Saturday, November 17, 2007


A reader sent in a WorldNetDaily story:

A court has struck down Pennsylvania's version of a "hate crimes" law, ruling that what officials there call an "Ethnic Intimidation Law" restriction was "unconstitutional and therefore null and void."

"Praise the Lord," said Michael Marcavage, chief of Repent America, a Christian organization. He was one of nearly a dozen people, who became known as the Philadelphia 11, arrested under the law and charged while ministering in 2004 at a publicly funded homosexual event called "OutFest."

Although the Christians who had been giving their testimony on public property later had their charges dismissed, they had been threatened with up to five decades in jail.

They then challenged the law itself, suing over its adoption, and the 4-1 decision in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court said the amendments enacted in 2002 were unconstitutional.

Continue reading...

While it sounds like a victory for Christianity, the law was struck down on what amounts to almost a technicality. The law began as an agricultural law and was amended to include protection for gays against hate speech. That violated Pennsylvania law according to the judges who opined:

"The legislative process that led to the enactment of these amendments clearly violated Article III of the Pennsylvania Constitution," said Aaron Martin, attorney for Repent America. "The court rightly found that there was no logical or legal connection between trampling down a hay field and assaulting someone on the basis of sexual orientation."

That is less a victory than a stay of execution.


Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)

Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 93 | Friday, November 16, 2007


Japan in the Death Spiral

(Spirit and Life® guest columnist, Brian Clowes, PhD)

For years, Catholic pro-lifers have been warning that abortion, sterilization and contraception cause the collapse of an individual's morality and the destruction of families.

Now, demographers are indirectly telling us that these evils are destroying entire nations and continents. Unfortunately, governments do not even acknowledge the root cause of the problem of the "demographic death spiral."

An impending white paper by the Japanese government tells us that the "foundations of communities" - police, fire and other basic services - will be threatened by the country's declining birthrate and aging population.

This paper correctly identifies the source of the problem - that Japanese are simply not having enough children. For a nation to replace its population, each woman must have an average of 2.1 children per family. Japanese women average a disastrously low one child.

Japan's population peaked in 2005, and will plunge from its current 127 million to just 89 million in 2050 - a decline of thirty percent. Japan is currently the oldest nation on Earth (median age 43, twice the age of many African nations). Japan will continue to hold this dubious title through the year 2050, when the average Japanese will be 61 years old. Inevitably, more and more Japanese leaders are looking for the easy way out of the dilemma of "over-aging." On October 18 of this year, the Japanese Association of Acute Medicine became the first organization to recommend euthanasia for the terminally ill.

Melancholy signs of a declining population are everywhere in Japan. During Japan's 2007 Children's Day, the government soberly noted that the number of children in Japan has declined for the 26th consecutive year. Over the past decade, more than 2,000 junior and senior high schools have closed due to lack of children, but many are enjoying new life as elderly care centers. More than 60,000 teachers have lost their jobs because they have no children to teach. Elders of villages who traditionally call out the names of newborns at autumn festivals often have no names to call. More than 90 Japanese theme parks catering to children have closed. More and more pediatricians are switching specialties and becoming geriatricians.

Saddest of all is the sight of elderly Japanese women cuddling Takara-Tomy's talking Yumel robotic dolls. These women buy these expensive dolls because they have no children or grandchildren to lavish their attentions on. The dolls, which are selling very well, tell their owner how much they love her and welcome her when she walks back into the room. Yuko Hirakawa of Takara-Tomy says that "many elderly people think the dolls are actual grandsons and granddaughters."

Some prefectures and cities have tried just about everything to entice young couples to have children. They have offered substantial cash bonuses to couples who have more than one child, and have even sponsored dances and "speed dating" parties to get young singles together. In 2006, the Year of the Dog, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi urged women to "do as dogs do" and have large litters!

Unfortunately - and predictably - none of this has worked.

After all, if a government promotes "family planning" for decades, if it drills into the people's heads the idea that children are messy, noisy, expensive, and bad for the environment, once it has promoted and funded millions and millions of abortions, there is really no way back. As proof, an amazing 70 percent of young Japanese single women say they have no intention of getting married.

Babies are just too much trouble.

