Sunday, May 31, 2009

Benedict XVI tells children he never imagined he would become Pope

.- During a festive meeting with missionary children at the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI said that he never thought about becoming the Pope, and that even today he still has a hard time getting used to the fact.

“My name is Letizia and I would like to ask you a question.” a little girl said to the Pope.

“Dear Pope Benedict XVI, what did the motto ‘the children help the children’ mean to you when you were a boy?

Did you ever think of becoming the Pope?” another Italian girl asked the Holy Father.

“To tell you the truth,” Pope Benedict responded, “I never thought of becoming the Pope, because as I have already explained, I used to be a fairly naïve young boy in a small country town very far away from [urban] centers in a forgotten province.”

“We were happy to be in this province and we did not think about other things,” he added.

“Obviously, we knew, venerated and loved the Pope, at that time Pius XI, but for us he was at an unreachable height, almost another world. He was our father, nevertheless, a reality that was way above all of us,” the Pope also said.

“And I must say that even today I have difficulty understanding how the Lord could think of me and choose me for this ministry. But, I received it from His hands, even if it is something so surprising that I believe is beyond my strength. But the Lord helps me,” he said.

Pope Benedict XVI Photos

Pope Benedict XVI (C) kneels as he prays in front of the reproduction of the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens to mark the end to Marian month May 30, 2009.


Pope Benedict XVI kneels as he prays in front of the reproduction ...

Saint Peter's Basilica dome is seen from the Vatican Gardens before Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the end of the Marian month May 30, 2009.


Pope Benedict XVI (R) reads his message in front of the reproduction of the original Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens to mark an end to the Marian month May 30, 2009.


Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport files civil lawsuit against State of Connecticut officials

BRIDGEPORT, Friday, May 29, 2009, 3:00 p.m. – In United States District Court today, attorneys representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport filed a lawsuit against officials of the State of Connecticut Office of State Ethics (OSE), seeking a court order to stop them from an unconstitutional application of state lobbying laws.

These officials are requiring the Diocese – and presumably all other organizations – to register as a lobbyist in order to engage in activities such as a rally at the State Capitol or using its website to encourage its members to contact their elected representatives. Application of the law in this manner would subject the First Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Assembly to government oversight and penalties...


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Father Muñoz, Update

"The Sisters of the Oasis thank you for your prayers for Father Muñoz.
Father has undergone surgery on his aorta artery.
The operation was successful and the haemorrhage has been stopped.
He is still alive and recovering.
We thank God and the Immaculata for this.
Please continue pray for him."

Attacks Against Christians Trouble Pontiff

Notes Concern When Greeting India's Ambassador

ROME, MAY 29, 2009 ( Benedict XVI expressed his desire that everyone should enjoy religious freedom in a message written for the new ambassador from India, where Christians were the object of a wave of violence last year in the eastern state of Orissa.

The Pope said this today in a written statement he gave to Chitra Narayanan. The Pontiff received the envoy in an audience together with seven other ambassadors representing Mongolia, Benin, New Zealand, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Norway. He addressed the eight as a group, and then gave each one a written statement that addressed concerns particular to each county.

In his message to Narayanan, the Holy Father said that "as Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, I join religious and governmental leaders throughout the world who share a common desire that all members of the human family enjoy the freedom to practice religion and engage in civil life without fear of adverse repercussions on account of their beliefs."

"I therefore cannot help but express my deep concern for Christians who have suffered from outbreaks of violence in some areas within your borders," he said.

Ongoing Hindu-Christian tensions flared into a wave of violence last August after Hindu extremists in Orissa blamed the slaying of a Hindu leader on Christians. Dozens of Christians, including a priest, were killed, and more than 54,000 fled their homes. Thousands of them are still living in displacement camps.

The violence spread to more than 392 towns, where some 5,000 houses, 149 churches, and 40 schools were destroyed or burned to the ground.

Benedict XVI recognized the government's efforts "to provide the afflicted with shelter and assistance, relief and rehabilitation, as well as for the measures taken to implement criminal investigations and fair judicial processes to resolve these issues."

"I appeal to all to show respect for human dignity by rejecting hatred and renouncing violence in all its forms," he added.

The Pontiff continued: "For her part, the Catholic Church in your country will continue to play a role promoting peace, harmony and reconciliation between followers of all religions, especially through education and formation in the virtues of justice, forbearance and charity.

"Indeed, this is the inherent goal of all genuine forms of education since -- in conformity with the dignity of the human person and the call of all men and women to live in community -- they aim at cultivating moral virtues and preparing young people to embrace their social responsibilities with a refined sensibility for what is good, just and noble."

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On ZENIT's Web site:

Full text:

State ethics office investigates Connecticut diocese as lobbying group

Diocese of Bridgeport sues for First Amendment violation

.- In response to its efforts to fight a bill that would have redefined the financial and pastoral structure of the Catholic Church in Connecticut, the Diocese of Bridgeport is now being investigated by the Office of State Ethics (OSE) for acting as a lobbying group without registering as one. Today, the diocese filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the investigation.

According to the Diocese of Bridgeport, a letter was received on April 23, 2009 from Thomas K. Jones, Ethics Enforcement Officer for the OSE, who informed the diocese that it was "the subject of an Office of State Ethics evaluation." The Church is suspected to have violated several Connecticut General Statutes (1-94, 1-95 and 1-96) which deal with “failing to register as a lobbyist in Connecticut,” “failing to submit all other appropriate lobbyist filings” and “failing to follow all applicable registration procedures."

The letter from the OSE argues that the diocese acted as a lobbying organization by participating in a rally at the State Capitol opposing Bill 1098 and using its website to encourage members to contact their elected representatives to oppose proposed legislation.

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport reacted to the investigation earlier today, saying, "Following the surprise introduction of Bill 1098, a proposal that singled out Catholic parishes and would have forced them to reorganize contrary to Church law and the First Amendment, our Diocese responded in the most natural, spontaneous, and frankly, American, of ways: we alerted our membership – in person and through our website; we encouraged them to exercise their free speech by contacting their elected representatives; and, we organized a rally at the State Capitol.

“How can this possibly be called lobbying?" he asked.

