Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Massachusetts Turns in Two Times the Necessary Signatures to Repeal Gay “Marriage”

by Terry Vanderheyden
A family advocacy coalition has submitted double the required number of signatures necessary to ensure voters have an opportunity to overturn a 2003 activist court decision by voting on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriage” during the 2008 general election. collected over 120,000 signatures in time for the Wednesday deadline. “I credit this phenomenal effort to thousands of citizen volunteers and over 1,200 communities of faith — including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim — who have worked tirelessly to give every citizen in the Commonwealth a voice in how marriage is defined in Massachusetts,” said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman.

Presently, 19 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Several more have “Defense of Marriage” laws that preclude their states from recognizing same sex marriages and/or civil unions performed in other states. Federally, the Defense of Marriage Law, passed by President Clinton, precludes the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages.

Having collected nearly double the necessary 65,825 signatures, is highly confident that well over the required number of signatures will be certified by the Secretary of State. “What the citizens of Massachusetts have done is roll up their sleeves and assume their legal rights as citizens to have a voice in government,” Mineau added.

Presently, cities and towns are processing petitions and will continue to do so through December 5. On December 7, the final number of petitions will be tallied and will be brought to the office of the Secretary of State who has the responsibility of certification. With 65,825 certified signatures, the petition then must be approved by 25% of the legislature, or 50 members, in two successive sessions before it goes to the ballot in 2008. A simple majority of citizens voting in support of the referendum will make it an amendment to the state constitution.

The next question is whether Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who has gone on record saying that lawmakers must make sure that the issue of same-sex marriage “never, ever appears as a question on the ballot,” and others in the legislature, will take away the rights of Massachusetts citizens to vote on marriage.

“Citizens must insist that their elected representatives act honestly and ethically and allow this vote to occur. Then and only then will the matter of marriage be settled in Massachusetts,” Mineau concluded.

A Zogby International poll conducted in 2004 found that 69% of likely voters in Massachusetts want to vote on a constitutional amendment to keep Massachusetts a traditional marriage state. A Bay State Poll, however, conducted in October, claims only 37% support for the amendment while 53% were opposed, according to the Center for Public Opinion Research at Merrimack College.

Meanwhile a homosexual advocacy group plans to publish the names and home addresses of petition signers at their web site,, in an effort to intimidate supporters of traditional marriage. The action may however backfire on homosexual activists who risk angering grassroots voters even more with their harsh tactics and rejection of democratic process.

  • (This article courtesy of

Cat Conspiracy

by Lisa Barker

I have nine cats and I truly believe they are conspiring to drive me insane. A dog wouldn’t do this. Dogs are straight-forward. You know where you stand with a dog.
But with cats you quickly discover that they are three steps ahead of you. Worse, they have this stupid little "gotcha" smirk.
Dogs just smile. Their look says, “I love you!” Cats grin and when you fall for one of their little tricks, you can just hear them think, “My, but aren’t you a bright one?”
I’ll give you an example. My cats stare at spots on the wall. No kidding. Six of them will gather together and stare at the same place on the wall. After five minutes of this, I’ll go and stare at the same spot wondering what it is they see. Then, I glance at them and they are all smirking at me.
This trick works great because it can be repeated so many times with little variation. They’ll gather in a circle and stare at a spot on the floor. I see their tails twitch and think, “Oh, great. There’s a bug, or worse.” So I go look and see those little smirks again.
Another fun game of theirs is to suddenly jerk — all of them at once — and look quickly at something you can’t see or hear. You go investigate. You see and hear nothing. You come back to find the cats huddled together looking rather self-satisfied and amused.
Cats loll around the house all day. But precisely five minutes after you close your bedroom door at night, you hear them tearing around the house chasing one another. Just open the door and suddenly it’s a "lickfest." Here are all these cats nonchalantly grooming as if they haven’t a care in the world. “What on earth could you possibly mean? We haven’t been tearing around the house. Oh, no!”
And cats understand English. Recently, my husband and I were having a rather loud and passionate "conversation" about the cats because they’d taken to lounging on the counters and kitchen table. I threatened to make them all outdoor cats or give them away. Lo and behold, suddenly the cats avoided the counters and table like the plague.
Cats are also picky. You go through seven different bags of cat food before you find a brand they like. Then, you stock up on it and the cats could care less. You offer them food off your plate and they turn their noses up at it. Leave the table for a minute to go get the ketchup bottle and come back to find your entrĂ©e has vanished… and the cats are smirking again.
You know, people say we have yet to make contact with beings from other planets. But I think we already have. Yes, the aliens are among us now in the form of cats. They had nothing better to do than incorporate themselves into our world as pets so they could both study us and drive us insane. If you think about, it makes total sense. What other animal can you own as pet that demonstrates such an intelligence that is far superior to your own?
Call it a conspiracy, if you will, but I think cats know a lot more than they let on.
  • (Jelly Mom is written by Lisa Barker, a busy mom of five, and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent to Parent. To read more, visit

Ex-Catholic Fundamentalist

Mark Shea
[Editor’s note: A large portion of the viewer’s original email was a vast post trying to refute Catholic teaching with usual fundamentalist misreadings of Scripture. We kept the portions of the email to which Mark Shea responded.]

Dear Chris:
You write:
Season's Greetings, My name is Chris, and I am a former Catholic; one who did attend the Mass every day, and one who prayed the Rosary often. I am writing to ask a question or two.
If you are writing to "ask a question" why do you append a vast article with no questions in it? Are you not, in fact, writing because you have no real interest in asking questions and are bound and determined to attack the Catholic faith?
You see, I get letters like this a lot, Chris. For some reason, ex-Catholic fundamentalists always think it will look good if they are "writing to ask a few question" before they launch the long assault. In the course of that assault, they will invariably describe themselves as having once been "devout" and then proceed to regale me with "facts" about the Catholic faith which my ten year old could refute. Frequently they will say that I, as a Catholic, need to learn to think for myself and not listen to the traditions of men and then cap the whole thing by demonstrating a complete inability to think for themselves as they regurgitate (just as you do) a cut and paste "List of Catholic Inventions" that they downloaded off the Internet with scarcely a movement of their gray matter. They have (as you have) no idea of the origins of The List. Nor do they know the many permutations it has gone through as various erroneous "facts" have been fact-checked and shown to be bogus.
So when you tell me about your dad and then pretend to ask:
In this life: Can a Catholic (or anyone) possess everlasting life — and know it?
I have a hard time believing you are asking in good faith. I think that, no matter what answer I give, you are not interested. Because you have already made up your mind to respond with a slogan. There is, of course, an answer to the question, which is that Catholics have hope, not certitude, of salvation. That is, we trust in Jesus, just like you do. But we do not presume to know for certain that we are incapable of ever sinning gravely and destroying our relationship with God. So we live by grace day by day and do not worry about tomorrow since tomorrow will take care of itself, as Jesus said.
Has the Church ever believed, and therefore taught: that it would be a "sin" to say that we already have it? (Everlasting life.)
Depends on what you mean. We have the life of the Blessed Trinity in our souls through faith in Jesus and the sacraments he instituted. We do not have absolute certitude that we will persist in that faith till death because we don't know the future. There are two sins against hope: despair and presumption. Presumption says "Nothing I can do will ever cut me off from God" and opens the door to arrogantly supposing we can sin all we like without fear of consequence. Despair says, "There's no chance for me, so I will abandon Hope." The goal is to stick with Faith, Hope, and Love and not fall for either despair or presumption.
Is it in the denial that we have it (now): somehow the key to having it (later)?
If you are in a state of grace, you have the life of the Blessed Trinity, which is to say, eternal life. But if you sin gravely, you can destroy the life of the Trinity in your soul and be damned. That's why Jesus warned us to abide in him, lest we be broken off and burned in the fire. There's no point in that command if it is impossible to lose our salvation.
Is this a necessity: a required virtuous denying of oneself, or something?
Superstition? — To say that we have it now: might even jinx it? — Should we cross our hearts, and fingers? (I don't know whether to laugh, or cry!)
I don't know what you mean.
Say a consensus was therefore reasonably initiated, and Catholics were asked the big question: "Do you now have everlasting life, through Jesus Christ?" — What would we hear?
How should I know how a billion Catholics would answer a poorly worded question? The Church teaches that those in a state of grace have the life of the Blessed Trinity in their souls through Jesus Christ. However, that life can be lost by an act of radical rejection of grace.
It appears that many in the Catholic Church do profess belief in, "the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life."
Correction: all Catholics profess belief in that every time they say the Creed at Mass.
But, it also appears that many in the Church do not (in fact) believe that they now possess it. (Dogmatically, it does seem quite elusive.)
No it's not elusive. It's straightforward. If you have received the sacraments (which presupposes faith in Jesus Christ) and have not sinned gravely so as to cut yourself off from the life of God by radical rejection of grace, you have the life of the Blessed Trinity in your soul, i.e., eternal life. Indeed, so determined is Jesus to save that even those without access to the sacraments through no fault of their own can receive the forgiveness of sins and the grace of the Holy Spirit through faith. In fact, even those who do not know Jesus, but try to follow the light of conscience can be saved.
St. Francis of Assisi's words have been coined quite often in the saying: " dying we are born to eternal life."
What did he mean? (Is he referring to John 3? 1 Peter 1:3? Or maybe, Romans 6:7?) How many people have missed the boat and assumed what he said to mean: "Oh, we have to wait until we die (in order) to be born to eternal life." [?] — So close, and yet so far.
Given that the Church makes it abundantly clear that in baptism and faith in Christ we are born to eternal life, I think you are working hard not to get it.
Good thing: in the Bible, Jesus made it clear why we have to be born-again (made-alive spiritually) before we die (physically).
Sigh. I know.
Years ago, I spoke with Dad on the phone and told him that I have been saved by Jesus — and that I am now a born-again Christian. He asked me, "What is this 'born-again' deal?" I explained to him what Jesus said: "You must be born again," in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, among other relative passages in the Scriptures, including Peter and John's Epistles. Remember, some say, "He is saved, but doesn't know it." (?) This has caused me to be concerned for him, and others: How one can be faithful to a "Christian" church for so long, and yet not be absolutely assured of the primary means of obtaining redemption, salvation, complete forgiveness of all sins, and everlasting life.
It sounds like your Dad is perfectly well aware that the primary means of salvation Jesus has given are the sacraments. It's too bad you don't know that.
You said you were writing to ask a couple of questions. I've answered the questions. Next time, if you wish to be taken for an honest man, try prefacing your letter with something like "I hate the Catholic Church and I would like you to read my long attack on it and tell me what you think." Then I can write back more directly and say, "Long attacks only show that it's easier to throw mud than to wipe it off. If you really want to discuss the Catholic faith and learn about it, I'm happy to help. But if you just want to repeat the same tired canards and falsehoods in such quantity that I have to set aside several days of my valuable time trying to answer somebody who has absolutely no interest in my answer, then be aware that my answer is "No."
In short, write to have a conversation or do us both a favor and don't bother writing at all.
  • Mark Shea
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British Doctors “Increasingly Uneasy” with Abortion Survival Rate Reports Times

