Monday, April 30, 2012

St Philomena's Catholic School, Carshalton, in gay marriage row

Well, that's how Your Local Guardian puts it. The article is self-explantory.

Some students at this Catholic High School for Girls in Carshalton, Surrey, sported Gay Pride badges in protest at the school's teaching on the nature of marriage and the importance of defending it in the political arena.

We cannot assume that parents and pupils in our Catholic Schools will agree with what our schools are teaching.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the Catholic Education Service in the England and Wales is to be investigated after it emerged that the CES wrote to nearly 400 state-funded Roman Catholic schools inviting them to back a petition against gay civil marriage.

As the CES points out, Catholic views on marriage are religious, not political.

Homosexuality is proving to be the current testing of Catholics of their fidelity to the law of God. Upholding the natural law in this matter is not intolerance, and making our views known is taking our place in society. But there are those who are intolerant of that view.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pro-life prayer vigilers "Drenched, spat-on and sworn at (American Style?)"

Father Tim Finigan blogs about the abuse received by peaceful and prayerful vigilers (including Bishop John Hine, Auxiliary Bishop in Southwark) outside the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Maidstone, Kent.

Satan is showing his anger.

See related posts here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pope moves to avert split among German bishops over "for all"/"for many"

The Pope never stops writing, it seems. During his Easter week in Castelgandolfo, he wrote a letter to the German bishops in advance of the publication of a new translation of the German Missal. He refers to the lack of consensus among bishops of the German language area (Germany, Switzerland, Austria...) concerning the correct translation of the words "pro multis" and writes:
I promised you (when the German bishops visited Rome on March) to express myself in writing about this serious issue in order to forestall such a split in the innermost room of our prayer.
Pretty high stakes!

In his letter the Pope also refers to the lack of unity throughout the world in the liturgy. He speaks from the vantage point of one who often prays the liturgical texts in different languages:
Since I often have to pray the liturgical prayers in different languages, I notice that among the various translations it is sometimes hard to find common ground and that the underlying common text often only remains visible from a distance.
This Pope is a Pope of Unity! There must be unity in the prayer of the Church.

The Pope pretty much dismisses as crumbling the former exegetial thesis that these words could be properly translated as "for all". With his impressive skills of biblical interpretation, he demonstrates the biblical roots of the phrase "for many". He gives a programme of catechesis to help the bishops explain to the priests and then to the people why the words "for many" are to be used instead of "for all".

You can read the letter in German here, or in Google translate English here.

You can also read an editorial by Father Federico Lombardi.

Royal Wedding Anniversary and Vocations (Good Shepherd) Sunday

April 29th is the first anniversary of the wedding of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I offer loyal congratulations to the couple.

Their wedding was memorable for the fine address given by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres. Had his address been delivered by a Catholic Bishop, we would have been justly proud. it began with these unforgettable words:
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
There was this practical and profound reflection on the importance of the presence of God in marriage:
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
Not a sentence of the Bishop's address was superfluous and I can only recommend that you read it. (It is not long.)

Becoming what God means us to be is surely at the heart of this Good Shepherd Sunday's World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Pope Benedict has published his customary message for this day and it, too, is profound. The theme of this year's "Day" is Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.

The Holy Father writes:
The source of every perfect gift is God who is Love... We are loved by God even "before" we come into existence!... The profound truth of our existence is (...) contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God's thought and an act of his love...
Along the same lines as the Bishop of London, Pope Benedict quotes St Augustine's famous excerpt from the Confessions:
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
In other words: only if we love created things for the sake of God in whom every created thing, including the perfect gift of a spouse, has its source will we truly encounter Love.

