Mar 022015
  • Bergoglio’s List – Nello Scavo This book investigates the time from when Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was 39 years old and on. In the multiple biographies I have read on him I have seen some mention of the work he did to get people out of prison and out of the country. It is fascinating the degree to which this happened and it was not just a couple of occasions. The book estimates he saved 100 people from torture, imprisonment, and even death. I don’t thinks this is much exaggerated as the book also spell out many details I had not read before. I also found it interesting the amount of tradecraft he had developed. That term is mostly used regarding spies, but Bergoglio had lots of practical advice to people to keep from being picked up or noticed by the government. He even ran a Jesuit retreat that mostly involved hiding some people. There is even a rather funny story told regarding some priests he was giving an Ignatius retreat.

    The author writes that he went in investigating this story not sure if the investigation would put the now pope in a good or bad light, but that he would just follow the story. The number of people he helped and the range of people he helped is impressive. It goes way beyond the priests under his care to helping people here were not friendly to the Church at all. This is not a man who just talks a good game, but lives it out despite what would have been real dangers for offering this help.

  • Growing in Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics Including Reflections on Faith – Fr. Packwa While this is a relatively short book, it does take some time to go through and that is a good thing. Fr. Mitch Pacwa has digested an number of scriptures related to faith in systematical way chapter by chapter. At first I was annoyed that the verses which were to be studied were referenced and to be looked up outside the book. Instead I found this helpful moving back and forth between the study guide and the Bible. I think I retained more and put these verses better in context with this training method. Quite worthwhile.
  • A Voice Undefeated – Collin Raye I’m not a Country Music fan and only knew of Collin Raye tangentially through Catholic radio. Still I was quickly immersed in the story of his life. There were many things that surprised me about his life which were not the track I expected of a Country Music Star. I found so much about what he had to say as something I could relate to respond to. The amount of suffering in his life is staggering with the uncountable hours in hospitals because of family members. This is a very intimate look into his life and the cross he carries. While his fairly early conversion to the faith as a traveling musician was not the pinnacle of the story, it is his faith displayed with almost Job-like obstacles. I might not be a fan of Country Music, but now I am certainly a fan of this man and the faith he lives daily. Good Lenten reading along with other times
  • Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World – Brandon Vogt One of the sad signs of the time is the polarization and politicization of social justice. A phrase that has come to mean a subset to some of the wide range of the Church’s doctrine regarding this. The term Social Justice Warrior (SJW) has come to mean a specific type of liberal activist. These are just some of the reasons whey Brandon Vogt’s book is a important corrective to this limiting of social justice and what it fully means in the context of the Church. Brandon addresses some of the polarization, but concentrates on the examples of saints and others to more fully explore what it is to see the Church’s teaching in action. The range of people he uses add to this book and introduces the stories of some saints I was not aware of. I found this book quite impressive and useful and look forward to more books from him.
Mar 022015

I always wish for more silence during Mass and so on the plus side I got it this weekend.

On the other hand the silence was due to the perseverance in stupidity.

The occasion was an attempt to display a video during Mass. So projected on the back of the sanctuary I saw first the glow of the projection than nothing. A minute or so later I see the Windows desktop and the mouse cursor opening up VLC. More clicking goes on. VLC is closes. Start menu comes up and more attempts to play video. Several more times VLC makes an appearance with more clicking. Than attempts to play video using Windows Media Player. Than VLC once again. Than a couple of instances of opening Task manager and some troubleshooting.

This took somewhere between five and ten minutes, although it felt embarrassingly long. I was just stunned that they just kept trying and trying amidst the uncomfortable silence. The priest after a while punctuated the silence with some jokes about what was going on. I kept hoping that he would just tell the deacon playing the video to just give up. Finally he did and the video was never played. Our Diocese has started having annual Eucharistic Congresses and that was the occasion for the video.

This episode of course played into my bias regarding any multimedia presentation during Mass. It always seems so clumsy and out of place. Plus projections on the sanctuary wall leave a bad taste for me.

