Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Finale

New windows adorn Saint James the Just Parish

Father Erik Richtsteig

By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

OGDEN — With the installation of eight panels in the vestibule on March 19, Saint James the Just Catholic Church has completed its stained glass window collection.

Seven of the new windows depict the Catholic Church’s sacraments; the eighth is a cross bearing the monogram IHS. Previously installed windows in the church show seraphim, saints and the days of creation.
The artwork has catechetical and historical value as well as beauty, said Father Erik Richtsteig, Saint James the Just pastor.

"Historically, stained glass was seen as a catechism in art because most people couldn’t read until relatively recently, but they could see the pictures of the saints, they could see the saints’ lives in an image, they could see the sacred scripture in an image, they could see the teachings of the church in an image," he said. "People said, ‘You’ve got a great view here, you should have big windows.’ No. You shouldn’t be able to see the exterior world from the inside of a church. You’re stepping out of this world into the new creation. The church itself is an icon of heaven, so when you look out of the church you shouldn’t be seeing temporal things, you should be seeing eternal things like the saints, the symbols of the sacraments or … seraphim."

The stained glass windows at Saint James the Just were done by two people: Bill Christiansen, a parishioner who passed away last year; and Jenkin Powell, a stained glass professional responsible for windows in several other local churches, including Blessed Sacrament, where he was a parishioner until he moved out of state.

Christiansen learned stained glass after he retired so that he would have a hobby, said Mannette Christiansen, his widow. "He was into it long before we moved here" in 1980, she said. He created windows for the old Saint James the Just church, and was in his 80s when he crafted the IHS window. He also made the windows in the sacrament set depicting a bishop’s miter and the chi rho.

Although he died last September, he was able to see the IHS window installed. "He was very proud, and so was I, of his accomplishments," Mannette Christiansen said. "He was very happy to be able to do that."

All of the stained glass windows were donated by people in the parish, Fr. Richtsteig said; the first to be donated was a rose window of the four evangelists, which was given by Deacon Herschel Hester.

With the windows all installed, Fr. Richtsteig would like to add a few more statues, particularly Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer, because "we have a lot of that, and I think it’s a good idea to bring in the big guns," he said.

Catholic college rescinds invitation to Ted Kennedy’s second wife at bishop’s insistence

PAXTON, MASSACHUSETTS, March 30, 2012, ( – Members of the Kennedy clan may be shoo-ins for every office in the state of Massachusetts, but they are not guaranteed access to young Catholic minds.

Anna Maria College in Paxton uninvited Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, after Bishop Robert J. McManus said her positions on abortion, homosexuality, and the Obama administration’s mandate on insurance coverage for abortifacient contraception and sterilization were incompatible with Catholic teaching.

The college said in a press release that it obeyed the bishop “with great regret,” saying that “as a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the Bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited.” spokesman for the college told the media Kennedy deserved high marks for her work on behalf of “gun control.”

The backlash from liberal Catholics against the decision was swift.

Steve Krueger, chairman of the Catholic Democrats, said, “Increasingly, we see more and more bishops playing the role of enforcers of the faith rather than shepherds of souls, because they squandered the trust that they once had and the authority that came with it.”

Sister Janet Eisner, president of Emmanuel College, which gave Vicki an honorary degree in 2010, said, “I find it hard to believe in Massachusetts, in 2012, that this is happening.”

Kennedy responded in a press release, saying of the bishop, “by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love...”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Father John Zuhlsdorf Wins Best Catholic Blog Award

From Father Z: "Many thanks to all of you who voted for this blog in the awards. We prevailed in the Best Catholic Blog category. I am also glad that so many other good blogs and sites and publications were highlighted during the time of the voting. Everyone wins when we use well the new media."

Cardinal Burke calls young converts 'beautiful' image of God's grace

By David Kerr Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, described the beauty of receiving two young Americans in Rome into the Catholic Church.

“Today we are privileged to witness in a most beautiful manifestation the work of God’s grace flowing from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus through the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” said Cardinal Burke in his homily March 28.

Jonathan Wasserman, 19, from Kansas City, Missouri, and 19-year-old Kristina Landry from Ellington, Connecticut, are both students at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. As part of their four-year liberal arts course they have been studying in Rome for the past three months.

On March 28, within the historic surrounding of the Vatican’s Church of Saint Anne, both were received into the Church by Cardinal Burke. The former Archbishop of St. Louis is now resident in Rome as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.

“I’m feeling great,” Jonathan told CNA moments afterward. “I feel incredible. It was a dream come true. I’m just glad to have this all. I’m just happy.”

“Yeah, it’s incredible, amazing, awe inspiring,” added Kristina.

Jonathan said he had become a Catholic because “it is the one true Church” and that “to be a Catholic is to have the truth with you,” while Kristina described Catholicism as “how we are meant to praise God.”

The Catholic faith, she noted, “really encompasses everything that is true.”

As part of their reception, Cardinal Burke also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation upon both students, telling them that “As baptism was your personal Easter, so Confirmation will be your personal Pentecost.”

Appropriately – given the papal surrounding – Jonathan took St. Peter as his patron saint while Kristina opted for the 20th century Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska. Both observed how the names reflect the influence that their time in Europe has had upon their conversions.

“Coming to Europe and seeing in Italy and especially in Poland that there’s just so much faith in the people and in the young people, that gives you a lot of hope for future generations,” Kristina said.

Jonathan agreed, adding that he has been inspired by living in Rome “and just being surrounded by beauty all the time.”

The Thomas More College Rome program is a semester long course in humanities, theology and Latin as well as the art and architecture of the Eternal City.

Program director Tony Assaf told CNA that students who participate “become a little extended family during these three intense months together.”

However, “this is the first time we’ve been able to celebrate the 'birthday' of a new brother and sister in Christ into our Catholic family during the course of the program,” he said.

The Gregorian chant which filled the 16th century baroque Church during yesterday’s Mass was provided by Jonathan and Kristina’s fellow students. Towards the conclusion of his homily Cardinal Burke gave the two new Catholics some practical advice on how to best live out their new found faith.

“Keep yourself alive in Christ through frequent reception of Holy Communion and through regular confession,” he told them, “throughout the day deepen Christ’s life within you by your prayers and devotions, especially devotion to the most Blessed Sacrament, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Holy Mother of God and the whole company of saints.”

On an intellectual note, he encouraged them to “never cease to study with fervor the truths of our faith especially as they are set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and never to “give way to discouragement or grow weary in your daily efforts to live those truths in a good and holy life.”

Fidel Castro Asks Pope For Explanation of Post-Conciliar Liturgical Changes

As you know, Pope Benedict XVI has recently been in Mexico, followed by Cuba.

I picked up this interesting little tidbit in a Reuters story, "What does a pope do?" Fidel Castro asks Benedict.

In the course of that conversation between the Pope and former Cuban president, Fidel Castro asked an interesting question of the Pope:
Castro questioned Benedict about changes in Church liturgy and asked the pope to send him a book to help him reflect. The pope said he would think of which one to send, but had not yet decided, Lombardi said.
I find the fact that Castro asked this question interesting. Without having full benefit of the conversation, my sense is that this somehow speaks, whether directly or indirectly, to the reality of the effect, and hence the gravity, of changes to the sacred liturgy and why such cannot be done arbitrarily, either by legitimate authority (cf. CCC 1125), nor certainly by any member of the church, lay or clerical, on their own whim and initiative.

I'd be rather interested to hear what book the Holy Father will recommend.