Over the weekend, all parishes in the Bridgeport Diocese will hear a letter read to them from Bishop Lori addressing the investigation. In his letter, the bishop explains what he believes the consequences of the state requiring to register as a lobbying organization would be.

“Once again,” writes Lori, “we should be outraged. 'Lobbying'? Exhortations from the pulpit, information posted to the world wide web, a rally in the middle of the day on the State’s most public piece of property? This cannot possibly be what our Legislature had in mind when it enacted lobbying laws to bring more transparency and oversight to a legislative process that has been corrupted by special interests and backroom deals.

“Let’s be clear: we violated no law.” Bishop Lori states in his letter.

In response to the investigation, the diocese announced on Friday afternoon that it had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Thomas Jones, OSE Ethics Enforcement Officer, and against Carol Carson, Executive Director of the OSE. The Bridgeport Diocese is seeking a court order to prevent further action against it by the Office of State Ethics.

"I believe that an order from the Court barring Mr. Jones and his colleagues at the OSE from applying the lobbying laws to the Diocese in this manner is necessary to enable the Diocese to continue to carry out its mission without fear of incurring civil penalties, exposure to possible criminal prosecution, burdensome administrative requirements, and intrusive oversight by the State," Bishop Lori said.

Friday, May 29, 2009

STATEMENT from John C. Favalora, Archbishop of Miami, about Father Alberto Cuti's separation from the Roman Catholic Church.

I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church.

According to our canon law, with this very act Father Cutié is separating himself from the communion of the Roman Catholic Church (c. 1364, §1) by professing erroneous faith and morals, and refusing submission to the Holy Father (canon 751). He also is irregular for the exercise of sacred orders as a priest (canons 1041 and 1044, §1) and no longer has the faculties of the Archdiocese of Miami to celebrate the sacraments; nor may he preach or teach on Catholic faith and morals (cannon 1336, §1). His actions could lead to his dismissal from the clerical state.

This means that Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric. Roman Catholics should not request the sacraments from Father Cuité. Any sacramental actions he attempts to perform would be illicit. Any Mass he says would be valid but illicit, meaning it does not meet a Catholic’s obligation. Father Cutié cannot validly officiate at marriages of Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Miami or anywhere.

Father Cutié is still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation....


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thatcher Meets Benedict

Posted by Edward Pentin

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:54 AM

Margaret Thatcher met Pope Benedict XVI at the end of his weekly general audience today.

The 83-year-old former British prime minister, who led the country from 1979 to 1990, had earlier in the day laid flowers at the tomb of John Paul II.
An Anglican, it was Baroness Thatcher’s second visit to the Vatican in less than two years, leading some to speculate whether she is thinking of joining the Church. During her previous trip, she also visited John Paul II’s tomb to pay her respects. According to those who were with her at that time, she made it clear in her characteristically loud voice that it was thanks to John Paul that Soviet communism was brought down.

Baroness Thatcher also met Paul VI back in June 1977.

Also at the end of today’s audience, the Pope met, among others, NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, students from Cuba, and ministers of justice from various countries visiting Rome for a Sant’Egidio conference on banning the death penalty.

Making a Mockery of Being Green

The creator of ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ and ‘King of the Hill’ has a new target: environmentalists


Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid...

N.Ireland soccer mob beats Catholic man to death


DUBLIN -- Militant Protestant supporters of a Scottish soccer team beat to death a Roman Catholic man in the latest sign of how sports rivalries inspire sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland, police and politicians said Monday.

Witnesses said more than 20 Protestant supporters of Glasgow Rangers, many of them wearing the team's blue-and-white jerseys and scarves, drove into a Catholic district of the town of Coleraine after Rangers clinched the Scottish Premier League championship Sunday.

Billy Leonard, a former policeman and politician from the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, said several carloads of anti-Catholic extremists came armed with clubs "and literally attacked the first person they came across."

Kevin McDaid, 49, was fatally bludgeoned while his wife, Evelyn, and a 46-year-old Catholic neighbor, Damien Fleming, were both injured. Fleming was reported in critical condition...


Monday, May 25, 2009

Father Muñoz, critical condition

"Your prayers are requested for
Reverend Father Muñoz
the founder of the contemplative
Sisters of the Oasis in Spain.
Father Muñoz is in a critical condition following serious internal haemorrhaging."

Burping of the lambs blows roast off menu

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.

Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.

“Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.

Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb.

A government-sponsored study into greenhouse gases found that producing 2.2lb of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of carbon dioxide...


Obama Aide: Not Our Goal to Reduce Abortions

Benedict XVI Recalls Chinese Catholics in Prayer

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the Polish military cemetery during ...

Calls for Peace at World War II Polish Cemetery

CASSINO, Italy, MAY 24, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming his support for the Catholics in China and is calling them to renewed fidelity to Christ and communion with the Successor of Peter.

The Pope stated this today in an address before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the crowd gathered in the Miranda Plaza -- renamed the Benedict XVI Plaza -- in Cassino, the town east of the Monte Cassino Abbey.

The Pontiff spent the day visiting the monastery founded by his patron, St. Benedict, the cradle of the Benedictine order.

He spoke about the saint's example in living peace, "the paschal gift par excellence."

The Holy Father continued, "As you know, in my recent trip to the Holy Land, I went as a pilgrim of peace, and today -- in this land marked by the Benedictine charism -- I have the opportunity to emphasize, once again, that peace is in the first place a gift of God, and therefore its power is in prayer."

He affirmed that only by learning, "with the grace of Christ, to combat and defeat the evil within ourselves and in relationships with others, can we become authentic builders of peace and civil progress."

"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, help all Christians, in their different vocations and situations in life, to be witnesses of that peace that Christ gave us and left us as a demanding mission to realize everywhere," said Benedict XVI.

Unity and peace

He recalled the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, celebrated in the liturgy on this date, March 24, and venerated "with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai"

The Pope added: "We celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. My thoughts turn to all the people of China.

"In particular I greet the Catholics of China with great affection and I exhort them to renew on this day their communion of faith in Christ and of fidelity to the Successor of Peter.

"May our common prayer obtain an effusion of gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that unity of all Christians, the catholicity and the universality of the Church always will be deeper and more visible."

