Saturday, February 04, 2006


Brian Mershon has an interview up at Renew America, that will be published in the Feb. 9 issue of The Wanderer, concerning the Tridentine liturgy. Being interviewed are Bishop Bruskewitz (Lincoln, Nebraska) and Bishop Corrada (Tyler, Texas). These two bishops, along with Bishop Doran (Rockford, Illinois) and Archbishop Burke (St. Louis, Missouri) are credited with being generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application which was requested by Pope John Paul II.

A couple of interesting comments were made.

*** One of Mershon's questions indicates that there was nothing in the documents of the Second Vatican Council which authorized the switch from versus apsidum to versus populum (facing the altar to facing the congregation). Bishop Bruskewitz notes that versus populum obscures the fact that the priest stands in an intecessory role between God and the people. When he is turned to face the congregation the temptation is "that one thinks the personality of the priest has to come through".

*** Bishop Bruskewitz makes this startling statement: "We're in the middle of the disintegration of the Latin rite."

*** Bishop Corrada notes that in his diocese there is a mission that is buying and renovating a Baptist church which will be used for the Tridentine exclusively.

*** In response to Mershon's question concerning the fact that today Catholics can "walk into a church in any place in the world and not even recognize what is going on", Bishop Bruskewitz responds, "You don't even have to travel. Sometimes in one major city you can go from one church to another. You have to wonder, 'What is this about?'" He notes, however, that "we have to live with where we are now. You can't cut down the oak tree to get back to the acorn."

It's an interesting interview. As always, liturgy is a hot topic. Dom has had a discussion on this going on at Bettnet. It would seem that most of us recognize the liturgy needs work, but no one is quite sure how to go about working on it. A major concern is not to cause a division in the Church by trying to implement yet another major change.

Personally, I thought Benedict's Christmas Eve Mass was a lovely compromise between the N.O. and the Tridentine. It even allowed for inculturation that did not distract from the purpose at hand. I wonder if the Latin Mass people could be happy with it?

Retreating to 1962 once again strikes me as self-defeating. First of all, while I learned to love Mass from my childhood experience of the Tridentine, I also recognize in the N.O. some changes that are good. None of those changes would be possible with the 1962 Missal, hence I'm not anxious to retreat. For those Catholics who have known nothing but the N.O. and are content with it, retreating to the 1962 Tridentine would be as much an upheaval for them as abandoning the Tridentine was for my generation. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's too hard on faith. The need for reverence is a given, but some consideration must be given to those who like the N.O.

It is also unreasonable to claim that the N.O. is a "new Mass" since if it is a new Mass, there is really no reason for it to exist at all. We are a Tradition based faith. If it doesn't connect with Jesus and even with the Old Testament--if it is simply a new creation or a novelty without foundation--it's useless, an empty ritual. The N.O. is built on the Tridentine, and that needs to be recognized.


Roman Catholics celebrate the Feast of Ephiphany on January 6 which commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings. "Epiphany" means "manifestation." It is on this day that we remember the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

My pre-Vatican II St. Joseph Missal describes Epiphany this way:

The word Epiphany means manifestation. The Church in the Mass commemorates a triple manifestation of Christ: to the Magi, that is, to the Gentiles; in His Baptism, when the Voice from heaven declared: "This is My Beloved Son"; and in the miracle of changing water into wine at Cana.

When Christ was baptised in the Jordan the Trinity was manifested to the created world in the voice of God from heaven, in the presence of the Son before a crowd of people at the Jordan River, and in the dove descending from Heaven to hover over Christ. Thus, this is a great feast.

In Orthodoxy Epiphany is called "Theophany" and commemorates Christ's baptism. A miracle takes place in the Jordan River on this feast day:

On this feast day, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem blessed the Jordan River and the water boiled up and began to flow backwards. Interfax reports:

Right after silver crosses were thrown into its calm waters after the prayer, the river boiled up. A maelstrom developed and the current flowed back for a several minutes.

According to this report, 5,000 people witnessed the miracle.

