Nov 122014

I can almost always rely on maximum spin and distortion for a story from the Religion News Service. This article by Kimberly Winston delivered via RNS and Crux is very laughable in a sad way.

Were some Catholic saints transgender? Berkeley show raises eyebrows

BERKELEY, Calif. — Step into the one-room art gallery inside the Pacific School of Religion and look closely at the saints in the paintings: Some have beards; some have buzz cuts; some have their breasts obscured; some appear in unisex clothes like tanks tops and jeans.

Are they women or men?

That’s the point of artist Alma Lopez’s new show, “Queer Santas: Holy Violence,” on display at this theological school known for its embrace of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. In playing with the gender characteristics of religious icons usually depicted as feminine, Lopez asks us to reconsider our ideas of religion, beauty, and gender.

Justin Tanis, who teaches at the school, said it’s as if these saints, with their direct eye contact and open arms, are saying, “‘I am natural, I am one of God’s people.’ And yet this is an image that many people would consider heretical because gender play is involved.”

Gender play is at work in each of the icons in the show — St. Lucia, St. Wilgefortis, and St. Liberata.

Lopez, a visiting artist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said she was attracted to these saints because their stories have a common theme — each one tried to step out of the expected role for a woman of her time and, as a result, was the victim of terrible violence.

Take St. Wilgefortis’ story. A 14th-century noblewoman promised in marriage without her consent, she prayed to God to be made ugly so she could keep a vow of chastity she made to Jesus. God granted her a man’s beard. The marriage was off, but Wilgefortis — whose name means “strong face” — was crucified by her father.

The stories of St. Liberata and St. Lucia are similar: Liberata sprouted a beard, and Lucia had her eyes torn out when she disappointed her family.

“All of these saints are women who took their own agency and stepped outside gender norms,” Tanis said as he stood before Lopez’s rendition of St. Liberata, arms splayed in a way that suggests both crucifixion and winged flight. “In that sense, they were queer and violence was done to them for it.”

As they say “Read the whole thing” if you want to get hit repeatedly with the stupid hammer.

“So far it’s been quiet,” he said. “But we are prepared to offer hospitality to any protesters.”

In other words “Where are the protesters? We did something shocking to draw the loving media gaze and nobody is giving us free publicity by protesting us.”

Oct 202014

Well now that the synod is over until they meet again next year it is time for a little wrap up.

Thankfully Tom McDonald saved me from writing an inferior post so I will just point to The “Thank You God the Synod Is Over” Post. I totally agree with his synopsis concerning the synod and that while there were certainly areas to be concerned it was not the gates of hell some anticipated.

There was a soap opera aspect “As the Synod Turns” and once again highlighted how bad the Church can be a communication. The initial publishing of the relatio post disceptationem, the translation problems, the pushback by Cardinals regarding it, and the final release of the document as voted on by the synod. This was a total mess. Jimmy Akin described the document It’s written in turgid ecclesiastical bafflegab.

Now if this was a soap opera I would certainly vote for the character of Cardinal Kasper to be the one to develop amnesia.

Still all this reminds me is that we are not the Church of the document. Documents can be useful and to clarify matters. Yet they hardly ever settle anything. Remember how the issuing of Humanae Vitae settled the issue of contraception or how Ordinatio Sacerdotalis stopped people supporting women’s ordination? Me neither. The majority of Catholic are likely never to read documents issued by the Vatican or even bishop conferences. Mostly what they hear is mediated through the news media which means most of what they hear is just plain wrong. Fr. Longenecker recently describe how twice in one week people came to him who were in irregular marriages thinking they could now receive Communion.

The continuing problem, which will likely always be so, is how to provide ongoing formation when the main vehicle is a ten minute homily on Sundays. Sure there is such a wealth of resources now for committed Catholic to seek this out. This is just not much of a priority seemingly for most Catholics. Too often it is the Culture not the Catechism that is providing formation. So regardless what shape the final Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation takes, this problem will of course remain.

It was not the synod of bishops, the curia, or bishop’s conferences that Jesus gave the great commission to. It was to each and everyone of us. It is an easy habit to want to outsource this responsibility to them and then complain about how they are handling our individual responsibility.

Oct 132014

Today the Synod released Relatio post disceptationem which as Jimmy Akin describes

(i.e., a report after discussion), which summarized the discussions held in the first week of the synod.

