Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Holy Days of Obligation

A recent story has come out, reporting that Irish courts have ruled that employers don't have to recognise Catholic religious holidays as days people should be able to get out of work. Like Sundays, Holy Days of obligation (Solemnities, really) are days which one should avoid servile labor if possible.

The court's ruling came in a case involving workers in a co-op in Lisavaird, in Cork, who had been told that they would be required to work on the feasts of the Epiphany, the Assumption, All Saints, and the Immaculate Conception. The workers' union argued that for faithful Catholics these days were "sacrosanct," and no financial award could compensate for their loss.

However, the court ruled that the co-op was not required to observe the holy days of obligation as recognized by the Catholic Church. Irish labor law lists 9 public holidays, and employers are not obligated to make provisions for any other days, the court said.

And so it goes. I wonder what would happen if a Jewish person had challenged this, although I am thinking in American terms. In fact, I wonder how this would work out in America. I bet if an employer challenged a Jewish high holy day, there would be a lawsuit in minutes from the likes of the anti-defamation league, or someone like that. But, if a Catholic tried it, not even the ACLU would try to defend religious liberties like that. Maybe I'm wrong.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another reason to watch out for Commies

I posted just a few days ago on the fact that the old communist regime in Czechoslovakia siezed a lot of Church properties, and the current Government still won't return it, not even the Cathedral Church.

Recently, Bishop Fu, the Chinese Government's approved Bishop died. They have announced that they would shortly appoint a new prelate, according to Zenit. It's bad, because this is on the heels of the illicit ordination of some bishops last year.
According to the South China Morning Post, the vice chairman of the Patriotic Association said that Bishop Fu's greatest wish was the normalization of ties with the Vatican.

However, the official reiterated China's conditions for establishing diplomatic ties with the Holy See: severing relations with Taiwan and "not meddling with internal affairs," which China understands to include the naming of bishops.

Benedict XVI has said he'll write a letter to Chinese Catholics. And after a Vatican study earlier this year of the Church's situation in China, there is talk that a commission will be established to further evaluate the issue.
I'm not sure he will get his wish any time soon, not unless the Chinese government changes their position on religion. I've read some about this upcoming letter, and I wonder what it will be about. I think, in some ways, that it might be like the letter that went out to all the Catholics in Germany after the rise of Hitler. I also wonder if it will be one of those secret letters that they will have to sneak into the country and spread secretly to all the churches.

Pray for them, that they may be moved to accept the light that faith has to offer, and find the way to reuinite with Rome.


Limbo Revisited

So, there have been a lot of articles recently about the issue of limbo, a state not heaven nor hell for unbaptised babies and children who know no personal sin. This idea was originated by St. Augustine as a way to reconcile God's infinite compassion with the doctrine of Original Sin (which he helped develop).

I've selected three articles, from three of my main Catholic news sources: Zenit, CNS, and CWN.

The 41 page report states that the concept of limbo reflects an "unduly restrictive view of salvation". I'm actually surprised that this document even came out. I remember learning in a CCD class (of questionable quality, in hindsight) many years ago that Limbo was an old, outdated belief. And, the Catechism states:
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"63 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
Hence, the surprise in this document. The document says that one of the problems is that this is still a widespread belief, and something that needs to be addressed pastorally.
The church continues to teach that, because of original sin, baptism is the ordinary way of salvation for all people and urges parents to baptize infants, the document said.

But there is greater theological awareness today that God is merciful and "wants all human beings to be saved," it said. Grace has priority over sin, and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ's special love for "the little ones," it said.

"Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered ... give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision," the document said.

"We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge," it added.
Limbo was never defined as Dogma, and I would say that it is reasonable to conclude that it probably wont be decided either way. Thus is the nature of the Church, we're not presumptuous of God's justice and power.

People in popular media, of course, don't get it.
Last Friday, in a message to CWN subscribers, I warned that secular reporters were likely to provide sensational and inaccurate coverage of a new Church document on the fate of unbaptized infants. Sure enough, a much-traveled Associated Press story began: "Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has revised traditional Roman Catholic teaching on so- called 'limbo…'"

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Yep. Benedict didn't really have anything to do with this, and it is not reflective of the official teaching of the Church. This doesn't revise the teaching of the Church at all, it really seems to expand on what is in the Catechism. And, on top of that, Limbo isn't even the so-called traditional teaching of the Church.

I find it interesting that this is all coming out as Pope Benedict is visiting St. Augustine. It's sort of like "Sorry, dude, good try though". It's good to see that Benedict is willing to not be a strict Augustinian. His own theologian.

We can only pray for them, or pray that no babies will ever die without being baptized. Either would be a good option.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

No Catholic Help for Orhpans

Catholic Charities of Chicago, recently, announced that they would be closing their foster care program.

Chicago, Apr 18, 2007 (CNA).- The child welfare system in Chicago was shocked this week with the news that the foster care program, run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago will shut down June 30th after a $12-million lawsuit payout led the agency's insurer to drop its coverage.

The child care program, established in 1921, is one of the oldest and largest child care programs in the state. In the 1960s, Catholic Charities advocacy prompted the state to take on foster care, leading to the creation of Department of Children and Family Services.

Lawsuits against a benevolent organization are bad. It's like taxing the Church. If you do tax the Church, they close things like Catholic schools and food pantries and the government ends up spending more, because they can't get as much volunteer labor, and have much more overhead costs.

It's really too bad.

Damn Commies

I recently found this article from CWN discussing a legal fight over the Cathedral Church in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague, Apr. 18, 2007 ( - Yesterday the Archdiocese of Prague in the Czech Republic returned the cathedral of St. Vitus to the state, in accordance with an order by the country’s supreme court.

The cathedral, built by Charles IV in the second half of the 14th century, is located in the city’s castle, and a court battle over possession of the building has lasted the last 15 years. That battle still continues, despite what Catholic leaders see as a temporary victory for the government.

The Czech Communist regime seized the cathedral-- which is also under the patronage of Sts. Vaclav and Adalbert, in 1954-- The church has become a symbol of the unresolved problems involving Church demands for restitution of property confiscated by the former regime.

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Prague continues to deny the state's claim to ownership of the cathedral, and notes that although the government is now in possession, no legal agreement has been signed to transfer the building.

It's really not a surprise that the commies took the cathedral when they took over, but that the Church didn't get it back (at least for real) seems to be the surprise for me. I can see that they would have given some of the Church land away, that's happened all the time through history, but I'd hope the Prague officials would see the importance of this building.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Catholic Hospitals must be Catholic

In England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has come down on the side of the Faith to a Hospital in the Diocese. (Article)
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the senior prelate of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has instructed a Catholic hospital to cease in vitro fertilisation treatments, contraception distribution, and abortion referrals.

The Daily Mail reports that the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth in North London, popular with celebrities, will no longer allow any staff members to participate in contraceptive or abortion related activities under a new code of ethics to be instituted starting next month. Bishop George Stack, an auxiliary of Westminster, has been appointed to the ethics committee to ensure that Catholic principles are upheld in the Catholic hospital.

It's about time. We need to have Catholic Institutions that act Catholic. Why do you think people have trouble with the Faith, seeing all the Hypocracy?
The cardinal wrote to Robin Bridgeman, the chairman of the hospital, “There must be clarity that the hospital, being a Catholic hospital with a distinct vision of what is truly in the interests of human persons, cannot offer its patients, non-Catholic or Catholic, the whole range of services routinely accepted by many in modern secular society as being in a patient's best interest.”
Now, if only the American Bishops could grow a spine. Maybe they could even crack down on the teaching in Catholic Universities.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Media Misses again, No "Jesus Tomb"

As you recall, there was a bunch of news and hype during lent about things controversial to the Faith. Every year it seems to happen, this year it was a chocolate Jesus and the family tomb. There has been this and that about various gnostic ideas, the gospel of Judas being an example, also last year I seem to remember something about the Gospel of Mary Magdalen.

