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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Sunday, December 31, 2006


If there is any articals you would like to see on this site, then post the link in the comments on this post. I'll look them over and if I believe they are of quality, I'll post them.

Prayer to the Virgin Mary to End Abortion

Written by Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life
Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all, we turn to you today as the one who said 'Yes' to Life. 'You will conceive and bear a Son,' the angel told you. Despite the surprise and the uncertainty about how this could be, you said yes. 'Be it done unto me according to your word.' Mary, we pray today for all mothers who are afraid to be mothers. We pray for those who feel threatened and overwhelmed by their pregnancy. Intercede for them, that God may give them the grace to say yes and the courage to go on. May they have the grace to reject the false solution of abortion. May they say with you, 'Be it done unto me according to your word.' May they experience the help of Christian people, and know the peace that comes from doing God's will. Amen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Karl Keating

At his blog Catholic apologist Mark Shea has posted "Some Thoughts on the Apologetics Subculture": (scroll down to June 16).

Among other things, Mark bemoans the tendency, among some Catholic and not a few Protestant apologists, to get bogged down in minutiae. As an example, he refers to a discussion about the interpretation of the Greek behind the word "until" in Matthew 1:25: "and he knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son."

The link Mark provides takes you to an interminable tit-for-tat between a Protestant and a Catholic. Read just the first few paragraphs (you won't be able to get through the whole thing). What will come to mind is Macbeth's soliloquy in Act V: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The writer (in this case a Protestant, but Catholics have done the same) offers up thousands of words--19,000 of them in fact--that supposedly demonstrate that his understanding of "until" is true and that his Catholic opponent's understanding is false. In fact, the most he can hope to do is to prove that this particular Catholic committed an error here or there; he can't (and doesn't) prove that the traditional Catholic understanding of "until" is wrong.

Such a waste of time!

Look, I'm an apologist, and I like engaging in apologetics, but there are limits. There are limits to what apologetics can accomplish, and there are limits to my patience. When I come across a 19,000-word dispute about the meaning of a single term, I don't think: "This is impressive work." I think: "This guy needs to get a life."

Apologetics is the explanation and defense of the faith. It comes into play only when someone asks for an explanation or attacks the faith. It is not the same as evangelization, which is the promotion of the faith.
Apologetics is reactive; evangelization is pro-active. The two often go hand-in-hand, but they are not coterminous and should not be confused with one another.

I think apologetics is important, and that is why I have been engaged in it for a quarter of a century. I think it is so important that I don't want to waste time writing or reading 19,000-word exercises in futility.

It is said that Joseph Conrad once spent the better part of a day trying to decide whether to describe a character as "penniless" or "without a penny." There is a subtle distinction between the two, but it is so subtle that I am sure that no reader of his story ever came across the passage and wondered to himself why Conrad didn't choose the other term.

To Conrad, choosing one word over the other was important. It was important to absolutely no one else. Sometimes apologists reduce apologetics to the same level.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Mortal Sin of Blasphemy

Fr. William Saunders

I have heard Father Benedict Groeschel refer to The Da Vinci Code as “blasphemous.” Exactly what does he mean by this?

One of the greatest violations against the love of God and the reverence we owe to Him alone is the mortal sin of blasphemy. Blasphemy is thinking, speaking, or acting against God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in a contemptuous, scornful, profane, or abusive manner. Serious ridicule of the saints, sacred objects, or persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is indirectly attacked.

As Christians who are God-fearing, who truly respect God as God, and who love God with our whole hearts, minds and souls, we must be outraged at the blasphemous book and movie entitled The DaVinci Code. While the author Dan Brown states that his work is fiction, he also states it is based on facts. This work is a weaving of half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright lies. We do not have time to elaborate on all of them. However, a good source book would be The DaVinci Deception. Here are a few of the assertions paraphrasing directly from the book:

The book asserts that our New Testament was the product of man, not God. Wrong. The human authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The words of Sacred Scripture teach faithfully, firmly, and without error the truth God wanted us to have for our salvation.

The book asserts that throughout history there never has been a definitive version of the Bible. Wrong again. At the time of our Lord, the Jewish people had the 46 books we know as our Old Testament. The New Testament writings were completed by the year 100 at the latest and there is growing evidence that the completion date was closer to 70. In the early second century of Christianity, St. Irenaeus (a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a student of St. John the Apostle), St. Justin the Martyr and Bishop Papias attested to the 27 books of our New Testament being used at Mass. The Muratorian Fragment (AD 155) lists the books of the New Testament and distinguished between those that were genuine to the apostolic faith and those that were heretical and forged, referring to gnostic writings. There were only four Gospels, those attributed to St. Matthew, an Apostle; St. Mark, a disciple of St. Peter; St. Luke a disciple of St. Paul and who knew our Blessed Mother; and St. John, an Apostle. These four Gospels were accepted because of their apostolic witness.

After the legalization of Christianity in AD 313, the Church was able to meet and to set officially the texts of Sacred Scripture. In AD 367, St. Athanasius listed the 27 books of the New Testament. When Pope St. Damasus instructed St. Jerome to translate the Sacred Scriptures into Latin in AD 382, producing the Vulgate Text, the canon of Sacred Scripture comprised 46 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, as we have today and what the apostolic Church had accepted. This canon was again affirmed at the Council of Hippo in AD 393, the Council of III Carthage in AD 397, and in a letter of Pope Innocent I in AD 405. In AD 1441, the Council of Florence again defined the canon of Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the Church has had a definitive version of the Bible. The first person to tamper with the canon was Martin Luther in 1532 when he removed 7 books of the Old Testament.

What then are the Gnostic gospels? They did not appear until about AD 150-200. The Gnostics were a heretical sect that believed in a God and an equally powerful devil. First mistake! They thought everything material, including our person, was evil; everything spiritual was good. Our spirit was imprisoned in the body and only a special knowledge — or "gnosis" — would free us. Jesus, a spiritual creature (another mistake) only appeared human; He entered a human Jesus, because a spiritual being would not really become incarnated. He gave the gnosis. He then did not die on the Cross; only the human Jesus did. Therefore, the Gnostics did not believe in the incarnation. There was no redemption of us, body and soul. There were no sacraments because God would not channel grace through evil material things like bread and wine, water or oil.

The Gnostics did not believe in marriage or procreation, because no one would want to imprison another spirit in a body. Moreover, abortion, suicide, and infanticide were not uncommon among some of the Gnostic sects, because these acts freed the spirit from the body. For good reason, the Church condemned Gnosticism. The Gnostics wrote “gospels” appending names like the “Gospel of St. Thomas” to lend credibility, but these were bogus. None of the Gnostic gospels can be traced to apostolic origin, and for that reason plus their heretical teaching, they were condemned.

The Da Vinci Code asserts that Emperor Constantine declared Jesus as divine. Wrong again. Another lie. The Gospels attest Jesus is a divine person, true God who became true man. He showed His divine power through such ways as His miracles, exorcisms, and the forgiveness of sin. He suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. Just think: Would those Apostles have gone forth to found the Church and face martyrdom if Jesus truly was not the divine Lord and Savior, who rose from the dead? Would the Church have survived all of these centuries if Jesus were not the divine Lord and Savior, still present in the midst of His Church? Granted, in AD 325 Constantine and Pope St. Sylvester convoked the Council of Nicea to address another heresy called Arianism which asserted Jesus was just a human; that council produced the Nicene Creed, based on the Apostles' Creed attributed to the Apostles. Nevertheless, Christians have always believed in the divinity of Christ.

The book asserts Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Wrong again. There is no historical evidence even in the bogus Gnostic gospels to support such a claim.

The book asserts the Church is “anti-woman.” Wrong again. We have always upheld the equal dignity of man and woman, each made in the image and likeness of God. We have upheld the sacred union of a husband and wife joined as one in the sacrament of marriage. We have honored our Blessed Mother as the model of faith. St. Mary Magdalene herself is the repentant sinner who stood at the foot of the Cross and saw the resurrected Lord; she is an inspiration for all of us.

The book and movie attack Opus Dei, an organization founded by St. Josemaria Escriva in 1928. Opus Dei is neither a cult nor spy organization, but a personal prelature of the Holy Father. The purpose is for all members — priests and laity — to sanctify their work as an offering to God. Moreover, there are no monks in Opus Dei, not to mention albino ones.

There are more half-truths, misrepresentations, and lies. In sum, this work is blasphemous against God, our Church, and Christianity as a whole. Remember a few months ago the Islamic community was outraged by the cartoons of Mohammed; rightfully so, although no one should resort to violence or the taking of innocent lives. Nevertheless, we should be outraged — but we should direct our anger toward taking advantage of this opportunity to profess our faith, counter the lies with the truth, and evangelize. In such a way, good will triumph over the blasphemous conspiracy presented by The Da Vinci Code, both book and movie.

Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and a professor of catechetics and theology at Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria. If you enjoy reading Fr. Saunders's work, his new book entitled Straight Answers (400 pages) is available at the Pauline Book and Media Center of Arlington, Virginia (703/549-3806).

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

More Myths of 1968

George Weigel

In a recent editorial on condoms and AIDS, the London-based Tablet, an influential weekly in the Catholic Anglosphere, argued that "in 1968, the most persuasive reason advanced in favor of retaining the ban on artificial birth control was that to lift it would suggest that the Church could change its mind, and hence undermine its teaching authority."

That is a distortion of history and the editors of the Tablet — which played a large role in the Humanae Vitae controversy — should know it.

Pope Paul VI was terrified that the Church, by "changing its mind," would undermine the authority of its magisterium? Please. Paul VI presided over a Church that "changed its mind" — better, developed its thought, practice, and doctrine — on many once hotly-disputed questions: the validity of concelebrated Masses; the use of the vernacular in the liturgy; the relationship of the Bible and the Church's tradition as sources of divine revelation; the diaconate; religious freedom and the juridical, limited state. The Tablet's take on the bottom-line rationale for Humanae Vitae is a myth. But it's a myth of a piece with the journal's longstanding misconception of the Church's teachings on marital chastity and family planning: a misconception which holds that these teaching are "policies" or "positions" that can be changed, rather like governments can change the income tax rate or the speed limit.

In 1967, the Tablet (and the National Catholic Reporter) printed a leaked memorandum to Paul VI from members of the papal commission studying the morality of family planning. According to that memorandum, a majority of the commissioners had been persuaded that the morality of conjugal life should be judged by the overall pattern of a couple's sexual conduct, rather than by the openness of each act of marital love to conception. A close reading of this so-called "Majority Report" suggests, however, that the proponents of the Church "changing its mind" on the question of artificial contraception were after much bigger game: they intended to install proportionalism and the theory of the "fundamental option" — methods of moral reasoning later rejected by John Paul the Great in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor — as the official moral theological method of the Catholic Church.

Paul VI recognized this, and rejected the proposal accordingly. Pope Paul undoubtedly was told that a "change" of "position" on contraception would undermine the credibility of the magisterium; but that was, at best, a secondary question. The real issue was much graver, and touched virtually every question in the moral life.

If you want to measure the effects of proportionalist moral analysis on a once-great ecclesial community, you need go no farther than the Anglican Communion, which is being torn apart today because proportionalists, insisting that they are the party of progress, have jettisoned both biblical and classical Christian morality to the point where the moral boundaries of the Anglican community are so porous as to be virtually undecipherable. Perhaps the editors of the Tablet imagine this a desirable future for the Catholic Church. Others will find that view hard to comprehend.

Prior to Humanae Vitae, while the self-styled party of progress in the Church agitated the contraception issue in the press (much like a political campaign), classical Catholic moralists tried to construct a responsible theological case for a development of doctrine that would sanction the use of chemical and mechanical means of regulating fertility — and found they couldn't do so without opening the Pandora's box of proportionalism, which blunts the edge of moral analysis and drains the moral life of its inherent drama. True, Humanae Vitae might have been better received had it adopted the richly humanistic defense of natural family planning proposed by then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Cracow, as the approach to marital love and responsibility most congruent with the dignity of women and the dignity of sex. But the Church would have been terribly ill-served if the theologians most responsible for shaping (and likely leaking) the so-called "Majority Report" had had their way.

This myth-making about Humanae Vitae, which falsifies history and distorts theology, should stop. Now.

George Weigel is author of the bestselling books The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church and Letters to a Young Catholic.

(This article is provided courtesy of Ethics and Public Policy Center.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Being Had: Another Look at the Death of Terri Schiavo

Charles Colson

Recently, I told you about Michael Schiavo’s new book, Terri: The Truth. I compared reading the book to “falling down Alice’s rabbit hole and ending up in a new and bizarre world.” This world is “a scary place” where “survival of the fittest” is taken to a whole new level — a world that Christians must never stop fighting against.

Now, I stand by everything that I said about Michael Schiavo’s book, but there’s something that I said about his late wife that I need to take back. I’m embarrassed, not only because of the mistake I made, but also because I was had and should have known better.

In the earlier commentary I said that “the autopsy showed that [Terri] had been brain-dead.” This “finding” did not affect my belief that it was wrong to take her life. My concern from the beginning was with the process we followed and its implications for the sanctity of human life.

My calling Terri “brain-dead” was based on what the media said about the autopsy. For instance, MSNBC began its report this way: “an autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband’s contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state...”

Well, I should have known better than to take the media’s word. Terri’s brother, Michael Schindler, thanked me for the commentary but drew my attention to what the autopsy report actually said.

That report said that there was no evidence that Terri suffered, as had been widely reported, from an eating disorder. The medical examiners were unable to determine what caused the heart attack that left her brain-damaged.

Damaged, not dead. In fact, the autopsy report referred to her receiving morphine, which would not have been necessary if she were brain-dead or in a persistent vegetative state. The report, while it noted “severe brain damage,” said nothing about Terri being in a persistent vegetative state.

What’s more, persistent vegetative state is a clinical diagnosis, made through observation and, as such, is a matter of interpretation. So reports like MSNBC’s were, at best, highly misleading. If she had not been deliberately starved, Terri, in the estimate of the medical examiner, “could have lived easily for another decade...”

As bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell puts it, the autopsy confirmed “our worst fears.” Terri didn’t die from any illness but “at the hands of her husband and his lawyers.”

As I said, I’m embarrassed about this mistake, but more than that I am angry. It’s not enough that the legal process sentenced her to death, but the media deliberately or negligently got the circumstances of both her life and her death wrong.

As a result, the “culture of death” has taken several steps forward. Instead of giving life the benefit of the doubt, we are all-too-ready to choose death. As Mitchell said, “Terri Schiavo should be alive today and in the loving embrace of her parents.” Instead, she has become a symbol of the “scary place” our culture is headed: A place where everybody is on the lookout for signs of death, not life. And as for those who defended Terri Schiavo and have been pilloried in the media, well, in the cold light of day, we now know we were right after all.

(This update courtesy of the Breakpoint with Chuck Colson.)

Seven-Year-Old Beaten at School For Father's Stand Against Homosexual Activism

John-Henry Westen
and John Jalsevac

On May 17 — the two-year anniversary of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts — the first-grade son of a prominent pro-family advocate was dragged and beaten behind the Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington during recess, receiving multiple blows to the chest, stomach, and genital area.

Jacob Parker, the 7-year-old who was attacked, is the son of David Parker. David Parker is the man who objected to homosexual curriculum in his son's kindergarten class. At a meeting with the principal of the school last year Parker requested that the school inform him of when homosexual discussions would take place, so he could exclude his son from the activity. The principal refused and Parker said he would not leave until his request was granted. School administration called the police and had Parker charged with trespassing.

Brian Camenker the President of MassResistance, a pro-family group, that has worked with Parker to have the rights of parents in Massachusetts respected told that the school system has since continued to refuse to notify parents of such material being presented in class. On April 27, 2006, Parker, his wife, and another family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school system. spoke with Mr. Parker about the incident. According to Mr. Parker, school authorities determined from an investigation into the assault that the beating was indeed planned and premeditated.

Mr. Parker described the incident at the school saying: "During the recess period, a group of 8-10 kids suddenly surrounded Jacob and grabbed him. He was taken around the corner of the school building out of sight of the patrolling aides, with the taunting and encouragement of other kids. Jacob was then positioned against the wall for what appeared to be a well planned and coordinated assault.”

Parker told, his son related that one student in particular performed the actual physical assault while, “many children stood, watched silently, and did nothing as the beating commenced.”

Parker added: "The group of kids surrounded Jacob and he was beaten and punched. Then, as he fell to the ground, another child was heard saying to the group of children, 'Now you all can finish him off,' and as he was down on his hands and knees, the beating continued on his back. Then, fortunately, one little girl ran to contact the oblivious playground aides to stop it.

"Four of the attackers were from Jacob's first-grade class; the others were from other classes at Estabrook.

"The teachers' aide apparently determined that since she could not see external bleeding, and since Jacob apparently was not hit in the face, she did not send him to she school nurse."

The family was immediately notified of the incident.

Speaking to, Parker speculated that the cause of the attack was most likely what he called “displaced aggression.” “If children hear venomous things from their parents, the children do internalize this,” he said.

