Monday, June 30, 2003

Boston to Get Capuchin Friar as Bishop

It is all over the wires this morning that Bishop O'Malley (of Palm Beach since last September, Fall River before that, and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands before that) is going to be named the successor of Cardinal Law tomorrow. He is a very close friend of the Cardinal's and I would guess that has more to do with the appointment than his ability to clean up messes.

From CNN:

The Vatican will name Sean Patrick O'Malley, the bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, to replace Bernard Law as the head of the Boston Archdiocese, according to a news report.

The Vatican is expected to make its announcement this week, according to John Allen, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly newspaper.

Law resigned as archbishop of the troubled Boston Archdiocese in December after the archdiocese was shaken by allegations that priests sexually abused children and that the alleged molestations were covered up.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Feast of SS. Peter and Paul

In honor of the feast we'll attend St. Peter's Church this morning. Here is a selection from today's Office of Readings from St. Augustine:

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The anti-Christ

Interest in the anti-Christ is something that seems to never wane. It is often a clever tool of certian groups of Christians, a way of casting an evil eye toward a rival group (sometimes even other Christians), if you will. I recall a woman, very devout, telling me that she had figured out who the anti-Christ was--I think she believed that the source was a Divine revelation that she had received--anyway after some rather convoluted reasoning she announced that Saddam Hussein was the Antichrist and he was the 666 referred to in the Book of Revelation. This was in the early 1990's during the Gulf War. My problem with it at the time and even today as I write this is thta it suited her political beliefs as much as it did her religious beliefs. At the same time people like Ossama Bin Laden held Hussein to be something of a demon who was secularizing the Moslem world. So such demonizing of people often finds strange bedfellows.

In this country the topic of continues to hold the public's interest. The "Left Behind" series continues to be a bestseller that rivals anything the secular presses can release. Televangelists continue to predict that the antichrist is in our midst and that the end it near. Now Bishops of the Midwest have released a pastoral where they warn that such publications might themselves be the "false prophets" that Jesus warned His followers to both be on the lookout for and not to fall prey to when they appeared.

I have often thought that whoever and whatever we conceive of as the antichrist can be a temptation away from the Gospel for us. We can demonize someone or some institution so that we do not have to apply the Gospel message to them. Again the Lord told us that judgment is not ours, it is His and His warning to "watch" carries with it the notion that we are ever to be vigilant for His coming under the many guises that He chooses to visit us in.

Here is some of the Catholic Bishop's of Illinois Statement:

When Jesus told us to be alert and ready for his return, he also warned there would be false prophets. One of the most attractively marketed recent false "prophets" has been the Left Behind series, published by Tyndale House Press in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1995, the series by Mr. Tim LaHaye and Mr. Jerry B. Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings. More than that, the series has been a vehicle for anti-Catholic sentiments by the way Catholics are characterized and treated in the plot line.

Promoted nationally in grocery checkout aisles, discount outlets and bookstores, over the Internet and even through book sale fundraisers in Catholic schools, these novels are now in the tenth installment of the adult series and the twenty-fourth volume of the children's version. There are also two videos, (produced by Cloud Ten Productions) a board game, and other marketed items. These materials, about fictionalized end-times, popularize a common fundamentalist belief in a time of tribulation after the "rapture" (when the "good people" are secretly taken up overnight to Heaven) and before the Second Coming of Christ. This belief is not supported in Scripture.

Responding to similar fundamentalist agendas back in 1937, Pius XI, in "Divini Redemptoris" said any such speculations about a period when a remnant of the Church progresses towards its own ultimate victory might of themselves be a sign of the Antichrist:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism ...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

The kingdom will be fulfilled then, not by a historic triumph of the church through a progressive ascendancy, but only in God's victory over the final unleashing of evil ... (676-677)

The scenario in Left Behind, of a "tribulation force" of born-again former sinners who attempt personally to derail the progress of the Anti-Christ, is broadly classifiable as pre-millenarianism. The pseudo-historical backdrop for the story ties apocalyptic scripture to specific events in history, an error known as pre-millennial dispensationalism. In later books in the series, the new Pope is depicted as instrumental in establishing a relativistic world religion encouraged by the AntiChrist and operated from New Babylon (formerly Rome). The Left Behind series is anti-Catholic in content and form, consistent with Mr. LaHaye's other writings, in which he associates the Church with "Babylonian mysticism."

Tyndale House, and by association Cloud Ten Productions, have made clear in their marketing that they feel divinely inspired to promote their theological agenda among the most vulnerable. A recent promotional mailer, created by the Christian Film and Television Commission for their second Left Behind video, claims: "God is using the "Left Behind" films, as He has used the books, to reach out and touch the lives of people who won't go to church, but in their hearts are looking for the answers to life's questions." If there are any doubts that the aim of the Left Behind series is as much to promote a fundamentalist agenda as to make money, these marketing techniques should put them to rest.

Friday, June 27, 2003

The Iraqi Information Minister Resurfaces on Abu Dhabi TV

He looks a lot older now...

From We Love the Iraqi Information

"The information I received from the governorates was more precise and comprehensive than the information I got from the Baghdad area. I was sincere in everything I said, even just before the fall of Baghdad international airport."

"The information was correct, but the interpretations were not," he said. "I did my duty up to the last minute."
Michael Rose Responds to Inside the Vatican

From The Diocese Report:

Dear Inside the Vatican,

Your June-July 2003 issue included a letter to the editor entitled "Enraged" and signed "Michael Rose." Unfortunately, many people--including some at Inside the Vatican--have mistaken me for the author of this letter, which is anti-Papal in content and woefully intemperate in tone. The letter does not express my views in the least; nor is the letter written in a manner even remotely consistent with my style. To be sure, I am not the author of the letter.

