Saturday, December 18, 2004

Fargo Bishop addresses the roots of dissent among Catholics

FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, USA, Dec. 17, 2004 (CNA) - In a pastoral letter to be released on Saturday, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo, addresses the roots of dissent among Catholics, highlighted during the recent elections in the U.S., and picks out five main areas of concern.

He suggests that though there are exceptions, catechetical formation for the last 30 years has failed to hand on the faith. He says it was clear during the media discussion of Catholic teachings and voting during the elections that “many of the faithful have not read the Catechism, the encyclicals of Pope John Paul II, or the documents of Vatican II.”
Where have we heard this before? It is abundantly clear that those who have been properly and authentically catechized do not engage in opposing the teachings of the Church, generally speaking. Ther are, of course, some who think they have been properly catechized, yet fight the Church daily - they are misguided and have been deceived.
The first area of concern is that many people who call themselves Catholic “even reject the principle that we must accept what the Church believes and teaches, and think they can pick and choose what to believe,” writes the bishop.

“We must never forget that certain Church teachings,” - those revealed in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and upheld by the Magisterium – “can never change,” he said, “regardless of whether or not people accept them or are faithful to them.”
Paraphrasing St. Ignatius, even though it may seem to me that the something is black - if the Church tells me it is white, I will abandon my inclination that it is black and accept fully that it is, in fact, white - and I will not engage in promoting discord or dissent.

Imagine the blessed unity that would exist among Catholics if all professed Catholics would adopt this attitude of humility...


Seminary inspections may begin in fall

The long-awaited Vatican inspection of U.S. Roman Catholic seminaries, which was planned in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis, is expected to begin in the fall of next year, according to Catholic News Service. The visits will involve more than 100 seminaries and other American institutions that help prepare men for the priesthood, the news service said.

Bishop John Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Priestly Formation, said that the issue of homosexuality was expected to be part of the review. The visitation will take up the question of "how seminaries approach celibacy and chastity - either in relationship to heterosexuality or homosexuality - or the temptations or inclinations people have," Nienstedt said.

Some Catholics complain that the priesthood has become overwhelmingly gay, potentially alienating heterosexuals from enrolling in seminaries.
Sufficient documentation exists, it seems, for this claim...


"Stalin would be proud", says lawyer for defendents

Prayer and Scripture Reading During Gay Celebration Could Cost Christians 47 Years in Prison
PHILADELPHIA, December 17, 2004 ( - A group of eleven Christians were arrested on October 10 for praying, singing, and reading scripture during an annual "gay pride" event known as "Outfest" in Philadelphia. The members of the group were charged with three felony (criminal conspiracy, ethnic intimidation, and riot) and five misdemeanor charges.

An appeal to a federal appeals court to stop the prosecution was denied Tuesday.

The Philadelphia city prosecutor in the case, Charles Ehrlich, attacked the Christians as "hateful" and referred to preaching the Bible as "fighting words." The judge agreed.
It seems both the prosecutor and the judge are anti-Christian bigots. Apparently they did not see the video here. It gives a whole other meaning to the phrase "city of brotherly love"...


Gospel for Saturday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 1:18-24

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth

[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. [20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; [21] she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: [23] "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and His name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means God with us). [24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

18. St. Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Luke 1:25-38): "We truly honor and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a person who is at the same time both God and man" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 7).

According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The marriage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought solemnly and joyously to her husband's house (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7).

From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.

The entire account of Jesus' birth teaches, through the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in verses 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has David as His ancestor since Joseph is His legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child's conception without the intervention of man was miraculous.

19. "St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as `a just man'. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone who fulfills the divine will (cf. Genesis 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezekiel 18:5ff.; Proverbs 12:10), or who is honorable and charitable toward his neighbor (cf. Tobias 7:6; 9:6). So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God's commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers, his fellow men" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 40).

Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Precisely because he was trying to do God's will, he felt obliged to put her away; but to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.

Mary's silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God. God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Mary to a severe trial. We ought not to be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faithful to Him, following the example they gave us.

20. God gives His light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in His power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understanding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan's messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12). As St. John Chrysostom says: "At the very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him, through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his lineage" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 4).

"The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when He assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same person, remaining God as He was from eternity, became man, which He was not before" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 1).

21. According to the Hebrew root, the name Jesus means "savior". After our Lady, St. Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.

"Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies `Savior'--a name given Him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God" [...]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God--Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6)--are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which He was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 3, 5 and 6).

23. "Emmanuel": the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about 700 years in advance that God's salvation would be marked by the extraordinary event of virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths.

First, that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf. Pius VI, Brief, "Divina", 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only because of His God-given mission but because He is God made man (cf. John 1:14). This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this name refers more directly to the mystery of His being the Incarnate Word. At the Annunciation the angel said that He should be called Jesus, that is, Savior. And that was the name St. Joseph gave Him.

The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived was precisely that a woman would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.

"Jesus Christ came forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, December 17, 2004

A little fun at "Season's Greetings"

Last night I had a call from our phone company about lowering the long distance...At the end of the call, the representative said, "Happy Holidays", to which I responded, "I hope you have a Merry and Blessed Christmas." I think it took her by surprise...she stuttered, "Uh, OK, Uh, Thank you!" What a treat it was!

Anyway, the reason for this post was to link link to Jeff Miller's "Season's Greetings" parody here.

Mother Strangled, Baby Cut from Womb

Of all the horrific acts, we have this occuring here in Missouri. I hear about this act of evil this morning.
SKIDMORE, Mo. (AP) - An eight-months-pregnant woman was slain in her home, and her fetus [BABY] was then cut from her womb, authorities said. Believing the infant survived, they issued an Amber Alert early Friday.

Bobbi Jo Stinnett's mother found her body Thursday afternoon. The 23-year-old woman had apparently been strangled. Authorities issued an alert hours later for the infant, a girl.
Keep the family in your prayers.

Article here.

I received my Adoremus Bulletin yesterday...

...I would recommend that anyone who can, support Adoremus and sign up for a subscription to the Adoremus Bulletin. It provides more information than what is available via the website (Letters, etc).

This month Helen Hull Hitchcock has an article entitled, "Bishops Send Mixed Signals at USCCB Meeting", which sums up nicely what happened at the latest meeting. Some of us who were fortunate enough to witness it via EWTN were rather shocked at some of the voting results and Helen does an excellent job in reporting on this and conference in general.
...the divisions within the conference are increasingly visible, as revealed in the conflicts over the Liturgy; even more starkly in the sex-abuse crisis; and this year, in the bishops' divergent responses on Catholics and political responsibility. This situation cannot easily be resolved.

What will the the USCCB be like in five years? No one could have predicted five years ago the dramatic changes we have experienced. Indeed, the post-September 11 world, and the Church's own "9-11" of the sex-abuse scandals presents a vastly altered landscape and challenges unimaginable five years ago.

This Year of the Eucharist calls all of us to renew our convictions about this "source and summit" of our life, and to deepen our commitment and our fidelity to the liberating truth of Christ's Holy Church.

Since the results and other issues have been discussed and lamented before, I won't rehask them here, but do read the article if you get a chance. It helps to get an understanding of what is going on at the USCC.

Although she doesn't mention it, I had to laugh a bit when Bishop Bruskewitz rose to ask the body of bishops if it was really necessary for the USCCB to decimate entire forests to publish papers and other documents that no one ever reads, including many bishops...

I know that I hesitate to read or review most documents coming from the USCCB while, at the same time, I eagerly look forward to reading those that come from the Holy See...There seems to be quite a disparity between the two - It's probably because I'm not used to having firm, resolute and sound explanations "nuanced" into ambiguity.

Maronites begin census of their U.S. membership

The Maronite Catholic bishops of the United States have initiated a Maronite census.

The Maronite patriarch and the Maronite Synod of Bishops issued the request to compile the census. The request stems from years of war in Lebanon, as Christians fled to other countries in search of a better life.

The census also is designed to point out areas of the country where the Maronite Church has no presence.

The data will help the local Maronite parishes with better outreach and communication with Maronites within their areas who are not yet involved with parish life but would like to be.

To register online, go to or call (314) 231-1021 to receive a census form by mail.

The census office can be reached by e-mail at
Complete article here.

Editorial: Our duty to form our consciences

Pope John Paul II recently reaffirmed that we must work hard at catechesis — constantly teaching ourselves about our faith and all that we believe. We must train ourselves, check our consciences and be sure that we are living up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the pope said in an address to visiting American bishops two weeks ago: "There can be no separation between faith which is to be believed and put into practice and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life." This is the challenge for all of us.

Cathedrals preparing for Christmas Masses

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke will celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in the Central West End.

A ceremony of lessons and carols beginning at 11 p.m. will precede the Mass at the cathedral basilica, on the corner of Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue.

A 5 p.m. vigil Mass Christmas Eve, Friday, Dec. 24, also will be celebrated there.

Saturday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day Masses at the cathedral basilica will be at 8 and 10 a.m. and at noon. There will be no 5 p.m. Mass Christmas Day.

Midnight Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica of St. Louis King of France (Old Cathedral), 209 Walnut St., Downtown. Carols will begin at 11:30 p.m. A Christmas Eve vigil Mass will be celebrated at 5 p.m.

Our Lady of Guadalupe By Abp. Burke

Archbishop Burke has a great summary of the history of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe in his weekly column. I recall reading before he came here that he is an history buff of sorts and loves to read books dealing with history. One can get that sense from reading his many of weekly columns such as this one. He provides us a great backdrop for his teaching so that, when he teaches us, we can understand why he has laid an historical foundation for us and grasp more readily what he presents.
Meditation upon the apparitions and the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe helps us very much in our observance of these last days of Advent and our celebration of the coming of Our Lord at Bethlehem. The Mother of God brings the Christ Child, conceived in her sinless womb at the Annunciation, into the world. He is the mercy and love of God in human flesh. He is the One who will suffer, die and rise from the dead in our human nature, so that we may enjoy forever freedom from sin and its most evil fruit, everlasting death.

Pasco County bans Christmas trees from public buildings

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Pasco County officials have banned Christmas trees from public buildings in a move that one constitutional law group said Thursday was "the most extreme example of censorship imaginable."

The last of the Christmas trees were removed Wednesday after the county attorney said they were religious symbols, said Dan Johnson, assistant county administrator for Public Services.
Some people have lost all sense of reality. They should be pitied and prayed for, then driven from office.


Holy Father's Message for 2005 World Day of Peace

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2004 ( In world marked by war, terrorism and violence, John Paul II is launching a campaign to overcome evil with good.

This is the essence of the Pope's message for the next World Day of Peace, to be observed Jan. 1.

The theme of the text, published today, is the same advice given by St. Paul to the first Christians in Rome: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The text will be sent to the world's leaders and to key international organizations.
The Holy See confirmed today that the Pope will preside over Mass the morning of Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace.
Pope Paul VI instituted the World Day of Peace in 1967.
Zenit Article here.

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 1:1-17

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ
[1] The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham. [2] Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, [3] and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, [4] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahson, and Nahson the father of Salmon, [5] and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz due father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, [6] and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, [7] and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, [8] and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, [9] and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, [10] and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, [11] and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. [12] And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, [13] and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, [14] and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Aching and Achim the father of Eliud, [15] and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, [16] and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

[17] So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

1. This verse is a kind of title to St Matthew's entire Gospel. The promises God made to Abraham for the salvation of mankind (Gen 12:3) are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as is Nathan's prophecy to King David of an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-16).

The genealogy presented here by St Matthew shows Jesus' human ancestry and also indicates that salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the expected Messiah.

The genealogy is presented in a framework of three series, each consisting of fourteen links which show the progressive development of salvation history.

For the Jews (and for other Eastern peoples of nomadic origin) genealogical trees were of great importance because a person's identity was especially linked to family and tribe, with place of birth taking secondary importance. In the case of the Jewish people there was the added religious significance of belonging by blood to the chosen people.

In Christ's time each family still kept a careful record of its genealogical tree, since because of it people acquired rights and duties.

6. Four women are named in these genealogies--Tamar (cf. Gen 38; 1 Chron 2:4), Rahab (cf. Josh 2:6,17), Bathsheba (cf. 2 Sam 11:12, 24) and Ruth (cf. Book of Ruth). These four foreign women, who in one way or another are brought into the history of Israel, are one sign among many others of God's design to save all men.

By mentioning sinful people, God's ways are shown to be different from man's. God will sometimes carry out his plan of salvation by means of people whose conduct has not been just. God saves us, sanctifies us and chooses us to do good despite our sins and infidelities--and he chose to leave evidence of this at various stages in the history of our salvation.

11. The deportation to Babylon, described in 2 Kings 24-25, fulfilled the prophets' warning to the people of Israel and their kings that they would be punished for their infidelity to the commandments of the Law of God, especially the first commandment.

16. Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Joseph, being Mary's husband, was the legal father of Jesus. The legal father is on a par with the real father as regards rights and duties. This fact provides a sound basis for recognizing St Joseph as Patron of the whole Church, since he was chosen to play a very special role in God's plan for our salvation; with St Joseph as his legal father, Jesus the Messiah has David as his ancestor.

Since it was quite usual for people to marry within their clan, it can be concluded that Mary belonged to the house of David. Several early Fathers of the Church testify to this--for example, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus, St Justin and Tertullian, who base their testimony on an unbroken oral tradition.

It should also be pointed out that when St Matthew comes to speak of the birth of Jesus, he uses an expression which is completely different from that used for the other people in the genealogy. With these words the text positively teaches that Mary conceived Jesus while still a virgin, without the intervention of man.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Creation of 'Quasi-Embryos' is "Morally Repugnant"

Canadian Biotechnology Expert Denounces the Creation of 'Quasi-Embryos' as "Morally Repugnant"
VICTORIA, December 16, 2004 ( - Last week, reported that a member of the US President's Council on Bioethics proposed the creation of genetically engineered 'biological artifacts' that he claimed, though capable of producing embryonic stem cells, would not technically be embryos. This proposal was heralded as a means of skirting the ethical barrier to obtaining embryonic cells, which requires the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage of life.

Speaking with, Dr. Clem Persaud, a retired Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology, called the proposal "deeply flawed." He said that the process would not create an unknown 'new entity,' but a severely disabled, cloned human being. "The process amounts to a kind of germ-line genetic engineering combined with a type of cloning to produce an aberrant human embryo. Deliberately producing a deformed human being, then destroying it to harness stem cells is morally repugnant, and is a clear case of ends justifying means."

Cardinal Mahony's Deposition....

can be viewed here.

A Pastoral Letter on the Virtue of Chastity

Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, has issued a pastoral letter on the virtue of chastity.
...Bishop Martino conceded that violations of chastity in the Catholic Church and in the Diocese of Scranton have made some people skeptical when the church speaks on sexual morality.

“But for just that reason it is more necessary, not less, to speak the truth about sexual morality. Sin and confusion cry out for honest, truthful speaking,” he said.

“The [C]hurch has always taught — and I teach here — that we need to find our happiness and holiness in a commitment to the chastity lived out in marital love or the chastity of celibacy lived out either in the consecrated life or the life of a single lay person in the world. These are the two paths to happiness and eternal life. There are no others.”

While some may believe that other subjects take priority, Bishop Martino stressed that “chastity is a virtue for our times, and it does take priority. That should be clear, for instance, in the wake of the scandalous events in our own church as well as those in secular society.”

The 4,100-word pastoral letter was published as a special section in the Dec. 9 edition of “The Catholic Light,” the diocesan newspaper. The letter is also being printed as a brochure and will be available to parishes, schools and others as an educational resource.

Bishop Martino noted that society’s generally permissive attitude about sex “makes the church’s teaching on chastity so necessary today. There is a vast gulf between the secularist view of sex and the Christian view of chastity.”

Post Dispatch Editorial on Bishop Gregory

A good priest

FOR A DECADE, Roman Catholics of Southern Illinois have been blessed with a bishop of gentle heart, persuasive leadership and common sense. Now, Wilton Gregory is off to tend a larger flock at as archbishop of Atlanta.

Sadly, this good priest began and ended his tenure by dealing with one of the worst scandals in the history of the Catholic church in America - the sexual abuse of children and teens by priests. His intelligent and compassionate approach helped set the church on the long path toward cleansing and healing.
He drew criticism both from all sides. But he bent the church as far toward reform as its hierarchical structure was willing to bend.

Update on Fr. Robert Johnston

Two men filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming that a Roman Catholic priest, Robert F. Johnston, sexually abused them as young teenagers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Valley Park.

In 2002, the church removed Johnston as pastor of Our Lady of Providence parish in Crestwood after a victim came forward and Johnston admitted abusing the boy more than 20 years before.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, also names the St. Louis Archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke as defendants.

The archdiocese issued a statement that noted that Johnston, 68, "lives in a monitored environment and is not permitted to exercise any form of public ministry."

Late-Term Abortion Hospital Covers Up Saint's Portrait - Bishop Objects

The covering-up of the picture of a saint, depicted inside a chapel at Calgary's notorious Foothills hospital, has brought the ire of local Roman Catholic bishop Fred Henry.

The hospital claims the picture of St. Luke, a physician, is offensive to non-Christians, and has had doors placed over it. A note over the doors explains that any representation of the human form in a place of worship is offensive to both Jews and Muslims. Bishop Henry said the move is ridiculous.
Lifesite News article...

Legionaries of Christ banned from Archdiocese of Minneapolis

Apparently, the 'exchanges' between Archbihsop Flynn and the Legionaries of Christ have been "vague and ambiguous" and the Archbishop does not have "clarity about the intent and practice of the ministry" of the group.

Perhaps they should have donned a rainbow sash - then, of course, they would have been received with open arms.

Source (PDF) [Thanks to CWNews]

Gospel for Thursday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Luke 7:24-30

The Mission of John the Baptist (Continuation)

[24] When the messengers of John had gone, He (Jesus) began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? [25] What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. [26] What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. [27] This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.' [28] I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." [29] (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; [30] but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

28. St. John the Baptist is the greatest of the prophets of the Old Testament because he was nearest to Christ and received the unique mission of actually pointing out the Messiah. Still, he belongs to the time of the promise (the Old Testament), when the work of redemption lay in the future. Once Christ did that work (the New Testament), those who faithfully accept God's gift of grace are incomparably greater than the righteous of the Old Covenant who were given, not this grace, but only the promise of it. Once the work of redemption was accomplished God's grace also reached the righteous of the Old Testament, who were waiting for Christ to open Heaven and let them, too, enter.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Norms of Catholic Orthodoxy - Rule 13

Previously I had comented on Rule 10 from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. This evening, I would propose another for discussion. It is one which requires both faith and humility. If one does not have complete faith in Jesus Christ and His promise to be with His Church guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, one may find it difficult to accept this rule:
To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.
Even if my reason is not in agreement with something that the Church states is true and must be believed, I cannot err if I submit to the Church and assent to what she proposes. One does err and sin when one exalts oneself to that level of superiority where one's own opinions are of greater importance that the truth as proposed by the Church. We have witnessed this in our own time over and over again - by bishops, priests and the laity. We can see it nearly everyday. If we look back through history, we will see it there as well. One great example of this is the protestant rebellion in the 16th century.

I cannot fail to mention how peaceful and joyful one's life can be when one accepts what the Church proposes for our belief and assents to it without questions or complaints. It seems that one who is continually complaining and dissenting from the Church's teachings is really quite unhappy - there is a lack of true joy in his life. Are they who dissent from the Church's teachings on chastity, for instance, truly happy? Are they who openly defy the Holy See in other doctrinal and disciplinary matters truly following our Lord?

There is much joy to be gained when one takes up his cross to follow Jesus. He gives us extraordinary graces when we are obedient to Him and obedient to His Church.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Federal Judge: Nativity Must Be Allowed In Bay Harbor Islands, Florida

An email update:

***Tune in tonight to the O'Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel to catch exclusive coverage of this victory including commentary from Thomas More Law Center attorney Edward White! The O'Reilly Factor airs at 8 PM and 11 PM (Eastern).***

ANN ARBOR, MI – Federal Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled today that the Town of Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, must allow the display of the Christian Nativity.

The Thomas More Law Center had filed a federal lawsuit against Town officials earlier this month after resident Sandra Snowden was denied permission to display a Nativity for the second consecutive year. Today’s ruling was a result of the Law Center’s motion asking the court to immediately order the Town to allow Snowden to display a Nativity scene on public property.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center commented on the ruling, “We are pleased with Judge Altonaga’s quick response to our request that Sandra be allowed to display a Nativity scene this Christmas. This is a great example of what can happen when Christians stand up for their right to celebrate Christmas in public.”

In her ruling on Wednesday, Judge Altonaga’s explained that Snowden had shown a substantial likelihood of success on her free speech and equal protection claims and that Snowden may display her Nativity scene this Christmas season on Causeway Island in the Town of Bay Harbor Islands where the Town has allowed a local synagogue’s Menorah to be displayed each holiday season since December 2001.

Judge Altonaga also ruled that Snowden had shown a substantial likelihood of success that the Town had violated the establishment clause in 2001 through 2003 by displaying only Jewish religious symbols, to the exclusion of Christian symbols, during the December holiday seasons.

The lawsuit filed December 2, 2004, claims that for the past several years during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Town of Bay Harbor Islands has adorned the lampposts lining its main street with Jewish religious symbols of Menorahs and Stars of David and has allowed a Jewish synagogue to display its fourteen-foot Menorah on Causeway Island, the most prominent public location at the entrance of Town. Yet, every request by Sandra Snowden, a Christian resident, to display Nativity scenes purchased with her own money in a similar manner during the Christmas season, had been denied by Town officials.

Law Center attorneys filed a similar lawsuit last year against the Town of Palm Beach, Florida, for its refusal to respond to repeated requests to display a Nativity alongside town sanctioned Menorahs. This past May, a federal district court judge acknowledged the importance of recognizing religious holidays and ordered Palm Beach to treat all religious symbols equally.

