Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Leaders of Catholic and Episcopal churches differ on gay marriage in Pennsylvania

By Ivey DeJesus

(The Patriot-NewsThe heads of the Catholic and Episcopal churches in south central Pennsylvania on Wednesday struck contrasting reactions to findings of a poll that shows voters would be in favor of approving gay marriage legislation.
The Rev. Joseph McFadden, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, decried the narrow favoring for gay marriage, while the Rev. Nathan Baxter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania welcomed it as good news.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that Pennsylvanians narrowly favor gay marriage -- 47 percent of voters indicating they would approve gay marriage, and 43 percent opposing it. The poll found greater disparities along religious lines.

White Catholics indicated support for same-sex marriage 50-40 percent, while white Protestants oppose it 60-31 percent, the poll found. Voters under 35 also support same-sex marriage 68-25 percent, as do voters aged 35 to 54 years old 48-41 percent. But commonwealth voters over 55 oppose it 52-39 percent.

"...The gift of marriage is something we receive from God, it is not something we construct or can change to fit our purposes." Bishop Joseph McFadden
The Patriot-News will continue to update reaction from across a broad swath of community and public figures throughout the day. Join the conversation here on PennLive with your thoughts on the comments stream.

Reactions from the bishops are provided in their entirety:

The Rev. Joseph McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg:

“We believe and teach that the gift of marriage is something we receive from God, it is not something we construct or can change to fit our purposes. That is why one of the most troubling developments in today’s culture is the proposition that persons of the same sex can marry. This proposal attempts to redefine the nature of marriage and the family and, as a result, harms both the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good of society. Marriage is the basis for family formation and is not simply a way of legitimizing sex.”

“Marriage is a unique union, a relationship different from all others. It has two fundamental purposes, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. They cannot be separated.”

“Basic human rights must be afforded to all people. This can and should be done without sacrificing the bedrock of society that is marriage and the family and without violating the religious liberty of persons and institutions.”

“Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. It’s respecting the unique reality of the relationship between a husband and a wife, who alone are capable of forming a union open to new life.”

The Rt. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania:
“I am pleased to see the results of the recent Quinnipiac University Poll results concerning Pennsylvanian views on gun control and same-gender marriage.

While matters of improved background checks, enforcement of existing laws and better mental health access is critical to the conversation about public safety, the openness to consider regulation of assault weapons is vital. The best solutions come from comprehensive and open conversation. Finding the best solutions to public safety is only limited by what is politically unacceptable to consider.

Same-gender marriage is an issue which, while culturally and religiously controversial, has not been a politically limited conversation. That almost half of Pennsylvanians have moved towards support of marriage equality says that, in time, even with our differences on the issue, we will come to a just and respectful consensus.”


Thursday, January 24, 2013

When the State Tries to be Master Over Nature

By Father George Rutler

Connecting with people you'd like to have known is a nice hobby, and I can claim to be just three handshakes from Abraham Lincoln and only five from George Washington. Recently at the opera, I put several people three handshakes from Puccini. Alas, an employee in a sporting goods store near Grand Central was unmoved when I put him four handshakes from Mendelssohn. Just two handshakes from the Alice of Wonderland, I spent many hours in the rooms she knew when her father was dean of the college where I studied and where Lewis Carroll wrote the stories for her. Alice Liddell, later Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves, died in 1934 at the age of 82, shortly after she visited New York to be honored by Columbia University.

In Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty boasts: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words means so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that's all.”

When the State tries to be master over nature, behavior becomes disordered. The results of the disastrous legalization of the destruction of unborn children prove that, and now it is happening again in attempts to “redefine” marriage. So far, eleven countries have done it, as well as nine of our own states, along with the nation’s capital. Hundreds of thousands have publicly protested the attempt of France’s Socialist president to play “master.” It should be obvious to all except the dense and the willfully ignorant, that the next step will be to attack the Church through civil penalties for refusing to accept the authority of the State to invert the natural order, of which the State is only a steward.

Pope Benedict XVI has said: “. . . if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. [Rabbi] Bernheim [the Chief Rabbi of France] shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of right, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied, and ultimately man, too, is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.”

At the wedding in Cana, Christ's mother said, “Whatever my son says to do, do it.” We are free not to do what he says, and to play Humpty Dumpty with nature, but when the social order has a great fall, all the politicians will not be able to put it back together again.


Praying in Front of Planned Parenthood

From Father Frank Pavone:

"People from all walks of life praying with Fr. Frank in front of Planned Parenthood."


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From ChurchMilitant.TV:

"Look who we ran into at the Reagan National airport...Fr. Frank Pavone with Priests for Life and Fr. Z!!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Les Miserables: The Bishop and the Redemption of Jean Valjean

Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, set in the French Revolution, was really about a revolution in the human heart and a contagious outbreak of virtue.

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls) Many TSW readers know that I work in the prison library. I wrote about it in 2011 in “The Spring of Hope: Winter in New England Shows Signs of Thaw.” In 2012, the prison library broke all previous records. 25,861 books were checked out to prisoners during the course of the year. A part of my job is to maintain such statistics for a monthly report. In a typical month in this prison, over 1,000 prisoners visit the library.

