Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Smithsonian to Remove Ant-Covered Jesus on Cross Video From Exhibit



The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery will remove a four-minute video feature that contains an image of Jesus on a crucifix covered in ants, its director said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Martin Sullivan, director of the museum, said the video by David Wojnarowicz shows images that "may be" offensive to some.

"I regret that some reports about the exhibit have created an impression that the video is intentionally sacrilegious," the statement read. "In fact, the artists's intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim. It was not the museum's intention to offend. We are removing the video today. The museum's statement at the exhibition's entrance, 'This exhibition contains mature themes,' will remain in place."

Earlier Tuesday, the museum was under fire for hosting the exhibit that also includes depictions of homoerotic art and an image of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts. The exhibit outraged conservative leaders and prompted some Republican lawmakers to call for a congressional investigation.

“Absolutely, we should look at their funds,” Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told Fox News.

“If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing – then I think we should look at their budget.”

The video, “A Fire in My Belly,” is included in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit titled, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” which is scheduled to run through the Christmas season.

National Portrait Gallery historian and exhibit co-curator David C. Ward told CNSNews.com, which first reported the story, that “A Fire in My Belly” reflects the “violent, disturbing and hallucinatory” aspects of the AIDS epidemic.

“'Fire in My Belly' is an example of political engagement in artistic form with the AIDS epidemic by an artist deeply concerned with the exploration of our response to that medical and societal calamity,” Ward said. “That it is violent, disturbing, and hallucinatory precisely replicates the impact of the disease itself on people and a society that could barely comprehend its magnitude."

Kingston saw it differently and called it, “in-your-face perversion paid for by tax dollars.”

And incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called it an "outrageous use of taxpayer money and an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season."

"When a museum receives taxpayer money, the taxpayers have a right to expect that the museum will uphold common standards of decency. The museum should pull the exhibit and be prepared for serious questions come budget time,” Cantor said through a spokesman.

The exhibit also drew the ire of Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who said it is “hate speech.” “This is clearly designed to offend,” he told Fox News.

“What concerns me is that the government is underwriting this assault on Christian sensibilities calculated to offend during the Christmas season.”

The Smithsonian declined numerous opportunities to comment on the controversy. Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told the New York Post that it does not comment “on people’s opinions on art.” She also told the newspaper that while the museum receives funding from Congress, the exhibits are funded through private donations.

But Kingston refuted that assertion.

“For them to say this is not tax-funded is absurd,” he said, noting that 65 percent of the Smithsonian budget comes from taxpayers and that the National Portrait Gallery receives $5.8 million in tax dollars.

“If the art community wants to do it, they should do it on their own nickel, but they are doing it in a building that is paid for by the public, with staff that is on the federal payroll,” he said.

Kingston said he was not sure what form a congressional investigation would take, but he said some options included “calling them up in front of the Appropriations Committee, asking for some resignations, auditing all their budget – all their books.”

“We need to move in that direction,” he said. “As stewards of the tax dollars in these very difficult times, we don’t have the money to squander like this.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gabriel's Message - Sting

"Please remember that Christ is our King and we are His subject. His power and authority are His. They do not come from us. We do not have to consent to it and we don't elect him. Before Him ever power and authority must bow and submit. All power, honor, and glory is His! Amen." - Father Richtsteig

Friday, November 26, 2010

"In your patience you shall possess your souls"

"With tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights"—rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation—is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death… This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism."

—POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life”, n. 18, 20

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Member of papal household killed in automobile accident

(Catholic Culture) A member of Pope Benedict’s personal household was killed in a traffic accident that took place on Tuesday night, November 23.

Manuela Camagni, one of the four women of the Memores Domini community who maintained the papal apartments in the apostolic palace, was fatally injured in a crash that occurred as she returned from a dinner with friends. She died on Wednesday morning.

In his new book Light of the World, Pope Benedict describes the everyday life of the papal household, in which he includes his secretaries and the women of Memores Domini:

We celebrate Christmas together, listen to the holiday music, and exchange gifts. The feast days of our patron saints are celebrated, and occasionally we also sing Evening Prayer together. So we celebrate feasts together. And then, besides our common meals, there is above all Holy Mass in common in the morning. That is an especially important moment in which we are all with each other in a particularly intense way in the light of the Lord.
Link to original:

Justice Scalia slams high court for inventing ‘living constitution,’ right to abortion

RICHMOND, Virginia, November 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia slammed the modern U.S. judiciary and the high court for using the idea of a “living constitution” to invent new rules and meanings that have led to a “right” to abortion and decriminalized homosexual conduct.

Scalia made his remarks last Friday during a University of Richmond luncheon lecture entitled “Do Words Matter?” The event was covered both by the Associated Press.

“The Constitution says what it says and it doesn’t say anything more,” said Scalia to an audience of 250 people, most of them legal professionals and academics.

The 74-year-old jurist, appointed to the high court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, warned that government by judges is inevitable when the original meaning of legal language in laws and constitutions is not respected. This attitude, he said, allows “five out of nine hotshot lawyers to run the country.”

“Under the guise of interpreting the Constitution and under the banner of a living Constitution, judges, especially those on the Supreme Court, now wield an enormous amount of political power,” continued Scalia, “because they don’t just apply the rules that have been written, they create new rules.”

Scalia pointed out that the high court distorted the meaning of “due process” (referring to legal procedure) in the 14th Amendment to invent new rights under a “made up” concept of “substantial due process.” That has allowed the 14th Amendment to become the gateway to legal abortion and other behaviors, which the constitutional authors never intended and viewed as criminal.

“The due process clause has been distorted so it’s no longer a guarantee of process but a guarantee of liberty,” Scalia expounded. “But some of the liberties the Supreme Court has found to be protected by that word - liberty - nobody thought constituted a liberty when the 14th Amendment was adopted. Homosexual sodomy? It was criminal in all the states. Abortion? It was criminal in all the states.”

He also commented on the modern confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, saying it was akin to a “mini-constitutional convention” because Senators are fighting about how a justice will interpret words.

“The way to change the Constitution is through amendments approved by the people, not by judges altering the meaning of its words,” he added.

The AP reports that after the lecture, Scalia signed copies of his new book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges,” and was going to lecture a class on the constitution’s separation of powers at UR’s law school.

Justice Scalia, along with Justice Clarence Thomas, are the high court’s two jurists that firmly embrace an “originalist” doctrine - abiding by the original intent and context of legal language - when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.

Scalia has criticized the high court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as an “improper” ruling, saying the founding charter of the U.S. federal government had nothing to do either with abortion or even things like homosexual activity.

If the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its position on Roe, abortion would once again become a criminal matter for the states to decide how to regulate or prohibit.

h/t to Ray

St. Catherine of Alexandria


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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving Haiku

By Swissmiss

Hey, Gobble Gobble!
Make haste and get on my plate
Spicy pumpkin pie


Ann Coulter

November 24, 2010

http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowldc/files/original/AnnCoulter.jpgAs long as the head of the TSA, Long Dong Silver, refuses to get rid of the intrusive, possibly dangerous airport searches, how about requiring members of Congress to go through the same security screening in order to enter hallowed congressional office buildings?

Not just Barney Frank -- I mean all members of Congress. "We've patted you down twice, Congressman Frank. Why don't you just go to your office now?"

The Rayburn House Office Building is a far more likely target for a terrorist attack than a random flight out of a random American airport. But every passenger on every flight in America must allow a TSA agent to get to second base with them, in some cases third base, or appear live in a nude video in order to board the plane.

If that's necessary to keep us airline passengers safe, why not use the same security procedures to protect members of Congress?

According to the FAA, there were about 37,000 commercial flights per day in 2008. A mere six buildings contain the offices of every member of our country's entire legislative branch.

So why shouldn't the people entering those tempting terrorist targets be given the same security screenings as the roughly half-million Americans taking random commercial flights every day?

It can't be because Capitol Hill security guards recognize members of Congress and their staff. TSA agents presumably recognize lots of people going through airport security. Ten to 20 percent of passengers are frequent fliers taking the same routes over and over again, year after year.

In addition, TSA agents will recognize their neighbors of 40 years, their hometown mayor, their children's teachers, local and national celebrities, actors, athletes and other famous personalities. Some TSA agents probably recognize Christian Slater as that guy who sometimes has a gun in his carry-on bag.

But all those people have to take their shoes off, remove their computers from their luggage and be subjected to a pat-down because TSA agents are prohibited by the Homeland Security Department from using an ounce of common sense.

In June 2002, Al Gore got searched at an airport. Gore may have a forgettable face, but at that point, he had been vice president of the United States for eight of the previous 10 years, had run for president, and then had made a spectacle of himself by demanding a recount when he lost.

I've seen James Caan in an airport security line. Is James Caan less recognizable than Rep. Steve Rothman? (Tip for the TSA: When your agents are asking passengers for their autographs, you're probably not on the verge of nabbing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.)

Why are members of the ruling class the only Americans for whom it's possible to design a security system that takes the obvious into account?

If security guards at a big, fat terrorist target like the U.S. Capitol can be expected to figure out that members of Congress aren't a threat, why don't we trust TSA agents to figure out that little grandmothers, nuns and 8-year-olds aren't a threat either?

Nancy Pelosi is more likely to engage in a terrorist attack on America than any grandmother or 8-year-old. Just look at what she did to our health care.

Pelosi opposed the Gulf War on the grounds that it would be bad for the environment. She voted to reduce funds for the B-2 intercontinental bomber and repeatedly voted against a missile defense system. She voted to end Radio Marti broadcasts to Cuba. She voted against war in Iraq. She voted against a constitutional amendment to permit school prayer and against allowing state and local governments to display the Ten Commandments.

No wonder she has a 100 percent congressional rating from al-Qaida.

And yet Pelosi is not only able to breeze into the U.S. Capitol without a search, but she can usually board a commercial airline without submitting to the groping or nude body scan that awaits the rest of us. Members of Congress and government officials are generally exempted from the TSA's airport screenings.

Does TSA administrator John "Long Dong Silver" Pistole get searched at an airport? How about Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano? FBI Director Robert Mueller? Michelle Obama and the kids?

No, of course not. TSA agents are busy X-raying James Caan's shoes and feeling up nuns.

I'd feel safer if Pistole and Napolitano had the full body cavity search than Grandma. Anyone involved in the creation of an airport security system that requires pilots to be checked for weapons has got to be removed from any government job and promptly institutionalized, as he is a danger to himself and others.

We're talking about the pilot. Is there anyone in the government who can tell us why the pilot doesn't need a box-cutter to seize control of the airplane and kill everyone on it? You there, in the back -- the skinny guy with the big ears behind the teleprompter: Wanna take a guess? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

I'm for any program that requires Nancy Pelosi and Janet Napolitano to either be felt up or videotaped nude every morning by Jose, the $20-an-hour security guard -- just as they do for the rest of us. 

Anglican church faces 'piece by piece dissolution', warns archbishop

Rowan Williams tells warring factions to pull together for crucial General Synod vote on church's future

Stephen Bates and Riazat Butt


Rowan Williams speaking at the General Synod. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images'


Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, warned of the risk of "piece-by-piece dissolution" of worldwide Anglicanism in a heartfelt personal plea today to warring factions in the Church of England.

At the opening of the church's general synod in London, he called for all parties to put aside their disputes and agree on a fresh framework for settling differences across the 70 million-strong international communion.

The synod votes tomorrow on the Anglican covenant, which has been seven years in the making, and sets the Church of England at a crucial crossroads. The church is already facing probable defections to Roman Catholicism by some priests opposed to the ordination of women bishops.

The covenant was devised in response to divisions caused by the US Episcopal Church's decision to endorse the election of the openly-gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, and it has to be endorsed by all 38 previously autonomous provinces of the communion across the world. The vote will be crucial as not only is the Church of England the mother church of the communion, but Williams is its spiritual head. A senior church official told the Guardian: "There is no Plan B. If this falls, the communion is in ruins."

In advance of the vote – which is technically to refer the covenant to dioceses for consultation – supporters and opponents have indulged in heated rhetoric; liberal Anglicans claimed it would spell the end of individual churches' autonomy and subject decisions of the Church of England to the prior approval of reactionary churches such as the homophobic conservatives of equatorial Africa. Gregory Cameron, the Bishop of St Asaph in Wales, the canon lawyer mainly responsible for drawing up the covenant, likened opponents to the BNP.

Williams used his presidential address to the first day of the general synod to urge both sides to calm down, listen to each other and work through their differences.

"For God's sake," he said. "Don't let us waste time and energy talking or behaving as if there were competition going on here ... I don't think we are doing the job for which God has called us here if we reproduce the worst aspects of secular partisanship."

He told the synod it was an "illusion" to think the communion could "carry on as usual" without some changes. And it was a "greater illusion" to think the Church of England could "derail the entire process" of the adoption of the covenant, a text that opponents claim will define who belongs and discipline those who flout rules.

"The unpalatable fact is that certain decisions in any province affect all," he said. "If we ignore this, we ignore what is already a real danger, the piece-by-piece dissolution of the communion and the emergence of structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure very significantly."

Williams, who has tried to keep disparate churches talking rather than leave the communion altogether, articulated the hopelessness of taking up entrenched positions on homosexuality, criticising both sides in the debate.

Aides say he has been depressed by the battle. He said: "It is unthinkingly treated by some as almost the sole test of biblical fidelity or doctrinal orthodoxy. It is unthinkingly regarded by others as one of those matters on which the church must be brought into line with what our culture can make sense of ... The covenant proposals are the only sign at the moment of the work that has to be done."

Anglican provinces would only belong to the communion if they signed up to the covenant, he said. They would agree not to proceed with any development that fellow members anywhere in the world objected to.
The archbishop acknowledged that he was "bound to accept" his share of "reproach" for the lack of progress in major debates and invited the synod to help him do better by creating an "ambience where better understanding may happen".

Earlier, the supreme governor of the Church of England, the Queen, addressed the synod, reflecting on the "difficult, painful choices" ahead.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reuters Pictures

Pope Benedict XVI poses with his new book "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times" at the Vatican November 23, 2010.

Reuters Pictures

Monsignor Georg Gänswein personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, smiles as he poses with a new book about the pope at the Vatican November 23, 2010.

Getty Images

A priest reads a copy of 'Light of World', the book interview with Pope Benedict XVI by German author Peter Seewald, in a book store during the presentation at the Holy See Press Office on November 23, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Getty Images

Swiss guards stand before Pope Benedict XVI weekly general audience in Saint-Peter's square at the Vatican on November 17, 2010.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing the American Traveler Dignity Act

Ron Paul

http://politicalkudzu.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/ron-paul-99.jpgMr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines.

In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens -- right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms.

The incident of the so-called “underwear bomber” last Christmas is given as justification for the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on the new full-body imaging machines, but a Government Accountability Office study earlier this year concluded that had these scanners been in use they may not have detected the explosive material that was allegedly brought onto the airplane. Additionally, there have been recent press reports calling into question the accuracy and adequacy of these potentially dangerous machines.

My legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.

I warned at the time of the creation of the TSA that an unaccountable government entity in control of airport security would provide neither security nor defend our basic freedom to travel. Yet the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats then in Congress willingly voted to create another unaccountable, bullying agency-- in a simple-minded and unprincipled attempt to appease public passion in the wake of 9-11.  Sadly, as we see with the steady TSA encroachment on our freedom and dignity, my fears in 2001 were justified.

The solution to the need for security at US airports is not a government bureaucracy. The solution is to allow the private sector, preferably the airlines themselves, to provide for the security of their property. As a recent article in Forbes magazine eloquently stated, “The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.” In the meantime, I hope we can pass this legislation and protect Americans from harm and humiliation when they choose to travel.

Family's torment over pit hell Scot

Worry... Malcolm, right, with family
George Mcluskie

(The Scottish Sun) THE frantic parents of a Scots miner trapped in a New Zealand pit are too scared to fly there in case something happens to him while they are in the air. Malcolm Campbell's mum and dad Jane, 45, and Malcolm, 50, are waiting for news at their home in St Andrews, Fife.

Last night 25-year-old Malcolm's cousin Austen Campbell, 29, said: "They don't want to get on a flight in case something happens to Malcolm.

"They don't want to leave the country and be without communication. They are up and down like a yo-yo.

"We're all hoping for good news. We are all staying positive. Hopefully Malcolm will get himself out."

Malcolm is due to marry his fiancée Amanda Shields, 23, next month.

His parents said: "We can't concentrate on anything, we can't sleep."

Twenty nine miners - including another Scot, Pete Rodger, of Perth - are trapped in the Pike River pit after an explosion on Friday.

Friend John Daniel, 59, said he was an adventurer.

He said: "I'm just shocked he is caught up in all this. Peter just wanted to make the most of his life and took everything as it came."

Fears of further explosions stopped rescue teams entering the 1.2mile-long shaft.

Hopes were fading for the miners last night as a survivor told how a blast threw him around "like a rag doll".

Russell Smith, 50 - near the entrance because he was an hour late for work - said "suffocating dust" filled the tunnel.

Russell - who had been driving a loading machine - added: "It wasn't just a bang, it just kept coming, kept coming."

He passed out but his life was saved by fellow miner Daniel Rockhouse, 24.

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer - Exorcism and the Church Militant Book Pulled?

I've seen references in the blogosphere to Fr. Thomas Euteneuer's book Exorcism and the Church Militant being pulled. Does anyone have any more information about this?  The reason(s)?

It's listed as being out of print at Amazon, out of stock at Ignatius Press.

tantamergo writes:
"Human Life International was the publisher. They not only declined to print any more copies, they pulled out of circulation almost all copies already printed. They made cryptic statements that “there is no problem with the content of the book, but if we were going to print any more copies, there would have to be changes.” I read it and found nothing even remotely heretical. It’s all a big mystery – Fr. Euteneur first loses his job at HLI, and then they pull his book, all within a month or so of publication (it was published in August)."
Update from Spirit Daily, with a little more information:
"...it was also announced last week that a book by Father Thomas Euteneuer, the former head of the large pro-life group, Human Life International, will be discontinued. The book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, which ironically lauded the Intercessors, was in wide circulation. Weeks before, Father Euteneuer left the organization when he was recalled to his home diocese after a reported controversy. A spokesman for HLI told Spirit Daily that the organization simply decided it was not its role to promote material on exorcism. "There was no problem fatal to the book," said the spokesman, Stephen Phelan, adding however that had it been reprinted, several changes would have been necessary. Limited copies remain available through Ignatius Press."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oprah Invites Hundreds Of Lucky Fans To Be Buried With Her In Massive Tomb

SSPX - Bishop Fellay Warns Bishop Williamson


The Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has learnt by the press of Bishop Richard Williamson’s decision, just ten days before his trial, to dismiss the lawyer charged with his defense, in favor of a lawyer who is openly affiliated to the so-called neo-Nazi movement in Germany, and to other such groups.

Bishop Fellay has given Bishop Williamson a formal order to go back on this decision and to not allow himself to become an instrument of political theses that are completely foreign to his mission as a Catholic bishop serving the Society of Saint Pius X.

Disobedience to this order would result in Bishop Williamson being expelled from the Society of Saint Pius X.

Menzingen, november 20 of 2010.

Fr. Christian Thouvenot, general Secretary

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke

AP Photo

Newly-appointed US Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke looks on during a meeting with relatives and friends at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Archbishop George Lucas Interview Re: Former Intercessors of the Lamb / Nadine Brown


"Our Archbishop, George Lucas, spoke to the people of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and all our friends and companions in Nebraska on radio station KVSS.
His message was for us all!"

To Listen and/or to download the Mp3 audio click here [Download

"We are so pleased to bring his comments to everyone – world wide – here on our web site!  We trust that his words will will bring light and clarity and will address your questions and concerns."

TSA Takes Nail Clippers From Gun-Toting Soldier

It 'can be used as a weapon' they reason

By Kevin Spak

(Newser) – Another day, another tale of the seeming absurdity of airport security. This one comes from a soldier coming home from Afghanistan on a military charter plane. The troops aboard the plane all went through security at Baghram Air Field, the soldier says in an email to RedState, passing through full-body scanners and having their bags inspected by bomb-sniffing dogs. Yet when the plane stopped in Indianapolis to let 100 National Guard members off, the TSA insisted on re-searching all the passengers. “It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons,” the soldier writes.

“All of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols,” though they weren’t loaded, and everyone had already been searched for ammo. Yet when the TSA found nail clippers on one of the soldiers, they insisted on confiscating them. “You can’t take those on the plane,” the TSA official said. “They can be used as a weapon.” When the solider replied that he was permitted to take an actual weapon on the plane, the agent replied, "Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets." Asked the soldier, "And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?" Apparently. He reboarded without them ... but with his weapon, along with 232 other gun-toting fliers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Churches lose their vicars as Anglicans "jump ship" for Rome, warns Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that parishes will be left without vicars as hundreds of Anglicans “jump ship” for Rome. 


Dr Williams acknowledged that traditionalists who cannot accept Church of England plans to ordain women bishops were in “considerable confusion and distress”.
But the Pope’s offer to accommodate disaffected Anglicans would leave the Church with “practical challenges” as vicars resign and churches lose worshippers, he said.
Dr Williams’s comments came in his first media interview since The Daily Telegraph disclosed that five Anglican bishops were to join a new section of the Roman Catholic Church established by Pope Benedict XVI.

The new structure, known as the English Ordinariate, is expected to begin operation early next year. It will allow traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who oppose recent liberal reforms in the Church of England to enter into full communion with Rome while retaining some of their Anglican traditions.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Dr Williams insisted that there was “no ill feeling” between him and the five bishops leading the exodus of Anglicans to Rome.

“Obviously my reaction to the resignations is one of regret but respect - I know the considerations they’ve been through,” he said.

“There are still a great many Anglicans in the Church of England who call themselves traditionalist who have no intention of jumping ship at this point, who are at the moment in considerable confusion and distress.

“But they don’t necessarily think if the Church of England isn’t working for them that the only option is Rome.”

For the first time, the Archbishop suggested that worshipers who join the Ordinariate could be allowed to stay in their Anglican churches under a plan to let Roman Catholics share Church of England facilities.

“I think the challenge will come in working out shared use of churches, of how we as Anglicans ‘recommend’ people and also of course there will be some parishes without priests,” he said.

Dr Williams suggested that the Pope’s offer to allow converts to retain some of their Anglican traditions within Roman Catholicism represented a significant shift in approach from the Vatican.

“Here is the Roman Catholic Church saying there are ways of being Christian in the Western church which are not restricted by historic Roman Catholic identity,” he said.

“It remains to be seen just how large a movement we’re talking about and I remain sceptical about some of the larger claims that are made.”

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, will set out the detailed timetable and size of the Ordinariate at a press conference in London on Friday.

About 30 groups from across the country are believed to have registered an interest in joining the Ordinariate.
This would mean an estimated 500-600 Anglicans, including about 50 priests, will be in the first wave of converts to join the Ordinariate when it is established in the first half of next year.

Earlier this month, three serving and two retired traditionalist Anglican bishops announced that they would be among the first to leave the Church of England in order to accept the offer from the Pope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bing Crosby - O Holy Night

AA Destroying The Social Lives Of Thousands Of Once-Fun Americans

Astronomy Picture of the Day

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Frosted Leaf Orion
Credit & Copyright: Masahiro Miyasaka

Explanation: Sometimes, you can put some night sky in your art. Captured above Japan earlier this month, a picturesque night sky was photographed behind a picturesque frosted leaf. The reflecting ice crystals on the leaf coolly mimic the shining stars far in the background. The particular background sky on this 48-second wide angle exposure, however, might appear quite interesting and familiar. On the far left, although hard to find, appears a streaking meteor. Below and to the right of the meteor appears a longer and brighter streak of an airplane. The bright star on the left is the dog-star Sirius, the brightest star on the night sky. To Sirius' right appears the constellation of Orion, including the three linear belt stars below the red giant Betelgeuse. The bright patch of light further to the right is the Pleiades open star cluster. Similar views including the constellation Orion can be seen above much of the northern hemisphere for the next several months, although you might have to provide your own leaf.

Source: NASA

h/t Mike

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



Archbishop Dolan elected president of the USCCB

Archbishop Dolan elected president of the USCCB.


EWTN's USCCB Coverage Sterilized?

Watching parts of it yesterday, I noticed that there was no Raymond Arroyo, no commentary, no guests... and just saw this at Allen J. Troupe's Is Anybody There?:
"1 other fact makes me think that the USCCB leadership is not serious about dealing with the problems is the limits they put on EWTN's coverage. All EWTN can do is rebroadcast Telecare Television's feed. FYI: Telecare is operated by the Diocese of Rockville Centre. They are not allowed to have any commentary about what is going on during the broadcast. Raymond Arroyo mentioned that fact on last week's episode of The World Over Live. I am not sure if this was only impossed on EWTN or all TV stations carrying it. Either way, it is clear the USCCB is afraid of what might be said by the EWTN commentators. & is doing its best to control the spin as well. But they will only delay the inevitable as he will be reporting on the events on next week's show. "

Bishop Kicanas endorsed by Rainbow Sash Movement as next U.S. bishops’ head

Matthew Anderson

November 15, 2010, (LifeSiteNews.com) – With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting this week to elect its new President, the homosexual “Catholic” Rainbow Sash Movement has announced its pick to lead the bishops. According to a press release from the homosexualist group, it has endorsed Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, AZ to succeed Cardinal Francis George as the leader of the USCCB.

The release from the pro-gay organization is likely to feed into the growing agitation in certain Catholic quarters over the possibility of Kicanas’ election. Kicanas has been accused of ignoring the sexual misconduct of a seminarian who went on to commit sexual abuse, and has a reputation for liberalness on key issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

In a rare moment of agreement with the orthodox Catholic community, the Rainbow Sash Movement said that they support Kicanas precisely because of the bishop’s soft stance on the issues of abortion and gay ‘marriage.’

“Bishop Kicanas understands that Bishops are privately changing their position because input is bubbling up from the pews of our parishes in support of such issues as Gay Marriage, and Pro Choice,” they wrote.

Though Kicanas has publicly supported the teaching of the Church on marriage, Rainbow Sash says they believe his views will “evolve.” In the meantime, though, the group believes that Kicanas is the perfect bishop to “be a reasonable public voice and face for the country’s Catholic bishops.”

The gay organization points to Kicanas’s reaction to the Obama/Notre Dame scandal as evidence that he will be a “reasonable public voice” calling for “moderation and listening” during this “difficult situation...”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hundreds ride with boy to show support for his U.S.-flag-decorated bike after school banned it

h/t to Fr. Cory Sticha:

Nadine Brown: Disobedient? Right to Personal Ministry?

From Sr. Laurel M. O'Neal's Notes From Stillsong Hermitage:
"[[Dear Sister, do you think Nadine Brown is being disobedient to the Archbishop of Omaha in continuing her ministry? Can she just continue to teach and minister, make visitations to groups of "Companions" and the like and not be disobedient]].."
And from Kevin Symonds at Desiderium:

"November 13, 2010

Dearest Companions of the Lamb and Friends,

May the joy and peace of Jesus and His mother Mary be with you all!

After prayerful reflection, the Holy Spirit [Let us see what "spirit" is manifested in Nadine's statement.] has prompted me to release to all of you these thoughts and comments since the Suppression of the Hermit Association of the Intercessors of the Lamb one month ago.."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Singer James Blunt 'stopped World War 3'

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/49934000/jpg/_49934426_010636299-1.jpgSinger James Blunt has told the BBC how he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.

(BBC) Blunt said he was willing to risk a court martial by rejecting the order from a US General.

But he was backed by British General Sir Mike Jackson, who told him "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3".

Blunt was ordered to seize an airfield - but the Russians had got there first.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5Live, to be broadcast later on Sunday, he said: "I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there.

"I was the lead officer with my troop of men behind us ... The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment, so they're obviously game for the fight.

http://www.miracosta.edu/home/gfloren/ripper_anim.gif"The direct command [that] came in from General Wesley Clark was to overpower them. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as 'destroy' came down the radio."

'Mad situation'
The confusion surrounding the taking of Pristina airfield in 1999 has been written about in political memoirs, and was widely reported at the time.

But this is the first time Blunt has given an account of his role in the incident.

Blunt, who was at the head of a column of 30,000 NATO troops with his unit, told Pienaar's Politics it was a "mad situation".

He said he had been "party to the conversation" between senior officers in which Gen Clark had ordered the attack.

"We had two hundred Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively, which was... and you know we'd been told to reach the airfield and take a hold of it.

"And if we had a foothold there then it would make life much easier for the NATO forces in Pristina. So there was a political reason to take hold of this.

"And the practical consequences of that political reason would be then aggression against the Russians."
Court martial
Asked if following the order would have risked starting World War 3, Blunt, who was a 25-year-old cavalry officer at the time, replied: "Absolutely. And that's why we were querying our instruction from an American general".
That sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army” - James Blunt
"Fortunately, up on the radio came General Mike Jackson, whose exact words at the time were, 'I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3', and told us why don't we sugar off down the road, you know, encircle the airfield instead. 

"And after a couple of days the Russians there said 'hang on we have no food and no water. Can we share the airfield with you?'."

If Gen Jackson had not blocked the order from Gen Clark, who as NATO Supreme Commander Europe was his superior officer, Blunt said he would still have declined to follow it, even at the risk of a court martial.
He said: "There are things that you do along the way that you know are right, and those that you absolutely feel are wrong, that I think it's morally important to stand up against, and that sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army."

Blunt left the army in 2002 to pursue a career in music, later scoring a worldwide hit with You're Beautiful.

Listen to the full interview on Pienaar's Politics on BBC Radio 5Live at 1900 GMT.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grocery store parking lot


"I'm in the grocery store parking lot and I see this smoking red hot car pull s l o w l e y into a handicapped parking slot narrowly missing the "No parking" fire zone concrete barricades, as I'm thinking, "Geese, some people! Young people parking in the slot for our handicapped citizens, how lazy!"

Just what I needed - The Cars

What is the loudest animal on the planet earth?

The howler monkey is the loudest land animal as it can be heard ten miles away even through dense rainforest.


St. John the Evangelist in Calgary Accepts Anglican Ordinariate

More from David Virtue's Anglican blog Virtue Online:

November 12, 2010

"The people of St. John's Church, Calgary, prepare for a parish vote to ratify the unanimous decision by the members of the Vestry to seek entrance into the Anglican Ordinariate when it is established for that Canada/ St. John's was founded in 1905, and presently is a parish of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary within the Anglican Church of Canada.

This is what was approved by the Vestry, and the parish vote will be taken sometime near the end of November:


On 16th February 1993 the Rector, Wardens and Vestry of the Parish of St John the Evangelist, Calgary adopted a Mission Statement which committed us to "faithfulness to Scripture and Holy Tradition . . . based on traditional classical Anglicanism", the faith of which was to be expressed in "living traditional Anglo-Catholic Prayer Book worship". While holding firm to these principles ever since, theological, ecclesiological and sacramental developments within the Anglican Communion over nearly forty years have led us, as a Parish, walking, in peace and in love, a different path from that of the Anglican Church of Canada as it now stands...

After nearly half a year spent on this process, it is the desire of the Vestry of the Parish of St John the Evangelist, Calgary to affirm certain key principles of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, namely that:

"Every division among the baptised in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, 'such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalises the world, and damages that most holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.'" (Anglicanorum Coetibus, p.5)....


We accept, unreservedly and with humility and gratitude, the invitation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus in a corporate manner. Upon the ratification of this motion by parishioners at a Special Meeting, we instruct the Church Wardens to negotiate with the Anglican Diocese of Calgary the transfer of the Parish of St John the Evangelist, and its property, to the Anglican Ordinariate for Canada, to be effective on its establishment by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus and its Complementary Norms."

Episcopal Diocese Sends Homosexual Priest to Soon-to-be-Catholic Calvary Episcopal Church

From David Virtue's Anglican blog:

"In what can only be described as a despicable act, unholy and worthy perhaps of a Charles Bennison, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland last Sunday sent in a priest to celebrate an unscheduled Service of Holy Communion at Calvary Episcopal Church. This decision on the part of the Diocese was made following the parish's overwhelming vote to disassociate with The Episcopal Church and begin the conversion process to Roman Catholicism.

The diocese didn't just send any man. They sent in a homosexual priest to stick it in their faces saying, in effect, "We are in control."

The Rev. Jesse Leon Anthony Parker, rector at St. John's-in-the-Village, celebrated a 9 am Eucharist wedging his service in between Mount Calvary's scheduled 8 am Low Mass and 10 am Solemn High Mass. Only a handful of loyal Episcopalians attended the impromptu service. Most were ringers.

Mount Calvary's rector, the Rev. Jason Catania said that it was "no surprise" that Fr. Parker showed up. The Diocese of Maryland communicated its intention to Fr. Catania beforehand.

Are there new depths that TEC revisionist bishops can plumb? Apparently. You can read the full story by VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller in today's digest..."

The Best Thanksgiving

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

"The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe.
But the stupid man will just lay down on some seaweed and roll around
until he's completely draped in it.  Then he'll stand up and go, "Hey, I'm
Vine Man."

- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

American exorcist plies his lonely trade


DANIEL BURKE Associated Press

Published: November 11, 2010

Pity the poor exorcist, caught between evil spirits eager to invade human bodies and a society skeptical that demons exist outside of Hollywood horror movies.

Even some church leaders look askance at exorcists as peddlers of a practice best left in the Middle Ages. Most American exorcists, particularly the handful of priests appointed by the Roman Catholic Church, keep a low profile, hesitating to open themselves — or their church — to ridicule and quacks.

But exorcists may soon be moving out of the shadows.

U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring a conference this week (Nov. 12-13) in Baltimore on the "liturgical and pastoral practice of exorcism." Fifty-six bishops and 66 priests have registered to hear about the shortage of trained exorcists and the growing interest in the mysterious rite, according to Catholic News Service.

That's good news for the Rev. Gary Thomas, a loquacious, Silicon Valley priest eager to dish about exorcism and the art of spiritual warfare.

Thomas is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, Calif., and the official exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose. According to Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who is helping organize the Baltimore conference, Thomas is one of only five or six active exorcists in the U.S.

Last year, Thomas wrote to 121 Catholic bishops and 41 seminary rectors, urging them to train more priests in demon de-possession. Included with the letters were copies of "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist," a book by journalist Matt Baglio that details Thomas' three-year journey from California clergyman to university-trained "spiritual detective."

"I hope that you will take the time to read this book and become better informed about a subject that many Catholics priests deem superstitious and medieval," Thomas wrote in the letter to the bishops. These are apocalyptic times, the priest says, and exorcists are needed now more than ever.

So, why haven't more bishops appointed exorcists? "Because they do not believe in them," Thomas answered. "In my opinion, then, they should not be bishops."

After all, salvation through Jesus is necessary because a certain someone — i.e. Satan — tempted Adam and Eve to eat a very unfortunate apple, Thomas said, thus bringing sin and evil into the world. Without Satan, the salvation story falls apart, the priest said.

The first Christian exorcisms were performed by Jesus himself, who freed a number of sufferers from "the domination of demons," in the words of the Catholic Catechism — and instructed his followers to do the same. "And these signs will accompany those who believe," Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark, "by using my name they will cast out demons."

Every Catholic still undergoes what the church calls a "simple exorcism" at baptism, when their godparents recite prayers renouncing Satan and rinsing the stain of Original Sin.

Serious cases of diabolical possession are usually manifested by superhuman strength, speaking in unfamiliar languages, and a raging hostility to sacred objects like crucifixes, according to exorcists; these require "major exorcisms," which are only to be performed by priests, with permission from their bishops.

The Catholic Church updated its Rite of Exorcism, in which the power of Jesus is invoked to expel demons, in 1999, bringing a text written in 1614 into the 20th century. The Vatican warned that exorcists should "demonstrate maximum circumspection and prudence," and approach the possessed person as they would anyone who suffers from physical or psychological illness.

Thomas knew little of this in 2005, when his bishop sent him to Rome to train as an exorcist. At Regina Apostolorum, a Vatican-sanctioned school run by the conservative Legion of Christ religious order, Thomas learned about detecting demons, how spirits fit into Catholic theology, and the source of the devil's power.

He also apprenticed with a veteran Italian exorcist, sitting in on 80 of his appointments with reportedly possessed people. In Italy, where more than half a million people seek out an exorcist annually, exorcisms are commonplace — more like going to the dentist than starring in a horror movie, Baglio reports.

In America, however, exorcism has often been relegated to the dark corners of the church — or the silver screen. Most demonic possessions, however, are nothing like Linda Blair's head-turning role in the famous 1973 movie "The Exorcist," Thomas said.

Thomas said 10 bishops and seminary rectors responded to his letters, thanking him for sending the book but saying little more. "I thought I would've gotten a lot more (letters) by now," he said wistfully.

But if the bishops aren't game, Hollywood is. New Line Cinema, a major movie studio, bought the rights for "The Rite," and hired a Hollywood veteran to direct.

Thomas said he was paid $25,000 when the film rights were sold, all of which he will give away; exorcists are not allowed to take money for their services, and the priest said he doesn't want to get a big head.

"The worst thing for me would be to become a celebrity," Thomas said. "That would be a great way to derail me; and that's exactly what the devil wants."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Medjugorje Angle of the 1975 Decree - Romanis Pontificibus (Now in English)

From Te Deum laudamus!:

"That is a good point Bishop Peric makes in the end: Why doesn't the "gospa" of Medjugorje seem to care about all of the invalid sacraments taking place a stone's throw away by a number of ex-franciscans without faculties?  As an aside, Bishop Peric had to inform those 800 young people, and their parents, that their confirmations were invalid.  He then administered the Sacrament to them..."

Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI (L) crosses himself next to personnal secretary Georg Gaeswein weekly general audience on November 10, 2010 at the Paul VI hall at The Vatican.

Business as Usual

Bruskewitz and Threats Against the Church

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Diocese of Peoria Suspends Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Beatification Efforts


"Shocker" is how Rocco tweeted it, and that about sums it up:
Nearly a year after Fulton Sheen was celebrated anew across the globe on the 30th anniversary of his death, the iconic prelate's boyhood diocese has suddenly pulled out of leading the charge for his beatification.

In a release posted to its website late last week, the Peoria-based Archbishop Sheen Cause announced the surprise move thus:.....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Report: Archbishop of Canterbury 'to announce conversion of two bishops to Rome on Monday'

By Damian Thompson

Will Dr Williams announce departures on Monday? (Photo: PA)
Will Dr Williams announce departures on Monday? (Photo: PA)

This report appeared today on an Australian website:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to announce the resignation of two bishops on Monday, in the first of what is feared [sic] will be a wave of departures from the Church of England by traditionalists converting to Roman Catholicism.
The Bishop of Richborough, the Right Rev Keith Newton, 58, is expected to become leader of the Anglican Ordinariate, set up to provide Catholic refuge to Anglicans who leave the Church of England over the issue of women bishops.
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Right Rev Andrew Burnham, 63, is also expected to join the Ordinariate, along with the Bishop of Fulham, the Right Rev John Broadhurst, who announced last month that he will be resigning at the end of the year. A fourth retired bishop, Edwin Barnes, is also expected to join the Ordinariate.
Sources said that the Ordinariate is to be launched at Pentecost next year, seven weeks after Easter.
Both Newton and Burnham have been on study leave for the past month while they consider their positions.
I assume the report is largely accurate, because Bishop Burnham has contributed to the thread discussing it on the Anglo-Catholic blog. He makes one correction, but it’s very minor: “I’m only 62,” he says (and nothing else).

More later. But how fascinating that Bishop Newton, rather than an existing Catholic bishop, could be leader of the Ordinariate. He cannot be ordained a Roman Catholic bishop, as he is married, but if he were the priestly “ordinary” of the communities, he would exercise many of the legal (as opposed to sacramental) powers of a bishop...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Freaks Protest Pope Benedict XVI in Spain

Getty Images

A woman protesting against Pope Benedict XVI's visit holds up a sign reading 'Pope welcome to 'Gaycelona'' on November 4, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Barcelona to consecrate the Sagrada Familia a Basilica on November 7, 2010.

Getty Images

Two women wearing mitres reading 'I'm lesbian, adulterous, pro-abortion, and i do it with condoms' as they demonstrate against Pope's with members of social movements as Gay and Feminist organizations and trade unions visit in Spain on November 4, 2010 in Barcelona.

 Getty Images

Members of social movements as Gay and Feminist organizations and trade unions demonstrate against Pope's visit holding anti-pope placards in Spain on November 4, 2010 in Barcelona.

Getty Images

A woman with a child holds and anti-clerical as she takes part to a demonstration against Pope's visit with Gay and Feminist organizations and trade unions in Spain on November 4, 2010 in Barcelona.

 AP Photo

Rio police, foreground, watch as people march against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI holding a banner that reads "We are not waiting for you, secular Galicia" in Santiago de Compostela, northern Spain, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010.

Getty Images

A man holds a placard reading 'Atheists, Gays? Yes! Nazis? No! Let's criticize yourself Nazinger!' as he takes part with members of social movements as Gay and Feminist organizations and trade unions to a demonstration against Pope's visit in Spain..

Pope urges world community to help end violence in Iraq

By Carol Glatz

A deadly militant siege of the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad was a "savage" act of "absurd violence," Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope urged international and national authorities and all people of good will to work together to end the "heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East." The attack occurred Oct. 31 as about 100 people gathered for Sunday Mass.

"I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, which is even more savage because it struck defenseless people, gathered in God's house, which is a house of love and reconciliation," Pope Benedict said after praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Nov. 1, the feast of All Saints.

The following day, he sent a telegram to Baghdad as Catholics held funerals for two priests and several others among the 58 people killed in the violence.

"Deeply saddened by the violent deaths of so many faithful and of Fathers Tha'ir Saad and Boutros Wasim, I want to participate spiritually in the funeral while I pray that these brothers and sisters would be welcomed into the mercy of Christ in the Father's house," the pope said.

"For years, this beloved country has suffered unspeakable pain, and even the Christians have become the objects of savage attacks which, with total disrespect for life, the inviolable gift of God, try to undermine trust and civil coexistence," he said.

"I renew my appeal that the sacrifice of these brothers and sisters of ours may be seeds of peace and of true rebirth and so that all those who have at heart reconciliation and a coexistence marked by fraternity and solidarity would find reasons and strength to work for good," the pope said.

On Nov. 1, Pope Benedict renewed his urgent call for peace in the Middle East.

While peace may be a gift of God, "it is also the result of efforts by people of good will and national and international institutions," he said.

"May everyone unite their efforts so as to end all violence," he said.

Armed militants wearing explosives first set off a car bomb across the street, killing two people in front of the Baghdad Stock Exchange. Then they stormed the church, killing another two people, according to reports.

The militants, who said they were part of the Islamic State of Iraq --- a group with suspected ties to al-Qaida --- held parishioners and priests hostage in the hopes of leveraging the release of prisoners from their network. The terrorists demanded prisoners linked to al-Qaida be set free from detention in Iraq and Egypt and they threatened to blow up the church if military forces attempted to break the siege.

After a standoff that lasted hours, Iraqi forces stormed the cathedral, and the ensuing firefight and a series of explosions left the 58 dead and 75 injured.

Unconfirmed reports said a third priest was among those who died at the hospital.

Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan was in Canada when the blasts occurred. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service Nov. 1 while he was en route to Baghdad, he criticized the lack of security for Christian places of worship and called on "Iraqi parties to overcome their personal and confessional interests and look for the good of the Iraqi people who have elected them."

"There are a few churches and Christian institutions left in Baghdad, not so great a number that it is not unreasonable for them to be protected, security-wise," he said, noting that the security being provided by the government is "far less than what we have hoped for and requested."

"Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called 'free' world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical," said the patriarch, who served as bishop of the New Jersey-based Syrian-rite diocese in the United States and Canada from 1995 until his election as patriarch in 2009.

The patriarch demanded "that the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, the International Commission for Civil Rights and the League of Arabic States" condemn the actions at the church and "take the appropriate action to defend innocent Christians brutally singled out because of their religion, in Iraq and some other Middle Eastern countries."

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told Vatican Radio Oct. 31 that at least one child was killed in the incident.

During the siege, he asked people to pray that God would give the hostage-takers the grace to take into consideration the women, children and all the innocent who were threatened by their actions.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told reporters at the time of the siege that "it's a very sad situation, which confirms the difficult situation in which Christians live in the country."

"Christians live with great insecurity and we express our solidarity with them," he said.

Iraqi bishops had just participated in a special Synod of Bishops Oct. 10-24 with the pope at the Vatican; the synod drew attention to the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East.

During the synod, Iraqi bishops said kidnappings for ransom, bombings of churches and other Christian buildings and a general lack of security have made life so precarious for the vulnerable Christian community that about half have left their homeland for safer destinations in the past seven years.

At least one bishop raised the question of systematic attacks as part of a "plan" to drive all Christians from the Middle East.

The cathedral and four other churches were the target of a string of bombings Aug. 1, 2004, when parishioners were leaving Sunday Mass; 15 people were killed in those attacks.

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed solidarity and promised prayers for the Christians of Iraq "at this terrible time of loss and horrific violence."

In a Nov. 2 statement, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said the U.S. government --- having invaded Iraq and later withdrawn all combat troops --- "has a moral obligation not to abandon those Iraqis who cannot defend themselves."

"While we welcomed the end of U.S.-led combat in Iraq," the cardinal said, "we share the Iraqi bishops' concern that the United States failed to help Iraqis in finding the political will and concrete ways needed to protect the lives of all citizens, especially Christians and other vulnerable minorities, and to ensure that refugees and displaced persons are able to return to their homes safely."

Cardinal George quoted many of the comments by Iraqi bishops at the recently concluded Synod of Bishops for the Middle East at the Vatican and recalled Pope Benedict XVI's closing remarks calling peace "an indispensable condition for a life of dignity for individuals and society."

"We stand with the bishops, church and people of Iraq in their urgent search for greater security, freedom and protection," he said. "We call upon the United States to take additional steps to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable."