Saturday, March 30, 2013


Putin orders ban on adoptions by LGBT foreign couples

Russian President Vladimir Putin  (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

(RT) The Russian president has opposed the adoption of Russian orphans by LGBT foreign couples, and has instructed the government and the Supreme Court to prepare changes to existing law before July 1.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order will most likely be fulfilled by the Ministry of Education and Science, which is currently dealing with issues concerning orphans and adoptions, Izvestia daily reported.

The ministry has not yet commented on the news, saying that Putin’s instructions had not yet reached their office.

Tensions over the issue arose in mid-February, after the French National Assembly voted to legalize adoptions by same-sex couples. At the time, the Russian plenipotentiary for children’s rights Pavel Astakhov said he would do everything to ensure that Russian orphans are only adopted by heterosexual families.

In mid-February, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that it planned to verify the possible “psychological damage” inflicted on Russian orphan Yegor Shabatalov, who was adopted by a US woman who lived in a same-sex marriage with another US citizen, but concealed her relationship from Russian authorities when she filed the adoption request. Two years after adopting the Russian boy, the couple split and started a legal dispute over parental rights.

The head of the ‘All-Russian Parents’ Assembly’ movement, Nadezhda Khramova, told Izvestia that a total ban of foreign adoptions would be a smarter move, as “it is technically difficult to verify the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation and their legal status can be marriage of convenience.” Khramova and her NGO previously organized mass events in support of the ‘Dima Yakovlev Bill,’ which banned US citizens from adopting Russian children.

The main sponsor of the Dima Yakovlev Bill, MP Yekaterina Lakhova, earlier drew public attention to the French adoptions, claiming that only traditional families can offer their children a proper upbringing. Lakhova noted, however, that introducing new regulations could be a lengthy process, and that no one should expect the ban to immediately come into effect.

The Russian Family Code does not allow same-sex marriage, making adoption by same sex-couples impossible. Adoption by unmarried individuals is allowed; authorities do not require future parents to present proof of their sexual orientation.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pope Francis, the Pride of Mockery, and the Mockery of Pride

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae at These Stone Walls

The very presence of Pope Francis makes a mockery of pride, and calls for a most vital Catholic reform: a reform of our hearts to atone for the worst of our vices.
“It is a terrible thing that the worst of all vices can smuggle itself into our religious life . . . But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual. Consequently it is far more subtle and deadly . . . Pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952)
For nineteen years in a row, I have been separated by prison walls from the Church’s remembrance of Holy Week. Palm Sunday, the Chrism Mass, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross, and the Easter Vigil are all reduced to a remembrance from inside a prison cell. In preparation for Holy Week this year, I have been reading the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth, a trilogy of books by Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. Volume II is subtitled Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.

I wanted to write something brilliant and uplifting for Holy Week so of course I turned to Benedict the Beloved. But as I read his inspired pages, I kept coming back to my Holy Week post of 2012. Something Benedict wrote causes me to point once again this Holy Week to “Dismas, Crucified to the Right: Paradise Lost and Found.” Here are Benedict’s words:
“Of the two men crucified with Jesus, only one joins in the mockery; the other grasps the mystery of Jesus. He knows and he sees that the nature of Jesus’ ‘offense’ was quite different. . . and now he sees that this man crucified beside him truly makes the face of God visible; he is truly God’s son. So he asks him, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power.’ ” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, p. 212)
The other criminal, crucified to the left, takes his pride to the grave and runs his mouth in mockery in sympathy with the very Roman officials and the crowds who condemned him. In a most bizarre display of so-called “Stockholm Syndrome,” that crucified man emulates their pride and takes up their prejudice to mock Christ.

His mockery bears witness to C.S. Lewis’ quote above about the true source of our pride, “the worst of all vices.” That other man echoes Satan tempting Jesus in the desert. He sneers, even from his own cross: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us then!” The arrogance of his agenda was exactly what C.S. Lewis predicted of pride’s true nature. It deprived the condemned man of an awareness of the reality of his life and death. It stole his common sense. It left him with the worst combination of human traits: a closed mind, and an open mouth... (continued)


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo

(BBC) Newly elected Pope Francis has met his predecessor for lunch, the first time such a meeting has been possible for more than 600 years.

Pope Francis was flown by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo for the private lunch with Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Benedict has lived at the lakeside castle south of Rome since last month, when he became the first pope in six centuries to resign, citing ill health.

Francis presented Benedict with an icon of the Virgin Mary during their meeting

Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio was elected to succeed him on 13 March.

No known precedent

There was no official communique on the results of the Pope's brief lunchtime visit to Castel Gandolfo, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

The two shared a kneeler as they prayed together in the villa's chapel, with Francis rejecting the use of the papal kneeler to share with his 'brother'

On the agenda, some delicate handover details, including a top secret document prepared by the former pope on last year's scandal involving leaked documents, our correspondent adds...

The two men both wore the white robes of the papacy, but Benedict chose a cassock and quilted jacket, leaving the cape and sash to Francis

The Vatican press office issued photographs of the pair praying together and exchanging gifts before they were left to speak privately

After their private chat, Francis and Benedict were joined for lunch by the two papal secretaries

An Argentine flag waved outside the papal summer residence today as crowds awaited the arrival of Pope Francis to meet Benedict, pope emeritus

Francis visited Benedict at Castel Gandolfo today, where the former pope blessed crowds from the balcony as he appeared in public view for the last time on the evening of February 28


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pope Francis Can Call the West Out of the Sandbox of Self-Absorption

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls)   ...The latter part of Father Z’s title, the “National Schismatic Reporter” is his newest nickname for NCR. There are other pseudonyms – some used with far less dignity – but my own name for NCR is the “National Catholic Distorter.” That one has fallen into disuse, however, because it retains the name, “Catholic” in the title, and undeservedly so. On February 27, the day before Benedict’s resignation took effect, NCR editor, Torn Fox offered up this little gem of reflection to his readers:
“With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow Rome time, his pontificate comes to an end, Roman curial heads resign, and the Vatican shuts down. We all become adults again, at least until we have a new ‘Holy Father.’ “
Note Tom Fox’s use of “scare quotes” framing the words, “Holy Father.” He utters that title with typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, with a wink and a nod to his “trapped-in-the-sixties” readers. The editorial was embarrassingly juvenile. It is a common trait of adolescents to believe that theirs is the only voice in the house worth hearing.

