Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cardinal George's Resignation Is Sought by Advocacy Group

An advocacy group called for Cardinal Francis George to resign Saturday after reports that the top official of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago ignored for months a review board's advice to remove a priest accused of molesting three boys.
The "advocacy group" is not named...Any guesses on which group it is?

Link.

Patrick Madrid debates Bishop Thomas Gumbleton on gays in the priesthood

This is a two part streaming audio and post on Patrick site here.
How weird it is that I, a layman, had to debate a Catholic bishop on the issue of the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood. It's weird because I was defending the Catholic Church's perennial teaching about this issue and Bishop Gumbleton was taking the position that there being homosexuals in the priesthood is not a problem.

It was a brief debate, all of 20 minutes (including commercial breaks), but it was enough time to see the two massively different approaches to this issue that Bishop Gumbleton and I took.
I have not yet listened to these MP3's yet, but I can imagine that Gumbleton never stood a chance, taking a position contrary to the Church. We must continue to pray for him and for all those led astray by his heterdoxy.

Protests at 'Love Won Out' Conference

Organizers [of the "Love Won Out"] say the turnout of 1,700 was the largest of their 37 U.S. conferences. Organizers said people came from 28 states.

...no matter how kind the organizers said family members should be, their point was not lost. They all stressed that a gay lifestyle is a sin. The speeches breezed right over normally divisive topics without challenge because the opposition was largely outside in the cold. As conventioneers arrived in the morning, more than 350 protesters waited with handmade signs. . .

A few young women chanted at cars, "Two-Four-Six-Eight, how do you know your wife is straight?"

"It’s ridiculous the church thinks we need therapy," said Warren Lacey, 65, of St. Louis. He carried a sign, "God Made Me Gay." Lacey said he’s known since about age 5 that he was attracted to males. "It’s part of your nature. It’s not a decision to be made. It’s part of you."
. . .
Elena Pahl, 21, of St. Louis, said she was standing with the protesters Saturday because she doesn’t like the message the convention was sending. "They call (being gay) a disease," Pahl said. "I’m a pretty active Christian and I don’t appreciate that view."
No matter how one tries to dice and slice it, the fact remains that an attraction to homosexuality is objectively disordered and that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (CCC 2357)

Homosexual persons are called to live a life of chastity, just as every other person.

Article is here.

Another kind of "Catholic"? Hardly...

The full headline reads:
Another kind of Catholic: Breakaway groups reject Vatican teachings on issues such as priestly celibacy and divorce

The article is full full of examples and eupemisms of those professing a "faith" in something other than our Lord. Whatever it is, it is clearly not the faith as handed down to us from the time of Christ and the Apostles. Yet, confusion reigns as many continue to call thems "Catholic". But there is no such thing as a Catholic who rejects the teachings of Christ or His Church...If they can be called "Christian" is even open to debate for they have, it seems, come to adore themselves rather than the Creator. Their wills and desires supercede the will of the Almighty.
''Our motto is love without judgment, and that's piqued some curiosity,'' said [Terry] Villaire, a former Roman Catholic priest who's now a bishop in an independent Catholic movement...Villaire's small but growing 40-person congregation, made up mostly of former Roman Catholics, meets every Sunday at a Unity church on the Intracoastal Waterway in a shady Fort Lauderdale suburb.
"Most of us were born and raised as Catholics, and in good conscience I still see myself as Catholic," said Villaire, who conducted Mass in green and white clerical robes and a red silk miter.
Most may have been born Catholic, but it's obvious they were not raised as Catholics. This is just another example of a seemingly endless list of evidence of failed catechesis of the past decades.

One can only wonder why would they wish to call themselves "Catholic" when being Catholic is exactly that which they oppose? Is this not indicative of some sort of mental dysfunction?

The article from the Miami Herald is here.

Gospel for Saturday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 10:13-16

Jesus and the Children

[13] And they were bringing children to Him, that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. [14] But when Jesus saw it He was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God. [15] Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." [16] And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.
_______________________

Commentary:

13-16. This Gospel account has an attractive freshness and vividness about it which may be connected with St. Peter, from whom St. Mark would have taken the story. It is one of the few occasions when the Gospels tell us that Christ became angry. What provoked His anger was the disciples' intolerance: they felt that these people bringing children to Jesus were a nuisance: it meant a waste of His time; Christ had more serious things to do than be involved with little children. The disciples were well-intentioned; it was just that they were applying the wrong criteria. What Jesus had told them quite recently had not registered: "Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me" (Mark 9:37).

Our Lord also stresses that a Christian has to become like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. "To be little you have to believe as children believe, to love as children love, to abandon yourself as children do..., to pray as children pray" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Prologue).

Our Lord's words express simply and graphically the key doctrine of man's divine sonship: God is our Father and we are His sons and daughters, His children; the whole of religion is summed up in the relationship of a son with His good Father. This awareness of God as Father involves a sense of dependence on our Father in Heaven and trusting abandonment to His loving providence--in the way a child trusts its father or mother; the humility of recognizing that we can do nothing by ourselves; simplicity and sincerity, which make us straightforward and honest in our dealings with God and 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.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stations of the Cross for the Elderly

A Capuchin Franciscan priest formerly stationed in St. Louis has written a Stations of the Cross meditation for the aged that the young can benefit from, too. "Stations of the Cross for the Elderly" by Father Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap, first appeared around Lent last year in the Catholic national weekly, Our Sunday Visitor.
. . .
Father Rengers was assigned for many years as associate pastor at the old St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 2900 Locust St. The parish was once one of three with Italian-language liturgies in the archdiocese. The Capuchin served there under pastor Father Joseph Adams, OFM Cap, from 1959 to 1975.
. . .
Said the priest, "I think that a big part of Christian living is to use the pain that comes into our lives and unite it with the pain of Jesus for redemption. As he said, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ and other indications he gave us of our closeness to him. We are called to imitate him and to join him in helping others to get to heaven. Otherwise pain may be wasted, but pain joined with the sufferings of Jesus — it is something that takes on a great value."

He continued, "Just as Jesus had accomplished his greatest work, not in preaching and working miracles, but really in his suffering and death, I think sometimes the greatest thing that we can do is to unite our suffering with his, and that may be the greatest work we do, toward the end of our lives or whatever time suffering comes into our lives."
. . .
To order "Stations of the Cross for the Elderly," call Our Sunday Visitor at (800) 348-2440 or access the Web at osvbooks@osv.com.
Perhaps, visiting those in nursing homes and such to pray with them or to read the Stations to or with them might be a good Lenten exercise in charity...

The complete article is at the St. Louis Review

Quotes of St. Peter Damian

Dom Bettinelli has listed several quotes of St. Peter Damian, which are well worth the time to read, and which are especially applicable today.

For those who would like to read more of St. Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah, it is available online at Our Lady's Warriors website here.

Research Confirms Unborn Learning About Outside World

Participants at Rome seminar warn gay marriage poses risk to children

Is the Ohio Democratic Catholic Caucus Really "Catholic"

From the Catholic League:
Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican candidate for governor, has recently been labeled anti-Catholic by the Ohio Democratic Catholic Caucus. The charge stems from the fact that Blackwell is co-authoring a book, Rebuilding America, with Jerry Corsi, the co-author of a book with John O’Neill about the swift boat veterans. Corsi once made anti-Catholic jokes on the Internet, and later apologized for doing so. This was sufficient grounds for the Catholic Democratic group to say, “The message from Blackwell to Ohio Catholics is clear. Mainstream and faithful Catholics need not apply.”
Makes one wonder if this group is just another organization of "Kerry Catholics"...Catholic League president Bill Donohue continues:
“Follow the logic: Ken Blackwell, who holds the same positions as the Catholic Church on abortion and school vouchers, and who was vice president and a professor at a Catholic university (his alma mater, Xavier University), is being branded anti-Catholic by an organization which rejects the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion and school vouchers, simply because he is co-authoring a book with someone who once made anti-Catholic quips for which he has long apologized.

“Charging a public official with bigotry is serious business, and nothing that Ken Blackwell has ever said or done is anti-Catholic. Indeed, his record is one of championing Catholic causes: he has been honored for his pro-life work by the Knights of Columbus, and was given an award last year by the Catholic Inner-City School Education Fund. That is why he deserves an immediate apology from those who have slandered him.”
(Emphasis added above)
Unfortunately, some of us have a difficult time trying to "follow the logic (illogic)" of people such as this...Perhaps we should know "who" are these people and what is the reason behind their attacks, other than to perhaps try and elect and pro-death, pro-abort, pro-homosexual agenda loving democrat to the governer's office.