As with most things regarding the Synod or the Church in general there are narrative reactions with people always looking for major changes in the Church and those who panic that such changes are going to happen. The truth isn’t always in the middle, although with Vatican documents the truth is usually in the muddle.

The invaluable Thomas L. McDonald posts a initial reaction on a first pass through the document Fisking the Synod “Relatio”. Well worth reading in full.

It’s a summary of the discussion as it stands. Most of it is very good. Out of 58 paragraphs, about four are awful.

Which means that all the attention (media and otherwise) will be on those four paragraphs. Unfortunately the awful paragraphs are truly awful and remove clarity in an area that is such a modern hot issue. Fr Longenecker posts regarding this I fear this is ill thought out, sentimentalist, wishy washy, secularist nonsense.

Since the “law of gradualness” has been much discussed recently along with showing up in this document it is very helpful to read The Law of Gradualness: 12 things to know and share. A couple of points he makes specifically regarding this subject and the document released.

10) Is this same understanding of the law of gradualness present in Familiaris Consortio and the Vademecum for Confessors?

It does not appear so. At least from what has been said thus far, it appears more to reflect the “gradualness of law” that was warned against in those documents, according to which a decisive break with sin is not required before receiving absolution and holy Communion, and in which a different standard of what constitutes sin would be applied to some than is applied to others.

11) Does the Relatio change Church teaching regarding the law of gradualness?

No. The Relatio is a summary what various bishops proposed in discussions. It is not a document of the Magisterium.

The document accurately reports that one group of bishops proposed this—and that others opposed it—but it does nothing to change Church teaching.

John Thavis, a reporter covering the Vatican, called it a “Pastoral earthquake” and that terminology has spread out into plenty of article. Although as we know from scripture, God is not in the Earthquake. Plus after reading John Thavis’ book “The Vatican Diaries”, I am not impressed by his analysis in general.

“Acts of the Apostasy” has some humorous analysis BREAKING! JERUSALEM COUNCIL ISSUES REPORT; CHRISTIANS BRISTLE

Sep 112014


They’re back, yes it is the Nuns on the Bus part 3 returning like a sequel to a bad horror movie.

This time it’s the Catholic sisters versus the Koch brothers.

That’s one way to look at the upcoming “Nuns on the Bus” tour, which hits the road next week (Sept. 17) for the third time in three years, a month long trip though 10 key U.S. Senate battleground states to campaign against the influence of outside money on politics.

The issue has come to be identified with the wealthy industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, whose huge contributions to conservative political causes have raised concerns about the role of “dark money” on elections.

The spigot for such undisclosed donations, which can be made by unions as well as corporations, was opened by the controversial 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. That was followed by another 5–4 ruling in April of this year, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

“It’s all about ‘we the people’ standing up against big money,” said Sister Simone Campbell, who heads Network, a Catholic social justice lobby on Capitol Hill that is organizing more than 75 events in 36 cities along the 5,252-mile route.

There is at least this at the end of the column:

(Editor’s note: David Gibson assisted Sister Simone Campbell in writing her memoir, “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” which was published earlier this year.)

But hey you know David Gibson is totally subjective. Oh and just by the way he just kind of forgot to mention that the Nuns on a Bus are partially funded by the George Soros “Faith in Public Life”. Yes they are complaining against evil political money if it is donated by conservatives. Although since the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage and abortion you would think Sister Simone would see them more as allies. Still she probably follows the Harry Reid Koch fanaticism.

Still it comes down to the nuns removing the speck from their brothers eye while having their vision obscured by a plank. This is known as the Plank constant, the proportional constant between what you rail against and your own complicity measured in hypocrimeters. So a course a nun partially funded with Soros money who spoke at the 2012 Democratic convention and basically went on a bus tour for them is the perfect representative to speak about wealthy people and their political causes.

In a related story here is one that has not gotten the attention it deserved. Via A Shepherd’s Voice

This week’s _Catholic San Francisco_, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco has an important and comprehensive expose of the motivations and funding of ‘Catholic’ homosexualist groups seeking to undermine the Church.

