Saturday, August 06, 2005
EMAIL FROM LEE PENN
This hits me close to home ... the victim, Fr. James Chevedden, was a Jesuit priest who occasionally served the Divine Liturgy at my Russian Catholic parish. He had been mentally frail for a long time, and killed himself last spring. Now, as shown in this story, there are allegations that he was molested by a known sex offender-priest among his fellow Jesuits - and the Jesuits would not move him away from the perp.
MercuryNews.com | 08/05/2005 | Suit claims sexual abuse of priest in Los Gatos
Lord, cleanse Thy temple!
Posted on Fri, Aug. 05, 2005
Suit claims sexual abuse of priest in Los Gatos
CLERIC WHO KILLED SELF ALLEGEDLY WAS ATTACKED
By Brandon Bailey
The family of a Jesuit priest who committed suicide last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that his religious superiors failed to protect him from sexual abuse at a Los Gatos residential center for retired clergy.
Jesuit officials have denied the allegations in the suit. But the case raises echoes of a scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic religious order three years ago, when the Jesuits paid $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit by two developmentally disabled men who were molested by two members of the order while living at the same facility.
Now the family of the late Rev. James Chevedden says that one of the same molesters groped Chevedden's genitals while he was in a wheelchair recovering from an earlier suicide attempt.
``They didn't protect this guy,'' said Robert L. Mezzetti II, a San Jose attorney who represents Chevedden's family. ``They put an invalid who had mental and emotional problems in the custody and care of a sex offender.''
The order's top official for California, the Rev. Thomas Smolich, refused to discuss the lawsuit's specific allegations. While expressing sympathy for Chevedden's family, Smolich called the lawsuit ``groundless and without merit.''
``Jim's death is a loss for his family and for the Society of Jesus,'' Smolich said, using the religious order's formal name. ``We hope to resolve this in a fair and just way, as soon as possible.''
In recent years, several clergymen with histories of sexual misconduct have been housed at the Jesuit's Sacred Heart retirement center, which sits high on a ridge overlooking Los Gatos. Jesuit officials say they consider the center a safe place to house members who should not interact with society, but who have committed themselves to the religious order for life.
Smolich declined to say how many of the center's current population, which numbers about 70 priests and brothers, fall in that category.
Some of the elderly men at the center have mental or physical infirmities. Since a national scandal erupted over clergy sexual abuse in 2002, Smolich said his order has taken numerous steps, including consulting with an outside risk-management expert, to ensure that other residents are safe from any offenders who live at the center.
That wasn't enough to protect Chevedden, according to the suit filed May 17 by Mezzetti and two other attorneys who also represented the retarded men in the earlier case.
Chevedden leaped from the sixth floor of a parking garage on Hedding Street, across from the county's Hall of Justice, on May 19, 2004 -- his 56th birthday. He had spent the day on jury duty. A coroner's investigation concluded the death was suicide, based on his history of depression and a previous attempt.
According to the lawsuit, James Chevedden came to the Los Gatos center in 1998 after serving more than 20 years as a priest in Taiwan. The suit says he had suffered a mental breakdown in 1995, followed by hospitalization and psychiatric treatment. In 1998, Chevedden fractured both feet when he attempted suicide by jumping from a third-floor scaffolding at the center.
Go to the website to read the rest of the story.
UPDATE FROM LEE PENN
Here are more details about Fr. James and his ordeal amongst his brother Jesuits.
Los Angeles Times: Behind a Priest's Suicide
The story is long. Here are the key quotes:
"Behind a Priest's Suicide
Father Chevedden 's family says his reports of sexual abuse by a fellow Jesuit were brushed aside. The church cites his mental problems.
By Glenn F. Bunting
Times Staff Writer
August 6, 2005"
After Fr. James' suicide attempt in 1998, here is what happened ... I have added bolding for emphasis.
"After surgery, Chevedden was transferred to the infirmary at Sacred Heart. Confined to a wheelchair with casts on both feet, he was escorted around the retreat on many days by a fellow Jesuit, Brother Charles Leonard Connor.
During this recovery period, Chevedden said, Connor sexually molested and physically abused him. The alleged misconduct is described in reports that Chevedden submitted to Jesuit superiors, in notes of counseling sessions with his psychiatrist and in private e-mails to family members.
Chevedden said Connor occasionally massaged his shoulders. One day, after Connor had pushed Chevedden in his wheelchair to a third-floor computer room, the brother allegedly placed one hand inside the priest's pajama bottoms and touched his penis.
Chevedden told family members that he was taken aback by Connor's actions and resisted any further advances. Days later, Chevedden alleged, Connor retaliated by ramming his wheelchair into a barrier, causing excruciating pain to both feet.
"I judge these acts of Brother Connor to be particularly cruel, because I was so vulnerable at the time," Chevedden wrote.
Connor, now 84, has denied the accusations.
Chevedden did not immediately report Connor's alleged improprieties to Jesuit superiors, because he was embarrassed and did not think they would believe him, he later told relatives and his psychiatrist.
At the time, Chevedden had no way of knowing that Jesuit leaders had received complaints dating to 1995 alleging that Connor had sexually assaulted a mentally disabled dishwasher at the Sacred Heart facility. The Jesuits did not refer the matter to authorities. Acting on a tip in June 2000, police executed a search warrant at Sacred Heart and found internal memos incriminating Connor in the abuse.
At the insistence of authorities, the Jesuits transferred Connor away from his victim at Sacred Heart.
He was convicted of a felony sex crime in 2001 and ordered to serve six months of home detention, register as a lifetime sex offender and refrain from any contact with mentally disabled adults or minors.
In March 2002, The Times reported that the Jesuits had concealed the initial sexual abuse allegations against Connor from law enforcement.
Throughout the summer, the Jesuits negotiated a $7.5-million settlement with the dishwasher and another mentally disabled victim, both in their 50s, who said they had been sodomized and sexually assaulted by Connor and another elderly Jesuit at Sacred Heart.
It was during this period that Chevedden complained about Connor to his superiors.
"But when I found that they seemed to take no notice of it, I put a statement in writing," Chevedden said in a June 27, 2002, e-mail to his family. "Now I believe that they will investigate the matter."
Jesuit leaders sought to quietly resolve Chevedden's complaints, internal records show. Smolich, who oversees one of 10 Jesuit provinces in the U.S. and reports directly to Rome, arranged to meet privately with Chevedden and Connor "to get this squared away person to person," he wrote on Sept. 10, 2002.
"I am somewhat nervous about this meeting," Chevedden told family members in an e-mail. "But I will just present the truth of my two accusations. Please pray for me."
The session proved a disappointment to Chevedden.
"Brother Connor not only said he did not remember the two incidents, he categorically denied the accusations," Chevedden wrote. "I was unhappy that Father Smolich, while trying to appear even-handed, sided more with Brother Connor."
Smolich said Chevedden's allegations "were investigated and could not be proven credible. Both incidents took place in public, there were no actions of overt sexual behavior and there was no suggestion that either incident was a prelude to additional inappropriate activity."
"But a San Francisco psychiatrist, whom the Jesuits paid to treat Chevedden, said he is convinced that the priest told the truth about Connor.
"He had paranoid delusions," said Maloof, 65, who considers himself an orthodox Catholic and counseled Chevedden for two years before his death. "But I have no doubt that Father Chevedden was accurate in what he described. He was very precise in detailing and documenting what transpired."
Maloof has practiced psychiatry for more than three decades and is president of the San Francisco Guild of the Catholic Medical Assn., an organization of doctors devoted to preserving the principles of their faith in the practice of medicine. He said he met at Smolich's request with Chevedden and Martin, the superior at Sacred Heart, on Sept. 26, 2002, at the Jesuits' Loyola House in San Francisco.
According to Maloof's notes, Martin conceded that Connor may have had a memory lapse about the alleged molestation.
"Father Martin just laid it out, [saying], 'We're in this together. We don't want any more lawsuits. So, we've got to work something out here,' " Maloof recalled in an interview.
The purpose of the meeting, according to the psychiatrist, was to keep the allegations from becoming public. He said Jesuit leaders appeared far more interested in "exerting damage control" than in caring for his client.
"They didn't want another case involving Brother Connor," Maloof said. "They were determined to quash any further disclosures of abuse."
"Chevedden's allegations would not have come to light if "he had not jumped off that building," said Robert L. Mezzetti II, a San Jose attorney who represents the priest's family and helped negotiate the settlement for Connor's mentally disabled victims.
"The Jesuits keep saying that they've learned their lesson, and they keep apologizing," Mezzetti said, "but they don't change their ways."
"After the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002, at least five Jesuit members of the California Province who had been convicted of sex crimes or accused of molesting minors were transferred to the Sacred Heart facility. The picturesque retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains provides a haven and support for Jesuit sex offenders.
The reassignments meant that Brother Connor, who had been sent away from Sacred Heart in 2000, and Father Chevedden would once again share the same residence â€” an arrangement that the priest's psychiatrist said he warned Jesuit leaders was a big mistake.
"I told them from my experience [that] to put a victim and a perpetrator together in a very loose environment is completely unsupportable," Maloof said."
""He didn't mind being at Sacred Heart," Maloof said. "He just couldn't stand being with the sex molesters, especially Brother Connor."
Jesuit superiors said they kept Chevedden at Sacred Heart because the residence was best suited for him.
"None of the communities he requested were able to provide the necessary level of support and supervision for a man with significant mental health issues," Smolich said.
Relatives contend that Jesuit leaders have exploited Chevedden's sickness in an effort to sidestep any responsibility for his death.
"The Jesuits have disseminated half a story, while burying the other half," Paul Chevedden said. "They are engaged in a campaign of cover-up and spin that places all the blame on Jim."
Same song, 20th verse.
Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us!
Many years ago I had the opportunity to see a Tribute Penny in a glass case in a museum in Detroit. Standing there looking at it, wondering if this particular penny was "the one", was awesome. It was almost as though I were present at that moment when Christ used it (Mat. 22:19-20). It was almost as if I could touch and see Christ right there before me. The emotions were overwhelming.
Catholic veneration of relics has in it some of this sense of connection. We value them in the same way that we value our Grandmother's necklace or our Father's lighter. They confirm for us the fact of their existence.
The most important relic in Christiandom is the Shroud of Turin which contains the image of Christ which authenticates the resurrection. Many would like to deny His resurrection, and so the Shroud has been an object of controversy and efforts to prove it a forgery. Little known to even the investigators of the Shroud not many years ago was the Sidarium, the face cloth used to absorb the blood and mask the contorted face of Christ when He was taken down from the cross. This face cloth has not been placed on display except on rare occasions. Its history is known and documented. There is not the same controversy over this cloth as there is over the Shroud.
And it has been shown that the Sidarium matches the Shroud, which goes a long way to document the authenticity of the Shroud.
There is an interesting interview at the Ignatius Insight website about this cloth and its implications for demonstrating the authenticity of Scripture and the Catholic faith.
Amy Welborn has linked this story about the medical/doctor faith healer taking place in my diocese. His events take place (or have taken place) in Roman Catholic churches. The bishop has not issued any caution.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
EMAIL FROM LEE PENN
In the light of the dilemmas described in this story, the wisdom and humanity of the Catholic stance - strictly against cloning, stem cell harvesting, surrogate parenthood, and in-votro fertilization - is obvious.
Haaretz - Israel News - Article
Does a clone have a soul?
By Shahar Ilan
"In my opinion," says Rabbi Moshe Botschko, head of the Heichal Eliyahu hesder yeshiva, "a creature born through genetic duplication is not considered human - It is clear beyond all doubt that the life form created in some scientific institution will be an animal that walks on two feet, no more." According to Botschko, a highly respected rabbi in the French-speaking community, the reason for this is that the Creator only gives man a soul at the moment when sperm meets ovum. But the cloning process involves no sperm. The implications of Botschko's conclusion are far-reaching: "Anyone who kills a creature of this type will not be indicted, because he has not killed a man," he says.
A new book, which the national-religious community of Ma'aleh Adumim's Mitzpe Nevo neighborhood published in the memory of three of its members, contains many of the religious decrees and articles published in recent years about cloning and Jewish law. Botschko's article first appeared in the National Religious Party house paper Hatzofeh. The book also includes letters exchanged between Botschko and Professor Mishel Ravel, the head of the National Academy of Sciences' biotechnical committee. Ravel, once Botschko's student in the Eitz Haim yeshiva in Switzerland, wrote him that human genetic cloning is a form of artificial fertilization: "The halakha does not consider in-vitro fertilization to be a practice that deprives the newborn of his soul. According to halakha and kabbala, the stages of the soul [in its spiritual ascent] continue gradually throughout life. Would a change in the technique of fertilization, using the nucleus of a mature cell rather than a sperm cell, prevent the fetus from achieving and attaining a soul?" Ravel asked.
Botschko was not persuaded but also admits, "The rabbis who rule on this tend to be permissive regarding cloning." The truth is that if there were a way for rabbis to forbid cloning based on halakha, in the way ultra-Orthodox rabbis forbade the Internet and third-generation mobile phones, the lives of these religious rulers would become much simpler. However, rabbis agree that there is no halakhic decree that could be used to prohibit cloning. Rabbinic articles pertaining to cloning frequently cite the rule that, in the case of any practice, "If there is no known reason to prohibit it, it is permissible."
What is magic?
Catholics have a much simpler take on this matter. The Catholic Church decreed that any attempt to reproduce without sexuality is immoral. But the Church also denounces in-vitro fertilization, which Judaism considers to be a superb alternative for infertile couples determined to fulfill the biblical commandment to "be fertile and multiply." It is not that rabbis are not party to fears that cloning may be used in eugenic attempts to improve the human race and create a superior class or an army of identical soldiers. Nor are they blind to the potential threats of a fetal black market or reproduction without family and love. They are well aware of such scenarios, but must fight the battle against cloning with both hands tied behind their backs.
Judaism does not see scientific development as insurrection and cloning as competition with the Creator - Judaism's perception of scientific development is quite positive. Rabbi Elisha Aviner, one of the leaders of the Birkat Moshe yeshiva in Ma'aleh Adumim and an editor of the book the community published, explains, "We believe that major breakthroughs in scientific development are a direct result of divine intervention. Every scientific discovery appears in the world at the correct moment when humanity is capable of coping with it."
Rabbi and Professor Avraham Steinberg, head of the Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halakhic Research, explains, "According to Judaism, we are permitted and obligated to upgrade the world in any way or direction for the good of mankind." If man successfully clones a human, adds Rabbi Yigal Shilat, also of the Birkat Moshe yeshiva, it will not defy the laws of nature - it will be possible because God created nature to make it possible.
Another question that has been raised is whether cloning represents a form of magic, which is forbidden by halakha. Steinberg says, "Cloning is a process that is understood and can be explained by science." He quotes Rabbi Menachem Hameiri, who wrote, "Anything done by a natural method is not considered magic."
Continue reading the article...
Friday, August 05, 2005
BELONG TO A PARISH AND YOU MIGHT BE SUED
A reader sent in the link to this story out of Portland.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris agreed Friday to expand the Portland Archdiocese bankruptcy case to include every Roman Catholic parishioner and contributor in Western Oregon -- more than 389,000 people.
About 80,000 Catholic households will soon get the news in the mail that they are defendants in the property dispute between more than 200 sex abuse plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland.
None of the parishioners or contributors will be personally liable for paying claims if they lose the case. But they could see their parish assets sold or put up as collateral for loans to pay settlements.
The legal maneuver, known as a defendant class action, is so rare in bankruptcy court that Perris has never dealt with one in her 21 years on the bench. All parties involved agreed the class action was the best way to get the stalled, 11-month-old property litigation restarted.
The heart of the dispute -- ownership of property by the archdiocese's 124 parishes and three high schools -- is vital to the year-old bankruptcy case.
If the $500 million to $600 million in disputed real estate, investments and cash is found to belong to the archdiocese, it will become available to pay off abuse claims now totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. It is those claims that the archdiocese said pushed it into bankruptcy last July.
If the property is found to belong to the parishes, as the archdiocese argues, the parish assets will be declared off limits for abuse settlements. At the time of its Chapter 11 filing, the archdiocese said it owned $10 million in real estate and $9 million in cash deposits.
While the reporting makes this look more threatening to the assets of individual parishioners than it is, it still looks like it has the potential to backfire. What will happen if and when the laity get disgusted with the legal maneuverings on behalf of the victims? Catholics might suffer the loss of their church property reluctantly. They are not likely to tolerate the loss of their personal assets to cover the failings of their bishops. Catholic victim No. 1 can just as easily become Catholic greedy enemy No. 1. No one would find an attachment of personal assets of those who were powerless to intervene to be an execution of justice. Are the lawyers out of control?
THE DISPUTE CONTINUES AT THE TOP
over the evolution question. The Independent reports:
The conflict at the highest level of the Catholic Church about the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution breaks out publicly today.
Recent comments by a cardinal close to the Pope that random evolution was incompatible with belief in "God the creator" are fiercely assailed in today's edition of The Tablet, Britain's Catholic weekly, by the Vatican astronomer.
In an article with explosive implications for the Church, Father George Coyne, an American Jesuit priest who is a distinguished astronomy professor, attacks head-on the views of Cardinal Christoph Shönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and a long-standing associate of Joseph Ratzinger, the German cardinal who was elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April.
In an article entitled "Finding Design in Nature" in The New York Times last month, Cardinal Shönborn reignited the row between the Church and science by frankly denying that "neo-Darwinian dogma" was compatible with Christian faith. He wrote: "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo- Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."
His views have provoked alarm among many scientists and liberal Catholics around the world, who thought that Catholicism had come to terms with evolution, and who now see the spectre of creationism rising in the Catholic Church as it has risen among fundamentalist Protestants in the US.
The spin is that this is a major split in the Church at the very top.
For a Vatican official of such seniority openly to attack the views of a cardinal on such a potentially explosive subject as evolution is unprecedented. It also reveals a deep rift at the heart of the Catholic Church's thinking. It is known that Fr Coyne wrote privately to both Cardinal Shönborn and the Pope himself protesting against The New York Times article soon after it was published last month. But it is understood that so many scientists, especially Catholic scientists, have since contacted him to express their disquiet, that he felt he had to go public. He is believed to have cleared the article with his Jesuit superiors.
If Benedict sides with Schonborn, does it mean he has disagreed with John Paul II?
Good discussion of the topic at Amy's blog.
SOME REFRESHING CATHOLIC CONSISTENCY
From a link at Spirit Daily:
PHOENIX Politicians who support issues like abortion and gay rights have been banned from speaking at Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese.
The ban includes Governor Napolitano.
So far, she's the only one affected by the edict from Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.
Napolitano was forbidden to speak last year at a Catholic church in Scottsdale at an event opposing Proposition 200, the ballot measure that restricts the rights of undocumented immigrants.
EXIT THE METROSEXUAL ?
New Oxford Review links this story:
People like us have been called, over the past few years, "metrosexuals" and "new men", and we shrug off such nauseating labels in our easy-going way - but don't let that fool you. Inside, we're not so relaxed about how things have turned out. We're burning with manly rage. Or gently simmering, anyway.
The backlash against metrosexuals is well under way in the United States, home of the "Iron John" movement, which advocated a return of stronger, more masculine men. American Maxim magazine last month warned that if men become more feminised, they are in danger of dying out altogether.
Increasing numbers of metrosexual males, the magazine said, are suffering from a deadly condition called "mantropy", a "silent killer which strikes men in the prime of life", whose symptoms include having pedicures and drinking fruit smoothies - and which is propelling us towards extinction.
If we don't re-engage with our macho sides, the magazine cautioned, we're history. Meanwhile, a recent survey found that men and women are growing tired of media images of well-groomed, feminine-looking men.
A Catholic nun lectures on it in downtown Cleveland on Public Square in cooperation with a Yoga instructor who then teaches it. She comes from the Sophia Center, a Humility of Mary ministry.
Catholic monks practice Yoga and provide instruction at their Monastery. They dialogue with Buddhist monks.
Yoga is used to quiet the mind, leading to meditation, and contemplation.
The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue website offers a report on The Yoga and Buddhism Retreat 2000 in which this explanation of dealing with anger through Yoga is given:
Find out how to be with anger or painful emotions by being with them. Let the body lead. Befriend your anger; ask it, 'How would you do this [meditate]? Let's do it together.' When you learn how, you are liberated. That's enlightenment. It is not what your idea of it is; it is wherever your awareness is.
In other words, "Let your anger hang out."
Norweigen's Ringerike prison which contains "some of Norway's most dangerous criminals" decided to try it, and found "that some of the prisoners became more aggressive and agitated." The hope had been that meditation and breathing exercises would help inmates contain their anger, but it had the opposite effect. It unblocked their psychological barriers.
Well, isn't that exactly what the article from the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue website says that it will do? Why would a Catholic want to unblock barriers to sin? That does seem to be what this anger, agitation, and aggression in the Norway prison were about...sin. And sinfulness is a factor in man's nature. Better not to unblock it. And so, better to leave Yoga alone.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
SYMBOLS - EAGLE
Alchemical/Masonic Eagle where you can read:
The two faced eagle was popularized in Europe by the Emperor Charlemagne, and the symbol was adopted formally into Freemasonry in the mid-eighteenth century, by the Council of Emperors of the East and West. At that time, the device was commonly used to depict the uniting of two bodies into one; this was probably a factor in the decision to use the eagle symbol.