It's hard to imagine that any one from this (or similar) groups would tender an apology.

Source for the Catholic League Statement is here.

Bishop Braxton sets guidelines for inviting international priests to Diocese of Belleville

Lenten Regulations & Cathedral Schedule

Ash Wednesday (March 1) and Good Friday (April 14) are days of fast and abstinence. Catholics who are 18 but not yet 59 are obliged to fast, unless there is a serious health reason. Fasting means taking only one full meal and two lesser meals, with nothing to eat in between. All Catholics who are 14 years old and older also are obliged to abstain from eating meat.

All other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat. Again, Catholics should not hold themselves lightly excused, but the obligation should not apply if there is a serious health reason.
_____________________

The Cathedral basilica of St. Louis will offer a weekday evening Mass during Lent.

Mass will be celebrated Monday-Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the cathedral basilica, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End. The schedule begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1, and concludes on Good Friday, April 14.

Father Thomas Keller, associate pastor at the cathedral basilica, said the extra liturgies are being offered to the faithful who want to attend Mass on their way home from work. He said it especially would appeal to those who work in Clayton, the Central West End or Downtown.

The cathedral basilica’s regular Mass schedule is Monday-Friday, 7 and 8 a.m., and 12:05 p.m.; Saturday at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. There will be no 5 p.m. Mass on Easter Sunday, April 16.
______________________
Source, St Louis Review

St. Francis de Sales Oratory to offer 40 hours devotion

...As well as other activities (see below).
What better way to start the Lenten season in the right way than by spending time with Christ?

St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis is offering a Forty Hours devotion Sunday-Tuesday, Feb. 26-28. The oratory is at 2653 Ohio Ave. at Gravois Avenue.

The Forty Hours devotion is a continuous prayer made for 40 hours before the Blessed Sacrament. The length of the devotion comes from the calculation that Jesus was in the tomb for 40 hours before he rose from the dead.

The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 26: A solemn High Mass at 10 a.m. opens the devotion, followed by a procession and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration will take place throughout the day until closing prayers at 6 p.m., with reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Feb. 27: An 8 a.m. Low Mass will be celebrated, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A solemn High Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. The evening will end with closing prayers and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Feb. 28: An 8 a.m. Low Mass will be celebrated, followed by exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The devotion will come to a close with a 7 p.m. solemn High Mass, benediction and procession. . .

The oratory also has several other activities planned during Lent. They include the following:

A Lenten Retreat
A retreat will take place at the oratory Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4. The retreat is being organized by Credo of the Catholic Laity.

It will begin at 2 p.m. March 3 with an opening prayer led by Father C. Eugene Morris, episcopal vicar of the archdiocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate, director of worship for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and an assistant professor there.

Also included that day are eucharistic adoration, benediction, rosary and confessions, a light dinner, a conference given by Father Morris and Stations of the Cross. A solemn High Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Msgr. Henry Breier, secretary to Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, will be the homilist.

On March 4, the retreat will begin at 9 a.m. with confession, rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. Father Jacques Fournier, recently assigned to the oratory, and Father Lenhardt will give conferences. The day also includes lunch and eucharistic adoration. A solemn high Mass will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m.

The retreat is $15 for adults and free for children under 12. Checks can be made payable to the Credo of the Catholic Laity, 4386 Honeydew Lane, St. Louis, MO, 63128. For more information, call Howard Brandt at (314) 894-0357.
_________________

Additional evening Masses will be celebrated during Lent at the oratory. Masses will take place Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7 p.m. and on Sundays at 5 p.m.

Before and during those Masses, the priests of the oratory will will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The regular Mass schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m., with a High Mass celebrated at 10 a.m.

During Lent, the oratory will provide 30 hours more for confessions in addition to the 40 regularly scheduled during the six weeks before Easter. The regular schedule for confessions is 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sundays, and 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Stations of the Cross also will be prayed after Friday evening Masses.

In addition, the oratory’s regular schedule for eucharistic adoration is Thursdays from 7-8 p.m.

For more information on St. Francis de Sales Oratory and a full schedule of activities, call (314) 771-3100 or visit www.institute-christ-king.org.
St Louis Review.

Labels:

Conference on the Human Embryo

VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, a conference took place to present an international congress on "the human embryo prior to implantation, scientific aspects and bioethical considerations." The congress, which is being held to mark the 12th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is due to take place in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on February 27 and 28.
. . .
"In order to attribute a 'juridical status' to the embryo," said Adriano Bompiani, "it is necessary to 'understand' its nature." And such understanding, he added, must be based on ontological study.

"Today, it is not enough to examine the embryo under the microscope," he went on. Rather, it is necessary "to use all available means" from the fields of genetics, morphology, biochemistry and molecular biology.
More at Vatican Information Service

Gospel for Friday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 10:1-12

The Indissolubility of Marriage

[1] And He (Jesus) left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to Him again; and again, as His custom was, He taught them.

[2] And Pharisees came up and in order to test Him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" [3] He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" [4] They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away." [5] But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment. [6] But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'; [7] `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, [8] and the two shall become one.' So they are no longer two but one. [9] What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

[10] And in the house the disciples asked Him about this matter. [11] And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; [12] and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
______________________

Commentary:

1-12. This kind of scene occurs often in the Gospel. The malice of the Pharisees contrasts with the simplicity of the crowd, who listen attentively to Jesus' teaching. The Pharisees' question aimed at tricking Jesus into going against the Law of Moses. But Jesus Christ, Messiah and Son of God, has perfect understanding of that Law. Moses had permitted divorce because of the hardness of that ancient people: women had an ignominious position in those primitive tribes (they were regarded almost as animals or slaves); Moses, therefore, protected women's dignity against these abuses by devising the certificate of divorce; this was a real social advance. It was a document by which the husband repudiated his wife and she obtained freedom. Jesus restores to its original purity the dignity of man and woman in marriage, as instituted by God at the beginning of creation. "A man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24): in this way God established from the very beginning the unity and indissolubility of marriage. The Church's Magisterium, the only authorized interpreter of the Gospel and of the natural law, has constantly guarded and defended this teaching and has proclaimed it solemnly in countless documents (Council of Florence, "Pro Armeniis"; Council of Trent, "De Sacram. Matr."; Pius XI, "Casti Connubi"; Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 48; etc.).

Here is a good summary of this doctrine: "The indissolubility of marriage is not a caprice of the Church nor is it merely a positive ecclesiastical law. It is a precept of natural law, of divine law, and responds perfectly to our nature and to the supernatural order of grace" (St J. Escriva, "Conversations", 97). Cf. note on Matthew 5:31-32.

5-9. When a Christian realizes that this teaching applies to everyone at all times, he should not be afraid of people reacting against it: "It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly [...] the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. To all those who, in our times, consider it too difficult, or indeed impossible, to be bound to one person for the whole of life, and to those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity, it is necessary to reaffirm the good news of the definitive nature of that conjugal love that has in Christ its foundation and strength (cf. Ephesians 5:25).

"Being rooted in the personal and total self-giving of the couple, and being required by the good of the children, the indissolubility of marriage finds its ultimate truth in the plan that God has manifested in His revelation: He wills and He communicates the indissolubility of marriage as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolutely faithful love that God has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church.

"Christ renews the first plan that the Creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman, and in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony offers `a new heart': thus the couples are not only able to overcome `hardness of heart' (Matthew 19:8), but also and above all they are able to share the full and definitive love of Christ, the new and eternal Covenant made flesh. Just as the Lord Jesus is the `faithful witness' (Revelation 3:14), the `yes' of the promises of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20) and thus the supreme realization of the unconditional faithfulness with which God loves His people, so Christian couples are called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the Church, His bride, loved by Him to the end (cf. John 13:1).

"To bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time" (John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio", 20).
_______________________

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, February 23, 2006

Can it really be true?

'Gospel of Judas' to Be Published
By Stacy Meichtry
Religion News Service

The first translation of an ancient, self-proclaimed "Gospel of Judas" will be published in late April, bringing to light what some scholars believe are the writings of an early Christian sect suppressed for supporting Jesus Christ's infamous betrayer.