What is the solution to the vexing and lethal trend of "country-cide"? Some suggest massive immigration, but Japanese society is 99 percent ethnically homogenous and very xenophobic. It is not an exaggeration to say that many Japanese leaders would rather allow their culture to die than to be diluted or assimilated.

The only solution to the plague of depopulation is to rekindle the love of God and children in the people's hearts. The Japanese must undo three decades of anti-natalist propaganda with an intensive program of teaching the people the value of family, the beauty and joy that children provide, and the satisfaction of fidelity to a husband or a wife until death.

These are not religious values, these are human values, and they are the only answer to the death of a nation.

Japan must learn this lesson if it does not wish the Rising Sun to set - forever.

Friday, November 16, 2007


All entries are in for the Margaret Sanger art contest. Now they are looking for reader opinions over at the website where you can vote your preference.


This time the review comes from the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia, and manages to work a comparison of Harry Potter to "Golden Compass" into the commentary. The article indicates that promotional tie-ins with Coke, Burger King, and Scholastic Books are part of the marketing picture.


Spirit Daily has linked a story from the UK Telegraph that signals a moment of hope for the future of Roman Catholicism. In short, the Telegraph believes Benedict's reform began with Summorum Pontificum, and doesn't show any indication of slowing down. Targets include unification with the Orthodox and a simplified pathway for scandalized Anglicans to migrate to Rome enmasse. The liberal British cardinals are not happy.


Students at four Toronto Catholic schools will be attending classes year-round as the board pilots an alternative calendar that has shown to benefit at-risk children the most.

Trustees this week approved a plan to implement pilot programs at two elementary and two secondary schools for the 2009-2010 school year.

The schools will be chosen after extensive consultations with both staff and families, although the board is aiming to open them in the city's so-called "priority," or most needy, neighbourhoods.

Continue reading...


I have recently come upon some information about the dismal state of sexual exploitation of children in some Asian and Latin American countries. Dateline NBC did a documentary on Cambodia:

It's an exotic vacation destination, with ancient cities, bold colors, legendary temples, remarkable beauty — and horrendous crimes that go on behind closed doors. Children, some as young as 5 years old, are being sold as slaves for sex. It's a shameful secret that's now capturing the attention of the world and the White House, a secret that has been exposed by Dateline's hidden cameras. Dateline ventured into this dark place, where sexual predators can gain access to terrified children for a handful of cash. How could this be happening? And how can it be stopped?

Inside the world of child sex trafficking, each year, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of girls and boys are bought, sold or kidnapped and then forced to have sex with grown men. Dateline’s investigation leads to the troubled and distant land of Cambodia. We reveal what “tourists,” like one American doctor, may be up to, and we'll take you inside a dramatic operation to rescue the children.

The night clubs of Bangkok and the windows of Amsterdam are among the most well-known destinations in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry: sex tourism. But the business is not all about adult prostitution. There are some places you might never have heard about, notorious places, the kind of places a sexual predator would be willing to travel halfway around the world to reach — destinations like a dusty village in Southeast Asia, where the prey is plentiful and easy to stalk.

They are children born into poverty and sold for sex. And while the thousands of men who flock here each year — many of them Americans — may think that they're involved in nothing more than prostitution, by any definition it is rape.

The small Buddhist country of Cambodia has a rich cultural heritage, but it has become a magnet for people who prey on the young and innocent. To follow their trail, we'll have to infiltrate their perverted world and pretend we're predators ourselves. It’s the only way we'll be able to see first-hand how serious the problem really is — so serious that President Bush told the United Nations it has become a top priority for his administration. Secretary of State Colin Powell is leading the administration's efforts and has a special office dedicated to the problem.

Read more at the website. These children are girls and many are under the age of 10.

But it's not happening only in the Asian countries. Paul Jeffrey, Methodist Missionary in Central America, reports that

Much of the growth of child prostitution in Central America has occurred in the last three years. [date unknown]. A recent study of 300 street children by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Family showed that more than 80 percent had begun to work as prostitutes in the past year.

According to Bruce Harris, Central-American director for Casa Alianza, a child-advocacy program sponsored by Covenant House in New York City:

"Central America is being invaded by smart child sex abusers who know more about the Internet and how to use it to achieve their sordid goals than do the official investigative police bodies of these countries."

Of course Covenant House, a Catholic institution, was the home of sexual abuser Father Bruce Ritter. One sincerely hopes they have cleaned up their act. But can one be sure?

Re Vista, Harvard's Latin American publication, reports:

The expansion of sex tourism has continued unabated, in part as a result of the promotion of tourism as a development strategy, particularly in the developing world, where poverty forces people into sex work. Resource-scarce regions, including many Latin American countries, where tourism has experienced considerable support from the government, have proven to be fertile areas for the growth of sex tourism. Until the tragic events of September 11, tourism had been increasing steadily worldwide, with Latin American countries among those enjoying rising figures. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) reports that the total number of visitors to Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 6.1 percent last year to 57.6 million. Research indicates that as countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua have increased efforts to promote tourism on a wide scale, sex tourism has risen proportionately.

It's disturbing to me that in these reports Americans are too often cited as the tourists seeking sex. What kind of warped sub-human travels to third world countries to have sex with a child?


Things have changed a bit around the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall since the last time I visited Philadelphia. You need a ticket to get into the Hall now, and you get the ticket by hiking over to the Visitor's Center. They claim it facilitates traffic flow through the security check-in. Yes, Independence Hall has been cordoned off, and all visitors must pass the purse inspection.

If you had told me ten years ago that one day I would have to let strangers in uniform rummage through the contents of my pocketbook, I would probably have laughed at you. As I was standing there in line for the second time contemplating this new development and reflecting on the first time through how it didn't look as though they would have found the $100 bill in there let alone some sort of damage-maker. But we go through the motions anyway.

The motions at the airport seemed perfunctory as well. Then last night on the TV news I watched as the police used a taser on a frustrated man at a Canadian airport, a taser that killed him, apparently. Talk about the punishment not fitting the crime! As I watched, all I could think of was that Canada has become a police state right before our eyes. And of course the next thought was can America be far behind?

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Think you've got a smart squirrel where bird feeders are concerned?

Check out this guy!


The three Catholic nuns who were evicted from their convent so that it could be sold to pay abuse settlements have been offered shelter by an order of Episcopal nuns.


Christians in Jerusalem have attacked what they say is the increasingly common phenomenon of ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on them.

The statement followed a brawl between an orthodox Jewish yeshiva (religious school) student and an Armenian archbishop.

They clashed in Jerusalem's Old City after the student spat at a cross being carried by the clergyman during a procession near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. ...

...a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman...has disclosed that he was recently approached by an elderly man wearing a skullcap who spat in his face.

Read the story...

Thanks to a reader for the link.

The Haaretz story which Maurice linked in a comments box also tells of Jews spitting on Christians.

Both of these stories are dated 12/10/2004.

Christianity Today also carried the story, and is dated December 2004. From their report:

"It happens maybe once a week," Armenian Bishop Aris Shirvanian told Ecumenical News International. "As soon as they notice a Christian clergyman, they spit. Those who are 'respectful' turn their backs to us or the large cross that we may carry. But the ones that are daring either spit on the ground or on the person without any provocation."

In the latest incident, a scuffle broke out after the Jewish seminary student spat at the cleric, whose cross was ripped from his neck. The seminary student later told police he saw the religious procession as idolatry.

This incident was caused by a Yeshiva student from "ultra-Orthodox Jews". These are the same Jews who wish to see the Noahide Laws become the laws of the land. In those laws the penalty for Idolatry is death by beheading.

The Guardian reports the spitting incident as occurring in October of 2004, so the date it occurred is not clear. The Guardian story also reports: "There have also been acts of vandalism against statues of the Virgin Mary." Also from this story we learn that "There is no hierarchy. Anyone can become a rabbi, set up an institution, get funds from abroad and teach what they like", further confirming what I have been saying, that Judaism is not monolithic.

Bishop Aris' comment in the Guardian story is noteworthy: "I do not think these Jews would dare spit at a Muslim sheikh; the whole city would explode. We are only a small group, so it [sic] easy to bully us."