I have written four books (Goodbye Good Men, Priest, Ugly As Sin, and The Renovation Manipulation) as well as hundreds of articles dealing with a variety of topics of interest to Catholics all over the world. I am a contributing editor of the New Oxford Review and a news correspondent for The Catholic World Report. I do not need to write a letter to the editor of Inside the Vatican in order to express my views. It seems the only time I write letters to Catholic periodicals is to correct false or misleading information about myself or my work.

Michael S. Rose

Cincinnati OH

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Spirituality and Today's Mass Reading

From the First Reading at Mass Today:

The LORD's messenger found her by a spring in the wilderness,

the spring on the road to Shur, and he asked,

"Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from

and where are you going?"

She answered, "I am running away from my mistress, Sarai."

But the LORD's messenger told her:

"Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.I will make your descendants so numerous," added the LORD's messenger,

"that they will be too many to count.

I have put the passage that struck me in bold. Interestingly other translations do not translate this passage in the same way. The RSV translates it as "Return to your mistress and submit to her." But back to the text as it exists in the Lectionary, Hagar who flees the harsh treatment of Sarah is told to go back and to submit to it. When I attended Mass the priest ignored the reading commenting rather accurately that it would be hard to offer a pious homily on the first reading, I would differ with him on that point.

The reading and the verse in particular point to a certain way of approaching life. Do we flee the reality we are placed in (this is obviously the "way" many approach life in our culture) or do we face the good and the bad? What is more is to look at how we view the world around us and in particular the part of the world where we are placed, is it a curse or a blessing?

Hagar's return to Sarah is accompanied by a promise of blessing. The Christian's taking up the cross with Jesus carries with it a promised blessing.

I recall many years ago hearing Father Benedict Groeschel, at that time a Capuchin, preach on the mental health of some of the saints. His diagnosis is that many of them suffered from neurotic states but through their devotion to God while not relieved of their condition it was sanctified. Grace building on nature.

Every day we all suffer at the hands of our "Sarah's" who abuse us out of jealousy and envy. The small mindedness that backs such abuse is easy to understand but difficult to deal with when directed at yourself. We all are tempted to flea but God tells us to stay and what is more to see a blessing in it all.

The next time you read the life of a saint, take off your pious sunglasses and try to imagine what it must have been like to live in a community with such a person. Would you have experienced them as a gift or a burden? It is clear from the testimonies of many who have enjoyed the blessing that it hardly seemed like a blessing to them at the time.

In the case of facing our abusers we have to understand that if they can be helped we can lead them in that direction. Perhaps that is why God wants us to go back so that they may face their own activity even as we face up to it.

The severity of life is often ignored both by those who make it harsh for others and for those whe enjoy it's cruel deserts.
A Note from the Publisher of Sophia Publishing

Dear Friends:

Just a brief note to forestall possible scandal.

The magazine Inside the Vatican just published a harsh letter

attacking the Pope, and it was signed by Michael Rose.

Our author, Michael S. Rose, did not write that unfortunate

letter and does not know who did. Nor does he hold the views

expressed in the letter.

Michael has contacted Inside the Vatican about this, and I told

him that I would let my contacts know that he did not write it,

lest he be misjudged for intemperate words that are the product

of another's pen.


I'm surprised that Inside the Vatican would have published the letter in the first place if it is critical of the pope and without checking with Michael Rose to see if he wrote it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Back from a whirlwind trip. First to Kentucky where we (Amy, Joseph and I) saw my parents, my two nieces, one nephew and my youngest sister and her husband. Then after a day there we drove to Tennessee where we saw Amy's Father and wife Hilary, and Amy's oldest son Christopher. The trip back was made longer because of snow, ice and salt-less roads in Ohio. Fortunately the roads in Indiana were well salted so the trip went a little quicker once there.
Need a Rosary Book?

A comment from one of Amy's posts:

That little book you guys did on the rosary is great.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Prayer of Bob Russel of Louisville's Southeastern Christian Church

Heavenly Father,

We come before You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ''Woe to those who call evil good,'' but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state of Kansas. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your Will.

I ask in in the name of your Son, The Living Savior, Jesus Christ

This came to me via email and I had to check it out to tell if the story told were true. To read the story and the email check out
Heartbeat Heard on Image of Guadalupe?

From The Catholic Advocate:

Doctor Margaret Pasakas placed her stethoscope on the heart of the copy of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Joseph Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania. To her utter astonishment she heard a human heartbeat and knelt down in tearful veneration. More than 200 people have felt the heartbeat of an unborn child in the Image. Dan Lynch, Guardian of the Image says, “It is a sign that life begins at conception and is not a 'choice' for the mother because God, the Author of Life, has already chosen the child for life.”
Archbishop Dolan Reflects on One Year in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Channel News:

Dolan is a man with true passion for the priesthood and the Roman Catholic Church and a man with a great sense of humor, Elliott said.

"Is it everything you thought it would be? Milwaukee?" Elliott asked.

"It's a little cooler than I thought," Dolan said.

"Yeah we're working on that -- the temperature," Elliott said.

"No, listen, you can have cool and the winters were a lot easier. It is everything I thought from a good point of view," Dolan said. "The sense of vitality, the community spirit, the sense of promise, and I'm not saying there aren't some problems and some challenges, you bet there are."

Given what he said in response to the interviewer, I don't think he was talking about the weather.