Hilary White
A government agency has published a report titled, “Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH),” that shows, to the horror of the British medical establishment, that up to 50 babies survive abortion every year in Britain.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says the Times, requires that babies whom the mother chooses to kill after 21 weeks and six days of gestation must receive an injection of potassium chloride into the heart “before being delivered.” The article states blandly that “in practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.”
In an unusually frank admission, the Times neglects the standard journalistic euphemisms that soothe public conscience in abortion coverage. Instead of speaking of “terminations” and “fetuses,” the Times refers to “babies.” Instructions to abortionists doing early term abortions in Britain require that the drugs used should “prevent such babies being alive at birth.”
Britain has one of the highest rates of abortion per live births in the world with abortion on demand available through 24 weeks gestation. British women seeking abortions later than 24 weeks can be sent without criminal penalty to Spain where facilities are available for “preventing such babies being alive at birth.”
As with human fecundity, the problem of children surviving abortion refuses to go away quietly and, according to the Times, doctors are “increasingly uneasy” with it. While disclaiming that he is not “anti-abortion,” Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s hospital, London said that abortion botching is “substandard medicine.”
“If viability is the basis on which they set the 24-week limit for abortion, then the simplest answer is to change the law and reduce the upper limit to 18 weeks,” said Campbell.
Catholic World News’ resident pseudonymous blogger and commentator, Diogenes, drew the obvious comparisons. “Skill at saving babies' lives is improving, skill at ending them is in short supply. The result: half a hundred stubborn little bastards — breathing and crying — who won't do the sporting thing and die. No wonder the health service is upset.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ireland's Largest University Prevents Abortion Survivor from Speaking

Gianna Jessen is a rare and unusual woman with an amazing story. 28 years ago she survived a saline abortion when she was 7 months in utero. Despite her cerebral palsy, which she has described as a gift and is a legacy of the abortion, Gianna has traveled the world with her powerful testimony. She is living evidence of the humanity of the unborn child and the fact that abortion takes a human life.

Ultrasound, the pro-life student network formed by Youth Defence, were delighted when Gianna agreed to undertake a tour of Irish colleges. Bookings and arrangements were made and materials printed and distributed in Ireland's largest universities.

However, while students across the country gave Gianna a rapturous welcome, powerful forces in Ireland's largest university were determined to prevent students at University College Dublin (UCD) from hearing her testimony. Ultrasound was told by UCD's administrators that they had to provide insurance for the event, which they arranged. On the morning of Ms. Jessen's talk, however, the pro-life group were told the insurance did not meet requirements and that the talk could not go ahead.

Despite every effort of Ultrasound, UCD's would not let Ms. Jessen speak. It then transpired that no insurance broker could provide the sort of insurance demanded by UCD for this event, since they were requiring insurance cover which would be necessary to facilitate a extreme risk event — something Gianna Jessen certainly is not, except perhaps to the pro-abortion movement. This sort of insurance has never before been demanded by UCD to allow a speaker and it would seem that this obstacle was raised to prevent Ms. Jessen's story being heard.

Universities are meant to be places of discussion and learning; it is to UCD's shame that they effectively banned this young woman and her amazing story.

Ultrasound has asked that concerned international supporters write or email the following:

We are building a register of complaints. Please send a copy of your email to or a copy of your letter 60a Capel Street, Dublin 1.

For more information contact Eoghan De Faoite at 353876524935 or Una at 353876877477.

Do Words Count?

The article from an independent newspaper catering to students at Notre Dame University announces the Second Annual “Notre Dame Queer Film Festival.”
It’s not a series about eccentric films. It’s a gay film series bolstered with “two [discussion] panels with acclaimed writers and directors.” Now, since Notre Dame claims to be a first-class academic university, let’s pose some philosophical questions about language — a lot of modern academic philosophy is, after all, focused on language. I am sure Notre Dame’s academic offices have their share of philosophers of language.
So it’s a “gay” film series. No more homosexuals, just “gays.” Of course, the name has an agenda: we are free, happy, and liberated; our detractors are cramped, joyless, and repressed. It’s also called a “queer” film series. Forget about Fred MacMurray as the innocently funny absent-minded professor (1961) or Jerry Lewis as the heterosexual nutty professor (1963), “queer” now becomes a forcibly cozy term for homosexuals in general. Finally, we come to the really serious move in the language game: it’s the Notre Dame Queer Film Festival. It’s not Latin. It’s French for “Our Lady,” the ever-virgin Mother of God, the recognized icon for centuries for purity of mind and body. You don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian to see the deep irony at play here. Even Muslims venerate the Virgin Mary. Everyone remotely familiar with Western culture knows what she represents.
But back to our question: Do names or words mean anything? What we see at the South Bend school is that words mean what a group wants them to mean. George Orwell, the famous British author of the novel 1984, is well-known for vehemently pointing out how those who want to control us manipulate language in outrageous ways. That’s what’s going on in South Bend. In northern Indiana, “Notre Dame” no longer refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Notre Dame” refers to a university with a famous football team. Period. The university is no longer named for Mary. Mary is named for the famous university. As done with the terms “gay” and “queer,” a new and utterly alien meaning has taken over a familiar term.
There is indeed a totalitarian agenda here. It is the agenda that seeks to erase what Catholicism has always taught as a matter of divine revelation: the marital act is a heterosexual act. It is totalitarian because it lies, just as the rulers in Orwell’s 1984 built their entire society on lies. The great lie is that this South Bend school can define Catholicism. The great truth is that God defines Catholicism. Education is about leading us out of misconceptions and lies into the truth, a truth that we do not invent but rather receive. What is going on in South Bend is miseducation worthy of the propaganda efforts Orwell described in his famous novel. I submit that the South Bend school has become a mirage: it looks like a Catholic educational oasis, when in fact it is a wasteland. But I think many of my readers knew that already.

