Ta da!

Cause and effect.

I could go back through and find all the links to past posts where the Secretariat of State has been documented running amok, but it would be tedious. With Cardinal Sodano's departure, one would think that with the head gone and Bertone in power... Of course, we also have reports from last year of Bertone jetting around to all kinds of meetings and acting like a papabile instead of running his dicastery like a good little soldier.

The greatest single disappointment so far of this pontificate has been the failure of the curial reform to materialize.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Off to the Holy Land

Sandro Magister has a new column out on the Pope's trip. In it, Magister determines that the biggest obstacle will be the local Christian population. By appearing evenhanded and not favoring Israel, the Pope has been attempting to earn their trust. Magister also claims that in recasting the conflict as a political one, the Pope hopes to return the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians back to its political origins...


This is one instance where I would say the Pope is flying blind. The Arab-Israeli conflict has many causes and origins. I would point out though that as my professor always reminded my class, politics and religion for the Muslims of the Middle East are one and the same given the fact that the Shariah handed down to Muhammad from God is their Law and the political Ummah (Muslim Community) was the religious and soclal Ummah. If the Christian West and the Pope want to delude themselves into thinking that politics and religion can be separated out, I hope they find their disillusionment sooner rather than later so that we can get on with it.

Let's face it. We've been reading about the alleged Palestinian majority that is tired of war and wants only peace for fifteen years and more, but it has yet to rise up to do anything against Hamas in Gaza. (The West Bank under Fatah has been flying under the radar lately.)

The US Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

The average, moderate Palestinian is supposedly long past the point Jefferson set out, but Hamas is still in charge and lobbing rockets as Israel.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Has anyone else noticed the tendency lately for Youtube videos to be widescreen? This video looks interesting and the quotes are nice. Could use some subtitles though.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

1,001 Posts

I was going to commemorate the 1,000th post with lots of cool things, but I just noticed that that was the last post. I guess I wasn't paying that much attention. Oh well. That spares me the obligation to get creative.

The Pope is going to Israel soon and will be visiting a Palestinian refugee camp.

Professor Glendon (I don't recall right offhand her first name) declined the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame as she didn't want to the token next to Obama. Father Jenkins has rounded up a judge who is a past recipient and the medal won't be given out this year. Nice sidestepping there, Father.

Archbishop Ranjith is said to be headed home to Colombo, but there's no official word.

Over at Rorate, they're busily commenting about curial rumblings surrounding the exile of Ranjith (whenever it eventually happens if it does). One poster, Matt, made an excellent point:

With all of this rumbling, the Holy Father should do what any Head of anything does, he or his designates walk into the office of the slacker prelate with security and tell him, "Thank you for your services but the Holy Father had decided it's time to part company." They are then given fifteen minutes to clean out their desks and are escorted out. Done. Why this is so hard for the Pope is beyond me and the reason why so much trouble exists in the Church. Do what the heck you want and no one can fire you? No wonder they act like that.

These prelates are not OWED, or ENTITLED. They serve at the pleasure of the Pope and can be dismissed at his pleasure. I suppose the Vatican has an alternate reality

If the One (Mr. Obama for you neophytes) can go around sacking top bank officials and the CEO of GM, I should think the Pope himself could do as Matt suggests.

That's enough of a round-up for now. I ask for your prayers in this hour of anxiety for me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Georgetown Says It Covered Over Name of Jesus to Comply With White House Request [] - April 15, 2009

( - Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.

“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told

“The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she added. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”

1. What exactly was the policy that Obama was speaking on?

2. If setting is important to the point of asking host institutions to cover up all signage and symbols, what's the point of even giving speeches outside of settings where the White House can control everything according to its whim?

3. Was this little talk by the president scheduled before or after the Notre Dame thing came up? Can we say, 'PR disaster?'

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christ is Risen!

At the Vatican.

