Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's official: Pope has not abolished sin, says Vatican

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had "abolished sin", after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled "Francis' Revolution: He has abolished sin".

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God's mercy and forgiveness were "eternal".

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that "this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin" was wrong.

"Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners," Lombardi said.

It was not the first brush between the Vatican and Scalfari, who founded La Repubblica newspaper in 1976.

Last month the Vatican removed from its website the text of Scalfari's transcript of his conversation with the pope, saying parts of it were not reliable.

Scalfari said he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Traditional Catholics Care That Sexual Sins Offend God And Hurt Us

By Father Peter Carota

220px-Augustine_of_Hippo(Traditional Catholic Priest) Jesus never said; “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, but; “For I have not come to call the just, but sinners”.  Jesus came to call us sinners to repent.  He does not accept sinners so that they can continue to sin.  Sin is a terrible offense against God and offends Him greatly.

“He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2: 4.

It was St. Augustine who said; “For this reason, the man who lives by God’s standards and not by man’s, must needs be a lover of good, and it follows that he must hate what is evil.  Further, since no one is evil by nature, but anyone who is evil is evil because of a perversion of nature, the man who lives by God’s standards has a duty of perfect hatred towards those who are evil; that is to say, he should not hate the person because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the person.  He should hate the fault, but love the man.  And when the fault has been cured there will remain only what he ought to love, nothing that he should hate.”


The whole idea of accepting homosexual lust and the adultery of remarried couples living together goes against calling sinners to repentance.  It is pleasing man and offending God.

Anthony Dedicates his Life to God at Mass_MASTER of the Osservanza 

As a priest who councils hundreds of people, I see the horrible consequences of every sin.  An example is what I heard last week.

A 15 year old boy came to me because he was depressed and had no one to talk to.  He was depressed because his 15 year old girlfriend was going to be put in a foster home.  It all began with sin.

She has been living with her uncle and aunt.  Her aunt, behind the back of her uncle, had allowed her to sneak out to be with this young man.  When the uncle found out about the dishonesty, he started the divorce against the aunt. So the girlfriend has to move to a foster home.

She ended up living with her uncle and aunt because her mother had committed adultery and when her dad found out he committed suicide.  Her mother then hooked up with another man who ended up continuously rape his girlfriend.  He is in prison and her mother is in jail.  So she has no place to live other than a foster home because of sin.

How often you and I have to hear, in the Church and outside the Church, that we have to accept sinners life styles.  How often do we have to hear, as long as it is two consenting adults, sin does not hurt anyone (heterosexual or homosexual).

This 15 year old girl will have another opinion.  If her mother had not had the consensual adulterous affair, her father would not have committed suicide.  If her mother had not had a consensual affair with the next man, the girl would never have been raped over and over.

Holy Family_with Trinity_WIT, Jacob de 

By my estimation, step fathers in second marriages, have a very high rate of sexual abuse of their stepdaughters.  I hear of it over and over.

There is another family in this parish where the first father was put in prison for drugs and robbery.  The next man, the mother moved in with, sexually molested her daughter whom I am trying to help get over it.  That man is also in prison for this sin.  The rate is so so much lower where a biological father sexually molests his daughter.

Fathers and mothers married in the Church are whom make a safe home for their children.

So when it comes to accepting homosexual sex and remarried couples, the Church leaders are forgetting that it offends God greatly and that these sins hurt the individual, those around them and society as a whole.

It is, again, the case of misdirected compassion.  We traditional Catholics love the homosexual, the remarried person, but we hate the sin and the consequences it has caused in the lives of those involved.

Where is the compassion for the men and women and children who have been hurt by the divorce?  Where is the compassion for the girls who have been sexually abused by their step fathers?

There is another young woman in our confirmation classes.  She is for homosexual relations because her sister is in one.  But when I talked to her mother, she told me that her daughter is always being beaten up and her cell phone taken away because of the  jealousy of her female lover.  Where is the compassion for all those who are abused in these unnatural relationships?

Madonna and Child_Holy Card How many homosexuals would still be alive if they had never had homosexual sex that gave them AIDS.  Yes we love those who have same sex attraction.  For that reason we want them to stay alive and be healthy.  We do not want them dying or suffering from AIDS.

When will the pope, bishops, priests, religious and lay Catholics understand that compassion is teaching people that sin offends God and hurts them and all of society.

We traditional Catholics love sinners.  We are also repented sinners ourselves.  But we also love God above all things and believe with all our hearts that His laws of love are for our good.  When they are loved and obey, there is peace and blessings.  When they are despised and broken, there is interior turmoil and curses.

We are so fortunate to be traditional Catholics and know God’s laws of Love.  We are also so fortunate to have access to His graces through the Holy Sacraments of Our Catholic Church.


Friday, December 27, 2013

A&E Welcomes Phil Robertson Back to 'Duck Dynasty'

(The Hollywood Reporter) Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E's Duck Dynasty clan who was suspended from his hit reality series on Dec. 18 following some incendiary comments about gay people, won't be put on hiatus after all.