Boston Archbishop to Homosexuals: "Because We Love You, We Cannot Accept Your Behavior."

John-Henry Westen
Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley wrote a pastoral letter last week calling on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies. This is done, he said, by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful. Otherwise, the bishop continued, we are dangerously "deceiving people."
After clarifying that the Catholic Church does not tolerate unjust discrimination towards persons with homosexual tendencies, the leader of the Catholic Church in Boston reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however — after saving her life — tell her "Go and sin no more."
Archbishop O'Malley thus tells some Catholics who are misled into false kindness towards those with homosexual tendencies, "If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people." The pastor of souls, who's first priority is his flock, warns that their spiritual well-being may be threatened by such false kindness. "If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible," he warned.
Archbishop O'Malley acknowledged that it is difficult for all Christians, priests and bishops included, to preach the truth in charity on the matter of homosexuality and other aberrant sexual practices such as adultery, and pre-marital sex. "It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church's teaching on sexual morality," he said.
In presenting the message of truth, the Archbishop counsels, "We must never deliver the message in a self-righteous way, but rather with compassion and humility."
Despite the hardships however, Archbishop O'Malley says Catholics must nevertheless present the truth. "It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church," he said. "We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is 'out of season,' but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today."
Concluding his letter, the Archbishop answered a common objection made by those with homosexual tendencies. "Sometimes we are told: 'If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.' In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: 'Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior,'" he said.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pope Visits a Catholic University and Calls for Faithfulness to the Magisterium

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI visited Rome's Sacred Heart Catholic University, for the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year.

The day began in the university, prior to the Pope's arrival, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome. The Eucharistic celebration was attended by students from all branches of the Sacred Heart Catholic University: Milan, Brescia, Piacenza-Cremona, Campobasso and Rome.

The main celebration began in the Holy Father's presence later that morning. The Sacred Heart University was founded by Fr. Agostino Gemelli from whom the university hospital takes its name. A brief speech by Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the university, was followed by a greeting from Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy.

The Pope began his address by greeting the academic authorities, then said: "Finding ourselves here together we cannot but think of the time charged with trepidation and emotion we experienced in this hospital during John Paul II's final months. During those days, from all over the world the thoughts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike were directed to the Gemelli hospital where, from his ward, the Pope provided everyone with a matchless lesson on the Christian meaning of life and suffering, bearing personal witness to the Christian message." On this subject, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for "the attentive care given to the Holy Father."

Highlighting the fact that many thousands of young people pass through the university, the Pope asked: "How do they leave? What culture did they find, assimilate, develop? This is the great challenge: to give life to a true Catholic university, one that excels for the quality of its research and teaching and, at the same time, for its faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Church's Magisterium."

"The Catholic university," he went on, "is a great workshop in which, in keeping with the various disciplines, new lines of research are constantly being developed in a stimulating encounter between faith and reason, one that aims to recover the synthesis" between these two elements. This synthesis is "unfortunately contrasted by important currents of modern philosophy. As a consequence, the fundamental questions facing man — how to live and how to die — seem to be excluded from the realm of rationality and are left to that of subjectivity. The end result is that the question which gave rise to the university — that of truth and goodness — disappears, to be replaced by the question of feasibility. This then is the great challenge facing Catholic universities: to practice science within the horizon of a rationality different from that which dominates today, in keeping with a form of reason open to the transcendent, to God."

Benedict XVI called on the teachers and students to cast out their nets "into the high seas of knowledge, trusting in the Word of Christ, even when you experience the fatigue and disappointment of not having 'fished' anything. In the great sea of culture, Christ always has need of 'fishers of men,' in other words, of people of conscience, well prepared people who place their professional expertise at the service of the Kingdom of God. And university research, if carried out from the standpoint of faith, is also part of this service to the Kingdom and to mankind."

In closing his address, the Pope referred to the "Paul VI International Scientific Institute of research on human fertility and infertility for responsible procreation," which was founded in November 2000. "It is, he said, "an eloquent example of that synthesis of truth and love that constitutes the living center of Catholic culture."

The Holy Father pointed out how the institute, "which came into being in response to the appeal launched by Paul VI in his Encyclical Humanae vitae, aims to give a secure scientific foundation both to the natural regulation of human fertility and to the commitment to overcome infertility by natural means. Echoing my venerated predecessor's grateful appreciation for this scientific initiative, I trust it may find the necessary support in continuing to carry out its important research activities."

Time to Replace Stem Cell Rhetoric with Truth

This last weekend, priests throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis spoke simply and directly to their parish families about the truth of stem cell research. They also invited people to attend an educational presentation during Advent.

The subject is no longer a far away, theoretical concept but something that all Catholics need to understand. A group promising wonderful cures through embryonic stem cell research is circulating a petition — and using influential people in its advertising — to push for a state constitutional amendment vote next November [in the state of Missouri]. The proposed measure would prohibit any attempt to ban stem cell research involving the creation and destruction of embryos, a concept the Missouri Legislature discussed but could not agree on last session.

We are not going to call the people who are behind the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures evil. Many of them merely want what those who favor moral medical research do: cures.

But Catholics need to see beyond the coalition’s rhetoric and resist being led astray, as some of the coalition’s backers already have been. Catholics also need to realize that the Church supports moral medical research that could cure illness and help people live healthier, happier lives. The coalition’s arguments, helped by some reporting in the mainstream media, have already blurred the lines between morally acceptable research and the kind that is not. Some of rhetoric implies that those who oppose embryonic stem cell research also oppose all stem cell work.

Nothing could be more erroneous.

Many cures have been found over the past few years by using cell donations from people or from donations of cells from umbilical cord blood. The Review [the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis] described one of these cures in a story on its front page recently, told the story of another cure through umbilical cord blood donations a few weeks ago and will continue to publish accounts of such cures. The Church blesses and encourages that kind of research.

What the Church condemns — and always will — is the creation of an embryo solely to extract cells for research and the subsequent destruction of that embryo afterward. Life cannot be created then destroyed, regardless of the outcome of such an experiment.

Thus far, no cures have come from embryonic stem cell research. However, a Catholic cannot merely use that as an argument in opposing such research, and we wish that several medical ethics leaders in the Church would stop using it. Give such research time and it will produce cures; but the procedure is immoral and can never be justified regardless of its outcome.


One does not have to be a medical expert to understand the basics of this argument. Using cells from existing life that will continue to live is moral; creating life only for an experiment is not.

Good people of all faiths need to avoid being diverted from the moral road by high-sounding promises. God has given medical science the opportunities it needs through a reuse of existing cells. But only He creates life, and we dare not try to duplicate that divine feat.


Pope Benedict XVI decried the "horror of events unfolding in Darfur," and demanded an end to "the cycle of violence and misery there," as he met on November 28 with a group of Catholic pilgrims from Sudan.

The Pope assured his visitors-- who were led by Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum-- of his "prayers and deep concern" for their country, which has been torn by civil war for years. While he lamented the continued bloodshed and misery in the Darfur province, he welcomed the peace agreement that has brought an end to the long and costly war in southern Sudan.

"The cessation of the civil war and the enactment of a new constitution have brought hope to the long-suffering people of Sudan," the Pope said. The construction of a new coalition government, he continued, provides "an unprecedented opportunity and indeed duty" for Christians to become involved in building a permanent and stable peace. "Though a minority, Catholics have much to offer through inter-religious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services," the Pope noted.

This was the first time during the pontificate of Benedict XVI that official representatives of the Sudanese bishops' conference met with the Pontiff. During their latest ad limina visit, in December 2003, the Sudanese bishops heard Pope John Paul II encourage them to work for an end to the civil war that was still ravaging the south of their country.

The Holy See has consistently deplored the new conflict in Darfur. In July 2004, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, traveled to Darfur as a personal envoy representing Pope John Paul, delivering financial aid to the refugees who had fled their homes to escape marauding militia groups. In March 2005 the Vatican's representative at the UN offices in Geneva, Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, urged special efforts to protect the refugees leaving Darfur. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer at UN headquarters in New York, renewed that appeal earlier this month. An estimated 200,000 people from Darfur are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Chad, with at least an equal number struggling to find temporary lodging elsewhere in Sudan.

