Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Catholic church excommunicates Brazil priest for liberal views


By Paulo Prada

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Catholic Church has excommunicated a Brazilian priest after he defended homosexuality, open marriage and other practices counter to Church teaching in online videos.

In a statement released late on Monday, the priest's diocese said Father Roberto Francisco Daniel, known to local parishioners as Padre Beto, had "in the name of 'freedom of expression' betrayed the promise of fealty to the Church."

The priest "injured the Church with grave statements counter to the dogma of Catholic faith and morality." The actions amount to "heresy and schism," the statement said, the penalty for which is excommunication, or expulsion from the Church.

The rare punishment follows what Daniel's bishop and the priest himself said were repeated rebukes about the videos and other public activities, such as a radio broadcast and local newspaper column, in which he challenged Church doctrine.

The 47-year-old cleric, who studied theology in Germany, is popular in the southeastern city of Bauru, where he has been a priest since 2001. He is known for his rock T-shirts, a silver stud pierced through his right ear and his habit of posing, as on his official Facebook page, with a glass of beer.

On Facebook and Twitter, Daniel posted a brief statement about the excommunication: "I feel honored to belong to the long list of people who have been murdered and burned alive for thinking and searching for knowledge."


Daniel's excommunication, which prompted headlines across Brazil and protests in social media, illustrates the rising influence of more moderate social views in Brazil, Latin America's biggest country, and much of the rest of the region.

Progressive stances on sexuality, birth control, scientific research and other delicate topics for the Church are increasingly common in Latin America, home to 42 percent of the world's Catholics, more than any other region worldwide.

The shifting views are among the many challenges faced by Pope Francis, an Argentine who ascended in March to become the first Latin American pope in history.

The excommunication comes just two months before Francis is scheduled to attend World Youth Day, expected to attract as many as 2 million young Catholics to Rio de Janeiro.

Though Francis is known to be a traditionalist on social issues and Church doctrine, his appointment raised hopes that the first non-European pope in 13 centuries would do more than his predecessors to modernize Catholicism.

But Daniel's beliefs clearly went too far for church leaders.

In one of the recent videos he posted on YouTube.com and his own Website, the priest said a married person who chose to have an affair, heterosexual or otherwise, would not be unfaithful as long as that person's spouse allowed it. "If someone is in an extramarital relationship and that relationship is accepted by the spouse, then faithfulness still exists there," he said.


In a telephone interview, Daniel said his statements "are personal reflections that should be considered and discussed in the dialogue of the church." The excommunication, he said, is "the sad act of a lukewarm and disengaged church that is out of touch with today's society."

The diocese retained a church expert in canonical law to oversee the excommunication process. The diocese also initiated a separate process at the Vatican through which Daniel will be stripped of clerical authority.

Last Tuesday, Bishop Caetano Ferrari gave Daniel a letter asking him to take the videos offline and publicly retract his statements. In an interview posted on the diocese Web site shortly afterward, Ferrari called Daniel "brilliant," but characterized him as a "rebel son" who "crosses the line."

On Monday, Daniel said he went to the diocese headquarters planning to renounce his clerical duties rather than retract any of his comments. But before he had a chance, the bishop and canonical expert made him face a committee of Church officials.

"It was a trial," Daniel said. "I told them I was not there to be tried, that I had not been indicted."

Shortly afterward, the Church issued the statement announcing his excommunication.

(Editing by Todd Benson and Cynthia Osterman)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Carnegie Mellon Controversy Over Naked Woman Dressed As Pope

Photo Credit: KDKAPITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Students at Carnegie Mellon say it’s freedom of expression, but the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh calls it inappropriate and disrespectful.

At an annual art school parade, a female student dressed up as the pope, and was naked from the waist down while she passed out condoms.

Even more, witnesses say the woman had shaved her pubic hair in the shape of a cross.

The Diocese has asked CMU to take action.

“I think we all know that when we’re growing up we do stupid things but to cross over the line in this instance shouldn’t happen with anybody,” Bishop David Zubik said.

CMU issued a statement, saying “We are continuing our review of the incident. If our community standards or laws were violated, we will take appropriate action.”

Some Carnegie Mellon students we talked with saw no need for discipline.

“It’s all in good fun and it’s not meant to harm anyone,” Ivy Kristov told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan.

Bishop Zubik says the incident must be addressed.

“What I do want to have happen is for this person to learn an important lesson,” Zubik said.

The University encourages individual thought and artistic expression but the Diocese believes this student not only crossed the line, but trampled all over it.

