Saturday, July 19, 2008


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

The fourteenth and last chapter of the book is somewhat anti-climactic after the astonishing proposals in chapter thirteen. Nevertheless, there are a few comments worthy of blogging.

It is not enough that people should have a voice in such matters as determining the essential beliefs of the church, passing laws and electing officials. It is also necessary that those who serve the community in positions of authority should at all times think of themselves as accountable to the people they serve. (p. 290)

During the second millennium many bishops adopted clothes and ornaments that spoke of power and riches. I do not believe we have yet gone far enough in abandoning this trend. The church could start by consigning the mitre to the dustbin of history....After the mitre I would want bishops to look at pectoral crosses, pastoral staffs and rings made of expensive materials....

There is a need for neat and distinctive but modern attire, e.g. a tie that identifies a priest.
(pp 292-293)

The Catholic Church is seen as immensely wealthy. There is much that is mistaken in the accusations made, for the wealth is largely in the land on which churches, schools and hospitals are built...It is simple fact that the wealth of the church is a significant factor in preventing people from seeing the person of Jesus. (p. 298)

Is he actually committing to the position that churches, schools and hospitals should be abandoned in order to foster the faith? Is he rational?

Many people in the church speak as though everything that happens in the church must be explained solely in terms of the church....They have been influenced by the effects of the Industrial Revolution and the reaction against the sense of alienation that it caused. In our own day, they have been influenced in a thousand different ways by the New Age movement. This movement is not 'out there' somewhere; it is also alive and well within the church. (pp 300-301)

After reading the book my conclusion is that while there are several points on which I am in agreement with Robinson, if he had his way and reformed the Church to suit his opinions, there would be no Church left and it would not be the mitres that were consigned to the dustbin, it would be the Roman Catholic faith itself.

When even the liberal Cardinal Mahony finds this bishop anathema, how can anyone take him seriously. And yet I suspect he has a block of supporters firmly entrenched within the Church.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


JERUSALEM – Sen. Barack Obama's Chicago church reprinted a manifesto by Hamas that defended terrorism as legitimate resistance, refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and compared the terror group's official charter – which calls for the murder of Jews – to America's Declaration of Independence.

The Hamas piece was published on the "Pastor's Page" of the Trinity United Church of Christ newsletter reserved for Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose anti-American, anti-Israel remarks landed Obama in hot water, prompting the presidential candidate to deliver a major race speech earlier this week.

Hamas, responsible for scores of shootings, suicide bombings and rocket launchings against civilian population centers, is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

The revelation follows a recent WND article quoting Israeli security officials who expressed "concern" about Robert Malley, an adviser to Obama who has advocated negotiations with Hamas and providing international assistance to the terrorist group.

Read more


That's a question we've been asking ourselves since around July 3. Official baby day was supposed to be July 11, but the word from the experts around the third was that it was imminent. Most of my life since then has been planned around a potential interruption, but there has been no interruption so far.

She is once again scheduled to be induced this morning, but as of yesterday the word was that all of the beds at the hospital were still full and it might be rescheduled again. There seems to be a happy epidemic of newborns.

Little Mama is NOT happy. Picture a cat in a bath and you have some idea of her present state of mind. The only thing she thinks about is how to get this kid out of her so she can breathe and sleep again without being awakened by a kid kicking her organs. Baby is restless and seems to have his days and nights mixed up already.

I have plumbed new depths of persuasion I didn't know I had in an effort to calm her down, and met with only partial success. It would almost be funny if it weren't so demanding. She's not used to not being in charge. A little voice in my head keeps saying "W-A-I-T", but my mothering instincts prevent me from voicing it. My greater sympathy is with her husband who can't escape by sweetly saying goodbye and hanging up the phone.


One of the Sisters of Loretto, Sr. Louise Lears, attended the illicit "ordination" of priestesses in the St. Louis Diocese. Over at St. Louis Catholic the order attempts to defend the nun, and Thetimman unpacks their defense with humor and accuracy.

Friday, July 18, 2008


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

In Chapter 12 Bishop Robinson outlines his proposals for changing the Church governance.

He proposes that instead of the current governing structure, "A church must always seek to work by consensus" because the Church is a voluntary society, unlike the nationalistic societies consisting of people who are citizens primarily by birth. However he does admit that matters of belief cannot be established by popular vote:

It is quite impossible to resolve matters of belief by means of a popular vote. It would be nonsense for a church to say that God existed last week because 51% said so, doesn't exist this week because the vote has gone down to 49%, but might exist again next week if the vote returns to its earlier level. All belief must be based on a search for God's truth, and in practice belief requires a high level of consensus. (p. 266)

He appears to me to be contradicting himself with that statement. Does he believe in the consensus he claims is the right way to run a Church or doesn't he?

For a first level of government, Robinson proposes a Peter figure. He would like an overhaul of the Curia making it a body of neither bishops nor cardinals:

...I suggest that the members of the Roman Curia not be bishops or cardinals. I do not make this suggestion out of any desire to downgrade their importance, but solely because it would clarify roles....

...the powers of governance granted directly to the members of the Roman Curia were considerable. Because of the special powers given them by the pope, they were more powerful than other bishops and held a special place. Since the Second Vatican Council it has been understood that this is no longer true and that a bishop's powers of governance come from ordination.

What we have now is an unsatisfactory alliance of the old and the new, and the older ideas of a superior power of governance for the members of the Curia have not gone away. Unquestionably, the bishops of the Curia are a powerful force within the worldwide church. The fact that they are often seen as 'superior' bishops is a cause of confusion, for there are no superior members of the college of bishops. If they were not bishops, they would be clearly seen as what they are, the 'civil service' at this level of church government, and they would be esteemed for the service they gave.
(p. 270)

Maybe, but who would they be? Would they be well-educated in the teachings of the Church as a bishop is well-educated? How would this secular curia be trained?

At the second level Robinson proposed a greater power for the Synods of Bishops, however, he wants the synod to be "a true embodiment of collegiality" by incorporating a number of changes that will change the character of the Synod, including limiting their power to matters of "practical matters and pastoral strategies, and that another forum be provided for the resolution of matters of faith and morals." (p. 272)

For dealing with matters of faith and morals he proposes a council which will meet more often than has been the case in the past. This council would consist of bishops and other people who would also have a vote, including "a significant body of laypersons." (p. 273)

He proposes a structure similar to the Eastern Churches with Patriarchs appointed for geographical areas, but wants them to be called "patriarch-president" because of the negative connotation that the word patriarchal has assumed in liberal circles. He also proposes national churches organized under these patriarch-presidents. (p. 276)

Cardinals would be limited to the single role of electing the new pope, though the role of cardinal and patriarch-president might be combined. (p. 279)

He proposes that the local church should have a voice in the choice in their bishop, and describes a possible process in a way that sounds similar to national political elections. (p. 281)

The Council would serve as the third level, "the mind of the whole Church". He also proposes a legislative council:

Law is a particularly sensitive subject within the Catholic Church, for there is the perception that there are far too many 'rules', and yet a large society cannot exist without some structure and practical rules.

A solution to this dilemma would be to have a Legislative Council of the church, with all new legislation from any source purporting to bind the whole church requiring the approval of this body. Its major role would be that of being the voice of the whole church.
(p. 284)

For selection of a parish priest:

The major innovation I would like to see is a dialogue between the members of the parish and the priest or priests being considered for the parish.

He concludes this chapter with the following:

There may well be much argument about the particular forms of government I have put forward in this chapter. But if these forms are rejected, I suggest that others must be found, for a genuinely participatory government is a safer and richer basis for the life of the church as it enters the third millennium. (pp. 285-286)


IT is known as the greatest story ever told, and yesterday it came to Sydney, with passionate young Catholics re-enacting the final hours of Jesus's life, and Christ's ultimate victory over death, in detail both glorious and gory.

In a performance that significantly dampened the previously buoyant mood of World Youth Day, the broken figure of Christ, played by 27-year-old Alfio Stutio, stumbled barefoot and bleeding through a Sydney production of biblical proportions, over 13stations of the cross.

The Prince of Peace was tortured, lashed, mocked, stripped, crowned with thorns and then crucified in front of an audience of 100,000 people at Barangaroo, the old Sydney docksite, just as the sun began to set.

Winter sunshine of recent days had given way to strong and icy winds. Pilgrims who came to see the dramatic finale wrapped themselves in the flags of their nations, and huddled together for warmth. Christ's tormentors did not nail Jesus through the wrists, as happened in the Bible, but lashed him with leather straps to the large wooden cross as it lay prone on the ground.

The cross, and the man upon it, then rose slowly from the ground. Stutio's face was revealed as stained with dust, sweat, tears and blood, and his naked chest heaved. Many in the crowd fell to their knees and wept.



Three aspiring Catholic priests will be anointed and prayed over this weekend in an ordination liturgy that will resemble the traditional in most ways but one: The three being ordained are women.

The ordination ceremony Sunday, at a historic Protestant church in the Back Bay, is the first such event to take place in Boston, one of the most Catholic cities in the nation.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, in accord with Vatican teaching, says the participants in the ordination ceremony will be automatically excommunicating themselves.

But the women being ordained say they are acting because they feel called to the priesthood and compelled to resist what they view as a wrong church teaching.

Read it here...

These women are following in a tradition of sorts, though not a Roman Catholic one. The Polish Mariavites, an heretical Catholic sect, tried ordaining women and other innovations. In 1924 the Mariavites permitted priests to marry nuns.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In researching information on Bishop Geoffrey Robinson websites I noticed that his webmaster is Ingrid Shafer.

Here is Shafer's website, or one of them at least. It contains links for "Shafer's Cybersites". Scroll through them and notice that Leonard Swidler's Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, his Global Dialogue Institute, and the Center for Global Ethics are among them.

Here is a New Group of World Servers website (a part of Lucis Trust, founded by Theosophist Alice Bailey). Notice that the Center for Global Ethics is the third entry.

The Center for Global Ethics prominently displays Leonard Swidler's and Ingrid Shafer's involvement.

Here is the website of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church where you can see that Leonard Swidler is the President and Ingrid Shafer is the webmaster.

Given this connection, my next question is whether Bishop Robinson has any dealings with Lucis Trust?

What we are looking at with this Scenerio of Robinson vs. both the Australian Bishop's Conference and Cardinal Mahony is bishop opposing bishop in about as blatant a form as one can imagine--one bishop forbidding another bishop to speak in his diocese. Robinson is offering a very liberal position on important issues in the Church. He does not appear to be a loyal member of the magisterium. He appears to be loyal to something else. One wonders exactly what that something else might be.


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

Picking up at chapter twelve:

Far too often the Catholic Church has believed that it had such a level of divine guidance that it did not need the right to be wrong. As a result, both theologically and psychologically it can be bound to decisions of the past. It can be unable to move forwards, even when clear evidence emerges that earlier decisions were conditioned by their own time and that the arguments for them are not as strong as they were once thought to be. It has not been able to face the idea that on important issues and for centuries of time it might have been wrong. ...