I have an NCR story of my own to tell. When I was a young priest in the early 1980s, NCR was seen as the coolest Catholic thing in print. Among many priests and Catholic leaders, it represented a voice on the left, growing ever further left as the Sixties moved on. NCR saw itself as representing the Church’s social justice arm while independent of any one bishop. By the time I was ordained in 1982, every priest I knew subscribed to NCR. A stack of copies appeared as the sole Catholic newspaper in many parish vestibules in the Northeast where I grew up (or didn’t grow up, depending on one’s point of view). NCR was vastly influential in the American Catholic priesthood. I recall reading back then that it had a subscriber base of 60,000 or more – unheard of for an American Catholic publication.

I first noted a problem with NCR when I found myself at or near the center of some important Catholic news stories. This happened three times in my priesthood, once in the early 1980s, once in the early 1990s, and once again in 2002 when the scandal in the Catholic priesthood was launched nationwide by The Boston Globe (may it rest in peace).

In all three instances, I found that the National Catholic Reporter was not so much reporting on these stories as shaping public perception of them. Many attempts to present another side of these stories were ignored by NCR, or flatly rebuffed, if the facts challenged the editorial positions of the paper. Over the last few decades, NCR has been shockingly one-sided, and offers no apology for that. From a journalistic standard, it presents no news at all, but is merely an extended opinion outlet for only one type of opinion on the Catholic far left. NCR is not at all worthy of its one good journalist, John Allen.

When I was unjustly sent to prison in 1994, two priest-friends thought they were doing me a favor by presenting me with gift subscriptions to NCR. The result was that I received two copies of each issue. I wrote to NCR from prison asking that the two subscriptions be collapsed into one and extended. Some unnamed person at NCR wrote back to me with a suggestion that I simply give my second issue to another Catholic prisoner.

The problem was that I could not find another Catholic prisoner willing to read it. NCR prides itself on what were then “leftist” issues such as prisoner rights. As I attempted to circulate a few copies, the comments I received from other prisoners were remarkable. I kept a short list of representative samples. This is what Catholic prisoners had to say about NCR:
“No thanks! Too negative. I have enough negative in my life.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. This is just nasty!”
“Wow! This is awful. Does the Church do ANYTHING right?” “What an ugly, nasty, negative paper!”
“UGH! Why did you give me this?”
“Why are they Catholic if they see nothing good in the Church?”
… and so on and so on. You get the point... (continued)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Savor the Richly Deserved Defeat of Feinstein's 'Assault Weapon' Ban


Senate Judiciary Committee( Yesterday Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed that her "assault weapon" ban will not be part of the gun control bill that Senate Democrats plan to offer next month. Although her bill still can be offered as an amendment, Politico reports, "its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat." At the risk of reading too much into this delightful development, I count it as a victory not just for the Second Amendment but for rationality in lawmaking.

As a comparison of the testimony pro and con readily reveals, supporters of Feinstein's bill never offered a plausible, let alone persuasive, explanation for the distinction she drew between the guns she deemed "legitimate" and the dreaded "assault weapons" she sought to ban. The closer you looked at the bill, the less sense it made, a fact that Feinstein tried to paper over by encouraging people to conflate semi-automatic, military-style rifles with the machine guns carried by soldiers. That flagrant fraud sufficed to win passage of the federal "assault weapon" ban that expired in 2004 (which was also sponsored by Feinstein), and it continues to influence public opinion. But this time around it was not enough to obscure the absurdity of Feinsten's attempt to distinguish between good and evil guns by reference to irrelevant features such as barrel shrouds and adjustable stocks. With no evidence or arguments to offer, Feinstein despicably invoked dead, "dismembered" children in a transparent bid to short-circuit logical thought. Her appeal to blind fear was familiar to anyone who has watched this authoritarian centrist rail against mythical drugs or kowtow to the national security state. I savor her richly deserved defeat.


'A Pope of the People'

Monday, March 18, 2013

German pilot in WWII spared an American B-17 pilot over Germany only to reunite 40 years later and become fishing buddies

(War History Online) The pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision.

“My God, this is a nightmare,” the co-pilot said.

“He’s going to destroy us,” the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn’t pull the trigger. He nodded at Brown instead. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II. Years later, Brown would track down his would-be executioner for a reunion that reduced both men to tears.

Living by the code

People love to hear war stories about great generals or crack troops such as Seal Team 6, the Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. But there is another side of war that’s seldom explored: Why do some soldiers risk their lives to save their enemies and, in some cases, develop a deep bond with them that outlives war?
And are such acts of chivalry obsolete in an age of drone strikes and terrorism?

Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.

Those are the kinds of questions Brown’s story raises. His encounter with the German fighter pilot is beautifully told in a New York Times best-selling book, “A Higher Call.” The book explains how that aerial encounter reverberated in both men’s lives for more than 50 years.

“The war left them in turmoil,” says Adam Makos, who wrote the book with Larry Alexander. “When they found each other, they found peace.”

Their story is extraordinary, but it’s not unique. Union and Confederate troops risked their lives to aid one another during the Civil War. British and German troops gathered for post-war reunions; some even vacationed together after World War II. One renowned American general traveled back to Vietnam to meet the man who almost wiped out his battalion, and the two men hugged and prayed together.

What is this bond that surfaces between enemies during and after battle?

It’s called the warrior’s code, say soldiers and military scholars. It’s shaped cultures as diverse as the Vikings, the Samurai, the Romans and Native Americans, says Shannon E. French, author of “Code of the Warrior.”

