"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Letting The Smoke Out

Sunday’s beatification will be of a holy pope who began the fightback against the smoke of Satan

It will take 100 years to recover from the 1960s and 70s: but John Paul set us back on course
By William Oddie on Thursday, 28 April 2011
Sunday’s beatification will be of a holy pope who began the fightback against the smoke of SatanJohn Paul II's greatest achievement was to defend the stable and objective character of Catholic teaching (Photo: CNS)

We have short memories; we take our recent history too easily for granted. Few people, it seems – at least among those who imply that the problems we still face as a Church were actually Pope John Paul’s fault – remember the state of the Catholic Church at the end of the reign of the unhappy Pope Paul VI, during which forces of disintegration were unleashed within the Church which brought it to the edge of losing all credibility as a defender of basic Christian orthodoxy.

This work of darkness was brought about, not by the Council itself, but by some of those, certainly, who had attended it. It was certainly not the work, as some still confidently claim, of a liberal pope: for if Pope Paul was such a convinced liberal, what about Humanae Vitae? What happened during his pontificate was clearly far from his intention. At a homily he preached in 1972, he is reported as saying, now famously, that he had “believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms, and of darkness … And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that … there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. It is as if from some mysterious crack… the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

He was speaking particularly about the liturgy: but just as disastrous was the unchallenged rise during his pontificate of the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeeckx and the rest of their malign brood. It was a time of great destruction; and to destroy is always easier than to rebuild. Recovering from the aftermath of the Council will take 100 years. But Pope John Paul began the fightback: he set the barque of Peter, and the Church with it, firmly back on course.

His greatest achievement, as I have already written in this column, was that he did more than any pope of the last century to defend and reassert beyond any doubt the stable and objective character of Catholic teaching. He saw off the alternative magisterium, not by suppressing individuals (though Küng, for instance, had his licence to teach Catholic doctrine removed) but by clear and unequivocal teaching: and as I wrote when the beatification was announced, as a result he made it possible for hundreds of thousands of non-Catholics like myself, tired of the uncertainties of secularised versions of Christianity, to come into full communion with the Holy See.

If you doubt me when I say that he made it possible for many to become Catholics, despite their own perception of the deep attractions of the Catholic tradition, consider the case of Malcolm Muggeridge. In Something Beautiful for God, an explanation of why he resisted becoming a Catholic, despite even the urging of Mother Teresa, he pointed to the circumstance
“…that the Church, for inscrutable reasons of its own, has decided to have a reformation just when the previous one – Luther’s – is finally running into the sand.
“I make no judgment about something which, as a non-member, is no concern of mine; but if I were a member, then I should be forced to say that, in my opinion, if men were to be stationed at the doors of churches with whips to drive worshippers away, or inside the religious orders specifically to discourage vocations, or among the clergy to spread alarm and despondency, they could not hope to be as effective in achieving these ends as are trends and policies seemingly now dominant within the Church.
“Feeling so, it would be preposterous to seek admission, more particularly as, if the ecumenical course is fully run, luminaries of the Church to which I nominally belong, like the former Bishop of Woolwich, for whom – putting it mildly – I have little regard, will in due course take their place in the Roman Catholic hierarchy among the heirs of St Peter.”
But then, Karol Wojtyla became pope. The old indiscriminate ecumenism was allowed quietly to run into the sands; the mists of uncertainty were blown away, and the Magisterium was revealed, still standing, firm on the rock of Peter; and within a very few years, Muggeridge became a Catholic at last. So did many others, including myself.

That is why I was elated at the news of his beatification: because of his re-establishment of the simple fact of the Church’s authority to declare the objective truth of Catholic doctrine (Veritatis Splendor, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and on and on), I had been enabled at last to come home, to escape finally from a Church in which there was absolutely no means of coming to a mind about anything, a Church which actually requires of its clergy no more than a formal acceptance of the creeds – not as declarations of beliefs held to be actually true, but as what the C of E sanctimoniously calls part of a “heritage of faith”. That is why I was at first so depressed by the hostility in some quarters, even within the Church, to the announcement of Sunday’s beatification. I had thought, in Pope John Paul’s final years, that we had moved beyond all that.

