Sunday, February 27, 2011

At Least We're Not Being Murdered


We are seeing more cases of Catholics being targeted for specific denials of basic legal protections, though. The latest incident is a protest at Holy Name Cathedral by homosexuals who take umbrage with the Church's view of their lifestyle. There is actually a city ordinance that prohibits such protests, but it's not going to be enforced in this particular instance.

How convenient.

Organizers said when they previously planned demonstrations outside Holy Name, they were threatened with arrest under a city ordinance that prohibits demonstrations within 150 feet and 30 minutes a religious service in a house of worship, the magazine reported.

But the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional, and in January, city Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said the city would not enforce the ordinance in the Sunday demonstration, the ACLU said.

I wonder how much research they've done into Islamic tolerance of homosexuality. Anybody want to give odds on the likelihood of such a protest in front of a mosque? Or that if such a protest did take place, how fast the ordinance in question would be enforced?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bernard Nathanson Passed Away

Read his story and know that there is always hope. He was living proof. God bless him.

Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, an obstetrician who oversaw the performance of about 75,000 abortions before becoming a leading pro-life advocate and a convert to the Catholic faith, died at his home in New York Feb. 21 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 84.

After performing his last abortion in 1979 and declaring himself to be pro-life, Nathanson produced the 1985 film The Silent Scream, which shows sonogram images of a child in the womb shrinking from an abortionist’s instruments, and the documentary film Eclipse of Reason, which displays and explains various abortion procedures in graphic detail. Both films had a significant impact on the abortion debate, solidified his credentials among pro-life advocates and earned him the scorn of his former pro-abortion friends and colleagues.

He also published a number of influential books, including Aborting America, written in 1979 with Richard Ostling, then a religion reporter for Time magazine, in which he exposed the deceptive and dishonest beginnings of the pro-abortion movement and undermined the argument that abortion is safe for women.

He often admitted that he and other abortion advocates in the 1960s lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions at that time, inflating the figure from a few hundred to 10,000 to gain sympathy for their cause.

In his 1996 autobiography The Hand of God, he told the story of his journey from pro-abortion to pro-life, saying that viewing images from the new ultrasound technology in the 1970s convinced him of the humanity of the unborn baby. Outlining the enormous challenge of restoring a pro-life ethic, he wrote, “Abortion is now a monster so unimaginably gargantuan that even to think of stuffing it back into its cage … is ludicrous beyond words. Yet that is our charge — a herculean endeavor.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Relic Exhibition In Memphis

This looks pretty cool.

Christian Brothers University is proud to announce that the “Relic Collection,” belonging to the De La Salle Archives of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest District, will be on exhibit from January 1 through May 1, 2011 on the main level of Plough Memorial Library.

This collection contains the relics of many saints whose names are familiar to us; Thomas, Aloysius Gonzaga, Ambrose, Anastasia, Andrew the Apostle, Anthony of Padua, Benedict, Clare of Assisi, Dominic, Francis of Assisi, Francis Xavier Cabrini, Ignatius, Saint John the Apostle, John Baptist de la Salle, Joseph and Mary, Martin de Porres, the Apostles Matthew, Peter and Paul, Simon, John the Baptist, Teresa of Jesus, Valentine and Vincent de Paul. It also includes the relics of others whose names do not immediately spring to mind but are nonetheless, saints.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

International Appeal In Defense Of Summorum Pontificum

I don't know how real the threat is, but the folks at Rorate and even Fr. Z have gotten wind that the new instruction on Summorum Pontificum is basically going to be a restrictive document rather than the "teeth" that so many of us have been waiting for.

I'm not big on petitions, but I'm supporting this one. It's a plea to the Holy Father not to send the Extraordinary Form back to the ghetto. I hope you support it, too.

Maybe This Guy Can Move To Peru

Australia has a priest looking to preside over homosexual unions. The new Anglican bunch there could probably use him.

Gay marriage lobbyists have welcomed Father Bob Maguire's public pledge to conduct gay union ceremonies, but claim he's not the first priest to speak out in favour of the cause.

Australia Marriage Equality national secretary Peter Furness said this morning it was encouraging to see a Catholic priest speak publicly about the issue.

"There are many priests who support and want the right to marry same sex couples," Mr Furness said.

"(But) people are scared of their bosses to do it publicly."

One would hope they were at least scared enough of God not to do anything like this.

Oddly enough:

An Anglican Church spokesman said none of its priests are allowed to perform gay civil ceremonies.

Even the Anglicans down there wouldn't take this guy if he tried to jump ship.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More Historical Insight On The Liturgical Reform

The New Liturgical Movement has a review of the book The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli from 1948-1970. From the sound of things, Cardinal Antonelli's diaries and papers contain a good bit of material verifying the points we've made here before regarding the hijacking of Vatican II. Check out these bits:

I am not enthusiastic about this work. I am unhappy about how much the Commission has changed. It is merely an assembly of people, many of them incompetent, and others of them well advanced on the road to novelty. The discussions are extremely hurried. Discussions are based on impressions and the voting is chaotic. What is most displeasing is that the expositive Promemorias and the relative questions are drawn up in advanced terms and often in a very suggestive form. The direction is weak.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

As the Consilium’s work proceeded, Antonelli’s concerns about its competence, its predilection for innovation and its consuming haste, grew. After some years’ experience of the Consilium he wrote that the liturgical reform was becoming “more chaotic and deviant” , adding:

That which is sad... however, is a fundamental datum, a mutual attitude, a pre-established position, namely, many of those who have influenced the reform...and others, have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore.

We have to ask ourselves at some point how much praise we can give to the liturgical reform without being willfully obtuse. Knowing where it came from and how, doesn't it get pretty easy at some point to just admit it was a mistake?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hilarity Ensues

Peru Anglicans set up own ordinariate for RC priests

An “Ordinariate of Postulants” has been set up by the diocese of Peru in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone to host a growing number of Roman Catholic priests who are keen to join the Anglican Church.


Yeah, you guys go ahead and do that. Knock yourselves out.

And thank you for the assist.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Boniface has a great post on the topic over at Unam Sanctam. It's an oft-forgotten tidbit of soteriology, so check it out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open Dissent On The Translation Fixes

Lots of folks have probably already seen this, but I wanted to bring up one bit of irony associated with Fr. Anthony Ruff's recent letter in America wherein he expresses his disdain for the corrected translation of the Missal and the folks involved with it. Please note the following excerpt:

The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process—and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.

I wonder if Fr. Ruff has any familiarity at all with how the Pauline Mass came about, much less the broken translation that ended up with. I'm sure he does, which is why this letter seems a bit dishonest to me. Everything he complains about here happened in spades during the post-conciliar liturgical reform. Does he think that "with your spirit" is bad? How about having the whole Roman Rite basically annihilated and then draconian implementation of a completely new liturgy, something unheard of in all of Church history, as a follow-up? I can't help but think this letter and the feelings of those with similar views are very immature.

Or comedic if you consider the bit about the "legitimate episcopal authority" of national bishops' conferences.

His closing paragraph begins:

I see a good deal of disillusionment with the Catholic Church among my friends and acquaintances. Some leave the Catholic Church out of conviction, some gradually drift away, some join other denominations, some remain Catholic with difficulty.

I would very much like to know Fr. Ruff's opinion of those who suffered disillusionment after the promulgation of the Pauline Mass. What sort of sympathy do they get? If he's going to play this disillusionment/leaving the Church card over stuff like "consubstantial," I really want to hear his feelings on how the liturgical reforms that got us here were handled and how he measures up any complaints and dissent that resulted from them.

I found his blog, but there didn't seem to be anything giving answers to my questions. There was this post, in which the hysteria being projected over the translation was fever pitched with everything from talk of "leaving the Church" to "organized resistance." If someone is willing to leave the Church over this issue, then I must respectfully disagree with Fr. Ruff's opinion that they "love the Church." Leaving the Church over this is the equivalent of ending a marriage over burned meatloaf.

While Fr. Ruff weeps over a translation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we should all weep that things are in such a state that said translation is treated as a reason for schism or apostasy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Was Watching Dateline The Other Night

At least, I think it was Dateline. It was one of those shows. Anyways, the show was about a couple who had conceived a child via artificial insemination. They then left the rest of their kids in the freezer in case they decided to grant them the privilege of being born later on down the road. Somehow, and I admit that I missed some of it, one of the kids wound up getting implanted into another woman's uterus.

First, I'm going to ignore all the negative things that could be said about that last bit and how it's ridiculous that we have anything in place that allows such situations to occur. Second, let me add that I was completely creeped the hell out by how casually these people were able to talk about babies as though they were baseball cards or a coin collection.

Here's my question that comes from all this, though. If you look at the court decisions that surround the abortion debate, much is made of the alleged rights of privacy, personal autonomy, etc. This line of reasoning is why the pro-abortion battle cry is largely centered around "This is my body," a demonic twist, it would seem, on the Institution Narrative.

This isn't the case with babies left frozen, though. These aren't part of the mother's body. They are now separated. How does their handling affect a woman's right to privacy or personal autonomy? They might not even be in the same city. If they die, is the mother's health affected? It would seem that there is no connection on any of these levels. In fact, the only real interest that the parents would seem to have at that point would be property interests.

If we are treating these children as property, doesn't this implicate the 13th Amendment, which served to abolish slavery? I'm not up to speed on my 13th Amendment stuff, but I know the Kozminski case extended its protections to those who are minors or mentally incompetent.

I also know that we all too often see reports in the news of parents who lock their kids in closets or chain them to trees. How are these things considered evil, while keeping multiple children in cold storage so that they can't even be born is ok?

It probably hasn't happened that someone has brought any kind of legal action on these grounds. However, it's an oddity that I hadn't really thought of until now. I suppose the battle will remain over what constitutes personhood, but consider this. The Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence is consistent that the State has an interest in protecting the unborn. The reason abortion remains legal is that the mother's "right to choose" has been deemed to outweigh this interest of the State. The situation of frozen babies has removed the mother's right to choose from the equation. It seems to me that, if we are to maintain that it's ok to lock children in a freezer for years, then we must say that the State's interest in protecting the unborn is almost non-existent because it can't even rise to the level of trumping a property right of an ostensible parent over the tissue/embryo/potential baby/whatever they want to call it.

I can hear the question now. "So you think the government can just force women to have these babies then?"

Not under current law. But what about prohibiting the chattelization (if that's a word) of these children in the first place? How about discerning the similarities between this and the instances of child abuse I already mentioned and putting a stop to it? Or telling these people that you can't just kill these kids (or allow them to be killed) just because they are smaller than others?

Do I think that could happen? I don't see why not. If it can't happen, then the Supremes have been kidding themselves all these years in saying that there is any State interest in the lives of the unborn and you might as well consign any legal theories relying on such an argument to the dustbin.

A Guy Was Murdered!

Let's go buy chocolate hearts, write cheesy cards, and pretend to have a day focused on love!

Anybody who can explain why we even bother to call today "Valentine's Day," please do so. I haven't been able to make many connections between St. Valentine's martyrdom and the modern concept. People make up holidays all the time. Look at Kwanzaa or Earth Day. Why even worry about making the connection between the saint and the day anymore?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tough Readings Today

For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

I hate hearing stuff like that. I do a pretty lousy job with righteousness. This always reminds me of that.

But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.


Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.

Hey, at least we've got purgatory. That's the good part in all this. It wouldn't surprise me if the Holy Spirit made sure this part was written here just to keep folks from wailing in despair.

But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Ouch. This is the spiritual death of so many.

But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

There are probably people who left the Church today because their priest decided to focus on this in his homily. They simply cannot abide being told that they are sinning.

But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.

Evil. What actually counts for evil anymore? I can pretty much guarantee you that none of the above-mentioned activities gets much play as evil anymore. Unless someone (not an unborn child) is killed, tortured, or raped, folks are uncomfortable with this word. Evil. Probably because it would describe themselves, and we are all far too nice to be or do anything evil.

The Judgement will show otherwise.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Muslims Destroy Churches And An Orphanage In Indonesia

I know that Egypt is the big story right now, but stories like this bear noting. There is still a trans-continental slow-motion genocide against Christians.

Thousands of angry Muslims attacked three churches, a Christian orphanage and a health centre that is also a Christian. The violence took place this morning at 10 am (local time) and only ended with the intervention of police in riot gear and police vans. One of the vans was set on fire by the crowd.

The revolt took place in Temanggung regency (Central Java), and started right in front of the town hall: first the crowd attacked the court where a trial against Richmond Bawengan Antonius, a Christian born in Manado (North Sulawesi) , accused of proselytizing and blasphemy was being held.

Bawengan was arrested in October 2010 because during a visit to Temanggung he had distributed printed missionary material, which, among other things, poked fun at some Islamic symbols. The profanity has cost him five years in prison, but the crowd were demanding the death sentence. The violence was sparked by their dissatisfaction with the verdict.

No outcry from Ban Ki-Moon at this point. Again, I can only assume that the bulk of the world remains silent on these issues because they secretly approve. There isn't a much else to explain why whack-jobs burning Korans in Florida get global coverage, while this sort of stuff is so casually ignored.

The Catholic Church of St Peter and Paul on Sudirman Boulevard was the first to be attacked, according to AsiaNews sources, the parish priest, Fr Saldhana, a missionary of the Holy Family, was violently beaten as he tried to protect the tabernacle and the Eucharist against the mob.

The crowd then attacked a Pentecostal church. According to the pastor Darmanto - another Christian leader of Temanggung - the main goal was the Pentecostal church, which was then burned. The mob, however, still not appeased went on to destroy in a Catholic orphanage and a health centre of the Sisters of Providence.

God bless this brave priest and our persecuted brethren. They will have their justice one day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion- Buzzkill

Here's the other article that I had previously mentioned on ecumenism. This time, the honesty comes from Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion, courtesty of the Register. He has some positive comments, but it's mostly a big bucket of cold water.

Good stuff:

Has Catholic-Orthodox unity become more of a possibility in recent years? If so, since when, or because of what?

I think certain feasible positive changes came with the beginning of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. He is a man of the Church. He is very traditional in his understanding of the dogma and of morality and he is very close to the Orthodox Church. He highly respects Orthodox traditions. He knows Orthodox theology, and as he indicated in his latest book, Orthodox concerns are very close to his heart. He speaks very highly about the Ecumenical Patriarch (Bartholomew I). He speaks very highly and also very personally about his encounters with the current Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill. And it is clear that, for him, the relationship with the Orthodox Church is one of the primary tasks on his agenda.

Nice of him to say.

Blunt admission:

How would you describe recent dialogue on the issue of primacy? What is each side saying? Has either side shown any sign of possibly changing?

Well, Pope John Paul II called on everybody, particularly on the Orthodox to express their understanding of primacy.

In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint.

Yes. I believe we the Orthodox are ourselves not altogether clear about what we mean by primacy and how this primacy should be exercised. We have, for example, certain differences between the primacy as it is understood by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the primacy as it is understood by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

And so we come to the point that nobody on the East seems to want to discuss. When the rubber hits the road, the Orthodox are in the same boat as the Anglicans on the issues that really matter for what we should be talking about. They can't even agree among themselves. That being the case, how are they supposed to mend the breach with Rome?

