Friday, December 13, 2013

One way it's good to imitate NYC

The Catholic League has again built a créche in New York's prime public forum, Central Park. Their reasons:
  • We are celebrating the true purpose of Christmas, which is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • We want Christians to know that they have every legal right to display religious symbols on public property, unadorned by secular symbols, just so long as the property is regarded as a public forum (e.g., we do not seek to erect crèches on the grounds of City Hall).
  • We are sending a message to militant secularists that Christians will never retreat from exercising their First Amendment right to religious liberty. We favor, as does Pope Francis, a robust public expression of religion. We will never settle [merely] for freedom to worship.
If the League can do this in one of the country's most aggressively secularized cities, what's wrong with the rest of us, wherever we are? What are we afraid of?

Pope Francis' message to the Americas

The Pope delivered a fine special message to the Americas yesterday:
...When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity. 
That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.
Many people will quickly fasten onto the statement's explicit connection with immigration policies. Fewer will notice its explicit mention of abortion and euthanasia, or that these things are actually mentioned before the bit about welcoming immigrants, the poor, and the marginalized.

I'd like to point out that economic freedom such as the people of the United States have enjoyed for two centuries is also a form of embrace. People have flocked here from everywhere else because they had some justified confidence that if they offered goods or services with honesty and goodwill, they would be rewarded with personal prosperity, without facing insuperable barriers because of their race, their ethnicity, or who their parents were.

Mind you, I said insuperable. This is a fallen world. This side of Heaven, there is no perfect ubiquitous fairness or justice. There is only the daily struggle to make those things happen a little more often in our own families, neighborhoods, and businesses. 

That's the Catholic doctrine of Subsidiarity, and it is the friend, not the foe, of economic liberty.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Elections sure do have consequences

Many Catholics voted for Barack Obama despite his support for abortion-on-demand. After all, they told us, he's so good on Social Justice issues.

Many Catholics voted for Democratic senatorial candidates despite their support for abortion-on-demand. After all, they told us, they're so good on Social Justice issues.

Having predicted the end of the world a few years ago if Republicans altered the Senate's filibuster rules to allow President Bush's bench nominees to be confirmed, Democrats did exactly that last month, when faced with filibusters or threats thereof against President Obama's nominees. Republicans backed away from this so-called "nuclear option" in 2005. Democrats welcomed it in 2013.

The Catholics who re-elected President Obama enabled him to nominate the astonishingly pro-abortion Cornelia Pillard to the District of Columbia's Circuit Court. arguably the most influential Federal Court of Appeal in the country, since cases which concern the White House and the federal bureaucracy get heard there first. Little issues, like the HHS mandate, for example.

Then those Senators whom Catholics elected despite their pro-abortion record changed the Senate rules and confirmed Ms. Pillard with a bare majority of 51 votes, when it would formerly have taken 60.

So now, you good Catholics, we all have a new lifetime judge among whose milder pronouncements is this:
Antiabortion laws and other restraints on reproductive freedom not only enforce women’s incubation of unwanted pregnancies, but also prescribe a “vision of the woman’s role” as mother and caretaker of children in a way that is at odds with equal protection. Renewed attacks on abortion have turned attention to how the Equal Protection Clause, and the right to sex equality more generally, might advance reproductive self-determination.
She's also completely opposed to abstinence-based sex ed.
The abstinence-only approach is permeated with stereotyped messages and sex-based double standards about acceptable male and female sexual behavior and appropriate social roles. Public school teaching of gender stereotypes violates the constitutional bar against sex stereotyping and is vulnerable to equal protection challenge...
Catholics might want to remember that abstaining from sexual relations is exactly the Catholic Church's teaching on preventing unwanted pregnancy. Too bad that there's now a majority on the D.C. Circuit (it used to be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans) that thinks the Church's teaching is an affront to human rights.

And so the red tide of abortion will roll on, at a million dead children each year in the United States alone.

But I'll bet Ms. Pillard is so good on Social Justice issues...

Nelson Mandela, R.I.P.

The President of the USCCB has issued a statement mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela. You can read all of it here.

But a much better expression of Catholic witness was penned by Archbishop Tobin of Connecticut, as reported by LifeSite News:
“Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela,” Bishop Tobin commented in a statement. “Indeed there is much to admire in Mandela’s long life and public service, particularly his personal courage and his stalwart defense of human rights. 
“There is part of President Mandela’s legacy, however, that is not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa. In 1996 Mandela promoted and signed into law the ‘Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ that, according to the New York Times, ‘replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.’” 
Tobin continues: “While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children.”
To their great credit, the Catholic bishops of South Africa pointed out that same disconnect in Mandela's record. So did John Smeaton, a prominent pro-life leader in the United Kingdom:
“May God rest Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa who died last night,” he said. “But it is absolutely vital that Catholic leaders do not allow themselves to become respecters of persons, swept away by personality cults. Catholic leaders have a duty to stand up to public figures with  anti-life and anti-family records, however praiseworthy their record may be on other issues. The sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family are the foundation and guarantee of all other human rights.”
[Update]: Bishop Tobin is the Bishop of Rhode Island, not Connecticut. My bad.

About that Time magazine cover...

Much of the Catholic internet is abuzz with Pope Francis' selection as Time magazine's "Person of the Year." My take: Person of the Year is a recognition of notoriety, not of approval. But even if you think it's a positive thing, enjoy it while it lasts. The video below, from a riot demonstration by pro-abortion feminists outside a cathedral in the Pope's native Argentina, is an accurate expression of the pure hatred of Christ and His Church that bubbles just beneath the surface of Progressive niceness. In case it's not clear, the thing that gets set afire in the middle of the frame is an effigy of Pope Francis.

Michael Voris' post on this event has additional footage that shows how faithful Catholic men linked arms in a cordon around the cathedral to protect it, and absorbed without retaliation the verbal abuse and physical attacks heaped upon them by many in the crowd.

Now, those guys are real men, and real Catholics. How many of us American Catholic men, drowning in the lukewarm banality of the Church of Nice, still would have the guts to do what they did?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Still waiting...

Six years ago, I asked in this blog why Nancy Pelosi had still not been denied the Eucharist for her public, clear, and defiant persistence in supporting abortion in her congressional votes. Back then, we Catholics were told to be patient because the then-Archbishop of San Francisco was taking a "pastoral" approach to her correction.

Six years on, and Ms. Pelosi is still flaunting her leadership against even the slightest limitation upon abortion. No statement condemning her behavior has been forthcoming. No statement noting her self-excommunication under Canon Law and consequent inability to receive the Eucharist has been forthcoming. No repentance. Not even an acknowledgement that her actions are in contradiction to Church doctrine.

How long, O Lord, how long?

My JFK thoughts

I thought I'd wait until most of the noise surrounding the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination had dissipated, before adding my own reflections.

Most reminiscences from us Boomers start with where we were when we heard the news. But I don't have many strong memories of that day; just a bewildering announcement on our car's radio. What I do remember much more vividly are two incidents from the autumn of 1960, during the campaign.

The first memory is a conversation with a couple of neighbor boys I was playing with. They solemnly informed me that their public school teacher had told them that if Kennedy were to be elected, all Americans would be forced to convert to Catholicism. Despite the grudging respect that the Church had earned in 20th-century America by raising up great men like Fulton Sheen, that's the kind of casual Protestant anti-Catholicism that Kennedy, and all of us, still had to live with.

The second memory is being allowed to accompany my mom to a Kennedy campaign rally in Long Beach, California. I don't remember anything about his speech — not surprising, I guess, for a 10-year-old —but I do recall how tanned his face was, and how broad and sincere his smile looked. Our seats were only about 50 yards away from him. Closer than the sniper in Dallas.

I think he set a bad precedent in his famous apologia (to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association) for being a Catholic candidate, seeming to banish the Faith from the public square. This attitude of the Kennedy Democrats, after all, morphed into that of the Cuomo Democrats not long after, when Roe v. Wade was handed down: personally opposed to grave evil, but unwilling to "impose our morality" on others. At, Sheila Liaugminas quotes both Peggy Noonan and George Weigel at length about this; these will give you better background than I could.

Despite the many sins that drag down his legacy, he left behind many great statements that will always buoy it up. I'll just imitate Sheila, and close with this:
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. 
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Pope Francis on Life, for real

Our liberal friends in the Catholic Church thought they heard a major policy change in Pope Francis' widely-quoted off-the-cuff remarks back in September, when he seemed to downplay the importance of the issue of abortion. Too bad they weren't paying attention the very next day, when, speaking with carefully-chosen words to a gathering of Catholic OB/GYNs, he said:
The third aspect is a mandate: be witnesses and speakers of this "culture of life" . Your being Catholic entails a greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, to be committed to being consistent with the Christian vocation; and then to contemporary culture, to contribute to recognising the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the current, at a cost to the person. The Lord counts on you to spread the "Gospel of life."
Read the rest:

It bears repeating that even in the earlier casual statement, the Pope was simply reminding Catholics that preaching Christ must always come first, before we try to advance any social issue.

"Without Me, you can do nothing," Our Lord said, and Francis was just reminding us that He meant it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


A pundit with whom I usually agree recently asserted that Christ "empowered" his disciples, in the sense of accomplishing great works, and even miracles. While this is true, it deserves a little reflection to understand rightly.

I can't think of an instance when Christ performed a miracle without giving thanks to the Father first. I can't think of an instance when Christ accepted Satan's dare to show power in some prideful way; that's the lesson of the temptations at the end of the 40 days' fast in the desert. Turn the stones into bread? No. Leap off the top of the temple so that He could summon a host of angels to save him from the law of gravity? No. And at the end, save Himself from the unbearable agony of the cross? No, not even that, though I think we can all agree that the very human temptation to do so must have been enormous.

Always, He lifts His eyes to Heaven and gives thanks to His Father. There in the Father's hands, He taught us, is where real power comes from, the kind that doesn't just tinker, but transforms.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pope Francis puts one over the fence

I've often criticized Pope Francis' careless statements in recent months, but this time I have to say he hit one out of the park:
During his homily at Mass on November 18, Pope Francis called the first chapter of the First Book of Maccabees “one of the saddest pages in the Bible” because “a great part of the people of God withdraw from the Lord in favor of worldly proposals.”
Well, that sure sounds like it could have been ripped from today's headlines.

He continues:
“We would do well to think about what happened in the Book of Maccabees, he continued, about what happened step by step, before we decide to follow an ‘adolescent progressivism’ and go along with what everyone is doing,” the L’Osservatore Romano report added. “We would also do well, he said, to ponder the consequences of their infidelity, to think about the ‘death sentences, the human sacrifices’ which followed thereafter. He then asked those present: ‘Do you think there are no human sacrifices today? There are many, many of them. And there are laws that protect them.’” 
The rest can be found here. H/t

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Catholic Brand

Why is it that non-Catholics know what constitutes the outward signs of Catholic culture, but Catholics often don't?

Take this little bit from Stieg Larsson's bestseller The Girl Who Played with Fire:
...Bublanski felt an urge to talk to God about the case, but instead of going to the synagogue he went to the Catholic church on Folkungagatan. He sat in one of the pews at the back and did not move for over an hour. As a Jew he had no business being in a church, but it was a peaceful place that he regularly visited when he felt the need to sort out his thoughts, and he knew that God would not mind. There was a difference, besides, between Catholicism and Judaism. He went to the synagogue when he needed company and fellowship with other people. Catholics went to church to seek peace in the presence of God. The church invited silence, and visitors would always be left to themselves. (pp. 376-377 of the Vintage paperback edition)
Catholics seek peace in the presence of God. Yes, that's exactly the atmosphere that ought to imbue every Catholic church building, both when nothing is going on, and when Mass is being offered. But in most American parishes, Catholic worship no longer invites silence; it treats silence as an enemy. If no one is doing anything or saying anything or singing anything, it means that people aren't actively participating. Oh, the humanity!

But why did Larsson, a thoroughly non-Catholic author, understand that silence is a part of the Catholic "brand" but most Catholics don't?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Coming to a girls' restroom near you: boys!

Here in California, Assembly Bill 1266 has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. On January 1, students in this state who self-identify as transgendered are free to "use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil's records." Thanks, Jerry.

To see the trouble we're about to enjoy, look to Colorado, fast becoming the California of the Mountain Time Zone.

Parents in Colorado are pushing back against a public high school's decision to allow a boy who sometimes identifies as a girl to use the girls' restrooms. Of course, they're being vilified by LBGTQ advocates as hateful and ignorant. Nothing untoward would ever happen if such a policy became widespread. Nope. Nothing to see here. Move along, hater.

And yet... whatever happened to the indignation over being pushed around by a tiny but powerful minority — all that "We are the 99%" stuff —during Occupy Wall Street? Back then, I thought we were being told that the perceived welfare and will of the 99% trumped the right of the wealthiest 1% to keep their wealth. 'Occupy' was much praised in media and academia, so this principle must be right. [For the humor-impaired, this is sarcasm].

But see what happens when a different 99% insists that its welfare and will should hold sway on a subject that the Left doesn't like? That's different. You're trampling on a minority's rights, they say, and that cannot stand. How is it different, you ask? It just is, you'll be told.

Nothing is ever about logic or consistent principles with such people. It's all about power. And they're very close to putting a lock on that.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tone. Deaf.