Simply remember. It wasn’t just that he recalled the Church to itself: he showed the power of the faith by his astonishing geopolitical achievement in finally giving the answer to Stalin’s contemptuous question “how many divisions has the pope?” This is how George Weigel summed up this part of his achievement:
In 1978, no one expected that the defining figure of the last quarter of the 20th century would be a Polish priest and bishop. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle of personal piety, but Christian conviction would play no role in shaping the 21st-century world. Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christian conviction to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics – the politics that eventually led to the revolutions of 1989 and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe.
We know that he made mistakes: all popes do. But on any reasonable assessment, both in the Church and in the world his achievements were immensely more significant than his errors. His was a flawed greatness, perhaps; but it was greatness, nevertheless.

As I wrote when Sunday’s big event was first announced, however, Pope John Paul is being beatified not because of his greatness but because of his heroic sanctity. The five-year waiting period to begin the Cause was waived on account of what the Congregation for the Causes of Saints described as the “imposing fame for holiness” enjoyed by John Paul II during his lifetime. And on Sunday, that holiness (undisputed by any who really knew him, and affirmed most clearly by the present Holy Father, who knew him better than most) will be all that we need to remember.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Increasing Vocations

Why the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and good websites are important: they increase vocations to the priesthood.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Easter Sermon
By St. John Chrysostom
Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaias foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

US Catholic Church finds astonishing variety of people joining this Easter

US Catholic Church finds astonishing variety of people joining this Easter
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Catholics participating in the Easter Vigil. Credit: Mazur
.- A Muslim, a family of seven, a Marine, a former abortion clinic administrator – these are just a few of the many faces of people from around the country who are slated to join the Catholic Church at Easter.

The U.S. bishops' conference recently profiled a handful of unique stories from individuals in different states, each of whom will be either baptized or confirmed during the Church's universal celebration of the Easter Vigil on April 24.

Although the numbers are still trickling in for this year, the conference reported that in 2010, there were over 43,000 adult baptisms in the U.S. and more than 75,000 people received into full communion with the Church.

Soon-to-be baptized New Orleans resident Ahdija Cheumbike Baker was raised a Muslim. The daughter of a Detroit man and a Tanzanian woman, Baker is one of the 282 catechumens and candidates that the Catholic Church in New Orleans will be welcoming at Easter.

Baker said that she struggled with some of her Muslim beliefs throughout her life and that ultimately, the “love of the Lord” as well as a love interest drove her to start attending a local Catholic church, St. Peter Claver.

She said that especially after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, “I felt compelled to look for a church to call home so that I could give my thanks to God.”

“If I had gone to a church that gets you in and out in 45 minutes, I probably wouldn’t have changed my religion; but at St. Peter Claver I feel a deep connection. The way that the priest speaks in his homilies moved me. I felt at home and accepted, and they have become my family.”

Eighteen year-old Kalene Laforest is a Marine and feels compelled to join the Catholic Church before going on assignment in June. A catechumen at St. Peter’s Church in LaGrange, Georgia, LaForest said that she wanted a faith with depth, history, deep spirituality, tradition, and “no all-over-the-place craziness.” She is among 1,912 who will join the Catholic Church in the Atlanta archdiocese this year.
Across the U.S. in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, a family of seven will be welcomed into the Church. James and Michelle House, who are parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, will come into full communion at the Easter Vigil. In the following week, infant David, 2 months old, will be baptized, while his siblings Kristina, James, Alexandra and Joseph will be received into the Church.
Michelle House said the family, who are former Episcopalians, found a welcoming community at St. Catherine's when they moved to northern California.

In Austin, Texas, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and author of the bestselling book “Unplanned,” is getting ready to enter the Catholic Church.

