Apr 082015
 

From an article originally published by the Catholic News Agency.

WASHINGTON — The editor of Religion News Service has denied that a grant from a wealthy LGBT advocacy funder has biased its coverage of traditional religion, which includes a recent controversial story on Cardinal Raymond Burke.

The Arcus Foundation dispenses millions of dollars in grants every year to support LGBT activism. Its 2014 grants included $120,000 to the Religion Newswriters Foundation, the owner of the widely syndicated Religion News Service.

The Arcus Foundation’s grant listing said the one year of support was intended “to recruit and equip LGBT supportive leaders and advocates to counter rejection and antagonism within traditionally conservative Christian churches.”

The foundation’s Sept. 23, 2014, announcement said the grant aimed at “fostering a culture of LGBT understanding through the media” by funding the production of feature stories and blog posts “about religion and LGBT peoples of color.”

Kevin Eckstrom, RNS editor in chief, told CNA that receiving money from the advocacy group did not influence editorial choices.

I believe Kevin Eckstrom’s statement is totally accurate. RNS would have given us biased coverage in support of LGBT activism regardless of the grant. Their awful coverage of the Church was not affected at all by this grant. David Gibson would have written stupid stories on the Church regardless of the grant.

No the grant was just an honest acknowledgment of the work RNS has done in the past and will do in the future.

The best thing about the RNS byline is that I know it will be not worth my time reading and not even worth fisking.

Apr 072015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 26 March 2015 to 6 April 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Letters

Messages

Papal Tweets

Apr 062015
 

John Allen Jr. in his latest column writes An Easter reflection on what Christians and atheists have in common.

This week, Holy Week no less, two stories broke that together illustrate a towering irony about the rise of violent Islamic extremism: In a growing number of places these days, nobody has more in common than Christians and atheists.

In Kenya, the militant Islamic group Al-Shabaab launched an assault on Garissa University College, beginning by shooting up a Christian prayer service. The gunmen then moved on, leaving Muslims unharmed while killing or abducting Christians. All told, 147 people are believed to have died.

It’s not clear if the militants deliberately chose one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar for the assault, though Christmas and Easter tend to be periods of special risk for Christian minorities in many parts of the world.

In Bangladesh, a blogger passionately opposed to religious fundamentalism named Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in Dhaka by two men wielding knives and meat cleavers. It followed the eerily similar murder of Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger Avijit Roy in late February. Roy was assaulted by two men with machetes.

Reports out of Bangladesh assert that over the past two years, several other atheist bloggers have either been murdered or died under mysterious circumstances.

Both these Kenyan and Bangladeshi victims were targeted not just for being non-Muslims, but a specific kind of non-Muslim.

Among Islamic radicals incensed with the West, no two groups stir rage like Christians and atheists. Christians symbolize the perceived sins of the Western past, while atheists embody what Islamists see as the decadence and apostasy of the Western present.

He goes on to write about how a coalition of Christians and atheists could evolve concerning an agenda of some shared goals along with some give-and-take. That also Pope Francis would be a key in putting such a partnership together.

Ideally such a coalition makes sense because there certainly is overlap in countries where Christians are a minority in how they and atheists are treated. Still I see little chance of this happening on any major level. The so-called new atheists emerged more into the public after the terrorist attack on 9/11. Making distinctions has never been a strong point for them. While this movement has been extremely anti-religion from its start, it has also mostly played out as anti-Christian in practice. The new atheists at times will criticize Islam, but much of their thrust has been anti-Christian in the amount of critique.

There is also a lot of overlap with the new atheists and secularism in general with a heavy dose of political correctness. They are natural allies and once again the thrust is anti-Christian with what should be a strange bend towards the defense of Islam. Strange indeed the secular apologists for Islam when it is so contrary to so much they profess. It only makes sense in light of the fact that these groups are primarily anti-Christian. As Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy “..any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with.”

There are of course notable exceptions to this with some atheist commentators making distinctions and seeing the threat as it is. But figures like Oriana Fallaci are few. I would love to see common cause in this where our goals do indeed intersect and that my own pessimism about this being totally wrong.