These come up all the time, and I tend to ignore them, though they can be interesting in some ways. The thing is, whenever any of this comes up, the media is all over it, and it gets plenty of free publicity because of the controversy. I claim that this is moderately unique to Christian controversy, and that you probably couldn't get away with attacking the core tenants of Islam or Judaism in the same way.

The most recent one was the so called Lost Tomb of Jesus. In this film, a set of ossuaries was found that claim to be Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalen, James (the brother of Jesus), etc. These claims are backed up by supposed "experts" who claim that the statistical likelihood of finding such a family is extremely low. A recent article has came out, stating that many of the statements from the film are being retracted.

The most astounding revision is that of University of Toronto statistician Andrey Feuerverger, who provided statements that supported the central point of the film.

Feuerverger stated in the film that the odds are 600 to one in favor of the tomb being the family burial cave of Jesus of Nazareth. He now says these figures referred to the probability of a cluster of such names appearing together. ...

The scholars’ revised statements are recorded in the 16-page paper titled "Cracks in the Foundation: How the Lost Tomb of Jesus story is losing its scholarly support". It was compiled by epigrapher Stephen Pfann of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem.

I find it terribly unsurprising that after all the run up in the newses about the story before it was played, we hear nothing now that it is done and gone. All too typical.

Israeli archeologists did say, at the time that the documentary was released, that the similarity of the names found inscribed on the ossuaries in the cave to the members of Jesus's family was coincidental, since many of those names were commonplace in the first century CE.

Shimon Gibson, who was on the team that excavated the tomb and also appeared in the film, is quoted in Pfann's report as saying that much more evidence is needed before the tomb can be considered the family tomb of Jesus.

"Personally, I'm skeptical that this is the tomb of Jesus and I made this point very clear to the filmmakers," Gibson is quoted as saying.

In the film, renowned epigrapher Frank Moore Cross, professor emeritus of Hebrew and oriental languages at Harvard University, is shown reading one of the ossuaries and stating that he has "no real doubt" that it reads "Jesus son of Joseph."

But Cross told Pfann in e-mail that he was skeptical about the film's claims because of the ubiquity of Biblical names in that period in Jerusalem.

"It has been reckoned that 25 percent of feminine names in this period were Maria/Miriam, etc. - that is, variants of 'Mary.' So the cited statistics are unpersuasive," Cross is quoted as saying.

Pfann’s paper also includes statements from DNA scientist Dr. Carney Matheson, who supervised the DNA tests carried out for the film from the supposed Jesus and Mary Magdalene ossuaries.

In the documentary, Matheson said: "These two individuals, if they were unrelated, would most likely be husband and wife." He later said: "The only conclusions we made were that these two sets were not maternally related. To me, it sounds like absolutely nothing."

Francois Bovon is a specialist in ancient apocryphal text who said in the film that the ossuary inscription "Mariamne" is the same woman known as Mary Magdalene. Pfann says Bovon later issued a disclaimer stating he did not believe that "Mariamne" stood for Mary Magdalene at all.

It is interesting, and telling, really, about the filmmaker, James Cameron. I saw another show of his, on the Exodus, and the scholarship was shotty at best. There was a sort of "This could explain something, so it must have been what happened" mentality. I sense the same from the Lost Tomb of Jesus. All of these statements are being retracted, probably because they were coerced, or misconstrued, or something like that, and people just nor are realizing that they are all bogus. My guess is that some of this will be found forgered or something like that, like the ossuary of "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus" a while back.

Wishful thinking does not make real science. You can't pick and choose a couple of favorable opinions and turn them into a piece of scholarly work. I wish this would hear more widespread coverage. The media always jumps on the controversy bandwagon, and you almost never hear the debunking. Sad.


Faith and Science Not Incompatible

A new book compiled from discussions between the Pope and some of his former students has recently been published. This group has apparently met every year since 1978 to discuss matters of faith and science. (Article)
What was important, he said, was "the interplay of different dimensions of reason, an interplay which opens up into the road to faith."