Those called to the perfect love of Christ in the priesthood or the consecrated life of the religious will also love created things for the sake of God for as they respond to the call to an exclusive love of God without the mediation of a spouse, they are also called to a deep love of neighbour.
These two expressions of the one divine love (love of God and love of neighbour) must be lived with a particular intensity and purity of heart by those who have decided to set out on the path of vocation discernment towards the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life; they are its distinguishing mark.
Let us pray today for all young men and women, boys and girls, that they may open their hearts to the never-failing love of God who loved us even before the foundation of the world. May many find happiness in the total offering of themselves,
drawing from this wellspring (of self-offering and openness to the love of God) through prayer, constant recourse to God's word and to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Doves and Juncos at the Rectory

Twitching is a new hobby for me. So far, nothing terribly exotic has perched in the garden but I'm using all my charm (and bird seed) to attract them. The deer also like the sunflower seeds!

Friday, April 20, 2012

London Mayor accused of Censorship by Anglican Mainstream

Anglican Mainstream is accusing London Mayor Boris Johnson of censorship by his decision to pull adverts from London buses even after they had been approved by advertising standards watchdogs.

They claim that even Stonewall admits censorship is wrong:
Dr Sugden claimed even Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, admitted censorship was wrong. Since the ban, the group told us they are delighted the issues surrounding homosexuality and the extension of same-sex marriage are being addressed in the public square. However they are concerned debate on therapeutic and other forms of help for those with same-sex attraction is continually ruled out because it is deemed politically incorrect.
I like the way the promoters of these ads are using the politically correct language that others use in promoting their causes (my emphasis added):

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust believe it is important to help those unhappy with their homosexual feelings to ‘develop their heterosexual potential’.
And further:
Director of Core Issues, Dr Mike Davidson, disagreed with Stonewall’s reaction to the proposed legislation on marriage: “Their campaign rides roughshod over individuals who by conscience reject the simplistic notion that their choice to move out of homosexuality is because of internalised prejudice taught by society.. 

If you can't beat them, join them!

By the way: I have it on good authority that my blog has been blocked in a certain area because of comments concerning homosexuality deemed unacceptable. So much for free speech.

Bishop Moth appeals for prayer for vocations to Military Chaplaincy

 Bishop Richard Moth is Bishop of the Forces in Great Britain. He writes:

For the majority of Dioceses in the United Kingdom, prayer for vocations is a key theme of daily Catholic life. The Bishopric of the Forces is no exception. There is a real shortage of chaplains in all three of our Armed Services.
His Pastoral Letter is to be read in service communities. It is a short and succinct Pastoral Letter that would bear reading in all parish communities in Britain. Maybe a priest would feel moved to offer himself for this important ministry. Bishop Moth has asked that this prayer be said:

O Lord Jesus Christ,
instil in the hearts of priests
the desire to dedicate
their lives to you as chaplains
to our Armed Services.
Give them wisdom and strength,
to hear your call.
Give courage and compassion
to those who serve you as Forces Chaplains.
May their hearts be filled
with zeal and love of you
so that your name
may be better known and loved,
for your live and reign
for ever and ever.

Sound advice from Gamaliel

Gamaliel I with students from New World Encyclopedia
At Mass today we heard (Acts 5:34-42) this wise advice from Gamaliel, "a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin..., a teacher of the law, respected by all the people", concerning the apostles:
If this endeavor of this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.
Gamaliel was the great teacher of Saul, who set out to persecute the Christians of Damascus but who himself encountered the once dead but now risen Lord.

Gamaliel referred to two earlier movements that had risen and fallen. One was promoted by a man named Theudas who gained about four hundred followers. But once he was killed they disbanded and the movement came to nothing. The other was started by Judas the Galilean. He also gained followers but once he was killed, "all who were loyal to him were scattered."

And so we have the followers of a supposedly dead Jesus. Surely they would disband and scatter too, if what Jesus started was simply another troublesome group like the other two.

We know that the Church still stands. It has not been destroyed, in spite of attempts from those from outside who would wish to suppress it, and those from within who would seek to divide it.

