Friday, October 29, 2010

May Truth and right reason influence your vote

The Holy Father's address to the bishops of Brazil:


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast region 5) who have just complete their five- yearly "ad limina" visit were received this morning by the Holy Father.

"I wish to speak to you today", the Pope told them, "about how the Church's mission to serve as the leavening of human society through the Gospel teaches human beings their dignity as children of God, and their vocation to the unity of all mankind, whence derive the need for justice and social peace in accordance with divine wisdom".

"First, the duty of direct action to ensure a just ordering of society falls to the lay faithful who, as free and responsible citizens, strive to contribute to the just configuration of social life, while respecting legitimate autonomy and natural moral law", the Holy Father explained. "Your duty as bishops, together with your clergy, is indirect because you must contribute to the purification of reason, and to the moral awakening of the forces necessary to build a just and fraternal society. Nonetheless, when required by the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls, pastors have the binding duty to emit moral judgments, even on political themes".

"When forming these judgements, pastors must bear in mind the absolute value of those ... precepts which make it morally unacceptable to chose a particular action which is intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity. This decision cannot be justified by the merit of some specific goal, intention, consequence or circumstance, Thus it would be completely false and illusory to defend, political, economic or social rights which do not comprehend a vigorous defence of the right to life from conception to natural end. When it comes to defending the weakest, who is more defenceless than an unborn child or a patient in a vegetative or comatose state?"

"When political projects openly or covertly contemplate the depenalisation of abortion or euthanasia, the democratic ideal (which is truly democratic when it recognises and protects the dignity of all human beings) is betrayed at its very foundations. For this reason, dear brothers in the episcopate, when defending life we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, rejecting all compromise and ambiguity which would conform us to the mentality of this world".

In order to help lay people live their Christian, social and political commitments in a unified and coherent fashion it is necessary, said the Holy Father, to ensure appropriate "social catechesis and an adequate formulation of Church Social Doctrine. ... This also means that on some occasions, pastors must reminds all citizens of the right, which is also a duty, freely to use their vote to promote the common good".

"At this point politics and faith come together", he went on. "The specific nature of faith certainly lies in the meeting with the living God, Who opens new horizons far beyond the sphere of reason. ... Only by respecting, promoting and indefatigably teaching the transcendent nature of the human being can a just society be built. ... 'God has a place in the public realm, specifically in regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions'", said the Holy Father quoting his Encyclical "Caritas in veritate".

Benedict XVI concluded his discourse by joining the Brazilian bishops' appeal for religious education and, "more specifically, for the pluralistic and confessional education of religion in State schools". He also indicated that "the presence of religious symbols in public life is both a recollection of man's transcendence and a guarantee of its respect. They have particular value in the case of Brazil where the Catholic religion is a component part of the country's history".
AL/VIS 20101028 (630)

Monday, October 25, 2010

which one must die?

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:

'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.

So the doctor said: 'Ok and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.' She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request. Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.

The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!

'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.

The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point. He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same!

Hat tip to Doc Nuenschwander

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back from trip... Sort of

From ages 3 to 17 I lived within 50 miles of San Francisco, yet I never lost my heart there. Ireland? Well, that's another story.  How to return from a place like Ireland? In the picture below is Slea Head, which is on the Dingle Peninsula, one of the western most points in south west Ireland, we find the North Atlantic greeted by:

And, as it turns out, the North Atlantic which comes here is mild, bringing the Gulf Current from Florida, with mild weather capable of supporting palm trees, and a lovely October day on the beach at Inch.

In Dingle we stayed at the delightful Murphy's pub/B&B; a nice quiet family dorm room en suite (as they call it when you have a private bath), and a lively pub with excellent food and plenty of "Guiness, for strength" as well as Murphy's and Smithicks; fine brews which did not seem to upset the stomach like the sludge we have in the states.

Then how to describe the "new" (1829) St Finbarr parish church in Bantry, in West Cork?

What a lovely Church!

And contrary to all the reports of empty churches in Europe, it was full on Sunday morning. St Finbarr was an early Christian in Ireland, and the founder of the city of Cork in the 7th century.  Here is his original 7th century monastic establishment in West Cork (the openings are the cells).

While dad was in another reality, with the kids he of course enjoyed the food, the people, and the hospitality of the Irish pubs...

...and Octoberfest. Did I mention Octoberfest? Oh yeah, Germany too... I will continue later...