What can they agree on? That Rome is wrong. This is the bad stuff.

In any case, we do not believe that there could be a bishop above all other bishops whose decisions would be binding for the entire Church. We believe that the bishop of Rome in the first Millennium was obviously first in honor but he was first among equals. He did not have direct jurisdiction, for example, over the East. Therefore, when we come to the discussion of the primacy we would argue that the universal jurisdiction of the Pope is something that didn’t exist in the first Millennium and that if we restore, for example, Eucharistic communion, we would accept his role as first among equals but not as the universal bishop.

This is a perspective that is not likely to promote progress. I applaud him, though, for being open with his thoughts. He clearly isn't looking to suck up to anyone.

I believe that when some people talk about breakthroughs, it was a wishful thinking rather than anything close to reality. We are still at a rather early stage of the discussions. We still discuss the role of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium, and even on this issue we see clear differences between the Orthodox and the Catholics. If we come to the discussion of the second millennium, the differences will become much more obvious. Therefore we should not pretend that we are close to solving this problem.

Ah, that may be true, sir, but nothing is impossible. It can be solved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Forthright Appraisal Of Dialogue

Via Rorate, I've come across a couple of very good articles on ecumenism. The first is from William Oddie at the Catholic Herald. It's a refreshing take on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and why it's a ludicrous ritual with little or nor redeeming value.

In the wake of the recent collapse of Muslim-Catholic dialogue, you have to ask what that word “dialogue” has come to mean these days: two groups of irreconcilables, each churning out yet again their own point of view in case their interlocutors weren’t already perfectly well aware of what they think about absolutely everything? I remember as a Catholic-minded Anglican desperately hoping, back in the 70s, in the early days of ARCIC, that a series of statements would somehow emerge which would uncover a common faith, on the basis of which corporate reunion might be a distant prospect. The statements did emerge, on Ministry, Sacraments and so forth: but they were never officially accepted by Rome as being a sound or adequate representation of Catholic belief, and nor were they.

I think this is an excellent point and one seldom raised. Aren't we creating a false hope (or whatever) among all these other groups by playing the whole dialogue scene this way? Folks like Mr. Oddie wait around for Rome to see the light, but we all know that won't happen. Even when documents and reports come out, they are theologically worthless. The Joint Declaration on Justification with the Lutherans is a classic example of this.

The trouble with ARCIC always was (as a former Catholic member of it once explained to me) that on the Catholic side of the table you have a body of men (mostly bishops) who represent a more or less coherent view, being members of a Church which has established means of knowing and declaring what it believes. On the Anglican side of the table you have a body of men (and it was only men, on both sides, in those days) the divisions between whom are just fundamental as, and sometimes a lot more fundamental than, those between any one of them and the Catholic representatives they faced: they all represented only themselves.

And they all, Catholics and Anglicans, quite simply belonged to very different kinds of institution. It isn’t just that Catholics and Anglicans believe different doctrines: it’s that there is between them a fundamental difference over their attitude to the entire doctrinal enterprise. I remember very vividly, in my days as an (Anglican) clergy member of the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, a debate on one of the ARCIC documents followed by a vote on whether to recommend to the General Synod in London that it should be accepted. The document was accepted overwhelmingly. At lunchtime, standing at the bar with a number of clergy, I asked how they had voted; they had all voted affirmatively. I then asked them if they had read the document.

And here comes the ugly truth:

None of them had; and most of them, it became clear, had little idea of what it contained. “Well”, I asked, puzzled, “why did you vote for it, then?” “The point is,” one of them replied, “the important thing is unity. The RCs are frightfully keen on doctrine. You have to encourage them: so I voted for their document”. There you have it: what the late Mgr Graham Leonard, when he was still an Anglican bishop, once called “the doctrinal levity of the Church of England”.

At the brass tacks level, you'd think we'd have to get past the whole issue of holy orders before we can even talk about anything else. But hey, who cares, right? They're just "encouraging" us, hoping that eventually we'll cave on something in the name of "unity." Unity in what, nobody really knows, but it would look good in the papers.

And in the end, that fundamental disqualification of ARCIC remains: it is an endless time-consuming discussion between representatives of the Catholic Church on one side, and a varying group of individuals who represent only themselves on the other. And so it will be at the next ARCIC meeting. Some of the Anglicans will be quite close to the views of their (hum, hum) “spiritual leader”, Rowan Williams; others will be very far from them. A document so general that they can all subscribe to it will somehow be cobbled together. Nobody will read it: and the whole operation will at great expense achieve nothing.

Can anybody explain to me why we carry on with ARCIC? Is there any real intention, as 30 years ago there undoubtedly was, of actually acheiving something? Is it a continuing self-delusion on the part of those participating? Or is ARCIC III just a PR exercise, designed to avert attention from the fact that we have now, inevitably but finally, come to the bitter end of the ecumenical road?

Great questions. I wish I knew the answers.

More On Cardinal Husar's Resignation

Whispers just put up a more in-depth article on the subject that is very, very good. Anyone interested in Catholic-Orthodox relations (which should be every Catholic and every Orthodox) should take a look.

Mainstream Media Reporting On The Church Vs. China

I haven't figured out how media folk decide what Church stories to report on and what stories they will bury. Granted, anything that makes us look bad is guaranteed headlines. It's the other stuff that makes me wonder. Positive stuff is generally ignored, but you would think that the geopolitical standing of Church moves would get covered more than it does.

That's why I'm surprised that this latest from China has gotten some play:

Pope Benedict XVI insisted Saturday on his right to ordain bishops as he consecrated a Chinese prelate in an implicit challenge to attempts by China's official church to ordain bishops without his approval.

Monsignor Savio Hon Tai-Fai, a 60-year-old Hong Kong prelate recently named to the No. 2 spot in the Vatican's missionary office, was one of five bishops ordained by Benedict in St. Peter's Basilica.

His elevation comes amid a new low point in relations between the Holy See and Beijing over the Chinese state-backed church's ordination of bishops without papal consent.

Yeah, I'd say it's pretty low when the Chinese government is kidnapping bishops to force them to participate in sacrilege, while observers compare the current regime to Mao.

In case you thought some sort of compromise was on the horizon, take a look at the comments from the Holy Father and the response from Jintao's murderous thugs:

Benedict didn't refer specifically to China in his homily but insisted in general on the duty and need for the pope to name bishops to ensure apostolic succession. He said one of the key jobs of a bishop is to ensure that there is an "uninterrupted chain of communion" with the apostles.

"You, my dear brothers, have the mission to conserve this Catholic communion," Benedict said. "You know that the Lord entrusted St. Peter and his successors to be the center of this communion, the guarantors of being in the totality of the apostolic communion and the faith."

He added: "Only through communion with the successors of the apostles are we in contact with God incarnate."

On Saturday, Liu Bainian, spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, congratulated Hon and said there was no need for him to be a bridge since the Vatican and China already had a dialogue.

But in an interview with The Associated Press in Beijing, he said the church could improve relations between the two by respecting what he said were two conditions put forward by the Chinese government: "First, to sever the so-called diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government. Second, do not interfere in China's internal affairs, including in the naming of bishops," he said.


Pope Benedict: This Catholic thing doesn't work without me and my bishops.
China: There really isn't a problem. Oh, and by the way, you best not mention Taiwan and you have no bishops here.

The really odd thing is that you can almost imagine prelates from USCCB making a similar statement, sans the bit about Taiwan, of course.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cardinal Husar To Resign

This is pretty huge. He's kind of been the Catholic face towards the Orthodox for a while now. I won't say that I agreed with everything he said or did, but it's kind of sad to see him go. He's had a really rough go of it. Given the attempts by the communists to liquidate the Ukrainian Church altogether, it would have been a major task even without the still heated clashes over confiscated Church properties.

Whispers has the full story.

God bless you, Cardinal Husar.

Lenten Moves For Anglicans?

SkyNews is wondering:

Hundreds of disillusioned Anglicans are expected to defect to the Roman Catholic Church in time for Lent.

It follows a campaign by Father Keith Newton to leave the Church of England in protest at its stance on the ordination of women and gay clergy.

Fr Newton has encouraged Anglicans to join the Ordinariate - a special branch of Catholicism established by the Pope - to welcome protestant defectors.

Hundreds might sound disappointing to some, but let's be honest with ourselves. Religious inertia can be tough thing to overcome, even for folks ensconced in the shambling wreck of the Anglican Communion.

At St. Barnabas church in Tunbridge Wells, the parish priest says that a majority of his parishioners want to defect - and he's considering going too.

Father Ed Tomlinson believes that traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women have been badly let down by Church leaders.

Yet the priest has been told by the diocese of Rochester that if he and his followers leave they will no longer be allowed to hold services, even on a shared basis, at St Barnabas - a nineteenth-century red-brick church where First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon was baptised.

The firm stance has infuriated Fr Tomlinson, the vicar since 2006.

Another call for honesty. Regardless of how much of a smiley face Rowan & Co. tried to put on this situation, I don't think anybody expected them to play nice when it came to the brass tacks of property, finances, and so forth.

The Ordinariate talks of recruiting members in waves with the first beginning training at Lent and they hope many more will follow.

"A little acorn it may have been at the moment, it could grow into a mighty oak," one local church-goer said.

"Was this the thing that started to undo the reformation?"

Ah, my friend. The Reformation was undone at its inception. It just took a few hundred years before folks realized it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Extraordinary Form In Africa

Check out this entry from the Eponymous Flower. Basically, it's a take from a Benin bishop on the Extraordinary Form and its impact on the members of his diocese and elsewhere in Africa. Here's one snip:

The Roman Canon and the liturgical gestures in the Old Rite stand closer to African religiosity and African feeling -- and here is what the report said, further;

"It is my wish that one day every priest will be able to celebrate both forms" -- explained the Bishop within.

He named further examples for the enrichment of a New Mass.

Immediately in Advent and in the time of Fast the priest could celebrate everything for the Lord.

That draws the attention on the Mystery of the Cross. The celebrant and the choir should disappear before God.