We too must always ensure that we look upon the Church as coming from God. It is not ours to do what we want with. The Gospel of today's Mass (Jn 6:1-15) speaks of the twelve baskets of fragments from the five barley loaves. Twelve baskets for each of the twelve apostles and their successors from which they are able to feed the flock that comes after them. The Bishops have been entrusted with the deposit of the faith. It is an awesome responsibility with which they have been entrusted, the faithful handing down of the Word through their teaching. And we (laity - consecrated or not; deacons and priests) who are not Bishops must ensure that we think with the mind of God, that our initiatives do not have as their origin a human way of thinking but that they be - as far as we can be sure - from God.

Any initiative in a parish, any changes that might be seen necessary, must be subjected to this question: is this from man or is it from God? We do not have any right to think that we, who live in April 2010, own our parish. We hold it in trust for the generations that will, hopefully, come after us. This can also be a way of discernment when there is potential for division in a community. What is the more divine way of proceeding now? Is it to insist on my position, to be so convinced that I am right that I will not climb down? Or is it better to concede a point, to compromise, to let others have the day, and thus preserve a greater good of unity and harmony.

Naturally, there can be no compromise on sin, or the defined truths of our faith. But often, whether it be in a parish or in a family or some other enterprise, people get hung up on little things, when a little bit of give and take would be the more divine way of acting.

And how do we get into the habit of a more God-like way of thinking and acting? Becoming men and women of prayer. Spending time in quiet prayer, particularly before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, will help us distinguish the human from the divine.

PS: the New World Encyclopedia gives this interesting comment on Gamaliel.
Because of his sympathetic attitude to the early Christians, at an early date Christian ecclesiastical tradition has supposed that Gamaliel I embraced the Christian faith, and remained a member of the Sanhedrin for the purpose of secretly helping his fellow-Christians. According to Saint Photius, he was baptized by Saint Peter and Saint John, together with his son and Nicodemus. His body was said to be preserved at Pisa, in Italy. Contemporary Jewish records, however, continue to list him and his sons as respected leaders in the non-Christian branch of the Jewish community. This would be highly unlikely if he had been a convert to Christianity.

Gamaliel and Nicodemus portrayed as mourning the death
of the Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, c. 1615
From New World Encyclopedia

Monday, April 16, 2012

Suicide - what does the Church say about suicide and the fate of those who have committed it?

As I mentioned in a previous post, suicide is becoming quite a problem here. I recently conducted a funeral for someone who had committed suicide. Naturally, family members asked about the Church's position on the fate of their loved one. All I could do was give them the Church's teaching on (a) the seriousness of the sin of suicide and (b) the possibility of circumstances such as depression, anguish, grief, in some way reducing the responsibility of the person who committed suicide and (c) how we must entrust the person to the mercy of God and pray for his/her soul very much.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. the Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

It's Pope Benedict's 85th Birthday

Dominus conservet eum
et vivificet eum
et beatum facet eum in terra
et non tradat eum
in animan inimicorum eius. (Ps 41[40]:2)

The Lord protect him
vivify him
and make him blessed on earth
and not give him up to the will of his enemies.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Laurel and Hardy on Gay Marriage

This found at Catholic and Loving It.

Austrian Priest resigns after Cardinal Schonborn overrules him on homosexual parish council member

LifeSiteNews reports the resignation of Father Gerhard Swierzek, the pastor of a parish in the Archdiocese of Vienna, who refused to allow an active homosexual, Florian Stangl, who is living in a legal registered partnership with another man, to sit on the parish council in the town of Stützenhofen. Stangl had received 96 out of 142 votes in the parish council elections.

Eminent canonist and blogger Dr Ed Peters wrote about the affair a little while ago in Sorting out the latest from Vienna.

Here's a little summary of the Canon Law on Parish Pastoral Councils.
Can. 536 §1. If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and in which the Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity.
               §2. A pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and is governed by the norms established by the diocesan bishop.
That's all the Code of Canon Law says.

Some points to note.