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Scandal of Disobedience to the Magisterium

The Scandal of Disobedience to the Magisterium
By Archbishop Raymond Burke

Recognizing the responsibility of Christians and of all men of good will to enunciate and uphold the natural moral law, we also recognize the scandal which is given when Christians fail to uphold the moral law in public life. When those who profess to be Christian, at the same time, favor and promote policies and laws which permit the destruction of innocent and defenseless human life, and which violate the integrity of marriage and the family, then citizens, in general, are confused and led into error about the basic tenets of the moral law. In our time, there is a great hesitation to speak about scandal, as if, in some way, it is only a phenomenon among persons of small or unenlightened mind, and, therefore, a tool of such persons to condemn others rashly and wrongly.

Certainly, there is such a thing as pharisaical scandal, that is, a malicious interpretation of the morally good or, at least, morally indifferent actions of another. The term comes from the supposed scandal which Our Lord Jesus caused to the Pharisees by, for instance, healing the man born blind on the Sabbath (cf. Jn 9:13-34).

But there is also true scandal, that is, the leading of others, by our words, actions and failures to act, into confusion and error, and, therefore, into sin. Our Lord was unequivocal in his condemnation of those who would confuse or lead others into sin by their actions and their failures to act. In teaching His disciples about temptations, He declared: "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin (Lk 17:1-2).

It is clear that Our Lord taught as a primary responsibility, with the gravest of consequences, the avoidance of scandal, namely, of any act or failure to act which could lead another into sin. Our Lord’s words are nothing less than vehement.

To ignore the fact that Catholics in public life, for example, who persistently violate the moral law regarding the inviolability of innocent human life or the integrity of the marital union, lead many into confusion or even error regarding the most fundamental teachings of the moral law, in fact, contributes to the confusion and error, redounding to the gravest harm to our brothers and sisters, and, therefore, to the whole nation. The perennial discipline of the Church, for that reason among other reasons, has prohibited the giving of Holy Communion and the granting of a Church funeral to those who persist, after admonition, in the grave violation of the moral law (Code of Canon Law, cann. 915; and 1184, § 1, 31).

It is said that these disciplines which the Church has consistently observed down the centuries presume to pass a judgment on the eternal salvation of a soul, which judgment belongs to God alone, and, therefore, they should be abandoned. On the contrary, these disciplines are not a judgment on the eternal salvation of the soul in question. They are simply the acknowledgment of an objective truth, namely, that the public actions of the soul are in grave violation of the moral law, to his own grave harm and to the grave harm of all who are confused or led into error by his actions. The Church confides every soul to the mercy of God, which is great beyond all our imagining, but that does not excuse her from proclaiming the truth of the moral law, also by applying her age-old disciplines, for the sake of the salvation of all.

When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public. The person in question bears a heavy responsibility for the grave scandal which he has caused. The responsibility is especially heavy for political leaders. The repair of such scandal begins with the public acknowledgment of his own error and the public declaration of his adherence to the moral law. The soul which recognizes the gravity of what he has done will, in fact, understand immediately the need to make public reparation.

If there has always been the danger of giving scandal to others by public and seriously sinful actions or failures to act, that danger is heightened in our own time. Because of the confusion about the moral law, which is found in public discourse, in general, and is even embodied in laws and judicial pronouncements, the Christian is held to an even higher standard of clarity in enunciating and upholding the moral law.

It is particularly insidious that our society which is so profoundly confused about the most basic goods also believes that scandal is a thing of the past. One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule and even censure of those who experience scandal. Teaching about the relationship of human ecology to environmental ecology, Pope Benedict XVI underscores a contradiction in "the overall moral tenor of society," which leads us and especially our youth into serious confusion and error: "If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other (Caritas in veritate, no. 51).

One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church. In a society whose thinking is governed by the "dictatorship of relativism" and in which political correctness and human respect are the ultimate criteria of what is to be done and what is to be avoided, the notion of leading someone into moral error makes little sense. What causes wonderment in such a society is the fact that someone fails to observe political correctness and, thereby, seems to be disruptive of the so-called peace of society.

Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life.

Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.

+ Raymond Leo Burke
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the
Apostolic Signatura
Via Paolo VI, 25, 00193 ROMA
October 9, 2010

The above is only part of the address, which was distributed by Robert Moynihan, "The Moynihan Report"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NY Bishops speak on voting

465 State Street Albany, NY 12203-1004 Phone (518) 434-6195 Fax (518) 434-9796

Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty
By the Catholic Bishops of New York State

We Catholics are called to look at politics as we are called to look at everything – through the lens of our faith. While we are free to join any political party that we choose or none at all, we must be cautious when we vote not to be guided solely by party loyalty or by self interest. Rather, we should be guided in evaluating the important issues facing our state and nation by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.