The English greeting:
May the grace and joy of the Risen Christ be with you all.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Downward Slide

The Gallup poll:

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to Gallup Poll trends on church attendance among American Christians, weekly attendance among Protestants has been fairly steady over the past six decades, averaging 42% in 1955 versus 45% in the middle of the current decade. However, attendance among Roman Catholics dropped from 75% to 45% over the same period.

Most of the decline in church attendance among American Catholics occurred in the earlier decades, between 1955 and 1975; however, it continued at a rate of four percentage points a decade through the mid-1990s, and church attendance has since leveled off at 45%.

Whatever the causes, it is clear that U.S. Catholics' once-nearly uniform obedience to their church's requirement of weekly mass attendance has faded, and Catholics are now no different from Protestants in their likelihood to attend church. This has occurred among Catholics of all age categories, but is most pronounced among those under 60. The good news for the Catholic Church is that the drop in attendance seems to have slowed or abated altogether in the last decade, spanning a most difficult period for the church around 2002, when attendance did suffer temporarily.

Unless something else happens, have we reached our 'smaller, more pious' Church, at least in the US, as suggested by Benedict? Of course, nowadays, Mass attendance doesn't exactly correlate with following Catholic doctrine...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Funny Stuff (Notre Dame)

Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame [my way]:

Chris Carrington, a political science major from the Chicago area, said he doesn't see how Obama's appearance at Notre Dame contradicts Catholic values.

"To not allow someone here because of their beliefs seems a little hypocritical and contradictory to what the mission of the university and church should be," he said.

I find this quote to be quite entertaining. Let's look at what Mr. Carrington is driving at here more closely, shall we? The parts I've bolded are the key points.

Mr. Carrington labels as hypocritical and contradictory what he feels the Church's and the university's mission should be. Note: he is not labeling as hypocritical and contradictory what the Church's mission really is (given that they've invited Obama, it's fair to say that the mission of Notre Dame and the Catholic Church have diverged...).

So let's review: Mr. Carrington is criticizing the Catholic Church as hypocritical and contradictory because of the mission he thinks it should have, not its actual mission. So I put it to Mr. Carrington: What do you actually think about the Church's mission as it exists now, not what you think it should eventually morph into to suit your tastes?

And no, Mr. Carrington, you cannot claim that you misspoke or that this is all just semantics. You're a student in what is perceived to be a one of the better universities in the United States. No cop outs here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


...What we used to call 'Irish' and 'Catholic.' My dad is one of ten and descends from German and Irish stock.

From NPR:

The movement, called Quiverfull, is based on Psalm 127, which says, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

Those in the Quiverfull movement shun birth control, believing that God will give them the right number of children. It turns out, that's a lot of kids.

"I think, help! Imagine if we had had more of these children!" Campbell says, adding, "My greatest impact is through my children. The more children I have, the more ability I have to impact the world for God."

A Christian God, that is. Campbell says if believers don't starting reproducing in large numbers, biblical Christianity will lose its voice.

"We look across the Islamic world and we see that they are outnumbering us in their family size, and they are in many places and many countries taking over those nations, without a jihad, just by multiplication," Campbell says.

Still, Quiverfull is a small group, probably 10,000 fast-growing families, mainly in the Midwest and South. But they have large ambitions, says Kathryn Joyce, who has written about the movement in her book Quiverfull: Inside The Christian Patriarchy Movement.

"They speak about, 'If everyone starts having eight children or 12 children, imagine in three generations what we'll be able to do,' " Joyce says. " 'We'll be able to take over both halls of Congress, we'll be able to reclaim sinful cities like San Francisco for the faithful, and we'll be able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God's will.' "

Aside from the religious arguments, I dare you readers to read this from USAToday and then try and tell me why this is not a good idea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Greeks and Romans

The political blog Politico has video and a summary:

At the White House’s celebration of Greek Independence Day Wednesday afternoon, President Obama got a little unexpected flattery from Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States

Listing a series of challenges Obama will need to deal with as president, Demetrios predicted: Demetrios to Obama: "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues."

Obama responded by making a face to the crowd, prompting laughter. And when he took the mic, he speculated on what the compliment could do for him at home.

