Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Intuitively Obvious to the Casual Observer" - by why is it missed?

From Michael Greaney, Personhood and the Ontology of Personalism, Just Third Way blog:

The point, however, is that if opposition to abortion is a purely religious issue, then support for abortion cannot be a purely civil issue. As a matter of consistency and of common sense, if opposition to abortion is a religious issue, then support for abortion is also a religious issue. Any form of support for abortion by government at any level would necessarily be a violation of the 1st Amendment as it would, in effect, establish a State religion.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Chancel Choir, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Christmas day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An evil power akin to Herod still seeks to dethrone Jesus

An evil power akin to Herod still seeks to dethrone Jesus
By Bishop Robert Vasa

BEND — The Advent season begins the Church’s liturgical year. We are already well into the fourth week of Advent, in fact, on the threshold of Christmas itself, and yet the work of the Advent season continues. I have focused my articles during this Advent season on the need to make room for Christ in our hearts and not just any room but room in the very heart of our hearts.

It is not uncommon to have some tragedy strike in life, which results in a temporary realignment of priorities. We may feel there is absolutely no possibility of us taking the time necessary to go to Mass on a particular Sunday and yet if someone in the family suddenly dies we are quite readily able to reschedule our lives to accommodate that family emergency. In other words, we can, if we choose, reorder our priorities. We set those things in priority positions that are the most important to us. Our attendance at regular Sunday Mass is an indication of how much we value faith, faith practice, Church and God. We make time for those things we value and we perceive as important. If someone makes little time for Sunday Mass this is a indication of how much it is valued.

Many more people seem to take the time necessary to attend Mass at Christmas than they do at other times of the year. This is not an entirely bad thing but it is not all that good either. For me, the practice of attending Mass only at Christmas and Easter is very confusing. It is a little like going to work only on the day after Labor Day and the day after Memorial Day and feeling like justice has been done to the employer. It is indeed good that someone chose to show up for work on those two days but no one would see that as exemplary or even adequate. Yet, it seems that there are some who take a rather lackadaisical attitude toward the serious obligation of Sunday Mass attendance. I would surmise that Christ does not reign in the throne of that heart. Something or someone else occupies the throne. Hopefully, the grace of Advent or Christmas sheds at least a little light on the usurper of the throne and provides some prospect of an overthrow of the reigning monarch so that Christ might truly reign.

Herod was on the seat of power in Bethlehem when Jesus was born in the lowly stable and laid in a manger. Yet, Herod, with all his power, was afraid of this newborn king and set out to find and destroy him. He even enlisted the help of the Magi under the pretext that he too wanted to come and worship the one who was the subject of tidings of great joy, but his motives were not pure. He wanted to make sure that his own throne was kept safe. Make no mistake, the same spirit who drove Herod to seek out the child with an intention to destroy him still works to assure that this same newborn king does not dethrone him now. That evil spirit is quite intent on retaining his share of the power of the throne and as long as things of the world or the flesh occupy the throne, he has his share of power. Only if Christ fully reigns does the spirit of evil get fully displaced. Christ, however, engages in that battle in the same way in which he engaged the battle with Herod. He does not seem to contend with Herod at all. He, in great littleness, appeals to hearts. He gently invites all to come to Bethlehem and see; to come and see him of whom angels sing. Even Herod wanted to come and see but the throne of his heart was already, and nearly irretrievably, fully occupied. Thus, he neither came nor believed. Unfortunately, even if he had come, he most likely would not have seen what both the shepherds and the Magi did see. This is the problem with only coming to see Christ at Christmas; He is not really seen at all.

This should not be surprising in our days when even physicians and nurses fail to see the humanity of a pre-born child. How can one who fails to see the humanity of a pre-born child see the divinity of the child in a manger at Bethlehem? I had a very touching conversation recently with a new grandfather. He told me of an experience he had with his, I think, 10th grandchild. He told me that he spent time really looking at the tiny, miraculous hand of that newborn. Every feature, down to the tiniest fingernail of the tiny little finger, was pure and pristine and beautifully formed. In that moment, while he was always completely pro-life, he said he became even more deeply committed to the cause of life. He came to Bethlehem anew and saw and believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe. How can the purveyors of abortion fail to see what is so exquisitely clear? The people who walk in darkness have not yet seen a great light and a light has not yet shone on the people who dwell in the land of gloom (Cf. Isaiah 9:1) It is not that the light is not there for them to see. As the light was there for Herod but he failed to see so the light of human life is magnificently displayed for all to see but it is not yet seen by all. Coming to Bethlehem at Christmas, coming to Church at Christmas, coming to see the child in the manger at Christmas does not automatically guarantee that one will see Christ nor that he will be invited to shed light on one’s darkness.

The remembrance and celebration of the coming of Christ at Christmas is a renewal and a rekindling of hope, par excellence. Every child comes with, and indeed is, a message from God that he still loves his people. The child, whose birth we celebrate with such great solemnity and festivity, brings that message in supernatural and extravagant abundance. I pray that this season for all of us is a season of light, hope and exquisite joy.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest. For the yoke that burdened them, and the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace, his dominion is vast and forever peaceful.” (Isaiah 9:1-6) Make a permanent place for Christ in your hearts. May God bless you abundantly this Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holy Father's "World Day of Peace Message"

Avoiding the extremes at both ends of the ideological spectrum, the Holy Father again shows that the answer lies not in "A or B" but "Yes"


While it has been rightly emphasized that increasing per capita income cannot be the ultimate goal of political and economic activity, it is still an important means of attaining the objective of the fight against hunger and absolute poverty. Hence, the illusion that a policy of mere redistribution of existing wealth can definitively resolve the problem must be set aside. In a modern economy, the value of assets is utterly dependent on the capacity to generate revenue in the present and the future. Wealth creation therefore becomes an inescapable duty, which must be kept in mind if the fight against material poverty is to be effective in the long term.
click the title link to read the whole address

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deadly Discrimination in Doublethink Disguise

The following article I am reprinting in full from Social Justice Review (Vol. 100, No 9-10, 2009)

Deadly Discrimination in Doublethink Disguise
Donald DeMarco, Ph.D.

Arbitrary discrimination and justice are mutually exclusive. This is a fundamental tenet of social justice. Considering all the current laws that protect women, minorities, the handicapped and disabled and various other groups from discrimination, one might think that America has tightly bound its anti-discrimination policies to social-justice principles. One would, however, be far from correct in so thinking. The will to discriminate is alive and well; it is simply disguised. In Current literature, the most salient and outrageous example of promoting discrimination by disguising it appears in the form of what its author and champion, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, calls "The Complete Lives System".

Dr. Emanuel first put forward his notions in 1996, in The Hastings Center Report (Volume 26, No.6) where, strangely enough, he linked justice with discrimination. Here, Dr. Emanuel argued that what he called "a just allocation of health care resources" should not be considered "socially guaranteed or basic" to "individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens". An "obvious" example of this, he went on to say, would be "patients with dementia". " A less obvious example", he added, "is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason."

The non-discriminatory notion, Christian in its essence, that human life is sacred and that all human beings possess unalienable dignity, is not present in Dr. Emanuel's thinking. Human beings, according to his reckoning, have no intrinsic value and justify their continued existence solely in terms of their supposedly and potentially positive contributions to society. One might rightly conclude, therefore, that Dr. Emanuel, by denying unalienable human dignity, discriminates against everyone. Nor does he appear to have much regard for either the U. S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Emanuel's notion of "The Complete Lives System" was clearly, though less than convincingly, proposed in 2009 in The Lancet (Vol. 373, No.9661) in an article that he penned with two colleagues. "Consideration of the importance of complete lives", they write, "also supports modifying the youngest-first principle by prioritizing adolescents and young adults over infants. Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Similarly, adolescence brings with it a developed personality capable of forming and valuing long-term plans whose fulfillment requires a complete life."