If authentic, the manuscript could add to the understanding of Gnosticism, an unorthodox Christian theology denounced by the early church. The Roman Catholic Church is aware of the manuscript, which a Vatican historian calls "religious fantasy."
Supposedly this will be available after Easter. This "fantasy" was refuted in the 2nd century by St. Irenaeus in "Against Heresies."

But others, undoubtedly more enlightened today, have different opinions:
William Klassen, author of "Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus?" considers the forthcoming manuscript an asset to ongoing scholarly efforts to rehabilitate Judas' historical image.

Many scholars believe Judas -- whose name literally means "Jewish man" -- was a victim of anti-Jewish slander that pervaded early Christianity in its struggle to break away from Judaism.

"It's important to look at this Gospel of Judas very carefully, because this is evidence that in the late second century, in the time of Irenaeus, there was a group who held up the banner for Judas," Klassen said.
Want to know more?

Priestessing in Ohio

What do you do for an encore after you've been "ordained" priestess of the Roman Catholic Church?
Why, you simulate celebrating the Holy Mass this coming Sunday at the WinterStar Festival 23, "Sects & Sex". Couldn't be more fun - it's a gathering of Ohio Pagans at Atwood Lake Resort in Dellroy, Ohio.

You have to take a look at the WinterStar site:
Sexual & Spiritual (r)evolutionaries are in danger of becoming the scapegoats of a new inquisition in a culture that is increasingly repressive. A fact that may be obscured by being wrapped in red, white and blue bunting and religious platitudes...

Three days of seminars for personal enlightenment, multicultural rituals for spiritual renewal, and damn fine parties for your thorough enjoyment, all in a luxurious, warm and friendly social environment.
This looks to be quite the "new age" gathering.

Read more here.

Talent Pulls a Gephardt

Rumors had been circulating for weeks that a certain prominent member of Congress was about to change his stance on an issue close to the heart of anti-abortion groups.

The official finally held a news conference in which he shared his new, more nuanced views.

Abortion opponents were outraged and accused him of betraying his base for political reasons. Political rivals questioned his commitment to any principles, calling him a flip-flopper.

U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., in 2006?

No, U.S. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-St. Louis County, in 1986.
While the state GOP doesn't seem to think that Jim Talent's new position will have much effect on his re-election, some think otherwise. Talent needs to rethink his position. Even his failure to make a decision one way or the other about the current "Life Saving Cures at the Expense of Others' Lives" issue leaves doubt in many minds if he even has the fortitude or courage to be a Missouri Senator. Of course, he claims to be pre-occupied with Senate business to give much thought to Missouri's issues. What a load!

I heard Tony Snow the other evening relate that our esteemed and elite congresscritters/patricians have worked a painful and agonizing 7 days so far this year (2006) - I mean, with all of the holidays and such, I suppose we shouldn't be too upset over this special welfare project called the US Senate and Congress. Frankly, I'm surprised that they have worked 7 days. No wonder so many of them can't think straight. But anyway, I digress.

Dick Talent or Jim Gephardt, how shall we address you now?

Article here.

In LA, former priest is convicted of molestation

A former priest was convicted Wednesday of molesting a boy, but the jurors deadlocked on four other counts.

The verdict was pronounced against Michael Edwin Wempe, 66, now retired from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He has admitted that he sexually abused 13 boys in his 36-year career in the archdiocese...

In 1988, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony sent Wempe for psychiatric treatment after Wempe was accused of molesting boys. But then, Mahony restored Wempe to the ministry - a decision he has said he now regrets.
More...

Cartoons and the clash of civilizations

Some excerpts from George Weigel's latest:
I have no brief for the cartoons, any more than I had a brief for the far more vulgar “Piss Christ.” And yes, there was something ironic about passionate defenses of “free speech” in countries like France, where a parliamentarian was recently sentenced to a heavy fine because he had publicly proposed that “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality.”

The West cannot acquiesce supinely to the demand of radical Islamists that their standards of the appropriate are to be imposed in the West – or else. Nor can the West acquiesce to the Islamists’ defense of violence, assault, and murder in the name of “rage.”
More at the Denver Catholic Register.

What Does the Pope-Theologian Teach?

First of All, the Truth
The first ten months of Benedict XVI, a “doctor of the Church.” The naming of new cardinals. The inefficiency of the curia. Large crowds and audiences, but few collaborators.
by Sandro Magister

Nation's eyes are on South Dakota as abortion bill passes Senate

Record Attendance Anticipated for St Louis Conference on Homosexuality

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Feb. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Focus on the Family's international Love Won Out conference on homosexuality comes to St. Louis this Saturday, Feb. 25, and organizers are anticipating record-breaking attendance numbers.

Local gay activists have promised a protest the day of the event, and the host church, First Evangelical Free Church in Manchester, was vandalized last week... one of several promotional billboards, which feature the conference message that "Change is Possible" for homosexuals, was defaced with paint.
Some people have no tolerance for truth...

Gospel for Feb 23, Memorial: St. Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr

From: Mark 9:41-50

Scandal

[41] "For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose his reward. [42] "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. [43] And if your hand causes you to sin cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. [45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. [47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, [48] where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. [49] For every one will be salted with fire. [50] Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."
_______________________

Commentary:

41. The value and merit of good works lies mainly in the love of God with which they are done: "A little act, done for love, is worth so much" (J. Escriva, "The Way", 814). God regards in a special way acts of service to others, however small: "Do you see that glass of water or that piece of bread which a holy soul gives to a poor person for God's sake; it is a small matter, God knows, and in human judgment hardly worthy of consideration: God, notwithstanding, recompenses it, and forthwith gives for it some increase of charity" (St Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", book 2, chap. 2).

42. "Scandal is anything said, done or omitted which leads another to commit sin" ("St Pius X Catechism", 417). Scandal is called, and is, diabolical when the aim of the scandal-giver is to provoke his neighbor to sin, understanding sin as offense against God. Since sin is the greatest of all evils, it is easy to understand why scandal is so serious and, therefore, why Christ condemns it so roundly. Causing scandal to children is especially serious, because they are so less able to defend themselves against evil. What Christ says applies to everyone, but especially to parents and teachers, who are responsible before God for the souls of the young.

43. "Hell", literally "Gehenna" or "Ge-hinnom", was a little valley south of Jerusalem, outside the walls and below the city. For centuries it was used as the city dump. Usually garbage was burned to avoid it being a focus of infection. Gehenna was, proverbially, an unclean and unhealthy place: our Lord used this to explain in a graphic way the unquenchable fire of hell.

43-48. After teaching the obligation everyone has to avoid giving scandal to others, Jesus now gives the basis of Christian moral teaching on the subject of "occasions of sin"--situations liable to lead to sin. He is very explicit: a person is obliged to avoid proximate occasions of sin, just as he is obliged to avoid sin itself; as God already put it in the Old Testament: "Whoever lives in danger will perish by it" (Sir 3:26-27). The eternal good of our soul is more important than any temporal good. Therefore, anything that places us in proximate danger of committing sin should be cut off and thrown away. By putting things in this way our Lord makes sure we recognize the seriousness of this obligation.

The Fathers see, in these references to hands and eyes and so forth, people who are persistent in evil and ever-ready to entice others to evil behavior and erroneous beliefs. These are the people we should distance ourselves from, so as to enter life, rather than accompany them to hell (St Augustine, "De Consensu Evangelistarum", IV, 16; St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St Matthew", 60).

44. "Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched": these words constituting v. 44 are not in the better manuscripts. They are taken from Isaiah 66:24 and are repeated as a kind of refrain in vv. 46 (omitted for the same reason as v. 44) and 48. Our Lord uses them to refer to the torments of hell. Often "the worm that does not die" is explained as the eternal remorse felt by those in hell; and the "fire which is not quenched," as their physical pain. The Fathers also say that both things may possibly refer to physical torments. In any case, the punishment in question is terrible and unending.

49-50. "Every one will be salted with fire." St Bede comments on these words: "Everyone will be salted with fire, says Jesus, because spiritual wisdom must purify all the elect of any kind of corruption through carnal desire. Or he may be speaking of the fire of tribulation, which exercises the patience of the faithful to enable them to reach perfection" (St Bede, "In Marci Evangelium expositio, in loc.").

