Saturday, January 07, 2006

Portland Archdiocese Will Resist Judge’s Ruling

Archbishop Says Church Will Follow Its Own Law

Portland, Ore. -- The leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland says the church will follow its own law on ownership of its property. This, despite a recent ruling by a federal bankruptcy judge who says property belonging to parishes throughout Western Oregon could be subject to sale, to satisfy claims against the Archdiocese by victims of alleged priest sex abuse.

Archbishop John Vlazny told the Catholic Sentinel that he considers church buildings and land the property of individual parishes, NOT the archdiocese.
Vlazny says the church will follow its internal law on property ownership -- quote -- "no matter what obstacles confront it." . . .

Copyright 2005, KOIN

Oculi nostri ad Dominum Deum nostrum

Meditations for Priests


The New Year dawns and we scan the horizon wistfully: what will it bring us? Forecasts, guesses, dreams as to coming events, make us perhaps sway from hope to fear, from anxiety to buoyancy. . .All rather vain and profitless: God keeps His secret. One thing only we know for certain: whatever is to happen will be willed or permitted by God: Divine Providence rules the world and all it contains. In this truth we find light and strength by which to steady our attitude towards the future: "Oculi nostri ad Dominum Deum nostrum". Let us take the coming year, and all it will bring us from the hands of God, and seek our sanctifica­tion in it - by trusting in God's Providence - by conforming ourselves to His holy will - by cooperating with His plans.


At a time of world-wide trouble and threats, we may find it a little difficult to think of the coming year in the usual terms: "a happy, a bright New Year ". Yet it is very necessary that we should preserve a calm and serene outlook: for the good of our own soul first, and then to radiate brightness around us. Nor is this difficult for the convinced Christian who trusts in Divine Providence.

We know that God is infinitely wise and powerful and good and loving, and that He is our Father. And from these divine attributes we deduce the sure fact of His Providence: God ordains all the circumstances of our life, and leads us through them - having always in view our true interests - to our eternal destiny of heaven.

If we could but walk in the light of these fundamental truths with a humble childlike heart, peace and happiness would be ours through all vicissitudes of life... Trials come, our prayers remain apparently unanswered, we may be puzzled by God's designs... Always we shall know that we are safe and secure, enfolded in our Father's love, our hand in His hand: "Dominus regit me, nihil mihi deerit."

* Let us examine how far our thoughts and our feelings are shaped by these views of faith.

Do we see the hand of God in the small, even the most trivial, details that crowd our own day, in the more important happenings around us, in the great events that shape the world?

Do we keep our mind serene and our heart strong, in the intimate conviction that, if our heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, much more will He look after each one of His children?

Let us ask from Our Lord that childlike trust, that practical belief in our Father's love, which He has so emphatically taught us, that we may say in truth, with St John: "Et nos cognovimus et credi­dimus caritati quam habet Deus in nobis."


To take all the events of the year in such a spirit of faith, as coming from God's hands, would have yet another most sanctifying effect: it would make us conform ourselves whole-heartedly and constantly to the will of God. We know our perfection consists in the loving accomplishment of that will, and we are determined to aim at it always - in a general way: but in practice, how often we fail, because we do not detect the will of God in the details of our life.

If only we remembered that every moment of the day brings us a concrete manifestation of God's holy will, with what filial love and perfect submission would we not take everything: joys and sorrows, successes and failures, trials and consolations. We would welcome each one of them with the feelings of the Sacred Heart: "Ita, Pater, quoniam sic fuit placitum ante Te"; and of Mary: "Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum".

* On the threshold of the New Year let us establish ourselves firmly in that disposition, and, beforehand, whole­heartedly accept whatever God's Providence sends us...

As a spiritual writer suggests, let us fancy ourselves taking a large, blank sheet of paper; at the bottom, by way of signature, let us write a bold and decided amen; then hand over the paper to God, for Him to write down day by day, hour by hour, whatever He wills for us during the year. Everything then will come to us sealed - and sanctified - by our anticipated "Amen; yes, Father, so be it".


While viewing the events of the coming year as the effects of God's Providence, we must not forget that for the execution of His plans God uses secondary causes. All men have their share - and their responsibility - in this; above all the priests: "ministri Christi et dispensatores myste­riorum Dei".

Let us not fail Christ: He too, the Good Shepherd, scans the horizon at the beginning of the New Year to see how His priests are going to lead His faithful flock to pastures green, how they will recall the erring sheep and use every means to bring to the fold those that are still without. Let Him not behold in that vision a single Christian decreasing in fervour, a single sinner remaining obdurate, a single pagan refusing the light, because of our lack of cooperation with His loving and merciful designs.

* Let us begin this year with something of the burning zeal expressed by Pius XII in the opening page of his first encyclical, and dedicate ourselves anew to "the King of kings and the Lord of lords", as a kind of "Introit prayer" to the New Year, making of our devotion to Him "the alpha and the omega of our aims, of our hopes, of our teaching, of our activity, of our patience, of our sufferings, by consecrating them all to the spread of the Kingdom of Christ".
"Largire nobis, quaesumus, Domine, semper spiri­tum cogitandi quae recta sunt, propitius et agendi: ut, qui sine te esse non possumus, secundum te vivere valeamus. Per D.N.I.C." (8th Sunday after Pentecost).
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 13.

Gospel for Jan 7, Weekdays of the Christmas Season

From: John 2:1-11

The Wedding at Cana

[1] On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; [2] Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. [3] When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." [4] And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." [5] His mother said to the servants. "Do whatever he tells you." [6] Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. [8] He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. [9] When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom [10] and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine till now. " [11] This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


1. Cana in Galilee was probably what is now Kef Kenna, seven kilometers (four miles) north-east of Nazareth.

The first guest to be mentioned is Mary: St Joseph is not mentioned, which cannot be put down to St John's forgetfulness: his silence here and on other occasions in his Gospel leads us to believe that Joseph had already died.

The wedding celebrations lasted quite a while in the East (Gen 29:27; Judg 14:10, 12, 17; Job 9:12; 10:1). In the course of the celebrations relatives and friends would come to greet the newly-weds; even people passing through could join in the celebration. Wine was regarded as an indispensable element in meals and also helped to create a festive atmosphere. The women looked after the catering: here our Lady would have lent a hand, which was how she realized they were running out of wine.

2. "To show that all states in life are good, [...] Jesus deigned to be born in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary; soon after he was born he received praise from the prophetic lips of Anna, a widow, and, invited in his youth by the betrothed couple, he honored the wedding with the power of his presence" (St Bede, "Hom. 13", for the second Sunday after the Epiphany). Christ's presence at the wedding at Cana is a sign that he blesses love between man and woman joined in marriage: God instituted marriage at the beginning of creation (cf. Gen 1:27-28); Jesus confirmed it and raised it to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. Mt 19:6).

3. In the Fourth Gospel the Mother of Jesus--this is the title St John gives her--appears only twice: once here, and the other time on Calvary (Jn 19:25). This suggests Mary's involvement in the redemption. A number of analogies can be drawn between Cana and Calvary. They are located at the beginning and at the end of Jesus' public life, as if to show that Mary is present in everything that Jesus did. Her title--Mother--carries very special tones: Mary acts as Jesus' true Mother at these two points in which his divinity is being revealed. Also, both episodes demonstrate Mary's special solicitude towards everyone: in one case she intercedes when "the hour" has not yet come; in the other she offers the Father the redeeming death of her Son, and accepts the mission Jesus confers on her to be the Mother of all believers, who are represented on Calvary by the beloved disciple.

"In the public life of Jesus Mary appears prominently; at the very beginning when at the marriage feast of Cana, moved with pity, she brought about by her intercession the beginning of the miracles of Jesus the Messiah (cf. John 2:1-11). In the course of her Son's preaching she received the words whereby, in extolling a kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mk 3:35; Lk 11:27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. Jn 19:25), in line with the divine plan, enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of his passion, with his sacrifice, associating herself in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words: 'Woman, behold thy son' (Jn 19:26-27)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 58).

4. For the meaning of the words of this verse see the section on our Lady in the "Introduction" above (pp. 35ff). It should also be said that the Gospel account of this dialogue between Jesus and his Mother does not give us his gestures, tone of voice etc.: to us, for example, his answer sounds harsh, as if he were saying, "This is no concern of ours". But that was not the case.

Woman" is a respectful title, rather like "lady" or "madam"; it is a formal way of speaking. On the Cross Jesus will use the same word with great affection and veneration (Jn 19:26).

[The sentence rendered What have you to do with me?" (RSV) is the subject of a note in RSVCE which says "while this _expression always implies a divergence of view, the precise meaning is to be determined by the context, which here shows that it is not an unqualified rebuttal, still less a rebuke." The Navarre Spanish is the equivalent of "What has it to do with you and me?"] The sentence "What has it to do with you and me?" is an Oriental way of speaking which can have different nuances. Jesus' reply seems to indicate that although in principle it was not part of God's plan for him to use his power to solve the problem the wedding-feast had run into, our Lady's request moves him to do precisely that. Also, one could surmise that God's plan envisaged that Jesus should work the miracle at his Mother's request. In any event, God willed that the Revelation of the New Testament should include this important teaching: so influential is our Lady's intercession that God will listen to all petitions made through her; which is why Christian piety, with theological accuracy, has called our Lady "supplicant omnipotence".

"My hour has not yet come": the term "hour" is sometimes used by Jesus to designate the moment of his coming in glory (cf. Jn 5:28), but generally it refers to the time of his passion, death and resurrection (cf. Jn 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1).

5. Like a good mother, the Virgin Mary knows perfectly well what her son's reply means--though to us it is ambiguous ("What has it to do with you and me?"): she is confident that Jesus will do something to come to the family's rescue. This is why she tells the servants so specifically to do what Jesus tells them. These words of our Lady can be seen as a permanent invitation to each of us: "in that all Christian
holiness consists: for perfect holiness is obeying Christ in all things" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Comm. on St John, in loc.").

We find the same attitude in Pope John Paul II's prayer at our Lady's shrine at Knock, when he consecrated the Irish people to God: "At this solemn moment we listen with particular attention to your words: "Do whatever my Son tells you". And we wish to respond to your words with all our heart. We wish to do what your Son tells us, what he commands us, for he has the words of eternal life. We wish to carry out and fulfill all that comes from him, all that is contained in the Good News, as our forefathers did for many centuries. [...] Today, therefore, [...] we entrust and consecrate to you, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, our hearts, our consciences, and our works, in order that they may be in keeping with the faith we profess. We entrust and consecrate to you each and every one of those who make up both the community of the Irish people and the community of the People of God living in this land" ("Homily at Knock Shrine", 30 September 1979)."