The code is designed to protect the victor, as well as the vanquished, French says.

“People think of the rules of war primarily as a way to protect innocent civilians from being victims of atrocities,” she says. “In a much more profound sense, the rules are there to protect the people doing the actual fighting.”

The code is designed to prevent soldiers from becoming monsters. Butchering civilians, torturing prisoners, desecrating the enemies’ bodies — are all battlefield behaviors that erode a soldier’s humanity, French says.
The code is ancient as civilization itself. In Homer’s epic poem, “The Iliad,” the Greek hero Achilles breaks the code when his thirst for vengeance leads him to desecrate the body of his slain foe, the Trojan hero Hector.

“There is something worse than death, and one of those things is to completely lose your humanity.”Most warrior cultures share one belief, French says:

The code is still needed today, French says.

Thousands of U.S. soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some have seen, and have done, things that are unfathomable.

A study of Vietnam veterans showed that those who felt as if they had participated in dishonorable behavior during the war or saw the Vietnamese as subhuman experienced more post-traumatic stress disorder, French says.

Drone warfare represents a new threat to soldiers’ humanity, French says.

The Pentagon recently announced it would award a new Distinguished Warfare Medal to soldiers who operate drones and launch cyberattacks. The medal would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, two medals earned in combat.

At least 17,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the medal. The petition says awarding medals to soldiers who wage war via remote control was an “injustice” to those who risked their lives in combat.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the new medal at a February news conference.
“I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems, have changed the way wars are fought,” Panetta says. “And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.”

Still, critics ask, is there any honor in killing an enemy by remote control?

French isn’t so sure.

“If [I'm] in the field risking and taking a life, there’s a sense that I’m putting skin in the game,” she says. “I’m taking a risk so it feels more honorable. Someone who kills at a distance — it can make them doubt. Am I truly honorable?”

The German pilot who took mercy

Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943.

Stigler wasn’t just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight’s Cross, German’s highest award for valor.

Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler’s comrades and were bombing his country’s cities.

Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber’s engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.

As Stigler’s fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.

He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. He could see men huddled inside the plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber’s wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.

Franz Stigler wondered for years what happened to the American pilot he encountered in combat.

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.

Stigler wasn’t just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family’s ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest.

A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.

Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him:

“You follow the rules of war for you — not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity...”


Father Z: I am thinking about those red shoes

By Father John Zuhlsdorf

I am thinking about the infamous red shoes.  I am thinking about the non-wearing of the mozzetta.  I am thinking about the growing juxtaposition in some conversations of simple liturgy versus lofty liturgy.

Some people are saying, “O how wonderful it is to get rid of all the symbols of office and power and be humble like the poor.”

When I first learned to say the older form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, that is to say, when I first learned how to say Mass, because there has never been a single of day of my priesthood when I couldn’t say it, I admit that I was deeply uncomfortable with some of the gestures prescribed by the rubrics.  I even resisted them.  For example, the kissing of the objects to be given to the priest, and the priest and the kissing of the priest’s hands… that gave me the willies.

I resisted those solita oscula because I had fallen into the trap of thinking that they made me look too important.

The fact is that none of those gestures were about me at all.  They are about the priest insofar as he is alter Christus, not insofar as he is “John”.  For “John” all of that would be ridiculous.  For Father, alter Christus, saying Mass, it is barely enough.

When you see the deacon and subdeacon in the older form of Holy Mass holding, for example, the edges of the priest’s cope when they are in procession, or when you see them kissing the priest’s hand, or bowing to him, or waiting on him or deferring to him or – what in non-Catholic eyes appears to be something like adoration or emperor worship – you are actually seeing them preparing the priest for his sacrificial slaughter on the altar of Golgotha.

It is the most natural thing in the human experience to treat with loving reverence the sacrifice to be offered to God.  The sacrificial lambs were pampered and given the very best care, right up to the moment when the knife sliced their necks.

The Catholic priest is simultaneously the victim offered on the altar.  All the older, traditional ceremonies of the Roman Rite underscore this foundational dimension of the Mass. If we don’t see that relationship of priest, altar, and victim in every Holy Mass, then the way Mass has been celebrated has failed.  If we don’t look for that relationship, then we are not really Catholic.  Mass is Calvary... (continued)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope Francis appears for first angelus

Pope Francis appeared before more than 100,000 people massed in St Peter's Square on Sunday for his first Angelus prayer and asked the faithful to pray for him.

By John Bingham and Nick Squires in Vatican City

(The Telegraph) "Thank you for your welcome, and for your prayers," the first pope from Latin America said from a window of the papal apartment high above the square. "Pray for me," he added.

Dozens of flags from Francis's native Argentina were waving in the crowd as the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio recited the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer, the first of his papacy.

The occasion has traditionally been a moment to comment on international issues, but Francis instead used the occasion to emphasise his Italian roots.

The former Buenos Aires archbishop, whose father emigrated from Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, said he chose to name himself after St Francis of Assisi because of his "spiritual ties with this land". Earlier the pontiff was treated like a rock star on a visit to a parish church.

Around 1,000 people thronged a narrow passageway outside the Church of Saint Anna, his local parish church just inside the Vatican gates, as he arrived for mass.

In dramatic contrast with the reserved style of his predecessors, he walked along a hastily constructed barrier reaching deep into the crowd, shaking hands, laughing and joking.

It is the first time he has had a chance to meet members of the public up close since being elected on Wednesday.

There were chants of "Francesco, Francesco" as he turned and walked through the iron gates out onto the main street, where most of the crowd were waiting, leaving his anxious security men rushing to keep up.

When two clerics were brought up and introduced to him, attempting to drop to their knees, he hurriedly ushered them back onto their feet.

"He touched me, he touched me!" said one French woman holding her hand aloft.

"We just came for the weekend we never expected to meet the Pope."