  1. Parish Pastoral Councils are not mandated by the Code but need only be established if the diocesan bishop judges it opportune.
  2. The Pastor presides over the Council. He is in charge. This is not something that anyone - even the bishop - can change. No meetings can be held, no decisions taken, without the presence and approval of the Pastor.
  3. The role of the members of the Council is to foster pastoral activity. In other words, they are to facilitate the work of shepherding the souls in the parish which is the exclusive and proper role of the Pastor. If they are not assisting him, they are not effective members of the Pastoral Council.
  4. The Pastoral Council makes no decisions. It advises - that's what is meant by possesing a consultative vote. The Pastor consults the members, they make their advice known to the Pastor, even by voting on a subject, and then the Pastor prays about it and accepts or rejects the advice. If the members are faithful Catholics with a clear love for God and the Church, their advice should be taken very seriously.
  5. But here is the difficult part: the Pastoral Council is governed by the norms establish by the diocesan bishop. "Norms" implies law. How binding are these norms? Obviously, they cannot contradict the universal law of the Church, but can the diocesan bishop mandate the establishment of parish pastoral councils? Can he establish norms concerning appointment, election, etc? Can the bishop confer membership of a parish pastoral council on any of the faithful? Can the bishop overrule a pastor who decides that a particular person is unsuitable for membership of a parish council? I very much doubt it.
  6. Accodring to Dr Peters, membership of a Pastoral Council constitutes the holding of an Ecclesiastical Office (see Title IX of Book I of the Code of Canon Law). To hold ecclesiastical office one must be in communion with the Church as well as "suitable". Being in a sinful state does not, of itself, rupture communion with the Church, but it might well make one unsuitable if this state is publicly known.

One way to make a pastoral council ineffective is for the pastor not to attend. The council has no authority and without the pastor presiding it is rendered ineffective.

I am writing from a position of ignorance concerning the facts of this particular case but with my own experience of parish pastoral councils which has been altogether positive. I have never held elections and always appointed members. I have also asked members whom I did not consider helpful in fostering my pastoral work to stand down.

I hope Fr Swierzek had/has a good canon lawyer to advise him. On the basis of the very little known to me about this case, given that the Cardinal Archbishop had overruled his decision, I would probably advise him to simply insist that Stangl's election to the pastoral council had not been ratified by him. Since he as Pastor presides over the Council, Stangl could not therefore be considered as having been appointed as a member. The ball would then be in the Cardinal's court to either insist on Stangl's appointment or to accept the Pastor's decision. If the Cardinal were to take action against the pastor, there would be options available, from throwing in the towel (one doesn't want to spend one's priestly life fighting battles and one would hesitate before entering into a conflict with one's Cardinal Archbishop) and resigning, to having recourse against any decisions made by the Cardinal.

As Dr Peters rightly says, Pastoral Councils are new in the Church and so it will take some time to develop the law in this area.

In the meantime, I am praying for Fr Swierzek and for the Church in Austria which is in dire need of prayers. (See Pope Benedict's Chrism Mass homily in which he explicitly refers to rebellious priests in Austria.) None of us likes battles and it could be that Fr Swierzek just doesn't want to fight this one. He may have found the parish to be ungovernable.

SSPX shows more respect for the authority of Vatican II than most religious orders

Or, as Fr Tim Finigan puts it, SSPX accept more of Vatican II's teaching than modernist theologians.

The above picture (from the SSPX District of Asia website) is probably not the kind of image most people would conjure up when thinking about the "traditionalist" SSPX (Society of St Pius X). They are normally potrayed as an eccentric bunch of traditionalist priests who will not accept Vatican II.

Sandro Magister (For the Lefebvrists, It's the Last Call to the Sheepfold) asks:
But what exactly is the doctrinal cause of the division? And why is there a fracture between Rome and the Lefebvrists over their rejection of some of the teachings of Vatican Council II, while at the same time other Catholic currents of the opposite nature continue to inhabit the Church undisturbed, in spite of the fact that they too reject essential teachings of the same Council?
In other words, there appears not to be a level playing field here.