6. We are talking about 500-700 liters (100-l50 gallons) of top quality wine. St John stresses the magnificence of the gift produced by the miracle--as he also does at the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:12-13). One of the signs of the arrival of the Messiah was abundance; here we have the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies: "the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase", as Psalm 85:12 proclaims; "the threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil" (Joel 2:24; cf. Amos 9:13-15). This abundance of material goods is a symbol of the supernatural gifts Christ obtains for us through the Redemption: later on St John highlights our Lord's words: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10; cf. Rom 5:20).

7. "Up to the brim": the evangelist gives us this further piece of information to emphasize the superabundance of the riches of Redemption and also to show how very precisely the servants did what they were told, as if hinting at the importance of docility in fulfilling the will of God, even in small details.

9-10. Jesus works miracles in a magnificent way; for example, in the multiplication of the loaves and fish (cf. Jn 6:10-13) he feeds five thousand men--who eat as much as they want--and the left-overs fill twelve baskets. In this present miracle he does not change the water into just any wine but into wine of excellent quality.

The Fathers see in this good wine, kept for the end of the celebrations, and in its abundance, a prefiguring of the crowning of the history of salvation: formerly God sent the patriarchs and prophets, but in the fullness of time he sent his own Son, whose teaching perfects the old Revelation and whose grace far exceeds the expectations of the righteous in the Old Testament. They also have seen, in this good wine coming at the end, the reward and joy of eternal life which God grants to those who desire to follow Christ and who have suffered bitterness and contradiction in this life (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St John, in loc.").

11. Before he worked this miracle the disciples already believed that Jesus was the Messiah; but they had too earthbound a concept of his salvific mission. St John testifies here that this miracle was the beginning of a new dimension in their faith; it became much deeper. "At Cana, Mary appears once more as the Virgin in prayer: when she tactfully told her Son of a temporal need, she also obtained an effect of grace, namely, that Jesus, in working the first of his 'signs', confirmed his disciples' faith in him" (Paul VI, "Marialis Cultus", 18).

"Why are Mary's prayers so effective with God? The prayers of the saints are prayers of servants, whereas Mary's are a Mother's prayer, whence flows their efficacy and their authority; and since Jesus has immense love for his Mother, she cannot pray without being listened to. [...]

"To understand Mary's great goodness, let us remember what the Gospel says. [...] There was a shortage of wine, which naturally worried the married couple. No one asks the Blessed Virgin to intervene and request her Son to come to the rescue of the couple. But Mary's heart cannot but take pity on the unfortunate couple [...]; it stirs her to act as intercessor and ask her Son for the miracle, even though no one asks her to. [...] If our Lady acted like this without being asked, what would she not have done if they actually asked her to intervene?" (St Alphonsus, "Sunday Sermons", 48).

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, January 06, 2006

CNS Urges 28 Colleges to Halt V-Monologues Performances

Continuing its campaign to rid Catholic campuses of the offensive play “The Vagina Monologues,” the Cardinal Newman Society has urged the presidents of 28 Catholic colleges to cancel announced performances in February and March 2006.

Three universities have already assured CNS that they will not permit the play, after CNS informed them of student performances announced by V-Day (, which organizes productions across the country. Very Rev. David O’Connell, CM, president of the Catholic University of America, Msgr. Harry C. Barrett, president of New York Medical College, and Rev. Anthony Figueiredo, Executive Director of Mission and Ministry at Seton Hall University, thanked CNS for informing them of the V-Day announcements and pledged swift action to halt any plans.

Assumption College and Sacred Heart University also have informed CNS that the announced campus performances will not occur, although they have not said whether they banned the event.

CNS urges members to contact the remaining 23 college and university presidents asking them to stop the performance. Please note that the productions announced by V-Day are not yet confirmed and may not have official college approval.

The “Monologues” presents women discussing their sexuality and sexual encounters, replete with vulgarity, explicit language, and graphic descriptions of lesbian activity and masturbation. For a detailed summary, click here.

One scene describes the seduction of a sexually inexperienced 16-year-old girl by a 24-year-old lesbian, who first intoxicates the girl with vodka. Instead of presenting the incident as sexual abuse that would be prosecuted as statutory rape in many states, the play declares it the girl’s “surprising, unexpected and politically correct salvation.” In light of the Church’s struggles with similar crimes by priests who exploited younger boys, the scene is highly objectionable.

The CNS campaign against the “Monologues” has had an impact. In 2005, performances occurred at 27 Catholic colleges and universities, a decline from 29 performances in 2004 and 32 in 2003. The V-Day Web site now features a section titled “resistance,” including a rebuttal to CNS concerns.
Again this year, Saint Louis University is on the list of "Catholic" colleges and universities planning on allowing performances of the V-Monologues. Of course, if history is any indication, the Post Dispatch's "Citizen of the Year", Fr. Lawrence Biondi, will so nothing to stop this play from being performed on campus. Nonetheless, we can continue to express respectful and charitable concern and outrage by way of letter or email. The address is:

Saint Louis University
Rev. Lawrence Biondi, S.J., President
221 North Grand Blvd., Saint Louis, MO 63103
Phone: (314) 977-7777

Know Your Religion

"He was full of wisdom and the grace of God was upon him." St. Luke, 2:40

It was Christmas of 1886 in the very heart of France. A man by the name of Paul Claudel was trying to gain a name and place as a writer. He was not the least interested in religion, but in order to get the atmosphere of Christmas for an article he was writing, he attended the Solemn High Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The crowded church made him uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Christmas afternoon he was again in the cathedral, kneeling near a pillar.

Vespers and the singing of the Magnificant touched the heart of the young writer. After the last note had died away, and the last candle had been put out, and the last cloud of incense had floated away, and the last worshipper had departed, Claudel remained. All alone in that mighty cathedral he hid his face in his hands. Suddenly he realized that he was praying. He also realized that there was only one thing for him to do - ­make a complete and deep study of religion.

That he did and four years later on Christmas of 1890 in that very same cathedral he made his first Holy Communion. Since then his name has been listed among the literary great. From 1927 to 1933 he served as ambassador of France to the United States.

Everyone who wants to be a thorough, faithful, committed Catholic like Claudel must make a serious and deep study of religion. One may have genuine faith with but little knowledge, but the more you know about your faith the deeper that faith can be. There are certain things every Catholic must know:
1. You must know that there is but one God and you must know that there is a heaven and a hell. You must also know about the Holy Trinity and that Jesus, the Son of God, became Man and died for all of us. You must know these four foundation truths in order to receive the Sacraments. These facts are necessary as means.

2. By command of the Church you must also know:
a. The Commandments of God and of the Church.
b. The seven sacraments.
c. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Apostles' Creed.
d. The duties of your state in life.
3. Every person who desires to become a Catholic is instructed in these principal truths of our faith. Every born Catholic is also instructed in them. And should there be present here today anyone reading this who calls himself a Catholic, but who does not know the points we have mentioned, he is bound in conscience to learn them, if he possibly can.
Too many neglect this duty of the First Commandment - the solemn, serious duty to know your religion. Many have little time and talent. Others are able to learn very little about religion. But I know that most Catholics are able to learn religion. I repeat: You have a solemn duty to learn the truths of your Catholic faith.


Look at the results of religious ignorance.
a. We see many who don't believe in God, or who act and live as if they did not believe. Atheists are born and nourished in religious ignorance.

b. We see many who believe nothing but what they can see or feel or figure out. Faith plays no part in their lives.

c. We see Secularism, condemned by the bishops of the United States in 1948 as our principal problem. It means that the things of the spirit are unknown and unheeded by too many.

d. We see every kind of crime committed because people do not know better, or because they do not know where or how to get the grace and help to do better.
To know your religion is a strict obligation, particularly of parents. Fathers and mothers must know their religion and must see that their chil­dren learn their religion. God will hold every parent responsible for the soul of his child. Let me suggest a few ways in which you can make a serious study of religion, as did Paul Claudel, the great French writer, statesman and Catholic:
  • 1. Read your Bible: Time and again we have urged you to do that. In the New Year read a chapter every day or at least every week.

  • 2. Read faithfully Catholic newspapers, such as a good diocesan newspaper. There you find your faith applied to the problems of the day.

  • 3. Read some good Catholic magazines.

  • 4. Read some book that gives you a connected explanation of your faith. Books from Ignatius Press are excellent in this regard.

  • 5. When you have questions about religion you can't answer, call us up, make an appointment and get the answer clear and straight. You can also call the Apologetics Department at Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200. They would be happy to help.

  • 6. Attend good Catholic study and discussion clubs.

  • 7. Listen thoughtfully and attentively to every sermon you hear. There is always a thought in it.

  • 8. Take home a pamphlet and read it, talk about it.
  • May the story of Paul Claudel inspire you to study your religion. May the First Commandment awaken you to the duty of knowing your faith. Thank God, you have the faith. Keep it by knowing it thoroughly and practicing it.

    May the picture of Jesus in St. Luke's Gospel be a picture of you: "He ­grew in wisdom." May you grow, everyone of you, in the wisdom and knowledge of our glorious Catholic faith. Amen.

    Adapted from Talks on the Commandments by Fr. Arthur Tonne

    St. Stanislaus out of Catholic church

    The Post Dispatch posts an article this afternoon regarding the suppression of St. Stanislaus...The notice, however, was made public in today's St Louis Review.

    As usual, the obstinately defiant ones claim that suppression has "no effect" on them...I'm certain our Lord will understand their arrogant rebellion.
    "It doesn't affect us at all," said board member Bob Zabielski. " We will continue our Roman Catholic services."
    What foolish and arrogant tripe emanates from this man's mouth! By all means, listen to Satan and go right ahead with your "services" committing sacrilege upon sacrilege at the hands of an excommunicated "priest"!!! Surely this is what our Lord meant when He called all of us to "Follow Him!"
    Zabielski said the board expects the punishment against the church to escalate and will probably lead to a lawsuit against them. "They're doing everything they can to get the property," he said.
    The poor man! His paranoia has overtaken him.

    Someday, the real reasons for this obstinacy and fear will come to light...Is this perhaps the reason for such fear of obedience, humility, and conformity with the laws of the Church? Time will tell. At the very least, it will all be exposed when time gives way to eternity, for nothing remains hidden forever.

    Here's another report from Columbia

    and the same report is in the Kansas City Star here

    Transcript: Fr Joseph Fessio interview w/Hugh Hewitt

    Father Joseph Fessio, a student and friend of Pope Benedict XVI, on the problems Christianity, especially in Europe, faces with the spread of Islam
    HH: Special hour now, as I'm joined by Father Joseph D. Fessio, who is the Provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, also the founder of the publisher Ignatius Press. He's a Jesuit. He's also a student and a friend of Benedict XVI, and a second time on the program. Father Fessio, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

    JF: Good to be back, Hugh. Good talking to you.

