Mar 232014

The drug haul was unremarkable, but the destination raised eyebrows.

German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday that customs officials intercepted a cocaine shipment destined for the Vatican in January.

Officers at Leipzig airport found 340 grams — about 12 ounces — of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America.

The paper says the package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state’s 800 residents could have picked it up.

Citing a German customs report, the paper adds that a sting operation arranged with Vatican police didn’t lure a possible recipient. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros (dollars).

Neither German customs nor the Vatican could be immediately reached for comment.


An anonymous Vatican official did comment that obviously the recipient was not a faithful Catholic due to the drugs being wrapped in condoms.

Mar 232014

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a group of young men from the Saint Anne’s chapter of Catholics in Action, in Gilbert, Arizona have decided to travel the thousand-year old Way of Saint James this Summer 2014, on a journey that spans over 500 miles across some of the most geographically beautiful landscapes in all of Spain. This documentary will record the experiences of these pilgrims, across 40 unforgettable days, in which they will face difficulties and personal struggles (i.e. physical and psychological stress). It narrates the story of men in search of the goal of our human existence: in search of the meaning of life, and the truth of who they are as men before God.

Grassroots Films, Inc is raising funds to create this documentary.

Nov 262013

Continuing the slow news day for Catholics:

Everyone knew the HHS Mandate was going to end up in the Supreme Court. Now it’s happening.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the controversial Health and Human Services mandate which requires organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacient, and sterilization to employees.

The Obama administration appealed to the high court after the mandate got struck down by a federal appeals court in favor of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain owned by a Christian family.

Now, don’t pretend to guess for one second that you know how the court will decide on this. We don’t. Nobody does. I can hope. I can pray that religious liberty is spared for a few more years. But I have no idea. Who knows what John Roberts will say. I mean, Roberts doesn’t even know what he’s going to say. Sometimes I don’t think he knows what he’s saying as he’s saying it.

God bless all those who have fought the mandate in court. Keep praying folks. It’s crunch time.

(Creative Minority Report)

Well whatever happens likely it will have nothing to do with the Constitution. I just have zero trust in the Supreme Court. Praying indeed.

Nov 182013

I just love the story about Pope Francis calling up a Traditional Catholic writer who had criticized him.

“Pope Francis told me that he was very close to me, having learned of my health condition, of my grave illness, and I clearly noticed his deep empathy, the attention for a person as such, beyond ideas and opinions, while I live through a time of trial and suffering.”

“I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together wih Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church. The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.” [These words] “comforted me greatly.”

Full Story

One thing about Pope Francis is that he is not a “Pope in a bubble” someone isolated from news and criticism. His humility really rings through here and inspires me. We have a culture now with a propensity towards thin skins. A prideful self-image must be defended at all costs. Self-esteem is more important than the self-awareness humility requires.

This is a Pope I believe who is willing to reevaluate and make changes as necessary. As evidence of this is that the Pope reportedly had “regretted” that the interview with Eugenio Scalfari being published in L’Osservatore Romano. The interview that Scalfari has not taped or even taken notes for.

Pope Francis’ recent interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder of the Italian daily La Repubblica, has been removed from the Vatican website, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed today. (source)

Nov 112013

The easiest decision of my day was to preorder Brandon Vogt’s new book Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World for just $3.19 for the ebook version.

From Brandon’s site which has lots of information on his new book:

The book aims to reclaim Catholic social teaching and unveil it through the lives of the saints. It’s framed using the seven major themes of Catholic social teaching, as defined by the U.S. bishops, and for each theme I highlight two saints who especially embodied it.

The resulting book is a narrative packed with stories, from those saints and others in the sidebars, of people putting these teachings into action.

My hope is that the book imitates stained glass windows throughout the world, using the saints as conduits of light, allowing these brilliant social teachings to shine through them with new vividness, splendor, and truth.