The Pontiff greeted the Polish people, and spoke about his plan to visit the Polish cemetery of Monte Cassino commemorating the World War II battle later that afternoon.

"In this place," he said, "where so many lost their lives in the battles that were fought during the Second World War, we pray especially for the souls of the fallen, commending them to God's infinite mercy, and we pray for an end to the wars that continue to afflict our world."

"Through the intercession of St. Benedict," the Holy Father affirmed, "we ask God that, in prayer and work, we will discover the new dimensions of freedom, and that peace endures in Europe and in the whole world."

After praying the Regina Caeli, the Pope departed for the abbey of Monte Cassino, stopping en route to visit the "House of Charity" for homeless immigrants.

At the abbey, he met with abbots and abbesses from the Benedictine order around the world, as well as a large number of monks and nuns. He celebrated Vespers with the community, and addressed those present.

The Pontiff then left the monastery, and made a private visit to the Polish military cemetery. He read a prayer for the fallen of all wars and all nations, after which he left by helicopter for Rome.

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text:

Donald Rumsfeld: Threat or Menace?

"Who is to blame for (1) our difficulties in Iraq, (2) the delayed Katrina response, (3) lousy relations between the US and Russia, and (4) Republicans losing the Senate? Donald Rumsfeld, of course. At least if you believe Robert Draper, as he writes in the June 2009 issue of GQ.

'Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has always answered his detractors by claiming that history will one day judge him kindly. But as he waits for that day, a new group of critics -- his administration peers -- are suddenly speaking out for the first time. What they're saying? It isn't pretty'

Draper writes over 10 pages, or over 5,000 words, to expound this thesis. Let me give you the shorter version, page by page. (Draper is also the author of Dead Certain, a Bush-bashing book now available on Amazon for $5.33

Intro Page. Draper reveals that the Defense Department's intelligence briefs to the President routinely included quotes from the Bible. This is Draper's leadoff scandal. To be clear, the Bible quotes were not used to justify analyses, decisions or actions, but as simple inspirational respites. Draper repeats one such offensive passage from Psalms: "Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him ... To deliver their soul from death."

Page 1. "At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended" by the use of the Bible in this way. I believe the "building" referred to here is the Pentagon, which houses approximately 23,000 employees..."

(warning: 'vulgar language' at end of article)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Archdiocese investigates possible Seelos miracle

Mary Ellen Heibel, a parishioner of St. Mary in Annapolis, sits next to a statue of Blessed Francis X. Seelos. Heibel believes her cancer was cured through Blessed Seelos’ intercession. (CR Staff/George P. Matysek Jr.)

By George P. Matysek Jr.

Go home and prepare to die.

That’s what Mary Ellen Heibel’s doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington told her May 11, 2004, after they discovered that the cancer that had attacked Heibel’s esophagus in 2003 and then a lymph node later that year had spread throughout her body.

Given about six months, the longtime parishioner of St. Mary in Annapolis underwent a new form of chemotherapy at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore as a palliative treatment to extend her life. But doctors warned it would only postpone the inevitable.

At the suggestion of a Pittsburgh priest, Heibel began praying a novena in 2005 to Blessed Francis X. Seelos – a 19th-century Redemptorist pastor of her parish who died of yellow fever in 1867 in New Orleans.

One week after she began the novena at her parish, Heibel’s cancer disappeared. Gone were tumors in both lungs, her liver, back and sternum. When Dr. Michael Gibson, her doctor at Hopkins, called with the news, Heibel couldn’t believe it.

“I was just so excited. I called everyone,” the 71-year-old mother of four remembered. “I never thought in a million years this would happen.”

Told by her doctors that the unexplained healing could not be the result of her chemotherapy, Heibel is convinced that Blessed Seelos interceded on her behalf.

“I know this had to be a miracle,” she said.

Archdiocesan officials are now investigating whether Heibel might just be right.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien opened an archdiocesan inquiry into the alleged healing with a May 19 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. The archbishop also appointed a group to investigate the case and listen to testimony from Heibel, Dr. Gibson and other witnesses.

The commission’s findings will be sent to Father Antonio Marrazzo, Redemptorist postulator general in Rome, who will then take them to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes of Saints. If the healing is deemed miraculous, Blessed Seelos could be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

“It calls to mind the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the building of the church of Baltimore,” Archbishop O’Brien said before the May 19 Mass. “Blessed Seelos is typical of many priests and members of the faithful throughout the archdiocese who have taken their faith seriously and lived it faithfully and shared it with others in an inspiring way.”

Cardinal William H. Keeler was also at the Mass.

Father Gilbert Seitz, the archbishop’s episcopal delegate in the inquiry, said members of the investigative group include Dr. Larry Fitzpatrick of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, who will serve as a medical expert; Capuchin Franciscan Father William Graham, promoter of justice; and Deacon Neil Crisp and Leslie Engle, notaries.

Redemptorist Father John Kingsbury, pastor of St. Mary, said the possible healing is a “major breakthrough” in the canonization effort. Two miracles that occur after death are needed to become a saint in the Catholic Church. The first for Blessed Seelos was recognized when Pope John Paul II beatified the German Redemptorist in 2000. The second miracle needed for canonization could be the Heibel case.

“We’re very happy that the archbishop has opened the investigation,” Father Kingsbury said. “I’m glad Mary Ellen was healed no matter what – and, if it’s Seelos and it helps his cause, it would be wonderful.”

Born in 1819 in Bavaria, Blessed Seelos came to the United States in 1843 to minister to German-speaking immigrants. Ordained at the now-closed St. James parish in Baltimore in 1844, Blessed Seelos ministered in Pittsburgh before being assigned pastor of St. Alphonsus in Baltimore in 1854. While at St. Alphonsus, Blessed Seelos also ministered at St. James and St. Michael in Baltimore. He laid the cornerstone for St. Joseph in Fullerton.

Blessed Seelos became pastor of St. Mary in Annapolis and novice master for Redemptorist seminarians in 1857, and two months later he became pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul in Cumberland and director of the Redemptorist seminary at the parish.

During the Civil War, Blessed Seelos relocated his seminarians to Annapolis in 1862 and again became pastor of St. Mary. He visited President Abraham Lincoln in an effort to exempt seminarians from the draft. Because only priests could be exempt, Blessed Seelos arranged for Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick to ordain all 20 seminarians.