Not that we would want to excuse rejection of the Sacred Magisterium of the Church on the part of the SSPX. In an essay by Dr John R.T. Lamont, Gifford Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, UK, entitled A Theologian's Questions written expressly for Magister's blog, Lamont considers teachings of Vatican II on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), the nature of the Church (Lumen Gentium), the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) and contends that
The vast majority of theologians in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings [that Lamont quotes as examples]... The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.

Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.
Lamont points out that
In judging the doctrinal position of the FSSPX, it must be remembered that there is an essential difference between the position of the FSSPX on Vatican II and the position of those elements within the Church who reject the teachings from "Dei Verbum," "Lumen gentium," and "Gaudium et spes" listed above. The latter group simply holds that certain doctrines of the Catholic Church are not true. They reject Catholic teaching, full stop. The FSSPX, on the other hand, does not claim that the teaching of the Catholic Church is false. Instead, it claims that some of the assertions of Vatican II contradict other magisterial teachings that have greater authority, and hence that accepting the doctrines of the Catholic Church requires accepting these more authoritative teachings and rejecting the small proportion of errors in Vatican II. It asserts that the actual teaching of the Catholic Church is to be found in the earlier and more authoritative statements.
It should be borne in mind that Vatican II made no explicitly infallible statements whereas previous magisterial teachings were taught in an extremely solemn manner. As Lamont says:
These are all magisterial pronouncements of great authority, and in some cases they include infallible dogmatic definitions – which is not the case with the Second Vatican Council itself.
A further question Lamont raises is the matter of secrecy. If the discussions between the SSPX and the Holy See were concerning a precise canonical structure for the Society, it would be well that these would be kept secret for the time being.  But...
The nature of the teaching of the Catholic Church on religious freedom, ecumenism, the Church, and collegiality, is of great importance to all Catholics. The questions raised by the discussions between the Holy See and the FSSPX thus concern the whole Church, not merely the parties to the discussion.
I for one am praying for the rehabilitation of the Society and to healthy dialogue with its members as equal brothers (and sisters) in the communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Brooklyn NY Helpers of God's Precious Infants Good Friday Prayer and Witness

From St.Michael's church in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn a procession of about 400 young people walked to a local abortion clinic inorder to pray.

See the photos here:

The water of salvation became both tomb and mother for you.

 Every day this week the Divine Office contains beautiful ancient homilies or instructions on the paschal mysteries. Here's the Second Reading from the Office of Readings for yesterday:
A reading from the instructions to the newly baptized at Jerusalem
Baptism, symbol of Christ's Passion

You were led down to the font of holy baptism just as Christ was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb which is before your eyes.

Each of you was asked, “Do you believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?” You made the profession of faith that brings salvation, you were plunged into the water, and three times you rose again. This symbolised the three days Christ spent in the tomb.

As our Saviour spent three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, so your first rising from the water represented the first day and your first immersion represented the first night. At night a man cannot see, but in the day he walks in the light. So when you were immersed in the water it was like night for you and you could not see, but when you rose again it was like coming into broad daylight. In the same instant you died and were born again; the saving water was both your tomb and your mother.

Solomon’s phrase in another context is very apposite here. He spoke of a time to give birth, and a time to die. For you, however, it was the reverse: a time to die, and a time to be born, although in fact both events took place at the same time and your birth was simultaneous with your death.

This is something amazing and unheard of! It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again. We only did these things symbolically, but we have been saved in actual fact. It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again, and all this has been attributed to us. We share in his sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality.

What boundless love for men! Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails; he suffered the pain. I experience no pain, no anguish, yet by the share that I have in his sufferings he freely grants me salvation.

Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ. This is why Paul exclaims: Do you not know that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in his death? By baptism we went with him into the tomb.