Passages from A DICTIONARY OF FREEMASONRY by Robert Macoy:
EAGLE. The eagle formed a constituent part of the cherubic symbol. It was referred to the prophet Daniel because he spake with angels, and received visions which relate to all time; and to St. John, who in his gospel treats of Christ's divinity, and soars to heaven like an eagle, in the Book of Revelation.(p. 494)
EMPERORS OF THE EAST AND WEST. An order calling itself a "Council of Emperors of the East and West was instituted in Paris, A.D. 1758. Its adepts styled themselves "Sovereign Prince Masons--Substitutes General of the Royal Art--Grand Superintendents and Officers of the Grand and Sovereign Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem." The rite consisted of 25 degrees, the first 19 of which were the same as those of the Scottish rite. The 20th was named Grand Patriarch Noachite; the 21st, Key of Masonry; 22nd, Prince of Lebanon; 23d, Knight of the Sun; 24th, Kadosh; and 25th, Prince of the Royal Secret. This rite had some success and was propagated in Germany, particularly in Prussia, and was accepted by the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes. The assumption that Frederick II, King of Prussia, ever had any connection with it will not be acknowledged by the intelligent Mason.(p. 138)
A Darker Claim about the Masonic eagle
Other Symbolical Meanings, including its use by Charlemagne
Are the Prince of the East and the Prince of the West today the Pope and the Russian Patriarch?
NEW MASONIC GRAND CHAPLAIN IS A ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST ?
So far I haven't been able to find this paper online. Pietre-Stones is a reputable Masonic publication.
A NEW BEGINNING
by the MW Bro. Fabio Venzi, Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy. Address at Grand Lodge meeting - Rome, June 25, 2005
...I would like to finish my address appointing a Grand Officer who will probably remain not only in the history of Italian Freemasonry but also in the history of the worldwide Freemasonry. The Grand Officer I am appointing as Grand Chaplain is a priest of the Roman Catholic Church...
Notice also that on the left column a link has been provided for "New Latin Rituals" in the restricted area.
Thanks to a reader for the link.
Here is the link to the speech. It concludes with these words:
I would like to finish my address appointing a Grand Officer who will probably remain not only in the history of Italian Freemasonry but also in the history of the world's Freemasonry and I do not think I am wrong. The Grand Officer I am appointing as Grand Chaplain is a priest of the Roman Catholic Church and once again I say of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Regular Grand Lodge of Italy and its Grand Master make, with this act, a gesture of opening. Never has a Masonic Body made such a significant act towards the Roman Catholic Church, dissociating itself from the other irregular Masonic Bodies who, with their anticlericalism, have caused so much damage and harm to the image of worldwide Freemasonry.
We have played our role and we are awaiting for the Church to find the grounds and the patience to be acquainted with the peculiarities and the differences within the variegated world of Freemasonry.
This appears to be a relatively new branch of Italian Freemasonry, founded 13 years ago, and affiliated with the Grand Lodge of England, as opposed to the Grand Orient.
Another article by the Grand Master describes some of the thinking of this new Lodge. It would appear that GM Fabio Venzi is attempting to distance his Lodge from the anti-Catholic thinking for which Freemasonry is so notorious.
Wonder who the priest is, and what the Church is doing, if anything, to foster this development?
SEXUAL ABUSE ADDRESSED WITHIN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
A Press Release has been issued by The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas which outlines the policy for dealing with clergy sexual abuse. It is uncompromising. I notice that the policy indicates that priests who have engaged in sexual abuse are referred to as "former priests" and that "repentence" is a part of the forgiveness process.
Without further comment, here is the policy:
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021
August 2, 2005
SCOBA ISSUES STATEMENT ON
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT IN THE CHURCH
The hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in
the Americas (SCOBA) recently adopted a Statement entitled "Dealing With
Sexual Misconduct in the Church".
Prepared by the Social and Moral Issues Commission of SCOBA, this Statement
expresses the seriousness with which the Orthodox Church treats the issue
of Sexual Misconduct within the Church in a united voice, while also
offering pastoral guidelines concerning sexual misconduct by members of the
clergy and all who work in the Church. This Statement is not intended to
supersede any specific jurisdictional guidelines.
Dr. John Dalack, Chair of the Social and Moral Issues Commission, presented
the proposed Statement to the hierarchs who unanimously approved it. The
Statement is available on the SCOBA web site: www.scoba.us.
Dealing with Sexual Misconduct in the Church
"O God, great in power and inscrutable in wisdom, wondrous in counsels
above the sons of men: Yourself, O Lord, fill with the gift of Your Holy
Spirit this man, whom You are pleased to advance to the priestly ministry,
that he may be worthy to stand blamelessly before Your Altar, to proclaim
the Gospel of Your Kingdom, to minister sacredly the word of Your truth, to
offer to You spiritual gifts and sacrifices, and to renew Your people
through the Font of Regeneration, that when he shall go to meet You at the
Second Coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Your Only-begotten
Son, he may receive the reward of a good stewardship of his rank, according
to the multitude of Your goodness." (The prayer of ordination)
Sexual abuse or misconduct will find no safe haven within the Holy Orthodox
Church. We, as hierarchs of the Church, commit ourselves and the resources
at the Church's disposal to ensure that every child of God, of whatever
age, may be safe and secure within the bosom of the Church, and that sexual
predators will find no place within her to carry out their crimes. Sin
thrives where there is darkness and secrecy, but it cannot stand the light
of truth and openness. By pursuing truth and justice, by standing by the
victims of crime, by ensuring fair and due process for everyone concerned,
and by facilitating repentance unto salvation, the Church will be true to
the God she serves and to her faithful people.
While this statement concentrates on pastoral guidelines concerning sexual
misconduct by members of the clergy--bishops, priests and deacons--as the
most visible representatives of the Church, it should be understood that
our concerns apply to all those, who work in the Church. Individual
jurisdictions may wish to adopt specific guidelines concerning others who
work in the Church and represent it.
Those who are given the gift of ordination by God and His Church are chosen
from the Body of Christ, the community of faith, as persons who have
committed themselves to live in accordance with the Gospel and who are
willing to bear the heavy responsibility to Christ for His flock. They are
responsible for their flock as a shepherd is for his sheep, and to be good
shepherds they must be willing to lay down their lives for the flock. But
when a member of the clergy chooses to follow his own way rather than the
way of the Shepherd, by sacrificing his flock to his own desires, he
becomes a wolf in shepherd's clothing, betraying Christ and the flock the
Church has entrusted to his care. Furthermore, he betrays society at
large, for the Church is given to us for the life of the world.
The Church of Christ is the battleground for the unseen warfare of which
the Fathers wrote. We are called to "be perfect, as our Father in heaven is
perfect," (Matt. 5:48). Yet, we also know that "there is no one who lives
and does not sin." The Church confronts and heals sin, transfiguring and
transforming us to be Christ's image and likeness. Through the healing
power of Christ, the Church brings sanctification and salvation to a world
fallen in sin. The Church makes available the unchanging and eternal truth
of Christ, so that all those who belong to the Church may walk in His
The temptation to sexual misconduct is one battleground of this unseen
warfare, made more acute within a sex-saturated society where sexuality and
sexual images are used everywhere for entertainment, for selling products,
and for recreation. Christ's Church, the clergy, and all those in positions
of Church leadership and trust have the moral responsibility of
safeguarding the sanctity of human sexuality. It is the particular
responsibility of the clergy to aspire to a life of purity and holiness, so
that the light of Christ may shine through them.
The Gift and Responsibility of Sexuality
Orthodox Christians understand human sexuality to be one important aspect
of the whole mystery of human personhood. As is evident from Holy
Scripture, human sexuality is intended to be a sublime means of expressing
mature and self-giving love between a man and a woman united in marriage,
of deepening that love in a communion of two lives, and of enabling a
couple to participate with God in the wondrous and sacred work of creation
of new life. It is indeed a holy and good gift of our holy and good God.
As such, it must be treated as holy to the Lord, and as something which has
great potential either for good or for harm.
To ensure that we use our sexuality for our good and to minimize its
potential for harm, God has revealed through Holy Scripture its proper use:
that sexual _expression is God-pleasing within the larger framework of the
freely agreed to, life-long, committed relationship between a man and a
woman which is the mystery of marriage.
The Orthodox Church witnesses with the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition
that outside the community of marriage the God-pleasing use of our
sexuality is found in the free choice of abstinence. For some, this may be
a temporary state awaiting the formation of the mystical union of marriage.
For others, this may be the narrow and demanding way of life-long
commitment to chastity.
Each of these God-pleasing ways of expressing the sexual aspect of our
human nature demands that we humbly, freely and joyfully embrace the
"narrow way." As in so many areas of human life, choosing God's way may be
difficult and continually calls for our radical repentance; nonetheless,
God's way is ultimately liberating and enables us to realize our full human
potential as children of God conformed to His image and likeness.
Conversely, choosing the way of self-centered, undisciplined and unbridled
sexual indulgence ultimately is life-destroying rather than life-affirming
in that sinfulness, in whatever guise it takes, always leads us away from
God, the Source of Life. Sexual activity becomes destructive and sinful
whenever it is aimed primarily at self-gratification rather than the good
of the other; whenever it is not within the committed relationship of
marriage between a man and a woman; or whenever it is not entered into
The Clergy and Sexual Misconduct
While sexual misconduct is sinful and harmful for any Christian, it is
especially grave and painful when the perpetrator is a clergyman, because
it so often entails a serious abuse of the legitimate authority of the
clergy within the community of the Church, and because it constitutes a
betrayal of the trust placed in the person by God, by God's people, and by
the Church's hierarchy. While every Christian is called to the highest
standard of conduct in every aspect of life, the clergy, bishops, priests
and deacons, traditionally have been held most strictly to this standard by
Holy Tradition and the Church's canons. A serious sin by a clergyman is
not simply a personal matter; it is an assault on the integrity of the
Clergy sexual misconduct carries even greater potential for harm to its
victims because of the identity of the perpetrator. The relationship of the
clergyman to his parishioners is one of a spiritual father to his spiritual
children. The clergyman's authority carries with it an inherent and often
unrecognized power. Its depth in this relationship is such that the
victim, of whatever age, never truly acts freely. Because the predator is
a clergyman, the healing ministry of the Church to those victimized, so
based on trust and love, is undermined. The victim's very relationship with
God and faith itself can be severely shaken. The harm to the victim is
physical, psychological and spiritual.
We resolve to educate ourselves and our clergy and laity about how we, as
the Church, can help victims receive healing. It is our hope and prayer
that by dealing swiftly and surely with all those who have committed
offenses and by responding in a loving and appropriate manner to the
injured, we will encourage and aid the survivors of abuse to continue their
relationship with God in Christ's Holy Church.
We commit ourselves to the healing of parishes wounded by clergy sexual
misconduct. When a clergyman acts inappropriately, he inflicts harm not
only on his victim but also his own family, the victim's family and other
members of the community. We will give the best possible support to all
those traumatized by such misconduct.
The spiritual needs of the offending clergyman must also be addressed. The
Church will not turn her back on these former clerics, if they repent of
their destructive behavior and receive forgiveness, even though they can no
longer serve as clergy or in other positions of authority. While
energetically protecting victims, the Church will work for the healing and
salvation of all who are affected.
We are aware that we need to examine carefully how we choose and educate
our clergy, with the goal of preventing those who are likely to offend from
being ordained. All seminarians should be educated with respect to the
proper boundaries and professional standards that a clergyman must
It is recommended that seminaries conduct background and criminal
investigations on all applicants. Criminal and background checks will also
be conducted on those who apply for ordination. Parishes should be
recommended to conduct criminal and background checks on all persons
considered for all professional or volunteer positions in the parish.
All these steps must be taken to ensure that the Church as the Body of
Christ will remain faithful to her Lord in ministering to her people. We
reiterate the goal of this statement that sexual abuse or misconduct will
find no safe haven within the Holy Orthodox Church. We affirm that this
statement reflects our common mind, and we will make every effort to ensure
its implementation through the enactment of appropriate policies in our
Contact: SCOBA Office
8 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
THE BIRTH CONTROL DEFENSE
Several news sources and a couple of readers are talking about this story in the Portland Diocese.
In 1994, then-Archbishop of Portland William Levada offered a simple answer for why the archdiocese shouldn't have been ordered to pay the costs of raising a child fathered by a church worker at a Portland, Ore., parish.
In her relationship with Arturo Uribe, then a seminarian and now a Whittier priest, the child's mother had engaged "in unprotected intercourse … when [she] should have known that could result in pregnancy," the church maintained in its answer to the lawsuit.
The legal proceeding got little attention at the time. And the fact that the church —which considers birth control a sin — seemed to be arguing that the woman should have protected herself from pregnancy provoked no comment. Until last month.
That's when Stephanie Collopy went back into court asking for additional child support. A Times article reported the church's earlier response. Now liberal and conservative Catholics around the country are decrying the archdiocese's legal strategy, saying it was counter to church teaching.
"On the face of it, [the argument] is simply appalling," said Michael Novak, a conservative Catholic theologian and author based in Washington, D.C.
That the "unprotected intercourse" argument was offered in Levada's name made it especially shocking to some Catholics. The former archbishop is now chief guardian of Catholic doctrine worldwide. The archbishop's new post as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was last held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI.
William Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights based in New York, said the legal language was "simply code for, 'What's wrong with you, honey, aren't you smart enough to make sure condoms were used?' "
And that, he notes, is completely counter to the church's teachings, which hold that using contraceptives is "intrinsically evil."
One reader suggests that the question of the religion of the attorney plays a part in this controversy. Was the attorney Catholic; and if not, does his religion accept birth control, making his argument perfectly logical in his own mind?
That seems to be borne out by his statement:
Kuhn said the defense he raised was probably based on his suspicion that Collopy got pregnant to keep Uribe out of the priesthood. "The archbishop shouldn't be criticized for something I did that didn't have anything to do with Catholic doctrine," Kuhn said. "It would be a different story if we sat down together and said, 'Let's do this.' "
If that is indeed the case, what does that say about other leadership positions in Catholic organizations being filled by noncatholics? One of the first that would come to mind is the Catholic school teacher...and principal? Discrimination laws would play a part in this, of course.
is described by famed occultist Louis-Claud de Saint-Martin in a letter written in August 1793, and reproduced at the "Esoterica Journal" website. The reference to "Sophia" is interesting.