Fidel Castro Asks Pope For Explanation of Post-Conciliar Liturgical Changes

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Father George Rutler: In the Beginning

Image Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona

By Father George Rutler

Human imagination cannot conceive the power and pressure that held all the essential elements of the universe together in a piece of matter about the size of a pinhead when the world began. Physicists tend now to date the explosion of that particle to about sixteen billion years ago. Their job is to consider how it happened, not why it happened. The Creator Himself explained the "why" of the beginning in the Book of the Beginning. The Bible begins: “Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets. — In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). There was a sound and then light.

That sound was the Word — the Logos — the divine power that is the logic of all that is. “En arche en ho Logos — In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). This stretches the imagination as much as it does basic physics. Thomas Jefferson knew his Greek and quoted John 1 in a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823. But his mind was not agile enough to interpret this revelation as anything other than a form of polytheism, or “tritheism” as he dismissed the Holy Trinity. Back then, his physics was as primitive as his metaphysics, but even if he could not conceive of the Creation, he was one with all of us in having been conceived. Like the first particle of the universe at the “Big Bang,” all 46 unique chromosomes containing our essential human identity were encoded in us when we began as a single-cell zygote.

When the Holy Spirit, the bond of love between the Father and the Son, “overshadowed” the Virgin Mary, the Eternal Logos “was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In the Annunciation, the young woman conceived “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (John 1:9).

This mystery is recited in Latin at the end of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, “In principio erat Verbum.” The Eucharist ends with the beginning, for by communion with Christ, human beings become moral agents of their Creator: “To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation, nor by human choice, nor by a man's decision, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

Bereshit,  En arche, In Principio, In the Beginning . . . whatever the language, there is a beginning with a purpose. That is the source of happiness. When the Logos took a human nature, He also sensed the human emotion of joy. There is one explicit reference to that, when Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” and spoke to the Father of hashamayim ve'et ha'arets: “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Luke 10:21).

    Vatican announces excommunication of rebel bishops from Ukrainian Catholic Church

    (Catholic World News) The Vatican has announced the excommunication of four Ukrainian clerics who have sought recognition as leaders of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church.”

    In a March 29 announcement, the Vatican explained that the four priests, who have been expelled from the Basilian religious order, have caused grave divisions within the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, and resisted all efforts toward reconciliation. In 2008 the four—Fathers Elias Dohnal, Markian Hitiuk, Metodej Spirik, and Robert Oberhauser—claimed to have been ordained as bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and proceeded to condemn the existing hierarchy of that Church as heretical. They are now seeking recognition from the Ukrainian government, claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the Ukrainian Church in communion with Rome.

    The Vatican said that the Holy See “does not recognize the validity of their episcopal ordinations, or of any and all ordinations that have derived, or will derive therefrom.” The group has no right to use the term “Catholic,” the Vatican added. The statement cautioned the faithful against becoming involved with the clerics, who now identify themselves as the “Bishops of Pidhirci.”

    The Vatican statement noted that excommunication of the four priests was pronounced in 2008, as the result of a sentence from the tribunal of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which had found them guilty of “illegitimate usurpation of office, inciting sedition and hatred towards certain hierarchs, provoking subjects to disobedience, and harming a third party's good name by calumny.” The Ukrainian Catholic Church is by far the largest of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome.

    The Young Shock Troops - Michael Voris

    H/t to Fr. Z.   An update to Michael Voris' Latin Anyone? video:

    Hello everyone and welcome to The Vortex where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed. I’m Michael Voris.

    Its probably a safe bet that most Catholics .. at least the 500 million or so in the west have no idea of the struggle going on INSIDE the Church.

    That’s because the vast majority of them .. close to 90 percent .. have almost no contact with the Church anymore. You heard right .. except for the occasional wedding or funeral and MAYBE Christmas or Easter .. MAYBE .. 450 million of more of the west’s 500 million Catholics are just missing in action.

    By the way .. prior to 1960 .. it would have been almost totally reversed. About 400 million of the 500 million .. using today’s population numbers .. would have been plugged in to the Faith.

    That’s quite a devastating condemnation .. from 400 million or so relatively faithful followers to around less than 50 million. WOW! That is nothing less than religious nuclear bomb.

    "The world has turned militant against the Church... The only proper response to a militant enemy, is an even more ferocious militancy right back at them. The Saints knew this and they lived it. The bishops of the past who fought the evils in their own day knew this. And they protected their sheep with a ferocity reserved to a father protecting his family." - Michael Voris
    Now .. as we look into the remaining 50 million .. and that’s probably an overly generous number of practicing Catholics in the west .. there is a battle royale raging for the Catholic identity.

    We’ve talked about this before in various Vortex episodes .. but its worth talking about now in terms of who’s winning this battle.

    Battles have casualties and in this inter-Church war .. the blows are going against the lukewarm crowd .. the parishes and parishioners who are content to simply sit back watch the world pass by.

    This is most parishes .. the overwhelming majority in the United States. Even if they are larger and Fr. Popular is running the show .. the rot is still there. No vocations to speak of are emerging, many that are there .. even the weekly Mass-goers know very little about the faith and are therefore contracepting, in the very least.

    They have so-called tolerant attitudes toward the militant homosexual agenda .. not really supporting it, but willing to concede that if Bob and John love each other, then they don’t really see the big deal.

    The average parish in the United States is a mish-mosh of non-zealous relaxed attitudes with no real fire in the belly. Add to this, that parish is generally unofficially run by a former nun, or current version of one, who is angry and bitter about a hundred different things as she approaches her dotage .. and you have a sure fire recipe for the Faith NOT being passed on to the parish.

    And by the way, these parishes are being closed down boarded up and sold off at dizzying speeds. Even the Vatican has had to step in and tell local bishops to knock off the fire sales.

    Compare this to more traditional Catholic groups .. who have the exact opposite problems. Not enough room to spread out, congregations swelling with young people, vocations pouring out them, Catholics massively informed of their faith with a great desire to evangelize and take no prisoners when they do.

    Almost every time you encounter this .. you find at the heart of it .. the Traditional Latin Mass. Not every time, but very frequently. Even when the TLM [traditional latin mass] isn’t offered, you find everything BUT that.

    You find a deep devotional life, solid priests who love their sheep, deep involvement in the pro-life movement seen more as a spiritual work than a political one, although it is both.

    But in these TLM groups, you see something else. A respect and reverence for the Mass as something bound up with the masculine. A willingness to dive in and swim through the currents of the mystery of the Divine.
    The TLM is not the more feminine “celebration” that most Catholics who still go Mass encounter. It is masculine through and through. That may be one reason it is so despised by so many other Catholics .. including many clergy.

    It bespeaks a strong masculinity .. a Muscular Catholicism .. a Church Militant .. and for the majority of Catholics who have been nursed for the past 50 years on the weaker .. feminine .. Protestantized .. don’t be offensive type of Liturgy .. they don’t where to go with this Mass.

    And .. it’s not their fault. Even many of the priests and some bishops have a kind of knee-jerk reaction against the TLM because .. they righty intuit .. it holds forth a different style theology .. a different tone. They have been brought up on a Church that is much more Protestant in its approach .. meaning .. more accommodating .. more tolerant and all those other buzz words .. that at the end of the day .. spell out W-E-A-K weak.

    Weak as in non-confrontational .. as in much more content to dialog and have donuts than do hand to hand combat with Satan and his legions. Its kind of the politicians compared to the army. Neither really likes the war, but only one is willing to fight it up close and personal.

    Well .. as the lukewarm, politically correct parishes close down and the numbers of PRACITCING .. not just baptized .. but actually PRACTISING Catholics continues to dry up .. against all that failure for that is what it is .. there is a story of gigantic success in the more militant Church.