They are demanding some action.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Former Nun in Kentucky Simulates Ordination to the Priesthood

Rosemarie Smead, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, sings with the audience before being ordained a Roman Catholic priest, during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

Rosemarie Smead, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, sings with the audience before [not] being ordained a Roman Catholic priest, during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was [not] ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS/John Sommers II

By Mary Wisniewski 

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky  | Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:00pm EDT

(Reuters) - In an emotional ceremony filled with tears and applause, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman was [not] ordained a priest on Saturday as part of a dissident group operating outside of official Roman Catholic Church authority.

Rosemarie Smead is one of about 150 women around the world who have decided not to wait for the Roman Catholic Church to lift its ban on women priests, but to be ordained and start their own congregations.

Rosemarie Smead (2nd R), a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, is ordained a Roman Catholic priest during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

In an interview before the ceremony, Smead said she is not worried about being excommunicated from the Church - the fate of other women ordained outside of Vatican law.

"It has no sting for me," said Smead, a petite, gray-haired former Carmelite nun with a ready hug for strangers. "It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives."

Rosemarie Smead, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, weeps openly as almost the entire congregation comes to lay their hands on her head in blessing, as she was ordained a Roman Catholic priest during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

The ordination of women as priests, along with the issues of married priests and birth control, represents one of the big divides between U.S. Catholics and the Vatican hierarchy. Seventy percent of U.S. Catholics believe that women should be allowed to be priests, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this year.

The former pope, Benedict XVI, reaffirmed the Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings. Male priests have been stripped of their holy orders for participating in ordination ceremonies for women.

Rosemarie Smead (front row, C), a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, sings with the audience before being ordained a Roman Catholic priest, during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

In a statement last week, Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz called the planned ceremony by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests a "simulated ordination" in opposition to Catholic teaching.
"The simulation of a sacrament carries very serious penal sanctions in Church law, and Catholics should not support or participate in Saturday's event," Kurtz said.

The Catholic Church teaches that it has no authority to allow women to be priests because Jesus Christ chose only men as his apostles. Proponents of a female priesthood said Jesus was acting only according to the customs of his time.

They also note that he chose women, like Mary Magdalene, as disciples, [wrong:] and that the early Church had women priests, deacons and bishops [/wrong].

The ceremony, held at St. Andrew United Church of Christ in Louisville, was attended by about 200 men and women. Many identified themselves to a Reuters reporter as Catholics, but some declined to give their names or their churches.


The modern woman priest movement started in Austria in 2002, when seven women were ordained by the Danube River by an independent Catholic bishop. Other women were later ordained as bishops, who went on to ordain more women priests and deacons.

The processional enters the Church sanctuary for the Celebration of Ordination of Rosemarie Smead into the priesthood during a service at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

"As a woman priest, Rosemarie is leading, not leaving the Catholic Church, into a new era of inclusivity," said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan during her sermon Saturday. "As the Irish writer James Joyce reminded us, the word 'Catholic' means 'Here comes everybody!'"

Smead had to leave the rigorous Carmelite life due to health reasons, and earned a bachelor's degree in theology and a doctorate in counseling psychology. She taught at Indiana University for 26 years, and works as a couples and family therapist.

During the ordination ceremony, Smead wept openly as nearly everyone in the audience came up and laid their hands on her head in blessing. Some whispered, "Thanks for doing this for us."

Rosemarie Smead, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman, lies prostrate on the floor as the audience prays for the blessing of the Saints, before being ordained a Roman Catholic priest during a Celebration of Ordination at St. Andrew's United Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky April 27, 2013. Smead was ordained as part of a dissident group operating outside official Roman Catholic Church authority. REUTERS-John Sommers II

During the communion service, Smead and other woman priests lifted the plates and cups containing the sacramental bread and wine to bless them.

A woman in the audience murmured, "Girl, lift those plates. I've been waiting a long time for this."

One of those attending the service was Stewart Pawley, 32, of Louisville, who said he was raised Catholic and now only attends on Christmas and Easter. But he said he would attend services with Smead when she starts to offer them in Louisville.

"People like me know it's something the Catholic Church will have to do," said Pawley.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Mohammad Zargham)


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Christian Martyr: Martin of Boston at Church

From the Internet:

"PRAY FOR BOSTON: 8-yr old Martin Richard, who died in the attack the day after receiving his First Holy Communion symbolizes our pain and yet at the same time our hope: his 1st Communion banner, with the dove of peace, the Holy Spirit, and the Eucharistic Chalice and Bread, makes us pray to the Risen Lord, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, in Whom we place our final hope."