“I certainly don’t want to vilify the children in this,” he said. “We understand that skirmishes happen on the playground. It’s taking the child around out of view of the aides, and the number of children that stood around watching that concerns us.”

Parker noted that his conflict with the school over homosexuality is well known among the students. "We are aware that the school administration sent notices home with all the young children concerning the Parker arrest, the 'King and King' incident and the federal lawsuit," he said. “They must know that the children read them.”

He pointed out that the date of the attack — the two year aniversary of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts — cannot be a coincidence.

The topic of Parker's beliefs has become so widespread among the students that Jacob says he overheard his fellow classmates ruminating that perhaps their current principle — who has resigned her position to take up a job elsewhere — was leaving the job because of Jacob’s father. Members of the community itself have organized public demonstrations specifically against Parker, in which their children have taken part.

“We’re trying to be patient and tolerant," said Parker when asked if he was considering pulling his son out of the school. "We’re trying to hang on to the notion that the schools are for every child and for everyone. I don’t feel that we should have to leave for an injustice.”

But he added that “There are limits to how much patience we can have. I certainly understand why more and more parents are pulling their children out of public schools.”

Ironically, the school prides itself on its long-time involvement in various "Safe School" programs, which are geared to creating school environments "safe" for students who are homosexual.

Parker asked, "Isn't the school supposed to be addressing safety and preventing bullying and violence? Or are such programs only focused on children with homosexual parents? You can be certain that if this happened to a child with homosexual parents more would be made of this and that 'lessons' teaching tolerance and diversity of homosexual behavior normalization would be forced upon the young children."

The school and larger community are deeply divided over the Parker's stand against pro-homosexual indoctrination. A group has been formed in Lexington to counter Parker's efforts. The 'Lexington Cares' group maintains an anti-Parker website and has conducted anti-Parker letter writing campaigns and demonstrations.

Calls to Estabrook School were not returned by press time.

(This article courtesy of

Andrew: the Church Reaches All Peoples and Cultures

Vatican Information Service

St. Andrew the Apostle, brother of St. Peter, was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during Wednesday's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 35,000 people.

The name of Andrew, not Hebrew but Greek, is "an appreciable sign of a certain cultural openness of his family," said the Pope. "He was the first of the Apostles to be called to follow Jesus," and thanks to Andrew (according to tradition, the evangelizer of the Greek world), "the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople feel themselves to be sisters."

The Holy Father pointed out how the Gospels mention Andrew in three key moments: The multiplication of the loaves and fishes when "his realism is worthy of note, he saw the boy [with the bread and fish] but noticed the scarcity of his resources." When asking explanations from Christ on His words concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, he showed that "we must not be afraid to put questions to Jesus, but at the same time we must be ready to accept the teaching He offers us." And again, shortly before the Passion, with Philip, "he interpreted and mediated for a small group of Greeks before Jesus."

Referring to this last episode, the Holy Father recalled Jesus' words on the necessary death of a grain of wheat in order to bear fruit, a symbol of the crucifixion that "in the resurrection will become bread of life for the world, a light for people and cultures." Christ thus prophesies the meeting with the Greek world and Greek culture and the extension of the Church "to pagans as a fruit of His Passion."

Tradition recounts St. Andrew's death in Patras on a diagonal cross as, "like his brother Peter, he asked to be crucified on a cross different from that of Jesus." Benedict XVI then quoted the words attributed to St. Andrew during his agony when he said of the cross: "before the Lord was placed upon you, you incited earthly terrors. Now, blessed with a heavenly love, you are received as a gift."

This phrase, the Pope continued, contains "a profound Christian spirituality, which sees in the cross not so much an instrument of torture as the unrivaled means of full assimilation to the Redeemer. Our crosses acquire value if considered and accepted as part of the cross of Christ. Only from that cross do our sufferings become ennobled and acquire their true significance."

You Can Change Minds

Mary Kochan

Take all the evil things that detractors and critics say about Pius XII and the role of the Catholic Church in WWII. Add to them every complaint justified, exaggerated or fabricated that was or remains part of the most wild-eyed fundamentalist aspect of Protestant Reformation and Restoration polemics seasoned with Da Vinci-style conspiracy theories and wrap them all up in a neat bundle of resentment and disdain. What do you have?

You have what I used to think about the Catholic Church: the Whore of Babylon, the leader of the World Empire of False Religion, voracious for power and money, corrupt in nature and the most virulent enemy of human freedom, progress and salvation on earth, hand-in-glove with every dictator and friend of Hitler.

To say that my mind has been changed is understatement being reticent. The pertinent question is how did that occur, and the answer is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5, where the Apostle Saint Paul discusses the success of his evangelization work thus: “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ….”

In short, I believed a pack of lies, and over time those lies were, one by one, revealed to be just that. As my mind was disabused of each lie, a little more truth appeared until gradually a correct picture of the Christianity, history and the Church developed in my mind.

Saint Paul knew this process himself from inside. He had been at one time a man thoroughly convinced that Christians were a pernicious threat to the True Faith — the pharisaical Judaism in which had been raised. He believed that the fledgling Church was such a cancer upon the social order that entire families of Christians deserved imprisonment and even death for their blasphemies. His own change of mind was sudden — so sudden that it threw him to the ground. The Truth revealed Himself to Paul, in an instant overturning the lies in his mind.

Today on Catholic Exchange, our lead spaces, the Edge and Today, feature articles that tell the truth about the questions of what Pope Pius XII did during WWII and what the response of the Catholic Church was to the Jewish Holocaust at the time it was happening. Every Catholic reading this has family, friends and acquaintances who are misinformed on these issues.

Won’t you do something today to destroy these arguments and proud obstacles to the Catholic faith, to defend the reputation of Pope Pius XII, a Holy Father of whom we all should be proud? Won’t you do something today to take the thoughts of your fellow men captive for Christ and knock down mental barriers to the truths of the Catholic faith?

I urge everyone reading our website today to forward these articles to everyone you know. Also, please place within your own mind at least one brief quote, maybe that of Albert Einstein or Golda Meir, so that the next time you hear the Church slandered, you can come back with some defense.

You might not knock anybody off his horse, but as one who has been there, let me assure you that every truth you utter, every email you send out, every article you copy and hand out, has the power to knock down one more proud obstacle against the truths taught by the Church. The obstacles might be proud, but they are erected in the minds of humble people, who, once free of lies, may gratefully join our family of faith.

© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange

Mary Kochan, Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange, writes from Douglasville, Georgia. Her tapes are available from Saint Joseph Communications.

About This “Inaction” and “Silence”

Brendan Roberts

The secular press continuously claims that the Catholic Church did not do enough to save Jews during World War II. Furthermore they claim that Pope Pius XII was silent about the persecution and slaughter of the Jews.

We are prompted to ask: Where does the evidence reside? Did the pope ever speak out against the Nazis and for the "voiceless," the tormented, those who had no other voice to speak out for them? Where was the Church?

One does not have to delve far to uncover some rather startling evidence which the critics seem to blatantly ignore in their denunciation of the pope. But even more striking is that this evidence comes from Jewish and secular sources. The famous Albert Einstein, a Jewish refugee from Germany stated in the December 1940 issue of Time Magazine that he once despised the Catholic Church. He asked where the universities and editors of free speech were during the victimization of the Jews; that it was only the Catholic Church that "stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth." He then revealed that the Church he once despised he “now praises unreservedly."

But was Albert Einstein an isolated case of a Jew praising the Catholic Church for the saving of Jewish lives during the Second World War? In 1943, Chaim Wiezmann, the future president of Israel wrote, "The Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can, to mitigate the fate of my persecuted co-religionists."

But was Chaim also duped regarding what the Catholic Church did to help or save Jews? It was the Chief Rabbi of Israel who overwhelming supported the actions of the pope. Rabbi Isaac Herzog expressed his appreciation when he said, "The People of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion, which form the foundation of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of history, which is proof of Divine Providence in the world."

Pinchas Lapide, the Israeli historian and diplomat to Milan, in his book Three Popes and the Jews, claimed that Pius XII was instrumental in saving at least 700,000 Jews. In addition Rabbi David Dalin, a Jewish scholar, uncovered fascinating truths regarding the actions of the Church during the merciless mass slaughter by the Nazis. While the Italian Jews were not deported until 1943, Rabbi Dalin reveals that cardinals, bishops, and the laity sheltered Jews. As for the pope, he opened the doors of the Vatican to hundreds and 3,000 were sheltered at the pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo.

