Friday, February 27, 2009

Catholics in Alliance' New Falsehood

UPDATE: OSV has corrected its story. See update.

Last week, The Catholic Key Blog reported on the relationship between Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good chair Elizabeth Frawley Bagley and the Obama campaign. That report showed that Bagley is a major DNC fundraiser, a member of the Obama campaign's national finance team, and was a coordinator of Catholic outreach for the campaign. This despite CACG's continued insistence that it is a non-partisan Catholic social justice group.

Our Sunday Visitor mentions our report in its March 8 issue (subscription only) and gets this response from CACG's executive director Alexia Kelley:
Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, says that it was no secret that Bagley was a big Democratic fundraiser before the election in November, noting, "it was already out there in many stories that she was this Democratic fundraiser." She said that Catholics in Alliance also has Republicans on its board, including former Vatican Ambassador Thomas Melady (1989-1993 under President George H.W. Bush).

But her statement is not true. There are 11 voting members of CACG's board and Ambassador Melady is not one of them, according to their website. He is listed as one of 40 people on an advisory council to the group.

Six of the 11 voting members of CACG's board were donors to the Obama campaign. Four have no record of federal campaign contributions and one gave a small donation to a Democratic candidate in the past. None are identifiable with the Republican party or Republican candidates as Ms. Kelley told OSV.

Along with Bagley, board members who donated to the Obama campaign are Melba Novoa, Alfred Rotondaro, Stephen Schneck, Mark Tuohey and major donor to the DNC and pro-abortion candidates Agnes Williams.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Senator McCaskill on FOCA

Got this email today from my (Catholic) Senator. I suppose it is a response to the FOCA postcard I signed. I may have some additional commentary tomorrow, but for now 3 points:

1. She spends a fair amount of space defending the bill before noting it hasn't yet been introduced. That doesn't bode well for its hoped-for non-introduction.

2. Her approach to abortion reduction is S. 21 which is nothing but a sop for Planned Parenthood and its allies.

3. She makes no mention of the S. 270 (Bob Casey - D. PA) which is a bill to provide direct assistance to pregnant women and is the main vehicle supported by groups pushing for abortion reduction. That appears so far to be a non-starter.

Here it is:

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Freedom of Choice Act. I appreciate having your comments and welcome the opportunity to respond.

Abortion should be safe, legal and rare. Women, especially those victimized by rape and incest, deserve to have the access to emergency contraception and safe abortions if they so choose. There is a great deal of misinformation about this bill. This legislation would protect women's reproductive rights whether they are women serving our country in the military overseas or a recipient of Medicaid. There is nothing in the bill that would require health care professionals to perform abortions nor does the bill mandate federal funding of abortions. This bill merely puts the current constitutional protections into law. It does however, prohibit the federal or state government from denying or interfering with a woman’s right to choose to bear a child.

You should also know that this bill has not even been introduced in this session of Congress.

I agree with you - our priority must be to prevent abortions. However, I believe that we must do this without criminalizing women and their doctors. That is why I am a strong supporter of S. 21, the Prevention First Act. This legislation would help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, and improve access to women’s health care by increasing awareness about contraception and expanding Medicaid family planning services. S.21 was introduced on January 6, 2009 and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions where it awaits further consideration.

Again, I appreciate your taking the time to share your views. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding other matters of interest or concern to you.


All best,
Senator Claire McCaskill

PS: If any readers have received a reply to the FOCA email or postcard campaign, please drop them in the comments or email them to me (address is in the right hand panel). I'd be particularly interested in replies from the original sponsors - Senator Boxer and Representative Nadler.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Faithful Democrats' Chaplain of Death

Faithful Democrats sent out an email today announcing a new look for their website. They also announced Fellowships recognizing "top emerging leaders in America's progressive faith community."

One Fellow, Elizabeth B. DeGear, is described as "a pro-choice Catholic chaplain, wife, and mother of two. With degrees from Brown University (B.A. 1990, magna cum laude and phi beta kappa) and Fordham University (M.A. 2001). . ."

Her article, "We know Christ transcends death, but can Christ transcend choice?" is the most read feature at the site, excerpt:

. . .To those who say, "Some choices are so obvious God doesn't need us to make them on an individual basis, we know how God wants everyone to act." I say, "Then why do we have the story of Abraham and Isaac?" Why is Abraham, the one who was willing to terminate his child's life, the spiritual father of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths? . . .

Each time, my commitment to bear my children (and my husband's commitment to parent them) was a process that unfolded. Knowing I had the choice to say ‘yes' or ‘no', I had to dig deep. What unfolded was a glorious "hineni". Here I am Lord! I absolutely believe that my response - born of struggle and doubt and discernment -- came from so deep that its truth infused my womb. Thus my children's first home was a place that said, "Yes to you!!" and taught them by example the wondrous fruits that come from saying, "Here I am Lord".

So can you see what could be lost if we legislate such discernment out of existence? Without the possibility of safely, legally terminating pregnancies we help to create womb-environments that say "Well you're here so I guess that's the way it's going to be, like it or not."

I really have no comment except - "Fordham?"

Novena for Protection of Marriage Urged

Oral arguments in three lawsuits attempting to overturn California's Proposition 8 will be heard by the State Supreme Court on March 5.

San Francisco-based Catholics for the Common Good (not to be confused with a similarly named D.C. group) is asking Christians across the country to pray for the judges and attorneys in this case. They are specifically seeking the intercession of St. Joseph, Ss. Joachim and Anna, St. Thomas More, Blessed Junipero Serra and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

CCG was the lead Catholic lay group supporting the passage of Proposition 8. They're hoping you'll join in a Novena and fasting for the preservation of the will of the people and the definition of marriage in California. The Novena begins today. Below are suggested prayers. More ideas can be found in this printable pdf.