Josephinum, Ohio, seminarians confront "the poison of abortion"

These seminarians have been led by their Rector to pray every Saturday morning at their local abortion facility. Read more at LifeSiteNews. What a powerful witness. These men are our future priests!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tolerance, Diversity. But the "post-gay", "ex-gay" may not be publicly acknowledged

Some Orwellian quotations from today's London Daily Mail
 The ASA [Advertising Standards Authority] said the Core Issues Trust campaign 'does not infringe any advertising rules in the UK'.
Mr [Boris, former London Mayor] Johnson, who is chair of Tfl (Transport for London), was described as being 'very strongly of the view that the Core Issues' advert shouldn't run'. He said: 'London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance.
Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, [leading homosexual rights lobby organisation] said: 'We are delighted by TfL's clear commitment to diversity.
TfL's spokeswoman said: '... We do not believe these specific ads are consistent with TfL's commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London.'

99.98% of Priests Are Innocent

There is not a great child abuse problem in the Church! Of course, every child abused is huge crime. Were mistakes made? Certainly. But the Church is not infiltrated by child abusers. Recently in a local paper there was a paragraph (yes, one paragraph) reporting to the sentencing of a Baptist minister who was found guilty of child abuse, but no outcry against the Baptist church was heard.

Here is an article posted yesterday at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights commenting on the 2011 annual report on child abuse published by the US Episcopal Conference:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the findings of the 2011 Annual Report on priestly sexual abuse that was released by the bishops’ conference; the survey was done by a Georgetown institute.

The headlines should read, “Abuse Problem Near Zero Among Priests,” but that is not what is being reported.

According to the 2011 Official Catholic Directory, there are 40,271 priests in the U.S. The report says there were 23 credible accusations of the sexual abuse of a minor made against priests for incidences last year. Of that number, 9 were deemed credible by law enforcement. Which means that 99.98% of priests nationwide had no such accusation made against them last year. Nowhere is this being reported.

Here are more data from the report that won’t appear elsewhere: almost all the offenses involve homosexuality. Indeed, 16% of the credible allegations made against priests who work in dioceses or eparchies, and 6% of religious order priests, involved pedophilia. In the former category, 82% of the alleged victims were male; in the latter, the figure is 94%. In other words, we are not talking about kids as victims, and we are not talking about females: we are talking about postpubescent males who were allegedly violated by adult males. That’s called homosexuality.

When did these alleged offenses take place? Overall, 68% took place between 1960 and 1984; 1975-1979 being the most common period (among religious order priests, 33% took place before 1960, and another 40% took place between 1960-1980). In 75% of all the cases, the accused priest is either dead or has been dismissed.

Since more than 10% of the credible allegations were found to be false or unsubstantiated, it makes one wonder how many of the total number of accusations are bogus. The bishops should commission a study of those priests whose reputations have been ruined by cash-hungry liars and their rapacious lawyers; the looters should also be studied. The Catholic League would be happy to make a generous donation.
Whilst every sympathy and assistance should be extended to the victims of abuse, now it is time to address the case of priests whose lives have been ruined by this. The bankrupting of the Church and its charitable works is unjust.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pope Benedict orders an investigation into Neo Cat Mass

According to Sandro Magister, (That Strange Mass the Pope Doesn't Like)
With a letter written personally to Cardinal William J. Levada, Benedict XVI has ordered the congregation for the doctrine of the faith to examine whether the Neocatechumenal Masses are or are not in keeping with the liturgical teaching and practice of the Catholic Church.

A "problem," in the pope's judgment, that is "of great urgency" for the whole Church.
In January the Pope spoke to members of "TheWay" about the importance of unity in liturgical matters, that the Roman Missal must be followed.