Watch this video of a variety show in St. Peter's square last week, attended by Pope Francis and a raft of clergy. Then please tell me why some Vatican event planner thought that an entertainment featuring several bare-torsoed young men would make good PR for an institution that had a certain amount of recent unpleasantness involving priests and young men?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Since they asked

I attended a parish function the other day on the subject of the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. At one point, we were invited to fill out a little blue paper with this question:

I am grateful for the work of Vatican II because ________________.

I thought for a while, without success. Then Joni Mitchell came to my rescue:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Real hope for real change

“Christian hope is not a matter of optimism; it is not the expectation of steady progress through democracy and science; it is the anticipation of everlasting life with God, his angels, and all his saints. Only such an unchanging good could serve as the foundation for hope.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi)

Excerpt From: “Rebuilding Catholic Culture - Ryan N. S. Topping.” iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vatican Insider trips over its own criticisms

After lauding the way that immediate access via the internet to Pope Francis' statements means that they are no longer subject to distortion from unreliable "intermediaries," you'd think that Vatican Insider would take care to get their own reporting exactly right. Yet on the day after that assertion, we see an article titled "Francis' Message to Catechists: 'An Injured Church is Better than a Closed Church.'" But what did the Pope really say? Quoted in the same article is the answer:
Sometimes, being in a Church community “is like being in a closed room. You get sick sooner or later. Of course, when you go out into the street accidents can happen, but I would far rather have an injured Church than a sick Church.”
Is it "closed" or "sick" that the Pope really said? Does it make a difference? I think so. Is it too much to ask that a headline copy-writer at La Stampa, which runs Vatican Insider, report the Pope's actual words?

Pope Francis' "rivers of words"

From Vatican Insider, how to miss the point about Pope Francis' torrent of words:
Even the upper echelons of the Vatican hierarchy have been aware for a while now that, since Francis rose to the papal throne, his river of words has been reaching people through all sorts of channels and without any intermediaries. So the Pope’s direct way of addressing his audience is ensuring that the media do not go into a spinning frenzy regarding the figure and actions of the Bishop of Rome.
It is simply not true that Pope Francis' speeches and homilies are "reaching people through all sorts of channels without any intermediaries." I'd argue that it's usually through intermediaries that Catholics are encountering the Pope's words. And not faithful Catholic intermediaries, either, but through their daily newspapers, if they still read any, or more likely through some popular online aggregator like Google News or the Huffington Post, which generally dismiss the mission or teachings of the Church, and have a tacit alliance with those within the Church who strive to turn it into a social services agency.

The last man who clearly explained the liberating reach of Francis’ direct style of preaching was the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State Peter Brian Wells. ... Wells said that online access to the Pope’s homilies and speeches has freed individuals, families and communities from a reliance on media coverage that may be manipulative or biased.
This is utterly unrealistic. Perhaps Mr. Wells and his co-workers can spend the time necessary to find and then carefully read the Pope's extensive comments, homilies, and speeches, but I'd bet the farm that fewer than one in a thousand American Catholics do that. They get their Church news from the same sources they get their secular news, with the dangers already mentioned.

The problem with Francis' torrent of statements is that it is a torrent. Fewer statements that were more carefully worded, more cautiously guarded from misinterpretation, and unembellished with asides, would serve the faithful much better.

"An exciting ride"

If Francis really is in the line of Cardinals Martini and Bernardin, as Russell Shaw remarks, we are indeed in for "an exciting ride" in the Catholic Church. Exciting, that is, in the sense that skidding your car into a freeway guardrail is exciting. And to claim that the Church has been too confrontational over the past forty years is to ignore the shabby record of silence of most American and European bishops on any subject that might get them bad press, or even a few scowls from the more dissident members of their flocks. If Shaw is right, Francis' path isn't new; what's new is that we now have papal validation of the worthless habits of thought that have led to so much decline.

For eight precious years of the pontificate of a certain Emeritus Pope, it looked like the "long, melancholy, withdrawing roar" of this blog's namesake poem had finally fallen silent, and that the Sea of Faith was poised for a new flood tide. But with each passing month of Francis' reign, that hope seems to have been, at best, premature.

I posted a portion of these remarks first in the combox of the Alateia website, where the article appeared.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Poets who came home

This enjoyable article at National Catholic Register tells of five notable poets of the 20th century who converted to the Catholic faith: Wallace Stevens, Claude McKay, Oscar Wilde, Sally Read, and Roy Campbell. Very much worth a look.

In the combox there, one trollish reader condemned all tales of deathbed conversions to Catholicism (e.g., Stevens's and Wilde's) as propaganda, because the supposed convert is dead, and we can no longer ask him or her to verify the story. The trouble with this line of reasoning is that if we followed it uniformly, we would believe almost nothing about the past. Before photography and audio recording became widespread, there was simply no other source of knowledge about a distant or past event than the testimony of someone who was there — a witness. Since this may be obvious even to the aforesaid reader, I suspect that the rule is to apply only to events which might be dangerously pro-Catholic.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another bishop gone bad

Here's another delightful example of a Bishop who doesn't have a good grasp of the Church's teachings, and even if he did, he wouldn't be likely to think it his duty to support them.

The Bishop conflates two separate issues which the Church's moral teaching depends upon keeping separate: a inclination to sin, which involves no guilt; and giving in to that inclination, which does.

I can't help but think of the many defenses offered after Pope Francis' ill-considered remarks on the plane coming back from Rio's WYD, the infamous "Who am I to judge?" statement. Notice that the secular reporter prefaces his question with a reference to that very statement.

So here's the thing. The laity is constantly reminded that the Bishops are successors of the Apostles. At that point, the conversation is usually headed for some variant of "And so don't criticize your Bishops when they fail to uphold clear and firmly held teachings." That would sit better if the Bishops were subject to ANY discipline. In secular corporate terms, we have something like a team of regional Vice Presidents who are autonomous and above correction or removal if they start to go off the rails. Oh, you might be transferred to another Diocese, perhaps a less prestigious one, but that's the extent of it. I know, I know, the Church isn't a secular corporation. But is that really a good reason why it should be run with less accountability than a secular corporation?

Can someone explain to me why Bishops are allowed to wallow in error for years, while the laity in their dioceses are told to shut up because their Bishops will eventually reach mandatory retirement age after doing just a few more years — or decades — of damage to souls? (Roger Mahony comes to mind). If the Apostle your bishop chooses to model himself after is Judas, is there no recourse?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What I wish I could tell Mark Ruffalo

It seems that actor and renowned deep thinker Mark Ruffalo is proud of his mother for aborting one of her children, i.e., a brother or sister of his. He pads out his defense of the indefensible with the same hackneyed nonsense slogans that pro-abortion people have used for forty years.

The LifeNews article about this incident mentions what is, to my mind, a polite but too-mild response from Students for Life America's Kristan Hawkins. Here's what I'd like to say to Ruffalo:

Your mom killed a brother or sister of yours, and you're proud of it. She was tired of seeing herself as a mere possession, so she fixed that by treating another person as a mere possession. You say her abortion experience, apparently pre-Roe, was dirty, dangerous, and demeaning. You might ask some of Kermit Gosnell's victims if things have changed much after forty years of legalized child-killing. That's because although the legalities have changed, the kind of doctor who would kill children is still the same. The kind of man who would applaud the murder of his brother hasn't changed, either.

'via Blog this'

Friday, August 16, 2013

Game of Thrones v. Lord of the Rings

George R. R. Martin's brutal, ugly tales of his imaginary world of Westeros are making piles of money for him and many others.

This post from MercatorNet gives us a glimpse into the vastly different worldviews of Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien, and why, a century from now, Tolkien will still be an honored genius, and Martin will be a footnote in a forgotten Wikipedia article.

More on this later, I hope.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

USAID Rep Shuts Down Workshop on Abortion Complications

Remember that pesky, outmoded First Amendment? What a drag, if you're into a woman's right to choose! It's such a relief that the current administration has found intrepid people willing to advance abortion women's health by muzzling unwelcome speech, even in the context of scientific presentations by physicians.

Via C-FAM.

Friday, August 02, 2013

E for Effort

In the wake of Pope Francis' ill-considered off-the-cuff remarks ("... who am I to judge?) to the press on his way home from Rio, the popular blogging Deacon, Greg Kandra, has the right idea about expressing the Church's teaching about homosexuality more clearly. But in the CNS video I link to here, even his version seems to wander a bit.

Unless I'm reading my Catechism of the Catholic Church wrongly, it all comes down to these bullet points:

  1. One kind of sexual relations is pleasing to God: the kind that happens between one man and one woman in the context of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Nothing else.
  2. Any other kind of sexual relations — heterosexual, homosexual, or what-have-you-sexual — displeases Him. Not because He wants to spoil all our fun, but because He knows how those things trap us in distortions of our true human nature, which He understands far more profoundly than we do.
  3. So, since we have a duty to God to resist any inclination to displease Him, we have a duty to resist any inclination to have some other kind of sex, no matter what it is, who (or what) it's with, or how good it feels.
Now, one may not agree with those teachings. Many Americans don't. Heck, even a lot of baptized Catholics certainly behave as if they don't. But, when put briefly and clearly like this, at least we're clear about what we're defending, and what we're not.

Conan O'Brien dips a toe in the cesspool

The Catholic League has correctly identified yet another example of people enjoying the last broadly permissible bigotry, this time via Conan O'Brien:
It was the one-liner subtitle about children being molested by priests that was a low blow: “Kids can opt out of fondling by texting #nothanks to the Vatican.”

Religious profiling—portraying all priests as molesters—is not out-of-bounds with late-night hosts. Now if Conan had said, “Kids can opt out of fondling by texting #nothanks to gay priests,” he may have been fired. But just smearing all priests is considered perfectly acceptable. These are the rules in liberal land.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Pro-abortion mob in Chile vandalizes cathedral during Mass

Via LifeSiteNews (but also available via the Washington Post, for those who might be skeptical of a Catholic news source): "Mob of pro-abortion protesters storm, vandalize Cathedral in Santiago de Chile during homily."

According to the cited story, the mob numbered about 300. Now, I admit that seeing 300 weirdos stream into my church in the middle of Mass would have taken me aback, too. But I'd like to think that after those initial moments of stunned immobility, my first impulse would have been to leave my pew to help throw them out physically.

The thing that puzzles me is that this was allowed to happen in a Latin American country, where men are supposedly so proud, even "macho." How many men were present in the congregation? I mean, real MEN? Yes, I understand that some formed a protective cordon around the main altar, and thereby prevented even worse abuse from happening. Good start. But what was the rest of the congregation doing, while the confessional was being tipped over, and while an altar was being defaced, while pews were being ripped out and carted into the street? I can understand being surprised for a moment, but then... well, the proper response of Godly men to goons like these was recorded 2,000 years ago in I Maccabees 3: " ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar."

And ladies, I mean no disrespect to you by speaking of men, above; it's just that it's our job as men to sacrifice our lives for you, our families, and our Church. When we've all gone down fighting, it'll be your turn. Just let us have the first crack at 'em.

Such things are coming to your town and to your parish church, too. It's only a matter of time. We need to be in readiness. We've been warned.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Desmond Tutu: ‘I Would Refuse to Go to a Homophobic Heaven’

Interesting remarks by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, demonstrating how important it is to use precise language, not the buzzwords of the day. "Homophobic" has taken on the connotation of any attitude that falls short of complete approval of homosexual sexual acts. If he's saying that he would separate himself from God for eternity if he found that God displeased him in this way, that's pretty shocking for a churchman. Another black mark against the confused mess that is mainline Anglicanism.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A solution for the Romeikes?

I've written before about that unfortunate German family, the Romeikes, who fled Germany and sought asylum in the United States. The parents were criminals, admittedly: they were — brace yourselves — homeschooling their children, which has been illegal in Germany since Nazi days. Initially granted that asylum during the Bush presidency, the family later saw it revoked by the Obama administration, and is facing deportation back to Germany, where the children will be forced into state schools.

The Home School Legal Defense Association is trying to get the case to the Supreme Court, but it's a long shot.

I have a modest proposal.

If it appears that deportation of the Romeikes is imminent, they should flee to Mexico or Canada, and from there enter the U.S. illegally. Since the Obama administration has already declared it impossible to find all the "undocumented" immigrants we now have, or to prevent more from entering by securing the border, and since it has offered a path to citizenship for those "undocumented" immigrants they do become aware of, this seems the path of least resistance, with a reasonable chance of achieving the protections of citizenship as well. 

Yes, I'm being facetious. But I hope the plausibility of this absurd tactic will illustrate how unfair the administration's policies are. Sneak across the border to get a better job, and as long as you haven't had more than a couple of DUI's and a handful of criminal convictions while living here, you can stay and become a citizen. But flee to the U.S. openly just to be able to escape the tyranny of enforced state indoctrination, and it doesn't matter how upright and law-abiding you are: out you go.

Maybe rescuing the Romeikes is a job for the Catholic Church...? We're a world-wide organization, and we've helped rescue the persecuted before. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

A Rush to Sainthood?

Don't get me wrong; I think that both John Paul II and John XXIII bore the great burden of the papacy honorably and skillfully. But the move to canonize both of them now may someday come to be seen as shortsighted and unwise.

It's good for Catholics to remember that when the Church recognizes a person in its Canon of Saints, it's doing nothing on its own. Canonization isn't an award that the Church confers for what appears to have been exemplary service, like the Congressional Medal of Honor is for military heroism. It's just a recognition of something that has already happened.

