Sunday, November 30, 2008

Modesto pastor condemns votes for Obama: Priest urges confession due to Obama's pro-choice stance

By Sue Nowicki / The Modesto Bee
11/28/08 22:48:56

MODESTO -- Father Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, has told parishioners in a homily and in a follow-up letter that if they voted for Barack Obama, they should consider going to confession because of the president-elect's pro-choice position.

"If you are one of the 54% of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously," Illo wrote in a letter dated Nov. 21.

The letter was sent to more than 15,000 members of the St. Joseph's parish. It is one of 34 parishes in the Stockton Diocese, which has more than 200,000 members in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and four other counties.

Though Obama's support of abortion rights angered many Catholics nationally during the campaign, Illo's letter is believed to be the first in Central California from a priest to his parishioners on the topic.

The Most Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of the Stockton Diocese, disagrees with Illo. He said Catholics should not feel compelled to disclose how they voted to their priest.

Blaire said Catholics who carefully weighed many issues and settled on a candidate were not in need of confession. He said confession would be necessary "only if someone voted for a pro-abortion or pro-choice candidate -- if that's the reason you voted for them."

"Our position on pro-life is very important, but there are other issues," Blaire said. "No one candidate reflects everything that we stand for. I'm sure that most Catholics who voted were voting on economic issues.

"There were probably many priests, and I suspect many bishops, who voted for Obama."

Illo's letter states, "Many Catholics voted for such pro-abortion candidates thinking that their good positions on other issues, such as the war or health care, outweighed their deplorable stand on abortion."

Illo said in an interview, "I've gotten a lot of e-mails and phone calls. It's about 12-to-1 in favor of what I said. One person has left the parish. But I got all of these other positive things."

Across the country, Obama's nomination and campaign were divisive for many Catholics. Many priests and church officials sermonized against him because of his stance on abortion, as they did four years ago when Democratic John Kerry challenged President Bush. There were Catholic-inspired anti-Obama videos on YouTube regarding the issue.

National exit polling after the Nov. 4 election shows a majority of Catholic voters rejected the hard-line position -- 54% of them voted for Obama and 45% for John McCain, the Republican nominee.

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Savage Chickens - The Search

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The two villages where mothers killed EVERY baby born a boy for ten years

The Papua New Guinea jungle has given up one of its darkest secrets - the systematic slaughter of every male baby born in two villages to prevent future tribal clashes.

By virtually wiping out the 'male stock', tribal women hope they can avoid deadly bow-and-arrow wars between the villages in the future.

'Babies grow into men and men turn into warriors,' said Rona Luke, a village wife who is attending a special 'peace and reconciliation' meeting in the mountain village of Goroka...


Cardinal: Christian Teachings Do Not Change with the Times

Rome, Nov 26, 2008 (CNA).- Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, the retired Archbishop of Bologna, has written a new book which stresses the primacy of conversion in Christian life and argues against the refashioning of Christianity to appeal to current ways of thinking.

The cardinal commented on his book, titled “Sheep and Shepherds,” in comments reproduced by Vatican analyst Sandro Magister.

Explaining his title, the cardinal said:

“Everyone in the Church is, before anything else, a member of the flock of Christ. Everyone, from the pope to the most recently baptized, bears the true nature of his greatness not so much in being entrusted with this or that role in the Christian community, as in being part of the 'little flock.' There is, therefore, substantial equality among all believers, as long as they truly believe: only by believing does one enter among Christ's sheep.”

And yet, some people seem to measure the truth of the faith by modern society’s standards. As Cardinal Biffi writes: “Sometimes, in some areas of the Catholic world, people even come to the point of thinking that divine Revelation must adapt itself to the current mentality in order to be credible, instead of the current mentality converting in the light that comes to us from on high. And yet one must reflect on the fact that it is 'conversion,' and not 'adaptation,' that is the evangelical term.”

The drive to adapt Christian faith to current thought can even obscure the divinity of Jesus, echoing the Arian heresy which denied His divinity.

“As paradoxical as this statement may seem, the Arian question is always the order of the day in ecclesial life,” Cardinal Biffi said, according to Magister. “The pretexts can be many: from the desire to feel that Christ is closer and is more one of us, to the proposal of making it easier to understand him by exalting almost exclusively his social and humanitarian aspects. In the end, the result is always that of stripping the Redeemer of man of his radical uniqueness, and classifying him as someone who can be managed and domesticated.”

In this respect, the cardinal said, the ancient Council of Nicea which condemned Arianism is “much more relevant today” than the Second Vatican Council.

One chapter of “Sheep and Shepherds” defends chastity by referencing the words of Jesus in the Gospels, the letters of St. Paul, and other parts of Scripture. The chapter was published on the internet by Magister.

Noting that the Church’s witness of chastity has been perceived by the world to be “something burdensome and repulsive” since the beginning, Biffi noted how the Christian emphasis on chastity continues to challenge the world.

In its first encounter with the Greco-Roman world, the cardinal writes in his book, “Christianity had to come to terms with a culture marked by a conception of eroticism, by a practice of sexuality, by a system of marriage that was immediately perceived as foreign to the character of the Gospel, and even as contrary to the new humanity… .”

Christian chastity is not based in “mistrust of what is material and corporal” but “is fostered and expresses itself with respect toward the body, which in the Christian perspective is held to be a sacred reality and an instrument of sanctification.”

The Christian approach to modern-day homosexuality, Cardinal Biffi said, must distinguish between the respect due to persons and the “necessary repudiation of any exalted ideology of homosexuality.” He also described St. Paul’s theological interpretation of “the rampant ideological and cultural aberration in this area,” adding that this “aberration” is “at the same time the proof and the result of the exclusion of God from collective attention and social life, and of the refusal to give him due praise.”

Excluding God from western culture “has had the consequence, almost as an inevitable punishment, of the spread of an aberrant sexual ideology, with an arrogance unknown to previous times.”

According to the cardinal, Christ touched on sexual matters “only a few times and always in a sober manner, although at the same time unmistakable and resolute.” Rejecting not only pagan habits but also some widespread Hebrew ones, the cardinal explained, “Jesus does not hesitate to include violations against chastity among the behaviors that threaten the dignity of man and his interior purity.”

The corruption of the “heart” is the source of the responsibility and the guilt of the actions committed.

Cardinal Biffi also decried the “sort of pansexualism” of society now ubiquitous in entertainment and advertising, saying Christian teaching on chastity is “a challenge that still keeps its relevance intact today. In a certain respect, it has even become more necessary and more urgent.”

“We sometimes get the impression that we have been influenced and taken in by a mysterious cabal of maniacs who are imposing their own degenerate mentality on everyone else. They are the same ones who never fail to call bigots and prudes those who are not convinced by their lofty arguments.”

The cardinal’s book chapter closed with an exhortation to an “evangelical realism” which recognizes that chastity is not a virtue which can be acquired on one’s own. Rather, the virtue must be found “in the context of a comprehensive following of Christ, everything becomes possible, easy, joyous: ‘I can do all things in him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13).”

'I was told to kill to my last breath': Captured terrorist's account of Mumbai massacre reveals plan was to kill 5,000

By Ian Gallagher
Last updated at 1:02 AM on 30th November 2008

The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’.

Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.

He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages.

Destroyed: The charred interior of the the Taj Mahal hotel after the terrorists were finally stopped

Destroyed: The charred interior of the the Taj Mahal hotel after the terrorists were finally stopped

Mercifully, the group, armed with plastic explosives, underestimated the strength of the
105-year-old building’s solid foundations.

As it is, their deadly attacks have left close to 200 confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise to nearly 300 once the hotel has been fully searched by security forces.

Yesterday, Kasab chillingly went through details of Wednesday night’s killing spree across the city, which ended when he was cornered by police.

He pretended to be dead, which probably saved his life. It was only when he was being transferred to hospital by ambulance that his accompanying officer noticed he was still breathing.

Once inside Nair Hospital, Kasab, who suffered only minor injuries, told medical staff: ‘I do not want to die. Please put me on saline.’

And as Indian commandos ended the bloody 59-hour siege at the Taj yesterday by killing the last three Islamic gunmen, baby-faced Kasab was dispassionately detailing the background to the mayhem.

He described how its mastermind briefed the group to ‘target whites, preferably Americans and British’.

Some of the militants, including Kasab, posed as students during a visit to Mumbai a month ago, filming the ‘strike locations’ and familiarising themselves with the city’s roads.

Devastation: Wrecked by explosions and fire, this was the Harbour Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace on Saturday. A few days ago it was one of India's finest venues, above. Now all that remains is a charred shell

Devastation: Wrecked by explosions and fire, below is a picture of the Harbour Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace on Saturday. A few days ago it was one of India's finest venues, above. Now all that remains is a charred shell

MUMBAI (BOMBAY), INDIA - NOVEMBER 29: Security services survey a destroyed room inside the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel

And Kasab described how he and an accomplice sprayed machine-gun fire around a busy railway station, killing dozens of people, before intending to move to the exclusive district of Malabar Hill, where they planned to ‘take VIPs hostage’.

One police officer said: ‘That, thankfully, never happened because we managed to stop them.’ Police insist that Kasab confessed to being a member of the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has denied involvement in the carnage, and claimed he and the others were trained in the Muslim country.

Intelligence analysts are keeping more of an open mind, however. And some political observers point out an unhelpful tendency by the Indian authorities continually to blame ‘Pakistan elements’ without solid evidence.

Some speculative reports emerging from New Delhi even suggested Pakistan’s intelligence services had a hand in training the terrorists.

Meanwhile, claims that up to seven of the terrorists could have been British men of Pakistani origin, who had connections to West Yorkshire, were being widely discounted.

A top Indian official, Maharashtra state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, said there was ‘no authentic information’ to suggest that any British citizens were involved.

The UK Foreign Office also said there was ‘no evidence’ that any of the terrorists were British.

Killers: Two armed gunmen are seen at the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai on Wednesday

Killers: Two armed gunmen are seen at the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai on Wednesday

One report suggested that one of the terrorists had been working at the Taj hotel as a kitchen porter for up to eight months before the attacks and had produced a British passport during his job interview. But this was strongly denied by the hotel management.

Scotland Yard detectives arrived in Mumbai yesterday, but only to lend their assistance and expertise to the investigation.

According to the account of Kasab’s interrogation, given by police sources, the terrorists were trained over five months in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, then had a month off before the attacks. At some stage, they also received intensive instruction in ‘marine assault’ operations.

Terrifying: One of the gunmen carrying an automatic rifle in the train station in Mumbai

Terrifying: One of the gunmen carrying an automatic rifle in the train station in Mumbai

Kasab and the nine other terrorists, who communicated using BlackBerry mobiles, began their journey to Mumbai on November 21.

Initially unarmed, they left an isolated beach near Karachi in a small boat, before being picked up the following day by a larger vessel.

At this point they were each given eight hand grenades, an AK-47 rifle, an automatic pistol and ammunition. And in anticipation of a lengthy siege, they also carried dried fruit.

Kasab told police that the group then hijacked a fishing trawler bearing the name Kuber near the maritime boundary between Pakistan and India.

A rubber dinghy lies in a police station in Mumbai, it was found near the site of the attacks - Kasab said the gunmen transferred to inflatable dinghies to go ashore after journeying from a beach near Karachi, Pakistan

A rubber dinghy lies in a police station in Mumbai, it was found near the site of the attacks - Kasab said the gunmen transferred to inflatable dinghies to go ashore after journeying from a beach near Karachi, Pakistan

Four of its crew are missing while the fifth has been found dead, apparently beheaded. Its owner and his brother are being questioned by police.

On November 23, after reaching Porbandar in the Indian state of Gujarat, 310 nautical miles from Mumbai, the insurgents were intercepted by two coastguard officers. The group hoisted a white flag and allowed the two men to board their boat.

According to Kasab, one of the militants then attacked one of the officers, slitting his throat and throwing him overboard. The other man was forced to help the group reach their destination before being executed as the vessel drew near to Mumbai.

For most of the journey, Kasab’s friend, 25-year-old Abu Ismail, a trained sailor, steered the vessel using GPS equipment. Three speedboats met the Kuber a mile and a half from the Mumbai seafront on Wednesday. After waiting for the light to fade, they moved off, later transferring to two inflatable dinghies to go ashore.

Grim task: An Indian soldier gives instructions inside a charred room of the Taj Mahal Hotel

Grim task: An Indian soldier gives instructions inside a charred room of the Taj Mahal Hotel

The two groups then split up. Four men went to to the Taj hotel, two to the Jewish centre of Nariman House, Kasab and another man set off by taxi towards the railway station, and two headed for the Leopold restaurant.

While his colleagues were executing hostages at the Taj, Kasab and Ismail first opened fire with their assault rifles at around 10.20pm, killing dozens of people standing at Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station.

Then they hijacked a police 4x4, killing the two officers inside. Kasab told investigators they continued their killing spree by attacking a petrol station and blowing up a taxi before being stopped.

‘I have done right,’ he told investigators. ‘I have no regrets.’

Engulfed: The Taj Mahal engulfed in smoke during a gun battle between Indian commandos and the militants

Engulfed: The Taj Mahal engulfed in smoke during a gun battle between Indian commandos and the militants

One police source said: ‘He [Kasab] was telling our people this in a most dispassionate way and responded to the horror their faces betrayed by shrugging his shoulders, as if it was all of no real consequence.’

Sources said tests on Kamal’s blood and urine showed he was under the influence of drugs to help keep him alert during the long battles with Indian security forces.

Guests who had been holed up during the three-day siege at the Taj hotel told of their ordeal yesterday.

Briton Richard Farah, who was trapped in his room before being rescued by commandos, hid his passport in his false leg after terrorists were reported to be seeking British and American passport holders.

‘I saw all the blood and broken glass and shrapnel. Tons of blood and shoes, people’s shoes, women’s shoes, men’s shoes,’ he said.

‘In the last few hours there were so many explosions and the floors shook.

I said, 'I’m a goner,' because it was right below me.

Eventually, we got to the lobby. I’d hidden my passport in my leg. If they had come to get me they wouldn’t have found it.’

Evidence was emerging last night that the the gunmen killed their victims early in the siege and fooled Indian security forces into thinking that they were holding hostages.

