Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A few days' leave of absence

I'm off to see my father in Iowa for a few days. I covet your prayers for my father as well as four our safety traveling. My daughter will be going with me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Washington rumors" - President to announce conversion at end of term?

"A Catholic George W. Bush?" (Rorate Caeli, April 28, 2008) offers the following English translation of an excerpt from an article entitled "Folgorato sulla via di Washington," by Ignazio Ingrao, religion journalist of Italian weekly Panorama:
After Tony Blair, it could be the turn of George W. Bush. According to Washington rumors, the President, a Methodist Christian, would be in the process of converting to Catholicism, as the Anglican Blair. The prayer which the Pope and the Bush family prayed together in the Oval Office of the White House might be the sign of the already accomplished conversion, which the President of the United States could expect to make public at the end of his term. Also Jeb, George's younger brother, entered the Catholic faith years ago, thanks to his Mexican wife Columba.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Philosopher, Saul Kripke, never had more than a B.A.

A reader wrote to point out that the celebrated philosopher, Saul Kripke (68 years old this year), never completed an academic degree beyond his B.A. at Harvard. Gives one pause about the value of those six-to-ten years of self-promotional shenanigans generally required to garner oneself a professional job. See "The celebrated Saul Kripke never earned more than a B.A." (Philosophia Perennis, April 28, 2008).

[Hat tip to E.F.]

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mass the magnificent

This afternoon at 2:00PM a magnificent High Mass with orchestral accompaniment was celebrated at historic Our Lady of Assumption Church in Windsor, Ontario, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Peter Hrystyk. Mr. Wassim Sarweh, who doubles as Music Director at St. Josaphat Church in Detroit, is also Music Director of the Assumption Church Tridentine Choir, which is accompanied by members of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. The Reverend Peter Hrystyk was celebrant. The Mass was preceded by J.S. Bach's "Air on the G String" as a Prelude. The Opening Hymn was "The King of Love My Shepherd Is." The Ordinaries of the Mass (the Kyrie , Gloria, Credo, Sancturs, and Agnus Dei) were from Schubert's Mass in G, with Mary Grivas, Basel Sarweh and Christian Caubet as soloists. The Offertory was Mozart's Regina Caeli, KV 276. Edward Elgar's Ave Verum and Jacques Arcadelt's Ave Maria were sung by soprano soloist Jackie Robitaille during Communion. The Propers were sung by Wassim Sarweh in his matchless style with his choir team. The Final Hymn, "That Eastertide With Joy Was Bright," and Postlude (Isfrid Kayser's Ouverture), was preceded by a glorious chanted Te Deum, that profound and most moving of hymns, the first time in my fifteen years as a Catholic that I have heard it sung in a Catholic church! What grave and solemn joy!

A governor whose pro-life witness is more than words

Alaska's youthful Governor Sarah Palin, who is reportedly being considered as a possible running mate by John McCain, gave birth on Friday to her fifth child, a son who has Down's Syndrome. She said in a released statement: "We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed." As many as 80% of unborn children diagnosed with Down's Syndrome become victims of abortion. Governor Palin, known for her deeply-held pro-life views, did not let her child become a statistic, but warmly embraced her son as God's gift.

See: "Alaska Governor Gives Birth to Son with Down’s Syndrome" (Catholic New Agency, April 24, 2008).

[Hat tip to C.G-Z.]

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dissident Fr. O'Leary considered for Bede Chair in Catholic Theology at Durham

This is enough to make one's head spin. In fulfillment of the late Bishop Dunn's wishes, the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University has reportedly raised £2.1 million to endow a new Bede Chair in Catholic Theology. The university announcement was made in the post, "Durham Centre for Catholic Studies is UK first" (Durham University News, March 3, 2008). Fr. Michael Brown, a priest of Newcastle upon Tyne, offers a brief synopsis of the news in his post, "Bede chair of Catholic Theology at Durham" (Forest Murmurs, April 24, 2008), and mentions that Fr. Joseph O'Leary was one of four candidates invited to Durham for interviews and to offer a public lecture. As an update to his post, Fr. Brown writes: "I understand that Prof. Ayres got the job."

The details concerning each of the four candidates and their respective lectures and positions are derived, according to Fr. Brown, from a post by James Mawdsley, "Church and University: Durham's New Chair of Theology" (Ecce Mater Tua, April 21, 2008). "As part of the selection process," says Mawdsley, "yesterday the four candidates for the Bede Chair each gave presentations to a packed room of local clergy, academics, parishioners and students. One candidate had travelled from London, two had flown in from the USA, the fourth from Japan." The candidate from Japan, of course, was none other than Fr. Joseph O'Leary, the notorious dissident who has insinuated himself into numerous blog discussions under the monaker of "Spirit of Vatican II," or "Joe O'Leary," or simply "Fr. Joe." Mawdsley reports his 'take' on the four candidates as follows:
  • Prof. Lewis Ayres -- solid and interesting
  • Prof. Christina Beattie -- [apparently] the best of the candidates, both in content and communication [but see up-date at the top]
  • Prof. Rev. Paul McPartlan -- interesting but his overall point(s) unclear
  • Prof. Rev. Jospeh O'Leary -- I think he is theologically dangerous
We certainly concur with his 'take' on Fr. O'Leary. Australian blogger John Heard, "Notorious Dissident Priest Father Joseph O'Leary Bound For Durham University's New Bede Chair in Catholic Theology?" (Dreadnought, April 26, 2008) gives a more detailed report of the history of Fr. O'Leary. He reportedly sent an email to the heads of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, as well as to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, the Diocese of Westminster, and Catholic theologians, writers and bloggers across the English-speaking world, warning them about O'Leary's background. Excerpts from Heard's correspondence:
It was with some alarm that I read that Father Joseph O'Leary was being considered for the new Bede Chair at Durham University. Father O'Leary is well-known, indeed quite notorious, within the online Catholic community:- The Case of Father O'Leary; and- The Perplexing Sayings of Father O'Leary.He is especially infamous for consistently and domineeringly pushing his arguments against Catholic teaching on human sexuality, and denying the historicity of the Resurrection.

... On two occasions I have had cause to report Father O'Leary's comments to me (on my blog) and about me (on his blog and other blogs) - in relation to the Church's teaching on human sexuality - to the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney for further investigation. I can forward the correspondence. Other scholars, bloggers and priests have also apparently reported specific examples of Father O'Leary's heterodoxy to their local ordinaries. However, I understand that, owing to the details of Father O'Leary's position in Japan, not much has been done so far.