A reader sent in an email of an eye witness account of this annual miracle:

The water is stirred, in places it looks like it's bubbling up and in others it actually starts flowing upstream, or is turned back towards its source, away from the Dead Sea. We had found a good spot on the banks while we waited for the Patriarch and procession to come down to the water's edge, and we observed the water to be so still it was almost smooth as glass. After the prayers of blessing and the Patriarch threw the Cross into the water for the third time, the miracle occurred. It actually lasted the entire time we were there at the water (about an hour), and was still occurring while we were leaving. It was amazing to witness and the crowd was really moved by the event too. I was blessed to be able to go in myself and the water was invigorating!

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Dallas, Texas offers, in question and answer format, a lesson on the Orthodox Feast of Theophany citing Scripture passages and tieing events from the Old Testament to the Feast. In that lesson, in Answer 3, is a passage that applies to the kinds of material I've been blogging about for months:

Jesus has no need for the baptism of John, which was baptism of repentance. (Matthew 3:11, and elsewhere). Neither did he have need for Christian baptism, which is the renewal of man and the making of a new creature. The God-man is totally sinless and in no need of renewal. The Holy Fathers tell us that "Righteousness" means the law. Christians are not forgiven the requirements of the law, since Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, and not to destroy it. (Matt 5:17). ...

He Who submitted in all things to His Father demands of us that we pray, "Thy will be done" concerning all things in our life. He Who submitted Himself to baptism demands of us that we be born again, of water and the spirit.

The Gnostic rejection of authoritative teaching, supplanting it with gnosis, or spiritual attunement, is not compatible with the Christian's adherence to Scripture and the teachings of the Church, nor with the Jewish adherence to the Judaic Law. Christ acted to fulfill the law, not to circumvent it.

Miracles do occur, but they do not occur at our bidding. We cannot command the powers of Heaven. Gnostics access a forbidden power which can be destructive. Christians humbly submit to the direction from God.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Zenit interviews Archbishop Filoni:

Q: These attacks on buildings of worship, the nunciature, show that the situation is difficult and insecure.

Archbishop Filoni: The situation is insecure and continues to be difficult, very, very difficult.

It has worsened because of the fact that threats against Christians, against ecclesiastics, are increasing. Kidnappings continue to take place. All this makes the situation totally precarious.

In regard to Sunday's attacks, some see a relation with the profanation of the figure of Mohammed which took place in Denmark. Obviously, in Muslim countries there is much anger.

Also here, in Iraq, there are many petitions, including that of the Shiite religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr, for the Pope to intervene. At this moment there is an atmosphere of agitation.


ROME, FEB. 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Father Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits, announced his intention to resign from his office, adding that he will convoke a general congregation to elect his successor.

In a letter he sent to the members of the Society of Jesus, Father Kolvenbach officially convoked the order's 35th General Congregation. It will open Jan. 5, 2008, in the General Curia of Rome.

The letter, published today, said: "During the Congregation of Procurators of 2003 and during the recent meeting of Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus, it became increasingly clear that the Society has reached a situation foreseen by Saint Ignatius in the Constitutions (680): in which there are 'very difficult things touching upon the whole body of the Society,' 'for more service to God our Lord.' It is a situation that requires a General Congregation."

It's a good thing this doesn't have to be accomplished quickly. A year and eleven months to plan a General Congregation?

The article goes on to state that the Jesuit General is chosen for life, and that Kolvenbach's predecessor Fr. Arrupe was the first to step down.


MOSCOW, FEB. 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Russia is seeing signs of Christian unity stirring.

Last Friday, for instance, a Christian ecumenical celebration was held on a large scale in St. Petersburg.

The event was held with an eye toward the just-ended Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the 62nd anniversary of the lifting of the blockade of what was then Leningrad during World War II.

In statements to the religious agency Blagovect-info, Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, metropolitan of Moscow's Archdiocese of the Mother of God, spoke about this meeting of "ecumenical symphony on Nevski Avenue," referring to St. Petersburg's main traffic artery, where the celebration took place.

Some 200 people gathered in the Evangelical-Lutheran church there to attend the conference on "Christian Unity and Religious Tolerance." Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran representatives addressed the gathering.

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I wonder what goes on inside an abortion clinic when the Knights of Columbus in full regalia protest outside. Archbishop Pilarczyk joined them.