From the Mailbag, Dec 15

Subject: Christmas Eve Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right.
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me.
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December."
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam.
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet.
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another,
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright.
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret.
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

"For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Please remember those brave men and women who are sacrificing so much. Keep them and their families in your prayers.

Update on Institute of Christ the King in St Louis

Msgr. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General of the Institute of Christ the King, will be the celebrant at the 10:00 AM Latin Mass this Sunday, December, 19 at St. Agatha Parish.

St Louis Deanery plan undergoes changes

Some parishioners in the Northeast County Deanery who attended Mass Saturday or Sunday learned of changes to recommendations for the consolidation of schools and churches in their area.

According to several sources, the new plan calls for St. Jerome, Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Pius X, and Corpus Christi parishes to form a new parish at the St. Jerome site, 10235 Ashbrook Drive.

Nurses' strike is on at St. John's Mercy Hospital

Pray that this dispute is resolved soon and that no lives are endangered.


St. Matthias school merger likely

After nearly 14 months of discussion, St. Matthias the Apostle School Pastor William Kester announced that if Archbishop Raymond Burke agrees, the school will close its doors in May and next year students will go to St. Francis of Assisi School.

Kester will present the merger proposal to the Catholic School Office. The Catholic School Office will take it under advisement and forward it to Burke, who will make the final decision on the proposal. That decision is expected to come in February.

The parish council settled on St. Francis of Assisi School on Telegraph because the school is large enough to accommodate all of the St. Matthias students; the facilities are equal to or better than what St. Matthias has; and there is a gymnasium, kitchen and library with two part-time learning consultants.
Full article here.

Archbishop speaks to Vatican officials about Rainbow Sash protests

Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of Minneapolis-St. Paul spoke to Vatican officials about gay rights proponents wearing rainbow sashes to Mass and receiving Communion.
One must read this article, I believe, with a critical eye. The use of the word "gay" by the author is misleading - the proper adjective and terminology should be homosexual.
Unlike some other bishops across the country, Archbishop Flynn has allowed Communion to be given to members of the group known as Rainbow Sash. That has prompted criticism by some Catholics in his archdiocese, and at one Mass a group of lay people tried to block the aisles to prevent sash-wearers from receiving Communion.

He said Cardinal Arinze agreed that it was a complex problem requiring clear teaching and pastoral sensitivity. The archbishop said he was not asked to change his policy.
Of course is absurd that embracing and condoning homosexual behavior by permitting sacrilege and scandal to occur is looked upon as being "pastorally sensitive'.
"We all stand very strong in our teaching concerning human sexuality, and what is right and what is wrong, and the teaching of the church concerning homosexuality, the teaching of the church concerning marriage between one man and one woman," he said.

"Then as you step away from the strong articulation of the teachings, you get into the pastoral practice of what do you do in some of these very difficult and challenging situations," he said.
Yes, indeed. Following Christ can be very difficult and upholding the teachings of Christ and His Church also require strength, fortitude, and resolve. One who sanctions that which is objectively evil by allowing the reception of Holy Communion seems to be complicit in the scandal - of being pastorally insensitive to the faithful entrusted to one's care.
Archbishop Flynn said sash-wearers would not be denied Communion because members of the movement had assured him in writing that their presence was not in protest of church teachings.
Then why, may one ask, do they proudly wear the sashes? If pro-aborts were to wear some outward sign of their support for murdering the unborn (with assurance that it was not in protest of Church teaching), would they likewise be allowed to receive Holy Communion?

CNS article.

Is the Wrong Message being sent?

Does staging sit-ins and protests and generally being disobedient result in saving a parish slated for closure?

A headline reads:
Plymouth parish off the hook: O'Malley changes closing decision

Source here and here.

Cardinal Castrillón on What People Expect of Priests

People today seek one thing from a priest: to encounter Christ, contemplating in him the face of God, says the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.
Zenit article.

Gospel for Wednesday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Luke 7:18b-23

The Mission of John the Baptist

[18] The disciples of John (the Baptist) told him of all these things. [19] And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are You He who is to come, or shall we look for another?" [20] And when the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, `Are You He who is to come, or shall we look for another?'" [21] In that hour He cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind He bestowed sight. [22] And He answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. [23] And blessed is he
who takes no offense at Me."

18-23. "It was not out of ignorance that John enquired about Christ's coming in the flesh, for he had already clearly professed his belief, saying, `I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God' (John 1:34). That is why he does not ask, `Are You He who has come?' but rather, `Are You He who is to come?' thus asking about the future, not about the past. Nor should we think that the Baptist did not know about Christ's future passion, for it was John who said, `Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world' (John 1:29), thus foretelling His future immolation, which other prophets had already foretold, particularly Isaiah (chapter 53) [...]. It can also be replied, with St. John Chrysostom, that John made this enquiry not from doubt or ignorance, but because he wished his disciples to be satisfied on this point by Christ. Therefore, Christ gave His reply to instruct these disciples, by pointing to the evidence of His miracles (verse 22)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", II-II, q. 2, a. 7 ad 2).

22. In His reply to these disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus points to the miracles He has worked, which show that he has investigated the Kingdom of God; He is, therefore, the promised Messiah. Along with miracles, one of the signs of the coming of the Kingdom is the preaching of salvation to the poor. On the meaning of "the poor", see the notes on Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20 and 6:24.

Following the Lord's example, the Church has always taken special care of those in need. In our own time the Popes have stressed time and again the duties of Christians in regard to poverty caused by man's injustice to man: "Selfishness and domination are permanent temptations for men. Likewise an ever finer discernment is needed, in order to strike at the roots of newly arising situations of injustice and to establish progressively a justice which will be less and less imperfect [...]. The Church directs her attention to these new `poor'--the handicapped, the maladjusted, the old, various groups on the fringe of society--in order to recognize them, help them, defend their place and dignity in a society hardened by competition and the attraction of success" (Paul VI, "Octogesima Adveniens", 15).