Discrimination, however, remains discrimination even when it is called "prioritizing". Or, as Abraham Lincoln once said, a dog still has four legs, even if you call one of them a tail. The order of naming may or may not coincide with the order of being.

In the context that Dr. Emanuel establishes, what does "complete" mean? The word is ambiguous to begin with, but in the hands of Emanuel et al. it contradicts the intended meaning. We say that something is "complete" either when it is fully present (a collection is complete when all the elements are present, as in a complete set of stamps) or simply when it comes to an end (a person's life is complete even though he dies at an early age; in this sense, he has run the complete course of his tenure on earth). Emanuel et al. draw on both of these meanings at the same time, favoring complete lives in some instances and incomplete lives in others: "Strict youngest-first allocation directs scarce resources predominantly to infants. This approach seems incorrect. The death of a 20-year-old young woman is intuitively worse than that of a two-month-old girl, even though the baby has [lived] less life."

Surely, not everyone will have this same "intuition", especially parents who look upon their infant children through loving eyes. Also, the infant stands to lose more future life than the 20-year-old woman. If we measure the tragedy of premature death in terms of future years lost, then the death of the infant is worse. At any rate, Emanuel et al. are saying that the more complete life of the twenty-year-old (even though potentially shorter) is somehow better than the less complete life of the two-month-old (even though it is potentially longer). They say this under the rubric of "The Complete Lives System", but how do they rationalize it? They write: "The twenty-year-old has a much more developed personality than the infant, and has drawn upon the investment of others to begin as-yet-unfulfilled projects."

Allegedly, we should favor those individuals in whom society has made substantial investment and who are more likely to have "complete lives". Yet, there can be no investments without investors. And a goodly percentage of the latter are older people who do not have much time left for ''as-yet-unfulfilled projects". Moreover, this calculus fails to protect adequately those in whom society has not made substantial investments. In other words, "The Complete Lives System" discriminates against both the young and the old: "When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantive chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated."

This is not exactly "universal" health care. It is, rather, a staggering form of deadly discrimination, disguised by doublethink, against the majority of Americans. Who would take such a system seriously? The matter becomes all the more serious when we realize that Dr. Emanuel is a chief advisor on health care to President Obama. He works in the White House Office of Management and Budget as a health policy advisor and is a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. His brother Rahm Emanuel is White House Chief of Staff.

Doublethink, as George Orwell described it in 1984, is the act of believing two contradictory thoughts at the same time. Dr. Emanuel strains logic to the breaking point in a studied attempt to convince readers that his patently discriminatory proposal is not discriminatory: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds received priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 now was previously 25 years old. Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not."

What is the moral difference, the inquiring reader may ask, between being 65-years-old or older and having 65 or more "life-years"? Discrimination against the former is supposedly "ageist," but discrimination against the latter is consistent with "The Complete Lives System"! If we are to take the above paragraph seriously, we should have to conclude that it is permissible to discriminate against a 65-year-old because we did not discriminate against him when he was 25. It is probably only small consolation to elderly subjects of discrimination to think back and remember that they were not discriminated against as they passed between the ages of fifteen and forty.

Has there ever been a more strained, illogical, inconsistent, and unpersuasive proposal put forth in the guise of health care? The current moral vacuum created by the decline of Christian values in contemporary society is being filled by sheer nonsense. But it is a dangerous nonsense that threatens everyone's well-being.

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., Social Justice Review, Vol. 100, No 9-10, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Postcards from Paul

Paul O'Leary, Idaho Lay Dominican at large in Germany, sent the following postcards from Abbey Neresheim in Germany:

Paul writes:

By European standards the well designed and built church is fairly new (1747-92). The sprawling Abbey complex, built to house 1000+, is home to only 11 Benedictine monks, so vocational opportunity abounds. Spoken German a plus.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Couple excellent reads

For your reading info:

An excellent Advent reflection by Bishop Robert F. Vasa
The question is, who is sitting on the throne of your heart?
Christmas is the season when we celebrate Christ’s coming. Advent is the season when we are to prepare for his arrival. I find the “Keep Christ in Christmas” to be a nice reminder of the meaning of the season but making a place for Christ in our hearts is the best way to prepare the way of the Lord; the best way to prepare for Christmas. Then this preparation is not so much external as internal.

The following article is fascinating:

A graced bewilderment: The dark night of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta - Reflection based on recent book ‘I Loved Jesus in the Night'

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The future is bright in Honduras!

A new president-elect, and a disposition regarding the deposed former president Zelaya. The Honduran Congress speaks (Click to read):

Honduras Congress: We have complied with the Accord

National Congress of Honduras rejects the restitution of Sr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales

The legislative body reaffirms its support for the constitutional succession that brought Roberto Micheletti Bain to the Presidency

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Election day in Honduras

Today general elections are being held in Honduras, representing the triumph of constitutional law and democracy over the ambitions of tyrants, and the pressure from international organizations which have long abandoned democratic principles. This included the US for most of the crisis in Honduras, but enough truth has filtered through that the US has agreed to recognize the outcome of elections. Were it not for American expats writting from Honduras, we would be completely in the dark as to what has really been happening there. The article that follows is an example of the abdication of truth by many US news outlets; and this has been the rule, the notable exception has been the column of Mary O'Grady in the Wall Street Journal, and scattered newspapers.

From La Gringa's Blogicito, this election eve analysis of news in the US:

Reader Roy, who I believe is from Venezuela, left this very interesting comment documenting media manipulation and the 'Chávez Media Machine'. It is a perfect example of how you need to you know who wrote your news and where it came from.

Comment from Roy:

Here is another example of media manipulation...

From Yahoo: "CDA to U.S. Policymakers: Don't Ratify Honduras Elections as 'Free and Fair'"

You can find it in this link (currently second from the top) on the Yahoo News search for "Elections Honduras":

Yahoo news search

This article is not "news" in the sense that it is reporting what is happening or has happened in Honduras. What it is reporting is an OPINION issued by an organization called the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA). Yahoo got this piece from PR Newswire. If you go to this organization's website at

PR Newswire

You will see that their business is not reporting news, but in collecting "news" from other organizations and selling the "feed" to other media sources. Following is a quote from their web page: "Leverage our experienced, Washington, D.C.-based Public Interest editorial team that specializes in handling news copy from nonprofit, government, association, advocacy and other Public Interest newsmakers worldwide."

Now, let us look at the original source of the article from the CDA. Go to:

Democracy in Americas

When you look at and read their website, it is an extremely biased mouthpiece for ALBA, Chavez, and his regional political agenda. Note the following quote: "The Center for Democracy in the Americas has country programs for Cuba, Venezuela, and Chile. But its work embraces issues facing U.S. policy toward the region more broadly.

THIS is the original source of what appears to be a legitimate news article published by Yahoo. This is the power of the Chavez Media Machine. It can utilize the mechanisms of the media business to create such an avalanche of "news" and opinion favorable to his agenda that people read it and simply assume that since "everyone" thinks that way, they should as well. This is a highly advanced version of Goebbels "Big Lie" propaganda tool.


I know that some may think that we are conspiracy theorists and that the news that they read is 'pure' and that CNN is (as they tell us) the most unbiased place to get your news. I think that most who have been in Honduras or have contacts here on the ground have had their beliefs about the media rocked to core. We've not only seen the bias or spin in major media sources but we've seen outright false information reported as fact.