Some codexes add: "and every sacrifice will be salted with salt". This phrase in Leviticus (2:12), prescribed that all sacrificial offerings should be seasoned with salt to prevent corruption. This prescription of the Old Testament is used here to teach Christians to offer themselves as pleasing victims, impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel, symbolized by salt. Our Lord's address, which arises out of a dispute over who is the greatest, ends with a lesson about fraternal peace and charity. On salt which has lost its taste cf. note on Mt 5:13.
_______________________

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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Letters from across the Mississippi

Some people in the Belleville diocese seem a bit upset with Bishop Braxton. Let's see what one of them has to say:
More about the bishop

Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton appears more concerned with the power of his office than the spiritual needs of his people.

Besides swiftly and extravagantly decorating his house, he has made pronouncements about what he feels is proper dress and photographs for our Catholic priests, proper gold chalices, proper communion bread, proper font in our diocesan paper and much more. He is unavailable for comment, and ignores diocesan tradition by refusing to meet with priests or the laity.

These actions do not follow the example and teachings of Jesus. Jesus lived humbly and taught lessons of service and inclusion.

Our priests are showing great courage in speaking out against the mistaken direction this bishop is taking us. Their many years of service and sacrifice deserve better. Our prayers and encouragement are with them.

Sue DeLorme
Lebanon
All bolding above is mine...Since I'm not from the diocese located in the People's Republik of Illinois, I can't comment as to specifics except to say that many, including maybe a third of the priests, are upset that they were consulted in the selection of the bishop.

From what I understand, all of most of the money for the repairs/redecorating came from private donations - If I am wrong, I hope someone corrects me. As far as the items highlighted above, far too many people have no clue as to how to dress for Holy Mass - if he addressed the current inabilityy of many Catholics on proper attire, then good for him!

As far as the chalices are concerned, many of us have complained about the rampant abuse of some priests who have repeatedly ignored the norms and liturgical laws on this matter for decades, to say nothing of the pathetic lack of respect one shows toward our Lord by using common glass or clay wine glasses for His Precious Blood.

With respect to the "bread" Sue is talking about, we can only imagine what she means. I would hope that priests were not so ignornant as to use illicit or, God forbid, invalid matter for confecting the Holy Eucharist - but these days we cannot be so sure. My money says she's a member of FOSIL, the dissenting goup of lay "Catholics" located in southern Illinois. Pray for her and for Bishop Braxton and the priests. They need our prayers precisely because of the constant attacks they are under from those who claim to be members of Christ's Church.

Two days later, another letter was printed:
Bishop defended

I am sick of reading all of the negative claptrap that some Catholics are writing about our Bishop Edward Braxton. From my standpoint, he is a very good bishop.

I invited him to visit our rosary-making group. I also attended one of his Masses. He has been busy attending to things that a bishop must do.

So he wants his home to be attractive, does that mean that he is vain? I think not. Members of the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity are constantly writing negative letters about him. I would not attend a Mass with a woman priest presiding, and I believe that is one of their ideas.

You never hear of all of the good things Braxton has done. I am sure there are many.

Marie Steinhardt
Freeburg
Good for Marie! She seems to be clued in to what's going on. And she's right, we rarely hear of the good our bishops (or priests) do, but with dissenters who claim to be Catholic and their cohorts in the media, could we truly expect anything positive?

A new website- Feminists Anonymous

Feminists Anonymous is dedicated to God, the Father Almighty, Who went looking for His lost sheep, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and found her.
A new endeavor to help those who have been tricked into the false feminist movement - Highly recommended!

The Holy Father Encourages Study of Latin

Dr. Ed Peters Lists All Cardinals

Complete list of cardinals, by age of retirement (US Cardinals flagged)

Consistory Announcement

Pope Benedict XVI named 15 new cardinals today...the consistory is set for March 24. Boston's Archbishop Sean O'Malley was named as one of those who is to receive the red hat.

Gospel for Feb 22, Feast: The Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

From: Matthew 16:13-19

Peter's Profession of Faith and His Primacy

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."
_____________________

Commentary:

13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John 21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time, this authority will be passed on to Peter's successors down through history. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms:
"We teach and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon, Christ had said, `You shall be called Cephas' (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had acknowledged Christ with the confession, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were spoken by the Lord: `Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven' (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus conferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over His whole fold with the words, `Feed My lambs....Feed My sheep' (John 21:15-17) [...]

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: let him be condemned.

"Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, `no one doubts, in fact it is obvious to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,' and governs, `and exercises judgment in his successors' (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter's primacy over the whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself [...]. For this reason, `because of its greater sovereignty,' it was always `necessary for every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement' with the same Roman Church [...]

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord himself, that is, by divine law, that St Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of St Peter in the same primacy: let him be condemned.

"We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. "And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, We, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks "ex cathedra", that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.

"(Canon) But if anyone presumes to contradict this our definition (God forbid him to do so): let him be condemned" (Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", Chaps. 1, 2 and 4).
_________________________

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, February 21, 2006

Lawsuit accuses head of Vianney high of sexual abuse

Father Robert Osborne, president of St. John Vianney High School, was sued Tuesday by the father of a teen who says Osborne "sexually, physically and emotionally abused" the boy. . .[Fr. Osborne] also said that while he was aware of the family’s complaints to school administrators, he said he was not aware of any allegations of inappropriate behavior. "That is the first I’ve ever heard of that and I categorically deny it," he said. . .

Philippines Bishops Institute Mandatory Pro-Life Course....

... Without Which Sacraments Denied
MANILA, Philippines, February 21, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The bishops of the Philippines have responded emphatically to growing pressure from anti-life activists, calling for accountability from Catholics on moral issues.
. . .
Those Catholics who promote or utilize artificial birth control methods may not be able to receive communion or other sacraments.

The bishops have instituted a course for parishioners on the fundamentals of Church teaching, called the Basic Ecclesiastical Communities seminar. Catholics are required to take the course, which runs for eight consecutive Sundays, before receiving sacraments for themselves or their children, and upon entering adulthood.
. . .
The bishops are firm on the necessity of participating in the seminars before being allowed to receive sacraments.

“That’s the idea. That’s exactly the Church’s message. If you want to be a Catholic, act like one and follow the Church’s teachings,” Sister Arguelles said.
This is a courageous step by these bishops in the face of the wickedness being pushed upon their people.

LifeSiteNews Link

Bozek and Bishop Leibrecht - Another View

one of the saddest days of his excellency's life

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop John Leibrecht tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of his efforts to prevent Fr. Marek Bozek from jumping ship to join the St. Stan's schismatics:
The 75-year-old Leibrecht said he feels a "personal betrayal" in Bozek's decision. On the morning Bozek gave Leibrecht his final decision, Leibrecht asked the priest to sit down and take his coat off. Bozek refused.

"I begged him not to leave. I gave him every reason I could think of," said Leibrecht, "but he made the decision anyway. It was," he paused, then began to cry softly, "it was one of the saddest days of my life."
Creepy. And it gets creepier.

Bozek, it appears, had begun studies for the priesthood in his native Poland but ran into an unenlightened superior with retrograde views about affective maturity:
More here by Diogenes

No Communion, no joke

In his new book "The Truth (with Jokes)," Al Franken addresses public issues and people, including St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. Mr. Franken alleges that Archbishop Burke is a hypocrite because he forbade U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., from receiving Holy Communion during the 2004 presidential campaign, yet he has not acted similarly regarding pro-abortion Republicans, such as Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In fact, Archbishop Burke's policy, solidly rooted in Church teaching and canon law, applies equally to Democrats and Republicans. The archbishop is responsible only for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Mr. Kerry became an issue when he campaigned in St. Louis in 2004. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Schwarzenegger have not made political sojourns to St. Louis. If they or other pro-abortion Republicans do, Archbishop Burke will respond evenhandedly.

Archbishop Burke was rightly concerned with the scandal that could result from allowing a public figure to receive Communion when he is committed to upholding abortion rights. Archbishop Burke was concerned with the spiritual well-being of Mr. Kerry.

In future commentary on the Church or Archbishop Burke, we hope Mr. Franken is more committed to reporting the truth. No joke.

Thomas J. Nash

Steubenville, Ohio
Director of Special Projects,
Catholics United for the Faith

Labels:

Vatican defrocks priest in abuse case

I'm not certain what is meant by "defrocked" since, as far as I know, it's a term not used by the Church. Perhaps they meant that he was laicized?
The Vatican has defrocked a local priest accused of sexually abusing an altar boy who later committed suicide, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced Monday.