I strongly believe that the future health of the church depends upon its being set free from the prison of the past. Only then can the church as a whole have the freedom to grow.
(p. 236)

When I consider the old thinking on the Jews and what has emerged since Vatican II, I have to say that Bishop Robinson makes a valid point. If we are to take past encyclicals as infallible, we cannot be engaging in the kinds of ecumenical and interreligious activities that the last and current popes are leading.

Are there a number of important issues where serious questions have been raised, but the prison of the past makes it difficult or even impossible to have an open and intelligent discussion? Do the following matters come into this category? (p. 250)

In this category Bishop Robinson lists:

1. Original Sin.

Under this heading he writes:

...it does not seem wise to base religious belief on the idea that a state of original justice and innocence once existed and that the whole human race fell from this state through the actions of the first hominids to possess some beginnings of a sense of self-consciousness and moral responsibility, whatever their names (if they had any). There is an obvious problem in claiming that death did not exist until the fall had occurred....

The story of Adam and Eve is part of a longer story of human beings making progress in technology and culture, but not always making the same progress in morality. The
stories of creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the Flood and the Tower of Babel must be seen as parts of the one story. The answer of God to this story was not final punishment and destruction, but the call of Abram and the beginning of salvation history. (p. 252)

2. A 'Tradition' Outside the Bible:

The Second Vatican Council did much to raise the profile of the bible within the Catholic Church and there is universal agreement that it made lasting changes to the balance between the bible and what has been handed on within that church. And yet this is one more example of where that council moved away from the past but did not find a clear statement to replace older statements, leaving us with compromise and even contradiction. (p. 253)

3. The Ordination of Women:

I have not been impressed by the arguments put forward to claim that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood, so whenever I mention bishops or priests in this book, I do not assume that they will be exclusively male forever, and I hope that the language I use reflects this. (p. 253)

Robinson reiterates the teaching of JPII on the subject, acknowledging that "this judgment is to be definitively held by all Christ's faithful", and Ratzinger's claim that "the question had been decided 'infallibly'", and that "Catholics were not free to discuss a question that had been infallibly decided once and for all." But then he goes on to question it, asking, among other things, "Does the teaching on the ordination of women meet the essential requirements for an infallible statement?" (p. 253-254)

4. The Assumption:

The declaration of Pope Pius XII in 1950 expressly invoked infallibility and certainly fulfilled all the technical requirements for an infallible statement.

The problem is that there is no evidence from the bible for the Assumption, the tradition does not go back to the event itself, and the arguments from the world around and within us are weak.
(p. 255)

5. Birth Control:

In fact and in practice, there has been no discussion of the morality of birth control since July 1968 when Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Humane Vitae. Since that time all discussion has been about papal authority. To make progress on this question, do we need to turn the discussion back from authority to birth control and look at the arguments again in the light of both the First and Second Testament teaching on sex? (p. 256)

6. The Sacrament of Reconciliation:

In their own way, the crowds [at reconciliation services with general absolution] have been a profound affirmation of the essentials of the church's tradition in this field, for they have been examples of people voting with their feet. To find out why fewer people are using individual confession today, we should look more closely at past defects of individual reconciliation. (p. 256)

7. Infallibility:
If we must assume infallibility in order to proclaim it infallibly, can it ever be a question that has been finally resolved and is beyond review? (p. 257)

8. Divorce and Remarriage:

Many Catholic bishops express a real uneasiness about the present teaching of their church on the subject of divorce and remarriage. They want to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ, but after many years of pastoral practice, after much thought and prayer, they are not convinced that the current teachings of the Catholic Church on this subject fully reflect the mind of Jesus. (p. 257)

9. The Certainty of Faith:

The Nicene Creed would remain basically as it is. There are only a few phrases in that Creed that might be considered in need of change. (p. 258)

It's quite a chapter! When I had finished it, it occurred to me that if he got his way, everything I believe in would be subject to debate and potential cancellation. Essentially his questions undermine the entire body of Catholic doctrine. And yet, as I said, there are areas in which I think he is correct. It is a very unsettling book.


GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBS) ― A Westchester County Catholic school principal is in serious trouble after he was arrested for allegedly going on a naked sexual romp with two other men in the backyard of a vacant home in the Orchard Hill section of town on Sunday.

Gabriel De Jesus, 41, of Ossining told police he was the principal of Sacred Heart School for the Arts, a Catholic elementary school at 71 Sharpe Blvd. in Mount Vernon.

DeJesus was still running the elementary school Monday when he was reached for comment. He would only said he made a mistake.

Read the rest...


According to the UK Telegraph:

The Catholic Church will expand its provision of "Anglican Use" parishes in the United States in order to allow whole communities of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman fold, a senior Catholic archbishop has announced.

The Most Rev John J Myers, Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, told a conference of ex-Anglicans on Friday that "we are working on expanding the mandate of the Pastoral Provision [of Catholic parishes using Anglican-inspired services] to include those clergy and faithful of 'continuing Anglican communities'."...

This is big news, and makes nonsense of the claim that Pope Benedict wants to dissuade Anglo-Catholics from converting. The obvious interpretation of the Archbishop's words is that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a "continuing church" which has hundreds of thousands of members worldwide (though few in the UK), will eventually be given its own Catholic parishes which use a Eucharistic Prayer incorporating Cranmerian language.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Before the day is over tomorrow my husband and I will become first-time grandparents. That might mean that I won't have as much time to devote to Running Off as usual for the next couple of months and blogging will suffer. I'm not about to sacrifice any grandparenting moments to Roman Catholic nonsense!

Here's hoping that I haven't forgotten everything I learned about caring for a baby. I'd hate to look like an idiot to my son-in-law!



My daughter, Sara, was supposed to be admitted at 8 this morning so the baby could be induced. She got a call at 6:30 that the hospital didn't have a bed and she should wait to come in. Now she has gotten another call that they want to postpone the induction until Saturday. She is UPSET, naturally.


For some reason my May 08, 2008 blog on CHILDREN AND EUCHARISTIC ADORATION has generated a total of 66 comments so far, a record for Running Off.


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

By chapter eight I had come to the point of exhaustion with his word "growth" and its derivatives. He used those words seven times on pg. 170 alone. The book is focused on the concept. He sees Catholicism as a series of steps taken to mature the Catholic faith concept within the conscience. It became quite annoying because it appeared to overshadow the view of Catholicism as a set of truth premises to which we must adhere. Growth took on an importance greater than adherence to truth.

In chapter nine he tells us:

In other words, I was gradually coming to realize that the 'tradition' behind teaching on and attitudes towards sexuality must be questioned.

My first objection was to the idea that sexual sins are always and in all circumstances mortal...so that there cannot be venial sins in the field of sexuality. Rape and a single 'bad thought'...were equally mortal sins and led to the same eternal punishment....In many good people the idea that every 'bad thought' was mortal led to the conviction that it was impossible to avoid mortal sin, so many became discouraged in the moral life.
(p. 176)

On page 182 he tells us

Homosexuality is called an abomination, but the word 'abomination' is used 138 times in the bible, and if homosexuality is an abomination, so is eating lobster or prawns, so we should not put more weight on the word than it deserves.

In chapter 10 we are told:

It must occasion great surprise that the teaching of the Catholic Church on something as important as sexuality draws so little on the bible. Why would a Christian church put the bible aside and assume that a new and elaborate sexual ethic needs to be developed that is not contained in the gospels or even based on anything that is said there?...

In relation to nature, should not the church's argument give a number of examples of other fields where God has given a divine purpose to some created thing, such that it would be a sin against God to use that thing in any other way? Why do church documents not attempt to do this? I remember reading years ago the mocking argument that the natural God-given purpose of eyes is to look forwards, so rear vision mirrors in cars are against nature and hence immoral. Granted that this is a mocking argument, does it not raise questions about what we mean by 'nature' and how difficult it is to draw moral consequences from a claim to a divinely established nature?
(p. 202)

The chapter questions many of the assumptions about the marriage relationship.

In chapter eleven we are told:

...I, a Catholic bishop, have on a number of occasions found myself in the situation of helping a victim who grew up as a Catholic to find a path in life outside that church. If this is the path that a particular victim must follow in order to reach wholeness, then respect for the dignity of the victim demands that I give the assistance I can. (p. 219)

That is a typical example of his placement of "growth" over the truth claims of Catholicism. However, on page 226 he makes the following statement with which I agree:

Forgiveness is given on the basis of a person's repentance for past wrong, while the question of a new assignment must be based on the future good of the whole community, especially of potential victims.

I also agree with his assessment of trust and its violation:

If it is abused in a serious manner and then given back to the same person, the trust given to all priests and religious is lessened and harmed. I believe that priests and religious must accept that there can be only one chance at a trust as sacred as that given to them. They cannot seriously demand a second granting of trust when, through abuse of that trust, they have harmed a victim, every other priest and religious, the whole church community and the message of Jesus Christ himself.

Sexual abuse would always cause serious damage to the church. But if, when the very first cases came to light, the church had responded decisively, compassionately and openly, the damage done would have been far less. The main complaints were of cover-up, denial, placing priests and religious above victims and moving them from one assignment to another. If trust in
all priests and religious is to be restored, then it is precisely in these areas that the church must now clearly and openly change its ways. ...

Parents will always react strongly against a person known to have offended against a minor, so it is impossible to see how such a priest or religious could ever exercise an effective ministry, no matter how reformed the person may be.
(pp. 228-229)

The acid test I suggest to any bishop or religious superior is this: 'Would I be prepared to stand up in front of the congregation, tell them, honestly and fully, the facts of the case and then ask them whether they are willing to accept this priest.' If the bishop or superior is not prepared to do this, the priest should not be appointed. (p. 230)


The Times reports:

A father flying from Britain to confront the Pope in Sydney about the rape of his two daughters by a Catholic priest has reacted angrily to claims by a senior Australian bishop that he is “dwelling crankily” on “old wounds”.

Anthony Foster is demanding that Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s senior Catholic, “beg for forgiveness” over the repeated rape of his daughters by the priest at a Melbourne primary school between 1988 and 1993.

Mr Foster said that his daughters had been severely damaged by the attacks, with the elder, Emma, committing suicide earlier this year aged 26. Her younger sister Katie, who became a heavy drinker, was hit by a car when 15 and now needs 24-hour care.

The Pope, who begins his official duties today at World Youth Day celebrations attended by an estimated 225,000 “pilgrims”, has promised to issue an apology this week to young people sexually abused by priests.

But when questioned about an Australian Broadcasting Commission report on the Fosters’ complaints Bishop Anthony Fisher, the Church’s World Youth Day spokesman, sounded dismissive. He said that he’d not seen the report because he had been at the celebrations.

“Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people,” he said, “rather than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds”.


Are past popes turning over in their graves?

The U.K. Independent reports:

The Pope is leading an unprecedented drive by the Roman Catholic Church to prevent the fragmentation of the worldwide Anglican Communion ahead of the once-a-decade gathering of its 800 bishops, which begins today, The Independent has learnt.