Monday, June 23, 2003


Over the weekend I had an experience that reminded me of something a priest had told me over twenty years ago. At the time I was a student of St. Meinrad College and the priest visiting told me to take a look around, "What you see here today, you'll see in a parish twenty years from now."

Yesterday while attending mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Louisville, KY that prophetic utterance came to pass. In a church that obviously had been remodeled with the "St. Meinrad experience" in mind, I stood and sat at Mass as though I had been transported back to my college experience of twenty years ago. Before I become a little critical of the experience let me first say that the pastor Father John Judie presided and preached in a manner that one would wish all priests would. His homily was well thought out, delivered in an inspiring manner and based on Abraham Joshua Heschel's last words. It was very, very good!

The things that were not so good were the additions and deletions that had nothing to do with Father Judie (although I'm sure they probably originate with him but he didn't participate in them). First there was an introductory rite that wasn't penitential (the penitential rite still happened but it wasn't first--it came after all the glad handing that represents the worst in "liturgical" acretions that have crept into the liturgy since Vatican II). A commentator welcomed us to this celebration, asked if there were any guests. A few hands went up, not mine of course because I don't consider myself a guest at any Catholic Church but a member! "Where you from?" "Why are you here?" etc. Applause. Next it was turn and greet your neighbor (something that of course you'll have to do again when it occurs liturgically. Then an announcement that if you have to go to the bathroom during the liturgy, you'll have to travel to another building. Then a prayer for the success of the parish's strategic planning that sounded a little strange in that it urged the pray-er to be open to change and whatever might happen, etc. Finally after all of this (about 10 minutes worth) we were told tod to rise and greet our celebrant.

From there Mass went on as usual. The so called "sexist" parts of the liturgy were changed to be less offensive to some, but more offensive to others (namely me). We stood throughout the Eucharistic prayer because there were no kneelers. The music didn't match (nothing new or unusual about that), Amy commented later that she feels that the inclusion of "songs" at liturgy is faulty because songs by there very nature are a show unto themselves and disrupt the flow of the liturgy which is one big song if sung right. Communion was under both species and Jesus was given to us under the appearance of "real" bread.

Like I said earlier, all of this I had experienced twenty years earlier in the college chapel at St. Meinrad, Indiana--now here I was twenty years later experiencing it in a parish. But there is more to the story than just this trip down memory lane.

On Saturday I was at St. Meinrad and while Amy did research on an upcoming book I was doing a little research of my own with Joseph at my side revisiting all of the spots where I had prayed as a college student some twenty years earlier.

First that chapel. It is in ruins right now. It is being renovated and from the casual walk through it is being built into something very beautiful for God. Elegant stone work is being laid on the floor of the once carpeted space. Wood carvings lie waiting their placement on the walls. Light fixtures shine brightly after having the tarnish removed from their brass holdings. It is clear that what is taking place is more than a renovation, in reality it is a restoration not of the chapel that I prayed in twenty years ago, but the chapel that had existed some twenty years before that in the 1960's.

Next a visit to the Monastic church which has already been renovated beautifully and I was surprised to find that there have been new additions since my last visit--kneelers have been placed in front of the chairs where the lay visitors sit. Also I noticed a crucifix has been placed near the altar.

Next we traveled to a spot dear to me--a shrine of Mary that I personally restored while a student at the college. When I first arrived there in 1980 I found the shrine suffering neglect. Trees and brush had grown in front of the shrine and it appeared that no one cared. I speer headed a group of students who cleared out the brush, cleaned up the cobwebs and bees nests, and arranged for one of the priests to offer Mass at the shrine as a sort of "rededication" of the shrine. From that day forward we arranged for a candle to burn at the shrine. Often I would walk outside at night and see the light of that candle burning from afar in the woods and feel that my prayers were being heard even when I wasn't conscously offering them. So I traveled with my son out to the shrine that has been well cared for every since by the monks of St. Meinrad. Two candles were burning as we approaced. Joseph prayed a Hail Mary with me (repeating the phrases that I uttered) and then pointed out what he could recognize--Mary, snake, apple. After are prayerful visit I began heading around the lake until a very large snake slithering into the water changed my mind.

From here we went to the cemetary and I pointed out to Joseph the holy priests now awaiting their eternal reward who had helped me to grow stronger in my faith. We said short prayers at their graves--his a simple Father, Son, Spirit--Amen, was more elegant than mine.

A short drive away from the seminary brought us to a shrine of St. Joseph that the Archabbot has had renovated and cleaned up. He credits his devotion to St. Joseph for having favorably dealt with many of the problems of the monastery. This particular shrine has Joseph standing with Jesus in a tall wooden carving that looks across the valley toward the monastery. Jesus holds a carving of with the Roman numeral four upon it--symbolic of the fourth commandment "Honor your father and mother." Engraved into the stone that enshrines the statues are the words, "Saint Joseph" on one side and "Our Protector" on the other. Joseph enjoyed this visit to his namesakes shrine.

Another short drive took us to the Shrine of Our Lady of Monte Cassino, for a beautiful respite from the sun in this shady hill top shrine. Inside we lit candles and again offered simple prayers. I had told Joseph that this was the "baby" church because of how small it is. Inside of course there is a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus and upon the ceiling there are paintings of Mary holding the baby Jesus. Along the walls are images illustrating the Litany of Loretto written in Latin. I had Joseph point out what he saw and then told him what it was. One that caught his fancy was the illustration for "Tower of Ivory" that showed a tower built with ivory and three elephants in front of it pointing out of course where ivory comes from and the sacrifice that would be required to build one.