"I will tell Michelle I have been compared to Alexander the Great. I will see if that gets me a little more respect,” said Obama, who conceded: “She's still the boss."

While the Greeks in the US seem to have no problem hanging out with the president, the Romans are having difficulties. President Obama has accepted an invitation to speak at the commencement at Notre Dame later this spring and Catholics who actually care about their faith are up in arms. A coalition of student groups from the university have coordinated and put together a website: Notre Dame Response.

In defense of the unborn, we wish to express our deepest opposition to Reverend John I. Jenkins, CSC’s invitation of President Barack Obama to be the University of Notre Dame’s principle commencement speaker and the recipient of an honorary degree. Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship, but of President Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages. Further, the University’s decision runs counter to the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops against honoring pro-choice politicians. We cannot sit by idly while the University honors someone who believes that an entire class of human beings is undeserving of the most basic of all legal rights, the right to live.

Additionally, Fr. Jenkins has put some of his students into a position of moral dilemma as to whether they can attend their own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, now feel personally conflicted about participating in the commencement. The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.

And of course there is a petition from the Cardinal Newman Society here protesting the invitation. About 140,000 people have added their names so far, including myself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Church in the United States

Archbishop Chaput (via Hot Air):

“Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.”

Read it all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Cross?

Western Wall rabbi says pope should not wear cross at site [Jerusalem Post]

The title basically sums it up.

"My position is that it is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross," said Rabinovitch in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post Monday. "I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a church."

That's his preference and he's welcome to it. I myself would not care what a Jew was wearing if he were to come into a Catholic church. This is just nonsense.

Before 1967, when the Western Wall was under Jordanian rule, Jews were forbidden to pray there. In the Six Day War, Israel conquered east Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, from Jordan and prayer was opened to all religions.

If the wall is going to be open to all religions, then all religions should be able to show up in their usual garb and the garb of a Christian includes a cross.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Father Neuhaus' Last Book

If you do nothing else today, read this review of Father Newhaus' last book by the eminent columnist and commentator Spengler of Asia Times Online. The book is going on my wish list.

President Abraham Lincoln famously called Americans an "almost chosen people". That might qualify as America's national joke, for you can't be "almost chosen" any more than you can be almost pregnant.

Lincoln's oxymoron frames the tension between the religious impulses that made America and the reality that ultimately it is one imperfect polity among many others. America is "a country with the soul of a church", as G K Chesterton wrote, and by no accident, the only industrial nation (apart from Israel) in which religion plays a decisive role in public life. The central role of religion continues to polarize Americans and confuse foreign observers.

The working of faith in America's public square is more complex than Americans acknowledge, or foreigners understand, Richard John Neuhaus shows in this study of the heavenly city versus the earthly city of our exile.

In some respects, Poland deserves the special admiration of her pre-eminent son. As a breakaway Soviet buffer state on the central front, Poland occupied center stage in the Cold War, and the Polish people led by the Catholic Church rose heroically to the occasion.

The trouble is that Poland's story is coming to an end. The country's population will fall by almost 30% by mid-century, and the median age will rise from 36 years to 56 years. Benedict XVI, for that matter, ranks by my reckoning as the best mind on the planet, but it is questionable whether today's Germany is capable of educating another Joseph Ratzinger.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Letter to the Bishops

Father Z has an English translation of the letter Benedict XVI has sent out to all the bishops regarding the FSSPX and the Williamson affair. Father Z makes pertinent observations throughout in his usual style and I don't feel the need to reproduce the letter here or pull out any excerpts.

My observation after reading it is pretty simple. If you want the letter's technical merits, you'll need to look elsewhere. I found the letter to be direct and to the point, not at all like so many other letters we get out of Rome. Benedict XVI was obviously not expecting and ended up being personally affected by the Williamson affair and it shows in his letter. While I am not one to prognosticate, I would venture a guess that this letter may prove to be a turning point, not in the FSSPX's relations with Rome perhaps, but rather in Benedict's mindset so far.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Favorite Mahoney Pictures

Cardinal Mahoney, the archbishop of LA here in the US of A, presides every year over a congress of some sort. There is an official name that I could go look up, but I don't really think it's important given the good cardinal's outlook on various points of Catholic doctrine, tradition, law, etc.