Here’s the book’s outline:

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person
    • CH 1 – Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
    • CH 2 – St. Peter Claver
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation
    • CH 3 – St. Frances of Rome
    • CH 4 – Bl. Anne-Marie Javouhey
  • Rights and Responsibilities
    • CH 5 – St. Roque Gonzalez
    • CH 6 – St. Thomas More
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
    • CH 7 – Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
    • CH 8 – St. Vincent de Paul
  • Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
    • CH 9 – St. Benedict of Nursia
    • CH 10 – Servant of God Dorothy Day
  • Solidarity
    • CH 11 – St. Pope John Paul II
    • CH 12 – St. Damien of Molokai
  • Care for Creation
    • CH 13 – St. Giles
    • CH 14 – St. Isidore the Farmer
Oct 032013

From CNN’s Beliefs blog: via A Deacon’s Bench

A Chicago restaurant is pushing the boundaries of poor taste with its October Burger of the Month.
Kuma’s Corner, a heavy-metal themed joint with an “Eat beef; bang your head” ethos, says its new burger is an homage to Ghost, a Swedish band that performs satanic songs in Catholic clerical garb.

“The Ghost” burger features a “Communion wafer garnish,” a white, unleavened disc bearing the imprint of a cross and a crown. > > Ghost’s new album comes complete with grape juice and a mock Communion wafer. Not coincidentally, the Communion burger at Kuma’s comes with a red wine reduction…

…Luke Tobias, director of operations for Kuma’s, said the restaurant’s Communion wafers are not consecrated, and thus, not really holy. “It’s more or less a cracker with a cross on it,” he said. The restaurant bought the wafers online from an e-Bay-type website.

They’re not trying to make a big religious statement, Tobias said, just trying to have fun honoring a band they like.

“If there is a God, I’m sure he has a sense of humor.”

As Deacon Kandra wrote:

I have no idea what this tastes like. But I can tell you this much: it’s tasteless. And offensive.

No word yet if the owner will deny Communion burger to Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Reminds me of a story from 2005.

MONTREAL, Dec. 27 (UPI) – Unconsecrated communion wafers are growing in popularity as a snack food throughout Quebec, alongside potato chips and popcorn on supermarket shelves.

The paper-thin morsels made from flour and water hark back to when Quebec was one of the most devout Roman Catholic enclaves in North America and the wafers were seen only at holy communion.

Gaston Bonneau, one of the two major commercial producers in Quebec, told the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper his business started with just himself and his wife in the mid–1980s. Now it’s grown to 16 employees and he plans to automate production.

“My son can eat a whole bag while he’s watching TV,” said supermarket manager Paul Saumure. “He’s had more of them outside of church than he ever did inside one.”

Sep 172013

Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on “holy” springs.

Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink.

Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants’ lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.

Nitrates, commonly found in fertilizer from farms, were also identified in the water. If ingested, water containing nitrates over the maximum contaminant level could cause serious illness, especially in infants younger than 6 months, which could lead to death if untreated, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We need to warn people against drinking from these sources,” said Dr Alexander Kirschner, study researcher and microbiologist at the Medical University of Vienna.

The study, published in the Journal of Water and Health, also found that all church and hospital chapel fonts contained bacteria – the busier the church, the higher the bacterial count.

“This may represent a problem that has hitherto been underestimated, especially in hospitals, since there a lot of people with weakened immune systems there,” Kirschner said. (source)

What you mean that a font where people dip their hands into all day could contain bacteria? What a shock. Besides there is usually not much connection between springs and Holy Water fonts which mostly use tapwater.

Must have been a slow news day for Good Morning America. Still I wonder how many people ingest Holy Water directly from a font? Or really how many drink it at all?

Can we bless Purell?

Yes just another danger attending Church.

Incense and candles release substantial quantities of pollutants that may harm health, a detailed new study of air quality in a Roman Catholic church suggests.