    HH: Great to have you. I wanted to talk to you today, because Mark Steyn, a tremendous writer, wrote a piece yesterday on the loss of the West, because of depopulation, and because of a lack of seriousness. And I believe that this has been a theme in your teacher, Benedict XVI's first nine months as Pope. Am I right about that?

    JF: Absolutely right, Hugh.

    HH: Explain what the Pope has been saying since he assumed the throne of St. Peter.
    Continued here...

    Some extracts of Fr Fessio's comments:
    ...Benedict XVI, even before he was Pope, has talked about the remnant, the fact that we as Christians, if we are truly faithful to Christ and His word, we're going to be a minority, and a minority which is becoming more and more marginalized, and even oppressed.

    ...home schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages. That is...and you non-Catholic Christians have a lot more of them than we Catholics do, but we've got a lot. And I think that is where families are having children. They're passing on the faith to their children. They're giving them wisdom and the knowledge of our culture. And we have an advantage here, because the homosexuals, and the pro-abortionists, and the pro-contraception people, are not having children by definition.

    Asked if the appointment of Archbishop Levada as head of the CDF surprised him, Fr. Fessio responds:We're on the air, I don't want to comment.

    Regarding Islam:....key Islamic leaders [have said] the following: Because of your religious tolerance in Europe, we will overtake you. We will be coming into Europe. Because of our religious beliefs, we will conquer you. I mean, there should be no doubt about it. They're intent, and I don't blame them for this. They believe they got the true religion. They are going to overcome here. They've been trying to do it for...since the 600's.

    Regarding Pope Benedict:...he's a man of deep, deep personal devotion to our Lord, and loves the Church. And even though his ideas are clear, and his committment to the Christian faith is completely solid, he is very gentle, and he doesn't want to harm people. He doesn't want to upset people. He wants to talk to them, and listen, and get input. He doesn't act quickly. But he's already making changes here and there. I mean, I think...I'm not disappointed at all.

    EU Radicalism Further Exposed

    An update from Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute:
    Dear Colleague,

    We have been reporting over the past few weeks about a report issued by a European Union panel that lifts the mask of EU social policy radicalism. We report today on the part of the report that says that doctors cannot refuse to perform assisted suicides.

    Spread the word.
    Yours sincerely,
    Austin Ruse

    Action item: You can access the EU report here:

    EU Panel Calls For Protection of Assisted Suicide, 'Gay' Marriage

    A statement issued by a European Union advisory panel attempts making assisted suicide, same-sex marriage and access to contraception to be among the "human rights" guaranteed to citizens of the EU.

    Those findings were part of a larger 40-page opinion from the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights. As reported over the past two weeks in the Friday Fax, the opinion threatens the rights of medical professionals to refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures that may violate their religious beliefs. Though the panel was charged with examining a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia that dealt largely with abortion, panel members did not restrict their opinion only to abortion.

    The opinion argues that in any country where assisted suicide or same-sex marriage is legal it is not enough to simply allow this behavior; the governments of such countries must make sure that people have easy access to these services. "For instance, although neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide are protected as such under the European Convention on Human Rights or any other international human rights instrument, in a State where euthanasia or assisted suicide are partially decriminalized, the right to religious conscientious objection, while it should be recognized to the medical doctors asked to perform euthanasia or to assist a person in committing suicide, should not be exercised in a way which leads to depriving any person from the possibility of exercising effectively his or her rights as guaranteed under the applicable legislation."

    A similar argument is put forward on same-sex marriage which could possibly require clergy to perform ceremonies that directly contradict their faith. ". . . the right to religious conscientious objection may be invoked by an officer refusing to celebrate a marriage between two persons of the same sex or where one of the prospective spouses is a transsexual, it would be unacceptable to allow this to result in marriage being unavailable to the couple concerned: any form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (as would result from the refusal to celebrate a marriage between two persons of the same sex where this institution is recognized), and any violation of the right to marry of transsexuals, should not be tolerated, and the public authorities should ensure in such circumstances that other officers will be available and willing to celebrate those unions."

    The opinion also says that pharmacists are obligated to dispense drugs to which they are morally opposed such as the Pill which can act as an abortifacient. "The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights suggests that, where access to contraceptives is legal, women should not be deprived of such access because of the exercise, by health practitioners or pharmacologists, of their right to religious conscientious objection: under this case-law, a State may oblige pharmacologists to sell contraceptives, at least where women would otherwise not have access to contraceptives"


    Copyright 2005 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
    Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

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    Phone: (212) 754-5948
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    ===End of Email=============

    My comments:

    I expect a statement from the EU soon which says: "Rejoice! Worship us! We have become like gods, determining what is good and righteous and fair!"

    Although the EU did not say this specifically, nonetheless we are witnessing a such an attitude with the continued change and demands in Europe under the EU gods. It's only a matter of time before such arrogant attitudes are defeated. Those who embrace evil will ultimately be crushed under the weight of their own iniquity. How long must we wait, O Lord?

    The EU (and others ) seem to believe that they have become gods and they will choose what is right and what is wrong and all humanity is to obey. There are no "rights" afforded anyone unless he will worship at the altar of depravity. Those who fail to worship at its feet will be subject, first, to sanctions...And we can only guess what the future holds for those who "disobey" the "human gods".

    You see, this is a multi-pronged attack. Last week, we heard about pro-life doctors and others. This week we heard about the implied "evil" Vatican and its crusade of repression of "wants" reclassified as "rights". And now other acts of deviance are to be superior to one's conscience. Satan's minions are out of control!

    Each day, we witness prepartions being made in ever so many ways for the war against faith and reason - and the war against God and all that is good! As the true meaning of words is being manipulated and butchered, so too, are peoples' consciences. How many will enlist in the army of the Evil One and how many will remain to oppose them?

    Wal-Mart ends food donations to charity

    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the nation's largest food retailer, said Thursday it will no longer donate nearly-expired or expired food to local groups feeding the hungry. Instead, that food will be thrown away, a move several Sacramento charities consider wasteful.

    Olan James, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the policy, which applies to all 1,224 Wal-Marts, 1,929 Supercenters and 558 Sam's Clubs, is an attempt to protect the corporation from liability in case someone who eats the donated food gets sick.
    . . .
    "If they were giving it away somewhere else that wouldn't be so bad, but the fact is, it's going into the garbage," said Owen Foley of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Locker at Presentation Church in Sacramento. "I mean, there's a big need." Foley said the breads, pies and cakes his group received from the Sam's Club on El Camino Avenue helped round out the meals served to more than 900 families last year.
    . . .
    ...Wal-Mart's concerns about liability seem misplaced in light of the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal law passed in 1996 offering food donors wide-ranging protections from civil lawsuits or criminal prosecution. The law states that donors can be held liable only in instances of "gross negligence."

    Notification of the Suppression of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish

    On Dec. 15, 2005, the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke declared that the following persons have automatically (latae sententiae) incurred the medicinal penalty of excommunication by the act of schism (cf. cann. 751 and 1364, § 1):
    Mr. John Baras,
    Mr. William Bialczak,
    Rev. Marek B. Bozek,
    Mr. Edward Florek,
    Mr. Stanley Novak,
    Dr. Joseph Rudawski and
    Mr. Robert Zabielski.
    At the same time, the Most Reverend Archbishop has asked the prayers of all the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, that the excommunicated parties may withdraw from their act of schism and be reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church.

    On Dec. 29, 2005, the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke issued the decree of suppression of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish because of the schismatic state of the board of directors of the civil corporation and of the priest whom they have hired to serve the parishioners. The Most Reverend Archbishop asks the prayers of all the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the intention of the reconciliation of the members of the board of directors of the civil corporation and of the priest with the Roman Catholic Church, in order that St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish may become once again a parish of the archdiocese.

    "Gay" Priest Quits, Seeks "Loving" Relationship

    As Rev. Scott Gale strode through Marathon’s Holy Saviour church Thursday morning, a parishioner sitting in a pew caught his eye and said quietly, “See you on Sunday.”

    Gale, 47, resigned last month after revealing he is gay, and that he is no longer able to commit to being celibate. Most of Holy Saviour’s parishioners learned of Gale’s decision to pursue his “longing for a loving relationship” as they sat in the pews during regular services on New Year’s Day. “It has become increasingly difficult for me to be an official representative of a church which does not accept and value my sexual orientation,” Gale declared in a two-page letter he read aloud.
    How is it possible that another confused man who was mistakenly ordained to the priesthood, eluded seminary gatekeepers and superiorss years ago? It's possible, and maybe quite probable, that the gatekeepers and superiors actually encouraged him to continue his "quest"...Who knows, he might have found that "loving" relationship.

    One can only hope that this man gets the spiritual and psychological help he desperately needs. And of course, prayers for his conversion.

    Preparing for the Solemnity of the Epiphany - On the Mercies of God in Jesus Christ

    by Fr. H. G. Hughes

    "And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And, entering into the house, they found the child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him, and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Matt. 2:10-11.

    Even under the old law, with its discipline of wrath and punishment, the psalmist sung and the prophets extolled the mercies of God. The severe aspect of the days before Christ has its lessons for us. God does not change. Still He is Lord and Master, and hates sin. The nature of sin itself has not changed; still it must be expiated, and, unrepented, will draw down eternal punishments. But something has happened by which God's mercy has been more wonderfully exhibited. It is almost as if God had feared the effect of His strict justice, and has raised up Himself a barrier against His own just anger. He Himself has taken our punishment and disarmed that justice; though not before the anger of God had been turned upon Himself.

    If, then, the psalmist sung the mercies of God, must not we Catholics?

    If God's wrath does not fall on this evil world, why is it? We can trace the reason to the Crib at Bethlehem; to the first Epiphany. In the Babe of Bethlehem was summed up the mercies of God.

    God's wrath is turned away by His Incarnation, Life, Passion; by His work of Redemption, still carried on in the Church; His continual Epiphany therein; by the Holy Sacrifice.

    When we think of God's omnipotence, we think of Him as working mighty works; as punishing His enemies. Yet He Himself tells us that His mercy is "above all His works" - prayer of the Church expressing this.

    The mercy of God shown in the Sacrament of Penance.

    All this due to the Birth and Epiphany of Christ.

    Shall these great mercies of God appeal to us in vain? Shall not our
    Lord's great love appeal at last to our hearts? The least we can do is to resolve to turn away from sin. Should we fall again, He is compassionate: He will pardon. So let us quickly come back to Him; throwing ourselves more and more upon His mercy.

    Let us come to-day with the Wise Men, to throw ourselves at the feet of Mercy Incarnate, and give Him the gold of love, the incense of prayer and praise, the myrrh of loving repentance. Let us go to Bethlehem and find "the Child with Mary His Mother."


    Even under the old Law, dear Brethren in Jesus Christ, the Law given amid the lightnings and thunders of Sinai; under the dispensation in which God's just wrath visited men with terrible chastisements in the temporal order - in all that time before Christ came, the period of man's hard and stern up-bringing and painful education in righteousness and justice, when his rebellious nature had to be broken to the yoke of God; the period which saw Adam and Eve driven forth from Paradise; which saw the race of men destroyed by the awful punishment of the flood; which saw fire and brimstone rain down upon the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, wiping them out from the face of the earth; when disobedience, even to ceremonial laws, was punished with instant death by the stroke of God's justice, when Core, Dathan, and Abiron, with all their followers, who stood up against Moses and Aaron, the ministers of the Most High, were suddenly swallowed up, the earth "breaking asunder under their feet" at the word of Moses, "opening her mouth, devouring them with their tents and all their substance; and they went down alive into hell, the ground closing upon them, and they perished from among the people" [Num. 16:31 ss.].

    The days in which Oza was struck dead because he put forth his hand to hold up the Ark of God, not being an anointed priest, and the men of Bethsames were smitten with a great slaughter because they looked irreverently into that holy symbol of the Divine Presence - even in those days when the awful visitations of God's just anger fell upon sinners for a warning to all mankind - even then the sweet Psalmist of Israel uttered those words of consolation and of trust in God, "The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever"; even then inspired prophets and writers could not refrain from telling men of the loving kindness, the compassion, the merciful indulgence of God their Father, so that the Old Testament is full of praises of God's wonderful and unspeakable mercy and pity for His poor creatures.

    So again the Psalmist sings, "Many, O Lord, are thy tender mercies; quicken me according to Thy Judgment (Ps. 118:156); and "The Lord is gracious and merciful, patient and plenteous in mercy: The Lord is sweet to all: and His tender mercies are over all His Works" (Ps. 144:8,9).

    Yet the severe aspect of those days of old, when men's proud and wayward hearts needed that the fear of God should be struck into them by terrible acts of the Divine Justice, has still a lesson for us - even for us who live under the New Law of Love in Jesus Christ. For God does not change: He is still our Lord and Master; still He hates sin; still the holiness of His Divine Nature must reject evil from before His Face; still it is true that nothing defiled can enter into His Holy Presence.

    Nor has the nature of sin changed; still is sin an act of unjustifiable rebellion against Him Who has the right, the absolute right, to our perfect obedience; still an act of sin, as much now as ever it was, is a mad uplifting of our puny wills against God, and deserves the most terrible chastisements of His just anger; still sin, all sin, must be expiated, either in this life or the next, by pain and suffering, and punishment; still the obstinate and unrepentent sinner who goes on to the end in his rebellion, must inevitably draw down upon himself the eternal effects of his rejection of God, and, with God, of all good and all holiness, his miserably foolish refusal of God, and God's Love, and God's Holy Grace. But though God has not changed in His necessary hatred of sin and evil; and though the hideousness of sin has not become any less than ever it was - nevertheless something has happened since the times of Israel by which God's great mercy has been more gloriously and more triumphantly, far, far more wonderfully exhibited towards mankind than in those days of old.

    It is - to express it in the faltering concepts of our poor human intelligence - it is almost as if God Himself had feared the dire effects of His just anger upon the sinful race of Adam; as if He feared that the claims of His justice and righteous vengeance should overbear the yearning tender pleading of His compassionate pity on our behalf. And so He has raised up on it a barrier against the lawful demands of His so justly kindled indignation at our constant wilful trespasses against His Most Holy and adorable, and most sovereign Will and Law.

    No, He took that task upon Himself. He, the offended God, has become the barrier against His own most lawful anger. To tell the truth, the most marvellous and most blessed truth, He has taken upon Himself our transgressions, and Himself has paid the penalty for our sins; Himself He has disarmed His rigorous justice - but not before the weapons of the anger of God had by His own hands been turned upon Himself to pierce His Sacred Heart. "Surely He has borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows; and we have thought Him, as it were, a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, every one has turned aside into his own way: and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:4-6). .

    Ah, dear brethren in Jesus, dear redeemed ones for whom He shed His Blood - if the Psalmist of old sang the tender mercies of our God, must not we? If He had cause to praise and to wonder at the compassionate indulgence and tender pity of the Heavenly Father, have not we much more? So surrounded are we and encompassed by the mercies of the Lord, that there would seem to be danger of forgetting that He is a God of Justice at all. I speak to Catholics - to you, chosen children of God's pity and love, favorites of your Heavenly Father; to you whose dear and precious souls are to Him a most cherished treasure, clear to Him as the apple of His eye, objects of His most tender solicitude and care, for they have been bought back to Him from sin and evil from degradation and exile by His Son's own precious Blood. Who is there like you who ought to sing the mercies of our God?

    If His wrath does not fall upon this evil world, why is it? If we, who ourselves, alas, Catholics and children of His Church though we are, have often and again deserved it - if we have not been struck down by His instant anger for our violation - not of the ark of the Covenant - but of our bodies and souls that are the living Tabernacles of His Holy Spirit and consecrated Temples of God - why is it? We can trace it all to the Crib at Bethlehem; to the "Epiphany", or manifestation of God to men, made to men when the Eternal Word was born in human nature: we can trace it to that day when the Eastern sages, representative of the Gentile world, worshipped in the Babe of Bethlehem their Saviour - the Saviour not only of the Jews, but of all the nations. In that sweet Infant were summed up all the mercies of God: He was Divine Mercy Itself Incarnate. And God's wrath is withheld from us because He was made Flesh and born; because He lived and died for us; because He still lives and works and is manifested - has His continual Epiphany - in His own mystic Body the Catholic Church; because in that Church day by day the adorable Sacrifice of His own Body and Blood, which is the continuation of the all-atoning sacrifice of Calvary, sends up its daily plea for mercy from our altars to the very throne of God; because now, as when He died, Jesus, our dear Saviour, takes upon Himself the iniquities of us all.

    When we think of the omnipotence of God - upon His Almighty Power, we think of that Power as working mighty works; we think of the Almighty One as creating the millions of worlds beyond our power to number; as ruling the hosts of Angels who adore in fear and trembling about His throne; as crushing His enemies with His Mighty Hand; as punishing those evil angels who defied Him in the beginning, and fell from their high estate under the stroke of His lightning anger.

    Yet what does He Himself tell us? There is a wonderful prayer in the Missal - the prayer in the Mass for the tenth Sunday after Pentecost - and, the public prayers of the Church express the infallible teaching of the Church, so that it is God Who teaches us His own truth in this wonderful and consoling prayer of His Church:
    "0 God, Who dost show forth Thy Omnipotence chiefly in sparing and having pity, multiply Thy mercy upon us; that hastening toward Thy promises Thou mayest make us partakers of the good things of heaven."

    "0 God, Who dost show forth Thy Omnipotence - not in mighty works - not in the destruction of Thy enemies - not in punishing and taking vengeance - but in sparing and having pity."
    And there is one time above all others when the mercies of God our Father come home to us - when we see the Omnipotence of God exercised in undoing the mischief - the terrible mischief, the fatal and irrevocable mischief we have done to our souls by sin. It is a time when we thank God not merely for His mercies to all mankind in general - but for His repeated mercies to us personally and individually.

    Brethren, it is when we have sinned, when we have lifted up our impious hands against God and our own souls. And what happens?

    Jesus our dear Lord draws us back to Him; He puts around us the arms of His compassionate mercy; He speaks to us, not words of reproach and anger; but of pity, of loving invitation, and of forgiveness, pouring out upon our souls the streams of His most precious Blood in the Sacrament of Penance.

    All this is due to the happy Birth of Christ our Saviour, which we are celebrating at this time; all is due to that first manifestation of God in the Flesh to which our thoughts naturally turn to-day.

    Dear brethren, shall these great mercies of God appeal to us in vain? Shall we let the easiness of pardon make us despise this great mercy of our Lord? Oh how mean, how ungrateful it would be of us, having been cleansed and restored and so fully pardoned, again to rush into the ways of sin.

    Shall not our dear Lord's great love appeal at last to our hard hearts? Ah, the very least we can do is to resolve with all the force and energy of our wills, that we will turn our backs upon the loathsome evil of sin - sin that killed Him, sin that takes away from us the lively life of grace - that now we will be His for life and in death. And should we fall again - God forbid it; but we are weak and vacillating - and He is so compassionate, because more than any other He knows our weakness, "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust." Should this happen to us again, let us quickly, eagerly come back to Him with truthful and humble confession, with renewed and stronger resolutions than before, more and more throwing ourselves upon Him in Whom in very deed and truth we can and we shall find strength to resist every temptation that can assail us.

    Brethren, let us come to-day with the Wise Men, to fall at the feet of Mercy Incarnate: to offer Him, like them, rich and precious gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh; the gold of pure love, more precious to Him than all else, because it is our hearts that more than all else He covets: the incense of true prayer and praise; prayer and praise, which both are a worship of His love and goodness: the myrrh of true sorrow and repentance; loving sorrow and the repentance of a heart that grieves that it has done so ill to One Who is so good. Let us come to-day in Spirit to Bethlehem, where all our Salvation was begun: there we shall find "the Child, with Mary His Mother"; Jesus, source and fount of mercy, of life, of Salvation; Mary, whose pure hands are ever lifted up in loving intercession for us Her children. So, by His great grace and unimagined mercy we shall praise Him for ever in our heavenly home.

    Adapted from Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers (1916)

    Gospel for Jan 6, Weekdays of the Christmas Season

    From: Mark 1:7-11

    The Ministry of John the Baptist

    [7] And he (John the Baptist) preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. [8] I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

    Jesus Is Baptized

    [9] In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; [11] and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."


    8. "Baptizing with the Holy Spirit" refers to the Baptism Jesus will institute and shows how it differs from the baptism of John. In John's baptism, as in the other rites of the Old Testament, grace was only signified, symbolized. "By the baptism of the New Law, men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and this is accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was cleansed by the water" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae, III, q. 38, art. 2 ad 1). In Christian Baptism, instituted by our Lord, the baptismal rite not only signifies grace but is the effective cause of grace, i.e. it confers grace. "Baptism confers the first sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtues, taking away Original Sin and also personal sins if there are any, together with the entire debt of punishment which the baptized person owes for sin. In addition, Baptism impresses the Christian character in the soul and makes it able to receive the other sacraments" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 295). The effects of Christian Baptism, like everything to do with the sanctification of souls, are attributed to the Holy Spirit, the "Sanctifier". It should be pointed out, however, that like all the "ad extra" actions of God (i.e. actions external to the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity), the sanctification of souls is the work of all three Divine Persons.

    9. Our Lord's hidden life takes place (apart form his birth at Bethlehem and the time he was in Egypt) in Nazareth of Galilee from where he comes to receive John's baptism.