I remember another episode of video during mass that could have made an outtakes reel. This time it was a portable projector screen which they moved out and extended just before the video was to be played. While displaying the video the screen slowly started to collapse back down so it was slowly shrinking. Somebody would come out and extend it again, but it would happen again. It was really quite funny in a perverse kind of way and their was sporadic laughter during the whole attempt.

Videos that get displayed during Mass are all from the Diocese and are usually confined to just the annual Bishop’s appeal. Unfortunately they usually just replace the homily in most instances because of their length. I can certainly understand the appeal of the video message instead of just reading from some document to disseminate the same information. It is just that the whole thing has always feels clumsy to me and out of place with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

One of the problems is that since parishes are rarely actual communities any more, the Mass becomes seen as the only mode of disseminating information to parishioners. A captive audience. People aren’t even expected to read the bulletin since most parishes have the “Liturgy of the Bulletin” at the end of Mass where sections are read out. Than there are the speakers disseminating information about some apostolate also appended towards the end of Mass. In the age of so much social media, this is hardly used and everything must be presented during Mass.

Even as a geek I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the Mass and the intrusion of technology. Especially as what should be a dead-simple task of playing a video has gone awry in so many attempts I have seen — even with something as simple as a DVD attached to a television. Really there are larger problems that must be solved regarding diocesan communication. In the meantime though should be given to video presentations and the mode of them. Plus “If at first you don’t succeed”, please give up and let the Mass proceed.

Mar 012015

News from Madison Catholic Diocese

Midway through the Sunday Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dodgeville, the service took a sharp turn toward fundraising.

Monsignor Daniel Ganshert, the parish priest, told parishioners that for years, people in the Madison Catholic Diocese had been praying for more men to be called by God to the priesthood. The Holy Spirit has responded, Ganshert announced jubilantly.

There are now 33 seminarians, or priests-in-training, up from six in 2003 when Bishop Robert Morlino arrived. But that increase comes with responsibility, Ganshert said.

The diocese needs $30 million to educate current and future seminarians — “a serious chunk of money,” he acknowledged.

Ushers distributed pledge cards. The assembled were asked to dig deep.

The same scene is playing out across all 134 worship sites in the 11-county diocese. The effort, which began last fall and will continue through the end of this year, is the first diocesan-wide capital campaign in more than 50 years.

So far, the faithful have responded with vigor. Although the campaign has yet to expand to all churches, parishioners already have pledged more than $28 million.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Morlino said in an interview, giving immense credit to the diocese’s 110 priests who’ve been rolling out the campaign in their parishes. “They love the priesthood and they love the church, and this is the Holy Spirit working through them.”

This is also interesting in regards to my own diocese. Diocese of St. Augustine seeing dramatic increase in number of men preparing for priesthood

Lawrence Peck didn’t know when he began preparing for the priesthood in 2008 that he was part of one trend, and soon to be part of another.

The first was a steady decline in the number of men studying to be Catholic priests.

The second was a steady increase in the number of men studying to be Catholic priests — which, in the case of the Diocese of St. Augustine. could be described as dramatic.

In less than six years, the number has gone from seven to nearly 30, according to figures provided by diocese officials. That reflects a growth of more than 400 percent.

The Rev. David Ruchinski, vocation director for the diocese, which comprises 17 counties, explored explanations for the increase.

“The simple answer is that it’s the work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Those who are not people of faith may be looking for a natural explanation of a supernatural phenomenon. To them, I would say there is a renewed spirit of devotion among young Catholics who continue to practice their faith.”

“We hear about those who don’t stay with the church,” Ruchinski said. “We hear less in the public dialogue about the faith of those who stay.

“That group is much more devout, they’re much more zealous about religion and the practice of their faith. They’re interested in knowing what the Church teaches, the practices of prayer and devotion.”

So in our case in an even a shorter period of time we went from 6 to 29. The Diocese of Madison has 283,442 registered Catholilcs and the Diocese of St. Augustine has 172,000. So it is really cool that two relatively small diocese have such an upsurge in vocations.

