Saturday, February 28, 2004

Charter for the Protection of the Sacred Liturgy

By Diogenes

Jan. 01 (CWR) - (The document that follows has not been approved (or even discussed) by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. But it might profitably be compared with their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted at the US bishops' meeting in Dallas last year.)


The Church in the United States is experiencing a crisis without precedent in our times. The abuse of the Sacred Liturgy by some priests and bishops, and the ways in which we bishops addressed these crimes and sins, have caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion. Innocent victims and their families have suffered terribly. In the past, secrecy has created an atmosphere that has inhibited the healing process and, in some cases, enabled liturgically abusive behavior to be repeated. As bishops, we acknowledge our mistakes and our role in that suffering, and we apologize and take responsibility for too often failing victims and our people in the past. We also take responsibility for dealing with this problem strongly, consistently, and effectively in the future. From the depths of our hearts, we bishops express great sorrow and profound regret for what the Catholic people are enduring.

We, who have been given the responsibility of shepherding God's people, will, with God's help and in full collaboration with our people, continue to work to restore the bonds of trust that unite us. Words alone cannot accomplish this goal. It will begin with the actions we take here in our General Assembly and at home in our dioceses/eparchies.

The damage caused by the abuse of the Mass is devastating and long-lasting. We reach out to those who suffer, but especially to the victims of liturgical abuse and their families. We apologize to them for the grave harm that has been inflicted upon them, and we offer them our help for the future. In the light of so much suffering, healing and reconciliation are beyond human capacity alone. Only God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness can lead us forward, trusting Christ's promise: "For God all things are possible." (Mt 19:26) Let there now be no doubt or confusion on anyone's part: For us, your bishops, our obligation to protect the Sacred Liturgy and to prevent liturgical abuse flows from the mission and example given to us by Jesus Christ himself, in whose name we serve.


1. Dioceses/eparchies will reach out to victims/survivors and their families and demonstrate a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being.

2. Dioceses/eparchies will have mechanisms in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that liturgical abuse has occurred.

3. When liturgical abuse by a priest or a deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be permanently removed from ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants.

4. While the priestly commitment to the Liturgy is well known, there will be clear and well-publicized diocesan/eparchial standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for clergy and for any other church personnel.

5. Dioceses/eparchies will evaluate the background of all diocesan/eparchial and parish personnel who have regular contact with the Sacred Liturgy.


In the midst of this terrible crisis of liturgical abuse by priests and bishops and how it has been dealt with by bishops, many other issues have been raised. In this Charter we focus specifically on the painful issue at hand. However, in this matter, we do wish to affirm our concern, especially with regard to issues related to effective consultation of the laity and the participation of God's people in decision-making that affects their well-being.

We must increase our vigilance to prevent those few who might exploit the priesthood for their own immoral and criminal purposes from doing so. At the same time, we know that the liturgical abuse is not a problem inherent in the priesthood, nor are priests the only ones guilty of it.

An essential means of dealing with the crisis is prayer for healing and reconciliation, and acts of reparation for the grave offense to God and the deep wound inflicted upon his holy people. Closely connected to prayer and acts of reparation is the call to holiness of life and the care of the diocesan/eparchial bishop to ensure that he and his priests avail themselves of the proven ways of avoiding sin and growing in holiness of life.

This charter is published for the dioceses/eparchies of the United States, and we bishops commit ourselves to its immediate implementation.

I don't know how I missed this. Will this be next on the USCCB agenda?

The Passion, the USCCB, & Rush Limbaugh's Commentary of them (USCCB)

Excerpts from 2/27 show transcript:

The Passion, which opened yesterday on over 4,500 screens in 3,000 theaters, "set a record for the biggest opening day for a movie released outside the summer and winter holiday months.... The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) retracted critical remarks made about the film last April by its ecumenical and interreligious committee, which suggested that the film might be anti-Semitic."

Now, this really steamed me. Who is this group? the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Now, we know they're a bunch of liberals. But still, take that away. They're Catholics. This is a movie about what these people profess to be experts in! This is a movie about what these people teach others to believe and learn -- and these are the experts! These are the fathers, if you will, and they are so scared. They are so scared of a movie they didn't even see that they had to run with the critics and say, "Anti-Semitisc! We don't want to be..." They didn't even have the guts to stand up for this, and it's about them!

It's about who they are, and they didn't have the guts to stand up -- and now they want to get back in. Now that the American people are going to see the movie in droves, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ah, forget it, forget it. We want to be back in. "In remarks released Wednesday on the Catholic news service, three staff members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops office fulfillment broadcasting is the film might be overly violent but it's not anti-Semitic now." What business did you people have saying it was anti-Semitic anyway? You know that there's no anti-Semitism in the story of the crucifixion. That's not what it's about. Why did you join the chorus of detractors of a movie made by a man of your faith about what you do?

Because you're gutless. These are gutless people. Now, if gutless people are standing up, how can gutless people stand up for Jesus Christ? They ran away from this, and now of course, "Can we come back in? Can we come back in? I guess there's no anti-Semitism now." I saw this movie in July. I've been telling anybody who's asking me: "There's no anti-Semitism in the movie. I know anti-Semitism when I see it. It's all over the Middle East. That's where anti-Semitism is. It's all over France. It's all over Germany. I know it when I see it. It isn't here."

Yep...gutless elitists! My guess is many are not Catholic at all - Is that a requirement to work at the USCCB? Probably not!

Hedonistic Culture is factor in Church's Problems

Burke cites "hedonistic culture" as a factor in church's problems
By Aisha Sultan
Of the Post-Dispatch

Archbishop Raymond Burke blamed society's "hedonistic culture" as the most significant cause of sexual abuse within the church.....(my emphasis)

I watched Archbishop Burke on EWTN and I did not hear him say this although he did mention the problem with the culture as far as chastity is concerned - nor did he indicate this in the St Louis Review article he wrote...From what I could gather he wants to spend more time reviewing it. He did say that he thought some primary reasons for these problems is failure to teach doctrinal truths and a lack of a proper ascetical prayer life. So it seems to me the above sentence and implication may be out of context, if not out of line....But then again, consider the source, The P-D, self-proclaimed defender of truth.

Aisha Sultan's article continues:
"My own conclusion is we have not taken seriously enough the influence of our culture," he said. When pressed to explain these aspects of the culture, Burke offered the example of pornography. He added that society, as a whole, does not properly address the problem of sexual abuse, which he repeatedly described as a grave evil.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Full Text of the John Jay Report to the Bishops

I have not yet read it...

The full report can be found here.

A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.

I have not read this one yet, either, but I did notice this:
"If you're conservative, homosexuality is the problem; if you're liberal, celibacy is the problem. So you tell me who you are, and I'll tell you what the problem is."

Excerpts from this report from the National Review Board:
Certainly, the debate implicates important developments in both the universal Church and the Church in the United States over the past fifty years. These developments include: the significant increase in vocations in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s; the Ecumenical Council of Bishops held from 1962 to 1965 known as Vatican II; the publication of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, which reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on sexual morality and artificial contraception, and the negative reaction to that encyclical by many priests and laity in the United States, fostering what is often termed the "culture of dissent" within the American Church; the exodus of almost twenty thousand men from the priesthood in the late 1960s and 1970s; and attempts to reform the priesthood and seminary formation by Pope John Paul II, culminating with the publication in 1992 of Pastores Dabo Vobis.

As several priests and bishops told us, discussions about the "causes" of the current crisis often are seen as an opportunity to rehash old arguments about Vatican II and the other developments summarized above. As one bishop put it, echoing the comments of the bishop quoted above, those of a "conservative bent" lay the blame for the crisis on changes made at Vatican II and the culture of dissent, whereas the "progressives" lay the blame for the crisis on the failure to implement the reforms of Vatican II. There is, he added, a "little truth" in both points of view.

Despite the predictable liberal/conservative dichotomy, however, there is a surprising amount of consensus across the "political" spectrum regarding the issues underlying the crisis. The commonality of view among the broad range of people interviewed by the Review Board, in fact, gives credibility to the conclusions that the Board members reached as a result of their investigation.

The Review Board has determined that any discussion of the "causes and context" must address certain issues relating to the selection of candidates for the priesthood and to the formation of priests, as well as special issues relating to sexual orientation, celibacy, and spiritual life. Each of these subjects is discussed below.

# 50. The next step for the bishops and the Board is to commission a broad-based and multi-year study of the epidemic of abuse that the John Jay College study describes. It is hoped that such a study will identify the interactive causal factors in a systematic, epidemiological (host/victim-agent/predator-environ¬ment/culture) fashion. Such a study will enable the Church to develop additional policies for the protection of children and also will bring light to the factors that lead to child abuse in society at large and the steps that can be taken to protect children from the physical and psychological trauma of sexual abuse in the future.

Study shows scope of US sex-abuse scandal

Washington, Feb. 27 ( - Over 4,000 American Catholic priests have been charges with the sexual abuse of children in the past 50 years, according to a report to be released today by US bishops' conference.

At a Friday press conference in Washington, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will formally release two studies on the sex-abuse scandal: a statistic analysis prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and an analysis of those findings by the National Review Board commissioned by the US bishops.

(Although the contents of those studies were not scheduled for release until 11 on Friday morning, a diocesan newspaper broke the embargo, and secular press reports began circulating early Friday morning.)

The American bishops have already spent $572 million in legal damages and attorneys' fees to settle lawsuits brought by sex-abuse victims, the reports noted. That figure is artificially low, however, because it does not include some major settlement that occurred after the data were collected (such as the $85 million paid by the Boston archdiocese), and many lawsuits are still pending.

The report found that 80 percent of the abuse involved male victims. That percentage climbed steadily from the 1950s through the 1980s, while the number of incidents also increased. Sex-abuse charges were most commonly brought against priests ordained in the 1960s and 1970s, and among the priests ordained in 1970, one out of ten has been accused of molesting children.

The John Jay study showed that only 14 percent of the incidents of sexual abuse reported to bishops were brought to the attention of local law-enforcement authorities, and 95 percent of the perpetrators avoided criminal charges. Of those who did face charges, 64 percent were convicted.

In its analysis of the issue, the National Review Board noted that it could find no expressions of outrage in any of the correspondence between bishops and priests who had been accused of sexual abuse.

[CWN will provide fuller analysis of the reports as the information becomes available.]
We must pray even more for the conversion of those involved in the hideous crimes against God and His people, especially His little ones. We must offer our prayers, sacrifices, and daily mortifications to Him Who can right all wrongs. Especially during this time of Lenten preparation, let us resolve to ask our Lord to purify and cleanse His Church from those who are contaminating His Spotless Bride.

For Stations of the Cross Today....

For the reality of the Passion of the Christ:
The Stations of the Cross In the Light of the Shroud

What better way to comprehend the true reality of the Passion of Christ than to compare the traditional Stations of the Cross — handed down to us by St. Francis and the Franciscans — than by comparing them with the scientific and medical Truths found in more than 600,000 hours of peer-reviewed research surrounding the Shroud of Turin.

For it is the very burial cloth of Jesus, proven not only by the Image of the Holy Face imprinted on the linen, but by the fact that the Saints themselves have instinctually venerated this sacred relic.

The Shroud shows us the Passion of Christ unlike anything in mankind’s history, and unlike a movie, presents accurate details of a Sacrifice no normal person could endure. Not since the eyewitnesses to the Crucifixion of Jesus has anyone been able to comprehend the true depth of what our Lord went through.

In this Light, let us then examine each Station and what the Shroud can visually show us as believers in the 3rd Millennium.



Raymond Arroyo hosts EWTN News Town Hall Meeting on the report from the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth. The report is expected to contain the findings of a survey by criminologists, detailing all known allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the past 50 years.

Panelists include national review board members Robert Bennett, Anne Burke and William Burleigh; editors Kate O’Beirne and the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus; scholar George Weigel; and members of the clergy, including Bishop John D’Arcy, of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Friday February 27, 2004 8:00 PM LIVE
Saturday February 28, 2004 1:00 AM
Sunday February 29, 2004 4:30 PM
Monday March 1, 2004 10:00 AM
Monday March 1, 2004 11:00 PM

Reports On Clergy Sex Abuse

Revised Media Advisory:
U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops
Responds to Reports On Clergy Sex Abuse

WASHINGTON (February 24, 2004)

WHAT: News conference to respond to the findings of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report on the Nature and Scope of abuse (1950-2002) and the National Review Board's Causes and Context report. Media credentials required. The reports are scheduled to be released by the National Review Board at 9:30 AM ET.

WHEN: Friday, February 27, 2004
11:30 AM ET

WHERE: National Press Club, Washington, DC

Orthodox study guides to "The Passion"

From Catholic Citizens of Illinois:

Thanks to the enormous efforts of Dennis and Chris Cortes at, a detailed study guide is presented here to assist viewers in making the most out of Mel Gibson's Christian epic, "The Passion of Jesus Christ."

Five units are presented, each of which includes reflections on life and death of Christ, as well as prayers, discussion topics, questions, and definitions of significant Christian terms.

This is a powerful course of reflection and prayer developed through the cooperation of several faithful priests and lay Catholic writers.

Your friends at CCI heartily encourage all "Passion" attendees to enjoy these carefully prepared study guides, and act on them in your daily lives.

(PS, This is NOT the heterodox National Catholic Reporter's so-called 'study guides.' These are authentic Christian study guides.)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?"

When Pilate asks, "Quid est veritas?" (What is truth?), Jesus does not answer him.

This is because the answer to Pilate's question is contained within the question itself.

By rearranging the letters of the words in the question, one can find the answer to it:
"Est vir qui adest."

Thanks to " Cincinnatus", who credits his Latin teacher, Sister Anna Roberta Benson.

Coming: New Vatican call for use of Latin

Vatican, Feb. 26 (
A new document on the use of Latin in the Church, and the teaching of Latin in seminaries, is expected sometime this year.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, has confirmed that he hopes the document being prepared by that Congregation will be published in 2004.

"In order not to mutilate herself, the Church cannot fail to conserve her tradition and patrimony written in Latin," the Polish cardinal remarked during a February 25 meeting in Rome. He pointed out that Latin remains the official language of the Roman Church, and the official documents of the magisterium are written in that language. Therefore, he concluded, the Church needs priests who are familiar with the language, in order to ensure that they fully understand Catholic teachings.

Cardinal Grocholewski expressed regret that previous Vatican statements encouraging the teaching of Latin in Catholic seminaries-- such as Pope Paul VI's Veterum Sapentia of 1962-- are clearly not being applied. He added that Pope John Paul II had also encouraged Latin study in his 1979 apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law states calls for a "good understanding" of Latin among Catholic priests. On the 40th anniversary of Veterum Sapentia, Pope John Paul said that he would like to see "an ever stronger love for that language among the candidates for the priesthood."

The Congregation for Catholic Education, which is preparing the new document on the use of Latin, is asking a group of Latin scholars to review the proposed text. After that editorial review, the document will be sent to the presidents of the world's episcopal conferences before being made public. Cardinal Grocholewski indicated that he hoped that entire process would be complete before the end of 2004.

© Copyright 2004 Domus Enterprises. All rights reserved.

I saw "The Passion"

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

I went to a 10:00pm showing of "The Passion" last night. I went with one of my sons. I had pre-ordered tickets over the web which was good, because the 10:00pm movie was sold out when we arrived at the theatre.

It is not difficult, nor am I ashamed to admit that my eyes were filled with tears during this movie. Afterwards, we drove home - I was speechless, shaken to my very core. There was nothing that I could say. I did not turn on the radio. We drove home for 30 minutes in complete and eerie silence. My heart was heavy with sorrow, with sadness, with guilt, with contrition...yet, with a profound and inexplicable sense of gratitude and hope.

I do not have words to describe the film. There are no words that I can think of to do justice to the film. I suspect that each person will see and experience it differently depending on one's own spiritual growth and formation. All I can do is relate what I felt and even that I find difficult.

I saw nothing which could be construed as anti-semitic. I do, however, have a new found disgust for Caiaphas and the high priests for the manipulation and lying with which they engaged Pilate to further their cause to have Jesus put to death. And this disgust translates into a disgust I have for myself - for upon deeper reflection, I know that in my life I have acted like Caiaphas!

I felt a sense of sadness and sorrow for Pilate, as he was forced into a position from which he could do nothing except wash his hands of the whole affair. A consummate politician! Would I have done the same had I been in Pilate's sandals? Unfortunately, who among us has not done what Pilate has done - who among us has not denied the Truth when He (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) was standing before us. Surely I, too, have denied Him to His Face just as Peter and others. Surely also, I have many times in my life rejected Him so that I could take easy way out and abandon the crosses He wished to share with me.

I must also admit that I have been remiss in contemplating the Passion of Christ properly. I have become accustomed to the sanitized version of the Passion which is prevalent in many parts of the Church today. I have always known that he suffered and died for us - yet, I never quite visualized the scourging and crucifixion for what it truly was - an horrific and grotesque display of man's inhumanity to man and in this case, the worst crime of all - deicide. Christ's perfect sacrifice to atone for all of our sins against God. All of this agony and suffering for love of mankind, His disobedient and ungrateful creatures.

These things were brought to light for me as I watched Christ's agony and passion - as I watched His Mother's pain and anguish...He was sent here to atone for our transgressions - to be the Perfect Sacrifice! How utterly shameful I felt both during and after the movie- my heart heavy with sorrow - for being part of the mob crying out "Crucify Him!" at various stages in my life. Lord, have mercy on us!

My reciting of the Stations of the Cross will be different from now on. My eyes well up with tears when I merely think about it. My daily Rosary and contemplating the mysteries has a new dimension. My daily Act of Contrition has a 'real' meaning and purpose - for I understand what my sins did to Jesus. I now have a deeper, more profound understanding of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass - and a deeper comprehension and appreciation of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament - of all He has done for us to bring us closer to Him.

As I said, this movie will effect people differently. Some may acquire a new understanding of Christ's redemptive sacrifice. Yet some may experience nothing profound, and for these we must pray for our Lord to open their hearts to His infinite Love. Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!


O my God, I am heartily sorry and beg pardon for all of my sins NOT SO MUCH because these sins bring suffering and Hell to me, but because they have crucified my loving Saviour Jesus Christ and have offended Thy Infinite Goodness. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Pope Invites the Faithful to Focus on the Essentials

Code: ZE04022502
Date: 2004-02-25
Pope Invites the Faithful to Focus on the Essentials

Lenten Advice in Ash Wednesday Homily

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2004 ( John Paul II began Lent by inviting the faithful to embrace austerity in order to reduce "to the essential the baggage" in the journey of life.

The Pope presided today at the rite of the imposition of ashes, which he said "underlines man's awareness of himself as sinner" and "the willingness to accept and translate into concrete choices one's adherence to the Gospel."

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, made the sign of the cross on the Holy Father's forehead with fingers covered in ashes, reciting the ancient Ash Wednesday formula "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

The Pope then imposed ashes on Cardinal Sodano, as well as on some cardinals, bishops, priests, faithful and, in particular, his personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, and his physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.

In the homily, addressed to more than 6,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope described Lent, the 40 days in preparation for Easter, as an "intense time of spiritual training and of generous service to brothers."

"This necessarily entails sacrifices and renunciations. In fact, one must reduce the baggage to the essential so as not to be weighed down on the journey," he said.

"To become genuine disciples of Christ, it is necessary to deny oneself, to take up one's cross every day, and to follow him. It is the arduous path of holiness, which every baptized person is called to follow," the Pope explained.

John Paul II stressed that the "external gestures of penance have value if they are expressions of an interior attitude, if they manifest the firm determination to turn away from evil and walk on the path of goodness. Here is the profound meaning of Christian asceticism."

The Pontiff mentioned the means the Church has always proposed to live this important period of the Christian calendar.

In the first place, "humble and docile adherence to the will of God accompanied by incessant prayer," he said.

Then: "the penitential forms that are typical of the Christian tradition, such as abstinence, fasting, mortification and self-denial, even of goods that are legitimate in themselves."

Finally, the Pope pointed to the "concrete gestures of acceptance in relating to one's neighbor, which today's page of the Gospel evokes with the word 'alms.'"

Because of his state of health, John Paul II presided at the rite of the imposition of ashes in the Vatican basilica. In previous years, he presided at this ceremony in the Basilica of St. Sabina, on Rome's Aventine Hill.

On Sunday, the Pope begins his annual weeklong retreat.


This is a MUST read from William Donohue of the Catholic League:
"Having spent their entire adult lives studying the Bible, and having concluded they really don’t know very much about their subject (no argument there), they’re angry at Mel because he pays them no respect. More important, why are they angry with Mel for giving us his version of what happened when they confess they don’t know what happened? How can his portrayal be inauthentic if they don’t know what is authentic?
. . .
"Over the weekend, they made it clear that they don’t like the movie because, they say, it doesn’t conform to their understanding of Christ’s death. How unfortunate.
. . .
“What’s driving the ‘experts’ mad is the realization that all their books, articles and lectures put together cannot compare to the influence that Mel’s film will have on people all over the world. Their frail egos have been wounded. Even annihilated. Time for them to repair to the sanctity of their library carrel and contemplate starting over. It’s never too late to admit failure and start on the long journey back. To Truth.”
Classic Donohue! Telling it like it is!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The President of Marymount Manhattan College joins Bishop McGrath

An editorial commentary in the St Louis Post-Dispatch by Judson R. Shaver, President of Marymount Manhattan College, proclaims that the Gospels are not true, that the passion narratives are not historical.

This is similar to Bishop Patrick Mcgrath's article I commented on earlier.

Shaver states:
[H]is (Mel Gibson's) film is unhistorical and replicates the Gospels' shifting of blame from Rome to the Jews.

This blame-shifting is part of a broad strand of Christian anti-Semitism that begins in the New Testament and runs through modern, well-intentioned Christian thought.
While scholars find it difficult to establish exactly what Jesus said or did, there is no reason to believe that he rejected Judaism or the Jews.
The fact that Christian anti-Judaism is rooted in some New Testament texts has both created the sickness and delayed the cure. We cannot deny the sinful events in our history or the members of our fellowship who fall far short of the Christian ideal; neither can we can reject our scripture.
Shaver, however, seems to have rejected that Scripture was divinely inspired, and at least our understanding of Sacred Scripture as taught by the Church (See Dei Verbum)

He goes on to write:
If we can't abandon the New Testament or even its truly regrettable passages, I believe we can learn to read scripture differently.
Christians forgot that the Gospels, with their passion narratives, were originally the literary and theological creations of Jews.
Of course, we must read them and interpret them, not with the mind of the Church, but according to our own sensibilities - much like the ECUSA has reinterpreted Scripture to say that homosexuality is NOT an abomination to God. I just wonder how these people who advocate heretical* positions obtain jobs at allegedly 'Catholic' schools?

But wait a second - we soon find out what he is really saying...
Many of us know better, (regarding the true way to read the Gospels) but millions of Christians don't - including, I fear, Mel Gibson and the large evangelical audience his film will attract.
The truth is Shaver appears to be a member of an elitist group, formerly known centuries ago as the Gnostics - those who have been given special insights and powers that God did not want to share with us "common" and unenlightened people. Only those who have been granted special insight are capable of understanding the Gospels, not as historical in the events that are narrated, but "theological reflections"...

Lord, have mercy on us!

* CCC 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Pope stresses "interior attitude" as Lent begins

Vatican, Feb. 25 (
As he presided over Ash Wednesday services in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope John Paul II reminded participants: “External gestures of penance have value if they express an interior attitude."

The Holy Father joined with all the cardinals of the Roman Curia, the Sistine Chapel choir, and about 6,000 faithful in a solemn ceremony inaugurating the penitential season of Lent. In his homily, he remarked that the imposition of ashes is "particularly important to the Christian tradition." This external gesture, he explained, signifies "the conscience of sinful man, in the face of God's majesty and holiness."

The Pope encouraged the faithful to follow traditional Lenten practices, including "abstinence, fasting, mortification and giving up legitimate goods." He noted that these observances should be coupled with "incessant prayer" and acts of charity. Echoing the theme of his Lenten message for 2004, the Pope particularly encouraged acts of charity toward, and care for, children in need.

The Liturgy of the Word in the Vatican basilica included Scripture readings, the Pope's homily, and then the distribution of ashes. A number of bishops, priests and lay people receive the ashes from the Pope himself, in front of the Altar of Confession. The Pontiff then received his ashes from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, while dozens of priests continued the distribution throughout the basilica.

© Copyright 2004 Domus Enterprises. All rights reserved.
(Emphasis mine)

Spirit of the Lenten Season by Fr. John Hardon

There are two guiding principles for the observance of Lent. During this season, the faithful are to grow in their love of Jesus Crucified, and they are to practice extra penance for their own and other people's sins. Both aspects of Lent deserve some explanation.

Love of Jesus Crucified. The spirit of Lent is the spirit of Christ Crucified. Therefore, whatever enables us to better understand Christ's Passion and Death, and deepens our responsive love for His great love toward us should be fostered during the Lenten season. Some recommendations:

  • Meditation on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion.

  • Spiritual reading of books like Goodier's Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Abbot Marmion's The Way of the Cross, Edward Leen's Why the Cross?, Fulton Sheen's Seven Words on the Cross.

  • Recitation of prayers like Soul of Christ Sanctify Me.

  • Besides making the daily Way of the Cross, encouraging others to make the Stations at least on Fridays during Lent.

  • Having some symbol of Christ's Passion, like the crucifix or picture of the crucifix within easy eye vision to remind us of the Passion at odd moments of the day.

  • Having some short aspiration which is recited (at least mentally) a few times during the day, like, "My Jesus Crucified," or "Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death, have mercy on us."

  • Occasionally reciting the Litany of the Precious Blood.

  • Spending some extra time before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Our Lord to grow in the understanding of His continued Passion now in the Church, which is His Mystical Body on earth!

  • Making an occasional entry into one's spiritual journal about, "How much the Passion of Christ means to me."

  • Reparation for Sin. In practicing penance, we should keep in mind that there are two levels of reparation we are to practice, for our own and other people's sins. We are to expiate the guilt incurred by failing in one's love for God. And we are to repair the harm done by disobeying the will of God.

    On the first level, our penance should be the practice of a deeper and more generous love for God
  • By making acts of divine love.

  • By doing our ordinary work with more selfless love for God.

  • By putting our heart more sincerely into whatever we are doing, and periodically telling our Lord we are doing it out of love for Him.

  • By deciding before Lent, what form(s) of charity I will practice towards those with whom I live or work. There is no more pleasing love of God, as expiation, than the selfless love of others whom God puts into my daily life.

  • By going through the spiritual and corporal works or mercy, and selecting one or more on which I wish to concentrate during Lent, as my form of penance-as-love, offered to the loving but offended God.

  • On the second level, our penance should strive to endure some pain in order to expiate the sinful pleasure that is always the substance of sin. This can take on a variety of forms, and no two people are the same in this matter. The following are merely examples.

  • More frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance during Lent.

  • More frequent attendance at Mass.

  • Less time spent in eating, or eating less food, or getting up earlier than usual.

  • Sacrifice of some hours per week that would otherwise have been spent in watching television, listening to the radio, reading secular newspapers, magazines, or fiction.

  • Walking, instead of driving, and walking upstairs instead of using an elevator.

  • Doing without some delicacy at table, or not eating between meals.

  • Getting up promptly in the morning, and retiring in good time at night.

  • Answering letters or writing to persons who would appreciate hearing from us.

  • Gauging one's time in telephone conversation or conversation in general.

  • Copyright © 2000 Inter Mirifica

    The Way of the Cross

    Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
    by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
    During many centuries pious Christians went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, but when the Holy land was taken over by the Moslems these pilgrimages ceased. As a result, in many parts of Europe the custom arose of placing pictures in churches, representing the journey to Calvary. Probably the first to do this was Blessed Alvarez, a Dominican, at Cordova in Spain. About 1350 the Franciscans adopted the practice in Italy and even today the privilege of erecting the stations of the Cross belongs by apostolic indult to the Order of Friars Minor.

    The stations are fourteen in number, although in the past, in different places, the number varied from eleven to sixteen. They may begin on either side of the church.

    The devotion has always been highly indulgenced to a point where in 1931 Pius XI annulled the existing indulgences, which had become incalculable. Instead the following were decreed: (1) a plenary indulgence each time for all the faithful who, at least with contrite hearts, either singly or in groups, perform the Way of the Cross. To gain this plenary indulgence - -. No special prayers are prescribed, nor is it necessary to leave and reenter the church in order to gain it repeatedly; (2) another plenary indulgence for those who receive Holy Communion on the same day on which they have made the Way of the Cross, or within a month from the time when they have completed in ten times (3) a partial indulgence of ten years for each of the stations, in case, having begun the exercise, they failed for any reasonable cause to finish it.

    A Station Crucifix is a crucifix specially blessed for the indulgences of the Way of the Cross by a priest having the faculty, with a single sign of the cross. The conditions for gaining the indulgences of the Way of The Cross with the crucifix so bless are: (1) Persons impeded from visiting the stations by other causes than sickness must hold the crucifix in their hands, or, if any reasonable cause, prevents this, must carry it with them in some way, and must moreover recite twenty Paters, Aves, and Glorias (fourteen for the stations, five for the five wounds, and one for the Intention of the Holy Father, (2) the sick who cannot visit the stations may of course gain the indulgences as above described, but if they are unable without grave inconvenience to fulfill those conditions they can gain all the indulgences of the Way of the Cross if with a loving and contrite heart they either kiss or even look at any crucifix which has been blessed for this purpose, and which is shown to them by a priest or by any other persons, and recite some short prayer or aspiration (even Mentally) in memory of the passion and death of our Lord.

    In making the station only two things are required: to move from one to the other without notable interruption between them, and to meditate on the Passion.

    It is not required, although certainly proper, to meditate on the particular mystery of the Passion represented by the station one is visiting. Neither is it necessary to say vocal prayers while making the stations, or after making them to pray for the intention of the Holy Father. If one cannot move about because of a crowd, or if the stations are being made publicly, it is sufficient to turn toward each station.

    As a person walks from one station to the next, he first identifies the station and then says, "We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world." And genuflecting while making that aspiration. At the Stations you may close with an Our Father and a Hail Mary and even adding, "may the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen."

    According to Benedict XIV, the Way of the Cross is one of he best means for converting sinners, stirring up fervor in the hearts of the lukewarm, and leading virtuous souls on to perfection.

    Copyright © 2003 by Inter Mirifica

    Read the rest of the article with the meditations on the Stations here.

    A Spirit-led Lent

    by Msgr. Charles M. Mangan


    Today is Ash Wednesday. The Church commences her forty days' pilgrimage that leads to Easter Sunday and the empty tomb. Some who write about Lent readily acknowledge that “these forty days” of prayer, self-denial and almsgiving, which should be seen as a unique opportunity to draw closer to the Lord, often inspire an irrational fear in the hearts of the faithful.

    I admit that especially in the past, the mere thought of Lent evoked in me a sense of dread — even if not manifested exteriorly. Although Lent is not only dedicated to doing bodily penance, that element usually looms largest for many disciples of Jesus. Given that our human nature resists discipline, this may well be a factor in any reaction against Lent within us.

    I have wondered on Ash Wednesday whether I can continue the Lenten discipline that I crafted. “Can I really go forty days without candy . . . Coca-Cola . . . dessert?

    Those mortifications can be excellent. But I must remember that Lent isn’t about my anticipated feats designed to show how strong and persistent I am. Rather, Lent is about opening myself to Christ so that finally He can work in me as He has always wanted. Yes, I should devise a plan that includes more intense prayer, self-denial and acts of charity. Yet, I need to remain receptive to the Holy Spirit Who may be trying to lead me in another direction from the one I select.

    Although I begin these six weeks somewhat intimidated by the prospect of how the unknown of human frailty may surface in me, within a few days I see what I had suspected: with God’s grace I can make a break with those extraneous things in my life.

    And as Holy Week dawns, I will confess that there is so much in my life I can put aside. Lent always demonstrates to me that life needn’t be complicated and that I can live with much less.

    Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (1090-1153), penned a prayer for Lent centuries ago that spoke of the confidence in the Lord that he desired. Such trust in God is what we need as we start Lent.

    “Let me hold fast You, Lord, Whom the Angels themselves yearn to look upon. Wherever You go, I will follow You. If You pass through fire, I will not flinch; I fear no evil when You are with me. You carry my griefs, because You grieve for my sake. You passed through the narrow doorway from death to life, to make it wide enough for all to follow. Nothing can ever separate me from Your love.”

    We need not be afraid. The Messiah Who invites us to walk with Him in His passion will accompany us to the grave where we will rise with Him.

    Prayer . . . penance . . . charity . . . this is the path that Jesus chose almost 2,000 years ago. We take the identical way. The Father rewarded Christ for His fidelity. May we receive the same prize that the Risen Lord earned: victory over sin and death, which one day will blossom into everlasting peace in Heaven.

    Cardinal Pell on "The Passion"

    Code: ZE04022424
    Date: 2004-02-24
    Cardinal Pell on "The Passion"
    "It Is Strong Meat"
    SYDNEY, Australia, FEB. 24, 2004 ( Cardinal George Pell wrote this commentary on the film "The Passion of the Christ." It appeared in the Sunday Telegraph and on the archdiocese's Web site.

    Some excerpts:
    The film is a contemporary masterpiece, artistically and technically. It is not absurd to compare it with the paintings of the Italian master Caravaggio, because of its beauty and drama. It is more genuinely spiritual, even more violent but less erotic than Caravaggio's canvases.

    "The Passion" belongs to the turn of the 20th century, the cruellest in history, because of its violence which is explicit and continual. The scourging is worse than the crucifixion.

    Those who are searching will be provoked to reflection. I have requested that all senior students in Catholic schools be invited to see the film...

    It will help outsiders understand why there have been so many martyrs prepared to die for Christ, (more in the 20th century than any other) and why Christianity has such a profound influence in many different cultures after 2,000 years. The call to follow Christ is personal and primal. There was never any medieval morality play with an impact like this film's.

    Generations of believers will see Mel Gibson's "The Passion" as a classic. But it is strong meat. Not for the faint hearted.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004

    STATEMENT TO THE PRESS by Paul Likoudis

    The death of my good friend and close collaborator for the past 13 years is devastating to me personally and completely unnecessary.

    Do I blame Bishop Howard Hubbard for this tragedy?

    Yes, I do. But there are other culprits and hosts of guilty bystanders.

    Conservative Catholics take on church in Albany

    It's amazing that the language used by reporters centers on the "political", such as conservative and liberal. Perhaps a more appropriate term in this case would be 'scandalized', or 'faithful', or even 'orthodox'. Why? Let's look at the first sentence of the article:
    A tolerance of homosexuality, feminism and liberal doctrine has led to the scandals nationwide and claims of a gay den of priests led by the Albany bishop, said conservative Catholics on Sunday.
    . . .
    "(Stephen Brady's) quoted as saying he wants to take the diocese back," (Gerry) Ladouceur said. "The problem is he wants to take it back to the 15th century."

    Interesting observation for someone so clueless. But why the 15th century and not the 1st or 2nd or 19th? Why not the 20th century which gave us so much good (evil) that we must celebrate and worship ourselves.

    Although, I don't always agree with Brady's methods, I feel he and Paul Likoudis are performing a great service in Albany - much better than the service of the shepherd who has been there for so long, all the while leading souls to hell.

    The Church in America, and maybe in other parts of the world, is split - it is painfully obvious to those who have eyes to see. There are those who have fashioned a new church in their own image, a church without sin, a church whose god is anything they want him/her/it to be. There can be no compromise with this 'new' church for it is of the devil himself. And far too many have been deceived and have gleefully embraced his deceptions and have drunk of his poison. The live in darkness and call it light.

    Some of us want to take back our Church from the clutches of Satan and those who support him. We want the Truth to be faithfully handed on to our children (this is called catechesis). We want virtues to be esteemed rather than ridiculed. We want heresy exposed as a grievous offense to God and His people. We want sin and evil exposed to the light of day so that all may know that it leads to eternal damnation.

    The Church is America is rather like Humpty Dumpty - it cannot be put back together again. But we have hope. Those who are remaining within the walls of the Church that Christ established on earth, are guaranteed the Truth - and if we accept and obey Jesus and His Church, we have nothing to fear and eternal happiness awaits us.

    Here is the full article.

    Another reason for a "Cleansing" at the USCCB

    February 23, 2004
    Dear Friend,

    I know I just wrote to you on Friday, but I have an important follow-up to my last e-letter that I need to share with you right away.

    First, a little history...

    In the February issue of CRISIS, we ran an article on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) titled "Playing Politics: Inside the Bishops' Conference, Part II." In it, the author
    explained that, when it comes to political issues, the conference as a whole acts like a group of pro-life Democrats. (If you haven't read the article yet, you can find it here:

    Amazingly enough, some people at the conference took objection to that characterization. Certainly not everyone there fits this description, they said. Well, I have to admit, they're right. Not everyone in the Conference is a pro-life Democrat.

    Some are just plain Democrats.

    A case in point is Ono Ekeh, the administrator of the "Catholics For Kerry" internet newsgroup. You see, when he's not working to get pro-abortion Democrat John Kerry elected president, he can be found at his other job: program coordinator for the Secretariat for African-American Catholics at the USCCB.

    As you probably know, the USCCB itself takes a strong pro-life stance, saying that "the well-informed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political policy or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals," especially in regards to abortion.

    So, how can an employee of the conference go directly against this clear mandate and publicly support a politician who has said repeatedly that he will approve only pro-abortion judges for the Supreme Court?

    Journalist Tim Drake tipped me off to Ekeh and his position at the conference. While writing a story on John Kerry, Drake interviewed Ekeh about his support for the senator. When Drake asked about Ekeh's profession, Ekeh simply responded that he was "a small business owner." He made no mention of being employed by the bishops' conference.

    It's no wonder -- on the "Catholics for Kerry" site, Ekeh has made several comments that directly challenge the Vatican, the bishops' conference, and even the president of the conference, Bishop Wilton Gregory himself. Not what you'd expect from someone in Gregory's employ.

    Predictably, Ekeh goes to great (sometimes downright comical) lengths to justify support for a politician who blatantly rejects the Church's teaching on life issues. Ekeh explains that, instead of opposing abortion, Kerry will target poverty and thus help eliminate the dire financial circumstances that often drive women to abortion. In this way, Ekeh claims, "John Kerry's vision for America is a pro-life vision that will ultimately reduce the frequency of and need for abortions."

    I wonder if John Kerry knows that his vision is "pro-life." After all, in my last e-letter I quoted Kerry saying that he wants to EXPAND abortion and make it MORE available, not eliminate poverty to reduce abortion rates. The "vision" Ekeh describes seems to be one he's invented himself.

    But Ekeh doesn't end there. He even goes so far as to defend Kerry against the explicit directives from the Vatican and the USCCB that condemn political support for abortion and gay marriage.

    With regards to the Vatican's comments on a politician's responsibility to support pro-life legislation, Ekeh boasts that "John Kerry has recently made it clear that he will not be taking orders from the Vatican and rightly so... Senator Kerry made a prudent decision in rejecting the Vatican's demands. Such a rejection does not mean a lack of respect for the Vatican or the Church's teachings. Rather, it highlights that the man understands that his obligations are primarily to the people his [sic] serves and not the Vatican."

    He goes on to claim that the pope has never specifically commented on a politician's duty in this regard. Even the "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life" won't convince him, since it was written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and not the pope himself. (Never mind that the pope gave the Note his complete support and clearly stands behind its message.)

    Ekeh gets a bit personal when it comes to his boss, Bishop Gregory. He's especially offended by Gregory's comments regarding gay marriage, where the bishop rightly points out that a Catholic
    legislator is in "formal cooperation" with sin if he "does not oppose" legislation in favor of gay unions. Ekeh sniffs that "This is getting as close to excommunication as they would dare in our day and age... This is no less then than a tool of manipulation or control. This is commensurate with how the Holy See controlled politics in the Middle Ages, they had the ultimate threat, the threat of excommunication."

    Oh brother.

    Look, it's one thing for a Catholic to be a pro-life Democrat -- that in itself is a perfectly legitimate position and consistent with our Catholic Faith. However, it's completely unacceptable to follow Ekeh and trade away our pro-life responsibilities.

    As Kerry advances down the presidential campaign trail, and as other Catholics equivocate on his blatantly pro-abortion record, it will become more and more vital for the bishops to speak out. And for the members of the conference itself, the issue is getting a bit close to home.

    Talk to you later this week,

    It's truly shameful that this is allowed to continue. How disgusting!

    Monday, February 23, 2004

    The power and the glory of Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"

    Gibson's Film
    The power and the glory of Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
    Inside the Vatican
    By: Robert Moynihan

    Another excellent review. Some powerful excerpts:
    I wept.

    I wept for the implacable inevitability of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the ruin of his body, which, yes, is presented as the temple of God, but which reminded me of my own body, of my sons' bodies -- how many times I have bandaged their little, and not-so-little, cuts! -- of the bodies of soldiers and civilians being blown apart in Iraq... and in Israel... of the bodies of millions in the past century... of the bodies of those who suffered and died in the concentration camps...
    . . .
    Mary, the mother of Jesus, is splendid.

    It is her sorrow that made me weep.
    . . .
    During the struggle in the garden to arrest Jesus, his eye is struck. From that moment until the end of the film -- except in flashbacks -- one eye is black and shut.

    I hated that. I wanted to see his whole face more, both his eyes. I think: "I wish Mel had waited until the middle of the film to strike Jesus' eye..."

    And then I think: "What a foolish thing to wish..."
    . . .
    During the scourging, I longed for a flashback, anything to bring us back to a time when things were good, when Jesus was living with his parents, or when he was preaching.
    . . .
    There is no doubt that there is a "eucharistic" dimension to this film, which makes it more profoundly "religious" or Christian -- but also Jewish, as I will explain in a minute -- than any other film about Christ's passion.

    The film is "eucharistic" -- a depiction of the religious sacrifice which constitutes, in Catholic belief, the initiation of a new world, redeemed from sin, a world of eternal life.
    . . .
    In a few days, barring a cataclysm, the film will be in theaters, and millions will see it.

    And millions will weep.

    But that weeping will not be channeled into hatred of any group or groups; rather, it will be channeled into a renewed commitment to the central message of the man who is depicted suffering in this film: "Love one another."
    Perhaps this movie will be an impetus for many to turn from a sinful world and a sinful life? Perhaps it will help us realize the importance of God's infinite merciful love? Maybe it will help us restore some sanity and virtue to our society?

    Reports of Albany meeting yesterday concerning Hubbard & Fr Minkler

    Roman Catholic Faithful, headed be Stephen Brady and Paul Likoudis of The Wanderer, held a meeting to discuss the investigation of the Diocese of Albany & Bishop Howard Hubbard.

    The alleged letter of Fr. Minkler

    Another view from the AP.

    Bishop's foes, backers clash at forum (Times Union)

    And let's not forget that the diocese is paying $770 per hour to an independent investigator to review allegations against Bishop Hubbard.

    Things are really bad in this diocese and have been for a while, it seems. Michael Rose wrote an article in July 2003 which stated that Bishop Hubbard established a policy of recruiting, primarily, homosexuals for the priesthood.

    How the people in that diocese must have suffered! I truly pray that the facts concerning Fr. Minkler's death come to light and that all of the wolves and Satan's minions in that diocese are brought to temporal justice and the diocese is purged of those responsible for the destruction of the faith and the loss of souls.

    Transmission of Faith Depends on Catechesis, Says Pope

    Says Parents and Educators Must Witness to What They Teach

    VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2004 ( The future of the transmission of the faith and of the Church itself depends on catechesis, says John Paul II.

    The Pope focused on catechesis in his address Friday to the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Paris, whom he met at the conclusion of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

    The Holy Father mentioned the process of secularization under way in French society, which shows that "a first proclamation of the Gospel" is "necessary" virtually everywhere.

    This phenomenon, however, is counterbalanced by signs of hope, such as that of the numerous young people and adults who request baptism.

    "May the calls of the people who want 'to see Jesus' and who knock on the door of the Church help you to bring about a new springtime of evangelization and catechesis," the Pope told the French bishops.

    Catechists must know that on their work depends "the future of the transmission of the faith and its being put into action," the Pontiff added. "The visibility of the Church of tomorrow also depends on it to a great extent."

    In his address, delivered after the greeting addressed to him on behalf of the bishops by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris, the Holy Father offered fundamental guidelines for catechesis to become a genuine discovery of Christ.

    Referring to the catechesis of children and young people, John Paul II said: "It is important to give them a religious and moral education of quality, which offers clear and solid elements of the faith that leads to an intense spiritual life, as a child is also 'capax Dei' [capable of God], as the Fathers of the Church said, to a sacramental life, and to a worthy and beautiful human life."