A Palestinian news website, Jerusalemites reports the following:

These crimes committed by the Zionists reflected the deep-felt hatred of everything Christian embedded in the Zionist ideology. Testimony shows that this feeling went so deep that the Zionist authorities removed the international “+” sign from mathematics textbooks because of the resemblance of the plus sign to the Christian Cross.

Palestinian Christians cannot understand Christians in other lands who support Zionism despite this insane hatred of the Christian faith. American Jewish organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai Brith, raise a tremendous clamor whenever there is a desecration of Jewish Synagogues or a perceived slur against Judaism. But their deafening silence at similar Zionist crimes against Christianity in Israel sorrowfully indicates that the ADL is more self-righteous than righteous and more hypocritical than principled. Even more shameful is the attitude of the Christian televangelists who mislead their followers into supporting the persecution of their fellow Christians.

Chairman of Israel Human Rights League, Israel Shahak, has written about the deep-rooted Zionist hatred of Christianity and the manifestations of that hatred in Israel:

(Dishonoring) Christian religious symbols is an old religious duty in Judaism. Spitting on the cross, and especially on the Crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, have been obligatory from around AD 200 for pious Jews.

The story also recounts the near firing of a history teacher for advising her students who were studying the history of Palestinian Jews to read some chapters of the New Testament.


The current issue of "Catalyst" includes an article covering the Catholic League's promotion of a boycott of the Miller Brewing Company over Miller's sponsorship of the notorious Folsom Street Fair which takes place in San Francisco in September. The boycott has been brewing since this year's fair, but I've just now taken the time to read up on it.

Catholic League pictures taken at the fair are displayed on the Catholic Online website along with a warning about their graphic nature. Be forewarned. Yet as offensive as these pictures are, they are not the worst of what goes on at Folsom. Donohue has pictures he considers too objectionable to post online, but not too offensive to ship off to the chairman of the Miller Board!


a favorite phrase of Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, is the subject of an editorial in the November issue of "New Oxford Review". The editor writes:

In Cardinal Ratzinger's VALUES IN A TIME OF UPHEAVAL, he muddies up his phrase; indeed, he reverses his position. He says, "the modern concept of democracy seems indissolubly linked to that of relativism." Well, well! But then he backtracks: "This means that a basic element of truth, namely, ethical truth, is indispensable to democracy." But then he backtracks again: "We do not want the state to impose one particular idea of the good on us. ...Truth is controversial, and the attempt to impose on all persons what one part of the citizenry holds to be true looks like enslavement of people's consciences." And he says this on the same page! ...

Yes, we know: Some of our readers feel that the Pope is above all criticism; he cannot make a mistake, even in his previous writings. But what he has written here is contradictory and inscrutable.

Ratzinger says, "the relativists...[are] flirting with totalitarianism even though they seek to establish the primacy of freedom. ..." Huh?

So, what is he saying? "The state is not itself the source of truth and morality. ...Accordingly, the state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good. ...The Church remains 'outside' the state. ...The Church must exert itself with all its vigor so that in it there may shine forth moral truth. ..."

Then he says, "
conscience is the highest norm [italics in original] and...one must follow it even against authority. When authority--in this case the Church's magisterium--speaks on matters of morality, it supplies the material that helps the conscience form its own judgment, but ultimately it is only conscience that has the last word."

So the Church's Magisterium will
not "exert itself with all its vigor," because "conscience has the last word." Indeed, Ratzinger says that "one must follow the erring conscience." (p.16)

And we wonder why there are so many differing opinions floating around disguised as doctrine...! If the man at the top can't quite keep it all straight, what chance is there for the rest of us?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


No crosses at the Western Wall was the message sent by a rabbi to a group of Austrian Catholic bishops who refused to hide their Christian crosses before entering the courtyard of the Western Wall, the Jewish people's holiest prayer site.

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch refused to give the bishops access to the site and avoided meeting the ecclesiastic delegation of approximately 20, led by Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn.

Rabinovitch denied that the incident, which took place Thursday, smacked of religious intolerance.

"Crosses are a symbol that hurts Jewish feelings," said Rabinovitch who refused to elaborate on precisely how or why the crosses were so offensive.

"I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a Church. I would be the first to rebuke such a Jew for not behaving like a mensch." Rabinovitch added that he was surprised the Catholic clerics refused to hide their crosses.