23. These words refer to the same thing Simeon prophesied about when he referred to Christ as a sign that is spoken against, a sign of contradiction (cf. Luke 2:34). People who reject our Lord, who are scandalized by Him, will not reach Heaven.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Peterson Trial Gave Exposure to Humanity of Unborn Child

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., December 14, 2004 ( - The massively publicized trial of Californian Scott Peterson for the double murder of his pregnant wife Laci and unborn son Connor ended yesterday with the jury's recommended sentence of death by injection for the convicted murderer.

Setting aside arguments over the death penalty, which most pro-life leaders tend to oppose, the case itself gave extraordinary public exposure to the reality of the humanity of the unborn child, who in this case was Connor Peterson.
A rational, thinking human being can readily see the dichotomy here. Why is it permissible for a "doctor" to mutilate and kill an unborn baby without any penalty whatsoever? The argument of the "want" or desire of a baby cannot withstand the light of scrutiny from a logical or philosophical perspective. How can it possibly be allowed to murder an unborn child (or any innocent person) because he is not "wanted", but - if that child is "wanted", it would then be impermissible to murder him? The entire pro-abortion position, because it is built on sand, cannot remain standing when exposed to the light of truth and justice. Perhaps, this is part of the good that will come from this horrible and heartbreaking tragedy.

The full article may be read here.

Norms of Catholic Orthodoxy - Rule 10

As I was reading "All My Liberty" by Fr. John Hardon, I was particularly struck by the rules of St. Ignatius on having the true sentiment which we should have as part of the Church Militant. In particular, reading Rule 10 provided a wake up call to me...How should this be applied today? Am I guilty of violating this rule? How does one, in today's culture, follow this? It seems to me that detachment and obedience are the keys...
Tenth Rule.
We ought to be more prompt to find good and praise as well the Constitutions and recommendations as the ways of our Superiors. Because, although some are not or have not been such, to speak against them, whether preaching in public or discoursing before the common people, would rather give rise to fault-finding and scandal than profit; and so the people would be incensed against their Superiors, whether temporal or spiritual.

So that, as it does harm to speak evil to the common people of Superiors in their absence, so it can make profit to speak of the evil ways to the persons themselves who can remedy them.
In a certain sense, many have heard something somewhat similar in the expression of our mothers - "If you can't say anything good about so-and-so, don't say anything at all".

While the statement is, no doubt, praiseworthy and one to which one should adhere, the rule surpasses it. How difficult is it to find some good in one of our priests or bishops rather than focusing on and drawing attention to a particular fault or inclination? It's, most likely, not difficult at all. There is the added benefit of being advised to discuss the problems, not with others, but with those who can have some influence on correcting the problems.

Santa and Sytem Administrators

Here are some interesting similarities between Santa Claus and "system administrators":

* Santa seldoms answers your mail.

* When you ask Santa for something, the odds of receiving what you wanted are very small.

* Your parents ascribed supernatural powers to Santa, but did all the work themselves.

* Nobody knows who Santa has to answer to for his actions.

* Only a lunatic says bad things about Santa in his presence.

From an email I was sent today....and please, no email from "System Administrators"...

Something is really amiss here...

Bishop won't reinstate priest

GALLUP — Apparently the war will continue in the Diocese of Gallup. And like all wars, it looks like everyone will suffer.

It's the frequently discussed, but rarely publicized, legal battle between Bishop Donald E. Pelotte and Father Jerry T. Mesley, the Diocese of Gallup priest who had his priestly faculties removed by the bishop in September 1997 over allegations of misappropriation of funds at St. Jerome Parish in Gallup, which was closed by the diocese in 1996, and Immaculate Conception Parish in Cuba, N.M.

Although documents from the Vatican confirm that Pelotte lost his most recent legal challenge, Pelotte is hardly conceding to Mesley.

Or, apparently, to the Vatican opposition to the decisions of the Vatican's Congregation of the Clergy and the Signatura, this week's chancery's press release states that "Bishop Pelotte will not restore Father Mesley to active ministry as a priest of the Diocese of Gallup."
After all, it's only Rome - we are free and independent here.


The Death of Common Sense in France?

PARIS (AP) - They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.

But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.

"In 1968, the slogan was, `It's forbidden to forbid.' In 2004, it's, `Forbidding is a must,'" Bruno Frappat, editor of the Catholic daily La Croix, wrote in a weekend commentary. "And one of the phobias most in vogue is Catho-phobia." (emphasis added)
Lunacy and idiocy are the rule of the day, and a new form of paganism has taken root...

Article here

Enlightened heresies

"Muslims need ... a new Enlightenment, a movement away from brutality." This remark came from a friend of mine as we were discussing the problem of faith in the public square. My friend is by his own description, "a militantly agnostic Jew," a philosophy professor who loves to debate anything that comes to hand.
My friend ... did point out something worth considering. Islamic sharia is not substantially different from the Mosaic criminal code in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Both permit polygamy. Both require the stoning of adulterers, blasphemers and those who lead others away from the faith, although for adultery, Hebrew law required the death of both parties, not just the woman. Both permit the death penalty for children — Hebrew children could be stoned to death for disobeying their parents. The similarities are really rather striking.
It is a commonplace to point to the hundreds of Christians throughout history who have launched barbarities similar to those sanctioned by the criminal law codes of Islam, the Torah, or the Enlightenment. However, a further fact is not so often noted. Only the Christian faith has been powerful enough to stop those who launched such barbarities. Whether Christian or Jew, Muslim or enlightened atheist, the only law that forces each human being to respect the dignity of every other is Christian law. If Islam is still barbarously cruel, if Islam has never been enlightened, that is due to the fact that Islam has never fully been brought under Christian dominion.
An article by Steve Kellmeyer here.