A Morning Offering

Heavenly Father, I offer You my prayers, works, joys,
and sufferings today, and unite them with those of the
whole mystical Body of Christ. Imploring the intercession
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I beg You to protect marriage
as authored by You at the very time of creation.

Open the minds and hearts of the California Supreme
Court Justices to accept Your Divine Plan for marriage.
Inspire the Justices to consider the delight You take in
families.

Guide them with wisdom and understanding of the
rights of children to know and be cared for by their father
and mother.

Fill them with right judgment and courage to decide
legal challenges to marriage on their merits, and to
uphold the sovereign power of the voters.

Send Your Holy Spirit, we beg You, upon the attorneys
to guide them in their presentations and to make their
arguments compelling.

We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

St. Joseph, earthly father of Jesus and protector of the
family, pray for marriage.

Ss. Joachim and Anna, grandparents of Jesus, parents
of His mother Mary, pray for marriage.

Prayer at Other Times of the Day

Dear Father in Heaven, You are Lord, not only of
individuals, but of nations and governments. I thank
You for Your law, which our Founding Fathers
acknowledged and recognized as higher than any
human law.

Jesus, in performing Your first public miracle during the
wedding feast of Cana, You confirmed the goodness of
marriage. Continue to bless marriage in our day by
guiding the Justices of the California Supreme Court to
uphold Proposition 8 against its attackers.

Holy Spirit, please strengthen me and all supporters of
Proposition 8 so that we never despair, not even in the
face of ferocious opposition.

Grant us strength, fortitude, and energy to persevere in
the work for life, marriage, and family. Amen.

St. Thomas More, father of a family and patron of
lawyers, you defended your nation’s law with your
life. Please intercede for us in this legal challenge to
marriage.

Blessed Junipero Serra, missionary to California –
pray for marriage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

9 Types of Facebook Friends

Explored in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. They include:

The Facebook Superfan who "clogs your newsfeed with multiple daily updates about his bandwagon jumping: John Doe became a fan of Lil' Wayne! ... John Doe became a fan of Watchmen! ... John Doe became a fan of Captain C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger!"

and

The Friend addict who "Even though this Facebooker only knows 47 people, he/she managed to accumulate 786 friends - mostly by going through other people's profiles and friending perfect strangers."

The article didn't catch my type - The Shameless Self-Promoter - Fills your news feed with links to every insignificant blog post and article he writes in the quest for more hits.

A lot of this is funny, but the article's central insight is the author's comparison of social networking to 11th grade, "There are fewer people wearing Depeche Mode T-shirts and more people sharing random things about themselves, and my locker combination has been replaced with a password. But the sting of rejection, the sanctimony of the popular kids, dressing up for picture day and even the random chatter in the hallways is pretty much exactly the same."

There is another type not mentioned which is becoming more common - The Reluctant Facebooker - People who are perfectly adept at normal forms of communication who because of societal pressure think they have to get a facebook account. These people are generally my parents age and their feeling is typified by an email I got yesterday from an "actual" friend in California:

Hey Jack: I wanted to sign up as your friend (out of pity, of course) with Facebook. I went through all the craziness and somehow, I think, I got on something called a wall. . .
When you get time - will you explain Facebook to me so I don't feel so stupid.

After reading the Chronicle article, I feel like telling her that figuring out Facebook is just a portal to new avenues of feeling and being stupid.

Monday, February 23, 2009

China Relieved US Values Lending Over Lives

From AsiaNews.it, an Italian news agency focused on China, excerpt:

China and U.S. breathe sigh of relief: economy more important than human rights

by Wang Zhicheng

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China's official media have defined the visit of Hillary Clinton as "a relief," because the new U.S. secretary of state has set aside the question of human rights, and talked instead about the economies of the two countries.

China Daily commented that "if the point of Hillary Rodham Clinton's maiden voyage overseas in her new role as United States secretary of state was to assure and reassure, she made it."

At a press conference in the capital, Clinton clearly explained that human rights in China must not be a distraction from the more vital questions of trade and the environment, and expressed hopes for closer collaboration between the two powers in confronting the economic crisis.

. . .More.

The Net's Funniest Guy Not Joking


Iowahawk is probably the funniest political humor site on the internet. You go there for a great big laugh in the middle of a lousy day. Not today. Regarding the pic here he writes:

This is Bakouma Kpatekatola, a young man from the West African nation of Togo. In 2003, when Bakouma was 9 years old, my family became his sponsor through the Childreach-Plan USA organization. In the years since we became occasional pen pals; a few times a year we'd get a letter from him, in his native French, along with an English translation from his caseworker. Sometimes he spoke of coming to America. At Christmas the letters would contain a photo, which we ritually magnetted up on the fridge to chronicle his growth. We reciprocated with our family pictures. I sometimes wondered if he wondered about us like we wondered about him. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I didn't really notice when we didn't receive his annual Christmas letter last year. Yesterday we received a letter from his caseworker explaining why: Bakouma died in December of malaria. He was 14 years old.

Go there to find out the terrible and avoidable reason why and learn what you can do about it.

I might also put in a plug for Kansas City's own Christian Foundation for Children and Aging which also does great work assisting children in other countries through sponsorships.

Our New Banner

KeyBanner Thanks to everybody who's given feedback on the new color scheme. There may still be some changes, but one thing here to stay is our new banner.

A couple days after noting that we'd have to change the banner, a new one appeared in my email box courtesy of the good folks at Old St. Patrick's Oratory. The Oratory is Kansas City's Latin Mass community administered by priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. And they got some latin in there - Quaerite Primum Regnum Dei - which is Bishop Finn's Episcopal Motto and translates "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God."