In his first public comments on the Lambeth Conference, Pope Benedict XVI has warned Anglican leaders that they must find a "mature" and faithful way of avoiding "schism". On top of this the Pope has:

* Sent three cardinals to the conference in Canterbury, including one of his top aides from the Vatican, to act as personal intermediaries between the two churches;

* Let it be known that he does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church;

* Given behind-the-scenes support to the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempts to hold together the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican Church, including at face-to-face meetings in Rome. ...

In a demonstration of the strength of relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, Pope Benedict has sent Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and the man who appoints all the bishops in Africa and Asia, to Lambeth from Rome.

He has also sent the theological heavyweight Cardinal Walter Casper who is said to be the "key man" in forging ever-closer relations between the churches.

Also attending will be Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who has spent the past two days with the Pope in Australia. This is the first time that three cardinals will attend a Lambeth Conference.

Some Roman Catholics fear that unless divisions over issues including homosexuality can be healed, they will act as a forerunner to a similar battle in Rome. The Roman Church's apparent unity masks long-running splits over birth control, priesthood celibacy and the interpretation of Scripture in the modern world.

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the British Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said: "The last thing that Rome wants is a lack of unity in the Anglican Communion, however difficult it finds ecumenical relations with that Communion."


At the Huffington Post website Edward Lozzi offers a view of the papal apology last April that does not make the evening news:

Pope Benedict is in Australia and apparently about to pull the same media stunt of faux concern for the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy that he pulled in the United States in April of this year. A carefully-orchestrated media strategy that led many US commentators to hail what appeared to them to be the Pope's courage and decency in meeting with five U.S. victims of clergy sex abuse. ...

I am a supporter of S.N.A.P., the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.... For the past five years, my media company has provided services pro-bono to SNAP in legal battles by survivors of clergy sex abuse against the Diocese of Los Angeles and its rogue Cardinal Roger Mahoney, the most powerful prelate in the U.S representing the Vatican. It is this rogue Cardinal who has obstructed justice and aided and abetted his priestly rapists, many who have been convicted or are now fugitives - on the run from arrest warrants. ...

Pope Benedict's much-heralded meeting with the victims of clerical sex abuse during his April visit to the US was not his idea. The meeting was forced upon the Pope by the victims. These victims, both SNAP members and Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), had demanded a meeting. And if denied, they had promised to demonstrate peacefully everywhere the Pope went.

We were all set to go. Last year, victims of clergy sex abuse from SNAP, had completely surrounded Cardinal Mahoney's $100 million dream cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. They held hands and held a silent vigil. Each adult wore a large photo of him or herself as a child at the time that he/she was raped or molested by one of the Diocese priests or nuns. Yes... nuns! The media had a field day and covered it extensively. So the Vatican knew we meant business.

The Pope finally agreed to meet the victims after pressure from within the Vatican. It came from Archbishop William Joseph Levana, emeritus of San Francisco, recently promoted to the number two man as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. Pressure came from Archbishop Angelo Amato - secretary of the same office.

And pressure came from Father Federico Lombardi, the devout Jesuit priest who is the new press secretary to the Vatican. Levana is an expert in avoiding prosecution for obstructing justice. He was subpoenaed recently to appear in Federal Court in San Francisco but asked for and received diplomatic immunity. ...

After seeing the ultimatum from the victims' organizations in April, these Vatican officials convinced Benedict to meet with the victims. It would take too long to detail here all the requirements and "special conditions" that the Vatican tried to demand for the meeting.

Pope Benedict was very uncomfortable meeting with the five representative victims who had been raped by priests and had their lives and families changed forever. This was a private meeting of course. The Pope was visibly embarrassed and in agony throughout the whole encounter. Benedict promised to end the stall tactics of his Bishops and to speed up the turning over of pedophile priests and secret documents to law enforcement. He promised transparency and a place for Catholic victims of pedophile priests in the so-called Programs of Awareness of Sex Abuse in the Church.

Ultimately that April meeting was just a publicity stunt by Benedict. A faux show of concern for the media. Three months later, not one of his promises has been acted upon. It is as if the meeting never happened.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

In Chapter seven Bishop Robinson confronts the power of the papacy. He writes:

In speaking of a Peter-figure, should we have in mind the pope of the Catholic Church with some adjustments? Or, rather than start with the papacy as it now is and suggest changes, would it be possible for the entire Christian world to go back to the bible, all aspects of what has been handed down and the wisdom of the world of today, and create a new synthesis? The essence of the idea would be a Peter-figure who was the calm rock of unity and who, after consultation with the church and speaking in the name of the church, proclaimed the faith of the church.

To put this in another way, I do not believe in the church of Pacelli or Roncalli or Montini or Luciani or Wojtyla or Ratzinger (the family names of the last six popes), but in the church of Jesus Christ. The views of the particular individuial who carries out the role of Peter should not have the importance they have had in the past....It should be quite impossible to be loyal and orthodox under one pope and then somehow less loyal and less orthodox because another human being has taken his place.
(p. 140)

The second Vatican Council made the significant change of saying that a bishop's power comes from ordination rather than from a delegation of power by the pope. (p. 141)

One further fact needs to be mentioned. Not one, but two apostles gave witness of martyrdom in Rome. So the bishop of Rome is to do everything possible to make present in the church the witness of both Peter and Paul, and is never to be a witness to Peter alone. On one famous occasion Peter and Paul clashed, and at all times they stood for different, if complementary, values. Among other things, Paul stood for the priority of the hierarchy of holiness over the hierarchy of power, for the Spirit over the letter and the Word over all human endeavours. This must be part of the witness of the bishop of Rome. (p. 142)