The Church has always understood that it has no power to "make" a saint. Only God, out of His great mercy, can admit a soul to full communion with Himself — that is, to true sainthood. And when He does, he doesn't post about it on Facebook or put it up in lights somewhere.

Instead, the faithful discover, over time, that when they ask in prayer that a person of extraordinary holiness who has died would intercede with God for them, sometimes the result for which they ask comes to pass. And it comes to pass in a way that can't be satisfactorily explained by naturalistic causes. In other words, by a miracle. After a sufficient number of such miracles and much skeptical investigation, the Church may conclude very cautiously that that person's soul must have come into such a state of the purest communion with God that he or she must have actually interceded with Him; that is, has become what we call a saint.

But whether the Church ever takes that step for any particular person, the actual spiritual state of that soul doesn't change.

I worry, then, that Pope Francis is taking an unwise risk by announcing the imminent canonization of these two very recent popes, and especially by waiving the requirement for a second miracle in the case of Pope John XXIII. Unless he explains that latter decision very carefully and effectively, he may end up giving the impression that sainthood is, indeed, like a military decoration — a mere acknowledgement of extraordinarily good works, which can never "earn" Heaven for anyone.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Bob Schieffer's blind spot

This post from Deacon Greg Kandra's blog takes note of the surprising ignorance of veteran reporter Bob Schieffer of the coercion that's already taking place against those who don't support soi-disant gay marriage.

So if you've encountered growing support for the redefinition of marriage among your Catholic friends, you might ask them whether they know about it, too. Because this isn't a fight about freedom; it's a fight about coercion in support of a lifestyle, and making that coercion acceptable in the public mind.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"The non-ordination of non-Catholic non-priests"

Phil Lawler over at takes note of a newspaper story that leads off with a remark about how there haven't been any signs that Pope Francis is thinking of allowing women to be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. I've never read a better critique of the nonsensical coverage this subject always gets in the secular press than what he writes next:
So now look at the headline on the same story: “Roman Catholic women priests ordained in Falls Church.” How could that be, if women can’t be ordained as priests? Which is true: the headline or the lead sentence? They can’t both be right. 
Read on, and the confusion mounts. The ceremony took place at the First Christian Church. One of the women who claimed ordination is a chaplain at an Adventist hospital. Her husband is a Methodist, the story tells us, “but she said she couldn’t give up her Catholic faith.” Then, a few sentences later, we’re told that “the women taking part are automatically excommunicated.” So then she did give up her Catholic faith, didn’t she? 
Fellow journalists, this really isn’t that hard. You can’t be a Catholic priest if you’re not a Catholic. Since the Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, women who claim to be priests must belong to some other organization. You can argue against Catholic teaching, and can champion the cause of these women, if you like. But the principle of non-contradiction still applies.
So, when you read of the next bogus "ordination" of "womenpriests" in your local newspaper, write to the Editor, and use Mr. Lawler's approach to assert sound Catholic doctrine. In the struggle between truth and falsehood, it's time for lay Catholics to strike the blows that must be struck.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

But to heck with marriage! Immigration is the most pressing issue!

Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that Archbishop Gomez tells us how "immigration tests America's identity, and how it is 'the most pressing issue that we face in American public life."

In the light of today's refusal by the U. S. Supreme Court to validate the efforts of the American people to hold to the definition of marriage which the Catholic Church itself teaches, Archbishop Gomez' assertion seems downright silly. On every level — moral, political, cultural — the defense of marriage is far more important than giving illegal immigrants a "path to citizenship" in the country they broke into.

One more reason not to give up has the best take on things so far:

What a morning. Time to exhale. 

What you are reading in the news is not the whole story. 

Moments ago the Supreme Court handed down two very narrow decisions. Both of them were wrong. But the marriage fight is far from over. ...

In essence, the Court invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and rejected the right of the people to defend a law passed by millions of citizens in California. The Court ducked the question of whether Proposition 8 in California is constitutional – and most importantly, did NOT create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. 

States that have protected marriage and those that seek to do so in the future cannot be stopped. 

The Court did disenfranchise millions of voters with its decision on Proposition 8. Five Supreme Court justices effectively dismissed the votes of millions of citizens who twice voted to protect marriage. Nevertheless, the record in California is now plain: the people voted to protect marriage, but reckless politicians refused to respect the right of the people and enforce the law. 

What is left is a single decision by a district court judge that applies to two couples. The legal fight to clarify what happens next will be critical and will be heavily contested by defenders of marriage in the courts. Same-sex marriage advocates touting immediate statewide gay marriage in California are misleading the public. 

Today’s decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was limited to only those same-sex "marriages" already recognized in the states that allow same-sex marriage. 

Also, remember that other parts of DOMA protect states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriage in other states. That portion of the law was not challenged and remains in force – and in some ways was strengthened by today’s decision. 

Thus, while today’s decisions were very disappointing, they do not represent a watershed moment for marriage as many are suggesting. Same-sex marriage advocates did not get what they wanted, namely a “Roe v. Wade” for same-sex marriage. 

We have a clear path forward to protect marriage and respond to these rulings, in Congress and in the states, and in the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. ... 

The debate on marriage lives on and is up to us. 

Why Prop 8 should have been clearly upheld

Randy Thomasson of made these points earlier today:
The justices had a simple question before them, and the answer is also simple when you abide by the written Constitution.
  • First, marriage is not in the U.S. Constitution. 
  • Second, the 14th Amendment, which is not about marriage but about race, and not about couples but individuals, does not apply to Prop. 8. 
  • Third, the 10th Amendment recognizes states have powers that are not federal powers and that are not prohibited by the Constitution. 
  • Fourth, Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to each state, where a written constitution is the supreme law of the state. 
  • Fifth, the California Constitution contains Proposition 8 as Article 1, Section 7.5. 
Therefore, Prop. 8 should have been upheld.
But we live in an era in which many believe the Constitution must be "living," by which they mean that parts of it which stand in the way of their desires must be discarded or ignored; and that parts which have never before been recognized as pertaining to a situation suddenly develop "penumbras" (a phrase used in the Roe v. Wade decision) in which vast new meanings can be found.

One more thing: by ruling that the plaintiffs had no standing although California officials had abandoned their sworn duty to defend Proposition 8, the Court has effectively nullified the power of the state initiative. A hostile Governor can now say openly to the people of his state, "It doesn't matter what laws you enact by initiative. My allies will get a judge to declare it unconstitutional, and then I and my government will refuse to defend it."