Part of the misinformation may be laziness and the fact that initially and through much of the past 5 months, most news sources did not have anyone on the ground here in Honduras. CNN (Español) cannot claim that excuse as they did have someone on the ground − interestingly a reporter with Sandista and Daniel Ortega ties. Most of the other Honduran coverage came from Telesur, a Venezuelan television station completely controlled by Hugo Chávez. Telesur was caught staging a video of "military repression". CNN did their share of staging and misrepresenting protests, including not covering the much larger pro-government protests.

People need to know where their news is coming from to understand what is going on. I've looked up some of the AP and Reuters "journalists" and in some cases found that they have written other strongly pro-Chavez articles. I've written articles dissecting Ginger Thompson's NY Times articles and the some of the information that she has written was just false, even if you disregard her personal spin. Let me add that I had nothing against the author or the NY Times. It is just one example of many. It is scary and those who believe that we are conspiracy theorists are naive.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I seem to have missed this recent event exposing the fraud associated with global warming, but where's the surprise; either in the contents of the lack of reporting? Here's a couple interesting articles to wet your whistle:

ClimateGate - Climate center's server hacked revealing documents and emails
Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?
The warmist conspiracy: the emails that most damn Jones
EDITORIAL: Hiding evidence of global cooling
Junk science exposed among climate-change believers

This is priceless, though:
Climategate Implosion is Bush’s Fault

thanks to Fr. Phillip Neri Powell who is paying more attention than I am.

Here's a summary of the death-blow to the so-called science of "global warming"
I'm particularly taken with the "physics" of why a greenhouse works, and why atmospheric CO2 won't kill us, (although our government just may, ostensibly to save us from ourselves).

Politics and Greenhouse GasesBy John McLaughlin

A couple more interesting items, one from New Zealand and one from "The American Thinker" (referred to as The American Stinker in the released CRU "Climategate" content)

Uh, oh – raw data in New Zealand tells a different story than the “official” one.

Evidently, the atmospheric greenhouse problem is not a fundamental problem of the philosophy of science, which is best described by the Munchhausen trilemma, stating that one is left with the ternary alternative

infinite regression - dogma - circular reasoning

Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics

Monday, November 23, 2009

Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, but not what is God's

The following declaration is a worthy read:

Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

read the declaration to understand why it concludes thusly:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.

thanks to Roger Nuenschwander who sent the link.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rose Hawthorne and a More Humane Vision of Health Care

This article appeared at and is well worth a read.

Rose Hawthorne and a More Humane Vision of Health Care
by Edward Short

In his address to Congress on September 9, President Barack Obama recommended his proposed healthcare reform by citing a letter he had received from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, in which the senator wrote, "What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country." Citing Senator Kennedy as an authority on social justice and the nation's character may not have been a winning gambit for all of the president's audience, but he was right to acknowledge that the health-care debate does entail important moral issues.

If reforming health care along the lines proposed by many Democrats results in the rationing and indeed degradation of care, is there any moral justification for such reform? As the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) recently warned, "Giving the federal government the power, and primary responsibility, to contain medical expenditures could threaten the provision of medical care to the most vulnerable, the elderly and the chronically ill." "Misguided legislation," the CMA argued, could only worsen health care.

One New Englander who would have appreciated this was Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose writings are full of cautionary tales about well-meaning reformers. "The Birth-Mark" is perhaps the most brilliant. The tale's visionary hero, intolerant of human imperfection, resolves to remove a birthmark from his wife's face and, in the process, kills her.

For Henry James, Hawthorne "combined . . . the spontaneity of imagination with a haunting care for moral problems. Man's conscience was his theme . . . ." Hawthorne's works corroborate James's point: The Blithedale Romance pokes witty fun at the Transcendentalist conscience that founded the utopian Brook Farm community; The Scarlet Letter anatomizes the obsessive Puritan conscience; The House of the Seven Gables looks at how conscience often operates in families, grappling with the ghosts of ancestral guilt.

But it was in Hawthorne's own family that his moral preoccupations found their full flowering, especially in the life of his daughter Rose, the legacy of whose work exposes grave flaws in the president's proposed overhaul of health care.

Rose Hawthorne (1851-1926) was born in Lennox, Massachusetts, the third and youngest daughter of Hawthorne and his discriminating wife, Sophia Peabody, who once exclaimed: "I hate transcendentalism, because it is full of immoderate dicta which would disorganize society" -- not a sentiment that would endear her to the immoderate social engineers surrounding our current president.

The love that Rose received from her parents helped sustain her throughout her difficult adulthood. Shortly before her marriage collapsed (her husband was an incorrigible alcoholic), she astounded her mostly Unitarian friends and relations by converting to Roman Catholicism. Once embarked on her new life, she dedicated herself to providing care to the cancerous poor, who, at the time, were barred from the city's hospitals and left to rot on Blackwell's Island. After the death of her husband, she founded the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne to advance her sacramental work.

Rose's friend Emma Lazarus, whose lines adorn the Statue of Liberty -- "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . ." -- and who died herself of cancer at the age of 38, introduced her to the needs of the poor by sharing with her the work she was doing on behalf of indigent Jews in New York. After reading a news story about pogroms in Russia, Lazarus told Rose: "I forgot Emerson. I forgot everything except that my people were in need of help." Here was a woman after Rose's own heart.

To fund the homes she set up for her patients on the Lower East Side and, later, in Hawthorne, New York, Rose published appeals in the New York Times, one of which ran: "Let the poor, the patient, the destitute and the hopeless receive from our compassion what we would give to our own families, if we were really generous to them."

Of all the many responses she received, one stood out:

If there is an unassailably good cause in the world, it is this one undertaken by the Dominican Sisters, of housing, nourishing and nursing the most pathetically unfortunate of all the afflicted among us -- men and women sentenced to a painful and lingering death by incurable disease . . . . I am glad in the prosperous issue of your work, and glad to know that this prosperity will continue, and be permanent -- a thing which I do know, for that endowment is banked where it cannot fail until pity fails in the hearts of men, and that will never be.
Throughout his life, Mark Twain was one of Rose's staunchest supporters.

The loving care that the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne continue to extend to their patients could not be in starker contrast to the sort of cheese-paring bureaucratic care that the president and his allies recommend in their proposals. For example, the Congressional Budget Office recently informed Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus that his plan to cut $123 billion from Medicare Advantage -- the program that provides one-fourth of seniors their private health insurance -- would cause some 2.7 million seniors to lose their coverage altogether.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the president's health czar, looks askance at the very notion of extending end-of-life care. "Covering services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . should not be guaranteed," Dr. Emanuel wrote in a Hastings Center Report. "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

In sentiments such as these, Rose Hawthorne would have seen a return to the mentality that set up the death warrens of Blackwell's Island. It was to reform that mentality that she established her own homes, which are still going strong today throughout the United States and (President Obama, take note) Kenya. One reason for their continued success is the munificence of donors like Twain; but another and perhaps even greater reason is their inherent goodness, for, to quote Pope John Paul II, they are "not merely institutions where care is provided for the sick or the dying," but "places where suffering, pain and death are acknowledged and understood in their human and specifically Christian meaning."

For their compassionate vision of health care, the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne can cite the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in his first encyclical:

Love -- caritas -- will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable. The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person -- every person -- needs: namely, loving personal concern.
These insights, which describe so accurately the "service of love" for which the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne were founded, should also guide those who wish to bring about truly humane health-care reform.