That would change if Durham and the Centre seriously considered giving Father O'Leary the Bede Chair. He would become a lightening rod for dissent and controversy. Far from presenting the Catholic Church to the secular university, Father O'Leary's appointment would reward the worst kind of secularist ideas and the people who hold them with the official title 'Catholic'.
The history of my own interaction with Fr. O'Leary, who was a classmate of mine in graduate school at Duquesne University back in the early 1980s, is reported by Christopher Blosser in "The Perplexing Sayings of Fr. O'Leary" (Against the Grain, August 2, 2005). O'Leary is very bright, learned, and diabolical. He is obsessed with portraying active homosexual relations in a positive light, as reported in "What homosexuals do" (Musings, June 26, 2006) (his combox comments alone are sufficient to indict O'Leary here, not to mention his obscene discussion of the cult of the divine prepuce [foreskin] in another venue). We banned him from the comment boxes on this blog, even though he continued to post by logging onto different computers, as we noted in "Obstinate O'Leary refuses to be banned" (Musings, August 14, 2006). He denies the historicity of the Resurrection, even while cleverly appearing to affirm it in some trans-historical spiritual sense. He buys into the assumptions of the most skeptical traditions of German higher criticism of the Bible. My own critical analysis of his claims to Chalcedonian orthodoxy in his Christology may be found in the following posts:We hope that Fr. Michael Brown is right and that Fr. O'Leary was not given the Bede Chair in Catholic Theology at the University of Durham. For O'Leary to receive that chair would be a hideous blight upon the future of that venerable institution and a flagrant disregard to all the canons of Catholic theological responsibility. As it is, we continue to be deeply troubled that Fr. O'Leary continues to hold a teaching position in the Department of English Literature at Sophia University in Japan. Fr. Al Kimel justly raises the question "Is the 'spirit of Vatican II' Christian" (Pontifications, quoted in Against the Grain, August 2, 2005). His nefarious influence is not only obnoxious. It is doing great harm.

Update 4/29/08
It has been officially confirmed that Professor Lewis Ayres, an English lay Catholic theologian currently teaching at Emory University in Georgia in the USA, has been appointed as the first Bede Chair of Catholic Theology in Durham University. (Courtesy of Volpius Leonius, Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, United Kingdom)

Cardinal Rigali: Philly seminarians to learn 1962 Missal

Through the grapevine, I've heard that things of this sort are beginning to happen in a number of places. Recently Annamarie Adkins, "'Summorum Pontificum' in the Seminary" (ZENIT, March 14, 2008), interviewed Philadelphia's Cardinal Rigali on his plans to begin instruction at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum and the 1962 Missal, as part of their regular course of studies.

"First there will be a lecture offered on the 'motu proprio' that elucidates the theology underlying the 1962 Missal," said Rigali, "so that the seminarians are afforded a clear understanding of the "motu proprio" and the Holy Father's pastoral concern for the faithful who have a deep love for the Tridentine liturgy."

Since nearly all of the seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary have grown up attending Mass according to the 'Novus Ordo' -- Missal of Paul VI -- the Cardinal underscored the importance of offering an exposition of the Mass according to the 1962 missal -- Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

"Studying about and learning the Mass according to the 1962 Missal will afford the seminarians an opportunity to experience the continuity between the older and newer forms," said Rigali. "So much of our faith is based on continuity and tradition, handing on of the faith from one generation to the next."

Quoting Pope Benedict's letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, Regali continued: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be of all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches that have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

Rigali said that the seminary is also offering a course for priests who wish to learn how to celebrate the "Mass of Blessed John XXIII" (1962 Missal). "Any priest who is unfamiliar with the extraordinary form, or who has not celebrated the liturgy according to this form for some time, will probably, and quite naturally, reflect on the manner in which he celebrates Mass according to the 'Novus Ordo.' Such a reflection is positive because it cannot help but lead to a more reverent and worthy celebration of the liturgy," he said.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified

"Vatican City, Apr 23, 2008/03:12am (CNA). -- The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports" ("John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified," Catholic News Agency, April 23, 2008).

Newman, our patron, was declared "Venerable" in 1991, after a detailed examination of his life and work by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. One miracle attributed to his intercession is needed and must be fully approved by Rome in order to open the way for his beatification. He would then acquire the title of "Blessed." A second miracle would then be needed before he can be canonized and declared a "Saint."

In October 2005, Fr. Paul Chavasse, provost of the Birmingham Oratory, who is the postulator responsible for the cause, announced that a miraculous cure had occurred. Jack Sullivan, a deacon from Marshfield, Massachusetts in the United States, attributed his recovery from a spinal cord disorder to Cardinal Newman. The miracle occurred in the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Boston, whose responsibility it is to determine its validity. In August 2006 the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, announced he was passing details to the Vatican, as we reported in a post, "Evidence of alleged cure credited to Cardinal Newman sent to Vatican" (Musings, November 25, 2006).

Today (April 24, 2008) it was reported by the Press Secretary to the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory that the Consulta Medica at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had met today and voted unanimously that Sullivan's recovery defies any scientific or medical explanation. The cause now awaits the vote of the Theological Consultors on the alleged miracle before it can be sent to the members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, whose role it is to advise Pope Benedict XVI, who could then declare Newman beatified.

The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle.

I remember speaking to one of the Oratorian priests at the Brompton Oratory in London in 1999 about the painfully slow canonization process in the causes of academic saints. I had just come from visiting the Birmingham Oratory, where I was invited to spend an afternoon in Newman's personal library (and gingerly handle his books and cardinal's cap), as well as his private chapel, decked with relics, and his living quarters, and where I had visited his grave in Rednal, just outside the city. "Oh, we'll get him," declared the priest with a confident smile. I did not know whether I should even hope to see Cardinal Newman's canonization, or even his beatification, within my lifetime. If I do live to see him canonized, I invite any of you who wish to join me to Rome for the event; for I will not miss it, Lord help me. I may sell the house, if necessary. Besides, I have another coin I've been saving for the Trevi Fountain.

"Who needs a brain when you have batteries?"

From our agent in Seattle:
In Washington State, a bus driver sheared the top 3 feet off his 12-foot bus by attempting to drive under a pedestrian overpass. The overpass had Clearance 9’ 0” written on it in large letters.

When asked why he had not been fazed by the sign on the overpass, the driver responded: “Well, the GPS *said* to go this way.”

As Snoopy famously remarked, while admiring his new pocket calculator:
“Who needs a brain when you have batteries?”
[Hat tip to K.K.]

Monday, April 21, 2008

Benedict on marriage: key to "world peace"?

"Pope Benedict on Marriage: Key to 'World Peace'?" (Yahoo News, April 15, 2008):
MANASSAS, Va., April 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new analysis
entitled "Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage: A Compendium" and published by the
Institute for Marriage and Public Policy on the eve of Benedict's historic
U.S. visit, finds that in the first three years of his pontificate, Pope
Benedict XVI has spoken publicly about marriage on 111 occasions,
connecting marriage to such overarching themes as human rights, world
peace, and the conversation between faith and reason.