It's the kind of story that provides a blessed relief from the daily grind. It's coming out of Cincinnati, hotbed of dissent in the religious communities when the ESR Conference took place there. Yet this nun knows the source of contentment:

When asked what has contributed most to her longevity, Sister Gabriel is quick to give credit where it is due — to God — and her unwavering faith has inspired all who know her. "When I was a young Sister, she taught me to put everything in God’s hands," said Sister Elizabeth Lang. "I’ve always tried to live by her example."

The story of her arrival in America from Ireland to join the convent at the age of 14, and of contracting scarlet fever, thus having to spend six weeks in quarantine on Ellis Island, is touching. What courage that must have taken. Today we're afraid to send our 14-year-old girls to the store alone.

What a lot of changes this nun has seen in her lifetime!


POPE Benedict is considering lifting the excommunication of the heads of an ultra-traditionalist group that broke with the Vatican 18 years ago, according to reports yesterday.

The Pope is said to be planning to meet top advisers later this month to discuss more ways of bringing the traditionalists, known as the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), back into the mainstream Catholic fold.

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Blogger credit to New Oxford Review.


HUDSON, Wis. - A deceased priest who a judge ruled likely killed two funeral home workers nearly four years ago wrote in his will that he led a "wretched life," was lustful, did things in the heat of passion and was disappointed in "all of the evils I have all too often performed," police documents show.
But the Rev. Ryan Erickson used the will to deny again that he killed Dan O'Connell or James Ellison, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported after reviewing the documents released Thursday.

The 99 pages of documents released by the Hudson Police Department indicate that Erickson's computer, seized from a church in Hurley, contained images of child pornography and jokes about sex and the church, the newspaper reported.
Erickson, 31, hanged himself about a year ago at a church rectory in Hurley iin far northern Wisconsin, just days after police questioned him in the slayings.

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Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


The February "New Oxford Review" came today. This one is a smoker! My fingers are still burning!!

When NOR adopted the Papa Ratzi Post blog, I figured they had sold out--that whatever the Pope did would be sanctioned in order to save face. Well, I was wrong. Really wrong.

The editorial that begins on page 4 unpacks the document "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations With Regard to Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders," or "Concerning" for short. The article compares the discipline in place from a document issued by John XXIII with this newest document. In John XXIII's 1961 document titled "Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders", which Benedict's replaces, is the statement: "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with the evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious danger." NOR claims that Benedict's document, which replaces the document of John XXIII, softens the previous stance to "those 'who practice homosexuality' (italics added) are 'profoundly respected'." It goes on to explain why in detail, but you'll have to get a copy to find out what they say.

A couple quotes from the NOR article:

*** The 1961 document was signed by the "liberal" Pope John XXIII. "Concerning" was signed by Pope Benedict XVI, supposedly a "conservative." With his new policy, Benedict has forfeited his conservative credentials. Benedict has given away the store.

*** In the NOR's June 2005 Editorial, we gave "Three Cheers" for Benedict. So far, that Editorial has turned out to be an embarrassment. If the
Pope can dialogue with arch-dissenter Kung, then it would seem that dissent is legitimate.

*** At this rate, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's investigation of Fr. Maciel for multiple acts of pederasty on his seminarians will likely vanish into thin air. With "cover-up" Levada at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and with Benedict failing to uphold the 1961 document and basically endorsing the status quo regarding homosexuals in the priesthood, we cannot expect that the Vatican will do anything about the Maciel case.

*** It appears that Ratzinger (now Benedict) is not the
Panzerkardinal after all, not God's Rottweiler.
When Ratzinger became Pope, we orthodox Catholics were ecstatic. But it's likely that Benedict's papacy will be very unpleasant--even bitter, since we had such high hopes.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Lavender Mafia in the Church, and it goes all the way to the Vatican, and Pope Benedict will do nothing about it.

Then there is the editorial on Ave Maria University (negative evaluation of the school), an article titled "The Truth About the Homosexual Rights Movement" which I haven't completed yet, some comments from the editor about Fr. Richard John Neuhaus's opinion of NOR ads (he doesn't like them), and in "New Oxford Notes" is one note titled "Amy Has Seen the Light (& the Darkness)" which discusses Amy Welborn's take on Michael Rose's book.

I guess that when NOR changed their logo to one representing a battle, they weren't kidding!! This issue of NOR should keep a certain member of the blogsphere who shall remain unnamed too busy to be bothered about me!

Now I think I'll go get the fire extinguisher and finish reading the magazine.


