Sunday, January 31, 2010

God could care less ...

... because He could not love more!

Blessed Sunday/Buona Domenica to all !

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pro-life Super Bowl ads don't divide, anti-life people do

The human right to life is a fundamental principle of justice.

Those who oppose this universal right must accuse, not pro-lifers, but rather themselves as a source of division. Is it not those who say that some may live and others must die, children in the womb for example, that divide? These divide the living from the dead by their own support for, or procurement, of direct abortion.

Those who support recourse to abortion under any circumstances are a source of division, for they divide the human family into two groups: those who may live and those who must die.

"The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

'The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.'

" 'The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights. ' " (CCC 2273)

The hardship of bearing life, no matter how great, may never legitimately justify any deliberate act taken with the intention of terminating life in the womb.

Pro-lifers unite, they do not divide. Pro-lifers support and defend the unity all mankind as one great human family by upholding and defending each and every human life as a sacred and an inviolable gift from God.

Click here to tell CBS you support their decision to air the Tim Tebow Commercial (and tell your friends, too!)

-- ((((..))))

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parents, get your kids away from the TV...

Posted on January 26, 2010, 11:25 AM | Margaret Cabaniss tim_tebow.jpg

It's just not the Super Bowl without controversial advertising! But this year's most talked-about ad is coming from an unlikely source:

A national coalition of women's groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year - an event designed to bring Americans together," said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women's Media Center.

Exactly. Super Bowl ads are supposed to be about beer and scantily clad women. Anything else is just un-American! The Tebow ad -- which the NOW president called "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning" -- sounds downright nefarious:

The ad - paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family - is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.

CBS sports columnist Gregg Doyel puts it all in perspective:

"If you're a sports fan, and I am, that's the holiest day of the year," he wrote. "It's not a day to discuss abortion. For it, against it, I don't care what you are. On Super Sunday, I don't care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion."

All kidding aside, this is likely to become more of an issue in the future. Last year, NBC rejected CatholicVote.org's mild "Life: Imagine the Potential" spot, but theirs wasn't the first "advocacy ad" to be turned down: In 2004, CBS nixed a spot from the United Church of Christ welcoming homosexuals (which some pro-life viewers may have been glad of). It's a knife that cuts both ways -- and as this door is opened, it might become increasingly difficult to turn down ads from either side of the aisle.

Cries that potato-chip-shoveling football fans (and make no mistake, come February 7, I plan to be one of them) will have their delicate sensibilities offended by this Tebow ad are rich. Still, it seems likely that the debate over whether "advocacy" ads have a place during these kinds of events is just heating up.

(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)


Source: InsideCatholic

Monday, January 25, 2010

Your prayers, please

For a friend, M., who at this moment is deeply troubled and disturbed in body, mind and spirit,

For peace and freedom from fear, for conversion, for a deep and abiding sense that the Lord loves him,

please pray.

Thank you.

Potomac with Monument at sunset

Light wanes over the capital as day comes to a close.
Good evening, all.
((((..))))

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63 degrees in Maryland

Zip code 20772 reporting warm & sunny.
Have a God day!
-- ((((..))))

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RealCatholics ...

don't let their kids grow up to be pro-choice! ((((..))))

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Somebody stopped me after Mass today ...

He said he thought that the Scriptures, "Render unto Ceasar", teach that we should not talk in church about changing the laws, that when we ask Catholics to work to overthrow the laws that say an unborn child's life can be terminated, we are doing the work of the board of elections down the street and should mind our own business.

This is an erroneous interpretation of Scripture. But before all that we must say, and repeat often, that life is not a "religious" issue. The right to life is a "fundamental principle of justice".

God is just, and commands that all laws uphold the just treatment and recognize the rights of every human person. But when we speak as Catholics and believers in the public square we do not always and in every case ask our interlocutors to accept our creed in order to agree with us. We ask only that our society, our government and our laws uphold the fundamental principles of justice as inscribed in the founding documents of our Republic and in the hearts of every human being, of every creed, color and language. This means that EVERY human being must be respected and loved, throughout the whole course of their lives.

No one may ever, under any circumstances, be deliberately killed. This is not a purely religious idea. This concept is accessible to any human person simply through the use of reason. In the case of capital punishment and war this can sometimes tragically be the case. But in abortion and embryonic stem cell research, in every crime against the unborn child and the child in the course of being born, it is always and in every case an abominable crime. Always. There is a very great evil involved in the monstrous act of slaughtering a completely defenseless human being - the image and likeness of God in our midst.