Cardinal Ouellet appointed Pontifical Legate for Ireland's Eucharistic Congress

The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as pontifical legate for the celebration of the fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress, which is due to take place in Dublin, Ireland, from 10 to 17 June. (VIS News)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cardinal Burke: Employers who pay for health insurance providing contraceptive etc services co-operating in evil

LifeSiteNews carries this news about an interview with Cardinal Burke to be broadcase on EWTN tomorrow at 2:30pm EST and Wednesday at 9:00pm EST. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”
Cardinal Burke: “This is correct.  It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”
Jenn Giroux of LifeSiteNews comments:
There are many liberal Catholics and Obama supporters who are trying to divide and confuse the faithful on the issues surrounding this attack on religious liberty and the impending mandatory requirement for employers to provide insurance plans which provide free contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization.  Still others that oppose the mandate are advocating that the issue of contraception should be separated from the discussion of religious liberty all together.  The reality is that these issues are quite inseparable as it relates to the practice of Catholicism and the moral burden that is placed upon the conscience of employers who provide contraceptive services.  Only those who understand the grave moral evil of contraception and abortion understand that the Catholic Church will never compromise on these issues because to do so would lead to eternal ramifications for those involved.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Funerals, Suicide, Hope and general thoughts

Suicide is becoming a rather too common occurrence. I have learned that if you read in the local paper that "NN died unexpectedly at his/her residence on dd/mmm" it is quite likely that the person committed suicide.

There is also a lot of gloominess with the number of deaths in the town at present.

A couple of thoughts have occurred to me which may or may not be fair. I'd be interested in readers' thoughts:

To abandon faith is to abandon hope and ultimately to lose any sense of the purpose of life. To journey in faith is to live by hope, and to live a life of the deepest charity – love – united with the Risen Christ in this life, so that we shall live forever with him in the next.

  • Where a local population is ageing and the birthrate is in decline, deaths/funerals are bound to outnumber births/baptisms. This will lead to a general gloom in the community, possibly perpetuating a cycle of despair.
Funeral liturgies at funeral homes do not quite do it in the way a funeral liturgy in the parish church does. In our parish, the parishioners love to provide hospitality (i.e. a good luncheon) for the family and mourners. We want to provide a dignfied liturgy with a choir and organist. We want to bring the body of the deceased person - who entered upon the "door of faith" when they were baptised - into the church where they began their lifetime journey of faith which leads inevitably to the "door of death" to eternal life.

The parish church is a sacred place where the Lord is present both sacramentally and spiritually. It is a place hallowed by the prayers of so many generations of faithful catholics. There is a natural experience of the Communion of Saints, so important at the moment of death and grief.

Having said that, the local funeral home is a very dignified one, run by a faithful catholic who does everything possible to ensure that the funeral is carried out with reverence. So I have conducted funeral liturgies there. I do, however, observe the liturgical norms fully. The funeral service is carried out in the same way as it would be in church: a crucifix in a prominent position, the symbols of the Gospel Book and crucifix placed upon the coffin, the people invited to stand and sit as they would in church. Of course, no one wants to sings hymns in the funeral home and so there is no music during the funeral liturgy itself (I will not have recorded music played while we just sit and listen), apart from the In paradisum which I sing whilst sprinkling the casket/urn during the final commendation.

While extending the warmest possible invitation to the family to have the funeral of their dearly beloved departed in the church, one cannot refuse to hold it in the funeral home, and there is always the possibility of reaching out to those who perhaps have fallen away from attendance at church or who are simply non-churchgoers. I have recently had a very good experience of encountering some good young people who are rediscovering the Christian faith in one or another denomination even if their parents/grandparents are not particularly diligent in attendance at any particular church.

I now experience the several generations of people who have been lost to the Church. Why did they leave? Did the upheavals in liturgy and catechetical formation of the last forty years have anything to do with it? I cannot help thinking it did. Good liturgy and clear teaching will strengthen the faith of those who come to church. As for those who do not experience the now happily re-reformed liturgy of their parish church, we need to find every opportunity of reaching out to them and giving them reasons for hope in eternal life.

The door of the tomb and the door of faith

Homily for Easter:
“They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.”

The three women on their way to the tomb, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, were concerned about an obstacle that threatened to block their access to Jesus Christ, whom they supposed to be lying dead behind the stone.

St Mark adds that the stone was “very large.” We could describe it as a huge stone, a huge obstacle, something that the women would not have been able to move by their own strength.

