Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cardinal Rigali Writes House Opposing DC Abortion Funding - text

Cardinal Rigali has written today to members of the House Appropriations Committee urging them to reverse efforts to effectively kill the Dornan amendment thus returning public funding of abortion in the District of Columbia. As Cardinal Rigali explains, their are broad implications in this move for the health care reform debate, and for the credibility of those claiming to seek "common ground" on reducing abortion:
June 30, 2009

Dear House Appropriations Committee Member:

Last week the subcommittee considering the Financial Services appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010 did something Congress has not done in over a decade: The subcommittee voted to rescind an amendment that prevents direct public funding of abortion in the United States.

The subcommittee's action effectively nullifies the Dornan amendment, which has prevented public funding of elective abortions in the nation's capital since 1989 (with a hiatus from Fiscal Year 1994 to 1996). Instead of continuing to bar use of all congressionally appropriated funds for such abortions, the subcommittee narrowed the ban to cover only "federal" funds so "local" funds may be used for abortions without limit or restraint. Because Congress controls and must appropriate all public funds for the District of Columbia, this distinction is a bookkeeping exercise only: The impact in terms of human lives will be exactly the same as if the amendment were reversed in its entirety. I join the Archdiocese of Washington in protesting against this action (see the Archdiocese's June 26 statement at www.adw.org/news/news.asp).

While some may try to defend this action in terms of "home rule" for the District, in fact some other current bans on the District's use of all public funds (e.g., for personal use of public vehicles or to weaken laws on use of controlled substances) have been left intact in the bill. This is an action to promote publicly funded abortion, presumably the first step in a broader effort to restore such funding throughout the federal government. This misguided campaign neglects three realities.

First, public funding of abortion is rejected by the American people, as numerous surveys of public opinion have shown. The strength of this public opposition was recently demonstrated when Catholics throughout the United States sent tens of millions of postcards to their elected representatives in Congress, opposing the "Freedom of Choice Act" as well as any weakening or reversal of current appropriations riders on abortion.

Second, no lawmaker or Administration can support such a policy change and still claim to support "reducing abortions." The evidence is overwhelming, and universally recognized by groups on all sides of the abortion issue, that the availability of public funds for abortion greatly increases abortions. A study published by the Guttmacher Institute, for example, has found that the abortion rate among women in the Medicaid program more than doubles (from 35 abortions per 1000 women to 89 per 1000) if they live in a state that funds abortions in Medicaid (R. Jones et aI., "Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2000-2001," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 34 (2002), 226-235 at 231).

Third, this action takes place as Congress is working to win broad support for a much-needed major reform of our health care system. A key issue in this debate is whether any open-ended or general language on benefits in such legislation will be exploited to begin funding abortions or mandating abortion coverage. The subcommittee's action signals that this is a serious concern. Such action can only increase distrust of reform efforts at a time when mutual trust and cooperation are more needed than ever. This is the worst of all possible times to be injecting the divisive issue of public abortion funding into the debate on government health policy.

I urge you to reverse the subcommittee's action, and restore the policy against publicly funded abortions in the District of Columbia that has been in effect for over a decade.


Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Chairman USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities

Here, for the record and some background info, is the earlier statement from the D.C. Archdiocese:
Archdiocese opposes federal budget proposals to publicly fund abortions; calls on Congress instead to fund assistance for women and children in need

June 26, 2009

Yesterday, a U.S. House of Representatives’ appropriations subcommittee acted to overturn a longstanding ban on taxpayer funded abortions in the District of Columbia. The provision, which was buried in President Barack Obama’s FY 2010 budget, will be taken up by the House Appropriations Committee after the July 4 recess. As Christa Lopiccolo, director of life issues for the Archdiocese of Washington, noted:

“More than 40 percent of all pregnancies in the District of Columbia already end in abortion. In fact, Washington, DC has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. President Obama is on record as saying he wants to reduce the number of abortions. Removing restrictions on its funding will do nothing to achieve that goal, but will likely increase the number of abortions performed in the District of Columbia.

“Women don’t need more abortions. They need access to services that nurture and support the life of their children. The difficulty and confusion of an unintended pregnancy deserves loving and compassionate care. In addition, it is unconscionable that funds from taxpayers – the majority of whom oppose abortion according to national surveys – would be used to destroy innocent human life.

“It is our hope and prayer that Congressional leaders will reject taxpayer funding of abortion, thereby protecting both the sanctity of life and the consciences of the District’s residents, and instead focus their efforts and their votes on helping women and their children.”

'Magnificent' is Bono's Magnificat

Tim Drake at the NCRegister reports today on a Rolling Stone interview with Bono in which the singer/songwriter says U2's single, 'Magnificent', from this year's album 'No Line on the Horizon' is based on Mary's Magnificat.

Go to the Register to read all about it. I'm posting it here as an excuse to share a great song.

Vote for The Catholic Key - Best New Blog

I thought the Catholic New Media Awards were over and we lost. Not true.

Today is the last day to vote for The Catholic Key Blog as Best New Blog in the 2009 Catholic New Media Awards.

Vote here. You'll have to register and scroll down to find the category.

If everyone who subscribed to my feed here voted, we'd win in a landslide.

How 'bout it? Vote.

Obama's LGBT Pride Month Reception Transcript

Following is the official White House transcript from yesterday's White House reception honoring LGBT Pride Month. I've bolded specific policy proposals and other items of interest:

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Hello, hello, hello. (Applause.) Hey! Good to see you. (Applause.) I'm waiting for FLOTUS here. FLOTUS always politics more than POTUS.

MRS. OBAMA: No, you move too slow. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: It is great to see everybody here today and they're just -- I've got a lot of friends in the room, but there are some people I want to especially acknowledge. First of all, somebody who helped ensure that we are in the White House, Steve Hildebrand. Please give Steve a big round of applause. (Applause.) Where's Steve? He's around here somewhere. (Applause.)

The new chair of the Export-Import Bank, Fred Hochberg. (Applause.) Where's Fred? There's Fred. Good to see you, Fred. Our Director of the Institute of Education Sciences at DOE, John Easton. Where's John? (Applause.) A couple of special friends -- Bishop Gene Robinson. Where's Gene? (Applause.) Hey, Gene. Ambassador Michael Guest is here. (Applause.) Ambassador Jim Hormel is here. (Applause.) Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is here. (Applause.)

All of you are here. (Laughter and applause.) Welcome to your White House. (Applause.) So --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Somebody asked from the Lincoln Bedroom here. (Laughter.) You knew I was from Chicago too. (Laughter.)

It's good to see so many friends and familiar faces, and I deeply appreciate the support I've received from so many of you. Michelle appreciates it and I want you to know that you have our support, as well. (Applause.) And you have my thanks for the work you do every day in pursuit of equality on behalf of the millions of people in this country who work hard and care about their communities -- and who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. (Applause.)

Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.

And yet all of you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make but also by the power of the example that you set in your own lives -- as parents and friends, as PTA members and leaders in the community. And that's important, and I'm glad that so many LGBT families could join us today. (Applause.) For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts. And that real, transformative change never begins in Washington.

(Cell phone "quacks.")

Whose duck is back there? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: It's a duck.

THE PRESIDENT: There's a duck quacking in there somewhere. (Laughter.) Where do you guys get these ring tones, by the way? (Laughter.) I'm just curious. (Laughter.)

Indeed, that's the story of the movement for fairness and equality -- not just for those who are gay, but for all those in our history who've been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; who've been told that the full blessings and opportunities of this country were closed to them. It's the story of progress sought by those who started off with little influence or power; by men and women who brought about change through quiet, personal acts of compassion and courage and sometimes defiance wherever and whenever they could.

That's the story of a civil rights pioneer who's here today, Frank Kameny, who was fired -- (applause.) Frank was fired from his job as an astronomer for the federal government simply because he was gay. And in 1965, he led a protest outside the White House, which was at the time both an act of conscience but also an act of extraordinary courage. And so we are proud of you, Frank, and we are grateful to you for your leadership. (Applause.)