Outside of the shrine is an old water pump and Joseph enjoyed pumping water by hand out of the ground. I found myself lost in thought about this simple act and wondered if one of the key problems of modern life is how out of touch we are with where everything "comes" from and if in our advanced society we haven't lost touch with the very origins of our daily existence. Pumping water out of the ground has been replaced by a device that reads movement in front of a water faucet and turns water on. Somehow on the shady hillside watching Joseph pump water it was easier to connect with the ultimate origin of our being--God.

So all of this wandering through my past and seeing how it has changed over the years left me with one conclusion. If what I witnessed as I walked the grounds of St. Meinrad is a vision of the church in twenty years it was a good vision. Things are improving, they make take awhile to work there way into parish life but they will and in the meantime we can all begin clearing the brush away and lighting a candle to lighten up our corner of the church.
Joseph in Milwaukee's Miller Park

He's wearing what he calls the "fish hat" backwards. It is a Florida Marlin's ball cap and we were watching the Brewers play and getting beat by the Mighty Marlins--("mighty" being a reference from Hemmingway's characterisation of the Marlin in The Old Man and the Sea)
Paul Elie Laments the Leadership of the Church

From the op-ed in the NY Times, A Church in Search of Followers

A very quotable line in the piece is,

But in the meantime, in their drive to protect their dioceses' worldly assets, the bishops are squandering the church's only asset of any value: its claim to fidelity to Christ and the Gospel.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Bring the Kneelers Back!

From The Beacon Journal:

Kneeling has its price, and churches in Stark and Portage counties soon may have to pay it.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who leads the six-county Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, has sent a letter to the 116 parishes he supervises making it clear that kneeling is required while parts of the Mass are being celebrated.

That's created a problem in the pews at churches such as Holy Spirit in Uniontown.

When it was built in 1986, the Catholic church had been rumored to be moving away from the practice of kneeling during the Mass. And since standing was recognized by the church as a sacred position, it seemed reasonable to cut costs by building a sanctuary without kneelers.

Now, the parish of more than 500 families is faced with the challenge of installing kneelers to comply with Tobin's directive. It's a challenge that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Death Ship Delayed by Storm (or God?)

From the (

A storm raging on the Baltic on Friday is set to delay a Dutch floating abortion clinic's controversial stop in Poland in a challenge to the Roman Catholic country's strict laws on terminating pregnancy.

The ship, which offers abortions in international waters to women in countries where the procedure is more restricted than in the Netherlands, will remain at sea until at least Saturday, according to the Women on Waves Foundation which runs it.
Busey World - I'm With Busey. Gary Busey reality show

A new show on Comedy is very unique and quite funny, if not a bit over the top.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Christian One-Liners (sent to me by a friend who lives in the deep south)

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't


The phrase that is guaranteed to wake up an audience: "And in


If the church wants a better preacher, it only needs to pray for the

one it has.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why

should you?

To make a long story short, don't tell it.

Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

Peace starts with a smile.

I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it

make which one you stay home from?

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers "fruits of the spirit" over

"religious nuts!"

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats!

Prayer: Don't give God instructions - just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

Harry Potter Casts Spell Over Animal Kingdom Too!

Hope this doesn't have anything to do with the plot of the new book. I'd hate to be accused of crossing paths with J. K. Rowling who is suing the Daily News for big bucks!
Iraqi Information Minister Revisited

I fear that the Iraqi Foreign Information Minister may reimerge in the coming days as a spokesperson for a group that is under fire from the media and seems incapable of rising to the occaision of dealing honestly with the heat. Rather we are likely to hear that "there is no problem", "this is a fabrication of the media", and maybe even "there never was a bishop named O'Brien in Phoenix."

While the antics of the "information" minister in Iraq were amusing, one cannot say the same for those who follow the one that said "you shall know the truth and it shall make you free." My hope is that within the tight knit group there is a holy man who will rise up and lead the Church both honestly and truthfully. This bishop would rally the many good bishops and leave behind those who are more comfortable blaming everyone else for their personal failures and insist on trying to drag the lot of bishops down to their level.

Please offer your prayers these days that such a bishop (and they are there) might be moved by the Spirit of God to take on this role.
Governor Keating Defends Himself in the NY Times Today

From the NY Times:

A few opponents of the board have said we went too far, engaging in what one resistant diocesan newspaper termed a "witch hunt." Again, I do not agree. This is not about pilfering Saturday night bingo proceeds; it concerns horrific actions by a small cadre of priests who have victimized hundreds — perhaps thousands — of children and adolescents, and defiled the institution they claimed to serve.

Sexual abuse leaves lifelong emotional scars. In the past year, I met with many victims of abuse. I heard their heartbreaking stories of damaged lives and broken trust. I pledged to them that they would have a voice, and I am convinced that they will continue to be heard, if only because most Catholics know that right is on their side.

Sadly, a few church leaders, including some in large dioceses, chose to resist and obstruct the board. When we asked valid questions, they gave us few or no answers. Where information and cooperation was called for, we received delay or an outright refusal to help.

These few leaders turned to their lawyers when they should have looked into their hearts — and I expressed my disgust with them. I am a candid person, and that makes some people uncomfortable. So be it. Obstructing justice, excusing and concealing those who victimize innocent children: these are not the actions of holy men. They are sins — and they are crimes. God may hold them accountable in the next world, but we will certainly hold them accountable in this one.

Those who have sought to block the board are few, and I am convinced they will remain ineffective. From Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to the many parish priests and members of the laity who wrote or called me, I am grateful — for their support, but most of all grateful that they understand how vital it is to restore trust in our church.