Note: The fuller quote is “This began to be alarming. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?” — G. K. Chesterton. “Orthodoxy”

Mar 312015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 12 March 2015 to 31 March 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Letters

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “The laity are called to become a leaven of Christian living within society.” @Pontifex 26 March 2015
  • “Life is a precious gift, but we realize this only when we give it to others.” @Pontifex 27 March 2015
  • “As disciples of Christ, how can we not be concerned for the good of the weakest?” @Pontifex 28 March 2015
  • “Holy Week is a privileged time when we are called to draw near to Jesus: friendship with him is shown in times of difficulty.” @Pontifex 30 March 2015
  • “Confession is the sacrament of the tenderness of God, his way of embracing us.” @Pontifex 31 March 2015
Mar 302015
 

I don’t really need to write anything about the idiotic backlash to Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others have taken up the task much more ably. So mostly I will point you to others with minimal commentary.

First off, Brandon Vogt replies to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook misguided editorial about how such laws are “dangerous”. His post nicely points out where Tim Cook is wrong What Apple’s CEO Gets Wrong About Discrimination and Religious Freedom. Like Brandon I am a fan of Apple’s products and have been impressed with Tim Cook’s overall leadership. Personally I have been less than impressed with his other forays into the political realm. Under his time as CEO an app was banned from the app store. It was an app developed by the group behind the Manhattan Declaration in support of social goals including the dignity of marriage. Tim Cook talks about religious freedom, yet this app which also called for Freedom of Religion was banned. I found this political censorship rather egregious.

Tim Cook like President Obama has a very confused view about exactly what religious liberty means. Apparently it only regards your ability to attend worship services and not actually acting on your beliefs if it conflicts with political correctness.

Ross Douthat at the NYT times posts some questions for critics of this bill. He provides seven questions about future steps in regard to this issue. Although I doubt these critics for the most part are interested in answering these questions.

Kevin Jones at the Catholic News Agency wrote No, Indiana did not just pass a law discriminating against gay people. Here’s why. He provides examples from multiple others states who have instituted the same law and the positive results.

Much has also been made of the fact that Indiana’s law reflects the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton who came out against Indiana’s law of course did not explain this. So yes you can play a “gotcha” game with critics, but to really no gain. What Congress passes is almost always about what is popular at the moment and not some action to be held for all time. That politicians will support something while it is popular and then support the contrary when the contrary is popular. Look at all the about-faces on same-sex marriage among Democrats for the most part.

One more aspect of this as Ross Douthat wrote:

I don’t think the view taken by these florists/bakers/photographers is necessarily mandated by orthodox Christian belief.

I’ve listened to what Al Kresta has also said along the same lines. From a moral theology view exactly what level of cooperation with evil is involved in these cases? My initial reaction is that in some of these cases it would indeed be cooperation with evil. Other cases it might be considered remote material cooperation. Regardless the person whose conscience has made that determination should not be forced to do otherwise. When I was a liberal I remember that freedom of conscience was a big deal and often talked about. Although probably is was always the case that supporting freedom of conscience was contingent regarding what you were objecting to.

Mar 262015
 

TS reminiscing about “Stern ol’ teacher Sister Ruth”.

How she didn’t mind dull sermons because she knew someone needed to hear what was being preached. I recall being shocked by that notion; I thought only in terms of me, of course, and couldn’t imagine “liking” a homily for the sake of another.

Sometimes I read something I really don’t like. Especially when it makes me see something true. I share his rebellion at the idea, but then at my own selfishness.

As they say “read the whole thing”, since his post is an excellent piece of writing (as usual). His blog Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor has continued truckin’ on since 2001.

Mar 262015
 

Lifting this in full from Dr. Ed. Peters British priests have canonical rights, too.

There isn’t a word—not one single word—in the short, open letter signed by hundreds of British Catholic priests to the Catholic Herald (London) defending Church teaching on marriage and sacraments that any Catholic could not, and should not be proud to, personally profess and publically proclaim. The priests’ letter is a model of accuracy, balance, brevity, and pastoral respect for persons. It fortifies the soul to know it exists. It gladdens the heart to actually read it.

I am at a loss, therefore, to understand why Vincent Cardinal Nichols seems to chastise priests who signed letter for their allegedly “conducting [a] dialogue, between a priest and his bishop … through the press.” The priests’ letter is a statement of Catholic belief, not an opening gambit in a negotiation; it is addressed to a journal editor, and through him to lay and clerical public, not to a particular prelate. Moreover, the letter is a text-book example of clergy exercising a canonical right guaranteed to all the Christian faithful, namely, “to manifest to sacred pastors [Code for ‘bishops’] their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” Canon 212 § 3, my emphasis.