"Over and over again he has made it clear that the marriage and family
debate is central - not peripheral - to understanding the human person, and
defending our human dignity," says Maggie Gallagher, president of the
Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

... Marriage essential to world peace? This may strike American ears as an
oddity. If so, Benedict has made clear it is not an unintentional one. On
September 21, 2007, in an address to participants in a conference of the
Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International, Pope Benedict
prefigured the same theme:

"There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping
the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal
dignity. There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human
life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing
crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on
the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Experience has
shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the
family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is
compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence."

Wouldn't you love to know what her conversation is about?

New Orleans "Clarion Herald" -- September 11, 2002

Mar 25 2003, Amy and Andrew J. DiMaggio, Jr., New Orleans, LA


[Hat tip to K.W.]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Pope's shocking discourse to representatives of ecumenism"

The event was nearly overshadowed on the fourth day of Pope Benedict XVI's visit by his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations and his appearance on the afternoon of the same day (Friday, April 18th) at the synagogue of Park East, directed by Rabbi Author Schneier on the even of the Jewish Passover. No less important, however, and perhaps more startling to many, was the address he delivered at an ecumenical meeting in the Church of St. Joseph, with 250 representatives from a dozon or more religious traditions. Sandro Magister, "Benedict XVI Explains Why Christians Are So Divided" (www.chiesa, April 20, 2008) summarizes:
During this meeting, at the end of the Liturgy of the Word, Benedict XVI addressed to those present a discourse that was absolutely out of the ordinary for such a gathering. Even more, it was highly original with respect to the previous statements by pope Joseph Ratzinger on the topic of the ecumenism.

The thesis of Benedict XVI is that Christianity is so divided both because of a mutual rivalry expressed in "prophetic actions" that tend to distinguish and divide the communities from "communion with the Church in every age," and because of "a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies."

So instead of preaching Jesus Christ "and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2) – meaning the "objective truth" of the apostolic faith – many Christians of the various denominations prefer to urge each one to follow his own conscience and choose the community that best meets his personal tastes.

In the judgment of Benedict XVI, this reluctance to assert the centrality of doctrine "for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division" is also present within the ecumenical movement.

On the contrary, this is the appeal of the pope:

"Only by 'holding fast' to sound teaching (2 Thess 2:15; cf. Rev 2:12-29) will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us."

This appeal is all the more relevant "just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23)."
The salient passages of the pope's address may be found in Sandro Magister's post.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You report: silencing religion in America

A reader, Mr. Anthony Sistrom, recently emailed me the following, which I reprint here with his permission:
Dear Philip,

In the April 23rd New Republic, literary editor Wieseltier is concerned about Muslim demands at Harvard to sound the call to prayer. Multicultural liberal that he is, he is willing to allow Chistians to 'ring the bells' at Harvard if it will ward off Muslim influence. See my letter to Wieseltier [see below].

Best, Tony

N.B. Born in 1952, Wieseltier was at Harvard for the riot of 1969.
Sistrom's letter to Wieseltier:
Friday, April 18, 2008

Dear Leon Wieseltier:

40 years ago your colleagues at Harvard were for silencing the bells. Stanley Rothman's 1982 book, The Roots of Radicalism makes it indelibly clear that the chief
motive of the majority Jewish leaders of the student protests (Michael Kazin, SDS et al) was "fear and loathing of Christianity. Your colleagues (Kinsley, Isaacson, Rich and Strossen) gathered recently at the 92nd St. Y to celebrate the Harvard riot of 1969.

In 1960 Leo Pfeffer noted that the RC Church was the most powerful political institution in America. He confided that the very sight of Catholic schoolgirls in
uniform on their way to and from school in NYC reduced him to uncontrollable anger. In 1976 the same Leo Pfeffer at a speech in Philadelphia (for the Bicentennial) would boast that the RC Church had been defeated and would henceforth play a peripheral role in public life.

Ring the bells? Too late. You successfully silenced them 40 years ago.

Kind regards, Anthony Sistrom

Yo, dig this

Fr. Gregory Jensen, "Confessionz (St. Augustine Rap Remixed)" (April 5, 2008), describes attending a conference in Mesa, Arizona, recently where he witnessed the presentation of a rap video based on The Confessions by St. Augustine. "It is no secret that I am a HUGE admirer of Augustine," he writes, "and so I thought I would share the video here." On his site, he also includes the written lyrics. Enjoy.

Confessionz (St. Augustine Rap Remixed)

[Hat tip to S.F.]

Obama's Christianity

Many Christian supporters of Senator Barack Obama practically swooned when their candidate, amidst denials that he was ever really a practicing Muslin, insisted that he is a Christian. "I'm a Christian," Obama declared. That was enough, so it seems, to confirm nearly all their political hopes and dreams. Why are Christians so often naive, credulous and uncritical -- the last to grasp the pretext, context or subtext of a candidate's remarks? Enter Spengler, "The peculiar theology of black liberation" (Asia Times, March 18, 2008):
Senator Barack Obama is not a Muslim, contrary to invidious rumors. But he belongs to a Christian church whose doctrine casts Jesus Christ as a "black messiah" and blacks as "the chosen people". At best, this is a radically different kind of Christianity than most Americans acknowledge; at worst it is an ethnocentric heresy.
This is a detailed and provocative article. Read the rest of the article here.

[Hat tip to R.R.-D.]

Why heaven isn't taken seriously anymore

"I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell." ("And When I Die," Blood, Sweat & Tears). ... There's the perversity of the world in a nutshell ...
As one who, under family obligation, attends the occasional Novus Ordo funeral Mass, I have observed that the crude conceptions of Islam [instant paradise] and the notions current in the mainstream Church appear to be converging. I have listened to white-vested priests, oozing with unction, talk about the dearly departed as though they had simply gone on an extended vacation to some garden spot where we are certain to join them later.

Sometimes, sitting impatiently among the mourners, I have heard the afterlife described in fruity tones that gave one the impression that it is something like a grand cocktail party with all of our friends and relations pleasantly mingling with the saints while Jesus passes out double martinis. Such affected cheerfulness and imbecile imagery bring little comfort to the distressed and, if anything, encourage them to doubt the sense and truth of the very thing that should provide hope and consolation. It makes our faith appear a vapid nonsense or a fairy-tale suited to the feeble-minded. It is as though our priests are saying, "We don't really believe any of this, and neither do you, but let's pretend we do until the horror of death and pain of loss subside and we can take up our lives again in the old way, with no concern for an after life."

I think the postconciliar church has a difficulty in making Heaven plausible because of its de facto denial of Hell. It sets up a Divine tribunal in which everyone is acquitted, which makes the tribunal itself pointless. Heaven is not a reward but an entitlement. The Church may preach morality as the means to holiness, but what's the point of holiness here if eternal beatitude is to be uniivrsal hereafter? Under such circumstances, a man would seem rather foolish not to indulge himself whenever opportunity allows. And the heaven he is promised can be of little concern.