I take a little ribbing just for having such a job. Every time the Stephen King story, The Shawshank Redemption replays on television, prisoners start calling me “Brooks,” the old codger of a prison librarian deftly played by the great James Whitmore. I even have Brooks’ job. When prisoners succumb to their worst behaviors, and end up spending months locked away in “the hole,” it’s my job to receive and fill their weekly requests for two books.

Locked alone in punitive segregation cells for 23 hours a day with no human contact – the 24th hour usually spent pacing alone in an outside cage – the two allowed weekly books become crucially important. On a typical Friday afternoon in prison, I pull, check out, wrap, and bag nearly 100 books requested by prisoners locked in solitary confinement, and print check-out cards for them to sign. I pack the books in two heavy plastic bags to haul them off to the Special Housing Unit (SHU).

It’s quite a workout as the book bags typically weigh 50 to 60 pounds each. Once I get the bags hoisted over my shoulders, I have to carry them down three flights of stairs, across the walled prison yard, up a long ramp, then into the Special Housing Unit for distribution to the intended recipients. The prison library tends to hire older inmates – who are often (but not always) a little more mature and a little less disruptive – for a few library clerk positions that pay up to $2.00 per day. One day the prison yard sergeant saw me hauling the two heavy bags and asked, “Why don’t they get one of the kids to carry those?” I replied, “Have you seen the library staff lately? I AM one of the kids! ”

Prisoners who have spent time in the hole are usually very grateful for the books they’ve read. “Oh man, you saved me!” is a comment I hear a lot from men who have had the experience of being isolated from others for months on end. When prisoners in the hole request books, they fill out a form listing two primary choices and several alternates. I try my very best to find and send them what they ask for whenever possible, but I admit that I also sometimes err on the side of appealing to their better nature. There always is one. So when they ask for books about “heinous true crimes,” I tend to look for something a bit more redemptive.

One week, one of the requests I received was from Tom, a younger prisoner who later became one of my friends and is now free. Tom’s written book request had an air of despair. “I’m going insane! Please just send me the longest book you can find,” he wrote. So I sent the library’s only copy of Les Miserables, the 1862 masterpiece by Victor Hugo.

It got Tom through a few desperate weeks in solitary confinement. Two years later, as Tom was getting ready to leave prison, I asked him to name the most influential book among the hundreds that he read while in prison. “That’s easy,” said Tom. “The most influential book I’ve ever read is the one you sent me in the hole – Les Miserables. It changed me in ways I can’t begin to understand...” (continued)


Justice Antonin Scalia Wears Saint Thomas More's Hat to Inauguration

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS:
Kevin Walsh of the University of Richmond School of Law writes:
The twitterverse is alive with tweets about Justice Scalia’s headgear for today’s inauguration. At the risk of putting all the fun speculation to an end . . . The hat is a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein’s famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. We presented it to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in our 27th annual Red Mass and dinner.
Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.

Monday, January 21, 2013

US employee 'outsourced job to China'

A security check on a US company has reportedly revealed one of its staff was outsourcing his work to China. 

(BBC) The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay.

He reportedly paid just a fifth of his six-figure salary to a company based in Shenyang to do his job.

Operator Verizon says the scam came to light after the US firm asked it for an audit, suspecting a security breach.

According to Andrew Valentine, of Verizon, the infrastructure company requested the operator's risk team last year to investigate some anomalous activity on its virtual private network (VPN) logs...

The employee, an "inoffensive and quiet" but talented man versed in several programming languages, "spent less than one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him", Mr Valentine said.

"Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day," he added.

"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about $50,000 (£31,270) annually."

The employee no longer worked at the firm, Mr Valentine said.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stan the Man – R.I.P.

By Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I learned just now that Stan “the Man” Musial died, at the age of 92.

Today it seems no one stays in one place anymore, as Joni might put it.  That holds true for baseball players and pastors of parishes.  But Musial spent his entire career of 22 years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

He was an amazingly consistent hitter, having exactly, imagine it over 22 years, the same number of hits on the road as at home, 1815!  He had 1951 RBIs and 1949 runs. He never struck out more than 50 times in a season. He led the NL in at least one category each year. He made the All-Star team 24 times. When he retired he had 55 records.

On his final day, Musial hit one past shortstop Pete Rose, who 18 years later broke Musial’s own record of 3630 hits... (continued)


Priest charged with selling meth

Monsignor Kevin Wallin of the Diocese of Bridgeport, 2010. (Connecticut Post file photo)

(Fox News) The Catholic priest indicted by a federal grand jury in an alleged nationwide methamphetamine ring was reportedly suspended after Connecticut church officials discovered he was a cross-dresser who was having sex in the rectory at Bridgeport’s St. Augustine Cathedral.

The Connecticut Post reports that Monsignor Kevin Wallin was relieved of his duties in May, but the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport continued to pay the 61-year-old man a stipend until his Jan. 3 arrest. Wallin had planned to fly to London that day, the newspaper reports.

At one point, Wallin, who is now dubbed “Msgr. Meth” by some, was selling upwards of $9,000 of meth a week, including shipments from Connecticut to California, according to his indictment.

In his post-priesthood life, Wallin, of Waterbury, purchased an adult specialty and video store in North Haven called Land of Oz that sold sex toys and adult videos.  Investigators believe the shop helped him launder thousands of dollars in weekly profits, the newspaper reports.

Wallin's arrest shocked residents throughout Bridgeport and Danbury, where he was known as a charismatic speaker who was involved in many charitable activities. He often attended musicals with his mentor, former New York Cardinal Edward Egan and parishioners.

"There is an evil invading our world and it has come to our church," longtime St. Augstine parishioner Maria Spencer-Fonseca told the newspaper. "This was a work of evil — and I am praying for the monsignor."

Therese Ruppert, a parishioner at the Church of St. Peter in Danbury, where Wallin was pastor from 1996 to 2002, said she “can’t fathom” the news.

"He was so spiritual,” Ruppert told the newspaper. “His sermons were wonderful. He had such knowledge of theology..."  (continued)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vatican to enlist Christian all-stars to help scandal-ridden sports

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to flex its moral muscle in the professional sports arena, the Vatican has invited top-tier Christian athletes Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin to help bring ethical values back to a scandal-ridden world of sports.

The Pontifical Council for Culture is planning to host an international conference on re-instilling values in sports this spring, inviting representatives from top world governing bodies like FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football), the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee.

Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the council's "Culture and Sport" section, told Catholic News Service Jan. 16 that pro sports "have become a commodity that is subordinate to the free market and, therefore, to profit."

Instead of sports being an activity that builds important values, respects human dignity and helps shape the whole human person, "it has reduced people to merchandise," he said.

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission to doping was just the tip of the iceberg, he said, since high-stakes commercial interests pressure almost every professional cyclist into the illegal practice. The world of cycling and soccer is "a world that is rotten," he said.

"We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports" and the upcoming conference -- titled "We Believe in Sports" -- will be one way to get that initiative started, the monsignor said.

The council will also have Catholic and Christian athletes in attendance, to give witness to how the worlds of faith and sports can easily come together.

He said the council hoped its participant line-up would include two high-profile Christian U.S. sports stars: NFL quarterback Tim Tebow of the New York Jets, and NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets.

The goal of the conference is two-fold, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca said.

First: "to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost."

Second: to help the church see sport as an important resource for future priests, Catholic schools, parishes and catechists.

The former-modern pentathlete-turned-priest said the council also wants to hold a "Race of Faith" -- a 100-meter jog, shuffle or sprint up the Via della Conciliazione toward St. Peter's Square during the gathering.

"We want to see lots of cardinals in tracksuits, too," he said.


Ex-Priest Recants Historic Guilty Plea; Is Msgr. Lynn In Jail Based On a Crime That Never Happened?

Msgr. William Lynn and former priest Edward Avery, Philadelphia
Guilty or innocent? Philadelphia's Msgr. William J. Lynn and former priest Edward Avery

The conviction of Philadelphia's Msgr. William J. Lynn last June was historic and widely trumpeted by an overheated media, as Lynn became the first member of the Catholic hierarchy to be found guilty in a criminal court for endangering children.

And the sole reason Lynn sits in jail today is because former priest Edward Avery had pleaded guilty to sexually violating a 10-year-old boy in the late 1990s. Prosecutors claimed that Lynn should not have placed Avery into a ministry assignment because the priest had a prior abuse accusation dating back to the 1970s. Had Lynn kept Avery out of public ministry, prosecutors charged, he would not have been able to abuse the 10-year-old.

But in a truly shocking development, Avery took the witness stand today in a Philadelphia courtroom and recanted under oath his guilty plea.

This remarkable turn-around indicates that Msgr. Lynn may likely be sitting in jail based on a crime that never even happened!

A trial under the radar

Today, Avery appeared as a witness in the trial of accused Catholic priest Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former teacher Bernard Shero. The alleged 10-year-old victim is now a 24-year-old admitted drug addict and criminal, and he has claimed that the three men – Avery, Engelhardt, and Shero – all sexually assaulted him during the late 1990s when he was a student at St. Jerome's Parish in Philadelphia.

The accuser's claims are quite wild, indeed, and Engelhardt and Shero have vehemently denied the charges against them.

Why the turnaround by Avery?

Yet Edward Avery pleaded guilty to the charge against him last March before going to trial. The obvious question people are asking is, Why?

Avery pleaded guilty because he faced a possible sentence of two decades in prison if found guilty by a jury, and prosecutors offered him a very generous 2 1/2 to 5 years.

Last September we learned that Avery has not only denied that he sexually assaulted the boy but that he has said that he did not even know the accuser... (continued)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Dreams May Come: Azazel and the Pursuit of Justice

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls) In “Nightmares and Dreamscapes from the Desert,” a TSW post during Lent last year, I wrote of a recurring dream I’ve had throughout 18 years of imprisonment. The dream had multiple variations and outcomes, all of them anxiety producing, but one version in particular seemed to be an archetype for the dream’s central plot.

You might remember its details. In the dream, I was lost at night in a city vaguely familiar, pursued by a mob hunting me through the dark city streets. I climbed the steps of a Catholic church for refuge. That particular scene came right out of my childhood, and I wrote of it in “A Glorious Mystery for When the Dark Night Rises.” In my dream, however, the church doors were locked and its sanctuary inaccessible.

Left on the stairs of the church with the pursuing mob closing in, I turned from them to face the huge bronze doors. There I saw an immense, finely detailed bas relief of the Crucified Christ cast into the bronze of the huge door. Someone in the mob let loose a stone aimed at me, but it missed me and struck the Crucifix. I awoke muttering something I’ll always remember: “The stone that was meant for me struck Thee.”