    The world has turned militant against the Church .. truth is it always has been, it was just faking dialog and good will so as to deceive. The only proper response to a militant enemy is an even more ferocious militancy.

    The saints knew this and they lived this.

    The bishops of the past who fought the evils in their own day knew this and protected their sheep with a ferocity reserved to a father protecting his family. And this is what we see in the traditional circles of the faith these days. And unsurprisingly .. large numbers of those circles enjoy the presence of young men. They
    instinctively .. intuitively have sniffed out the stench of the enemy and have enlisted in the fight.

    They see the destruction reined down on their Mother .. the Church and her children and they have committed to the fight. And all of this is expressed in worship in the Traditional Latin Mass.

    You’ll find no guitars or tambourines or hand holding and lovey dovey sermons in that camp. What you will find is comradeship and a preparedness for the war. And that’s exactly what the Church needs in this time and place .. men .. prepared with the sacraments .. willing to fight and die .. and in dying .. be born to eternal life.

    GOD Love you. I’m Michael Voris.


    St. Philomena Rocks
    From Carol at The Tenth Crusade:
    "I didn't know about this saint until yesterday. Let me tell you something - this young saint does not fool around.

    I went to my Divine Mercy Hour of prayer last night. As I mentioned before,the hour is done in a Church that has perpetual Adoration and the deacon who does it offers the opportunity to be prayed over. I am extremely careful about letting people pray over me but this situation is done by an ordained deacon who is overtly drawing the power from the Exposed Eucharist.

    I felt a woman behind me, who gently placed her hands on my back and I heard her praying to our Lord through the intercession of St. Philomena. A few short hours later, the wind in a little vortex that I had been dealing with through Lent completely and abruptly changed direction.

    Intrigued, I checked out her history and found this website.

    St. John Vianney attributed all of his miracles to her and said that he never once asked for her intercession without having been answered. Apparently she was so powerful the fraidy cats at the Vatican got scared and threw a wet blanket on her veneration on February 14, 1961. Her honor was restored ten years later by the local Bishop.

    I think I have a new invisible friend! Check her out. Ask for her intercession. It seems Our Lord finds her pleadings hard to resist."
    St. Philomena Rocks
    The Tenth Crusade

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    R.I.P. Earl Scruggs - "The Ballad Of Jed Clampett"

    Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs dies at age 88

    By CHRIS TALBOTT, AP Entertainment Writer

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who helped profoundly change country music with Bill Monroe in the 1940s and later with guitarist Lester Flatt, has died. He was 88.

    Scruggs' son Gary said his father died of natural causes Wednesday morning at a Nashville, Tenn., hospital.

    Earl Scruggs was an innovator who pioneered the modern banjo sound. His use of three fingers rather than the clawhammer style elevated the banjo from a part of the rhythm section — or a comedian's prop — to a lead instrument.

    His string-bending and lead runs became known worldwide as "the Scruggs picking style" and the versatility it allowed has helped popularize the banjo in almost every genre of music.

    The debut of Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys during a post-World War II performance on The Grand Ole Opry is thought of as the "big bang" moment for bluegrass and later 20th century country music. Later, Flatt and Scruggs teamed as a bluegrass act after leaving Monroe from the late 1940s until breaking up in 1969 in a dispute over whether their music should experiment or stick to tradition. Flatt died in 1979.
    They were best known for their 1949 recording "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," played in the 1967 movie "Bonnie and Clyde," and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" from "The Beverly Hillbillies," the popular TV series that debuted in 1962. Jerry Scoggins did the singing...

    Vandy Catholic to Leave Vanderbilt Campus Over All Comers Rule

    From Bradley George at  Nashville Public Radio: organization for Catholic students at Vanderbilt says it will move off campus rather than comply with the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

    The rule states that organizations must be open to all students and that all members must be eligible for leadership positions.

    In a statement, Vandy Catholic says it’s a faith-based organization, and Catholic faith is an essential qualification for leadership in the group.

    Other student groups are also considering whether to move off campus because of the newly enforced “all-comers” policy. Law professor Carol Swain is the Christian Legal Society’s faculty sponsor.
    “Student organizations should have the right to elect leaders who share the goals of the organization. It’s about leadership.”
    Vanderbilt officials have given student groups until mid-April to comply with the policy or leave campus... (continued)

    Iranian Lady Ninjas Sue Reuters

    From The Gateway Pundit:

    The dreaded Iranian she-ninjas sued Reuters today on defamation charges. Iran Press TV reported:

    Last month, Reuters showed a number of Iranian girls training martial arts in a city near Tehran, claiming Iran was training more than 3,000 female ninjas to kill any possible foreign invaders. The distorted Reuters report was picked up by other British media outlets.

    Following the strong reaction of Iranian media to the report, Reuters made changes to parts of the report but refused to apologize for slander.

    The Iranian girls, accused by Reuters of being assassins, say the damage has already been done and they are now taking legal action against the agency for defamation of character.

    The athletes say the Reuters journalist asked them what they would do if their country came under attack. Reuters used the girl’s patriotic response as an excuse to call them assassins.

    “The lady from Reuters asked me only one question which had a very obvious answer. I believe that anyone anywhere in the world would defend his country if it were attacked…but she twisted our words to make us look bad and described us as assassins in the headline of her story,” Khatereh Jalilzadeh told Press TV.

    “We are taking legal action because the ladies that train in Ninjutsu first and foremost enjoy it as a sport. It’s about working out and staying fit. Reuters has blatantly lied about us,” she added...

    Michael Voris: Latin Anyone?

    H/t to Father Zuhlsdorf:

    Hello everyone and welcome to The Vortex where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed. I’m Michael Voris.

    So with all the talk about the incredible need to evangelize and spread the Faith – there is something curiously missing. The willingness to say how much this IS ALREADY ACTUALLY HAPPENING in Catholic communities that offer the Traditional Latin

    As in Right Now .. Today .. currently going on.

    We do a lot of traveling .. around the US and the world. We meet thousands of Catholics in dozens and dozens of different settings, from every race and nationality you can imagine.

    In just the past six months alone .. we’ve been invited to speak to parishes and other groups in Denver, Colorado, Edmunton Alberta Canada, Toronto Ontario, Ottawa Ontario, Cleveland Ohio, Dallas Texas, Lafayette Louisiana, Manila, Cebu, BaCOLad and Davao City The Philippines, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja Nigeria, Washington DC, Sacramento California, Minneapolis Minnesota, Summit New Jersey, Rome,
    Evansville Indiana, Rome New York, El Paso Texas, San Diego California, Tulsa Oklahoma, Clearwater Florida, and Toulon France.

    And that’s just in the last six months. In the next month, we’ll be adding to those numbers traveling to Auckland New Zealand as well as Melbourne, Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Sydney in Australia.

    We have logged over a hundred thousand miles and met thousands and thousands of Catholics in this time. Everywhere we go, its incredibly uplifting and massively encouraging to meet and hang with Catholics absolutely on fire for their faith.

    Sure they need some reinforcement. We all do. The faith is constantly being beaten down and attacked. All that said, the near constant thread we see running throughout all these locations and people is a great love for Tradition, especially the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Even in places we are invited where the Latin Mass is not readily available .. there is still a great curiosity about it and a desire to know more about it. For example, just the other day, I got a text from a young fellow in Cleveland I met a few weeks back who said he was very curious about the Traditional Latin Mass.