H/t to Ann Barnhardt:
"Cruise over to Orbis Catholicus Secundus where Mr. Sonnen (voted best smirk-weasel in the Catholic blogosphere) is leading the way in reporting on young Martin Richard, the boy who was murdered in the Boston jihad attack. 

Young Martin received his first Holy Communion the day before he died. Mr. Sonnen has pics.
That is a bittersweet consolation. God is good."

Femen feminists attack Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium

"Scantily clad activists of feminist group Femen invaded a conference at a university in Brussels. During the act, demonstrators threw water on the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard. The priest did not react and avoided looking at the activists. The protest was against homophobia, according to international agencies. At the end of the demonstration, the archbishop kissed a picture of the Virgin Mary to leave the room. Born in Ukraine and with subsidiaries in several countries (including Brazil and nations with a Muslim majority), the Femen often campaigning for the rights of women and minorities. One of their banners is the defense of gay marriage."

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The Catholic Church in Belgium on Wednesday angrily denounced Femen topless protesters who targeted its primate at a conference though the archbishop himself remained composed and apparently at prayer throughout.

The four protesters leapt out of their seats at a debate on blasphemy and freedom of expression held at the Brussels' Free University (ULB) campus Tuesday evening, baring their breasts and squirting water at Archbishop Andre Leonard as they accused him of homophobia.

Security guards threw the women out of the hall within minutes as the archbishop remained quietly seated, his hands crossed apparently in prayer.

The Belgian religious leader, a known conservative, has often been criticised for his stand on gay issues.
In March he said homosexuals should practise "a form of celibacy and abstinence" and welcomed protests in France against its gay marriage legislation.

The Church in a statement denounced "the attitude of a few persons... in total contradiction with the theme of the debate and with the manner in which the Catholic Church hopes for dialogue".

"At the end of the demonstration, the archbishop kissed a picture of the Virgin Mary to leave the room."

Link to AFP story

To preach or not to preach?

By Fr. Ray Blake

I was rather taken by this headline, "Unemployed Sicilian man 'murdered his parish priest because he couldn't bear to listen to any more sermons".

I am one of those priests who preach a short sermon every day, and I suppose preach a little too long on a Sunday. I don't think I am untypical of priests around here.

But I wonder if we actually preach too much, certainly the daily sermon is modern phenonoma, even the Sunday sermon wasn't absolutely necessary before the Council, at least not at all Masses.

A friend tells me he was concelebrating with a priest and asked him to use the shorter version of the Gospel in the Lectionary, because he had rather a lot say. "Oh", said the other priest, "I'll look forward to that, I haven't heard much that is more important than the Gospel of the Lord!" (continued)


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pope Emeritus Benedict 'relieved' he is no longer pontiff

Pope Emeritus Benedict's older brother has said the former pontiff is "relieved" to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, as he insisted that while he is growing weaker with old age, he is not suffering from illness.

Father Georg Ratzinger, right, with Pope Emeritus Benedict in 2006.

By , Rome

(The Telegraph) Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told the Daily Telegraph his younger brother was "very happy" to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years.

Fr Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict's 86th birthday with him on April 16, said his brother "still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders."

Speaking by telephone from his house in Regensburg, Mr Ratzinger denied the former pope was suffering from major ailments.

"He is now very old, he does not have any particular illness, but he is weakening due to his age," he said.

Joseph Ratzinger cited advancing age when he announced his shock resignation amid reports that his hearing and sight were failing. It also emerged he had a pacemaker fitted a decade ago.

Peter Seewald, a German journalist said he had never seen Benedict look "so worn down" after a recent meeting.

Fr first warned about his brother's advancing age before he was elected pope in 2005 and then unnerved the Vatican with his frank comments about Benedict's health while he was in office. The two brothers are known to be close, speaking weekly on the phone, and he said he knew of Benedict's resignation months in advance.

His comment about Benedict continuing to "suffer" the problems of the Church appeared to be a reference to the alleged infighting and power seeking plaguing the Vatican's bureaucracy, details of which emerged when the pope's butler leaked Benedict's private correspondence.

But since leaving behind the responsibility of overseeing the world's 1.2 billion Catholics he is now able to pray, read and play the piano at Castel Gandolfo, a secluded palazzo built on the rim of a volcanic lake, surrounded by acres of private gardens boasting a farm and spectacular Roman ruins.

He is due to move back to the Vatican when conversion work is completed at the residence he will live in...


Monday, April 22, 2013

Pope Calls on Youth to Heed the Lords Calling

Thousands Gather in St. Peters on Vocations Sunday

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves 

Pope Francis reflected on the God’s calling to men and women during his address prior to the recitation of the Regina Caeli yesterday at St. Peter’s Square. The fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday as well as Vocations Sunday, was marked by the ordination of 10 deacons to the priesthood earlier that morning.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, which he stated is the the “central nucleus” of Jesus’ Gospel in which “He Calls us to participate in His relationship with the Father.”