The network and the Robertson family announced Friday that Phil will still be part of the series -- and since he didn't miss any filming, his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season....  (continued)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Francis meets Benedict XVI on first Christmas as pope

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis visited his predecessor Benedict XVI on Monday for an informal Christmas greeting, as the Argentine pontiff prepares to celebrate his first Christmas as leader of the world's Roman Catholics.

Francis met with the 86-year-old Benedict in a former monastery building on a hill inside the Vatican City walls where the pope emeritus has taken up residence following his historic resignation earlier this year.

The two men could be seen praying side by side in a chapel inside the residence and chatting amicably on white sofas with a Christmas garland in front of them in photographs released by the Vatican press service.

Both were dressed in the white cassocks used by popes.

Francis came to "give his best wishes for the Christmas celebrations", the Vatican said in a statement.
The 77-year-old pope earlier on Monday compared the Catholic Church to an expectant mother during a homily at one of his daily masses in the residence where he has been staying since his election by fellow cardinals in March.

"Like the Virgin Mary, the Church this week is expecting a birth," Francis said.

"Is there space for the Lord or is there space only for parties, shopping and making noise?" he asked.
The Christmas festivities begin with the unveiling on St Peter's Square of a traditional Nativity scene named in honour of Latin America's first ever pontiff at 1530 GMT.

Francis is expected to watch the ceremony from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square and light a candle for peace.

Then from 2030 GMT the Argentine will celebrate the solemn Christmas Vigil mass in St Peter's Basilica.

On Wednesday, Francis delivers the "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the City and the World") blessing at 1130 GMT on St Peter's Square -- where he first appeared after his momentous election by fellow cardinals on March 13.

Popes often use their "Urbi et Orbi" blessings to announce specific prayers, for instance, for the victims of conflicts or for global economic justice.


Robertson to be Reinstated? Fearing boycott, Cracker Barrel Reverses Decision.

By Will Payne In West Monroe, Louisiana

(MailOnline) The Duck Dynasty patriarch led a small Bible study group in his home town church in West Monroe, Louisiana on Sunday, granting MailOnline exclusive access.

And the deeply religious outdoorsman stood by his incendiary statements – which saw him call homosexuality a sin and led to his suspension from the hit reality show by network bosses at A&E.

During Sunday’s speech, he defended himself, saying he was simply quoting from the Bible and even went so far as to say Jesus could save gay people.

‘I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater,’ he added.

The 67-year-old has been slammed by gay rights groups since his interview in January’s issue of GQ magazine was made public last week.

He was quoted as saying: 'It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man’s anus.

'That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.'

But despite the criticism Robertson has faced, his family and local community have come to his defense and stood firmly behind him.

Just before Sunday’s Bible study class started, one church-goer actually thanked Robertson for his comments...

Yesterday Entertainment Weekly claimed that despite his suspension, Robertson will be back on the hugely popular show – which regularly pulls in 12 million viewers – when filming recommences in January.

They quoted a source saying: ‘The network also hopes the media and fan furor will cool down over the holidays and that tensions over shooting future episodes can then be resolved. There’s no negotiation to have; we’re doing the show.’

That will come as welcome news to the people of West Monroe and much of the country, who have leaped to Robertson’s defense and said he has the right to speak his mind...

Yesterday it was revealed one company, Cracker Barrel had dropped the Louisiana family. But after threats of a boycott they almost immediately reversed their decision, releasing a statement, saying:

‘You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you...’


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty: A & E are Discriminating Against Them for Their Deeply Seated 'Christian Beliefs'

By Will Payne

(MailOnline) Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and his family believe they have been ‘hung out to dry’ by TV network A&E after he was suspended for homophobic comments made in a magazine interview, MailOnline can reveal.

Sources within the close-knit Louisiana clan say they are convinced A&E are manipulating the controversial situation to bring them – and particularly Robertson – back into line after Television executives grew tired of the family pushing their deeply-held, Christian beliefs.

They also think the network could have done something to stop the controversial GQ article being made public, because an A&E representative was present during the interview with patriarch, Roberston, 67.

A source close to the family, who asked not to be named, told MailOnline: ‘You have to ask yourself, why this interview happened and why it ever became public. Someone from A&E was there and was aware of the kind of answers Phil was giving.

‘But despite that, they didn’t ever try to stop it or control it. Instead, they let it hit the headlines and then released a statement condemning it.

‘It is our belief that they knew what was going to happen and then used the situation to exercise control over Phil.

‘It is our understanding that when the TV executives came up with the concept for the show they wanted it to be a case of people laughing at a bunch of backward rednecks.

‘But when it didn’t turn out like that and people actually started identifying with the way the family behaved and were laughing with them, not at them, they became uncomfortable. It did not sit will with the New York TV types.

Family values: The Robertson family feels as though they are being discriminated against for their deeply rooted Christian beliefs

‘We believe they were also uncomfortable with the family’s insistence that there would be a strong religious presence in the show. They knew Phil was the driving force behind this and we think they have used this situation to bring him in line so they could steer the show back down the path they originally intended for it.