It's the story of the Stonewall protests, which took place 40 years ago this week, when a group of citizens -- with few options, and fewer supporters -- decided they'd had enough and refused to accept a policy of wanton discrimination. And two men who were at those protests are here today. Imagine the journey that they've travelled.

It's the story of an epidemic that decimated a community -- and the gay men and women who came to support one another and save one another; and who continue to fight this scourge; and who demonstrated before the world that different kinds of families can show the same compassion and support in a time of need -- that we all share the capacity to love.

So this story, this struggle, continues today -- for even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot -- and will not -- put aside issues of basic equality. (Applause.) We seek an America in which no one feels the pain of discrimination based on who you are or who you love.

And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.

But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps. And by the time you receive -- (applause.) We've been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration. (Applause.)

Now, while there is much more work to do, we can point to important changes we've already put in place since coming into office. I've signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows. And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don't exist. And I'd like to note that one of the key voices in helping us develop this policy is John Berry, our director of the Office of Personnel Management, who is here today. And I want to thank John Berry. (Applause.)

I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination -- (applause) -- to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear.

I'm also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children. (Applause.) My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we're making progress on both fronts. (Applause.) Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today. I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May -- (applause) -- and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew. (Applause.)

In addition, my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. (Applause.) The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy. And we all know that HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health threat in many communities, including right here in the District of Columbia. And that's why this past Saturday, on National HIV Testing Day, I was proud once again to encourage all Americans to know their status and get tested the way Michelle and I know our status and got tested. (Applause.)

And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell." As I said before -- I'll say it again -- I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security. (Applause.) In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. (Applause.)

Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we'll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.

I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.

Now, even as we take these steps, we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open. For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters -- not yet.

That's why I've spoken about these issues not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences -- in front of African American church members, in front of other audiences that have traditionally resisted these changes. And that's what I'll continue to do so. That's how we'll shift attitudes.
That's how we'll honor the legacy of leaders like Frank and many others who have refused to accept anything less than full and equal citizenship.

Now, 40 years ago, in the heart of New York City at a place called the Stonewall Inn, a group of citizens, including a few who are here today, as I said, defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement.

It was the middle of the night. The police stormed the bar, which was known for being one of the few spots where it was safe to be gay in New York. Now, raids like this were entirely ordinary. Because it was considered obscene and illegal to be gay, no establishments for gays and lesbians could get licenses to operate. The nature of these businesses, combined with the vulnerability of the gay community itself, meant places like Stonewall, and the patrons inside, were often the victims of corruption and blackmail.

Now, ordinarily, the raid would come and the customers would disperse. But on this night, something was different. There are many accounts of what happened, and much has been lost to history, but what we do know is this: People didn't leave. They stood their ground. And over the course of several nights they declared that they had seen enough injustice in their time. This was an outpouring against not just what they experienced that night, but what they had experienced their whole lives. And as with so many movements, it was also something more: It was at this defining moment that these folks who had been marginalized rose up to challenge not just how the world saw them, but also how they saw themselves.

As we've seen so many times in history, once that spirit takes hold there is little that can stand in its way. (Applause.) And the riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day. It continues when a partner fights for her right to sit at the hospital bedside of a woman she loves. It continues when a teenager is called a name for being different and says, "So what if I am?" It continues in your work and in your activism, in your fight to freely live your lives to the fullest.

In one year after the protests, a few hundred gays and lesbians and their supporters gathered at the Stonewall Inn to lead a historic march for equality. But when they reached Central Park, the few hundred that began the march had swelled to 5,000. Something had changed, and it would never change back.

The truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you -- or, for that matter, I -- (laughter) -- would be standing here today. (Applause.) So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress -- step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And I want you to know that in this task I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a President who fights with you and for you.

Thanks very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) Thank you. It's a little stuffed in here. We're going to open -- we opened up that door. We're going to walk this way, and then we're going to come around and we'll see some of you over there, all right? (Laughter.) But out there. (Laughter.)

But thank you very much, all, for being here. Enjoy the White House. Thank you. (Applause.)

A Hermitess in Manhattan?

Yes, but not that Manhattan.

Last week, Kathryn Bloomquist of the more hermit-friendly Manhattan, Kansas professed vows before Salina Bishop Paul Coakley and was consecrated a hermitess. The Register newspaper of the Diocese of Salina, Kansas has the story, excerpts:
Now, as Sister Kathryn Ann of the Holy Angels, she will spend her days mostly in solitude, “lived to the praise of God and the salvation of the world,” she explains.

It is a path she has walked for much of her life.

She moved to Kansas from Washington, D.C., with her husband, Len, in 1989 when he joined the faculty at Kansas State University. Eventually he became chairman of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work.

Even then, Sister Kathryn said, she chose a life of prayer and silence.

“He worked in the world, but he so believed in my calling. He protected me,” she said of her husband.

“This life came about as we built this chapel. I was practically already a hermit. It just fit. It happened,” she said.

Together, they constructed the native stone chapel, hidden even from their residence tucked away in the wooded hills near Manhattan.

She adopted the practice of a Benedictine oblate, focusing on the Rule of St. Benedict written 1,500 years ago. She prayed the Litany of the Hours and learned the Gregorian chants in Latin.

And then Len became ill. A rare cancer took his life just four months after they finished the exterior of the chapel.

She soon knew she wanted a more formal expression of her calling and began researching eremitic life. . .

. . .She contacted Bishop Coakley, who had just come to the Diocese of Salina, to ask that her vocation be formalized.

“I have been working with Sister Kathryn since shortly after my arrival in the Diocese of Salina,” Bishop Coakley said. “For over four years, I have been privileged to guide and encourage Sister Kathryn in discerning her response to this very special vocation in the Church.”

The Code of Canon Law recognizes a hermit “as one dedicated to God in a consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.”

In addition to guidance from the bishop, Sister Kathryn drafted her plan of life, which spells out how she will live her vocation.

“It is one of assiduous prayer, silence, solitude and penance. It’s an ascetic endeavor,” she said. “I try to live in the utmost simplicity — the idea of poverty of heart, pureness of life. It means a simplicity of living, to gaze toward God so pure that he can commune with the soul. Nothing is loved like God is loved.

“I’m here alone, but everyone is with me because of my prayers. No one prays alone,” she added. . .

. . .She supplements her income by making and selling rosaries via the Internet.

“A hermit with a Web site and e-mail. That’s very strange,” she said, laughing. But, adhering to that tenet of simplicity, she has dial-up Internet service, not broadband.

And here's Bishop Coakley on the new vocation in his diocese:
“A hermit’s hidden life is a silent witness to the invisible presence and power of God’s grace at work in our midst. Our society highly values human activity and measures success by the results of our efforts. This vocation reminds us of the primacy of grace and the importance of silence in our busy lives,” he said.

“Sister Kathryn’s consecrated life is a gift for the whole Church and to our diocese in particular. I am grateful for her generous response to God’s invitation to seek him in solitude and silence while devoting herself to prayer and the chanting of God’s praises,” the bishop added.

See the whole thing. Hat tip to a friend who was driving through far out Kansas and picked up the diocesan paper at St. Fidelis Church in Victoria, Kansas. St. Fidelis rises majestically from apparently nowhere. It was nicknamed The Cathedral of the Plains by William Jennings Bryan who visited there in 1912 and is numbered one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas.

Check out Kansas Catholic, who among other excellent things, frequently posts picture essays of the many marvelous churches dotting rural Kansas.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bishop Finn's Homily for St. Josemaria Escriva Feast Day

June 26 is the anniversary of the death of St. Josemaria Escriva in 1975 in Rome. It is also the Feast Day of the founder of Opus Dei who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn celebrated a Mass on St. Josemaria's Feast Day at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Kansas City. Following is Bishop Finn's homily:
Homily for Mass of St. Josemaria Escriva
June 26, 2009 – Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends,

We are quickly approaching the conclusion of the year of Saint Paul. It has been a time of spiritual reflection on the power of the proclaimed Word of God, the apostolic and missionary work of the Church, and the necessity of personal conversion after the example of this great apostle Paul.