Msg N'Koué explains that the Offertory Rite is not in the rubrics of the New Rite and not celebrated in the face of the faithful.

He wishes also more latin in the Mass and would like to avoid profane instruments and music.

In their place Gregorian Choirs should be singing.

The bishop has asked the priests to say the Roman Canon on Sundays and Feast days. It will facilitate inculcation more easily.

Kind of runs contrary to the typical line you hear about this, right? The story tends to be that the Mass has be "adapted" to fit various cultures, societies, or whatever. I've always found this to be a weird yarn. The Traditional Latin Mass was pretty much able to evangelize the world without a whole lot of modifications. I'm not sure that times are so different now.

I'm not saying that such adaptations are impossible. There were probably ways to work around the whole Chinese Rites deal, for example. On top of that, the varying rites currently existing within the Church are examples that this sort of thing can happen. However, this doesn't make it advisable or something to do without a firm root in organic development. Otherwise, we might wind up with a banal fabrication of a liturgy, and that would be a bad thing, right?

Worse, we could end up with something that is so steeped in the local color that it becomes more of a production of the people than an act of worship for the glory of God Almighty. This need for innovation in the name of culture is pretty much where we got disco liturgy from in the first place.

Keep it simple. The TLM: If it was good enough for centuries of saints, across multiple continents, and almost every culture in the world, it's good enough for the rest of us.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good News From The East

Per Zenit, it looks like a rousing success story on the vocations front from the East.

Ukrainian seminaries are having to turn away up to half of the young men seeking to become priests due to a lack of space.

Coadjutor Bishop Jaroslav Pryriz of the Eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych reported to Aid to the Church in Need that in some places, there are three candidates vying for every place in the seminary.

He stated that many young men are attracted to the priesthood because of the examples they see of living a challenging vocation.

How about that? Sounds like they need to be building some more seminaries. What a magnificent problem to have!

Friday, February 4, 2011

What Is A Church?

Another consequence of the Reformation is that the answer to this question is up for grabs in most circles. The nasty part is that it looks like the government might try to formulate a response.

Do you know how your church -- or the megachurch down the street -- spends its tax-exempt money? Do you know how much tax-exempt compensation your pastor receives or how he or she spend their money?

Shouldn't you know? Shouldn't the the government to find out for you?

Those are some of the intriguing and unsettling questions raised by a must-read staff review released last week by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

The Post says that this report is unlikely to lead to changes. I'd say the Post is overlooking the fact that the government is flat broke and looking for ways to bring in cash. Let's look at some of the verbage from the report.

"While the majority of churches and religious organizations operate with policies and procedures that make them accountable to their members, it is the small minority that don't that are subject to scrutiny by the members and the public, the press," the staff reported.

"These outliers present tax policy issues for consideration."

Those issues should concern everyone.

First Issue:

What is a church?

"Currently, anyone can set up an organization, call the organization a church, solicit tax-deductible contributions, and -- unless the organization voluntarily applies for recognition of tax-exempt status or files annual returns - that organization will be invisible to the IRS and operate virtually without government oversight because no state requires religious organizations to register and file annual financial reports with the state attorney general," the staff reported.
Under current tax law, religious organizations that are not churches are required to file IRS Form 990 and report their sources of income and expendutures annually.

Churches -- and organizations deemed "integrated auxiliaries of the church" -- are not required to do so.

"This lack of governmental, independent or denominational oversight is troubling when considering that churches can reach the size of large taxable corporations, control numerous taxable and non-taxable subsidiaries, and bestow Wall Street-size benefits on their ministers," the staff reported.

No, what's troubling is that the government is asking this question. It's already enough that the current regulations essentially handcuff bishops and priests from speaking the Truth to the political masses. Now, we've got this going on.

Second Issue:

Who is a minister?

According to tax law, "ministers of the gospel" are allowed to designate a portion of compensation as a housing allowance and exclude that amount from income.

Megachurch minister Rick Warren, for example, bought a house for $360,000 in 1992. In 1993, the church paid Warren $77,663, and Warren excluded the entire amount from his income as a housing allowance," according to the report.

Other "ministers" claim the excemption on two or three homes. And many "ministers" who claim the excemption are not church pastors, but rather "ministers" for evangelistic organizations or church-affiliated ministries.

"The value of the parsonage and housing allowances is separate from the issue of who is a 'minister' eligible for the exclusion," the staff reported.

"Some of the organizations reviewed by the Committee provide parsonage or housing allowances to family members and employees who may be deemed ministers solely to be eligible for the income tax exclusion. . . "

"Should the parsonage allowance be limited to a single primary residence or to a specific dollar amount?"

As J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine told Grassley's staff, "Some pastors take advantage of a lack of denominational accountability to enrich themselves, churches . . . There are many independent churches out there today that are accountable to no one."

Yeah, tell us something we don't know, J. Lee. A lot of folks reading this post might think I'm over-reacting here. After all, the main focus of the report's contents are the Copelands and Whites of the world. Don't let that give you any security. They will be the foot in the door. Then, we'll be next. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that any major scrutiny of these mega-church folks will be DOA. They have a national following in many cases. They are on TV a lot. Barring a Swaggart or Bakker sort of scandal, I can see them rallying enough support to suppress something like this. I don't see that happening for Catholics. That sucks, and says a lot about my current cynicism regarding the Church and the world, but it seems way too probable for me to even want the door opened for such actions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More Anglicans Crossing Over

There are several articles floating around about this. Here's the snippet from SkyNews.