    Jesus has no need to receive this baptism of conversion. However, it was appropriate that he who was going to establish the New Alliance should recognize and ccept the mission of his Precursor by being baptized with his baptism: this would encourage people to prepare to receive the Baptism which WAS necessary. The Fathers comment that our Lord went to receive John's baptism in order to fulfill all righteousness (cf. Mt 3:15), to give us an example of humility, to become widely known, to have people believe in Him and to give life-giving strength to the waters of Baptism.

    "Ever since the Baptism of Christ in the water, Baptism removes the sins of all" (St Augustine, "Sermon" 135).

    "There are two different periods of time which relate to Baptism--one the period of its institution by the Redeemer; the other the establishment of the law regarding its reception. [...] The second period to be distinguished, that is, the time when the law of Baptism was made, also admits of no doubt. Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when he gave to his Apostles the command to go and 'make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost' (Mt 28:19) the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved" ("St. Pius V Catechism", Part II).

    10. The visible presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove marks the beginning of Christ's public ministry. The Holy Spirit will also appear, in the form of tongues of fire, on the occasion when the Church begins its mission to all the world on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:3-21).

    The Fathers usually interpret the dove as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between God and men. It first appears in the account of the flood (Gen 8:10-11) as a sign that God's punishment of mankind has come to an end. Its presence at the beginning of Christ's public ministry symbolizes the peace and reconciliation he will bring.

    11. At the very beginning of his public life the mystery of the Holy Trinity is made manifest: "The Son is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father is heard" (St Bede, "In Marci Evangelium expositio, in loc."). "The Holy Spirit dwells in him," the same author goes on, "but not from the moment of his Baptism, but from the moment he became man." In other words, Jesus did not become God's son at his Baptism; he is the Son of God from all eternity. Nor did he become the Messiah at this point; he was the Messiah from the moment he became man.

    Baptism is the public manifestation of Jesus as Son of God and as Messiah, ratified by the presence of the Blessed Trinity.

    "The Holy Spirit descended visibly in bodily form upon Christ when he was baptized so that we may believe him to descend invisibly upon all those who are baptized afterwards" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 39, a. 6 and 3).

    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, January 05, 2006

    Monthly Renewal of Fervour

    Meditations for Priests
    Monthly Renewal of Fervour

    Among the many means we have to keep faithful to our high call, one of the most efficacious is the monthly recollec­tion. Pius X and Pius XI laid great emphasis on it in their exhortations to the clergy. In fact, it has become a widespread custom for priests to have a monthly recollection, at least in private; and recollections in common are a regular institution in many dioceses. However, the spiritual fruit of such recollection days depends greatly on the eagerness with which we seek it. Too easily recollections in private may become a mere routine performance; common recollec­tions may prove an agreeable diversion in the company of brother-priests, perhaps also a useful refresher on some point of ecclesiastical study. But the zealous priest will look upon his monthly recollection chiefly as the sure safe­guard of, and the necessary help to, sacerdotal fervour. Let us reflect a while on this, and see how useful our monthly recollection is: - lest we deteriorate in our spiritual life, - lest we stagnate in it, - lest we fail in sacerdotal holiness.

    Lest We Deteriorate

    Alas! it is possible for a priest to deteriorate, and to deteriorate very badly, in spite of the sacredness of his call. He may come to lose, gradually, the flavor of his priesthood, to think and to act in ways less and less sacerdotal, more and more of the world. He may even fall below the standard of a good layman, to the latter's great disedification. And his downward course may bring him in the end to become a stumbling-block and a scandal, even to give up his vocation.

    Such falls never happen all of a sudden. They are brought about by gradual steps down the ladder of perfection, by a gradual neglect of the spiritual life. Therefore our greatest saIeguard against tnem is to detect and combat the first symptoms of danger: "Principiis obsta". And it is here that our monthly recollections are an invaluable help: they make us take stock of the state of our soul, discover which are the weak points that endanger our sacerdotal fervour, and take practical resolutions to stem the evil. No priest will ever lose his vocation or his sacerdotal spirit, as long as he is in earnest about the exercises of his monthly recollection.
    * These considerations ought to influence me also and make me prize my monthly recollection, however secure I may seem to be: "Qui se existimat stare, videat ne cadat."

    Even St Teresa was shown the place in hell where she would have gone had she not given up too natural a friendship.

    Am I taking the opportunity of my recollection to watch sin­cerely, humbly, for any signs of possible deterioration in my spiritual life: v.g. in my prayers and exercises of piety, in my resistance to temptations, in charity, in zeal for souls; etc.?

    ­Am I generous in overcoming the obstacles that so often come in the way of my recollection day?

    It requires energy and generosity to be faithful; but no sacrifices are too great to make sure of my perseverance: "Quid prodest homini..."
    Lest We Stagnate

    Probably the more common danger for priests is an habitual mediocrity. They slowly settle down to a life of very average goodness and rest satisfied with the efforts they make to be more or less faithful, at least materially, to their duties: their faults and shortcomings are not grievous, but neither are their virtues of the heroic type. And thus they carry on contentedly, with hardly ever any appreciable improvement in their ways - with what loss of merit to themselves, with what diminution of fruit in their ministry!

    Against this danger also the monthly recollection, done earnestly, is a most efficacious remedy. For it puts before us again and again the obligations of our priesthood and its exigency of a more than ordinary goodness; it reminds us of the sacredness of our ministry and of the many means of fervour in it. We examine our daily life in that light, to see how far we fall short of that ideal, and, led by God's special graces, we take new courage to aim at greater fervour and generosity. In that way every recollection day ought to be a most powerful antidote for spiritual stagnation. "Dixi: Nunc coepi; haec mutatio dexterae Excelsi."
    * Do I look upon my monthly recollection as upon a confirmation and a refresher of my annual retreat?

    Examin­ing how far I have kept up my ideal and been faithful to my resolutions?

    Do I devise practical means, v.g. by the choice of a particular examen, to grow in virtue and to perform my priestly duties more perfectly?

    Do I stir myself to fervour by the exercise of the preparation for death? "If I were to appear before God now, how ashamed I would feel of what I am and of the little I have done for Him." Hence, the urge to renewed fervour...
    Lest We Fail in Holiness

    Further, our monthly recollections must be dear to us because they are stepping-stones to holiness. A good priest will never rest satisfied with avoiding grievous lapses, or with the practice of ordinary virtue: he will aim at the downright holiness which alone befits his priesthood, keeping that always as his determined goal, however far he may feel from it in reality, ever trying to go forward in the way of perfection. And every monthly recollection will be the occasion to strengthen his firm purpose and to renew his generosity in the pursuit of it.

    In special meditations and exhortations he will be re­minded of the claims of his holy vocation; in the recollected solitude of his heart he will hear the voice of Christ and the inspirations of the Holy Ghost; and in his more fervent and prolonged prayer (including perhaps the Way of the Cross and the Holy Hour) Jesus will enkindle in him new sparks of the fire that consumes His Sacred Heart.
    * Do I go to my monthly recollections with earnest desires of holiness?

    Do I seek it in a sincere, humble and generous surrender to the action of the Holy Ghost in me: ready to wish what He wishes, to give all that He asks? ­

    And do I steadily keep my eyes and my heart fixed upon the Model of all holiness?

    "Aspicientes in auctorem fidei et consummatorem Jesum."
    "Doce me facere voluntatem tuam" (Ps. 118).
    Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J.

    The Establishment of Parishes - Corporate Rights

    As promised, I have posted another section of the book The Canonical and Civil Status of Catholic Parishes in the United States (c)1926, by Fr. Charles Augustine, OSB, DD.

    As stated before, please bear in mind that this was written about 10 years after the codification of Canon Law in 1917. Nonetheless, the historical significance and perspective, I think, is essential for a better understanding of what we are witnessing in the Church today, with the sexual abuse lawsuits, the bankruptcies, and the various schisms (such as St Stanislaus):

    3. Corporate Rights

    1. The term corporation is derived from the Latin corpus, body. This body, par ex­cellence, under the Romans law was the popu­lus Romanus in its entirety.(56) Within this large public body minor bodies were allowed to form a union or association, which went by the name of collegium. One of the most an­cient of these collegia was that of the priests, which was legally recognized by the Roman Republic as a public corporation.(57) This was a logical consequence of the intimate union existing between the civil and the religious power.

    There were also sodalities or collegia tem­plorum. Every corpus or collegium required for its existence a legislative act by virtue of which it was incorporated into the general body politic of the republic. In this legislative act approval was given to the statutes, which had to be submitted in each individual case to the senatus consultum or decree of the Senate. Whether a certain amount of auton­omy was granted by this sanction appears doubtful to some writers, but is more gener­ally affirmed. Be that as it may, all agree that, after the grant by the Senate, a corpora­tion was entitled to hold meetings, to set up ordinances or resolutions by majority vote, to admit and exclude members, to determine fees and fines, to select committees, and to elect of­ficers with the power of a quasi-magistrate. (58)

    Another element is the right of ownership, which, at the beginning of the corporate de­velopment, caused some trouble on account of the public character of corporations. But the jurists borrowed the proprietary right from that inherent in the individual, in other words, from the ius privatum, and considered the universitas or collective unity of the mem­bers of a corporation as the subject and carrier of that material, but important, right of ownership. However, it should be noted that the Roman law, under the republic at least, did not identify the sum-total of the individuals' proprietary rights with the col­lective right of the corporate members as such. The law or the senatus consultum granted or attributed to the corporation so much of the ownership as seemed necessary to carry out its purpose or end. Therefore, the right of proprietorship attached to the cor­poration was sharply distinguished from the right of ownership inherent in each member as a citizen or individual. It is the corporate right of ownership which the law attributed to a corpus or collegium, expressed, especially for this purpose, as an universitas, which was represented by the syndicus, procurator or agent.

    This conception of the corporation as an universitas led to another, viz., that of a juri­dical person (personae vice fungitur).(59) Whether we are thus compelled to introduce a fictio juris is disputed among learned writ­ers.(6o) At any rate it requires some imagina­tion to make one person out of a number of individuals, unless we simply state that the collective will of the corporation is the sub­ject of rights, and in particular of proprietary rights.

    It only remains to be added that each cor­pus or collegium was supposed to have a particular purpose, which was clearly defined in the statutes submitted to the senatus con­sultum or, later on, to the imperial constitu­tion. It was the purpose, therefore, which distinguished one corporation from another.

    According to Roman law, therefore, a cor­poration may be defined as a juridical person, lawfully organized for a definite purpose. The elements are: (a) a legal constitution, (b) a plurality of members ("tres faciunt collegium"),(61) and (c) a definite purpose.