I am not advocating Conciliarism or Gallicanism or Febronianism or Modernism or any other 'ism' of church history. I am simply saying that the Peter-figure serves the church, as the church serves the reign of God within the hearts of all people. This appears to be fully in accord with what is said in the Acts of the Apostles concerning the relationship between Peter and 'the church'. It must mean that circumstances can arise when the Peter-figure must answer to 'the church' or when 'the church' must act to preserve its integrity and its relationship to the reign of God. There must be laws of 'the church' safeguarding these values that even the pope is subject to and cannot change. (pp 143-144)

The word 'pope' means 'father', and I have no objection to popes being seen in a parental role, as long as they remember at all times that they are parents of adult children. They should always be listened to with respect because they are parents, but they cannot order their adult children to do everything the way they want it done, and they cannot order them to think the way they think....

...Christian tradition has always recognized that a consensus of belief among all the members of the church is something that must be listened to and given its full weight....John Henry Newman took this idea further by saying that, 'while the multitude may falter in its judgment', we have certainty when the whole church 'in due course rests and acquiesces in a deliberate judgment.'
(pp. 145-146)

...the council made the statement that 'the whole body of the faithful....cannot err in matters of belief. (p. 147)


NSW Premier Morris Iemma said the state government would not appeal today's court decision.

The Federal Court in Sydney took the unprecedented step of partially striking out clause 7.1(b) of the World Youth Day regulations, which made it a criminal offence to annoy pilgrims.

Protesters who refused to cease conduct which was deemed annoying could be fined up to $A5500 (NZ$7000).

Justices Robert French, Catherine Branson and Margaret Stone ruled the clause went beyond the intentions of parliament in passing the enabling legislation.

"We have interpreted the World Youth Day Act on the presumption that it was not the intention of parliament that regulations would be made under the act preventing or interfering with the exercise of the fundamental freedom of free speech," Justice French said.

The clause was declared "invalid to the extent that it seeks to prevent merely annoying conduct", but the remainder of the World Youth Day powers were upheld.

Read it here...


The kaisernetwork.org reports:

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines recently endorsed condom use among married couples as a method to prevent the transmission of HIV, Edwin Corros, executive secretary of CBCP's Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People, said recently, the Philippine Star/ABS CBN News reports. However, Corros added that condom use should be the "last resort."

LifeSiteNews is reporting the same thing.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I'll be late getting to the blog.


Spirit Daily has linked an article by David Yonke at the Toledo Blade describing a Catholic mother of three and "award-winning religion teacher at a Toledo Catholic school, a former Ursuline nun", who is in contact with a disembodied entity claiming to be Padre Pio. Before channeling the entity, she practiced automatic writing.



Check out the website of St. Olaf Catholic Church where a "Centering Prayer & Inner Awakening" day of teaching by Cynthia Bourgeault is being advertised.

Here, on the Diocesan website, is the listing for St. Olaf's.

The website of the Contemplative Society tells us who Cynthia Bourgeault is:

Hermit priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, Cynthia Bourgeault divides her time between solitude on Eagle Island, Maine, and a much more extraverted schedule in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she serves as Principal Teacher for the Contemplative Society and an adjunct faculty member at the Vancouver School of Theology.

She is the author of five books: Chanting the Psalms, Mystical Hope, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening and Love is Stronger Than Death. She is also responsible for many articles and CDs on the Christian Spiritual Life. She is a past Fellow of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural research at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN, and an oblate of New Camaldoli Monastery in Big Sur, California.

As well as her role with the Contemplative Society, she is also a retreat and conference leader, teacher of prayer, writer on the spiritual life, and Episcopal priest. Cynthia is passionately committed to the recovery of the Christian contemplative path and has worked closely with Fr. Thomas Keating as a teacher of Centering Prayer, Fr. Bruno Barnhart, and other Christian contemplative masters, She is also committed to working with leaders of other religious traditions.

The website describes "A new piece of Cynthia's writing" just published. They tell us that the essays contained in it reflect

...on twelve years of spiritual journeying beyond the grave with her teacher/beloved Raphael, and the implications for our usual notions of death as "rest."

Here is one example of the instructional materials The Contemplative Society supplies as listed on their website:

TCS Launches a NEW 10 CD set

Mary Magdelene and the Path of Conscious Love - Cynthia Bourgeault

Join Cynthia Bourgeault as she takes us on a vivid in-depth journey through the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels to reclaim the highly esteemed Mary Magdalene of the early church, and to reveal her role as principal teacher and apostle. Learn to see both Mary Magdalene and Jesus with new eyes and to understand Jesus' teaching on 'relationship' with others as a tool for transformation.

Through this CD set, Cynthia leads us to uncover a "vision of Christianity based on transformative and redemptive love, versus renunciation and judgment -- a Christianity based on what connects us rather than what separates us".

Bourgeault has written an article about Jacob Boehme for Gnosis Magazine.

Spirit Daily has linked A Faithful Rebel blog that talks about Bourgeault's appearance at St. Olaf, and labels her a "Supporter of Homosexual Unions".


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

Returning to the book, the first Chapter contains the following statement:

There have been many examples of gods who appeared to veer from angry justice to loving mercy and back again in a quite contradictory manner. It must be said that the Hebrew bible, often called the Old or First Testament, contains many such contradictions.