“Jesus wants to establish a relationship with his friends that is the reflection of the one he himself has with the Father: a relation of mutual belonging in total confidence, in intimate communion,” the Pope said.

“Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and his sheep to express this profound shared understanding, this relationship of friendship. The shepherd calls his sheep and they recognize his voice, they respond to his call and follow him. This is a beautiful parable!”

The Pope went on to say that if we learn to listen to the unique voice of Christ, then it will lead us along the path of life. A path, he continued, “that stretches even beyond death.”

Pope Francis then directed his word to the youth present in the square, exhorting them to heed God’s call.

In a moment of dialogue the Pope asked “Have you heard the Lord’s voice at some time in a desire, in upheaval, invite you to follow him more closely? Have you heard it? I can’t hear you.” The youth erupted with shouts and applause.

“Youth must be placed at the service of great ideals. Do you think so? Do you agree? Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be courageous! Be courageous! Ask him! Behind and prior to every vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone’s powerful and intense prayer: a grandmother’s, a grandfather’s, a mother’s, a father’s, a community’s; This is why Jesus said: “Pray to the Lord of the harvest,” that is, God the Father, “that he might send workers for the harvest!”

Before reciting the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father asked the faithful to pray in particular for the new priests ordained and called on all to follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time she carried him in her womb. Mary our Mother, help us to recognize Jesus’ voice always better and to follow it to walk along the path of life! Thank you,” the Pope said.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Why the Catholic Abuse Narrative Needs a Fraud Task Force

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

A decade of disasters and a surge in fraud led the Justice Department to form the Disaster Fraud Task Force, but who investigates fraud against Catholic priests?
“‘Well, if you want to accuse a priest of something, I can have $50-grand in your account by the end of the year – a $100,000 settlement split fifty-fifty.’ Randy was shaking with enthusiasm as he stood at my door. He said he told the lawyer that he lives in a cellblock with a Catholic priest who has been accused. ‘Even better!’ the lawyer reportedly said. ‘Tell him where you grew up and see if he can get you a name.’ ” (“Let’s Play ‘Name That Priest,’ “ Sancte Pater, July 26, 2011).
SNAP spokespersons and the contingency lawyers who have funded them may minimize or deny the existence of fraud in the Catholic sex abuse story, but it’s a denial of human nature. David Pierre’s media watchdog site, The Media Report has been especially vigilant about exposing some of the fraud. The evidence is all around us, and not only in the narrative of our own millstone of Catholic scandal. Fraud is by no means new or surprising in the field of personal injury law.. (continued)


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Being Kind

By Fr. Ray Blake

I think I understood Benedict, I have to admit I don't understand Francis!

Benedict amazed with his brilliance in his sermons and catechesis, Francis will probably remembered for the simple homely preaching at his early morning Masses at Domus Mater, for rubbish collectors and policemen, with their simple homely message: be faithful to Christ, tell the truth, be meek, be gentle.

Benedict was that wise scribe who drew out from his store room things both old and new. Francis, maybe it is his Jesuit sense of poverty, doesn't seem to have a store room. Benedict and Francis are obviously closely related, Benedict was the kind and wise grandfather, Francis the kind old uncle, who delights in surprising you.

I was rather taken by this story:
Recently, when he left his apartment at Domus Marta and went out into the hall, the Pope found a Swiss Guard standing at attention outside his door.
He asked him, “And what are you doing here? Were you awake all night?
“Yes,” the guard answered respectfully.
“One of my colleagues gave me a break.”
“And you’re not tired?”
“It’s my duty Your Holiness, for Your safety.”
The Pope looked at him with kindness. He went back into his apartment and, after a few minutes, returned with a chair in his hand: “At least sit down and rest.”
Shocked, the Swiss Guard replied, “Forgive me, but I can’t! The rules don’t allow it.”
“The rules?..” (continued)


Saturday, April 13, 2013

German home-schooling family fights to stay in US

(FoxNews.com) While the White House and many lawmakers push to grant legal status to immigrants who crossed the border illegally, the Romeike family thought they followed the rules -- but now face deportation.

They are devout Catholics who emigrated from Germany in 2008 to home school their six children in Tennessee. As Uwe Romeike told Fox News, it is illegal to do that in Germany.

"We don't have the freedom to home school our children in Germany," Romeike told Fox News.