Gerald Moffat, 75, most recently a pastor at St. Hubert Parish in Langley on Whidbey Island, had been on administrative leave since July 2002, when molestation allegations against him first surfaced.
More.

Supreme Court to weigh late-term abortion ban

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion, teeing up a contentious issue for a newly-constituted court already in a state of flux over privacy rights.

The Bush administration has pressed the high court to reinstate the federal law, passed in 2003 but never put in effect because it was struck down by judges in California, Nebraska and New York.

The outcome will likely rest with the two men that President Bush has recently installed on the court. Justices had been split 5-4 in 2000 in striking down a state law, barring what critics call partial birth abortion because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the mother.
We can pray the some sense of morality and justice permeates the minds of all the justices so that they will come see Partial Birth Abortion for what it truly is - one of the heinous crimes in the history of humanity!

Source.

Vigilate et orate. . .

"Watch and pray." Matthew 26:41

The words I have chosen for my text today were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to His three disciples - Peter, James, and John - in the Garden of Gethsemani. Entering that garden of sorrow with the three whom He had chosen as His companions at that awful hour, He said to them: "Stay you here, and watch with me." And when, returning from His agony and prayer, He found those three asleep, His words of reproach were: "What! are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour with me? Peter, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour! Watch, and pray that you enter not into temp­tation." And at last, when the time of His prayer and agony, and of His disciples' sleep was over, "Rise," said He, "Rise, pray that you enter not into temptation."

Now what did our Lord mean by the word "Watch"? When He told Peter, James, and John to watch, and reproached them for not watching, what did He mean by the word so often and variously repeated? He meant, by that word, to tell them to keep awake and not to fall asleep. And why, since nighttime was the time for sleep? It was in order that they might pray, and by prayer escape the temptation which He knew was at hand. "Watch, and pray that you enter not into temptation. . . . Be­hold, he that will betray me is at hand."

Now, let us at once follow out that lesson, that sad lesson of Gethsemani. Peter, James, and John, did not keep awake, did not watch as Jesus told them, but slept. Three times did their Master, leaving His own struggle and prayer, rising from His sweat of Blood, come to them and rouse them, telling them to keep awake and pray; and three times did they give in to their drowsiness and fall asleep again. And of course, then, they did not pray. Sleeping men do not pray. And because they did not pray they did not resist the temptation that was at hand.

The sleep was still in their eyes when the tempter was on them. He slept not: he watched; and, in the dark hour came, with lanterns and torches and a great crowd, with arms, and clubs, and sticks, to apprehend Jesus. It was the hour of temptation, and the drowsy disciples were not prepared for it. They made only a show of fight. One, the half­sleeping Peter, struck with his sword, but struck wildly, and only cut off a servant's ear. And that done - fugerunt omnes - they fled away, every one of them. An hour more, and one of the sleepers in the Garden, now terribly wide awake, is cursing and swearing in his denial of Jesus.

There is the lesson of the Garden. Instead of watching and praying, they slept and did not pray; and so when temptation came, as it did come quickly on them, all of them fell, and one of them into the most fearful and repeated sin.

And I think this drowsiness must have been habitual. Our Lord's warning to them to keep awake and pray would seem to point to this. But there is other evidence of their habits of sleep. You remember that on another occasion Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him when He went apart to pray. He took them into a high mountain, and He was transfigured before them. The Gospel tells us of that Transfiguration. But it did not tell us of one circumstance of that scene on Mount Thabor.

St. Luke is the only Evangelist who mentions that Peter, James, and John, when they got to the top of the mountain, "were heavy with sleep;" and, as they did afterwards in the Garden, they slept while Jesus was praying. And as He prayed, and while they slept, He was transfigured. Then waking up, they saw His glory, the shining face and glittering raiment. But, mark, they had already lost some of that glorious vision, all of which they would have witnessed had they watched and prayed, as indeed they came to the mountaintop to do.

This time, it is true, no temptations came; but it was one of the acts that confirmed them in that habit of sleeping at time of prayer - a habit that led in the end to their cowardice and sin.

Very different was the habit of their Lord and Master. We read how He used to spend the night in prayer. He preached watching, and He prac­ticed it. In the twenty-first chapter of St. Luke we read that He preached: "Watch you, praying at all times:" and in the very next verse we read that having spent the day in teaching, He used to go out at night and remain on Mount Olivet, that mount on the slope of which is the Garden of Gethsemani, where, as St. Luke tells us, it was His custom to go, that He might watch and pray.

The Church followed the example of her Founder. Vigils, or watches through the night, were, like the fasts, part of the public discipline of the first cen­turies. In the course of time the abuses incident on the gathering of large crowds at night caused that custom to be suppressed. But the word "vigil", still remains, reminding us of the night of watching­ and prayer that preceded the greater feasts.

In Ireland we still preserve the pious custom of watching by the bodies of the dead. We call it waking, that is, keeping awake. And you know why we wake: it is that we may pray. Watch and pray, then, when you go to these wakes. Wakeful prayer is ever pleasing to God. But guard against those abuses which have, in other lands, obliged the Church to stop those wakes, and which, alas! are not unknown even here. Do not forget this, then, dear friends. Wake, and pray; do not wake and drink, or wake and gossip in the house of death; but wake and pray.

It is kind for us to be watchers. St. Patrick left it as one of his blessed traditions. His four hours on the bare floor should be a reproach, if it cannot be a model to be imi­tated. He spent the greater part of the night in prayer, watching and praying for his people. And even now, in every religious rule, watching is a part of the discipline of the monastery and of the convent. Monks rise at dead of night to watch and pray. And nearer still, have not you, who live in this town, some­times heard, at five o'clock in the bleak winter morning, the convent bell summoning the nuns to watch and pray? And has the thought of these Sisters, rising thus every morning to spend those hours in prayer, never brought a pang of self ­reproach to you, who perhaps find eight o'clock too early to hear Mass?

Let us then, dear brethren, with these lessons and examples before us, make our resolutions in regard to watching. Such resolutions are par­ticularly fitting now, forLent is soon upon us . Lent is a time of penance, of bodily penance: it is a time when, in St. Paul's words, we chastise our bodies and bring them into subjection.

There are two things that these bodies of flesh demand and long for: food and sleep. By fasting we deny them food, by watching we deny them sleep. "Now" - as the Church declares in the words of St. Paul, at the opening of the Advent penance - "now is the hour for us to rise from sleep." And so it is, in the true and traditional spirit of this coming season of penance and prayer that the custom is here preserved of having, during Lent, a Mass in this cathedral, very early in the morning. And a moving sight that Lenten morning Mass is, that Watchers' Mass: a sight to thank God for.

God bless those watchful children of penance who, with such patient regularity, throng the streets of this town in the gray light of early morning. God bless them as they fill this great church when there is scarcely light enough in it to see their crowds. Yes, that is the message of the early bell that rouses so many of you from your sleep. Watch and pray: watch, pray. Rise and come to the Watchers' Mass. It is hard to rise; it is more pleasant to sleep than to watch; but still the Lenten bell tolls out: "Watch, and pray that you enter not into temptation." It is a call to do penance. Rise, then, in the name of God, rise in the strength of the sign of the Cross, rise and come to Mass.

And not in Lent alone should we watch and pray. "Watch, and pray at all times," preached our Divine Lord; and since temptation is ever near at hand, we should ever prepare ourselves by prayer; and we cannot pray unless we watch. Watching, then, means rising in the morning, rising to pray: praying in the evening, lest we sleep instead of praying. That is exactly what I mean by telling you to watch and pray. I wish, dear brethren, I could tell you all I feel on this matter of rising in time for morning prayer or morning Mass.

I believe that slothful habits in the morning hours are the source of fear­ful evils to souls. I believe that countless souls are giving way to temptation every day who would resist that temptation if only in the morning they had watched and prayed - that is, if only they had sacrificed say one half hour's, even one quarter of an hour's slothful sleep, and had conquered them­selves and risen to prayer.

Oh, who shall tell the sad record of hurried, unfinished prayers, of Masses lost, of good resolutions broken, of graces never gained, of lives that might have been saintly lives brought down to lowest levels, for the sake of half an hour's sleep in the morning! I do not touch the question of bodily health, though the greatest medical authorities of every age have told, and still tell us, that more than seven hours for most con­stitutions, and eight for some, is actually injurious, and as truly intemperate as excess in eating or drinking.