That work continues. With God's help, it will succeed in cleansing the church of a vast stain.

Index of Leading Catholic Indicators

Interesting new book that examines statistical data concerning all things Catholic. Here you will find an interview with the author Ken Jones. Here is a bit to whet your appetite:

The devastation of religious orders of women since Vatican II can only be described as shocking. In 1965 there were almost 180,000 nuns in the United States. Today there are 75,000, with an average age of 69. By 2020 we have projected that there will be 21,000 below age 70. It is not being an alarmist to say that within our lifetime, there will be virtually no nuns in the United States - a stunning turn of events since 1965.

Do the statistics show anything about the ordinary life of Catholics? Again, in all areas there has been a dramatic decline. In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms, in 2002 there were 1 million. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms - converts - in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.

Attendance at Mass has also plummeted. A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.

What about Catholic education? This is one area that particularly surprised me, because I was not aware of how dramatically enrollment has declined at Catholic schools since the Council. For example, between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786, and the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000. At the grade school level, there were 10,503 parochial schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students went from 4.5 million to 1.9 million.

Some people say, “We know the numbers have declined since the Council, but the downward trend started before the Council.” How do you respond? I respond by saying it’s simply not true. An especially helpful feature to my book is that my statistical analysis starts in the 1920s and 1930s, so trends can be discovered. For example, look at the number of total seminarians. There were about 9,000 in 1920, 17,000 in 1940, 25,000 in 1950, almost 40,000 in 1960, and 49,000 in 1965 - a consistent trend upward. In 1970 there were 28,000 seminarians - a decline of over 41 percent in just five years. In 2002 there were 4,700. This pattern is reflected in every area - a steady increase until the Council, and a dramatic decline afterwards.

Alleged Victim of Clergy Abuse Nearly Drowns in Pope John Paul II Park

From Boston Globe Online:

One of the alleged sexual abuse victims of convicted child molester and defrocked priest John J. Geoghan nearly drowned yesterday afternoon in the Neponset River in Dorchester's Pope John Paul II Park, authorities said.

Patrick McSorley, 28, of Hyde Park, was in critical condition last night at Boston Medical Center, where he was taken by ambulance after a friend found him splashing and struggling in the river, said David Procopio, the Suffolk district attorney's spokesman.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Power of the Laity in the Tradition of the Catholic Church

The current crisis in the Church might be compared to the Arian heresy of the fourth century. I have made this argument in other places on this blog in the past--that there are some in the Church represented in every sector both lay and cleric that I believe are in heresy. These have rejected the miraculous, the Divinity of Christ, His Resurrection, and His founding of the Church--yet they continue within and the damage they do is great.

In the atmosphere of a church seeking to reconcile with the elements that have separated from us--the faithful have been made to endure all sorts of silliness and in some cases evil in the spirit of not repeating the mistakes of the past. Heresy is a word that one seldom hears in the post Vatican II church except in the cases of ultra right wing Catholics. But heresy is very much a part of the tradition of the Church and to ignore its presence in the modern church can only do great damage to the Body of Christ.

There is an old Latin saying that says, "Every heresy comes from the altar" and another that says that the laity always save the church. The temptation of the laity is to think that they are powerless to change the current condition and indeed this is a grave temptation and one that ignores the reality that without the laity the church is beheaded.

The tradition of the Church going back to the election of St. Ambrose is that the laity do have real power in the church that is exercised through them by the Holy Spirit. It is time to revisit the story of the election of St. Ambrose and for the faithful to present the best that the Church has to offer as candidates for the priesthood and episcopacy. This can be done concretely by sending letters to the Apostolic Delegate in the United States and to the Holy See itself. If we are not doing it then we are leaving it to members of the clerical club to do it.

There is another power that the laity have and unfortunately do not use--prayer. Prayer is incredibly powerful. Jesus said that if we had faith we could say to a mountain be moved and planted in the sea and it would obey us! If we all join our prayers for reform in the church it will happen! If we sit back and feel like we can't make a difference and therefore ignore the condition of the church, our parish, our diocese, then things will only get worst.

If everyone who reads this post would pray concretely for change and reformation in the church--change and reform will happen. The reason many of us feel hopeless from time to time is because we have bought into the heretical teachings that we have been fed (even if we have fought off accepting them--the seeds have been sown), the only way to overcome these teachings is to act in faith that Christ is all powerful and we are members of His Body the Church.

Here is the account of the election of St. Ambrose as bishop. What would happen if there were similiar popular acclaim today in Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and any other open diocese in the U.S.?

Election of St. Ambrose by the People of Milan and Confirmation of the Emperor

The Arian Bishop Auxentius of Milan, who banned Catholic congregations from worshipping in the diocese's churches, died in 374, and the Arians and Catholics fought over the vacant position which exercised a metropolitan's jurisdiction over the whole of northern Italy. Ambrose had only been in Milan for three years at the time of the bishop's death and he expected that there might be trouble over the selection of his successor.

So, Ambrose, who was a Catholic in name but still a catechumen, went to the cathedral to try to calm the rival parties. During his speech exhorting the people to concord and tranquility, a child is said to have cried, "Ambrose for bishop!" The cry was taken up by both sides, neither of which was anxious to decide the issue between them. The local bishops had asked Emperor Valentinian to make the appointment but he turned the dubious honor back to the bishops. Now the matter was out of their hands. Ambrose was unanimously elected bishop by all parties.