Even brief exposure to contaminated air during a religious service could be harmful to some people, says atmospheric scientist Stephan Weber of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. A previous study in the Netherlands indicated that the pollutants in smoke from incense and candles may be more toxic than fine-particle pollution from sources such as vehicle engines.

Numerous studies have examined the health effects of combustion by-products from major outdoor sources, such as automobiles and power plants. Researchers have also examined some sources of indoor pollution, including stoves. But there have been few investigations of the health consequences of candles and incense, even though they are usually lit indoors, sometimes in crowded spaces with limited ventilation.

Weber conducted the new study in St. Engelbert Church in Mulheim an der Ruhr, Germany. The church staff burns candles during each mass and incense on some holidays.

Weber installed two devices that continuously sampled air during a 13-day period that began on Christmas Eve of 2004. The equipment measured concentrations of particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) and also those 1 [micro]m or smaller (PM1), which endanger people’s hearts, lungs, and arteries (SN: 8/2/03, p. 72).

During the study, incense burners and candles were lit for services at midnight on Christmas Day, on the morning of the following day, and on New Year’s Eve. During services on other days, only candles burned.

If they banned incense would that be censorship?

Sep 032013

You just never know when the pope might “crop” up.



The headline at the Telegraph left much to the imagination Giant pope face ploughed into field.

Italian artist, Dario Gambarin, uses a tractor to create the 328 foot picture, entitled Love Liberates, in a field in Castagnaro near the northern Italian city of Verona.

The portrait took six hours to complete and is the latest piece of land-art by the artist who says he uses his plough as a painter would a brush, on farmland belonging to his parents.

Aug 212013

VATICAN CITY — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has reportedly said that he retired from the papacy after a “mystical experience” and because “God told me to.”

The news comes from an anonymous source who visited the former pope a week ago, according to the Zenit news agency.

Asked why he resigned, the pope emeritus said, “God told me to,” but added that he had not received any kind of apparition or similar phenomenon. Rather, it was a “mystical experience” in which the Lord planted a seed of “absolute desire” in his heart “to remain alone with him, secluded in prayer.”

According to the source, this mystical experience has lasted throughout these past months, increasing “more and more” his longing for a unique and direct relationship with the Lord. It has not been an “escape” from the world, he reportedly said, but a means of seeking “refuge in God and living in his love.”

He also said that the more he sees of the “charisma” of his successor, Pope Francis, the more he realizes that his decision to resign the papacy was “the will of God.”

Despite living a cloistered life in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens, Benedict XVI does occasionally receive visitors privately. A few weeks ago, a seminarian at the North American College was surprised to be invited to the pope emeritus’ quarters to have a private conversation.

… Although the source of last week’s meeting is anonymous, various Vatican officials have confirmed the veracity of his remarks.

Well now that the news from an anonymous source has been verified by anonymous Vatican sources this story has to be as solid as information in Wikipedia!

Most of the headlines have been rather straight-forward on this story. Although MSN offers Benedict says he left pope gig at request of former boss (God)

The directive supposedly went down during a “mystical experience” that lasted for months. And to clarify, Benedict didn’t actually hear God’s thunderous, Charlton Heston-like baritone speaking to him, but says God inspired an “absolute desire” in him to retire to a life of prayer.

Yeah that is some solid religion reporting and I guess the longest mystical experience ever.

I must admit I expected to see a headline like “Ex-Pope Benedict says God gave me a pink slip.”


Archbishop Georg Ganswein has flatly denied a widely circulated report that Pope Benedict XVI resigned after a mystical experience that convinced him God wanted him to step down.

The report, originally circulated by the Zenit news agency, quoted an unnamed source as saying that the Pope-emeritus had explained his resignation during a recent private meeting. The source quoted the retired Pope as saying that he resigned because “God wanted me to.”

Archbishop Ganswein told an Italian television audience that the entire story was baseless. “It was invented from alpha to omega,” he said. (source)