The Oratory has an excellent blog giving updates on goings on there, Catholic news from Kansas City and beyond, and lots of reporting on our Holy Father and international Catholic issues. Pay them a visit. I've bookmarked them and you can always find them on our blogroll.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama Campaign Manipulated Catholics

Turns out Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was an organ of the Obama Presidential Campaign - all the while claiming to be a nonpartisan group promoting "awareness of the Catholic Social Tradition".

Elizabeth Frawley Bagley is the board chair of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. As reported here earlier, Bagley is anything but nonpartisan. In fact, she has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the DNC and scores of pro-abortion Democrat politicians including Al Franken, Barbara Boxer, Claire McCaskill, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She personally raised at least $350,000 for the Obama campaign and was a member of his national finance team according to an interview in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror.

The former Ambassador to Portugal and Clinton State Department official is wife of RJ Reynolds tobacco heir and former DNC Finance Chair, Smith Bagley.

This and other undeniable ties between Catholics In Alliance (and its bad cop twin Catholics United) with the DNC and pro-abortion politicians was known and reported here and elsewhere during the campaign. Both groups vigorously denied their obvious partisanship throughout the campaign. They even wrote to my bishop and posted a protest on the Catholics United webpage saying I had smeared them (without any significant challenge to my substantive claims).

Their calculated message downplaying the importance of the abortion issue was spread to Catholics throughout the country through syndicated articles in diocesan newspapers from Catholic News Service. CNS always identified the groups as nonpartisan and continues to do so after the campaign.

However, one day after the election, on November 5, Bagley sat for an interview on the internet broadcast Paltalk News. Host Gary Baumgarten introduced Bagley as the person "who was responsible for getting out the Catholic vote for Obama," - a claim she did not deny. In his synopsis of the show, Baumgarten also describes Bagley as "an official of the Barack Obama campaign."

A link to the full interview is broken, but a portion is still on YouTube below. The interview starts at the two minute mark.



Bagley's status with the Obama campaign is also confirmed by the above referenced article in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror published before the election. According to the report, she had originally been doing Catholic Outreach for the Clinton campaign, but after the primary:
It never crossed her mind to do anything but support Obama’s candidacy with every resource she had. After taking a break for a few days on the island, she’s headed to the Democratic National Convention, which convenes Monday in Denver.

She’s part of the national finance team for the Obama campaign, having personally raised about $350,000 for the candidate, much of it at a dinner in Washington with Caroline Kennedy earlier this month. She also plans on holding a dinner for his vice-presidential choice, whomever that may be.

A staunch Irish Catholic, she’s doing Catholic outreach work for Obama, just as she did for Clinton, trying to make inroads with a demographic the presumptive nominee had largely conceded to his opponent, she said.

I jump back on this topic, because Catholics in Alliance/Catholics United remains in the news spinning their deceit - as reported today by American Papist.

It should be clear now to Catholic and secular news editors that the groups are not nonpartisan and they should be labelled for what they are.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are Women The Deadliest Sinners?

It's a good thing Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych is a priest. Otherwise he'd be in the dog house.

As reported by Catholic News Service, the theologian of the Papal Household has penned an article in L'Osservatore Romano arguing that men and women are tempted by sin differently:

"Often the most difficult (sin) men face is lust, and then comes gluttony, sloth, wrath, pride, envy, and greed," wrote Father Giertych.

"For women, the most dangerous is pride, followed by envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and lastly, sloth," he said.


As for lust being the most difficult for men and sloth the least difficult for women, I think he's on the mark for a wide swath of humanity. In fact, men's lust and women's lack of sloth makes for much tension between the sexes.

As for the rest of it, I'm not so sure. I suspect it may have more to do with which sins are more often confessed or talked about by the respective sexes than anything else - which itself implies a difference. Does greed really come dead last for men? Or do men more often not recognize their greed?

But women certainly get the bad rap here. If I remember my vices right, lust was one of the least of the still deadly sins and pride the worst. I suspect there is some nuance in Fr. Giertych's article that hasn't been conveyed by the few sentences so far translated into English.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pelosi and Archbishop Niederauer Did Meet

On February 8 according to a report by Michael Voris at RealCatholicTV. There's no link, because it's a video report behind a registration page. I watched it so you don't have to. Here is the relevant information:

1. They met in San Francisco at the home of a third party on February 8.
2. Voris confirmed this with Pelosi's office and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
3. A Pelosi spokesman said the meeting was "good".
4. Pelosi won't be changing her mind on abortion.

So what to make of the OSV report linked here yesterday quoting both the archdiocese and Pelosi's office saying they have not met? Why when the Speaker had 166 days to meet with Archbishop Niederauer did she do so on Feb. 8? Why did spokesmen for both offices not know about the meeting as late as Feb. 13? Why was the existence of the meeting kept secret until Pelosi had her hoped-for photo-op (sans photo it turns out) with the Pope?

Gibbons Cooney has some interesting speculation on all these questions over at A Shepherd's Voice. Take a read.

For the record, I want to confirm Gibbons' assertion that OSV reporter Valerie Schmalz' "integrity is beyond question". She is also a friend of mine and we actually discussed the story before it was posted at OSV. She printed what she was told by the most relevant and authoritative sources.

Secondly, I would take issue with Gibbons' speculation that "either the spokesperson for the Archdiocese did not tell the truth, or he did not know what the truth was." I am certain that on Feb. 13 when archdiocesan spokesman Maury Healy responded to Schmalz that he reported what he knew. I also know Healy (he's a friend and former boss) and he is also a person of complete integrity.

Lastly, I'd say Gibbons' bottom line is probably correct: The secrecy and disinformation around this meeting only serves one person - Nancy Pelosi.

I recommend his post.

And just for fun, here's "The Blog Headline of the Day." Again by Strange Herring. He's on the blogroll now, so head over there often.