I do not press that, for I am here to plead for your souls' salvation and not for your bodily health. But this I do press - this question: Is half an hour's sleep at the end of a good night's rest worth a Mass? Is it worth that time spent in leisurely morning prayer and preparation for the temptations of the day? Is the time better em­ployed in sleep than it would be in spiritual exer­cises? Will your day be happier for that extra sleep than it would be with that extra prayer? Oh, the Devil, the World, and the Flesh cry out at once, Sleep, and do not pray. The Devil, ever watching, is sure of a victory over sleepers: when Peter, James, and John fell, he has a well-grounded confidence in the power of sleep. Sleep on, says the Devil; time enough to say your prayers in the course of the day.

Sleep on, says the World; or if you rise, let it be for pleasure not for prayer. I will allow the sportsman to watch, I will allow the business man to watch - these may rise as early as they like; but the Christian must not watch and' pray, must not get up early that he may have sufficient time for his morning prayer. Sleep on, says the World; time enough for prayer; the day is long. Sleep on, says the Flesh; I must have my sleep. Why do you worry this poor body? I am comfortable, and without trouble: the time for that will come soon enough. I am not well; I should not be well if I kept early hours; I cannot stand the morning air, I am sure I cannot; I once caught cold going to Mass!

Ah, brethren, you see through it all plainly enough! How many colds have you caught when watching in pursuit of pleasure? Have you then so carefully measured your sleep, and been concerned so for your health? Will you give in to the Devil, the World, and the Flesh when they say to you: "Sleep on, and never mind your prayers"? or will you hear and obey the word of Jesus Christ, your loving Master and Model, when He says to you: "Watch and pray"? This is, I know, your answer: - Yes; we will watch and pray. Whatever has been our custom in the past, we are determined now to rise in time for morning Mass, when that is possible - but at least for leisurely morning prayer. We will not run the risk of yielding to temptation and of being plunged for ever into hell, for the sake of our morning's sleep.

The time for rest has not yet come, dear brethren, but it is not far off. If we are weary with our labour and our watching now, let us look forward to our everlasting rest. In the Office of Lent we read these words of hope: "May it not be in vain for you that you rise in the morning before the light: because the Lord has promised a crown to those that watch." God grant us so to watch now, and watching, so to pray, that we may soon see that day of rest! Grant us, 0 Lord, eternal rest; may we rest in peace. Amen!
_________________
Adapted from...Sermons 1877-1887
by Fr Arthur Ryan
President of St. Patrick's College
Thurles, Ireland


St. Patrick's College, in 1992, ceased to be a Seminary.

Gospel for Tuesday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 9:30-37

Second Prophecy of the Passion

[30] They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And He (Jesus) would not have any one know it; [31] for He was teaching His disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He is killed, after three days He will rise." [32] But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask Him.

Being the Servant of All

[33] And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house He asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" [34] But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. [35] And He sat down and called the Twelve; and He said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." [36] And He took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in His arms, He said to them, [37] "Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me".
______________________

Commentary:

30-32. Although moved when He sees the crowds like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36), Jesus leaves them, to devote time to careful instruction of the Apostles. He retires with them to out-of-the-way places, and there He explains points of His public preaching which they had not understood (Matthew 13:36). Here, specifically, for a second time, He announces His death and resurrection.

In His relationships with souls Jesus acts in the same way: He calls man to be with him in the quiet of prayer and there He teaches him about His more intimate plans and about the more demanding side of the Christian life. Later, like the Apostles, Christians were to spread this teaching to the ends of the earth.

34-35. Jesus uses this argument going on behind his back to teach His disciples about how authority should be exercised in His Church--not by lording it over other, but by serving them. In fulfilling His own mission to found the Church whose head and supreme lawgiver He is, He came to serve and not to be served (Matthew 20:28).

Anyone who does not strive to have this attitude of self-forgetful service, not only lacks one of the main pre-requisites for proper exercise of authority but also runs the risk of being motivated by ambition or pride. "To be in charge of an apostolic undertaking demands readiness to suffer everything, from everybody, with infinite charity" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 951).

36-37. To demonstrate to His Apostles the abnegation and humility needed in their ministry, He takes a child into His arms and explains the meaning of this gesture: if we receive for Christ's sake those who have little importance in the world's eyes, it is as if we are embracing Christ Himself and the Father who sent Him. This little child whom Jesus embraces represents every child in the world, and everyone who is needy, helpless, poor or sick--people who are not naturally attractive.
_______________________

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, February 20, 2006

Alter Christus - The Priest in the Confessional

The holy season of Lent is the "tempus acceptabile", the "dies salutis". Every zealous priest is bent on the spiritual regeneration of his parish: sinners must be con­verted, good Christians become more spiritual, fervent souls advance in holiness. One of the most efficacious means at the priest's disposal is the confessional. There he comes into direct and personal contact with each individual soul, and can apply to them the merits of Christ's Precious Blood. But the extent of his influence on them, ex opere operantis, will depend very much on the dispositions he brings to the tribunal of penance. Let us then, in this recollection, examine some of the virtues which will help him to reap abundant fruit from this ministry, viz. Zeal - Prudence - ­Kindliness.

ZEAL

There are many and cogent reasons why the priest should love this sacred function of his ministry and be filled with an ardent zeal for it. Nowhere else, except at the altar, does he exercise so sublime and tremendous a power. It is only as an "alter Christus" that he can pronounce the words of absolution: .. Ego te absolvo. . .". How eager should he not be to make use of this divine prerogative and to secure for his flock the inestimable blessings of it? Often his sacramental absolution will save souls from hell, free them from the slavery of Satan, and restore them to the friendship of God. It will always cleanse them from sin, make them purer and brighter in the eyes of God, and obtain for them graces of amendment and sanctification.

Moreover, this Sacrament gives the zealous priest the opportunity to instruct the faithful, to encourage and help them in their fight against sin, in the acquisition of virtues. And for himself he has there a most abundant source of merits, by accepting readily and joyfully the great inconveniences, the weariness and tediousness of this obscure and often hard ministry. Not infrequently too he may find there his own sanctification, at times by the horror and sorrow for sin he experiences at the contact of human miseries, and the spirit of reparation it evokes in him, at times by the edification he receives from pure and generous souls.

* Am I sufficiently conscious of the great trust God has placed in me by making me the depository of His mercies, and of the corresponding obligation to dispense God's pardon to souls in search of it?

Am I not slow at times to respond to reasonable calls, because I may be too engrossed by my own ease and comfort?

Does my zeal for souls make me eager to avail myself of the opportunities of the confessional to bring souls close to God, or am I tempted to be a mere retailer of absolutions?

Do I encourage "the pious practice of frequent confession" mindful of Pius XII's warning that to act otherwise "is contrary to the spirit of Christ and disastrous for the mystical body of our Saviour" (Enc. on the Mystical Body).

PRUDENCE

If anywhere, it is especially in the tribunal of penance that the priest needs the cardinal virtue of prudence. With­out it, he may give invalid absolutions, where necessary dispositions are lacking, - confirm sinners in their loose morality, by condoning evils which the modern world ad­vocates, - or send away unabsolved, and thus perhaps alienate from the Church, penitents who could have been made duly repentant. . . He has to judge each case not only by the principles of moral law, but also according to the special circumstances and subjective dispositions of the penitent. And these must be kept in mind too for the penance he imposes, lest he err and harm souls by excess either in severity or in leniency.

Not only "qua judex", but also "qua doctor et medicus", does he greatly need prudence: to give penitents proper advice as to the remedies against their faults and the practical means to grow in Christian perfection. . . And for himself, too, prudence is imperative, to avoid the dangers and pitfalls which may present themselves, especially about matters "de sexto", in the performance of even this most sacred duty.

* These grave considerations must not make me timorous or despondent: the graces of my vocation are ample security and sure ground for confidence. But they must re-awake in me: the sense of duty to keep up my knowledge of moral theology, the indispensable requisite to act with prudence; ­a holy fear which must put me on my guard against all weak­nesses and compromises with sin in others, also against unhealthy sensations and attractions in myself; the habit of humble prayer and trust in God's help, when engaged in this holy but difficult ministry: "Da mihi, Domine, sedium tuarum assistricem sapientiam, etc." (cf. 'Oratio sacerdotis antequam confessiones excipiat').

