Thursday, November 28, 2013

Priests Attacked in Scotland

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

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

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

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, November 14, 2013

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

Pope: the spirit of curiosity distances one from God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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

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


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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

From :

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

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


No priest is safe

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


Exorcising Medjugorje

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

Material motivations

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

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

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

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

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

Millionaire "seer"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More at Christian Order

h/t to Mark Shea:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

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

From Brantly Millegan at Aleteia:

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Partial transcript:

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

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

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

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

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


Medjugorje - Clerics and Faithful Not Permitted to Take Credibility of "Apparitions" for Granted (CDF)

From Father Z :

"I don’t generally post much about Medjugorje, but this I must share.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has directed that bishops be advised that
'clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.”