‘But they may have underestimated how united the family are and how committed they are to their beliefs. They also didn’t realize how much support Phil would get from the public, so things have backfired on them.’

The controversy began after outrageous extracts from Robertson’s interview for the January edition of GQ were made public. The outdoorsman was quoted as saying: 'It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus.

'That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.' When asked what he thought was sinful, Robertson replied: ‘Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.’

The Duck Dynasty trailer sits outside of the Duck Commander Store in West Monroe on Friday

A&E suspended him on Wednesday and released a statement, saying: ‘We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series 'Duck Dynasty'.

‘His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.’

But on Thursday the family issued their own response which suggested they would be prepared to walk away from the highly lucrative reality show, which regularly pulls in more than 12 million viewers.

They said: ‘While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.

A sign supporting A & E Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson sits at the corner of Vernon Drive and Washington Street in West Monroe

‘We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.’

The family source added to this, telling MailOnline: ‘We believe in the word of the Bible exactly as it is written and we will call a sin a sin and a sinner a sinner. But we are all sinners, every one of us and we believe in redemption and that opening yourself up to Jesus Christ will save you. ‘That is what Phil believes and that will not change. We are sorry if that has offended anyone, because that was never our intention. We believe in love and truth and that is it.’ Multi-millionaire Robertson’s incendiary comments have been slammed by many, including gay-rights groups.

GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz was first to condemn him, saying: ‘Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. ‘He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.’

But Cruz’s views certainly aren’t reflected in the family’s home town of West Monroe. The Robertson’s are absolutely loved and revered in the deeply religious north-western Louisiana city. The family were already wealthy before their reality show, making their money from the Duck Commander business which sells hunting equipment. Phil Robertson lives in a huge gated compound on the edge of town and his son Willie owns a gigantic lakeside property.

They have employed dozens of locals for years and now their empire has grown, they provide even more jobs to the town’s people. That has cemented their popularity and since the homophobia scandal broke, a number of make-shift signs have been constructed offering backing to Robertson. On Friday cars honked their horns in support as they drove passed one erected on the edge of town.

The Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ where the Robertson Family worship

Their presence in West Monroe is inescapable, with billboards and posters celebrating them everywhere. Last weekend, around 30,000 people packed the downtown area for the ‘Duck Commander Christmas Parade’. People travelled from all over the country to celebrate the festive season with the family, filling every hotel room in town.

Phil’s son Willie owns a massive downtown restaurant, which is always packed and there is a huge gift store just down the road, constantly filled with fans, eager to get their hands on Duck Commander merchandise.

The controversy that has engulfed the family this week has done nothing to put a dent in business, if anything it has given it a boost.

The Madrid family drove two hours from Alexandria to show their solidarity and snap up some trademark duck calls for an upcoming hunting trip. Mother-of-two Kimberly said: ‘We are Christians and we completely support Phil.

Images of ducks tatter street lamps in downtown Monroe in support of Robertson

‘This country has a proud history of freedom of speech and I believe Phil is the one who is being persecuted, because he has lost his jobs because of his religious beliefs.

‘The spokesman for GLADD said Phil wasn’t representing the people of Louisiana, but I don’t know one person who is not behind him. We will not be watching A&E again.’

Another customer, Bernard Wolleson said: ‘I think you would have to get out of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama to find anyone who does not support Phil.

‘I am supportive of religious freedom, regardless of the faith and that is what is at issue. They knew he was outspoken when they hired him. What he said may have sounded crude, but I believe his intent was right.’

Just days after the scandal broke, rather than hide away; Phil Robertson went to his local church, White’s Ferry Road church to take part in a prayer meeting.

He is actually a very prominent elder there and his parishioners are completely behind him. On Friday Church secretary Luanne Watts told MailOnline they had been bombarded with calls and emails from American’s showing their support.

She said: ‘What has happened is a blessing. Phil believes in the word of God and he will not shift from that.

‘We have had hundreds of messages from people all over the country and I think out of all of them only one email has been negative.

Kimberly Madrid of Alexandria, La. discusses her support of Duck Dynasty Star Phil Robertson while shopping at the Duck Commander Store with sons Nathaniel, 12, and Matthew, 9

‘I went to school with his boys, so I have known him for years. He is a great man and his faith is the most important thing in his life. He is here every Wednesday and Sunday, to give sermons, or take prayer groups. He will be here this Sunday as well.

‘We are all completely behind him. You will struggle to find anyone in town who does not support him.’ And that view seems to be held by many Americans. On Thursday MailOnline revealed Walmart had sold out of their money-spinning Duck Dynasty range.

The Robertson family has a merchandise empire that is estimated by Forbes to be worth about $400million - and their deal with Walmart makes up around half of this.

The chain sells a huge array of Duck Dynasty merchandise- from T-shirts to camo bedding, posters, watches, toy trucks, camo chairs, clothing, jewellery and even bottle openers.