Read the rest...


The ordination of a new minister of the Church of Scotland is scheduled to take place in a Roman Catholic church.

Read about it here.


Miami, November 13, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Department of Theology and Philosophy of Barry University which is run by the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, will give an Award for Theological Excellence in January to radical feminist theologian Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a professor at Jesuit run Fordham University.

Sister Elizabeth, who advocates goddess worship, actively dissents from the Church's infallible teaching on the invalidity of women's ordinations and promotes the cause of world government and a one-world religion.

In her book She Who Is (Crossroad, 1993) Sister Elizabeth announced "that the time has come to stop addressing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to begin addressing Him as 'She Who Is.'" For this she won awards and a promotion to "Distinguished" Professor of Theology at Catholic Fordham University.

Continue reading...


Archbishop Burke has issued a statement which addresses both the women's ordination and the Jewish congregation that hosted the event.

He calls for prayers. I have one: Thank you God for a bishop who will stand firm for the faith!


A document containing 46 articles that sets the foundations for the unification of the Catholic and Orthodox churches after their separation in 1054 was signed by the delegations of the two churches in Ravenna after a meeting in October, Italian daily Republicca reported on Wednesday. ...

The document signed in Ravenna establishes that the Pope is “the primary among patriarchs” and Rome the “first seat”. These two items were among the chief ones that led to the separation of Catholics and Orthodox Christians in 1054. Now they could be the foundation for a reunification. So, the recognition of the Roman bishop’s primate has been established and local bishops are autonomous.

Read the whole article...


Over at Threshing Grain Catherine of Siena has blogged an upcoming Interfaith Concert to be held at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington--in the church proper, I presume. She has also blogged the pertinent Canon Laws which this concert appears to violate.

The concert is being promoted by, among others, the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, the Temple of Understanding, and United Religions Initiative.

The Basilica website links the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington website which lists the faith communities involved: Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, and Zoroastrian. The concept of the event is "Advancing Justice, Building Community, Nurturing Understanding." While these are good intentions, they are not the stuff of religious service for which a church is set aside.

Such an event in a Catholic church amounts to syncretism and indifferentism. A Catholic church is the House of the Trinitarian God set aside for worship. It is not a concert hall. In addition, a fee is being charged for this concert which violates canon law.

Interfaith work in the name of peace can only go so far. It cannot usurp the province of the Trinitarian God. It must remain on the human level, which means that it cannot take place in God's house. This is outrageous!


Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)

Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 92 | Thursday, November 09, 2007



Homosexual Jesuit Needs Refresher Course in Priestly Love

On Sunday, November 4th, Rev. Thomas Brennan, S.J., revealed publicly to a parish at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia that he was a homosexual. The priest chose to "come out" during a so-called "Diversity Week" allegedly dedicated to honoring Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. The following is Fr. Euteneuer's open letter to Fr. Brennan.

Dear Father Brennan,

Faithful Catholics are so accustomed to being scandalized by Jesuit priests and universities these days that your public announcement of your same sex attraction during the Mass last Sunday does not really surprise any of us. It does, however, increase the indignation that people of faith have toward such shameless displays of clerical irresponsibility like this. There is something just plain wrong about abusing people's trust in the priesthood in such a public way, and since you chose to "go public" with this matter, a public response to your outrageous "outing" is merited.

First of all, Holy Mass is not a forum for your self-expression. You chose the sacred liturgy and the pulpit, reserved for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as the launching pad for your personal testament to homosexuality, when by your own admission this was hardly a secret to anyone. One wonders if you would have inflicted details of your personal life on a friend while officiating at his wedding or any other sacred occasion. The effect would be the same: the derailing of the focus of attention from the host to you. You've read the same documents I've read about the liturgy, and all of them say the Mass is not your personal stage.

Secondly, since you brought up the matter of sexuality, please consider what the sacrament of Holy Orders represents. A priest is "another Christ" (alter Christus), both sacramentally and existentially. That means the priest witnesses in his very body and person the Bridegroom who loved His wife (the Church) giving Himself up to death for her (Eph 5:25). In light of that, what, specifically, do you as a homosexual man witness? I am not talking about celibacy here. That is a form of Christian chastity to which you and I are called, and I trust that you are faithful to it. I am asking a more direct question about the sacramental witness of your gift of sexuality. A heterosexual celibate renounces his natural desire for wife and children in order to serve the Bride of Christ in a direct spousal relationship. A homosexual celibate renounces an unholy desire for members of the same sex: that is a renunciation of a disorder, not the embrace of a Bride.