It is widely claimed that Pope Pius XII was silent about the deportation of the Jews from throughout Europe. But the pope angered both Mussolini and Hitler. On October 1, 1942 The London Times stated that since Pope Pius's accession he "condemns the worship of force and its concrete manifestations in the suppression of national liberties and in the persecution of the Jewish race." In June 1942, upon the mass deportations of French Jews, the pope instructed his Papal Nuncio in Paris to protest to France's Chief of State against "the inhuman arrests and deportations of Jews from the French occupied zone to Silesia and parts of Russia."

Lapide also reveals that minutes from a meeting held on July 26, 1943 recorded that Hitler openly discussed invading the Vatican. Ernst von Weizsacker, the German Ambassador to the Vatican, warned the pope of a plan to kidnap him. Rudolf Rahn, the Nazi Ambassador, corroborated the kidnap plot and that several German diplomats tried to prevent it. Does such a plan suggest the Nazis were happy with Pope Pius XII?

It must not be forgotten that the Nazi SS despised Catholics. They hated Jews first and foremost. Their vehement hatred placed the Jews on the top rung of the ladder of despite. The next rung was reserved for Catholic priests. Even the Bishop of Luxembourg was sent to Dachau. The clergy were termed by the SS as "schweinerischen Pfaffen" ("priest pigs"). They were constantly beaten. If they were caught carrying out their priestly duties they were sentenced to death.

One of the most heroic acts performed at Auschwitz was by a Catholic priest, Maximillian Kolbe, whom Pope John Paul II canonized. St. Maximillian sacrificed his life for another prisoner of war, offering to take the place of a family man condemned to death. The commandant, contrary to his sadistic nature, instead of sentencing them both to death accepted St. Maximillian's request. When they were, as the guards put it, drying up like tulips, instead of sounds of cursing the guards heard hymns and prayers to both Our Lady and to Jesus Christ coming from the cells of the condemned men and also those cells close to St. Maximillian.

It is claimed that the pope should have done more to prevent the widespread slaughter of the Jews. But the Dutch bishops at the pope’s encouragement spoke out against the "unjust treatment meted out to Jews" in July 1942. The result of the letter, which was read out in every Catholic Church in Holland, was devastating. The rage of the Nazis was cataclysmic. Pinchas Lapide concludes that as a result more Dutch Jews were slaughtered than in any country. The bishop of Munster, Germany, also wanted to speak out against the Nazis, but Jewish leaders begged him not to for they knew the consequences.

It has been asked by many where God was during the Nazi atrocities. One need not look far, for the Catholic Church was living the faith and reaching out to the helpless. In fact, Pinchas Lapide highlights the fact that the Catholic Church saved more lives than all the other churches, institutions and rescue organizations combined.

Upon Pope Benedict’s visit to Auschwitz, he was criticized for not “apologizing” on behalf of the Catholic Church for Catholics {and specifically for his predecessor, Pope Pius XII) “turning their backs” on the Jews. Should Pope Benedict XVI have apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church for inaction? The evidence speaks for itself.

© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange

Brendan Roberts is a New Zealand author of three books available on Amazon or through Barnes and Noble. You can view his website for his books, articles and MP3 talks.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pope Calls for Peace in 1st Easter Message

Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY - In his first Easter message as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged nations to use diplomacy to defuse nuclear crises — a clear reference to worries over Iran — and prayed that Palestinians would one day have their own state alongside Israel.

On Christianity's most joyous day — which happened to fall on Benedict's own 79th birthday — the pontiff also prayed for Iraq's relentless violence to cease.

From the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict reflected on the globe's troubled regions shortly after he celebrated Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square, which was packed with 100,000 pilgrims and tourists on a breezy, hazy day.

"Today, even in this modern age marked by anxiety and uncertainty, we relive the event of the Resurrection, which changed the face of our life and changed the history of humanity," Benedict said in the traditional papal "Urbi et Orbi" message — Latin for "to the city and to the world."

On Easter, Christians celebrate a core belief of their faith — that Jesus rose from the dead following his crucifixion. Orthodox Christians in Russia and elsewhere will celebrate Easter on April 23.

Benedict made note of recent developments that have raised fears Iran might be working toward building a nuclear arsenal.

"Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honorable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations," Benedict said without naming any country.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said his country had successfully enriched uranium using 164 centrifuges, a significant step toward large-scale production of material that could be used to fuel nuclear reactors for generating electricity or to build atomic bombs.

Iran insists it only wants the peaceful use of nuclear power, but Western nations suspect Tehran wants to develop weapons and are demanding a halt to enrichment activities.

Pilgrims marking Easter also filled the streets of Jerusalem's Old City. The alleys were more crowded than in recent years, reflecting a drop in Palestinian-Israeli violence.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is the leading Roman Catholic official in the Holy Land, celebrated Mass in the dark, incense-filled Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the spot where many Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross.

After leading black-robed priests into the church singing the Lord's Prayer, the Palestinian-born patriarch lit worshippers' candles, which gradually illuminated the painted dome ceiling erected in the Crusader era.

"This is like a dream come true for us to be here in the Holy Land," said Rona Arida, 29, a Philippine worker in Israel, after praying with her friends at the church. "I prayed for all of my family back home."

At the Vatican, Benedict was interrupted by applause when he said of Iraq: "may peace finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims."

"I also pray sincerely that those caught up in the conflict in the Holy Land may find peace, and I invite all to patient and persevering dialogue, so as to remove both ancient and new obstacles," the pontiff said.

There has been heavy pressure from abroad on the Hamas-led Palestinian government, which was elected in January, to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.

"May the international community, which reaffirms Israel's just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving toward the constitution of a state which is truly their own," Benedict said.

The pope lamented that the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region was "no longer sustainable."

He denounced the "deplorable scourge of kidnappings" in Latin America, where, he said, millions of people should have better living conditions and democratic institutions need to be "consolidated in a spirit of harmony."

As Mass began, a brisk breeze ruffled the pope's gold-colored vestments and the crimson feathers atop the helmets of Swiss Guards as he strode up the center to the square to take his place at a canopied altar on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

The pope offered holiday wishes in 62 languages and gave his blessing.

Among the prayers read by faithful during the Mass was a wish, in French, that the pope receive a birthday gift of "serene" days.

Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, died six days after Easter last year, and was so weak he was unable to address faithful in the square on Easter, only raising his hand in blessing.

Benedict looked tired during Sunday's Mass. He had had only a few hours to rest after leading a long Easter vigil ceremony Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica that lasted past midnight.

After a packed schedule of Holy Week ceremonies, Benedict was heading to the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town near Rome, where he planned to give pilgrims and tourists his blessing Monday at the start of a brief vacation.

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Pope leads millions around the world in Easter celebrations

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI voiced growing concern over Iran's nuclear drive and other global conflicts in his first Easter message, as Christians worldwide celebrated their faith's most joyous day.

The pope, also marking his 79th birthday, called for "serious and honest" talks which would help achieve "an honourable solution" for all parties in Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.

Nearly 100,000 pilgrims and tourists packed St Peter's Square and surrounding streets as Benedict pronounced his first "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) address, broadcast to more than 65 countries.

Bells rang out Easter morning in Christian churches across Europe, from the 12th-century St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna to Britain's Canterbury Cathedral, where the archbishop denounced the plot of the bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" which explores the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children.

The head of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, commented that "it's almost that we'd prefer to believe something like this instead of the prosaic reality", according to a speech released in advance.

Williams also criticized the media's coverage of religion -- including the apparent discovery of a "Gospel of Judas" -- as amounting to "a little flurry of newspaper articles and television programmes raking over the coals of controversies about the historical basis of faith."

Easter celebrations, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, began earlier Sunday across Asia from the continent's largest Catholic nation, the Philippines, to communist Vietnam and China, where some worshippers prayed in hiding for fear of official persecution.

In strictly Muslim Afghanistan, gripped last month by a furore over the case of Abdul Rahman who faced the death penalty after converting to Christianity, pockets of underground Afghan Christians gathered in secret.

Yet in Jerusalem, the city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was the busiest Easter weekend since the start of the Palestinian uprising five years ago. An Israeli tourist ministry spokesman said some 90,000 visitors came to the Holy Land, up 20 percent from last year.

Thousands of Christians attended the Easter services at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- believed to be Jesus's burial site -- where the Vatican's representative, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, prayed for peace among people of all faiths.

Dozens of Iraqi Christians braved violence to walk to churches to celebrate, including at central Baghdad's Saint George's Church, where Father Raad Saleem prayed for "peace and normalcy in Iraq."

The community, which stood at more than one million people before the 1990 Gulf War, has shrunken over the years as people flee Iraq's insecurity and sectarian strife for safer shores.