    "For catechetical formation to become a solid nucleus of existence, it must be accompanied by regular religious practice," the Pope said. "How can the proposal made to children take root, and how can Christ transform their being and action from within, if they do not meet with him regularly?"

    He continued: "Christian life cannot be based on a mere sociological attitude, nor on knowledge of some rudiments of the Christian message, which would not lead to participation in the life of the Church. It would be the sign that faith remains as something totally external to persons."

    "Young people are particularly sensitive to consistency between people's words and their concrete lives," the Pope said. "How can young people become aware of the need to participate in Sunday Mass or of the practice of the sacrament of penance if their parents or teachers do not live such a religious and ecclesial life?"

    The Holy Father added: "Daily witness is the seal of the authenticity of the teaching that is imparted."
    [Zenit Link here]

    This is exactly what the Marian Catechist Apostolate does. Read colums by Archbishop Burke and Fr. John Hardon here. You may even consider becoming a member of this vitally needed apostolate.

    Sunday, February 22, 2004

    Atlanta Archbishop John Donoghue & "The Passion" movie

    Diocesan Publication
    Published: February 19, 2004

    To the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, And to All People of Good Faith

    Dear Friends in Christ,

    On Wednesday February 25th, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Lenten Season for the year of our Lord, 2004. As good Catholics do every year, we will undertake during the ensuing forty days, special acts of penance, including, as our Lord has taught us, prayer, fasting, and the giving of alms. We do these things to clear our minds, and to dispose our souls to accept more readily, the gift that Jesus Christ, the Son of God has made us - His life and His death - His suffering, and His redemption of all mankind.

    This year, there is a special event which can help to make this Lent unlike any before, and perhaps, change us permanently, in the way we visualize and attempt to share in the great love our Lord has shown us. This event is the release of the film, The Passion, conceived, produced and directed by Mel Gibson.

    Last summer Mel Gibson brought his film to Atlanta, and shared it with a small number of local religious leaders. At that time, I was able to talk at length with Mr. Gibson privately, and I am completely convinced that his motive in making this film was entirely religious, and that it manifests what I consider to be his sincere faith and devotion. I am also impressed by the willingness with which he faced the monumental challenges of accurately depicting the Gospel events surrounding the Passion of our Lord, as well as his courage in answering the opposition which such a depiction has and will continue to provoke.

    Mel Gibson's understanding has been enlightened by the understanding of the Church. Specifically, in his depiction of the capture, the trial and the condemnation of Jesus Christ, no one bears the blame exclusively - neither the Jews, nor the Romans, nor the Herodians. Our Lord's sufferings and death are the result of one thing, and one thing only - the presence of evil in the world as a result of sin, the weakness of men and women when overcome by the temptations of Satan. All people bear the blame for our Lord's suffering and death - all people should feel sorrow or contrition that Christ's innocence is the only worthy sacrifice to atone for our sinfulness. These are hard lessons for us to bear at the best of times, for we are so proud; and these are almost impossible lessons for our modern culture, which seems devoted to the complete denial of sin and evil. Mel Gibson's desire is to show that sin and evil do exist, that Satan is real, and that only by humbly participating in the merits gained by our Lord, only by seeing, by feeling and by sharing in His suffering and death do we gain the grace, the gift, of being made worthy again to share the company of God. This is a gift that Jesus Christ made to all men and women - His gift does not consider race or creed - His gift embraces all who embrace Him. The blame for His death is upon the heads of all the children of Adam and Eve. And if there is one who can be said to condemn Him, then it is the one whom Jesus called "a murderer from the beginning" - Satan.

    I believe that all people should see this film. And as your bishop, I would urge all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Atlanta to see this film. But do not expect to view it objectively or without being changed. It will not leave you the same person you were before - you will never again not be able to picture the scope of our Lord's suffering, and the terrible price He paid in order to save us. And consequently, you will never again be able to think of yourself as being innocent, or only relatively involved in the events of His Passion. That is a result of the true artistry that Mel Gibson has brought to the production, along with the work of an amazing cast, and cinematography that elevates this film to a place among the greatest ever made. But most importantly, it is a result of Mel Gibson's faithful adherence to the words and the spirit of the Gospel.

    One important caution must be given. This movie is not for children, and by that, I specifically mean children who have not yet achieved an age to understand the graphic violence that can be done by humans to other humans, and to themselves. It would be unwise for me to try and decide what age that might be - and it is a responsibility that I consider to be the inviolate privilege of mothers and fathers. To be safe, I would suggest that no children under high school age should see this film, unless their parents have seen it first, and give their consent. In any case, young people will need to rely upon the counsel of older men and women, as well as priests, and educators of the Church, in order to absorb the impact of this film.

    Dear friends, the lesson of The Passion is terrible - and beautiful - to behold, but the truth of accepting and making this lesson a part of our own lives, is to gain deeper faith in the ultimate outcome of Christ's purpose in coming among mankind - His victory over death - our death - ".to give his life as a ransom for many." May this magnificent film, a gift from God, help us to learn what we need to know, and may our Lenten and Easter celebrations this year, bring us an abundance of contrition, repentance, and new-found hope in the power of Jesus Christ to save us, and give us eternal life.

    Sincerely yours,

    Most Reverend John F. Donoghue Archbishop of Atlanta
    I did not have a web site to link to...This was emailed to me.

    From war to abuse, Archbishop Burke speaks out

    Today, the Post-Dispatch has published an interview with Archbishop Raymond Burke.

    "Inside the Vatican," a national Catholic publication, recently named him among the top 10 people of the year, and its editor calls him the "arguably the fastest rising bishop in the U.S. hierarchy." Meanwhile, one of the nation's largest anti-abortion groups recently launched an ad campaign around him."

    The Archbishbishop discusses the following:
    Consolidation of area parishes and the pain associated with the reorganization,
    (He's very aware of the pain this causes and is sympathetic to those affected and he has suffered much because of it as well)

    Politicians, abortion, euthanasia, and the dignity of life & the common good,
    (He will do the same here if necessary - It's not a policy of his, but he is following Church law.)

    The death of his father when he was young, and the importance of his mother, family & faith,
    (He has a passion for the education and care of children - this can be seen by the LaCrosse Religious Education curriculum he established)

    The sex-abuse scandal,
    (He wants to meet with victims and those making allegations, not with SNAP)

    Racial tensions in the St. Louis area,
    (He feels that this is one of the human difficulties to confront, and probably one of the toughest to deal with.)

    His appetite for reading, especially history, biography, philosophy, and theology,
    (Right now, he's reading about the life of Bishop DuBourg and the history of the archdiocese)

    Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ",
    (His response up to this point is positive and he plans to see it sometime during the first week of Lent.)

    Just War Theory and the war in Iraq,
    (He feels the war would fall under the auspices of the Just War theory-that it was not unjust considering the evil of the regime among other things.)

    Catholics and their use of artificial contraception,
    (It's an essential part of Catholic teaching, and those preparing for Marriage must understand and accept it)

    The homosexual 'marriage' debate,
    (He will address the subject because Catholics are asking themselves how the Church view this)

    Homosexual orientation and the priesthood,
    (Homosexuality is disordered. There is no place in the priesthood for those who are active sexually, either homosexual or heterosexual. Also those with an inclination toward homosexuality should not be admitted to the priesthood.)

    The importance of family farms,
    (Farming is at the very foundation of our well being in this country)

    The Building of a shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe here?
    (We have shrines around the area. He'll have to wait and see what the needs are)

    All in all, this was a really decent article from the Post-Dispatch. I would recommend that everyone who is interested read it. You have to remember that in the Post, Pro-Life becomes 'anti-abortion', but this is the mindset of the secular media. And Archbishop Burke is truly a man of humiliy.