With the liveliest satisfaction, Sir, have I received your sublime letter of 21st ult. Your theory on the use of the Great Name of names is very high; it seems, however, quite clear to me, and entirely conformable with my own ideas. The distinction also which you make between the intellectual sight, and that which is external and physical, appears also clear and distinct, though I am but a gentile. So true is it that Sophia can manifest herself externally and physically, that the first physical manifestation J. Lead had was that of Sophia. She describes this communication at large in her `Fountain of Gardens.' If I do not succeed soon in finding her works for you, I will avail myself of some leisure moments to translate the passage for you. Pordage, in his `Angelic World,' insists strongly on the use and importance of physical communications, the great point being to avoid the shoals. As for me, I look upon manifestations, when they are real ones, as an excellent mean for advancing our inward work; and I believe that a lifting up of the soul to the Supreme Being, adherence to the active and intelligent Cause, purity of will which desires only to approach more nearly, and unite with, the source of all light, without any return to ourselves; and the Name of Names, -are infallible means of receiving these gifts without mixture or illusion. Pordage shows me the importance of physical communications; but what the English of to-day, not Pordage, call second sight, which they acquire by tradition or initiation, appears to me always to lead into a region where the good and bad orders are mixed and seek society with us. I imagine different sorts of progress amongst men of desire, each of whom produces effects more or less elevated and pure. But must we pass through the second sight to arrive at pure communications? Your advice on this would be very acceptable. . . .
CRITIQUE OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY OF SECRECY
by Ohio State's Hugh Urban can be found in the current "Esoterica Journal". Following citation of Bush's religious convictions, Urban says:
Yet on the other hand, the Bush administration is also arguably the most secretive in U.S. history, displaying an intense preoccupation with information control. Bush and Cheney have been described by various observers as having an "obsession with secrecy," even a "secrecy fetish" that is "the most secretive of our lifetime" and "worse than Watergate." From his first days in office, Bush was busy at work trying to conceal his own Texas gubernatorial records and the presidential records of Ronald Reagan (and those of then vice-President, George H.W. Bush); meanwhile, vice-President Cheney was assembling a highly secretive energy task force, while refusing Congress knowledge of its membership or workings. This concern with secrecy has intensified dramatically in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Not only has there been much debate over the question of what the administration knew, did not know, or ignored about possible terrorist attacks prior to 9/11, but more importantly, there has been intense controversy over the administration's use of intelligence to justify its invasion of Iraq in 2003. The accusations of dissimulation do not, however, end with Iraq. In addition, Bush has been charged with concealing many other sensitive matters, such as ties to corporate scandals like Enron, the effects of its environmental policies, and, well, really almost everything. As some critics have suggested, the Bush administration simply dissembles as a matter of policy.
At the same time, ironically, this administration has also displayed a remarkable preoccupation with the surveillance and monitoring of its own citizenry. Particularly in the wake of 9/11 and new measures like the USA Patriot Act, public rights to privacy have been significantly restricted, even as the government's transparency has been radically reduced.
Lee Penn has been making similar disturbing charges about the current administration in his articles in "SCP Journal". Interesting that both sides are raising the same concerns.
RESEARCH SITE ON FREEMASONRY
provides all materials free of charge.
Spero News reports:
An academic at the University of Bradford is helping to make the mystery-shrouded world of Freemasonry more open - and has recently unearthed lost material belonging to a renowned Freemason from West Yorkshire.
Dr. Robert Lomas, an academic based at Bradford University's School of Management, has created a web site called The Web of Hiram.
Originally intended as a personal research tool to aid the writing of his 'Book of Hiram', Dr. Lomas has since donated the material to the University of Bradford as part of the Electronic Special Collections of the J.B. Priestly Library.
The Web of Hiram first went live on the 1 May 2003 and is now rated as the most popular academic site for material on Freemasonry in the world. Unlike some Masonic web sites provided by other universities, all of the material is entirely free for anyone to use. Robert has spent the last 18 years investigating Freemasonry and its impact on society. He hopes that this web site will be of assistance to others who share his passion.
Lomas is co-author with Christopher Knight of a number of books on Freemasonry. Some additional websites by and about Lomas:
The Hiram Key Official Homepage
The Official Website of Robert Lomas
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas
There are many, many more.
NEW BACTERIAL INFECTION
that is drug-resistent has broken out among the troops in Iraq who have been exposed to land mines, mortars and suicide bombs.
NEW ABUSE REPORT IN PHILADELPHIA
The AP reports:
A grand jury documented assaults on children by more than 50 priests, but, hampered by legal issues, called for no new criminal charges, a published report said.
The more than 500-page report, now in the hands of a Common Pleas judge overseeing the secret probe, harshly criticized church leaders for shielding abusers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.
The decision not to recommend criminal charges reflected legal and factual hurdles facing prosecutors, including the expiration of the statute of limitations in virtually every case, the newspaper said.
Blogger credit to New Oxford Review linked on the right.
ONCE FULL OF CHILDREN
a park in Fond du Lac is now empty because a registered sex offender has moved into the neighborhood. Residents are afraid to allow their children out to play because they expect him to offend again. They want relief through the legal system, but none can be provided.
EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY SPARKED BY CARDINAL SCHONBORN CONTINUES
From KRT Wire:
American Catholic educators are not changing how science is taught in Catholic schools even though a prominent Austrian cardinal has said evolution is incompatible with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
But three leading American scientists are so concerned that an essay by Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, could signal a shift in the Catholic Church's long-standing support for evolution, they have asked Pope Benedict XVI to clarify the church's position.
"It has been very important that the Catholic Church has been supportive of evolution," said Lawrence M. Krauss, a physics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who wrote the letter.
Schonborn set off the rippling controversy last month with an opinion piece in the New York Times that stated evolution proponents had wrongly claimed that the writings of Pope John Paul II say evolution is compatible with church teachings.
Although the essay was not submitted on behalf of the Vatican, Schonborn told the Times that he had discussed it with Pope Benedict XVI shortly before then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in April.
Schonborn, a member of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, has said there are no plans to issue new guidelines for teaching science in Catholic schools, although he believes that students should also learn about other theories.
Catholic educators are monitoring the debate but do not expect changes.
"Evolution should be taught as one of many theories," said Louis P. DeAngelo, who oversees curriculum for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. "But the one true principle above all is there's one creator."
Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, which represents Catholic schools, does not expect a shift in science instruction "unless this changes from theory to dogma."
Personally, I think Schonborn is on the right track. There remain too many questions about Darwinian evolution for it to be taught as fact. Sure, teach the theory. It's the only acceptable scientific theory in most colleges, and students need to be fully versed. Also some of it is provable, where microevolution is concerned; but present alternatives as well so that the faith is defended. John Paul II's statement on evolution always did bother me.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
THE OTHER GOSPEL
An article at Zenit dated 7-18-05 analyzes the difficulties in Europe as being largely the fault of the invasion of New Age beliefs. The article is written by Jose Baamonde, an adviser to the Argentine bishops' conference. In the article he says:
New Age is "the great challenge of the present century for society," he added, because "it raises flags such as pacifism, universal brotherhood and ecology, which can hardly be challenged by the public of a society that increasingly lacks a true formation."
Baamonde, who is a professor of psychology at Madrid's San Pablo-CEU University, also warned against "the capacity of New Age concepts to subtly impregnate even those who practice classic and traditional religions, including the Catholic" faith.
In this connection, he recalled Pope John Paul II's words to a group of U.S. bishops in 1993: "At times New Age ideas make headway in preaching, catechesis, congresses and retreats, and thus succeed in influencing even practicing Catholics, who perhaps are not aware of the incompatibility of those ideas with the faith of the Church."...
He concluded: "New Age gains followers day by day with the final objective, they say, of erasing universal borders to achieve the creation of a supra-religion where man is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end of all things, thus achieving a caricature of religion: It is no longer man who is created in the image and likeness of God but God who is created in the image and likeness of man."
This New Age supra-religion is being helped by the most unlikely Catholic sources.