The actual article starts with:

Gay rights money funds archbishop’s critics

Faithful America part of national progressive advocacy network

September 10th, 2014

By Valerie Schmalz

“Many Catholics in the San Francisco Bay Area were surprised by the strong negative reaction to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s decision to give a talk about traditional marriage at a June 19 Washington, D.C., rally organized to support marriage.

_A national online petition from Faithful America and a nationally publicized June 10 letter from 78 politicians and others urged the archbishop to withdraw from the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. The letter and petition citing “hate” speech by the National Organization for Marriage and the labeling participant Family Research Council as a “hate group” created a media storm and disturbed many local Catholics and pastors.

Most are used to attacks on the archbishop for his strong advocacy of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family, but the reaction seemed disproportionate to the event – which was a talk at a rally by a Catholic Church leader who has given many talks in support of marriage and family across the country and in the media.

The cause for surprise among Catholics may be they assumed the powerful reaction was spontaneous. Now there is abundant evidence the reaction was both well planned and financed by Faithful America, an organization that is supported directly and indirectly by politically powerful and wealthy men and by grant-making foundations who have devoted millions of dollars to promoting acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) behavior....”

It goes on to detail funding via a flow chart and promises two more parts in this series with the next coming out on September 12th. It is rather rare to see something like this come out in a Diocesan newspaper and it is certainly welcome.

Sep 102014

The decision by Cardinal Timothy Dolan regarding the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade seems to be another Rorschach inkblot test in St. Blogs and elsewhere. Opinions range from the Cardinal being wicked to modeling Christ with a range of positions in-between.

To summarize the situation as I understand it. The private group New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. organizes the annual parade has allowed this year a LGBT group to march with a banner. Pressure has been mounting over the last decades or so, but up to now no message banners were allowed. They ran into sponsorship problems last year where companies like Guinness pulled out to due to this general restriction as applied to a specific group the LGBT community. So apparently this year they caved into pressure because of the PC sponsorship problem. There was never a restriction regarding people as described under the initialism of LGBT. To add fuel to the fire, this year Cardinal Dolan is the Grand Marshall.

Added in to this was another smaller controversy. Msgr. Charles Pope had written a post regarding the question “Time to End the St. Patrick’s Parade and the Al Smith Dinners?” At the time I had originally read his very balanced post, there was much I agreed with in general. Subsequently the was post removed.

Many of you have expressed concern about a blog post I wrote on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was removed. I am grateful for your concern about this and all the issues we discuss here. I removed the post upon further reflection due to the strong nature of the language I had used in parts of it. I apologize if the language I used caused offense. Source

It seems likely that he was first asked to remove the post from his Archdiocese. I certainly could find no strong language in his post (which can be read here). At the time I quipped on Facebook that the removal of this post would lead to a minor Striesand effect and that the post would be linked all over the place. Sure enough afterwards I saw this post on more blogs than usual even for the usual quality of the Monsignor’s writings. It even got covered on Brietbart, with a very misleading headlines (or the usual standard for headlines) “DC Priest Punished for Calling For End to Gay St. Patrick’s Parade in New York City”. Can’t say I was impressed with the content of the Austin Rose article which brought in ancillary complaints about the diocese and equated punishment with having a post withdrawn. It also reprinted the Monsignor’s column.

My own opinion concerning this has varied in reaction from wanting to go on full rant to ultimately decide on a waiting period to digest before pushing “post”. I think part of my original strong reaction to what is really a parade that has lost any serious connection to St. Patrick himself as a saint was that the increased pressure on Catholics and others to give up any objection to same-sex acts. Over and over we are getting pressured out of the public square. For example the President’s recent executive order regarding LGBT workplace discrimination with again no religious exemption. Constantly in the headlines are stories regarding fired teachers or organists who had attempted to get married or gotten pregnant using IVF. The mechanisms of society are bent on displaying Catholics as ignorant bigots with no possible defense regarding same-sex acts. Plus combined with the Cardinal’s less than helpful remarks regarding Michael Sam it just seemed like a long retreat from defending Catholic teaching.

Still what it comes down to is my prudential answer to the situation, did not match the Cardinal’s prudential answer to the situation. God is his great wisdom and mercy did not make me a priest or worse a bishop. So while I would rather he step down as Grand Marshall at the minimum, I am not going to freak out over it. I wish he could use it as an opportunity for a “magisterial moment” a play on “teaching moment.” Condensing Catholic teaching or really the natural law down to a sound bite has a high-decibel signal loss where the only information that gets trough is that your a bigot.