Good news: Prop 8 not struck down

From Anthony Pugno, general counsel for the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund, about this morning's Supreme Court decision:
It is widely being mis-reported that the Court ruled against Prop 8. IT DID NOT! 
Rather, the Court said it could not reach a decision because California government officials refused to defend the law. So it did not rule on Prop 8's validity. 
In doing so, the Court also nullified the Ninth Circuit's ruling against Prop 8, which is a great victory in itself! 
So, the voter-passed Constitutional Amendment to protect man-woman marriage remains the law of the land in California, because only an appellate court can strike down a voter proposition statewide.
It would have been tremendously encouraging to have had the Court clearly affirm the right of Californians to defend the indispensable institution of marriage. We didn't get that. But for us troops on the ground, our orders stay the same: continue the fight to preserve marriage — in our parishes, in our families, among our co-workers and friends.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cdl. O'Malley uses the business end of the crozier reports that Cardinal O'Malley of Boston has forbidden a dissident Austrian priest to speak at a parish in his diocese. Good going, Cardinal. That shepherd's crook you've got is not just to nudge the sheep gently, but to take a mighty whack at the wolves trying to get into the sheepfold. Encore!

To repeat a metaphor I've used many times before: If a Chevy dealer asked to use a local Ford showroom to make a sales presentation, what Ford dealer in his or her right mind would let them? No real Chevy dealer would even have the chutzpah to ask. But for some reason, people who want to tear down the Catholic Church, and remake its practices closer to their hearts' desire, never seem to lack for it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unsolicited advice from fools, episode 9,538

We now get advice to our Church from the renowned theologian and peanut farmer Jimmy Carter, as recorded here:
I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God [Note the phrasing: we are the ones in charge of what rights women have in the eyes of God]. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God. [See how deftly he shifts his ground from talking about equal rights, which are enjoyed by people who can be quite different from each other, to equal in the sense of being the same. We might as well say, "Everyone has red hair in the eyes of God."] This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can [Unfortunately for Jimmy, there's no evidence that women were ordained as bishops or priests in the early Church, only that they held positions of leadership — as is the case today, when women dominate the executive positions in most Catholic dioceses]. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. [Jimmy makes the ubiquitous mistake of seeing the priesthood as just another job].
So there you have it: a former leader of the richest, most powerful country in the world, unafraid to criticize an institution he demonstrably does not understand. Time magazine, of course, fawns.

Wait a minute, though. I thought that Protestants thought we Catholics were bad because we venerated a woman, the Virgin Mary, too much. And what about St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Therese of Lisieux, all of whom have been recognized as Doctors of the Church, right alongside St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine? What about the legions of faithful Christian women who have been recognized as Saints throughout the centuries? Is all that to count for nothing because an ignorant Georgia pol hasn't learned how our Church actually sees its priesthood?

Yeah, probably, at least if you're on the staff of Time.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cold comfort

Phil Lawler at the estimable tries to reassure us that we needn't worry about Pope Francis' reputation for off-the-cuff remarks that cause a stir.
I understand the concerns about off-the-cuff papal remarks. Remarks by the Holy Father could easily be misunderstood, for several reasons:
  • because he does not have a cadre of speechwriters screening each sentence for potential trouble;
  • because he is usually speaking in Italian, and although he is fluent in that language it is not his mother tongue, so he may not be aware of every nuance; and
  • because his remarks are reported and interpreted to the world by journalists who do not have a fundamental understanding of the Catholic faith.
I really hope he's right. But when I re-read his assurances, I just get more worried. Look at what is admitted:

  • that the Pope often speaks without careful preparation; 
  • that by doing so in Italian, he compounds the problem and risks saying things that aren't even what he means; 
  • and that these unprepared, unintended remarks will be pounced upon by ignorant or even hostile journalists who will spread even more confusion among the faithful, a fact that Pope Francis could hardly be unaware of.
But we're told not to worry. Why?
Should we be worried, then, about the possibility of some terrible papal gaffe? I don’t think so. Pope Francis is a very intelligent man, and he was chosen by his fellow cardinals to be Roman Pontiff because they recognized his sound pastoral judgment.
 So we're not to worry because Pope Francis is very intelligent, and his fellow cardinals think he has sound pastoral judgment. Well, I'm sure he's smart. But I think it would be easy to make a case that his very carelessness on the three points Mr. Lawler presents is evidence of poor pastoral judgment. I'd even venture to say that such behavior would get any CEO in the world fired. And the CEO's of the world only deal in money; the Pope is responsible for souls. Lots of them.

So I pray hard for this Pope, and for Mr. Lawler too, in hopes that he will end up being right, and that he'll be more convincing next time.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

No wonder we're in trouble...

Last night, I was talking with a longtime prominent member of our parish, a man in his sixties who has served on many committees and held important volunteer leadership positions, and is a member of a prominent Catholic men's organization which I won't name.

At one point, I happened to say that I was very interested in apologetics.

He said, "What's apologetics?"

Friday, May 31, 2013

"I Want To Do For Oakland What Francis Is Doing For the Church"

Whispers in the Loggia comments on the post-Communion address by the newly-installed Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland, a few miles from here. Bishop Barber is Pope Francis' first new appointment to take office.

His fulsome praise of the man who ordained him -- longtime Oakland bishop John Quinn, the very model of a Catholic Progressive prelate -- doesn't bode well. Nor does his decision not to wear his miter and carry his crozier that day, which is expected of a new bishop when giving his first such address. Nor does his lack of suitable appreciation for the presence of Archbishops Cordileone and Vigneron, his two immediate predecessors in Oakland. Nor does his banter with Governor Jerry Brown, in attendance, a 'Catholic' who strongly and publicly favors abortion rights and gay marriage, in direct opposition to Catholic moral teaching.

And no, there'll be no prizes for those of you who guessed correctly that Bishop Barber happily gave Governor Brown the Eucharist when the latter presented himself, despite the Governor's long persistence in manifest grave sin.

If praising Progressives, ignoring custom and rules, snubbing orthodox bishops, and schmoozing with Catholic renegades like Brown is Bishop Barber's idea of "what Francis is doing for the Church" -- wow, I hope he's very, very wrong.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Qui tacet consentire

I first encountered the following saying on Karen Hall's late, much-lamented blog Some Have Hats:
I've had enough of exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues! I see that the world is rotten because of silence.
The attribution is commonly to St. Catherine of Siena, but like Philothea on Phire, I haven't been able to verify it. But it certainly seems to track with what I know of that outspoken saint's life!
This post's title is the Latin form of the old legal maxim, "Silence gives consent." I don't know about you, but I don't want to end up at the Judgement having to explain how I could remain silent in the face of the truly colossal evils that have sprung up during my lifetime.
And as I was reminded tonight, the Enemy doesn't have to beat you down to silence you; he just has to distract you -- often with superficially good things -- long enough for your time to run out.
I'm done with that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five hundred sixty

Today is the 560th anniversary of the  capture and sack of the great Christian city that was once known as Constantinople, by the noble representatives of the Religion of Peace. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Archbishop Cordileone's appearance at the National Organization for Marriage's recent rally in Washington does him tremendous credit. The guy flies all the way across the country to provide some Catholic presence at a time when the Catholic perspective is needed more than ever, and when many American bishops are sitting in their offices trying to stay out of the line of fire.