The civil war in southern Sudan lasted 21 years, and caused an estimated 2 million deaths (including the victims of starvation aggravated by the breakdown in relief deliveries), before a peace accord was finally struck in January 2005. The fighting in Darfur began in February 2003 and reached a crescendo in 2004.
  • (


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, NOV. 28, 2005 ( Witchcraft is moving into the mainstream in the Netherlands. A Dutch court has ruled that the costs of witchcraft lessons can be tax-deductible, the Associated Press reported Oct. 31.

The previous month, the Leeuwarden District Court confirmed the legal right to write off the costs of schooling -- including in witchcraft -- against tax bills. The costs can be substantial, according to one witch interviewed for the article.

Margarita Rongen runs the "Witches Homestead" in a northern province. Her workshops cost more than $200 a weekend, or more than $2,600 for a full course. Rongen claims she has trained more than 160 disciples over the past four decades.

In England, meanwhile, Portsmouth's Kingston Prison has hired a pagan priest to give spiritual advice to three inmates serving life sentences, the Telegraph reported Nov. 1. The prisoners have converted to paganism and, according to prison rules, are allowed a chaplain in the same way as those with Christian or other religious faiths. Denying them a pagan chaplain would infringe their human rights, said John Robinson, the prison governor.

Earlier, on Oct. 17, the London-based Times newspaper reported that pagan priests in all prisons will now be allowed to use wine and wands in ceremonies held in jails. The Times noted that under instructions sent to prison governors by Michael Spurr, the director of operations of the Prison Service, inmates practicing paganism will be allowed a hoodless robe, incense and a piece of religious jewelry among their personal possessions.

The governors were given a complete guide to paganism, based on information supplied by the Pagan Federation. Prisoners will also be allowed to practice paganism in their cells, including prayer, chanting and the reading of religious texts and rituals. It is not known how many pagan prisoners are in jails in England and Wales, the Times added.
On the rise
The practice of witchcraft is attracting ever-growing numbers, particularly among young women. A recent attempt to understand its appeal is the book "Wicca's Charm," published in September by Shaw Books.

Authored by journalist Catherine Edwards Sanders, the book stemmed from a magazine article she was commissioned to do. Initially dismissive of Wicca, during her subsequent research Sanders came to appreciate that a genuine spiritual hunger was leading people into neo-pagan practices.

Sanders, a self-professed Christian, defines Wicca as a "polytheistic neo-pagan nature religion inspired by various pre-Christian Western European beliefs, which has as its central deity the Mother Goddess and which includes the use of herbal magic."

The book, which is limited to examining the situation in the United States, admits it is difficult to estimate the number of Wicca adherents. Sanders cites an estimate from one group, the Covenant of the Goddess, which claims around 800,000 Wiccans and pagans in America. A sociologist, Helen Berger, in 1999 put the estimate at 150,000 to 200,000 pagans.

Wicca is made up of many diverse elements, yet Sanders identifies some common beliefs among its followers. They are: All living things are of equal value and humans have no special place, and are not made in God's image; Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods or goddesses; their own personal power is unlimited by any deity; and consciousness can and should be altered through the practice of rite and ritual.

What is important to Wiccans, Sanders explains, is the experience of a spiritual reality, and not truth or a body of knowledge. There is no orthodoxy, defined text, or core beliefs. And, while it has ancient roots, Sanders notes it is attractive to modernity since it can be freely molded to fit the spiritual consumer's desires.

Spell-making is another key element of Wicca. But Sanders notes that of all the Wiccans she spoke to, none entered it in order to use spells to harm people. Most choose Wicca because they are dissatisfied with churches and organized religion and are looking for a spiritual experience they are unable to find elsewhere.
Another common trait in Wicca is environmentalism. Modern life has lost its connection to the land, Sanders argues, and Wicca, with its emphasis on nature, seasonal calendars, and the celebrations linked to the changing of the seasons, is both a way to recover this connection and also to spiritualize the relationship with the earth. Many Wiccans also reject the materialistic (but not spiritual) consumer culture.

Pagan and Wiccan groups, in fact, have been present at some of the anti-globalization protests in recent years. Sanders describes some the ceremonies she witnessed in 2002 during the World Economic Forum meeting in New York. They drew attention to such matters as environmental damage, animal welfare and preserving the purity of the water supply.

The ecological aspect of Wicca draws inspiration in part from the so-called Gaia spirituality. Gaia was the earth goddess of the ancient Greeks and in neo-pagan circles she is now transformed into the idea of the earth being one living organism, also called Gaia.

Feminism is another important element attracting people to Wicca. Sanders observes that Wiccan women feel as if Christian churches treat them like second-class citizens, limited to teaching Sunday school.

Sanders estimates that around two-thirds of neo-pagans in the United States are female. Many of them practice a form of goddess worship, commonly in the form of a mother goddess who is a metaphor for the earth. The Wiccan rituals also emphasize the concept of empowerment, and the female biological functions are accorded a respected role.

Added to this is the belief that what today's goddess worshippers are doing is reclaiming the heritage of a primitive world in which a peaceful matriarchal society dominated. This "matriarchal myth" is short on any historical evidence, notes Sanders, but is nonetheless an affirmation that is commonly repeated.

In fact, Sanders devotes a section of the book explaining how the Wiccan rituals and spells have no roots prior to 1900, and are the result of inventions and adaptations by a group of men, notably Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner. Far from being a revival of some ancient paganism or matriarchal society, Wicca is a modern, male invention.
Spiritual hunger
The desire to experience spirituality in a more direct and intense way is another factor attracting people to Wicca. Some teen-age girls, Sanders notes, are unsatisfied with the superficial teen culture and are looking for something to give a deeper meaning to their lives.

But, instead of turning to traditional religion to satisfy this need, an increasing number experiment with Wicca. Sanders argues that in part this is the fault of some churches, which have lost sight of the unseen world and the reality of a relationship with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, reducing their activities to just a social exercise.

Other churches provide little in the way of serious nourishment for inquiring teen-age minds, particularly females ones. Another factor leading adolescents to Wicca instead of Christianity is a desire for rituals and ceremonies. Modern church culture, observes Sanders, has reduced the importance of religious rituals and solemn celebrations, leading people to look for alternatives that offer more tangible supernatural experiences.

In concluding Sanders affirms that her investigations made her more appreciative of the spiritual hunger leading people to experiment with Wicca. At the same time she argues that Christianity offers all of what neo-pagans seek: a message true 2,000 years ago and still valid today.

Ask the Children

Mary Kochan
Cardinal Arinze has done it again. Back in February he was a guest on EWTN’s World Over Live, with Raymond Arroyo and was asked his response to the question of whether a Catholic politician who supports abortion publicly should be permitted receive Communion.
The cardinal said: “Do you need any cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?… Simple, ask the children for First Communion, they'll give you the answer.”
Then, in an interview published November 12th by Inside the Vatican, the cardinal brought up the children again in reference to the same question. “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that question? Can a child having made his First Communion not answer that question? Is it really so complicated? The child will give the correct answer immediately, unless he is conditioned by political correctness. It is a pity cardinals have to be asked such questions."
I have wondered why the cardinal keeps referencing the children like that and I think I may have found the answer.
A friend of mine, a divorced woman in her thirties and mother to two young elementary-age children, has found herself in what we delicately used to call “a family way.” The male half of the equation pressured her to have an abortion — something out of the question for her — and now sullenly awaits support bills. His role, if any, in the future of the gestating child, is still unknown. Suffice it to say that in most people’s minds this would qualify as a crisis pregnancy.
But not to the woman’s children. “Our mom is having a baby!” they delightedly announced to me at the occasion of a recent visit. They are too young to consider all the complexities of finances and child support. Even the fact that this child’s father might be anyone other than their own absent dad does not occur to their innocent minds, dwelling as they do in that blessed time that Catholic psychology calls the latency period. It is clear that to them a new baby in the family is an unqualified good.
And unqualifiedly a real person. A brother or a sister — they don’t know which yet. But real nonetheless, as real as their very own selves, valuable and welcomed and loved — already loved! — just because… well just because it is a baby and what else would you do with a baby other than welcome and love it, duh? To them there is no downside in having a new baby in the family.
So, how might such innocent children even be asked about the politicians and Communion issue? Perhaps like this: “Should we allow people who want to let babies be killed receive the Eucharist, or should we put them in time out until they stop wanting to let babies to be killed?”
Become as this young child, our Lord said.
  • © Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange
  • Mary Kochan, Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange, was raised as a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness. She is a member of St. Theresa parish in Douglasville, Georgia, and she is homeschooling two of her grandchildren. Her tapes are available from Saint Joseph Communications.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