My article is up at Spero News.

I see that in spite of repeated proofreading I still missed the capital "M" in Mage. Sigh. Look at the ads Google chose for this article! Is that telling?


Ontario Provincial Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of a retired Vatican official, a Canadian, who was close with Pope John Paul II and is now wanted on sex abuse charges.

Monsignor Bernard Prince, 71, who once travelled the world promoting Catholicism as the secretary general for the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and is now retired in Rome, has been accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

The alleged victim, who is now in his 50s, came forward months ago, claiming he was molested when he was an altar boy at the church where Father Prince served in the Upper Ottawa Valley during the late 1960s.

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Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.


for his first encyclical in an article at Spero Forum.

Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.


Blogger credit to Amy Welborn.


J. R. Dunn at The American Thinker reviews Rod Dreher's and Mark Gauvreau Judge's upcoming books on retro-conservatism, offering this "profound" comment in the process:

The politics of exclusion has no place in our thought and practice. Long may that continue. (Another annoying point is that both writers appeal to Catholic thinkers to back their theses, Dietrich von Hildebrand in Judge’s case, Peter Kreeft in Dreher’s. It’s clear to this bad Catholic that the actual teachings of the Christ who walked with publicans and sinners have been lost sight of somewhere along the line.)

Can we speculate that "this bad Catholic" just might be lapsed?

In any case, if you're interested, here is Dreher's book:

MR. & MRS. CRUNCHY by Dreher

Judge's RIGHT WINGTIPS is not yet available at Barnes and Noble, but his previous books are.


Call me a prude. Call me out of touch.

I find the pictures here from World Youth Day disgusting. Is this what young people are being exposed to while their parents think they are off on pilgrimage?

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Blogger credit to Novus Ordo Watch.


Independent Catholic News reports an event at St. John's Cathedral in Portsmouth--the "Year of the Dog" Chinese Lunar New Year celebration which included banners, Chinese lanterns, congregants dressed in red for good fortune, happiness and prosperity. They say the Cathedral was packed. The midday Mass included Chinese music and Chinese readings, and a "decking of the altar" (??) prior to communion.

Which god do you suppose this Mass honored? The Year of the Dog comes from the Chinese zodiac. How could that square with Catholic Mass? I wonder if any of those in attendance were Catholic, or if this was just entertainment?

Blogger credit to Novus Ordo Watch.

The article can be confirmed at the Portsmouth, England, diocesan website.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


are being made:

The Italian periodical L’Espresso recently published a scoop reporting that Paul VI had been blackmailed about a certain secret. The “hush-hush” information was his supposed “waywardness” involving homosexual acts.

The gist of the article was reported by the newspaper Il Giornale online, January 27, 2006. Rather than deny the accusations, Paul VI sought the help of his friend Aldo Moro, the president of the Governmental Council, to stop the rumor. This was reported by General Giorgio Manes, who released his confidential notes to l’Espresso as an exclusive.

Is there anything sound upon which to base this very serious accusation, or is it just a tabloid splash? The report brings to surface a unremitting accusation that Paul VI really was a homosexual. It has been often said that the principal thing that could stop his process of canonization would be that his vice was and still is broadly known in countless Italian milieus.

In his book, Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, Atila S. Guimarães examined those accusations and, based on credible sources, made the following report. With his permission, I transcribe an excerpt from his work (pages 157 to 162, with the footnotes). He wrote:

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Wouldn't a lot of questions be cleared up if this were true...!!

Can anyone confirm or deny that the Il Giornale online report is being accurately represented here? Has anyone read Guimarães' book?

Blogger credit to Novus Ordo Watch.


Wikipedia denies the claims:

Pope Paul VI caused considerable surprise in 1968 when, to the consternation of his aides, he apparently denied rumours that he was homosexual. Though rumours had circulated periodically in anti-papal and anti-Catholic publications as to Paul's sexual orientation, with suggestions of a past relationship while he was an archbishop with a priest who had served as his secretary, when what Paul called the "scandalous rumours" began to feature in some elements of the Italian media, he made the controversial choice of issuing a public denial. It was the first time in the modern era that a pope had commented in any way about his sexual identity. [3] Controversy remains among historians as to whether the term "scandalous rumours" actually referred to the Pope's sexuality, or various other rumours concerning his papacy.


the Toledo, Ohio, nun found dead in a hospital chapel with candles surrounding her body which had been posed to look as though she had been raped, will be the subject of a book by a Toldeo Blade editor:

The Blade Religion Editor David Yonke is expected to publish an account of the 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, and the trial of Father Gerald Robinson.