KINDLINESS

Suffice it to mention that other great quality of the good confessor: kindliness. Its effects on the penitents are obvious. Where they meet with sympathy and gentleness, confession, even of great sins, is easy. When they fear harshness, either they will not approach the confessional, or they will hide their more shameful deeds... And the good Christians who wish for help and guidance from their confessors will seek it only if they find in him the kindly heart of a true Father. . .

In the confessional, more than anywhere else, the priest must model his heart upon the Heart of the Divine Master, and seek to imitate His compassionate tenderness towards sinners, His loving patience towards all who came to Him.

* Do I keep patient and gentle with all penitents, on all occasions, even when tired or annoyed?

Am I trying to strengthen myself always with thoughts of faith: seeing in front of me souls to be saved and sanctified in the Blood of Christ?

Is it my constant endeavour and prayer that I may be a confessor after the Heart of Jesus? "Cor sacerdotis, cor Christi."
"There is no surer sign of a fervent priest than the love of the confessional. It is the first duty that a lax priest avoids and evades." (Manning)
__________________________
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 50.


###
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Redemptionis Sacramentum in Action


Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ celebrates liturgy
Source...

What Exactly Is Marek Bozek's Current Visa Status?

As posted somewhere or another (and I don't recall right now), Marek Bozek was supposedly granted an R-1 (Religious Worker Visa) to work in the U.S. and a question arose about how long he might be employed for St. Stanislaus. From what I saw, there is an initial term of the visa for up to a 3 year period which is renewal for an additional 2 years, but cannot exceed 5 years.

So now, the questions:
Has his status changed since he has left the Catholic diocese of Springfield?
(6) Change of employers. A different or additional organizational unit of the religious denomination seeking to employ or engage the services of a religious worker admitted under this section shall file Form I-129 with the appropriate fee. The petition shall be filed with the Service Center having jurisdiction over the place of employment. The petition must be accompanied by evidence establishing that the alien will continue to qualify as a religious worker under this section. Any unauthorized change to a new religious organizational unit will constitute a failure to maintain status within the meaning of section 241(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act.
What qualifications are necessary to obtain a visa, or revise it?
The alien must be coming to the United States for one of the following purposes: solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of the religious denomination; to work for the religious organization at the request of the organization in a professional capacity; or to work for the organization, or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination, at the request of the organization in a religious vocation or occupation.
What is meant by a bonafide religious organization?
Bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States means an organization exempt from taxation as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as it relates to religious organizations, or one that has never sought such exemption but establishes to the satisfaction of the Service that it would be eligible therefor if it had applied for tax exempt status.

Bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination means an organization which is both closely associated with the religious denomination and exempt from taxation as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as it relates to religious organizations.

Minister means an individual duly authorized by a recognized religious denomination to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion. In all cases, there must be a reasonable connection between the activities performed and the religious calling of the minister. The term does not include a lay preacher not authorized to perform such duties.

Professional capacity means an activity in a religious vocation or occupation for which the minimum of a United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree is required.

Religious denomination means a religious group or community of believers having some form of ecclesiastical government, a creed or statement of faith, some form of worship, a formal or informal code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, established places of religious worship, and religious congregations, or comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination. For the purposes of this definition, an inter-denominational religious organization which is exempt from taxation pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 will be treated as a religious denomination.
Whew!!! This needs to be read in quiet, without numerous distractions so that it can be assimilated properly.

Visa Documention Source.

Labels:

New Cardinals: Announcement Wednesday?

Thought for the Day - The "Thief"

At an airport one night with several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in an airport shop,
bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be,
grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
thinking, "If I wasn't so nice, I would blacken his eye."

With each cookie she took, he took one too,
when only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other,
she snatched it from him and thought....ooh, brother!
This guy had some nerve and he's also rude,
why he didn't even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled,
and sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
the others were his, and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!
___________

How many times have we absolutely known that something was a certain way, only to discover later that what we believed to be true, was not?
___________
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living
__expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes,
kindness in your smile." Mother Teresa

Hat Tip to Howard B.

Christians, Islam and the Future of Europe

How, and why, Islam can be part of “Catholic” Europe. On two conditions: a strong Christianity, and Muslim self-reform. A conference held in Denver, Colorado, at the invitation of the archdiocese.
by Sandro Magister

Cynthia Davis Chastized For Speaking Against "Plan B"

A recent Letter to the Editor is a classic exposition of stupidity:
Davis should research before sounding off

I was appalled by the letter written by Cynthia Davis (Feb. 12 Journal). Not only for her need to press her religious views on others, but by her complete and total lack of information regarding Plan B. To refer to it as "poison" is asinine. It's not arsenic, after all.

Secondly, Plan B is not an abortion drug; it is not classified as such. It does not abort a fetus, but rather keeps a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall to keep a pregnancy from ever taking place. You can't abort a nonexistent pregnancy. It is only effective in the first 72 hours after unprotected sex, not three months down the road. She should definitely research topics before starting to sound off on them. This isn't the first time she has come off looking uneducated and uninformed.
It's irrelevant whether or not "Plan B" is classified as an abortion drug by the state or some other agency. Of course, while it is true that it is impossible to abort a nonexistent pregnancy, the mere fact that "Plan B" prevents a "FERTILIZED EGG" (a human being) from being implanted on the uterine wall makes it abortifacient. This fact is not dependent on some government agency stating the obvious.

There is such a thing as a chemical abortion - most educated individuals know this. If the pregnancy has already occurred, the use of this "poison" will result in the death and destruction of an innocent human life. Who, now, appears as the uneducated one who needs to do some research to get her facts straight, Kimberly?
I don't see how it can be the decision of anyone but the woman herself whether she needs to use Plan B. It is her body, not public domain. I know that if I were raped I would immediately seek a prescription for Plan B. I would not put myself through the emotional trauma of carrying a child conceived by rape.
One's inability to comprehend the reasons why the state should protect all human life has no bearing on the issue. Directly willed abortion is always criminal - it is always morally wrong.
Also, should women that have multiple children or can't afford to have another child not be given the option of using Plan B when another form of birth control has failed? That is her decision, not yours.
This is a perfect example of the contraceptive/child murdering mentality. It's all about one's own ego, comfort, and pleasure. There is no regard for the sanctity of human life and even less for the foundational structure of society, the family.
Secondly, if a pharmacist does not want to fill a prescription for a form of birth control, then said pharmacist should shop around before taking a position. If a pharmacist does not want to fill such prescriptions, then they should seek employment at a pharmacy that has the same views and does not fill any type of prescription for birth control. There are several hospitals with religious affiliations in the area that would be perfect for them.

Kimberly Dotson
Poor Kimberly is confused. Having embraced contraception as a panacea for a happy and carefree lifestyle, she has dulled her intellect with the poisons offered by the Culture of Death. Perhaps, we can look forward to the day when a pharmaceutical is developed which will permit those who are too lazy or obstinate to seek the truth to pop a pill which will flush and clean their brains of the nonsense they perceive to be knowledge.

The link to the letter is here.

Bishop Vasa Discusses the "H" Word...

In our “compromising age” we are loath to name something too strongly. If we do, we are accused of harshness, judgmentalism, perhaps arrogance, certainly intolerance and possibly pharisaism. While it is always necessary to speak the truth with love, the Church also believes and teaches that it is also necessary to speak the truth with strength. It is necessary to defend truth and not be too quick to rationalize, justify or excuse misleading teachings or teachers. There is a point at which passive “tolerance” allows misleading teachings to be spread and propagated, thus confusing or even misleading the faithful about the truths of the Church. There is a very strong word, which still exists in our Church, which most of us are too “gentle” to use. The word is “heresy.” We perhaps think that heresy is a thing of the past. We think perhaps of the Arian heresy or the Pelagian heresy or the Manichaen heresy. We might even maintain that there are no longer any heretics because that conjures up images of inquisitions and burnings at the stake. I do not, in any way, seek to validate or justify any kind of “vigilante” theology, but we do need strong words to combat erroneous and fallacious teaching. (Emphasis added)
Tolerance for heresy and heretics is a major problem in the Church today. I was told over the weekend of another prevalent example among the many going on here, about a woman in RCIA who was told by a lay RCIA instructor that Jesus did not know that he was God until He was baptized by St. John the Baptist - and that this was His reason for going into the desert...This deadly contagion spreads like a communicable disease, infecting many who come in contact with it.