    2. The next question is whether a parish is a corporation in ecclesiastical and civil law. A parish is a part and parcel of the Church Catholic, which is represented in Holy Scrip­ture as a visible society or institute for religi­ous purposes.(62) An invisible, merely spir­itual church is warranted neither by Scripture nor by tradition. The Church of Christ is in­deed, a mystic body, but one which appears and acts like a body politic, and derives its existence, not from men, but from God, not from the State, but from its Founder, who laid down the essential features of this living organism.(68)

    Consequently, its existence and duration depended on no senatus consultum or imperial constitution. The history of the persecutions shows that the Church was not a mere appendix to the State, but an entity dis­tinct from, though not necessarily opposed to, the State.

    When the Church entered as a peaceful subject into the ius publicum of the Roman Empire, the latter's first edict was that recog­nizing her right to hold property.(64) This property right was acknowledged as residing, not in the universal Church, but in the single churches, understood as juridical persons, and vindicated, therefore, to the "concilium" or "conventiculum" or "corpus" of the faithful who worshipped in that particular place or meeting house.(65) It is the "most holy," - the "venerable," the "religious" or "blessed" church of such and such a city or town that is endowed with property rights. No other no­tion of ownership is in keeping with the Jus­tinian Code.

    The Corpus iuris civilis promulgated by Justinian presupposes the property right as inherent in the individual or local church, subject to the bishop of the diocese.(66) It need not surprise us if we read of Christ, or an archangel, or a saint being the owner of this or that property,(67) for this invisible owner took, or was supposed to take, the place of a visible person. Justinian's legislation with regard to religious corporations was neither original nor progressive. It merely applied the old Roman notions of corporation to ec­clesiastical institutions. Yet a difference is noticeable in Justinian's legislative acts, inas­much as it would be next to impossible to find a law text which purports to be a creative or constituent act of foundation.

    In other words, the imperial theologian nowhere makes the foundation or creation of an ecclesiastical corporation dependent on an imperial consti­tution or rescript. On the contrary, these re­ligious institutions were simply inserted and adopted as they had previously existed, and were now recognized as juridical persons with a more or less fictitious feature. The above named fictitious ownership invested in Christ, or an angel, or a saint, had also a sacred, or, as some were pleased to call it, a transcendent character, as it insinuated the purpose of the property held.

    The property held by the church was intended for the service of God. It was, therefore, not to be enjoyed by the community, or parish, or diocese, as primary usufructuary, but to be used as something sacred, viz., for the service of God, and shared by those who belonged to the so-called corporation only in as far as they partook of the altar. This naturally led to a gradual change in the aspect of the corporate char­acter: it developed into an institute or per­manent administrative organization with a definite purpose. At what time this notion
    began to be fixed in the Roman law cannot be determined with certainty.(68)

    The Canon Law further developed and gave precision to the juridical concept of an institute with a corporate character. Out of the idea of the universal Church, the mystic body of Christ and mother of all the faithful, sprang,(69) as so many offshoots, the smaller limbs or living units, viz., the individual churches, which were admitted in law as per­sons, and enjoyed the right of ownership to­gether with other rights.(70)

    Such appears to have been the view of the ancient sources of Canon Law and their com­mentators. Yet it would be difficult to prove that even at the height of the Roman­-canonical literature an adequate distinction between the purely corporate notion and that of institution or pious foundation was elabo­rated, especially with regard to parishes. Canonists and legists started from the "uni­versitas corporum" and applied it to various collective bodies. To cathedral and collegiate chapters they could unhesitatingly apply the formula: "Plurium corporum distan­tium rationabilium uno nomine eis deputata collectio." But a difficulty arose when a single parish was to be subsumed under this category. For by reason of the essentially hierarchic character of the Church, the pa­rishioners could not be considered as members co-equal with the rector. In order to obviate this difficulty, some canonists maintained that the rector or priest had the same position and rights as the prelate in collegiate bodies. He could go to law for his parish and could sue and be sued, either personally or by proxy; only concerning alienation he was not en­tirely free on account of administrative meas­ures.(71)

    However, the Canon Law did not vindicate the right of ownership to the parish as such, as if the parishioners, taken collectively, were the owners of the church property. Being of the laity, these parishioners could neither ad­minister nor dispose of ecclesiastical property. Nor is mention made anywhere in the law sources that the consent or advice of the pa­rishioners was required for valid or licit acts permitted by law to the church authority. Furthermore, the very constitution, adminis­tration, and cessation of a parish was placed entirely into the hands of the superiors. If the parishioners were taxed or asked to con­tribute to the parish funds, this is similar to the State taxing its citizens, who have not on that account a claim on the public exchequer (fiscus).(72)

    Where there was no complete separation of Church and State, the latter organized the parishioners per modum corporationis for the administration of the endowment, for the payment of taxes where such were required, and for the protection of accessory rights, such as advowson, if there were any. Otherwise the State acknowledged the parish as a canon­ically and locally organized religious insti­tute administered by a lawful rector. The members of this religipus organization, i.e., those who live within a determined precinct, are served by the same rector and in the same church as to their spiritual wants, and contribute pro rata to the support of the church and rector.(73)

    In the United States it was customary, though not everywhere, for the bishops to hold all the church property of the diocese in fee simple. This custom, however, was cer­tainly opposed to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the law. For the freeholder could legally transfer the property to anyone he wished, and thus alienate the property from its true purpose. Heirs of the bishop could, where no other legal provision had been made, claim such property for their inheritance.

    Not without good reason, therefore, did the Apostolic See abolish the fee simple method of holding church property, at the same time recommending the parish corporation, more especially in the form acknowledged by the statutes of the State of New York. Where the civil law did not admit such corporations, another form, viz., the corporation sole, was to be selected. Where this latter form was adopted, however, the bishop, in the adminis­tration of church property, was obliged to proceed according to Canon Law; that is to say, he had to hear those interested, and confer with the diocesan consultors, whose advice was absolutely necessary, and whose consent was of great importance.

    What has the Code to say about parish cor­porations? But little, and that little widely dispersed.(74)

    a) The pastor holds his parish in titulum, which means that he is the holder, not the owner, of the parish and of its property.(75) Therefore, the pastor, - be he an individual priest or an artificial person, such as a reli­gious community, - is responsible for the par­ish and its proper administration. This is exactly what the older canonists, up to the Council of Trent and afterwards, held.

    b) As a benefice, the parish is called a juridical entity (ens iuridicum), established by competent authority and consisting of a sacred office, together with the right to re­ceive the revenues from the endowment at­tached to that office.(76) From the general title of Part V, Book III of the Code ("De Bene­fiiciis aliisque lnstitutis Ecclesiasticis non Col­legialibus") we may conclude that a benefice or parish is not a collegiate or corporate body, but falls under the pious foundations (funda­tiones piae) mentioned in can. 1544. This is all the more probable, since parishes are not named among those non-collegiate ecclesiasti­cal institutes which may be established as juridical persons by a decree of the local Ordinary.(77) Yet can. 99 shows that the Code attaches to benefices the notion of a moral or juridical person, though not of a collegiate person, and therefore does not regard them as corporations in the strict sense of the term. For a corporation in the strict sense requires at least three individuals.(78)

    c) Such juridical persons or non-collegiate corporations are endowed with property rights, and, therefore, a parish is the owner of the church property invested in the ben­efice,(79) i.e., either in the bishop or the pastor.


    56 See O. Gierke, Das deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht, 1881, Vol.III, p.77 ff.

    57 See l.1, Dig. 48, 4;l.2, Dig. 47, 22; an exception to this general law seems to
    have been the collegia tenuiorum.

    58 Gierke, l.c. III, 8+ f.; Gaius in l.I, Dig. 3. 4

    59 See l. 22., Dig. 46, l. 9, § 2, Dig. 4, 2; Gierke, l.c., III, 195.

    60 Gierke, l.c., page 103, is strong for the fiction: "As part of the iuspublicum the universitas was a reality, but no per­son; as subject of the ius privatum the universitas was a per­son, but no reality." Other writers just as reasonably assume a collective will, centered in the unity, as represented by the lawful head of the corporation, or syndic.

    61 Fr. 85, Dig. 50, 16, where Marcellus says: "Neratius Pris­cus tres facere existimat collegium, et hoc magis sequendum est."

    62 See Rom. XII, 4 ff.; I Cor. XII, 4 ff.; Ephes. I, 22 f.; Col. I,24.

    63 Gierke, l. c., III, 111.

    64 Edicts of Milan 3I2-313;see Funk, Manual of Church History, 1913, 1, 47f.

    65 This excludes the theory, still held by some, that there are two subjects of property right, one immediate, the other medi­ate.

    66 See 11.15-17; 20; 22; 23, Cod. 1, 2; Nov. 67, cap. 1, 2; Aug. Knecht, System des Justinianischen Kirchenvermogens­rechtes, 1905, 28 ff. (Stutz, Kirchenrechtl. Abhandlungen, n. 22).

    67 The classical text is 1. 25, Cod. Just. 1, 2, of Oct. 20, 530; also Nov. 131, cap. 9, of March 18, 545.

    68 See Knecht, l. c., pp. 6, 16 ff.

    69 An Anglo-Saxon writer says: "ealle we habbadh aenne heofonlicne faeder and ane gastlice moder, seo is ecclesia genamed, that is Godes cirice, and thy we sin gebrothra." (Gierke, I. c., II, 547).

    70 Gierke, l. c., 11, 548 f.; 959; 111, 116.

    71 Gierke, l. c., 111, 419 ff. and 272, where the sources are quoted.
    72 Schulte, System des Allgemeinen Kathol. Kirckenrechts, 1856, page 479.

    73 See U. Lampert, Die kirchlichen Stiftungen, Anstalten und Korperschaften, Zurich, 1912, page 37 ff.

    74 S.C.C., July 29, 1911 (Ecclesiastical Review, 19II, Vol. 45, 585 f.).

    75 Can. 451, § 1.

    76 Can. 1409.

    77 Can. 1489, § 1.

    78 Can. 100, § 2.

    79 Can. 1495, § 2; can. 1499, § 2.

    The Halfway Point in our Novena for Archbishop Burke

    We have just passed the halfway point in the "Irresistible Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" for Archbishop Burke, his intentions, and for the Archdiocese. If you haven't yet participated in the Novena, would you kindly consider doing so? Thank you very much!

    Superior Bishop Raphael Fliss Will Meet with Parishioners

    HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - A bishop has agreed to meet Jan. 15 with parishioners of St. Patrick's Catholic Church to discuss issues involving a former priest who a judge has ruled likely killed two Hudson funeral home workers nearly four years ago.

    Some church members have publicly wondered whether the killings could have been prevented had the diocese acted when parishioners complained about the late Rev. Ryan Erickson, who hanged himself about a year ago after being questioned by police in the slayings.

    Victims urge Iowa bishops to sanction alleged abuser

    Retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens says claims against him are untrue

    A Papal Communal Penance Service....?