“Gendercide” of Girls Leading to Lop-Sided Demographics

by Terry Vanderheyden
A new report has revealed that globally there are at least 200 million more males than females — because of what one researcher has termed “gendercide” — the extermination of girls in utero and out.
Lead researcher Theodor Winkler, announcing his findings Thursday at the United Nations, said that infanticide and gender-specific abortion were the leading causes for the dearth of girls.
Lead researcher Theodor Winkler, announcing his findings Thursday at the United Nations, said that infanticide and gender-specific abortion were the leading causes for the dearth of girls.
“We are confronted with the slaughter of Eve, a systematic gendercide of tragic proportions,” Winkler stated in the preface to his recently published book on the subject, Women in an Insecure World, as reported by Reuters news.
“There are dozens of ways women come to a grisly end,” Winkler said. “Obviously, human rights and the legal protection of women is of crucial importance but it is only one component. There is also a cultural change that must operate.”
“It starts in the womb,” he emphasized. “There are societies where male births are preferred, particularly if the number of births are limited. That's where abortion for gender reasons starts.”
The research also investigated violence against women, claiming that annually, 700,000 women are sold into prostitution, and “at least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.”
“The deeply rooted phenomenon of the violence against women is one of the great crimes of humanity,” Winkler said. “We cannot close our eyes to it and hope it simply goes away.”
In China, where there is a cultural preference for male children, the one-child policy implemented in 1979 has led to the selective murder of millions of Chinese girls within the womb. This selective infanticide has contributed to a male-female gender gap of almost 17 percent; in some provinces, this gap is as high as 30 percent according to official census data for the year 2000.
Having officially been a “great success, preventing at least 250 million births since 1980,” China’s horrendous one-child policy involving forced abortion and economic penalties for those who contravene the law was made permanent in 2000. China’s Communist People’s Daily news reported: “We cannot just be content with the current success, we must make population control a permanent policy.”
China is not the only country selectively targeting girls for death: the Indian Medical Association said in 2002 that up to two million baby girls are aborted every year there due to a cultural preference for sons.

Abstinence Includes Sexual Activity Says Maryland Middle School

by Hilary White
The Maryland Gazette reported Thursday that the eighth-grade health class at Herbert Hoover Middle School identifies two types of sexual intercourse as “abstinence.”
It would seem that even after decades of sex education, saturation of sexual imagery in the media and the virtual abolition of sexual mores since the 1960’s that educators still cannot effectively identify the sexual act.
Webster’s College Dictionary defines the verb “to abstain” as “to refrain voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy.” A chart showing different forms of contraception in the Herbert Hoover health class, however, includes three types of “abstinence:” “no intercourse,” “withdrawal” (ejaculation outside of the body) and “rhythm” (no intercourse during ovulation).
Parents have complained to the school saying that their children were being put at risk by the misinformation. Cindy Richards said, “Since when did the term abstinence change to include the two most ineffective forms of birth control possible?” “
“Here we have been teaching our kids that abstinence means not having sex, period. What kind of message is this sending?” Richards added.
Another mother, after complaining to her child’s sex education teacher, was told that the definition applied because the couple is “refraining from what they want to do.”
To those who have been studying the advance of the sexual revolution, this confusion of terms and meaning does not come as a surprise. The redefinition of pregnancy by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to mean the moment of implantation instead of fertilization in order to legitimize the Pill, is a case in point. The manipulation of language and deliberate obfuscation of definitions has been a key tool in the hands of the social revolutionaries.
The eradication of normal sexual rules since the 1960’s has led to many young people living in situations of profound confusion and internal contradiction. Researchers have found real links between the collapse of traditional sexual mores and the social, psychological and economic failure of many young people. Widespread divorce, sexual license and the breakdown of family bonds have created a chaotic social environment that has had long-term repercussions for all of society.
Mary Beth Bonacci, the well-known writer and lecturer on sexual morality said in an interview on Ignatius Insight, the website of Ignatius Publishing, that the mass confusion has led to great difficulties for young people today. When asked what is the biggest problem facing them, Bonacci said succinctly, “Popular culture.”
Bonacci said, “The messages bombarding teens every hour of every day from music, television, movies and the Internet all glamorize values that are absolutely antithetical to the Christian message.”
Bonacci warned parents to be vigilant in the schools saying, “Parents of kids in public schools need to keep close tabs on what their kids are learning, and be ready to pull them out if the school is doing things that are objectionable.”

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bishop Jia Arrested Again in China

by Joseph Kung

Two Other Diocesan Priests Also Arrested
Bishop JIA Zhi Guo, the underground Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Zheng Ding in Hebei Province, was arrested again by Chinese government security officials at his house on November 8, 2005. The officials, having ordered the bishop to bring his clothing, drove the Bishop to Jinzhou City where several other security officials were waiting in order to drive the Bishop to Shijiazhuang City. The security personnel told the public that the Bishop was taken away for a “study session.” We have no idea how long Bishop Jia will be in custody.
One day before the Bishop’s arrest, Father LI Suchuan, aged 40, and Father YANG Ermeng, aged 35, both of whom belong to Bishop JIA’s Zheng Ding Diocese, were taken away by the security personnel separately on November 7 from their parishes in Zhoujiazhuang Village and Zhoutou Village, both of Dingzhou City, respectively. We understand that they were taken to the Security Bureau of Jinzhou City. They still have not returned home at the time of this writing.
Bishop JIA is 70 years old and was ordained a bishop in 1980. He was previously in jail for approximately 20 years and has been under strict surveillance for many years. He takes care of approximately 100 handicapped orphans in his house. This is the eighth time we are aware that Bishop JIA was arrested since January 2004.
Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: “It is so fitting that today the United States government once again designated China as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ for denying its citizens religious freedom and human rights for the 7th consecutive year. For those who advocate that free-trade with China will change China’s human rights abuses, it will be difficult for them to produce evidence of progress in this area.
Recently, there have been many reports of bishops in US and Europe making friendly visits to the official Patriotic Bishops and the Chinese government. In addition, it was also reported that a Sister of Charity has agreed to open convents in China at the invitation of the Chinese government.
It is most disappointing that this good will and generosity have not improved the government treatment of the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy. It is sad to see that the Chinese government is quite confident that its continuous assault on the underground Roman Catholic Church will have no reprisal on their being accepted and pursued by the universal Roman Catholic Church.
In order to hopefully improve the Chinese government’s human rights practice, this arrest should serve once again as a wake-up call to the fact that some more effective antidote should be employed. I call once again for the Olympic Committee to consider canceling the Games in China, not only to preserve its good name and spirit, but also to act as a bargaining chip to improve China’s human rights and religious freedom practice.
As most of the official Patriotic Bishops have reportedly by media professed their loyalty to the Holy See and claimed that they have been approved by the Holy Father, I call to them to act as religious leaders in China and have the courage and charity to speak out against this injustice and continuous assaults to the underground Roman Catholic Church bishops and clergies.”
(This update is courtesy of Joseph Kung of the Cardinal Kung Foundation.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