As the service began, he was led inside the building, which is cloaked in scaffolding, waving as he went.

"To me, I say this humbly, the strongest message of the Lord is mercy," he said. "The Lord never gets tired of forgiving."

The mass led by the first Latin American pontiff was held in the Santa Anna Church within the Vatican walls ahead of his first appearance in a window of the papal apartments at noon (1100 GMT).

The delivery of the traditional Angelus prayer, followed by remarks expected to touch on international issues, will be the pope's second appearance before the general public since his surprise election on Wednesday.

But to the obvious surprise of the onlookers, who were starting to leave, he reappeared minutes later, wearing a purple bishop's mitre and robes, as part of the procession at the start of the mass.

Instead of simply processing up the aisle, they diverted out into the street. Initial shrieks of surprise were quickly hushed as the crowd recognised they were part of the service.

Maria Hakolinen, who prays at the church every morning at 7am, said she had never seen Pope Benedict there on a Sunday morning.

"I come here every day so I thought of course I should come to say hello you are welcome," she said.

"I see that he is a very natural, very sensitive and very special person," she said.

"We really took him into our hearts in that same moment when he prayed the Our Father in St Peter's square and started to pray with us and asked us to pray with him."

Later this morning he will give his first Sunday Angelus address in front of an expected 200,000 people.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's "In" for 2013.... and beyond.

From Belinda's Brain:

Out; Saints.                        In; Sinners
Out; Limo service.               In; Bus rides with your bro's.
Out; Argentina apartments. In; Italian summer retreat homes  -Castel Gandolfo (Unless you can score something more uncomfortable.) 
Out; Benedictines.               In; Jesuits.
Out; German as your first language. In; Spanish as your first language.
Out; Room service.              In; Get up and get it yourself.
Out; Central heat.                In; Rooms heated by a cook stove and a prayer.
Out; Two lungs filled with the Holy Spirit.   In; One big lung filled with the Holy Spirit.
Out; Insincere warm wishes from Satan.  In; Insincere warm wishes from Obama.
Out; Conversions of poor sinners prompted by words.  In; Conversions of poor sinners prompted by actions.
Out; Kissing babies.  In; Kissing feet.
Out; Addressing your fellow Cardinals as Lord Cardinals.  In; Addressing your fellow Cardinals as brothers.
Out; Sitting at the head of the table.    In; Sitting where ever, but preferably where no one else will notice you.
Out; A well deserved retirement.         In; Grueling schedules and serious life changes.
Out; A return ticket to Argentina.        In; A return ticket to Germany.
Out; Emulating Christ and his kingship by utilizing the seat of St.Peter in grandiose style - which is acceptable.
In;    Emulating Christ by embracing poverty as he had done, along with Franciscan ideals... (continued)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Outspoken atheist Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller) defends Catholic orthodoxy on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight

From New Advent :


Pope's former neighbor recalls his 'love' letter when they were 12

Argentina Pope Childh_Leff.jpg

(AP) BUENOS AIRES, Argentina –  An Argentine woman who grew up as the neighbor of the future Pope Francis says she was very briefly the object of his affections when they were both 12.

Amalia Damonte, now 76 like the pope, still lives four doors down from where Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew up in Buenos Aires.

Damonte says it was clear early on that he was thinking about dedicating his life to God.

She says in a handwritten letter he left for her, the future pontiff drew a picture of a little white house with a red roof and wrote "this is what I'll buy when we marry."

He added: "If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest."

Damonte says her parents were angered by the missive and ended the friendship.


Pope Francis won't Visit Former Pope Benedict XVI as Planned

Pope Francis prepares to greet cardinals, moments before stumbling in Sala Clementina, at the Vatican, Friday, March 15, 2013. The newly appointed Pope Francis stumbled after being introduced to the College of Cardinals, but did not fall and quickly recovered.  Cardinal Angelo Sodano, second left, introduced the pope to the College of Cardinals. (AP Photo/Vatican TV) TV OUT
(AP Photo/Vatican TV) 

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Francis won't be calling on his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, but would see him another day.

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan told reporters on Wednesday that Francis had planned to visit Benedict on his first full day as pope. Dolan said Francis had informed the cardinals of his plans after his election.

But a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said Francis wouldn't make the trip to Castel Gandolfo on Thursday, and probably wouldn't go Friday, either.

The Vatican has said a meeting would occur in a few days.



Pope Francis says Benedict's resignation was 'courageous'

Newly elected Pope Francis I (C), Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, walks in the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore during a private visit in Rome
Newly elected Pope Francis I (C), Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, walks in the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore during a private visit in Rome March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

AFP - Pope Francis on Friday hailed predecessor Benedict XVI's historic resignation as a "courageous and humble act" in a speech to cardinals in the Vatican.

Francis said Benedict, who stepped down last month, had "lit a flame in the depth of our hearts that will continue to burn".


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis' First Homily

"When we journey without the cross ... and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord"

Vatican City, March 14, 2013 (

Here is a translation of the homily Francis gave this morning at Mass with the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He spoke in Italian without a text.

There is something that I see that these three readings have in common: movement. In the first reading it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading it is the movement in building the Church; in the third, the Gospel, it is the movement of confession. Journeying, building, confessing.

Journeying. “House of Jacob, come, let us walk together in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and you will be blameless. Journey: our life is a journey and when we stop it does not go on. Journey always in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.

Building. Building the Church. Stones are spoken of: the stones have a consistency, but they are the living stones, stones anointed by the Spirit. Building the Church, the Bride of Christ, upon that cornerstone that is the Lord himself. Building is another form of movement in our life.

Third, confessing. We can journey as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing does not work. We will become a welfare NGO but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When we do not journey, we stop. When we do not build upon the stones, what happens?

Everything collapses, loses its consistency, like the sandcastles that children build on the beach. When we do not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the words of Léon Bloy: “Whoever does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.” When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.