The election of Ambrose, the one in charge of the local police, heightens our awareness of a truism: all clergy are recruited from the laity. It is better to choose an irreproachable person esteemed by all, than a savant who sows discord. The choice of Ambrose was a bold one, but it surprises no one but us.

Our attitudes towards vocations seems different than that in the early church. We today see a vocation as the story of a soul-- discernment of the vocation privately, preparation in a seminary, and gradual growth into the clerical role. For the early Church it was above all the call of God expressed by the Church. To our taste, the secret history of Ambrose's soul did not count enough. But we forget that it is the Holy Spirit through the Church that calls.

What did Ambrose think of this call? At first he protested (just like the prophets) saying he was not even baptized, and fled rather than yield to the tumult. St. Paulinus of Nola wrote of the incident:

"Ambrose left the church and had his tribunal prepared. . . . Contrary to his custom, he ordered people submitted to torture. When this was done the people did not acclaim him any the less [saying]: 'May his sin fall on us!' The people of Milan, knowing that Ambrose had not been baptized, sincerely promised him a remission of all his sins by the grace of baptism.

"Troubled, Ambrose returned to his house. . . . Openly he had prostitutes come in for the sole purpose, of course, that once the people saw that, they would go back on their decision. But the crowd only cried all the louder: 'May your sin fall on us'" (Paulinus, Life of Ambrose, 7).

The people, however, continually pursued him and insisted that he take the see. The emperor confirmed the nomination and Ambrose capitulated. Beginning on November 24, 373, Ambrose was taken through baptism and the various orders to be consecrated as bishop on December 1 or 7--one or two weeks later. (Talk about fast track!) (The dates vary somewhat depending on the source.)

Yes, You've Received a Message, but for Whom?

Upon my recent travels I had an interesting conversation with a well known priest about matters mystical. He recounted a tale of a woman who was claiming to receive messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary for ten years. Over that period of time the Virgin had given the woman quite a volume of material that she, the Virgin, wished for the seer to make public. The seer had brought the material to my priest friend for his review.

Being a wise and discerning priest who is literally besieged with this type of phenomena on a daily basis, he enlisted the help of a woman that he knows to have the gift of discernment. She read through the material and requested a meeting with the seer.

The first question that she asked the seer was this, "How long have you not spoke to your husband?"

"Ten years," the seer responded.

The woman handed the volumes of messages to her and said, "Give these to him, it is everything you've wanted to say to him during all that time."
Now the Pope Accepts Phoenix Bishop's Resignation


Pope John Paul II has accepted the resignation of Bishop Thomas O'Brien of Phoenix, Arizona, who faces charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, CNN confirmed Wednesday.

O'Brien, 67, was charged Tuesday, about two weeks after signing a deal to avoid prosecution stemming from his handling of a sex abuse scandal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

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Well Thought Out Critique of What's Wrong with Seminary Formation

By Father Rob Johansen, read it at Crisis Magazine What's Wrong with our Seminaries?

I once read somewhere that the Historical Critical method is useful for translators--so that they know the true meaning of the "word" they are translating from one setting in history to another but useless in translating the translation into a different culture. Here is Father Rob's take on the method:

Apart from the tedium and consequent disinterest in Scripture that such total reliance on the historical-critical method engenders, the other problem with it is that it’s virtually useless for training priests to preach meaningfully from the Scriptures. The historical-critical method is certainly helpful for understanding the background and context of a Scripture passage, but it’s powerless to answer the questions in the minds of the average Catholic in the pew: How does this scripture relate to my life as a Catholic, and how does it nourish my faith? The historical-critical approach is even more inimical to penetrating the mysteries of the Faith themselves. To do that, one needs the Fathers and the spiritual senses, and that’s precisely what our seminarians aren’t getting. While this deficiency may not be the sole cause of the poor preaching many Catholics experience today, it certainly doesn’t help.
Harry Potter and the Bishop of Phoenix

There is a lot of security right now trying to keep anyone from stealing the latest Harry Potter book to be released this Friday night at the stroke of midnight. Across the nation children will crowd bookstores awaiting the latest tome from J. K. Rowling that some are reporting features such treats as vomit flavored cotton candy--just the smell of such a treat would be enough for me to be a manufacturer of a future batch!

At the same time as the the latest Potter book is being released and revealed the bishops of the U.S. will be going into secrecy at their semi-annual meeting. We can only speculate as to what they will be discussing but there is little doubt that the Bishop of Phoenix might be a late addition to the agenda. His scandalous "hit and run" accident is as scandalous as any event that he has covered up in his diocese and is seen by every Catholic that I have spoken with as a great betrayal, if not a sign of sickness (perhaps alcoholism as one person speculates).

The secrecy of the bishops will do nothing to take away the media circus from the environs of the St. Louis meeting, in fact one might speculate that the usually forgotten June meeting of the bishops is likely to receive more coverage than ever because of the secrecy in the same way that the antics of the publisher of the Potter books keeps the attempts to steal the book on the front page daily before the actual release of the title.

Harry Potter is about magic, the Christian religion is about truth, setting your light on a hill where everyone can see your good works. There are magicians in the Scriptures--they seek to replicate the miracles that the believers in God work. In the modern world sometimes it is a little hard to tell who are the magicians and who are the believers or if there are any believers out there.

Magic usually arises out of fear. A person like the title character Harry Potter, rejected by his foster family, gets to the point that reality is too difficult to deal with, so they flea into the world of "make believe" where they are powerful and in charge.