Edward Short is finishing a book on Cardinal Newman and his contemporaries, which will be published by Continuum.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Polish Friar remembered

A Veteran’s Story

A Polish Friar Remembered
Posted by Fr. Matthew Rzeczkowski, O.P. on November 12, 2009

Fr. Adam Studziński, O.P. at Monte Cassino (Italy), May 11, 2007

This past Veterans' Day, which is Independence Day in Poland, the square in front of St. Giles Church in Krakow was dedicated in honor of Fr. Adam Studzinski, O.P., a late Friar of the Polish Province. Fr. Adam was ordained in 1937. Two years later, at the outbreak of the Second World War, he made his way to Palestine and joined the Polish Army there. He served as chaplain to the troops at the Battle of Monte Cassino and throughout the whole of their Italian campaign. Into his later years Fr. Adam remained active in veterans' organizations and in Polish scouting. In 2006, he was promoted to the rank of general in the Polish Army. Fr. Adam died in 2008 at the age of 97. For further details of Fr. Adam's exemplary life, see his entry on Wikipedia. St. Giles is a small baroque church in the shadow of Wawel Castle. Each Sunday the Dominicans say one Mass there in English and one in Polish.

From the Dominican Friars' Blog, Province of St. Joseph

Going 'round the Bend

I spent a few relaxing days at the family house in Bend Oregon. Here's the view of the back of the place from across the pond at Drake Park:

Here's where I sat and read and enjoyed the ducks, geese, and occasional snow flurries:

It was beautiful and sunny on Saturday; Mt Bachelor came out of the clouds and is a nice view from the backyard:

The jewel though, was to get to hear a sung mass at the new St. Francis of Assizi Church in Bend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anglican Overture

The following essay is from the Dominican Friars of the Eastern Province.

“De Lisle’s Dream Come True”
An Article By the Very Rev. Leon Pereira, O.P.
Posted by Fr. Brian Mulcahy, O.P. on November 11, 2009

On October 20, 2009, the day on which simultaneous news conferences were held in the Vatican and London, at which the promulgation of a new Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, was announced, that provides for the reception of members of the Anglican Communion into Full Communion with the Catholic Church in their own "Ordinariates," Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P., the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, asked us to convey to his Dominican brothers and sisters that this was the intention for which he had asked them to pray the "Litany of Dominican Saints" back in February 2009. Archbishop DiNoia has now asked that a remarkable article, written by one of our Dominican confreres in England, the Very Rev. Leon K. Pereira, O.P., the Prior and Pastor at the Priory of the Holy Cross in Leicester, England, be shared with our readers. In this article, it is made clear that the Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman (to be beatified in 2010) had prayed for such a provision that might allow a greater number of his fellow countrymen to find their way back into Communion with the Holy See. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, a student and devotee of the thought and writings of Cardinal Newman, has been made aware of this article. With the permission of Fr. Pereira, his article follows below.

Two hundred years ago an extraordinary man was born in Leicestershire, Ambrose Philips de Lisle. He was a scion of the ancient De Lisle family, and the founder of Mount St. Bernard's Abbey. His descendants still come to Mass at Holy Cross. Ambrose de Lisle was a visionary ahead of his time. A convert to the Catholic faith, he dreamed of Christian unity. He wrote a pamphlet in 1876, voicing the idea of a corporate re-union of the Anglican Communion with the Catholic Church, whilst retaining Anglican juridical structures, liturgy and spirituality. When his friend Cardinal John Henry Newman read it, he wrote to him,

"Nothing will rejoice me more than to find that the Holy See considers it safe and promising to sanction some such plan as the Pamphlet suggests. I give my best prayers, such as they are, that some means of drawing to us so many good people, who are now shivering at our gates, may be discovered."

The plan was doomed to be thwarted in De Lisle's lifetime. To console him, Newman said:

"It seems to me there must be some divine purpose in it. It often has happened in sacred and in ecclesiastical history, that a thing is in itself good, but the time has not come for it ... And thus I reconcile myself to many, many things, and put them into God's hands. I can quite believe that the conversion of Anglicans may be more thorough and more extended, if it is delayed - and our Lord knows more than we do."

In our own time, Pope Benedict XVI has rightly been called the 'Pope of Christian Unity'. Two years ago, the Pope said that in the critical moments of the Church's history, when divisions arose, the failure to act on the part of Church leaders has helped to allow divisions to form and harden. He observed, 'This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.'

It is with this in mind, no doubt, that Pope Benedict has made this unprecedented and overwhelmingly generous response (N.B. the Pope is responding to a request, not enacting his own initiative) to the many requests submitted to him by Anglicans left in dismay within their own Communion. Already such Anglicans are being castigated as misogynist homophobes - an uncharitable, prejudiced aspersion. Some Anglicans see them as traitors; some Catholics see them as less-than-desirable for our Church.

The real issue is one of unity, genuine unity: that those who seek communion with the Barque of Peter should not be left to founder amidst the waves, but be brought safely aboard where Christ is not asleep, but Master of wind and waves, standing on Peter's deck. The Pope has shown that real ecumenism is not about courteous disagreement trying to increase each other's insipidity until one church cannot be distinguished from another in a cosmic-beige mélange. No, the call of the Gospel still holds: one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. These are our brothers and sisters, shivering at our gates, to be received as brothers and sisters, and not as traitors or second-class Catholics.

The Dominican Order has a small role in all this. On 21 February this year, our brother Fr. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., then Under-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asked all Dominicans to pray the Litany of Dominican Saints from February 22 (the Feast of the Chair of St Peter) till March 25 (the Solemnity of the Annunciation) for an at-the-time undisclosed intention - it was for this intention. It is no wonder that in our history people have remarked, 'Beware the Litanies of the Dominicans!'

Fr. Leon Pereira, O.P.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Truth Be Told issue #7 - Newsletter of the Laity of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The seventh issue of "Truth Be Told," the newsletter of the Laity of the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus has been posted to the web.

The newsletter is available for download at the provincial web page here:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Anglican overture published by Vatican

Here it is!
Anglicanorum Coetibus

From Robert Moynihan's The Moynihan Report:

first, a letter from Andrew Rabel, a Roman Catholic Australian journalist, and friend of Archbishop John Hepworth, head of the 400,000 member Traditional Anglican Communion:

"This day comes after 400 years of many unsuccessful efforts, to bring about a reconciliation with the Anglican Communion, and the Roman Church.
"Now the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has taken the lead with this Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus (the words are the first words of the Latin text and mean "Groups of Anglicans"), the first Apostolic Constitution in 13 years, since John Paul II's Univerisi Domenici Gregis in 1996 (regarding the updating of conclave procedures in the election of a Pope).
"[Other Apostolic Consitutions in recent decades made Opus Dei a personal prelature (Ut sit, November 28, 1982), revised the Church's 1917 Code of Canon Law (Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983), established military ordinariates (Spirituali militum cura, April 21, 1986), reformed the Roman Curia (Pastor Bonus, June 28, 1988), insisted on orthodoxy at Catholic universities (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, August, 15, 1990), provided a distinct canon law for Eastern Catholic Churches (Sacri Canones, October 18, 1990), and promulgated a new Universal Catechism (Depositum fidei, October 11, 1992). All these Constitutions regulated Church life, but never dealt with an ecclesial body not in communion with the Church of Rome.]
"Now the Pope has invited members of the Anglican Communion to come back to Rome, and be united but not absorbed, by giving them their own structures.
"Today we are seeing a fulfilment of the words Christ uttered at the Last Supper when He prayed, 'That they may be one as you, Father in me, and I in you; that the world may believe that You have sent me.' (John 17:21)
"England has long been called Mary's Dowry. But a secularized nation and church have caused this gift to be taken from her. She wants it back, and this is the start. Please give a lot of attention to Anglicanorum Coetibus. God bless,

The documents and other information is here

It is clear that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus provides norms which establish the nature and, in general, regulate the life of Personal Ordinariates erected specifically for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.In this way a flexible canonical structure has been instituted. Moreover, it is foreseeable that what is contained in the present Apostolic Constitution and Complementary Norms may be adapted in the Decrees of Erection of each individual Ordinariate in the light of particular local situations. As the Holy Spirit has guided the preparation of this Apostolic Constitution, so may he also assist in its application.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

USCCB calls on you to act!