There are a few pictures from past congresses that I've seen on other blogs or news reports that I've saved just because they were so priceless and in honor of the most recent congress and a post by Father Finigan, I share them with you all here.

Captions are of course welcome.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Pope and Israel

Spengler is the pen name of the anonymous columnist for Asia Times Online. Even though he's not one of the Vaticanisti or even known to be Catholic, his writings are as astute as they come when it comes to analysis of the current pontificate.

Benedict's tragedy, and Israel's
By Spengler []

World history is the history of Israel, argued the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig - not the tiny Jewish nation as such, but the Jewish idea, embraced by billions in the form of Christianity, or parodied and rejected by additional billions in Islam. The trouble is that no one wants to actually be Israel, least of all the Jews, who recite with fervor the prayer of Sholom Aleichem's Tevye: "God of mercy, choose a different people!" Jealousy at Israel's Election has provoked the persecution of the Jews for millennia, and it is not surprising that many Jews look for safety in insignificance.

Like many Jewish prayers, Tevye's prayer to be un-chosen also has become popular among some Catholics. The Catholic Church holds itself to be Israel, the People of God descended from Abraham in the Spirit. But many Catholics, including some in leading positions in the Roman Curia, think it an affront to the sensibilities of other cultures to insist on the unique role of the Church. At the other extreme , misnamed traditionalists do not think that the mustard-seed of faith is sufficient, and that the Church cannot fulfill its function without returning to the bygone days of state religion. Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, has fought manfully against these prospective deserters within his ranks. The tawdry burlesque over the case of the paranoid Jew-hater and Holocaust denier Richard Williamson is a sad gauge of his degree of success.

Go and read the rest.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Feeling Good, Europe?

Bishop Williamson and his alleged Holocaust denial may be only the tip of the iceberg for a hypocritical Europe...

One-third of Europeans blame the economic collapse on ...
posted at 12:20 pm on February 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey []

... the Joooooooos. Anti-Semitic attitudes have increased in the wake of the economic collapse, a study across seven European countries has found, with a third of Europeans blaming the Jews for the economy. Spain appears to have the highest levels of animosity towards Jews:

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.

The organization, which says its aim is “to stop the defamation of Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” says the seven-nation survey confirms that anti-Semitism remains strong.

The poll included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain.

It says that in Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel it is “probably true” that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. That is the highest percentage in the survey.

Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

Anti-Semitism is an old security blanket for people when they can’t get around to blaming themselves. It’s a superstition as old as two millenia, with no rationality to it at all. Europe indulges in this on a regular basis. When Germany collapsed in World War I, no one wanted to take responsibility for conducting an utterly destructive war that bankrupted their nation and killed millions. It was a lot easier to blame the Jews for their own failures — and it led to disastrous consequences.

America isn’t immune to this, either, nor the rest of the Anglosphere. In fact, one of Barack Obama’s appointees, Samantha Power, made an allusion to this a few years ago in an interview, and others in American political life have been less subtle. In Britain last year, 50% surveyed thought British Jews more loyal to Israel than the UK. At the same time, 31% of Americans thought the same about American Jews. Do people question the loyalties of Catholics, Anglicans, the Irish? Perhaps a fringe do, but nowhere near as mainstream as these numbers suggest.

Make no mistake about it; the Jews of the West are in danger of getting completely marginalized at a very bad time in history for it to happen. If those numbers continue to grow, we can expect pressure from these Western nations to abandon Israel, and more importantly, to abandon the fight against radical Islamist terrorism and Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.