Walmart announced at their annual shareholders meeting that the best-selling item of apparel for both men and women this year was the reality show's T-shirt, according to Forbes.

Forbes writer Claire O'Connor said: 'When I was down in Arkansas for this Walmart meeting, you really do marvel at the amount of people who are wearing these Duck Dynasty T-shirts and hats.

'There are kid’s pajamas, there is camo bedding and you probably won't be surprised to hear that they sell Duck Dynasty prayer devotionals.'

Aside from their continued commercial success, an online petition called #IstandwithPhil demanding Robertson’s reinstatement has already attracted almost 140,000 signatures.

UPDATERobertson to be Reinstated? Fearing boycott, Cracker Barrel Reverses Decision.


Cardinal Burke Out; Cardinal Wuerl In


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis Named Time's Person of the Year

With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience. Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why Francis is TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2013


(Time) Once there was a boy so meek and modest, he was awarded a Most Humble badge. The next day, It was taken away because he wore it. Here endeth the lesson.

How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.

At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

The skeptics will point to the obstacles Francis faces in accomplishing much of anything beyond making casual believers feel better about the softer tone coming out of Rome while feeling free to ignore the harder substance. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest, largest and richest institutions on earth, with a following 1.2 billion strong, and change does not come naturally. At its best it inspires and instructs, helps and heals and calls the faithful to heed their better angels. But it has been weakened worldwide by scandal, corruption, a shortage of priests and a challenge, especially across the fertile mission fields of the southern hemisphere, from evangelical and Pentecostal rivals. In some quarters, core teachings on divorce and contraception are widely ignored and orthodoxy derided as obsolete. Vatican bureaucrats and clergy stand accused of infighting, graft, blackmail and an obsession with “small-minded rules,” as Francis puts it, rather than the vast possibilities of grace. Don’t just preach; listen, he says. Don’t scold; heal.

And yet in less than a year, he has done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music. Tone and temperament matter in a church built on the substance of symbols—bread and wine, body and blood—so it is a mistake to dismiss any Pope’s symbolic choices­ as gestures empty of the force of law. He released his first exhortation, an attack on “the idolatry of money,” just as Americans were contemplating the day set aside for gratitude and whether to spend it at the mall. This is a man with a sense of timing. He lives not in the papal palace surrounded by courtiers but in a spare hostel surrounded by priests. He prays all the time, even while waiting for the dentist. He has retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a scuffed-up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded cross, just an iron one around his neck. When he rejects the pomp and the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and ­transparency. He is ­embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could inflict more wounds than it heals. Asked why he seems uninterested in waging a culture war, he refers to the battlefield. The church is a field hospital, he says. Our first duty is to tend to the wounded. You don’t ask a bleeding man about his cholesterol level.

This focus on compassion, along with a general aura of merriment not always associated with princes of the church, has made Francis something of a rock star. More than 3 million people turned out to see him on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last summer, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square are ecstatic, and the souvenirs are selling fast. Francesco is the most popular male baby name in Italy. Churches report a “Francis effect” of lapsed Catholics returning to Mass and confession, though anecdotes are no substitute for hard evidence, and surveys of U.S. Catholics, at least, see little change in practice thus far. But the fascination with Francis even outside his flock gives him an opportunity that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, never had—to magnify the message of the church and its power to do great good.

The giddy embrace of the secular press makes Francis suspect among traditionalists who fear he buys popularity at the price of a watered-down faith. He has deftly leveraged the media’s fascination to draw attention to everything from his prayers for peace in Syria to his pointed attack on trickle-down economics, which inspired Jesse Jackson to compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rush Limbaugh to wonder whether he’s a Marxist. When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak. Why has he not said more about the priest sex-abuse scandal? ask victims’ advocates. (Just this month, he set up a commission to address the abuse of children by priests.) Why does he not talk more about the sanctity of life? ask conservatives, who note that in his exhortation, abortion is mentioned once, mercy 32 times. Francis both affirms traditional teachings on sexuality and warns that the church has become distracted by them. He attacks priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” He declares that God “has redeemed all of us … not just Catholics. Everyone, even atheists.” He posed with environmental activists holding an antifracking T-shirt and called on politicians and business leaders to be “protectors of creation.”

None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage. But his focus on the poor and the fact that the world’s poorest 50% control barely 1% of its wealth unsettles those who defend capitalism as the most successful antipoverty program in history. You could argue that he is Teddy Roosevelt protecting capitalism from its own excesses or he is simply saying what Popes before him have said, that Jesus calls us to care for the least among us—only he’s saying it in a way that people seem to be hearing differently. And that may be especially important coming from the first Pope from the New World. A century ago, two-thirds of Catholics lived in Europe; now fewer than a quarter do, and how he is heard in countries where being gay is a crime and educating women for leadership roles is a heresy may have the power to transform cultures in which Catholicism is a growing, even potentially liberating force.

These days it is bracing to hear a leader say anything that annoys anyone. Now liberals and conservatives alike face a choice as they listen to a new voice of conscience: Which matters more, that this charismatic leader is saying things they think need to be said or that he is also saying things they’d rather not hear?