During the last millennium the Catholic Church reflected far too much of the angry god.
(p. 26-27)

When we present a masculine god, we limit God; and whenever we limit God, we turn God into a very large human being rather than a true god. (p. 29)

On page 31 he refers to Tchaikovsky's music as a "divine spark", and claims that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual, and then makes the following statement about flaws:

We live in an age when people have unrealistic ideas of perfection and consider themselves failures if they do not achieve them. The reality is that we all have disabilities. Indeed, those who are called disabled can often be the true realists, for they more frequently accept their disabilities and learn to live within them, while the rest of us can deny our limitations and seek an unrealistic perfection. (p. 38)

In Chapter 2 Robinson provides his picture of Scripture from which, I presume, his theology flows.

What we find in the bible...is neither a literal account of exactly what happened nor a pure fantasy, for the authors told of a real and divinely-assisted escape from slavery, but they did so by "talking in pictures". The evidence we can gain from all sources supports this view and is so strong that it can no longer be sustained that Christians must believe that each one of these stories tells the literal truth of what happened. The ancient Hebrews, like many other peoples, told their factual history through pictorial stories, and many Christian problems began only when people began to reverse this process and take the stories as factual history. ...

...the stories were not to be taken literally.
(p. 52-53)

Chapter Three deals with the two sources of knowledge--Scripture and Tradition. He defends the traditional view that Scripture flowed out of Tradition in the early centuries of the faith, and discusses how the books of the Bible were chosen. In response to the Protestant claim of Scripture alone, he writes:

I have heard Christians from "Scripture alone" churches speaking passionately about the events of the reformation as though they had happened yesterday, and it has been crystal clear to me that many words and events of that period are a powerful source of their beliefs, attitudes and customs today. If these are not "traditions", then they are simply using another word to describe the same reality. (p. 72)

I found little to argue with in Chapter Four, where bishop Robinson lays out the plan of salvation or in Chapters Five and Six where he discusses the history of the Church via the reign of the various popes and the impact of the Second Vatican Council. In Chapter Six, though, he begins to discuss "creeping infallibility"; and this is the start of what must have been the source of objection to his material:

...the argument that constantly repeated opinions become infallible is exactly the argument that has been applied to the two most controversial papal statements of the last forty years--those on contraception and on the ordination of women. It is a claim used to add further authority to two papal teachings that, as simple matter of fact, have failed to convince by the force of the arguments used in them. I find it strange that, if I were to tell a cardinal in the Vatican that I was struggling with doubts about the existence of God, I would receive sympathy and support. But if I were to tell the same cardinal that I had doubts about papal teaching on contraception and the ordination of women, I would receive a stern lecture on loyalty to the pope. (p. 122)

People want simple certainties, they demand simple certainties. (p. 123)

Before his ordination every bishop is required to take an oath of fidelity to the pope, so rebellion is breaking an oath made to God. ...

No bishop would wish to create an atmosphere of the bishop on one side against the pope on the other side...

All bishops had a genuine admiration for the greater strengths of the pope of the last quarter of the twentieth century--his early courageous story under Nazi occupation and his later courage against Communist domination, his great intellect, his obvious holiness. No bishop has wanted to present himself as in any way better than this pope. In these circumstances, the identification between the rock and the particular pope has blunted all criticisms....

Bishops love the church and gave their lives for it, and they are aware that a stand-up, knock-down fight between a group of bishops and the Vatican would bring great harm to the church.
(p. 126 - 127)

In reading that last statement, thoughts of Milingo and Lefebre came calling. Near the end of the chapter Robinson writes:

Within a church, as I have noted, the first tension is between rule by God and rule by human beings. There have been churches that had too much human authority (e.g. the Catholic Church) and they have encountered serious problems.

I'll pick it up here next time.


Student Government Senator Webster Cook filed the hazing charges with University of Central Florida administrators shortly after he admitted violating church rules by bringing the Eucharist home from Mass on June 29, then holding it hostage for one week in a plastic bag before returning it.

Cook said his hazing complaint cited a UCF anti-hazing policy banning the forced consumption of any food in which the initiation or admission into or affiliation with a University of Central Florida organization may be directly or indirectly conditioned.

The rule, presumably, was intended to prevent fraternities from force-feeding pledges disgusting food. But Cook said the rule is clear and applies to all UCF clubs, including the Catholic Campus Ministries religious group. He insists the group is guilty because members ordered him to consume the Eucharist to remain at Mass. ...

Cook also filed charges accusing the Catholic club of violating the school’s underage alcohol policy by serving communal wine to underage students.

Previously, Diocese of Orlando Spokesperson Carol Brinati confirmed Catholic students filed charges of disruptive conduct with UCF administrators against Cook and a friend of his attending Mass with him on June 29 for their “disrespectful” behavior. ...

Cook is also facing a more public set of charges filed by one of his peers in UCF’s Student Government Association.

SGA Officer Anthony Furbush filed an impeachment affidavit against Cook claiming Cook violated SGA ethics when he announced he was an SGA official during Mass, and cited that reason, along with the fact Mass was held in a public campus hall, as why he didn’t have to leave when asked.

Read the story.


For 25 years, Reverend Lucien Larre kept his Order of Canada medal in a black leather case at his bedside, and wore a lapel pin to show he'd won the country's top civilian honor. Earlier this month, the Vancouver priest mailed the award back to the government.

Larre joined a protest by some Order of Canada winners after Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who fought for two decades to make abortion legal in Canada, was named to the elite group.

``I felt in my conscience I had to send mine back,'' said Larre of the white snowflake-shaped medal. ``It was a sad, sad day for me.''

