Friday, September 30, 2011

Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism

By Cathy of Alex

I’m re-reading Donna Steichen’s book Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. I realized, recently, that this book was originally published in 1991 – right when I was an undergrad in a Catholic women’s college and focusing on Feminist Theology as part of my Theology minor. I’m not kidding.

It also recently occurred to me that it is too bad that I did not read Steichen’s book at the time it was published. Instead, I was reading Starhawk, Fiorenza and Ruether (the “trinity”) along with the latest from Timmerman (who was one of my profs, btw), Daly, Kyung, Hellwig. I read them because their books were required or optional reading for courses. In other words; they were the theology textbooks.

I never had the Catechism as a required text in any Theology courses. I had the Catholic Bible (NAB) as a required text in one Theology class. I recall doing a lot of exercises in the hermaneutic of suspicion against Biblical texts and encouraged to find evidence in Scripture that the Church put women down. Did I mention this was (still is) a nominally Catholic college?... (continued...)

Letter to the Cops

From Letters of Note:

"When Auckland resident Justin Lee received this speeding ticket back in 2004, he noticed a typo: according to said notice, the infringement in question had taken place 30 years beforehand, in 1974. To elaborate any further would ruin the story, so I'll just let you read the highly enjoyable letter written by Lee in response.

Below that can be found a brief reply from the New Zealand Police.

Transcipt follows. Images courtesy of Mike Riversdale."


Justin Lee

27th January 2004

New Zealand Police
Infringement Bureau
PO Box 9147

Good morning,


Yesterday, I was presented with the above infringement notice (copy attached for your records) while returning home from the Parachute music festival at Mystery Creek near Hamilton over the long Auckland Anniversary weekend. I had a most excellent weekend, but that is not why I'm writing to you at this time. Unfortunately, there are a couple of irregularities with the infringment notice that are causing me some consternation and hopefully you can clear them up or, preferably, forget about the whole thing entirely.

Firstly, the 'date of offence' is listed as the 23rd of June 1974 with the time being at or around half past six in the evening. This is of grave concern to me because I was not issued a drivers license until sometime in 1990 and I have no desire to be charged with driving while not legally licensed. I do not have a clear recollection of very much at all before I was three and a half years old, so I rang Mum to see if she remembered what I was doing that day. She said that - coincidentally - I was born that day!!

Mum mentioned that I was born at around five o'clock in the evening on that day in Porirua, which is not far from Wellington. She also said Porirua was a bustling suburb of young, low-income people who were trying to get ahead. Back in the 70's, people were coming to terms with oil shocks, high-inflation and wage freezes, but that's not important right now.

For me to have traveled from Porirua to the foot of the Bombay Hills just out of Auckland by six thirty, I would had to have crawled into the first car in the hospital parking lot and headed for Auckland at around 1,000 km/h. For this reason, it is entirely possible that the constable who clocked me back in 1974 was holding his laser equipment upside down and instead of doing 116 km/h as per the infringment notice, it is more likely that I was doing 911 km/h.

This is where it starts to get really strange. The car that I must have crawled into had the same license plate number as the one I have now - AEH924 (according to the infringment notice). However, my car is a dark gray Nissan Bluebird SSS, with dual cup holders, 1800cc's of grunt, air-conditioning and electric windows.

You will notice that a time-travel option is not included on this model, so that rules out any 'Back to the Future' issues and the car I was driving back then could not have been the the one I drive today. You will notice that a time-travel option is not included on this model, so that rules out any "Back to the Future" issues and the car I was driving back then could not have been the one I drive today.

This is clarifed by the infringement notice which states that the vehicle was a Honda saloon. How this relates to my Nissan Bluebird, I cannot fathom. I can only hypothesise that, back in 1974, the first range of proto-type Hondas had an automated number plate changing mechanism (like on the A-Team) which were used to avoid parking tickets and facilitate safer getaways from burglaries, armed hold-ups and the like.

So to recap, it appears that on my birthday on June 23rd 1974, I crawled out of the maternity ward, hijacked a seriously high powered Honda saloon with an automated number plate changing mechanism, drove to Auckland at close to Mach 1, was pulled over approaching the Bombay Hills and unwittingly changed the automated number plate changing mechanism to show the same number as a car I would own almost thirty years later!! (The chance of selecting the same number plate is a mere 1 in 308,915,776 - so quite conceivable)

I am currently residing at the address listed at the top of this letter. I expect you will want to apprehend me fairly shortly now that we've established that I may have committed the following offences:

- Grand theft auto (I probably stole the Honda as my parents drove a white Ford Cortina at that stage)
- Driving without a license
- Driving at a ludicrous speed using a motor vehicle
- Evading the law using an automated number plate changing mechanism.

If you could provide a clearer indication as to why the 'date of offence' is the same as my birthday, and why the vehicle make and type bears no resemblance to the number plate listed on the infringement notice, it would be appreciated. Mind you, I wouldn't be too disappointed if we agreed to let this one go. I could really use the $120 dollars as I'm lowering my Nissan, installing excessively noisy waste-gate and boring it out for better performance in the street drags down Te Irirangi drive and around Weymouth.

Thank you for considering my submission, I look forward to hearing from you.



Justin Lee

Encl. Copy of infringement notice N3735700


30 March 2004

Justin Lee

Dear Sir

Infringement Notice: PN 3735700

I refer to your correspondence regarding the above infringement notice.

After careful consideration of your comments and the circumstances surrounding the issue of this notice, it has been decided on this occasion to waive the offence. Accordingly, you are no longer required to pay the infringement fee.

Yours faithfully


for Senior Sergeant Bryan Healey
Manager: Adjudication

h/t to S.S.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Catholic Priest Faces Dismissal for Support of Women's Ordination

Warning:  Barf Alert


by Alex DiBranco Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest of 39 years, felt obligated to speak his conscience -- and it told him that women should be allowed to be priests too. His outspoken opposition to sexist discrimination could cost him dearly, however, as he now faces dismissal from his position and excommunication.

The Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) has launched a petition on in support of Fr. Bourgeois and other Catholics who believe that women deserve the same clergy rights as men in the Church. "I cannot possibly speak out about injustice in society and at the same time be silent about this injustice in my church," Bourgeois affirmed. WOC -- along with cosponsors the Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Call To Action, and Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA -- wants the Vatican to know that a respected priest shouldn't be kicked out for supporting women's ordination when there's no scriptural prohibition for this practice.

"After much reflection, study, and prayer, I believe that our Church's teaching that excludes women from the priesthood defies both faith and reason and cannot stand up to scrutiny," Fr. Bourgeois wrote in response to his threatened removal from office in the Maryknoll Catholic order. 'This teaching has nothing to do with God, but with men, and is rooted in sexism. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God, but of men who want to hold on to their power."

Bourgeois and his lawyer, Fr. Thomas Doyle, have challenged the dismissal, which came from the Maryknoll leadership under pressure from the Vatican, on the grounds that the ban on women priests is not infallible doctrine. They want theologians to look into the current system and see if it doesn't need an update -- the Roman Catholic Church is now lagging behind other Christian denominations that have welcomed women into the clergy. One woman writes as her reason for signing the petition in support of Fr. Bourgeois: "My mom and my sister are both ordained priests (Anglican), and the world did not end when they celebrated their first masses."

Over the past decade, 120 women priests and 10 female bishops have [not] been ordained by the Roman Catholic Church...

[Reuters] Analysis: Pope disappoints hopes of Catholics and Protestants
AP Photo

(Reuters) - Pope Benedict's visit to his German homeland was bound to provoke harsh words from his critics. The surprise of the event was how bluntly he took his own Church to task and disappointed Protestants ready to work with him.

Despite his frail physique and soft-spoken style, the 84-year-old pontiff delivered a vigorous defense of his conservative views and brusquely rejected calls for reforms, some of which even had cautious support from some bishops.

At the end of his four-day visit on Sunday, Benedict predicted "small communities of believers" would spread Catholicism in future -- and not, he seemed to say, the rich German Church, which he hinted had more bureaucracy than belief.

Some Church leaders fear they may end up with only small communities if they don't consider reforms.

Record numbers of the faithful have officially quit the Church in recent years, often in protest against clerical sex abuse scandals.

"The pope was demanding, almost hard -- not in his manner, but in the essence of his words," Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily commented. "Nobody should be fooled by his fragility."

"The pope sees the signs of the times, but interprets them not as a demand to courageously open up the Catholic Church but, on the contrary, to close its ranks."

Breaking down faith barriers is a major issue in the land of the Protestant Reformation. Christians are equally divided between Catholics and Protestants in Germany and intermarriage and ecumenical cooperation make both sides ask why old divisions still exist.

Politicians from President Christian Wulff down publicly told the pope they hoped his visit would help to bring the churches closer. One suggestion was to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to take communion when they attend Catholic mass.


Benedict made a historic gesture for interchurch unity by presiding over a prayer service with a Protestant bishop in the Erfurt monastery where the 16th-century reformer Martin Luther lived as a monk before he split with Rome.

But in his speech to Protestant leaders there, he bluntly told them they were mistaken to expect him to come bearing gifts, like a political leader coming to negotiate a treaty.

His hosts, who would have been happy with vague words about the need to look into some problems, instead heard a short lecture about how Christian faith could not be negotiated.... (continued...)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Priest barred from saying mass


An elderly priest on the Acadian Peninsula has been barred from performing church services in the Bathurst diocese after he made remarks about homosexuals and women who have had an abortion.

Rev. Donat Gionet, 85, gave the sermon at the Roman Catholic church in Saint-Léolin while replacing the regular parish priest late last month.

He stands by the comments he made in Saint-Léolin, a village of about 730 people located about 50 kilometres east of Bathurst.

Reached in Caraquet on Wednesday, Gionet declined an interview but did provide a written statement.
In a letter written in French that he provided to the Telegraph-Journal, Gionet stated the sermon in question was about the destruction of the Church and the need to seek forgiveness for past sins:

"I said: 'Today, it is we Catholics who are destroying our Catholic Church. We need only look at the number of abortions among Catholics, look at the homosexuals, and ourselves.' (That's when I pointed at my chest - through that action I wanted to say, we the priests) and I continued saying: We are destroying our Church ourselves. And that's when I said that those were the words expressed by Pope John Paul II. At that point, in the St-Léolin church only, I added: 'We can add to that the practice of watching gay parades, we are encouraging this evil' ... What would you think of someone who seeing what was happening on (Sept.) 11, 2001, the crumbling of the towers, had begun clapping? We must not encourage evil, whatever form it takes."

Bishop Valéry Vienneau has revoked Gionet's rights to serve mass across the Diocese of Bathurst, a decision welcomed by Joseph Lanteigne, the openly gay mayor of Saint-Léolin.

"The action taken by the diocese is good and I know it isn't easy for the diocese."

Since the incident, Gionet has quit his position on the Saint-Léolin parish's pastoral committee.

Rev. Wesley Wade, vicar general of the Diocese of Bathurst, said Gionet's teachings don't meet the diocese's goal of following Christ's example of loving unconditionally.

"We have to respect people on their own journey," Wade said.

"The first message of Christ was to reveal to us a loving father and a merciful father and that we are all called to be his children and that we are all loved unconditionally by Him."

While the Church gets criticized as a judgmental institution, Wade said the reality is "it's full of compassion."

In a letter to parishioners earlier this week, Vienneau said Gionet had been pulled from active ministry.

At a meeting last week, Gionet told Vienneau that he had no plans to change or temper his comments.

Gionet also said, as a priest, he has a duty to encourage those who aren't living their lives according to Catholic teachings to mend their ways.

Monday, September 26, 2011

BBC drops Anno Domini and Before Christ to avoid offending non-Christians

(The Telegraph) The BBC has been accused of bowing to political correctness after it emerged that it was discouraging the use of the terms BC and AD for fear of offending non-Christians.

The Corporation's religion website states that it opts for the "religiously neutral" Common Era and Before Common Era, rather than Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ.

It goes on: "As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians."

But critics said the changes were meaningless because, just like AD and BC, the alternative terms still denote years in relation to the life of Christ...


September 25, 2011

There is a seemingly endless list of “How to Be Happy” books, and most of them are depressing. That is because they miss the point. Happiness, for which we are “hardwired” by God, cannot last unless it comes from God, who is everlasting. In the venerable cadence of the Baltimore Catechism: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” There are almost countless establishments in our busy neighborhood that advertise “Happy Hours” but none that offer “Happy Lives.”

The happiest moments in earthly life are mixed with some sort of sorrow, knowing that we cannot enjoy them eternally while still in time and that our mortal bodies cannot contain immortal joy. So sometimes, sublime music or images move us to tears rather than laughter, and we seem ready to “burst with joy.”

Christ wept the most raucous tears when moved by the sight of sad people, because it contradicted the joys of heaven, and He wept for the earthly Jerusalem because it had become so shabby compared to the heavenly Jerusalem. Only the eternal Lord could say with a human voice: “So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you” (John 16:22).

A recent survey by the University of Chicago listed the ten “happiest jobs.” The clergy are number one, and I would agree with that. Some of the others are teachers, artists, authors, counselors, and firefighters. Since I teach, paint as a hobby, write, counsel, and am an honorary firefighter, I have every claim to unconfined bliss. But the point that so many “How to Be Happy” books miss, is that true satisfaction has little to do with money or that sort of thing. Einstein found his greatest happiness with just “a table and a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin.”

The saints are joy made visible. Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, had the consolations of a splendid intellect and the prominence of a cardinal, yet he was especially happy scrubbing the pots and pans in his seminary. He writes in The Ascent of the Soul to God: “Therefore consider that to be for your real good which brings you to your goal and that to be really bad which cuts you off from this goal. Prosperity and adversity, riches and poverty, health and sickness, honour and ignominy, life and death should not be sought after for themselves by the wise man nor are they to be avoided for themselves; if they contribute to the glory of God and your eternal happiness, they are good and to be sought after; if they are obstacles to this, they are evil and to be avoided.”
h/t to The Tenth Crusade

Doritos Chip Creator Dies at 97

(AP) DALLAS – Arch West, a retired Frito-Lay marketing executive credited with creating Doritos as the first national tortilla chip brand, has died in Dallas at age 97.

A statement issued by the West family says he died Tuesday at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. A graveside service is scheduled for Oct. 1. Daughter Jana Hacker of Allen tells The Dallas Morning News the family plans on "tossing Doritos chips in before they put the dirt over the urn."

West was a marketing vice president for Dallas-based Frito-Lay in 1961 when, while on a family vacation near San Diego, he found a snack shack selling fried tortilla chips. Hacker says her father got a tepid corporate response to the tortilla chip idea but conducted marketing research that led to the Doritos rollout.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Case against Father Gordon MacRae

From Ryan A. MacDonald at A Ram in the Thicket:
What we do know, however, is that Father Gordon MacRae was never assigned to the Keene parish where these things were claimed to have happened until Jonathan Grover was fourteen years old. Father Scruton was never assigned to the Keene Parish until Grover was sixteen years old. Yet all three are there in that hot tub when Grover was twelve, just like the kid in the “Geraldo” transcript.... subsequent reports, Detective McLaughlin wrote of giving Grover a copy of Father MacRae’s resume “to help him with his dates.” Father Scruton was never mentioned again. By the time this case was over, Jonathan Grover had $195,000.00 in his pocket provided in settlement by the Diocese of Manchester with no corroboration of the account. When Father MacRae objected from his prison cell, he was simply dropped as a defendant giving him no standing to object....

The discrepancies in the above account of claims against Father Gordon MacRae are typical of this case. There's a lot left unexplained. One of MacRae's accusers, for example, was "an employee" of Detective McLaughlin "in a family-owned business" at the time he accused the priest...

The detective's police report omitted a few other important details as well. Before accusing Father MacRae, Jon Plankey also accused a county employee of soliciting him for sex. Then he accused a Congregational church choir director of soliciting him for sex and taking lewd photographs of him. Then he accused another man of soliciting him for sex.

He finally hit pay dirt, however, when he accused a Catholic priest. Jon Plankey has repeatedly declined to be interviewed or to answer any questions about this case, but his brother seemed eager to talk. He says the entire Plankey claim was a fraud brought for settlement money.... (continued...)


Three Air Gun Shots Fired Before Papal Mass in Germany
Getty Images

( German police said they arrested a man suspected of firing three shots from an air gun on Saturday, around a kilometre (600 yards) from where Pope Benedict XVI was due to hold mass.

No-one was injured in the incident and a suspect was arrested in his apartment, from where the shots were fired, Eckhard Deutschmann, a local police spokesman told AFP.

The shots were fired around two hours before the 84-year-old pontiff began his celebration of the mass before around 30,000 people, according to reporters on the scene. No link with the pope's visit could be immediately established.

Security for the pope's first visit to his native Germany has been extremely tight. Large parts of Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg have been locked down for the trip amid a colossal police presence.

Local radio reported the shots were aimed at a security official.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Billboard to warn of dangers of cheese

(JSOnline) This may hit a little too close to home in America's Dairyland.

A physicians group has taken out an ad on a billboard on Highway 41 that features the Grim Reaper wearing a cheesehead and warning against the dangers of eating cheese.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, the ad, paid for by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, will go up Monday on Creamery Road in De Pere and be visible from Highway 41.

The sign reads: "Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health - Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium."

The Press Gazette has the full story.

Pope rejects Lutheran demands for compromise
 Getty Images

(Deutsche Presse-Agentur) Erfurt, Germany - Pope Benedict XVI on Friday rejected Lutheran demands for rapid compromises that would end the differences between Protestants and Catholics.

In a homily in a Lutheran church in Erfurt, Germany, he said prior to his visit 'there was some talk of an 'ecumenical gift' which was expected from this visit. There is no need for me to specify the gifts mentioned in this context.'

Benedict said, 'Here I would only say that this reflects a political misreading of faith and of ecumenism,' adding that he was not like a head of state visiting a friendly country and signing a diplomatic compromise between both sides.

'The faith of Christians does not rest on such a weighing of benefits and drawbacks. A self-made faith is worthless. Faith is not something we work out intellectually or negotiate between us,' he said.

'Unity grows not by the weighing of benefits and drawbacks but only by entering ever more deeply into the faith in our thoughts and in our lives,' said Benedict, who had earlier spent half an hour longer than scheduled in talks with the Protestant leaders.

Scientists Reconstruct Brains’ Visions Into Digital Video In Historic Experiment

(Gizmodo) UC Berkeley scientists have developed a system to capture visual activity in human brains and reconstruct it as digital video clips. Eventually, this process will allow you to record and reconstruct your own dreams on a computer screen.

I just can't believe this is happening for real, but according to Professor Jack Gallant—UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the research published today in the journal Current Biology—"this is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds."

Indeed, it's mindblowing. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified. This is how it works:

They used three different subjects for the experiments—incidentally, they were part of the research team because it requires to be inside a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging system for hours at a time. They were exposed to two different groups of Hollywood movie trailers as the fMRI system recorded the brain's blood flow through their brains' visual cortex.

The readings were fed into a computer program in which they were divided into three-dimensional pixels units called voxels (volumetric pixels). This process effectively decodes the brain signals generated by moving pictures, connecting the shape and motion information from the movies to specific brain actions. As the sessions progressed, the computer kept learning about how the visual activity presented on the screen corresponded to the brain activity.

After recording this information, another group of clips was used to reconstruct the videos shown to the subjects. The computer analyzed 18 million seconds of random YouTube video, building a database of potential brain activity for each clip. From all these videos, the software picked the one hundred clips that caused a brain activity more similar to the ones the subject watched, combining them into one final movie. Although the resulting movie is low resolution and blurry, it clearly matched the actual clips watched by the subjects....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI in Berlin: "religion is a binding basis for our coexistence"

Particles found to break speed of light

By Robert Evans
GENEVA | Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:26pm EDT

(Reuters) - An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles traveling faster than light -- a finding that could overturn one of Einstein's long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe.

Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, told Reuters that measurements taken over three years showed neutrinos pumped from CERN near Geneva to Gran Sasso in Italy had arrived 60 nanoseconds quicker than light would have done.

"We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing," he said. "We now want colleagues to check them independently."

If confirmed, the discovery would undermine Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and that nothing in the universe can travel faster.

That assertion, which has withstood over a century of testing, is one of the key elements of the so-called Standard Model of physics, which attempts to describe the way the universe and everything in it works...

Nic Cage Sparks Vampire Rumors

(Fox Nation) Have you ever seen Nicolas Cage during the day? Have you ever seen Nicolas Cage regard his reflection in a mirror?

If the answer to either is “yes,” please contact the authorities, because there’s a rumor going around that the “Vampire’s Kiss” actor is an actual vampire.

And it all comes from this Civil War era photo of, well…Nicolas Cage?

Thomas Jefferson's Cut-and-Paste Bible

Our third president sought to separate the words of Jesus from the 'corruptions' of his followers.

By STEPHEN PROTHER Wall Street Journal)  Last November, in response to protest, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery removed a video installation depicting ants crawling over a small crucifix. This coming November, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will exhibit a cut-and-paste Bible of a mere 86 pages. Were it the work of David Wojnarowicz (the artist behind the crucifix video) or Andres Serrano (of "Piss Christ" fame), this Bible would doubtless stir up a hornet's nest. But in fact, it was created by Thomas Jefferson.

During the election of 1800, Jefferson was denounced as a "howling atheist" and "a confirmed infidel" known for "vilifying the divine word, and preaching insurrection against God." But the Virginian also revered Jesus as "the first of human Sages" and was, according to one biographer, "the most self-consciously theological of all American presidents."

The book that the Smithsonian is preparing to put on display is actually one of two Jefferson Bibles. Jefferson produced the first over the course of a few days in 1804. Not long after completing the Louisiana Purchase, he sat down in the White House with two Bibles and one razor, intent on dividing the true words of Jesus from those put into his mouth by "the corruptions of schismatising followers."

The result was "The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth": a severely abridged text (now lost) that, like the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, consisted entirely of Jesus' sayings. In this "precious morsel of ethics," as Jefferson put it, Jesus prayed to God and affirmed the afterlife, but he was not born in a manger and did not die to atone for anyone's sins...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Girl, 6, found 160 million year old fossil

... with a beach spade 

One in 160 million ... Emily Baldry with her huge fossil

A GIRL of six got more than she bargained for when she went digging with a plastic spade and found a 160million year old fossil.

(The Sun) Lucky Emily Baldry unearthed the massive Rieneckia odysseus fossil during her first archaeological dig last year.

And now after months of restoration she has donated it to a museum to be enjoyed by the public.

She pulled the 130lb specimen — which has a diameter of 40cm — out of the ground in March last year when she was just FIVE.

Stunned dad Jon Baldry couldn't believe his eyes when Emily's seaside spade hit the fossil at Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire.

It has since undergone a year's worth of careful restoration and now boasts fearsome 2cm spikes...

The Gay "Church"

Bishop Roger W. Gries: Please Continue to Support Priests For Life

Office of the Auxiliary Bishop
1230 Ansel Road
Cleveland, OH 44108-3381
Tel: (216) 721-0676
Fax: (216) 721-0903
Monday, 19 September 2011

Priests for Life
P.O. Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314

Dear Supporters of Priests for Life,

Over my ten years as Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, I crossed paths many times with Father Frank Pavone.  During all this time I have found him dedicated to the preservation of life for the unborn.  He and I both work and pray for the day when we will eliminate this horrendous evil from the face of the earth. 

Supporting abortion happens to be the politically correct stance to take these days.  God would love to restore the peace and love found in the Garden of Eden before the fall.  It is our challenge in this age to build up the Kingdom of God.  We will only achieve this goal if we let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Please keep Father Pavone in your prayers.  He is currently facing some difficult days as he negotiates with his bishop.  The work he had done since founding Priests for Life must continue as we face the future.  Please continue to support Priests for Life.  

I was proud to stand up with Father Pavone when he asked me to serve on the Advisory Board of Bishops.  Every opportunity that comes my way to stand up for life will find me speaking out against abortion.  Let us pray, pray and pray some more for the mothers carrying infants in their wombs.   Also, let us pray for those who perform the abortions and work in those clinics for they need God’s grace to see the evil of their deeds. 

God bless!

(Most Rev.) Roger W. Gries, O.S.B.
Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Law Professor Continues to Battle Catholic University Over Same-Sex Dorms

By Nathan Koppel

(The Wall Street Journal) Several months back, Catholic University President John Garvey announced in this WSJ opinion piece that the school was eliminating coed housing for incoming freshman this term.

Why? Garvey believes the move will help reduce binge drinking and casual hook-ups at the school.

In June, John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School, told the Law Blog that he intended to sue Catholic University, contending that the same-sex plan violates D.C.’s Human Rights Act. (He ultimately filed a complaint against Garvey.)

Last week, Banzhaf had a closed-door mediation with Catholic University in the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights, in an effort to resolve his complaint, the BLT Blog reports. (The Office of Human Rights is a city agency that seeks to eradicate discrimination and increase equal opportunity.)

“I maintain that you can no more have separate dormitories for men and women than you can have [separate] parking lots, laboratories or classes; you can’t have calculus for men, calculus for women,” Banzhaf told BLT.

Both sides declined to say what transpired at the mediation, BLT reports.

The Law Blog has sought comment from Catholic University and Banzhaf.

During the mediation, the university’s legal representatives defended the new same-sex dorm policy, according to the school’s newspaper, The Tower, which notes that president Garvey did not attend the mediation.

Catholic University spokesman Victor Nakas told The Tower, “We remain confident that under local and federal law we have every right to move forward with same-sex dorms.”

Update: Nakas offered a statement to the Law Blog.

DC’s Human Rights Act, he said, “forbids a school from denying or conditioning the use of facilities for a discriminatory reason. The single-sex residence policy that we are phasing in treats both sexes equally, so there is no discrimination.”

He added: ” The transition to single-sex residence halls – a return to a policy that was once common – is rooted mainly in a desire to curb the abuse of alcohol and to stymie development of a “hook-up” culture at the University. The University’s decision will contribute to strengthening its educational process and the holistic development of its students. . . .Professor Banzhaf has every right to his opinion and to express it publicly. However, as a citizen unaffiliated with Catholic University in any way, he does not have the right to insist that the institution change its well-considered policies”

A Priest and His Wounds: Padre Pio Under Investigation

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

"Many readers know by now that I share an important date with Padre Pio. September 23, the date of his death in 1968, is also the date that I was convicted and sent to prison in 1994 – seventeen years ago. I didn’t realize at the time that it was Padre Pio’s feast day. He wasn’t exactly on my mind as I was led in chains passed the TV cameras and jeering crowd to a prison-bound van. September 23 was the date upon which I last saw freedom, and for Padre Pio it was the date he last saw life on this Earth.

I don’t want to just re-write “Saints Alive! Padre Pio and the Stigmata” for this post.  You can read it for yourselves, and I hope it reflects the immense spiritual respect and devotion I have come to have for Padre Pio.

When I first came to this prison, he did not even enter into the sphere of what influenced me. I gave not a second thought to Padre Pio. I cannot really pinpoint when or how it happened, but he reached into these stone walls and gave me hope. It’s as though we share the deepest of friendships, but I could not begin to describe how and when we met.

His reaching out to me came first, then I researched his life and discovered the extent to which he suffered in our Church from the crushing weight of false accusation. I now embrace him not just as a friend and brother, but as a mentor and an icon of hope..." (continued...)


Mission Statement: The Fellowship of the Unashamed

From Patrick Madrid:

(Author unknown)

I AM A PART of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. I am finished and done with low living, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ’s presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God’s grace.

My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and spoken up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I am a Catholic. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, speak out until all know, and work until He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no difficulty recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

Adapted from the original (author unknown) by Patrick Madrid

h/t to The Tenth Crusade

Monday, September 19, 2011

San Gennaro miracle recurs

Cardinal, mayor reject bid to cancel religious feasts

(ANSA) - Naples, September 19 - The Miracle of San Gennaro was repeated on Monday when the blood of Naples' patron saint liquefied at 9.30am.

The event was announced to the thousands packing the city's cathedral and square outside, who cheered and let off firecrackers.

A visibly moved Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, held up a phial containing the blood of the 3rd-century saint while a traditional white handkerchief was waved.

Cardinal Sepe took the opportunity to reject government plans to cancel a number of saints' days, saying: "Naples cannot be cancelled from history".

Mayor Luigi de Magistris, elected in May, was among the politicians who paid homage to the saint by kissing the phial for the first time.

"Some people thought they could get rid of the feast of San Gennaro, because the government is on the way out," he said.

"But all of Naples is here, beyond political credos and religious convictions.

"Naples is a city in which there is a Catholic community, but also a secular one, a Jewish one, and a Muslim one".

The ceremony was broadcast live by a host of national and international TV networks.

The miracle takes place on the anniversary of the martyrdom of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) in September 305 AD.

The dried blood of the saint is preserved in two glass phials and traditionally liquefies three times a year, the Church says, thanks to the devotion and prayers of the faithful.

Aside from the anniversary of the saint's beheading, the miracle also takes place on December 16 to commemorate the 1631 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, believed to have been halted by the saint's intervention, and again on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May.

On this occasion, there is a procession through the city's streets to recall the many times the relics have been moved over the centuries.

The liquefaction process sometimes takes hours, even days, and on occasions fails to happen at all.


For the faithful and superstitious, the ritual's success is a good omen for the city while its failure is a sign of impending disaster.

In fact, disaster has struck on at least five occasions when the blood failed to liquefy, including in 1527 when tens of thousands of people died from the plague and in 1980 when 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake which devastated much of southern Italy.

The phials will remain on view in the cathedral for eight days before being returned to a vault in the chapel of the cathedral's treasury.

The first historical reference to the liquefaction of the martyr's blood is dated 1389.

Although now a headline-making saint, little is known about San Gennaro except that he was bishop of Benevento to the south of Naples and was martyred during the persecution of Christians spearheaded by the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

The bishop was beheaded for refusing to bow down to his 'pagan' persecutors.

According to legend, his body and head, still dripping blood, were gathered up by an old man and taken to a safe place while a local woman filled a phial with his spilt blood.

A group of Italian scientists has analysed the contents of the phials, establishing that they do contain blood, but have been unable to explain the phenomenon.

Some sceptics believe it is due to the shaking of the containers or the penetration of warmth from the holder's hands.

photo: De Magistris kissing phial

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blessed Elena Aiello -Mystic, Stigmatic & Foundress

From Mystics of the Church:

Blessed Elena Aiello -Mystic, Stigmatic, Victim Soul, Prophet & Foundress of the Minim Tertiaries of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

(Venerable Elena Aiello was declared Blessed on September 14, 2011 -Feast of the Exaultation of the Holy Cross. Because there is currently not much information in english on the Internet about her extraordinary holy life and prophecies, the webmaster was very happy when Elizabeth, a friend in Jesus, offered to write this excellent Biography. I am therefore very grateful to her for providing these edifying details of her life. May God bless and reward her for her efforts. -Editor)

The information contained in this abbreviated biography was taken from the book "The Incredible Life Story of Sister Elena Aiello, The Calabrian Holy Nun (1895-1961)". It was written by Monsignor Francesco Spadafora in Italian and was translated into English by Monsignor Angelo R. Cioffi. Fr. Spadafora was a renowned biblical scholar from the Pontifical University of the Lateran in Rome. He opposed modernism and while writing this book he was also battling the modernist approach to scripture that started to gain ground at the biblical institute.

-Early life
Some saints live a heroic holy life in an ordinary way and some in an extraordinary way. Sister Elena Aiello, who was the Foundress of the Minim Tertiaries of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and a contemplative soul and a martyr to suffering, was called to live both and it is through her charity that her true greatness is achieved. She was well known in Italy and much of Europe and had many visitors comparable to the crowds that visited Theresa Neumann and St. (Padre) Pio.

Elena Aiello was born in Montalto Uffugo (Consenza), Italy on Holy Wednesday during Holy Week on April 10, 1895. Her parents were Pasquale Aiello and Teresa Paglilla. During the Procession of Rogations her mother prayed for the grace of having a baby girl and if she did, she would name her Elena and consecrate her to the Cross of Our Lord in memory of the Empress, St. Elena.

Elena lived in an exemplary Christian family. Her extremely devout family, never were given over to the practice of any vanity or entertained anything of a worldly fashion. Her mother unfortunately died at an early age and her father, now a widower and a tailor by trade was left with the care of 8 children one of which also soon died at age one.

At a very young age, Elena lived a devout life and performed penances. An incident at the age of 9 illustrates her inclination to penance. After having received her first communion and attending a retreat, she and several other girls obtained permission to wear a penitential belt. On the way to getting the belt, she had an accident which caused her to lose her two front teeth. She put her bleeding teeth in a handkerchief and continued on in haste to get her penitential belt regardless of the blood and pain.

Another time she accidentally inhaled some water she was drinking from a glass while laughing. As a result, she experienced a constant cough for a year and a half except at night and the volume of her voice became lowered. She was given some treatments by a doctor but this caused her more pain. Eventually she prayed to Our Lady of Pompei, promising her that she would become a nun if cured. And in fact, Our Lady of Pompei appeared to her during the night and assured her that she would be healed –which she was.

Her Extraordinary Charity

Her desire to be a nun was now her goal but was forced by her father to delay it due to foreign complications which led to the 1915 World War. During this fruitful delay, she helped refugees, prisoners and nursed invalids and the dying heedless of the dangers to herself in catching any
contagious illnesses. Thus began her journey on the road to a life of charity.

She particularly often hurried to the bedside of the dying who refused the sacraments. One day she met a man named Alessandro, a freemason. She tried gently to persuade him to receive the Sacraments but he firmly said, “No.”

She continued to plead with him and his response was to take a bottle and fling it at her. It struck her in the neck and while holding her bleeding neck with a cloth she told him that “his soul was hanging on the edge of a precipice” and that she would not leave the room until he called for a Priest to come in. Finally the freemason became so moved by her charity, that he promised her that he would receive the Sacraments on the one condition, that she herself would assist him every day. He repented, received the Sacraments from the Priest, and she cared for him for 3 months. He died a fervent Christian bearing his sufferings with patience and resignation.

Her reputation for her charitable activity became so well known that she was called to the bedside of another freemason dying of cancer who was in great fear for having betrayed God by becoming a freemason in order to support his family. She helped him to prepare for the worthy reception of the Sacraments such as Confession and Communion...
Read More

What Bothers Me the Most

by Fr. Frank Pavone

Well, friends, here in Amarillo I am working hard at my computer on various pro-life projects as I await further instructions from the diocese. Nothing yet, but being I take my “traveling office” with me to four states a week, there’s never a “nothing to do” moment.

It’s so encouraging to see so many people on the same page with me, loving and respecting the Church and, out of that very love and respect, supporting the pro-life mission we are all engaged in together. Amidst the many expressions of support, many say to me that they are praying for me “in this difficult time.”

But what’s difficult about it?

Sure, it’s distressing to have to endure false suspicions, inaccurate media reports, and disruption to a mission which is at the core of my life. That’s all the temporary distress of what’s happening in these days.

But that’s nothing compared to the distress I experience every day because my unborn brothers and sisters are being butchered by abortion. Tears, sleepless nights, anger, righteous indignation – this and more come to me each day because something is happening to the youngest members of the human family. “Typically, the skull is brought out in fragments, rather than as a unified piece,” said abortionist Martin Haskell in 1999 court testimony, describing legal abortion.

This is not happening to strangers. It’s happening to my brothers and sisters.

That’s what bothers me. That’s what makes my days difficult, every day, long before this current problem and long after.

The images of their mangled bodies accompany me to sleep and greet me when I awake; the cries of their silent voices mingle in my ears with the voices of those who speak to me; their aggrieved rights come to the forefront of my mind when anyone’s “rights” are discussed.

That, above all else, is what constitutes “a difficult time” for me.

The consolation is that there are things I can do to stop this holocaust; things we can all do together.

I’m sitting here in Amarillo right now because I’m a faithful and obedient priest, as I promised to be long ago. But there’s a more fundamental reason I’m sitting here, and it’s for the children that nearly everybody forgets and ignores. I’m here because cooperating with Church authority at this moment is the best way to preserve the mission I lead to save these children, a mission aimed precisely at increasing the Church’s awareness of and response to this holocaust.

But let’s be clear. Nobody needs anybody else’s permission to save a human life, to rescue a child from dismemberment and decapitation. In fact, to fail to do so is to fail miserably as a priest, as a Catholic, as a Christian, and as a human being. God deliver us from that fate.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn takes tough line on priest revolt

By Michael Shields

VIENNA (Reuters) - The head of Vienna's Roman Catholic community ruled out sweeping changes demanded by dissident priests and said there could be "serious conflict" if they defied Church teaching on celibacy or give communion to remarried divorcees.

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said he would not lead his diocese into a schism with leaders in the Vatican by letting priests flout Church rules after a group of priests issued a "Call to Disobedience" manifesto to try to press reform.

In weekend interviews with Austrian radio and television, Schoenborn backed celibacy for priests, limiting ordination to men and preserving marriage as a life-long commitment.

"If in our diocese here I would step out of line with the community of the Catholic Church then I would lead our diocese into a schism. I am not ready for this and I think no Austrian bishop is ready for this," he said on Saturday.

Late on Friday, he again warned dissident priests that they faced consequences if they stuck to their revolt.

"If it comes to actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching on faith then it can lead to serious conflict," he said, adding it was not too late to reach common ground in a second round of talks due later this year.

"All possibilities are open. I am counting on dialogue and cooperation," he said.

Dissidents led by parish priest Helmut Schueller have issued the manifesto and say they hope the campaign will persuade Schoenborn to push reforms with Pope Benedict and the Vatican.

The dissidents, who have broad public backing in opinion polls, say they will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and remarried divorced Catholics or by allowing lay people to preach and head parishes without a priest.

They oppose the current drive to group several parishes together because of a shortage of priests.

"We are now really going to step on the gas," Hans-Peter Hurka, head of the Catholic reform group "We are the Church," told newspaper Der Standard this week, announcing plans to have hundreds of demonstrators march on bishops' offices.

"It is like in Egypt. There will be a revolution of Church people in Austria. We will make St. Stephen's Square (before the cathedral in Vienna) into Tahrir Square," another activist, Anton Achleitner, said, referring to the square where Egyptians staged protests that ended the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak.

The dispute has come to a head just before Pope Benedict's September 22-25 visit to neighbouring Germany. Benedict, 84, grew up in Bavarian villages close to the Austrian border.

Catholic reform groups in Germany have made similar demands, and a prominent retired Irish bishop, Edward Daly, called on Tuesday for an end to compulsory celibacy for priests, saying it was pushing new recruits away.


Mideast riddle: Strange stone structures caught on camera

Giant stone structures in the Azraq Oasis in Jordan 

By Owen Jarus
( They stretch from Syria to Saudi Arabia, can be seen from the air but not the ground, and are virtually unknown to the public.

They are the Middle East's own version of the Nazca Lines -- ancient "geolyphs," or drawings, that span deserts in southern Peru -- and now, thanks to new satellite-mapping technologies, and an aerial photography program in Jordan, researchers are discovering more of them than ever before. They number well into the thousands.

Referred to by archaeologists as "wheels," these stone structures have a wide variety of designs, with a common one being a circle with spokes radiating inside. Researchers believe that they date back to antiquity, at least 2,000 years ago. They are often found on lava fields and range from 82 feet to 230 feet (25 meters to 70 meters) across. (See gallery of wheel structures)

 "In Jordan alone we've got stone-built structures that are far more numerous than (the) Nazca Lines, far more extensive in the area that they cover, and far older," said David Kennedy, a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Western Australia.

Kennedy's new research, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, reveals that these wheels form part of a variety of stone landscapes. These include kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals); pendants (lines of stone cairns that run from burials); and walls, mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet and have no apparent practical use.

His team's studies are part of a long-term aerial reconnaissance project that is looking at archaeological sites across Jordan. As of now, Kennedy and his colleagues are puzzled as to what the structures may have been used for or what meaning they held.

Fascinating structures

Kennedy's main area of expertise is in Roman archaeology, but he became fascinated by these structures when, as a student, he read accounts of Royal Air Force pilots flying over them in the 1920s on airmail routes across Jordan. "You can't not be fascinated by these things," Kennedy said.

Indeed, in 1927 RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland published an account of the ruins in the journal Antiquity. He reported encountering them over "lava country" and said that they, along with the other stone structures, are known to the Bedouin as the "works of the old men."

Kennedy and his team have been studying the structures using aerial photography and Google Earth, as the wheels are hard to pick up from the ground, Kennedy said.

"Sometimes when you're actually there on the site you can make out something of a pattern but not very easily," he said. "Whereas if you go up just a hundred feet or so it, for me, comes sharply into focus what the shape is."

The designs must have been clearer when they were originally built. "People have probably walked over them, walked past them, for centuries, millennia, without having any clear idea what the shape was."

(The team has created an archive of images of the wheels from various sites in the Middle East.)

What were they used for?

So far, none of the wheels appears to have been excavated, something that makes dating them, and finding out their purpose, more difficult. Archaeologists studying them in the pre-Google Earth era speculated that they could be the remains of houses or cemeteries. Kennedy said that neither of these explanations seems to work out well.

"There seems to be some overarching cultural continuum in this area in which people felt there was a need to build structures that were circular."

Some of the wheels are found in isolation while others are clustered together. At one location, near the Azraq Oasis, hundreds of them can be found clustered into a dozen groups. "Some of these collections around Azraq are really quite remarkable," Kennedy said.

In Saudi Arabia, Kennedy's team has found wheel styles that are quite different: Some are rectangular and are not wheels at all; others are circular but contain two spokes forming a bar often aligned in the same direction that the sun rises and sets in the Middle East.

The ones in Jordan and Syria, on the other hand, have numerous spokes and do not seem to be aligned with any astronomical phenomena. "On looking at large numbers of these, over a number of years, I wasn't struck by any pattern in the way in which the spokes were laid out," Kennedy said.

Cairns are often found associated with the wheels. Sometimes they circle the perimeter of the wheel, other times they are in among the spokes. In Saudi Arabia some of the cairns look, from the air, like they are associated with ancient burials.

Dating the wheels is difficult, since they appear to be prehistoric, but could date to as recently as 2,000 years ago. The researchers have noted that the wheels are often found on top of kites, which date as far back as 9,000 years, but never vice versa. "That suggests that wheels are more recent than the kites," Kennedy said.
Amelia Sparavigna, a physics professor at Politecnico di Torino in Italy, told Live Science in an email that she agrees these structures can be referred to as geoglyphs in the same way as the Nazca Lines are. "If we define a 'geoglyph' as a wide sign on the ground of artificial origin, the stone circles are geoglyphs," Sparavignawrote in her email.

The function of the wheels may also have been similar to the enigmatic drawings in the Nazca desert.

 "If we consider, more generally, the stone circles as worship places of ancestors, or places for rituals connected with astronomical events or with seasons, they could have the same function of [the] geoglyphs of South America, the Nazca Lines for instance. The design is different, but the function could be the same," she wrote in her email.

Kennedy said that for now the meaning of the wheels remains a mystery. "The question is what was the purpose?"