The heart is a strong muscle; he’s proposing a rigorous exercise plan. And in a very short time, a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him. For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Priests Attacked in Scotland

From Fr. Z:
From the Scottish Catholic Observer:
Priests under attack
By Ian Dunn and Martin Dunlop
An arson blaze and robberies show that Scotland’s priests are, once again, being targeted by opportunistic criminals. [Again?!?]
Priests in Scotland are increasingly living in fear after several crimes against clergy came to light this week.
A vindictive arson attack on Holy Cross parish in Glasgow saw two priests’ cars destroyed and severe damage caused to the parish house. There has also been a separate robbery at another Glasgow parish and a man in Perthshire was convicted for robbing an 80-year-old priest shortly after his golden jubilee. [Remember what happened to the guy who, thinking he was helping David, dared to kill Saul, the Lord's anointed?]
While none of these attacks are thought to be sectarian in nature, [hmmm] concerns are growing that priests, who often live alone in tied accommodation near parishes, are again being seen as ‘easy targets’ for opportunistic thieves and vandals.
There is more.

Let’s offer prayers for priests in Scotland.  May Mary, Queen of Priests, protect them.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful I live someplace where the means of defending myself and others around me are still available.

The First Thanksgiving: A Tale of Squanto of The Dawn Land

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls)  Editor’s note: Presuming that many TSW readers in the United States, at least, are immersed in the national Thanksgiving holiday this week, These Stone Walls is repeating its traditional Thanksgiving post and its moving tale of Squanto of the Dawn Land. We hope readers will make this a part of their Thanksgiving tradition and will share it with others. May the Lord bless you and keep you as we express our thanks.

The True Story of Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pilgrims, and the Pope” is one of our most widely read and most often reproduced posts on These Stone Walls where it has become a sort of Thanksgiving tradition. Some readers told me last year that they handed out copies to the guests at their Thanksgiving table. Others sent links to everyone they know. The tale that post tells is not at all like the story of the first Thanksgiving in America that our grade school history books told. It’s a story of real pilgrimage, and it’s the truth.

It’s a truth, however, that has an even better Thanksgiving story than the one we knew – or thought we knew. The tale’s hero is the Native American, Tisquantum – aka “Squanto” – from a place on the shores of Massachusetts his people called “The Dawn Land.” The winds of change and the gravity of grace required much from Squanto before he stepped into the lives of the Puritan Pilgrims we are accustomed to honoring on Thanksgiving. The short of it is that Squanto rescued them from annihilation.

Here in the heart of New England, from where I write this post in a prison cell, there are some who take great personal pride in having ancestors who arrived aboard the Mayflower. For them, I offer my apologies in advance. This true story of Thanksgiving sweeps out to sea many of their prideful notions about the Mayflower Pilgrims, about heroism and endurance, about manifest destiny, and about the chain of events that enabled the Pilgrims to survive.

The story we learned as children about the Puritan Pilgrims who “fled religious persecution” for a journey to New England aboard the Mayflower in 1620 indeed has some elements of truth, but it wasn’t the whole truth. The Native Americans – who preceded Europeans to New England shores hundreds of years earlier – were presented in our historical accounts as “savages,” dwarfed in stature by the technological advances of the arriving Europeans aboard the Mayflower. Historian Charles C. Mann countered that view in “Native Intelligence,” a fascinating article in Smithsonian magazine (December 2005). Mann described the Pilgrims’ 1620 arrival from the point of view of the local Wampanoag:
“Europeans had been visiting New England for at least a century. Shorter than the Natives, oddly dressed and often unbearably dirty, the pallid foreigners had peculiar blue eyes that peeped out of bristly, animal-like hair that encased their faces. They were irritatingly garrulous, prone to fits of chicanery, and often surprisingly incompetent at what seemed to Indians like basic tasks.”
There’s a far greater tale of pilgrimage and thanksgiving embedded in the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, and it’s a tale that I can relate to far more than that of the Puritans. In the story of Squanto, I encounter a hero who does the right thing in the most awful of conditions, and sometimes with even the most awful of motives. His home, called The Dawn Land, was destroyed by the same forces of history that so radically altered his life... (continued)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pope Francis: "Our Lady... is not a postmaster, sending messages every day"

Pope: the spirit of curiosity distances one from God

(Vatican Radio) The spirit of curiosity generates confusion and distances a person from the Spirit of wisdom, which brings peace, said Pope Francis in his homily during Thursday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope began his homily by commenting on the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which describes “the state of the soul of the spiritual man and woman”, of true Christians, who live “in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And this wisdom carries them forward with this intelligent, holy, single, manifold and subtle spirit”.

“This is journeying in life with this spirit: the spirit of God, which helps us to judge, to make decisions according to the heart of God. And this spirit gives us peace, always! It is the spirit of peace, the spirit of love, the spirit of fraternity. And holiness is exactly this. That which God asked of Abraham—‘Walk in my presence and be irreproachable’—is this: this peace. To follow the movement of the Spirit of God and of this wisdom. And the man and woman who walk this path, we can say they are wise men and women… because they follow the movement of God’s patience.”