Nancy Pelosi to Meet with Pope, Will Warn Him that 500 Million Cardinals Will Lose Their Jobs if Abortion Is Not Kept Legal and Safe

UPDATE: Valerie Schmalz also updates the story at OSV.


Pelosi Roundup - No Photo Says Vatican

AP reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not get her photo-op with Pope Benedict today:
Pelosi could not immediately be reached for comment after the 15-minute meeting, which was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room off a Vatican auditorium after the pope's weekly public audience.

The Vatican said it was not issuing a photo of the meeting — as it usually does when the pope meets world leaders — saying the encounter was private. The statement said the pope "briefly greeted" Pelosi and did not mention any other subject they may have discussed.

The only subject discussed was reported in the Vatican's Daily Bulletin:
Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

There is some controversy about the subject of our last post. According to OSV Daily Take, Pelosi had not made her promised visit to San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer as of Feb. 13. Pewsitter is reporting however that they met on Feb. 8. Gibbons Cooney at A Shepherd's Voice has the background.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Archbishop Niederauer Stood Up by Mrs. Pelosi

UPDATE: They did meet. See details.

165 days after telling San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer she'd:

“meet at your earliest convenience” to discuss the archbishop’s statement that Pelosi's remarks on “Meet the Press” were “in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church” on abortion, the beginning of human life and the formation of conscience,

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to find the time. In fact:

“While she initially accepted the archbishop's invitation to a pastoral meeting, she has not been able to arrange such a meeting on her schedule, despite our putting forward several available dates,” said Maurice Healy, spokesman for the archbishop, in a Feb. 13 e-mail.

Now her spokesman says, "that she did not know when or if Pelosi would meet with the archbishop."

Valerie Schmalz has the full story at OSV Daily Take.

pic - Pelosi with buddy, booster, and USF President, Jesuit Father Stephen Privett from a 2007 commencement at USF where Pelosi was keynote. Here's how Privett responded to an outraged alum in USF Magazine:

I am, by nature, an inclusive person who seeks to extend a conversation rather than cut it off, build bridges rather than walls across differences and engage divergent opinions rather than condemn them. I realize that my pastoral strategy may not be universally endorsed, but it is the product of careful thought, prayerful reflection, and some experience. From my friendship with Ms. Pelosi, I know that she is a serious Catholic, an active member of her parish here in San Francisco, and a regular communicant. Though Speaker Pelosi’s record on abortion and embryonic stem cell research is at odds with official Church teaching, her efforts to end the war in Iraq, as well as her support for HIV-AIDS patients, universal health care, aid to dependent children, increased higher education financial assistance for needy students, just and compassionate immigration laws, tax structures that do not unduly burden persons of low and moderate income, reordering budget priorities to be more responsive to the needs of the poor, higher Congressional ethical standards, environmental preservation, and day care for children of the working poor reflect concerns of Catholic social thought. Fr. Kenneth Weare, a pastor in the San Francisco Archdiocese, made a pointed observation in Catholic San Francisco, noting that Pelosi “is by far much more in line with the greater body of Catholic moral teaching than [President] Bush ever was.”

Kudos to Catholic News Agency


I can't remember seeing a Catholic news source linked on the Drudge Report - doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

But today a Drudge headline "DATE WITH POPE... " links to a story at Catholic News Agency on Madame Speaker Pelosi's scheduled meet-up with the pope.


A hearty congratulations to the Denver based agency. They've been a good friend to this blog - linking items that first appear here - and also to our paper - allowing reprints of their excellent reports gratis.

Testing New Colour Scheme

In response to the requests of many readers, I've done away with the dark background color which for many provided too little contrast.

I'm not stuck on these colors and I know we'll have to rebrand the masthead to match, but I hope it's more readable?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

News Headline of the Day

I Wish I'd Spent Valentine's Day Eating A Prix Fixe Dinner, But I Was Too Busy Getting Beheaded

That's the title of an opinion piece at the ONION by St. Valentine himself, excerpt:
My, my, just looking at all those delicious appetizers and delicately seasoned entrées is enough to make me wish I had never been convicted of marrying Christian couples in the early days of the Roman empire, beaten with clubs, stoned, and fed a pan seared sea bass with stuffed artichoke hearts. Oh, wait. That last part wasn't me! That's just how you've chosen to commemorate my painful, unnecessary death. Please, everyone, have another round on me.

The whole thing is hilarious.

Thanks to Rockhurst alumn Santiago Ramos for sharing the link. BTW, you should be reading Ramos. His latest post at IMAGE Journal explains his aversion to the new Pepsi campaign, particularly the Pepsi "Hope" ad, excerpt:

There is a way in which the concept of hope focuses all the concerns that are usually lumped into the more difficult question of “the search for meaning” and the dicey question of “faith.” Those questions are easily handled in a theoretical way, and their answers tend to be abstract, or to come in the form of theory, which isn’t always useful when somebody needs a reason to get up in the morning.

But hope is a concern that unites the present and the future, and, when dealing with the latter, it unites the future in this life and what future, if any, we have after this life. It is social and personal and, therefore, philosophical and political. And if you want to get up in the morning, the only compelling reason to do so is if you expect that a future happiness awaits you after you plant your feet on the floor, and that future happiness is what you hope for, and it better be an experience and not a theory. (emphases added)

You'll also find him regularly at Traces.

Happy Birthday Mr. President


Reporting on President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, the London Spectator wrote:
"We cannot read it without a renewed conviction that it is the noblest political document known to history, and should have for the nation and the statesmen he left behind him something of a sacred and almost prophetic character."

And it has been cast in stone, if not the hearts of all Americans.

I remember reading it for the first time on a visit to Washington, D.C. If you haven't been there, it's on the interior right hand wall of the Lincoln Memorial as you're facing Mr. Lincoln. Most tourists are over at the left hand wall reading the Gettysburg Address.