Blessed Seelos worked in Detroit in 1865 and then was reassigned to New Orleans a year later, where he ministered for 13 months before dying at age 48 after ministering to victims of the yellow fever outbreak.

Sitting on a bench next to a seated bronze statue of Blessed Seelos at St. Mary a few days before the archdiocese opened the investigation into her alleged healing, Heibel said she attends Mass, prays the rosary and prays to Blessed Seelos every day. She wears a relic, a chip of Blessed Seelos’ bone, around her neck.

Many parishioners have been praying for her throughout her ordeal with cancer.

“I think people were shocked when I was dying practically and came back to life so fast,” said Heibel, who retired last year as a self-employed antiques appraiser.

Heibel said her strong faith is what’s sustained her through numerous health challenges in her life – including a kidney transplant, poor hearing and a bout with septic shock.

“Every time I got sick, my faith increased,” she said.

Heibel noted that other parishioners and other believers around the country have reported miracles through the intercession of Blessed Seelos.

“I don’t know why they picked me out of the whole bunch to use,” she said with a laugh. “So many people have been helped by Blessed Seelos.”

Click here to hear Heibel in her own words.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Vatican-Israeli fiscal agreement could be ready by year's end

.- The Custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said this week that “conditions exists for finishing the fiscal agreement” between the Holy See and the State of Israel “by the end of this year.” He also reported that, “A good portion of the points have been resolved.”

Father Pizzaballa’s remarks were part of comments he made about the recent trip of Benedict XVI to the Holy Land, which ended on May 15.

Speaking to the Italian bishops' news agency, he explained that “the issue regarding the fiscal exception is at a good point, but there still needs to be discussion about the issue of the Holy Places, which is something we are discussing at this time.”

Regarding the Upper Room, which Israel is considering returning to the Church, Father Pizzaballa said, “It is an issue that has a long history and will be studied in detail. In fact, there has been no discussion on the matter since the year 2000.”

Asked later about the issuance of visas for religious and priests, in particular for those who come from Arab countries, the Custodian said, “That has already been discussed even recently with the Prime Minister, but there have not been any immediate exchanges. We hope, however, for a normalization in the short term.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Forever Virgins

"Even before the Catholic Church had nuns, it had consecrated virgins. And, today, women like Kathy Reda are choosing and reviving this largely forgotten vocation. They're walking down the aisle and betrothing themselves to God.

It was a large wedding, even by modern-day standards. Some 600 guests filled the pews at Dedham's imposing St. Mary of the Assumption Church on a Friday evening last August. The clergy had turned out in full force: 10 priests, a bishop, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, head of the Boston Archdiocese, processed up the main aisle -- said to be the longest of any in Massachusetts -- some sprinkling incense as the choir sang. At last came the bride, dressed in white lace, her only jewelry a simple gold cross on a chain. She smiled widely and carried a single red rose, and when she reached the front pew, she took a few deep breaths, as though to steady herself.

But no bridegroom waited at the altar. Kathy Reda, an emergency room nurse at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, was about to make a promise of perpetual virginity and become mystically betrothed to Jesus..."

Protestantism Erroneous

244. Do you say that the Protestant faith is false?

There is no such thing as the Protestant faith. There are hundreds of varieties of Protestantism, each variety containing some true things mixed up with its own particular errors. As religious systems I say that all Protestant sects are wrong.

245. How does Protestantism in general disobey Christ?

In general it says that Scripture is a sufficient guide to salvation, although Scripture says that it is not; it denies the authority of the Church established by Christ; it has no sacrifice of the Mass; it does not believe in confession; it denies Christian teaching on marriage; it rejects Purgatory, and very often its advocates refuse to believe in Hell. But I could go on almost forever. Meantime, if you give me any doctrine taught by one Protestant Church, I will produce another Protestant Church which denies it, save perhaps the one doctrine that there is a God of some sort.

246. Would you call Protestants heathens?

Christ said, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." Matt. XVIII, 17. He referred, of course, to a deliberate and willful refusal of a known obligation. If a man knows that the Catholic Church is the true Church, yet refuses to obey it, he will certainly be as the heathen before God. But Protestants who are ignorant of the truth of the Catholic claims, and who believe in Christ, trying to serve Him as best they can, would not be regarded as heathens. An exception is made in their case because of their lack of knowledge and because of their good dispositions.

247. Protestantism is not a protest against Christ, but against the Roman Church.

Christ promised that His Church would not fail. The Protestant Reformers said that it did fail. Instead of protesting merely against the bad lives of some Catholics, and even of some Priests, they went too far, and protested against the Church as such, asserting that Christ had failed to keep His promise concerning it. This was a protest against Christ, who had promised to be with His Church till the end of the world. Protest as much as you like against individual abuses in the Church, but no man has the right to set up a new Church.

248. But a re-formed Church is not a new Church.

Protestantism was not a true reformation of the Church. The identity of the Church is indissolubly linked with a continuous identity of doctrine, worship, and discipline. The so-called Reformation involved the abolition of essential doctrines, worship, and discipline, substituting completely different and humanly invented alternatives.

249. The Protestant Churches have as much right to say they have the truth as the Churches of the Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc., in early times.

You are supposing that the Protestant Churches have the same doctrine, worship, and discipline as those early Churches. But this is an unwarranted supposition. Those early branch foundations of the one true Church had the true doctrine, and were in communion with St. Peter, Bishop of Rome, who addressed his first Epistle to the Galatians and several other Churches. Protestant Churches do not hold the same doctrine as those early Churches, nor do they acknowledge the same obedience. Also, in all the countries where Protestant Churches exist, there exists also the Catholic Church which corresponds exactly with the Churches of the Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc.

250. According to you, Christ was a Catholic. All followers of Christ, therefore, belong to the Catholic Church.

Christ, as the Founder of the Catholic Church, was of course a Catholic. But your conclusion does not follow. Many profess to believe in Christ, but do not accept the whole of His teaching. They are mistaken. Certainly the Anglican does not believe in the correct doctrines of Christ if the Baptist does. The Catholic Church alone teaches the complete doctrine of Christ, and the only way to become a Catholic is to submit to her teaching authority and disciplinary directions.