Hundreds of disillusioned Anglicans are expected to defect to the Roman Catholic Church in time for Lent.

It follows a campaign by Father Keith Newton to leave the Church of England in protest at its stance on the ordination of women and gay clergy.

Fr Newton has encouraged Anglicans to join the Ordinariate - a special branch of Catholicism established by the Pope - to welcome protestant defectors.

The Ordinariate is a special structure established by Pope Benedict to welcome the disillusioned Anglicans.

The efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury have not been enough to stop hundreds of Anglo Catholics making the split that he had hoped to avoid.

In mid-January it got off the ground with the conversion of three Anglican bishops who are now bringing others on board.

The Church of England says that 1,000 of its 13,000 parishes are opposed to the ordination of women.

It's not a tidal wave or anything, but I think we have to consider it as a big deal. Just plain old inertia will keep a lot of people in place for a long time. I don't see the effects of Anglicanorum Coetibus just petering out either. As Anglicanism continues its decay, more and more folks will start to see just what a trainwreck the Reformation was, especially the shenanigans that went down in England.

I'm more curious as to how the geopolitical aspects of this will play out. The Global South aren't just going to sit around and let the Schoris of the world call the shots. They've been pretty blunt about that. I'm not sure they are willing to embrace the Church, though. It would be absolutely huge if the dominos here started to fall in the direction of Catholicism.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ecumenism And Blessed John XXIII

In a recent Zenit article, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, had the following exchange:

Q: The pontifical council recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation. Is the spirit that inspired its birth with Pope John XXIII still alive?

Bishop Farrell: Yes, in fact, on this past Nov. 17, we held a solemn public ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, which John XXIII intensely desired and instituted along with the other commissions charged with preparing the Second Vatican Council. Convinced that the council's entire work had to be impregnated with the desire to re-establish unity, he wished, as a clear sign of that desire, to have the presence of observers from other churches and ecclesial communities at the council.

It seems almost like a miracle of Providence that more than 2,000 bishops came to Rome to start the council in 1962, many of them formed in a theology of "exclusion," according to which the Orthodox and the Protestants -- schismatics and heretics, in the terminology of that time -- were simply outside of the Church, and three years later they produced the decree "Unitatis Redintegratio," which recognizes a real, although incomplete ecclesial communion among all the baptized and among the Churches and ecclesial communities. This renewed perspective, in perfect harmony with the old ecclesiology of the Fathers, had enormous consequences for the new way that Catholics related to other Christians and with their communities, and for the irrevocable adherence of the Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement.

John XXIII spoke of a "step forward," a way of seeing the old tradition with new eyes, thus opening up new ways for the Church to move toward that visible unity that is her own. This transformation has largely been due to the intense work of the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Agustín Bea, and his coworkers -- along with the grace of the Holy Spirit, of course.

Basically, I'm not sure how the italicized portion is anything other than an insult to the thousands of saints, not to mention Fathers and Doctors of the Church, who stated time and time again that individuals ascribing to heresy and schism are, in fact, outside the Church. Apparently, these people (and every other Catholic) lived in darkness until the magnificent light of ecumenism was shone upon them, and we could all shed the errors of our "theology of exclusion."

Moreover, this is an insult to Blessed John XXIII himself. Let's take a look at the Pope's own words, from his own autobiography, Journey of a Soul (see page 5 of the linked chapter):

Meanwhile, this (his conversations with a young Protestant who had left Catholicism) has convinced me of my tremendous obligation to thank God for the great gift of faith: one has only to talk to a Protestant for a few hours to understand all the importance of thus (sp). Therefore, forever, "his praise shall be continually in my mouth" for this gift too, indeed for this gift above all else. AS FOR THESE POOR UNFORTUNATES OUTSIDE THE CHURCH, we must feel sorry for them, poor children pray hard for them, and work with all our hearts and strength for their conversion.

Well, geez, I guess Blessed John was infected with this same erroneous "theology of exclusion." Is Bishop Farrell even familiar with the summons to the Council, Ad Petri Cathedram? If you don't want to check out the whole thing, see our post here, which goes into a few details. Needless to say, it's chockful of the "theology of exclusion."

Something tells me that the "step forward" Bishop Farrell speaks of isn't what Blessed John was talking about. If anything, we know from his own hand that Pope John's dream was for the return of those outside of the Church to the Catholic Faith. This kind of mis-characterization is annoying and leads to the appearance of Vatican II as some sort of theological trump card for 2000 years of Church teaching.

I'm not even going to touch the rest of the above article's WooHoos regarding the accomplishments of post-conciliar ecumenism. I'll just say that Bishop Farrell must be observing a way different reality that what I've been looking at. Everyone agrees that Catholic Faith isn't even being taught any more (hence the new Pontifical Council for Re-Evangelization). It seems absurd to suggest that we are making all this progress on bringing those outside the Church back to the Faith, when we can't even get Catholics to buy into the Faith.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Movie Review: The Rite

So I finally saw The Rite.