I'm not scoffing. That's what I read first, because I'd heard of it. I don't remember the Second Inaugural Address being taught in school. It certainly isn't as famous, and I felt overwhelmed reading it for the first time there with the giant statue of the great man behind me. I had to swallow hard, in a way I rarely do, when I reached this point in the speech:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."


Much later, when I lived in D.C. for a couple of years, I'd take visiting friends and family on tour of all the monuments, but that place is the only one I'd return to for myself.

It is impossible not to see in Mr. Lincoln's reflection on America's original sin, a parallel in the great moral injustice of our day - and that has been well and thoroughly commented upon by others.

Catholic News Service today reports on a pastoral letter by Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington. It is a reflection on Lincoln's life and virtues on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth - today. It is a beautiful reflection, but also a (very clever) prayer, ending:

In our own day we too need statesmen who see widely and clearly. Although the needs of our nation are many, more than anything else we need statesmen who recognize and respect all human beings without exception. I will pray that our new administration in Washington, all members of Congress (in a special way those who represent us from the State of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland), the Justices of the Supreme Court and all citizens in this diocese and beyond, have the breadth of vision to come to see that all human beings from conception until natural death are precious in the eyes of God and deserve the protection of our laws. I will pray that we all act “with malice toward none; with charity for all.”

So, I'll join my prayer to Bishop Malooly's today - and while I'm not sure it's kosher - ask for the intercession of Mr. Lincoln.

(Bishop Malooly's entire pastoral begins on page 3 of this massive pdf. Note to Church personell everywhere - Stop hiding your light under pdfs.)

Lobby Day for Death Penalty Moratorium

All pro-life activists and Missourians against the death penalty - Save the Date and join us in Jefferson City to lobby for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Sam Millsap, the former Texas prosecutor who sent the wrong guy to death and now tours the country opposing the death penalty will be there. The Philadelphia CityPaper has an interview with him here. Please see the official release from the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph following the graphic.
2009_Death_Penalty_Lobby_Day
Coalition Advocates for Death Penalty Moratorium in Missouri
Call for Balance in the Scales of Justice

(Kansas City, MO / Feb. 12, 2009) Building upon a temporary halt in executions in Missouri and nine other states, concerned citizens will travel to the State Capitol on February 18 to urge legislative support for Deeken HB 484 / Day SB321. If passed, the bi-partisan measure would place a moratorium on Missouri’s schedule of executions for 48 inmates, would lead to an examination of capital punishment laws, and would create a statewide commission to gather community input. The commission would address a range of questions including:

- Whether all prosecutors use similar criteria in seeking the death penalty
- Whether defendants receive adequate counsel
- Whether alternatives to the death penalty exist that ensure public safety
- Whether the condemned share particular demographics – race, ethnicity, age, and mental capacity

Accompanied by Sam Millsap, representatives from Moratorium Now!, Missouri Catholic Conference, and the American Civil Liberties Union will advocate for passage of the legislation. Millsap served for five years as Bexar County District Attorney, in Texas. Among defendants Millsap prosecuted was Ruben Cantu, executed in a capital murder case in 1992. Following a 2005 investigation by the Houston Chronicle, considerable doubts arose about Cantu’s guilt. Millsap acknowledges that he erred in seeking the death penalty on the basis of testimony by a single eyewitness. He has assumed personal responsibility for Cantu’s execution. Millsap campaigns against the death penalty throughout the United States.

Coalition partners believe that the state must protect its citizens and discipline those who commit serious crimes. Jude Huntz, Director of Human Rights for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph, pointed to concerns about how best to do this.

“Catholic teaching challenges us to examine why we turn to the death penalty,” said Huntz. “To take a human life – even when that person is guilty – is awesome and tragic. Our position is rooted in the belief that human life is sacred and that every person has a duty to protect life at all stages and in all circumstances.”

“Crime is both a manifestation of the great mystery of evil and human freedom,” said Huntz. “We should not expect simple solutions by fighting violence with violence,” he said. “We have to move beyond vengeance in order to deal with the root causes of crime.”

Missouri resumed the death penalty in 1989. Since that time, the state has put to death 66 inmates and currently ranks fifth in the nation in the rate of executions by population. In September 2008, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a stay of execution to John Middleton to hear oral arguments on the validity of Missouri’s lethal injection procedures. (John C. Middleton v. Department of Corrections, et al. SC89571 pending).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Pope John Paul II composed this prayer for the occasion of his visit to Lourdes on April 15, 2004:

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, We join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Amen.

Dawn Eden today posted this video by Father James Martin, SJ on St. Bernadette. Towards the end Fr. Martin says, "One of the proofes of the story is Bernadette herself . . . and who she was." Watch the video to see why Bernadette's lifelong witness is so compelling:



This is a clip from a longer DVD by Father Martin who is also the author of "My Life With the Saints." If you purchase any books or videos, including Father Martin's, through links at Dawn's blog, all commissions go toward helping pregnant women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum.

Blog Wisdom of the Day

You can demonstrate the fatuity, or at least the inadequacy, of any philosophy by plopping it into the lap of a humanity barely surviving on the razor’s edge of tragedy and evil.

From Strange Herring

There's Always Room for One More


Seems the Reverend Marek Bozek is in trouble again. Not with Archbishop Burke this time, but his own congregation.

Last year, the priest at St. Louis' renegade St. Stanislaus church, under threat of laicization, assured supporters wouldn't join any independent Catholic groups saying they were, "full of wierdos". His strategy was to remain "Roman Catholic and wait for the regime to collapse."