Journeying, building-constructing, confessing. But it is not that easy, because in journeying, in constructing, in confessing, there are problems, there are movements antithetical to the journey: they are movements that take us backward.

This Gospel continues with an important moment. The same Peter who had confessed Jesus Christ said to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let’s not talk about the cross. This is not a part of it. I will follow you in other directions, but not to the cross. When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like for us all, after these days of grace, to have courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the Lord’s presence, with the cross of the Lord; to build the Church upon the blood of the Lord, which was poured out on the cross; and to confess the only glory there is: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will go forward.

It is my wish for all of us that the Holy Spirit – through the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother – bestow upon us the grace of journeying, building, confessing Jesus Christ crucified. Amen.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis to Visit Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


Pope Francis won't Visit Former Pope Benedict XVI as Planned

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Francis won't be calling on his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, but would see him another day.

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan told reporters on Wednesday that Francis had planned to visit Benedict on his first full day as pope. Dolan said Francis had informed the cardinals of his plans after his election.

But a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said Francis wouldn't make the trip to Castel Gandolfo on Thursday, and probably wouldn't go Friday, either.

The Vatican has said a meeting would occur in a few days.


VATICAN CITY (AP) — In one of his first acts as pope, Francis on Thursday morning planned to visit Benedict at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

American Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Wednesday night at the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, that Francis told fellow cardinals following the conclave that made him pope: "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to visit Benedict."

The visit was significant because Benedict's resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one.
No such worries troubled people in Francis' home continent...


Habemus Papam: Jorge Mario Bergoglio - Pope Francis

 (Reuters) - Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope on Wednesday to lead the Roman Catholic Church, a prelate announced to huge crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He took the name Pope Francis, the cardinal said.

Cardinals elected Bergoglio on just the second day of a secret conclave to find a successor to Pope Benedict, who abdicated unexpectedly last month.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)


Secret of the Black Smoke

From Father Z:
This comes from CNA.  My emphases and comments.

Vatican details how new smoke signals are produced

Vatican City, Mar 12, 2013 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Varying chemical compounds have replaced wet straw and pitch to produce the Vatican smoke signal that is used to communicate the result of conclave voting sessions.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, assistant to the Vatican press office director, explained that since 2005 the Vatican has used chemical compounds to better communicate the result of the conclave.

“For a Church that has made much progress in the area of modern communications, computer technology, Internet and Twitter, the conclave still relies on smoke signals to let the world know of its results,” he said in a March 11 statement to the press.

In the past, wet straw was used to create the white smoke, while pitch – a tar-like substance – was used to create black smoke.

Due to a number of “false alarms” in the past, Fr. Rosica explained, the Vatican has sought the help of “modern chemistry” to produce more easily distinguishable shades of smoke.  [Secret chemicals?  Read on!]

Now, the black smoke is produced by a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene, and sulphur, while the white smoke is made by burning a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose, and rosin – a natural amber resin.  [HA!  A likely story.  Read on!]...


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Widow sues church over refusal to install late husband's NASCAR-inspired headstone

An Indiana woman who wanted to honor her late husband with a headstone that captured his interests in sports and the outdoors is suing a Catholic church for refusing to install it.

Shannon Carr spent $9,600 on the black granite headstone to mark the grave of her husband, Jason Carr, who died in an August 2009 automobile accident. The headstone is shaped like a couch and features images of a deer, a dog and color logos of NASCAR and the Indianapolis Colts.

The Rev. Jonathan Meyer, priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church, notified the monument maker that the headstone didn't meet the cemetery's standards and couldn't be placed in the church's century-old graveyard, The Republic reported. But Carr says in her lawsuit that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis Properties Inc., which owns the cemetery, never produced any regulations for the plot until more than a year after she tried to have the headstone installed in 2010.

The issue has divided the church community and sparked allegations that the church hasn't treated Carr's family with compassion, which Meyer denied.

"We provided the family funeral rites, prepared a funeral meal and offered family members individual counseling after the services," Meyer said. "We were with them the entire way until this matter came up."

Meyer says in an affidavit that photographs of the monument were shown to the St. Joseph Parish Council six weeks before Carr purchased it and that the council determined the monument wasn't acceptable because of its secular nature. He said he informed Carr of the decision.

"They told her not to move forward with the purchasing of the monument, but she went ahead anyway," Meyer said. "We have consistently communicated the same message prior to the purchase and after the purchase. We did not think a granite couch was an appropriate monument in our historic cemetery."

Meyer acknowledged that the rules for the cemetery were formalized after Carr bought the headstone, but he said they were known before that. The archdiocese says various regulations regarding the cemetery have existed since the graveyard was established in 1907.

Archdiocese attorney John S. Mercer says in court documents that the lawsuit falls outside the court's jurisdiction because the First Amendment prohibits courts from taking indirect control over Church affairs.
Meyer said the pressure on the church to allow the monument to be erected reflects a flaw in today's society.
"Our culture breaks all the rules to make people feel good," Meyer said. "Faithful Christians know rules and regulations are set up so there can be good for everyone."

Shannon Carr declined to discuss the case, but her father-in-law, Henry Carr, said the dispute has created bitterness within the church community.

"I haven't been back to (St. Joseph) church and have asked that I not be buried there along with my son," he said. "I'm told the controversy is splitting the church apart, tearing it in half. But I guess that's what has to be done."


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The National Catholic Reporter draws rebuke from Bishop Robert Finn

 In this Wednesday, March 6, 2013 photo, editor Toni Ortiz works in a conference room at the National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City, Mo. The National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper known for unflinching coverage of the Catholic church scandal, was rebuked by a bishop in its own backyard after calling for his ouster in a battle that illustrates tensions between U.S. bishops and groups that call themselves Catholic but aren't sanctioned by the church. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
 Associated Press/Orlin Wagner - In this Wednesday, March 6, 2013 photo, editor Toni Ortiz works in a conference room at the National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City, Mo. The National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper known for unflinching coverage of the Catholic church scandal, was rebuked by a bishop in its own backyard after calling for his ouster in a battle that illustrates tensions between U.S. bishops and groups that call themselves Catholic but aren't sanctioned by the church. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A newspaper known for unflinching coverage of the Catholic church scandal was rebuked by a bishop in its own backyard after calling for his ouster in a battle that illustrates tensions between U.S. bishops and groups that call themselves Catholic but aren't sanctioned by the church.