Tentatively titled "Sin, Shame, and Secrets: Murder and Cover-up in the Catholic Church," the book is expected to be released in September 2006.

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Over in Amy's blog there is a discussion of this Toledo Blade story on the murder:

Davison recently spoke to Toledo Free Press after hearing prosecutors amended the indictment against Robinson, removing the words "with prior calculation and design" from the original grand jury indictment.

"The prosecutor's office, by removing the premeditated murder stipulation, is leaving the door wide open for Robinson to take an Alford plea," he said. "He's going to walk. Whatever sentence they do give him, they are going to put him on shock probation. They are not required to make this public, either."

In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty. Upon receiving an Alford plea from a defendant, the court may immediately pronounce the defendant guilty and impose sentence as if the defendant had otherwise been convicted of the crime.

Is this crime going to be hushed up? Davidson, a retired Toledo cop, seems to think so:

"What they are doing is waiting for the interest to die until Robinson's not the flavor of the month anymore," he said. "They are also hoping the guy dies before April so it saves everyone the embarrassment of a public trial."

Looks like Yonke's book is one to put on the wish list.


CyberCatholic.com is taking nominations for the 2006 Catholic Blog Awards.


There is a long article at BusinessWeek Online titled "Thirty and Broke: The Real Price of a College Education Today", by Susan Berfield. It begins:

Paige Nichols has a certain stoicism about her, which has helped her overcome disappointments big and small. She was born in Oklahoma City in 1975, a time of plenty for her family. Her father was prospering as a commodities trader, and he liked to spend his money. Paige would turn out to be the same way. But by the time she entered college in 1993, their financial situation had become, she says, considerably more "volatile." Her parents had been able to pay for the education of her two sisters, 11 and 13 years older than she, but told Paige they couldn't do the same for her.

She finished up at the University of Tulsa in 1997 with a business degree and $20,000 in student loans, which makes her, by official reckoning anyway, a typical graduate. She is now paying off her loans, $300 a month; at that rate it will take her until she's about 50. "Twenty thousand isn't even that much, but it feels hefty," she says. "I'm not making any headway."

Like many who emerged from adolescence amid the promise of the late 1990s, Paige never imagined that money would be the issue upon which crucial decisions in her life would turn. But it is. She has been fascinated with forensic psychology ever since reading a book in college about a woman who studied serial killers, and she was accepted into a master's degree program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2004. Before long she reconsidered. "I dream big," she says, "then reality seeps in." Paige would have had to borrow at least $32,000, which seemed like "way too much to think about," especially since afterward she might earn less than she would in the corporate world. "I could not justify putting myself in that financial jeopardy," she says. "But it could have been my life's passion."

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This is hardly unusual. When I was in college, young people could still pay for their education by working over the summer and taking a small student loan at very low interest that was easily paid off. Then there was a time when mom went back to work to pay for the kids college education. Today both are unrealistic. Today the kids pay for their own by borrowing money, which means that they begin their life in debt. The alternative of not going to college means they will suffer from a precarious (and low-paying) job situation for their entire life. The debt means postponing marriage and children or taking a big financial risk.

Colleges have taken note of the reality. Today in state schools the policy is "retention." Keep 'em in school by giving grades that haven't been earned and watering down the curriculum. The alternative is empty classrooms and lowered income in the treasrer's office, which could signal the closing of the school.

"Dumbing down" has reached into the realm of the bachelor's degree, making additional education essential if job security is to be sought. With it comes increased educational debt.

I know of a young couple in their late 20s/early 30s who have an education debt, with the husband working in a job he dislikes intensely while his wife finishes her doctorate. He has only a bachelor's degree and would like to go back to school. If he moves to get a better job, she will either have to stay behind to finish her degree or move with him and abandon hope of finishing. She wants to have children and is faced with a medical condition that makes doing it now necessary. The pressure is tearing their marriage apart. How does anyone counsel a situation like this?

I know of another couple in their 30s who have recently had their first child. She is in the last stages of finishing her doctorate. He has just begun his. Their education debt is over $100,000.