It was easy to identify the left-leaning Sr. Joan Chittister, and other left-leaning folks at CTA. It is far less easy to identify as questionable the monks who are promoting meditation and contemplation as providing a trip into New Age areas of oriental philosophy. Too often in this realm which is generally free of doctrine and focuses on relationship with God, a mix and match spirituality develops.
A case in point. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit's "Special Retreats" 2005. There you can read about God becoming flesh, discover the importance of humility, ponder the mystery of Jesus' mystical Body. All of these retreats sound solidly Catholic. But there are some others focusing on centering prayer, on Yoga, and on a new silence of contemplation that appears to reinterpret the ancient spiritual practice. These, too, may be Catholic; but their Catholicity is not self-evident in the description. The topics open the doorway to the possibility of something of the other Gospel.
Fr. Basil Pennington served as Abbott of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit for two years, as his obituary explains. I would like to believe that Fr. Pennington had the best interests of the Church at heart at all times. There is a "but".
Fr. Pennington was heavily involved in interreligious dialogue, following in the footsteps of Fr. Thomas Merton. Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery is a branch of Gethsemene Abbey, known best for its former resident monk Thomas Merton.
The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue website indicates that this outreach is the work of the "North American Benedictine and Cistercian Monasteries of Men and Women". There you can see a list of Fr. Pennington's writings.
Centering prayer, the prayer technique Pennington is known for, is also the work of Fr. Thomas Keating. Both of these priests have endorsed MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT. At that link you can read in Fr. Keating's own words that:
This book in my view is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the high Middle Ages. With its firm grasp of tradition, its balance, wisdom, profundity, openness to truth, and comprehensive approach to reality, it deserves to be the basis of a course in spirituality in every Christian institution of higher learning and what would be even better, the point of departure and unifying vision of the whole curriculum.
And we wonder why our children come home from a Catholic college no longer Catholic!
On the right sidebar you can see that "articles by Robert A. Powell" are linked, and Powell is credited with being the author of THE SOPHIA TEACHINGS. You can read a brief review of this book here. It is another Gospel that is being promoted by Robert Powell...the Gospel of the Pistis Sophia, of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, of the Gnostics who were also contemplative, of Ted Meisner, of esoteric Christianity...of the Paris Occult Revival?
Here is another of Robert Powell's books, CHRISTIAN ZEN: THE ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST. The obvious departure from Catholicism can be read in the brief description.
Another website, Bob & Nancy's Bookshop, has a category devoted to "Esoteric Christianity" exclusively. Titles in this list give a good overview of what esoteric Christians believe. There you will see many Rudolf Steiner works because this website is an Anthroposophical website. You will see that one of his titles is ISIS MARY SOPHIA. In the description of that book you can read the item "The Holy Spirit and the Christ in Us", the item "Mary and Mary Magdalene", "Sophia Is the Gospel Itself", "The Nature of the Virgin Sophia and of the Holy Spirit", "Sophia and Achamoth." These titles are entirely appropriate to Anthroposophy since Anthroposophy is Rosicrucian Christianity, a form of faith based on clairvoyant contact of the Akashic Record, a practice forbidden to a Catholic by the First Commandment.
If you recall some of my recent postings, you will recall that Sophia Achamoth was mentioned in the history of the Gnostic Catholic Church. This Salons Gnostiques de la Rose+Croix website mentions Sophia Achamoth:
During the bohemian revolution of the late 19th century, however, people again sought out places for stimulating conversation like cafés and Salons. Of particular interest to us, are the occult Salons that were set organized around the same time as the fledgling Theosophical Society. The most famous of these was the salon of Lady Marie Caithness and her circle, one which would later become known as the "Société Théosophique d'Orient et d'Occident." Jules Doinel, who reestablished the Gnostic Church and who had, himself, been gifted with visions throughout his life, participated in a series of séances at her Salon that were attended by many notable occultists of the time. It was during these séances that Doinel received a vision of Sophia Achamoth who charged him with reestablishing her Gnostic Church.
What is a Catholic monk doing dabbling in esoteric Christianity? The Gnostic Heresy was the most fiercely contested heresy of the Early Church.
Returning to Bob and Nancy's Bookshop you can find a long description of MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT. There are books on the Holy Grail, the Cosmic Christ, books by Joa Bolendas, one on Egyptian Myths and Mysteries, and one by Vladimir Soloviev. There is even one by Anne Catherine Emmerich. Esoteric Christianity, being centered in the occult experience of spirit contact finds compatibility with Emmerich.
The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Gethsemani Encounter I, July 1996, speakers list gives a good indication that Christian and Buddhists attempted to find some sort of spiritual common ground. You can read the speakers list for Gethsemani Encounter II here.
The MID Author List for P lists Robert A. Powell along with Basil Pennington and Ramon Panikkar.
This is another Gospel being promoted by those who present themselves as the most holy among the Roman Catholic population. How is it that nothing is being done to curb this return to Gnosticism within the Church? Where is our Pope?
Returning briefly to Jose Baamonde's Zenit article linked at the top of this blog, you can read:
...he recalled Pope John Paul II's words to a group of U.S. bishops in 1993: "At times New Age ideas make headway in preaching, catechesis, congresses and retreats, and thus succeed in influencing even practicing Catholics, who perhaps are not aware of the incompatibility of those ideas with the faith of the Church.
Yet in spite of this red flag being raised by John Paul II, he also promoted Interreligious Dialogue strongly, as this letter at the MID website indicates. You can't have it both ways. Either we place boundaries around what we believe, or we open ourselves up to what everyone else believes and produce a mix-'n'-match faith suitable for anyone...or for no one.
War and violence in the name of God is anathema. We must not turn to that solution. But neither can we turn to this current solution which makes God unknowable and perhaps, to those who become immerced in New Age, unworthy of knowing. There must be a return to the doctrine of the Catholic faith.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
THE POLICE COVER-UP OF PRIESTLY ABUSE IN TOLEDO
A long story at the Toledo Blade describes the decades old policy in the police department that prevented arrests and persecution of sexual abuse of minors in Toledo.
If you've ever wondered how a priest could possibly have gotten away with killing a nun, as one priest in Toledo has been accused of doing, this story will tell you how.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Monday, August 01, 2005
FR. LASTIRI'S NEW ASSIGNMENT
Dom links this report that he is working in a prison now.
OHHHHHH YES !
Drives me nuts!
Nice to see that others dislike it as well.
(we really need to come up with a name for the spiel that priests way to often give at the beginning of Mass -either before the Signo fo the Cross or right after - Homilette? I don't know. I don't like it, it's not in the rite, it disrupts what should be prayer, gets everyone in the mode of being instructed rather than right in the flow of prayer - our prayer - and I wish every priest who indulges in it would step back and stop it right now.
I would make one exception. My pastor often announces the feast of the day, with no elaboration, just before he begins the sign of the cross. That I do appreciate.
ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT this?
MONASTERY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Ted Meisner lists his ministry address as Macon, Georgia and indicates this ministry of La Ermita was inaugurated on December 27, 1994, when he rededicated his life to Sophia, the Holy Spirit, before the Abbot of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery.
Approximately 75 miles away in Conyers, Georgia is Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) more commonly known as Trappists. This facility is associated with Gethsemene Abbey, Thomas Merton's Kentucky monastery. According to its website, it is "wholly orientated to a contemplative life of prayer." Fr. Basil Pennington was the sixth abbot of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, who served from 2000 to 2002, before retiring to St. Joseph Abbey. He died on June 3, 2005. Fr. Basil is best known for his Centering Prayer workshops and retreats. (Source: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue website) His is one of the endorsements on the cover of MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT.