    You can find it here.

    Message drew sister to priest (Fr John Minkler)

    The circumstances surrounding the death of Fr. Minkler are so strange and bizarre. I pray that the truth comes out soon. Please pray also for Fr. Minkler and his family.

    Call prompted discovery of cleric who died amid Hubbard controversy
    By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer First published: Saturday, February 21, 2004
    Before he died, a priest embroiled in the controversy surrounding Bishop Howard Hubbard arranged for his sister to find him, according to a police report obtained by the Times Union. Patricia Minkler told Watervliet police that she went to the 2319 Seventh St. home of her brother, the Rev. John Minkler, on Sunday after getting a call from another Catholic priest.

    She found her brother on the kitchen floor, face-down on a blanket, and called police at about 1:48 p.m. for help with an "attempted suicide," according to the police report. Firefighters at the scene determined that he was dead, the report said.

    Minkler had died sometime between 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13, and when his body was found.

    Prescription pills were found near Minkler, Albany County Coroner Herman Thomas said. Thomas is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before ruling on the cause of death. He has not disclosed the nature of the medication.

    The death came days after Minkler was publicly identified as the author of a 1995 letter to then-New York Archbishop John O'Connor that accused Hubbard of homosexual behavior and theological transgressions.

    On Feb. 13, Minkler signed a statement for the Albany Diocese disavowing authorship of the letter.

    Minkler left a note near his body, but its contents have not been disclosed by Thomas, who is conducting an investigation into the death. District Attorney Paul Clyne said the note probably will not be made public.

    Patricia Minkler said the Rev. Edward Sipperly, a retired priest from Clifton Park, told her that he had received a message on his answering machine from John Minkler asking that his sister be called to "respond to his address with her keys to the residence because he is ill," according to the police report.

    Sipperly did not know the date or time of the message from John Minkler. The police report does not state when Sipperly contacted the sister.

    A man answering the telephone at Sipperly's home Friday told a reporter that Sipperly wasn't there and hung up immediately. Several other calls to the residence were not answered.

    Attempts to reach Patricia Minkler for comment were unsuccessful.

    The last known contact with Minkler was with the Rev. Joseph Wilson, a Queens priest, who said Minkler was very upset that being identified as the letter's author could ruin him.

    Albany Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb said Friday that Minkler told the diocese that Sipperly would help him with his duties as chaplain at the Stratton VA Medical Center.

    Minkler was a chaplain there for 20 years, but VA spokeswoman Linda Blumenstock said Friday there is no record that Sipperly was a volunteer.

    During the 1990s, Sipperly was pastor at St. Stanislaus Church in Amsterdam.

    In 1986, he was bound, beaten and robbed while pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Green Island, where one of his assailants yanked a silver cross and chain from around his neck, spat in his face and said, "I hate your God, I hate your religion and I hate you."

    Diogenes suggests a "Thought Experiment"

    Imagine a large suburban high school whose faculty and administration (considered a unity for present purposes) devises a series of programs to deal with the problem of student drug dealers. After some months of very mixed results it happens that a faculty member himself is arrested for selling drugs; then another; then two more in quick succession.
    . . .
    Suppose that it was wholly unknown for the faculty to identify and expel one of its own for drug use. That in every single case the faculty drug dealers were discharged only after an arrest by police or after overwhelmingly disgraceful media exposure.
    . . .
    Now imagine this. Not only does the faculty give absolutely zero indication that there is a problem that needs fixing in its own ranks, but it continues to speak exclusively -- without exception -- of a problem "out there," among the students, and continues to speak of itself as the perfectly obvious body to effect the cure.

    It doesn't make me feel any better at all.

    Why does Archbishop Pilarczyk want this law repealed?

    Archbishop Pilarczyk wrote a letter urging the repeal of the following law:

    "The City of Cincinnati and its various Boards and Commissions may not enact, adopt, enforce or administer any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy which provides that homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, status, conduct, or relationship constitutes, entitles, or otherwise provides a person with the basis to have any claim of minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment. This provision of the City Charter shall in all respects be self-executing. Any ordinance, regulation, rule or policy enacted before this amendment is adopted that violates the foregoing prohibition shall be null and void and of no force or effect."
    I am unable to see anything discriminatory in the above. It seems that it seeks to prevent homosexuals from having special "minority" privileges which certainly seems reasonable. What group will be next to apply for special treatment because of disordered inclinations?

    This man and the people of Cincinnati need our prayers.

    Cardinal George Encourages People To See Gibson's Film

    Chicago's Cardinal George Encourages People to See Gibson's Film
    On Friday, Feb. 13 while attending a general meeting of Deanery III and IV priests and others, Albert Judy, O.P. (St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, River Forest, Illlinois) asked Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. about the upcoming film, The Passion of the Christ. Here is the transcription from a digital recording:

    Question: Albert Judy, O.P.

    Is the archdiocese, especially the office of evangelization and catechesis prepared to take the maximum advantage of the movie that's about to appear, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ? I think it is going to be an incredible would be a shame if we are not able to take advantage of this event.

    Response: Cardinal George, O.M.I.:

    I have not seen the whole film. I have seen a rough cut, and from a cinematic point of view it is masterfully done. The images are so forceful, so powerful, that your imagination is changed. You live with new images of the passion. At least I did since seeing those images, without yet seeing how they come together in a film.

    There is a priest in the archdiocese who has a lot of experience in filmmaking, and he has sent out to the parishes all the information on the film and how to participate in viewing it. I have sent out the documents from Rome and the USCCB on how to read the Passion stories in the Gospels. I would encourage people to see the film.

    I would then say something else. We should see it not only as Christian believers; we should try to watch it with the eyes of the Jewish people.

    The history of anti-Semitism, a very sorrowful history, has made many Jews very sensitive to any recognition that even some Jews were involved in the death of Jesus. Obviously some Jews were involved in the death of Jesus. He had enemies among his own people. His apostle Judas betrayed him and some of the leaders of the people were against him. Read the Gospels. At the same time, all Jesus' friends were Jews, as were the first apostles and disciples - everybody was a Jew within this story, except the Romans who, in fact, killed him. They killed him in their own fashion - a terrible execution, torture. And all of that torture is attributed to the Romans in the film.

    But the push to have him condemned is attributed to some of the Jewish leaders, even though the Romans are primarily responsible. Jesus had enemies among his own people. He also had friends and disciples among his own people. Jesus was a Jew. And you can hardly tell the story of Jesus' life, certainly not the story of his death, without saying that some Jews did this and some Jews did that.

    That very telling creates fear in the hearts of many Jewish people today. We should be aware of that even as we watch this film as Christians and are moved by it. We should try to think how a Jew [would] watch this. That's part of living as a community: we internalize the reactions of others, whether they're Jews or atheists or Protestants or Hindus. We try to live together. We have to be ourselves as Christians with the right to say, "Jesus is Lord;" but we have to say it in such a way that others don't take fright. That's the challenge of this film. I hope you'll see it, and I hope it will not harm interfaith relations.

    Dominican Life
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    Fr. Donald Cozzens, Keynote Speaker at VOTF-St Louis

    One week after the special Credo sponsored Lenten Retreat on March 5 & 6, VOTF-St Louis and Voice of the Faithful Mid-Missouri will present their "Conference on the Challenges in the Church" on March 13.

    For more information see this.

    I hope to attend to give a report on the goings on.
    I'm curious what these people would do if they were outnumbered by the truly faithful Catholics in the archdiocese?