I have very vivid dreams in prison, sometimes with plots that seem to run all night long, though I know they don’t. That dream and many others very much like it have been both the cause and effect of anxiety, a problem that every prisoner seems to have in abundance. What’s central to the plot in every variation of the dream is the fact that I am a priest being pursued by a lynch mob.

A lot of people don’t know that “lynch mob” is a term that originated just after America’s Revolutionary War. In 1780, after America gained its independence from Great Britain, Colonial Army Captain William Lynch of Virginia organized his own private army. It was a band of former soldiers intent on seeking and punishing Loyalists, Colonists who remained loyal to Britain during the war. Too often, Captain Lynch’s only evidence came from anonymous informants, and with that spectral evidence he and his mob descended upon farms to summarily convict and hang their occupants. Hence the term, “Lynch mob” which used to be capitalized in the English lexicon.

My lynch mob dream is interesting because from it you can easily pinpoint some of the reality that has befallen many accused priests. With policies that left accused priests standing alone and exposed outside Church doors, the mob – aka, SNAP, VOTF, and much of the secular and Catholic press – closed in for trials without evidence and condemnations without defense. I happen to know first hand that once a priest is so condemned to wear the scarlet letter of accusation, there is great resistance in some Chancery offices to hearing any defense.

Some might think it’s risky to write of such dreams on These Stone Walls. Some think I shouldn’t let people into my psyche so openly, but there’s really not that much going on in here. Besides, I found that writing about the troublesome lynch mob dream robbed it of its power, and I haven’t had it since. Others have come to take its place, however, and I had one recently.

In this new emanation of the dream, I was brought in chains to a court hearing on our new appeal that has been ever so slowly evolving in fits and start since it was filed one year ago. In the new dream, I stood before a judge who in the end ordered all my chains removed and declared me to be free. The lawyers all congratulated each other and shook my hand in the dream, and then they got into their cars and left me standing on the courthouse steps alone. With my bonds of 18 years suddenly removed, I was free. I was also tired and hungry and I realized with anxiety in the dream that for over 18 years I had been a non-person. I had no money, no identity – at least no identity that anyone in my diocese dared acknowledge – and no place to go.

Then it was night in the dream, and I was on the city streets again. I knew I had been there many times before, but there was no mob. 1 walked to the only place 1 knew, the parish where I once served 30 years ago. A priest I once knew opened the door and declared, “I cannot help you,” then slammed the door leaving me in the cold. I went into the church through a back door found open, and I fell asleep in a pew, the Blessed Sacrament’s vigil candle burning brightly just a few feet away.

I don’t think I had ever had a dream about falling asleep before. Anyway while it was still dark, I was awakened in the pew by my brother priest who had called the police to have me charged me with trespassing. The chains removed just hours earlier were put back on me, and I was taken back to prison, full circle, to where the dream about freedom began.

The priest at the rectory door, and his “I cannot help you” comment, was also a real experience that Ryan MacDonald wrote of in an article entitled “To Azazel: Father Gordon MacRae and the Gospel of Mercy.” It wounded me deeply when it happened a few years ago. It troubled me again when I read it in Ryan’s article, and yet again when it entered my midwinter night’s bad dream. Obviously, my psyche and soul are telling me that it needs some attention.


Ryan MacDonald’s use of the term, “To Azazel” in his title was very clever. It’s a mysterious term, used in Scripture on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the high priest placed his hands on a goat upon which was imposed all the sins and transgressions of the people. This Scripture passage in the Book of Leviticus (16: 8-10; 20-28) was the origin of the term “scapegoat.” The scapegoat was then sent into the desert, “To Azazel.”

The actual meaning of “Azazel” is uncertain. It appears to be both a name and a place, or even a social standing. According to the Jewish Apocryphal book, 1 Enoch (8:1; 10: 4-6), Azazel is the name of a fallen angel, a demon of the desert. The name also denotes the region to which the scapegoat is sent bearing the sins of others. Its place in the desert is the land of the lost, a place from which the scapegoat is never allowed to return... (continued)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Opus Bono Sacerdotii

Bishop Michael Ekwoy Apochi of the Diocese of Otukpo, Nigeria offers Holy Mass in Our Lady of Priests Chapel located in our offices. "Your willingness to give up all to serve the priesthood is an example for all of us. We are so very grateful!" — at Opus Bono Sacerdotii.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mars colonists sought for exhibition

Dutch company Mars One is making plans to choose a crew for the first manned mission to Mars to become the first colonists of the Red Planet.


Would you like to go live on Mars?

A Dutch company called Mars One has announced plans to create the first human settlement on the Red Planet in just 10 years.

Mars One plans to pick travelers to submit to a full-time training program that will conclude with a one-way ticket to Mars, where a prepared colony will be waiting.

Prospective colonists must be at least 18 years old, and the Mars One team says qualities such as resiliency, adaptability, creativity, resourcefulness and curiosity will be given high priority. All necessary skills for Mars survival will be taught to the colonists over the next decade as they prepare full-time to blast into space--and history.

Mars One founders Bas Landsorp and Arno Wielders, entrepreneurs with ties to technology and space industries, said they plan to send probes and rovers as early as 2016 to prepare the planet for human habitation.