    And this is a very noteworthy point. Despite what you may hear from the stuffy bureaucratic types in the Church who seem to have some out of their mind animus to the Traditional Latin Mass, it is not a bunch of doddering old people at these masses.

    When we travel, we go to Mass wherever we are invited by our hosts and frequently, not always, but frequently, it is the Traditional Latin Mass. This past weekend in Edmonton Alberta Canada being the most recent example.

    What strikes you almost instantly is the large proportion of young people, especially young males as well as young families. Sure there are old people there, but the more liberal party line coming out of chanceries across the Catholic world that the Traditional Latin Mass is like a senior citizen home is pure hooey.

    I know. I’ve been to these Masses on three and soon to be four continents, multiple countries and dozens and dozens of cities across the United States. London England, for example has a splendid and lively group of young Catholics called Juventutum, which is Latin for Youth.

    One of the leaders in London is a splendid young chap named Paul, shout out to you Paul. Juventutum is a worldwide organization for 16-30 year olds who are especially attached to the Latin Mass and it’s only about 10 years old. They are a growing presence at World Youth Day gatherings.

    What curious about all this is this. When you look around the Church these days .. practically anywhere, this is where you see all the growth and excitement and energy.

    The parishes that are mired in their stale boring lives of dull liturgies complete with lifeless unchallenging homilies or even worse, Protestantized emotional liturgies, which is to say the large number of Catholic parishes in the west are emptying out and closing up.

    And Church leaders can’t continue blaming losses on demographics and migration. The average Catholic knows little about his faith and cares even less. That’s why parishes are closing. Sure the other factors have some impact. But the number one reason is lack of Catholic identity.

    Oh oh, but not in these traditionally minded circles. No siree! They are churning out vocations, are packed with young L-A-R-G-E families, have a parish-wide sense of community, socialize as well as pray together, generally tend to home-school their exorbitant number of kids and center their lives around the one true faith established by Jesus Christ – The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    They know their faith, make sure their kids know the faith. They live the faith and most importantly LOVE the faith. Practically all the action in the Church these days, from excitement and devotion, to vocations and young people involvement to large families -

    ALL of it – is coming from the Traditional Latin Mass quarter of the Church.

    Again .. I’m not reading this in brochures or promotional videos .. as if such things even existed in the first place. I’m seeing it with my own peepers .. almost everywhere I go.

    As the liberal establishment Church of the last half of the 20th century turns old and grayand fades away .. one can only hope that its liberal and decidedly non-Catholic approach to the Church’s mission of saving souls fades away right along with it.

    As you look around at who’s clogging the ranks of seminarians these days .. as Father Z pointed out on his superb blog earlier this week .. it's not hard at all to see where the Church will be in the next 20 years.

    Here’s a clue .. it’s gonna be very hard to hear the drums and tambourines over all that Gregorian Chant.

    And here’s a shout out to the liberal Catholic crowd .. the few of you that are left. If you cant beat ‘em .. join ’em. After all .. You made a living fomenting revolution in the halcyon days of the 1960s and 70s.

    Well .. here’s the newest revolution you can sign up for. And never forget, what’s old is new again.

    GOD Love you. I’m Michael Voris.


    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Fr. Gordon MacRae: Accommodations in the Garden of Good and Evil

    By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

    The Catholic Church in America – and I do not refer just to the United States of America – is in the process of being parked a block or so outside the Public Square, and it’s going to be accomplished by a force I have written of before on These Stone Walls. It is the most insidious force of all, but it is vague and subtle and indistinct, and we cannot blame President Obama for it. That force is best characterized as “the noise of a few, and the silence of many.”

    It must seem an utter abomination to Jamil – whose faith and those with whom he shares it have endured 1,500 years of open persecution without ever caving in – to see so many American Catholics passively accept the new suppression of their Church’s moral authority in the American public square... (continued)

    Eating lots of chocolate helps people stay thin, study finds News) What's the best way to stay thin? A new study finds it's exercising and eating a healthy diet full of - chocolate?

    The study found that people who frequently ate chocolate had a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who didn't.

    Is it time to ditch fat-free for fudge?

    For the study, published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined more than 1,000 healthy men and women who were free of heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol problems. They were all enrolled in another study that measured the effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, but for this study researchers assigned them questionnaires that gauged how often participants chowed down on chocolate.

    The researchers found that the participants - who were an average age of 57 - ate chocolate for an average of twice of week and exercised roughly 3.5 times per week. But the more frequent chocolate-eaters had smaller BMIs, a ratio of height and weight that's used to measure obesity.

    What explains the effect? Even though chocolate can be loaded with calories, it's full of antioxidants and other ingredients that may promote weight loss, the researchers said.

    "I was pretty happy with this news myself," study author Dr. Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, told USA Today. "Findings show the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining ultimate weight."

    Does that mean all diet regimens should include a daily chocolate bar? The researchers say it's too soon to tell.

    "Our findings - that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI - are intriguing," the authors wrote. However, "It is not a siren call to go out and eat 20 pounds of chocolate a day," Golomb told HealthDay.

    This isn't the first study to suggest a daily dose of chocolate can do the body good. Last summer, a study of more than 100,000 people found those who ate the most chocolate were 39 percent less likely to get heart disease and 29 percent less likely to have a stroke, HealthPop reported. Months later a 10-year study of 33,000 women found a 30 percent reduced risk of stroke among chocaholics.

    But experts warn not all chocolate is created equal, and some could contain lots of sugar and calories, which could lead to other health issues if consumed daily.

    "I would not want people reading this to think that all [they] need to do to lose weight is eat more chocolate," Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., told WebMD. "That would be a huge mistake." Katz suggests dark chocolate, because of its bitter flavor,  may suppress appetite whereas sweet chocolate may stimulate it.

    The Mayo Clinic has more on chocolate.

    Cardinal Wuerl's Open Scandal

    His spokeswoman has filed a complaint against me with TAS.

    By George Neumayr at The American Spectator week Cardinal Donald Wuerl lodged a complaint against me with my editors at TAS, via his communications director, Chieko Noguchi, after my article, "Cardinal Wuerl's Dereliction of Duty," appeared.

    This is pretty much what I expected. Wuerl is notoriously thin-skinned about sharp criticism from orthodox Catholics. And since he likes to operate in the shadows -- confrontation is "not his style of pastoral ministry," he told a reporter in 2007 -- he had his paid PR agent do the dirty work for him. Say this for Tod Tamberg, Cardinal Roger Mahony's former spokesman: he at least wrote a straightforward letter to the editor denouncing me after I criticized the former Los Angeles prelate. Two, actually. In the first, Tamberg dismissed me as a "medievalist," which should give you a sense of the low esteem in which Mahony holds the age of Aquinas. In the second, Tamberg accused me of sloppiness while botching the spelling of my last name.

    But as I say, at least he put pen to paper. Ms. Noguchi, perhaps reflecting the style of her boss, prefers to create troubles for me by phone.

    Go ahead and do damage to me in this city, Cardinal Wuerl. I don't care. I will not surrender one inch to PC prelates like yourself who punish dutiful priests while pandering to the enemies of the Church. moronic controversy, triggered by a self-described practicing "lesbian Buddhist" who effortlessly mau-maued Cardinal Wuerl into a craven apology and trumped-up "administrative leave" order to Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, is a grotesque farce beyond the satirical imagination of Evelyn Waugh.

    I petition the Holy See -- if anyone happens to read TAS there -- for urgent relief. This scandal is sickening. Cardinal Wuerl has damaged the reputation of a faithful priest, exposed the Holy Eucharist to sacrilege, scandalized confused congregants, and handed a propaganda victory to forces of secularism that seek to destroy the Church in America.

    Knowing Cardinal Wuerl, he will probably write to allies at the Vatican after this column appears. That was his practice in Pittsburgh, where he served before arriving in D.C. In 1994, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Wuerl, whenever he saw criticism of his heterodoxy appear in a conservative publication like the Wanderer, would move into action:
    If The Wanderer or a letter-writer attacks him, Wuerl doesn't wait for Rome to send him an inquiry. He immediately writes to the appropriate Vatican office, enclosing a copy of the Wanderer article and full documentation on any diocesan program in question.
    This ''shows that our teaching material here is absolutely orthodox. But the second purpose is to show that there are a lot of irresponsible statements made, and they need to be accepted as just that,'' he said.
    Wuerl doesn't believe that Vatican officials take The Wanderer and its like seriously.
    ''I have never received an inquiry from Rome based on that type of accusation. If (Vatican officials) were taking it seriously, I think they would raise some questions,'' he said.
    But not all bishops are as savvy as Wuerl, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit political scientist who makes his living studying the bishops.
    "Wuerl is sophisticated. He understands the Vatican, he knows who to talk to. The bishop who has never worked in Rome probably doesn't know which office to respond to -- and the people in Rome don't know him. Wuerl is known and respected in Rome. When (conservative pressure groups) start accusing him, they lose their credibility,'' Reese said.
    Did you notice the source of that last quote -- Fr. Thomas Reese? He is the openly heterodox Jesuit ninny who had the gall to say that Wuerl should send Fr. Guarnizo back to the gulag. "If I was Cardinal Wuerl, I'd buy him a one-way ticket to Moscow," the Rolodexed Reese said to a purring press.

    Perhaps non-Catholic readers of TAS, who have stayed with this column up to this paragraph, are wondering why they should even care about Wuerl's fiasco. Isn't this just one more tedious sectarian squabble in the Church? I agree with you that it is boring, but it is not trivial. As pretentious as it sounds, these skirmishes form small battles in a larger war that affects everyone. Both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans, whether they realize it or not, benefit from a free and orthodox Catholic Church for a very basic reason: it stands as the era's last major barrier to the triumph of the coercive secular state.

    The capitulations of the Wuerls to the atheistic agitprop artists of the age -- the "lesbian Buddhist" at the center of this controversy stands as a symbol of them all -- hasten the disintegration of that barrier. Without it, the coercive state will simply replace God, and all Americans will wake up one day to find this pitiless secular deity on their doorsteps, red in the tooth and clause of Obamacare, ravenous for their freedom.

    UPDATE: Cardinal Wuerl's Continuing Crisis


    Michael Voris: Wake Up!

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan Says Women Can Be Cardinals

    Video:  Fr. Groeschel and Cardinal Timothy Dolan Say it's possible.

    From Vestal Morons:

    Well, this one threw me for a loop today: but apparently it is theoretically possible for the pope to appoint women as cardinals of the Catholic Church...

    Who knew?..

    Update: Shea’s post has started quite the heated exchange between him and Sean P. Dailey over at Shea’s blog. When I search my innermost soul, I think Dailey probably has some good points about the potential that appointing a female cardinal could have in terms of scandal: i.e. sending the unintentional message that female ordination is a-ok with the Church. The niceties of theology and canon law don’t typically get translated well in the world’s media, and a technical exception that theoretically allows a woman to be made a cardinal would probably very quickly become: “Pope bows to feminist demands: ordains woman cardinal,” etc. It probably wouldn’t be pretty...

    Pope Benedict XVI in Mexico: "Para que Cristo reine"

    From New Catholic at RORATE CÆLI:

    Dear brothers and sisters, by coming here I have been able to visit the monument to Christ the King situated on top of the Cubilete [hill]. ...This monument represents Christ the King. But his crowns, one of a sovereign, the other of thorns, indicate that his royal status does not correspond to how it has been or is understood by many. His kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power than wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness. This is his sovereignty which no one can take from him and which no one should forget. Hence it is right that this shrine should be above all a place of pilgrimage, of fervent prayer, of conversion, of reconciliation, of the search for truth and the acceptance of grace. We ask Christ, to reign in our hearts, making them pure, docile, filled with hope and courageous in humility.


    Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist us in purifying our hearts, especially in view of the coming Easter celebrations, that we may enter more deeply the salvific mystery of her Son, as she made it known in this land. And let us also ask her to continue accompanying and protecting her Mexican and Latin American children, that Christ may reign in their lives [para que Cristo reine en sus vidas] and help them boldly to promote peace, harmony, justice and solidarity. Amen.

    Benedict XVI
    Homily - Mass at the Bicentennial Park
    March 25, 2012

    Pope Benedict leads Mass in central Mexico

    (BBC) Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating an open-air Mass in the central Mexican city of Silao on his first visit to the Latin American country.

    Hundreds of thousands of people are attending the service, under a large statue of Christ in the city's Bicentennial Park.

    On Saturday, the Pope met President Felipe Calderon, with whom he discussed Mexico's drugs violence.

    Mexico is the world's second most populous Catholic country.

    This is the showpiece event of Pope Benedict's first trip to Mexico - a huge open-air Mass to some 300,000 followers in the Bicentennial Park in Silao.

    The excitement amongst the gathered Catholics is palpable with the youth playing a very visible part in the proceedings. People are dressed in white and yellow and many are looking for shade to protect themselves from the fierce early morning sun.

    But the atmosphere is one of celebration. That the head of the Catholic Church will lead Sunday Mass in this small town is more than many here had expected to see. The Church hierarchy hopes the event will help reaffirm the faith in Mexico where it has been losing ground to evangelical churches in recent years.

    "We could hardly sleep because of the emotion and now we can see the Pope," said Xochitl Alvarez, an indigenous woman who said she had travelled hundreds of miles from southern Mexico.

    The main candidates for July's presidential election were expected to attend, as well as Mexican tycoons including Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, reports say.

    Addressing a group of children and young people on Saturday, the Pope told them they were "not alone" in their faith.

    He urged Mexico's adults to "protect and to care for children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile". He said he would pray that Mexico would be "a home where all [God's] children can live with serenity and harmony".

    The Pope also spoke about the drugs violence which has killed more than 47,000 people in Mexico over the past five years.

    He cautioned against acts of revenge, saying: "The disciple of Jesus does not respond to evil with evil."

    Drug gangs' truce call

    Pope Benedict XVI wears a traditional Mexican hat while driving through the crowd in Silao The Pope's visit to Silao is the showpiece event of his first trip to Mexico

    The Mexican presidency said the Pope's private meeting with Mr Calderon had covered a range of topics including climate change and organised crime.

    The authorities in Guanajuato state have implemented tight security for the pontiff's visit, and the archbishop of Leon, Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, called on drugs gangs to observe a truce for the duration of his stay.

    The BBC's Will Grant in Guanajuato says few expect that the Pope's visit will have a significant impact on Mexico's complicated political and military situation, but the country's Catholics are largely glad of his presence.

    They say he is a potent symbol of peace and reconciliation at a time when Mexico badly needs it, says our correspondent.

    However, his tour has been dogged by protests over child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and criticism of his stance of gay rights.

    Some 88% of Mexicans - almost 100 million people - are Roman Catholic, and the Pope's predecessor, John Paul II, was a regular visitor to the country.

    On Monday, the Pope's tour will take him to Cuba.

    He has said the island's Marxist structure "no longer corresponds to reality" and called for "new models" of government to be put in place.

    Pope wears Mexican 'sombrero' as he greets the crowd in Popemobile

    March 25, 2012. (  The Pope was welcomed by roughly 500,000 people as he made his way through Leon's Bicentennial Park to celebrate Mass. As he greeted the crowd , the Pope bore a traditional Mexican hat, known as 'sombrero.'

    This will be the first Mass the Pope celebrates in Mexico. The monument of “Christ the King,” which honors, Mexican martyrs who fought for religious freedom in the 1920's will be in the background.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    President Barack Obama visits U.S. military personnel at the DMZ

    U.S. President Barack Obama visits U.S. military personnel stationed at Observation Post Ouellette along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which borders North and South Korea, outside Seoul, March 25, 2012.

    Pike County, Illinois Enacts Concealed Carry

    (The Outdoor Wire) PASA Park, Barry, IL -- In the election held Tuesday, March 20, 2012, the voters of Pike County, Illinois, approved a firearms concealed-carry ordinance by a 3,214 to 550 margin. It was one of the largest voter turnouts in county history. The ordinance directly contradicts current Illinois state law. As presented on the ballot, the ordinance took effect upon passage, and applies only to Pike County. The ordinance was placed on the ballot by a citizen initiative petition process that garnered three times the number of signatures required by law.

    The new "Constitutional Carry" Pike County initiative was spearheaded by local Second Amendment activist Dr. Dan Mefford of Pittsfield, who drafted the successful ordinance in conjunction with noted outdoor journalist and firearms law expert Dick Metcalf, who is also a resident of Pike County. According to Dr. Mefford, "The people are speaking, and what the people are saying is, 'Trust the people.'"

    Historians have stated that this is the first time since 1862 that county voters in any U.S. state have explicitly reversed a state law. The previous example was when the five western counties of Virginal nullified that state's secession from the Union, and themselves seceded from Virginia to form the new state of West Virginia.

    It is widely anticipated that other rural and downstate counties will follow Pike County's lead. In 2007, the Pike County Board enacted a resolution stating that further restrictive firearms laws enacted by the Illinois State Legislature would be deemed by Pike County "to be Unconstitutional and beyond lawful Legislative Authority." That resolution was subsequently passed by 89 percent of all Illinois counties.

    County and local law enforcement officers in Pike County are obligated by law to enforce country ordinances. State law enforcement officers and agencies are obligated to enforce state law. Legal observers therefore expect the inevitable court battle to be complex, because the new ordinance was enacted by the voters themselves, not by any county or local legislative entity.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Pope arrives in Mexico to warm welcome, tackling topic of drug violence
    Reuters Pictures

    From the A.P. via The Washington Post:

    LEON, Mexico — Pope Benedict XVI landed in Mexico on Friday to throngs of faithful who gathered at the tarmac and lined more than 20 miles of his route into the city shouting the ultimate welcome: “Benedict, brother, you are now Mexican.”

    Many thought such a warm reception, complete with folkloric dance and mariachis, would not greet a pope some consider distant and academic. But the world’s largest Roman Catholic, Spanish-speaking country showed Benedict the same affection as they did to his predecessor, John Paul II, who was dubbed “Mexico’s pope” after making five trips to the country.

    “This is a proud country of hospitality, and nobody feels like a stranger in your land,” the pope said upon landing to wild cheers. “I knew that, now I see it and now I feel it in my heart.”

    After his Alitalia flight landed, the streets of Leon where the pope will stay took on a carnival atmosphere, with entire blocks exploding in yellow confetti as he passed in his bulletproof popemobile along the 20-mile (32-kilomter) route from the airport.

    “He came to change all Mexicans,” said Maria del Rosario Tamayo Villanueva, who waited to see the pope despite being paralyzed in both legs since childhood. “It was important to come to see him. He is a gift from God.”

    Earlier on the 14-hour flight from Rome, Benedict called on Mexicans to conquer an “idolatry of money” that feeds drug violence and urged Cuba, where he heads on Monday, to leave behind a Marxism that “no longer responds to reality...”


    h/t to Fr. Z

    Two Fetuses Found in Miami luggage

    As a reality-TV show shot footage, customs agents found fetuses in the luggage of two women at Miami International Airport.

    By Juan O. Tamayo

    (The Miami Herald) Leave it to Miami to shock even a reality-TV film crew. The crew was shooting footage at Miami International Airport for an upcoming episode when customs agents found a pair of human fetuses in the luggage of two women returning from Havana.

    The fetuses were to be delivered to someone in Miami and used in a Santeria-like religious ritual, according to two people knowledgeable about the case.

    “I’ve never heard of anything like this,” said Pat Diaz, who retired two years ago after 25 years on the homicide squad of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

    The incident, filmed by a crew for an upcoming show called MIA, went unreported for more than a month.

    El Nuevo Herald learned of it independently, and MDPD spokesman Roy Rutland confirmed it on Thursday.

    The fetuses, a male and a female, were found Jan. 30 in the luggage of two Cuban American women — one in her 60s and the other who looked to be in her 70s.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents spotted one of the fetuses when they X-rayed a sealed jar.
    A second was discovered when the jar was opened, according to Rutland.

    “The medical examiner made a determination that both of the fetuses were close to 20 weeks and both had been stillborn — they were not viable,” Rutland added, making it clear that there was no foul play in the deaths of the fetuses.

    Some Miami residents are trying to arrange proper burials for the fetuses here, said an airline industry official at the airport who tipped El Nuevo Herald to the story.

    The two women explained to U.S. authorities that they received the jar in Havana from a babalao — a Santeria priest — and were asked to deliver it to someone in Miami, the airline industry official told the newspaper.

    But they insisted that they did not know what was in the jar, and were not charged with any crimes, Rutland noted.

    The rites of Cuba’s Catholic-African religions usually involve the sacrifice of small animals such as chickens and goats.

    Some also use old human bones stolen from cemeteries. Human fetuses are reputed to be used only by some of the more secretive sects.

    Rutland said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who found the fetuses could not identify any crime committed by the women, and passed the case to the Miami-Dade homicide squad.

    MDPD investigators presented the evidence and forensic reports to the state attorney’s office, which made the decision not to pursue charges, the spokesman added.

    Rutland did not identify the women or the person in Miami who was supposed to receive the fetuses, citing privacy constraints.

    Spokespersons for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the medical examiner’s offices in Miami could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

    The travel official at MIA said Cuban security officials at José Martí International Airport in Havana are intensely interested in how the jar got past their tight screenings of outbound luggage.

    The TV series is scheduled to run this summer on the Travel Channel.

    Rutland said he received a call from the crew and understood the show may not even include the incident because of its gruesome nature.

    Sketchy Romney: Everything Changes

    "You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."

    -Key Romney Advisor Eric Fehrnstrom, discussing Romney's conservative positions. CNN, 3/21/12

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Pray for Father John Trigilio

    From Therese, an administrator at Catholic Answers forum:
    Tim Staples, Catholic Answers' Director of Apologetics, just spoke with Fr. Trigilio. Here's the scoop:
    • Father was in a serious car accident Friday night, March 16.
    • He was in ICU three days for observation.
    • He has since been released from the hospital and is currently resting at home.
    • Doctors will continue to monitor his condition.
    • He appreciates your prayer and asks for continued prayers for his recovery over the next few weeks.
    Re: Prayers: Fr. John Trigilio in critical condition

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    A Canonical Letter Challenging Dr. Peters on the Father Guarnizo Eucharistic Affair


    When Church matters are filled with the marks of injustice and persecution of Priests and lay faithful who merely wish to do what they are and have always been called to do (for instance, taking the greatest of cares for the Most Blessed Sacrament), it is quite understandable that people remain moved to speak up.

    That was the case with George Neumayr and his article for The American Spectator.

    It was also the case of a reader, Scriptor, who has sent us this letter on the several canonical aspects involved in the Washington Eucharistic Affair as a follow-up to his shorter post on the same matter posted in The New Theological Movement.
    Greetings in Christ,
    In light of Fr. Guarnizo’s recent letter and Dr. Peters’ recent posts in response to that letter, I would like to continue discussion and reflection on the application of c. 915 vis-à-vis the Guarnizo-Johnson controversy.  I continue to find myself disagreeing with Dr. Peters’ interpretation of c. 915 in this case.  For the sake of argument, permit me to consider the situation in abstraction from Fr. Guarnizo’s own self-understanding of what he was doing when he refused communion to Ms. Johnson.  I want to focus on c. 915 and in particular on its use of the word “manifest”.    

    An Insuperable Burden? 
    In one of Dr. Peters’ recent posts (“Canonical observations…”, March 15th) he cites a number of canons to show that, in light of its having the effect of restricting the rights of the faithful, we need to interpret c. 915 “as narrowly as reasonably possible”.  He then goes on to cite a number of traditional commentators to the effect that before a minister refuses the sacraments to someone, he must have no reasonable doubts about whether the person is publically unworthy in the technical sense.  Both these points are well taken.  I will argue though, that when analyzing Guarnizo-Johnson case, Peters does interpret c. 915 in an unreasonably narrow fashion.  I will also argue that a priest in Fr. Guarnizo’s shoes could reasonably have been free of doubts as to whether c. 915 applied to Ms. Johnson.  Peters writes, “…the burden is, without question, on the minister of holy Communion to verify that all of the conditions listed in canon 915 are satisfied before he withholds holy Communion from a member of the faithful who approaches for it publicly.”  In the Guarnizo-Johnson case, I don’t think this is an insuperable burden. 

    Peters writes, “To justify withholding the Eucharist under Canon 915 according to its plain terms, the conduct in which a communicant perseveres must be obstinate, manifest, grave, and sinful.”  First off, I think he is rhetorically loading the deck in his favor by highlighting five distinct words.  The PCILT document that I often cited in my post on The New Theological Movement breaks c. 915 down into just three distinct concepts (see the post for March 12th on the New Theological Movement, “Guest Letter Challenging Dr. Peters…”).  There is no question of withholding communion in the case of venial sins and so the only sort of sin we are considering here is serious or gave sin.  That’s one notion.  I think we can know that a woman who introduces to us her “lover” is engaged in serious sin.  The second condition of c. 915 as interpreted by the PCILT document is “obstinate perseverance”.  I dealt with this in the New Theological Movement post.  We can reasonably know that this condition too would obtain for Ms. Johnson.  So the third and last condition is “manifest”.  This is the crux of the matter.    

    Towards A More True-To-Life Adjudication of When Obstinate Grave Sin Is “Manifest” 
    Dr. Peters’ approach to “manifest” in c. 915 remains two-dimensional and unrealistic.  He reduces the public knowledge of a person’s obstinate grave sin to what is already actually known by the particular witnesses who are present when the sinner in question presents himself for communion.  For example, in one of his recent posts (“A brief thought…”, March 17th), he writes, “However sinful it might be, conduct that is not already widely known in the community is not manifest as canon law understands that term in this context.” [Emphasis mine]  A little later on, he writes, “Some folks…think the Church is being too lenient in dealing with grave-but-as-yet-private sin.  They’re free to make that case, though I think the Church’s wisdom is more than canon-law deep here.  Anyway, though they disagree with the law, they understand it, so my job is done in their regard.”  Apart from bringing notice to what I consider an unfair conflation of his readers differing with him in his interpretation of the Church’s law with his readers having differences with the Church, I would like to underscore his phrase “grave-but-as-yet-private sin.”  Is “as-yet-private-sin” never “manifest” in the technical canonical sense?   

    In another one of his recent posts (“Three recent questions…”, March 13th), Dr. Peters touches briefly upon the principle, entertained as a legitimate opinion by canonists for many ages now, that the “notoriety” of a person’s sin can be present in one community while not being present in another.  Take the unlikely but possible scenario of a man whose unworthiness is known say in Sacramento California but completely unknown in Richmond Virginia.  Now say there was a priest of Richmond Virginia who knew of this man and his bad reputation in Sacramento.  If this man were to come into this priest’s parish in Richmond and present himself for communion, the priest might have poor grounds for considering this man’s unworthiness to be “notorious” or “public”.  It could be public in Sacramento while not being public in Richmond.  The priest should in this case give the man communion.  There is a flip side to this principle, though.  If the nature of the man’s obstinate grave sin is such that the knowledge of it is likely to spread from the first into the second community, then the priest who is administering the Eucharist to this man in the second local is justified in regarding this man’s sin as “manifest” even though to those in the second community it is “as-yet-private”.  Those who are witnessing the man present himself for communion may not be actually currently aware of the man’s sin, but the priest has good reason to believe they will soon be aware of it.  The point is that when making a decision as to whether an obstinate grave sin is manifest, the minister doesn’t simply take into account the actual but also the possible or likely knowledge of the witnesses.  To do this, he must take into account the nature of the community or communities in question and also the kind of sin that is being dealt with.
    Here is a passage from a classic moral theology manual which takes into account the above mentioned factors: “The Sacraments are to be refused to a public sinner, whether he asks for them publicly or secretly…Such a one has no right to the Sacraments, with the exception of Penance. That sinner is called a public sinner, absolutely speaking, if he is notoriously so; he will be a notoriously public sinner, if he has been juridically condemned as such, or has admitted his sin, or if his sin cannot be concealed nor excused, or if his sin is noised abroad so that it can be easily known anywhere.” [Emphasis mine] (Moral and Pastoral Theology, by Henry Davis, S.J., vol. III, p. 35)  One of the conditions for the “notoriety” and thus technically “public” status of the sinner in question is whether or not his sin can be concealed or excused.  Notice how the kind of sin and its potential to become common knowledge to others are relevant considerations.  Now what happens when the sinner in question is not ashamed of his sin and doesn’t even try to conceal it in public?  What happens when the sinner in question has even adopted a personal m.o. of actively making known his sin to others even upon first introductions?  What happens when the sinner in question doesn’t just regularly make his sin known to others but wants and even expects others to accept and applaud his sin as normal and good?  What if such a sinner even thinks that he has a right—his habit of making his sin known in public notwithstanding—to the precious and immaculate body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?  This, I suggest, is the case of the baptized Catholic who is also a practicing and open homosexual.  According to the standards of the above cited manual, such a person’s sin could not be concealed and would thus count as “notorious” or “public” or “manifest”.
    To bring it home a little closer to the actual circumstances of the Guarnizo-Johnson case, the practicing and open homosexual in question showed up to the funeral with her lover and presented her to the priest as such.  I think it reasonable for a priest who had received such an introduction to conclude very quickly that this woman likely had already introduced herself and her lover as such to others at the funeral.  This priest might also justifiably conclude that, given the nature of this woman’s sin, if the people at the funeral don’t already know about it, they probably will by the time the funeral is done.  Two active and open homosexuals present at a funeral who have introduced themselves to the priest as such are going to be verbally making known to others their status as “partners”.  What’s more, the two homosexual lovers are likely going to be relating to each other physically and socially in a spousal manner.  This is not going to be just about hugs and hand holding but a total way of relating to each other that sends a multitude of subtle but clear signals to others as to who they are.  And the witnesses have plenty of opportunity to catch those verbal and non-verbal signals.  There is the funeral mass itself but also the burial and often also the reception after the burial.  There is also, in many cases, the wake the night before.  The sin of such a couple is of such a kind that it’s not going to remain secret for very long.  It’s the kind of sin that can’t be concealed.  This is what we are dealing with when it comes to this phenomenon of “out-of-the-closet” gays.  Let’s not ignore the obvious. 

    There Is More Than Just One Conscience We Need To Respect
    In the first of Dr. Peters’ posts that I cited above (“Canonical observations…”, March 15th), he makes it clear that that “Canon 916 binds gravely in conscience and an accounting to God of one’s conduct under that canon (or at any rate, under the values it protects) will be owed by each Catholic at Judgment.”  But what he fails to mention, although I know he would acknowledge it as true, is that canon 915 also binds gravely in conscience before God.  The reader is left with the impression though, that canon 916 is a matter of conscience while canon 915 is something else.  This is a misleading way of presenting the situation.  The obligation of the minister to withhold communion from the publicly unworthy (canon 915) is just as much a divine law as the obligation of the communicant to make sure he is rightly disposed before receiving communion (canon 916).  Referencing different authorities, we read, “Divine and ecclesiastical law command absolute exclusion from the Holy Table of all persons publicly unworthy of it, unless they have shown signs of conversion and amendment and repaired the scandal given to the community” (Legislation on the Sacraments in the New Code of Canon Law by H. A. Ayrinhac, 1928).  And from a more recent commentary, we read: “…this [c. 915] is a norm of divine-positive law…declared by the council of Trent in its decree on the Holy Eucharist, received by the 1917 Code, and restated by Vatican II’s post-conciliar legislation.” (Gramunt, in EXEGETICAL COMM (2004) III/1: 614-615.)  Thus the person who violates the divine precept underlying c. 915 will be accountable to God on Judgment Day just as much as the person who violates the divine precept underlying c. 916.  Arguably, the law of the Church itself recognizes by way of sanction the seriousness of violating c. 915.  At least in the opinion of Gramunt, the minister who violates this precept “can be punished by virtue of c. 1389 sec. 2, or by invoking c. 1399 which foresees, in a general way, the possibility of punishing those who cause grave scandal by an external violation of divine or ecclesiastical law” (Gramunt, p. 616).       

    Dr. Peters talks about the importance of interpreting canon law in continuity with the tradition of the Church.  To that I say ‘Amen’.  This was one of the concerns of my previous post.  So to continue in that vein, and to bring home with one more citation the seriousness of the divine precept underlying c. 915, let’s reference yet one more authority—an older one.  Here is Rev. James O’Kane’s 1867 commentary, Notes on the Rubrics of the Roman Ritual, p. 380:

    “[Public sinners] are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any circumstances, until they have given proof of their repentance and amendment.  They have no claim to be admitted.  By their exclusion they are merely prevented from consummating an act of sacrilege; and even their reputation cannot suffer, since they are, by supposition, public sinners; and on the other hand, great scandal would arise from admitting them.  The priest, therefore, is bound to exclude them.  According to some theologians, he might administer the sacrament to save his own life, provided he were not required to do so in contempt of religion.  St. Liguori for a time thought this opinion probable, but he afterwards rejected it, and maintains that the priest must refuse the sacrament to the notoriously unworthy, at the risk of his life, even when contempt is not intended.” 

    In the opinion of St. Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, the minister should rather die than give communion to the publicly unworthy.  By anyone’s account, this is pretty serious stuff.  Have we today lost the sense of the seriousness of the sin of sacrilege and scandal?  Upon the altar of the rights of the individual, have we sacrificed God’s right not to be profaned and the right of the community not to be scandalized?  We need to respect the conscience of the minister bound by such serious obligations just as much as we need to respect the right of the individual to be provided with the sacraments.  Have we focused on the latter to the exclusion of the former—unwittingly embracing an unbalanced hermeneutic that distorts our reading of canon law and the sacramental life of the Church?     

    Differences of Opinion on Prudential Judgments Calls for Charity
    Looking through a number of manuals and commentaries from the 19th and 20th centuries, it becomes clear that there is wide variety of factors to take into account when deciding whether or not a particular case of sin is “public”.  In the last analysis, this is not an exact science but a matter of prudential judgment.  The authorities themselves concur.  Stanislaus Woywod, for example, in A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, vol. I (1925), says: “No general rule covering all cases can be given for distinguishing a public sinner from an occult one, and the circumstances of every individual case must be considered.”  To return to the O’Kane commentary, we read on p. 381: “We need not seek for mathematical accuracy in a matter of this kind, and Carriere concludes that a crime may be looked on as public in any community when, considering the crime itself, the persons to whom it is known, and the community of which there is question, the knowledge of it is morally certain to spread.”  It is true that the minister must have a practical certainty that any given person falls into the category of those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” before he is bound to withhold communion from that person.  I have argued above that practicing and open homosexuals could very easily fall into that category.   More specifically I have argued that such an active and open homosexual as is being considered in the Guarnizo-Johnson does in fact do so.  But more to the point here is that even if in your judgment a priest in a situation like Guarnizo’s would not have made the right prudential decision by withholding communion from the person in question, it should at least be acknowledged that his decision was not wildly unreasonable.  We can in all charity acknowledge that one minister’s doubtful case might be another minister’s clear case.  We can respect his certain conscience even if in the same situation ours would have been doubtful.  We can acknowledge that there are situations in which different prudential judgments can be made by different people without either side faulting the other for negligence on the one hand or insensitivity on the other.  The Guarnizo-Johnson case is certainly one such case.  For example, probably Dr. Peters himself has a good pulse on the academic world of canon law and would know whether or not there are at least some respectable canonists who would disagree with him on this issue.  Are there no canonists who would judge that, per c. 915, Ms. Johnson should have in fact been withheld from communion?  I would imagine we could find a few.       
    A Broader Perspective 
    Peters can also, no doubt unintentionally, sometimes write as if canonists are the only people who should have anything to say on this issue.  Are there not other specialists whose respective expertise would be helpful?  What might a Scripture scholar, for example, have to say about this issue?  We often quote I Cor 11:27-29 when talking about the divine obligation undergirding canon 916.  But the Church has also traditionally cited Mt 7:6, “Give not what is holy to the dogs”, when talking about the divine obligation undergirding c. 915 (cf. Didache 9).  Is Mt 7:6 Eucharistic?  Does it have a sacrificial subtext to it? (cf. Ex 29:37; Lev 2:3)  Who are the dogs? (cf. Rev 22:15; Deut 23:18)  Maybe the canonists can learn from the Scripture scholars? 

    Also what might a moral theologian have to say about the little known fact that the good name of the occult sinner is actually not a proportionate reason for the minister of communion to materially participate in the sinner’s sacrilegious communion but that the minister is only morally justified in materially participating in such a sacrilege in light of the possible negative effects a refusal might have on the community?  How might the perspective of the common good adjust our antecedent considerations that we bring to bear on reading and applying the Church’s law in the case of c. 915?  Also, if the sinner who presents himself for communion has the right to his good name, what happens when the sinner in question thinks his sin should be made public?  Is it even meaningful to talk about protecting the good name of the active and open homosexual?  What reputation is there left for the Church to protect at this point and how might this affect our application of c. 915?  These are all questions moralists could fruitfully explore and canonists benefit from... (continued)