The pope argued that Christianity was a religion of reason, but a reason that was wider than the limited scope of modern science.

For the pope, science reaches its limits when its assumptions can no longer be tested.
However, Pope Benedict said, God cannot be used simply to explain away the problems.

"It's not as if I wanted to stuff dear God into these gaps," he said. "He's too big to fit into such gaps."

Pope Benedict also took a firm stand against science books' tendency to suggest that things came about by nature and evolution.

"The question has to be asked: What is nature or evolution as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist! If one says that nature does this or that, this can only be an attempt to summarize a series of events under one actor which, as such, doesn't exist," the pope said.

Nature and evolution are made up of many individual steps, and the guiding hand -- the active subject -- is God, he said.

I wish leaders of other Christian faiths could just see this.


Friday, April 13, 2007

My Contribution to the Motu Proprio debate

There has been a lot of talk and rumor recently in the news and on blogs about a supposed upcoming Motu Proprio from Benedict XVI regarding the use of the Tridentine Rite of Mass. So called "Traditional(ist) Catholics" will be praising its coming, and indeed have been anticipating it for a long time.

Though most such reflections on the liturgy start with the Vatican II Council, I will step back a bit to the Council of Trent. At the time of Pope Pius V, there were many different liturgical traditions which had come down through time and were being practiced in Europe. On top of that, the Reformation was in full force, and some of the protestant ideas had crept into the Liturgy. The solution was to eliminate Rites that were less than 200 years old, and the Promulgation of a Roman Rite in 1570. The various other rites mostly disappeared, with the exception of the Rites of religious orders, and a couple other rites (notably Ambrosian).

This leads us to the Vatican II Council. We are primarily concerned with Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. This was a document I read after having experienced the Tridentine mass a few times, to understand what had happened in those days. It was interesting, and I will note what I think. The Council saw the need for some sort of Liturgical reform, because there were plenty of problems in the way the Mass was being practiced. Yet, the reform they envisioned (at least according to the text) seems to the casual observer to be different than the reforms that took place.

This leads to one of the most compelling arguments against the Mass of Paul VI, namely that it was a drastic and dramatic change in the Liturgical practice of the Church. The Church doesn't change in revolutions, or based on the whim of the times, so clearly this argument cannot be true, but yet the evidence supports this position.

stated they weren't in formal schism. For my money, if you don't accept the teachings of the These ideas were too much for a number of groups, which came to a head with groups like the Society of Saint Pius X, who passed into schism with the Church in or around 1988. People can argue all they want about this, in fact, my friend made sure to inform me that Cardinal Arinze stated they weren't in formal schism. For my money, if you don't accept the teachings of the Magesterium, the Councils, the Pope, and even go so far to set up your own ecclesial tribunals, you may as well be in schism, formal or not. And so, the SSPX celebrates Mass illegitimately with the Tridentine Rite.

Queue up the Indult offered by Pope (soon to be Saint) John Paul II. In a final act to prevent the schismatic group from breaking away, he extended the offer that priests could celebrate the Tridentine Rite of Mass with permission from the local Bishop. Since the SSPX was already set on disrespecting the Hierarchy of the Church, and so submitting to a Bishop would not be acceptable.

So, where does this leave us all? There are schismatics who celebrate the Mass illegitimately, there are groups who celebrate this Rite legitimately, in some Diocese, and the widespread use is the Mass of Paul VI.

Where, then, does this Motu Proprio fit in? What has happened since the Indult was offered by John Paul II is that some Bishops refuse to give permission to their priests to say the Mass in the old Rite. Therefore, there has been rumblings for a couple years at least that there would be a Universal Indult offered, essentially allowing any priest who wants to celebrate the Tridentine Rite of Mass.

Now comes the part of this posting that makes people disagree with me. I oppose this measure.