The U.S. granted the Romeikes political asylum, but in 2010 the Justice Department intervened, ruling that home-schooling could not be used as grounds to seek citizenship.

The department has ordered the Romeikes be deported. "Now it means same thing as in Germany," Uwe Romeike said with a chuckle.

The family is appealing the ruling. Their case set for April 23 before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The Home School Legal Defense Association will represent them. It sees their denial of asylum as a fundamental threat to freedom. "In this particular case there is an equivalency between human rights standards and our constitutional rights. If our government takes the position that home-schooling is not a human right for the Romeike case to give them the basis of asylum, then it may not be a constitutional right for them as well," said Michael Farris of the HSLDA.

Immigration experts differ as to whether the Romeike's situation meets the criteria for asylum here.

David Abraham, a professor at the University of Miami Law School, said: "Germany, a democratic country, has chosen not to permit home schooling as one of the options. Germans have a chance to change that through their legislature. In the meantime, it doesn't exist and it is not persecution."

But Thomas Dupree, a Bush administration Justice Department lawyer disagrees. "The administration has a wide variety of options at their disposal that range from granting asylum to deferring any kind of action to remove these people," he said.

A petition on the White House website to grant the family permanent legal status has garnered over 100,000 signatures -- a threshold that typically triggers comment from the administration.  A recording on that website tells visitors, "If a petition gets enough signatures White House staff will review it, ensure it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."

Home-schoolers in Germany face not just fines, but the potential removal of children from their parents' custody. That is a level of punishment the Romeikes say rises to persecution.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Toronto Cardinal under fire after barring pro-homosexual priest from speaking in archdiocese

By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, April 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Archdiocese of Toronto is taking flak this week after barring a priest known for opposing Church teaching from speaking in the diocese.

Franciscan Fr. Michael Crosby, a self-styled reformer who calls for women’s ordination and acceptance of homosexuality, among other things, as part of a top-down overhaul of the Church, will be the speaker at the Canadian Forum on Theology and Education from April 22-23. He will offer seven talks over the two days.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the office of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, but has been moved to a non-Catholic venue in the Diocese of Hamilton after the Toronto Archdiocese said the event did not meet its protocol for talks by visiting clergy and laity, which requires that they be “theologically sound” and “support Catholic teaching on faith and morals.”

The forum, which has been organized annually for the last three decades, is explicit in its intention to challenge Church teaching. “The signs of crisis [in the Church] are evident,” reads its website. “It is felt in the ‘sex abuse scandal’, in the issues of women’s ordination, mandatory/optional celibacy, married clergy, and the questions these issues have raised about internal structures of authority and clerical culture.”

The website adds that the forum “will be an experience that helps teachers, chaplains, parents and priests learn how to respond to this challenge. Students’ concerns and distrust of ‘Catechism’ answers; teachers’ oft-unspoken questions; parents’ misgivings about their childrens’ faith and priests’ uncertainties about the content of pastoral letters and homilies are all grist to the mill at Forum.”

The forum is endorsed by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), which advertises it and is hosting a wine and cheese as part of the event. Organizer John Quinn says most of the attendees will be “teachers in Catholic schools.”

In a set of blog posts, Quinn accuses the Archdiocese of “suppressing healthy Catholic dialogue” and calls on Catholics to complain to Cardinal Thomas Collins.

He says the decision was “arbitrary” and amounts to the Archdiocese establishing an “Index of Forbidden Dialogue.” He complains that the Archdiocese’s protocol for visiting speakers has “absolutely no transparency,” with no explanation offered for the decision.

But Quinn also cites an email by Matthew Sanders, executive assistant to the Archdiocese’s Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs, which indicates that Fr. Crosby’s faculties to speak “were rescinded upon learning of the nature of the subjects he is coming to speak on.”

According to Quinn, Fr. Crosby was given permission to speak in a letter of Dec. 3rd, 2012, but that permission was later revoked.

Based on Quinn’s recounting of the events, it appears that in between the initial letter of permission and the revocation, Quinn had run afoul of the Archdiocese for organizing a meeting of priests in an effort to launch a Toronto chapter of the Detroit-based group Elephants in the Living Room. The organization is run by priests of the Detroit Archdiocese and is dedicated to Church "reforms" that diverge from Catholic teaching.

Quinn says he had tried to organize a meeting on Feb. 28th of priests from the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Dioceses of Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Peterborough with representatives of the Elephant group. But, he says, he received an e-mail on Feb. 21st from the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs, Rev. Ivan Camilleri, alerting him that the group is “not in good standing in the Archdiocese of Toronto,” and the office “in no way supports” the opening of a chapter in the Archdiocese.