    This comes from Catholic News Service, the USCCB news agency.
    Vatican announces papal liturgies, including communal penance service
    Pope Benedict XVI's schedule of public liturgies through April includes a Lenten communal penitential service -- a papal first -- but no canonization or beatification ceremonies.

    Releasing the pope's January-April liturgical calendar Dec. 31, the Vatican announced the pope will preside over a communal penance service followed by private confessions and individual absolution April 11, the Tuesday of Holy Week.

    The schedule did not say whether the pope would be among the priests hearing confessions during the celebration in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope John Paul II made a tradition of hearing confessions on Good Friday at the basilica.
    While one certainly understands that some may see this as a vindication of sorts of the numerous abuses of communal penance services in the past, I suspect that by this event the Holy Father will confirm the previous corrections made of the past abuses while demonstrating the proper manner in which communal penance services are practiced - including the necessity of individual auricular confession and absolution after such a service.

    We should understand that a Communal Penance Service "shows more clearly the ecclesial nature of penance." (No. 22, Praenotanda of the Ordo Paenitentiae). It also helps prepare a large group of penitents for several confessors to hear individual confessions and exposes a greater number of individual to (hopefully) a proper examination of conscience while encouraging more Catholics to seek the generous reconciliation and healing which our Lord bids us to receive.

    Cleveland Bishop Anthony Pilla Requests Retirement

    CLEVELAND - The city's Roman Catholic bishop, who will celebrate 25 years in that post on Friday, has asked the Vatican to consider appointing his replacement.

    Bishop Anthony Pilla declined to reveal the reasons for his retirement request, saying a letter he had written to the Vatican was private.

    The date of his retirement is at the discretion of the Vatican, said Pilla, who is awaiting a response from Pope Benedict XVI and his staff.

    "I have let the Holy See know that it would be good for the diocese," Pilla told The Plain Dealer for a story Thursday.

    Bishop Pilla is 73 years old. Hw was born Nov 12, 1932.

    Holy War: The Year the Muslims Took Rome

    Few know about it, but it happened. A book published in the United States offers to the public the first comprehensive collection of the major documents on the theory and practice of jihad, from Mohammed until today.
    by Sandro Magister

    Gospel for Jan 5, Memorial: St. John Neumann, Bishop

    From: John 1:43-51

    The Calling of the First Disciples (Continuation)

    [43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." [44] Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. [45] Philip found Nathaniel, and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." [46] Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." [47] Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and said to him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" [48] Nathaniel said to Him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." [49] Nathaniel answered Him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! [50] Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." [51] And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."


    43. "Follow Me" is what Jesus usually says to all His disciples (cf. Mt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9). During Jesus' lifetime, His invitation to follow Him implied being with Him in His public ministry, listening to His teaching, imitating His lifestyle, etc. Once the Lord ascended into Heaven, following Him obviously does not mean going with Him along the roads of Palestine; it means that "a Christian should live as Christ lived, making the affections of Christ his own, so that he can exclaim with St Paul: "It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 103). In all cases our Lord's invitation involves setting out on a journey: that is, it requires one to lead a life of striving always to do God's will even if this involves generous self-sacrifice.

    45-51. The Apostle Philip is so moved that he cannot but tell his friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) about his wonderful discovery (verse 45). "Nathanael had heard from Scripture that Jesus must come from Bethlehem, from the people of David. This belief prevailed among the Jews and also the prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying: `But you, O Bethlehem, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel' (Micah 5:2). Therefore, when he heard that He was from Nazareth, he was troubled and in doubt, since he found that the announcement of Philip was not in agreement with the words of the prophecy" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 20, 1).

    A Christian may find that, in trying to communicate his faith to others, they raise difficulties. What should he do? What Philip did--not trust his own explanation, but invite them to approach Jesus personally: "Come and see" (verse 46). In other words, a Christian should bring his fellow-men, his brothers into Jesus' presence through the means of grace which He has given them and which the Church ministers--frequent reception of the sacraments, and devout Christian practices.

    Nathanael, a sincere person (verse 47), goes along with Philip to see Jesus; he makes personal contact with our Lord (verse 48), and the outcome is that he receives faith (the result of his ready reception of grace, which reaches him through Christ's human nature: verse 49).

    As far as we can deduce from the Gospels, Nathanael is the first Apostle to make an explicit confession of faith in Jesus as Messiah and as Son of God. Later on St. Peter, in a more formal way, will recognize our Lord's divinity (cf. Matthew 16:16). Here (verse 51) Jesus evokes a text from Daniel (7:13) to confirm and give deeper meaning to the words spoken by His new disciple.
    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, January 04, 2006

    Asking the Right Questions about "Touching"

    Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, is almost certainly going to get himself in hot water with the U.S. Bishops Conference Office of Child and Youth Protection. That's entirely to his credit.
    by George Weigel

    Fr Thomas Euteneuer Accuses Senate Democrats of Anti-Catholic Bigotry on Judicial Nominees

    Tolerance, diversity and inclusivness for all - except Catholic judicial nominees.

    Diogenes: the seminary visitation: John Allen's mid-term report

    As always, Diogenese provides an honest and, probably, more accurate assessment of the Seminary visitation:
    Diogenes:Reporting that almost a third of the 229 seminaries and formation programs have undergone their apostolic visitation, the NCR's John Allen gives an account of the process so far. Ominously, the buzz-word is "cordial."
    [M]ost bishops who have led visitation teams say they see the process as a matter of "fine-tuning," rather than remedying systemic problems. Several bishops have likened the visitation to an academic accreditation process, helping institutions to build on strengths and correct weaknesses.
    Diogenes:Great. That's doubtless why the Holy See called the U.S. cardinals together in April of 2002 and insisted on a "new and serious" visitation: for purposes of accreditation and fine-tuning.
    While his entire assessment is worth reading, I particularly was relieved to see that he had pierced the center of the bullseye with his observation of St. Louis' "finest" (cough...gag) center of formation:
    Some bishops privately told NCR that the visits may provide cover for seminaries and houses of formation, especially those run by religious orders, which are sometimes unjustly criticized for lax oversight or ambiguity on church teaching.
    Diogenes:Unjustly criticized? The Aquinas Institute of St. Louis took on the Visitation norms directly by putting its queen en prise at the beginning of the match and defying the visitators to act. The Institute displays no ambiguity whatsoever on Church teaching: it rejects it. Whether the Holy See responds with pink slips or a corrected reading list remains to be seen.
    Enjoy the observation here.

    Some History of Civil Laws Affecting Religious Corporations

    Here are a few remarks of the history concerning the civil laws which affect religious corporations. [The Canonical and Civil Status of Catholic Parishes in the United States (c)1926, by Fr. Charles Augustine, OSB, DD]

    More to follow in another post. Bear in mind that this was written about 10 years after the codification of Canon Law in 1917. Nonetheless, the historical significance and perspective, I think, is essential for a better understanding of what we are witnessing in the Church today, with the sexual abuse lawsuits, the bankruptcies, and the various schisms (such as St Stanislaus):
    American Civil Church Law

    "In English ecclesiastical law it [the term parish] has been used to designate the terri­tory committed to the particular charge of a parson or priest. In the absence of a State Church here however, the status of a parish is rendered comparatively unimportant; if used in ecclesiastical divisions, it has just such importance and particular signification as may be given it under ecclesiastical regulations. The rules of a church organization constitute the law for its government, and the civil court will, in general, recognize and enforce these as any other voluntary agreement between the parties. But what may be the law of the church government is a matter of fact in court of law, and must appear in the proof" (80)

    This is in perfect keeping with the oft re­peated principle prevailing in our country, viz., that the civil courts have, and will ex­ercise, no jurisdiction in reviewing the actions of ecclesiastical bodies in matters relating purely to the faith and discipline of their members.(81) "The bishop is the governing power of the Catholic Church in his diocese. He is said to be the supreme pastor, the su­preme teacher, the supreme governor. It is his duty, under the laws and discipline of the Church, to administer the regulations above mentioned, and in so doing necessarily to con­strue and interpret them. His decision is to be final and conclusive, except as reviewed by his ecclesiastical superiors at Rome." (82)

    This ruling can be accepted, as in accord­ance with the Code; see can. 329, 334-336, 343, and, with regard to the matter more closely connected, can. 216, § I, 2; 455, § I; can.- 1414, § 2. But we cannot now, that the Code is in force, accept the statement made in a Massachusetts case: "Under the law of the Roman Catholic Church the bishop has full power in the administration of church affairs; there are no separate parishes; the diocese is the parish and the bishop the universal parish priest; all power possessed by priests or pas­tors is delegated from the bishop;" (83)The words placed in italics are no longer true, even in our country, because contradicted by the Code. (84)

    While single parishes may be incorporated as religious corporations or trustee corpora­tions, territorial parishes as such are not ac­ceptable as corporations. Thus a Nebraska court decided: "Territorial areas described in the nomenclature of the Roman Catholic Church as parishes, are not recognized by the law as corporate or political entities; and if they were such, the Church could not legislate concerning them." (85) This is quite intelli­gible from the viewpoint of the civil law, since a territorial parish or corporation would affect property and civil rights of pastor and parishioners; but this decision does not affect church law, first because, as stated above, most of the territorial corporations have ceased, and, secondly, membership in a corporation is not essentially connected with territorial extension.

    It is generally held that corporations sole in the United States are rare.(86) The fact is that the term "corporation sole" sounds like a con­tradictio in adiecto. For it rests on a twofold fiction, viz.} first, the fiction (mentioned above) of the collective will united into one, and, secondly, that the bishop is the diocese.

    Here may be added a few remarks concern­ing the civil laws affecting religious corpora­tions.

    a) A corporation, in civil law, is generally defined as a body consisting of one or more natural persons, empowered by law to act as an individual, and continued by a succession of members.(87)

    b) A parish may be incorporated, in most of our States, as a religious corporation; it may also add as a further purpose, education, provided some educational institution, such as a parochial or high school, is immediately connected with the church. The "statutes" of each State must be properly obeyed and carried out.

    c) The Revised Statutes of Missouri, 1919, state (Sect. 10,264): "Any number of persons not less than three,"--the State of Missouri knows no corporation sole,-"who shall have associated themselves by articles of agreement in writing, as a society, company, association or organization formed for benevolent, religious, scientific, fraternal-beneficial, or educational purposes, may be consolidated and united into a corporation. Such articles of agreement may be organic regulations, or a constitution, or other form of association, and any corporate name, not already assumed by another corporation, may be chosen as the title of the corporation; provided, always, that the purpose and scope of the association be clearly and fully set forth.". . . (Sect, 3433): "The persons holding the offices respectively of president, secretary and treasurer of the association, or other chief officers, by whatever name they may be known, shall submit to the circuit court having jurisdiction in the city or country where such association is located, the articles of agreement, with the petition praying for a pro forma decree thereon. If the court shall be of opinion that such articles of agreement and the purpose of the association come properly within the purview of this article, and are not inconsistent with the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of this State, the court shall enter on record an order to that effect, a certified copy of which order shall, by the clerk, be indorsed upon or attached to said articles."

    d) Similar laws exist in practically every State, prescribing the conditions on which corporations can be formed. Since, however, the above mentioned decree of the S. C. of the Council makes special reference to the laws of the State of New York, the passage from the New York statutes referring to parish corporations may here be inserted:

    "An unincorporated Roman Catholic church or an unincorporated Christian Orthodox Catholic church of the Eastern Confession in this State may become incorporated as a church by executing, acknowledging, and filing a certificate of incorporation, stating the corporate name by which such church shall be known, and the country, town, city or village where its principal place of worship is, or is intended to be located.