Bishops Call for Unprecedented, Massive Catholic Opposition to Abortion in Health Care Reform
The USCCB is calling for diocesan and parish based activation on health care reform.
Use the following documents:

Health Care Cover Note to Leaders - pdf

Health Care Bulletin Insert (the one-stop nationwide parish bulletin insert) - pdf

Health Care Pulpit Announcement & Prayer (a how-to for distributing the materials) - pdf

Health Care Ad Saving Lives Flyer (a flyer to be placed on bulletin boards, etc.) - pdf

Action items: * Please ask your pastor if he intends to use these materials. If he is not aware of them - forward them to him. Or, print them out and bring them to him personally. *Perform the action items described in the materials provided in this USCCB bulletin insert. *Pray that health care reform not be passed unless it is truly universal and pro-life. Health care reform could be voted on as early as next week. These materials need to be in the hands of Catholics starting this weekend.

Thank you for your efforts in serving our bishops and getting the word out.

Note especially this Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: "That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord."

Health care bills with "greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade" to be on Senate and House floors!

Click here to take action now!
Click here to learn more about this critical issue from the National Right to Life Committee.
Click here for talking points, a prayer and more information and resources from Priests for Life!

The above from Priests for Life:

Bishop Vasa on liturgical changes (part 2)

Liturgical language meant to reflect moment set apart
By Bishop Robert Vasa

BEND — It is my intention to make use, during the course of 2010, of the weekly bulletin notices from my office as a vehicle for instruction related to the upcoming liturgical enrichments. While it is not yet known when the final approved version will be announced nor when it will be published in usable books nor how soon, after publication, it will become the new Official Roman Missal but we can say with certainty that the work is drawing nearer to completion. I think it is fairly safe to say at this point that the end of the process is in view and that, barring major unforeseen difficulties, most of us will live to see the finished product. If I were to put on my prognosticator hat I would guess that a year from now we will have received definitive word about both the dates of publication and implementation. Since I believe this to be true I do want to begin some remote preparation and catechesis regarding this latest liturgical work.

I suspect that the parochial catechesis which I hope to prepare will begin with the same kind of catechetical citations regarding the Sacred Liturgy which I have cited here on other occasions. Since the last time I talked about the Sacred Liturgy I have had the opportunity to review a few more passages which speak very directly to the meaning and purpose of the liturgy. The first of these is from paragraph 1091 of the catechism: “In the liturgy the Holy Spirit is teacher of the faith of the People of God and artisan of ‘God’s masterpieces,’ the sacraments of the New Covenant. The desire and work of the Spirit in the heart of the Church is that we may live from the life of the risen Christ. When the Spirit encounters in us the response of faith which he has aroused in us, he brings about genuine cooperation. Through it, the liturgy becomes the common work of the Holy Spirit and the Church.” The Holy Spirit is identified as the teacher and the artisan of the Sacred Liturgy. In the liturgy, he works to draw each of us into the life of Christ, into the Paschal Mystery of Christ and into deeper union with God. The liturgy is God working in the world, making present again the saving words and deeds of Jesus. Our efforts on behalf of appropriate liturgy are to make this reality more accessible but they are not to create a new or different reality. We, therefore, do not create the liturgy, nor do we technically “plan” it for the liturgy has already been created by God and planned by the Church. It is important that we, as servants of and participants in the Sacred Liturgy prepare ourselves for a worthy participation, a full, active and conscious participation, so that we might derive the fullest possible benefit from that which the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.

The catechism continues in 1092: “In this sacramental dispensation of Christ’s mystery the Holy Spirit acts in the same way as at other times in the economy of salvation: he prepares the Church to encounter her Lord; he recalls and makes Christ manifest to the faith of the assembly. By his transforming power, he makes the mystery of Christ present here and now. Finally the Spirit of communion unites the Church to the life and mission of Christ.” If one were to ask at this point, “Whose work is being accomplished in the Sacred Liturgy?” it would be necessary to answer, “The Holy Spirit’s.” The language we use in these sacred events needs to be a language that is understandable but it also needs to be a language suitable for the occasion. The language we have used and are using is perfectly understandable but it does lack a certain element of dignity and it lacks, in some instances seriously lacks, an appropriate similarity to the original and official Latin texts. The Spanish translation I have occasion to use makes this difference entirely clear. There is an extended use of adjectives in the Latin and in Spanish which has been largely suppressed in the present English translation. For some this inclusion of additional adjectives in the latest translation may seem like the gratuitous addition of extra descriptive words and yet it is much more than that. First, it is a more determined attempt to be faithful to the original which is a good thing. Next, it is a concerted effort to elevate the language from that which is very common to something that is a bit more uncommon.

This communicates in a very subtle way that the liturgical action to which we are invited is not common at all but rather something unique and wonderful and set apart. I also believe that the use of uncommon language stretches us in ways in which we need to be stretched. Now I need to be clear, we are not talking here of Olde English like that which we might have encountered in some reading of Shakespeare which can often reach the point of unintelligibility.

The enhanced and more accurate translation uses perfectly ordinary and understandable English but it does not shy away from the more colorful and descriptive. Hopefully, this positively draws us to listen more attentively to the words and their meaning, to enter more efficaciously into the sacred action and to participate in it more fruitfully. For instance, and this is purely of my own creation, there is a difference between saying , “Lord, hear me,” and saying, “Most, gracious, merciful, loving Lord, I, your poor servant, beg you, hear me.” Admittedly, they both say nearly the same thing. They do, however, say it quite differently. It seems to me that the second is richer, more descriptive, more cognizant of the lordship of Jesus and the neediness which we experience. It communicates the same basic message but it also communicates so much more. It is my founded hope that this is what the effort on behalf of the new translation will accomplish.

Since, “In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present” (CCC, 1085), I do think it is right and just that we seek to give him thanks and praise in the most proper and dignified fashion possible and how we use language and its concordance with the original is tremendously important. I trust we will all be enriched by the enrichment of liturgical language.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lets not forget; special Indulgences available now

The indulgences available right now!

All Souls Regulations

An indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the first to the eighth of November; on other days of the year it is partial.

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who on the day dedicated to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed [November 2 {as well as on the Sunday preceding or following, and on All Saints' Day}] piously visit a church. In visiting the church it is required that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary also to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the visit; it is, however, fitting that communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day as the visit.

The condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary. A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once in the course of the day.

the above lifted from

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bishop Vasa on upcoming liturgical changes

To understand liturgical changes, study meaning of liturgy
By Bishop Robert Vasa

BEND — I wrote very briefly last week about the presentation at our presbyteral assembly on the upcoming revised translation of the Roman Missal and I want to reflect a bit more on this topic. It will undoubtedly be a bit difficult for some to accept with peace and tranquility the changes and amendments which are forthcoming for the Sacred Liturgy. The possibility that there may be some difficulty understanding and accepting the changes is understandable. Unfortunately, it can often happen that the reason why we anticipate such a difficulty has less to do with the Sacred Liturgy than it does with our own attitudes. It will indeed be the case that the Church in approving changes to the texts for the Sacred Liturgy will also be asking that we change. In looking at myself, I must admit that I am much less affected by the fact that the sacred language may change than I am by the fact that this change affects me and perhaps, in some ways, also challenges me.