After forcing you to read though my reaction, I would like to point you to some pieces that I thought especially good (which means I agreed with them). Interestingly this two pieces are both a reaction to what Elizabeth Scalia at Patheos had to say regarding this situation.

The first being a post from the Darwin’s The Prodigal Son Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means.

The other is Steven Greydanus Gays, Jesus and St. Patrick’s Day. He explores both the analogies and disanalogies of the story of the woman caught in adultery. He also goes on to quote Phil Lawler of

If this really is a Catholic event, it cannot include a group defined by its opposition to Church teaching. If it is a Catholic event, forget Guinness, forget NBC, forget the hoopla, and quietly honor St. Patrick.

But if it is not a Catholic event — if it is just another civic celebration, to which all are welcome, regardless of their attitude toward the Church — then it’s time to end an anachronism. There should be no reviewing stand outside St. Patrick’s cathedral, no sign of Church sponsorship. Cardinal Dolan should step aside as grand marshal.

Sep 042014

Recently the Boston Globe announced a new Catholic new site “Crux: Covering all things Catholic”.

After their aquistion last year of John L. Allen Jr. as an Associate Editor this move was no surprise and Allen has continued to turn out columns always interesting to read.

Still I wondered how long until Crux was just another National Catholic Reporter. When he worked for them he was pretty much their only redeeming value. News content is being provided by multiple sources such as the Catholic News Service and the Religion News Service. Not a great fan of either, especially RNS and David Gibson.

Today they ran a column by Margery Eagan which was pretty much full National Catholic Reporter mode. Never go full National Catholic Reporter.

  • Reference to inquisition “nunquisition” – check
  • Reference to crusades – check
  • Reference to crackdown – check
  • Dissident nuns are awesome (helping the poor don’t you know) – check
  • Brings up sex abuse crisis – check
  • Makes you dumber reading it – check

You can write articles such as these from a boilerplate template.

What is so idiotic about these articles is they talk about “alleged” complaints by the Vatican when it is so obvious these charges are exactly right. You could side with their dissent, but you can’t call it orthodoxy. It is such a dishonest complaint. Her complaint that the Vatican criticized them for being too Obama-care friendly isn’t even factually correct.

Sep 042014

Many will have already seen the following news:

A news release from the Diocese of Peoria Sept. 3, 2014.

It is with immense sadness that the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, announced today that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization has for the foreseeable future been suspended. The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the Cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year. The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken. Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.

Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the Diocese. Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the Cause had reached a significant stage.

Bishop Jenky is what is technically called the “actor” of the Sheen Cause. The Diocese of Peoria and the Sheen Foundation have prayed and labored for this good work for the last twelve years. The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts. It should be noted, however, that saints are always made by God not by man. Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest.

No further comment will be released at this time.

What? When I first saw this I thought surely there must be more to the story. What is the Archdiocese of New York’s side of it? Really this couldn’t just be this insane? If it is as it seems to be than this is a great moment in evangelization. The nightly talk show jokes pretty much write themselves. Well at least it isn’t as bad as the Cadaver Synod.

First off if the Archdiocese of New York thought it had primary claim of his body, then exactly why did they not start the cause in the first place. Oh hey let the Diocese of Peoria bear the costs and the investment of time and then have the body as an attraction to draw people.

Although certainly there is a much more charitable way to look at the situation instead of following the money. Then I was shocked when one of my readers sent me a copy of a letter reportedly from the late Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman. Cardinal Spellman was the Archbishop of New York when Archbishop Sheen was alive. I am providing you with the text of the letter and an image of the actual letter.

Dear Successor:

If in the off chance that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ever has a formal cause for sainthood, please sabotage it. That will fix him for not giving me the one million dollars raised for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and embarrassing me in front of the Pope.

When I said outside the Pope’s office “I will get even with you!” to Archbishop Sheen I wasn’t kidding. If you can please arrange this to happen just before any official Vatican action it would be greatly appreciated.