Four parishes near East St. Louis to consolidate

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. Four long-standing Roman Catholic parishes in East St. Louis will consolidate into one parish under a proposal recently approved by outgoing Belleville Bishop Wilton Gregory.

Gregory says in a letter that St. Joseph will be the location for the future parish. The decision affects about 645 parishioners.

The other churches involved are St. John Francis Regis, St. Patrick and St. Philip.
It should be noted that very few men in the diocese are answering calls to the vocation of the priesthood.


VOTF & SNAP "rankled" by Audit Plan

Two victim advocacy groups accused Roman Catholic bishops Monday of abandoning their pledge to root out sexually abusive clergy by reducing the number of U.S. dioceses that will receive full, onsite audits of their child protection programs next year.

The Survivors' Network and Voice of the Faithful have asked the National Review Board, the lay watchdog panel the bishops created, to intervene. Nicholas Cafardi, the board chairman and dean of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Aquinas Institute of Theology plans move to larger quarters

Spokeswoman Kristi Ruggles said that as a result of "the changing church," most of the growth has been in lay students. "The laity are more and more realizing that they have a role," she said. "They want to study theology, and there are jobs out there for them."
The "changing church"? Is this "Catholic" theology? I want to see a mandatum...


Gospel for Dec. 14, Memorial: St. John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor of the Church

From: Matthew 21:28-32

The Parable of the Two Sons

(Jesus told the chief priests and the elders,) [28] "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' [29] And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterwards he repented and went. [30] And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. [31] Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. [32] For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.

32. St. John the Baptist had shown the way to sanctification by proclaiming the imminence of the Kingdom of God and by preaching conversion. The scribes and Pharisees would not believe him, yet they boasted of their faithfulness to God's teaching. They were like the son who says "I will go" and then does not go; the tax collectors and prostitutes who repented and corrected the course of their lives will enter the Kingdom before them: they are like the other son who says "I will not", but then does go. Our Lord stresses that penance and conversion can set people on the road to holiness even if they have been living apart from God for a long time.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Tariq Aziz wins 'unofficial support' from Vatican

Saddam Hussein's former foreign minister and right-hand man has persuaded sympathisers in the Vatican to arrange free legal advice for his defence against war crimes.

Tariq Aziz, a practising Christian who acted as foreign spokesman for the Iraqi dictator, secured the services of Italian lawyers after contacting a group of Roman Catholic priests and bishops.

He wrote to his family from jail in Baghdad urging them to contact Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, a Left-wing priest who had previously brokered a controversial meeting between Aziz and the Pope before the war last year.

New Vatican Document on Homosexuality and the Priesthood...

...Coming Before Fall 2005
John Thavis, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic News Service, an agency of the US Bishops Conference, reports that the Vatican will soon publish a document concerning homosexuality and the priesthood. The report notes that Vatican officials are preparing an inspection (or visitation) of US seminaries to commence in the Fall of 2005 and the document is expected prior to the visitation.

And then there is this from CNS:
The Vatican is expected to publish soon an "instrumentum laboris" or working questionnaire that is about three pages long. It will act as an outline for the visits to more than 100 seminaries and other institutes of formation, which are expected to take several days each.

Already, the names of approximately 75 bishops and 100 priests who will carry out the visitations have been submitted and discussed by U.S. and Vatican officials. A facilitator to coordinate U.S.-Vatican contacts also will be chosen.

Sometime before the process begins next fall, the Vatican expects to publish a long-awaited and potentially controversial document on whether candidates with homosexual inclinations should be admitted to the priesthood.

The document on homosexuality has been in the works for more than five years. An early draft of the document took the position that homosexuals should not be admitted to the priesthood; in its current form, the document takes a more nuanced approach to the whole issue, sources said.
CNS article.

Fr. Charles Bouchard and "A true (false) sense of Communion"

Then the skies cleared the next morning, Sunday, Aug. 1, as eight seminary presidents in matching robes led 5,000 of the best and brightest in American Christianity to a liturgical moment that past generations could barely imagine.

The Chautauqua Communion service is one of the more extraordinary signs of what religious leaders and scholars say are revolutionary changes in Christian attitudes toward the central ritual of their faith.

"Jesus was all inclusive no matter what denomination you are," said Mary Summers, 63, of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cleveland.

The Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy and other groups such as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod still do not practice general intercommunion. Last year, Pope John Paul II warned that moving too fast toward intercommunion could produce a false sense of unity that diminishes a Catholic understanding of the Eucharist.

In the Catholic Church, laypeople are participating much more in services, including serving the transformed bread and wine to their neighbors. The practice of going to confession declined, but with it also went a lot of the guilt that kept many people away from receiving the sacrament out of fear they were not worthy.
But now, everyone is worthy - which is why we say, "Lord, I am now worthy to receive you..." (sarcasm)
Gwen Henderson, 49, said she no longer buys into the notion that some people are not worthy to receive Communion.

The principle is so important that some said they would rather switch if their church opposes intercommunion. Claire Hayes, a former Catholic, decided to join St. Luke's Episcopal Church after her daughter became an Episcopalian.