But for the serious Catholic -- the man who believes that he is engaged in a life-and-death struggle for the salvation of his soul -- Heaven is of paramount importance: it is, to put it colloquially, the name of the game. So there can be nothing that supersedes in significance his conception of Heaven, which is the motive force of his life. Nothing -- not the virtues, dogmas of the faith, precepts of the church, grace of the Sacraments -- has any meaning except in relation to the goal of the spiritual life: Heaven.
(Excerpted from Edwin Faust, "It's All About Heaven," Latin Mass magazine [Winter 2008], pp. 31-32.)
[Edwin Faust is news editor for a daily metropolitan newspaper and has been a contributing writer for many traditional Catholic publications. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children.]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pope to Catholic educators: you're free to teach truth, not error

"Benedict XVI's address to Catholic Educators: 'Freedom Is Not an Opting out, it Is an Opting In'" (Zenit, April 17, 2008, Catholic University of America):
. . . Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual. . . .
The full article is copyrighted by Libreria Editrice Vaticana and cannot be reprinted online without permission. The address is excellent, however, and I encourage you to read it in full.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Archbishop Ranjith, victim of curial Motu Proprio wars?

"Motu Proprio wars in the Roman Curia Ranjith off to Sri Lanka?" (Rorate Caeli, April 12, 2008) offers a translation of a detailed article from Italia Oggi by Andrea Bevilacqua, with the following appended comment:
Editorial Note: The pressures against Archbishop Ranjith are extremely strong within the Roman Curia, as first reported last month. There is no doubt of the Pontiff's great love for him: Ranjith was chosen to replace Bugninist Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino (Benedict's first bold removal of a Curial name) months before Bertone himself was named. The hatred towards Ranjith is strong in Italian circles in the Curia: his immaculate honesty doomed him in Propaganda Fide during the Wojtyla pontificate; now, his bold defense of Papal prerogatives embodied in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum increases the hatred for him. We hope and pray Pope Benedict does not surrender to the intense movement led by the wolves in the Curia against Archbishop Ranjith.
If Ranjith goes to Sri Lanka, the article suggests, he could quite possibly come back a Cardinal.

[Hat tip to A.S.]

Pray for Pope Benedict during his U.S. visit

Pray for him personally, for his safety, for the realization of his intentions, for God's blessing.

On a side note, Raymond Arroyo noted that the President of the United States is planning an all-out welcome for His Holiness, who arrives in Washington Tuesday for a five-day visit (April 15-20th). "Most notably, Bush will go to the airport to receive the Holy Father, a courtesy he has never extended to any visiting leader." Reportedly, the Pope will be paying a personal visit to President Bush's family at the White House, although I cannot confirm this by independent sources at the moment.

For the drive-by media's coverage of the Papal visit, take your chances where you will. But for in-depth coverage of select issues, I recommend, a site devoted to the Pope's Apostolic Journey to the U.S. and sponsored by the Pope Benedict Fan Club. What can I say? I'm biased.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Preaching to our needs

An excerpt on the subject of preaching from Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, "The role of the Priest in Promoting the Gospel of Life," Latin Mass (Winter 2008), pp. 26-29:
As Cardinal Ratzinger stated in a brilliant homily the day before he was elected to the See of Peter:
"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves -- flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what Saint Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph. 4:14) comes true. Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires." [Joseph Ratzinger, Homily at Mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, Monday April 18th, 2005.]
Many of those errors are the consequence of priests having presented false doctrines. However, in many cases these errors are caused by the fact that for many years the faithful in the different parishes have not heard a clear and articulated presentation of the totality of the Faith. They have heard exegeses of the biblical texts that are orthodox at best or simple banalities. Instead the Code of Canon Law mandates that in the Sunday homily "the mysteries of the faith and rules of Christian living are to be expounded." [C.C.L. 767.] Also we should keep in mind, as the Commentary of the code by the University of Navarre points out, that "A homily, therefore, need not necessarily be focused on the Gospel of the day." [Code of Canon Law Annotated (University of Navarra -- Saint Paul University: Wilson & Lafleur Limitée, Montréal, 1993), p. 504.]

First and foremost we have to strengthen the knowledge of the Faith, both at a dogmatic and moral level. The doctrine of the Faith has to be presented in an integral way. As a consequence of that we will be able to encourage a fervent spiritual life and the practice of works of charity. Religion cannot be based on a vague feeling nor in a sort of thoughtless solidarity with those who are perceived as disadvantaged. Religion has to be grounded in an objective and precise knowledge. Today we hear a significant amount of talk about the need to encounter Christ and this is fine. But a concrete and recognizable encounter happens through the adherence to a series of concepts about Him that the Church teaches as the faithful administrator of the treasury of revelation. We can only build an accurate identity of Christ with the descriptive concepts that the church gives about Him. Thus we cannot find Christ in isolation from the church. [John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993, n. 7.] Remember that Christ said: "For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother, and sister, and mother." [Mt. 12:50.] We became members of the Family of God, not through a vague sentimental attachment, but through a concrete observance of His commandments. At the same time we need to be fully aware that the study of the Faith is "not only knowledge of the propositions of the Faith in their historical formulation and practical application, but is also always knowledge of them in faith, hope and charity" as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out recently. [Benedict XVI, Address to the Pontifical Gregorian University, November 3rd, 2006.]

There is no doubt that we have to increase the catechetical content of our preaching. Most likely it would be a good idea to have some type of homily plan in which, through the duration of the year, we would deal in an orderly way with all the teachings of our Faith, using for this purpose in a particular way the Sundays after Pentecost. We should start with the presentation of God as the Creator of all that exists, both of the spiritual and the corporal creatures as it is underlined in the Creed of the IV Lateran Council, Firmiter. We should not ignore the tragedy of the rebellion of the spiritual creatures since it introduced evil into Creation and is closely connected to the fall of our first parents. We cannot ignore that those rebel spiritual creatures who, due to the mysterious permissive will of God, continue to exercise their deleterious influence in the world. This is a reality that has to be presented wisely, affirming its horrible existence, but at the same time avoiding that our listeners be overly preoccupied with it. In the rebellion of the angels we see the culture of death, which is a desire for self-destruction, entering into a good creation. As Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us, because we were created out of nothingness we always have the temptation of returning to nothingness. [Saint Thomas Aquinas, ST, I, q. 104, a, 3, ad. 1. Charles Journet, El Mal (Madrid: Rialp, 1965), p. 140.] The temptation also consists in believing wrongly that it is actually possible to go back to nothingness as a way of liberating us from the pains of the current existence, when, on the contrary, natural reason and revelation teach us that we are going to live forever -- obviously either in perfect beatitude or in total pain and anguish. The man who rebels against the love of God will only find emptiness and anguish which through a merciful disposition of Providence gives him a preview of hell and might lead to repentance.