The Cardinal, of course, need not have said anything about the letter; frankly, his responding via the press is what might yet turn the event into a dialogue in the press. But, if a response was to be made, anything less than “I am delighted to know that so many priests love our Church, her teachings, and the people served by both” makes the direction of that dialogue suddenly worrisome.

It is bad enough that the secular world is attacking marriage, but when we have friends like Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal, Marx and, Cardinal Nichols, and other Catholic it is not very comforting. Still British Bishops have a tradition of not defending marriage since only one bishop stood up to King Henry VIII – St. John Fisher. Although this is certainly not confined to British bishops. Remember when the USCC and NCCB the predecessor groups to the USCCB totally freaked out over no fault divorce laws? Unfortunately history doesn’t remember this either.

Still it is awesome to see the support for marriage by hundreds of British Catholic priests.

Another story that has caught my attention regards Patricia Jannuzzi, the Catholic teacher removed from a Catholic school for defending Catholic teachings about marriage. When I first saw the story I had some initial skepticism. Often people can defend Catholic teaching in quite a belligerent way. Now that I have actually read the screenshot of this post I don’t see what was so highly objectionable other than to same-sex activists and their supporters. The post was just a tad hyperbolic, but the slippery slope argument in this regard certainly has merit. Was her post super-elegant with necessary caveats? Of course not it was on Facebook.

Later I saw another story with the diocese saying she had not fired her. So I wasn’t sure what the story was now.

Today I saw an update to this story from Maggie Gallagher and it doesn’t come off well for the diocese in that reportedly diocesan lawyers told her lawyer that there was no way she would ever be allowed to teach there again. Originally the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen called Patricia Jannuzzi’s statement “disturbing.” Seems like the diocese is in damage control now. Especially after the Lepanto Institute ran a local radio add.

Last Friday’s ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732–562–1990” and “ask him whose side he’s on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”

“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.

The Hollywood liberal aspect regards comments made by Susan Sarandon whose nephew was a student of Patricia Jannuzzi and was the one who got her Facebook post publicized.

I must say I am a bit uneasy about a radio ad of this nature and the tone of it. Part of that is my own uneasiness even posting about this story in the first place. It is too easy to take a narrative approach to a news story when really the only information you have about a story is through the news. It certainly seems to me that the diocese could have handled this much better and if they considered her post imprudent than certainly that could have been handled without firing her.

Still the story does have some contrasts with other stories. So on one coast we have a bishop under fire for wanting teachers who will teach the truth of the Catholic faith and on the other coast a bishop who apparently would fire a teacher for accepting the Church’s teaching.

Mar 242015
 

Did you ever have one of those transitory freak-out moments at Mass where you are praying and then something brings you out of it?

Well I had one of those incidents last Sunday at Mass. I was knelling prior to Communion and for a change during the middle of a distraction I might have actually been praying. Then all of a sudden I had a face full of hair. The women in front of me stopped kneeling and sat up in the pew. So for a second there was this experience of having a face full of hair, wondering what just happened, finally realizing what happened, and then rapidly returning to sit down.

Now usually I am prepared for such a contingency when the line to Communion is getting close enough that it would be time for my row to form up. What surprised me was that there was still some time until this was going to happen. Still no big deal and this is was not my first occurrence of this hair-esy.

Still there should be a much more developed form of pew etiquette. Perhaps a Miss Manners style booklet of what is expected. If I was to write such a booklet it would include:

  • Putting your kneeler in the upright position when going to Communion. Most people are pretty good about doing this. Others I guess expect that you have feet as the result of Chinese foot binding. Although not that big of deal since sliding it up for them is easy enough. Strangely one of the skills not taught at RCIA is the skill of toe-lifting a kneeler up with minimal noise.
  • Then there is the fascinating way people populate pews. Often you have a distribution with one or more people sitting on each side of a continual length of pews with much of the middle abandoned. So of course this results in the awkward sideways shuffle if you need to occupy the neutral zone of pew space.
  • You just have to love the chatterers who whisper what is no doubt liturgical catechesis to each other all through Mass. The close species of this are the love-birds who show signs of affection to each other all through Mass. I take comfort in knowing that eventually there dreams will be crushed and they will act like other couples at Mass instead. Okay that last was rather tongue-in-cheek (well appropriate regarding the affectionate couple).
  • My personal favorite is the hair adjuster. The person who keeps adjusting their hair all through Mass flipping it from side to side along with other movements. Still I am a bit more lenient about this than St. Paul “For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off.”
  • The gum-chewer during Mass is rather rare in my experience. I was rather dumbfounded noticing this once and so of course the rest of the Mass I didn’t think about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but “Is that person really going to chew gum all through Mass?” The answer to this was yes and at subsequents Masses also. Although people who have to clean pews might find that the gum chewer is less rare than I have visually experienced based on the amount of gum stuck under a pew.
  • Then of course there is the etiquette regarding leaving Mass. Sometimes I think I would be safer in a movie theater after someone yelled “fire.” Apparently “The last will be first” does not apply to the parking lot.
  • Getting back to my original point there should be some etiquette regarding sitting down if you know someone is kneeling behind you. Accidents will happen in this regard, but some people don’t seem to concern themselves at all regarding this and expect you to just get out of the way.

Still regarding Mass etiquette there is one thing that does not annoy me at all. The crying baby is just fine with me. I say down with cry rooms and let’s have the joyful noise of the crying baby, plus maybe it might just drown out the guitars and drum kit.

Now I am not going to be the one to write such a style booklet as I have certainly transgressed Mass etiquette causing disturbances during Mass or afterwards. Especially regarding sitting on one of the ends.

Once during Mass the Rosary I was just holding in my hand decided to come apart and so many beads came off and started rolling noisily on the floor. To my mind the sound of it was as if I had released bowling balls to roll down to the sanctuary.

Once after Mass I was kneeling in front of the Tabernacle at the Communion Rail (yes amazingly it hadn’t been removed). After some time apparently my legs had fallen asleep and when I got up to keep from falling over I grabbed the Communion rail. The top of it came off and I was on the ground with about 50 pounds of marble Communion rail on me. Talk about embarrassment as people came to help me.

Mar 242015
 

Via Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S. at Servant and Steward.

Every now and again, though, a headline or two does capture my attention, like this one: Bishops say Marian emails and texts circulated in Ivory Coast may disturb public order. Alright, when did the Blessed Virgin Mary start sending text messages? That’s a headline that leads to a story I’ll read.

As should probably be expected, the Bishops of the Ivory Coast are cautioning the faithful about the claims of some who say the Mother of God is sending them messages through the new media:

In a letter sent earlier this month, the bishops said the authenticity of the messages “has neither been proven nor approved by the Church.” In fact, they said, most of the messages are “contrary to the teachings of the Church.”

“People, claiming to be from the Catholic Church, have given themselves the mission to disseminate messages that, according to their authors, are from the Virgin Mary,” said the bishops.

After reviewing their content, the letter said, “the conclusion is that the content of most of these messages is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … for some messages may even disturb public order and create psychosis and fear among the people.

Consider me rather credulous. After all everyone knows Mary communicates via toast.

Still it does make me wonder what Mary’s email address would be? She has so many titles that she probably wouldn’t have any trouble finding a domain that is not taken up yet.

Still what two digit country code would she use? Heaven abbreviated HN is already taken up by Honduras. Blessed Virgin as BV is used by Bouvet Island. Maybe VI since the Virgin Islands is somewhat close. Pehaps DO as in “Do whatever he tells you” which is used by the Dominican Republic. Hail Mary as HM also fits even if used by Heard Island and McDonald Islands.

Still if I got an email from Mary@destroyerofhere.sy I would open that even if it is a Syrian country code. Perhaps Mary@mysticalro.se which uses Sweden’s country code. Better yet Mary@ArkOfTheCovena.nt which uses the country code for Neutral Zone which is no longer used since it was for the Saudi-Iraqi neutral zone.

Mar 242015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 3 March 2015 to 24 March 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “May every Church and Christian community be a place of mercy amid so much indifference.” @Pontifex 23 March 2015
  • “Suffering is a call to conversion: it reminds us of our frailty and vulnerability.” @Pontifex 24 March 2015