When even a celibate priest chooses to go public about his homosexual identity as an expression of "diversity" or "pride," the faithful are rightfully confused and scandalized. Not only do you owe them an apology, you owe them a better example of priesthood. They deserve a priest who is clear about the Church's teaching on homosexual acts and who teaches it unambiguously. They need a priest who personally witnesses the same teaching without feeling the need to make statements about himself or inserting ideology into the Gospel. If you do not clearly witness the Church's teaching about your own vocation, how can you teach others to be faithful to theirs?

I would ask you, in the Name of Jesus, to go back to your congregation and offer them a renewed witness to your masculine love for Christ's Bride, the Church. Assure them that you will defend them in a manly way from all wolves that attack them, Jesuit or otherwise, and that you will be a strong and loving father for all their needs, not a man pre-occupied with his own orientation.

If you are unwilling to do that, I recommend that you make a thirty-day Ignatian retreat at Tyburn, England, where dozens of your Jesuit brethren were hung, drawn and quartered in the English Reformation - all for the sake of Christ's Bride. That would be a good refresher course in both theology and priestly love.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International


Matt Abbott has run a large portion of the introduction to Podles book, SACRILEGE: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. It looks to be quite an expose.


While the Pope and the Pontifical Council for Immigrants and Travelers agitate for mainstreaming gypsies according to a Herald Tribune article, the reality on the street is the murder of a woman returning from a shopping trip by "one among hundreds of thousands of Romanians who have poured into Italy since 2002 after visa restrictions were lifted in anticipation of their country's entry this year into the European Union" according to the Guardian.

The Italian government has acted in an emergency session to "allow for the expulsion of citizens of other EU states if they are judged a threat to public security. The prologue to the new measure makes it clear it is aimed at Romanians."

The Guardian article indicates there are 556,000 Romanians in Italy, which amounts to less than 1% of the population, while 5.6% of those arrested for murder are Romanian. It also claims that Romani women take jobs that involve care of the elderly. A murder last spring involved the husband of the caregiver and an elderly couple. According to the article "the rapid growth in what is now Italy's biggest immigrant community has been accompanied by a string of vicious crimes."


The Roman Catholic Church is framed in hierarchy, which sets rules and offers guidance for the faithful. The Jewish tradition has no centralized leadership, and congregations operate autonomously, answering to their own mission statement.

I found that description of the Jewish faith in an article about an ordination ceremony hosted by Rabbi Susan Talve and her Jewish Reform congregation located within the Diocese of St. Louis. The "ordained" are Roman Catholic women and the "ordinand" is a woman "bishop". The ceremony took place in the synagogue.

Archbishop Burke is taking this seriously and is not pleased. According to the article he pressed Talve to withdraw their offer, but the ceremony took place as planned. The congregation cites their rules of hospitality as justification. Is it "hospitable" to host the desecration of another religion and to insult the leader of that religion? Apparently in this congregation it is. Seems like a strange definition of hospitality, especially if you want the other religion to like you. I suspect a different agenda fueling this act.

You can read the article here and draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I've just spent the last several days wearing out walking shoes over there. A bad experience mostly, with a few bright islands of delight.

The art museum is one of those islands. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is fantastic. One painting dated back to 1285. Much of the collection is from the 1700s, and much of the European collection is Catholic. Paintings, altar pieces, walls from a monastery, crucifixes, saints, saints, and more saints. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven--literally.

The cathedral is beautiful. It still has a communion rail! The tabernacle is in its proper place, and so is the crucifix. They have Latin Mass twice a month.

St. Joseph church in the Old City also has the symbols in place as well, and Mass was reverent, with a Latin hymn for communion. One thing that turned me off, though, was a request that the visitors stand to receive the applause of the congregation. Where did that come from? I didn't stand and I didn't join the applause. Priest must have had a momentary lapse in his knowledge that the church is God's house, not man's.