Now Pope Benedict has called us observe with intense prayer the Year of the Priest. He has begun this observance by welcoming the reliquary of Saint Jean Marie Vianney to the Vatican Basilica. How fitting that the Church begins this Year by honoring the Patron of all parish priests: the Cure of Ars, a man who spent hour upon hour in the Confessional, and doing so much good for souls, both in France and throughout Europe; a man who preached the Gospel courageously from the pulpit, changing many lives as a result. People would come back to the Church after many years when they just watched him celebrate Mass and witnessed the love and piety with which he gave himself to this highest priestly act.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, who simply wanted to be a faithful priest all of his life, heroically brought the sacraments to the sick and the dying in the first months of the Spanish Civil War. At great risk to his own life, when priests and nuns were being killed on the streets, and Churches burned, he wore his priestly garb until it was no longer possible for him to do so. He heard confessions and celebrated Mass in the most difficult circumstances – on one occasion giving absolution to a man in an attic even while the Red militia soldiers were hunting for him on the floor below.

He taught all of his sons who became priests, and who were incardinated in the apostolates of Opus Dei, to have a great love for their calling as priests of Jesus Christ. They should give willing and generous service not only to the members of Opus Dei, but to everyone. How grateful we are for the constant fatherly service and example we all enjoy from the priests of the Prelature.

In its declarations announcing the Year of the Priest the Church has urged that it be “a period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society” A priest should not let himself be swayed by a social or temporal view of priesthood, or simply to consider it some kind of career, but must always keep in mind the Good Shepherd whom he is imitating, and who came “not to be served, but to serve.” (cf. Mt 20:28)

Let us pray for priests with special love this year. Let us recall that preparing young men for priesthood is not only the task of priests or bishops, but of all the Catholic faithful. By going to Mass frequently, and begging the Lord of the Harvest, we can obtain more vocations, as has been seen in so many dioceses throughout the country. Pray also, dear friends, for the perseverance of priests and the unity of our presbyterates.

At the same time I would like to reflect a bit on a special insight that Saint Josemaría had: namely, that all the faithful have priestly souls. One does not have to be ordained or consecrated to have a priestly soul. Remember the words of St. Peter in his First Letter: “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9). While there is an essential difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood (and not just a difference in degree) as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium, 10), it is also true that all of the faithful, both men and women, possess a priestly soul.

This priestly soul is given in the sacrament of Baptism, which configures the new Christian to Christ the King, Prophet, and Priest. It is animated by supernatural grace, in such way that the lay faithful have the capacity – when they are in the state of sanctifying grace - to connect the free offering of their lives with that of Christ the High Priest, and offer to God the pleasing sacrifice of their prayer, their work, and their sufferings---in union with Jesus on the altar and on Calvary. When the baptized live with Christ’s life and act out of a motive of love for Christ their actions are ‘meritorious’ – helpful to their salvation and that of others. They are –amazing as it may seem – true participants in the very work of redemption.

And this holy participation is effected without the need to go into the sanctuary or do services at the altar. Indeed, in their daily life the lay faithful are called to a spirit of contemplation and reparation. They are called for nothing less than the transformation of the world in Jesus Christ. They are not only called but given the capacity to offer their work for the redemption of the world, as true co-redeemers with Christ for the salvation of the world. In the words of Saint Josemaría, “I talk about the interior life of ordinary Christians who habitually find themselves in the hubbub of the city, in the light of day, in the street, at work, with their families or simply relaxing; they are centered on Jesus all day long. And what is this except a life of continuous prayer?” (In Christ is Passing By, n.8, second paragraph)

These are all aspects of the priestly soul that the lay faithful should have, Saint Josemaria taught, without losing their lay mentality - since they are ordinary citizens working in the world, and living with their families, with all the responsibilities that this entails. In addition to a life of prayer and sacrifice, they are also called to be the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:14), by bearing witness to the truth revealed by Christ about human life, sexual morality, care for others, honesty, and so many other truths which are crucial to our society today. Oh how we need such engaged faithful dedicated to the holy work of changing the culture from the inside out!

Perhaps one of the greatest manifestations of the call of the faithful to become saints is the call to sanctify their marriages. Saint Josemaria was one of the few persons in the early part of the twentieth century - perhaps the only one before the Council - to remind the faithful and the entire Church that marriage is also a divine vocation. “For a Christian marriage,” he writes, “is not just a social institution, much less a mere remedy for human weakness. It is a real supernatural calling…..Husband and wife are called to sanctify their married life and to sanctify themselves in it. It would be a serious mistake if they were to exclude family life from their spiritual development.” (In Christ is Passing By, n.23). This sanctification takes place both in their mutual faith and prayer, as well as their love and communication with one another, thus helping each other to find God. It also takes place in their mutual responsibility of raising and educating their children to be good human beings, and faithful members of the Church.

As many of you know, we soon we hope to have – in Easter Missouri – the Cedar Lake Shrine and Family Center as a facility that will offer spiritual support to families. Let us pray fervently and work together generously for the fruition of this important apostolic initiative.

As a model for married life and the raising of children, parents have the example of the Holy Family itself---Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. By teaching their children the Faith, and instructing them with good moral training, parents can help their children to avoid the relativism and materialism that is rampant in society today, and actually give them the tools to transform this society for God. In the words of Saint Josemaria in a homily on marriage: “Parents teach their children mainly through their own conduct. What a son or daughter looks for in a father or mother is not simply a certain amount of knowledge or some more or less effective advice, but primarily something more important: a proof of the value and meaning of life…..” (Christ is Passing By, n.28)

Year of the Priest, prayer and action for vocations, the priestly soul of the lay faithful, the sanctification of the home: All these are related in the great gift of the Eucharist where Christ draws us, married and single, priests and laymen into his Sacred Heart? And are they not all related in some way to Our Lady, Mother in the home of Nazareth, who draws us all into her Immaculate Heart? We can be sure that both of those hearts are united always in praying for priests and all Christian homes. Let us join our hearts also, in prayer and work, with love, to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

St. Josemaria, pray for us!

Following is a prayer for the intercession of St. Josemaria from the U.S. website of Opus Dei:
O God, through the mediation of Mary our Mother, you granted your priest St. Josemaría countless graces, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. Grant that I too may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving You and serving the Church, the Pope and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the pathways of this earth with faith and love. Deign to grant me, through the intercession of St. Josemaría, the favor of ... (make your request). Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ark of the Covenant Story was Bad Translating, Hype

World Net Daily reported late Wednesday that Patriarch Pauolos of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church would reveal to the world the true Ark of the Covenant today, Friday, June 26. Pauolos is reported to have said in Rome, excerpt:
Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."

The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta.

It is currently about 7:00 p.m. in Rome and no ark.

I've been trying to track down whether and to what extent this is a hoax. The World Net Daily article is based on a report from from a news agency in Italy, Adnkronos. The first problem with the WND report is that what they report as the Patriarch's words is actually only the original Italian article's lede:
Roma, 17 giu. (Adnkronos) - Presto il mondo potrà ammirare l'Arca dell'Alleanza descritta nella Bibbia come il contenitore delle Tavole della Legge che Dio consegnò a Mosè e al centro, nei secoli, di ricerche e studi.

Secondly, the Italian article is dated June 17, so the forthcoming Friday was June 19, not today.

Patriarch Pauolos actually did have a press conference June 19 where according to Adnkronos, he backed off saying:
Non sono qui per dare delle prove che l'Arca sia in Etiopia, ma sono qui per dire quello che ho visto, quello che so e che posso testimoniare. Non ho detto che l'Arca sarà mostrata al mondo. E' un mistero, un oggetto di culto.

Or roughly:
I am not here to give evidence that the Ark is in Ethiopia, but I am here to say what I saw, what I know and I can testify. I did not say that the Ark will be shown to the world. It is a mystery, an object of worship.