The controversy was reported by the Toronto Star on Saturday in a story that appeared to paint the Archdiocese’s move as a denial of free speech.

“It’s not uncommon for Catholic clergy, laypeople and theologians to be denied platforms in Catholic institutions if their ideas do not conform to prescribed teaching — a practice some see as being at odds with societal values of free speech and open dialogue,” wrote journalist Leslie Scrivener.

But Archdiocesan spokesman Bill Steinburg insisted to LifeSiteNews that they are “not stifling free speech” and highlighted a quote he had given to the Toronto Star.

“For someone to officially represent the church (as a priest does), the presenter’s message must be consistent with the norms of the church, which are clearly spelled out,” Steinberg said.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back Off the Benny Bashing


Nothing more cowardly and unmanly than to make fun of an elderly man. Only someone who is insecure in their own masculinity has the audacity to launch verbal attacks on a true gentleman and scholar. It is pathetic when a person is reduced to making petty insults and puerile epithets just to mask their own theological inadequacies. Any moron can resort to ad hominem attacks but an intellectual person seeks and respects the truth. Sadly, a cardinal, a prince of the church, recently made schoolyard-bully insults via twitter the very day Pope Francis was elected:

"So long, Papal ermine and fancy lace! Welcome, simple cassock, and hopefully, ordinary black shoes!"  

"Moving from HIGH Church to LOW and humble Church! What a blessing that we are encountering Jesus without trappings!"

You do not have to be an astrophysicist to figure out who was being implied in His Eminence's remarks. Trashing a former pope while he is still alive (albeit abdicated) is not just bad manners, it is like dissing your elderly grandfather after he goes to the retirement home. Disrespectful and DISTASTEFUL. Shameful, not to mention embarrassing that the non-Catholic world has to see a Cardinal show such disdain for a Vicar of Christ and Successor of Saint Peter...

Strike the Shepherd! Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope

From Fr. Gordon J. MacRae at These Stone Walls:

A little over three years ago, I wrote an article for Catalyst, the Catholic League Journal, entitled “Due Process for Accused Priests.” The article was in part about a phenomenon called “Availability Bias” and how it influences justice when Catholic priests are falsely accused. The concept has crept into all aspects of the media, not just in the reporting of news, but in marketing and advertising as well. The science behind it was formulated and dissected by psychologist, Daniel Kahneman with amazing results.

In 2002 the Catholic priesthood sex abuse scandal was the focus of The Boston Globe Spotlight Team which then spread the “pedophile priest” scare and sound bite to virtually every diocese in the United States. Also in 2002, and ironically, Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on “Availability Bias.” It was described in a 2007 lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal (“The Science of Gore’s Nobel,” Dec. 5, 2007) as “the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind.”

Kahneman’s research examined how marketing and the media have exploited human suggestibility through “Availability Bias” which he analyzed using two studied phenomena. The first he called “Availability Cascade,” described as “the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it.”

The best example is the smear, “Hitler’s Pope” which comes almost immediately to mind for many at the mere mention of the name of Pope Pius XII. As described in my post referenced above, the smear was widely believed, and still is despite massive evidence to the contrary, simply because the media has repeated it for decades. Its origin is not in the news media, however, but in the propaganda of a repressive Totalitarian regime. The news media was just its all-too-willing microphone.

Daniel Kahneman’s second studied phenomenon in support of “Availability Bias” was what he called “Informational Cascade,” described as “the propensity of humans to abandon or replace their beliefs in favor of the crowd’s beliefs.” I used a famous example in my Holy Week post, “Pope Francis, the Pride of Mockery, and the Mockery of Pride.” One of the criminals crucified with Jesus adopted the mockery of Jesus from the very crowd that had placed that man on his cross. The ability of a crowd to modify our views and beliefs and positions is powerful. Pontius Pilate himself modified his stance about the innocence of Jesus simply through the force of a mob chanting, “Crucify him!”

For “Informational Cascade” to work – for beliefs to be abandoned or replaced in favor of the crowd’s beliefs – one ingredient is necessary: a crowd, shaken or stirred, or at least the appearance of one. Some readers may have noticed a campaign of vile comments about Pope Francis posted at some websites and blogs that are popular among traditional Catholics. Many of the comments were an effort to sow suspicion and discouragement. Naturally, tradition-minded Catholics hold out hopes for how any new pope will address their concerns. I share those hopes.

But when the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would offer the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a Rome juvenile prison instead of in Saint Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran, it stirred concern about the Pope’s sensitivities toward tradition. When the news media captured Pope Francis washing the feet of 12 prisoners – including two women, one of whom was Muslim – that concern for tradition took on a sort of frenzy.