251. Since Christ forbade divisions in the Church, you must admit that every Christian Church is a branch of the true Church. The Protestant Churches are but offshoots from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant sects constitute a breakaway from the Catholic Church. That is their condemnation, for there could never have been a valid reason for leaving the Church established and guaranteed by Christ. In any case, branches of the Church must be living branches still retaining their union with the parent tree. The Catholic Church as established in England, or in America, or in Australia, fits in with the idea of living branches. But at best, the Protestant sects are branches sawn off, and without the true life of the tree. Protestant Churches are divisions from the Church, not co-ordinated parts within the Church, and making up one complete body.

252. You have no right to deny our claims. Christ meant Protestantism to be, or it would not exist,

On the same reasoning you would argue that because sin exists Christ meant it to be! Christ predicted that heresies would arise, but distinctly forbade men to abandon the Church and originate them.

253. God sends all for our good, and it is our fault if we do not make good use of Protestantism.

Not everything is sent by God. He permits some things which the perverse will of men causes, and He permitted the evil of heresy. However, He never permits any evil without drawing some good from it. There are many good Protestants despite the sin of those who began Protestantism. And it is undeniable that Protestantism occasioned the reform of many abuses among the members of the Catholic Church.

254. What right has the Catholic Church to arrogate to herself powers given by Christ, rather than any other body of believers?

None whatever. No body of believers has any right to arrogate to itself any powers at all in this matter, just as no ordinary citizen has the right to enter a court and declare himself to be judge. Yet a lawfully appointed judge has the right to act in virtue of his commission. The Catholic Church takes nothing upon herself, but she does endeavor to fulfill the commission given her by Christ. Historically she alone can possibly inherit the jurisdiction given by Christ to the Apostles, and handed down through tiie ages. All other churches exist because men arrogated to themselves the right to coin new doctrines and set up churches of their own.

255. We have the Creeds, Saints' Days, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. These things guarantee that we are true Christians.

Some Protestants have those things, at least theoretically. Others have some of them. Others have none of them. But in any case they would not prove Protestants to be true Christians. At most they prove that some Protestants are attempting to do some Christian things. But a true Christian accepts the complete teaching of Christ, and does all that He commands. And all is accepted on the authority of Christ, not on the authority of one's own human judgment. A self-made religion built upon a personally approved selection from the teaching of Christ does not give us the Christian religion.

256. Anyway, there are Protestants as good as Catholics, and the Protestant Church is as good as the Catholic Church.

The idea that there are Protestants as good as Catholics has no bearing on the question. There are very good and sincere Mahometans, but that does not make Mahometanism true. And again, there is not a Protestant Church, there are dozens of different brands of Protestantism. Tell me which brand of Protestantism is as good as the Catholic Church, and I shall tell you when it started and who started it. Christ certainly did not begin it.

257. Protestants at least are allowed to think for themselves.

And when they do they end in chaos, or with no religion at all! However, the chief characteristic of the majority of Protestants is absence of thinking on matters of religion.

258. If Protestantism continues because Protestants do not think, is not the same true of Catholicism?

No. There is no really rational foundation for Protestantism, and if Protestants did reflect soundly upon the subject they would discover this. But there is a rational foundation for Catholicism. All Catholics at least know that their Church would not be so vast and united, not to speak of its mere existence, after centuries of misrepresentation, hatred, and attack, were it not for the protection of God. And if they give deeper thought to the matter they find many other solid reasons for their conviction. Impartial study leads a man out of Protestantism. It never leads a man out of Catholicism.

259. Just the opposite is true. Catholics remain Catholics because they have never developed any reasoning powers on the subject of religion.

You show complete ignorance of Catholic theological works, written by the cleverest men of the centuries. St. Thomas Aquinas had the Catholic Faith very deeply, yet wrote probably the greatest masterpiece of religious thinking the world has ever seen.

260. You are most ungrateful, for your own change from Protestantism to Catholicism was due to the very freedom of thinking given you by Protestantism.

You are in a quandary. Catholics remain Catholics because they do not think, yet thinking led me to become a Catholic! However, Catholics are free to think as much as they like about religion, and the more the better. The Catholic Church merely keeps them from thinking wrongly. Protestants are free to think whatever they like, apparently, with no safeguard against error at all.

261. If all that you say is true, why is the British Empire Protestant?

Because the ancestors of its present members rejected and left the Catholic Church, setting up Churches of their own. But must the religion of the British Empire be the true religion? Is that the infallible test? If Anglicanism is true because it is British, we may as well add, "and because it is not French, or Spanish, or Italian, or German, or Austrian, etc." In other words, because it is not the religion for all nations established by Christ.

262. But surely the majority of the millions of Protestants would realise their mistake, if indeed they are mistaken. They would on any other important subject.

It is not certain that men would realize their mistakes on other subjects. In political and national affairs men differ hopelessly, and absurd political policies seem ever to find followers. Yet, even granted that men would realize their mistakes in other matters, they would not therefore realize the falsity of Protestantism. In the first place, religion is very different from other matters. It is not here a question of a merely intellectual admission. The acceptance of Catholicism is a complex matter demanding adherence of mind, heart, and will, under the influence of God's grace. The absence of one or other necessary condition can mean a dimming of one's powers of comprehension. And until a man sees the truth of Catholicism, he is liable to rest more or less content with the religion he has. Again, Protestant prejudice is a real, if unrealized, force in those educated under the influence of Protestantism, a force blinding people to the defects of Protestantism, and to the merits of Catholicism. I remember a man who went through many forms of Protestantism, ending in Agnosticism, and who replied to my question as to whether he had ever studied Catholicism, "No. But Catholicism can't be right!" Protestantism had ceased to grip him positively, yet still left the negative poison in his system, "Rome must be wrong—I would not even consider it." Finally, and especially with Englishmen, the Protestant religion has been so blended with nationalism that it has become a matter of sentiment and patriotism. Its adherents go far more by feeling and emotion than by reason and true faith. Indeed it has been said strongly, yet not without a degree of truth, that when an Englishman enters his Church, he leaves his brains on the doormat. In other words, the average Protestant gives little real thought to his religious position at all.