Let me get a couple of things out of the way right off the bat. First, this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the book by the same name, other than they both involve exorcisms. Second, this is not a horror movie, and I'm willing to be that a lot of folks aren't going to like it simply because their expectations are for something in that genre. They will be disappointed.

Moving on to the movie itself, I will be providing some minor spoilers, so those who proceed have been warned.

As anyone can gather from the previews, this is the story of a young skeptical priest who is training to drive out demons under the guidance of an experienced exorcist. Except that the young priest isn't a priest. That's just the previews misleading the audience, but I'm probably just being overly sensitive on this point. I actually thought the acting was pretty good. Colin O'Donoghue plays the skeptic well. More than a skeptic, the character is basically an atheist, and O'Donoghue does a good job of exuding the vibe of superiority and exasperation that you tend to find in a lot of the professional unbelievers these days. The real priest's role is carried by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is Hopkins, so you know he isn't going to suck. While he has some really good moments in this one, he doesn't really have much to work with.

I really wanted to like this movie. However, it seemed absolutely determined to make sure that I would hate it. Within the first twenty minutes, it started producing little superfluous items that seemed to have no purpose in the film except to get on my nerves. Having a guy who isn't a priest lie about being a priest, to the detriment of a dying soul at that, only to have his lie applauded by a real priest is stupid and annoying, especially since it added nothing to the story and could have been easily portrayed in a decent manner. I wish the problems had stopped here.

The movie's real damage comes from the fact that it is almost antithetical to the basic premise of the book. The book sought to give a portrayal of exorcism that was balanced between the banality of some cases and the shock of the more extreme instances. The movie's depiction is full-on sensationalism. Having ditched what should have been the main premise, the movie pushes the sensational aspects until it renders the main characters unlikeable. O'Donoghue's skeptic looks more and more like an idiot, claiming "rational explanations" for stuff that would have made Agent Scully a believer (even Season 1 Scully). Hopkins is left looking incompetent for letting someone with no faith at all assume control of situations that clearly involve the demonic.

The need to continue pushing this envelope shoves the whole movie into absurdity by the time we reach the climax. O'Donoghue, with no faith, no training, and no ordination, sallies forth to do combat with the Forces of Hell. Why him? Because he didn't feel like he could leave the possessed guy tied up all weekend while the experienced exorcist was out of town.

No, really. That was the whole rationale. Almost verbatim. To hell (literally) with his own soul, the soul of the possessed guy, the bystanders. He just couldn't leave someone tied up for a couple of days. Or go find the other exorcist. Or ANY other exorcist. Or even a real priest.

The thing that really sucks is that this movie could have been quite good. Just sticking to some semblance of the book would have helped. The temptation to try and force it into horror-dom was just too much, I guess. What you wind up with isn't a horror movie, but instead a story about faith. That is admirable, but it's too weighted down by the stupid stuff. They should have made up their minds as to what they wanted. Trying to please both sides just wound up with a crappy movie.

I will say this. At least they show exorcisms actually working. The more famous movies dealing with this subject aren't so nice. Exorcist I? Fr. Karras takes a header out the window. Exorcist II? Richard Burton consorts with demons. Exorcist III? The exorcist is getting smacked around until George C. Scott shows up and beats the demons with bullets rather than faith. Exorcism of Emily Rose? She dies.

I'm very proud of The Rite for being a movie about the power of faith, and its role in defeating Satan's minions. I just wish there was something else to praise.

There isn't. Oh, and my wife thought it was absolutely horrible, so there's your second opinion if you think you might need one.

If Only We Could All Die This Way

From the National Post, a tremendously moving story of God's grace and mercy:

As Sergeant Ryan Russell lay dying on Toronto’s frozen streets in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, a local priest was running late for his morning mass.

Father Fausto Bailo, a chaplain at the downtown Ernescliff College student centre on the University of Toronto campus, recalls approaching the intersection of Avenue and Davenport roads — and finding an unexpected scene of chaos.

A police car in the middle of the road with its door open. A man lying motionless on the ground. A growing swarm of officers and curious onlookers. A tragic snapshot in time that would later form the heart of a bizarre murder case.

At the time, Fr. Bailo was not sure what he was looking at, but he knew one thing: The man on the road was not long for this world.

“I saw that he was badly hurt. It was so fast, the whole thing. I thought that he was dead,” the soft-spoken Catholic priest recalled in a heavy Spanish accent.

As more police cruisers screamed up Avenue Road, Fr. Bailo says his religious instincts kicked in, prompting him to deliver a final blessing.

“It was an instant reaction, the moment I saw him,” Fr. Bailo explained.

He performed what is known as a conditional absolution, a blessing to absolve the dying officer of his worldly sins, regardless of his religion. The ritual requires no direct contact, so Fr. Bailo was able to stand on the sidelines, praying for Sgt. Russell as panic and confusion reigned around him.

Nobody reading this should think, "Boy, that guy was lucky there was a priest around."

We do not call this luck. This is Providence.