Was he making a statement about his views toward Islam? Was he making a statement about the ordination of women? After all, the Apostles were all men, and Jesus washed their feet – and theirs alone – at the Last Supper. Theologically – and this is a perspective supported by the Church’s tradition – the washing of the feet is not a statement about the recipients of the action of Jesus, but about Jesus himself, and the humility he wished to convey in the model for spiritual leadership it implied. The identity of the recipients is immaterial. As the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis was well within theological tradition to make this statement of Christ-like humility. There is no evidence for believing it was anything else.


Intermixed with the crowd’s already stirred concern, however, was some carefully choreographed mob manipulation. As Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve young offenders, some critics posted vile comments accusing the Holy Father of “grooming” behaviors suggestive of dark and nefarious agendas right before the world’s eyes.

I am not at all concerned for the many comments posted about the emotion regarding tradition that Pope Francis has stirred. These concerns are natural, and I believe they should be raised and will have answers that are clearer to us all in time. However, when tradition-minded blogs also post vile comments attacking without just cause the character and morals of the Holy Father, a line of justice and decency has been crossed, and those blogs and bloggers have diminished themselves and their credibility. You would never see such comments on These Stone Walls. Never! It is because we take very seriously the responsibility for justice and truth that are essential parts of the stewardship of a Catholic blog... (continued)


Vatican City Explained

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Humility, Martyrdom Among Francis' Homily Reflections

Pope Francis walks to meet U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at the Vatican

Invites Praying: "Lord, Thank You So Much for My Faith"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org)

Progress means "lowering oneself" on the road of humility in order to allow God's love to emerge and be clearly seen.

This was the central focus of Pope Francis' homily this morning at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel, according to L'Osservatore Romano. The feast of the Annunciation was marked today, as it was moved from the typical date of March 25, since that fell within Holy Week this year.

Among the congregation were Sisters of Charity who renewed their vows, the staff of the Vatican Television Center, staff of the Brazilian section of Vatican Radio, and longtime Papal photographer, Arturo Mari.

The way of Christian humility rises up to God, as those who bear witness to it "stoop low" to make room for charity, the Holy Father reflected.

The Pope said that the road taken by Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the imperial census was a road of humility. There was the humility of Mary, who "did not understand well," but "[entrusted] her soul to the will of God." Joseph was humble, as he "lowered himself" to take on the "great responsibility" of the bride who was with child.

"So it is always with God's love," said Francis, "that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility." This was the same way that Jesus walked, a way that humbled itself even unto the Cross. Pope Francis went on to say that, for a Christian, "[T]his is the golden rule," according to which progress and advancement always come through lowering oneself. "One can take no other road," he said, adding, "if I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian."

Pope Francis went on to say, "Being humble does not mean going on the road," with "downcast eyes." Such was not the humility of Jesus, or his mother or his foster father, Joseph. The Holy Father underlined that the way of humility is the one that leads to the triumph of the Resurrection. "Let us ask God for the grace of humility," he prayed, "that humility, which is the way by which charity surely passes," for, "if there is no humility, love remains blocked, it cannot go [forward]."


At his Saturday morning Mass, L'Osservatore Romano reported that the Pontiff spoke about martyrdom.
"To find martyrs we don't need to go to the Catacombs or to the Colosseum: today martyrs are alive in a great many countries. Christians are persecuted for their faith. In some countries they cannot carry the cross: they are penalized for doing so. Today, in the 21st century, our Church is a Church of martyrs," he said.
Pope Francis began his homily commenting with a quip on the Gospel passage of St Mark (16:9-15), in which are recounted the appearances of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples of Emmaus and to the Eleven. "When I read this Gospel it occurs to me that St Mark may not have liked Mary Magdalen much, since he recalled that the Lord had driven seven demons out of her, didn't he? It was a question of liking...".
He then presented a reflection on faith: "a grace", and "a gift of the Lord" which should not be glossed over — and is thus extended "to the peoples who believe in you", as the Collect of Mass says, for "we are not attached to a fantasy", but "to a reality we have seen and heard."

The Pope mentioned the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (4:13-21) proclaimed in the First Reading. In response to the order given by the head priests and Pharisees not to speak of Jesus, Peter and John, "stood firm in the faith" saying, "we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

Their testimony, he added, "reminds me of our faith. And what is our faith like? Is it strong? Or is it at times a little like rosewater, a somewhat watered down faith? When problems arise are we brave like Peter or inclined to be lukewarm?"