If there is one factor for the laity, in my estimation, which will impact on the ease with which changes are accepted or the strength with which they are resisted it is our fundamental understanding of the nature and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy. The frequency with which comments are heard such as, “I really like Father X’s Mass,” or “I find it very difficult to go to Father Y’s Mass,” or “That Mass did not do anything for me,” or the most common, “I don’t get anything out of the Mass” are all indicators of a certain understanding of the nature and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy. Underlying these comments, and many more variations thereof, is a certain concept of the liturgy. The proposed changes present us an opportunity to reflect, even in a significantly self critical way, on our understanding, or misunderstanding, of the meaning and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy.

In order to begin to reform or reshape our understanding of the Sacred Liturgy we need to go to the Church and to the catechism which she has given us. There we read and hear that: “Sunday is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical assembly, when the faithful gather ‘to listen to the word of God and take part in the Eucharist, thus calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who ‘has begotten them again, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ unto a living hope.’” (CCC, 1167) Admittedly, the paragraph addresses the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass rather than Liturgy as a whole but the paragraph is instructive. On Sunday, when we gather for Mass, we do so to listen to the Word of God. While there are a number of other ceremonies which accompany the Liturgy of the Word, the reason we gather is to “listen to the Word of God.” There is thus an importance placed on what God gives to us, His Word. We gather to hear it. We also gather to “take part in the Eucharist.” This involves much more than simply being present and receiving Holy Communion. Centrally, it involves “calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus” and giving thanks to God for the salvation which Jesus has won for us.

These are participatory activities which include everyone without exception. Thus it is not only the reader or the servers or the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who participate in the Mass but rather everyone is able to fulfill the mandate of the council about “full, active and conscious participation.” This is so because an essential part of the “activity” is listening, offering, remembering, rejoicing, thanking. These are all interior actions. Without a doubt the participation also includes responding, singing, standing, kneeling, et cetera but these are to be external manifestations of the fact that we are participating interiorly because simply doing these things is not necessarily the same thing as actively participating.

“The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Finally, by the eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” (CCC 1324-27)

I am particularly struck by the reminder that the Eucharist is the culmination of “God’s action sanctifying the world.” This is what we are called to participate in and belong to when we come to Holy Mass. It is, at the same time, the culmination of the “worship men offer to Christ.” I like to think of our participation in worship as being drawn up into the saving actions of God, being a part of them, remembering and experiencing them and coming away from them knowing that we have been in contact with Him Who is all holy. Ideally, the Eucharist changes us because we celebrate who God is and what he has done and is doing in our midst. As the catechism notes, “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist,” not vice versa.

The proposed linguistic enrichments of the Sacred Liturgy, or if you prefer, changes, give us the opportunity to reflect upon the Eucharist anew. They certainly give us the opportunity to listen with new ears to new language, to refresh our interior and reflective participation, and to enter more consciously into that which God is doing. If necessary, it provides the occasion for each of us to align our understanding and expectation of the Holy Mysteries more closely with the vision of the Church expressed in the Catechism.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paul goes to mass at the coolest places...

click the picture for more photos and to learn where.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christopher West's Theology of the Body

I'm posting this article verbatim:

Christopher West's Theology of the Body
by David L. Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

Regarding his interview on Nightline, Christopher West says that his remarks were taken out of context. In some sense, this is surely true. However, the comments as aired are the latest in a long list of statements and actions not inconsistent with the context set by the Nightline editors.

Though occasioned by West’s Nightline appearance, the present statement addresses his theology as a whole.

Let me stress that I agree with those who vigorously defend West’s intention of fidelity to the Church. Certainly he has had positive results in drawing many Catholics into a deeper understanding of their faith. As for myself, I do not initiate anything about West in my classes, but only respond when asked a question. Then I begin by emphasizing West’s intention of orthodoxy. As I have often put it, "he would throw himself in front of a bus for the Church." It is important to understand, however, that good will is not synonymous with sound thought; and I must say, not without reluctance, that West’s work seems to me to misrepresent in significant ways the thought of John Paul II.

The following examples have been verified by persons directly involved or by things written by West himself (and I regret the necessary adoption of West’s own language).

West’s work has involved suggesting that a man and woman bless their genitals before making love; blessing the ovaries of women in his classes; advising young men in college and the seminary to look at their naked bodies in the mirror daily in order to overcome shame; using phallic symbolism to describe the Easter candle; criticizing “flat-chested” images of Mary in art while encouraging Catholics to “rediscover Mary’s ... abundant breasts” (Crisis, March 2002); referring to the “bloodied membrane” of the placenta as a "tabernacle" (Colorado Catholic Herald, 12/22/06); stating that, while “there are some important health and aesthetic considerations that can’t be overlooked,” “there's nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse," (Good News About Sex and Marriage, 1st ed., emphasis in original), though qualifying this in the revised edition and stressing the subjective dangers of lust in such activity; and, on Nightline, praising Hugh Hefner for helping rescue sex from prudish Victorian attitudes, saying that there are “very profound historical connections between Hefner and John Paul II,” while emphasizing that John Paul II took the sexual revolution further and in the right direction.

I offer these examples not merely because they are vulgar and in bad taste, not to mention sometimes bordering on the just plain silly, but because they indicate a disordered approach to human sexuality. An objective distortion in approaching sexuality does not cease to be such simply because it is theologized. West to be sure will point toward the “orthodox” intentions and context of the examples, but my criticism bears on the substance of his preoccupation as reflected in the examples. (As a Thomist friend of mine used to say: pay attention to a man's subjects, not his predicates.)

What, then, are the objections to West’s theology?

First, West misconstrues the meaning of concupiscence, stressing purity of intention one-sidedly when talking about problems of lust.

When I first pointed this problem out to him several years ago, his response was that he refused to limit the power of Christ to transform us. My response is that concupiscence dwells "objectively" in the body, and continues its "objective" presence in the body throughout the course of our infralapsarian existence; and that we should expect holiness to "trump" temptations or disordered tendencies in the area of sexuality exactly as often as we should expect holiness to "trump" the reality of having to undergo death.

Second, West has an inadequate notion of analogy. He conceives love in a reductive bodily-sexual sense, then reads the Christian mysteries as though they were somehow ever-greater and more perfect realizations of what he emphasizes as key in our own experience, namely, sex.

But sex is not even the most important part of human love, let alone the key to the Christian mysteries–the Eucharist, for example. Missing in West’s work is an adequate idea of the radical discontinuity (maior dissimilitudo ) between the divine love revealed by God–and indeed the (supernatural) love to which we are called–and sexual love or intercourse. To be sure, the spousal love between man and woman is central in man’s imaging of God, and the gendered body and sexual relations are an integral sign and expression of spousal love, which also includes what John Paul II calls all the other manifestations of affection. However, as Joseph Ratzinger says, it is only because man has a capacity for God that he also has a capacity for another human being. The former indicates the “content,” the latter the “consequence,” of man’s likeness to God.

In the end, West, in his disproportionate emphasis on sex, promotes a pansexualist tendency that ties all important human and indeed supernatural activity back to sex without the necessary dissimilitudo.

Third, West's treatment of shame and reverence is marred by a too-male vision of things–not only too much maleness but distorted maleness. If we could just get over our prudishness and sin-induced guilt, he seems to think, we would be ready simply to dispense with clothes and look at others in their nakedness. He has no discernible sense of the difference between what might be a feminine as distinct from masculine sense of unveiling. He (thus) lacks a reverence for the body entailing a modesty not reducible simply to shame, or again a patient reverence presupposing the “veiledness” proper to what essentially contains mystery. His work is preoccupied with what is external to the detriment of the interiority proper to persons. In this context, we can say that West's theology ultimately lacks a Marian dimension: not in the sense that he fails to make references to Mary, but because his work is not adequately formed, in method or content, in Mary’s archetypal feminine-human sensibility.