Feb 282015

Last week there was this story:

The Vatican’s Office of the Synod intercepted mail to prevent delivery of a book to bishops participating in last October’s session of the Synod, journalist Edward Pentin reports.

Remaining in the Truth of Christ, a series of essays about Catholic teaching on marriage, was published just before the Synod meeting. The book, published simultaneously in several languages, was a response to the proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper that Catholics who divorce and remarry might be allowed to receive Communion. Among the contributing authors were three cardinals: Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was then the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, the retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

The editors and publishers of Remaining in the Truth of Christ sent advance copies to score of the bishops who were in Rome for the October Synod meeting. But the books that were addressed to bishops staying at the Vatican were not delivered, Pentin reports.

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, the editor of Ignatius Press, which published the American edition of the book, confirms that dozens of books were received by the Vatican City governorate, but never reached the prelates to whom they were addressed.

According to Pentin, the books were intercepted on orders from Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops. Pentin writes that Cardinal Baldisseri was “furious” about the book, and said that it would “interfere with the Synod.”

Hey I read the book “The Book Thief” and it wasn’t about Cardinal Baldisseri. Still there are interesting aspects to this story. First off it was originally reported in a story by Pentin in and not the National Catholic Register which is where Pentin normally has his stories published. So no doubt there were problems affirmatively sourcing the story as would be expected even if true.

Whatever the merits of the story, I find this press release from Ignatius Press hilarious.

I used their title The mysterious case of the Extraordinary Synod and the missing books in my title. This is simply awesome and we need Sherlock Holmes on the case. Besides he investigated the Vatican before – Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has denied this story:

“The copies that arrived by mail were distributed in the mailboxes without impediment,” Father Lombardi told AP. “One person told me he even received two copies!”

Father Joseph Fessio, the publisher of the book’s English-language edition, maintained that the books had not been delivered. “Only a few reached synod fathers at their mailboxes in the Vatican,” he told AP.

Confirmation bias tends me towards believing the story along with the fact that too often I have trusted Father Lombardi full revealing of the facts just a little less than the White House spokesman. Well that is hyperbolic, really it is that I detect too much spin in his statements and that they lack a real getting at the truth. Any amount of spin from a Vatican spokesman totally annoys me.

Whatever the merits of the original story, I find it unlikely that there was much of an investigation into this. Such an allegation should be strenuously investigated as it is matches totally the criticisms of the Curia from Pope Francis. See Dr. Peters post on this story It was worse than a crime–it was a blunder.

Feb 282015

I pretty much never comment on deaths of celebrities other than just a personal prayer for them. Mainly because such comments would be more talking about myself and the celebrities impact than the person who has died. Kind of like a Obama’s White House photo in tribute that of course was a picture of himself and not Leonard Nimoy.

Still this time I have to indulge. Looking back I had two childhood heroes that I wanted to imitate. Sherlock Holmes and Spock. Not a big surprise they were both fictional characters and why they appealed to me as an atheist with stoical tendencies. I mentioned this fact to a coworker who is an atheist after the news and he admitted the same two heroes.

At least in the case of Spock there was a real person behind the character whose skills brought the character to life. I follow hardly any “celebrities” on Twitter, but Leonard Nimoy was one of them. It is nice to watch a career of an actor and never have the reveal that in their personal life they were a jerk. That in reality they were a class act. His personal life was not without flaws, but they were ones he mostly overcame. Still it is easy to love someone who wrote two biographies I am not Spock and I am Spock.

As both now a Catholic and someone who believe in eternal life I can say LLAP to Leonard Nimoy and mean it. I do find it odd that many people who don’t believe in eternal life are using LLAP in regards to his death, seems rather ironic.

Another interesting aspect is the reaction to his death by such a large segment of people. As a geek it is pretty awesome to see that an actor who is mostly known for playing a character in a SF series has had such a profound response. The mainstreaming of SF via Star Trek and Star Wars goes beyond the commercialization and has opened new generations to my lifetime favorite genre.