Peter, Pope Francis said, teaches us that "faith is not negotiable. Among the People of God this temptation has always existed: to downsize faith, and not even by 'much.'" However, he explained, we must must get the better of "the temptation to behave more or less 'like everyone else', not to be too, too rigid", because it is "from this that a path which ends in apostasy unfolds."

Indeed, "when we begin to cut faith down, to negotiate faith and more or less to sell it to the one who makes the best offer, we are setting out on the road of apostasy, of non fidelity to the Lord".

Yet the very "example of Peter and John helps us, gives us strength"; as does the example of the martyrs in the Church's history. It is they "who say, like Peter and John, 'we cannot but speak'. And this gives strength to us, whose faith is at times rather weak. It gives us the strength to carry on living with this faith we have received, this faith which is the gift that the Lord gives to all peoples".

The Pope ended by suggesting a daily prayer: "Lord, thank you so much for my faith. Preserve my faith, increase it. May my faith be strong and courageous. And help me in the moments when, like Peter and John, I must make it public."


Monday, April 8, 2013

Romanian Man Sues Bishop and Priests for Failing to Exorcise Flatulent Demons from His House


(Neatorama) Madalin Ciculescu, an attorney in Romania, was plagued with foul-smelling demons in his house who constantly turned his electrical gadgets on and off. So he hired four local Orthodox priests to exorcise them. In his lawsuit, Ciculescu argues that they didn't finish the job:
'When I am at home they switch the TV on and off all the time, they make foul smells that give me headaches and basically roam unhindered around my house and my business.'
The man produced his mother to back up his claim saying that even the hair-dryer was possessed and a black shadow came out of it when anyone tried to use it - and she also said the fridge was infested by the flatulent demons that she confirmed left foul smells about the property.
But the lawyer for the Archdiocese from Arges, Anton Alin, rejected the allegation of fraud saying that the exorcism had been properly carried out and they believed the allegations of further demons and more bad smells were simply a product of the man's imagination.
The Romanian court agreed with the church and rejected the application against Bishop Argatu as well as priests Ionut Cret Ovidiu, Gheorghe Nicut, Marius Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Dunitru - and ordered Ciculescu to pay legal costs.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Megyn Kelly’s Emotional Interview With Dr. Paul Gondreau, Dad of Disabled Boy Embraced by Pope Francis


(Fox News) The moving images of this Easter Sunday moment at the Vatican have spread around the world over the last few days. Greeting followers in St. Peter’s Square from the “Popemobile,” Pope Francis called for 8-year-old Dominic Gondreau, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to be raised up to him. He proceeded to hug Dominic, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

Paul Gondreau, a theology professor at Providence College, had traveled with his wife and children to Rome to teach for a semester. He was shocked to see his son in the arms of the newly elected pontiff, and he shared the amazing experience with Megyn Kelly on America Live.

Gondreau said he was seated with his four other children further away from the pope. Dominic and his mother, Christina, had been summoned earlier by the Swiss Guards to move into a closer seating area with other disabled children.

Gondreau said one of his other sons pointed out what was happening, telling him it was actually Dominic that was being held by Pope Francis.

“(My son) said the pope is holding Dominic! That’s when I looked up at the Jumbotron and beheld this grand moment and was immediately moved to tears with my son. I will cherish that memory forever,” he said.

Watch the emotional interview:

Part 2


In the Company of Saints and Villains: The Work of Divine Mercy

“Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy . . . To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in my unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.” (Diary of Saint Faustina, 1146)

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls) Exactly twenty years ago, in the first week of April 1993, my friend and spiritual director, Father Richard Drabik, M.I.C. was preparing to go to Rome to concelebrate with Pope John Paul II the Mass of Beatification of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, now known as Saint Faustina. Her Beatification took place on the Sunday after Easter that year, and Pope John Paul II decreed that henceforth that Sunday would be universally known in the Roman Calendar as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Father Richard Drabik was formerly Provincial Superior of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He wrote the Preface to the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska that has become globally famous. Just before leaving for her Beatification in Rome twenty years ago this month, Father Drabik asked me if I would like to write a brief prayer for (then) Blessed Faustina’s intercession. I did not know what to write, so on the day of my friend’s departure I handed him a small scrap of paper to place with his intentions for the Mass. I folded it and sealed it in a small envelope that would fit easily in his pocket.

No one ever knew what I wrote. Except for a brief note sent to Felix Carroll a few weeks ago, I have never before spoken of this. The note with my petition was simple: “I ask the intercession of Blessed Faustina that I may have the courage to be the priest God calls me to be.” It was an odd petition, and today I have no idea what I was thinking about when I wrote it and handed it to Father Drabik on his way out the door... (continued)