And--no surprise here--they plan to fund the mission through the wonders of Reality television.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Space X founder Elon Musk is also eyeing plans to populate Mars, offering aspiring Martians berth for the low low price of half a million dollars.


SpaceX's Elon Musk: Your ticket to Mars? Half a million dollars

November 26, 2012 | By Deborah Netburn

 Elon Musk in the mission control room of Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, in April of this year. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Los Angeles Times) SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is laying out his plans for a colony on Mars, and they are specific.

Musk has already mapped out an approximate number of people he imagines living in the Mars colony (80,000), as well as how much a ticket to Mars might cost--$500,000.

But first, he said, SpaceX has to design what he calls a "rapid and reusable" rocket that can land vertically. "That is the pivotal step to achieving a colony on Mars," he told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last week.

If SpaceX or another company can't come up with a rocket that can be reused and refueled (like we reuse airplanes), then he said colonizing Mars would be prohibitively expensive.

Musk described creating a rocket that could shuttle between Mars and the Earth as "possible, but quite difficult."

But that hasn't stopped him from mapping out a vision of how a colony on Mars might grow. The first step, of course, is getting a manned mission to Mars, which Musk said he thinks SpaceX can do in 10 to 15 years.

Next, he envisions sending 10 people to the Red Planet, along with supplies to build transparent domes, reports. If the domes are pressurized with the CO2 in Mars' atmosphere, the colonists could grow Earth crops in the soil on Mars.

As the colony became more self-sufficient, space on the rocket could be filled with people rather than supplies.

And those numbers Musk tossed out are not random. He arrived at 80,000 colonists by estimating that by the time a Mars colony is a reality there will be 8 billion people on Earth. Musk said he thinks 1 in 100,000 people will be ready and willing to take the journey to Mars. As for the $500,000 ticket--he said that while it's a lot of money, it is a sum of money that someone who has worked hard and saved carefully might be able to afford.

And as to whether the American taxpayer should contribute to a colony on Mars, Musk says yes. A colony on another planet is life insurance for life collectively, he said during his talk. He added that it would be a fun adventure to watch, even if you aren't planning on going yourself.

If you'd like to see the talk for yourself, check out the video below.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says jail may be effective protest to contraception mandate

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said on a radio program Wednesday that going to jail may be an effective way to protest a mandate tied to ObamaCare that requires employers to provide contraceptive coverage.

Appearing on on Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace's syndicated show, the Republican gubernatorial candidate said civil disobedience is one way to attack the federal health care law's requirement.

The so-called contraceptive mandate is now being challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Hobby Lobby stores. The company is primarily concerned about coverage for the morning-after pill, which some consider an abortion-causing drug.

Cuccinelli called the mandate an attack on the Roman Catholic Church and religious freedom and suggested that opponents fight back by forcing the feds to crack down on those who don't comply.

Cuccinelli, who is Catholic, said he had spoken to a bishop who suggested he'd go to jail to protest it.
"My local bishop said he told a group, `Well, you know, I told a group I'm ready to go to jail,' and I told him, `Bishop, don't take this personally - you need to go to jail," Cuccinelli said, trying to balance levity with seriousness.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel Inc., a religious book seller owned by the same conservative Christian family, plan to defy the federal health care law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception. The company risks fines up to $1.3 million a day.

The companies are suing to block the requirement in the federal law, claiming it violates their owners' religious beliefs. They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb.

In three years as attorney general, Cuccinelli has pursued aggressive efforts to restrict abortion in Virginia. Last year, Cuccinelli forced the State Board of Health to reverse a decision to exempt existing abortion clinics from a new law that required them to meet the same architectural standards as new hospitals by saying the board overstepped its bounds and refusing to certify the board's regulations.

He was also the first state attorney general to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 federal health care reforms. In September 2011, a federal appeals court rejected Virginia's challenge to the law, saying that the state didn't have the right to bring a lawsuit.

In his interview with Deace, Cuccinelli said employers who want to challenge the law may have to make the hard decision to go to jail to "provide an example of what tyranny means when it's played to its logical conclusion."

"Abraham Lincoln has many good quotes, but one of them is `The best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it vigorously," Cuccinelli said on the show, which is carried in several states.

Democrats and abortion-rights groups blasted Cuccinelli starting Wednesday evening after Politico reported Cuccinelli's comments from the night before.

"For Virginia's chief legal officer to suggest that citizens break the law is not only reckless, it's dangerous," said Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring, who is running for the office Cuccinelli will vacate.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, the foremost reproductive rights lobby in Richmond, tweeted: "Ken Cuccinelli thinks ppl (people) should go to jail to oppose better access to birth control. And he wants to be our Gov?!"
Efforts to mandate vaginally invasive ultrasound exams before all abortions produced angry state Capitol protests in Richmond last winter and subjected Cuccinelli, Gov. Bob McDonnell and other Republicans in an election year to nationwide unfavorable headlines and ridicule by television comedians.


Saint Catherine of Siena Besieged by Demons

Saint Catherine of Siena besieged by demons, circa Anonymous

h/t The Tenth Crusade

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Snooki's fiance does not appreciate Newt Gingrich giving Snooki gifts

By Nikki Schwab

(The Examiner) Jionni LaValle, fiance of reality TV star Snooki, does not know who Newt Gingrich is. And he doesn't appreciate that Gingrich is sending gifts to Snooki.