The National Catholic Reporter, an independent Kansas City, Mo.-based weekly, called for Bishop Robert Finn's removal or resignation in September, after he was convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Finn, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, later wrote in an editorial in his own diocesan newspaper that parishioner anger is growing over the NCR's challenges to Catholic orthodoxy on topics ranging from the ordination of women to contraception.

In the last several years, church leaders have been trying to shore up the religious identity and mission of organizations that call themselves Catholic, including trying to bar groups from saying they have ties with the church if bishops believe the organizations stray from church teaching. Conflict over the issue intensified in the 2008 presidential election, when some Catholic advocacy groups backed Barack Obama despite his support for abortion rights.

Finn, who declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press, wrote in his editorial that a local bishop first asked the paper to remove Catholic from its name in 1968 — "to no avail."

"In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name 'Catholic,'" Finn wrote in The Catholic Key. "While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level."

Thomas Groome, professor of religious education at Boston College, said he was surprised Finn was "picking such a public fight." Finn is the highest-ranking U.S. church official convicted of a crime related to the sex abuse scandal. The misdemeanor charge stemmed from the case of an area priest who pleaded guilty in August to producing child pornography. Finn and other church officials knew about photos on the priest's computer six months before they turned him in.

Groome said the Catholic Church benefits from publications such as the National Catholic Reporter.

"There are all kinds of ways the church's position has evolved, and if that's to happen you need publications like the NCR that raises critical issues, controversial issues, and I think it does that respectfully with a sense of faithfulness to the church's core teaching," he said.

NCR, founded in Kansas City in 1964, has been widely lauded for its coverage of the church and garnered widespread recognition for its reporting on child sex abuse in the 1980s. The newspaper, which has a circulation of about 35,000 and is available online, has won several awards from the Catholic Press Association, including for general excellence for 13 straight years. The CPA, while independent, works closely with church hierarchy, according to Timothy Walter, CPA's executive director.

"We don't present official teaching, and we don't pretend to," said the newspaper's editor, Dennis Coday. "What we do is report on what's happening in the church. And part of what's happening is dissent and questioning, and that's what we report about. And that's why we remain Catholic and continue to call ourselves Catholic."

Coday said the question for the paper is: "Are we upholding the deepest values set out in the Gospel, the message Jesus preached?"

Finn is not alone in complaining about NCR, which has also called for the church to reverse its teaching on women's ordination and supported re-examining the church's approaches to contraception and sexuality.

Canon lawyer Edward Peters, the Vatican's expert witness in U.S. sex abuse lawsuits and an adviser to the Vatican's highest court, said in a recent blog post that Finn was "too kind" in his remarks about NCR and noted that other groups have stopped using "Catholic" in their names.

Peters said the newspaper has carried on "a steady tirade against ecclesiastical authority in general, and against numerous Church teachings in particular, for several decades."

"But the last few years have seen a shrillness that should discomfort even its dwindling number of friends," Peters wrote.

The tension between NCR and Finn likely won't resolve easily because it's tied to an ongoing battle over authority in the church, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

"The vision of the Vatican and the hierarchy is that the Catholic media should support and ... promote the positions taken by the hierarchy," said Reese, who was removed from his position as editor of the Jesuit magazine America in 2005 after it published stories on topics including gay marriage.

"But you know," Reese said, "many people in the Catholic media think that they should also criticize those positions or be a forum where there can be discussion and argument and dialogue on issues facing the church."


Friday, March 8, 2013

Conclave to begin Tuesday March 12th

(Vatican Radio) The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals meeting in the Vatican Synod Hall Friday has decided that the Conclave for the election of the Pope will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.

A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. Then Tuesday afternoon the 115 Cardinal Electors will gather in the Pauline Chapel for a moment of collection and prayer and from there they will process in order of precedence through the Sala Regia to the Sistine Chapel invoking the Holy Spirit. Emer McCarthy reports.

There they will take their seats, again observing the order of precedence, to elect the 265th Successor to St Peter. Once they have taken their seats they will hear the second meditation established by the Apostolic Constitution governing the papal transitions. It will be given by the Maltese Augustinian, Cardinal Prospero Grech.

Following the mediation, the 115 cardinals will swear an oath to observe the rules of Conclave which include to maintain fidelity to the election of the Pope, to maintain secrecy, never to support or favor interference. The Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano, reads aloud the formula of the oath, the Cardinal electors respond: I do so promise, pledge and swear.

After all the Cardinals have taken the oath, the Master of the Papal Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini orders all individuals other than the Cardinal Electors and conclave participants to leave the Sistine Chapel. He stands at the great wooden doors and pronounces the phrase: "Extra omnes!" He then closes the door.

According to the Apostolic Constitution, on the afternoon of the first day, one ballot may be held. If a ballot takes place on the afternoon of the first day and no-one is elected, four ballots are held on each successive day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. If no result is obtained after three vote days of balloting, the process is suspended for a maximum of one day for prayer, meditation and reflection. A two thirds majority is required for the election of a Pope.

Of the 115 Cardinal Electors, more than half are European with the largest single nationality represented by the 28 Italian Cardinal Electors. In a geographical breakdown: 60 come from Europe, 19 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa, 10 from Asia and 1 from Oceania.

The average age of the Cardinal Electors is 71 while 67 of the Cardinals who will enter in the Conclave Tuesday were appointed by Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI.