Fourth, a style of preaching is not merely a matter of "style"–a difference in personality or taste. It is always-also a matter of theology itself. West often tends to treat resistance to the content of his lectures, for example during the question periods, as matters of resistance to the Holy Spirit (to the Spirit now speaking in and through West's “charism”), urging questioners to pray to overcome the fear induced in them by their bad theological-spiritual formation. Well-balanced persons have spoken of how West makes them feel a sense of guilt, of resistance to the Holy Spirit, if they experience uneasiness about what he is saying.

Pope Benedict XVI’s sacramental “style,” integrated within the objectivity of a larger truth that always first calls ourselves into question even as we preach to others, provides a helpful lesson here.

Regarding Hefner: West fails to see that Hefner at root does not correct but misconceives and then only continues the error of America’s Puritan Protestantism. For both Puritanism and Hefner, the body is merely a tool, though to be manipulated differently: by the former exclusively for reproducing children and by Hefner for pleasure. It is not only Puritanism but also Hefner that fails to understand properly the body and bodily desires in their natural meaning as good.

In sum, West's work provides a paradigm of what is most often criticized today in connection with John Paul II’s theology of the body–and rightly criticized, insofar as that theology is identified with West’s interpretation: namely, that it is too much about sex and too romantic.

West presents a problem for the Church, not because he lacks orthodox intentions, but because his unquestionably orthodox intentions render his theology, a priori, all the more credible. His work often deflects people from the beauty and depth of what is the authentic meaning of John Paul II's anthropology of love, and thus of what was wrought in and through the Second Vatican Council. It is scarcely the first time in the history of the Church that abundant good will did not suffice to make one's theology and vision of reality altogether true.

West has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Church. However, if his work is to bear the Catholic fruit he so ardently desires, he needs to subject basic aspects of his theology to renewed reflection.

David L. Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology
Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.

One problem I have with Christopher West is his portrayal of "Theology of the Body" as papal and thus magisterial teaching. The basis of it, the book "Love and Responsibility", by Karol Wojtyla is introduced as the private speculation of a private theologian, not the papal teaching of John Paul II. Likewise, the Wed audiences of JPII upon which West's work is based, are not magisterial, but carry the same authority as any other bishop's teaching within his own diocese. have I missed something? Truth matters, and intent nothwithstanding, I believe there to be falshood in the claim to authority of the presentation of TOB as it stands.

BXVI's Anglican overture; commentary from Ross Douthat, NYT

Ross Douthat is an interesting read at the NYT. This week he comments on the Anglican overture of the Holy Father, in the column titled Benedict's Gambit

Not surprisingly, most of the reader comments are blind bigotry against faith, but here's the most interesting one I found (#42, Nadia, East Jerusalem); the highlights are mine:

I will never forget the day I was first introduced to Catholic doctrine. During years of Islamic education no one had ever mentioned to me that Christians worship Jesus Christ as the son of God, in fact Christianity itself was never discussed and never considered a threat to the Islamic faith, I think this is because of an inherent indifference, after all, how can a religion that is dying in its homeland threaten us? Instead apathy and secularism were deemed as a menace to a religious lifestyle and a direct threat to Muslim society. My introduction to Catholicism was in college, my Jewish Israeli professor spent much time discussing the Trinity and explained that it was grounded in mystery, that it is the core of the Catholic faith and in the same breath he revealed the pagan roots of the faith. Well that was certainly shocking, but very enlightening both in what it revealed about the nature of Christianity but also, on a more deeper level, what it says about the Jewish experience with Christianity, for if I could ask the Pope one question it would be this- Why would we as Muslims, abandon our beautiful monotheism for an incomprehensible doctrine, why should we embrace something that the Jewish people (whose commitment to monotheism equals that of Islam) spent centuries fighting against becoming a part of?

Nadia explains clearly why the secular liberal approach is intrinsically at war with Muslim Society in the very nature of militantly not caring, thinking itself safe and secure in it's indifference! I know this is hard to grasp, but think of the corporate executive who cares not a whit about the extinction of species, pollution of the air and water, degradation of the environment on a massive scale, etc, resulting from his particular business; he says to you "what's your problem?" in the same way as you say to Nadia "your religion is fine, keep it to yourself and don't bother me in public or at law with your moralisms and creeds." see above. You are a threat.

thank you Ross and Nadia. Nadia, I'd love to tell you about The Ineffable Mystery, and discuss your "Why?"

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Movement on all Fronts

Though 82, Benedict XVI is moving on all fronts: Lefebvrists, Anglicans, the Orthodox, Jews. The "pontificate of transition" is becoming the "pontificate of action." Will the Pope's vision succeed?

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome


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Nam oportet et haereses esse, ut et qui probati sunt, manifesti fiant in vobis." ("For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.") —1 Corinthians 11:19


Movement on All Fronts...

The talks began today, Monday, October 26.

On this historic Monday, unprecedented high-level theological discussions between representatives of the Society of St. Pius X and of the Holy See got underway to discuss "all the unresolved doctrinal questions" ("grandi temi dottrinali non risolti") related to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), its implementation and interpretation.

The talks took place in the building once known as the "Holy Office of the Inquisition" and still called the Sant'Uffizio in Italian -- the Holy Office.

On one side, representatives of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (died 1991). From their founder, the members of the Society are often called "Lefebvrists."

On the other, top theologians from the Vatican itself, men very close to Pope Benedict XVI, led by Mosignor Guido Pozzo (yesterday I erroneously labeled him as an archbishop), the head of gthe Ecclesia Dei commission. (Photo: Pozzo at the main door of the Holy Office.)

The talks continued for three hours.

They went very well.

And they will continue.

Not only will they continue, they will continue at an almost frenetic pace for the Holy See, which generally "thinks in centuries": there will be meeting every two weeks for as long as it takes to settle these questions.

Father Federico Lombardi noted this relative haste when he delivered a brief communique on the meeting this afternoon in the Vatican Press Office. "This is a rather rapid paste for the Holy See," he said.

This is worth noting because it suggests that the Pope wants this dialogue on a "fast track," not something that drags on interminably.


What Is at Stake?

If one looks at these meetings in the context of recent events, the essential point is this: Benedict XVI, though now 82, is moving on many different fronts with great energy in a completely unexpected way, given his reputation as a man of thought, not of action. (We are going to have to revise our understanding of his pontificate.)

He is clearly reaching out to reunite with many Christian groups: the Lefebvrists, as these meetings show, but also Anglicans, the Orthodox, and others as well.

He seems to be trying to make Catholic Rome a center of communion for all Christians.

This activity, occurring at an accelerating speed over recent months, looks almost like a "rallying of the troops" before some final, decisive battle.

The activity is critically important, in this sense, for our current global "culture war," especially our anthropology (can man be anything our technology can make him, or are their moral limits we should observe?), our sexuality and sexual behavior (how important is our sexual identity, how important are our gender roles?), and our traditional family structures (are these now outmoded, perhaps even to be completely discarded?).

Now, 44 years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI evidently has committed some of his best men to seek unity with the most conservative wing of the Catholic Church, the Society of St. Pius X, and by extension, all so-called "Traditionalist" Catholics.

The plan is very ambitious: to go step by step through all of the great, controversial doctrinal issues of the post-conciliar period. This includes religious freedom, it includes ecumenism, it includes the Chruch's teaching on Judaism and the Jews, it includes the new Mass vs. the old Mass and the role of the priest of the laity in the liturgy -- all the great issues of the Council.