Hat tip to blogger Richard Bartholomew for finding the second report from Adnkronos.

The original World Net Daily story was a matter of bad translation and not even looking at datelines. The story got legs, Bartholomew reported in previous posts, because of Christian Zionists eager to hasten the Second Coming. I would also note that WND was hawking a two DVD set on the ark along with the story.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

America Mag's Calumny in Service of a Human Master

A number of recent editorials by Catholic Obama partisans have sought to discredit the U.S. Bishops and the pro-life movement as a whole by grossly misappropriating the words of Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn.

Sometimes with attribution, sometimes without, but never in context, they have ripped four words, “We are at war,” from a 3,981 word address Bishop Finn made to a pro-life convention April 18, and given it meaning and context of their own making.

None have been so egregious as the Jesuit editors of America. This week’s Current Comment editorial in America disgraces the paper and the Society. It is vicious calumny in service to wicked ends.

Here it is:

A Higher Righteousness
Over the course of his career, George Tiller, M.D., performed over 60,000 abortions, specializing in what are euphemistically called “late-term” abortions. His murder at Wichita’s Reformation Lutheran Church on Sunday, May 31, has sparked soul-searching among some pro-life advocates. Did incendiary speech against brazen abortionists contribute to an overheated environment that then led to the doctor’s murder? Was Scott Roeder, the unstable man who allegedly killed Tiller, egged on by “hate speech”? What moral responsibility do activists and church leaders bear to prevent moral and political criticism on both sides of the abortion divide from escalating into hate speech?

It is not hard to find examples of incendiary speech. Tiller’s critics were wont to step up to the line of incitement and then draw back. Bill O’Reilly regularly called the Kansas doctor “Tiller the baby killer” and devoted 29 segments of his Fox television show to vilifying him. “If I could get my hands on Tiller...” he threatened. “Well, you know. Can’t be vigilantes.... It doesn’t get worse. Does it get worse? No.” Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City is now best known for his proclamation to the Gospel of Life Convention in April: “We are at war!” Though the bishop went on to explain that the struggle is a spiritual one and the means nonviolent, he announced an apocalyptic struggle against evil “that may rival any in time past.”

Defenders of life must recall the warning of the Sermon on the Mount: “If a man calls his brother ‘Fool,’ he will answer for it...; and if he calls him ‘Renegade,’ he will answer for it in hell fire.” For the Gospel of Life to be good news, it must reflect a higher righteousness.

Of course, in the convoluted (nuanced) style America’s editors are adept at, there is enough plausible deniability built into their argument to render the piece content-free on defense.

But the message is clear – Bishop Finn’s comments are to be identified with O’Reilly’s, and whether or not they are responsible for Tiller’s murder, they and all pro-life people who speak forcefully in defense of life will find themselves in hell.

So what’s wrong with that?

1. Bishop Finn did not even remotely refer to Dr. Tiller in his talk at the Gospel of Life Convention. He did not say “We are at war with Dr. Tiller” or any other abortionist, but rather with “Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises.” A week after Easter, when the talk was given, Catholics might have recognized these words from the renewal of Baptismal Promises. This war the Bishop said, “is ultimately a spiritual battle for the eternal salvation of souls – our own and those of other people.” And further, in the conduct of this spiritual battle “We are not engaged in physical battles in the same way military soldiers defend with material weapons. We need not – we must not – initiate violence against other persons to accomplish something good, even something as significant as the protection of human life.”

2. Bishop Finn’s talk was a challenge to committed people who defend life through charitable and political activity: “peacefully, prayerfully, and legally.” It stood as a warning to those people to get their own spiritual house in order in the still authentic Catholic tradition of recognizing the true nature of what we fight against. The Bishop’s stated reference point was St. Paul who teaches “Put on the armor of God, in order that you can stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For, our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the rulers of this darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:10-12).

3. Bishop Finn has never publicly addressed the subject of Dr. Tiller.

4. Even assuming the editors’ ridiculous use of the Sermon on the Mount, Bishop Finn did not call any of his brothers fools or renegades.

5. Whatever monsters inhabit the mind of the disturbed protestant Scott Roeder, traditional Catholic notions of the divisions of the Church Militant or the Communion of Saints are certainly not among them.

6. There is nothing “incendiary” about Bishop Finn’s words in the context in which he used them. They can only be interpreted as incendiary in the false context that has been manufactured by numerous Catholic Obama partisans, including the Jesuit editors at America.

So why would the editors at America, NCR, and Commonweal, who all got on this anti-bishop bandwagon, attempt to associate Bishop Finn and by extension other outspoken bishops and the pro-life movement as a whole with murder and truly incendiary speech and threats? Why would they seek to make those who have consistently at personal cost defended human life, the enemies of life?

Is it because the ultimate strategy for them to “Sing a New Church Into Being,” is to alienate the Faithful from their Shepherds? Is it because the defenders of life have criticized their master? They will muster any excuse for him, praise him immodestly for actions he has not taken, and destroy the reputations of any who dissent from him.

That is not the way a Christian works for the Risen Lord. But their master is not Risen. He resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And serving a man this way is idolatry.

Ed. Note – I am partially responsible for the popularization of “We are at war” since I titled the blog post containing Bishop Finn’s address by that name. It was not the name he gave his address. I chose that title in the convention of blog posts in order that it be read. For that, I apologize to Bishop Finn and the Catholic and pro-life community at large. Certainly however, the editors of America, NCR and Commonweal read and understood the context.

Second, while this blog carries the name of the diocesan newspaper and is written by its editor, this post is mine alone.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dorsey - 'I Never Intended For Twitter To Be Useful'

Not really. It's a must read Onion post today. In the spoof, when confronted with evidence that twitter is a main source of info on what's happening in Iran, the twitter founder is quoted:
"Twitter was intended to be a way for vacant, self-absorbed egotists to share their most banal and idiotic thoughts with anyone pathetic enough to read them,"

Read on.

Related, The Anchoress is updating all day on the horrific carnage happening in Tehran.

And Mark Shea posts a bleg to twitter account holders to help Iranians twits from being caught or shut down by the government:
If you use Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians' access to the internet. Cut & paste & pass it on.

Milingo Ordains Bishop, Says Wierd Stuff

A report from the Daily Nation says excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo has ordained today Father Daniel Kasomo as bishop of Married Priests Now of Kenya.

Following the news, Milingo says some interesting things:
Archbishop Milingo said many more priests had declared their marital status and the group’s membership was growing in Kenya. The prelate said it was time the Catholic Church changed its doctrine on celibacy and allowed priests who wished to marry do so.

He said his group will not secede from the Catholic Church but will champion its interests from within. “We are not there to play champion,” he said, adding that celibacy had resulted in priests falling by the wayside. He said that in America, many churches were facing bankruptcy due to cases dating years back.

I don't see how he could secede, since he's already kicked out. I'm also unaware of any parishes facing bankruptcy due to a priest getting married.

But he's not following the news. This is the first time I've noticed a report of the Archbishop's true inspiration:
Accompanied by wife Maria, Archbishop Milingo said he received a message to marry from Virgin Mary who asked him to also “go and do something for married priests.”He said married priests were suffering as they were punished and never forgiven.

One more gem:
“A woman is not only a sex object. It is wrong for the church to expect a priest to pretend to close his eyes or not look closely at a woman,” he said.

Debunking South Africa's Condom Bishop

A while ago we noted an interesting article in Catholic San Francisco occasioned by the granting of an honorary degree to South African Bishop Kevin Dowling by the University of San Francisco.

Bishop Dowling had caused some controversy by his endorsement of using condoms to prevent disease in his AIDS ravaged diocese. Today, Matthew Hanley at The Catholic Thing takes down some of Bishop Dowling's arguments. Hanley applauds the good bishop's many humanitarian efforts in his diocese, but questions his reasoning on condom policy:
Let’s start with epidemiology. The bishop’s descriptions of his personal encounters with the AIDS-afflicted show deep concern for the poor, the vulnerable, the sick. He seems to regard poverty, prostitution, and similar scourges, however, as the driving forces behind the spread of AIDS and the rationale for accepting condom promotion: “Unfortunately, extreme poverty is driving particularly vulnerable young women to extreme positions. They are forced into transactional sex." Given these desperate circumstances, he says, “the only solution we have at the moment is condoms.”

