Thursday, June 30, 2005

Homosexual Marriage in Spain

This one got by me.

Last week, as the matter was coming up for consideration by the Spanish Parliament, Spaniards took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to protest the prospect of legalizing homosexual marriage. The fact that the protests took place at all was seen as a sign of a resurgent Catholic consciousness among the people of Spain. And it seemed to be crowned with a victory as the Spanish Senate voted against the idea of gay marriages.

Alas, the Spanish Senate is an advisory body only.

The Socialist-dominated Congress of Deputies just passed the act.

See here for a news report-- along with the obligatory photo of two Spanish men smooching. Muy Macho!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sex Abuse and Praise for the Traditional Confessional

I just finished one of those very informative sort of books which, though you can find no fault with it, leaves you wanting to go jump off a bridge.

The book was Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and other Sex Offenders, by Anna C. Salter, 2003. The sub-subtitle reads: Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children.

Awkward packaging, yes; but still a well written and informative book. The story, in a nutshell, is that they (sexual predators) can be anyone (although they do gravitate towards certain professions); that they are experts at preparing their victims and at deceiving both their victims and those who would protect the innocent; that they rarely are punished and that their punishment does not deter them; that they generally cannot be rehabilitated; and that anyone who thinks they can consistently identify a sex offender is self-deluded-- including the experts.

Priests are brought up, though not especially emphasized. That is, this is not a "slam the Catholic priesthood" book. Sex offenders may seek out the priesthood in a conscious effort to find victims, or they may run to the priesthood to escape their inner hell and fail in the self-reform effort. Or, they may enter the priesthood before fully developing whatever form of sexual deviancy they later exhibit. Church hierarchy and seminary formation teams are powerless at identifying these people because, to put it simply, a time and effort which sexual predators spend honing the techniques of deceit makes the seminary gate keepers little more than sheep among wolves in dealing with them.

Salter notes that parents and other adults responsible for children will never consistently succeed in identifying those who will harm their kids. There are certain indicators, yes, but none that are fool-proof. Besides, true predators already know most of the indicators and have attended to them already.

Salter's primary conclusion: if parents want to eliminate risk, then they simply should never place their child in a situation where they can be alone with any one adult except their own spouses.

That's impossible, of course. So Salter's secondary conclusion is that when the parent makes the decision that the child either needs to be given that independence which all kids need as they mature, or if trusting others is an absolute necessity, then the parent must do a risk assessment each and every time.

This all leaves me staring at the confessional of our church. My wife and I and my two older children go to confession about once a month. You walk in a room, you close the heavy, semi-soundproof door, and there you are, alone, with the priest.

I trust my parish priests. Both priests I confess to literally know every bad thing I've done in the last ten years or so, and then some. They have never revealed my sins. They have never so much as acted as if they had heard my sins. I trust them with more than my life. I trust them with my most shameful secrets and with helping me in the task of working out my salvation in fear and trembling, as St. Paul describes it.

But that room-- that confessional-- and my child, alone, with an adult male who has no conventional family life. And the knowledge that a true predator can operate giving no sign of the fiend hidden within. These all make for a long night wondering: what if my trust is misplaced?

Deep breath. Shift gears.

The modern, face to face confession is a fairly recent innovation. I remember being introduced to it in 1977 as one of many changes made in the fifteen years or so following Vatican II. The idea behind confessing face to face was to build trust and intimacy between priest and penitent. Me: I never liked it. I always preferred the old custom of confessing from behind a screen. I never liked having to have someone look at me while I described my sins. But even when given the option of going behind the screen, I have usually gone face to face anyway. Why? I suppose it is a sort of "gut check" for me; answering the question of whether I have the nerve to look a man in the eye while revealing things which are sinful, embarrasing, occassionally shameful. When face to face is available, going behind a screen seems almost wimpy to me-- like closing my eyes at a horror movie or screaming on a roller coaster.

But in the old fashion confessional-- the type used until 1976, there wasn't merely a screen separating priest and penitent. There was a wall. Not only could the priest not see you, but it was impossible to come into physical contact. More than that, it was a public space, for the confessional was composed of adjoining booths separated by that partition and screen and sitting in the middle of the Church. And more than that, both booths were too small for more than one person to enter, and it was impossible to enter without everybody outside knowing somebody was inside. How? The doors didn't go all the way to the floor! It was like a dressing room at the department store. You had privacy, but at the same time you were observable.

The story, as I heard it, was that St. Charles Borromeo himself invented the confession booth for the specific purpose not merely of providing anonymity and comfort to the penitent, but also to preclude any notion of sexual misconduct taking place in the context of the Sacrament of Confession.

Maybe this is an idea worth resurrecting. I'd sure like it. Not just for myself, but so that I don't have to worry about my kids.

Monday, June 27, 2005

This makes sense...

...If you are schizoid.

Yesterday, the Supremes ruled that the Ten Commandments could not be displayed in a Kentucky Courthouse.

Today, they ruled the Commandments could be displayed at the Texas State Capital.

Sandra Day O'Connor played a decisive role by voting against the Kentucky display and in favor of the Texas monument.

Apparently, the Kentucky version seemed to endorse the Commandments along with their religious implications, while the Texas tablets merely acknowledged them and their role in shaping western legal concepts.

It does make sense. You just have to think about it to figure it out.

I guess this is good news... kind of. Especially if you are one of the lawyers who gets to work out a bunch of new cases in light of these rulings.

Does this mean the Alabama monument can go back up?

See story here.

China, Taiwan, and the Church: folks are starting to notice.

This morning, I noticed a story on Drudge regarding possible Chinese plans to invade Taiwan within two years, and a story on Get Religion about the possibility of the Vatican compromising with China regarding the naming of bishops and Church recognition of Taiwan.

Yesterday, on my other site, I noted the recent hysteria over Chinese capital investments in the United States the similarity between these stories and others of Japanese investments fifteen years ago, and generally pooh-poohed them. Now I'm starting to wonder if the coordination between business, culture, government, and the military in China doesn't make their threat somewhat more serious than the simple economic threat once posed by Japan.

In any event, the Chinese want the Church to remove its recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty and compromise on the Church's authority in naming bishops. The Vatican, meanwhile, has indicated a possible willingness to make these compromises (Who? Cardinal Soldano?). It would be a grave mistake, both in the moral and in the strategic sense if such compromises were made. An act which the Vatican might see as a means of seeking harmony would, to the Chinese, be nothing more than victory in an intermediate step toward their long range goals of removing all barriers to an invasion of Taiwan and to a complete nationalization of the Catholic Church in China, making it nothing more than an supplement to Communist thought control-- a true "opiate of the masses" sedating Chinese Christians against the pain of Communist totalitarianism.

Don't do it, Your Holiness!

Along with Rick Santorum, a REAL Catholic politician

See this piece on Jeb Bush by the Curt Jester. That is one Catholic pol I would vote for to become president.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Good Profile of Fr. Joseph Fessio

Good profile on the man rumored to replace Archbishop William Levada at the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and who otherwise may be the most influential priest in the U.S.

It discusses his role in founding Ignatius Press, his relationship with B-16, his dismissal from the St. Ignatius Institute at USF, his banishment from San Francisco, and his resurfacing at Ave Maria University.

I only wish there had been some discussion of the rumors of financial mismanagement which have touched upon him at the St. Ignatius institute and Ave Maria.

I found the profile on a U.K. website called the Tablet by way of the Curt Jester. According to the comments on the Curt Jester post, it was apparently a surprise that the Tablet wrote so favorably about an orthodox priest.

Actually, I think better of Tom Cruise over this.

No, not over him being a Scientologist;

Or making fun of movie stars who take antidepressants;

Or wanting to get married for the third time;

Or not behaving like a cool, suave, has-an-Oscar-in-every-room type star anymore;

No. What I like is the fact that he has gotten rid of his publicist, which I think is the real reason he has received so much bad press lately. He always has, apparently, had an off-the-wall streak to him. Now he just doesn't have anybody covering it up.

Which makes him one of the first stars in a long time to really get real.

And the next time we hear about him doing something completely boorish, we need to remember that most of the stars do something like that from time to time. But Cruise is now living under the microscope created by all the folks in the Hollywood publicity machine who will be very, very happy to make an example of someone who doesn't want to play the game by the rules they make.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pius XII, Nazi Gold, and Jewish Art

I found myself entering a response today to a comment on another entry in which I ran out of allowed characters and could not post the entire response. That's the first time that's ever happened to me, and probably is a sign that I rant too much.

Since I took the topic so seriously, however, I figured I would write about it here.

Commenting on a post I had made in defense of Pius XII's role during WWII, a reader asked: "Does this mean there isn't any truth to the charges of Nazi gold or Jewish-owned artwork that were found in the Church's possession? Did that pope really not do poorly by the Jews?"

A good general commentary (from the Catholic perspective) on Pius XII and the Jewish people can be found here.

The gist of the "Nazi Gold" rumors is that the Vatican helped former fascist leaders (Nazi sympathizers) from Yugoslavia escape the Communists by running to South America after WWII; and that the Vatican either held onto or transported their wealth after them. What looks like a good, neutral compendium of the charges and counter charges can be found here. My take is that there is no compelling evidence that the Vatican is "hiding Nazi gold", and even if there was good evidence, the Vatican has always made it known that as the war ended, they were just as concerned to help former Nazi sympathizers from eastern Europe escape Stalin or Tito's form of justice as they were to help Jews escape Hitler's vision of racial purity. Could some corrupt Cardinal have gotten sticky fingers, been too anxious to help former Axis allies with whom he sympathized, or been all too ready to establish a slush fund for his directorate? All that is possible, though I would be surprised if those specific charges proved true.

Regarding looted artwork: I wouldn't be the least surprised if much of the priceless works found in the Vatican Museum and Library were, at sometime, stolen; and that some of it might have been stolen from Jewish people or synagogues. I can imagine some medieval baron sacking a synagogue on some pretext and his descendants bequeathing whatever treasure he took to a local monastery. The local monastery then would have promised to say Masses daily for the soul of Baron Synagogue Sacker under the pretext that he went to confession before his death, was sorry for every bad thing he ever did, escaped Hell, and now needed spiritual help to get out of Purgatory and into Heaven. In all honesty, it probably would never have occurred to anyone that sacking a synagogue would have been a serious sin. Later, when the Vikings or Moors or Hugenots or Communists or whomever posed a threat, the treasures got shipped off to the mother house in Italy. Later still, when the religious order needed to liquidate assets for whatever reason, the treasures went to the Vatican.

All of this is quite unsavory. My ancestors were peasants from the upper Rhineland. I imagine they would have sacked a synagogue in a heartbeat had they the chance. For whatever thefts, murders, and other outrages have ever been committed against the Jews in Christ's name by my ancestors or co-religionists, for what it's worth, I am sorry.

Of course, my apologies mean very little since I neither committed such acts myself, nor have I benefited from them, nor do I personally know or know of anybody related to me who actually did such a thing.

I remember visiting the Vatican Library Art Museum with my parents when I was a child. I recall seeing a beautiful menorah along with some remnant of an ancient copy of the Torah and some Hebrew (along with some Greek, Roman, and Byzantine) relinquaries for holding the bones of the dead. I recall seeing similar exhibits of other items which, at some point, almost certainly had to have been removed from their original locations over someone else's wishes, at the British National Museum, the Chicago Natural History Museum, and a few other places. Indeed, I suspect that almost every major museum of artwork or antiquities has stolen property in it.

I remember (also as a child) touring an Anglican Cathedral somewhere in northern England. A pious old catholic gentleman asked the tour guide whether the Anglican Church ever had any intention of returning that grand old building to the Catholics.

The tour guide was very patient indeed as he explained that Her Majesty, the queen, had no intention of returning such property and in any event, he didn't really think that His Holiness, the pope, expected her to.

If I were in charge of the collection at the Vatican Library Museum, would I send all the certainly, likely or possibly once-stolen property back to, say, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, or the Cairo Museum, or the Synagogue of Rome?

No. I would see all the material as having been entrusted to me, whether it's original provenance was legitimate or not, and I would not break up the collection. No curator would.

Do I think there are other treasures, known to be stolen and known to still be sought, hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of St. Peter's?

I'd sure be surprised. And if anybody knew of specific items, I'd sure like to know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Victories in Europe

Over the last month, at least three major moral victories have been won for the supposedly moribund Catholic Church in Europe.

First was the unexpected defeat of the European Constitution, which would have completed the total secularization of Europe by formalizing an institution which would have taken the place for the ancient concept of Christendom with the important exception that it purposely excluded Christ.

Second was the defeat of the referendum in Italy which would have mainstreamed the practice of in vitro fertilization in that country.

Third came the unexpectedly strong protest this week against homosexual marriage in Madrid, Spain.

If previous reports were to be believed, the European Constitution and the IVF referendum were supposed to be a sure thing and the populations of Italy and Spain were supposedly to apathetic regarding the Catholic faith to care one way or another about those issues.

All this could be nothing more than a hiccup in the course of European history. On the other hand, we could be witnessing a major change in the tide.

In any event: rumors concerning the death of Christianity in Europe may just turn out to be premature.

I thought of a great title for a movie about Michael Schiavo...

...but "The Jerk" was already taken.

Here is the story on the wonderful, classy, reconciliation promoting, absolutely non-self-serving memorial he had placed over his wife's grave.

For the record

Inasmuch as Israel is the only stable democracy in the Middle East, since their country has been targeted by waves of terrorist violence which Americans are all too quick to forget, since the Jewish people have taken more grief than any people should be allowed to put up with, and since I, like the late JPII, regard the Jewish people as my elder brothers in faith:

IF logo 8

HT: Esther at Outside the Blogway

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Oh, Hogwash!

According to an Yahoo news report found on Drudge, religious fundamentalist groups are successfully intimidating Bible Belt theater owners from showing IMAX movies which somehow reference Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

Actual religious groups aren't named.

Only one incident is documented, and the details are hazy.

However, the movies and their producers are named and discussed and interviewed.

Folks: there is no campaign out there to suppress IMAX movies. I consider this news report nothing more than a propaganda piece to promote the movies in question. The real message of the story is: "Tick off the Christians by watching these movies!"

I happen to subscribe to the theory of evolution, or at least a modified, providentially-guided version of it. Despite my geology degree in 1984, I suppose that qualifies me as an ignorant fundamentalist.

I get pretty irritated when people with a religious faith in secularism use science to bait Christians.

Pius XII and the Nazi's

Vatican Watcher has an excellent update on the latest developments in that controversy.

I noted the developments in very brief form earlier. VW fleshes it out nicely.

Nothing strikes me as a better recent example of injustice to the memory of a good man than the libels which have been heaped upon Pius XII.

I don't think it has a thing to do with justice for the Jewish people. It has everything to do with slamming the Catholic Church at every possible opportunity.


AND FOR THE RECORD: I do greatly admire the Jewish people, support the state of Israel, and side with the government of Israel in their continued dispute with the terrorist-dominated Palestinian Authority.

Monday, June 20, 2005

More on the Romanian Exorcism

Jacob at Vatican Watcher has a good update.

Vacation Bible School

Mt six-year-old daughter is going off to VBS this week at our parish. She has been there two previous summers, from 8:30 to 12:30 every day for a week, and has always enjoyed it.

But Catholics always have a problem with VBS. They never can quite get into the swing of it.

Our parish used to use a canned curriculum by a solid, Catholic educational company. It was all very reverent, serious, informative, and boring.

Kids were returning home with red marks on their foreheads where they would fall asleep and bang their heads on the classroom tables. And what were they doing at tables in the first place? This was supposed to be an educational day camp, not a CCD supplement.

So our people tried to adapt materials from other programs to make an ad-hoc VBS. Most of the material was adapted from our annual Advent Fair, held every fall on the second Sunday after Thanksgiving. But they didn't adapt the materials very much. Last year, my kid brought home an advent wreath made out of bottle caps and a paper plate in June.

So this year, our director of religious education took a big breath and purchased a canned, Evangelical program.

Let's face it, the Evangelical Christians really know how to do VBS right.

I'm wondering which day this week my daughter will come home and ask me if I've accepted Jesus as my own, personal Lord and Savior?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sin City

As I've mentioned a few times, I don't get cable TV.

And every time I feel the urge to get cable, I see something or hear about something which makes me back off.

I was getting my truck serviced Friday, sitting in the dealership customer lounge and reading Time Magazine's Gitmo Report (What's the big deal?) while half watching the College World Series game on ESPN (Go Vols! Does anybody know if they won?).

That's when a commercial came on. It featured two young women at a luxury hotel dressed for a business trip. The more assertive woman was introducing herself and her friend to a couple gentlemen. The scene was repeated again, and again, and again with the same two women at different locations and with different men. At first, you thought they were business networking, except the more assertive woman was using different names for herself and her friend each time. Once she bobbled the name she was obviously trying to make up. Later, she introduced herself as Lucy and the other woman as Ethyl-- to her friend's chagrin. In each scene, her clothing became more festive, and you eventually realized they were in Las Vegas. But the meaning of the series of scenes doesn't really dawn on you until the tag-line comes up.

"Las Vegas: what happens here, stays here."

The young women were repeatedly seeking anonymous sexual encounters.

It was funny. It really was funny. I wasn't outraged until I thought about it.

A few minutes later, another commercial came on. A young slacker is hanging out in a trashed house. He hears a car pull into the driveway and immediately goes into a comically fast cleanup mode. As the parents come through the door, he has just finished the living room. He has just concealed the remains of a forbidden party the night before.

Son: "Hi, dad. Hi, mom."

Dad: "Hi son! So...what've you been up to?"

Son (conscious that the kitchen is still trashed): "Nothing... What have you been up to?"

Dad: "Um... nothing."

The parents exchange worried looks while heading upstairs.

Again, you don't understand the sequence until the tag-line appears.

"Las Vegas: what happens here, stays here."

The worried looks the parents exchanged was not over what their son might have been up to, but over what suspicions he harbored regarding their conduct: some behavior they obviously would not want slacker-boy to emulate. Something besides gambling, since he would have known they were in Las Vegas.

I laughed before I realized that this was some seriously corrupt stuff I was seeing.

Of course, the add campaign I've been describing has apparently been on TV since late 2003. Most people who read this blog have almost certainly seen the adds, have been seeing them for months, and are wondering why I am so uptight about it.

The reason I am uptight about it? I've had no clue about the campaign until last Friday. Everyone else has already been de-sensitized to it.

I Confess

After reading this story, my first thought was: "I'm sure glad that priest wasn't Catholic."

Of course, that's no consolation to the dead nun, whom he crucified in some bizarre form of exorcism. I'm sure it's no consolation to her family and friends, either.

For the record, I've read the guidelines to the Catholic rite of exorcism. Crucifying victims of possession isn't part of the procedure.

My take: the guy might have been a priest, but I suspect he was really a cult leader underneath. I don't mean that the Romanian Orthodox Church is a cult. I mean his monastery either was a cult or becoming a cult under his spiritual leadership.

I won't even start on the visual similarity between the priest and Charles Manson.

My only hope is that the authorities can root this thing out without dumping on the Christian faith itself.

Sin and the BVM

I was meditating yesterday on how to explain Catholic admiration for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

I've got a BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) statue in my front garden which I tell people is good for warding off Jehovah's Witnesses. I try to pray the Rosary daily, and I even wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel under my shirt (Most people, when they see it, treat it with that sort of silent discretion one might demonstrate with a lady whose slip is showing.) Me, I know the Brown Scapular is no free ticket to Heaven; or even to Purgatory, for that matter, although I do hope it gets me brownie points (HA HA, Ha Ha, ha...heh...oh, never mind.)

I, personally, wear the Scapular because it reminds me of who I am: a servant of Jesus Christ who reveres His mother and who needs to try to live up to that role.

But how does one explain Marian devotion in general?

Anti-Catholics have a simple explanation: idolatry.

The Church's explanation is that as Christ's mother, Mary is in a unique position to act as mediator between us and her Son, someone who can intercede on our behalf, an advocate for each of us individually and collectively for all humanity in the Heavenly Court.

But why does she appeal to us?

Many women identify with her as a fellow woman and mother.

Some are attracted to Mary as someone who is both fully human and only human, with whom they identify far more easily than with Christ, God the Son, fully God and fully human: dual states existing within a hypostatic union: a technical term for a belief which we affirm without really understanding in the least.

Others attempt to relate to Mary on that level, but are brought up short by the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception. If she was created without the stain of original sin, then not only did she not sin, but she experienced no concupiscence: no irrational attraction to sin. The only attraction she might ever have had toward so much as a sinful thought would have taken place wholly on the rational level. And of any rational temptation she ever experienced: we know she dismissed it. She was spared any inner battles with hidden desires.

In short: she had it easy.

Or did she?

Last night, as I meditated on my relationship with the BVM, a thought came to me as if from nowhere. It was either inspiration or just a dumb idea from nowhere. It was this:

Q: Why do we sin?

A: Out of a twisted notion of good.

Q: What is this twisted notion of good?

A: That it is good to gain pleasure and avoid pain.

Q: It is obvious that sin helps us gain pleasure. How does it help us avoid pain?

A: Hatred dulls our sense of injury. Lust dulls our loneliness. Gluttony dulls our poverty, and so forth.

Q: And what of Mary?

A: As she observed, watching the temple leaders convict her Son and watching the Romans condemn Him, torture Him, and kill Him in the most agonizing manner... she had no remedy. She could not retreat into hatred, condoling herself by despising Judas, Ciaphas, Pilate, or the others. She could only stand there and experience pure, unadulterated pain as she watched her son, whom she loved in a wholly unselfish manner, die the death reserved for slaves, foreigners, and perverts. The pain she experienced, even if it were not on behalf of God's Son, would still have been the most intense emotional pain any person ever had experienced because she had no sinful inclinations with which to sedate her feelings. She could not even escape through death. She lived a martyrdom more painful than the physical martyrdoms later experienced by her Son's apostles.

She did not have it easy. She truly was the queen of martyrs.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Terri Shiavo might be dead...

...but her case just got resurrected.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

After the autopsy, an anti-Schiavo

Drudge picked up a USA Today story about a husband desperately trying to keep his apparently brain-dead wife alive on a respirator long enough for her to deliver their unborn child at a gestational age great enough for the baby to survive outside its mother's womb.

I use the word "apparently" to modify the term "brain dead" because I simply don't trust the MSM to use expressions such as "brain dead", "permanent vegetative state", or even "coma" with any accuracy anymore.

It does appear hopeless that the woman might survive. The odds seem slim that the baby will survive. At the same time, I find a strange, grace-filled consolation in the fact that on the day after the Shiavo autopsy is released, we find an example of a man fighting to preserve the lives of those he loves in a near death situation.

It's as if God Himself would like to remind us that good can be manifested in such tragedies as well as evil.

Big Mistake in the Shiavo Case

When Michael Shiavo refused permission for anyone to examine his dead wife's body except the local medical examiner-- a closed autopsy-- and when he then ordered the body cremated; he created a big opening for perpetual questions to be raised.

Prediction: Terri's original illness will now become the topic of permanent controversy, somewhat like John Kennedy and the Grassy Knoll.

I will not say anything against Michael in the way of murder conspiracy theories. I have no evidence. Nobody has produced any evidence. To speculate further on this issue would be to indulge in that species of lying known as detraction.

Note: I did engage in such speculation when Terri was still alive. I believe such speculation was warranted then though not now because when Terri remained alive, there was still some possibility of gaining useful information from her and possibly improving her condition and her ability to communicate through physical therapy. Now that Terri is dead and her poor body reduced to ashes, the ability to achieve any good from such speculation is now decreased to a point approaching zero.

For the sake of rational discourse, we can only assume at this point that Michael did sincerely have the best interests of his wife, Terri, at heart.

However: when Michael, under the likely advice of his legal counsel, retained complete control over the handling of Terri's body and then had it destroyed through cremation, he made it impossible for the case ever to be fully closed.

Had the handling of the body been conducted openly, perhaps with an examination done by a pathologist agreed upon both by Michael and Terri's parents, or even a joint autopsy performed by an examiner approved by each side, there is a chance that those who still suspect physical abuse as the cause of Terri's brain damage might now end their speculations.

Questions will now dog this case forever.

Interesting thoughts on this case can be found on both sides at The Anchoress Online and at Tom Carter's Notes.

I guess Rowan Williams doesn't like blogs

The Archbishop of Cantibury weighed in on the subject of internet media today.

According to the London Times Online, Archbishop Williams described the internet as: "a free-for-all that was 'close to that of unpoliced conversation.'"

Kind of like the Lambeth Conference.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Abortion Clinic Horror

If this is true, then it ranks right up there with the feminist who hailed abortion as a fitting sacrifice to the Goddess Artemis.

Caution: WorldNetDaily does have the habit of publishing material they wish was true rather than what they can confirm.

I wonder if the authorities will nail this guy on a cannibalism charge?

Terri Schiavo

So, other than being judicially murdered, there is no evidence of foul play.

Those Crazy Monks!

I read an article three years ago by Terry Mattingly describing how rivalry between Orthodox and Catholic monks at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem contributed to the fiasco of that holy shrine being occupied by Palestinian fighters during the the period of the last Israeli assault upon the Intifada.

Mattingly, and Antiochan Orthodox Christian, tended to take the Orthodox version of events at face value. In this version, the Franciscan priests in the Catholic monastery not only let the PLO fighters into the church, but sent them into the spaces reserved for the Orthodox monks while keeping the Catholic spaces intact.

I gave Mattingly a pass on that. First, I would not expect a member of one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches to diss fellow Orthodox Christians. I make allowances for personal loyalty. Second, the stunt which Mattingly described the Catholic clerics pulling was exactly the sort of fruity behavior I might expect of at least some Franciscan communities.

Here's the surprising part: It's been going on for centuries!

I've just finished reading a book titled Hell Riders: the True Story of the Charge of the Light Brigade, which I discuss on my other site, and which begins its story in the little town of Bethlehem, where the monks apparently had continual troubles honoring the King of Peace through their example.

In fact, it was Orthodox and Catholic clergy and religious rioting at the Bethlehem Church which started the Crimean War in 1854. I'm not kidding.

Apparently, a dispute erupted between Catholic and Orthodox monks at the jointly occupied Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 1852. The Catholics placed an ornamental, silver star at the space considered the precise spot where Jesus was born, and the Orthodox monks who controlled the sanctuary had it removed. A riot broke out in which, according to reports, crucifixes and candlesticks were taken up as cudgels. Later, when the Catholics laid hands on a sanctuary key, they replaced the silver star and the rioting escalated until monks started getting killed.

Grotesque, to say the least.

The Tsar of Russia, of all people, intervened as "Protector of the Orthodox Church" and invaded the Ottoman Empire (which controlled the Holy Land at that time) with the idea of restoring order to Bethlehem and other holy sites.

This was bogus. The Tsar's real objective was Istanbul and the straits of the Bosporus, which would give the Russian Black Sea Fleet free access to the Mediterranean which it would need if Russia was to maintain military parity with France and England.

The French and English understood this, and caring not one bit for the issue of whether Orthodox or Catholic churchmen controlled the holy places of Judea, they came to the defense of the Ottoman Empire.

Except they didn't care about the Ottoman Empire, either. They largely ignored the Russian invasion force attacking Turkey through the Balkans, and instead launched a campaign against the Russian Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol. On the Crimean Peninsula. In the northern part of the Black Sea.

Thus began the Crimean War, leading to the battle of Balaklava, remembered for the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade."

Conclusion: Monks fighting in Bethlehem = "Half a league, Half a league, half a league onward..."

Mind boggling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Catholicism versus Communism

Some time ago we learned that the plot to kill JPII did, indeed, come from behind the Iron Curtain.

Now we learn that the original source of the Pius XII/Hitler libel was Radio Moscow.

Stalin is said to have contemptuously asked: "How many divisions does the Pope have?"

It turns out the Communists were far more fearful of the Vatican than they ever let on.

And the Vatican played a bigger role in toppling European Communism than anyone ever expected.

HT: Relapsed Catholic.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I hate to admit it...

...But Doug Giles has a point.

Giles is what you might call a "South Park Evangelical" who ministers to young Christians and seekers using the brash style and language otherwise associated with radio shock jocks. I actually agree with the vast majority of what he has to say, and only take umbrage at the less-than-charitable language he uses which sometimes seems more like an affectation than an authentic voice.

I took exception over his criticism, today, of the Catholic Church's handling of the priest sex abuse scandal. In truth, however, I have no real complaint against what he says. I only took umbrage because the criticism came from an outsider who looks upon Catholicism as "The Roman Church" rather than "The Church". He is right, though, when he points out that it was the Catholic hierarchy that permitted a climate in which the abuse could take place and then allowed the abuse to be perpetuated rather than stamp it out as ruthlessly as such crime and sinfulness deserves to be crushed.

This is the second time today, however, in which I noticed a non-Catholic bringing up the "old news" of the sex scandal. I wonder who is stirring the pot again? Fr. Cozzens?

Must research.

Pedophilia and the Confessional

Terry Mattingly published an interesting article which was in the newspapers last Saturday and made the internet this morning. Mattingly cites the latest bombshell by Father Donald "Gay Subculture in the Seminaries" Cozzens, who described how homosexual seminarians sometimes confess their inclinations as a sin and effectively check seminary rectors who might otherwise pursue the question of whether they are at risk for becoming future sexual abusers.

You see: canon law states that not only is anything revealed within the confessional a secret to be kept exclusively between the penitent, the priest, and the Lord; but the person who hears the confession is not permitted to take any action whatsoever based on secrets revealed in the confessional.

For the moment, I will ignore the question of why seminary rectors can't be a lot more proactive by questioning all seminarians thoroughly or by looking at other danger signs besides what a seminarian might admit during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The fact is, people do sometimes try to use the confessional to relieve themselves of guilt for crimes commited which they have no real intention of giving up themselves or their sinful practices.

I recall reading a Time Magazine article some years ago in which an incarcerated priest convicted of sexual abuse described how he would travel to other dioceses to confess his crimes sacramentally in the knowledge that the priest to whom he confessed would not reveal what he had done to the authorities. As a result, the sacrament of confession becomes not a means of grace, but a facilitator for sexual dysfunction and crime.

In the old days-- I mean the really old days, I recall tales of Irish priests in northern Europe carrying guides to penance designed exclusively to break converted barbarians of their old, homicidal habits. For instance, a confessed murder might incur an automatic penance of ten years of fasting, sack-cloth and ashes, before the penitent could return to the sacraments and consider himself a candidate once more for salvation.

Penances since the days of Visigoths and Vikings have become far less stringent-- usually nominal in nature-- and automatic penances no longer are practiced. Further (someone correct me if I am wrong) a penitent seeking absolution can actually reject an assigned penance and ask for a milder one if he believes he is being asked to do something too difficult.

But I wonder if such practices, so trusting in the efficacy of true repentance in each sinner, is effective given the issue of sexual abuse and the priesthood. I wonder if the time has not come for a required penance of surrender to civil authorities might not be called for by penitents who confess sins such as-- say-- illegal drug smuggling and distribution, organized crime involvement, murder, or sexual abuse?

Modernity has brought with it a new form of barbarism. Should the Church respond to barbarism as did the Irish priests of old who helped tame Europe in that continent's darkest hour?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Takin' a Break

I'll resume on Monday, June 13.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I don't believe in the culture of grievance...

But Penn and Teller's obscene abuse of the memory of Mother Theresa is seriously offensive.

The Catholic League has picked up on the incident, and calls have already begun to boycott Viacom.

This is ironic for me. A few days ago, I posted on an effort by One Million Dad's to boycott Ford Motors for that company's support for domestic partner health benefits and their homoerotic advertising. Although a couple commenters assumed I supported the boycott, I was really quite ambivalent about it. I found the conflict interesting, but if Ford wanted to be extra nice to gay people and sell them cars, it was really no skin off my nose.

Now someone is calling for a boycott I can sink my teeth into. I feel a great respect and admiration for Mother Theresa; and I do take Penn and Teller's behavior personally.

The ironic part? I can't boycott Viacom. I don't get cable.

Why would he ask this?

According to a news report, the late JPII asked that all his private notes be burned. Meanwhile, the pontiff's former secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, has refused. According to Dziwisz: "Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations - every single sentence."

Why would the Pope ask such a thing to be destroyed?

I must admit now, while loving His Holiness, this is the most wonderful field for completely absurd speculation I have ever heard of. And absurd speculation is what I do best!

"Someone remind me why I gave Mahoney a Cardinal's hat?"

"Memo to self: Visit Billy Graham and accept Jesus before it's too late."

"To Do: (1) Pay off former Nazi's; (2) Redesignate CDF as 'Grand Inquisition'; (3) Get diamond studs for bedroom slippers"

What is far more likely is that there will be spiritual speculations in there which JPII decided never to publish and which non-Catholics, dissenting Catholics, or schismatics will want to leap upon to say "See? In his heart, JPII would have approved of.... (fill in your favorite heresy here). Or, possibly, there will be fodder for ambitious Cardinals to use against each other ("Ha Ha! Arinze-- you actually flirted with that idea? You'll never be pope now!").

Or maybe it's just old fashioned humility.

Me, I like to gleefully imagine worst case scenarios.

"Must explore link between Blessed Virgin and Babylonian Cults."

"Next Encyclical: Ecclesio Orthodoxio Delenda Est."

"Shopping List: Beer, Twister Game, Lava Lamp"

Endless possibilities. Now that we know the notes exist, we need to get them published so that I can stop imagining.

You know it will be about seventy volumes.

Friday, June 03, 2005

"Touchy" issues at Southern Cal

This and this look bad both for Cardinal Mahoney and the accused priest, the chaplain at the University of Southern California. Of course, I doubt the Cardinal will really be hurt (in career terms) by the incident. He sometimes seems to be impregnable in his position as chief server in the American Catholic Cafeteria.

HT: Roman Catholic Blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

One more for the "Dems pretending to be Christian" file

Whenever I see a Democratic politician mangling the Bible, I don't know whether to be irritated on God's behalf, or gleeful over the pure silliness.

Here is John Kerry trying to talk Bible to Red State voters last Friday.

I'll never look at a Jag or Landrover the same again

According to, the Ford Motor Corporation, which owns Jaguar and Land Rover, will donate up to $1,000 to GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for every Jag or Land Rover they sell. GLAAD confirms this on their site.

The BoycottFord site has considerably more to share regarding Ford Motor Company--much of which leaves me feeling the need for a shower. Ford has merged with several foreign companies, and now sells Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo in addition to the Mercury, Lincoln, and Ford brands. Along with the special favors granted to homosexual employees in the form of spousal benefits for domestic partners and sponsorship of gay and lesbian pride celebrations, Ford also has begun marketing initiatives directed toward the homosexual community. Many of their adds are distinctly homoerotic.

Now, I'm quite sure that none of this was the idea of the suits in Detroit. Rather, I suspect it has to do with relationships with the unions and with the European communities in which this multinational outfit does business. Nevertheless, Ford has chosen which side it is taking in the culture wars and now has to deal with it.

I suspect that if BoycottFord wins this battle, it won't be because members of OneMillionDads refuse to buy any Ford brands, but because people in general will stop buying Jags and Land Rovers after those vehicles become stereotyped.

"I don't want to buy that. People will think I'm gay!" is an initiative by One Million, itself a project of the American Family Association. The boycott initiative is being circulated aggressively. I received an e-mail about it yesterday and heard about it on the radio this morning. I am quite sure the Homosexual community will respond just as strongly.

As for me, I quit buying Fords after they sold me my second lemon twenty years ago.

There's going to be fireworks this summer, and not just on the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Schismatics ready their response

Michelle Arnold at recently blogged on a "Rad-Trad" response to the election of B16. In the Rad-Trad piece, I see somewhat more than the simple rantings of someone determined to dislike the modern papacy at all costs. Rather, I see a conscious, pre-emptive response to the overtures by our new pontiff to those who have separated from the Church in the name of the Tridentine Mass.


One Reason I Like the Irish...

Is because they don't get offended by stuff like this.

HT: Relapsed Catholic.

Jeb Bush wins another one for the Culture of Life

See the post here at my other blog.