263. That Protestantism commends itself more to men is evident from the fact that it is not attacked as is Catholicism.

The world is not afraid of Protestantism, which has always been ready to water down Christian obligations to suit it. But instinctively the world hates and fears the Catholic Church, which will make no compromise, but insists upon the fullness of Christian doctrine, comfortable or uncomfortable. She insists upon the intellectual obedience of faith; disciplinary submission of the will; the impossibility of divorce and re-marriage; the iniquity of birth-control by evil means; the inadequacy of a merely secular education. Her repetition of Christ's axiom, "Deny thyself; take up thy cross; and follow Me," interferes too much with the comfort of men. If Christianity demanded merely the admission of a few religious doctrines, men would not object to it. But since it imposes moral obligations difficult for human nature, I am not surprised that men refuse it in its original and austere form when they are offered a less exacting substitute with the assurance that it is just as good.

264. Are not the Protestant Churches at least working for reunion?

Not for reunion with the Catholic Church. Meantime, if they were to unite among themselves, the union would not last a generation. As long as men refuse to submit to the Catholic Church, they will insist upon the right to think for themselves and build up systems accordingly. If Protestantism grants the right of private judgment, it may secure the cry, "Good. I think Catholicism wrong." But it must be prepared to hear the words, "And I think Protestantism wrong also." Already-established Protestantism can say nothing, and the man sets up for himself. So it will go on. The Catholic Church alone can preserve true unity. Every year finds Protestantism splitting up into still further sects, and in the end it will fall, as must every house divided against itself.

h/t to GonzoII

Thursday, May 21, 2009



"Two people pass each other in the doorway of the Church. One is entering for ever thinking, “Finally I have found the Church that speaks with legitimate authority. Faith is handed on here. Truth is passed down through the centuries and like a rock it never changes. Here is a place where I can be told about God.”

He passes shoulders with the man walking out of the Church for ever thinking, “Finally I am leaving this Church that tries to speak with such authority. I have no say in faith and morals. So called truth is pushed down my throat like a rock that I must swallow. I feel stifled at being told who my God is.”

As Mom used to say, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Sometimes the very things that make the Church attractive to one person makes it a turn off for another. Proper authority is one of those things, you might presume, that attracts me to the Church. After all I knelt down before the bishop, placed my folded hands into his before a cathedral full of people and promised proper obedience to him and his successors.

Why would this be attractive? For me it was seeing the fractioning of the rest of Christianity..."

Polygamy Beer

"Not joking--they really do make 'Polygamy Porter,' only in Utah."

Former Polish president: I would have resigned the presidency rather than legalize abortion

.- Nobel Peace Prize laureate and ex-president of Poland, Lech Walesa, said in Spain this week he would have resigned as president “twenty times” before signing a law that would allow abortion in his country.

Walesa made his statements during the Europe Forum together with Miguel Duran of Spain, who is running for a spot in the European Parliament.

The former Polish president explained he would “never” agree with a law that allows abortion because he cannot accept “the killing of innocents,” although he did recognize that no woman ever wants to “kill her child,” but rather is usually motivated by “other situations.”

For his part, Duran criticized the Spanish Socialist government for its political “opportunism” with regards to these issues, especially in a time of crisis. “It would be more important to devote our energies to resolving the problem of the four million unemployed,” he underscored.

“I am bewildered that a government that calls itself progressive would play around with these issues. The government is unfortunately throwing a curtain of blood over the true problem,” Duran charged.

You Like The Juice? Juice is Good?

Pentagon Briefings No Longer Quote the Bible

The Pentagon said Monday it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House as was practice during the Bush administration.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he did not know how long the Worldwide Intelligence Update cover sheets quoted from the Bible. Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, who was responsible for including them, retired in August 2003, according to his biography.

For a period in 2003, at least, the daily reports prepared for President George W. Bush carried quotes from the books of Psalms and Ephesians and the epistles of Peter. At the time, the reports focused largely on the war in Iraq.

The Bible quotes apparently aimed to support Bush at a time when soldiers' deaths in Iraq were on the rise, according to the June issue of GQ magazine. But they offended at least one Muslim analyst at the Pentagon and worried other employees that the passages were inappropriate...

Britain rules: Pringles are potato chips

LONDON, May 20 (UPI) -- An appeals court in Britain said Wednesday that Procter and Gamble's snack treat Pringles were, technically, potato chips and subject to sales tax...

The court heard arguments on whether or not Pringles, made 42 percent from potato and 33 percent from fat and flour, contained enough "potatoness," to be considered a potato chip, or crisp.

The court decided there was "more than enough potato content for it to be a reasonable view that it is made from potato," the Telegraph said.

Historic Lourdes pilgrimage of l’Église de Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet: Ascension Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica

saint nicolas du chardonnet paris wikimedia commons




Exclusive: Newt Gingrich Opens Up on Catholic Conversion and Embracing 'Overt Christianity'

May 20, 2009 03:08 PM ET | Dan Gilgoff

Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Former House speaker and Republican überstrategist Newt Gingrich is off to Europe next week to shoot a documentary on Pope John Paul II's 1979 trip to Poland and how it helped to lay the groundwork for bringing down the Soviet Union. The film, Nine Days That Changed the World, is slated for release this fall.

The trip will take Gingrich and his wife, Callista, to Poland and to Rome for the first time since he converted to Roman Catholicism in March.

I caught up with Gingrich this morning and asked if he expected this trip to be different from previous visits to Rome. He gave a long answer that had him opening up about the reasons for his conversion to an extent he hasn't done publicly before:

I don't know that it's much different. That's part of what led to my conversion is the first time we [he and Callista] went to St. Peter's together. It's St. Peter's. I mean, you stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached. You think to yourself, two thousand years ago the apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced. And there it is. The last time we were there we were allowed to walk in the papal gardens and you get this sense that is almost mystical.

The moment that finally convinced me [to convert] was when Benedict XVI came here [to the United States] and Callista in the church choir sang for him at the vespers service and all the bishops in the country were there. As a spouse, I got to sit in the upper church and I very briefly saw [Benedict] and I was just struck with how happy he was and how fundamentally different he was from the news media's portrait of him. This guy's not a Rottweiler. He's a very loving, engaged, happy person.