But unlike many other infectious diseases, HIV is associated not with poverty, but with higher economic status across Africa. The United States has funded Demographic and Health Surveys that have found in country after country that HIV rates are higher among the better off and even the better educated. Furthermore, prostitution simply does not account for a large share of HIV transmission in southern Africa.

AIDS is primarily driven by multiple sex partners among both men and women in southern Africa. A handful of African countries have managed to alter this pattern of behavior, and have seen a subsequent decline in AIDS. Not so for South Africa, where multiple partners and high rates of AIDS persist. Condoms, which have been widely promoted, simply do not account for the few cases of declining AIDS rates in Africa. Pope Benedict XVI has a better grasp of these realities than do his vocal detractors in the media and in several European governments.

As to Dowling’s support for condom use because of men who disregard moral norms and recklessly impose themselves on women, Fr. Michael Czerny of the African Jesuit AIDS Network provides a clearheaded response: “It is obviously a total illusion to imagine that a sexual aggressor could ever be persuaded to use a condom by the Pope, the State, an NGO or anyone else.”

South African anthropologist Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala acknowledges that “our hip-hyped AIDS prevention campaign and its condom promoting ‘have fun but play safely’ message has thus far failed us as a people.” The painful evidence, not religious faith, led her to challenge her peers, and to promote abstinence and fidelity “unapologetically as a modern and relevant public health message.”

Hanley also is concerned about the bishop's pessimistic description of his African flock; a description we noted here that makes Africans out to be "uncontrollably randy":
“Abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in a marriage is beyond the realm of possibility here,” Dowling insists, to the delight of overtly dissenting groups such as Catholics for Choice, sponsors of a campaign called “Good Catholics Use Condoms.” But that statement also reveals a surprisingly pessimistic – even condescending – view of Africans and other Catholics.

Capitulation, in other words, rather than compassion. It manifests too little faith in human beings and their capacity for moral behavior, even as it puts too much faith in technology – if that is what we can call a condom. After all, is the law not stamped on every human heart – including those of young males in South African dioceses?

No doubt those exposed to degrading circumstances and the threat of AIDS require a liberating alternative, pastoral sensitivity, and mercy. Bishop Dowling works tirelessly at many works of mercy. But as Cardinal Biffi of Bologna cautions in his memoirs, embedded within the legitimate desire to be pastoral is a “danger of forgetting that the first and irreplaceable form of "mercy" for wayward humanity is the "mercy of truth." Without this truth, without a standard of behavior to which all persons are called, mercy has no point of reference, and can only approximate the real thing.

The behaviors that drive HIV transmission need to be challenged, not accommodated. This will require a bold evangelization of culture – something the United States needs as well. After all, a full quarter of American teenage girls are burdened by sexually transmitted infection.

Continue reading.

'Isn't anyone tryin' to find me?' - Bishop Soto

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto begins his column this week with the familiar lyrics from Avril Lavigne's 2003 hit "I'm with you". It's not exactly what the kids are listening to, but the lyrics are certainly familiar to anyone 20 to 40 and the feeling of being lost or unknown resonates with plenty of folk in that age range.

It's no mistake that prior to assuming his own diocese, Bishop Soto was a regular on the Catholic "young adult" speaking circuit. I heard him speak twice in that capacity and felt the bishop a master at speaking to and evangelizing that particular demographic which was largely single and only vaguely churched.

His column this week captures a small glimpse of the bishop's moving style:
We are known and loved by the Lord

There is a song on the radio the refrain of which goes like this:

Isn’t anyone tryin’ to find me?
Won’t somebody come take me home?
It’s a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won’t you take me by the hand
Take me somewhere new
I don’t know who you are
But I... I’m with you
I’m with you.

Avril Lavigne is the author of that song. It aches with loneliness, restlessness and fear. It was a popular song maybe because it said something about the uneasiness with which many people live today. What worries me about this song is the anonymity. We live in an anonymous society. The song talks about not knowing who you are and that does not matter.

But it does matter. It should matter to us as Christians because salvation consists of being known and loved by God. The Lord Jesus does know who we are. He says to each of us, “You know who am I because I made your hearts for me.” The Lord Jesus says to us, “I’m with you.…I know who you are and I’m still with you. I will stand by you. I will walk with you. I will even carry you.” In the eyes of the Lord Jesus, we are strangers and aliens no longer. We are fellow citizens. We are living stones held together with Christ as a sturdy, sacred temple. (Eph. 2.13-22)

In the Gospel, Jesus does not call strangers. He calls his friends. The list of those he calls begin with Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Simon and Jude and goes on through the ages until today. The Lord Jesus has added our names to the list.

Continue reading Bishop Soto's column.

Monday, June 22, 2009

USCCB Clarifies 'Reflections on Covenant and Mission'

This seems to be a fairly significant development out of last week's U.S. Bishops' meeting which has seen very little press.

The Committees on Doctrine and Pastoral Practice and on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs issued a statement June 18 clarifying points in a 2002 document on the relation between Jewish people and the New Covenant. They say this was necessary because some theologians have relied on the document falsely as "authoritative" and the document itself contains statements that are "insufficiently precise and potentially misleading." Here's the USCCB release:
WASHINGTON—A statement clarifying two points of Catholic teaching relative to the Jewish community was released June 18, at the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A Note on Ambiguities Contained in Covenant and Mission was jointly issued by the Committee on Doctrine and Pastoral Practice and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. The statement can be found at http://www.usccb.org/bishops/covenant09.pdf.

“Our most important concern here is a pastoral one,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. “The 2002 document, Covenant and Mission, raised many questions among Catholics in the United States about how the Church relates to the Jewish community. Today’s statement helps to answer these questions clearly.”

Bishop William Lori, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and Pastoral Practice, stated that there were two key points at issue.

“The USCCB reaffirms what the Holy See has stated repeatedly: that while the Catholic Church does not proselytize the Jewish people, neither does she fail to witness to them her faith in Christ, nor to welcome them to share in that same faith whenever appropriate.” Bishop Lori said. He added that current debates over the question of how Catholics understand the covenant with Moses in relation to Christ were equally important. The covenant with Moses, that continues to be adhered to by Jews today, is fulfilled, Christians believe, in Jesus.

“As followers of Jesus, we see his covenant as fulfilling God’s plan for the salvation of all peoples, both now and at the end of time,” Bishop Lori said.

Archbishop Gregory commended the on-going work of scholars and pastors in Catholic-Jewish dialogue. “Pope John Paul II once referred to Jews as ‘our elder brothers and sisters in faith’”, he said. “By continuing our study together, we hope to deepen our understanding of Jesus and our relationship with each other in God’s redemption of the world.”

Abraham Foxman of the ADL has responded today saying in part:
"This document, if taken at face value, reintroduces the notion that Catholics can use interfaith dialogue as a means to invite Jews to Christian baptism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "If so, then it is unacceptable, for such a statement would foster mistrust between Jews and Catholics and undermine years of work building a positive relationship based on mutual trust and respect of our differences in faith."

I don't think that's exactly what the document says, but it does eliminate any notion that Christ is not the fulfillment of God's relationship with Israel or that Christians ought not witness their faith appropriately among Jewish people. Read the whole pdf here.

HT - St. Louis Catholic.

Bishop Finn and Proposed Nuclear Weapons Plant

On June 19, Jude Huntz, director of the human rights office for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, testified on the moral teaching of the Church about nuclear weapons proliferation relative to the construction of a proposed nuclear weapons plant in Cass County, Missouri. The Catholic Key Blog posted excerpts of his planned testimony earlier that week.