On Tuesday night's episode of MTV's "Snooki & Jwoww", Snooki showed off a stuffed elephant that the GOP pol had sent her to give to her son. "Newt gave this to me," Snooki said holding up the toy. "Newt. That political guy. I met Newt Gingrich in LA., and he got Lorenzo an elephant," she continued. LaValle just raised his eyebrows. "Ummm, I have no idea who Newt is. I've never heard of him, but he's sending my fiance gifts," LaValle stated.

Sensing LaValle's jealousy, Snooki countered with this: "He like tried to run for president or something," she said. "He's really cute though."


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Same-sex weddings to begin at the Episcopal Church's Washington National Cathedral


(The Washington Post) Washington National Cathedral — the seat of the Episcopal Church, one of the world’s largest cathedrals and the host of the official prayer service for the presidential inauguration later this month — has decided to start hosting same-sex weddings...

Even though it is known that the Episcopal Church, a small but prominent part of American Christianity, has been supportive of equality for gay men and lesbians, “it’s something for us to say we are going to do this in this very visible space where we pray for the president and where we bury leaders,” said the Rev. Gary Hall, who became dean of Washington National Cathedral in the fall. “This national spiritual space is now a place where [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can come and get married...”

Hall said he would have approved the marriages at the cathedral soon anyway but was encouraged by having the formal rite, which he said gives same-sex couples a theologically proper ceremony.

The “heterosexual marriage [ritual] still has some vestiges of patriarchy, with woman being property. There’s hope in same-sex marriage that it is a teachable moment for heterosexual couples. The new rite is grounded in baptism and radical equality of all people before God,” said Hall, who has been blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples for decades. “I’d like to use it for heterosexual weddings because I think it’s so much better than our marriage services.”

Mark Masci, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum who has focused on the issue of same-sex marriage and religion, noted that it is the mainline Protestant denominations in American religion — among them Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Methodists — who have experienced the most turmoil about the subject. The larger faith communities — the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and most of the nondenominational Christian world — “aren’t even considering these sorts of things.”

He said it’s impossible to predict where the issue is headed, but he noted that younger evangelicals generally seem more open on the topic of homosexuality than middle-aged or older ones.

The cathedral’s decision is the second time in recent weeks that Washington’s new Episcopal leadership has made headlines. Hall and Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, who arrived in the fall of 2011, were among the religious figures who quickly called for gun-control legislation after last month’s massacre in Newtown, Conn.


Atheists Don't Have No Songs

h/t Fr. Peter West

France's Hollande escalates row with Catholics over gay marriage

PARIS | Sun Jan 6, 2013 12:09pm EST
(Reuters) - France's President Francois Hollande has weighed this weekend into the war of words between his government and the Catholic Church over holding discussions in schools on the planned legalization of same-sex marriage.

He defended Education Minister Vincent Peillon on Saturday for urging Catholic schools, which teach about one-fifth of all pupils in France, to stay neutral in the debate.

Peillon's supporters and critics dominated the headlines and airwaves on Sunday, a week before a Church-backed protest in Paris that organizers say could draw as many as half a million people opposed to any change in traditional marriage.

The shrill polemics could not drown out another big news story, the growing unpopularity of Hollande and his government. One poll said 75 percent of voters doubt he can keep a New Year's promise to turn around rising unemployment this year.

Laurent Wauquiez, a former conservative higher education minister, slammed Peillon for implying that Catholic opposition to the reform was responsible for suicides of gay teenagers.
"This is a big political manipulation," he said.

Conservatives also cried foul because government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was filmed in a state school last October praising the marriage reform as progress towards more freedom.

Opinion polls show up to 60 percent of the French back same-sex marriage, which the government plans to legalize by June, and just under 50 percent support adoption rights for gays.

A new poll said 69 percent wanted a referendum on the issue, which all main religions here - Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Jewish and Orthodox Christian - have opposed.


Peillon triggered the row by saying the director of Catholic education system, heavily subsidized by the state, was wrong to urge his schools to discuss same-sex marriage with pupils.

"This education system, which is under contract to the state, should respect the principle of neutrality and the freedom of conscience of all," he stated in a letter to regional education officials who oversee both state and private schools.

These officials should scrutinize the Catholic debates and report any anti-gay views aired in them, Peillon said, urging extreme caution on this issue because young homosexuals were five times more prone to suicide than heterosexual youths.

Hollande backed him in the name of "laicite", the legal separation of church and state that is a secular rallying cry for French opposed to any religion in the public sphere.

"Laicite is a principle of the Republic," he said.

Religious leaders have encouraged people to join next Sunday's protest but most will not march themselves.

Opponents of the new law caught its supporters off guard in November when they brought about 100,000 out in Paris for what was meant as a warm-up to the protest in a week's time.

The protest will converge on the Eiffel Tower and include people from all over France, organizers said.

Although few in traditionally Catholic France attend Mass on Sunday, the Church can still rally crowds larger than most political protests when its core interests are threatened.

Passing the law would make France the 12th country around the world to legalize same-sex marriage. It is already allowed in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.