Due to a personnel shortage at the abortion clinic she used to work in, she was called in to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion for the first time in September 2009.

The next few minutes changed Johnson's life irrevocably, as she watched the 13 week-old baby –whom she had believed to be incapable of feeling anything– squirming and twisting to avoid the tube into which it would be vacuumed.

Shocked by what she had seen, Johnson still initially continued her work running the clinic and promoting its work. Just a few weeks later, however, she was in the nearby office of the Coalition For Life, telling its director Shawn Carney –with whom she was well-acquainted, from his years of opposition to Planned Parenthood– that she could no longer continue helping women have abortions.
Johnson and her husband have grown in their faith during the past year, and are now preparing to enter the Catholic Church. In a Jan. 13 interview with CNA she said that one of the final obstacles, in the course of her Catholic conversion, was the Church's teaching on the immorality of all artificial methods of birth control.

Planned Parenthood's mentality toward contraception, as she explained, stuck with her for a period of time even after she rejected abortion. Even as she became interested in the Catholic Church, she clung to the notion that artificial birth control was an advance for women and society. But she kept an open mind, studying Pope John Paul II's “Theology of the Body” and other sources of Church teaching.

An experience in a Catholic parish finally made her understand the fullness of the Church's teaching on sexuality.

This time, the vision of a child was not shocking, but profoundly life-affirming.

“One day, we were sitting in Mass … I was sitting behind this woman, who I don't know, and this little infant.” Gazing at that child, Johnson said she finally understood the Church's insistence on marriages remaining open to new life.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Myth Of The Pedophile Priest

Healing: In Defense of Priests

Cardinal Ratzinger (Future Benedict XVI) Blesses Body of Pope John Paul The Great


I have earned the right to say what I am about to say. I spent seven years of my life in my twenties working with homeless teens at Covenant House in New York City’s Times Square. Five of those years were spent working with unwed mothers, and the last two working on what was at the time the only residential treatment facility in the US for adolescents with HIV/AIDS. Many of the children with whom I worked had worked on the streets as prostitutes, male and female.

In the quiet moments at night, when my family are all asleep and I am alone with my thoughts, my mind periodically drifts back to those seven long years in a job where most people lasted no more than 2-3 years. As a husband and a father of three small children, one boy and two girls, I cannot but help to reevaluate those experiences through the prism of my fatherhood.

Memories of abused children become unbearable now. I simply cannot fathom such evil. It’s all around us. The hyper-sexualization of society is a demonic force from the pit of hell itself. The sexual revolution has been a war aimed at us, humanity. It has torn apart our dignity, reducing us to an animal level.

I recall one day at Covenant House when I was filling in for someone on a unit for males 17-20 years old, a young man came up to another resident outside of my office and spoke of a young girl whom he met in the dining room and went with to an unused platform at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to have sex. His exact words have never left me:

“Yo B. I doged that bitch brother! I doged that bitch!!”
{Emphasis his. He invented a new verb: To Dog}

Not a shred of human reference or dignity in either that statement, or the location where he paid his canine courtesies.

What have we become?

Against this nuclear meltdown of Western Civilization has come the revelation that a minority of Catholic Clergy, mostly homosexuals, have committed unspeakable atrocity against prepubescent children. According to the John Jay study, 4% of Catholic clergy have been accused over the past 50 years. You can read the report here.

Here is the victim tally from the study, from an accounting of every diocese’s Priest personnel file for the past 50 years:
Gender Count % of Total
Male 8,499 80.9%
Female 2,004 19.1%
Transsexual 2 .0%
Total 10,505 100.0%

Each and every one of these cases represents a life destroyed, a family destroyed. Not one should ever be minimized. Not one.

I’ve seen firsthand the terrible destruction wrought by predators. Now as a father, it’s simply more than I can stand to have to recall as I contemplate my children’s innocence. The thought of perverting that innocence stirs outrage, and we have been right to register that outrage during these many years since the first revelations emerged in the mid-’80′s.