- The following is an unofficial translation by CWN of the full Vatican document.
Congregation for Catholic Education Instruction concerning the criteria of vocational discernment regarding persons with homosexual tendencies, considering their admission to seminary and to Holy Orders
Following the teaching of Vatican II and, in particular, the decree Optatam Totius on priestly formation, the Congregation for Catholic Education has published different documents to promote an adequate formation integral of future priests, offering guidance and precise norms regarding their several aspects. In the meantime also the Synod of Bishops in 1999 reflected on the formation of priests in the present circumstances, with the intent to bring to fulfillment the conciliar doctrine on the subject and to render it more explicit and incisive in the contemporary world. Following this Synod, John Paul II published the post-Synodic apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.
In light of this rich teaching, the present Instruction does not intend to linger on all the questions by nature emotional or sexual that require careful discernment throughout the whole period of the formation. It contains norms regarding a particular question, made more urgent by the present situation, that is that of the admission or non-admission to the seminary and Holy Orders of candidates who have profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies.
I. Emotional maturity and spiritual fatherhood
According to the constant Tradition of the Church, baptized males alone may validly receive Holy Orders. By means of the sacrament of Orders, the Holy Spirit configures the candidate, to a new and specific role, Jesus Christ: the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, Head, Shepherd, and Bridegroom of the Church. Because of this configuration to Christ, the entire life of the holy priest must be animated by the gift of his whole person to the Church and with an authentic pastoral love. The candidate for ordained ministry, therefore, must reach emotional maturity. That maturity renders him able to put himself in the proper relation with men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood toward the ecclesial community entrusted to him.
II. Homosexuality and ordained ministry
From Vatican II until today, several documents of the Magisterium-and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church- have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism differentiates between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.
Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented as grave sins. Tradition has constantly considered them to be intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law. These, consequently, may not be approved in any case.
Concerning profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, that one discovers in a certain number of men and women, these are also objectively disordered and often constitute a trial, even for these men and women. These people must be received with respect and delicacy; one will avoid every mark of unjust discrimination with respect to them. These are called to realize the will of God in their lives and to unite to the Sacrifice of the Lord the difficulties that they may encounter.
In light of this teaching, this department, in agreement with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, holds it necessary clearly to affirm that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.
The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women. The negative consequences that may derive from the Ordination of persons with profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies are by no means to by ignored.
If, however, one is dealing with homosexual tendencies that may be simply the expression of a transitory problem, such as for example an adolescence not yet complete, such tendencies must be overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.
III. Discernment of qualification of the candidates on the part of the Church
There are two indissociable aspects in every priestly vocation: the free gift of God and the responsible liberty of the man. Vocation is a gift of divine grace, received through the Church, in the Church and for the service of the Church. Responding to the call of God, the man offers himself freely to Him in love. The desire alone to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive Ordination. It is the duty of the Church- in Her responsibility to define the necessary requisites for the reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ- to discern the qualification of he who wishes to enter the seminary, to accompany him during his years of formation and to call him to Holy Orders, if he be judged to be in possession of the requisite qualities.
The formation of future priests must articulate, in an essential complimentarity, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is necessary to reveal the particular importance of the human formation, the necessary foundation of all formation. To admit a candidate to the ordination to the diaconate, the Church must verify, among others, that he have reached emotional maturity of a candidate for the priesthood.
The call to Orders is the personal responsibility of the Bishop or the major superior. Holding present the opinion of those to whom the responsibility of the formation is entrusted, the bishop or the major superior, before admitting a candidate to ordination, must reach a morally certain judgment on their quality. In the case of a serious doubt in this respect, they must not admit him to ordination.
The discernment of the vocation and the maturity of the candidate is also a grave duty of the rector and the other teachers of the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his judgment on the quality of the candidate required by the Church.
In the discernment of qualification for Ordination, there is a grave duty for the spiritual director. While being bound by secrecy, he represents the Church in the internal forum. In meetings with the candidate, the spiritual director must especially remember the demands of the Church regarding priestly celibacy and the emotional maturity specific of a priest, as well as help him to discern if he has the necessary qualities. He has the obligation to assess all the qualities of the personality and to ascertain that the candidate does not present sexual troubles incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practices homosexuality or present profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, like his confessor, must dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards Ordination.
It remains understood that the candidate himself has the first responsibility for his own formation. He must offer himself with faith to the discernment of the Church, the bishop who calls to Orders, the rector of the seminary, the spiritual director, and the other teachers of the seminary to whom the bishop or the superior general has entrusted the duty of forming future priests. It would be gravely dishonest if a candidate were to hide his own homosexuality to enter, notwithstanding everything, to Ordination. An attitude so inauthentic does not correspond to the spirit of truth, allegiance, and availability that must characterize the personality of he who believes to be called to serve Christ and His Church in the priestly ministry.
This Congregation confirms the necessity that the bishops, the superior generals, and all the responsible involved fulfill a painstaking discernment regarding the qualification of candidates for Holy Orders, from the admission to the seminary until Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood in concordance with the teaching of the Church.
The Bishops, the Episcopal Conferences, and the Superior Generals must be vigilant that the norms of this Instruction be observed faithfully for the good of the candidates themselves and always to guarantee to the Church suitable priests, true pastors according to the Heart of Christ. The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI, August 31 2005, approved this Instruction and ordered its publication.
Rome, November 4, 2005, Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries
- Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect - Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB; Secretary
  • Nov. 22 (

And Justice for Katelyn?

(This first appeared in the posting of "Good Work, Bishop Wiegand" on 25OCT05 earlier in this Blog : Q)
By now, you have probably heard of Katelyn Sills. As my friend John-Henry Weston reported at Lifesite, this vivacious Catholic teen was expelled from her high school.
From her Catholic high school, that is. As the article explained, she “was expelled from Loretto High School in Sacramento at the end of October, two weeks after [a] teacher, who was found to be an abortion clinic escort, was dismissed at the behest of the local Bishop William Weigand.... Katelyn informed her mother after she recognized Marie Bain, one of the teachers at Loretto, as an escort at a Planned Parenthood abortuary where Katelyn and her family had regularly taken part in pro-life rallies.” Please check out Katelyn’s blog at
Now the public perception given by the Loretto sisters is clear. If the intended victim is a child in the womb, then aborting her life is permissible. If the intended victim is a young lady seeking spiritual and intellectual growth, then aborting her education is similarly permissible. Yet Thou Shalt Not Abort an old feminist from a position in which she exercises authority over impressionable adolescent girls.
Yet what I find most discouraging about Katelyn’s situation, as reported on Lifesite, is the following: “The diocese says it is unable to act on the matter of Katelyn's expulsion. Rev. Charles S. McDermott, S.T.D., Chancellor and Vicar Episcopal for Theological Affairs for the Diocese of Sacramento, explained to that the school is run by an order of nuns popularly known as the Loretto Sisters. Rev. McDermott described the order as ‘A religious institute in the Church which is of pontifical right,’ explaining that ‘they are subject in their internal affairs directly to the Holy See and not to the local bishop.’”
Bishop Weigand enjoys a solid reputation when it comes to defending the Culture of Life. The fact that His Excellency ordered a pro-abortion teacher dismissed from a Catholic school clearly demonstrates his willingness to shoulder his episcopal duties. My sources in both the pro-life movement and the canon law world hold Fr. McDermott in similarly high esteem. You can safely assume these two churchmen would only draw such a heart-wrenching conclusion after long and careful thought. Thus it is with trepidation that I ask the Diocese of Sacramento to please reconsider whether or not it may canonically intervene in this sordid affair.
Canon 806, §1 is clear: “The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and visit the Catholic schools in his territory, even those which members of religious institutes have founded or direct. He also issues prescripts which pertain to the general regulation of Catholic schools; these prescripts are valid also for schools which these religious direct, without prejudice, however, to their autonomy regarding the internal direction of their schools.”
Does Katelyn’s expulsion concern the internal direction of the school? As an aside, I would not fight this injustice too strenuously if Katelyn were my daughter. Rather, I would seek out another Catholic high-school that presented the Church’s teaching on faith and morals more fully.
Nevertheless, is this really what the canon means when it speaks of “autonomy concerning the internal direction of their schools”? After all, a high-school student is neither a teacher, a uniform, nor a postulant interested in joining the Loretto sisters. She is a member of the Catholic public who falls under the care of the religious institute within the context of a public ministry.
More importantly, autonomy in certain administrative matters does not mean autonomy from the basic principles of justice or autonomy from the Catholic faith. Katelyn merely insisted that a school administered by a Catholic religious institute act in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith. This is a right enjoyed by every Catholic. For canon 217 upholds the right of every Catholic “to a Christian education, which genuinely teaches them to strive for the maturity of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of salvation.”
Canon law offers a number of important protections to Christ’s faithful. There may be applications of canon law that can protect Katelyn. I submit them for consideration.
© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange
Pete Vere is a canon lawyer and a Catholic journalist. He recently co-authored Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (Servant Books) with Michael Trueman and More Catholic Than the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor) with Patrick Madrid. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.