In the United States, Washington, D.C. and nine states have legalized it, three of them in last November's elections.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Buchanan: "There Would Be A Revolution" If Government Confiscated Weapons

From Real Clear Politics:

PAT BUCHANAN: There are three million ArmaLite rifles -- those Bushmaster types -- out there right now, and people are buying them like hotcakes. Every gun show, the sales are up enormously. Forty-one percent, they were up in December -- for last December -- which was a record year. John, what is common though, Eleanor [Clift] is correct, the push is going to come on three things: grandfather in the assault weapons that are here now; to try to outlaw assault weapons, outlaw magazines that carry more than 11 or 12 bullets; and also background checks at gun shows.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: With no Second Amendment, Congress could pass a law, as limited as this: banning assault rifles or as sweeping as prohibiting all private firearm ownership and requiring the surrender of all privately held firearms.

BUCHANAN: There would be a revolution in this country!

MCLAUGHLIN: Baloney! That doesn't mean you can't own one, but you have to put it in first and then go try --

BUCHANAN: There are 270 million guns in this country right now, John, and they're adding to them at a rate of 16 million a year. (The McLaughlin Group, weekend of January 5, 2013)


Catholic Church and Castro in cahoots to ‘eradicate’ homosexuals? MSNBC pundit’s incoherent rant

ROME, January 3, 2013 ( – Readers may be surprised to hear that Jesus Christ was the first socialist; every word of every article in the Vatican newspaper is “virtually dictated” personally by Pope Benedict; every country in Europe – indeed in the whole world – is socialist; the Catholic Church “thrives” under socialist regimes; and Fidel Castro’s mass murdering regime is on a moral par with the Catholic Church because they both allegedly want to “eradicate” homosexuals.

All of these assertions have come from the mouth of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who recorded a strange and confused 3.5 minute tirade  against Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas address, in which the pope warned that abortion and the advance of the homosexualist political and social agenda is a threat to the stability of human societies.

O’Donnell included several astonishing whoppers, including the assertion that a vow of celibacy automatically renders those who make it “tragically ignorant about marriage.” This despite the indisputable fact that the Pope, as well as nearly all clergy, are themselves the product of marriage, are surrounded like everyone else by married people and minister to married people, in addition to presumably being in possession of the normal human rational capacity that would allow them understand common cultural concepts.

Mr. O’Donnell appears not to have noticed that the Catholic Church, whose clergy have been celibate for centuries, has been administering the sacrament of marriage, counselling married people and generally been intimately involved in the institution of marriage since the founding of Christian civilization.

Another jaw-dropper was the astonishing news that Jesus Christ “was the original socialist” because he fed the poor and admonished the moneychangers in the Temple. Because apparently in Mr. O’Donnell’s odd universe, no one other than socialists have ever done any of these things.

Demonstrating his deep penetration of Vatican affairs, O’Donnell goes on to say that “everything in the Vatican newspaper [L’Osservatore Romano] is virtually dictated by the pope”. To which assertion many long-time Catholic observers of the Vatican scene will doubtless respond – after they pick themselves up off the floor – “Oh, would that it were so!”

But it is when O’Donnell equates the Catholic Church’s teaching on the meaning of human sexuality with the mass murders undertaken by Fidel Castro’s regime after his takeover of Cuba, that the Wonderland Whirl really begins. So dizzyingly bizarre are the comparisons and insinuations that it becomes difficult to sort out just what point Mr. O’Donnell is trying to make.

“The most hard-core socialist practitioner of all time was also viciously anti-gay,” says O’Donnell. Castro, “who started life as a Roman Catholic,” rounded up homosexuals “and sent them to re-education camps.”

“In Fidel Castro’s socialist utopia, gay sex was a criminal act,” O’Donnell continues. “Castro believed he could actually rid his country of all homosexuality, and he did everything in his power to achieve that.” Therefore, O’Donnell said, socialism “has not been a special friend to gay people”.

At the same time, O’Donnell claims, the Catholic Church “has thrived in socialist countries around the world,” although it “this week seems to want to pretend it is suddenly threatened by socialism”. These socialist countries, he says, include Italy. “Yes, Italy is a socialist country, as is every country in Europe, as is every country in the world, to varying degrees,” he adds.

He declined, however, to mention the countless thousands of Catholic inmates who perished in the Gulag system, prisons and torture chambers of the countries of the Soviet Union. He seems also never to have heard of any of the writings of any of the popes, largely before the 1960s, warning the world of the threat of socialistic Communism.

Untangled, O’Donnell’s message seems to be that the Catholic Church is socialist, because it follows Jesus Christ, the “first socialist,” and it is therefore exactly like Castro in its desire to persecute, torture and murder homosexuals – presumably with the approval of its socialist Founder.

Fortunately, Pope Benedict, who has been known to read a book or two now and then, was rather more coherent in his message for Christmas. However little Mr. O’Donnell may be aware of it, there is very little dispute in academia or among the more serious-minded public commentators that the “gender theory” driving the far-left, homosexualist political agenda is an offshoot of radical academic feminism, that is itself the child of Marxist theory. So much can be discovered by simply Googling the search terms “Engels, monogamous, family.”

It is hardly credible to dispute the connection of the “LGBTQ” agenda with the left, particularly in Europe where it forms a cornerstone of all the socialist, leftist and green parties’ platforms. Benedict is among the many who have personally experienced the effects of socialistic theories put into practice in various totalitarian regimes in recent European history, and is well placed to issue warnings against its re-growth under new names.