Christ offers a different type of empowerment. Christians are people who are able to face any eventuality and to see in the cross--the light of the resurrection. They can face what might defeat the unbeliever because they know that ultimately the definition of who they are comes from God not from the crowd shouting "crucify him!"

The "hit and run" mentality of not facing up to the consequences of the failures of those in the church is "fear" based and frankly reaks of folks living in a magical kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God. It sort of reminds me of the apostles fleeing Christ upon His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Folks, it all comes down to faith and faith comes through prayer and trust in God. It isn't an escape from reality it is an imersion into reality. It means facing up to all the difficulties of the present moment and doing the right thing.

Which brings us to "us". How can we work to reform ourselves and the Church? What can we do to support the work of good bishops and priests to further the establishment of the Kingdom of God?

These are the big questions and there is no magical answer to any of them, but through trust in God (exemplified by prayer and lots of it) we will find that we are able to face them and make a big difference no matter how small we are in God's Kingdom.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Need to Replace that Ink Cartridge?

The Cistercians offer you an inexpensive option:Welcome to LaserMonks

St. John Paul the First?


The case is growing for making the pope's predecessor a saint, church officials said Monday. John Paul I, born Albino Luciani, was pontiff for 33 days in 1978.

The northern Italian diocese where he was born is gathering testimony about his life in hopes of persuading the Vatican that he should be made a saint, a process that can take years or even decades.

The Rev. Giuseppe Bratti, secretary to the bishop of Belluno-Feltre, said the testimony includes increasing accounts of possible miracles that faithful attribute to John Paul I.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Trinity Sunday

Today would be a good day to preach on God the Father, don't you think? It is Father's Day and Trinity Sunday. The Holy Spirit should have got some play last week for the Solemnity of Pentecost and Jesus has gotten play all year long, so today we should defintely hear something about God the Father.

In my dealings with people over spiritual matters, I've found that a lot of people have problems with God the Father. Of course it has more to do with earthly matters in the end than with God. Since I would remind all that when St. Philip asked Jesus to "show us the Father" that Jesus replied "anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." So in reality a good homily on the "Father" would be like a good homily on "Jesus." It would be kind of like most artists' rendition of the Trinity where God the Father is just an older version of Our Lord.

Today try to foster an ongoing sense of the adoration due to God the Father- thanking Him for all of creation with every breath that you take!
Overpopulation of Deer?

I think I counted at least 20 deer last night in our 100 mile trip back from Michigan. Two here, one there all grazing near the fast moving traffic--looking up every now and again at some faces peering in the distance in their direction.

Kind of the way that I feel when we do these booksignings that are almost always poorly planned and carried out. People come in looking at you, like who the hell are you, and you get the idea that the managers of the store haven't really done a lot of advertising or forethought about the whole enterprise that you are providing for them for free. In other words it didn't cost the bookstore anything to have us there and they made at least an extra $300+ bucks for the two hours that we were there explaining our books to their customers. But I'll bet if they had thought about it a bit more and promoted the heck out of the fact that two authors who between them have ten published books in the Catholic market--they could have made ten times that amount.

But it strikes me that many out there are a whole lot like those deer. Just grazing by the busy interstate and perhaps a little bit of grieving over the few who risk crossing the interstate and lie dead--feet up in the air by the side of the road.

Saturday, June 14, 2003


Amy and I have been on the road all this week. Tuesday I met with one of our authors in downtown Chicago then we headed off to Milwaukee, WI for an evening baseball game at the relatively new Miller Park. There were few in attendance (I think they announced a crowd of 11,000 but there were hardly more than 5,000 there). The mighty Florida Marlins won handily 12-4. Before going to the game we stopped in at the Cathedral in Milwaukee which underwent a renovation a few years ago. Amy has commented that I don't particularly care for the "Mother of the Church" statue, so let me clarify why.

First it has long been a tradition in the Church that any statue of Mary is always linked to Christ (Our Lady of Fatima is one exception that comes to mind though)--Mary is either holding the child Jesus or is pregnant with Him. This Madona seems to be just, well liberated--not encumbered with child either in her arms or womb. Her hair flies freely giving the notion of fleeing (repression, patriarchy?) and of course historically hair exposed would connote Mary Magdalene not Mary the Mother of Christ. My main problem with the image is that it strikes me to be linked to an idealogy not true devotion to the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church. The other statue to the right of the sanctuary is of Blessed John XXIII, again I have no problem with this image except that it clearly is trying to send a message of reform etc. (reform that I am all for by the way but not necessarily in the way that Archbishop Weakland would have conceived of it). The focus of the chuch is organ pipes something that shows the triumpth of musicians as liturgists in the post Vatican II church. Another interesting note about this cathedral is the centrality of the altar and ambo but the relatively obscurity of the "cathedra"--the bishop's chair.

One reflection that I had after this visit was how the ambry has become such a featured focus of new church's. In old church's you would have had a hard time locating the receptical for the holy oils, now adays it is a featured site, often lit with big glass jugs holding more oil than could ever be used in a year for annointings. The other is the centrality of the Baptismal font, usually done in the name of reclaiming our liturgical roots but the church's that I have visited from the fourth century did not have a baptismal font in the entrance of the church but rather in a hidden separate room where they could be done away from the congregation. The novelty of putting one in the entrance is purely a creation of modern liturgists. So we have the exaltation of music, oil and water and exile of the Lord Jesus Christ present in the reserved Blessed Sacrament--I wonder what that says about reform?

On Friday, we visited an Eastern Catholic church in our search for a Catholic Carmelite monastery in Munster, IN. More on this when we get back from our book signing in Lansing, Michigan today. We'll be at the Rosary Book Store in Lansing today from 1-3 signing all those great Catholic books we've written! If you are in the area stop by and say hi!

Monday, June 9, 2003

Buying a Car and the Internet

I have always hated looking at cars and dealing with sales people. I realize they have to make a buck but there is so much dishonesty that goes on that it really is hard to trust anything that anyone tells you in a dealership. The internet helps the buyer a whole lot. I have learned more in the past 24 hrs about the scams that dealer pull off than I ever could have imagined. There are sites that you can find by doing a google search for "buying a new car" that will probably make a lot of you, like me, feel like an absolute idiot for past buying experiences.

I would like to single out one dealership that has a glowing reputation for being "customer friendly", namely the local Saturn dealership. First of all the quality of the Saturn cars that I have test drove is pretty bad. They seem incredibly "cheap." One that I test drove on Saturday had already been dented up. When the salesperson came to give me the costs on a sheet that included a "free DVD player and screen" the price had inflated by nearly three thousand dollars from the sticker price. Well upon closer inspection they (the notorious ever present "manager") had tacked on a stain protection plan for nearly a $1,000 extra and the entertainment package was about $4,000 dollars minus the $978 DVD player--so I had been lied to and frankly that is all it takes for me to have an impression of Saturn that will not go away anytime soon.

But back to the internet and car buying...

Besides learning all the tricks that are going to be played on you, the internet offers you the opportunity to research the reviews and other timely information on the car you are looking at--giving you an upper hand when actually test driving it. There is so much to learn and it is all here online for you to learn it.

Friday, June 6, 2003

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Pope is in Dubrovnik, Croatia today. I've been to Dubrovnik twice in my life, both times in conjunction with a visit to Medjugordje. The first time I was there in 1989 it was part of Yugoslavia the second time it was just beginning to become part of Croatia.

Several things I remember about Dubrovnik are: that it lays claim to St. Blase of blessing of the throats fame--they sell candles there that are a unique twisting of two big candles into a "u" shape. I used to have a set but I think they were left behind in a church somewhere along my life's journey.

The other thing that I remember was a huge reliquary that included a ton of relics located in the Cathedral, including a large reliquary containing the arm of St. John the Baptist. The most impressive or questionable relics contained in this display were two both dealing with infants.

First there were the relics of the Holy Innocents martyred by King Herod. Sure enough there were little skeletal remains contained in a glass box but it would take a great amount of faith to believe that they were actually the "holy innocents" but after years of reflecting over this I have come to see that there is no doubt that they contain the bones of holy innocents who died before their families were ready to see them go.

The other "questionable" relic there is the "diaper" of Jesus. Now I admit I have never researched the question in the Anchor Bible Dictionary to see whether babies wore diapers in Palestine at the time of Christ and if they did who had the foresight to keep Jesus' diaper packed away when He no longer required it. But again my doubt has turned into faith that the relic of the diaper of Jesus points to the humanity of the Son of God at its most rudimentary expression. As cute as babies are they are capable of creating quite a mess and its left to an adult to clean up. God humbling Himself even to that point makes the mystery of the Incarnation even that more real.

I had hoped that the Pope would remark on one or the other of these Dubrovnik specialties but I looked and he did I have.

Thursday, June 5, 2003


I'm reading a "new" Thomas Merton book that is very good. I'm not sure if it has been released yet since I think I'm reading a review copy. The book was one that he worked on in 1959 but sat unfinished until in 1968 he finally got around to making a few corrections.

Trouble is that he had specified in a trust in 1967 that if he died this manuscript (at that time unfinished) should never be published. He left the corrected and finished copy with a priest friend and asked him to have some cloistered Carmelites read it for their review. They loved it, but in the meantime Merton never returned to pick up the manuscript, his body came back in body bag from the Orient.

The priest friend in his grief rather forgot about it too, until in the 1970's when he discovered the manuscript that the Carmelites had returned and their glowing recomendation of it. He wrote the Abott of Merton's Monastery and informed it that the book should be published as Merton had conveyed this wish to him before leaving on the trip that took his life.

Trouble is that oral testimony does not override a written will for obvious reasons ("well Daddy told me just before he died that he wanted me to inherit the farm not junior"). So the manuscript went unpublished until now. The change has come about because Cisterician Studies has published bits and pieces of it over the years and it is felt that to do the text justice the final edited version should be released.

I've read a few chapters so far and it is very good!

The name of the book is The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Monday, June 2, 2003

Amy Should Have Posted This One

I'll let her explain why.
Life of the Florida Fish and Game Officers

or Where People Think Jesus is a Turtle...


Officers John Giles and Guy Carpenter II responded to a complaint about a man who had water turtles in an illegal enclosure. Upon arriving at the man's house, the officers found two Florida cooter turtles in a skylight that was buried like a swimming pool in the front yard.

After telling the man that the turtles needed some way to get out of the water if they wanted to, he responded by saying that one of the turtles was Jesus and that he had planned on eating both of them later in the evening.

The officers told the man that he needed to put a rock or log in the pool with the turtles so that they could get out of the water, but he decided to let them go into the lake in his back yard instead.

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Thanks to Martin Farkus for This Link

Fast Lane to Heaven

Very interesting site! Man had near death experience, experienced a vision of a "lady of light" (all the more interesting that the Pope added Mysteries of Light), had a vision where he foresaw a terrorist attack on New York or Washington and major wars breaking out throughout the world starting in the Middle East as a result (all in 1984). The book predicting the major terrorist attack was published in 2001 (six months before September 11th)!