Explaining the Real Presence to Children

Dear Catholic Exchange:
How can I explain the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist? My children say it sounds "gross" to eat Christ's flesh and blood.
Mrs. Koutroulakis

Dear Mrs. Koutroulakis,
Peace in Christ!
I admire your desire to help your children to truly understand Christ’s Real Presence. Doing so may take time, especially if your children are younger. The sacrament of the Eucharist is a great mystery, and as such can never be fully explained. You might find it helpful to give your children one concept at a time to consider.
We can explain transubstantiation by analogy. For example, take the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. First we see a caterpillar. Then we see the cocoon that the caterpillar has spun around itself. Finally, we see the butterfly. The appearance is different (caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly), but the substance remains the same. In the case of the Eucharist, the appearance (bread and wine) remains the same while the substance changes, becoming Christ’s flesh and blood.
You might find helpful Maria Montessori’s The Mass Explained to Children. It was originally published in 1932 and does not reflect some of the changes since then, but Dr. Montessori’s treatment of the subject is both straightforward and devout. The sections “The Meaning of the Mass” and “The Mass of the Faithful” (what we now commonly call the Liturgy of the Eucharist) focus particularly on the Eucharist.
You might also look at various catechetical resources — such as the Faith and Life or the Image of God series — to see how they explain Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and how you can apply their approaches.
United in the Faith,

Sarah Rozman
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)
Editor's Note: To submit a faith question to Catholic Exchange, email Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange becomes the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. Email addresses of viewers will not normally be published.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Can You Say ‘Good Morning Boys and Girls’? Only If You’re a Bigot

By Ben FrichtlBy Ben Frichtl

Prominent ‘civil rights’ group attacks ‘gender stereotypes
If the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has its way, teachers won’t be able to acknowledge that there are boys and girls in their classrooms. Or that boys are any different from girls.
Rebecca S. Bigler, Ph.D., reveals the plan in her article “Good Morning, Boys and Girls,” in SPLC’s publication Teaching Tolerance: Fall 2005:

It happens every day across the nation: Teachers welcome their students to class by saying, “Good morning, boys and girls.”… Imagine if a teacher used race labels in similar fashion: “Good morning, whites and blacks.” Or used ethnicity as a way to organize classroom activities: “Latinos, get your backpacks now.”

Bigler, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, has a profound yet simple solution to this social crisis of gender differentiation: “As a first step, classroom teachers should avoid making statements such as, ‘The girls are doing a good job,’ or ‘The boys need to be a bit quieter,’” she writes, and explains:

This will help all children concentrate on their identity as students rather than as members of a gender group. … Of course, gender cannot and should not be ignored in all situations. … It is appropriate, for example, to discuss gender barriers that have been broken—the first female astronaut, the first female U.S. senator and so on.

According to Bigler, teachers should emphasize similarities between boys and girls, not differences:

Ask, for example, “How are these people similar? Why do you think only men have done this job?” Teachers and students can then discuss gender discrimination, gender stereotyping, sexism and other issues.

The SPLC, founded by author/activist Morris Dees, once was known primarily for civil rights advocacy, but has, in fact, pursued virtually the entire left-wing political and social agenda. According to the official SPLC Web site, “The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil-rights law firm. Today, the Center is internationally known for its tolerance-education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.”

Some of these so-called “hate groups” include conservative Christian think tanks and public policy research foundations, such as American Vision, Family Research Institute and the Chalcedon Foundation. While not designated as a “hate group,” Concerned Women for America (CWA) is listed as one of the 12 “most influential anti-gay groups,” along with Focus on the Family, Summit Ministries, the Traditional Values Coalition and Coral Ridge Ministries.

“We’re in good company,” said Robert Knight, director of CWA’s Culture & Family Institute. “You’re known by the company you keep, but also by the enemies you make. We’re very comfortable being on a ‘hit list’ of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is getting increasingly strident as Americans reject its politically correct, radical agenda and are fighting to reclaim their heritage as a free people.”


Benjamin Frichtl, a student at Patrick Henry College, is an intern in the Culture & Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America.

A Response to Steven and Cokie Roberts

by Christopher West
(The actual column is reprinted at the end of this post: Q)

In a recent column called “Ostriches at Vatican City” Steven and Cokie Roberts insist that the Catholic bishops have chosen to “bury their heads in the sand” by reaffirming the requirement of priestly celibacy. Steven and Cokie believe that “ending the ban on marriage is the easiest fix” for the priest shortage.
No Catholic would deny that we need more priests. And it’s true that the practice in the Latin rite of reserving priestly ordination to celibate men could change. The Catholic Churches of the East have valid, married priests.
So, if someone asks, “Why can’t priests be married?” the real answer is, they can. There is more to the Catholic Church than the Latin rite. However, with good reason, priests in the West are normally chosen from among men who have discerned celibacy as their vocation.
There is a supreme value to the celibate witness that seems entirely lost on Cokie and Steven. Understandable. Generally speaking, the Church in America has done a lousy job educating her flock on the meaning of the Christian vocations, and the scandalous behavior of some (avowed) celibates within the Church has only added to the confusion.
A short column can’t do justice to the issues, but it’s a start. First, in order to understand the value of celibacy, we must understand the value of marriage. Why? Because the Church bases the value of any sacrifice on the value of that which it sacrifices. For example, it would be meaningless for me to give up smoking for Lent. Smoking holds zero value for me.
The Church places such a high value on celibacy precisely because she places such a high value on that which it sacrifices — the union of the sexes. In the Catholic view of things, the joining of man and woman in “one flesh” is a sacred foreshadowing of the eternal union that awaits us in heaven (see Eph 5:31-32). God gave us sexual desire, you might say, to be like the fuel of a rocket that’s meant to launch us toward the stars and beyond, to the eternal mystery of Christ’s union with the Church.
But what would happen if those rocket engines became inverted, no longer pointing us heavenward, but pointing us back upon ourselves? Welcome to the implosion of the sexual revolution. The union of the sexes serves as an icon, a sign of our ultimate fulfillment, but it is the beginning of our demise when we worship sex itself. A culture that worships sex has surely lost sight of heaven.
Jesus says we will no longer be given in marriage in heaven (see Mt 22:30). Why? Because we no longer need signs to point us to heaven, when we’re in heaven. The “marriage of the Lamb” (Rv 19:7) — the union of love that alone can satisfy — will be eternally consummated.
In turn, Jesus calls some to remain celibate not for celibacy’s sake, but “for the sake of the kingdom” (Mt 19:12) — that is, as a living witness to the union that awaits us in heaven. Authentically lived, a celibate’s life proclaims that as beautiful and wonderful as the union of the sexes is, there is a greater love, a greater union worth “selling everything” for.
It is entirely fitting that priests would be called to this level of sacrifice. In a world that idolizes sex, we desperately need the courageous witness of priestly celibacy. For when it is properly lived, it very effectively reorients our rocket engines toward the heavens.
Perhaps the bishops who recently gathered in Rome, rather than having their heads in the sand, were actually looking toward the stars. Perhaps they’re not as kookie as Cokie thought.
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Christopher West is a fellow of the Theology of the Body Institute.
His books and tapes on the Theology of the Body are available from Catholic Exchange online store.
Ostriches at Vatican City'
Catholic bishops from around the world have chosen to bury their heads in the sand. Apparently, even that uncomfortable pose is preferable to taking the steps necessary to deal with what many of them call the greatest problem facing the Church today — the acute shortage of priests.
Meeting for the first time since Benedict became pope; the bishops emerged from a three-week-long conference reaffirming the requirement of priestly celibacy. In a stunning display of cognitive dissidence, the men meeting in Rome also enthusiastically endorsed the central role of the Eucharist in Catholic life. But thousands of the faithful are denied the sacrament on a regular basis because there is no priest anywhere around.
When the bishops assembled in early October, prelates from the most developed countries to the least told tales of parishes without priests. New Zealand's Denis Brown, according to the Catholic News Service, insisted that isolated villagers "have as much right to participate in the Eucharist" as anyone else. He then asked why it's OK for former Anglican priests who are married to function as Catholic priests, while Catholic priests who marry are not.
Why indeed? And why is it OK for priests in Eastern rites to be married but not those in the Western, or Roman, rite? The answer echoes "Fiddler on the Roof" — tradition. Priestly celibacy is not a matter of dogma or theology; it's one of discipline and tradition. And, as it did with the proscription against meat on Friday, which was imposed as a discipline on the faithful for centuries, the Church can simply change the rule.
But the bishops have emphatically decided not to. In fact, when early reports from the secret meeting revealed the mere fact of discussion about the celibacy rule, the Vatican cracked down on the prelates' access to the press. Yet another case of firmly inserting head in sand — stop talking about the issue and it will go away. Still, no matter how much the men married to tradition wish it weren't so, the shortage of priests presents an eventually untenable problem for an evangelizing church.
The Vatican's own statistics show a 52 percent increase in the numbers of the faithful between 1975 and 2002, to more than a billion worldwide, compared to a static number of priests at less than half a million. In the United States, the Catholic population grew from about 49 million to a little more than 64 million, while the number of priests declined by 22 percent, down to about 45,000. And the situation is getting worse. A sociologist at Catholic University has found that for every 100 priests who die or leave the priesthood, only 30 to 40 replace them.
Now the Vatican is sending out signals that it will instruct seminaries to refuse to admit celibate homosexuals, which is likely to cut down even more on the numbers of men opting for ordination.
Allowing priests to marry might not totally make up for the shortfall, but it could certainly help alleviate the dire situation of more than a quarter of U.S. parishes that are priestless. Other Christian denominations in this country have seen the ranks of their clergy, who are allowed to marry, grow at the same time that the Catholic numbers dwindled.
There are, of course, some practical problems associated with a married priesthood. The Church would be responsible for supporting the wives and children and would experience the same difficulties as other institutions in trying to reassign entire families instead of single men. And there's the potentially embarrassing question of the size of priests families, with parishioners curious to see whether their pastors might be practicing birth control.
Still, ending the ban on marriage is the easiest fix for the problem. We would prefer that the Vatican allow women to become priests — a decision that would probably solve the shortage overnight. Women make up more than 80 percent of the lay people performing some form of ministry in the Church. But Pope John Paul II firmly shut the door on even discussing women's ordination, calling the all male clergy a matter of doctrine, not discipline.
If the bishops succeed in shutting down debate on an end to celibacy as well, they will be condemning countless Catholics around the world to a life where the blessings of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, are not available. Then what does it mean to be a Catholic? That's the question these men need to pull their heads out of the sand and answer.
Steve Roberts' latest book is "My Fathers' Houses: Memoir of a Family" (William Morrow, 2005). Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by e-mail at
Copyright 2005, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