After Huntz’ testified before the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, some confusion arose in the local press as to whether Huntz was authorized to give such testimony. Huntz testified in his capacity as Director of the Human Rights Office for the diocese. In that capacity he is authorized to speak on matters of human rights by the bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Robert W. Finn. Bishop Finn was unavailable for comment at the time because he was attending a meeting of the U.S. Bishops in San Antonio. Following is Bishop Finn’s statement on the proposed plant:
The Catholic Church advocates for the application of a consistent ethic of life, resting on the primacy of human life and the innate dignity of the human person. Objective principles based on the natural law must be applied to practical issues of medical research, abortion, migration, capital punishment, the conduct of modern warfare, the care of the terminally ill, and other issues.

On June 19, Jude Huntz, the Diocesan Director of Human Rights, offered testimony to the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority concerning a proposal by the federal government to build a nuclear weapons plant in Cass County, Missouri. The new plant would replace an existing facility operated by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies.

Huntz effectively summarized Church teaching about the consistent ethic of life, and the grave concern of the Catholic Church about the continued production of nuclear weapons. The diocese is grateful for the opportunity to add the principles of the ethical and moral law into the public record concerning an important development in our community.

In his testimony, Huntz quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church and stated, “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”

We value and support the right of the state to defend itself in the face of unjust aggression. We also value the need for industrial improvements and jobs for our citizens. Our hope, however, is that if this project moves forward, it does not contribute to an unnecessary accumulation of nuclear weapons. Our belief in the sanctity of human life leads us to stand against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to remind the world that, “Those who possess them have an enormous responsibility before God and all of humanity.”

Following is excerpted from the Testimony of Jude Huntz to the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority on the Proposed Nuclear Weapons Plant:
The Catholic tradition has always defended the right of a state to defend itself from unjust aggression. Implicit in that right is the need to equip a trained military force. No one denies this obligation and necessity on the part of any state.

However, the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction – which this nuclear plant proposes to construct – constitutes a grave moral danger to the entire planet. Nuclear weapons are by their very nature weapons of mass destruction: their force and impact cannot be contained, and their use affects combatants and non-combatants alike. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons – especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to use them” (CCC #2314; cf. also Gaudium et Spes #80).

Others would argue that to possess such weapons would act as a deterrent to other nations who also possess such weapons. Again, the Church responds to such an objection as well: “The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation” (CCC #2325; cf. also Pope Paul VI Populorum Progressio #53).

We will continue to stress the Church’s constant call for disarmament: “The Church’s social teaching proposes the goal of ‘general, balanced, and controlled disarmament.’ The enormous increase in arms represents a grave threat to stability and peace. The principle of sufficiency, by virtue of which each state may possess only the means necessary for its legitimate defense, must be applied both by States that buy arms and by those that produce and furnish them. Any excessive stockpiling or indiscriminate trading in arms cannot be morally justified. Such phenomena must also be evaluated in light of international norms regarding the non-proliferation, production, trade and use of different types of arms. Arms can never be treated like other goods exchanged on international or domestic markets” (CSD #508; cf. also John Paul II Message to the United Nations 1985, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace paper “The International Arms Trade” 1994, John Paul II Address to the World of Work 1988).

We have an obligation to think responsibly on this proposed nuclear weapons plant, to think beyond the local and examine the global dimensions of this decision. “Arms of mass destruction – whether biological, chemical, or nuclear – represent a particularly serious threat. Those who possess them have an enormous responsibility before God and all of humanity. The principle of non-proliferation of nuclear arms, together with measures of nuclear disarmament and the prohibition of nuclear tests, are intimately interconnected objectives that must be met as soon as possible by means of effective controls at the international levels” (CSD #509, cf. also Gaudium et Spes #80; CCC #2314, John Paul II World Day of Peace #2 1986).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bishop Soto, Donors Sue Loretto Sisters

This is an interesting case because I can imagine it being played out in other locales. From The Catholic Herald in Sacramento, excerpts:
A group of financial contributors to Loretto High School in Sacramento and Bishop Jaime Soto are suing the nuns who closed the all-girls school in June.

The bishop and seven other donors contend in the lawsuit, filed June 10 in Sacramento Superior Court against Loretto High School and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary [Loretto Sisters], that the nuns want to use proceeds from the sale of the school to help fund their retirement at their motherhouse in Wheaton, Ill., rather than keep the money in Sacramento for Catholic education.

Kevin Eckery, spokesman for the Sacramento Diocese, said the suit was filed after donors and church leaders have tried repeatedly since February to negotiate with the Loretto Sisters through letters and attempts at meetings.

“We want to make sure that funds which were given in good faith go to support schools in Sacramento,” he said.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop the sale of Loretto High School to Aspire Public Schools, a statewide charter, which is now in escrow for a reported $8 million and is expected to close on July 15. The plaintiffs are asking the court to hold the proceeds of the sale and assign an arbitrator to determine how to allocate the money. . .

. . . Loretto High School was originally established in 1955 by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but with the permission of then-Bishop Joseph McGucken and the current campus is on a site donated by the bishop, according to the lawsuit. The Loretto nuns ran Loretto High School since its inception.

The lawsuit states that since 1955, diocesan officials have regularly reiterated to the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary that “all gifts of real property, cash donations, loan forgiveness, and in-kind contributions were made to the IBVM and/or Loretto for the education of young women in the Catholic tradition” and not for any other purpose.

Since 1983, the diocese has donated approximately $1.5 million in cash, loan forgiveness and scholarship contributions “for the express purpose of educating young women of high school age in the Sacramento region,” according to the suit.

“It’s too bad that we haven’t been able to resolve this,” said James Sweeney, attorney for the diocese. “Cases such as this between religious institutions can usually be settled.”

“The critical message is that the church respects donor intent with regard to restricted-purpose gifts to its institutions,” he added. “We will take all the steps necessary to ensure that donor intent is fully respected by all church institutions, consistent with canon law and civil law.”

The story goes on to explain the complaints of several other donors who have given millions to the school for endowment and scholarship assistance and who've been kept in the dark about the funds and plans for the school. And then:
The lawsuit also alleges that Loretto officials began withdrawing funds at the end of 2008, “without the knowledge or consent of the board of trustees of the Loretto Endowment” to pay off debt for Loretto High School and the nun’s order and to pay operating expenses for Loretto. . .

. . .“The prospect of capital campaign funds being put toward any other purpose in Sacramento, let alone about the possibility of diverting the funds to a use in Illinois unrelated to the education of young women, was never, ever contemplated,” the application states.

Loretto Sister Rosemary Lynch, the U.S. Provincial, declined comment for the story and calls were not returned to the Herald by the attorney representing the order.
Whole article.

Bishop Olmsted - The Sacred Heart, Tepeyac and Us

Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has a real knack for presenting the truths of our faith in surprising ways. He begins this week's column in The Catholic Sun with a discussion of some symbolism in the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe I'd not heard before and ends discussing The Virgin's haunting message to her modern day children:

Nine heart-shaped flower blossoms decorate the tunic worn by Our Lady of Guadalupe, surrounding her hands, which are gently folded in prayer. This artistic technique told the Native peoples that the Virgin Mary was holding hearts in her maternal hands, protecting them from harm. This image mesmerized them as they gazed with awe and wonder at the sight. It filled them with new hope at a time when they teetered on the edge of despair. Why?

Hearts, they had thought, were what you offered to the gods in order to restore harmony in the world. In their own practice of human sacrifice, hearts were torn out of victims, usually enemies captured in battle, and then offered as a peace offering. But that effort to win peace with their “gods” had failed to save them from defeat by the Conquistadors. Worse, after the conquest, they no longer knew how to pray or even to whom to pray.

But then, Our Lady of Guadalupe came to them, gently holding their hearts in her hands. Harmony, they realized, was again possible! Her hands held their hearts just above the divine Child in her womb, the One whose Sacred Heart conquers violence and restores peace to the world.