This is what we do to our children. I can still remember a time when debt--any kind of debt--was embarrassing. That was the thinking of small town America in the 1950s. It almost sounds like another world, doesn't it? People didn't even go into debt to buy a house if there was any way they could arrange not to. If they did assume a mortgage, the number one priority was paying it off, and sometimes mom went to work to get the money to do that.

Today our young people never know the freedom of not owing someone money, and the luxury of a mother staying at home to raise the kids is vanishing. In the face of this economic reality, the Catholic prohibition against birth control seems at the very least to be unrealistic.

If a universal Catholic acceptance of large families and no birth control is ever going to become possible, these economic ralities will have to be addressed. Until they are, the birth control issue will still divide the Catholic world.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Once again I got up wondering. Instead of this I could be doing something useful, though I'm not sure just what at the moment.

Does this blog make any difference? Some days I have to conclude that it doesn't. This is one of them.

It's probably just the gloomy weather. It's 8:20 a.m. and the street lights are still on. On the positive side, there are a few snowflakes in the air. We've had a high of 55 deg. the last couple of days, and rain to go with it.


in Patterson, New Jersey, when parents in his neighborhood became upset after learning of his previous offenses, and leaflet the neighborhood to warn that a molester was in their midst. The priest says he is being unjustly accused of some offenses, but admits to others. He is presently receiving over $2,000 monthly from the diocese even though he has been defrocked, according to the article.


Meanwhile this report from Chicago tells a different story:

As authorities investigated a new allegation that a West Side priest repeatedly abused a minor, Cardinal Francis George on Monday night faced angry parishioners at the church the priest once led.

"I'm sorry to be with you because this occasion is one that shames me certainly," George said.

The crowd of more than 200 at St. Agatha Catholic Church hammered him with the same question again and again about the abuse allegations against Rev. Daniel McCormack that date back to 2000: Why didn't we know sooner?

The emotional meeting came on the same day that another allegation against McCormack surfaced, at least the fifth in less than two weeks.

The latest abuse occurred over the last 24 months and happened repeatedly, said Jeff Anderson, the lawyer for the latest alleged victim.

Neither Anderson nor law enforcement officials would rule out the possibility that some of the alleged abuse took place while McCormack was being monitored by the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese. The archdiocese appointed a priest to monitor McCormack's contact with children at the rectory after the first allegation was made against him in August.

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What kind of priest still abuses in the present climate of high visibility that this sexual offense has today? Does he have no control over his own actions at all, or is it that he was deluded enough to think he could get away with it? I'm not sure which is the worse scenerio for a priest. And the obvious question--how many more?

Monday, January 30, 2006


Fox News reports on the phone number accidently posted in recruiting material online and in hard copy that took the prospective student to a sex line. Apparently someone didn't catch their typing error before publication. Incredibly the error "may even go several years back" according to the article.


Matt Abbott reports:

Some readers know I've been following — and have written about — the unsolved 1998 murder of Father Alfred Kunz, a canon lawyer and priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wis.

I recently received the following (edited) e-mail from John Cavanaugh, a retired Dane County deputy:

I know a person with a very violent background was in the area on the day of the [Father Kunz] murder. It's one of those 'very, very long stories.' This person is now deceased. His biological father tells me that he'd had contact with Father Kunz, that he'd asked him for money and was refused, so he 'had to rough him up.' This was the same terminology he used when he related another incident to his father: that he'd asked his grandfather for money, was refused and had to 'rough him up.'

This particular incident took place about eight years prior to Fr. Kunz's demise. The perpetrator was my nephew, the grandfather was my father. He nearly died as a result of his injuries.

My nephew had a history of violence toward women. He was incarcerated pending trial on charges of assault, kidnapping and more when he committed suicide. Previously he'd served time in state prison for assaulting another woman.

Last year, I found out the nephew made the Father Kunz-related 'confession' to his dad.

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Blogger credit to New Oxford Review.


God Is Love. Such a simple phrase with such profound depths. If we get the love aspect wrong, we will not be able to understand who God is. If we get the God aspect wrong, we will be unable to love in a way that is satisfying to our very nature. God and love are inseparable. We must have both in order to have either.

Our culture would tell us that is a patent absurdity. Love is one of the most overused words in our vocabulary. We love our parents. We love the color of our new sofa. We love the autumn leaves and the summer sunshine. We love the Lexus in front of us at the stoplight. We love our new baby. We love potato chips. We love the way our new girlfriend makes love. Can each of these uses of the word mean the same thing? Obviously not.

What shapes our concept of love? As Christians, we take our clues from Scripture. So did our Pope. His encyclical focused on the Gospel of John. Why John, specifically?

I’m not a mind reader, but I can tell you that St. John has earned a place of honor where he would least wish it—in the Gnostic community which is growing rapidly in our midst. It is St. John who is used to promote views that conflict with the Roman Catholic faith. For example, in the book GNOSTICISM: NEW LIGHT ON THE ANCIENT TRADITION OF INNER KNOWING, Stephan A. Hoeller, Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica, writes:

Another Gnosticizing…apostle was St. John, who frequently wrote of knowing…God or Christ. Anyone who reads the beautiful Gospel of John is struck by its similarity to the poetic and visionary style of the writings of the Gnostics.(p. 7)

Freemasonry, long an enemy of the Catholic Church, also honors St. John, as the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania explains in a question and answer website:

68. Who was St. John the Evangelist?

One of the Apostles, born in Galilee and known for his effective preaching in Asia Minor and at Ephesus. A man of great energy and poetic fire, he became one of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, earning that distinction because of his constant cultivation of Brotherly Love. The day consecrated as the Festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27th, at High Noon, is the beginning of a new Masonic Year in Pennsylvania.

What’s wrong with “inner knowing” and “brotherly love”? It all depends on how you define them. If the “inner knowing” begins with the morning offering when we give ourselves and our day to God, nothing is wrong with it. God seeks relationship with us. He seeks to mold us into the best that we can be. We are never more truly human and truly ourselves than when we conform our wills to God’s will. The prayer that Jesus offered in Gethsemene is the prayer we all must learn to pray, “Not my will Lord, but Thine be done.” Where people get stuck is in the desire to control, to take back, to be in charge, to have power. Gnosticism tends to teach self-importance. The Gnostic “knowing” that grants power via magical formulas violates the First Commandment.

Neither is there anything wrong with “brotherly love” so long as we don’t make of it a substitute for our relationship with God, or an alternative way to save our own souls as opposed to recognizing that our redemption rests in the sacrifice of Calvary.

I believe Benedict focused specifically on St. John in an effort to counteract the Gnostic teachings. I believe he is trying to correct the errors.

“Eros” looms large in the first part of Deus Critas Est. For an old bachelor, this is one savvy Pope. Did you ever think you’d read the word “eros” in an encyclical?

Eros is sexual. The love story in Scripture—the Song of Songs—celebrates eros, and it is the image that our theologians have chosen to explain our relationship with God. The Church is the bride of Christ. The sexual act is generative. It brings babies. It cooperates with the God of creation in the process of making human beings. God, too, is eros. Just look around you and see the things that He has made. And don’t forget to look in the mirror. Eros generates everything that is good.

Eros is relational. Just as Christ sees in the Church His beloved bride, so He sees in each member of the Church His beloved adopted child. He seeks an intimate moment to moment relationship with us. He wants to know us as we barely even know ourselves. He notices when we stub our toe and when we say our prayers. He listens when we talk to Him, and that relationship is what makes us “priestly people.”

Benedict is trying with this encyclical to take eros back from the culture that has perverted it into a practice of lust. That is the danger in eros. Because it is generative, for us it is sexual. It is sensual. It is passionate. It is emotional. These are all areas where we human creatures are vulnerable, and so we have rules that help us to avoid falling into the traps that can destroy us. It is not the Church that has “been opposed to the body” as Benedict puts it. Rather it is the culture that has opposed the body by making of it “a commodity…to be bought and sold.”

In fact we sell sex, and not only the prostitute does it. We see the body as a toy to be played with. Our senses become a sales pitch for the sex game. From our clothing, to our advertisements, to our songs, someone is always trying to persuade us to sell our toy by buying their product. Sex has been robbed of its primary ingredient which is relationship, and left with nothing to recommend it but a physical sensation, quickly come and gone, leaving nothing we value in its wake. Abortion is an ultimate expression of our confusion about the nature of eros. Sexual abuse—especially of a child—is another.