They found, however, that this stone had been rolled back, and so they were able to enter through the door of that tomb. The door of that tomb was to prove to be much more than an entry into the tomb where they expected the dead body of Jesus to lie. Rather, the door of that tomb was a “door of faith”. By entering through that door, they were able to hear the testimony of a young man clothed in a white robe – an angel – who told them that Jesus “has been raised; he is not here.”

The young man told them to tell Peter and the other disciples. We may suppose however that the women believed, even before Peter and the apostles came to verify for themselves the truth of the testimony of these women, before – if you will – the Church officially believed in the Resurrection. The door of the tomb was a door of faith.

“The ‘door of faith’ is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.” It was with these words that Pope Benedict began an apostolic letter entitled PortaFidei – the door of faith – on October 11th last and in which he announced a Year of Faith which will begin on October 11 next, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on November 24 2013.

The Year of Faith will be “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins.”

Today, one of our number will enter through this door of faith, setting out on a journey that will last a lifetime. This journey “begins with baptism, through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” (PF, 1)

Patty enters through that door of faith now. We entered so many years ago. Our journey will lead us through another door, the door of death, that leads to eternal life where faith will disappear, hope will be fulfilled, and charity will endure in the fullness of purity.

There are many obstacles – large obstacles – to faith, like that huge stone that the women expected would block their entry into the tomb, a place of death where they found life. Only the grace of God can remove these obstacles.

The people of Israel faced the waters of the Red Sea as they fled Egypt. They were led by the fiery cloud, that appeared as a cloud – the glory of God – by day and a fire – the light of Christ – by night, just as we were led by the light of the paschal candle form the darkness of night into this place of light and joy, led by the light who is Christ, the light of the peoples.

To enter through the door of faith and to persevere on the road of faith is only possible by the help of God’s grace.

We are only too well aware of the challenges to our Christian faith today. There is first of all the challenge of our own weakness leaves us vulnerable to the temptation to lack of faith, or even to sin.

There are the forces of secularism and relativism that tell us that there is no place for religion in the public square, that our religious beliefs should not have any social consequences, that there is no such thing as truth, that faith is myth.

The Church proclaims the dignity of every human being: “God created man in his image; in the image of God he created them” in the face of a widespread disregard for human life and human rights, including the right to religious liberty.

The Church proclaims a beautiful vision of life and fertility: “Be fertile and multiply”, whereas powerful institutions at national and international levels seek to promote anti-fertility policies and aggressive population control.

The Church proclaims the equality yet complementarity of the sexes: “male and female he created them” and the consequent teaching of marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman, in the face of attempts to redefine marriage to encompass other kinds of union.

Even though these truths do not pertain exclusively to the realm of faith – they are all of the natural law, accessible to all men and women who use their reasoning powers correctly – they are being challenged today as at no other time in history.

There are other challenges we may face, in which things just seem impossible – until we place our trust in God. And then the impossible becomes possible.

The prophecy of Ezekiel sums up the work that God wishes to accomplish in us in leading us through the door of faith which is baptism:

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you… I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony (or hard) hearts and giving you natural hearts (of flesh)… You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” This new heart and new spirit will lead us into a greater desire for union with God in prayer, for it is only in union with God that the human heart finds the fulfillment of its deepest desires: “Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you my God.”

And to strengthen us on this lifelong journey we are nourished by the food of the Holy Eucharist. This is the truly living Son of God, Jesus Christ, who gives his body and sheds his blood for us. As he gives us himself, so we must give ourselves to him in an act of total faith and total trust. Then all obstacles to faith will be overcome. The door of faith will always be open for us.

To abandon faith is to abandon hope and ultimately to lose any sense of the purpose of life. To journey in faith is to live by hope, and to live a life of the deepest charity – love – united with the Risen Christ in this life, so that we shall live forever with him in the next.

Let us this Easter ask Our Lord to increase in us the gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity that he placed in our hearts at baptism, when we first entered through the door of faith.


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