I fully support the use and extension of the Tridentine Mass, because of its historical/traditional value. As a young(er) Catholic, to experience Mass the way my parents did when they were children, and their parents, and theirs, back and back and back until before the family was Christian, is an experience that is incredibly moving. The Latin Canon, handed down nearly unchanged from Gregory the Great, is actually quite beautiful, and I still enjoy hearing it (in English or Latin).

I also firmly believe in the role of Bishops in our Church. The bishops are the shepherds of their particular flocks. The priests in a Diocese are helpers of the Bishop, and they celebrate the sacraments with the permission and in unity with their Bishop. This is why I cannot support a universal indult, as it is envisioned by certain Traditionalists. I believe it would be bad to introduce another area of strife between Priests and their Bishops. The old Indult is too young to be discarded, first issued in 1984, it is barely a blip on Church history. For now, I don't see too much of a problem with keeping the power of Bishops, and disallowing Tridentine Mass in Diocese where the Bishop feels that is the correct course of action. At the very least those Bishops must eventually die or reach retirement age, and be replaced.

I do, however, see some direct harm in a Universal Indult. Such a decree will only serve to embolden groups such as the SSPX, who are at schism. The Pope clearly stated that adherents to the group were subject to an excommunication, but if the Indult is offered, the group will have more power to argue that they are not in schism to their members. This could be harmful to the faithful, participating in Masses that are sacrilege because they think that these masses were legitimized by the Indult. Technically, it gives SSPX no reason to exist, but they will, as they tend to deny much that the Church has taught since the Vatican II Council.

Another dangerous aspect of the Indult could be a deeper division of the faithful. If this meant a greater access to Tridentine masses, this could mean that there would be a much greater division between the Traditionalists and the regular Catholics and the Modernists. Division is not Catholic, and this is a Catholic Church.

There are counterpoints. The Indult might help make Paul VI masses more reverent, possibly. There have always been different Rites available, even now there are Eastern Rites around. This could expand knowledge about Rites, and encourage learning about the Liturgy. Also, it does, in a way, help to restore more of a connection with Tradition. The thing is, this is something that can be achieved under the old Indult, at least in Diocese where the Bishop allows the old Rite.

And so I have said my piece, I must also say that I think a universal indult will be offered, by years' end. Cardinal Ratzinger had a lot to say about the Liturgical renewal, much that wasn't good. But, if you read Sacramentum Caritas, he definitely states that we cannot roll back liturgical reform, and I have to agree. To do so would be a setback to the Church, and would be just as bad and unprecedented as the reforms of Paul VI.

I shall point you to a few articles related to this idea.

First, an Article by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler refuting the notion that the mass of Paul VI was a revolution.
Contrary to what many may think and many may have hoped, the liturgical
reforms of the Second Vatican Council were not a revolution. Indeed, far
from being a sudden explosion of new ideas, the decrees of the council were
rather the keystone that crowned the developments of the previous sixty
years, beginning with the "motu proprio" of Pope St. Pius X, "Tra le
sollecitudini" of 1903. The events that preceded the "motu proprio"
stretched back into the nineteenth century being rooted in the romantic
movement, the revival of monasticism, the rediscovery of Gregorian chant
and the Caecilian reform of church music.

Next, we have the Ottavini Intervention, a letter from Cardinal Ottavini to Pope Paul VI, underlining the problems with the mass he had just promulgated. This was an important document to me at one time, and even now, it is telling of the surprise of many on the newness of the new Rite. This is a well thought out criticism of the New Mass.

We have an article by Paul Likoudis entitled "Cardinal Ratzinger Blames Church Crisis on Liturgical Collapse", taking excerpts from the then Cardinal's autobiography.

Rather than being a force for unity in the Church, the new Mass has been the source of liturgical anarchy, dividing Catholics "into opposing party positions" and creating a situation in which the Church is "lacerating herself."

Formally imposed after a six-month period of "liturgical experimentation" in which anything —and everything—did go, the Roman Catholic Mass has never attained a universality, stability—or even an element of predictably—for most Catholics around the world; but instead has been a stimulus for never-ending innovations—from altar girls to dancing girls to women priests.