Father Maciel and the LC

Remember when I covered the allegations surrounding Father Maciel a long while ago and then his exile just before his death? While a large portion of the Catholic and secular media and blogosphere have been debating the Williamson affair, it came out recently that Father Maciel, in addition to the other things, fathered a child... It's been about two weeks and I don't want to explain the entire thing, so I will direct your attention:

Note as well Dr. Peters' covering of the situation from the canon law standpoint. Check out American Papist as well which is referenced a lot by FUMARE's bloggers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rabbi Speaks on Williamson and the FSSPX

Via Father Z...

Left Wing of the Catholic Church Destroying the Faith Says Orthodox Rabbi []

By Hilary White, Rome correspondent

ROME, February 11, 2009 ( - The dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last forty years has severely undermined the teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral teachings on life and family, a prominent US Orthodox rabbi told Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of 800 Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, also dismissed the accusations that the Holy See had not sufficiently distanced itself from the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on the Holocaust.

"I support this move" to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, "because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith."

Rabbi Levin said that he understands "perfectly" why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement.

"I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church." This corruption, he said, "has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world."

"What's the Pope doing? He's trying to bring the traditionalists back in because they have a lot of very important things to contribute the commonweal of Catholicism.

"Now, if in the process, he inadvertently includes someone who is prominent in the traditionalist movement who happens to say very strange things about the Holocaust, is that a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater and start to condemn Pope Benedict? Absolutely not."

During a visit to Rome at the end of January, Rabbi Levin told that he believes the media furore over the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X is a red herring. He called "ridiculous" the accusations that in doing so Pope Benedict VXI or the Catholic Church are anti-Semitic and described as "very strong" the statements distancing the Holy See and the Pope from Williamson's comments.

Rabbi Levin was in Rome holding meetings with high level Vatican officials to propose what he called a "new stream of thinking" for the Church's inter-religious dialogue, one based on commonly held moral teachings, particularly on the right to life and the sanctity of natural marriage.

"The most important issue," he said, is the work the Church is doing "to save babies from abortion, and save children's minds, and young people's minds, helping them to know right and wrong on the life and family issues."

"That's where ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue has to go."

Although numbers are difficult to determine, it is estimated that the Society of St. Pius X has over a million followers worldwide. The traditionalist movement in the Catholic Church is noted for doctrinal orthodoxy and enthusiasm not only for old-fashioned devotional practices, but for the Church's moral teachings and opposition to post-modern secularist sexual mores. Liberals in the Church, particularly in Europe, have bitterly opposed all overtures to the SSPX and other traditionalists, particularly the Pope's recent permission to revive the traditional Latin Mass.

The Vatican announced in early January that, as part of ongoing efforts to reconcile the breakaway group, the 1988 decree of excommunication against the Society had been rescinded. Later that month, a Swedish television station aired an interview, recorded in November 2008, in which Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four leaders of the Society, said that he did not believe that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps during World War II.

At that time, the media erupted with protests and accusations that the Catholic Church, and especially Pope Benedict XVI, are anti-Semitic.

Rabbi Levin particularly defended Pope Benedict, saying he is the genius behind the moves of the late Pope John Paul II to reconcile the Church with the Jewish community.

"Anyone who understands and follows Vatican history knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II, was Cardinal Ratzinger.

"And therefore, a lot of the things that Pope John Paul did vis-à-vis the Holocaust, he [Benedict] might have done himself, whether it was visiting Auschwitz or visiting and speaking in the synagogues or asking forgiveness. A lot of this had direct input from Cardinal Ratzinger. Whoever doesn't understand this doesn't realise that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti-Nazism and sympathy for the Jews."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Pro-life Message

I have no idea what this girl is saying, but I watched half of it and she looks pretty animated while saying it.

Backsliding in Mainland China

We haven't hit on ChiComs lately, but Sandro Magister quotes at length a piece by the founder of Asia News.

The main points:
The bishop of Beijing, who was approved by the Vatican, has been giving speeches that appear to place him under the thumb of the Communists. As summarized by Magister:

In fact, the new bishop, Joseph Li Shan (in the photo) whom cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone had hailed as "a very good and suitable person," is increasingly stringing together actions submissive toward the regime. To such an extent that many among the faithful already consider him a "traitor."