I am also reminded of SF author John C. Wright’s quote “If Vulcans had a church, they’d be Catholics.”

This appeals to me as someone who aspired to be a Vulcan, but is much happier as a Catholic.

So Requiescat in Pace and Live and Prosper Leonard Nimoy.

LLAP (Live Love Avoid Purgatory)

Feb 262015

Another narative tale disquised as a news story.

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. – A local couple is sharing their story after what some are calling the first ever Catholic wedding of a transgender couple.

Every time the newlyweds look at the photos from their wedding on a beach in Imperial Beach, they get a rush of joy and faith.

“It was so exciting, ”said 35-year-old Angel Adrian Estrada. “It seemed like a dream come true.”

After Estrada, a transgender man and lifelong Catholic, first proposed to Fina – also Catholic – the two found Dermot Rodgers, a consecrated bishop who agreed to perform the ceremony, even though it runs counter to church doctrine: people are viewed by their gender at birth.

Months before the wedding, Estrada’s certificates of baptism, communion and confirmation were recorded by Rodgers under Estrada’s new name and gender.

Those are all apparent firsts in the Catholic faith. Then came the big day.

The question now being raised is was the wedding truly a Catholic wedding?

The Diocese of San Diego points out Rodgers voluntarily separated himself from the Franciscan order and lost his ability to function as a priest. Rodgers concedes he voluntarily separated from the order because he disagreed with teachers on divorce and other issues.

According to Rodgers’ points, longstanding religious tradition says he remains a priest.

Since he has not been ex-communicated, he contends the wedding was a Catholic one.

The other day in equally bad reporting.

SAN DIEGO — A local Roman Catholic bishop is using Pope Francis as an example and creating an all-inclusive Catholic parish that will serve everyone, including divorced people and the LGBTQ community.

Local Roman Catholic bishop? A man once a Capuchin priest proclaims himself a bishop and the news organization goes along with that? Especially since he was actually incardinated into the American Catholic Church. Hey but Google searches are hard.

His reasoning that this was a valid marriage is laughable in so many ways and his status within the Church does not affect that at all. At least this was held at a beach and not some actual Catholic parish.

Now of course the articles I have seen regarding this “bishop” all have him appealing to Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge.” Funny he doesn’t quote a what the Pope had to say recently about gender theory and how it doesn’t recognize the order of creation. Although cherry pickers really don’t want to search far to justify their own bias.

Feb 252015

I’ve seen some news here and there about a Vatican official suing a Catholic blogger.

I really like this post from Diane Korzeniewski at Te Deum laudamus. which succinctly gets to the point about why this is wrong and that this goes beyond any dispute between this priest and a blogger.

Father Rosica, drop this embarrassing threat of litigation – it is really making you look bad…. really bad.   What kind of priest, much less an official in the Vatican, uses litigation against a Catholic blogger over his reputation?  Reputation?

Without judging whether any part of what the blogger said is right or wrong, and whether I agree with how he chose to express his concerns or not, bearing patiently with injury, or long-suffering, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. From a discernment stand point, I don’t see the Holy Spirit’s involvement in threats of litigation or lawsuits against bloggers. While you are concerned with your own reputation, what harm are you bringing to the reputation of the priesthood with litigation?

My headline is plucked from her last paragraph.

In related new Fr. Timothy Scott Removed as Basilian Spokesperson After Hurling Obscenity Toward Cardinal Burke which must be read to believe.

Feb 252015

There has been a lot of noise recently regarding Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco new contract for teachers working for the Archdiocese.

First a little history.

SAN FRANCISCO — Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has approved language for a new high-school teachers’ contract and handbook that calls on faculty to avoid publicly challenging the Church’s position on issues like same-sex “marriage” and abortion.

The existing teachers’ contract expires on July 31. The new one has not been finalized and is under negotiation with the local Catholic teachers’ union, the San Francisco Archdiocesan Federation of Teachers, Local 2240.

In contrast, the faculty handbook is not subject to negotiation and is developed by the archdiocese.

Now, those handbooks will be updated for the 2015–16 school year with descriptions of key points of Catholic doctrine. The new language that will be incorporated into the handbook was presented in a “Statement of the High Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Regarding the Teachings and Practice of the Catholic Church.”

Archdiocesan officials said the statement represents the religious beliefs formally affirmed by the schools, but individual teachers will not be required to sign documents that attest to their own beliefs in these doctrinal teachings. Source


SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Students and parents from schools controlled by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco protested at Saint Mary’s Cathedral on Ash Wednesday, saying the church should stay out of teachers’ bedrooms and drop proposed morality clauses in teacher contracts.

On Ash Wednesday, one of the holiest days on the Catholic calendar, the students and parents are hoping Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will change his mind on the clauses, as the church heads into 40 days of Lenten reflection.

First off the new contract has no statements regarding a teacher’s private life and much less there sex life. Specifically this applies to publicly contradicting Church’s teachings. I wonder how many of these protesters would protest the Hatch Act? As a veteran I certainly was aware of the Hatch Act and some restrictions placed on me regarding the political realm.

Still what I find ironic about the Lenten protest is that it is a heck of way to start Lent implying you are doing something in the bedroom contrary to Church teaching.

Then some California lawmakers stepped in:

A group of California lawmakers asked Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco to remove “morality clauses” from a proposed contract for teachers in high schools under his jurisdiction, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The new language in the contracts direct teachers in four archdiocesan high schools to avoid public statements or actions that oppose Church teaching on contraception, pre-marital sex or homosexual relationships. My story on the proposed change in contract language is here.

In their letter to the archbishop, the California lawmakers argued that the morality clauses “conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment in the communities we serve.”

To which the Archbishop replied in part:

“Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?” he wrote in his reply to eight state legislators who had criticized Catholic standards for school employees.

The archbishop suggested a hypothetical situation in which Democratic politicians employ a “brilliant campaign manager,” though a Republican, who is willing to work for them and not speak or act contrary to his employers or his employers’ political party.

“Now, let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person,” the archbishop continued in a Feb. 19 letter. He suggested this firing would be done not for hatred of Republicans, but because the employee “violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission.” Source

Not that using logic with lawmakers is  a fruitful game. Still it is a good analogy. There have also been complaints about designating the teachers as ministers which is really a result of U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 free exercise case, Hosanna Tabor, which ruled in favor of a Lutheran school in an employment dispute.

One story today said the Archbishop was now backtracking. Joan Desmond continues her excellent reporting on the story with this piece of information.

The Archbishop has not repealed anything. He is adding explanations, clarifications, and material on Catholic social teaching, via a committee of religion teachers he is establishing. The committee is to expand some areas of the material to be included in the faculty handbook, and clarify other areas by adding material. Nothing already planned to go in is being removed or retracted or withdrawn.

With respect to the use of the word “ministers,” the Archbishop only said that “ministers” is no longer being considered. That is all the Archbishop said. The word currently being used is “ministry.” Nonetheless, the Archbishop did say that he would work hard to find language that satisfies two needs. One is the need to protect the rights of the teachers in the Catholic high schools to have complaints fairly treated. The other is the right of the Archdiocese to run Catholic schools that are faithful to their mission. Language must be identified that meets both needs. Even if a substitute for “ministry” is found, the substitute must guarantee that the teachers in the Catholic archdiocesan high schools promote the Catholic mission of the institutions.

Her story also includes information on the lengths the Archbishop is going in working with the teachers in clarifying the language of the contract.

And of course the typical reaction of Democrat politicians “That’s a nice school system you have there, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

On Monday, Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) urged an assembly committee to investigate working conditions at the high schools administered by the San Francisco archdiocese,” reported the CBS local news.

Feb 242015

The Weekly Francis – Volume 91 – 24 February 2015

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 23 January 2015 to 21 February 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.


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