In the Gospel, the Pope underlined, “we find ourselves before another spirit, contrary to the wisdom of God: the spirit of curiosity”.

“And when we want to be the masters of the projects of God, of the future, of things, to know everything, to have everything in hand… the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the Kingdom of God come?’ Curious! They wanted to know the date, the day… The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day. Oh, how will this come about? It is the how: it is the spirit of the how! And the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit. It is the spirit of dispersion, of distancing oneself from God, the spirit of talking too much. And Jesus also tells us something interesting: this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, leads us to confusion.”

Curiosity, the Pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: “But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady”.
And the Pope commented: “But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”

Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, “distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God.”

“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”

“ ‘The Kingdom of God is among you,’ said Jesus, and it is this action of the Holy Spirit, which gives us wisdom and peace. The Kingdom of God does not come in (a state of) confusion, just as God did not speak to the prophet Elijah in the wind, in the storm (but) he spoke in the soft breeze, the breeze of wisdom.”

“Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus would say that she had always to stop herself before the spirit of curiosity," he said. "When she spoke with another sister and this sister was telling a story about the family, about people, sometimes the subject would change, and she would want to know the end of the story. But she felt that this was not the spirit of God, because it was a spirit of dispersion, of curiosity.

“The Kingdom of God is among us: do not seek strange things, do not seek novelties with this worldly curiosity. Let us allow the Spirit to lead us forward in that wisdom, which is like a soft breeze," he said. "This is the Spirit of the Kingdom of God, of which Jesus speaks. So be it.”


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

From the Pope’s End of the World, A Voice Not Lost in Translation

“Here in Buenos Aires we have seen Padre Bergoglio come out of a van any freezing night at 3 a.m. to set up a table with hot soup and coffee for the prostitutes of Flores, the neighborhood where he was born. Not a word of reproach or a sermon, just a cup of hot soup, a smile. Then someone picks up a cup and whispers in his ear; he walks aside and hears her confession, dries a torrent of tears, whispers something that the penitent assents to, sobbing. I know it seems bizarre…but Someone told us that angels rejoice when something like that happens no matter how bizarre it may look here on Earth. The absolution of the good thief on Calvary was no model of sacramental propriety either, but it worked.” (Carlos Caso-Rosendi, These Stone Walls)... (continued)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

‘We’ll Say You Touched Us’: Robbers Attempt to Extort Priest With Threat of Abuse Claim

From :

According to a truly shocking story in the Chicago Tribune, two men recently walked into the sacristy of a Catholic church after Mass and demanded cash from a 73-year-old priest.
That alone is frightening enough. But what accompanied their demand should send chills through any decent person. One of the men ominously said to the priest:
"We'll say you touched us, read the paper, they'll believe us."
Indeed, such words are the fear of every living cleric. It is open season on Catholic priests today. A mere suggestion, threat, or accusation is enough to vault a man out of the priesthood forever.
Even long-deceased priests with previously unblemished records are not immune from public accusations.

The wobbly standard of a "credible accusation" has been addressed in a number of places, most recently in an excellent article by Fr. Thomas G. Gaurino in First Things... (continued)


No priest is safe

"Someone who levels a false accusation, for the sake of money or to harm the Church, deserves to burn in Hell for eternity." - Father Zuhlsdorf


Exorcising Medjugorje

Mark Shea just linked to this article from Christian Order, "EXORCISING MEDJ":

Material motivations

"The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim of the great propaganda. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods."
- Msgr. Pavao Žanić, former bishop of Mostar

"The numerous absurd messages, lies, falsehoods and disobedience associated from the beginning with the events and "apparitions" of Medjugorje, all refute every claim of authenticity."
- Msgr. Ratko Perić, present bishop of Mostar
Related in the ensuing article, the sixteenth-century case of Magdalena of the Cross is essential reading for those who argue that even Satanic inspiration could not keep the fraud alive for so long. At least one of the "seers" or their extended family would have broken ranks and spilled the beans, they say. Yet even without a preternatural element, with so much money at stake, both personally and corporately, it would take a brave person to fess up to such an epochal deception tied to myriad vested interests. Fr Philip Pavich, an American Franciscan who worked for eleven years in Israel before securing a transfer to Bosnia to be close to Medjugorje, is in no doubt about this powerful motivation to maintain the Big Lie.

"I believed the apparitions when I came. If anybody wanted it to be true, I did," he once told writer Bill Sammon. Watching people go partially blind by staring at the "miracle of the sun" and observing "professional visionaries" who are "living off the profits" of the booming tourist trade opened his eyes to the truth. "Medjugorje has spawned 400 visionaries in the United States," said Pavich, "They got 'em in every state. It's a ridiculous, pandemic situation. It's totally out of control. I mean, it is a sick visionary world. Canada, the United States, Australia … everybody that has touched Medjugorje has spawned a whole new petri dish of visionaries."