The paintings of alchemists in their labs at the Chemical Heritage Foundation were a treat. They have a lot of them, many of which are not on display I was told, but many were. They also have alchemical texts in their rare book collection, but those are not for the tourist.

Then there was the cab driver who drove us to the airport. He spoke with an Eastern European accent and was so kind. He almost made me forget the down side, but not quite. The list is long.

Holding spot one on that list is the homeless. I have never seen so many in one place before. They are everywhere. The amount of money it costs to tour the place, juxtaposed with the stark reality of the very visible poverty casts a shadow over everything the city offers, making most of it seem superficial, frivolous, and unworthy. How can one justify historic buildings left empty at night while people have no where to find shelter? How can one justify outrageously priced food when people have nothing to eat?

And speaking of food...is it an unwritten law that all Philadelphia chocolate shall be bitter? Is there a shortage of sugar over there? Does moving to that city cause an instantaneous alteration in the palate? After asking many people who should know where to eat and being sadly disappointed at any price, the subs at the neighborhood grocery store turned out to be the best solution. That and the 12 block hike for a Taco Bell.

There was the Philadelphia Fish & Company restaurant where the crab cake was awful and the price was breathtaking. There was Jones where the food was familiar but the volume reached headache decibels.

Jim's on South Street produces a delicious cheesesteak. It helps to be patient enough to stand in line for an hour to get it and to be agile enough to eat the thing standing up. When you're walking to the place, try to ignore the iron grating over all the store fronts.

And then there was the revelry. Still reveling at 4 a.m. On the other side of my Old City Best Western window. I know it was 4 a.m. because I'd been watching the clock from the time I went to bed around 10, hoping for some blessed quiet. The police sirens that might have signaled an attempt to calm things down, didn't help the peace and quiet any. If you stay in the Best Western, be sure they don't put you in the front rooms!

Is there some reason a lot of streets lack a street marker? How often I came upon an intersection where one street was labeled and the other was not. It doesn't make following a map any easier!

What is it with the car horns? If a driver so much as takes a moment to breathe, the horns start blaring. Lack of patience behind the wheel is an understatement. Drivers are tolerant of pedestrians, but being repeatedly startled by the horns is in no way a good experience.

And then there is the lack of communication. Saturday evening phone call to the office of the Spirit of Philadelphia. What time is your ship sailing tomorrow? Do we need reservations for the luncheon cruise? 11:30 a.m. and no. When there was no activity on the ship at 11:15 Sunday, it was obvious that we had been given bad information. Another phone call informed us that the ship was not going to sail again until Friday. Why couldn't they have told us the night before and saved us the long walk?

There was a very nice man (really) running the printing press at Franklin Court, which was supposed to be closed on Monday morning and especially on Veteran's Day Monday morning (though it was open). It was supposed to have been open when we got there on Sunday at four according to the sign on the door that was locked.

But the stellar experience was standing with fourteen other people for more than an hour on the corner in the chilly wind outside the Eastern State Penitentiary waiting for the tour trolley to pick us up, while the drivers of a full trolley and a full double-decker bus told us they would have a van come to rescue us. (This was not made any more pleasant by the fact that at Eastern State the comfort facilities are port-a-pots out in the cold which were being carefully avoided by everyone I saw. It takes a while to tour Eastern State, hence upon leaving one anticipates the next stop with a certain sense of urgency, if you get my drift.) When we bought the ticket in the morning we were told the trolleys were running every 20 minutes, and they were, and very well used they were as well. Our tour got cut short when we were finally permitted to stand in the aisle on the third trolley until we got to the zoo and could transfer to the zoo trolley that at least got us to where we wanted to end up, sans narration. One of the trolley people admitted that management had failed to put enough trolleys on the street that day for the number of tickets sold. Nice.

I concluded by the time we were set to leave that Philadelphia takes its tourists for granted. After all, when you have Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the tourists are a given, and as Coleen McCullough said in THE THORNBIRDS, "People have contempt for whatever there is too much of." That pretty much describes my experience with visiting Philadelphia.

In summary, if you want to go to Philly, do a lot of research, then give it a lot of careful thought, add some serious consideration to picking another destination, and blend with thoughts of staying home.

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