The quoted article by Father Bernardo Cervellera points out that a second letter sent by Cardinal Bertone to the Chinese bishops was seen as weak and that many younger bishops of the official church have no role models and do not remember a time without Communist control. Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong has spoken out to sound the alarm on this backsliding.

The cardinal continues: "So, martyrdom has become a stupid thing? That’s absurd; a short-sighted view! Reaching compromises might make sense as a short-term strategy but it cannot last forever. Being secretly united with the Holy Father and at the same time affiliated with a Church that declares itself autonomous from Rome is a contradiction."

Finally, Cardinal Zen ends with a fraternal appeal: "Dear brother bishops and priests, look at the example of Saint Stephen and all the martyrs of our history! Remember that suffering for the sake of the faith is the basis of victory even if right now it might appear as defeat."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Eluana Englaro

Italy faces constitutional crisis over coma woman
Michael Day in Rome
The Observer, Sunday 8 February 2009

The Italian government has been plunged into a constitutional crisis over the fate of a 38-year-old woman who has been in a coma for the past 17 years. Eluana Englaro was left in a vegetative state after a car crash in 1992. After a decade-long court battle, doctors reduced her nutrition on Friday in preparation for removing her feeding tubes, which her father claims would be in accordance with her wishes.

But in an extraordinary turn of events, the country's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, after consultation with the Vatican [which the Vatican denies], has issued an emergency decree stating that food and water cannot be suspended for any patient depending upon them, reversing the earlier court ruling. On issuing the emergency decree, Berlusconi declared: "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate."

Justifying his campaign to save Englaro's life, the prime minister added that, physically at least, she was "in the condition to have babies", a remark described by La Stampa newspaper as "shocking". Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's president, has refused to sign the decree, but if it is ratified by the Italian parliament doctors may be obliged to resume the feeding of Eluana early this week.

But, in a moving interview with the Observer, Eluana's father Beppino said last week that the doctors were carrying out his daughter's wishes by allowing her to die. "If she couldn't be what she was (before the accident in 1992) then she would not have wanted to live". [Hearsay, though I suppose if there's been a court battle, this has been weighed by competent authorities.]

The case has deeply divided Italian society and raised concerns over the influence of the Vatican. Yesterday Pope Benedict indirectly referred to Englaro in a message delivered to mark the World Day of the Sick, stating that society had a duty to defend "the absolute and supreme dignity of every human being" even when "weak and shrouded in the mystery of suffering". But even some of Berlusconi's political allies, including the president of the lower house of parliament, Gianfranco Fini, have stated that the supreme court ruling should be obeyed and Englaro should be allowed to die.

Opposition leader Walter Veltroni, of the centre-left Democratic party, said the government should leave the Englaro family in peace and warned that Berlusconi's intervention "could cause a very dangerous constitutional crisis". Last night demonstrations in support of Eluana's right to die and the supreme court ruling were taking place across Italy.

[Details of the woman's planned death are elaborated upon here.] The process means the Englaro family and their doctors are now in a race against time as they try to end Eluana's life before the Berlusconi government and its backers in the Vatican halt the process.

Beppino, 67, was last night in the family home in Lecco, 30 miles north of Milan, caring for his wife and Eluana's mother, Saturna, who is gravely ill with cancer. After a long, agonising fight to allow his daughter to die, he described the government's last-ditch attempts as "a grotesque attack on my family".

Prior to issuing the decree, Berlusconi was involved in frantic telephone exchanges with the Vatican head of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone [See above about this alleged conversation and note the complete misunderstanding of Bertone's role as secretary of state], who implored the prime minister to prevent Eluana's death. The cardinal reportedly told Berlusconi: "We have to stop this crime against humanity."

Doctors have confirmed that, after 17 years and with such catastrophic brain damage, Eluana will never regain consciousness or awareness. The anaesthetist caring for her, Professor Antonio de Monte, said: "Eluana died 17 years ago."