What he didn't tell them is that he'd already joined the ranks of two groups of "wierdos" - Archbishop Milingo's Moonie Catholic Church and something called the Reformed Catholic Church, which true to form, has more bishops than members.

Read the whole fascinating story at Saint Louis Catholic.

Welcome, Fr. Bozek to the club.

Abortion Reduction Study Phonied Up

Turns out the much touted Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good study on abortion reduction used the wrong data. Garbage in, garbage out. Catholic News Agency has the full story.

This one is a whopper. U of Alabama poli-sci Prof. Michael J. New:

criticized the report’s finding that parental involvement laws and other state laws restricting abortion have little impact on overall abortion rates.

“Since parental involvement laws only directly affect minors, Wright should have mentioned that analyzing their effects on the overall abortion rate is not a methodologically sound way to gauge their actual impact,” New wrote.

In other words, the report extrapolated the efficacy of parental consent laws by counting its effect on women who don't need parental consent.

Bottom line, according to New:

“Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good continues to miss opportunities with their abortion research,” New told CNA.

“I think that they would be more effective if they would be more willing to publicly acknowledge the positive impact of pro-life legislation and try to constructively work with pro-life groups to promote social policies that will further reduce abortion rates. Instead Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good seems primarily interested in providing moral, political, and theological cover for supporters of Barack Obama and other Democrats who support ‘abortion rights.’”

There's much more to read in CNA's report.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog Headline of the Day

Feds Gear Up to Off Baby Boomers When They Get Too Old to Change the Beatles CD

Make sure to read the article Mark Shea links to as well as his commentary. Secondhand Smoke also addresses this "sneaky little" provision in the "stimulus" bill today.

This medical rationing idea appears by the report to be straight out of Tom Daschle's book. Well, he's gone, but his ideas remain and an even more strident advocate of the Culture of Death is poised to take the helm of HHS - Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius is distinguished primarily by her efforts to secure Kansas' standing as "the abortion capital of the world" - Jack Cashill's entirely accurate description of the Sunflower State.

Here's Governor Sebelius giving the "you go girl" sign to her bag man, the butcher of Wichita - Dr. George Tiller - who brags on his website that he has "more experience in late abortion services with fetuses over 24 weeks than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, more than 60,000 since 1973."
Here's what Governor Sebelius or Dr. Tiller or you and I looked like at 24 weeks:

More Seminarians Than One Stage Can Hold


From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:

40-year peak in seminary enrollment celebrated at S.O.S. dinner

By Jack Smith
Catholic Key Editor

Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey led nearly 700 voices in a round of “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” at the Downtown Marriot January 30. “We bless and we thank you Lord for countless blessings,” Abbot Polan prayed as he opened the annual S.O.S. - “Support Our Seminarians” dinner and auction in support of men studying for the priesthood from both sides of State Line Road and for Conception Seminary College.

As he has every year, KMBC-TV anchor Larry Moore served as master of ceremonies at the event which was the brainchild of Moore and his wife Ruth. Recalling the humble beginnings of the effort, Moore said in 1994 there was only one seminarian from the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. “Things got even worse the next year,” Moore said, when there were none.

This semester, Conception Seminary College has 110 men enrolled – a 40 year record according to Conception Seminary Rector Father Samuel Russell, OSB. Father Russell shared the great news that 26 men are currently in formation for Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph and 21 are studying for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Not all are studying at Conception, so the great numbers there indicate an increase in vocations from many dioceses.

Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn was celebrating the loss of seminarians that night though. “In June we lost Doug Langner,” Bishop Finn said, “to priestly ordination. And in December we lost Angelo Bartulica to ordination.

“As God is good, we look forward to losing another two seminarians in May,” Bishop Finn said. “And the following year, if all goes according top the plan that we would pray for and hope, we’re going to lose another four seminarians to priesthood.”

Bishop Finn told the crowd, “We have to replace these men . . . This is a dilemma we’ve prayed for and worked for.” Bishop Finn thanked all those who work to support the formation of men to the priesthood and urged the audience to pray and “do everything you can to encourage your sons, your grandsons to listen carefully to the call of Almighty God.”

Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann said as a bishop, he receives a lot of “interesting” mail. But the mail “that brings the most joy” to his heart is from parishioners who take the time to relay “the difference a priest is making in their lives.” A letter that particularly touched him recently was from a woman he remembered from a youth group in his first parish. She wrote, “If there is a debt that we can never repay, it is the priesthood that serves us so faithfully and brings us our greatest gifts in the sacraments.”

Archbishop Naumann thanked God “for young men today that are open to that call to the priesthood,” and thanked all present for supporting them.

Larry Moore also thanked all those who help to make S.O.S. a success, in particular, Mike and Marsha Keenan who served as co-chairs of the event for the second time in a row this year.

Preliminary reports show $68,000 was raised this year from the auction and marketplace and $98,000 from ticket sales.

(pictured above: More seminarians than one stage could hold. One hundred ten seminarians from Conception Seminary College climbed to the stage for a round of applause at the annual Support Our Seminarians dinner Jan. 30. Most are not pictured because of the stage’s small size.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cardinal Rigali to Congress - Keep Prolife Laws


USCCB Pro-Life Chair Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent the following letter to all members of Congress today:

Dear Representative:

On January 13 the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, wrote to all members of Congress about the bishops' overall policy agenda. In this, my first letter to the 111th Congress as Chairman of the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, I want to reaffirm Cardinal George's statement that we will "seek ways to work constructively with the new Administration and Congress and others of good will" to advance justice, peace and the dignity of all human life.

One of Congress's first orders of business will be to approve appropriations bills to keep federal programs funded through September 2009, as the current legislation will expire in early March. I urge you not to use this legislation to weaken or rescind longstanding provisions that protect U.S. taxpayers from being forced to fund and promote the destruction of innocent human life.