Pavich grew especially disenchanted with the six original visionaries. "Oh man, they bring home lots of money. People give unbelievably. It's like a cult. They're like little cult leaders, little cult characters. And they collect, man, big time. They've got second houses; they've got perks. They're professional visionaries who are living off the profits."

"Some wealthy Croat tour leader will put down 80,000 bucks, build a house for a visionary, and then she'll sucker her pilgrims into coming by saying 'When you come you'll get to stay with a visionary'," said Pavich, who noted the beauty of the visionaries' houses. "They're a scandal to a lot of people because they (the visionaries) are in on the take — big time. ... They don't work, they never work. They just collect money..."

Millionaire "seer"

Contrary to the view of badly misled Medj advocate Fr Amorth, the "visionaries" have indeed grown rich alongside these brutal vested interests. "None of the seers were ever enriched thanks to the apparitions," insists Fr Amorth. "Whoever can provide documentary proof to the contrary, let him do it; otherwise, shut up."

The Italian website L' Impertinent abAteo picked up this gauntlet thrown down by Fr Amorth. After research based on "clear and incontrovertible" documentation, it produced a report detailing the small fortune "seer" Ivan Dragicevic has made (in cahoots with travel agencies) from his "visions."

"Pilgrimage to Medjugorje with accommodations at the home of Ivan Dragicevic!" advertises "206 Tours," setting out the specific dates from May to September 2012 when Ivan is in residence (the 'off season', October-April, he now spends in America). The pilgrimage package includes: "Conversations with Ivan in the chapel of our house; Breakfast and dinner served by Ivan and Family; Ivan will lead the group on Apparition Hill to pray and meditate; There will be many opportunities to talk with Ivan during your stay." In addition, the "Dragicevic family will do their best to make as much as possible your stay pleasant and comfortable."

Careful scrutiny of this tourist operation revealed that a separate entity, "Prayer Experience" (run by Ivan and his wife), sells the selected tour package through the agency "206 Tours." Consequently, on the basis of a stated maximum of 28 pilgrims per pilgrimage, multiplied by the number of available dates (10), L' Impertinent abAteo, calculated a Dragicevic profit of $171,360 — "Not to mention the offerings that pilgrims and visitors will leave the beloved 'seer'."

This first part of the investigation more than suffices to refute Fr Amorth's false contention. Part two, on Ivan's real estate wheeling and dealing, is the coup de grace. Anyone with some idle time to kill can view the full report at L' Impertinent abAteo. Here is the final reckoning, based on public records of the State of Massachusetts:

In just 5 years the "seer" Ivan Dragicevic has bought properties worth a total of 1,566,000 U.S. dollars, equivalent to 1,470,953 euros. ... The average American, in 5 years would have earned $198,508 gross, 195,336 euros gross .... almost 10 times lower than the amount spent by the "visionary".

The other "seers" and their relatives also possess properties (pensions) in Medjugorje, and also advertise "travel packages..."

Read More at Christian Order

h/t to Mark Shea:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Father George Rutler: Medjugorje cult "has become an industry from which many have made a lot of money"

From Brantly Millegan at Aleteia:

Author and pastor of the Church of St. Michael in Manhattan, Fr. George Rutler views the Medjugorje phenomenon overall very negatively and sees the letter as a step in the right direction. “I have had numerous encounters with proponents of the Medjugorje cult, almost of of which have been dismaying. Popes and others have been misrepresented as wholeheartedly endorsing it. It has become an industry from which many have made a lot of money. This statement of the CDF indicates at least solid reservations about the alleged apparitions.”

“Benefits of grace accrued by pilgrims are testimony to the power of God to reward sincerity of heart through any devotion, bogus or not. I have also known of many disappointments, errors, and scandals attached to Medjugorje, not least of which is disobedience to the local Ordinary. It amazes me that after so many years, this cult endures despite the banality of the locutions, and while one of course defers to the final decision of the Church, one would not be surprised if a negative judgment on authenticity is rejected by fanatics.”

Church historian Fr. C. John McCloskey has similar sentiments. “This letter is decades late but nonetheless very welcome. The Church is slow in these matters because it is eternal. We should all pray that the Vatican gives its final judgement on the matter soon and the followers of these ‘apparitions’ obey and do not cause a schism of sorts in the Church. The Year of Faith is about conversions and reversions to our Holy Faith!”

James Likoudis, President Emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith, points to the continued disobedience of millions of Catholics against the judgement of the local bishops near Medjugorje and thinks that a positive judgement is highly unlikely. “The surprising statement on Medjugorje by the CDF to be communicated to the U.S. bishops appears to signal a negative Vatican judgment on the authenticity of the Marian apparitions in the former Yugoslavia. What is even more surprising is that the negative judgment of the two Bishops of Mostar as well as that of all the bishops of the Conference has not been heeded for many years by millions of Catholics who continue to give credibility to quite questionable apparitions of Our Lady.”