Cleaning Up
To her credit, the Church has cleared out the backlog of cases and begun a painful and often bankrupting process of accountability toward the victims and their families. Catholics of good will pray that this helps to facilitate healing and wholeness. The Church has also instituted appropriate oversight and reporting practices for moving into the future.

When Pope John Paul II’s health all but incapacitated him in the final years of his life it was Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, who began to streamline the process of adjudicating cases of Priests who stood accused and laicizing the guilty. Pope Benedict XVI has apologized repeatedly to victims in private audiences and cried with them. He continues the program of accountability. The first thing Benedict did when he became Pope was to do a visitation of the American Seminaries and restructure the screening process for seminarians.

Perversely, that’s problematic for some.

Piling On
For some, this is not enough. Some want the resignation of this Pope, of Bishops. Many speak of “power sharing” with the laity, a Congregationalist model of ecclesiology. It says something when liberal Jews such as Alan Dershowitz and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch come out swinging in defense of the Pope, accusing the chorus of being unfair and having ulterior and base motive.
Many of those piling on the Pope and accusing him of baseless allegations speak of holding the Church to her own high moral standard.

Really?! Who would have guessed that the New York Times cared so much for Rome maintaining its moral integrity?

For the Times, this might have been about children’s safety at some point, but that point is long since past. The same for the many dissident Catholic groups and individuals who spout the left’s party line. This now has nothing to do with children’s safety. This now is all about tearing apart the Bishops, the Popes, the Curia. This is about demolishing the credibility of the Church to advance the Cultrue of Death without the major opponent: Rome.

What this is certainly not about is the safety of children. If it were, then these same people who are pounding on Benedict would harness their outrage at Rome to the problems faced by children throughout society.

By The Numbers
Consider the following assessment of child sexual abuse in the U.S. vs. U.K. from a well-footnoted article at Nation Master:
United States and Europe
Child sexual abuse occurs frequently in Western society.[88] Prevalence estimates range between 10% in the UK[89] and up to 62% for females and 16% for males in the United States.[90][91] The US Department of Health and Human Services reported 83,600 substantiated reports of sexually abused children in 2005.[92][93] The total number of incidents that were not reported is even larger.[94]

Get the rest of the article and references here.
Another site posts these numbers from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect:
Incidence: In 2003, there were 78,188 victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. (USDHHS, 2005). This is a rate of 1.2 per 1,000 American children (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005).
In 2003 10% of all confirmed child abuse cases in the U.S. were sexual abuse cases. (USDHHS, 2005).
Between 1992 and 2000 the annual number of substantiated sexual abuse cases dropped from 149,800 to 89,355, a 40% decline. Researchers believe a real decline, as opposed to changes in reporting trends or data collection, is responsible for this drop (Finklehor & Jones, 2004).
Victims: Girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996).
Perpetrators: More than 90% are men (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005). But, sexual abuse by women may be underreported. About 50% of abusers are acquaintances or friends. About 25% – 33% of child sex abusers are family members and from 7% to 25% are strangers (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005).

The Protestant Churches, as detailed here and here have a problem at least as bad as Rome’s.
If these same people who are pounding on Benedict truly cared for children, they would be outraged at a US Department of Education study by Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, which shows that 9.6% of public school children will be victims of inappropriate sexual conduct sometime during their 12 years of schooling. {*Shakeshaft, C, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of the Literature”, U.S. Department of Education, 2004}
Of the ~50 million children in school today, that means 4,500,000 of these children will be victimized from behavior ranging from sexually abusive language to rape. That’s 375,000 children per year! Even if Dr. Shakeshaft’s detailed analysis of the literature led to a 10x overestimation of the problem, that would still leave 37,500 victims per year, or 450,000 over a twelve year period compared to the John Jay study that showed 11,000 credible allegations against Catholic clergy over half a century.

Worse still, the study tells of the common practice of silently moving pedophile teachers around in the same manner the Bishops moved pedophile Priests.

Moreover, the number of cases involving Catholic clergy have slowed dramatically since the 1980′s. Thus has the problem within the clergy been resolving, thanks entirely to the publicity it has received, since the first wave of revelations became public twenty-five years ago.

Too Much Of A Good Thing
The publicity has been a genuine good. But too much of a good thing can be counter-productive, depending on one’s motive.
The argument here is not for less vigilance within the Church. Nor is the argument here an attempted deflection of blame by saying, “What about the other guys who are doing it?”. Those are absurd allegations being made by those who wish to cow common-sense folks into silence in order to keep an exclusive focus on Rome for reasons that have nothing to do with the safety of children.

The argument here is why the outrage is so very selective, so very targeted over a quarter of a century, if ALL children’s safety is truly our concern. By all the objective data it is evident that the Catholic clergy’s contribution to the sexual abuse of minors is far below 1% of the victim count.

Thus, as a body, Catholic Priests are shown by the data to be the LEAST problematic group of any in consideration. Remarkable!

The numbers simply do not add up. Where is the outrage on behalf of the remaining 99% of the victims?! Don’t they matter?

I suspect, after 25 years, that the welfare of all children is NOT at issue with Rome’s most vociferous detractors {the victim’s groups being a strong exception}. Given the numbers presented here, if the scandal in the Church has of itself provoked such outrage, one cannot comprehend what a proportional outrage would look like were the magnitude of the problem in other quarters ever addressed.

Evil always overplays its hand, as it has done here. Most of those who have published wild allegations against the Pope and his predecessor in recent weeks have seen their stories evaporate under scrutiny. But truth has long since taken flight. Tell a lie often enough and people begin to believe it.

As I said at the outset, I’ve earned the right to demand answers to the questions posed here. I mopped up the mess left behind by thousands of adults who sexually savaged the children I cared for at Covenant House. Not one of those children ever named a Priest as a molester, which squares with all of the data mentioned here.

The truth is that the John Jay study shows Catholic clergy, at the worst, to have had no more than 4% of its members involved in this atrocity. That means that 96% of our clergy have NOT been involved.

Can we married people boast the same numbers for our vocation? With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, 40% of child sexual abuse occurring in the home, 9% of school children abused by teachers and staff, we should blush at the thought that we are somehow occupying the moral high ground with respect to the Catholic clergy.

The pedophiles have been exposed and cleared out. The Priests who remain are the men who live their vows with heroic fidelity and are entitled to our gratitude and respect for living lives of selfless service to the rest of us. They certainly have mine.

If we are serious at hunting down pedophiles and keeping children safe, then the data suggest that one not look to the pulpit, but the pews.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Welcome Home

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First Anglican Use Mass in Canada

We reported recently on the Anglican Ordinariate conference which took place near Toronto, Ontario, and which Fr. Christopher Phillips (pastor of San Antonio's Our Lady of the Atonement Anglican Use parish) and Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P. participated in, along with the local ordinary, Archbishop Thomas Collins, who has been asked by Rome to head up the ordinariate efforts in Canada.

Some images and video have been made available from the associated Mass which took place as part of the conference which, incidentally, was the first Anglican use Mass celebrated within Canada -- by "Anglican use" I mean Mass celebrated in accordance with the 'Book of Divine Worship', which is the liturgical book in use as part of the historical Anglican use communities in the United States. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Christopher Phillips. (As a point of comment; while visiting Boston this past fall, I had the opportunity to attend an Anglican use liturgy in a suburb of Boston, at St. Lawrence Church in Chestnut Hill, MA. It was a beautiful and moving liturgy and only served to re-affirm my belief that the Anglican Ordinariate has a great deal to offer to the liturgical conversation, most particularly to the reform of the reform.)

Here are some of those photos and videos, courtesy of the English Catholic.