There were eight Conclaves in the 20th century, only three of which lasted longer than three days. The longest Conclave in the last two hundred years was 1830-1831. It lasted 50 days for a total of 83 ballots resulting in the election of Gregory XVI, the last religious elected to the papacy. The shortest Conclave in the 20th century took place in 1939. Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pius XII after just three ballots.


Your Cardinal Burke for Pope picture of the day!

From Raymond Cardinal Burke for Pope:


Paul fires back: Sens. McCain, Graham think the 'whole world is a battlefield'

By Daniel Strauss

(The Hill) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted fellow GOP Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday, saying the two “think the whole world is a battlefield.”

Paul criticized the hawkish senators for thinking the laws of war should take precedence over the Bill of Rights. The two had criticized Paul’s statements about drone policy during the Kentucky Republican’s nearly 13-hour filibuster on Thursday.

“They think the whole world is a battlefield, including America, and that the laws of war should apply,” Paul said in an interview on Fox News about McCain and Graham, who had described Paul’s comments about drones as “ridiculous.” “The laws of war don't involve due process, so when they ask you for an attorney you tell them to shut up. That's not my understanding of the way America works,” Paul told Fox. “I don't think the laws of war apply to America, I think the Bill of Rights do and I think it's a disservice to our soldiers that our senators up there arguing that the Bill of Rights aren't important."

Paul said whether drones can be used against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil is a “very serious question” and was at the root of Wednesday’s filibuster, which delayed a final confirmation vote on John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA.

“This was a very serious question. It was a question that took a month and a half to get an answer to and so I would argue — and I think a lot of the public would agree with me, both on the right and the left — that what we ask was a very serious question and it's a question that we finally got an answer to,” Paul said.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday responded to Paul in a letter that said the U.S. does not have the authority to conduct a drone attack against a U.S. citizen on American soil.

“Hooray, for 13 hours yesterday we asked them that question. And so there is a result and a victory,” Paul said after the letter was read to him during the Fox interview. “Under duress and under public humiliation the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

The answer just took a filibuster that lasted almost half a day, Paul added. “So now, after 13 hours of filibuster, we're proud to announce that the president is not going to kill unarmed Americans on American soil,” Paul continued. “My next question is why did it take so long, why is it so hard and why would a president so jealously guard power that they were afraid to say this, but I am glad and I think that the answer does answer my question.”


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Major Media Outlet Reveals the Media’s Hidden Agenda Behind Its Obsession With Abuse in the Catholic Church

Laura Ingraham
Kudos: Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham telling it like it is

By :

Kudos: Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham telling it like it is

It may have been a first.

In what may have been the first time ever on a major television outlet, two popular TV personalities finally revealed that the media's never-ending obsession with decades-old episodes in the Church actually has nothing to do with the abuse of children and everything to do with the Catholic Church standing in firm opposition to the media's radical, secularist worldview.

A discussion starts with two

Radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham joined host Bill O'Reilly last Thursday on The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel to talk about how the news of the Pope's resignation has simply been used as an excuse by the media to once again rehash claims of sex abuse in the Church from 40 and 50 years ago.
O'Reilly, the highest rated host on cable news, opined that the media's hammering of the Church about old abuse claims is, in reality, "all abortion-driven." He added:
"The American media in general worships at the altar of 'reproductive rights,', and the primary driver against abortion is the Catholic Church, and that's what this is all about."
Ingraham built upon O'Reilly's premise, agreeing that the media's salacious coverage of sex abuse is only a pretext to attack the Church for it not kowtowing to the media's secularist worldview:...

Here are your Cardinal Burke for Pope pictures of the day!

From Raymond Cardinal Burke for Pope


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sede Vacante: The Sky is Not Falling on the Catholic Church

If the media focus on the Vatican were a floodlight and not a spotlight, it would be clear that the story of religion in free fall is cultural and not Catholic.

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

(These Stone Walls) Even in Lent, I am hard pressed to find many perks in my current state in life. As a prisoner with no online access at all, I really struggle to write. It’s not just my inability to access what’s going on in the world beyond these stone walls. The bigger problem with writing from prison is that almost everyone around me suffers from ADHD – Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. No, I take that back. Most of them don’t actually suffer from it at all. I do!

Today while trying to come up with a title for this post, no less than a dozen prisoners interrupted me with “Watcha doin’?” or “What’s up with all this Pope stuff?” Well, what I’m doing is trying to write about “all this Pope stuff,” and “What’s up with it?” depends on which cable news channel you’re watching.
Wondering whether I should add patience to my growing list of things to work on for Lent, I just asked the last guy who stopped by whether I’m an impatient person. “Of course you’re not,” he said. “If you were, you would just tell me to ‘Beat it!’ like everyone else does.”

So there you have it. I have a lot more patience with other prisoners than I do with the news media right now. As I write this post, CNN has been broadcasting all day long a news segment about an Italian press report of corruption, scandal and blackmail in the Vatican, and of course all of it is the “real story” behind the Holy Father’s recent decision-making process.

The story spinning at CNN is not at all like the one I wrote last week in “Pope Benedict XVI: The Sacrifices of a Father’s Love.” CNN was so saturated with its far more sordid version of papal events that I needed another take on it. So I switched to FOX News for a couple of hours only to find not a single mention of the story. The Vatican Secretary of State was recently quoted about this story:... (continued)


The Next Pope & the Latin Mass

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pope's new clothes? Check. Tailor rolls out robes

Gammarelli's displays three sets of white vestments — small, medium and large — to be shipped to the Vatican for the new pope.

ROME (AP) — White cassock? Check. White skullcap? Check. Red shoes? Check.

Cardinals haven't even begun meeting in the Sistine Chapel yet to elect the new pope but the family-owned Gammarelli tailor shop that has dressed popes for two centuries is ready.

Gammarelli's on Monday displayed three sets of white vestments — small, medium and large — to be shipped to the Vatican for the new pope following Benedict XVI's resignation last week.