Preserving the status quo: AmChurch at its corporate finest

[Somebody, give this article a good fisking!]

Pope Benedict XVI allows wider use of Latin Mass

By Victoria Kearns
Staff Reporter
Western New York Catholic (September 2007)

In an effort to preserve the integrity of the faith and embrace those who may have felt distanced from the Church's ancient Latin liturgy by Vatican II reforms, Pope Benedict XVI is easing access to the Latin Mass.

In his Apostolic Letter, "Summorum Pontificum," Pope Benedict called for an "interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church" with those who desire the Tridentine Liturgy or Latin Mass (which originated at the Council of Trent in 1565) by loosening restrictions on its usage.

Now priests may offer the Latin Mass to any "stable (regular parish members) group of faithful" people requesting it without seeking permission from their bishop. The Latin Mass may be used anytime except during the Easter Triduum. Usage of the Latin forms for other sacraments is also allowed.

While Pope Benedict is asking the whole Church to "generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows," he is not reversing reforms made by the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s.

"This is a pastoral outreach on the part of the Holy Father," Bishop Edward U. Kmiec said. "It is a generous, hopeful extension of a hand."

Pope Benedict hopes that a more flexible allowance of the Latin Mass would stimulate a deeper spiritual life among worshippers, ensure reverence and sacrality of the liturgy, and embrace those who grew up on the Latin Mass and remain strongly attached to it.

He also said that young people have demonstrated an increased attraction to the Latin liturgy and "found it is a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist."

The Summorum Pontificum maintains only one rite, albeit in two forms. The Latin liturgy will be seen as an extraordinary form of the liturgy while the current Mass remains the ordinary liturgy.

"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal," Pope Benedict wrote. "In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred, and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

There have been seven revisions of the Latin Mass since 1545. Reforms were made to the Mass over the years to ensure the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date. The last reform of the Latin Mass was made by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

In 1970, following Vatican II, Pope Paul VI reformed the liturgical books for the Latin Church and called for their translation into the common languages of the people. The priests turned to face the people and the use of lay readers was encouraged. While Latin could still be spoken, it was to be used within the liturgical structure of the new Mass.

To ensure acceptance of this reform, the Vatican then insisted on compliance by discouraging use of the 1962 Latin Mass. However, Vatican II ever prohibited the Latin Mass entirely. It only placed limitations and restrictions on its use. Pope Benedict's move to grant more freedom to practice the Latin Mass may mend old bridges with those who have felt splintered from the larger Church.

The Scripture readings of the Latin Mass, which are read in English, are offered on a different cycle than those in the ordinary Mass. Sermons are also spoken in English. There are no lectors, deacons do not distribute Holy Communion which is received only as bread to kneeling parishioners and directly on the tongue.

There is no procession with gifts, no Prayer of the Faithful and no Sign of Peace. The intention of the Mass is announced before the priest gives his sermon. The length of the Mass remains constant. The priest stands with the congregation facing the altar.

The diocese offers the Latin Mass at 1:30 p.m. Sundays in the chapel of Our Lady of Help of Christians Parish, Cheektowaga, with a rotating schedule of priests who are fluent in Latin and familiar with the ancient liturgy. Approximately 80 people from throughout the diocese and as far away as Ontario and Syracuse attend regularly. A Latin Mass is also offered at 9:30 a.m. Sundays by St. Anthony of Padua's Parish, behind City Hall, Buffalo.

"The Latin liturgy always presents a greater devotion, serenity, sacredness, holiness -- a deep sense of prayer," said Richard Grecko who attends the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians.

Since the Latin mass stems from a bygone era in Church history, there may be fewer priests fluent in Latin or familiar with the Roman Breviary of 1862 to offer Mass.

"We have a small number of priests who can offer the Mass in Latin," Bishop Kmiec said. "Many of our priests who previously celebrated the Latin Mass would need a refresher course and the younger priests, who have never celebrated the Latin Mass, would need instruction in the Mass and the sacraments in Latin."

Father Robert Martin, ordained in 1983 and among several priests to offer the Mass in Latin at Our Lady Help of Christians, Cheektowaga, said it was four years of Latin study at Canisius High School that prepared him.

"Latin isn't offered in the seminaries anymore," he said. "When someone approached me to say the Mass in Latin, I was able to read it from the 1962 Breviary because of the Latin I learned at Canisius."

Father David W. Bialkowski, pastor of St. John Gualbert, Cheektowaga, has also been offering the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians.

"It is the awe, reverence and mystery that appeals to some people. Because of that it's attractive, but I think we're talking about a small group of people, Father Bialkowski said.

"The pope highlights unity, but I'm not sure it can create unity," he said. "It may lead to polarization. I'm seeing that more people are having some strong feelings about this both ways."

Father Paul Nogaro of St. Stephen Parish, Grand Island, who also offers the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church said he doesn't see it growing and doesn't see many young people in attendance.

Bishop Kmiec does not think there will be a significant increase in the number of Latin Masses in the diocese.

"There is not a demand for this. I don't have a sense that there is a groundswell of support in our parishes that more people want the Latin Mass," Bishop Kmiec said, adding there are no plans for a Latin Mass parish. "A parish has so many ramifications. It's more than Mass on Sunday. A parish would need income and programs of catechesis, and I would hope it would delve into the rest of the church. In the course of time, if it were appropriate, we could erect a parish, but there are no plans to do so at this time."

[Hat tip to R.R.-D.]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pope's message to the Catholic Faithful of the U.S.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the United States of America,

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you! In just a few days from now, I shall begin my apostolic visit to your beloved country. Before setting off, I would like to offer you a heartfelt greeting and an invitation to prayer. As you know, I shall only be able to visit two cities: Washington and New York. The intention behind my visit, though, is to reach out spiritually to all Catholics in the United States. At the same time, I earnestly hope that my presence among you will be seen as a fraternal gesture towards every ecclesial community, and a sign of friendship for members of other religious traditions and all men and women of good will. The risen Lord entrusted the Apostles and the Church with his Gospel of love and peace, and his intention in doing so was that the message should be passed on to all peoples.

At this point I should like to add some words of thanks, because I am conscious that many people have been working hard for a long time, both in Church circles and in the public services, to prepare for my journey. I am especially grateful to all who have been praying for the success of the visit, since prayer is the most important element of all. Dear friends, I say this because I am convinced that without the power of prayer, without that intimate union with the Lord, our human endeavours would achieve very little. Indeed this is what our faith teaches us. It is God who saves us, he saves the world, and all of history. He is the Shepherd of his people. I am coming, sent by Jesus Christ, to bring you his word of life.