"It was an issue for me that she couldn't receive Communion" in the Catholic Church, Hayes said. "I thought when I die when she comes to my funeral she wouldn't be able to receive Communion. That really bothers me."
When the Son of Man returns, will He find anyone of Faith?
The rules on intercommunion are a lot more flexible than many people realize.

The Catholic Church permits Communion for non-Catholics in emergency situations or in places such as hospitals, prisons or battlefields where other Christians may not have access to the sacraments from their own clergy.

Diocesan bishops also may make exceptions. In special cases, such as weddings or funerals, Northeast Ohio Catholics may appeal to Bishop Anthony Pilla to allow, for example, the non-Catholic spouses to receive Communion.
Uhhh....Unless I'm incorrect, the Code of Canon Law (#844) does NOT permit this, nor does the the Code permit Bishops to deviate from this, unless I'm mistaken.
At the Chautauqua service, Campbell asked the Rev. Charles Bouchard, president of the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, to read the Gospel as a gesture to acknowledge a Catholic presence.

The Catholic leader, however, had different plans. He got so caught up in the spirit of things that he, too, distributed Communion at the service, and received Communion himself from a female Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. Cheryl Gosa.

"It was really a special moment," an ebullient Gosa said afterward. "I thought God was probably just fine with that."
I wonder what his superior has to say about this? Perhaps, nothing...Perhaps, Archbishop Burke could comment on this?


Sunday Masses - Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem

Starting this Sunday, December 19 at 9:45am, the Canons Regular will be celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Passionist Nuns Chapel, 15700 Clayton Rd in Ellisville, MO. This is the Tridentine Latin Mass.

And this will be for Sundays & Holy days ONLY! Daily Mass will still be at their oratory. The house chapel is too small for any group over 12, so they have received
permission from the Archbishop to have Sunday and Holy Day Masses at the Passionist chapel.

For any questions, please DO NOT call the Nuns about this. Refer all questions to Fr. Oppenheimer. The phone number for the Canons Regular is 636-536-4082.

Bishop Gregory Back in Town

Outgoing Bishop Wilton D. Gregory could not contain his smile as he walked down the aisle Sunday to the pulpit of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville, winking at familiar faces and waving at babies. Later, he could not hold back his tears.

"I'm getting a little weepy when people are telling me they're going to miss me," Gregory said after a short prayer service. His eyes filled with tears minutes later when asked what he would miss about the diocese of Belleville when he leaves to fill the post of archbishop of Atlanta.

"The people," he replied. "There's no reason to be a bishop if you're not with the people."
Full story here.

Pope Defends Nativity Scene as a Sign of Faith

The Christmas crib is a sign of faith and culture, says John Paul II.

"Small or large, simple or elaborate, the crib constitutes a familiar and particularly expressive representation of Christmas," the Pope said. "It is an element of our culture and art, but above all a sign of faith in God, who came to Bethlehem 'to dwell among us.'"

His observation about Nativity scenes as a sign of faith and culture came at a time when some countries are debating whether to remove the crib from public places.

Gospel, Monday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 21:23-27

The Authority of Jesus is Questioned
[23] And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" [24] Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. [25] The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' [26] But if we say, 'From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet." [27] So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

23-27. When the chief priests and elders ask "By what authority are you doing these things?" they are referring both to his teaching and to his self-assured public actions--throwing the traders out of the Temple, entering Jerusalem in triumph, allowing the children to acclaim him, curing the sick, etc. What they want him to do is to prove that he has authority to act in this way or to admit openly that he is the Messiah. However, Jesus knows that they are not well-intentioned and he declines to give them a direct answer; he prefers to put a question to them that forces them to make their own attitude clear. He seeks to provoke them into examining their consciences and changing their whole approach.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Gospel, Sunday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 11:2-11

The Mission of John the Baptist. Jesus' Reply
[2] Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples [3] and said to him, " Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" [4] And Jesus answered them. "Go and tell John what you hear and see: [5] the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. [6] And blessed is he who takes no offense at me."

[7] As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? [8] Why then did you go out? To see a mana clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. [9] Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. [10] This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'

[11] "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

2. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mt 3:13-17). He sent his disciples to Jesus so that they could shed their mistaken notions about the kind of Messiah to expect, and come to recognize Jesus.

3-6. Jesus replies to the Baptist's disciples by pointing to the fact that they are witnessing the signs which the ancient prophecies said would mark the advent of the Messiah and his Kingdom (cf. Is 35:5, 61:1; etc). He says, in effect, that he is the prophet who "was to come".

The miracles reported in the Gospel (chapters 8 and 9) and the teaching given to the people (chapters 5-7) prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the expected Messiah.

6. Jesus here corrects the mistaken idea which many Jews had of the Messiah,
casting him in the role of a powerful earthly ruler--a far cry from the humble attitude of Jesus. It is not surprising that he was a stumbling block to Jews (cf. Is 8:14-15; 1 Cor 1:23).

11. With John the Old Testament is brought to a close and we are on the threshold of the New. The Precursor had the honor of ushering Christ in, making him known to men. God had assigned him the exalted mission of preparing his contemporaries to hear the Gospel. The Baptist's faithfulness is recognized and proclaimed by Jesus. The praise he receives is a reward for his humility: John, realizing what his role was, had said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).

St John the Baptist was the greatest in the sense that he had received a mission unique and incomparable in the context of the Old Testament. However, in the Kingdom of heaven (the New Testament) inaugurated by 'Christ, the divine gift of grace makes the least of those who faithfully receive it greater than the greatest in the earlier dispensation. Once the work of our redemption is accomplished, God's grace will also be extended to the just of the Old Alliance. Thus, the greatness of John the Baptist, the Precursor and the last of the prophets, will be enhanced by the dignity of being made a son of God.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.