And, now, to "Render unto Caesar" - how fraught with danger is our own interpretation of the Scriptures! When Christ taught "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" he was in fact authorizing the very protest and disobedience against unjust laws that Catholics, other Christians and men and women of good will are protesting in the March for Life each year in Washington and in other places all over this country.

Let's hear what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say:

"The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' 'We must obey God rather than men':

"When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel."
(CCC 2242)
So, in fact, our faith obliges us, requires us, to work to overthrow unjust laws like Roe v. Wade. Such work is necessary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Love and Life and Light, and involves every one of us, wherever we live and work and worship.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI: Put "media at the service of the Word"

"... building up God's communion 'necessarily involves using new communications technologies.' "

Holy Father encourages online priestly ministry

.- In his message for the 44th World Day for Social Communications, Pope Benedict calls for priests to "make astute use" of available technology in becoming a presence as community leaders on the web. However, he urges them to remain "less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart."

The 2010 World Day for Social Communications will take place on May 16 under the theme "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word." The Holy Father’s message was released today.

The aim of this year's message is to draw attention to the possibilities for priestly ministry offered within the "important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications."

For every priest, states the Holy Father in the message, fulfilling the fundamental priority of building up God's communion "necessarily involves using new communications technologies."

"Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word."

Pope Benedict emphasizes that "broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis" can be opened up in cyberspace with the presence of priests, living out their traditional role as community leaders in the world of digital communication.

With proper formation on how to use these technologies appropriately and competently, "shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord" priests have the opportunity to "introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ."

"Yet," cautions the Holy Father, "priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ."

With their wisdom and preparation, he continues, priests' presence online "will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the 'Web’."

"A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute."

The Pope reiterates the essential quality of the priest's spiritual life and solid grounding in faith to his ministry through new technologies at the end of the message, saying that he "must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation."

The message ends with a renewed invitation to the clergy, "to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" (gathering place) which the current media are opening up."

((((..))))

1993 Conference for 25th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae: Together in the cause for Human Life

I ran into a friend at the March for Life yesterday who collaborated with me on a conference in 1993 held to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He informed me that he has been uploading his videos of the conference to YouTube and I found some of those videos this morning.

I thank him as I invite you to take a little trip down "Pro-Life Lane" together with me. You can find the videos on the "Casepres" channel on YouTube by clicking here or by using some of the links I provide below.

The illustrious Mary Ellen Bork served as moderator for the conference and we enjoyed hearing the thoughts of people like Dr Haas, Bob and Jerry Laird, Mary Shivanandan and others.

- A talk by Dr. Haas.

- Doctors May, Irving and Shivanandan take questions from the audience.

- Rev. Rory Conley, Church historian, talks about how the promulgation of Humanae Vitae affected the life of the Church in Washington in 1968 and after.

- Part II of Father Conley's talk.

- Yours truly shares the contents of a letter from the famous "Xavier Rynne" on the subject of a supposed conflict between the teaching of Humanae Vitae on the methods of contraception and the same subject in the teaching of Pope John Paul II.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Agents of Life are on the March

The March for Life 2010 gathers a multitude of pro-lifers from near and far to Washington, DC, to call for the protection under law of every human life from conception to natural death.

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Pray for the Marchers for Life

God's holy host of pro-Life witnesses are gathering forces this morning at the Verizon Center in D.C. Protected by God's grace, with the sword of the Spirit we can defeat the forces of death arrayed against human life in our day.

Thank you for your prayers.

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"Is Scott Brown good for us?"

Dear CatholicVote Member,

The news is still sinking in.

The people of Massachusetts ignited a political firestorm
on Tuesday by electing Scott Brown to the seat vacated by the late
Senator Kennedy.

CatholicVote did not endorse Brown, nor did we urge voters to elect
him. Instead we fired back at
Martha Coakleys assault on Catholic doctors and nurses with phone
calls to nearly 200,000 people in Massachusetts.

But many rightly are asking if Scott Brown supports abortion, is
CatholicVote happy that he was elected? Let me explain.

First, Senator-elect Scott Brown opposes using taxpayer funds
for abortion, opposes partial-birth abortion, and supports other laws
that would provide parents and women notice, counseling, and
information prior to an abortion. But his opponent Martha Coakley was
proudly 100% pro-abortion.

Scott Brown is certainly not an ideal candidate. After all, he
supports Roe v. Wade! So the question must be asked -- how should
faithful Catholics, Christians, and dedicated
activists that want to build a culture of life respond -- how do we fit in?