Wishing you a blessed year, I am

Very sincerely yours,

Archbishop of New York

Aug 282014

While the #TacoBeerChallenge started as an ironic Twitter joke, the straightforward message resonated and pictures of carne asada wrapped in a corn tortilla are proliferating on the web–though members of the pro-life movement have tried to hijack the hashtag to harness the attention for their cause.

“What do ice buckets have to do with ALS? I don’t know. What do tacos and beer have to do with abortion? I don’t know that either,” Grimes writes for RH Reality Check. “What I do know is that eating tacos and drinking beer is more pleasurable than getting doused with ice water, and that lawmakers around the country are passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion access laws.” Via Time Magazine

It is quite true there is no relationship in this abortion funding challenge and the acts purposed. Tacos and beer matches the abortion support rhetoric where language is obtuse hiding behind phrases with no mention of the reality. Really if they wanted a challenge in line with abortion values with a more signifying act. Perhaps the Pigs Blood Bucket Challenge makes a more accurate correlation visually.

Really for abortion supporters the bucket challenge is for unborn children to kick the bucket.

Aug 252014

I first ran across Mission Statement’s while in the Navy. They were trying to adapt Dr. Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) into their own program called Total Quality Leadership (TQL). I wasn’t much impressed by the idea of mission and vision statements since I figured they were just another element in bureaucratic paperwork and were just another exercise in time wasted. There hasn’t been anything since then to change my mind.

So when I started seeing these in parishes it seemed to me they didn’t have much vision or knew their mission other than promulgating buzzwords and being inclusive/welcoming/vibrant/caring.

My exacts thoughts were that if you had a Mission Statement and it didn’t directly quote the Gospel imperative or another passage from the Gospel You’re doing it wrong (if you’re going to do it in the first place).

So today I found myself nodding-my-head in total agreement as I read this post by Diane Harris on Cleansing Fire. She provides examples of these statements from her diocese and they are representative of what I have seen. It is not that they are really awful or without any merit. Just that they look like statements from a committee without the urgency of the Gospels.

Now if you were going to have a personal Mission Statement what would it be?

I kind of like Catholic Answer’s Patrick Coffin’s tag line in this regard.

“Be a saint! What else is there?”

Aug 212014

Via Rich at  Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber with “Kick the Bucket”

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is discouraging its employees from taking the ice bucket challenge for the ALS Association over the group’s embrace of embryonic stem cell research. Instead, would-be bucketeers should send donations to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Here’s a snippet from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s story:

“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this,” Andriacco said. “But it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”

An embryo must be destroyed to harvest its stem cells, Andriacco said. Many Catholics relate that to abortion.

The Archdiocese asks that any money raised is sent instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where the research is only conducted using adult stem cells.

Rigg and Tom Otten, principal of Elder High School, plan to take the ice-bucket challenge — for the research institute — Thursday morning at Elder, Andriacco said.

The idea behind this campaign is rather brilliant. Appeal first to the vanity of celebrities to get the ball rolling and than the vanity of others as they post their own YouTube videos of this. This is selfie charity.

So much for not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, since that can never go viral. Add a bit of shaming to get others to follow and you have a nicely crafted campaign that so far has raised over 40 million dollars. Even if the ALS Association supported totally ethical research, selfie charity is still unfortunate. The mixture of imposed penance, doing something good, broadcasting your penance for the cause, and then the chain-letter aspect of getting others to join in is perfect in a Madison Avenue sense, but otherwise unfortunate. Just wonder how this will escalate with other charitable causes? We have already seen the Fire Challenge, what’s next?

John Paul II Medical Research Institute, Donation page

On the funny side of this:

Barren, Minnesota: Inspired by a viral charity challenge that involves achieving a monetary goal and ice buckets, the St. Bartholomew youth group issued a “boiling bucket of glop” challenge: donate or collect donations of $100 to their Fall mission trip to Appalachia, and one of the youth group members will get dunked with a boiling bucket of glop. They earned $3.27. …

You’ve seen all the USCCB Sword Swallowing Challenge videos by now. Everyone from Catholic celebrities like The Curt Jester writer Jeff Miller, Fr. Robert Barron, and Jeff Cavins, to your friends have posted videos of themselves slowly dropping swords down their throats to help raise money for the USCCB. …

Thanks Eye of the Tiber, if I am a Catholic celebrity I am suddenly being tempted towards selfie charity. Where is my web cam and YouTube account?