Together with your Bishops, I have chosen as the theme of my journey three simple but essential words: "Christ our hope". Following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, I shall come to United States of America as Pope for the first time, to proclaim this great truth: Jesus Christ is hope for men and women of every language, race, culture and social condition. Yes, Christ is the face of God present among us. Through him, our lives reach fullness, and together, both as individuals and peoples, we can become a family united by fraternal love, according to the eternal plan of God the Father. I know how deeply rooted this Gospel message is in your country. I am coming to share it with you, in a series of celebrations and gatherings. I shall also bring the message of Christian hope to the great Assembly of the United Nations, to the representatives of all the peoples of the world. Indeed, the world has greater need of hope than ever: hope for peace, for justice, and for freedom, but this hope can never be fulfilled without obedience to the law of God, which Christ brought to fulfilment in the commandment to love one another. Do to others as you would have them do to you, and avoid doing what you would not want them to do. This "golden rule" is given in the Bible, but it is valid for all people, including non-believers. It is the law written on the human heart; on this we can all agree, so that when we come to address other matters we can do so in a positive and constructive manner for the entire human community.
[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Russian Orthodox Bishop: Hell only temporary

Dan Valenti, "World Mercy Congress 'Catches Fire'. Is hell the weigh station to heaven?" (, April 5, 2008):
ROME, April 5, 2008 /PRNewswire/.

In a stunning ecumenical moment at the Catholic Church's first-ever World Congress on Divine Mercy, Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, bishop of Vienna and Austria, told a rapt audience of 8,000 that God's love places no limit on his mercy toward humanity, even to the point of imposing a temporal limit on hell.
[Hat tip to S.F.]

Kasper: how Vatican II teaches prayer for Jewish conversion

On Good Friday, Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, published an article defending Benedict XVI's revisions to the "Good Friday Prayer for the Jews" in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "Das Wann und Wie entscheidet Gott" (March 21, 2008). Christopher Blosser, "Kasper's attack on dual covenant theology: how Vatican II teaches prayer for Jewish conversion" (Against the Grain, April 8, 2008), links an English translation [pdf] by Dr. Thomas Pink (King's College London) along with his extended observations in the form of a guest post. Excerpts:
  • Concerning the article's standing: ... Kasper's emphasis and choice of terms are certainly not those of Cardinal Schoenborn's recent Tablet defence of the Christian evangelization of Jews (Judaism’s way to salvation March 29, 2008). But I do not see any serious theological conflict between them or between either and Benedict.

  • If there is an internal theological target being aimed at by Kasper, it is very clearly dual covenant theology.

    This is the view, increasingly widespread in certain US and German theological circles involved in Jewish dialogue, that the Jews have their own saving covenant distinct from and independent of that offered by Christ to the Gentiles, and that therefore there is no ground for Jews to convert to Christianity and enter the Church. Jewish conversion is not something for which the Church should call, pray, or strive. The dual covenant camp, theologians such as Pawlikowski et al, try and base all discussion on Nostra Aetate, and interpret this actually very short and vague declaration in isolation from preceding documents of the Council. They treat Nostra Aetate as a whole New Pentecost on its own, from which among Church documents all future Judaeo-Christian dialogue is supposed uniquely to develop, and on which whatever speculative theological structure they fancy can then be erected as new 'Church teaching'. Kasper will not have this, and reinforces the standing of Nostra Aetate by relating it to the rest of the Council, and in particular to the greater authority of Lumen Gentium. But the content of Lumen Gentium is flatly opposed to dual covenant theology, as we can see from Lumen Gentium paragraph 9, a passage that very clearly states Catholic teaching on the relation of the Jewish people to the Church and the New Covenant:
    "[God] therefore chose the race of Israel as a people unto Himself. With it He set up a covenant. Step by step He taught and prepared this people, making known in its history both Himself and the decree of His will and making it holy unto Himself. All these things, however, were done by way of preparation and as a figure of that new and perfect covenant, which was to be ratified in Christ, and of that fuller revelation which was to be given through the Word of God Himself made flesh. "Behold the days shall come saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah . . . I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . For all of them shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 31) Christ instituted this new covenant, the new testament, that is to say, in His Blood, calling together a people made up of Jew and gentile, making them one, not according to the flesh but in the Spirit. This was to be the new People of God."
    Dual covenant theology, it seems to me, cannot survive this passage.

    Notice that here the Council quotes Jeremiah chapter 31 as a prophetic foretelling of the New Covenant. It is important that Kasper refers, via discussion of St Paul, to Jeremiah 31 too, as a prophetic foretelling of the future salvation of the Jews - which, by the Pauline argument, will consist in the future saving reincorporation of the Jews into the olive tree of salvation from which they have become cut off. That olive tree, then, in the context of Jeremiah 31 is Israel (as Lumen Gentium para 9 later on also terms the Church - the 'New Israel') considered as the People of Jeremiah's New Covenant. There is only one covenant for the Jews to return to, one shared with the Gentiles.

    Another point that Kasper emphasizes repeatedly from the start is that Jesus really is the Christ, that is, the Jewish Messiah. But the logic of dual covenant theology is surely to put this in some doubt. (Or so I've always thought - and so Luke Timothy Johnson at least seems willing to move towards concluding: see this amazing piece in which Luke Timothy Johnson says, it seems, that Jews should not let Christians persuade them into seeing Jesus as truly the Jewish Messiah).

  • The 2008 prayer clearly is viewed by Kasper (and one presumes Benedict as well) to concern the conversion of the Jewish people as a whole. ...

  • Clearly St Paul in addressing the synagogues was aiming at conversions, and moved on only when he did not find them. ...

  • Hence in this field, traditionalist mistrust of Kasper seems misplaced, and is based on a misunderstanding. ...

  • The 1962 and 1970 liturgies: united in prayer for Jewish conversion ...
[Hat tip to Raphael's father, C.E.Y.B.]

Out of the mouth of a teen: Quod erat demonstrandum

DARNELL GARDNER JR. is a lifelong Detroit resident and a junior at Davis Aerospace Technical High School in the Detroit public school system. Any teenager who sounds like a precocious Dr. Edgar Foster, knows how to use words like "ramification," and wants to address pressing social concerns, is worth listening to in my book. Have a listen, as he speaks his piece in "Kilpatrick makes it harder to defend Detroit" (Detroit Free Press, April 6, 2008):
In light of the recent events in Detroit, I feel a responsibility to deliver my take on the state of the city.

I am a lifelong Detroit resident, a student in the Detroit Public Schools, and the child of a tax-paying single parent. I have the right to voice my opinion, and I believe that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has an ethical and contractual obligation to listen to it.

These words are not tainted with "bigotry" or a product of some "lynch-mob mentality." My words are drenched in tears -- for my people and my city.

In the past 10 years, I have seen every aspect of Detroit decay. My neighborhood, East English Village, once a diverse, safe and clean gem of the city, has crumbled before my eyes. I have forgotten what it feels like to be at peace. Whether it is gunshots, loud and profane music, or dime bags left on my sidewalk, something reminds me every day of how low this city has fallen.

That reminder crawls into my mind and gives me feelings so strange and powerful that I cannot even describe them. While Kilpatrick touts building up dilapidated neighborhoods and tearing down abandoned homes, I cringe as he fails to preserve what little beauty this city still has left.

I am aware of the Next Detroit Initiative, and I am aware that it began here, in East English Village. But I am also all too aware of how late it was. When people walk down the streets smoking marijuana with no regard to law or authority, you can be sure that it will take untold amounts of time and effort to recover what has been lost.

I used to go to Renaissance High, another fading gem of this city, but last year I transferred to Davis Aerospace Technical High. The difference between the two schools is appalling, even though Davis is considered a top school in Detroit. The children are often out of control, rude and crude. Even worse, they are also devastatingly undereducated. Many cannot even write a readable essay because their grammar is atrocious.

I have even heard teachers say that they could not grade some papers because they were unreadable. In fact, one of my peers asked me to proofread one of his essays, and I nearly began to sob halfway through it.

These kids are the future of this country, this state and, most important, this city. How can anyone expect them to succeed when their English skills are equivalent to those of mine in fourth grade? The students at my school are just as smart as anyone else. Why is it that they have never had the chance to discover it for themselves?

Education is the backbone of any successful community. It matters not how much you repair a place if the people who will inhabit it have no education. They will just turn to various forms of crime and end up destroying everything that was created.

On March 11, I watched every moment of Mayor Kilpatrick's State of the City address, and I am still watching it every day on national and local news -- for all of the wrong reasons. I must say that even though I did not quite enjoy the scripted part of the speech, had that been all the mayor had to say, I could have lived with it. However, when I heard the last five minutes of the speech, frankly, I could not believe my ears. Just when I had thought things could not get any worse, as I should have predicted, Kilpatrick managed to somehow dig Detroit's grave even deeper.

How dare he use the n-word on TV? I do not care who or what called him that, as the highest ranking official in this city and as someone many African Americans, particularly young men, look up to, he cannot just throw out slurs like that in any context.

The mayor is clearly a sharp man; can he not see the ramifications of his actions?

The part of the speech that disenchanted me even more was when he declared that the media and suburbanites are waging a bigoted assault on him. Not only is that statement false, but it is also extremely racist. Yes, many suburbanites and many whites do not like this city, but how can you blame them? Half the people in this city do not like it, and we are black!

As for the media, they are doing their jobs. Kilpatrick got himself into this massive mess; he is completely out of line for attempting to shift the blame onto the people who are telling the citizens of Detroit, the people he works for, about it.

I am one of the many Detroiters who are pleading for Kilpatrick's resignation. He has embarrassed this city long enough, and the longer we have him in the limelight, the harder it gets for the city to "focus" or "get back to business."

Kilpatrick, whether convicted or not, committed an immoral and criminal action and should pay a price.

Someone's philandering is none of my or anyone else's business. However, what Kilpatrick did cost the city $8.4 million and its reputation. When I look at schoolbooks that are so worn that they do not even have covers, teachers who struggle to serve the city's youth and pay their utility bills at the same time, and the endless garbage scattered throughout Belle Isle -- yet another lost gem --I simply cannot excuse that.

Back four or five years ago, I went to a suburban private school. There, I encountered a lot of people who had stereotypical and warped views of this city. Being the opinionated person I am, I defended my home with all that I had.

I was ridiculed, alienated and even called "white" by both black and white students. But I did what many other Detroiters still do on a regular basis: try to uphold the image of our city.

When city leaders disgrace us, they not only further stereotypes about blacks and Detroit, they disparage the work so many of us have done.

Kilpatrick should give us a break and please leave office. If he is forced out, it will only make Detroit look that much worse.
Of related interest:

Nolan Finley, "Shut down Detroit's dropout factories" (The Detroit News, April 6, 2008):
"Bulldozers ought to be rolling across Detroit, leveling public schools that are trapping children in poverty and ignorance.... No other response is adequate to the report that Detroit Public Schools graduates just 25 percent of its students...."
Leonard Pitts, Jr., "It's a shameful thing, Mayor Kilpatrick" (Detroit Free Press, April 8, 2008):
Dear Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick: So it's a black thing? Not a sleaze thing, not a betrayal of the public trust thing, not a breaking the law thing? Just a black thing?

This would seem to be the message of the recent rally thrown for you at a black church in Detroit.... Standing room only; gospel choirs doing that gospel choir thing; posters in red, black and green; chants of "I can make it through the storm!" ... And there you were, with your bold, uncompromising self, standing in the pulpit proclaiming, "I will humbly serve you till the day I die." O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson would be proud.
[Hat tip to S.N.]

St. Francis, converter of Muslims

As an update to our earlier post (St. Francis: a Mensch of a Saint, Musings, January 14, 2008) reviewing Frank M. Rega's book, St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims (TAN, 2007), here is a link to an interview with the author by Michael Baggot, entitled "St. Francis of Assisi: Not a Birkenstock-Clad Hippie But a Converter of Muslims" (, April 3, 2008).

[Hat tip to blog reader]

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Servais Pinckaers, O.P. (1925-2008)

Some very sad news: The brilliant Dominican moral theologian, longtime teacher at Fribourg in Switzerland, honored member of the ITC and formative contributor to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Veritatis Splendor preparatory commissions, has passed away yesterday. Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus, "A Giant Moves On" (First Things, April 7, 2008) reports:
The news this morning is that Father Servais Pinckaers, O.P., has died after a long period of debilitation. His history of Christian ethics and other writings—and especially his acute distinction between the “freedom of indifference” and the “freedom of excellence”—has had a powerful influence in Christian circles, and not only among Catholics, and certainly not only among Thomists.
American Papist, Mr. Peters, reports that Pinckaers was one of the primary inspirations for his master's thesis ("Spiritual Spontaneity at the Heart of Morality"). He also recommends a decent biography of the great man to be found here, and also: a short Pinckaers CV, an essay of his entitled "The Place Of Philosophy In Moral Theology", a personal note passed on from the dominicans who tended his bedside, and his magnum opus, The Sources of Christian Ethics, as well as a more introductory version of it: Morality: The Catholic View.

[Hat tip to Mr. Tom Peters]

"We are living in a spiritual Hiroshima"

"Dr. Peter Kreeft: 'We are living in a spiritual Hiroshima'" (Catholic Citizens of Illinois, April 1, 2008):
We are living in a "spiritual Hiroshima." The Catholic Church is full of psychobabble. Our bishops have all the courage and behavior of rabbits. Since Vatican II, three-quarters of our nuns are gone. Sunday Mass attendance has declined from 75% to 25%. Belief in the Real Presence has dropped from nearly 100% to about 30%. The Catholic Church has lost the power to arrest the decline of our culture.

Properly said, ours is not a "Culture of Death," but a "Culture of Murder." There is the murder of marriage (divorce). There is the murder of the unborn (abortion). There is the murder of reason by militant feminists and by militant homosexuals. The cloning of humans promises to turn the "I am" of God into the "it is" of humanism. Science is promising eternal life by working to eliminate from humankind the "age and die" gene, which supposedly is not found in non-sexual species and in cancer cells.

Our words cannot defeat the Culture of Death, but God's words can. Eucharistic adoration can conquer the Culture of Death. Pope John Paul II spoke of a New Evangelization, which means not the preaching of new words, but the preaching God's timeless words to new generations of people. It's easy to be busy; it's far more difficult to be holy. We need to start by being holy.

... The only two moments of peace in history are in Genesis (before history) and in the Apocalypse (after history). All of human history in between is full of war and of spirits thirsty for the blood of children. Pro-choice people will not-indeed, cannot-listen to reason. Pro-choice people are insane and will not convert to reason-they will attempt to convert reason. . . .

During World War II, I.G. Farben GmbH of Germany made Zyklon B, the gas used to kill so many in the gas chambers. Today, a French successor company to I.G. Farben makes the abortifacient RU-486. Either the face of evil has changed little, or the devil has a limited range of business contacts.

... some of my best friends are Jesuits.
[Hat tip to A.S.]

Monday, April 07, 2008

Horrifyingly brilliant

The international Ministry of Science Propaganda sponsors this Richard Dawkins Rap: Beware the Believers. As I say: horrifyingly brilliant.

[Hat tip to S.F.]

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The passing of Paul Scofield, Charlton Heston

Bob Thomas, "Film Legend Charlton Heston Dead at 84" (MyWay, April 6, 2008):
Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, has died. He was 84.

The actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said.

... Publicist Michael Levine, who represented Heston for about 20 years, said the actor's passing represented the end of an iconic era for cinema. "If Hollywood had a Mt. Rushmore, Heston's face would be on it," Levine said.

... He delivered a jab at then-President Clinton, saying, "America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don't trust you with our guns."
"'Man For All Seasons' Actor Paul Scofield Dead at 86" (FoxNews.Com, March 20, 2008): "LONDON — Paul Scofield, the towering British stage actor who won international fame and an Academy Award for the film "A Man for All Seasons," has died. He was 86.... Actor Richard Burton, once regarded as the natural heir to Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud at the summit of British theater, said it was Scofield who deserved that place. 'Of the 10 greatest moments in the theater, eight are Scofield's,' he said." Scofield was "a family man who lived almost his entire life within a few miles of his birthplace in southern England and hurried home after work to his wife and children," and generally shunned the spotlight.

SDG, "An Actor for All Seasons" (Jimmy Akin Online, March 20, 2008):
Paul Scofield, who brilliantly portrayed St. Thomas More in Fred Zinneman's A Man for All Seasons, has died.

Scofield originated the role of Robert Bolt's stage play, adapted by Bolt himself for the screen. He knew the role intimately, and his performance is magnificently layered and sensitive.

Primarily a stage actor, Scofield's filmography also included Quiz Show, Branagh's Henry V and the Mel Gibson Hamlet.

Few actors could make decency and integrity as convincing and appealing as Scofield. If his Thomas More isn't enough for you, check him out as Ralph Fiennes' father in Quiz Show. He embodies a character for whom principles are not just abstract theories, but concrete realities taken for granted as matter-of-factly as gravity.

He does the same thing as More in A Man for All Seasons, although with more worldly-wisdom about the weaknesses of other men. In that film, the principles he stands for include the indissolubility of matrimony, the Petrine primacy of the Bishop of Rome, the inviolability of an oath, and (perhaps most importantly for Bolt) the binding authority of conscience.

... A Man for All Seasons is one of the Vatican film list's 15 films in the category of Religion. Bolt's language, based as much as possible on More's own words, strives to create what Bolt called "a bold and beautiful verbal architecture." For the rest, Bolt added, "my concern was to match with these as best I could so that the theft should not be too obvious."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Priests as Lords

In an article entitled "Calling Priests 'Father' in Latin" (April 4, 2008), Jimmy Akin tells how he discovered -- first through reading the Latin abbreviations "D.ns" -- that priests are not addressed as "Father" in Latin but as "Lord" ("Dominus"). "Pater" is not used in Latin as a form of addressing priests. When the election of Pope Benedict XVI was announced, he was referred to "dominum Iosephum, sanctæ romanæ Ecclesiæ cardinalem Ratzinger," Akin observes. A commentator speculates that this may be the reason why some monks and clergy are addressed as "Dom" (short for 'Dominus'), or sometimes "Don" (as in Don Bosco). Another reader points out that in Latin, "Dominus" or "Reverendus Dominus" (R.D.) is used for diocesan priests. "Pater" or "Reverendus Pater" (R.P.) is used for religious priests.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Neocatechumenal Way making headway

Zenit: "Neocatechumenal Way Saying 'Yes' to Europe" (Jan. 4, 2008)

Of related interest, note the controversy concerning the Neocatechumenal Way over the past few years:

Troubles in Orthodoxy

Things have apparently been building to a crisis until, finally, the faculty of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York have issued this statement on March 31, 2008. There is also this report by Orthodox Christians for Accountability, though it isn't too illuminating. If anyone is able and cares to fill us in on the details of the "Alaskan situation," we should be grateful.

[Hat tip to S.F.]

Six new sermons by St. Augustine discovered

The University of Erfurt has announced in a press release (March 26, 2008) that six previously unknown sermons of St. Augustine's have been discovered recently in a special collection of its university's research library (Bibliotheca Amploniana) by three researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. The sermons reportedly appear in a handwritten manuscript dating back more than 800 years.

The researchers -- Isabella Schiller, Dorothea Weber and Clemens Weidman -- identified four completely new sermons of St. Augustine, and two that were previously only available in part, all written in medieval handwriting. The handwrittten parchment manuscript is identified as of a type originating in the second half of the 12th century, probably in England, and the work contains a total of more than 70 further sermons of different theologians of late antiquity and the middle ages.

The externally completely inconspicuous volume probably made its way by the 15th century into the collection of the bibliophile physician and theologian, Amplonius Rating of Rheinberg, who donated his extensive collection of over 600 handwritten volumes to the Collegium Amplonianum established by him in Erfurt in 1412. Read more here ...

[Excerpts from the press release are in my own translation.]