    "A certificate of incorporation of an unincorporated Roman Catholic church shall be executed and acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Archbishop or Bishop, and the Vicar-General of the diocese in which its place of worship is, and by the rector of the church, and by two laymen, members of such church, who shall be selected by such officials, or by a majority of such officials.

    "On filing such certificate, such church shall be a corporation by the name stated in the certificate.

    "The Archbishop or Bishop and the Vicar General of the diocese to which any incorporated Roman Catholic church belongs, the rector of such church, and their successors in office, shall, by virtue of their offices, be trustees of such church. Two laymen, members of such incorporated church, selected by such officers or a majority of them, shall also be trustees of such incorporated church, and such officers and such laymen trustees shall together constitute the board of trustees thereof. The two laymen signing the certificate of incorporation of an incorporated Roman Catholic church shall be the two laymen trustees thereof during the first year of its corporate existence. The term of office of the two laymen trustees of an incorporated Roman Catholic church shall be one year. Whenever the office of any such layman trustee shall become vacant by expiration of term of office or otherwise, his successor shall be appointed from members of the church, by such officers or a majority of them. No act or proceeding of the trustees of any such incorporated church shall be valid without the sanction of the Archbishop or Bishop of the diocese to which such church belongs, or in case of their absence or inability to act, without the sanction of the Vicar-General or of the administrator of such diocese."

    "Wherever a Roman Catholic parish has been heretofore or shall hereafter be duly divided by the Roman Catholic Bishop having jurisdiction over said parish, and the original Roman Catholic church corporation is given one part of the old parish, and a new or sec­ond Roman Catholic church corporation is given the remaining part of the old parish, and it further appears that by reason of the said division the original Roman Catholic church corporation holds title to real prop­erty situate within the part of the old parish that was given to the new or second Roman Catholic church corporation, then the said Roman Catholic Bishop or his successor shall have the right and power, of himself, inde­pendently of any action or consent on the part of the trustees of the original Roman Catholic church corporation, to transfer the title of the said real property, with or without valuable consideration, to the said new or second Ro­man Catholic church corporation. Said transfer shall be made by the said Roman Catholic Bishop or his successor after having complied with the requirements of the code of civil procedure in the same manner as the trustees of any religious corporation are com­pelled to do before making a transfer of church property. If a valuable considera­tion is paid for the transfer, the same shall be received by the said Roman Catholic Bishop or his successor, and distributed between the said original Roman Catholic church cor­poration and the new or second Roman Cath­olic church corporation, in such proportions as in the discretion of the said Bishop or his successor may seem proper."

    The Archbishop of New York, in a Pas­toral Instruction, 1909, added that four mem­bers of a board consisting of five members were required for a quorum.

    "Essentials of a Corporation.-The hold­ing of the meeting, the election of trustees, and the execution of the certificate in accord­ance with the statute, constitute the substan­tial requirements to create a corporation, although the recording is necessary to its complete consummation. An error in re­cording the loss of one or more seals after they were legally and properly affixed, would not prevent the corporation from taking effect as such."(88)

    "The validity of the incorporation of a re­ligious society cannot be drawn in question by a private suitor in a collateral proceeding. The appropriate remedy is by writ quo war­ranto at the suit of the attorney general, or perhaps a prosecuting attorney." (89)

    "The only and primary object of the cor­poration is the acquisition and taking care of property. The rules of the church as to the discipline of members have no relation to the corporate property or corporate matters."(90)

    f) Corporations are generally allowed to acquire and hold property by subscription, purchase, devise, or gift.(91) But some limits have been put on corporations in this regard, one of which is that the property held should not exceed the purpose for which the corpora­tion was formed. "The question whether a religious corporation has capacity to take property in excess of the amount prescribed by its charter, can be raised only by the State in a direct proceeding for that purpose. The question cannot be raised collaterally at the instance of a private individual who may be interested in the property, nor in a pro­ceeding for the construction of a will." (92) But "a society organized for religious pur­poses under the Ohio statute could not law­fully establish a savings bank and engage in the general business of banking. Such busi­ness was not authorized by its charter." (93)

    "If a corporation takes land by grant or de­vise, in trust or otherwise, which, by its char­ter, it cannot hold, its title is good as against third persons and strangers; and the State alone can interfere. If the corporation ex­ceeds the prescribed amount, though it be by an original purchase, nobody but the State can interfere with the holding of the property which it acquires, and it is a matter of which individuals cannot avail themselves in any way." (94)

    "A promissory note purporting to be made by the corporation and signed by its presi­dent, secretary, and treasurer was held not en­forcible (against the corporation) without proof that the note was made by authority of the corporation. Trustees have no power to bind the corporation by individual action, but the board must act as a body." (95)

    "A religious association, although by rea­son of irregularities in complying with the provisions of the respective State's Statutes it has failed to become a corporation, may nevertheless hold property given to it by the name which it assumed, and another religious society subsequently incorporated, is not en­titled to take the name or the property."(96)

    g) Hence it was held that even if the cer­tificate of incorporation was defective in some particulars, the society became a de facto corporation} and it might be presumed that all the requirements of the statute were com­plied with. "A bequest made to a corpora­tion which had thus existed de facto for nearly twenty years, was adjudged to it.(97)

    As to the name of a corporation, there is a very interesting decision of a Pennsylvania court concerning a schismatic Polish congre­gation which had usurped a name reserved to the Roman Catholic Church. The char­ter was refused.(98)

    h) Where there is a definite body in a corporation-trustees-the majority of that body must not only exist at the time when any act is to be done by them, but a majority of that body must attend the assembly where the act is to be done. (99)

    i) Liability of Members of Religious or Charitable Corporations. "Religious or charitable corporations have no capital stock and are usually dependent upon personal con­tributions for their support. Members of such organizations may and often do make themselves personally responsible for the pay­ment of the corporate expenses and debts. Where, however, no contract has been made between the stockholders,-or more accur­ately speaking the members,-of such corpor­ations, and the creditors of the organization, courts of equity will deal with the corporation and its members in a manner most calculated to further the ends of justice. For example, the members of a church duly incorporated as such, but of course without any capital stock, as is usual in such instances, have been held individually liable for the pastor's salary." (100)

    j) The dissolution or end of a corporation is effected by the expiration of the time fixed by the statute as the life of the corporation.(10l) But it may also be ended by a positive law of the State, although this may be contrary to church discipline, for "no church discipline can supersede the law of the State." (102) This latter disposition is, of course, to be under­stood of the end of the corporation as such, not of the end of the parish as such; because the State would not attempt to dissolve a par­ish or congregation which claims no corporate rights.

    k) Finally it may be stated that the property of a religious corporation is not exempt from assessment for local improve­ments.


    80 Tuigg v. Treacy, 104 Pa. 493 (Charles Z. Lincoln, The Civil Law and the Church, 1916, page 434).
    81 Tulbright v. Higgenbotham, 133 Mo. 668, et passim (Lin­coln, I. c., 129 f.).
    82 Bonacum v. Harrington, Neb. 831 (Lincoln, l. c., 661).
    83 Leahy v. Williams, 141 Mass. 345 (Lincoln, l. c., 662).
    84 See can. 216, § I; can. 451, § I; can. 464, § I.-The pas­tors' rights are ordinary (can. 462), not to be limited at ran­dom; their jurisdiction for hearing confessions also is ordinary, attached to the office; can. 873.
    85 McEntee v. Bonacum, 66 Neb. 651 (Lincoln, I. c., 440).
    86 See Cyclopedia of Political Science, ed. J. Lalor, Chicago, 1881, I, 664; Everybody's Legal Advisor, ed. A. S. Bolles, New York, 1922, IV, 856.
    87 Cyclopedia cit.; Blackstone-Cooley, Commentaries, offer no definition proper, but Blackstone says: "Our laws have con­siderably refined and improved upon the invention, according to the usual genius of the English nation"; but the English in­vention of a corporation sole is a juridical absurdity, and the rest of the refinement comes from the much maligned Canon Law of the "Romish" Church.
    88 Trustees St. Jacob's Church v. DIy, 73 N. Y. 323 (Lincoln, l. c., 606).
    89 Klix v. St. Stanislaus Church, 137 Mo. App. 347 (Lincoln, ib.).
    90 Sale v. First Regular Baptist Church, Mason City, 62 Ia. 26 (Lincoln, 1. c., 610).
    91 Revised Statutes of Mo., 1909. sect. 3443; Bolles, l. c., IV, 862.
    92 Hanson v. Little Sisters of the Poor, Baltimore and St. Mary's Church, Hampden, 79 Md. 434 (Lincoln, l. c., 600).
    93 Huber v. German Congregation, 16 Ohio St. 371 (Lincoln, l. c., 599).
    94 De Camp v. Dobbins, 29 N. J. Eq. 36 (Lincoln, l. c., 6ii).
    95 People's Bank v. St. Anthony's Church, 109 N. Y. 512 (Lincoln, I. c., 6ii); Dennison v. Austin, 15 Wis. 334 (Lin­coln, l. c.).
    96 Glendale Union Christian Society v. Brown, 109 Mass. 163 (Lincoln, l. c., 604).
    97 Chittendon v. Chittendon, 1 Am. L. R. (N. Yo') 538 (Lin­coln, l. c.).
    98 Re Charter Church of Mother of God, Czenstochowa, 5 Lack. Leg. N. (Pa.) 128 (Lincoln, l. c., 612 f.). .
    99 Moore v. Rector St. Thomas, .. Abb. N. C. (N. Y.) 51 (Lincoln, l. c., 615).
    100 Bigelow v. Congregational Society 15 Vt., 370.
    101 Sheehy v. Blake, 46 N. W. Rep. (Wis.) 537. Both these decisions are quoted in American Extension University, pub­lished by A. C. Burnham, 1921, page 78.
    102 Harlem Presbyterian Church N. Y. 5 Hun. (N. Y.) 442 (Lincoln, I. c., 613).

    More to follow later. This is just a small extract... I apologize for any typos...