Does the Catholic perspective on marriage really rest mainly on the welfare of children? A prominent Catholic pro-marriage organization here in California seems to think so. But wouldn't we be better off tackling the move to deconstruct marriage head-on, by challenging the modern (post-modern?) premise that sex is mainly about personal pleasure, with children being a distant second or third benefit? Don't we run the risk of ceding too much ground — ground that we'll just have to recapture later?

Slumber, my darlings

What children want is the assurance so well captured by Stephen Foster 150 years ago in his lullaby Slumber My Darling:
Slumber, my darling, thy mother is near,
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear,
Sunlight has pass'd and the twilight has gone,
Slumber, my darling, the night's coming on.
Sweet visions attend thy sleep,
Fondest, dearest to me,
While others their revels keep,
I will watch over thee.
That last line is the essence of parenting. I'll watch over you, even when I have to make sacrifices to do so.

Trouble is, many adults are so fixated on their "revels" that they have scant time for children. One can see this happening in wealthy families in the past — Winston Churchill's parents come to mind, for example.  But the disease has now spread to the middle and lower classes, who now enjoy enough addictive pleasures, technological and otherwise, that children seem to them now to be little but a burden.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Air Force Culture: shut up, Christians

This story has been making the rounds lately. The actions and statements of the Department of Defense are another sign that the war against Christ and His Church is ramping up.

But not in the blunt-instrument way that a few people have portrayed it. The Enemy is too smart for that. As usual, a framework is being set up, one that will enable the wanted result to be obtained, once the furore has died down.

The wording of most of the section isn't so bad in itself, mainly forbidding coercion by superiors toward their subordinates. But the kicker comes at the end, where the policy is abruptly extended to all Air Force personnel, in language that's vague enough to fit the proverbial Mack truck through:
Airmen, especially commanders and supervisors, must ensure that in exercising their right of religious free expression, they do not degrade morale, good order, and discipline in the Air Force or degrade the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.
It doesn't take much to imagine how atheist Mikey Weinstein, and others whom DoD is looking to for advice these days, will interpret this. All Christian evangelization, no matter how gentle, will be deemed to degrade morale and good order. Where this isn't done explicitly, just the threat will probably silence many.

You can find the entire document on the DoD's website.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We could use more of this!

In her blog post The Well-Ordered Life, Jennifer Fulwiler makes a point that needs constant repeating: that the Church's teachings offer a coherent, fulfilling (but not always easy) way of life, a way that stands in increasingly appealing contrast to the Way of the World, as the latter goes merrily off the deep end.

And very usefully, she observes that "It's amazing, in fact, to see how naturally your priorities fall into proper order when you make even a basic effort to follow the ancient teachings and traditions of the Church." [emphasis added] Lest you think this observation hasn't cost her some discomfort, I encourage you to read her entire post.

Note: this comes from the National Catholic Register, not the National "Catholic" Reporter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A last small gift

Fr. Frank Pavone (of Priests for Life) has asked officials for after-trial custody of the remains of the forty-five infants killed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell and his staff, whose deaths are the subject of the current murder case that will soon go to jury. Fr. Pavone wants to give the infants a decent burial, as human beings deserve.

I have no idea whether he'll succeed. But I do think it's an artful move, in that it draws fresh attention to the fundamental issue of the humanity of these small and helpless victims.

I hope that every American of goodwill can agree that (1) these infants, whether killed in utero or after delivery, were members to some degree of the human race, and (2) the natural virtue that I hope we can still call "common" decency leads us to grant them the respect of a burial fitting for human beings.

We don't really need to settle the Great Question of whether these infants were full-fledged "persons" with an absolute right to decent treatment of their remains. We only have to agree that we, the living, have enough human pity and generosity left in us to grant these forty-five dead creatures, whatever their precise legal and philosophical status may be, the tiny last gift of a respectful interment.

Maybe they have a right to it. Maybe they don't. But can't we just let someone give them that gift?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sorry, Lord, I can't hear you...

I left a comment at Dr. Greg Popcak's Patheos blog earlier today. I've edited it a bit as a standalone blog entry here.

The headline of Dr. Popcak's post, featured at, is Why You SHOULD Bring Baby to Church. But the issue is not so much about merely bringing babies to church; the illustrative photo he provides, of a toddler in full tantrum mode, makes it clear that the real issue is Why It Shouldn't Matter to Anyone That They Can't Hear Anything Over Your Child's Fussing. And why, if it does matter to you, you're just being uncharitable. Or you hate kids.

Though my child is grown up now, I vividly recall her toddlerhood and preschool years, so I approach this topic as a fellow parent.

There are many good techniques to be found in Dr. Popcak's post, aimed at helping parents and children deal with the challenge of coming to church. What I don't see there, however, or in the enormous train of comments that follows, is sufficient pity for others at Mass whose spiritual needs may be different from those of parents and their children. For example, for the adult whose faith is hanging by a thread, who nevertheless forced himself to go to Mass that day, and who desperately needs an focused hour at that Mass to let his frayed emotions be calmed, and get his confused intellect reconnected with Truth, to let God's grace work through to his tormented heart. Imagine such a person trying hard to understand the message of that day's Gospel, but hearing instead something like this:
"At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees, I am the Good SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! lays down His WAAAHHHHHHHHH! know Mine and Mine know BANG! WAILLLLLLLL!!!! The Word of the Lord."
He hangs on through the Homily, hoping for the guidance he craves, but since whole sentences are inaudible over the din, that's reduced to incoherence, too.

Perhaps at that moment, something gives. His life is already full of distraction and disappointment. He can't take any more. Parents, he won't be the one scowling at you. He's beyond that. He's the one with head down, shuffling out quietly before the Credo, concluding that not even at Mass will God grant him an hour's peace.

And just outside the church door, the Enemy is waiting for him.

Parents, in your commendable efforts to bring your children to Mass, don't forget about that man who left early. That's all I ask.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The glory that was [fill in the blank] will save the day

Thinking about Jesus' death on this Good Friday 2013, I noticed something that I hadn't considered before. Powerful Jewish voices in Jerusalem had decided that He had to die for blasphemy. If Jesus had come some centuries before He actually did, during one of the periods when Israel was self-governing, the Jewish authorities would have had the power to deliver a death sentence and carry it out.

Had it happened that way, we in later ages would be tempted to think what a pity it was that Jesus hadn't had the protection of the law of some really high civilization — like Rome. Better, enlightened government (albeit a wee bit tyrannical) would have fixed it all, and saved Jesus from being stoned or otherwise dispatched by religious fanatics of his own country. Better, more enlightened government would have fixed everything.

But of course Jesus did die when Rome was fully in charge in Judea. And when the moment came for that very high, very sophisticated, very educated civilization to stand tall, to step in and keep the "barbarians" from slaughtering an innocent man, what happened? With all the advantages of the Roman Legions and the Roman Law at their backs, they caved. All the crowd had to do was threaten a little rioting, and Pilate scuttled back into his palace and sent the Son of God off to be crucified.

Too many moderns are still thinking that our contemporary Golgothas could be avoided if only government were bigger, more powerful, more pervasive, more thoroughly dominated by educated people — like... well, them

National governments can't keep the lid on? Why, we'll just have world government! That'll do it! The same bureaucrats who've made such a hash of national government will somehow become wise and just, and brilliantly effective, when they can bring the blessings of better, more enlightened, more sophisticated, and above all more powerful government to the defense of the innocent.

Yes, that worked so well 2,000 years ago, let's have another round.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Obama Admin Wants to Deport Christian Homeschoolers

Apparently the Obama administration considers a family of evangelical Germans, who are in our country legally by court order, more of a threat to national security than the thousands of illegal immigrants it just released, according to this article at Human Events.

The administration has shown two things:

1) They don't like homeschooling in general because it irritates a key constituency, teachers' unions.

2) They really don't want to offend Germany right now, given that country's recent demand for the return of 300 tons of its gold reserves now "held" by the Federal Reserve.

Those little Scare Quotes are in order, I think, since the Fed also recently refused Germany's request for an audit of those reserves.

On the other hand, maybe I'm ignoring the natural reaction that Homeland Security personnel would have when confronted with such a scary-looking group of people.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The next Pope's name

Michael Cook at thinks it's most likely to be Leo or Gregory. He also gives you betting odds on many others, including "Elvis." Yes, "Elvis."

MercatorNet: Moving forward: what name will the next Pope choose?:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Elsewhere online, I encountered the assertion that we should wash off today's ashes before we appear in public. The reason given is that Jesus counseled us that when we fast, we shouldn't go around moping and otherwise showing off that we're oh-so-holy.

Yes, there's always the danger to our souls of pridefully glorying in our observance of the day. But the startling sight of ashes on our foreheads also show those around us that observant Catholics live among them, and that we humbly acknowledge that we're in need of repentance. In this secular age, I'd say that the good that can flow from this is worth risking what could, without diligence, be an occasion of sin. Since the Catholic faith is hardly a popular thing in American society, or perhaps I should say in the society in which most urban Catholics find themselves, it's more likely that we'd be derided for holding on to our superstitious beliefs, than praised for fasting and wearing sackcloth.

So I say: wear those ashes so the world can see them — and be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict resigns

This graphic, from, pretty much sums up my thoughts:

Monday, February 04, 2013

A rallying point in KC

Praise for Bishop Finn's action to rein in the notoriously dissident National Catholic Reporter from Michael Voris at

There remains virtually no area of Church teaching that the heterodox gang at the "Distorter" [MV's apt sobriquet for NCR] hasn’t—well—distorted. A rundown of their regular contributors should give plenty of evidence as to their extraordinarily NON-Catholic slant. 
Fr. Richard McBrien, for example—a man so delusional about what Catholicism is that when he wrote his book Catholicism—which he still, by the way, uses to teach from at Notre Dame—the U.S. Bishops condemned it. And that was years ago. 
Imagine: being so liberal that the US Bishops’ Conference actually condemns your work! Heck, that honor is almost exclusively reserved for orthodox faithful Catholics. So you know McBrien’s opus had to be really rotten. 
Then there is the pro-gay, never-met-a-Church-teaching-on-sexual-morality-she-wouldn’t-throw-overboard Sister Joan Chittister, a radical feminist who suffers from an obvious case of Pope Envy. As in, she wants to be Pope. 
The list of sad stories of shipwrecked faith goes on and on over at the Distorter, and for years—decades actually—they have used their incredibly shrinking newspaper as a sounding board for every personal grievance imaginable. All under the banner of "social justice" and the "New Church" and "Power to the People" kind of sloganeering. 
In reality, they really are little else than the dying embers of failed liberalism, but who still have a nasty and poison tongue which they turn against good bishops, faithful laity and the Church in general when She professes immutable dogmatic truths.

Friday, February 01, 2013

National Non-Catholic Reporter

Bishop Finn has dropped the hammer on that perennially ugly dissident publication, the National Catholic Reporter (not to be confused with the estimable National Catholic Register, which is now owned by EWTN). He has publicly told the magazine's editors to stop advertising and characterizing the Reporter as a Catholic periodical, reiterating an order issued by the late Bishop Helmsing of the same diocese forty-five years ago—which, true to form, the Reporter has ignored for the same forty-five years.

This story gives a summary with extensive quotations; see the full essay by Bishop Finn here.

Oh, and naturally he's been the target of vicious personal attacks as a result. Pray for him. And also for the long-deceived (and deceiving) editors, staff, and writers at the Reporter—they need prayer too, although for far different reasons than Bishop Finn.

By the way, you might check to see if your parish offices subscribe to the Reporter. If so, a request to stop spending parish money on a non-Catholic periodical might be in order...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A good, clean hit

During SuperBowl week, it seems appropriate to put this in football terms.

Often, you'll see a mediocre defensive player hit a ball carrier with a so-called cheap shot -- a needlessly violent collision with no fundamentals, no understanding of clean defensive technique, no real skill. Just an big, dumb impact with intent to injure.

But those aren't the players who ultimately succeed, the ones who earn the respect of both their teammates and their fair-minded opponents. The ones who go to the Pro Bowl, who get elected to the Hall of Fame.

We who fight against abortion-on-demand certainly saw one heck of a clean hit from a true champion, Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation, in this interview on MSNBC:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Deserved and undeserved

Real love is always heroic, because it doesn't count the cost. Its only focus is the good of the one whom we love.

On the other hand, our fallen world is very good at calculating the cost/benefit ratio of every transaction. And the better you get at it, the more the world rewards you with what it has to give: all the stuff that doesn't matter in the end.

Worldly love does the same: everything's fine as long as the other person produces the benefits we think we signed up for. But once those benefits start to decline, the calculations begin, and our hearts harden. We'd be happier with someone else, we think. It's easy to leave and start over. No one will criticize us. Why should we lose our chance of "happiness?" This kind of love is hardly more than the pleasure of an amiable acquaintance, and just as fragile.

In contrast, we can always tell when we're really loved just for ourselves, in the heroic way, when we find ourselves astonished by a lavish gift that we didn't deserve — or perhaps we even deserved the opposite. I'd say the gift of another person's entire life and love, in honor and faithfulness, is one of those gifts.