Larre, 75, was the first to resign from the group of distinguished Canadians since the program was created in 1967 to celebrate the country's 100th birthday. He's been followed by a Catholic group that surrendered an award given to its deceased founder. At least two other winners say they will return their medals because they're opposed to abortion. ...

Morgentaler, 85, is a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Montreal after the war and opened Canada's first abortion clinic in 1969. His legal challenges ultimately led to abortion being decriminalized in 1988. He didn't return a call to his Toronto office seeking comment. ...

Morgentaler's appointment prompted Madonna House, a Catholic community of men, women and priests based in Combermere, Ontario, to surrender the prize awarded in 1976 to founder Catherine Doherty.

``It dishonors the medal,'' said Susanne Stubbs, 67, one of three directors who traveled to Ottawa on July 8 to return the award.

Read about it here...


A certain segment of the Australian population is not pleased with the papal visit, and they have put their displeasure into words at Green Left Online:

Loopy old Pope Benedict has said that homosexuals are “objectively disordered” and same-sex marriage is “a threat to world peace”. Prior to becoming pope, Cardinal Ratzinger told voters it would be a sin to vote for pro-choice candidates. He has campaigned against governments implementing marriage, or civil union rights, for same-sex couples.

Some governments, especially that of very Catholic Spain, have had the spine to withstand his reactionary garbage on these vital issues. Not so in Australia. Here, the political influence of the Catholic (and non-Catholic) right on government policy continues to prevail on respectful and pious Labor administrations (against majority opinion).

The Australian government was the first and, so far, the only in the Western world to ban same-sex marriage. Abortion remains on the criminal code in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.

Given this massive show of moral squalor it would have been a political sin to allow Pope Benedict’s visit for World Youth Day to go without protest.

The NoToPope Coalition was formed to bring together everyone opposed to Pope Benedict’s backward and anti-human positions. Initiated by Community Action Against Homophobia, the coalition now includes 16 groups, with the Socialist Alliance being the first political party to sign up.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Normally it takes an act of God to change the Sunday Mass Schedule. In local parishes here, the schedule is cast in granite. At one parish where I frequently attend Mass, I can't remember the last time the schedule was altered. Apparently, though, a papal visit qualifies as that act of God:

According to the CathNews blog:

The Papal Mass, planned for Sunday, 20 July at Randwick Racecourse, is expected to attract up to 500,000 people

"We ask you to consider scheduling additional Masses on the evenings of Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20 for those who prefer to attend Mass in the parish, and otherwise encourage all your parishioners to attend the final Mass with the Holy Father," the letter stated.

If the people prefer to attend Mass at the local parish rather than fight the crowds at the papal Mass, what is the difference if the parish Mass takes place at the same time as the papal Mass or in the evening? A no-show is a no-show, no matter what the schedule.

Some time ago one of the books I read indicated that the reason there were cheering crowds at papal Masses is that the new ecclesial communities made sure that their kids were transported to same and encouraged them to cheer.

In other words, what appears to be spontaneous has been contrived. And this request for Mass change looks to be more of the same.

Of course some high ranking prelate could always declare that Missing the papal Mass was a mortal sin. That might guarantee impressive traffic jams for the TV cameras!

FROM THE EMAILBOX - Continued Urgent Prayer Need for Jamaica

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

Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 27 | Friday, July 11, 2008



Continued Urgent Prayer Need for Jamaica

Spirit and Life® readers will be well aware of the ongoing campaign to legalize abortion on demand in the Caribbean nation of Jamaica. Our valiant pro-life friends in Jamaica have just informed us that they need prayer this coming week as the abortion issue comes before their Parliament. I am writing to ask you to join HLI in our effort to spiritually strengthen this nation and its defenders of life.

The clash between life and death is heating up. The plan to expand the killing of children in Jamaica has worked its way very patiently through three successive governments over several years and has finally found its way onto the table of Parliament. This is not a positive development, by any means, but it is a unique opportunity for a still pro-life nation to show that it can reject this immoral business.

On Thursday, July 3rd, a Joint Select Committee of Parliament held the first of three hearings to discuss the liberalization of the abortion law. On Thursday, July 10th, the second hearing took place, and, at this session, the pro-abortion Ministry of Health presented its views. Both hearings were open to the public and dozens of men and women of conscience showed up to give a poignant reminder to the committee members that the overwhelming majority of the Jamaican people do not want abortion. Indeed, the effort to expand abortion in Jamaica is not in response to any broad-based demand of the populace but is the work of an elite group of individuals in league with radical international organizations who wish to impose it on an unsuspecting population.

Typical of such campaigns is the promise that the people will be consulted prior to any Parliamentary vote. However, despite generous assurances of consultation, the only input Parliament has had to date has been from a 13-member "Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group" stacked with abortion sympathizers whose final report looked like it was cut and pasted from a Planned Parenthood textbook. It still remains to be seen whether public consultation will actually take place or whether this is just another illusion.

On the positive side, various different pro-life groups and concerned individuals have been invited to make written submissions to Parliament which are due this coming Monday (July 14th), and some of them may be asked to make oral presentations to Parliament very soon.

Here is where we need your help! As part of our HLI spiritual family, please pray and fast to help the good people of Jamaica to stop the momentum of this heinous crime against humanity known as abortion. Our pro-life friends have been doing everything in their power to stop this horror from turning into a national nightmare, and undoubtedly our prayer support will help them in their life-and-death struggle.

Please beg the Guardian Angel of Jamaica to intercede for their precious babies, families and, indeed, the very soul of their nation!

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

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

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