Do you remember the S word?

The s word is subsidiarity. And Scott Browns win was a victory for
subsidiarity a key principle of Catholic social doctrine, and a
foundational principle of American self-government.

The surge that propelled Scott Brown into office was argely
a response to Congress overreach on health care. Americans of both
political parties, and huge numbers of independents elected Scott
Brown because of what he represents a chance to stop the government
first reform crusade. And because Scott Brown was elected, the health
care reform debacle may finally be stopped.

To read the rest from brianburch@catholicvoteaction.org, please visit
CatholicVoteAction.org

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sisters of Life

and bishops for life at the Mass for Life, vigil of prayer in intercession for the National March for Life tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

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National Shrine Mass for Life!

Alleluia!

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Ideology:

When a person refuses to change even in order to survive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When embattled: "I was silent..."

When under attack the faithhful can do no better than imitate the only
sinless One, who was like a Lamb led to the slaughter and "opened not
His mouth".

A prayer from Psalm 38 for those who feel embattled:

Those who seek my life set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they plot deception.
13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,
like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 I wait for you, O LORD;
you will answer, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, "Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies;
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
slander me when I pursue what is good.
21 O LORD, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pasta e Ceci: Sometimes feeding the hungry...

... means just making dinner.
Recipe for "Pasta e Ceci" by Marcella Hazan in "Marcella's Italian Kitchen".
As we enjoy the evening's fare let's remember the hungry & suffering in Haiti with prayer.
Thank you. -- ((((..))))

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Haiti: Notre Dame Du Perpetuel Secours


Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mother of the people of Haiti and our Mother, in selfless love you mourned the broken Body of Jesus your Son as you held Him in your arms at the foot of His Cross. It is His image and likeness we see in the dead men, women and children of Haiti. Through your prayers and intercession beseech for us the grace to also embrace them through our spiritual and material gifts.

Mary of Sorrows it is Jesus, your Son, for whom we weep as we suffer in union with your trapped, wounded and dying children in the ruins of Haiti. Beseech for them the grace of a deep Faith which gives to all the true freedom and life of the children of God.

Mary, Mother of Grace, it is in union with Jesus Christ crucified, your Son, who brings good out of every evil, that many souls around the world are reaching out to aid, to comfort, to heal and to rescue your children in Haiti.

Let us ever see the suffering holy face of your Son in the eyes of every suffering person. Let us always hear the voice of your Son calling out to us through every person in need, in Haiti and everywhere.

Amen.

Photo of Haiti Cathedral by Carolyn Cole, LA Times.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pope Pius XII: A "Righteous Gentile"

For more on the acclaim and thanks that Pope Pius XII received for his work protecting and saving Jews during the Shoah, take a look at an essay:

A Righteous Gentile: Pope Pius XII and the Jews

By Rabbi David Dalin, Ph.D.

You can read the essay by clicking here.

.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Buona Domenica!

A good Sunday to all!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Initial "Food for the Poor" estimate of 100K Haitians killed proves tragically prescient

"Food for the Poor" estimated soon after the earthquake in Haiti that between 100K and 500K Haitians had been killed by the 12 January disaster. Other news outlets are now echoing these apocalyptic statistics.

While many donate and others rush materiel and personnel to the scene, holy Mass and other prayers in union with Jesus Christ crucified and risen, for the wounded and dead remain our most powerful spiritual assistance to those in need.

Requiescant in pace.

Catholics, just stay home

...you can go to church too, if you want. Oh, and please vote for Martha Coakley for Democratic Senator from Massachusetts.

For more brilliant ideas from Martha, read on by clicking here.


Sounding a little like "No Irish Need Apply"?

Friday, January 15, 2010

61 degrees F: "Praise ye Him, O sun"

1 Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places.
2 Praise ye him , all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
3 Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.
4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens
5 praise the name of the Lord. For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created.

-- Ps 148

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, among thousands dead in earthquake-ravaged Haiti

In this undated photo released by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI meets Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot in his private library at the Vatican. Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found dead in the ruins of his office in Pourt-Au Prince, Haiti, said the Rev. Pierre Le Beller of the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France. A powerful earthquake crushed Tuesday thousands of structures, from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters.(AP Photo/ L'Osservatore Romano, Ho)

Haiti disaster details unfolding

Food For The Poor is responding to the devastation caused by yesterday's deadly earthquake, which hit about 10 miles outside of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0.

We at Food For The Poor want to relay the following to our donors and to loved ones of those who may be affected:

  • The current number of dead and missing is estimated to between 100,000 and 500,000
  • The entire capital of Port-au-Prince appears damaged or destroyed
  • Hospitals and the Presidential Palace were demolished, and a portion of Food For The Poor’s main office in Port-au-Prince has collapsed
  • Emergency relief is desperately needed

Food For The Poor will continue to do everything we can to reach out to the suffering people of Haiti — and we’ll keep you updated as we learn new information. Thank you for your compassionate support.

Please click here to help.

Click for more information.

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Administrative costs four percent Fundraising and other administrative costs comprise less than 4%; more than 96% of all donations go directly to programs that help the poor.



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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prayers for you

... and your intentions today in Eucharistic Adoration.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine,

all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!

-- ((((..))))

Monday, January 11, 2010

U.S. Bishops Call on Parishes to Help Stop Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform


WASHINGTON—In a nationwide call to Catholics to prevent health care reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent bulletin inserts and pulpit announcements to almost 19,000 parishes across the country.

“As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable,” the insert says. “Health care reform should not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country.”

As Congress negotiates a final health care bill, the insert encourages Catholics to contact their Senators and Representatives, urging them to keep longstanding restrictions against federal funding of abortion and full conscience protection in the legislation. If these criteria are not met, Catholics are asked to urge Congress to oppose the final bill.

The bulletin insert and pulpit announcement can be found in English and in Spanish at www.usccb.org/healthcare. Catholics can contact their legislators online by going to www.usccb.org/action.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

DC City Council "uniquely recalcitrant" on same sex unions

JANUARY 9, 2010

Washington, Gay Marriage (sic) and the Catholic Church

D.C.'s same-sex marriage law has put the archdiocese in a bind.

By EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH
Washington

The push to legalize gay marriage is often billed as a civil-rights struggle—a successor to the movement that ended legalized racial discrimination decades ago. But there is another component to the fight that is now on display in the nation's capital: The drive for gay marriage is also forcing unwanted change within the Catholic Church.

Last month, Washington D.C.'s City Council passed legislation legalizing gay marriage. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, quickly signed the bill. To become law—which could happen as early as March—the legislation must undergo a congressional review period.

By passing gay marriage, the City Council has put the Catholic Church, or more accurately, the Archdiocese of Washington, in an awkward position. Either the church will have to recognize gay marriage or it will be forced to abandon a large portion of its charitable programs.

That's because the District outsources many of its social services to Catholic Charities, which runs the charitable services of the archdiocese. These charities provide a variety of services—including shelters for the homeless and food for the hungry—to about 124,000 needy residents in the region (which also includes a portion of Maryland). The archdiocese also oversees St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home, a care center for foster children, and it administers adoptions for the District. For this work, Catholic Charities receives approximately $20 million in contracts, grants and licenses from the city. It bolsters these funds with $10 million of its own money and a network of 3,000 volunteers.

If same-sex marriages are legalized, which seems inevitable, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington points out that the church will find itself in violation of the new law if it continues its city-sponsored social services programs. Why? Because city contractors are required to abide by all of the District's laws and there are provisions in the bill requiring the church to acknowledge gay marriage by offering employment benefits to same-sex couples and by placing children with gay adoptive couples.

The archdiocese was not a particularly strong advocate against gay marriage in the District, but it did press for a religious exemption to be added to the same-sex marriage bill. Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont all have broad religious protections in their gay marriage laws, which allow gay couples to marry but do not require religious organizations to recognize those marriages.

But the City Council refused to add a religious exemption to its bill. According to Patrick Deneen, a professor of government at Georgetown University, the City Council "is being uniquely recalcitrant," especially when you "consider existing precedent elsewhere in the country that shows sensitivity to, and respect for, religious liberty." Without the religious exemption, the archdiocese has said publicly that it will have no choice but to abandon its publicly sponsored charitable works.

Phil Mendelsohn, a city councilman who voted for the bill, told me that the gay-marriage legislation that is about to become law actually expands religious freedom. "This bill doesn't require any church or faith to solemnize a marriage contrary to [their] beliefs," he said. "It does, however, allow many churches who wish to solemnize same-sex marriage to do so."

This claim is a smoke screen. The City Council's bill only reiterates religious protections already guaranteed under the First Amendment. It doesn't extend other protections to religious organizations that take money from the government, as the religious exemption the archdiocese sought would have. It would have been a small concession to grant such an exemption. But in the conflict between gay rights and religious rights, the city favors gay rights. It argues that the church should not discriminate while it receives public funds.

Framed in this way, it is hard to disagree. If the church receives public money, it should have to live by the public's rules. But Mr. Deneen makes the argument that it's actually the city that is dependent on the church. The archdiocese receives public funds because it provides important social services in a way that is both cheaper and likely more effective than if the city itself provided those services. At the very least, while still spending the $20 million it already gives the archdiocese, the city would have to live without the $10 million the archdiocese spends on its charities if the church dropped its charitable programs altogether.

But the archdiocese isn't willing to play hardball with the city. Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, told me that her organization is committed to serving the poor, regardless of what the laws are in the District, and that it is now looking "to find a way to enable Catholic Charities to keep working in partnership with the city."

So either the archdiocese will drop benefits for all employees—if it doesn't provide benefits to married couples, it won't have to offer them to same-sex couples—or it will follow in the footsteps of Georgetown University, the District's largest Catholic organization. There, an employee, whether gay or straight, married or not, receives full benefits for himself plus one legally domiciled member of his or her household. This would allow the archdiocese to save face by pretending it isn't knowingly recognizing gay marriages.

Either accommodation would allow the archdiocese to continue to run its charities. Yet both require a change within the archdiocese. The first would force the archdiocese to drop benefits it had provided in support of traditionally married couples, while the latter would entail a dishonest dodge from an institution built on sincere faith.

Ms. Smith, a former Bartley fellow at the Journal, is a Collegiate Network Journalism fellow at the Weekly Standard.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Friday, January 8, 2010

Traditional AND practical: "The sedia gestatoria would protect the Pope"


John Paul I was the last pope to be carried aloft by the sediari, or chairbearers. CNS file photo

Security expert Dominic Scarborough urges the Vatican to draw on tradition to prevent a repeat of the Midnight Mass attack on Benedict XVI

8 January 2010

Many years ago there was a joke doing the rounds of the pubs and clubs about two Irishmen on pilgrimage in Rome who ask at a bar near the Vatican what the Pope likes to drink. Upon being told he likes Crème de Menthe the two intrepid drinkers order two pints of the stuff.

Several hours and a lot of pints later both are lying comatose in the street. When they eventually come around one says to the other: "No wonder they carry him around in a chair!"

On a more serious note, the attack on Pope Benedict during the entrance procession of Midnight Mass by Susanna Maiolo, a mentally ill woman who once again, as she did last year, vaulted over the barriers before lunging at the Pope, poses serious questions about the Holy Father's safety.

Since 1970 alone there have been three documented attempted assassinations of the Pope. In 1970 Pope Paul VI was attacked by a man with a knife at Manila Airport, in 1981 there was the shooting of Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square and only a year later, when the same Pope visited Fatima to give thanks for his survival, he was attacked yet again by a deranged knife-wielding priest.

Aside from Pope Benedict's annual Christmas encounters with Miss Maiolo there was the attempt by a German man to get into his Popemobile during an audience in 2007. After these incidents and the rise of Islamic terrorism since 9/11 there have been many noticeable changes to the security surrounding the Pontiff.

Long gone are the days when it was deemed enough for Archbishop Marcinkus to stand next to the Pope as a kind of clerical "heavy". On all his travels around the world now the Pope is accompanied by armed close-protection officers from the 130-strong Vatican Corps of Gendarmes who accompany him and work with the close-protection teams afforded by the Italian state and the particular host country. His Popemobile is fitted with bullet-resistant glass and his movements by limousine are handled in exactly the same way as any head of state, with armed officers travelling with him and in a support vehicle. When the Pope visited Turkey he was even asked to wear body armour under his overcoat.

At every papal ceremony in St Peter's when the Pope is required to walk through the crowded basilica to reach the sanctuary it is possible to see not only his personal protection officer Domenico Giani, (who has been Inspector General of the Corpo della Gendarmeria since 2006), walking nearby but also other black-suited, close-protection officers walking at the sides of the procession. Indeed, the Pope's close-protection team are to be congratulated that one of their number seized Miss Maiolo as she leapt the barrier but the distance between the barrier and the Pope was so small that, ironically, it was the force of this officer tackling her at the very moment she grabbed at the Pope's vestments that actually brought the Pontiff crashing to the floor.

For these protection officers the security of their principal can never be guaranteed particularly when, like the Pope, he wants to be visible to the crowds who have turned out to see him and a degree of compromise is always required. Unlike a president or prime minister whose close-protection officers are usually found within an arm's reach of their principal, as any press photograph taken during a walkabout will show, the Pope is frequently engaged in liturgical acts which have no rubrical provision for an armed suited man wearing an ear-piece to be in the midst of things. That said, as with much of this pontificate the answer to this particular problem might just be found from recovering something from the past.

One only has to look at old black and white footage of pontiffs prior to Paul VI to see how popes always used to enter the basilica being carried shoulder high in the sedia gestatoria. Not only that, but there was always a throng of people around the chair, not only the actual bearers but numerous chamberlains and nobility and a large number of guards: Swiss Guards, uniformed Gendarmes, the Palatine Guard and Noble Guard. These comprised the old papal court which Pope Paul VI abolished and which formed a kind of buffer zone between the Pope and the crowds, no doubt as much a practical defence measure as a piece of ceremony.

The use of the sedia continued until very recently and many are unaware that the last pope to use the sedia was actually Pope John Paul I. While the abolition of this ancient form of transport may have since been considered appropriate in the context of the late 20th century and the need to democratise the appearance of papal ceremonies, the reality has left the Pope an isolated and vulnerable figure separated from the deacons ahead and the MCs behind, one who appears all too often like the figure in the Third Secret of Fatima: a victim walking alone simply waiting to be attacked.

While there are bound to be some who would see the return of the sedia as yet another example of this Pope "turning the clock back", in fact not only would it save an elderly man's tired legs but it would allow more of the crowd to see him. Most importantly, it would actually insulate him from the kind of physical assault we saw at Christmas by virtue of the mob of people surrounding it (who could these days be swelled by Swiss Guards and the gendarme officers in suitably formal garb) to work alongside the suited officers at the perimeter.

Naturally, the risk of attack from a gunman or explosive device would still be present and indeed potentially magnified by the sedia but the use of X-ray machines at the entrance to the basilica and physical searches of congregants should by now be mandatory at such events to confront these risks which are no more heightened by the Pope presiding at Mass from an elevated platform, as he does, than from being carried in a chair.

It was being reported earlier in the year on several Catholic blogs that the Vatican was actively considering a return for the sedia gestatoria for ceremonies in St Peter's, more because of the Pope's age than as a protection against attack. Perhaps the latest incident will persuade them that what tradition hands down frequently has a practical origin beyond merely the visually impressive spectacle that to sceptical modern eyes it had appeared to have become.

Dominic Scarborough is a regular commentator in the press and internet on Catholic affairs. His company, Proteus Risk, advises companies on security issues

Source: The Catholic Herald

In danger of war: "governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense"

All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed."
-- CCC 2308

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Every Word You Speak is Full of Grace": An Appeal to Lectors

"My heart overflows with noble words,
To the king I must speak the song I have made;
my tongue as nimble as the pen of a scribe.
You are the fairest of the children of men
And graciousness is poured upon your lips:
Because God has blessed you forever more."
-- Psalm 45

Every word Christ speaks is "full of grace". Christ speaks when His Word is proclaimed in the sacred liturgy of the Mass. Those who proclaim the Word, therefore, speak the very words of God, "graciousness is poured upon their lips".

Priests, deacons, lectors and all who have a role in supporting the ministry of the Word in the liturgies of the Church have the privilege and responsibility of ensuring that no one is denied the grace of hearing His Word which grants and nurtures Faith.

For these reasons undue haste, careless diction and insufficient volume must be avoided. Discernment as to whether one is called to be a lector must take these principles into account.

Thank you for your visit.
-- ((((..))))

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

PriestYear "Priest in Focus": Father Stephen Yim

Reverend Father Stephen Yim serves as assistant parish priest at the Catholic Church of Christ the King in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore.

He posts weekday and Sunday homilies both in English and his native tongue.
You can read Father Yim's Weekday Homilies by clicking here and Sunday Homilies by clicking here.

Thank you, Father Stephen, for using well the marvelous technology of the internet to serve the people of God with the solid food of the Gospel and also assist brother priests in their ministry of teaching.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Patron Saint of Multi-tasking

Elizabeth Ann Seton:

wife
mother
widow
convert to the universal Church by way of Episcopalianism
Navy parent
religious
educator
foundress
canonized saint

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Le Nozze di Cusick

Please share their joy and offer prayers for Conor and Peggy as they exchange the vows of holy matrimony today.

Praised be Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year: "This is how you shall bless"

Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!

Thank you for visiting.

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Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

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