Benedict will be watched very closely here by progressives, who seem to be a bit off-balance, wondering what Benedict is really after.

And he will be watched by the Anglicans, some of whom are considering entering into communion with Rome, overcoming a schism which dates from the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, 500 years ago.

And he will be watched by the Orthodox, some of whom are also thinking of overcoming the "Great Schism" which dates to 1054, as they have stated in recent days.

And he will be watched very closely here by representatives of the world Jewish community, some of whom are wondering which direction Benedict and the Church he leads will take with regard to Catholic teaching regarding Judiasm and the Jewish people.

In short, many eyes are now on Benedict, wondering what he really intends here.

The answer seems simple enough: Benedict is trying energetically to "get his house in order."

But which house?

On one level, it is the Christian Church -- a Christian Church under considerable pressure in the highly secualrized modern world.

In this "house," this "ecclesia Dei" ("church of God" or "community of God"), dogmas and doctrines, formulated into very precise verbal statements, are held as true. These verbal formulas are professed in creeds. Benedict is seeking to overcome divisions over the content of these creeds, these doctrinal formulas, in order to bring about formal, public unity among separated Christians.

He is trying to find unity not only with the Lefebvrists (and all Traditionalists within the Church) but also, as we have seen in recent days, with the Anglicans and the Orthodox Churches.

So this dialogue with the Lefebvrists must be seen in the context of multiple dialogues, all occurring at once: Catholic Traditionalists, Protestant Anglicans, the Orthodox Churches.

One might almost say this pontificate is become one of "all dialogue, all the time."

But on a second level, considering world events and the evolution of the world's economy and culture, something else is also at stake.

Benedict is rallying his troops. He is trying to reunite all those factions and denominations and groups in the West that share common beliefs in the eternal destiny of human beings, in the sacredness of human life (since human beings are "in the image and likeness of God"), in the existence of a moral standard which is true at all times and in all places (against the relativism of the modern secular culture), in the need for justice in human affairs, for the rule of right, not might.

And so he is doing his best, in what seems perhaps to be the "twilight of the West," to build an ark, centered in Rome, to which all those who share these beliefs about human dignity may repair.

And this means that what Benedict is doing in this dialogue which got underway today is also of importance to Jews, to Muslims, and to all men and women of goodwill. Mankind seems to be entering a new period, a period in which companies and governments may produce, even for profit, "designer humans," a period of resource wars, a period of the complete rejection of the traditional family unit.

Benedict, from his high room in the Apostolic Palace, seems to be trying to rally the West in the twilight of an age, so that what was best in the West may be preserved, and shine forth again after the struggles of our time are past.


Rupture, or Continuity?

What is the real, fundamental issue of these talks?

It is this: Did the Second Vatican Council teach new doctrines not in keeping with prior Church teaching, and so lead the Church into error (as the Society of St. Pius X, and other traditional Catholics, have often argued)?

Or did the Council develop doctrines based on what the Church has always taught, and so open up new, legitimate aspects of old doctrines?

To put it another way: Did a "new Church" come into being after Vatican II, a Church which broke with the "old Church" of the pre-conciliar period?

Or is it still the same Catholic Church of all time, which has simply been passing through a confusing period as it attempts to find a way to live in and bear witness to the modern world?

Benedict has been calling for a reinterpretation of Vatican II for almost 40 years. In book-length interviews when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in major studies of the liturgy and in addresses as Pope, he has denounced interpretations of Vatican II which claim it as a rupture with the Catholic faith of all time.

The Lefebvrists have maintained that is is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret Vatican II as being in continuity with all prior Church tradition.

But Benedict has said he believes this interpretation can be made.

And he has sent his chosen men into this dialogue to show the Lefebvrists how it can be done.

The true drama of this dialogue is whether his men will succeed.

Because if his men succeed, the Traditionalists will come back into full union with the Church -- and many conservative Anglicans and Orthodox will also feel more willing to enter into Rome's embrace.

But this very success will mean a defeat for... many progressive theologians, who have argued that Vatican II is a clean break with many "negative" teachings of the "old Church."

Therefore, if Benedict and his men succeed in this effort, the result will be to bring the Traditionalists over into a Church that rejects what they too have hitherto rejected, by defining certain teachings of Vatican II in a traditional way which will suddenly close off to progressives avenues of interpretation that they have freely exploited for four decades now.

So what is at stake in these discussions is far more than what happens to the Lefebvrists.

What is at stake is how the Church of the future will judge and interpret Vatican II.


The Communique

"On Monday, 26 October, 2009, in the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio [Palace of the Holy Office], headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the study commission made up of experts of Ecclesia Dei and from the Society of St. Pius X hed its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See," said a Vatican Press Office Communique released just an hour ago.

"In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with the Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of work."


Brief Background to the New Dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See

This dialoge has been nine years in the preparation.

For a number of years after the 1988 consecrations, there was little if any dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See. This state of affairs ended when the Society led a large pilgrimage to Rome for the Jubilee in the year 2000.

A sympathetic Cardinal
Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, approached the SSPX bishops during the pilgrimage and, according to Bishop Fellay, told them that the Pope was prepared to grant them either a personal prelature (the status enjoyed by Opus Dei) or an apostolic administration (the status given to the traditionalist priests of Campos, Brazil). The SSPX leadership responded with distrust. They requested two preliminary "signs" before continuing negotiations: that the Holy See grant permission for all priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass; and that its statement that the 1988 consecrations had resulted in excommunication for the clerics involved be declared void.

In 2005, Benedict XVI became Pope. In August 2005, Benedict met with Bishop Fellay for 35 minutes, at the latter's request.

In July 2007, the Pope issued
Summorum Pontificum, which liberalised the restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

In April 2008, Bishop Fellay issued
Letter to Friends and Benefactors No. 72, informing the SSPX faithful that, in spite of both Summorum Pontificum and the recent Vatican documents on the true meaning of Lumen Gentium and evangelisation, the Society still could not sign an agreement with the Holy See.

By a decree of 21 January 2009 (
Protocol Number 126/2009), which was issued in response to a renewed request dated 15 December 2008 that Bishop Fellay made on behalf of all four bishops whom Lefebvre had consecrated on 30 June 1988, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, by the power granted to him by Pope Benedict XVI, remitted the automatic excommunication that they had thereby incurred, and expressed the wish that this would be followed speedily by full communion of the whole of the Society of Saint Pius X with the Church.

A Note of the Secretariat of State issued on 4 February 2009 specified that, while the lifting of the excommunication freed the four bishops from a very grave canonical penalty, it made no change in the juridical situation of the Society of St. Pius X.

The note added that future recognition of the Society required full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and of the teaching of Popes John XIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Moreover, it repeated the assurance given in the decree of 21 January 2009 that the Holy See would study, along with those involved, the questions not yet settled, so as to reach a full satisfactory solution of the problems that had given rise to the split.

That is the study that has now begun.


Note to Readers

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Lecture in Rome: Tuesday, October 27, 6 pm., at #141 Borgo Pio

I have been invited by the The Vatican Forum of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to present a talk tomorrow night at 6 pm on the Borgo Pio, here in Rome, at the Centro Russia Ecumenica, #141 Borgo Pio. All are welcome to attend. I have been asked to speak on the topic "Unraveling the Mysteries of the Vatican: An Introduction to the Nature and Work of the Holy See."

Entrance is free.


A Small Request

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I would be very grateful to receive more name of people to whom I might email this newsflash. Just copy a few into an email and send it off to me.


“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.”Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)