In making this plea, I am joined by millions of Catholics and others who, in the weeks to come, will be sending postcards to their elected representatives with this message: "Please oppose FOCA [the "Freedom of Choice Act”] or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion." While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress's appropriations process.

A number of these laws have been in effect for many years, regardless of which party controlled Congress or the White House. For example, the Hyde amendment preventing taxpayer funding of abortion in most federal health programs was first enacted in 1976. Lawmakers who disagree about the legal status of abortion have long agreed that Americans should not be forced by government to support or participate in abortion against their will. Efforts to coerce consciences in this way violate any possible definition of "pro-choice," and undermine our nation's long tradition of respect for conscience and religious freedom.

At a time when more Americans than ever may require life-affirming assistance from the government for their basic needs, efforts to force Americans to subsidize the denial and destruction of life would be especially tragic. Such efforts would radically divide our nation and increase distrust of Congress among millions of Americans, at a time when we need to unite in solidarity to serve the urgent needs of all.

Longstanding pro-life provisions in the current appropriations bills which should be retained without weakening changes include the following.

The Hyde amendment to the Labor/HHS appropriations bill, and parallel provisions in other appropriations bills (regarding military hospitals, the District of Columbia, federal employees' health benefits, foreign assistance, and so on) protect taxpayers from being compelled to subsidize and promote abortion in domestic and international programs. These provisions are known to be effective in reducing abortions, a goal that enjoys broad bipartisan consensus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, research affiliate of Planned Parenthood, the abortion rate for Medicaid-eligible women doubles if government subsidizes Medicaid abortions. It is a matter of grave concern that the pending Senate draft of the Financial Services appropriations bill has omitted the Hyde language from its section on federal employees' health benefits.

Since 1996, the Dickey/Wicker amendment to the Labor/HHS appropriations bill has prevented federal funding for research in which human embryos are created, harmed and destroyed. Even policy makers who support funding for embryonic stem cell research have agreed not to force taxpayers to subsidize the actual destruction of embryonic human life for this or any other research.

The Hyde/Weldon conscience protection amendment since 2004 has prevented federal agencies, and state and local governments receiving federal funds, from discriminating against individual or institutional health care providers who do not participate in abortion. Such respect for freedom of conscience should be a matter of strong agreement between lawmakers who want to protect unborn human life, and those who say this is a matter best left to "freedom of choice." Clearly "choice" is an empty slogan if physicians, nurses and hospitals must "choose" to provide abortions or be forced out of the health care field. Like Congress's decision about requiring taxpayers to fund abortion, the decision whether to maintain current conscience protections could playa major role in determining whether Americans of different backgrounds, viewpoints and religions will be able to work together toward a consensus on much-needed health care reform.

Beginning in 1985, the Kemp-Kasten amendment to the State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill has prevented U.S. funding of organizations that support or help manage programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. This is another issue on which everyone should agree. Coercive abortion was prosecuted as a crime against humanity at the Nuremberg trials, and condemned as violence against women by member nations at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The claim that organizations involved in such atrocities in places like the People's Republic of China nonetheless have good programs in other places is unpersuasive. Many organizations run good programs without violating fundamental human rights.

These and similar laws have been in effect for many years, no matter which party controlled Congress or the White House, because they are modest, common-sense policies that are widely supported even among people who disagree on the legal status of abortion. In a society that often seems tom between the values of "choice" and "life," it is easy to agree that we should honor the consciences of pregnant women and health care professionals who want to choose life. In a society that wants to reduce abortions, it makes no sense for government to force its citizens to fund and promote abortion. As you complete the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2009, I strongly urge you to retain these essential provisions in law.

Sincerely,

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Chairman, Committee for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

John Paul II & The Jewish People


A new exhibit opened Tuesday at Union Station in Kansas City titled "A Blessing To On Another: John Paul II & The Jewish People". The exhibit traces the relationship between Karol Wojtyla and the Jewish People from his earliest days in Poland through his Papacy. It is sponsored by Avila University and is free to the public.

Marty Denzer promo'd the exhibit in an earlier issue of The Catholic Key and will have coverage of opening night in the next. Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn and Rabbi Alan Cohen offered prayers and opening remarks. Rabbi Cohen is director of interreligious affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Bureau / American Jewish Committee.

As part of the opening ceremonies, Rabbi Cohen and Bishop Finn each placed a prayer slip in to a replica of the Western Wall (both pictured). Visitors to the exhibit are invited to place prayers in the replica. All the prayers will be gathered unread, put in a bag and flown for placement in the actual Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Below are opening prayers and statements from Rabbi Cohen and Bishop Finn:

Bishop Robert W. Finn

It is a joy for me to be able to participate in the inauguration of this exhibit on Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People. I am particularly proud of Avila University for their leadership in this project. I know that I speak for Dr. Ron Slepitza, Abbot Gregory Polan, and many others in the Catholic community in saying thank you for the opportunity to express our esteem for the leaders and members of the Jewish community. We hope to learn, from the example of the late Holy Father, a way for our faith-filled living Traditions to grow in friendship and collaboration.

Last week I had occasion to be in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI, the co-worker and successor of Pope John Paul, and one who has frequently expressed his esteem for “our Brothers and Sisters who received the First Covenant,” In his General Audience of January 28, the Pope recalled his 2006 trip to Auschwitz where he had reflected on the tragedy of the “millions of Jews were cruelly massacred: innocent victims,” as the Pope acknowledged, “of blind racial and religious hatred.”

“May the Shoah,” the Pope said last week, “be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism.” … May such violence “never again humiliate man’s dignity.”

I also wish to express my solidarity with Rabbi Alan Cohen and all our Jewish people, and my prayer that this Union Station exhibit – at the center of our Kansas City metropo area - will help many to learn about the goodness we share, and how we may be more and more “A Blessing to One Another.”