The pope remembered them in his address: "May peace finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims," he said.

Benedict also urged relief for the "dramatic humanitarian situation" in Sudan's Darfur region and an end to conflicts and oppression across the African continent.

Catholic leaders in Africa gave Easter messages with a political tone. The archbishop of Dakar condemned the intrusion by police seeking to question a Senegalese opposition leader who was attending a Good Friday service.

In Burundi, the country's bishops issued a warning that "democracy was at risk... due to the will of some to grab all the power," while in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the archbishop of Kinshasa urged the faithful to make good choices in the upcoming October elections.

In India, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in southern Kerala state, where Christians make up 23 percent of the population, prayed at the Saint Thomas Church in Malayattoor, many carrying the cross on their backs.

The Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa in India's eastern city of Kolkata held a special mass.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II sent Easter greetings to the pope and other western Christian leaders, as the Orthodox churches follow a different calendar and will mark their Easter next Sunday.

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Pope urges talks with Iran over nuclear crisis in Easter message

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI called for peace across the world in his first Easter message, his 79th birthday, voicing hopes for a resolution to the conflict over Iran's nuclear drive.

An estimated 80,000 pilgrims packed St Peter's Square and nearby streets as Benedict led his first Easter Sunday mass as pope, and later greeted Catholics around the world in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.

In a veiled reference to Iran's nuclear standoff with the international community, he called for "serious and honest" talks which would help achieve "an honourable solution" for all parties.

He urged that peace would "finally prevail" in Iraq, where violence "continues mercilessly to claim victims."

Benedict said he was praying that leaders and international organisations "be strengthened in their will to achieve peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions, in order to remove the threat of terrorism."

Similarly, "patient and persevering dialogue" was needed in the Middle East, "to remove both ancient and new obstacles."

"May the international community, which reaffirms Israel's just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving towards the constitution of a state that is truly their own."

Much of his appeal focused on Africa, particularly Sudan's troubled Darfur region, where he said the humanitarian situation was "no longer sustainable".

The pontiff lamented that "many wounds have yet to be healed" across the continent, particularly in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other nations "which aspire to reconciliation, justice and progress."

The huge crowd of pilgrims and tourists applauded when the pope prayed for "harmony" in Italy. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is refusing to concede defeat to the leftist opposition leader Romano Prodi after a disputed general election. The country's supreme court is to give its verdict on the winner next week after a partial recount of disputed votes.

The pope looked tired after just a few hours sleep following an Easter vigil which ended early Sunday.

An Italian Carabinieri band and the band of the Swiss Guards played as Benedict, celebrating his 79th birthday, led dozens of cardinals onto the square at the start of the mass, waving to the cheering crowd as he walked.

The square had been brightly decorated with a huge floral display of yellow and white flowers, the colours of the Vatican, to mark the most joyous day of the Christian calendar, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen!" a smiling Benedict told cheering pilgrims from the central balcony of St Peter's cathedral, from where he pronounced his "Urbi et Orbi" message after the mass.

As a brisk spring breeze ruffled the pontiff's cream and gold vestments, he addressed Catholics around the world in 62 languages, from Malay to Maltese, Swedish to Swahili. The pilgrims and tourists reserved their biggest cheer for the moment he spoke in his native German.

The greeting at the end of the mass was made famous by his predecessor John Paul II. Last year, the dying pope was unable to perform the greeting for the first time in his 26-year pontificate, and died a week later.

Benedict made a surprise appearance later in the day, appearing at the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

The pontiff greeted a small group of wellwishers who sang "Happy Birthday" to him at the residence outside Rome, where on Monday he will recite the Regina Coeli prayer, which replaces the Angelus sermon during the Eastern season.

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Pope calls for nuclear diplomacy

Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, in his first Easter message, called on Sunday for an "honorable solution" to the nuclear standoff with Iran, a truly independent Palestinian state, and global cooperation to combat terrorism.

The German Pope, speaking on his 79th birthday, made his appeal for world peace in his Easter "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message to some 100,000 people as he concluded the first Easter season of his pontificate.

The Pope, who marks the first anniversary of his election on Wednesday, led a joyful Easter mass in a sunny St Peter's Square on the most important day of the Christian liturgical calendar, when the faithful celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead.

In the speech, televised to millions of viewers in more than 65 countries at the end of Easter Sunday mass in the square, the head of the Roman Catholic Church listed his worries about a world he said was living through "uncertainty and anxiety" and oppressed by widespread suffering.

"Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honorable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations ... " he said in a clear reference to Iran, which announced last week it had become a nuclear power by enriching uranium.

The United States wants targeted sanctions on Iran that include a freeze on assets and visa restrictions.

The Pope read the speech, and delivered brief Easter greetings in 62 languages including Hebrew and Arabic, from the same central balcony of St Peter's Basilica where he appeared to the world for the first time as pontiff after his election.

The crowd in the square, which was decked out with tens of thousands of flowers donated by the Netherlands, interrupted his address with applause several times when he called for peace.

In another part of the speech, the Pope defended Israel's right to exist, in what appeared to be an indirect criticism of statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be eliminated.


But he also called firmly for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"May the international community, which re-affirms Israel's just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving toward the constitution of a state that is truly their own," he said in the part of his address dedicated to peace in the Middle East.

In other parts of the "Urbi et Orbi" address, the Pope expressed his concern over terrorism, as he has already done several times since his election on April 19, 2005 to succeed the late Pope John Paul.

"May the leaders of nations and of international organizations be strengthened in their will to achieve peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions, in order to remove the threat of terrorism," he said.

Mentioning Iraq, he prayed "may peace finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims."

The Pope also prayed that the spirit of the risen Christ bring relief and security to Africa, particularly the people of Darfur in western Sudan, who he said were "living in a dramatic humanitarian situation that is no longer sustainable."

Chad broke diplomatic ties with neighboring Sudan on Friday and warned that it might stop sheltering thousands of Sudanese refugees who have crossed the border to escape an ethnic conflict in the Darfur region.

This is the first Easter for the 1.1 billion member Roman Catholic Church since the death of Pope John Paul, who was in his final days a year ago and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

John Paul died on April 2, a week after Easter.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pope celebrates Easter vigil mass full of symbolism

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Easter vigil mass in St Peter's Basilica, calling the Resurrection of Christ the "most crucial leap into a totally new dimension."

In a liturgy filled with the symbolism of Christ's passage from the dead to the living, he told thousands of pilgrims in the vast sanctuary and millions watching around the world: "The resurrection was like an explosion of light."

The pope, wearing gold and white vestments, had borne a paschal candle through the darkened basilica, which was bathed in bright light when he reached the altar, and the pilgrims lit each other's candles to symbolize the light of Christ replacing the darkness of sin and death.

In his homily, the pope, in his first Easter season since succeeding Pope John Paul II last year, referred to the theory of evolution to explain Christians' belief in Christ's resurrection and the afterlife.

"If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development," he said.

Christ was resurrected because he "was one single reality with the living God, so closely united with him as to form one person with him," Benedict said.

"The resurrection was like an explosion of light, an explosion of love which dissolved the hitherto indissoluble compenetration of 'dying and becoming'," he said.

Benedict's reference to evolution recalled another scientific allusion last August, when he used the phrase "nuclear fission" to describe the spiritual effect of receiving Holy Communion at the Catholic World Youth day festival in Germany.

This year's festivities marking Easter, the most important event in the Christian religious calendar, have inevitably recalled last year's celebrations, which were overshadowed by John Paul II's rapidly deteriorating condition.

Last Holy Saturday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- the future pope -- read out a message from John Paul II to thousands of faithful attending the vigil mass in St Peter's, which the pope followed on television. He died a week later.

It was the first time in the pope's 26-year pontificate that he had to delegate the main Easter ceremonies to his cardinals, participating only through brief video-link appearances or written messages.

On Good Friday, Benedict led Catholics in the traditional torchlit ceremony at Rome's Colosseum, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.

Thousands of pilgrims packed the ancient Roman arena watched Pope Benedict as he carried a wooden cross at the first and last of the 14 "stations" which for Christians recall Christ's last journey to his crucifixion.

In the ceremony broadcast by 62 television stations in 42 countries, Benedict said Christians could not remain "neutral" when faced with the evils of the world -- "the suffering of abused and abandoned children," the threat against the traditional family, the "divisions" in the world and gap between rich and poor.

Benedict will turn 79 on Easter Sunday, when he will deliver the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message from the central loggia of St Peter's, where he first appeared as pope following his election on April 19 last year.

In the message will voice fears over Iran's nuclear program, the Italian news agency ANSA reported Saturday.