The Holy Father Teaches Children about the Eucharist: “Jesus Had Entered My Heart”

Reproduced below is the Vatican translation of a Catechetical Dialogue that took place October 15, 2005, between some children who were preparing to celebrate their First Holy Communion and Pope Benedict XVI.
"What Are Your Memories?”
Andrea: Dear pope, what are your memories of your First Communion day?
Benedict XVI: I would first like to say thank you for this celebration of faith that you are offering to me, for your presence and for your joy. I greet you and thank you for the hug I have received from some of you, a hug that, of course, symbolically stands for you all.
As for the question, of course I remember my First Communion day very well. It was a lovely Sunday in March 1936, 69 years ago. It was a sunny day, the church looked very beautiful, there was music.... There were so many beautiful things that I remember. There were about 30 of us, boys and girls from my little village of no more than 500 inhabitants.
But at the heart of my joyful and beautiful memories is this one — and your spokesperson said the same thing: I understood that Jesus had entered my heart, He had actually visited me. And with Jesus, God Himself was with me. And I realized that this is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the other things that life can give.
So on that day I was really filled with great joy, because Jesus came to me and I realized that a new stage in my life was beginning, I was 9 years old, and that it was henceforth important to stay faithful to that encounter, to that communion. I promised the Lord as best I could: "I always want to stay with You," and I prayed to Him, "but above all, stay with me." So I went on living my life like that; thanks be to God, the Lord has always taken me by the hand and guided me, even in difficult situations.
Thus, that day of my First Communion was the beginning of a journey made together. I hope that for all of you too, the First Communion you have received in this Year of the Eucharist will be the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Jesus, the beginning of a journey together, because in walking with Jesus we do well and life becomes good.
"The Light of Sunday for All Our Family"
Giulia: Your Holiness, everyone tells us that it is important to go to Mass on Sunday. We would gladly go to it, but often our parents do not take us because on Sundays they sleep. The parents of a friend of mine work in a shop, and we often go to the country to visit our grandparents. Could you say something to them, to make them understand that it is important to go to Mass together on Sundays?
Benedict XVI: I would think so, of course, with great love and great respect for your parents, because they certainly have a lot to do. However, with a daughter's respect and love, you could say to them: "Dear Mommy, dear Daddy, it is so important for us all, even for you, to meet Jesus. This encounter enriches us. It is an important element in our lives. Let's find a little time together, we can find an opportunity. Perhaps there is also a possibility where Grandma lives."
In brief, I would say, with great love and respect for your parents, I would tell them: "Please understand that this is not only important for me, it is not only catechists who say it, it is important for us all. And it will be the light of Sunday for all our family."
Alessandro: What good does it do for our everyday life to go to holy Mass and receive Communion?
Benedict XVI: It centers life. We live amid so many things. And the people who do not go to church, do not know that it is precisely Jesus they lack. But they feel that something is missing in their lives. If God is absent from my life, if Jesus is absent from my life, a guide, an essential friend is missing, even an important joy for life, the strength to grow as a man, to overcome my vices and mature as a human being.
Therefore, we cannot immediately see the effects of being with Jesus and of going to Communion. But with the passing of the weeks and years, we feel more and more keenly the absence of God, the absence of Jesus. It is a fundamental and destructive incompleteness. I could easily speak of countries where atheism has prevailed for years, how souls are destroyed, but also the earth. In this way we can see that it is important, and I would say fundamental, to be nourished by Jesus in Communion. It is He who gives us enlightenment, offers us guidance for our lives, a guidance that we need.
“Please Stay with Me Always."
Anna: Dear pope, can you explain to us what Jesus meant when He said to the people who were following Him, “I am the bread of life?"
Benedict XVI: First of all, perhaps we should explain clearly what bread is. Today, we have a refined cuisine, rich in very different foods, but in simpler situations bread is the basic source of nourishment; and when Jesus called Himself the bread of life, the bread is, shall we say, the initial, an abbreviation that stands for all nourishment.
And as we need to nourish our bodies in order to live, so we also need to nourish our spirits, our souls and our wills. As human persons, we do not only have bodies but also souls; we are thinking beings with minds and wills. We must also nourish our spirits and our souls, so that they can develop and truly attain their fulfillment.
And therefore, if Jesus says: "I am the bread of life," it means that Jesus Himself is the nourishment we need for our soul, for our inner self, because the soul also needs food. And technical things do not suffice, although they are so important. We really need God's friendship, which helps us to make the right decisions. We need to mature as human beings. In other words, Jesus nourishes us so that we can truly become mature people and our lives become good.
Adriano: Holy Father, they've told us that today we will have Eucharistic adoration. What is it? How is it done? Can you explain it to us? Thank you.
Benedict XVI: We will see straightaway what adoration is and how it is done, because everything has been properly prepared for it: we will say prayers, we will sing, kneel, and in this way we will be in Jesus' presence.
But of course, your question requires a deeper answer: not only how you do adoration but what adoration is. I would say, adoration is recognizing that Jesus is my Lord, that Jesus shows me the way to take, and that I will live well only if I know the road that Jesus points out and follow the path He shows me.
Therefore, adoration means saying: "Jesus, I am Yours. I will follow You in my life, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion with You." I could also say that adoration is essentially an embrace with Jesus in which I say to Him, "I am Yours, and I ask You, please stay with me always."
Address of the Holy Father at the Conclusion of Meeting
Dear boys and girls, brothers and sisters, at the end of this very beautiful meeting I can find one word only: thank you.
Thank you for this feast of faith.
Thank you for this meeting with each other and with Jesus.
And thank you, it goes without saying, to all those who made this celebration possible: to the catechists, the priests, the Sisters; to you all.
I repeat at the end the words of the beginning of every liturgy and I say to you: "Peace be with you"; that is, may the Lord be with you, may joy be with you, and thus, may life be good.
Have a good Sunday, good night and goodbye all together with the Lord. Thank you very much!