While the Missal of Paul VI "brought with it some authentic improvements and a real enrichment," the banning of the old Mass caused some "extremely serious damages for us," he wrote in La Mia Vita, released in mid-April in its Italian translation.

And finally, the article that was the straw that broke my back and mad me want to finally write this, from the Catholic News Service.
The move is aimed at ending a liturgical dispute which has simmered for more than 20 years. In the process, it could clarify how the pope intends to implement what he once described as a "liturgical reconciliation" in the modern church.

The pope will enunciate the new policy in a document to be released after more than a year of debate and discussion at the Vatican. The Roman Curia had mixed views on expanding the use of the Tridentine rite, and so did the world's cardinals and bishops -- all of which has lent a certain drama to the outcome.

I need not quote Sacramentum Caritas although one of the major themes through it is a devotion to liturgical reform, and an emphasis on following proper liturgical norms.

So, as I said, some document will be issued soon, and I believe it will be essentially a universal Indult, giving the power to priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without needing to seek permission from their Bishops. As I said, I worry that this will undermine the power of Bishops, and further divide the already fractured faithful. The Indult as it stands still needs time to show its fruits.

Peace, and everything good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Recently, the Archdiocese of Genoa has been attacked by spray paint vandalism after their Archbishop made a statement against same sex marriages. (Article)

During the past week, graffiti have appeared on doors of Genoa's cathedral and other neighboring churches, with slogans such as "Bagnasco shame," and "Bagnasco beware." The graffiti-- which also includes insults to the Pope and to the Catholic faith generally-- appeared soon after the archbishop issued a public statement opposing the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

The spray-painted slogans are offensive in themselves, Avvenire argued. But they are even more objectionable because they inflame passions and promote intolerance against the Church. The slogans in themselves are indications of contempt, the editorial said, and the sentiments they convey "can move quickly from mouth to mouth and mind to mind," until they spur more violent reactions.

This is a typical thing we have, people upset with someone defacing their things. What would people say if Catholics went around and did such things to people who disagreed with them (maybe anti-Catholic Protestant Churches)? Nobody would respect the Church, people would leave her. But, if you do something like that to the Church, people have no problem, and probably (at least secretly) support these detractors.


(Update: The vandalism has spread across Italy, confirming my point. Read more here.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

LA Times, Cardinal Mahoney, and the Catholic League

The Catholic News Agency is reporting on the response of Bill Donahue to the LA Times' criticism of Cardinal Mahony.

The Cardinal-Archbishop of Los Angeles recently spoke out against proposed legislation that would allow doctor-assisted suicide in the state of California. He also criticized Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Catholic, for supporting the bill.

Los Angeles Times writer George Skelton criticized the Cardinal in his April 5 column. In it, he referred to the Catholic Church as “looking like an ugly old political attack dog.” He also accused the Cardinal of violating the American separation of church and state and called for “a bill to reexamine the tax-exempt status of church property.” ...

He noted how an editorial in the Los Angeles Times on March 2, 2006, commended Cardinal Mahony for “reinforcing the right of religious leaders to speak out on the moral ramifications of political issues.” The issue that Cardinal Mahony addressed then was immigration.

“So how can it logically be that Cardinal Mahony is now all of a sudden violating the Constitution when he addresses doctor-assisted suicide?” Donohue wondered.

How indeed? That the same writer would compliment religious leaders speaking out on moral issues when they agree, but would happily invoke the separation of Church and State when they disagree is indicative of the political nature of such newspapers.

And I can say that the difference might be that Cardinal Mahony called out a Catholic politician by name this time. This is not, however, what separation of Church and State entails, and also should not be surprising, as Sacramentum Caritas calls for Eucharistic Consistency in public office. It is surprising, though, and refreshing that the Cardinal is willing to say this.