He will press the international community to negotiate with Tehran to assure peaceful cohabitation in the Middle East, ANSA said in an unsourced report.

ANSA said the pope would also defend Israel's right to live in peace while calling on the international community to help the Palestinian people build their future.

Benedict was also expected to express the hope that Italy will regain its serenity once official results are announced next week from the country's cliffhanger elections, which the opposition coalition led by Romano Prodi won by a whisker.

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Cruise: Baby Won't Have Catholic Baptism

Katie Holmes was raised a Catholic, but, says fiance Tom Cruise, their soon-to-arrive baby will not have a Catholic baptism.

"No," Cruise tells Diane Sawyer in an interview on ABC's "Primetime," airing Friday, 9 p.m. EDT. "No, I mean you can be Catholic and be a Scientologist. You can be Jewish and be a Scientologist. But we're just Scientologists."

The 27-year-old Holmes' switch to Scientology has sparked reports of a rift between her devout parents, Ohio natives Martin and Kathleen, and the 43-year-old actor, who introduced her to Scientology.

However, Cruise shrugs off the stories of family friction, telling Sawyer he's close with "the whole family" and — "absolutely, yes" — they approve of Scientology.

The superstar dad-to-be also confirms to Sawyer that Holmes, in the final stages of her pregnancy with the couple's first child, will adhere to Scientology's practice of quiet birth. Cruise explains that "quiet birth," which aims to minimize talk and other noise inside the delivery room," is "basically just respecting the mother."

"She does what she's gotta do," he explains, addressing speculation that such a practice would somehow muffle Holmes completely and deny her pain medication. "If she needs medicine, she needs medicine."

The star of the upcoming "Mission: Impossible III" has two children, Connor, 11, and Isabella, 13, from his marriage to Nicole Kidman.

As the baby's birth approaches, Cruise says "it feels a little unreal."

Cruise said last week that he and Holmes plan to wed in the coming months. They have been engaged since June.

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So, Just wondering if the supreme trafalafalafala told Tom during meditation not to baptize the child. ~Q

This Catholic church is born again

Margaret Ramirez
Tribune religion reporter
Published April 15, 2006

Evangelical approach helps attendance soar

On Easter Sunday, two huge video screens will project praise hymns in this Catholic church as the rock 'n' roll choir leads the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. The priest will consecrate the Eucharist from a lowered altar that brings him closer to his people. Flowering dogwood branches will encircle the church's baptismal font, now an immersion pool in the center aisle surrounded by four gurgling fountains.

Holy Family Catholic Parish Community in Inverness is marking its own rebirth this weekend, opening a $1.4 million renovated sanctuary to its 12,000 parishioners that embraces many elements of the Protestant evangelical movement.

The changes might seem unusual to old-school Catholics. They have raised eyebrows among more orthodox leaders in the archdiocese. But the pastor and parishioners say they are carving the model for the future American Catholic Church.

In contrast to many other Catholic churches where attendance has dropped, Holy Family Parish is booming, even winning back Catholics who were attending Willow Creek, the nondenominational megachurch 3 miles away. Holy Family, with more than 3,700 families, is one of the largest congregations in the archdiocese.

The secret to the 22-year-old church's success has been replicating what growing churches are doing, but in a Catholic way. The result is an innovative congregation that bills itself as "an evangelical church in the Roman Catholic tradition."

"I think what happened to the Catholic Church is we became a little comfortable with ourselves and forgot some of what made us Catholic. We forgot what made us passionate," said Holy Family's pastor, Rev. Pat Brennan. "So I've just taken the best that I've seen of Catholic parishes and evangelical churches and put them together to make Holy Family. In doing that, I think we've rediscovered the heart of Catholicism."

Like several other parishioners, Mary Whiteside said she was on the verge of abandoning her Catholic faith when she found Holy Family. On her first visit, Whiteside said she was hooked by the music and the pastor's riveting homilies. Her husband, Phil, who was raised a Baptist, was so moved that he converted to Catholicism.

"Great things are happening in this church. We're just very alive," said Whiteside, who is on the parish leadership council. "We're sharing some elements of the evangelical church, but I don't think we're trading any part of our Catholic identity."

Holy Family was started two decades ago when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin became concerned about the large numbers of Catholics in the northern suburbs leaving their churches to become members of Willow Creek Community Church. In 1984, the former archbishop purchased 16 acres of farmland in Inverness and founded a new parish community, Holy Family.

"We were a different kind of Catholic Church from Day One, because of how we were founded," said Colin Collette, director of liturgical ministries.

Holy Family's first pastor, Rev. Medard Laz, was selected mainly for his financial expertise. In 1993 Brennan, former head of the archdiocesan office for evangelization, was named to succeed him. In his new role, Brennan saw several key ingredients that a parish had to focus on to serve the needs of today's Catholics: a family approach to evangelism, small faith communities, adult religious education, and use of multimedia.

At Holy Family, laypeople run the church, managing nearly 140 ministries and financial operations. During the week, small groups meet in parish homes. And though many Catholic churches have been slow to use the Internet, Holy Family has an impressive Web page with photos, video from services, choir music and streaming audio of Brennan's homilies.

"The way our kids are growing up with iPods," Brennan said, "you have to have these things if you want to keep them in church."

Many parishioners describe themselves as "cradle Catholics" who became bored with church. Maria Graft, who was raised Catholic, had been attending Willow Creek for two years, but eventually found herself missing the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church.

"I remember the day I came back, I was overwhelmed," she said.

Even before the renovation, Holy Family stood apart from other Catholic churches and was designed to blend evangelical style with Catholic worship. From outside, the church is a stone and glass structure, striking in its simplicity.

Inside, there are no stained glass windows, no candles, no statues of saints. The dominant feature is an enormous 16-foot acrylic cross that hangs from the ceiling over the altar with Jesus gazing downward, his hand outstretched to people.

Now with the renovation of the church, which included addition of the video screens and baptismal pool as well as improved lighting and sound system, parishioners say Holy Family is entering a new phase.

"We're playing in the big leagues now," said Graft, who sings in the choir. "We had to do these renovations, not necessarily to compete with other churches, but just to stay relevant and up to date. It's a turning point."

But tensions have risen with the current archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, who supports a more orthodox view of the liturgy than his predecessor. Parishioners say the most recent example of that tension is the dispute over kneelers.

In the church's original design, Holy Family never had kneelers, partly to replicate evangelical churches but also to provide more room between pews. But when the church presented renovation plans to the archdiocese last year, parishioners learned the plans would not be approved unless the church installed kneelers.

"I'm disappointed," said Rosemary Geisler. "That was a decision that should have been left up to the people, and instead it was forced on us."

The minor dispute has led some parishioners to worry about the type of priest who will be selected as pastor of Holy Name after Brennan's term ends in two years. Dolores Siok, who has been at Holy Family for 17 years, worries about what will happen if the new priest wants to take the church back to Catholic orthodoxy.

"Everyone is concerned about the possibility that we get a staunch pastor who wants to take us backward. We're just praying we get someone who shares our vision," she said. "Or else we'll just be back where we started with people leaving the church."


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It is interesting that the greatest Miracle of all time has become so mundane that this local church has to make a spectacle of itself just to up attendance. ~ Q

Vatican attacks 'pseudo-history'

The Vatican has railed against The Da Vinci Code, branding the book and its upcoming film version as just more examples of the undermining of Christ by a wave of "pseudo-historic" art.

And the Pope and his followers at the traditional Good Friday Way of the Cross procession, heard lamentations in apparent reference to gay marriage, abortion and genetic manipulation.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose official title is Preacher of the Papal Household, refererred to The Da Vinci Code in a sermon during a Passion of the Lord service in St Peter's Basilica.

In his sermon, Fr Cantalamessa made several scathing references to The Da Vinci Code, without specifically mentioning the name of the worldwide bestseller.

He said that people today were fascinated by "every new theory according to which he (Christ) was not crucified and did not die ... but ran off with Mary Magdalene".

The novel is an international murder mystery centred on attempts to uncover a secret about the life of Christ that a clandestine society has tried to protect for centuries.

The central tenet of the book is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children. Christians are taught that Jesus never married, was crucified and rose from the dead.

Fr Cantalamessa then turned his ire to the film version of The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks, which is due to be released next month.

"No one will be able to stop this wave of speculation, which will see a sharp increase with the imminent release of a certain film," he said.

Fr Cantalamessa several times dismissed "the Gospel of Judas", which claims that it was Christ himself who asked Judas to betray him. The Gospel of Judas received wide attention recently in media stories about the discovery of a 1700-year-old copy.

The so-called Gospel of Judas was already declared a heresy by the early Church about two centuries after Christ died.

The Passion of the Lord service was the first of two events in which the 78-year-old German Pope, approaching the first Easter of his reign, commemorated the crucifixion and death of Christ on Good Friday.

His predecessor John Paul was in his dying days for all of last year's Easter season and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

John Paul died on April 2, a week after Easter.

On Friday, the 78-year-old Pope led the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the ruins of Rome's ancient Colosseum commemorating Christ's passion and death. He heard meditations lamenting a "diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family,'' an apparent reference to gay marriage and abortion.

The 14 meditations, written by Italian Archbishop Angelo Comastri and read aloud to the crowd by actors, painted a picture of a bleak world threatened on all sides.

One of the meditations appeared to be a reference to homosexual marriages and moves to give legal status to unmarried couples.

"Surely God is deeply pained by the attack on the family,'' one of the meditations said. "Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family.''

The Pope, wearing a red cape over his white cassock, carried a wooden cross for part of the service around the Colosseum as tens of thousands of people held candles on the streets below.

Another meditation read by one of the actors appeared to be a criticism of genetic manipulation and cloning, lamenting a "move to re-invent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God ... a risky and dangerous venture.''

Yet another meditation said the world had lost its sense of sin.

"Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication,'' it said.

At the end of the procession, the Pope delivered brief, unprepared remarks.

"In the mirror of the cross we saw all of the sufferings of humanity today,'' he said. "We saw the suffering of children who are abandoned and abused, the threats against the family, the divisions of the world, the arrogance of the rich who do not share ... with those who suffer hunger and thirst,'' he said.

The Pope will say an Easter Eve mass on Saturday night and on Sunday deliver an "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.

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Catholic Adoption Agencies Won't Be Penalized For Refusing Gay Applicants

Policy Violates Anti-Discrimination Laws

BOSTON -- Catholic adoption agencies in Worcester, Fall River and Springfield won't be penalized by the state for refusing to consider gays as adoptive parents, though their policies violate state anti-discrimination laws.

The general counsel for the state Department of Early Education, which regulates adoption agencies, said the agency isn't taking action because Romney has proposed legislation that could allow the agencies to refrain from considering gays on religious grounds.

"We're going to wait and see how the legislation plays out," attorney Constantia Papanikolaou told The Boston Globe.

Romney proposed the bill after Catholic Charities announced last month it was ending its adoption services because it couldn't reconcile state law with church teachings, which consider gay adoption "gravely immoral."

Papanikolaou said the state hasn't received any complaints from the public about the adoption practices at Catholic Charities in Worcester and Fall River, or Brightside for Families and Children in Springfield. Catholic Charities is part of the local diocese and Brightside in Springfield is run by the Sisters of Providence Health System.

Gary Buseck, legal director of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said his group hasn't publicly protested because the state will have a new governor next year, and GLAD expects that person to vigorously enforce the state's anti-discrimination laws.

All of the candidates for governor oppose an exemption for Catholic groups from anti-discrimination laws.

"The illegality shouldn't be allowed to stand," Buseck said, adding GLAD has chosen a strategy of "watching and waiting," rather than confronting state officials.

The issue came to the forefront earlier this year, when Catholic Charities of Boston said its adoption services had to accept gay applicants to comply with state law, but Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and the three state bishops said placing children with gay parents violated church teachings.

The church leaders asked the state to exempt Catholic agencies from the anti-discrimination law, but lawmakers said such a proposal would never pass the Legislature, and Romney said he didn't have the authority to unilaterally grant an exemption.

In March, Catholic Charities of Boston ended adoption services. Since then, the other Catholic social service agencies have said they won't accept gay applicants.

Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said the Romney administration was "picking and choosing" the laws it enforces. She said Romney invoked a 1913 law to stop the state from marrying gay couples who are from out of state, but is ignoring a more recent law that protects gays from discrimination in the area of adoption.

Catherine Loeffler, executive director of Catholic Charities of Worcester, said her agency isn't harming gays or lesbians because it simply refers these applicants to other agencies. She said her organization wants to help children, while keeping its work "in harmony with Catholic teachings."

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And who says that Massachusetts has lost ALL common sense, just most of it. ~ Q

New sainthood case strengthened

A second so-called miracle cure by a British Catholic priest has been reported in the US strengthening the cause for him to be made a saint.
Cardinal John Henry Newman, who founded Birmingham Oratory in 1848, has long been championed as a future saint.

A case for his beatification, the stage before sainthood, needs a miracle by the cardinal to be complete and claims of one in Boston are being looked into.

Now a 16-year-old boy's emergence from a coma is also being investigated.

The oratory's current provost, Father Paul Chavasse, explained the second claims of a miracle: "After prayers and the application of a relic of Newman's he emerged to the astonishment of his family and the doctors from the coma."

'Lover of Newman'

The first reported miracle came from a canon in Boston who said his spinal problems had been cured after praying to Cardinal Newman.

Investigations in America are due to end later this year, when the evidence will go to Rome for the meticulous scrutiny of Pope Benedict.

Peter Jennings, from the oratory, said: "He's a great lover of Newman and uses Newman and quotes Newman frequently in his writings and speeches and now as he has become pope we very much hope he'll be the pope that will beatify, then eventually canonise John Henry Newman."

The two claims follow 50 years of work to introduce Cardinal Newman's cause for canonisation - a process which includes collating more than 20,000 of his letters and evidence from personal witnesses of his suitability to become a saint.

No English person who has lived since the 16th Century, when many Catholics were killed during the Reformation, has been canonised.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Italian author on teen sex takes on the Vatican

Robin Pomeroy

ROME (Reuters) - Italian author Melissa Panarello, who hit best-selling lists across the world with graphic stories of teenage sex, published a new book on Friday in which she said the Roman Catholic Church's code of morality was all wrong.

After "100 Strokes Of The Brush Before Bed", in which she described losing her virginity at 14, Melissa P. -- as she is known -- brought out her latest book on Good Friday, a major day in the Christian calendar marking the crucifixion of Jesus.

"In The Name Of Love", a treatise against the Church's preaching on sex, was written by the petite 20-year-old Sicilian in the form of an open letter to Italy's most senior cardinal, Camillo Ruini, defending abortion, divorce and homosexuality.

"This book was born of rage, a rage that was born about a year ago when the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI accentuated a religious fundamentalism which I thought only exited in the history books," she said.

Panarello, who has rejected criticism from politicians who say she has no right to preach to the Church, accused the Vatican of a narrow view of sex.

"Bishops talk a lot about life, but it doesn't seem to me that they know much about fundamental elements of life like sexuality," Panarello, who has sold more than 3 million books in 42 countries, told reporters.


She presented her book at the headquarters of Italy's Radical Party, which has battled for decades against what it sees at Church interference in political life and was behind campaigns in the 1970s to legalise divorce and abortion.

Last year, the party lost a referendum campaign to repeal Italy's strict laws on assisted reproduction after Ruini, head of the Italian bishops' conference, instructed Catholics to abstain. The referendum failed because not enough people voted.

"Secularism is an issue which concerns all countries, but perhaps we feel it more in Italy because we have the Vatican," said Panarello, who still uses the abbreviated version of her name that secured anonymity when her debut book was published.

In her new book, she quotes comments by the Pope and passages of doctrine and challenges them with examples -- often from her adolescence in Sicily -- designed to show people cannot and should not live by the Church's teachings.

"The only thing we could do in our area, Cardinal Ruini, was love," says one extract from the book.

"The only thing that could make us feel alive was to give ourselves completely to the other, sliding under the sheets together with the stereo on high so our parents in the room next door couldn't hear the din we made when making love."

Panarello asks Ruini to imagine being a teenager "who can't wait to soothe her hormones" trying to pluck up the courage to buy condoms in a village pharmacy.

"I want the right to speak because I'm fed up with keeping my head down every time my freedoms and civil rights are threatened," Panarello said at the presentation.

"I hope Ruini replies, because I am raising sincere questions."

Panarello has disowned the film "Melissa P", based on her first book, for failing to interpret the true feelings of adolescence.

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This is just another case of a prostitute trying to justify Its warp trade and showing Its lack of human development.~ Q

Pope carries cross at Good Friday ceremony in Rome

ROME (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims they could not remain neutral when faced with the evils of the world, after leading Catholics in the traditional Good Friday torchlit ceremony at Rome's Colosseum, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.

Watched by thousands of pilgrims packed around the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the 78-year-old pope carried a wooden cross at the first and last of the 14 "stations" which for Christians recall Christ's last journey to his crucifixion.