In the Christmas address that Mr. O’Donnell was at such pains to ridicule, Benedict warned that the attack on the family “goes much deeper” than was previously believed. It is a product, the pope said, ultimately of a foundational error about what it means to be human. It is a refusal to accept the very notion that there is such a thing as human nature, connected to their “bodily identity,” which we all share.

“While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question,” Pope Benedict said. Gender theory’s adherents, and the many more people they have seduced, “deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves”.

In the gender ideology, “sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society.”

The theory denies the immutable, dual nature of humanity, that “being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature.” But, “this duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about,” Pope Benedict said.

“If there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation,” he said.

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be.”

L’Osservatore Romano followed up the pope’s address with the observation that the new theory of a mutable, essentially self-determined human nature, is part and parcel of the socialist attempt to entirely re-write the nature of human beings and human societies. Lucetta Scaraffia, an eminent Italian historian who has also presumably read a few books, wrote that gender theory and its political causes are in fact the ultimate expression of Marx and Engels’ initial call for the abolition of the two-parent, biologically-based family.

She warned that the societies will “pay a high price” for the attempt to found a society on these premises, “as has already happened in the past when we have tried to achieve a complete economic and social equality.”

Pope Benedict warned, perhaps most ominously of all, that the final results of the implementation of this theory is the total objectification of human beings, particularly children. “From being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain.”


Friday, January 4, 2013

Man Attacked by Oompa Loompas

Oompa Loompa Attack
Two people dressed as Oompa Loompas are seen here at the new Wonka store at Sweet! Hollywood on Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012, in Los Angeles. According to reports, a man in Norfolk, England, was attacked last week by two men dressed as Oompa Loompas. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for WONKA/AP Images) 
(AOL) A man in Norfolk, England, was reportedly attacked last week by a pair of Oompa Loompas.
According to, the 28-year-old man was assaulted in a city center by four individuals -- two of whom had been dressed up as the orange-skinned characters made famous in Roald Dahl's children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

The man reportedly "suffered cuts to his face, nose and lip, as well as two black eyes" after being confronted by the group last Thursday.

The Guardian reports that the two Oompa Loompas, believed to be men, were accompanied by a woman and a man "not wearing fancy dress."

Police say that the costumed men had "painted orange faces and dyed green hair." They were said to have also been wearing "hooped tops."

"One of the males in the group...pushed the victim to the floor before he got up," a spokesman for Norfolk police said, according to Sky News. "He was then hit on the head, fell to the floor and hit again."
Police are currently searching for the perpetrators.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tragedy in Newtown and a New Year’s Resolution for Our Town

Two weeks after the Newtown tragedy, the Church recalled Herod’s Massacre of the Holy Innocents at Bethlehem. Against such grief, faith is the only guardrail left.

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

Twelve days before Christmas, a horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut took the lives of 28 people, 20 of them small children. It was an evil visited upon that small community that sent the nation into grief and soul searching, and launched a national dialogue to make sense of it.

Among the standout examples was the December 20 “Wonderland” column by Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal about the necessity of rules of living for any society. Our social rules are the guardrails that hold “a no-limits culture . . . to the protective virtues of self-control and self-restraint.” Mr. Henninger’s column described the actual date when the U.S., or more precisely when many people within it, “began to tip off the emotional tracks.” It was 1968, the very turning point in Western Culture that I also cited in “Vatican II Turns Fifty Part 2: Catholics and Culture Collide.” For Daniel Henninger, that collision was a symptom of an “unfettered egotism” let loose in 1968. The result has been tragedy after tragedy. His prescription was simple:
“The Newtown killings brought forth another moment for the nation’s public and private leaders. A presidential speech and maybe a law can’t hurt. But what the nation needs from them is more leadership than that.”
Such leadership was demonstrated most clearly in the words of one of Newtown’s Catholic priests. Two days after the tragedy, on the Third Sunday of Advent, Father Peter Cameron told the grieving parishioners of Newtown’s Saint Rose of Lima parish that “The certainty of joy is that evil does not have the last word, that love wins.”

It took courage and faith to address the realities of evil and joy just then, two weeks before Christmas, in the face of immense sorrow, when most other voices were looking only to find a target to place blame. Father Cameron was right, and lest anyone wonder whether evil was really at the heart of what happened in Newtown, his parishioners were driven out of their church that day as police surrounded it with guns drawn because someone chose that moment for an anonymous bomb scare.

Though evil’s shout was loud and clear, it did not have the last word in Newtown. Whether love wins in the end there – and how and when – remains to be seen, but it’s off to a good start. While the President and nation commenced the inevitable long and tedious political debate about new gun control laws, the people of Newtown delved as deeply as they could into their wells of faith, and those whose wells were parched and dry were invited to lean on the faith of others. Father Peter Cameron is a man and priest of great courage and conviction, and he had to put both to work that day as he challenged grieving parents and parishioners:
“All of us have to be deeply united and pay attention to those who are hurting. We have lost those that we love, but we know they are living forever.”
He doesn’t just hope this. He knows it. He didn’t just assault their wounded sprits and broken hearts with the empty rhetoric of some generic sympathy card. Father Cameron held out to this community the convictions of a lived faith, and it was the very leadership they needed and hoped for in that moment. As the news cameras descended upon Newtown, its grieving citizens sought and found hope and solace from the priests, ministers, and rabbis of their respective traditions. Their faith was not the last guardrail they sought out to buttress their wounded souls, but the first... (continued)