"We need to deliver these three garments before the conclave starts because obviously we cannot enter inside the conclave once it started," tailor Lorenzo Gammarelli said Monday.

A white silk "zucchetto," or skullcap, lay on a bed of red cloth in the window, as did a white sash with golden fringes and a pair of red leather shoes.

Tucked behind the Pantheon in downtown Rome, the Gammarelli shop has served scores of cardinals and popes since 1798. Pope Pius XII was an exception: he used his family tailor.

The display of the robes was one of the first tangible signs that a new pope will soon be elected, given the unusual circumstances that have surrounded the resignation of Benedict XVI.

"It's always like the first time for me," said tailor Teresa Palombini. "It's a wonderful feeling and then I

wonder who will wear these clothes, who will be the next one?"


Sunday, March 3, 2013

My One Mass with Pope Benedict - It Brought Me Into the Catholic Church!

By Taylor Marshall

(Canterbury Tales) In 2006, when I was still an Episcopalian priest, Joy and I visited Rome. Intellectually we were coming to recognize that the Catholic Church was the true Church, but we needed the emotional push to bring the decision to fulfillment.

In Rome, we were able to take the Scavi tour underneath Saint Peter's Basilica. At the end of the tour, we saw the bones of Saint Peter. I prayed earnestly that I would soon enter into full communion with Saint Peter and his successor on earth, Pope Benedict XVI.

After the tour, the Belgian priest, who had been our tour guide, stayed behind and struck up a conversation with us. We had been so excited and impressed by the tour. When I told him that we were not Catholics, but that I was an Episcopalian priest, his face lit up. He was writing his dissertation in Rome on some ecumenical matter.

Then he surprised us with a question: “Would you like to attend Holy Mass with the Pope this evening?” The answer to that question was obvious. The Belgian priest was pleased to make arrangements. We walked from the Scavi entrance on the south side of Saint Peter’s, across Saint Peter’s Square, and then up a staircase to the north. At the top were two Swiss Guards with pikes. The Belgian priest told us to wait there. He mumbled some Italian to the guards and disappeared.

A few minutes later he returned with two orange tickets, which were marked with that evening’s date and were issued by the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano. The Belgian priest told us to return to Saint Peter’s an hour before the Mass with those tickets. We had a nice chat, and the priest went about his business. To my shame, I don’t know his name. (Father, if you're out there, let me know!)

That evening, my wife and I attended the Holy Mass of the Purification with Pope Benedict. At this particular Holy Mass the Holy Father recognized the various religious orders of the world. We were in line with hundreds of nuns, friars, and monks. We were clearly out of place—a married Episcopalian priest in a cassock with a pregnant wife. My dear! I hope we did not scandalize all those nuns.

The Holy Mass was glorious. It began in total darkness. Pope Benedict XVI entered the back doors with only a candle. From this candle was lit all the candles of the nuns, monks, and friars. For the whole Mass, we were near the bronze statue of Saint Peter. I could see the Holy Father clearly. I knew that His Holiness was the true successor of the Fisherman, and recalling that just that morning I had been deep underneath that altar at the bones of Saint Peter, the connection between the ministry of Saint Peter the First Pope and that of Benedict XVI the present Pope was made manifest right before my eyes.

When it came time for Holy Communion, I knew that I could not go forward to receive. Although the Basilica was now lit with glorious light and joy, my soul remained in the darkness.

I was not a Catholic. I was not in communion with the Holy Father. I was in schism. It was a sickening feeling... (continued)


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Opus Bono Sacerdotii: Helping priests who have no one else

From Father John Zuhlsdorf:

Opus Bono Sacerdotii (OBS) is a lay organization that assists Catholic priests having difficulties.

Their motto:

A Catholic Priest Needs Your Help Right Now! 

From the website:
  • We turn no priests away who need our help when we can help them.
  • OBS has been a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in existence since April of 2002.
  • Our mission is to love Jesus Christ the High Priest. We fulfill our mission by manifesting our love for Christ in serving each priest individually. We focus on each priest’s unique needs and loving him unconditionally.
  • OBS is funded by individual donations. We charge no fees for our assistance to priests.
  • All of the aid that we provide priests evolves as each situation dictates the type of assistance needed given the resources available
During Lent it is good to give alms.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Benedict XVI's First Hours as Pope Emeritus of Rome

Prefect of Papal Household Says His Holiness Is Calm and Serene

Vatican City, March 01, 2013 ( Junno Arocho Esteves

As the clock struck 8 yesterday evening, the time of Sede Vacante began, thus officially ending the pontificate of Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus of Rome. The Swiss Guards, who are charged with the protection of the Holy Father, closed the doors of the Apostolic Palace and departed from Castel Gandolfo.

At a press conference today at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, showed journalists a video of yesterday’s events after the Sede Vacante began. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Camerlengo or Chamberlain, sealed off the papal apartments in Rome. Also present were Cardinal Pier Luigi Celata, Vice Camerlengo, and several prelates who work in the Pontifical household.
Fr. Lombardi also said that Cardinal Celata sealed the papal apartments in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome.

Fr. Lombardi also spoke of the first hours of Benedict XVI as Pope Emeritus of Rome. The director of the Holy See Press Office said that he spoke with Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Benedict's secretary and prefect of the Papal Household, who said that His Holiness was very “calm and serene”.

Benedict XVI had “watched several news programs and expressed his appreciation for the work of the journalists as well as for the participation of those who had assisted in his departure from the Vatican. Shortly after a brief walk through the Apostolic Palace, he went to bed and according to Archbishop Ganswein, slept very well.

This morning, His Holiness celebrated Mass at 7:00 am followed by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. At 4:00pm, the Pope Emeritus of Rome will plan to walk through the gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo and pray the rosary.

Fr. Lombardi stated that among the various books on theology and church history that the Pope has brought with him, Archbishop Ganswein noted that currently Benedict XVI is reading famed theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theological Aesthetics.