I applaud him and his office. I hope he can keep up the good fight.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jerusalem Patriarch Speaks out

Recently, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem released a statement calling for the end of the occupation of Palestine. (CWN)

Noting that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has now continued for 40 years, Patriarch Sabbah argues, "as long as this dysfunction continues in the Holy Land, the region and the world will suffer from it." He urges political leaders to "take the risk of making peace and put an end to the occupation."

The Palestinian prelate concedes that "fear has complicated matters and wants to see the Palestinians as terrorists or as incapable of assuring security." He encourages responsible leaders to overcome that fear, and create a new society in the Holy Land in which it can be said "that everyone accepts everyone, that everyone respects everyone, and that no one uses violence against the other.

First off, I didn't realize we still had a Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who knew? I also have to say I disagree with him, respectfully. I am not convinced that the so called "occupation" of Palestine must end. I believe that the problem is not occupation, but oppression. From all I have heard about Israel, they do not respect the Palestinians, but rather treat them (and, in fact any non-Jews) as second class citizens (or lower).

That is the underlying problem. People like a benevolent dictator/monarch but unrest occurs when the overloards are forceful. I think the call should be for Israel to respect and care for the Palestinian lands and people, or give them up. I do not believe that the hatred of Israel would continue in Palestine if only the Israelis would work for the benefit of of the Palestinian people and keep them well taken care of.

Perhaps I'm just an optimist.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Key to Sacramentum Caritas

Zenit published an interview they conducted with Fr. Nocola Bux about Sacramentum Catiras.
Q: For the second time the Pope has authored a significant text with the word charity, love. First "Deus Caritas Est" and now "Sacramentum Caritatis." Do we have a key for reading this papacy?

Father Bux: Charity is the key to reading Catholic Christianity and therefore the postsynodal exhortation, because Pope Benedict's thought is fully Catholic in the sense that it is the bearer of what is believed always, everywhere, and by all -- as St. Vincent of Lerins says -- and at the same time it is a thought that is mobile, attentive to the questions of contemporary man.
The "bulldog" that everyone thought this Pope would be is turning out to be a fuzzy puppy dog. Even I am surprised, though I didn't propose to know anything for real about him as a man, just as the Grand Inquisitor. Apparently this should be no surprise to anyone.
Q: What is for you the most important point of this exhortation?

Father Bux: The admonition to live the Eucharist as a sacrament of love, which is organic communion, or more exactly, reciprocal obedience between Pope and bishops, bishop and priests, priests and laity.

Just as we do not make the Church but it is rather Jesus who gathers together and continually renews the Church with the action of the Holy Spirit, so also the Eucharist, greatest manifestation of the Church, must be observed in obedient humility in such a way that I "diminish" and the Lord "increases" more and more in every Christian.
It speaks for itself.


Friday, April 6, 2007

Bishop Chastises Political Priest

EWTN reports:
A Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Canada has rebuked a priest who endorsed a pro-abortion political candidate. reported on April 3 that a Liberal Party meeting to nominate Michael Ignatieff had been held at the Christ the Good Shepherd Parish St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto. Ignatieff, whose stands in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage are well known, had his nomination seconded by the pastor of the church, Father Terry Lozynsky.

Not only did the priest support the canidacy of a person who definately does not uphold the teachings of the Church, in matters as serious as abortion, but he went so far as participating in it (through the nomination). This is not the role of priests.
Bishop Stephen Chmilar, the Ukrainian Bishop of Toronto and Eastern Canada, acknowledged the incident and noted: "Father Terry was called into our office to explain his actions and we pointed out to him that based on canon law, at no time is any of our clergy to be part of, or deemed to be associated with, any political party except in the judgment of the Eparchial Bishop, if a particular law so states the need to protect the rights of the church or to promote the common good requires it."

Moreover, the Bishop Chmilar wrote: "It was also acknowledged that by promoting Mr. Ignatieff, that indirectly he was promoting the political stance on abortion and gay rights legislation that the candidate has."

Reading on, it is not clear that the priest was fully aware of the implications of his actions. That said, I'm glad that the Bishops had what it took to let him know that he was wrong. I wonder what would have happened if this had been a Canadian Roman Rite priest...