“At any rate, without prejudging the final decision of the special Commission of Cardinals regarding Medjugorje, it is certainly difficult to believe that the Commission would reverse the judgments of Bishops who for years have investigated the matter on the spot and declared in effect, that ‘supernatural apparitions and revelations’ had not taken place. It would be quite astonishing were the judgment of the present Bishop of Mostar, actually be overturned. ‘The numerous absurd messages, insincerities, falsehoods, and disobedience associated with the events and ‘apparitions’ of Medjugorje from the very outset, all disprove any claims of authenticity.’ (Bishop Ratko Peric) In my opinion, the Vatican’s welcome stress on collegiality would hardly favor throwing orthodox bishops under the bus.”


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When the Vicar of Christ Imitates Christ, Why is it so Alarming?

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

Much of the criticism of Pope Francis is not expressed as a concern about his words themselves, but rather about how he subjects himself and his words to exploitation and misinterpretation in the secular media. To defuse such a concern, the October issue of Catalyst, the Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, published an eye-opening survey of fifteen leading American newspapers and their editorial coverage about the Pope. The news media is hearing Pope Francis more clearly than we think, more clearly even than some in the Church who fear his priorities. Here are some examples:

Kansas City Star, March 13, 2013: Pope Francis will not “waver from the Church leadership’s strident opposition to abortion, gay marriage…”

Chicago Tribune, March 14, 2013: Pope Francis has ”forcefully opposed” such subjects as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2013: Pope Francis is not going to change the Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 14, 2013: “The Pope is no free-thinking reformer”; and July 30, 2013: Encouraged by Pope Francis’ statement about not judging gays, but…the “door is closed” on women’s ordination.

The Boston Globe, April 3, 2013: “No one expects Pope Francis to be ordaining women anytime soon.” 

In the same issue of Catalyst, Catholic League President Bill Donohue summed up the first months of Pope Francis’ papacy in reassuring terms:
“Not in my lifetime have I seen such an outburst of enthusiasm for a newly minted pontiff. And not just from Catholics: Pope Francis has won the plaudits of everyone, from people of all faiths to die-hard secularists…So far the New York Times has said nothing about our new pope. That will change. Liberal Catholics tend to be happier with Pope Francis than conservative Catholics. That will also change. The Holy Father is just as traditional on moral issues as his predecessors…” (“How’s the Pope Doing?” Catalyst, Oct. 2013)
That subheading was the title of a September 20 editorial by Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org. I have not always agreed with Phil Lawler, Editor of Catholic Culture and Catholic World News, especially on a few points about what constitutes justice in the U.S. priesthood scandal. However his editorial at Catholic Culture was a beacon of light and clarity amid lots of public distortion. It reminded me that perhaps I should be listening more closely to Phil Lawler.
Consider this:
“If the pope’s main responsibility is to keep us all comfortable, then Pope Francis is failing miserably…But there’s a precedent for [his] way of speaking. Jesus made people uncomfortable. The Lord’s words and gestures were often misinterpreted, and His critics found it easy to put things in an unfavorable light…Would it be better, really, if the Pope limited himself to statements that could not possibly be distorted? Should he stop trying to make subtle distinctions, or making new observations about controversial topics? That would be a form of self-censorship: shaping the message to suit the media.” (Phil Lawler, Sept. 20, CatholicCulture.org)
Even putting aside the needs of the Church, about the last thing the world needs is another leader whose views accommodate neat, acceptable little media sound bites, shallow and substance free. Pope Francis shakes my complacency too, but I hear something in his words that the Church and the world desperately need to hear. He is speaking as the Vicar of Christ, and in the words of Christ, and it’s alarming with its lack of cushioned and subtle nuance – just as it was alarming for the hearers of Jesus... (continued)


Medjugorje "visionary" Vicka flinches while in "ecstasy" (video)

Medjugorje "visionary" Vicka made the preposterous claim that she was trying to prevent Mary from dropping the infant Jesus:

Partial transcript:

"But suddenly.. an onlooker called Jean Louis jabs his hand toward Vicka on the right...

At the moment of filming I did not see that, just afterwards I saw there was a commotion in the chapel. Everybody was disturbed because Vicka had reacted.

Jean Louis made a threat gesture toward the eyes of Vicka, and she reacted. And it was for Jean Louis, an important disappointment...

After the ecstasy, I had forgotten to stop the camera, and suddenly Vicka comes in with somebody else [Ivica Vego]. She wanted to explain why she'd moved. In her trance she had been trying to prevent the Virgin from dropping the infant Jesus.

So she said, 'When I arrived in the chapel, and everything was ok, when the ecstasy began, I saw nobody and I heard nobody, except the Virgin Mary. And the virgin Mary had the infant Jesus in her arms, and suddenly I thought,' said Vicka, 'that the infant Jesus would fall on the floor. So, to impeach that, I made a gesture, to impeach the infant Jesus, to fall on the floor.' And she thought that it would explain the reaction that she had against the threat gesture made by Jean."