Bishop Vasa's column is here.

Gospel for Monday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 9:14-29

The Curing of an Epileptic Boy

[14] And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. [15] And immediately all the crowd when they saw Him (Jesus), were greatly amazed, and ran up to Him and greeting Him. [16] And He asked them, "What are you discussing with them?" [17] And one of the crowd answered Him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; [18] and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked Your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." [19] And He answered them, "Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to Me." [20] And they brought the boy to Him; and when the spirit saw Him, immediately it convulsed the body, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. [21] And Jesus asked his father, "How long has he had this?" And he said, "From childhood. [22] And it has often cash him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if You can do anything, have pity on us and help us." [23] And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." [24] Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" [25] And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again." [26] After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, "He is dead." [27] But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. [28] And when He had entered the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" [29] And He said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting."
_______________________

Commentary:

17. The demon who possessed this boy is described as a "dumb spirit" because dumbness was the main feature of the possession. On diabolic possession cf. note on Matthew 12:22-24.

19-24. As on other occasions, Jesus requires submission of faith before He works the miracle. The exclamation of Jesus refers to the request of the boy's father (verse 22), which seemed to suggest some doubt about God's omnipotence. The Lord corrects this way of asking and requires him to have firm faith. In verse 24 we can see that the father has quite changed; then Jesus does the miracle. The man's strengthened faith made him all-powerful, for someone with faith relies not on himself but on Jesus Christ. Through faith, then, we become sharers in God's omnipotence. But faith is a gift of God, which man, especially at times when he is wavering, should ask humbly and tenaciously, like the father of this boy: "I believe, help my unbelief," and like the Apostles: "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

28-29. "In teaching the Apostles how to expel a spirit as evil as this He is teaching all of us how we should live, and telling us that prayer is the resource we should use to overcome even the severest temptations, whether they come from unclean spirits or from men. Prayer does not consist only in the words we use to invoke God's clemency but also in everything we do, out of faith, as homage to God. The Apostle bears witness to this when he says: `Pray constantly' (1 Thessalonians 5:7)" (St. Bede, "In Marci Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
_________________________

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, February 19, 2006

Australian "Catholics" seek CDF clarification on Cardinal’s comments

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been asked to clarify the legitimacy of Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell’s publicly stated views on the importance of individual conscience in moral decision-making.

A group of Catholics claims that the Cardinal’s denial of the priority given to conscience places his views outside the mainstream of Catholic doctrine.

Members assert that, based on The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Cardinal’s “explication of Catholic doctrine is inaccurate, misleading and not true to the Catholic tradition”.

Frustration at the lack of accountability within the Church hierarchy triggered a letter, signed by 25 Catholics, to the CDF’s Prefect, American Archbishop William Levada, in November 2005, seeking clarification. Three months later, there has been no acknowledgement of the letter, let alone a response. The CDF is the Vatican department that deals with orthodox doctrine. Its previous head was the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

Lead signatory to the letter Mr Frank Purcell said that a number the Cardinal’s public statements on the primacy of conscience, over a number of years and given standing in the media, were difficult to reconcile with the teaching of the Church.

“Given his prominence in the Church, many Australians take his view as normative and representative of Catholic doctrine,” Mr Purcell said. The letter asks the CDF to request Cardinal Pell to confine his comments “to the excellent statement on conscience found The Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

It continues: “Here it is clearly stated that 'Man has the right to act in conscience and freedom so as personally to make moral decisions... especially in religious matters' (paragraph 1782). The Catechism certainly emphasizes the importance of the formation of a right conscience, but it insists that 'a human being must always obey the certain judgement of his conscience'. The same paragraph (1790) goes on to admit that moral conscience can 'remain in ignorance' and make 'erroneous judgements'. Nevertheless Catholics must still follow their conscience. The Catechism approvingly quotes Cardinal John Henry Newman's dictum that 'Conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ' (1778)".

The letter continues: “Our problem with his public stance is that he constantly places personal conscience and truth as taught by the church in opposition to each other, and thus distorts the role of both in Catholic tradition. By caricaturing any claim to the primacy of conscience as a rejection of the church's teaching, he sets up a false dichotomy and this results in a rejection of the legitimate role of informed conscience. In his public statements he emphasizes the teaching of the church, but fails to acknowledge that this does not completely exhaust the process. Truth must be assimilated into individual lives. He adopts the stance that any doubt or conscientious questioning is tantamount to rejecting the magisterium. He seems to adopt an entirely static notion of truth, and omits all reference to church tradition as a process of coming to truth.

“We believe that the authentic Catholic tradition is that conscience holds primacy in the process of moral decision-making. Certainly we accept that Catholics are bound to take biblical and church teaching as a central and integral element in moral discernment, but that in the end conscience is the ultimate norm of each person's moral action.”

Mr Purcell said the letter was not an attack on the Cardinal but a seeking of clarification on the importance of individual conscience in moral decision-making. Nor was the group demanding a hurried answer from the CDF, but simply an acknowledgement of the letter.

“The group only decided to go public because of the wide dissemination of Cardinal Pell's views and the apparent failure of the Vatican to respond to the letter. No modern bureaucracy fails to acknowledge receipt of correspondence. It is a matter of courtesy and respect,” Mr Purcell said.

Those who signed the letter are:
Sr Veronica Brady, IBVM, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Western Australia.
Emeritus Professor Max Charlesworth, parent, Professor of Philosophy, Deakin University.
Paul Collins, historian and broadcaster.
Rev. Fr Michael Elligate, Chaplain, University of Melbourne.
Judge Chris Geraghty, the District Court of New South Wales.
Marilyn Hatton, parent, adult educator.
John Hill, parent, clinical therapist, marriage and relationship counsellor.
Rev. Fr Eric Hodgens, Parish Priest, Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Helen Jagoe, parent, former General Secretary, International YCW. Re.
Fr James Littleton, MSC, educator.
Kathleen McPherson, parent, Community Health Services.
Mark McPherson, parent, Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Consultant, former YCW full-time worker.
Rev. Fr Frank Martin, Parish Priest, Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Sr Cecilia Merrigan, CSB, former International Congregational Leader, Sisters of Saint Brigid.
Rev. Fr Peter Murnane, OP, Dominican Friar, preacher.
Dr Anne O'Brien, psychologist, adult educator.
Emeritus Professor Tom O'Donnell, Foundation Chair of the Catholic Education Commission, Victoria, former member of the National Catholic Education Commission.
Frank Purcell, parent, lecturer in Politics, La Trobe University.
Bernard Ryan, parent, religious educator, Catholic high school.
Ellen Smiddy, parent, community worker, former YCW leader.
Brian Smiddy, parent, former YCW leader, trade union official.
Mary Stanwix, parent and pharmacist.
Justin Stanwix, parent and barrister.
Kevin Walcot, adult educator.
_______________________
I received this in an email update from "Online Catholics", an Australian "Catholic" periodical comprised primarily of numerous dissenting views and attempts to justify its dissent - much like an Australian National Catholic Distorter.

Many people, in trying to escape the demands of the Gospel and the Church, make an unsupportable appeal to "primacy of conscience", many times, disregarding the fact that a conscience must also be rightly formed and well-informed. If one's conscience is rightly or well formed and well-informed, it would not be at odds with Church teaching.

A Catholic must also see that his conscience is formed in conformity with the teachings of the Church. While one has a right not to be compelled to act against his will or conscience, it must be understood that one's conscience is not the arbiter of truth and a faithful Catholic will do all he can to try and understand the Church's teaching, and, in properly forming his conscience, he will be completely willing to submit to the Church's authority in the matter.

Many, still yet, in selectively quoting the Catechism, Cardinal Newman, or other Church documents, do so by failing to accept or take in the fullness of what the Church teaches or what the author intends. Some, for example, selectively call upon part of Gaudium et Spes:
...it often happens that conscience goes astray through ignorance which it is unable to avoid, without thereby losing its dignity.
while disregarding the remainder of the text:
This cannot be said of the man who takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded by the habit of committing sin. (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 7 December 1965, n. 16.)
As I cannot do justice to this subject here, please review this excellent article on the Role and Freedom of Conscience.

It will be interesting to see what response, if any, this group receives. I think that these people will not be happy with the answer they may receive.