I'd first seen Pope John Paul II when he came to the U.S. when Carter was president and I was a freshman congressman. And I [later] met him as Speaker.

The other sense is that the church has had two of its most powerful popes back to back, in their intellectual ability to engage the secular world on behalf of Christ. And the weight of all that, and going with [Callista] to church every Sunday to the Basilica [in Washington, D.C.], a magnificent church with a wonderful mass. In that sense I felt differently a long time ago, which is why I converted.

And part of me is inherently medieval. I resonate to Gothic churches and the sense of the cross in a way that is really pre-modern.

Callista, who is Catholic and who was key to Gingrich's conversion, added that it was "10 years in the making," starting around the time Gingrich left the House in 1999. I asked Gingrich if his conversion had changed some fundamental political beliefs for him. He said it was the other way around—that political developments had made him more overtly Christian:

The whole effort to create a ruthless, amoral, situational ethics culture has probably driven me toward a more overt Christianity. I'll give you an example. As a college student at Emory when the Supreme Court ruled that school prayer was unconstitutional [in 1963] after 170 years of American history, I didn't notice it. As a graduate student at Tulane I probably would have said it's a good decision.

I've now had an additional 40 years to think about it. And I think about the world of my grandchildren. I don't think American children are healthier, safer, and better off today than they were in 1963. So I have actually become more conservative in response to the failure of the liberal ethos to solve problems.

Parsing the Vatican Newspaper

It doesn’t always speak for the pope.

By George Weigel

The newspaper published by the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, has created more than a little mischief recently, featuring essays by ill-informed European journalists who imagine that they understand American history, the American political scene, and the grave moral issues being contested in these United States. Pro-administration American journalists and activists have leaped with barely concealed glee on several unfortunate articles in this genre, claiming that they demonstrate that “the Vatican” believes the U.S. Catholic bishops overreacted to Notre Dame’s award of an honorary doctorate of laws to President Obama, and that “the Vatican” is taking a wait-and-see, so-far-so-good attitude toward Obama after the horrors of the arch-demon Bush.

About which, several points must be made.

1. The first thing one learns in Vaticanology 101 is that there is no such thing as “the Vatican.” The Holy See is as complex and confused a bureaucracy as one finds in national governments. Many points of view coexist within the Vatican walls, and there are more than a few curialists who like to talk to reporters. Very few if any of these chatty people count, in terms of expressing the settled judgment of the senior leadership of the Catholic Church. That leadership, when it wishes to make a serious point, does so through its major figures, not through the bureaucratic munchkins and not via commissioned essays in a newspaper that, while published by the Holy See, is not taken all that seriously there...

Installation of Archbishop Nichols

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pope to go on Facebook as Vatican embraces online technology

Pope Benedict XVI is to have a Facebook account as part of a Vatican effort to embrace online technology to interact with all one billion members of the global Roman Catholic Church.

By Alastair Jamieson

Pope to go on Facebook as Vatican embraces online technology

The initiative, which follows the earlier creation of a YouTube channel for the Pontiff, will also involve iPhone applications and a new Vatican website,, which is scheduled to go live on the Catholic Church's World Communications day on May 24...


The Tallis Scholars - Palestrina

Vatican Off Obama’s Itinerary

Posted by Edward Pentin

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:04 AM

The White House disclosed over the weekend that President Barack Obama is to make a weeklong foreign tour in July that will include Russia, Italy and Ghana. However, noticeably missing from the list is the Vatican.

It’s been widely thought that Obama would visit Pope Benedict XVI when the president attends the G8 summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila July 8-10. But there was no mention of the Holy Father or the Holy See in the statement, despite the fact that, according to sources in Rome, the president will be staying at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Italy in Rome.

The White House says the reason is because the precise details of his tour have yet to be worked out. “We won’t go into the details of who he’s meeting and the places he’ll be visiting until nearer the time,” said a spokesman, adding that the president’s “primary purpose” for coming to Italy is the G8 summit. “I imagine as we get substantially closer to the date, we’ll have more details...”


To Serve

I make all things new...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Hunger for the Truth

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Regina Coeli ...

Americans Turn Ear to Benedict XVI

By Carl Anderson

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, MAY 17, 2009 ( Packing venue after venue during Benedict XVI’s visit last year, Americans showed an eagerness and enthusiasm to hear his Gospel message that many did not expect. They exhibited a hunger -- for the truth and for moral leadership.

And -- despite a trend in the media to be very critical in their coverage of Benedict XVI -- more than a year later, by wide margins, Americans in general -- and American Catholics in particular -- have a positive view of the pope and a strong desire to hear him speak on the most pressing issues of the day.

A Knights of Columbus-Marist College survey, conducted in late March, found that Americans have a positive view of Benedict XVI by a nearly 3:1 margin (59% to 20%). Among Catholics, he is viewed favorably by a nearly 7:1 margin (76% to 11%).

By a nearly 3:1 margin (4:1 among Catholics), he is seen as “good for the Church.”

That Benedict XVI remains so respected by Americans -- in spite of a 24-hour news cycle often hostile to him and his message -- is a great testament to the Pope’s ability to communicate the Gospel directly to people. It also says something significant about the American people’s desire for the message of hope and love that Benedict XVI preaches in calling us to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

And that message has not been lost on a great number of the American people, who want to hear him weigh in on the most contentious issues of the day. This underscores a quiet hunger for the truth of the Church’s message, the message enunciated by Benedict XVI.

As state after state redefines marriage, Americans want to hear the Pope’s views on marriage and the family by more than 2:1 (57% to 22%). Among Catholics it’s nearly 5:1 (68% to 14%).

In a country where laws concerning abortion and stem-cell research are increasingly being liberalized, a great number of Americans are eager to hear what Benedict XVI has to say about these life issues (50% to 29% and 60% to 21% among Catholics).

In other words, in spite of a legal and media culture increasingly tolerant of “moral relativism,” Americans -- by large margins -- see Benedict XVI's commitment to Catholic morality as valuable, and are looking for Catholic leadership on core issues.