There are Lay Cistercians at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery. I wondered if Ted Meisner might be one of them and emailed the Abbey to inquire. Fr. Thomas Francis responded, saying
I am a personal friend of Ted's for over 20 some years. NO, he is NOT associated with this monastery in any formal way. He only came here to make his dedication, and I was one of those attending. All I know of his past was that he was a member of the Resurrection Fathers, a Polish community, and had been a missionary in Bolivia.
Fr. Francis is the author of ANGELS: FROM BODY-GUARDS TO SPIRIT-DIRECTORS. According to this linked article at the Trappist.net website, Fr. Francis "named" his "own angel, about two years ago, after studying Chapter 7 of the Book of Wisdom in the Catholic Bible. It contains 21 adjectives for the Wisdom of God. When I heard a voice say, 'all these describe me, your Guiding Angel', I named her Sophia from the Greek word for wisdom."
The article also contains a brief bio. of Fr. Francis which indicates:
In 1951, Br. Francis entered the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia and went on to Solemn Profession and Ordination to the priesthood in 1958....
Fr. Francis' interest in the angels really picked up in 1992 when he had an "angelic experience" while reading Chapters 6 through 9 of the Book of Wisdom. From that experience finally came his recent booklet on angels.
The following website ALSO gives Fr. Thomas Francis' biography. At the bottom of the website is a link for another page in the website, Maria Rosa Mystica, where you can see the dancing roses above the head of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also in this website you can read a message from Fr. Thomas Francis about the weeping statue of the Blessed Mother which he authenticated in the home of Ken and Joan Holland.
Joan Holland is a seer. Her story can be read here where she indicates that Fr. Tom Francis at the Holy Spirit Monastery is her spiritual director. There is also a letter there from Fr. Thomas Francis confirming this.
Since Fr. Francis indicated in his email to me that Ted Meisner "was a member of the Resurrection Fathers, a Polish community", I found a history of this order at the St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario. There you can read:
The Congregation of the Resurrection traces its origins to February 17, 1836 when a small group of men took up residence on rue Notre Dame de Champs, 11 in Paris where they began to live a common life. Their leader and "elder brother" was Bogdan Janski. Janski had come to Paris from Poland on a government scholarship to study law and economics. He quickly became convinced of the need for social reform but he also fell away from his faith and into a life of licentious debauchery.
In 1830 rebellion broke out in Poland against the Russian tsarist regime but was quickly crushed and Janski found himself inundated by a flood of Polish emigrés among whom were Peter Semenenko and Jerome Kajsiewicz who were destined to become his closest disciples and collaborators.
Encouraged by the examples of Fr. John Lacordaire, Fr. Felicité Lammenais and the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, Janski struggled to regain his faith which he finally did, making his confession and receiving communion in January 1835.
George Weigel also mentions this order in his book WITNESS TO HOPE:
In the weeks after his inaugural Mass, John Paul II regularly broke out of the gilded cage that was now his home and office. On October 29, he went by helicopter to the Marian shrine at Mentorella, cared for by the Resurrectionist Fathers, a group of priests whose nineteenth-century founding was inspired by Adam Mickiewicz. As word of the Pope's visit spread, thousands of people flocked to the shrine from the neighboring areas, John Paul II apologized to the local authorities for causing such trouble, and then explained why he had come. Mentorella, he said, was a place that had "helped me a great deal to pray" during his visits to Rome. Now that he was a Roman, he wanted to come back, because "prayer...[is] the first task and almost the first signal of the Pope, just as it is the first condition of his service in the Church and in the world."(p. 271)
Thus the investigation that opened with Adam Mickiewicz and the Sabbatian/Frankist influence on Mickiewicz, and Mickiewicz's influence on Pope John Paul II, now comes full circle with Adam Mickiewicz's founding of the order that Ted Meisner at one time (currently?) belonged to. Meisner has developed a Sophiology which he is passing along to immigrant farm workers. Is it the same Sophiology that Vladimir Soloviev, who was influenced by Mickiewicz, also espoused? Is it the theology of MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT which Basil Pennington sanctioned as did Hans Uhrs von Balthasar? Is it the theology of the Gnostic Cathar-Albigensian church... the theology of Jules Doinel's Gnostic Catholic Church with its dedication to the "New Age of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit"? Questions that are begging for an answer.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
SISTERS OF ??????
A reader sent in this link found in Spirit Daily this morning. It seems to be the programs being offered at Villa Maria Retreat Center.
Villa Maria is the motherhouse of the nuns who taught my parochial school when I grew up. Back in the 50s they were holy women wholly dedicated to serving God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Looking through their retreat schedule I can't find anything Catholic there. Not a "Jesus", not a "Trinity", not even a "Holy Spirit" despite the fact that "Spirit" seems to be in with women religious. There is a labyrinth walk; there is a meditation circle of light; there are healing modalities; there is a land retreat; and energy choreography; healing through creative movements; tai chi and qigong; Taize prayer; Enneagram; inspired prayer; peacemaking; harvest day; breath, balance, and beauty; mindfulness meditation; nature mandala workshop; Reiki; eco-justice; circles for sustainability; and stranger in the woods. There are a few directed retreats which could be about the Trinitarian God, but we really don't know. There is a mention of God in the title of one of the retreats, but who knows, again, what God they are worshipping. Here is another example of another gospel being promoted this time from within the Roman Catholic Church.
How many souls are being led away from Christ thanks to the efforts of these nuns. Yet they retain the right to call themselves "Humility of Mary". One is justified in asking, "Mary who?"
Sister Jean Patrice, one of the women in my life I have most admired, must be turning over in her grave!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
We have seen pictures of John Paul II sitting quietly during a smudging ceremony, and wondered what it was all about. This article sent in by a reader about a Catholic hospital in South Dakota gives a clue:
Sherman Iron Shield used to sneak his son behind some elevators at St. Alexius Medical Center so he could burn sacred herbs to chase away evil spirits without setting off the hospital's fire alarms and sprinklers.
He believes that the practice, known as smudging, along with modern medicine, helped his son, George, recover from a gunshot wound in his head more than 10 years ago.
"My son is still alive," Iron Shield said.
Now he and other members of the region's large American Indian population can follow their traditions without worrying about the fire alarms.
On Thursday, the Roman Catholic hospital dedicated a $350,000 solarium and meditation room that may be used for such things as burning sage, cedar or sweetgrass and for singing or drumming.
At the present time the hospital is maintaining a separate chapel for Christians. Will it continue that way, or will the multi-religious meditation room become the hospital chapel of the future?
IF spirits really do permeate a worship space, what will that mean to a Christian who worships in the company of non-Christian spirits? Multi-culturalism raises more questions than provides answers.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
CONSECRATED HOSTS STOLEN
Catholic News Service reports:
LAKE CITY, S.C. (CNS) -- A locked tabernacle filled with consecrated hosts was stolen along with other items during a break-in at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lake City in early July, and the theft has left parishioners feeling that their faith has been attacked, according to the pastor. "They have desecrated our belief," Father Michael C. Okere told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.
Is there a black market for consecrated hosts, or were they really going for the gold? The article reports other items stolen, including a microwave, a sound system, and an office computer.
Hat tip to a reader for the link.