At the Sir J.J. Hospital morgue, an official said that of the 87 bodies he had examined, all but a handful had been killed during Wednesday night.

Pastor Who Helped Get 'Under God' in Pledge Dies at 97

ALEXANDRIA, Pa. — A church official says the clergyman credited with helping to push Congress to insert the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance has died in Alexandria, Pa. The Rev. George M. Docherty was 97.
The Rev. George M. Docherty and his wife, Sue, in 2004
Gene J. Puskar, AP

The Rev. George M. Docherty, here with wife Sue in 2004, delivered sermons in 1952 and 1954 saying "under God" should be added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Nancy Taylor, historian for the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church, says Docherty died on Thanksgiving at his home in Alexandria, with his wife, Sue, by his side.

Docherty delivered a sermon saying the pledge should acknowledge God in 1952 at Washington's New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just blocks from the White House.

On Feb. 7, 1954, he delivered it again after learning that President Dwight Eisenhower would be at the church.

Congress inserted the words a few months later.


How the words “UNDER GOD” came to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States originated on Columbus Day, 1893. It contained no reference to Almighty God, until in New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance as recited at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by the addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation”. The adoption of this resolve by the Supreme Board of Directors had the effect of an immediate initiation of this practice throughout the aforesaid Fourth Degree Assembly meetings.

At their annual State Meetings, held in April and May of 1952, the State Councils of Florida, South Dakota, New York and Michigan adopted resolutions recommending that the Pledge of Allegiance be so amended and that Congress be petitioned to have such amendment made effective. On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, at its annual meeting, adopted a resolution urging that the change be made general and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its President, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise
almost immediately thereafter.

At its annual meeting the following year, on August 20, 1953, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus repeated its resolution to make this amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag general and to send copies of this resolve to the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and to each member of both Houses of Congress. From this latter action, many favorable replies were received, and a total of seventeen resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives to so amend the Pledge of Allegiance as set forth in the Public Law relating to the use of the flag. The resolution introduced by Congressman Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan was adopted by both Houses of Congress, and it was signed by President Eisenhower on Flag Day,
June 14, 1954, thereby making official the amendment conceived, sponsored, and put into practice by the Knights of Columbus more than three years before.

In a message to Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart at the meeting of the Supreme Council in Louisville, August 17, 1954, President Eisenhower, in recognition of the initiative of the Knights of Columbus in originating and sponsoring the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance, said:

“We are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words ‘under God’ added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded. For the contribution which your organization has made to this cause, we must be genuinely grateful.”

In August, 1954, the Illinois American Legion Convention adopted a resolution whereby recognition was given to the Knights of Columbus as having initiated, sponsored and brought about the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance; and on October 6, 1954, the National Executive Committee of the American Legion gave its approval to that resolution.

Scientologists move in on traumatised Mumbai

A group linked to the Church of Scientology is mounting an emergency campaign to "flood Mumbai" with hundreds of thousands of booklets by L Ron Hubbard in order to spread its message to residents traumatised by the terror attacks.

As reports, Scientologists have sent out an email which says: "Flood Mumbai with TWTH [Hubbard's The Way to Happiness] booklets! This will help calm down the area! ... 100,000 booklets can be printed in India. We need to raise £21,000 on an immediate basis to make up the full amount." The operation is being mounted by ABLE, the Association for Better Living and Education, which is officially described as "Scientology-related"...


Be careful not to offend gay worshippers, Catholic priests warned

By Simon Caldwell
Last updated at 12:30 AM on 29th November 2008

Roman Catholic priests have been banned from using 'heterosexist' language in their churches in case they offend gay worshippers.

They have been told by their bishops not to assume that every churchgoer is a heterosexual and to reflect this 'in language and conversation'.

'Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful - a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain,' say the bishops in a leaflet advising priests and worshippers how to be more welcoming to gay people.

Pope Benedict XVI

Activists say any moves by the Catholic Church to be more tolerant of homosexuality are undermined by Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to gay marriage

Priests are also encouraged to put up posters advertising 'support services' for homosexuals, a move bound to infuriate many Catholics who believe gay sexual activity to be sinful.

The advice was welcomed by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as a 'positive initiative which will bring great comfort to gay Catholics and their families'.

He said: 'Its sympathetic, understanding message is a big improvement on the past homophobia of some Catholic pronouncements on homosexuality.'

However, he said the 'laudable change of tone' was undermined by the 'homophobic content of the Catholic Catechism' and by Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to gay marriage.

The advice was criticised by Lynette Burrows, a Catholic commentator, as 'pitiful'.

She said it was ridiculous that Church leaders appeared to be ' grovelling' to a secular agenda.

'It is things like this that are enfeebling the Church at the moment - the concentration on things that don't matter and missing the things that do,' she said.

'What is pitiful as well as demeaning is that the Church is running after homosexual opinion but nothing is going to make homosexuals like the Catholic Church.

'This is because the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder and whatever the bishops say will not change that.'

Pope Benedict XVI's private apartment (top) is seen lit at the ...

Pope Benedict XVI, right, and Catholicos Aram I, the spiritual ...

Pope Benedict XVI (R) greets Catholicos Aram I, head of the ...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkeys for Thanksgiving - as friends, not feast

"At Karen Dawn's Thanksgiving feast, there will be yams and stuffing with cranberries and a dessert of pumpkin-pecan pie, all set out on a table for eight.

And there will be turkeys, two of them actually -- Emily and Bruce (or possibly Brucilla -- it's a little unclear). The two 20-pounders will have most of the privileges of Dawn's other sentient guests -- a Pacific Palisades patio, a view of the ocean and vegetarian nibbles.

At Dawn's vegan holiday dinner, guests will ooh and aah over live birds. The only turkey plunked down on her table will be Wild Turkey bourbon..."

Scientists Find Clues to Aging in a Red Wine Ingredient’s Role in Activating a Protein

Published: November 26, 2008

A new insight into the reason for aging has been gained by scientists trying to understand how resveratrol, a minor ingredient of red wine, improves the health and lifespan of laboratory mice. They believe that the integrity of chromosomes is compromised as people age, and that resveratrol works by activating a protein known as sirtuin that restores the chromosomes to health...


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pope Benedict calls on society to reconnect beauty to truth and goodness

.- Although the world is immersed in images, it can be empty of beauty, Pope Benedict said today in a message he sent to the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Literature as it explores the relationship between aesthetics and ethics.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is hosting a public event with the theme—"The universality of beauty: a comparison between aesthetics and ethics," and to contribute to the discussion, Pope Benedict has sent the archbishop a message.

The topic chosen by the academy reminds us of the "urgent need for a renewed dialogue between aesthetics and ethics, between beauty, truth and goodness," the Pope writes.

This need to reconnect beauty with truth and goodness is not just limited to the "contemporary cultural and artistic debate," but extends to daily reality, the Holy Father argues.

Today we can see "a dramatically-evident split" between the pursuit of external beauty and the idea of a beauty that is rooted in truth and goodness. Oftentimes, society only understands the search for beauty as an "exterior form, as an appearance to be pursued at all costs," he explains.

"Indeed," the Pope writes, "searching for a beauty that is foreign to or separate from the human search for truth and goodness would become (as unfortunately happens) mere asceticism and, especially for the very young, a path leading to ephemeral values and to banal and superficial appearances, even a flight into an artificial paradise that masks inner emptiness."

Pope Benedict also calls on contemporary reasoning to rediscover the link between beauty, truth and goodness. "And if such a commitment applies to everyone," the Pope asserts, "it applies even more to believers, to the disciples of Christ, who are called by the Lord to 'give reasons' for all the beauty and truth of their faith."

When Christians create works that "render glory unto the Father," the Pope continues, they speak of the "goodness and profound truth" that they are portraying, as well as the integrity and sanctity of the artist or author. To this end, Benedict XVI encourages believers to learn how to "communicate with the language of images and symbols ... in order effectively to reach our contemporaries."

The Holy Father also mentions how at the Synod on the Bible the bishops noted that knowing how to "read and scrutinize the beauty of works of art inspired by the faith" can lead Christians to discover a "unique path that brings us close to God and His Word."

Finally, Pope Benedict cites John Paul II's Letter to Artists, "which invites us, to reflect upon ... the fruitful dialogue between Holy Scripture and various forms of art, whence countless masterpieces have emerged." His message closes by appealing to academics and artists "to arouse wonder at and desire for beauty, to form people's sensitivity and to nourish a passion for everything that is a genuine expression of human genius and a reflection of divine beauty."

Top Latin archbishop denied entry to Gaza

By Rula Samain

AMMAN - The Israeli authorities on Sunday barred Papal Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Franco from leading a mass with the local Christians at a church in Gaza, sources said.

The archbishop, who is also the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, has been in Palestine for almost three years.

The incident is the first of its kind. “The trip is not of a diplomatic kind,” Father Humam Khzouz, a Jordanian priest based in Palestine, who was accompanying the archbishop on his trip, said over the phone from Jerusalem on Monday.

“It was largely a spiritual mission to celebrate a mass with the locals who were looking forward to spending holy time with the archbishop,” he told The Jordan Times. At the moment, the parish in Gaza is vacant since its priest Monsignor Manuel Mussallam was allowed to visit his family in Birzeit after spending eight years in Gaza.

It was also the first time the 300 worshippers at the “Holy Family” church were left without a Sunday mass.

“This is a disrespect to all diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican, as well as a violation against the rights of the Christians in Gaza, who have the right to hold their rituals freely,” Amman-based Roman Catholic priest Rifat Bader told The Jordan Times.

Father Khzouz said: “I, along with the three priests, have service passports which allow us to travel without previous arrangements with the Israeli authority.”

On the other hand, he added, the archbishop has an official diplomatic passport accredited from the Israeli foreign ministry.

Nevertheless, contacts were held with Israeli officials from the foreign ministry three days prior to the papal nuncio’s visit to Gaza.

“The Israeli authorities knew of our visit since Tuesday,” Father Khzouz said. “Still,” he added, “they [the Israeli authorities] left us waiting at the Erez crossing for almost three hours,” while the Israelis allowed other delegations “to enter and leave Gaza on the same day”.

“We were standing there [at the Erez Crossing] barred from entering Gaza while the UN, Red Cross and other officials were permitted in and out of the strip,” Father Khzouz said.

“It could be sensed that this behaviour on the part of Israel is meant as a negative message to the Vatican,” Father Bader said.

The Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Feastday: November 25

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is November 25th. She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.

St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.

Maxentius offered Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius' wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.

Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.

Maxentius' blind fury against St. Catherine is symbolic of the anger of the world in the face of truth and justice. When we live a life of truth and justice, we can expect the forces of evil to oppose us. Our perseverance in good, however, will be everlasting.

A Fiery Czech Is Poised to Be the Face of Europe

"Decades later, Mr. Klaus, the 67-year-old president of the Czech Republic — an iconoclast with a perfectly clipped mustache — continues to provoke strong reactions. He has blamed what he calls the misguided fight against global warming for contributing to the international financial crisis, branded Al Gore an “apostle of arrogance” for his role in that fight, and accused the European Union of acting like a Communist state..."

Time Again for Letters of Marque?

By Ralph Alter

Once again, piracy captures the world's attention, though it seems unlikely that Hollywood will ever cast Johnny Depp in Pirates of Somalia. It's equally unlikely that a Somali immigrant got carried away on National Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th) here in the States and sent word to his friends back home.

Greed and jihad represent the motive of this resurgence of maritime larceny off the coast of Africa, while the opportunity was provided by Somalia's civil wars and the loss of central state control. Piracy has been with us since at least the
13th century BC, with every region of the world host to some pirates or other. The modern public imagination may have been steeped in quaint stories from decades of film and theme park pleasure, but these guys off the African coast are no fun

There are many villains to choose among in the history of piracy, but the Barbary Pirates were among the most notorious and storied. Redbeard and like-minded North Africans were highly successful, commandeering ships in the Atlantic and even plundering European Coastal villages gathering captives to sell into slavery well into the late 18th century. Estimates of the total number of Europeans enslaved run as high as a million and half. Our own Marine Hymn celebrates the eventual American victory over the Barbary pirates, defeating them on "the shores of Tripoli."

History amply demonstrates the propensity of the most scurrilous of outlaws to head for the frontiers. Those regions least populated and settled offer wide latitude to those with less than honorable intentions. The 19th century American Wild West and early Australia come to mind. But the high seas combined with a failed state provides the perfect combination of remoteness and isolation to allow sea-going miscreants to perform hit-and-run operations.

All this ocean-going uncertainty combined with an ironic twist of terrorism, creates a great deal of hand-wringing, especially by the Saudis, since it's mostly their ox being gored. So far the only nation to actually send its navy out to attack pirates is India, flexing its muscle as an aspiring naval power, and doing the civilized world a favor.

There is another solution, however. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War. Therein the concept of the letter of marque was developed. This process was designed specifically for but is not exclusive to, nautical use, and stops short of a declaration of war. These warrants allow for the state's agent to search, seize, capture and destroy the vessels of an individual or nation in the course of regaining property or personnel considered to belong to the issuing nation. In French, the term is lettre de course. Thus the ships assigned these responsibilities were called Corsairs.

The English term is Privateer. Not surprisingly the corsairs and privateers were not much better than pirates themselves. In fact many of them played both sides of the street, including Captain William Kidd, Jean Bart and Henry Morgan.

Our own U.S. Constitution specifically assigns the power to issue letters of marque to the U.S. Congress, and the power was used extensively in the Revolutionary War. The woeful shortage of American vessels ready to do battle with the vaunted British navy created the need for additional maritime support. Privateers competently albeit erratically filled the need for private vessels and stymied the British off Long Island Sound and the ports of Boston and Baltimore and many other ports along the Eastern seaboard.

The resolution of those vessels currently held for ransom will likely be a bit protracted and hopefully a bit messy as well. Actuarial tables were unavailable on pirates, but one suspects that the life-expectancy of the average pirate is rather low, with insurance premiums probably similar to those available to Soviet journalists or O.J. Simpson's dates.

Going forward however, the Saudis and other nations with tanker fleets should proceed to issue their own letters of marque. Currently the tankers have small crews that are relatively unarmed. Private security firms have been recommended to shipping companies by no less than United States Navy:

"The coalition does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region," Combined Maritime Forces commander, U.S. vice admiral Bill Gortney tells Reuters. "The shipping companies must take measures to defend their vessels and their crews."

Blackwater has already been offering its services to dissuade the piratical intentions of latter-day ocean-waymen, and these hired guns from Blackwater didn't gain many fans in Mookie Al-Sadr's brigades for good reason. Market-based solutions can work and save the taxpayers money in so many ways.

Letters of marque: it's back to the future.

Traditional Latin Solemn High Mass: Feast of the Sacred Heart

Gregorian chants draw new, unlikely fans

By Carlos Alcala

McClatchy Newspapers

Gregorian chant holds a place in popular imagination as the province of hooded monks intoning monotonous melodies along dim stone corridors.

It's not like that.

At St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Sacramento, the ancient musical form is sung by children and young men and women, a multiethnic choir of multicolored voices.

Teens sing wearing Vans or boots poking out from beneath cassocks. They sing at Masses where toddlers babble and babies wail and adults walk in and out during services.

Rehearsal is in a classroom furnished with old pews, the ceiling covered in dull acoustic tiles.

The setting is mundane, but the music is ethereal. It's ear-pleasing and eye-opening, but difficult to describe.

It resonates when the men's deeper voices are breathing the Latin phrases.

When the higher voices come in, the music undulates; it flows out like unrhythmic acoustic heat: radiant music.

St. Stephen the First Martyr Church is one of the few parishes in Northern California to incorporate traditional Gregorian chant into Mass.

To hear some tell it, that is very odd. To them, chant and Mass are nearly synonymous.

Gregorian chant ebbed in the decades after the Roman Catholic Mass was opened to vernacular non-Latin languages, even though chant was still officially supported.

"Gregorian chant should have the first place in musical liturgy," said William Mahrt, a professor at Stanford and president of the Church Music Association of America.

"(It's) the fundamental music," Mahrt said, "the basic music."

In the fourth century, it was how people learned the psalms, said Peter Jeffery, Scheide Professor of Music History at Princeton.

Much as popular songs are memorized today, the music of chant conveyed religious precepts to largely illiterate societies.

"The chant is the servant of the text," said Jeffrey Morse, St. Stephen's choir leader for six years.

Chant is fundamental to more than the church.

"There wouldn't have been Elvis Presley if there hadn't been Gregorian chant," Morse said.

That may be an exaggeration, but musical notation itself was created by monks in the 800s specifically to record chant melodies.

It's essentially the same notation the system for writing music that is used for chant today, though not for other music.

What Morse's choir sings during St. Stephen's Masses is largely prescribed by centuries of tradition.

"Choristers were singing the exact same text to the exact same melody in 800 on the same Sunday," Morse said. "It grounds you in history."

Few parishes are grounded like St. Stephen's.

The parish was set up by Bishop William K. Wiegand to conduct a traditional Latin Mass. The priest who hired Morse recognized the place of chant and Morse's wealth of knowledge and experience.

When asked about the name "Gregorian," he readily recites the dates and nature of Gregory the Great's papacy. Gregory's name was appended to the chants that existed before he was made pope in 590.

The music was practically dead in the United States in the late 1980s and early '90s. Morse had to go to England to study Gregorian music. "No one wanted it, basically," he said.

Things are changing, though.

There's something of a self-help movement, experts like Mahrt and Jeffery say.

A summer chant gathering four years ago had 40 participants mostly refugees from failing choirs. This year it had 260 some from growing choirs, some who seek to seed new ones.

In some cases, politics is behind the growth of chant.

Many Catholics associate Latin Mass and traditional music with conservative politics, said Princeton's Jeffery.

Indeed, at St. Stephen's during a recent Mass, political stickers on cars in the parking lot were all in support of the McCain-Palin ticket or initiatives aligned with a conservative social agenda.

Many may seek tradition, but few have the experience of Morse and his choir. Even some teens in his group have been in it for six years six times around the prescribed cycle of the liturgy.

They know the chants. They know the music. Though it's in Latin, "We definitely try to understand what we're singing," said Ellen Presley, 20, a music major at California State University, Sacramento.

When the choir takes a break in August, Presley said, "everyone complains about us not being here. The music adds a lot."

In fact, it is choir participation that draws 21-year-old Jonathan Crane to drive two hours from Corning, Calif., to St. Stephen's. "It was the sound" that thrilled him, he said.

Crane and Presley are also impressed by the voices of the 8- and 9-year-old choristers who sing with them.

The music is a major part of the service, but not everything. During Mass, the chant's beauty competes with the rustle of life in the congregation.

It is not like a visit to the symphony, where every cough is frowned upon and babies are unwelcome.

The choir is not the focus. In fact, they sing from a loft, heard but not seen.

Chant's most ardent supporters seem to like it that way.

"I think that's very much what music in a sacred context should be," Morse said. "It shouldn't be a concert at all."

"The object of one's attention," Mahrt said, "is worship."

Still, the music augments the worship, said Father Robert Novokowsky, the parish's pastor.

"During the liturgy, the chant is meditative," he said. It's one thing to have a short psalm read. It's quite another to experience it sung.

"It takes four minutes to sing that one line," Novokowsky said.

"It's a way of experiencing the mystery of God."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pauline Basilica Gets Austrian Christmas Tree

82-foot Fir Donated to Benedictine Monks

By Marco Cardinali

ROME, NOV. 23, 2008 ( St. Peter's won't be the only basilica graced with an Austrian Christmas tree this year. The country has also donated an 82-foot fir to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to commemorate the Pauline Year.

The fir, donated by the city of Kötschach-Mauthen, in Austria's southern state of Carinthia, arrived last week as a special gift to the monks of the Benedictine abbey at the basilica, who have been the custodians of the body of the Apostle to the Gentiles for about 1,700 years.

"It is a gift for which we Benedictines of St. Paul's are very grateful, especially since it is the first time that such a thing has happened," the Abbot of the St. Paul's, Father Edmund Power, told ZENIT.

"We are used to seeing the tree in St. Peter's Square, but none has ever been seen next to the Basilica of St. Paul," the Benedictine added. "It is a gesture that highlights in a joyous way the importance of the present time of grace of the Pauline year and how much all the Christians of Europe and of the world feel this connection with the Rome of the Apostles."

"Also, [the symbol of] the tree, which hearkens back to ancient traditions and has pagan origins, is one of the most popular Christmas symbols," he added.

"The tree, in fact, is the symbol of life and Christmas reminds us precisely of the incarnation of the Word of God, the Root of Jesse, of him who is the true tree of life and at the same time is the truth and the way and who St. Paul always witnessed to and preached as the love of the Father," said Father Edmund.

An Austrian delegation will greet Benedict XVI on Wednesday, presenting him with a similar, but smaller tree, as the 17,636-pound fir is already in place beside the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Leading the delegation will be Mayor Walter Hartlieb of Kötschach-Mauthen, and Bishop Alois Schwarz of Gurk-Klagenfurt. The tree at the Pauline Basilica will be lit Saturday, in the presence of some 500 Austrian pilgrims.

Gutenstein im Piestingtal, also located in Carinthia, is sending a tree mid-December for St. Peter's Basilica.

"Great Leap Forward"

"The major Catholic Church reform organisations in the United States are in the process of organising a large scale, joint meeting in 2011 tentatively titled an "American Catholic Council". Catholica is aware discussions have been underway between leaders of the largest reform organisations such as Call to Action (CtA), Voice of the Faithful (VoTF), and the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) and leaders of a number of other major lay organisations have also been involved in the discussions and are at various stages of consulting their wider memberships. Combined these organisations have tens of thousands of members. The scale of this initiative is of particular interest as it could well be the largest lay-generated reform initiative that has ever occurred anywhere in the world. The development might suggest that the continued attrition in Church membership is now cutting into sectors of the population who are no longer prepare to leave the Church without voicing their criticisms of where the ecclesial leaders have been taking Catholicism.

The idea has been promoted for a number of years by the President of ARCC, Professor Leonard Swidler, but recent developments including Pope Benedict's visit to America earlier this year and the clearly decisive divisions that have emerged between the outlooks of the lay faithful in America and their bishops in the recent Presidential election appear to have added impetus to the initiative.

In a newsletter sent to ARCC members on Friday Professor Swidler writes:

The Reform Movement of the Catholic Church in America — in the spirit of Vatican II — is on the cusp of a "Great Leap Forward", to borrow a phrase from Mao. ARCC has for several years been promoting the idea of all the major Catholic Reform groups in the U.S. joining together in an American Catholic Council to move our common agenda forward. That Great Leap Forward is now being launched! The largest of the American Catholic Reform organizations– Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful–are on board, along with, of course, ARCC, and others.

Professor Swidler goes on to outline four major points that have been agreed upon in the discussions that have taken place at the leadership levels of the reform organisations. They are:

  1. The basic Resources of the American Catholic Council are the documents of Vatican II and the processes and documents of the 1976 Call To Action led by the National Council of Bishops and involving massive numbers of laity, religious, and priests.
  2. The major focus will be on church governance. None of the diverse concerns of the various U.S. Catholic reform organizations will be attainable unless there are structural means to work toward their implementation. That means, minimally, striving for Catholic Church decision-making structures that are built on the democratic principles of accountability, transparency, representativeness, and due process of law.
  3. There will be the widest possible solicitation of input from all levels of Catholics around the country. Techniques that have already been discussed include national public hearings (as was done in 1976), approaches to parish organizations as well as organizations of laity, religious, and clergy, internet and other electronic means. Concrete suggestions in this area are especially solicited from you!
  4. The initial aim will be the coming together of thousands of chosen delegates and interested Catholics from around the country in an American Catholic Council in the year 2011.

The proposal will be of interest to Australian Catholics following the recent call by one of the organisers of last year's 17,000 signature petition to the Australian Catholic Bishops, Frank Purcell, for the calling of a Synod of the Australian Catholic Church."


"Great Leap Forward." What an appropriate name for this:

"The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social plan used from 1958 to 1961 which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform mainland China from a primarily agrarian economy dominated by peasant farmers into a modern, agriculturalized and industrialized communist society. Mao Zedong based this program on the Theory of Productive Forces.

The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen – both within China and outside – as a major economic failure and great humanitarian disaster with estimates of the number of people who starved to death during this period ranging from 14 to 43 million."


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christ’s Kingdom requires us to love our neighbor, Pope teaches

.- Meditating on today's Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father spoke with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God's eternal kingdom is realized by those who live the Gospel and strive day after day to put his word into practice.

Pope Benedict began reflecting of the kingship of Jesus by looking at his encounter with Pontius Pilate. "During his Passion, Jesus claimed a singular royalty before Pilate, who explicitly questioned him: 'Are you a king?'” Benedict recalled. “Jesus responded: 'You say it, I am a king;' a little before, however, he had declared: 'My kingdom is not of this world.'

The question of what kind of kingship Jesus claims is, in fact, a “revelation and actualization of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice,” the Pope said. The Father, Benedict explained, “entrusted to the Son the mission of giving to men eternal life, loving them until the supreme sacrifice. At the same time, the Father conferred on the Son the power to judge men…"

Referring to today's Gospel on the universal royalty of Christ the King, the Pope noted its simple imagery and popular language, but also stressed the Gospel reading’s extremely important message: "the truth is our ultimate destination, by which we will be judged."

Benedict XVI recalled Jesus' quote: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me." This, the Holy Father taught, "is part of our civilization. It underscores the history of peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, and the multiple charitable and social works.

“In effect, the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but brings to fruition all good that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put love of neighbor into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we make space for the rule of God, and his kingdom comes true among us. If, on the other hand, each person thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot help but go to ruin."

Turning to Saint Paul, Pope Benedict pointed out that he describes the kingdom of God as "justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

"It is important to the Lord that every man have life," the Pope stressed. "In God's eternal kingdom, the Lord gathers those who strive day after day to put his word into practice. For this reason, the Virgin Mary, most humble of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and is Queen at the right hand of Christ the King. To her heavenly intercession we wish to entrust ourselves, yet again, with filial confidence to be able to realize our Christian mission in the world."

TPS Reports

Ann E. Briated

"This little firecracker keeps her whiskey close on bout nights and will stop at nothing to knock over any derby doll that crosses her path. Whether it's on the rink or at the after party, you can guarantee Ann E. Briated is always good until the last girl drops!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Submission to Peter is the right way to go

Since our reconciliation with the Holy See on 18 June 2008 statements have been made on the internet indicating that we had a ‘slow thorny’ road ahead of us and that we had been wrong to trust the Church. It was quickly pointed out that we had no faculties.

We had to bear these remarks patiently; it is good for the soul. In truth though, the only thorn to be borne in these statements was that they came from those we love, some fellow traditional Catholics, seemingly intent on making the worst out of our decisions.

In fact the road has not been ‘thorny’ nor has it been slow. Consider the facts. We were received by the Church as a community wanting to remain as such; but according to Canon Law we were not incardinated anywhere in the Church structures either individually as priests or collectively as a community. Normally speaking since we were not incardinated anywhere we would be without faculties until everything was perfectly regularised; this would take time.

But the Church being a true mother, aware of the needs of the community and the faithful in Stronsay who have recourse to us, has granted us interim faculties to see us over.

Surely since the Motu proprio of 7 July 2007 there should be forgiveness and a return to trust in the Church. This is what we have done. We trust the Church. We trust the Holy Father. We are not being abused by the Church or the Holy See; as some have said. We are not being forced to say the New Mass; as many say. We are not being trapped to be destroyed. Dear friends we are being supported and accommodated without anybody asking us to compromise anything. The bishops of Aberdeen and Christchurch have gone the extra mile beyond the limits of the canonical requirements. This is well worth noting. My experience of the Holy See and regularisation has been excellent. It has not been a bad experience.

We invite any priest who wants to consider being reconciled to the Holy See, to stay on Papa Stronsay for as long as he wants, anonymously and with no strings attached. Submission to Peter is the right way to go.


INTP - The Thinkers
The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.


h/t to Swissmiss

Palestrina - Missa Brevis - Credo

188 martyrs 'show the way for those who believe,' Japanese bishops say

.- In a press release this week the bishops of Japan pointed out that the 188 Japanese martyrs to be beatified “are not political militants, they did not fight against a regime that hindered religious freedom: they were men and women of profound and authentic faith, who show the way for those who believe. Their experience is an opportunity for reflection for us all.”

According to the Fides news agency, in referring to these martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus Christ between 1603 and 1639, the Japanese bishops point out that their testimony is a challenge to the Church about the role of the laity in the transmission of the faith and in the organization of the Church, and therefore, they said, “It’s time that the formation of our laity be taken seriously.”

Likewise, the bishops underscored, “We appreciate the fact that, without these women” who are among the 188 martyrs, “the Church would not exist today in Japan. We await the beatification of these women martyrs as a message of hope and comfort for all the women of this country, of whatever religious faith.”

They also pointed to the example of Father Peter Kibe and other priests, “who send us a message rich in teaching for the priests today who seek to be good pastors in contemporary Japan.”

Vampire Day: Tangential Observation

Vampire Day: Some Favorite Vampire Movies
Vampire Day: Five Favorite Vampire Novels
Vampire Day Comes To Orthometer

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Egg Cake (not what you're thinking)

Pope pondering change to Mass liturgy
VATICAN CITY - A high-ranking Vatican official says Pope Benedict XVI is considering introducing a change to the Mass liturgy.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, who heads the Vatican office for sacraments, says pope may move the placement of the sign of peace, where congregation members shake hands or hug.

Arinze told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview published Friday that the pope has asked bishops to express their opinions and will then decide.

Under the change, the sign of peace, which now takes place moments before the reception of communion, would come earlier. Arinze said the change might help create a more solemn atmosphere as the faithful are preparing to receive communion.

"More from dissident NCRep on Bougeois’s excommunication"

From Fr. John Zuhlsdorf:

"The ultra-lefty National Catholic Reporter presents another exercise in adulation of probably soon to be former Fr. Roy Bougeois, MM.

Bougeois is a longtime professional protester, dissident and now heretical supporter of women’s ordination.

It was especially his active participation in a fake ordination of a woman last August, at which he also spoke, which stirred the Vatican to action.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will probably send the notice of his excommunication fairly soon. There remains the question of his continuing in the clerical state and as a member of the Maryknoll Mission priests. Bougeois was given an opportunity to rethink his favorable position on women’s ordination. He obstinately and publicly refused to stop supporting what the Church definitively teaches is an impossibility. Therefore Bougeois has also fallen into contumacious heresy, which he spreads publicly, thus also causing additional scandal. His political protests were one thing, but this is another entirely.

Let’s have a look at the NCRep’s latest encomium. My emphases and comments.

Support, criticism swirl around Roy Bourgeois

By Tom Roberts
November 20, 2008

Letters, petitions go to Rome about priest threatened with excommunication [I wonder if "promise" wouldn’t have been a better word.]

The news that peace activist Fr. Roy Bourgeois was threatened [Note how the writer sets up the contrast of "peace" on the one hand, and "threat", on the other.] with excommunication for his support of women’s ordination unleashed a storm of commentary and reaction from various Catholic interest groups and around the blogosphere.

If the issue is settled for Rome, it is still wide open in some Catholic circles. [Roma locuta est, causa disputatur.] In addition to the expected sharp division between those who applaud Bourgeois’ action and those who find it scandalous, people have posed thoughtful questions about conscience, and how and whether the church can force someone to violate his conscience. Others, in what amounts to a fairly robust discussion of the question of women’s ordination, raise issues of history and women’s place in the early church based on an understanding of scripture and archaeological evidence. [Several points are front loaded here for the article. First, the writer paints the critics of the Holy See as "thoughtful". You have already been told that the Holy See is threatening. Also, placing this in the sphere of "conscience" will probably strike the thoughtful reader as pandering to their usual readership. These days, conscience is king, regardless of how poorly formed it might be. Also, there is "robust" discussion. "Robust" here signals approval. The (impossibility) of the ordination of women should be talked about and talked about and talked about… until it happens. "Robust", therefore, is approval, when applied to the "question". Also, there really is no question about this if you are a faithful Catholic. Finally, the writer panders a bit more by tossing in the suggestion that women have been mistreated and that, in the finest Da Vinci Code fashion, there is evidence out there which will prove Bougeois and the women to the right after all.]

[Now watch how the issues are confused.] Another thread that runs through much of the commentary asks how the church could act so swiftly against Bourgeois when decades passed before the church even began to investigate cases of sex abuse of children by priests. [On the one hand, priests committed vile sins, which are also crimes, and bishops and religious superiors who shamefully did too little exercised scandalously bad judgment. On the other hand, Bougeiois is a public heretic, which is a matter of doctrine. On the one hand there were moral delicts, on the other damage to the Church’s doctrine about a very important teaching and practice. They are both very serious, but they fall into different categories. They are not moral equivalents. However, we can agree that the Holy See didn’t act with the speed we could have hoped. But in the interest of being consistent according to the call of the NCRep we hope the Holy See will now act to remove from their positions all priests who support the ordination of women together with those who have been proven beyond doubt to have abused children.] Meanwhile, Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest of 36 years, is trying to meld [another nice word] issues that normally operate in separate spheres by claiming that the ban on ordaining women is as serious an injustice within the church as the injustices he has confronted in the realms of the political and military. [So, the issue of the ordination of women is simply reduced to the "fairness" argument. What this reflects is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Church teaches priesthood is all about. For the NCRep and Bougeios, priesthood is about the functions and about one’s own subjective feeling about them. If priesthood is only about what people do, then it makes sense that we should chose people who are competent and available to do those tasks, regardless of their sex. But priesthood is not only about what priests do. It is about who they are. Also, the Church calls men to the priesthood, men don’t call themselves. Whatever feelings or thoughts they have about priesthood are tested and verified by the Church, which also considers many other factors, including the Church’s perennial practice and Tradition and Magisterium. In the end they are only saying "it’s not fair".]

Bourgeois, who concelebrated an ordination of women in Kentucky in August, responded to the Vatican’s warning that he recant his position or face excommunication with a letter stating that he considered the ban on ordination of women an injustice within the church and that he could not recant what he considered a matter of conscience. [Conscience is supposed to confirm his own choices. The Vatican is supposed to accept this. Imagine. Bougeois: "Women must be ordained because I feel it’s unfair they aren’t". Vatican: "What part of the Church’s teaching do you not understand? No." Bougeois: "I insist." Vatican: "No. And furthermore, stop saying these things or you will be disciplined." Bougeois: "I won’t stop because I really want to do this." Vatican: "Wellll….. okaaayy…. you win."]

He expects to receive final notice of excommunication from the Vatican in the very near future.

In a homily delivered during the August ordination, Bourgeois declared, “Just as soldiers in Latin America abuse their power and control others, it saddens me to see the hierarchy of our church abusing their power and causing so much suffering among women. Jesus was a healer, a peacemaker, who called everyone into the circle as equals.” [Bougeois compared the Holy See, the Holy Father and all bishops back through the centuries to brutal soldiers of regimes trying to repress Communists guerrillas, "freedom fighters".]

Roman Catholic Womenpriests, who sponsored the ordination that precipitated the Vatican action against Bourgeois, asked [this is a good one] in a release how the Vatican could “excommunicate women who honor their call to the priesthood and, in the case of Fr. Roy, the men who support them, but not the priest s and bishops who have perpetrated sexual abuse of children?” ["How could you! How could you be so mean!" More seriously, must excommunication the penalty for everything now? People toss this around so lightly. Let’s dig for a moment. First, priests who were proven to be abusive were punished with a serious penalty: dismissal from the clerical state. What is excommunication for? It is intended to help people return from their sinful state and to prevent them, to the extent possible, from doing additional damage to themselves and the Catholic faithful. The Church also uses excommunication for some sins to do its part in underscoring that certain actions are heinous when the state no longer does its part. I have in mind the case of the American bishops once asking the Holy See to permit the imposition of excommunication on people who sold drugs to minors. This was eventually rescinded, probably because in the civil sphere there are strong laws in this regard and there is a strong social stigma about that. Consider the case of abortion. Abortion carries an excommunication, though with murder does not. Why? Probably because states have become callous regarding the unborn and so the Church does her part to underscore the sanctity of human life from its very beginning in the face of a loss of this sense in society, in a culture of death. To be fair to the argument used above (which is still ridiculous), I think some abuser clerics should also have been excommunicated. Take for example those priests who were not merely sick and doing sick things in private, but who made a public case for what they did, as in the case of that creep involved with the organization promoting child abuse. IMO, he should also have been excomm’d because he went beyond the mere acts of abuse, bad as they were. There are many priests, sadly, who think women should be ordained. They are not being censured with excommunication because they don’t push it to the point Bougeois did, to real scandal, and harm of the unity of the Church and her doctrine. Excommunication has to serve a function. That function is not just retribution. The Church doesn’t apply penalties as retribution. They are remedies. Excommunication also states to the Catholic faithful that what the person did is a grave offense against the unity of the Church, that it is not Catholic. The Church doesn’t excommunicate people just because they are "bad people", as retribution. I think this is where the people involved with that fake ordination business have gotten the argument wrong, even though there is a grain of truth in the suggestion that some abuser clerics should have been excommunicated.]

In a series of questions, the group also asked why the Vatican continued to ignore “the voice of the community,” citing surveys that regularly show a heavy majority of Catholics would approve of women priests. [Because majority rule should guide us?]

“Why do you continue to deny the documented archaeological evidence [This is just DaVinci Code fluff not to be taken seriously.] that supports the spiritual leadership of women as deaconesses, priests and bishops for the first 1200 years of church history?” the group asked.

One of the most high profile clerics to weigh in on the Vatican discipline is Jesuit Fr. James Martin, an author and frequent contributor to America magazine, the weekly Jesuit publication. [He is high profile? Why? Because he writes for America.] In a Nov. 11 blog posting, Martin essentially explained the collision course that was inevitable when Bourgeois clearly violated church teaching by participating in the ordination, no matter that on another level, [watch this] he was following his conscience, an inviolable activity. Martin cites several of the powerful references to conscience in Vatican II documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, including the line from Gaudiem et Spes: “Conscience is man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” [Well, that’s fine. But Bougeois is being censured because of his very public, very defiant, very scandalous heretical statements and his behavior. We hope the excommunication will eventually prompt him to form his conscience according to the mind of the Church, rather than his own musings.]

Martin tacks a “reflection” to the end `of his entry in which he recounts that the excommunication warning was sent to Bourgeois in October, within three months of the ordination ceremony in August. “Would that the church had acted with equal swiftness against sexually abusive priests. Would that bishops who had moved abusive priests from parish to parish were met with th same severeity of justice. [Again, excommunication is not retribution. Furthermore, once the ball did get rolling on handling the abuser cleric cases, the Church did move quickly. I know one case where a man was dismissed from the clerical state in lightening speed, unthinkable in the years before.]

“Were their offenses of lesser ‘gravity?’” he asked. “ Did they cause lesser ‘scandal?’” [Well… they were different kinds of scandal, different categories. Again, I am ready to concede that some of those clerics ought to have also been excommunicated. At the same time I will point out that not all priests thinks women should be ordained are being warned about excommunication. Furthermore, let’s ask a practical question: Say Holy Church would have excommunicated, for example, Card. Law of Boston because of how he mishandled clerics. Because excommunication is a remedy designed to promote repentance for a sin and harm done to the Church, he more than likely would have issued a public statement of sorrow immediately according to the demands of the decree. In that case, the excommunication would have looked like a sham and the whole purpose of having censures would have been undermined. I think they same would go for the larger number of cases of abuser clerics. What would have been the outcome of the censure? What purpose would it have served? REMEMBER: excommunication is not for retribution.]

Many people spoke of writing to Pope Benedict XVI as well as Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican agency that corresponded with Bourgeois.

One long missive that was sent to both the pope and NCR was from Charlotte Therese of Sweden. Near the end of the letter, she states:

[Okay, Charlotte is now going to set everyone straight….]I’ve studied all the arguments against women ordinations in detail and I’ve found that none of them is solid enough to build any teachings upon. It’s rather the opposite way—they all fall down like a pile of cards if they’re slightly touched. [Well… that’s compelling!] I thus hope you will welcome and reopen theological discussions about this in the Vatican, through inviting theologians from all over the world who has (sic) studied the question at depth—both women and men—and both those who based on their studies are positive to change and those who aren’t, and they should all have the right to speak and vote.” [Right. Because the Church has never really studied this before.]

A respondent on one blog who said he accepts “the stand of those in charge at this time[at this time] opposed the action against Bourgeois. “Instead of refuting Fr. Roy’s position, they silence his voice. What does this accomplish? Have those in charge not learned the lessons of history?” [This makes one want to pound one’s forehead on one’s desk.]

Call to Action, the lay reform group that has long supported women’s ordination, was attempting to gather 2,000 signatures [Oooooo…..] on a petition supporting Bourgeois prior to this year’s demonstration at Ft. Benning, Ga.

Bourgeois was founder of the annual event, which attracts thousands and is referred to as SOA Watch after the School of the Americas, the former name of the school at the fort. It was changed in 2001 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The protest began in 1990, a year after six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were assassinated in El Salvador by troops that had been trained at the SOA.

On Nov. 20, Bourgeois was preparing for the crowds that were beginning to arrive. Asked in a phone interview about reactions to his impending excommunication, he said he continues to receive calls of support, but said he had heard nothing further from the Vatican.

As for the SOA protest, Bourgeois said happily that he was finished with his organizational duties. He said he was in charge of arranging for portable potties and had just met the crew that delivered them. “I’m finished for the weekend. My work is done. And it’s one of the most important jobs here,” he joked. [He probably better not quit this day job… now that he has another.]

It is all so sad.

We see the public wreck of a clerical career. It’s an ugly thing to watch an autopsy, but sometimes it must be done. We have to keep cutting up these cadaverous articles for the sake of showing people what caused death.

We also see the NCRep’s sriral around the bowl. It could do so much good. In publishing articles like this, it undermines any good it might do otherwise. Very sad."