Americans also want to hear what Benedict XVI has to say about making God a part of our daily lives, sharing time and talent with those in need, the shortsightedness of greed, and the creation of a society where spiritual values play an important role.

In the midst of a serious economic slump brought on by a series of moral failures, Americans want Benedict XVI’s perspective on building a society based on values -- not on greed.

Having seen where moral relativism leads economically, Americans are looking instead for an unwavering moral compass, and looking to the man they know has one.

On the international stage as well, Americans see the pope as very important. Seventy-four percent of Americans -- and 84% of American Catholics -- would describe the Pope as “an important religious leader in the world.” And by more than 2:1 margins both the American people and American Catholics see him as “active and visible.”

On the eve of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Middle East, Americans -- by a 2:1 margin (46% to 23%) -- believed he was sensitive to Muslims, and by a similar margin (48% to 20%), said he was also sensitive to Jewish people. Among Catholics the ratio was 3:1 -- about 60% believed he was sensitive to people of both religions, only about 20% disagreed.

Reflected in these attitudes is something very profound. Despite the occasional flack that the Holy Father has received on his trip to the Holy Land, the fact is that his willingness to put his own life in danger in the unstable and often violent region in order to seek a lasting peace underscores his sensitivities to both sides of Middle East conflict.

And despite occasional criticism, he has not allowed any negativity to distract from what he believes is possible: a peaceful resolution to the violence endemic in the Holy Land.

Those who have taken issue with aspects of the Pope’s trip should pause to consider this, and further, might consider that while past grievances are part of memory and cannot be put aside, such grievances must not become barriers to a real opportunity for peace that is now at hand.

And those who would dismiss our Pontiff -- or some part of his message --should take a lesson from the attitudes catalogued in this survey and should realize that the human heart is restless until it rests in God. This is a fact not lost on Catholic thinkers from Augustine to Benedict XVI himself, who has made bringing human hearts to God a hallmark of his pontificate.

It is an unswerving commitment to the truth -- and the ability through his own prayerfulness to introduce people to Jesus Christ -- that has made Benedict XVI a beacon of moral courage whose message the American people and people worldwide respect and wish to hear. We might call it a triumph of truth over television.

* * *

Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.

Missing link?

Amazing video from a press conference today:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

God bless you Father

Notre Dame Pic 1: Mortarboard

"Nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us.
I could attend Mass forever, and not be tired.
It is not a mere form of words; it is a great action.
The greatest action that can be on earth. It is. . .the vocation of the Eternal."

-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

A Spring Sky Over Hirsau Abbey

What Notre Dame Taught

by Tom Piatak on May 17, 2009

Notre Dame taught a clear lesson today, in its decision to have President Obama as a commencement speaker and to award him an honorary degree. That lesson is this: American politicians can freely embrace abortion and face no negative consequences at all. Any pro-abortion politician who climbs to the top of Benjamin Disraeli’s “greasy pole” will get nothing but applause and praise from those who now run Notre Dame.

The Second Vatican Council defines abortion as an “unspeakable crime.” Not so Notre Dame. Father Jenkins’ effusive introduction of Obama never hinted that abortion is an “unspeakable crime.” According to Father Jenkins, nothing is “unspeakable” because what matters is that we have a “dialogue,” even though “Difference must be acknowledged, and in some cases even cherished.” Amazingly, he praised Obama’s supposed courage in coming to a place that showered him with applause, that vigorously arrested all pro-life demonstrators coming onto campus, and that provided him with a photo opportunity more effective than millions of dollars spent on campaign ads in demonstrating to Catholics that they need not worry about a candidate’s support for abortion in deciding how to vote: “Most of the debate has centered on Notre Dame’s decision to invite and honor the President. Less attention has been focused on the President’s decision to accept. President Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows full well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sancity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.” How Notre Dame opposed Obama’s policies was not described. In fact, it is not at all clear from Notre Dame’s own statements that it does oppose Obama’s policies on abortion and stem cell research. Notre Dame’s official press release on the commencement noted that Obama’s “stance on abortion was likely unacceptable to some” at Notre Dame. And Father Jenkins could not even bring himself to say that the policies Obama supports are wrong, much less evil. Describing things as they are would apparently interfere with the “dialogue” Father Jenkins is so excited about.

Any politician watching today’s spectacle would have to conclude that the worst risk he runs from such as Notre Dame in supporting abortion is that he will be given an honorary degree, applauded, and told that it is important to “dialogue.” This lesson is especially harmful to the dwindling band of pro-life Democrats. Given the national Democratic party’s ironclad support for abortion, pro-life Democrats take a stance that prevents them from aspiring to their party’s presidential nomination. And, if such politicians take a pro-life stance for fear of Catholic opposition, Notre Dame sent a powerful signal today that they limit their ambitions for no good reason.

Obama has not been reticent in voicing his support for the “unspeakable crime” of abortion. Obama does not even claim to be “personally opposed” to abortion. Instead, he said during the campaign that he would not want his daughters “punished” with a baby if they engaged in premarital sex. His unstinting advocacy for abortion is a matter of public record, and he did not retreat from it at all at Notre Dame. Instead, he indicated in his speech that he has already learned that he has nothing to fear from Catholic prelates eager for “dialogue.” His praise for the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago obscured the salient point that nothing Bernardin said or did caused Obama to modify in any way his support for abortion. Even some of the Obama lines that drew applause at Notre Dame at least hinted at his opposition to Catholic teaching. Obama drew applause when he called for “reducing unintended pregnancies”—a likely reference to the federal funding for artificial contraception that Obama supports—and when he called for “health care policies” with “respect for the quality of life”—the same terminology used by those advocating for euthanasia.

It should not have been like this at a Catholic university, particularly at a Catholic university as inextricably intertwined with the American Catholic idenity as Notre Dame. As John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, “But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of [abortion’s] gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.” By awarding Obama an honorary degree and showering him with applause and praise, Notre Dame has assisted mightily in obscuring the gravity of abortion. And, when Obama appoints the next pro-abortion justice to the Supreme Court, signs a law providing for the federal funding of abortion, or signs the Freedom of Choice Act—all things he is committed to doing—he will be able to say, with some justice, that he is doing so with the imprimatur of Fr. Jenkins and the nihil obstat of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees.