Sunday, September 30, 2012

Father Rutler: Saint Francis of Assisi was not a garden gnome

By Father George Rutler

On October 4, we give thanks for one of the best known and least known of all saints. Least known, that is, because Francis of Assisi was not a garden gnome, or a doe-eyed hippy skipping with animals and hugging trees. Garden gnomes do not bear the Stigmata of Christ's wounds. A vegetarian? He berated a friar for wanting to abstain from meat on a feast day and said that on Christmas he would “smear the wall with meat.” An iconoclast? He was meticulous in the ceremonials of the Mass, insisting that every sacred vessel and vestment be the best, and his Rule dismissed any friar who parted from the Pope on the slightest article of Faith. A pacifist? He joined the Fifth Crusade, simmering ever since eleven thousand Muslims had invaded Rome and desecrated the tombs of Peter and Paul in the year 846. Francis went to North Africa in 1219 to convert the Muslims and confronted Sultan al Malik al-Kamil, who had just slaughtered five thousand Christians at Damietta. Francis fearlessly told the Sultan: “It is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship.” While counselors called for the beheading of Francis according to Muslim law, the Sultan was so taken with the humility of Francis that he only had him beaten, chained and imprisoned, and then he released him.

We are engaged in similar challenges today. Of course, we are aware of the crisis in the Middle East, but the strife is worldwide. Consider Nigeria, whose Catholic population in the last century has soared to nearly twenty million. Last week, under Muslim pressure, the government stopped the Eternal Word Television Network from broadcasting. I have worked with this worldwide Catholic network for twenty-five years and have many Nigerian friends. Two days after the Nigerian bishops objected to this censorship, a Catholic church was destroyed by Muslims, who killed and wounded many worshipers. This seems to be under the radar of our own government and the mainstream media.

May Saint Francis be our model in how to deal with the threats of our own day: not enfeebled by sentimentality and relativism, but armed with a Franciscan zeal for the conversion of souls. We may not have Francis’ charm, but we have in our hearts and churches the same God. By the way, the popular “Prayer of Saint Francis,” which begins, “Make me a channel of your peace,” was actually the work of an anonymous author who published it in France in 1912. Its vague theology and lack of mention of Christ, express a semi-Pelagian heresy unworthy of the Saint of Assisi. Let the last words of the real Saint of Assisi be our guide: “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Church of England fails to agree successor for Archbishop of Canterbury

Dr Rowan Williams

By Ruth Gledhill - Religion Correspondent

(The Times) The body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to agree who should be the successor to Dr Rowan Williams.

Despite a three day session, aided by prayers invoked on Twitter with the hashtage #prayforthecnc, the 16-member committee has been unable to decide on who should take on the job that the present incumbent today implied was “impossible”...


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mike Love Terminates Beach Boys Reunion

Beach Boys  From left, Brian Wilson, David Marks, Mike Love and Al Jardine performing at the Beacon Theater on Tuesday evening.
Jason Decrow/DECRJ, via Associated PressThe Beach Boys, with, from left, Brian Wilson, David Marks, Mike Love and Al Jardine, performing at the Beacon Theater in May.

(New York Times) The Beach Boys 50th anniversary reunion tour ends this week in London. Also apparently ending: the much-discussed detente between the founding members Mike Love and Brian Wilson.

“I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out there having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.” - Brian Wilson
Mr. Love, the frontman who still controls the Beach Boys brand name, announced earlier this month he would continue to tour this fall with Bruce Johnson and a back-up band. But he said the group would not include Mr. Wilson, who wrote many of the band’s biggest hits. Al Jardine, another original member, and David Marks, who first joined the group in the 1960s, are also out.

“As we move on, Bruce and I look forward to performing live for Beach Boys fans everywhere,” Mr. Love said in a statement. He went on to say: “The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band.”

Mr. Love and Mr. Wilson have feuded for decades, but they put aside their differences last fall to do a reunion tour, joined by the other three early members of the California surf-rock group. They played the Grammy Awards ceremony in February and have toured extensively since then, releasing a new album, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” (Capitol), in June.

Then earlier this month, just before the group attended the opening of a exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, Mr. Love put out his statement.

 Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
The Beach Boys, from left, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Brian Wilson, David Marks and Al Jardine at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

Mr. Wilson told CNN at the time he was dismayed by Mr. Love’s decision. “I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out there having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.”

Since then, an online petition has been circulated urging Mr. Love to reconsider “in order to preserve the validity of ‘The Beach Boys’ as a whole, and not as a ‘money-saving, stripped-down version.” So far, 2,710 people have signed.

The last concerts with the current lineup are scheduled for London’s Royal Albert Hall on Thursday and Wembley Stadium on Friday.

From A.V. Club:

Sources indicate that Love—who cited his fear of overexposure as the reasoning behind his decision—was not particularly forthcoming about his plans with the rest of the Group Formerly Known As The Beach Boys. The A.V. Club reported in June that Love planned to perform as the Beach Boys at several shows in October, at least one of which was cancelled when venue managers at Nutty Jerry's in Winnie, Texas found out that by "Beach Boys," Love really meant, "Me and Bruce Johnston and some random backup guys." Love subsequently expressed his frustration with the cost of the band's reunion tour.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yoga? It's too Hindu for church: Priest bans exercise class because it's 'not Catholic'

Yoga instructor Cori Withell was told activity was part of Hindu religion
37-year-old banned from using Catholic church hall despite paying up beforehand
She said the class was just for exercise and did not feature meditation
Ban not Catholic church policy - decision left to discretion of individual priests

(Mail Online) She meant her yoga classes to be a calming and relaxing experience for all those concerned.

Instead, Cori Withell has ended up flustered and frustrated after a priest banned her from his church hall because her lessons are ‘not compatible’ with the Catholic faith.

The 37-year-old instructor was told by Father John Chandler that yoga is a Hindu religious activity and therefore not in keeping with his rules on promoting Catholic activities.

The ban is not Catholic church policy and decisions are left to the discretion of individual priests.

Miss Withell said staff at St Edmund’s Church in Southampton accepted the booking two months ago and she paid £180.

But with just ten days to go before the start of the classes she was called and told that yoga was from another religion so she could not have the hall. A separate pilates class she had booked was also cancelled.

She said: 'I had never heard about any religious issue with yoga before but I have looked into it since and found that some other religions feel that when people meditate it could let the devil inside them.

'But there was never any meditation in my class – it was just exercises.

'As a nation we have an obesity epidemic. I was trying to bring some exercise to the community and coming across blocks like this is frustrating.

'I tried to explain to the church that my yoga classes were not religious at all and I even offered to come and demonstrate the class.

'It is about calmness and relaxation.'

Paid up: Cori spent £180 to book the hall, but with just ten days to go she was told she could not use it

Father Chandler said the church was 'misled' by Miss Withell's booking because he claimed that, at first, the hall was booked for pilates and then he found out it was also for spiritual yoga.

He said: 'Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise. Being a Catholic church we have to promote the gospel and that's what we use our premises for.

'We did say that yoga could not take place. It’s the fact that it's a different religious practice going on in a Catholic church.

Religious: Father John Chandler, left, said the lesson, advertised by this flyer, right, was not in keeping with his rules on promoting Catholic activitiesReligious: Father John Chandler, left, said the lesson, advertised by this flyer, right, was not in keeping with his rules on promoting Catholic activities 
Religious: Father John Chandler, left, said the lesson, advertised by this flyer, right, was not in keeping with his rules on promoting Catholic activities

Welcome: A spokesman for the diocese said in 17 years it was the first time he had commented on a yoga ban
Welcome: A spokesman for the diocese said in 17 years it was the first time he had commented on a yoga ban

'We are not saying that yoga is bad or wrong.'

Yoga enthusiasts criticised Father Chandler’s stance as 'ignorant' and even urged the priest to try a session.

Pierre Bibby, of the charity British Wheel of Yoga, said: 'Research demonstrates yoga improves people's health and wellbeing physically and mentally. Who could object to that?'

Give it a go: Yoga enthusiasts criticised the priest's stance as 'ignorant' and urged him to try it out
Give it a go: Yoga enthusiasts criticised the priest's stance as 'ignorant' and urged him to try it out

A spokesman for the local Diocese of Portsmouth said in 17 years it was the first time he had been asked to comment on a yoga ban but it was up to individual priests.

He said: 'We don’t allow anything that can be construed as non-Christian worship.

'There is a dilemma with yoga, which could be seen as a form of relaxation – or a non-Christian, possible Hindu, meditation.

'On the other hand, from the calls I have made there are some Catholic retreats which offer yoga.'

Cross-over: The diocese spokesman said he understood there were some Catholic retreats offering yoga.
Cross-over: The diocese spokesman said he understood there were some Catholic retreats offering yoga.


Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest-Ever View of the Universe

2012 Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

(NASA) Like photographers assembling a portfolio of best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the universe.

Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full moon.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small area of space in the constellation Fornax, created using Hubble Space Telescope data from 2003 and 2004. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time.

The new full-color XDF image is even more sensitive, and contains about 5,500 galaxies even within its smaller field of view. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama Voters and Hell

We're hungry! Students revolt over Michelle Obama's 850-calorie school meals - First Lady faces growing anger
Michelle Obama ordering fat cakes and French fries in Botswana

(Mail Online) New rules on school meals inspired by Michelle Obama were intended to wipe out hunger and malnutrition among American students - but some are complaining they have had the opposite effect.

High schools are now forbidden from giving pupils more than 850 calories for their lunch - even if they are fast-growing teenagers or even student athletes.

One enterprising group of adolescents channelled their anger at the policy into a parody YouTube video promoting their cause entitled 'We Are Hungry'.

Rebel: 16-year-old student athlete Callahan Grun stars in a YouTube video satirising the new rules
Rebel: 16-year-old student athlete Callahan Grun stars in a YouTube video satirising the new rules

The new restrictions were mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law during the lame-duck period of the last Congress in December 2010.

As well as the calorie limits, the law requires students to be given more fruit and vegetables and cuts down on sweet and fatty foods...

Brenda Kirkham, a colleague of Ms O'Connor at Wallace County High School in the farming town of Sharon Springs, told the Wichita Eagle she was outraged at seeing students go hungry thanks to government rules.

'Think of a high-school boy who works out at least three hours a day, not including farm work,' she said. 'I'm furious.'

Some pupils have turned to radical solutions to get round the ban on sugary snacks - at one school, a black market has sprung up in chocolate syrup.

Students at a high school in New Bedford, Massachusetts are bringing syrup into school and selling it to friends so they can make their own contraband chocolate milk, according to the Standard-Times.

'Flavored milk... I don't understand why we can't have that,' said 17-year-old Paige Lame.

Another unintended consequence of the rule is that charity groups are unable to sell cookies or candy to raise money for good causes and student activities, thanks to a crackdown on the availability of junk food on school property.

Can a Monkey Save NBC?

(New York Magazine) On July 24, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, the cast of the new NBC sitcom Animal Practice were finishing up a panel presentation for the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour when a siren pierced the auditorium. From the wings, a miniature, remotely controlled ambulance raced onto the dais; perched atop it was a small monkey wearing blue surgeon’s scrubs and holding a card emblazoned with the peacock logo. Hovering conspicuously in the background at the event was NBC’s perennial fourth-place ranking in prime time, and the symbolism of an ambulance-riding capuchin—can a ­monkey save NBC?—was barely latent. But this wasn’t any old monkey.

At 18, Crystal has an IMDb page longer and, though it’s curiously incomplete, more hit-studded than most actors three times her age. You may have seen her in American Pie, 3:10 to Yuma, Dr. Dolittle, Zookeeper, or We Bought a Zoo. “We feel this is Crystal’s breakthrough performance,” said Zoo director Cameron Crowe. “It is her Carnal Knowledge. The role brings out colors we have yet to see...”

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke has told advertisers that Crystal is the highest-testing character on any of the network’s new slate of shows. But the capuchin’s fame has already spread well beyond ­focus-group screening rooms. On a plane back to L.A., a passenger turned iPhone paparazzo took a snapshot of Crystal belted into her business-class seat on American Airlines, a full human meal in front of her. (Celebrity monkeys: They’re just like us.) At LAX, TMZ filmed her as she rode on Gunderson’s shoulder out of baggage claim...

Crystal reportedly earns $12,000 per episode of Animal Practice, and she is a presence in every one, whether cheering on an illicit turtle race (a guinea pig riding on each turtle’s back) or crawling inside and animating a puppet to haunt a ­puppet-phobe. When I meet her in the Astroturf atrium, Crystal, wearing spangled denim board shorts that conceal a diaper, shakes my hand with a miniature paw. She is standing on the lap of her trainer and moving from one of his knees to the other, over and over, while making occasional high-pitched tee-tee-tee sounds. She seems anxious, but Gunderson says she’s probably just bored.


"These games are a joke."

"These games are a joke." — Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current NFL broadcaster Troy Aikman

"Well, the officials decided a game." - Adam Schefter, ESPN

By Jim Litke

(AP) If you tried to stage a photograph to symbolize the confusion that’s dogged the NFL and its games since commissioner Roger Goodell let a lockout of the regular officials spill over into the regular season, you couldn’t have done it any better.

The reaction was predictable, overwhelmingly negative, and swift. Anyone still have questions about the integrity of the game? Thought so.

Let’s put it this way: If the NFL were a hamburger chain, Goodell would have been fired on the spot...


Monday, September 24, 2012

France set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from official documents

France is set to ban the words "mother" and "father" from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage.

French prisoner sends severed finger to justice minister
France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira Photo: Reuters 

(The Telegraph)  The move, which has outraged Catholics, means only the word "parents" would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples.

The draft law states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender".

It says all references to "mothers and fathers" in the civil code – which enshrines French law – will be swapped for simply "parents".

The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told France's Catholic newspaper La Croix: "Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?"

"What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government."

The head of the French Catholic Church Cardinal Philippe Barbarin warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society.

He told the Christian's RFC radio station: "Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society.

"This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall."

Leading French Catholics have also published a 'Prayer for France', which says: "Children should not be subjected to adults' desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father."

And Pope Benedict XVI invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law.

He told them: "We have there a true challenge to take on.

"The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective."

President Francois Hollande pledged in his manifesto to legalise gay marriage. The draft law will be presented to his cabinet for approval on October 31.


Same-sex 'Marriage' Defeated in Australia

Federal Parliament Overwhelmingly Votes Down Proposals

CANBERRA, SEPT. 24, 2012 ( – Two proposals to legalize same-sex marriage in the Australian federal parliament last week were strongly defeated.

On Sept. 19 the House of Representatives voted on a proposal by backbencher Stephen Jones, of the Australian Labor Party, the party currently in power at the federal level, to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

The Labor Party allowed a free vote on the proposal, while the coalition of opposition parties, led by Tony Abbott, held to their promise of voting against any attempt to introduce same-sex “marriage.”

The vote was 42 in favour of legalization and 98 against. Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott voted against the bill.

"The overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives in favour of marriage between a man and a woman is greatly welcomed," says Chris Meney, director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Marriage and Family Centre. "It is also a vote affirming the truth of how marriage has always been understood," he commented in a news story published on the Web site of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

"Given the broad consultation over a significant period and the number of bills which have been introduced on this issue it is to be hoped our elected representatives will now be free to devote the necessary time to other issues which are of importance to all Australians," Meney commented.

The following day another vote on same-sex marriage was held in the Australian Senate, and again it was overwhelmingly defeated, by 41 to 26.

Among those speaking against the Senate initiative was Labor senator John Hogg, who is the President of the Senate. As a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted, he rarely speaks during debates on legislation, but he did speak out on this issue.

"I have a deep-seated belief that marriage is between a man and a woman exclusively," he said.

"I utterly reject the offensive language of some of those supporting the bill that people who share my views are discriminatory or homophobic,” he added.

"This is absolutely nonsense of the first order and is a desperate resort to try and isolate those who don't share their views," the Senate president said.

The votes followed what Paul Kelly, political commentator for the Australian newspaper, called a two year intense campaign by the Green Party, half the Labor Party, the gay lobby and progressive media in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

State laws

“Australia is now consigned to a lengthy culture war over same-sex marriage,” he added in his Sept. 22 commentary.

Despite the two votes in federal parliament the debate on same-sex “marriage” in Australia is far from over, with the focus turning to the state level.

The lower house of parliament in Tasmania has already voted in favour of same-sex “marriage” and this week it will be voted on by the upper house. The outcome of the vote is uncertain, given that the majority of the members of the upper house are independents.

Proponents of same-sex “marriage” have also said they will introduce initiatives in the state parliaments of South Australia and New South Wales.

The situation is further complicated by a debate over the constitutionality of state vs. federal laws regarding marriage. Commentators agree that any state law allowing same-sex “marriage” will be challenged in the High Court of Australia.

There are also concerns that any approval of same-sex “marriage” will create a church-state conflict.

“Changing the Marriage Act would, in practice, compel Catholics and other faith communities to recognise and accept same-sex marriage in their schools, charities, social welfare, health care and adoption services,” warned Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell in a submission he made in a Senate committee inquiry on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”


Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Last Days of Padre Pio

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

Padre Pio seemed most hesitant to discuss either his wounds or the reported incidents of bilocation. He seemed hesitant because in life he did not understand them at all. In fact, a Vatican investigator learned that all the events of bilocation were reported by others, and never by Padre Pio himself. It wasn’t until he was directly asked by the investigator that he described bilocation:
“I don’t know how it is or the nature of this phenomenon – and I certainly don’t give it much thought – but it did happen to me to be in the presence of this or that person, to be in this or that place; but I do not know whether I was there with my body or without it . . . Usually it has happened while I was praying . . . This is the first time I talk about this.” (Padre Pio Under Investigation, Ignatius Press, 2008, p. 208).
Those September days preceding Padre Pio’s death in 1968 must have been the strangest of his life. The visible wounds became so central to his sense of self for a half century that I imagine he had difficulty even remembering a time when the wounds were not present. Even a great burden carried for years upon years – I have learned the hard way – can become a part of who and what we are. We cannot imagine Padre Pio without these wounds. We would have never even heard of Padre Pio without these wounds. So in that sense, the wounds were not for him. They were for us... (continued)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Australian minister warns of Republican 'crazies'

FILE - In this July 11, 2012 file photo, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan speaks to the media after delivering a speech at the "RMB Cross-border Trade and Investment Forum" in Hong Kong. Swan warned Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 that the greatest threat to the U.S. economy are the "cranks and crazies" in the Republican Party, a rare foray into American domestic politics that was blasted by the opposition. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's deputy prime minister warned Friday that the greatest threat to the U.S. economy are the "cranks and crazies" in the Republican Party, a rare foray into American domestic politics that was blasted by the opposition.

Wayne Swan, who also is treasurer and his center-left Labor Party government's ranking finance minister, took aim at the tea party during a speech to a business forum, breaking a convention among Australia's major parties to steer clear of U.S. domestic political debates.

"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party," Swan said.

He said "the extreme right tea party wing" of the Republican Party had held the national interest hostage during last year's debate over the U.S. borrowing limit despite President Barack Obama's "goodwill and strong efforts."

He said it was imperative that Congress reach an agreement to support growth and avoid a "fiscal cliff" of deep government spending cuts and higher taxes in January, which he said could push the U.S. economy back into recession.

The conservative opposition said Swan's speech betrayed his "hatred" of Republicans.

"The Labor Party is peddling hatred and they're got to stop," opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey told reporters. "They hate the Republican Party. I'd like Wayne Swan to say something positive about someone somewhere."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who travels to New York next week to address the U.N. General Assembly, defended her deputy's comments as "appropriate."

"What happens in the U.S. economy matters to the world economy and it matters to us," she told reporters. "Wayne Swan was making that very common sense point today."

Adam Lockyer, a lecturer at Sydney University's U.S. Studies Center, described Swan's speech as "a clumsy political move" that left him open to attack from his political enemies.

Lockyer said Swan might have been attempting to link the tea party to the obstructionism of the Australian opposition, which has thwarted Labor's legislative agenda in a finely-balanced Parliament.

Australia has long maintained that its close relationship with Washington, and its 61-year-old defense alliance, remains strong regardless of who is in the White House.

Former conservative Prime Minister John Howard was widely criticized in 2007 when he claimed Obama, then a Democratic presidential nominee, represented al-Qaida's interests.

Howard, a staunch U.S. ally in the Iraq war who lost elections later that year after 11 years in power, created one of the first controversies of Obama's presidential campaign by attacking his plan to withdraw troops.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ring of fire

A rare 100-foot high fire tornado – known as a ‘fire devil’ – formed in the Australian outback

(The Daily) A recent blaze in the Australian outback caused this rare 40-minute, 100-foot high fire tornado, known as a fire devil. The phenomenon occurs when a column of warm, rising air comes into contact with a wildfire on the ground.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bishop Fellay’s “Conditions”

While the Holy See waits for a response from the Lefebvrians, it is prepared to discuss pastoral and disciplinary questions but not doctrinal ones

Andrea Tornielli

(La Stampa / Vatican Insider) The letter which the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, sent in response to the doctrinal preamble presented to him in the Vatican last 13 June, has not yet reached Rome. “The ball is clearly in the Fraternity’s court,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi had said this after the meeting. Everyone was aware that it was unlikely a response would have been sent before the Lefebvrian General Chapter held at the beginning of July. And even though over three months have gone by since the doctrinal document was handed to the Fraternity, the Holy See seems to be in no rush at all.
Following the meeting on 13 June, the Pope chose a new leader for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” (the Vatican body responsible for dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X): Archbishop Ludwig Müller replaced resigning cardinal William Levada as Prefect, while Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia was appointed Vice-President of the “Ecclesia Dei” Commission. So the figures Fellay will be exchanging views with will not be the same as those he met with three months ago.
The Holy See is well aware of how delicate the situation within the Society of St. Pius X is: it knows about the group that opposes an agreement with Rome, just as it knows about the (not so small) group of priests that does not want to suffer the consequences of the extreme choices of some. There is disquiet in some Lefebvrian districts in Latin America and Bishop Richard Williamson who is awaiting sentence is already on a collision course with Fellay. It is highly unlikely the Vatican will ask the Society of St. Pius X for a response to the preamble before October.
Readers may recall that last June, Fellay received a draft proposal for the canonical normalisation in the relationship of the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See, by making the Fraternity a personal prelature. He received this in addition to the doctrinal preamble prepared by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by the Pope, containing some modifications proposed by the Lefebvrian Superior himself, some of which he did not fully agree with.
Vatican Insider has learnt that Fellay’s much anticipated response should still be interlocutory and contain certain conditions. If these involve requests that are to do with pastoral matters or discipline, the Holy See is willing to take these into consideration. Some conditions were discussed following the July chapter. The first three were considered “absolute” and were to do with the “freedom to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism, and Vatican II and its aftermath.” The second condition involved the “exclusive use of the Liturgy of 1962,” whilst the third requires “the guarantee of at least one bishop.” Other less binding conditions included the possibility of having a separate ecclesiastical court of the first instance and the exemption of the houses of the Society of St. Pius X from the diocesan bishops.
Agreement can be reached on most points and the Holy See is prepared to discuss these and incorporate changes in the draft about the future canonical normalisation of the Society of St. Pius X. What are not subject to discussion are the doctrinal issues outlined in the preamble. Lefebvrians are required to accept the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Therefore, although they will be allowed to celebrate mass using the old Missal (an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite), they will still have to recognise that the ordinary form was introduced as a result of the post-Conciliar reform, whose validity and lawfulness is unquestionable.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Buchanan: Unrest is Obama’s ‘naïve’ Middle East policy ‘collapsing right in front of us’


(The Daily Caller) Add conservative commentator Pat Buchanan to the growing list of critics of President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, as anti-American unrest continues throughout Egypt, Libya and now Yemen.

Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” Buchanan, author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?,” pointed to Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo as the beginning of the administration’s “utterly naïve” foreign policy.

“What’s happening is the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is collapsing right in front of us,” Buchanan said. “He had his famous Cairo speech, and then he got behind the Arab Spring and dumped over some dictators and autocrats and other people, some of whom were friendly to us, others who were not. Thereby, they’ve unleashed these new forces, and not all of them are benign. Some of them are noxious.”
As a result, Buchanan said, many American personnel may have to permanently leave the Middle East and relocate to safer areas.

“There’s Islamic fundamentalism. There’s tribalism. There’s ethno-nationalism. All of these forces are on the move across the Middle East. And President Obama’s position is exposed as utterly naïve. I think what’s going to happen here, quite naturally, is Americans, tourists and others and American diplomats are going to have to be drawn out and drawn down from this region of the world, which is turning hostile.”

At issue is not simply the anti-Muhammad video supposedly made by filmmaker Sam Bacile, but the “detest and hate” many Muslims worldwide feel for all things American, according to Buchanan.

“Here’s what the situation is — there is gasoline all the way from Nigeria to Mali to Ethiopia to Cairo to the Middle East to the Caucuses,” Buchanan said. “Anti-Americanism is parts of it. What they did is they took this crazy little video, they threw a match in it, and people did this thing in Libya, which was pre-planned, pre-prepared terrorist act. … They detest and hate the United States. They hate our culture. They hate our policy. They have historic grievances. And they are as anti-American as they can be.”

“I think, quite frankly, all of this, what is exploding now has been building up for years and years and years,” Buchanan continued. “I think there’s a real incompatibility between American culture and between the culture of the fundamentalist and the Islamic world. … There’s a revolution underway, a great religious awakening taking place among the poor and the working class. The one thing they have is the Islamic faith. They’re very militant about it. And they look at the enemy as the great Satan, and the Americans and the others with their cultural intrusions.”

As for what ground Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should stake out in the crisis, Buchanan said he was unsure. But he did pointedly disagree with those who took issue with Romney’s quick criticism of the president’s muted reaction to the Benghazi incident.

“I don’t know exactly what Romney would do right now,” Buchanan said. “But I do think the idea that they’re attacking Governor Romney because of some statement he made at 10 at night — that’s an irrelevancy. Let me also say this incident, this video, that’s not the reason for this. That’s the excuse for what’s going on there. A lot of this has been planned. A lot of it’s contagious over there. And as I say, you have all this tinder sitting over there. One little spark, and it all went, went through that — that tells you how America, basically, and the West are regarded now in that part of the world.”


Strange Mystery Spheres on Mars Baffle Scientists

( A strange picture of odd, spherical rock formations on Mars from NASA's Opportunity rover has scientists scratching their heads over what exactly they're looking at.

The new Mars photo by Opportunity shows a close-up of a rock outcrop called Kirkwood covered in blister-like bumps that mission scientists can't yet explain. At first blush, the formations appear similar to so-called Martian "blueberries" — iron-rich spherical formations first seen by Opportunity in 2004 — but they actually differ in several key ways, scientist said.

"This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission," said rover mission principal investigator Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in a statement. "Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects. Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars."


Muslims Show Respect for Religion by Attacking Pope

By Page Magazine) If there’s one consistent element in the media’s coverage of the Mohammed riots, it’s that Muslims are sensitive darlings who get very upset when religion is offended. All they really want is for everyone to respect religion… their religion.

Some 1,000 demonstrators marched from Tripoli’s Al-Mansouri Mosque to nearby Nour Square following Friday prayers, shouting slogans against the U.S. and Pope Benedict XVI, who began a three-day visit to Lebanon.

They tore down posters and banners welcoming the pope that had been put in place by Saad Hariri’s Future Movement.

The demonstrators ignored warning shots fired by police, and tried unsuccessfully to make their way to the Tripoli Serail, which is close to Nour Square, hurling stones at policemen blocking their path. Some demonstrators also beat policemen with wooden and steel sticks.

Finding themselves unable to storm the Serail, the protesters headed some 500 meters down the road to a KFC/Hardee’s outlet, setting the establishment on fire. They also set four delivery mopeds ablaze.

The Pope has a rather important role in Catholicism, but that’s okay because the only religious figure that Muslims expect everyone to respect is Mohammed.

If Christians pulled down posters with Koranic verses on them, there would be more riots and murders. But because they didn’t have access to the Pope, they fell back on the usual Muslim protest outlet, burning a fried chicken franchise. KFC Akbar.

Is it something that the Pope did or said? Not in the least.

 Druze Sheikh Naim Hasan shakes hands with the pope
“I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace,” the pope said upon his arrival in Beirut. “As a friend of God and as a friend of men.”
Earlier, speaking to reporters aboard his plane, the pope called for an end to weapons imports to Syria and called them a sin. Syria’s rebels have appealed for weapons shipments to help them fight the regime. He also praised the Arab Spring uprisings, which have ousted four long-time dictators.
The attacks on the Pope are plain and simple Islamic intolerance of all religion, but their own. That is what is behind these protesters and this intolerance should be directly addressed.

Naturally Muslim religious intolerance was not limited to Christianity. On the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, Muslims engaged in their usual antics on the site that they had occupied and transformed into the Al Aqsa Mosque, cursing, screaming and throwing stones.
Jerusalem police clashed with hundreds of Muslim youth Friday after they left prayers atop the Temple Mount in the direction of the Damascus Gate. Police said the rioters were on their way to the US consulate, In a rare move, the US State Department on Thursday issued a travel warning for Jerusalem, urging American citizens to “defer nonessential travel and exercise caution.”
Muslim demands that people respect their religion might have some credibility if they showed equal respect for the religions of others.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Late For Work Excuse of the Day

From The Daily What:

 Late-For-Work Excuse of the Day: According to Redditor mard86:
My co-worker sent an email saying he would be late because he was trying to untie a squirrel tail knot. I asked for a picture, and he delivered.
Here’s the email from said coworker:
I was pressed into squirrel rescue this morning on my way out. 5 young squirrels got tangled in Christmas lights in my neighbor’s yard. We got the lights off, but now their tails are one big knot, so I have to bring them into a rescue place to untie them, as I am unequipped to untie squirrel tail knots. I should be in this afternoon.

Thompson Valley High School student's rosary beads taken away

Manuel Vigil has had two sets confiscated in three weeks by the school, which says they're gang-related

By Jessica Maher

(Loveland Reporter-Herald) In an attempt to keep gang activity out of the school, Thompson Valley High School officials say they take any number of measures, including barring rosary beads when their use is deemed inappropriate.

And in the three weeks since school has been in session, Thompson Valley High junior Manuel Vigil has had two sets of rosary beads he wore around his neck confiscated.

Vigil, who is Catholic, has worn the rosary beads around his neck all summer. His mother, Antoinette Ramirez, said they've become especially important in helping him deal with the recent murder of an uncle in California.

"Having the rosary taken away was kind of like a huge hit for him," she said. "He wears it as a form of protection for himself."

But officials say that rosary beads themselves are not prohibited.

"It wasn't consistent with what would normally be a rosary, and because of that we felt like it could be gang-related," principal Mark Johnson said. "There was no punishment; we just removed it."

According to the Thompson School District dress code, unacceptable items include any clothing, grooming, jewelry, accessories or body adornments that "by virtue of color, arrangement, trademark, or other attribute denote membership in gangs which advocate drug use, violence, or disruptive behavior."

The school enforces its policy based on information from the Loveland Police Department.

"We meet with the gang unit on a regular basis, and they do tell us what to look for," Johnson said. "We want to make sure we keep on top of what is the latest gang stuff."

The latest in gang trends, and what the school may choose to ban, varies from year to year. At Thompson Valley High, bandanas and clothing with gang names or symbols are never allowed. At times, certain colors are prohibited if it appears a student is wearing a color to signal gang affiliation.

"It depends on what's going on in the world," Johnson said. "You have to pay attention to colors and what they're doing."

In Greeley-Evans School District 6, some numbers are banned based on street number gangs, which caused a recent firestorm when a third-grader had a Denver Broncos No. 18 Peyton Manning jersey barred.
Across the country, rosary beads around the neck have been barred in schools because some gangs, including the Sureños and the Latin Kings, wear them that way. If a student wears a rosary around his neck at Thompson Valley High, Johnson said it's the school's policy to ask the student why he's wearing it.

It's often a case-by-case situation, said Johnson, who said Vigil's response was simply that he had the right to wear the rosary beads.

"If we determine that something is gang-related, then we have the right to say they can't wear it, so some of that is subjective," he said.
While the purpose of the rosary is to aid in prayer and not as a means of fashion, the Rev. Sam Morehead of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Loveland said the church allows wearing rosary beads as a necklace. Particularly in Hispanic culture, Morehead said wearing a rosary around the neck has become an important part of Catholic identity in the past 20 or 30 years.

"It's actually quite distressing for me personally to hear that something that represents one's Catholic faith is being seemingly persecuted in the school setting when it is certainly not a symbol of gang membership," he said.

According to Loveland Police Sgt. David Murphy, who leads the school resource officers in the Thompson School District, Vigil's rosary had a red-flagging 13 beads in a row instead of a traditional rosary with 10 beads. The number 13 is sometimes associated with the Sureños gang, Murphy said.

According to Ramirez, her son purchased the rosaries at teen retailer rue21 and had not noticed the number of beads.

"For him, he feels safe when he has it on," she said.

While a rosary with 13 beads in a row might be considered suspicious, Morehead said he would be hesitant to rush to any conclusions.

"For all the lack of knowledge that there is and perhaps any naivete, there is still a lot of good will for people who want to have this symbol of faith," he said.

Jessica Maher can be reached at 669-5050 ext. 516 or Follow her on Twitter: @JessicaMaherRH.


We're Seeing The Collapse Of The Obama Policy On The Muslim World

(Real Clear Politics) "What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world," Charles Krauthammer said on the panel segment of FOX News' "Special Report" tonight. "The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made in the beginning of his presidency in which he said, you wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying under the other presidents, particularly Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect. Which was an insult to the United States, which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of oppressed Muslims, in Kuwait, in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere."

"So to imply that we somehow had mistreated Muslims which was the premise of his speech and how the Iraq War had inflamed the Arab world against us. Well there was no storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo in those days," the FOX News contributor and syndicated columnist said.

"What we're seeing now is al-Qaedaistan developing in Libya, meltdown of our relations with Egypt, you have riots in Yemen, attacks on our embassy in Tunisia. This entire premise that we want to be loved and respected, we'll apologize, has now yielded all of these results and these are the fruits of apology and retreat and lack of confidence in our own principles," Krauthammer concluded.


Libya Rescue Squad Ambushed; Two Americans Killed

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A squad of U.S. troops despatched by helicopter across the Libyan desert to rescue besieged diplomats from Benghazi on Wednesday ran into a fierce overnight ambush that left a further two Americans dead, Libyan officials told Reuters.

Accounts of the mayhem at the U.S. consulate, where the ambassador and a fourth American died after a chaotic protest over a film insulting to Islam, remain patchy. But two Libyan officials, including the commander of a security force which escorted the U.S. rescuers, said a later assault on a supposedly safe refuge for the diplomats appeared professionally executed.

Miscommunication which understated the number of American survivors awaiting rescue - there were 37, nearly four times as many as the Libyan commander expected - also meant survivors and rescuers found themselves short of transport to escape this second battle, delaying an eventual dawn break for the airport...


Thursday, September 13, 2012

First non-Catholic business sues HHS over contraceptive mandate

AP Images


(The Washington Free Beacon) An arts and crafts business with more than 500 stores across the country launched a lawsuit against the U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) implementation of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate Wednesday, the Becket Fund announced.

Hobby Lobby is the first non-Catholic business to file a lawsuit objecting to the mandated coverage of certain contraceptive drugs that it considers abortion inducing.

Hobby Lobby “should never be put in a position of choosing their faith over their business,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund, said this morning in a conference call with the press.

“We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate,” said David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby will have to comply with the mandate or face fines totaling over a million dollars.

Green emphasized to reporters that his family’s Christian faith is important to his business.

Duncan pointed out that the business closes on Sunday and provides spiritual counsel to its employees.

The government under Obamacare requires employers to provide their employees health insurance that covers contraceptive drugs, including morning-after and week-after pills that some consider abortion inducing.

Hobby Lobby is not the first non-Catholic institution to file suit over the mandate. Wheaton College, an evangelical college in Illinois, sued in July. The federal court subsequently dismissed Wheaton’s suit because the Justice Department expanded the “safe harbor” accommodation that gives nonprofit institutions longer to comply with the regulation. That rendered the suit premature.

Hobby Lobby, however, is the first non-Catholic business to file suit against the mandate. Duncan pointed out that the only other business to file suit received an injunction.

Duncan said that the Justice Department has not issued any comparable accommodation for for-profit businesses. What’s more, Hobby Lobby is self-insured, so the so-called “accommodation” for nonprofits that requires the insurers to cover the objectionable drugs would not provide relief to the business.

The Becket Fund, which represents Hobby Lobby, describes itself as “a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths.”


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Russians Say Anti-U.S. Attack in Libya Vindicates Their Position


(The New York Times) MOSCOW — Upon learning of the violent death of the United States ambassador to Libya on Wednesday, many Russians responded with variations on “I told you so.”

Russia has long argued that the West should not support popular uprisings against dictatorships in the Middle East lest Islamic fundamentalism take hold. Vladimir V. Putin, then serving as prime minister, was especially enraged last fall after an angry crowd killed his ally, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, an event he later condemned as a “repulsive, disgusting” scene. 

Since then, Russia has blocked Western initiatives to force Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, from power despite a bloody crackdown on the opposition. Russians’ responses to the storming of the American Consulate in Benghazi underlined the deep policy divide. A prime-time news report pointedly juxtaposed images of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s death with Colonel Qaddafi’s, pointing at their similarities, then cut to footage of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacting to the Libyan leader’s death with a cursory “wow.” 

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Margelov said that passions had been stoked by the uprisings and that they “splash out in the form of terrorist acts or massacres of nonbelievers or an attack on embassies and consulates.” 

“The frequency of these outbursts, unfortunately, has been growing since the ‘Arab Spring’ brought to power political groups of Islamic orientation, either open or indirect,” Mr. Margelov said, in comments to the Interfax news agency. A telegram from Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov to Mrs. Clinton condemned the attack as a crime, and said “it confirms once again the necessity of combining the forces of our countries and the whole international community to fight with the evil of terrorism.” 

But many commentators were far less diplomatic, especially on social media. The first commentaries on Twitter were bitingly sarcastic — “The democratized residents of Libya thanked the staff of the American Embassy for its support,” one read. Another read, “This is what you call exporting democracy, it seems. America gives Libya a revolution, and Libyans, in return, kill the ambassador.” Aleksei K. Pushkov, the head of Russia’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote via Twitter: “Under Qaddafi they didn’t kill diplomats. Obama and Clinton are in shock? What did they expect – ‘Democracy?’ Even bigger surprises await them in Syria.” 

Yevgeny Y. Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East in Moscow, said American leaders should not expect “one word of sympathy” from their Russian counterparts. 

“It is a tragedy to the family of the poor ambassador, but his blood is on the hands of Hillary Clinton personally and Barack Obama personally,” Mr. Satanovsky said. He said Russian warnings against intervention in the Middle East came from the bitter experience of the Soviets in Afghanistan. 

“You are the Soviet Union now, guys, and you pay the price,” he said. “You are trying to distribute democracy the way we tried to distribute socialism. You do it the Western way. They hate both.” He said dictators were preferable to the constellation of armed forces that emerges when they are unseated.
“They lynched Qaddafi — do you really think they will be thankful to you?” he said. “They use stupid white people from a big rich and stupid country which they really hate.” 

Russia’s case against American involvement in the Middle East dates from the post-Sept. 11 campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it has been at the forefront of Russian discourse for at least a year, since Mr. Putin broke out of his role as prime minister and delivered a passionate criticism of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya, leaving the clear impression that he — unlike his predecessor — would have used Russia’s power in the United Nations to stop it. 

Mr. Putin has dug his heels in on the issue of Syria, frustrating Western hopes that he could persuade Mr. Assad to leave his post voluntarily. Fyodor Lukyanov, a respected analyst and editor of Russia in Global Affairs, said violence like Tuesday’s had been at the heart of Russia’s warnings. He said Russia had formulated a “post-Communist position: If you try to impose anything on others, as the Soviet Union tried to do, the result will be the opposite, and disastrous.” 

“This killing is just strengthening the views which are already quite widespread — that the Western approach to the Arab Spring is basically wrong,” Mr. Lukyanov said.


Father Benedict Groeschel at EWTN: Time for a Moment of Truth

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

In the media crucible reserved for high profile priests, Father Benedict Groeschel was next in line to be smeared. There’s more to this story, and here it is.

I have known Father Benedict Groeschel for forty years. I began religious life as a Capuchin in the New York Province when Father Groeschel served on the Provincial and formation staffs. He was a mentor and a friend when I was a young man of 22 trying to discern competing calls to the priesthood and religious life. Having completed a novitiate year, I was a young friar bound by simple profession, but left the Capuchins after four years – under very good terms – to commence theological studies in preparation for diocesan priesthood in 1978. Over the ensuing years and decades, Father Benedict Groeschel and I remained in occasional contact.

About 25 years ago, Father Groeschel and seven other priests broke ranks from the Capuchin order to found the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a movement that reflected his deeply felt longing to live a life that was outwardly faithful to the spirit of poverty and charism of Saint Francis of Assisi. In the quarter century since, Father Groeschel has gifted the Church with a valiant priestly life marked by self-sacrifice and true Gospel witness. His legacy to the Church as a priest, a friar, an author and lecturer, a psychologist and revered spiritual adviser, is a monument to all that is good and holy in our Church.

Now he has resigned under a cloud from his participation as a host at EWTN. Perhaps it is simply time that he did. Perhaps, at nearly age 80 and having survived a crippling and devastating accident several years ago, age and infirmity have caught up with this good priest. We should not refute his decision to step down, but we who are loyal to any semblance of truth and witness to the Gospel must not allow to stand the cloud of doubt under which he now removes himself from EWTN’s  important television ministry. To paraphrase Sheriff Buford Fusser in my post, “Walking Tall: The Justice Behind the Eighth Commandment,” if we let America’s self-serving, self-righteous, and spiritually bankrupt news media have the last word on Father Benedict Groeschel, “then we give ‘em the eternal right to do the same damn thing to anyone of us!”

I don’t need to reframe and speculate upon the single, out-of-context phrase of Father Groeschel’s that has so roiled the news media and its pundits against him. In my view, his inability to predict the uproar his comment brought about may be evidence enough that his judgment has been compromised by age and infirmity. This entire story should have ended with little more said than that.

There is an irony to all this, however. The truth is that Father Groeschel has long been known among treatment professionals to take a hard line in regard to credible accusations against Catholic priests. He has long been known to advocate for the removal from all public ministry when priests are credibly accused. He has not advocated for forced laicization, a process that simply discards an accused priest, but he has for decades taken a position that no priest known by the Church to have been an abuser can EVER minister in a parish again. The truth is that if Father Benedict Groeschel had been listened to more closely over the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the scandal of 2002 might have looked very different.

Father Groeschel strongly advocated for strict supervision and strictly enforced internal administrative assignments in all cases in which abuse by a priest was determined to be true. His public and private positions have always been the same, and were the polar opposite of what some in the news media now attribute to him.

A few years after the tidal wave of scandal swept over the Church and priesthood, Father Benedict Groeschel wrote to me in prison. It was shortly after I wrote an article for Catalyst entitled “Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud” (November, 2005). It was the same article for which Avery Cardinal Dulles asked me to consider writing more frequently as documented in our “About” page. This is a paragraph from Father Groeschel’s 2005 letter:
“For the good of the Church and the priesthood, Father Gordon, I join the voices of others who urge you to stand always by the truth and to proclaim it boldly. Truth is always what will be in the best interest of the Church and priesthood. At the same time, I also want to caution you that not every case involving a priest is like the case against you. Some priests have used their office to commit grave offenses. Some have harmed vulnerable people and have harmed the priesthood and the Church. At the same time, like you, I also stand by efforts to assure a full hearing and due process for all priests who have been accused. False accusations must be immensely painful. I pray for you as you continue to pursue your innocence and expose the whole truth. The Church must face with courage both realities: the falsely accused and the plight of truthful victims of sexual abuse...”  (continued)
Read More at These Stone Walls


Exorcism boom in Poland sees magazine launch

(Radio Netherlands Worldwide) With exorcism booming in Poland, Roman Catholic priests have joined forces with a publisher to launch what they claim is the world's first monthly magazine focused exclusively on chasing out the devil.

"The rise in the number or exorcists from four to more than 120 over the course of 15 years in Poland is telling," Father Aleksander Posacki, a professor of philosophy, theology and leading demonologist and exorcist told reporters in Warsaw at the Monday launch of the Egzorcysta monthly.

Ironically, he attributed the rise in demonic possessions in what remains one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic nations partly to the switch from atheist communism to free market capitalism in 1989.

"It's indirectly due to changes in the system: capitalism creates more opportunities to do business in the area of occultism. Fortune telling has even been categorised as employment for taxation," Posacki told AFP.

"If people can make money out of it, naturally it grows and its spiritual harm grows too," he said, hastening to add authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge.

Posacki, who also serves on an international panel of expert Roman Catholic exorcists, highlighted what he termed the "helplessness of various schools of psychology and psychiatry" when confronted with extreme behaviours that conventional therapies fail to cure.

"Possession comes as a result of committing evil. Stealing, killing and other sins," he told reporters, adding that evil spirits are chased out using a guide of ritual prayers approved by Polish-born pope John Paul II in 1999.

"Our hands are full," admitted fellow exorcist and Polish Roman Catholic priest Father Andrzej Grefkowicz, revealing exorcists have a three month waiting list in the capital Warsaw.

Priests performing exorcism also work with psychiatrists in order to avoid mistaking mental illness for possession, he said.

"I've invited psychiatrists to meetings when I've had doubts about a case and often we've both concluded the issue is mental illness, hysteria, not possession," he said.

According to both exorcists, depictions of demonic possession in horror films are largely accurate.

"It manifests itself in the form of screams, shouting, anger, rage -- threats are common," Posacki said.

"Manifestation in the form or levitation is less common, but does occur and we must speak about it -- I've seen it with my own eyes," he added.

With its 62-page first issue including articles titled "New Age -- the spiritual vacuum cleaner" and "Satan is real", the Egzorcysta monthly with a print-run of 15,000 by the Polwen publishers is selling for 10 zloty (2.34 euros, 3.10 dollars) per copy.