Oh, what a Mystery!

The Pope, on the mystery of the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Cross.
"Let's ask the Lord," the Holy Father said, "that he may help us understand more and more deeply this wonderful mystery, to love it more and more, and in it, to love him more and more."
Let us take this to heart, and make the prayer our own as we approach Easter.

Theologians Addressed by the Pope

Pope Benedict, recently, spoke to some theologians (article).
"But, in the case of theology, in addition to the courage to ask questions, it is also necessary to have the humility to listen to answers which the Christian faith gives us: the humility to perceive in these answers their reasonable character and to make them in this way, accessible to our times and to ourselves.
This statement is, I'm sure, related to the recent cases of Theologians being sanctioned by the CDF. The Pope doesn't want Theologians to be worried that they should keep their mouths shut, but makes sure they remember that they must stay true to the Faith that has been handed down to us.

It happens that theologians sometimes make statements and declarations that are wrong, and we hear about the cases where they are sanctioned. We hear about these cases so we are not led astray. We don't, generally, hear about the cases where a theologian says that he thinks he's wrong after a CDF investigation (because we don't need to be warned). I'm sure this happens a fair amount.

Curiosity with humility.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Sainthood of JPII

On this the second anniversary of the death of our Beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, I have decided to write a short reflection on him, and discuss some of what has been happening in his cause for canonization.

John Paul II was the only Pope I ever knew. As I made my way back to the faith, he really became a great symbol of the Church in my life. He really was the shepherd of the flock of Christ. He was an extremely charismatic figure, even in his late years. His teachings and writings were exactly what the Church needed, tempering the "spirit of Vatican II" and bringing forth and reflecting on the Truth that the Council taught.

I prayed for him to the end, and was saddened to see him go. Yet, I knew he was heading to be closer to God, it was clear in his final years that he was destined to spend eternity with Christ.

Now, two years have passed, and he is that much closer to being declared a Saint. I word it this way because I truly believe that he is right now a Saint, in Heaven with our Lord, continuing to watch over the flock entrusted to him.

Recently, the initial study of his life and death has been concluded by the Diocese of Rome, and is therefore being forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They will review the material, and draft a document outlining the ways John Paul II lived a life of heroic virtue. They will also be reviewing a possible miracle, relating to a Nun who was cured of Parkinson's disease, of which the former Pope ailed. If this and another miracle are approved, the Canonization can be made.

This leaves only one question remaining. What will we call him? He was called John Paul II for quite a long time. Will he be Pope St. John Paul, Pope St. John Paul II, just St. John Paul or St. John Paul II? Maybe we will even begin using St. John Paul the Great. This is one question only time will answer for us.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Vatican Board Game, a review

Recently, a professor at Northern Illinois University developed a game called the Vatican Board Game. My friend, being an impulsive shopper had to get it the day he saw it first on the Internet.

The premise of the game is that you start out as a Cardinal, and advance through the ranks, as it were, getting jobs in your local region and the Vatican. You take a stand on the issues and gain or lose points based on your decisions. You can attain spiritual perfection or fall into the cesspool of sin (yes, these are real parts of the board).

My initial reaction is that this game is quite fun. It's not terribly difficult to understand, but it still makes you think. The questions it asks are interesting, and two similarly worded questions can result in quite different outcomes. In general the game tries to be a political game rather than a game of orthodoxy. That said, the game doesn't really get too far away from the orthodox position, but it is impossible to keep an author's opinions out of a game like this.

The game might have some replayability issues, as after having played the game a few times, I've probably seen most of the cards. I'm not concerned yet, as we haven't played enough to see if this will really keep the replayability down. You really have to be Catholic to play the game. Last time we played with one protestant and 5 Catholics, and not knowing the terminology of the Church, nor the orthodox positions put her at a disadvantage.

Overall final thoughts: I enjoy this game, though I probably wouldn't plop down the $40 to get it for myself.