Let us pray,

God of our Fathers,
You have chosen Abraham and his descendants
to bring your name to the nations.

The power of life and love that comes from You
changes hearts and turns minds to peace.
We join with the psalmist in proclaiming,
“How good and how pleasant it is when brothers live in unity!”
Tonight we come together as sons and daughters of Abraham in this effort of peace.
Bless all who will view this exhibit.

Give us understanding that puts an end to strife,
mercy that quenches hatred,
and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Bring to fruition the good work begun by Your servant, Pope John Paul II,
and fortify us with Your abundant blessings: life forevermore!

Amen.

Rabbi Alan Cohen

I want to express my gratitude to Avila University and its President, Ron Slepitza, along with Susan Walker and the entire Avila staff that has worked on this exhibit. I also thank my good friend, Abbot Gregory Polan and the entire Conception Abbey community. Thanks also to my colleague, the co-creator of this exhibit, Rabbi Abie Ingber, and his co-creator, our speaker from whom we will hear later this evening, Dr. James Buchanan. I especially want to thank Bishop Finn and all of the representatives of the Diocese. Lastly, I thank the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee which has given me this opportunity upon completing my congregational work to begin in the area of interfaith dialogue and relations.

The opportunity to help open this exhibit with a prayer is a unique one and a special occasion and moment to be marked. I offer this prayer as my response.

There have been many dark and difficult periods throughout human history.
They remind us of the critical need to focus on our blessings, our shared experiences, our opportunities to advance understanding and build bridges which extend from solid foundations that have been laid.

This exhibit is one of those times. In spite of the tensions of the past few weeks; in spite of what sometimes appears to be steps back in time which recall earlier eras with specters of prejudice, ignorance, fear and even persecution. Indeed, this exhibit reminds us of what may have been the darkest of periods--the Shoah/Holocaust--and how we climbed from "may afelah l'orah" (from" darkness to light").

We did so because there have been individuals of faith and commitment--committed to human dignity and to the principle that all humans are created "b'tzelem Eloheem"--in the "image of God".

One such person was Pope John XXIII who began Vatican II and who even earlier during World War II was instrumental in the rescue of Jews.

And we are especially reminded of the Polish youth who through his friends and his community--this Karol Wojtyla who became a priest and ultimately John Paul II. This person who not only advanced the work of Vatican II but who also created a revolution in religious life.

To this we stand committed and dedicated to continue that path. And when our steps may falter or obstacles are encountered, we will continue the forward direction.

In the spirit of the Psalmist and Psalm 133 that Bishop Finn has just quoted:
"Hineh mah tov umah na-im
shevet ahim gam yahad"
"How good it is for sisters and brothers to dwell together"
the sisters and brothers of those covenantal relationships with our common Creator.

This is my prayer, my hope, my pledge--to be guided by that spirit and that goal.

This is a "sheheheyanu" moment--that blessing recited for first and unique occasions:
"Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, sheheheyanu, v'keyimanu, v'hegeyanu, lazman hazeh"
"Praised are, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this great moment"
Amen!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bishop Finn on March for Life / Pilgimage to Rome


Following is Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn's column from the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:


A Pilgrimage to Rome in the Year of St. Paul

During recent travels I had the opportunity to participate in some meaningful events. As I reported in a previous column, I met up with our local Pro-Life witnesses, and a few hundred thousand others in Washington D.C. for the observance of the January 22nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As I had feared, President Obama rescinded the Mexico City policy which until now had prohibited the use of U.S. foreign aid to other countries for abortion services.

Notwithstanding the President following through on his promised abortion agenda, I was encouraged by reports I received from parishes throughout the Diocese participating this past weekend in the U.S. Bishops’ postcard campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and other similar efforts aimed at removing limitations on abortion. I want to thank many of our pastors who preached about these potential threats to life. I pray we Catholic citizens will have a powerful and positive influence on our elected leaders in this necessary advocacy.

From Washington I went to Rome. My trip there came in time for me to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), in this “Year of St. Paul,” marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the apostle and fearless preacher to the Gentiles. I was privileged to be able to participate in Second Vespers at the Basilica of “St. Paul outside the walls” with Pope Benedict XVI. The Sunday celebration of Evening Prayer also came at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and involved representatives of the Orthodox churches and some Christian denominations.

The day was historic in another way. It was exactly fifty years earlier, January 25, 1959, that Pope John XXIII, in the same basilica, announced his intention to convene the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. A half century later, Pope Benedict is completely dedicated, as were his predecessors, to the substantive and authentic implementation of the Council. In so many ways the “ups and downs” of the last generation have begun to reach a serene equilibrium. With the next years we will see a more faithful translation of the Roman Missal. The embrace of our rich heritage in the reintroduction of the extraordinary form helps us to understand better our roots, and recapture the beauty and sanctity of the Holy Sacrifice which the Council affirmed as the “source and summit” of the whole Christian life.

While in Rome I was able to spend some time with three of our seminarians at the North American College. Matthew Bartulica is in his third year of theology. Adam Haake and Adam Johnson are completing the first semester of their first year of theology. They are working hard and preparing, as are our 23 other seminarians, for service to the Church in accord with God’s call. I assured them of our thoughts and prayers and I ask you to pray for all these men, that they will be generous and trusting in the pursuit of their vocation. Pray for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

On Wednesday, January 28, I was able to greet the Holy Father personally at the General Audience. I extended greetings from our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri and promised him our prayers and fidelity. He is a great inspiration to the world, and as Successor to St. Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ, he remains a true source and sign of our unity.

Having renewed my allegiance to Peter, and drawn strength from the example and prayers of Paul, I was glad to return home and take up, with you God’s faithful people, the work of the Gospel in the midst of our community.