Heart violently pierced

The Indians of the New World were not the first and not the last to think that violence can bring about peace. The Romans, in putting Jesus to death on the Cross, thrust a lance through His Heart, “…and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:34). Pilate thought this violent death would calm the clamoring crowd and give him temporary peace. The Evangelist knew it would do far more than that, since Jesus freely chose to suffer the violence as an act of reparation for the whole world. Thus, he immediately adds the following (Jn 19:35-37), “An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of it will be broken,’ and again another passage says: ‘They will look upon Him whom they have pierced’.”

How could this violent act against the heart of Jesus, made possible by the cowardice of Pilate, help us “come to believe”? Why is it so central to our faith in Christ? Where is the “good news” here?

Recall what Jesus says about the human heart (Mt 15:19), “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.” What comes from the heart of Christ is the opposite of these. In fact, what pours forth is far more than the opposite of evil; it is total victory over evil. What flows from His heart is the mercy that conquers violence and all evil, the mercy that restores life where death had reigned. This is why His pierced heart is good news.

A Heart that purifies hearts

The people of the New World were right in thinking that their own hearts needed to be redeemed. They were even right in thinking that another ‘heart’ needed to be sacrificed in order to redeem them. But what they did not know, until Our Lady of Guadalupe helped them to see, was that it needed to be a heart that was both human and divine. It had to be a heart full of divine love that, when violently attacked, returned good for evil, and forgiveness in place of vengeance. What flowed from the heart of Jesus was not cursing and threats but “blood and water,” which redeem the world and become the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. By suffering in our place, Christ ransomed us from death and restored us to life.

In a marvelous way, God the Father fashioned the heart of Mary to serve the heart of His Beloved Son. He preserved her heart from every stain of sin; then, He invited her to share vicariously in the suffering and death of her Son. Simeon told Mary at the time that she presented her little child in the Temple (Lk 2:34-35), “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

What Simeon foretold was fulfilled as Mary stood at the foot of the Cross. It was fulfilled in another way when she stood on Tepeyac hill in Mexico and brought to the people of the New World, with the help of St. Juan Diego, the Good News of her Son’s Heart as a fountain of mercy and life. . .

Go see the surprising conclusion at The Catholic Sun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sex-Selective Abortion Leads to Polyandry in India

Sohan Singh is a 24-year-old Indian man who can't find a wife. He's tried everything, including letting it be known that he won't even demand the traditional dowry. From the story:
But Mr Singh had no luck. Eventually, frustrated, he gave up, only to collude with his elder brother, Mohan Singh, 30, to do the unthinkable: he convinced him to share his wife.

“I had no choice but to submit to my husband and brother-in-law,” said Manu Kanwar, 26, hiding her face behind a ghunghat, or Indian veil. “I have two husbands.”

The article goes on to explain that this case is not, in that wonderful English phrasing, "a one-off". Why?:
a result of years of unbridled sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, which have reached alarming proportions.

The gender ratio in India is the most skewed in the world. The 2001 census registered a ratio that had plummeted from 976 girls per 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 girls per 1,000 boys, indicating that about 900,000 female foetuses were aborted, or girl infants killed, every year.

The country’s Sample Registration System data for 2002-2004 revealed a further drop to 882 girls per 1,000 boys.

And for this poor woman, sex-selective abortion led to polyandry and then forced abortion:
Ms Kanwar, who is trapped in a polyandrous relationship because of the relentless killing of female foetuses, said she “was compelled” to abort her first baby six years ago, when Mohan Singh, her first husband, discovered it was a girl.

She gave birth to three girls and a son after that, uncertain which brother was the father of each.

“I refused to kill my daughters,” she said. “I put my foot down. I explained to my husbands that we are trapped in this relationship because girls have gone missing in this town.”

We've heard the worry with regard to China's gender imbalance that a lot of unmarried men could lead to militarism. India's trajectory seems just as likely. Neither benefits women.

Carrie Prejean, Archbishop Niederauer Get Pink Bricks

The Pink Brick is awarded annually by the organizers of San Francisco's Pride Parade to "a person or institution that has caused significant harm to the LGBT community."

This year, organizers voted to give it to former Miss California Carrie Prejean for her publicly-stated belief in natural marriage.

Some thought this trivialized the anti-award. Matt Dorsey, who works as press rep. for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, wrote in a May 28 Bay Area Reporter Op-Ed:
The improbable recognition for a beauty pageant sideshow doesn't merely trivialize our community's struggle for equality. It also misses an important opportunity to identify a far more influential figure who did as much as anyone to strip the fundamental constitutional right to marry from LGBT citizens in California.

In fact, we need not have looked beyond our own city limits: San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer. . .

. . .It is not too late for members of the San Francisco Pride Committee to reconsider its decision about this year's Pink Brick recipient – and it should.

At a critical moment in LGBT history, we owe it to our movement to acknowledge we have foes more formidable than a 22-year-old beauty queen. We owe it to the next campaign for marriage equality to assure our opponents they will be held accountable for their unconscionable tactics. We owe it to our community to Pink Brick Archbishop George Niederauer.

So yesterday's Bay Area Reporter says Pride Parade organizers have responded to "'thoughtful feedback' from community members", and decided to give a second Pink Brick to Archbishop Niederauer. Pride board President Mikayla Connell said:
"We hope that with this Pink Brick, we can educate the community about Archbishop Niederauer's work to deny LGBT couples equal protection under the law. Archbishop Niederauer's support of Proposition 8, which is not representative of all faith communities or even of all Catholics, has only served to harm LGBT families, many of whom are Catholic themselves . . .

. . .Connell also said that Pride finds it "extremely disturbing that a church leader in a country founded on the principles of freedom, including religious freedom, would use his position in the church to fight against the secular right of LGBT people to form legally recognized marriages."

The Reporter article credits Matt Dorsey for bringing attention to the far worthier recipient.

Dorsey, by the way, is an elected member of the parish council at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco.

It's not easy being Archbishop of San Francisco. God bless him and all of our bishops.
(HT to A Shepherd's Voice who has much more info.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gallagher Interviews L'Osservatore's Vian - Updated

Delia Gallagher (USF classmate of mine, btw) has an interview with L'Osservatore Romano Director Gian Maria Vian. The topic is L'OR's Obama coverage, but includes a number of other interesting items.

We learn that both Vian's father and grandfather worked for L'OR along with other personal items, what in the paper is and is not reviewed by the Secretariat of State, and Vian's interpretation of the authority of the paper's articles.

Fascinating all in all, as Vian maintains a hopeful wait and see approach to the president's actions on life issues. To which Tom McFeely at the National Catholic Register comments:
. . .there is one area where we wish she had probed a lot harder. She didn’t press Vian for an explanation of how he can argue Obama’s presidential position on abortion is still uncertain, in light of Obama’s long string of appointments of pro-abortion individuals to posts where they will make key decisions involving the life issues, Obama’s repeal of the pro-life Mexico City Policy, Obama’s anti-life policy on embryonic stem-cell research, and other pro-abortion moves by the president since assuming office.

Vian would benefit from reading the Register's own compilation of the president's record on abortion since taking office.

There is also the concern, expressed by the Holy Father repeatedly in his Africa trip, that the Maputo Protocol and other international agreements and bodies not be used to impose abortion around the world in the name of reproductive healthcare. Secretary of State Clinton has confirmed such is a priority of the Obama administration.

But do read the whole interview. One final quibble. Vian ends the interview saying, my emphases:
I have said that there has been a misunderstanding because people don’t read L’Osservatore Romano, which I understand because it’s in Italian. Unfortunately we don’t have the money to translate every single article into English.

I think that if American Catholics could read L’Osservatore Romano every day, and did not trust wire reports — although some of the agency writers are very good . . . but getting information from bloggers is like going to the bar where everyone has his own opinion. But debate is good. I’m happy that L’Osservatore Romano is being talked about.

It is a somewhat lazy statement these days to dismiss blogs en masse as such. There is certainly garbage in the blogosphere as there is in print and broadcast media. But we are no longer at a stage where a major medium which includes widely read actual reporting and information sharing can be so flippantly dismissed.

There's a lot your missing if so. This blog, run by an American diocesan newspaper, had one and two posts incontrovertibly disputing facts in L'Osservatore's print reporting.