It has struck me repeatedly that the priests who abused the laity's children had no concept of what a child means to a parent. As every parent knows the child of their sexual union is unlike other children. Eros--the relational aspect of eros--extends to the children that it brings into the world, making of them the most wonderful children their parents have ever known. It's proverbial that there is no love that rises to the defense of the child quite as fierce as a mother's love. We can see this in the animal kingdom. Messing with the offspring of a mother animal is asking for trouble, especially if she is large. That is not philia we see. It is not agape. It is the highly charged eros rising to the defense of the defenseless. Perhaps if the priests who thought they could abuse the laity's children had looked more carefully at the animal kingdom, they would have thought twice.

Eros does not have an unlimited capacity to bond. Its purpose is to cement a lifetime commitment, first and foremost with our God, then with our children, but most especially with our spouse through its sexual aspect which must be reserved for only this one person. Once the marriage is consummated, we have set our course for a lifetime to be linked with that chosen other. We have taken on whatever burdens the other carries and made them our own. Even when death separates us we are still linked in prayer. From our wedding day we walk in tandem even on the days we would wish to walk alone. From that day forward we have given ourselves away and no longer belong to ourselves. Once a child is born of that sexual union, the evidence of it exists forever. A husband and wife are one flesh in their child, literally. The marriage is cast in eternity in the body of the child who will live forever.

Our culture tells us we can abandon this commitment, and we do abandon it. Our faith tells us that doing so is not possible. It is eros that precludes it. It is the sexual relationship that seals our future and makes of us a different person. That same sexual relationship makes commitment possible even through the trials it inevitably brings. Eros is the grace of family. It is in learning that we can depend upon that relationship that we move further along the path toward total dependence on God, which is the source of our only hope for happiness in a fallen world.

Misusing and breaking the sexual bond of eros damages our ability to form relationships. If we defy the nature of eros often enough, we will be unable to form any committed relationship, not only with the opposite sex, but also with God; and love will become something we spend a lifetime seeking but never find. In our culture we are all familiar with the woman, hardened by repeated sexual encounters lacking in commitment, who has become emotionally unreachable. She hates men. The woman scorned, especially when it has happened repeatedly, wears her anger on the outside for all the world to suffer from.

And so we have been given guidelines that the world sees as restrictions. We are told what not to do so that we won’t plunge ourselves into a state of inability to love. We are told how to use and how not to use this mysterious grace of eros. We are told so that we will know God by knowing love. As Benedict put it:

It is part of love’s growth towards higher levels and inward purification that it now seeks to become definitive, and it does so in a twofold sense: both in the sense of exclusivity (this particular person alone) and in the sense of being “for ever”.

While the world tells us that eros is erotica, our faith says something else.

I am fortunate to have lived long enough to plumb its greater depths. When the passionate blaze of youth has burned down to a glowing ember, a different aspect of eros begins to emerge. These are the days when a look speaks for a lifetime of knowing yet demands nothing more; when a kiss may be the start, and the finish; and a hand held conveys a tenderness born of knowing the time grows shorter. These are the sweet days of retreat into the world of “Do you remember” that no one else can enter; when a face that youth would reject is the one face in all the world that matters most.

This is the fulfillment of eros that we have to work a lifetime to attain. In the love of a faithful spouse who knows your faults, you can sample the love of God who never abandons. The world with its erotic promises that don’t deliver never knew eros and never will. The joys the world promises are an empty shadow when compared with the real thing. Don’t listen to the world’s wisdom and forfeit the wisdom of God. Don’t sacrifice the rock solid foundation to chase the glitter.

The rules God gave are prisons only when judged by shallow standards. When the true meaning of eros is discovered, they become the walls that safeguard the far greater treasure that living by them offers.


I'm not the only one who thinks Benedict has taken the bull by the horns. Over at
The Da Vinci Code and Opus Dei blog is a nice comparison--contrast really--of the encyclical to the ideas presented in the book.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


was about the vocation to the single life. Fr. talked about the fact that this is seldom considered when vocations are discussed--that the priesthood and religious life and the married state are the vocations most often mentioned; but that there is also a vocation to being single and the freedom to do the will of God without other influences that draw us away from that purpose that this state in life offers.

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