Our national and state elected officials have profound influence on countless matters of great importance, such as the right to life, issues of war and peace, the education of children and how we treat the poor and vulnerable. We must look at all of these issues as we form our consciences in preparation for Election Day.

Unfortunately, it is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops’ most recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship ( makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.

The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office. As Faithful Citizenship teaches, “Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.”

These are complex times, so our task is not light. It is often difficult to get a good grasp on the positions of incumbent congressional representatives and state legislators, not to mention their challengers. News accounts of positions are hard to come by, and voting records on important issues are often lacking. So the task of doing due diligence can be truly challenging. Yet our state is facing many critical issues which are of vital concern to faithful Catholics. Thus it is absolutely necessary for good citizens to take a careful look at every candidate and to vote accordingly for the better candidates. You can find all of the candidates for elected office at the New York State Catholic Conference Web site (

Many of the most compelling moral issues of the day play out at the state level. Commonsense restrictions on abortion, whether or not to employ the death penalty, issues related to same-sex “marriage” and civil unions, parental rights in education, programs to serve the poor, access to health insurance – all of these debates occur in the halls of our state Capitol in Albany.

We set forth below potential questions for candidates on a variety of critical issues, and we urge you to learn where all the candidates for every office stand with each critical issue. This list is by no means exhaustive, but our hope is that it serves as a valuable tool in forming your consciences as you make your decisions in the voting booth as Catholic faithful citizens.

While we as the Bishops of New York State cannot and do not endorse candidates for office, we encourage you to properly form your conscience by reflecting on the moral and social teachings of our Church and we strongly urge you to vote on Election Day. For when you vote, you are exercising your cherished right and your solemn duty as Americans and as Catholics.

Important Questions for Political Candidates

The Right to Life

Do you agree with the need to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down all state laws criminalizing abortion and established a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn child in the womb?

Do you oppose the state’s “Reproductive Health Act” or the federal “Freedom of Choice Act” which both go beyond Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a fundamental right to abortion with no restrictions or regulations?

Do you support a ban on physician-assisted suicide?

Do you oppose government funding for human embryonic stem cell research?

Do you oppose the death penalty?

Do you oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortions?

Parental Rights in Education

Do you support the right of all parents – especially poor parents – to be provided with the means (such as education tax credits) to choose the most appropriate school for their child, including a religious or independent school?

Do you support restoring full state reimbursement on mandates in religious and independent schools?

Protecting Marriage

Do you support maintaining the historic understanding of marriage as only between a man and a woman?

Immigration Reform

Do you support immigration reform that regularizes the situation for undocumented immigrants already in this country?

Do you oppose punishing charitable organizations that provide social services to undocumented persons?

Access to Health Care

Do you support legislative action to provide access to health care for needy New Yorkers?

Protecting the Poor

Do you support the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act that would grant farm workers certain rights available to all other New York workers, such as the right to overtime pay, collective bargaining and a day of rest?

Do you support an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, available as refunds to families with the greatest need?

Religious Liberty

Do you support the right of faith-based health and human service providers to offer services to the community in accord with their religious beliefs?

Do you support the right of faith-based health and human service providers to make employment and employee benefits decisions in accord with their religious beliefs?

A Time to Act

As religious leaders, we urge you to exercise your right and solemn duty to vote on Election Day.

+Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York
+Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop of Albany
+Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn
+Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo
+Terry R. LaValley, Bishop of Ogdensburg
+Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse
+Matthew H. Clark, Bishop of Rochester
+William F. Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre

(original is here)

Monday, October 11, 2010


Press Release

At the Foot of the Cross
With Saint Dominic

Oct 16, 2010

Why do we suffer?
What can we do about it?
What is the response in Faith to our suffering?

On Saturday, October 16th at 9AM
at the Cathedral of St. John in Boise,
join Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P., for the day
to explore the life of faith
and the Catholic response to the cross
through the eyes of St. Dominic.
Fr. Serpa is the Chaplain of Catholic Answers,
and a regular guest
on Catholic Answers Live radio program.

Mass to follow retreat at 6:30PM with Lay Dominican professions

Sunday, October 10, 2010

St. Finbarr's Church, Bantry Ireland

Mass today in Bantry, Ireland, at St. Finbarr's