Archbishop Wuerl vs' NCR on Holy Orders

There's a lot of fury over at WDTPRS about NCR's latest "Young Voices" column. NCR's Nicole Sotelo thinks we should all be celebrating the Year of the Priest since we're all priests and there is no differentiation between the sacramental priesthood and the priesthood of all believers. But, as the title of her column says - "Don't tell the pope" - cause, you know, he hasn't studied this stuff and doesn't understand Vatican II.

Fr. Z thinks the column represents "heresy and arrogance" and invites readers to respond to Sotelo's doctrinal omissions and errors.

Quite by chance, DC Archbishop Donald Wuerl dedicates his column this week to the church's teaching on the sacramental priesthood drawing on the teaching of Vatican II and per usual he does an excellent job:
In explaining how the priest can function as Christ, the Church speaks of the priesthood as an identification with Christ on the most fundamental level. In their reception of holy orders, priests are "consecrated to God in a new way." They become "living instruments of Christ the eternal priest," so that they may be able to "accomplish His wonderful work of reuniting the whole society of men with heavenly power" (Presbyterorum ordinis, 12).

The Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (Presbyterorum ordinis) tells us that the priestly office "is conferred by that special sacrament through which priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are marked with a special character and are so configured to Christ the Priest that they can act in the person of Christ the Head."

Because of sacred ordination, the priest stands in the midst of the Church as its leader, its head. He also then functions in the name of the whole Church specifically when presenting to God the prayers of the Church and, above all, when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. As we identify the work of the priest, we see that it is completely tied to the continuation of the unique work of Christ. That work is pre-eminently achieved in Christ's death and Resurrection which won our redemption. Hence the priesthood is intimately tied to the Eucharist which continues to make present the life-giving effects of the great Passover. On the same first Holy Thursday on which he instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ conferred priesthood on the apostles: "Do this in remembrance of me."

In instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist, our Lord created what would be a living re-presentation of his own death and Resurrection. At the same time he charged some to see that this sacred mystery would be made present forever in his memory. The Church sees the origin of holy orders in the will of Christ and his explicit acts on that first Holy Thursday. Thus it is true to say that holy orders and the great Christian paschal mystery are inseparable. Christ the priest offered himself for our salvation; the Eucharist is the continued re-presentation of that sacrifice, the priesthood is a special human participation in that divine work.

All of this is the plan of God unfolding in Christ. Priesthood is not an afterthought of the Christian community but rather the explicit will of Christ. Because of this, the Church teaches that holy orders do not take their origin from the community, as though it were the community that "called" or "delegated" priests. The sacramental priesthood is truly a gift for this community that comes from Christ himself, from the very fullness of his own priesthood.

The order of presbyter grows out of the realization that the bishop is not able to be present in every part of the Church over which he presides given the size of the Church and the number of the faithful. In this regard, the Catechism quotes the Second Vatican Council: "The function of the bishops' ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ" (PO 2, CCC 1562). The ordination of deacons is to provide in the Church those who will be of service to the priests and especially the bishop.

In keeping with a tradition going back to Christ's selection of his Apostles and affirmed in the Church as the explicit will of Christ, only men can be ordained to the priesthood. It is important when we reflect on this teaching of the Church that we recognize the issue is one of sacramental theology, not civil rights. At the same time we must also note that the Church makes great effort, particularly today, to underline the dignity of women in the Church and their role in the life of the Church apart from sacred orders. While the Church does not have the power to ordain women, it is clearly calling on all the members of the Church to recognize the important role that women have in the life of the Church and to recognize and highlight that role and the dignity of women.

While holy orders exists to be of service to the faithful, it should also call forth from them a spirit of support, understanding and solidarity. Perhaps the most important thing we can do for our priests as they labor on behalf of the Church is to recognize our need to be open to their teaching, their leadership, their sacramental ministry and to embrace them in a solidarity of prayer and loving support.

Thanks to the mysterious blogger at SERVIAM for tipping me to the controversy brewing at Fr. Z's.

'Gospel' and 'Anglican Use' Masses Exist Side-by-Side at Kansas City Parish

The Kansas City Star Sunday Magazine ran an extensive feature on one of Kansas City's most interesting parishes this week.

St. Therese Little Flower lies in a now largely African-American neighborhood in Kansas City. It has long had what most would consider a regular Sunday Mass, as well as a Gospel themed Mass.

What is so unusual, is that since December, the parish has also been home to the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph's first Anglican Use Mass and community.

The administrator of St. Therese, Fr. Ernie Davis, is a former Episcopal priest who's married with children. Some time ago, an Anglican congregation in Kansas City approached Fr. Davis about joining the Catholic Church.

Bishop Robert Finn received the group into the Church and allowed for the provision of Anglican Use liturgy at St. Therese.

Fr. Davis is the eager celebrant at both the Gospel and Anglican Use Masses. Here's a bit of the flavor of the Gospel Mass as reported by the Star:
At the gospel Mass, every choir member sways and claps in unison — without any discussion or noticeable urging from director Caron Williams.

From the microphone, Sharon Hardy of Cameron belts, “I knew the Lord would bring me out … ”

A guitar, trombone and drums back her soprano solo as the crescendo of surrounding voices grows louder for the chorus.

From the pews, Burdick claps to the beat.

“Thank you, Jesus!” she shouts.

Its iridescent cover gleaming, the red and green Ethiopian-style Book of Gospels is walked to the lectern. The entire congregation joins the choir’s “Alleluia.” Arms are raised for the second verse, and cymbal clangs punctuate the gentle melody.

Art Winter walks to the lectern for a reading from the letter of St. John.

“Let us love one another,” he reads, “ … Whoever is without love does not know God, because God is love.”

From her spot at the piano, Williams, who is African Methodist Episcopal Zion and not a member, begins “Alleluia.”

The call and response style is part of the black tradition, B.J. Atkinson says, and it emerged as St. Therese’s dominant style as the neighborhood demographics changed throughout the second half of the 20th century.

And a bit about the Anglican Use liturgy:
Shortly before 11:15 a.m., women in one family each pull a mantilla, a small cap made of netting, out of a plastic bag. The wooden board at the front pew had been blank minutes earlier, but placard numbers now indicate the five songs for the day. Scattered throughout the pews with hymnals open, the 30 or so white worshippers rise as the priest and deacons march forward with incense and staffs in hand.

From the organ, Bruce Prince-Joseph, 84, a veteran New York Philharmonic organist who collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, indicates with raised hands when the congregation is to join the cantor.

Because it moves more slowly and is full of chanting, one might be inclined to describe the Mass as “somber,” but Davis makes a distinction.

Whereas the earlier Masses work from the standpoint of Christ as immanent in the community, he says the Anglican Use — its mood, music and liturgy — is more intimate, reflecting individual contemplation.

Polite smiles and handshakes make up the sign of peace, and no amens are heard during the readings. These and other differences, including kneeling to receive the Eucharist and the use of incense, satisfy what Davis describes as a yearning on the part of some parishioners for the dignity, formality and transcendence of the Catholic Church.

So what unites the very different Masses?
There is one constant among the Masses, though: Davis preaches the same homily to each of the groups. He often gesticulates more at the early Masses and is more likely to inject personal experiences. But neither the inspirational Scripture nor the message changes throughout the day.

Davis says his ideal Mass is one that challenges, regardless of the way that challenge is presented.

“The gospel Mass challenges people to get up, clap their hands, talk to their neighbors and find God in the people there with them,” he says. “The Anglican Use challenges people to find a God who is just beyond our ability to see him, a God who is majestic and worthy of praise.”

Do read the whole thing. There is much more in there about this remarkable parish beyond liturgy styles.

Another new addition to the parish not mentioned - It's now the parish home of Kansas City's 'A Simple House'. This incredible ministry of friendship and service with the poor began in Washington, DC. The Washington Post did a fantastic profile on them there, and The Catholic Key had a story on their expansion to Kansas City.

(Photos by Rich Sugg)