Benedict, wearing a red cape and flanked by a giant flaming cross, said they could not remain "neutral" when faced with the evils of the world -- "the suffering of abused and abandoned children," the threat against the traditional family, the "divisions" in the world and gap between rich and poor.

His five-minute address came at the end of a grim ceremony on the most solemn day of the Christian calendar, during which he had listened as actors read out a meditation on Christ's suffering, prepared by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar general for the Vatican City.

"Lord we have lost our sense of sin," it said.

"Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication."

"Lord Jesus, open our eyes, let us see the filth around us for what it is."

During the late-night ceremony Friday, the cross was carried in turn around the ancient Roman amphitheatre by an Italian family, an American seminarist, a young nun, two Franciscan monks from the Holy Land, and young people from Nigeria, Angola, Korea and Mexico in an effort to reflect the universality of the Church.

The pope himself, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had prepared the meditations for last year's ceremony, which a dying Pope John Paul II watched on television in his private chapel at the Vatican. He died a week later.

On Thursday, Benedict began four days of commemorations to mark the Holy Week of Easter, presiding over mass commemorating the Last Supper and the traditional washing of the feet.

On Holy Saturday, the pope will preside over an Easter vigil mass in St Peter's Basilica in which thousands of pilgrims will hold candles and renew their baptismal vows.

Benedict will turn 79 on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Christ's Resurrection.

The pontiff will deliver the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica, where he first appeared as pope following his election on April 19 last year.

Last year, celebrations were overshadowed by John Paul II's rapidly deteriorating condition. He could barely speak when he greeted pilgrims massed in Saint Peter's square on Easter Sunday, and the Easter message was delivered by a cardinal.

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Papal preacher blasts Da Vinci Code, Judas gospel

Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A Vatican official on Friday railed against "The Da Vinci Code," branding the book and its upcoming film version as just more examples of Jesus being sold out by a wave of what he called "pseudo-historic" art.

The official, preaching in the presence of Pope Benedict, also condemned the so-called "Gospel of Judas," an alternative view to traditional Christian teaching which has received wide media attention recently.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose official title is "Preacher of the Papal Household," made his comments in a sermon during a "Passion of the Lord" service in St Peter's Basilica commemorating Christ's death.

In his sermon, Cantalamessa made several scathing references to The Da Vinci Code, without specifically mentioning the name of the worldwide bestseller.

He said that people today were fascinated by "every new theory according to which he (Christ) was not crucified and did not die ... but ran off with Mary Magdalene"

The novel is an international murder mystery centred on attempts to uncover a secret about the life of Christ that a clandestine society has tried to protect for centuries.

The central tenet of the book is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children. Christians are taught that Jesus never married, was crucified and rose from the dead.

Cantalamessa then turned his ire to the film version of "The Da Vinci Code" starring Tom Hanks, which is due to be released next month.

"No one will be able to stop this wave of speculation, which will see a sharp increase with the imminent release of a certain film," he said.

Cantalamessa several times dismissed "The Gospel of Judas," which claims that it was Christ himself who asked Judas to betray him. The Gospel of Judas received wide attention recently in media stories about the discovery of a 1,700-year-old copy.

The so-called Gospel of Judas was already declared a heresy by the early Church about two centuries after Christ died.

The Passion of the Lord service was the first of two events in which the 78-year-old German Pope, approaching the first Easter of his reign, was commemorating the crucifixion of death of Christ on Good Friday.

His predecessor John Paul was in his dying days for all of last year's Easter season and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

John Paul died on April 2, a week after Easter.

On Friday night the Pope was leading a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the ancient ruins of Rome's Colosseum.

He says an Easter Eve mass on Saturday night and on Sunday will deliver an "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.

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Pseudo-Historic or Pseudo-Hysteric, either way it’s just another fancy label for a Lie. ~ Q

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pope Calls Judas Double-Crosser in Homily

Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 13, 6:03 PM ET

ROME - Pope Benedict XVI Thursday recounted the Biblical betrayal of Jesus by Judas, calling the apostle a double-crosser for whom "money was more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and his love."

Benedict's traditional depiction of Judas came during his Holy Thursday homily, a week after the release of an ancient Egyptian Coptic text dubbed the "Gospel of Judas," in which Judas is portrayed not as Jesus' betrayer but as his confidant who was doing his will by handing him over to his enemies to be crucified.

Holy Thursday marks the start of a series of solemn ceremonies in the Catholic Church in which the faithful relive Jesus' suffering, crucifixion and death — and then his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

During the service, the holy father humbly washed the feet of 12 men, re-enacting Jesus' washing of his apostles' feet during the Last Supper and saying the act cleansed the "filth" of mankind.

As a choir's hymn filled St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Benedict poured water from a golden vase over each of the men's feet and scrubbed each one dry in an act of humility and service.

In his homily, Benedict said Jesus washed his disciples' feet to purify them so they could join him at the Last Supper, the meal which the faithful believe Jesus shared with his apostles before he was betrayed by his apostle Judas and crucified.

"God comes down and becomes a slave; he washes our feet so we can be at his table," Benedict said. "The bath in which he washes us is his love, ready to confront death. Only love has the purifying force that takes away our filth and elevates us to God."

Earlier, Benedict presided over another Mass dedicated to priests during which he recalled the sacrifice of a cleric slain in Turkey.

Benedict read a letter written by Rev. Andrea Santoro in which the Italian prelate spoke of his willingness to offer his own body for the sake of preaching Catholicism in largely Muslim Turkey.

Santoro, 60, was shot and killed Feb. 5 while he prayed in his parish in the Black Sea city of Trabzon. Witnesses said the killer, a 16-year-old boy, screamed "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before firing two bullets into Santoro's back.

Benedict quoted Santoro as saying in his letter that he had chosen to live in Turkey to be among its people, "lending" his body to Christ to do so.

"One becomes capable of salvation only by offering one's own body," Santoro wrote.

Santoro's slaying occurred at the height of unrest in the Muslim world over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in Europe. Top church officials have called Santoro a martyr.

The Vatican announced earlier this month that money collected during the Holy Thursday Mass would be used to rebuild houses for victims of a February mudslide in the Philippines that buried the town of Guinsaugon and killed more than 1,000 people.

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You Go! Benedict. ~ Q

Critics who want cardinal to quit plan Good Friday cathedral vigil

Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 13, 2006

Robert Costello recalls how his mother used to draw the window shades in the afternoon hours of Good Friday so the family could contemplate Jesus Christ's suffering during the hours Christ hung on the cross.

This year Costello is coming to Chicago from his home in Norwood, Mass., to hold a vigil Friday outside Holy Name Cathedral and ponder the pain of children allegedly abused by Rev. Daniel McCormack, a Chicago priest.

Costello and other Catholics from Massachusetts, Indiana, Kentucky and New York also will petition peacefully for Cardinal Francis George to resign as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

McCormack, 37, served in several churches despite allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to his time in the seminary. Prosecutors have charged the priest with sexually abusing three boys at his West Side parish.

Subsequent audits commissioned by George revealed more than 30 missteps and oversights in the handling of the McCormack case that put children at risk.

"[The cardinal's] treatment of this whole thing is just unacceptable," Costello said. "He helped write the Dallas charter and the norms, and he knew better."

But calls for his resignation have not been widespread. Since McCormack's arrest, four groups have asked George to step down, three in Illinois.

Last month, the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests demanded George's resignation.

Earlier this week, Chicago-based Call to Action, a liberal reform group, pressed George to resign or use his influence to push other bishops to comply with church guidelines for handling abuse allegations. And on Wednesday, a conservative group called Roman Catholic Faithful based in Petersburg, Ill., called for him to step down.

Boston-based Voice of the Faithful asked that George resign as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Voice of the Faithful chapters in other states such as New York and Connecticut also have called for him to resign.

Voice of the Faithful members in Chicago have so far resisted, a move that has drawn fire from church reform advocates.

But unlike the crisis that erupted in Boston in 2002, there is no national or local consensus. The largest group to sound the alarm is Call to Action, which claims 25,000 members. Experts say that matters little in an archdiocese of 2.4 million.

The anger directed at George is not comparable to the outrage that engulfed Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002, said Steve Krueger, founding president of Voice of the Faithful.

"No one feels comfortable at all in calling for the resignation of a bishop," Krueger said. "At the same time, we've had over 10,000 children abused and over 4,000 priests identified, but only one bishop has been held accountable so far."

Colleen Dolan, communications director for the Chicago archdiocese, said the Good Friday vigil on the day Catholics commemorate Christ's death is bad timing.

"To be disruptive, even silently disruptive, is disrespectful," she said. The cardinal "cannot change the past. He can change the future."


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