Feb 092014

It is sometimes the case that a headline has little or nothing to do with the actual contents of an article. That headlines are crafted for page views not a quick summary of an article. It is also true in many news organizations that the author of the piece is not the one to write the headline.

So I kept all that in mind when I read this headline from the Daily Mail “How a Pope called Pius turned the confessional box into a paradise for paedophiles”.

Unfortunately the article and headline are one and the same. The attack against Pope Pius X is that he decreed in 1910 that children must make their first confession at the age of seven.

The article goes on to state:

Statistics of offences have revealed that the age group most prone to attack was seven to 13 – the precise child cohort admitted to obligatory confession by this papal decree.

Well that is certainly news to me. For example the report commissioned by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice regarding clergy sex abuse would dispute the previous statement and that majority of victims were post-pubescient. Although the fact that roughly 21% of the victims were in the category described is not to be diminished. Still I can’t think of a report that stated what was said in this article.

While there certainly has been in cases a link to a priest using the confessional in such a ghastly manner is this true in the majority of cases of sex abuse? So trying to blame Pius X for the abuse crisis that seem to rise so many decades later is stretching it. The article does not mention at all the reason Pius X in the Decree Quam Singulari lowered the age regarding the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. It was based on discerning the “age of discretion” or the “age of reason” a necessary point to determining when a child should have access to these sacraments.

Just a slimly article that does no favors regarding calling out the sexual abuse that did occur.

Feb 092014

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 26 December 2013 to 8 February 2014.

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.


General Audiences




Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “It is important to have friends we can trust. But it is essential to trust the Lord, who never lets us down.” @pontifex, 3 February 2013
  • “Dear young people, Jesus gives us life, life in abundance. If we are close to him we will have joy in our hearts and a smile on our face.” @pontifex, 4 February 2013
  • “The world makes us look towards ourselves, our possessions, our desires.The Gospel invites us to be open to others, to share with the poor.” @pontifex, 6 February 2013
  • “What zest life acquires when we allow ourselves to be filled by the love of God!” @pontifex, 7 February 2013
  • “The Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, are privileged places of encountering Christ.” @pontifex, 8 February 2013
Feb 062014

While I was on vacation I was asked to review an an iPad app called “Mass Explained”, with the full title being “The Mass Explained Volume 1: The Introductory Rites & The Liturgy of the Word.” My initial thoughts before getting a chance to download it was that it would be just another Catholic app with some good content, but nothing to rave about.

So I was pleasantly surprised that it is indeed something to rave about. When I saw that the introduction was by Mike Aquilina I knew that I was going to find solid content.

If the majority of the contents of this app had just been printed as an ebook it would have been worthwhile, but maybe not very engaging. I was really stunned by how good the layout is along with all the graphic media found on every page. This is a very beautiful app that is fairly simple to navigate. Swipe horizontally to navigate to chapters and other major sections and swipe vertically to page down through it.

I would go more deeply into reviewing it, but recently Thomas L. McDonald did a comprehensive review that should be read instead.

As an application developer myself looking at this app just from a technical perspective I find this to be a stunning achievement. It combines the best of the old school textbook layout with elements that can only be achieved in an electronic text book such as information in the side bar or other places that can be scrolled through. As someone who works in the field of creating courseware content creation tools along with other training applications again I am extremely impressed with this app.

So what is the Latin for “Let it be published on the App store”? Regardless this app carries both the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur along with being reviewed by ICEL and approved by the USCCB.

In his review Thomas McDonald said:

Here’s where we come to my one reservation: at $25, it’s expensive for an app and even expensive for an App Store book. As they say of big budget movies: it’s all up there on the screen. The production values are top notch and the writer has done a great deal of work producing the text and adding multimedia content. There’s no denying it’s a slick piece of work. I don’t begrudge the creators their price point, but it does limit the audience.

The good news is that, purchased in volume (20 or more copies), it qualifies for Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, which offers a 50% discount.

To which I totally agree, but I would love to have this app seen and used by a larger audience.

Dan Gonzalez is the developer and should be praised for what he has pulled off.

Mass Explained site

iTunes link – App is for the iPad only.

Feb 052014

In a story by Eric J. Lyman for the Religion News Service and published in The Washington Post.

ROME — Did you hear that Pope Francis plans to call a Third Vatican Council? Or that he uncovered previously unknown Bible verses? Or that he sees the story of Adam and Eve as just a fable?

Here’s the problem: None of it is true.

Still, that didn’t stop these and other stories from ricocheting around the Internet and, in some cases, even in traditional news sources. Among the dozens of other fake pope stories are claims that he called hell a literary device and that he believes all religions are equally true.

The article mentions a warning from the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“Check the official Vatican media sources for confirmation of Pope Francis’ statements.” Remarks should be considered untrue if they do not appear on the pope’s Twitter feed, the Vatican Information Service, the Holy See press office, the Vatican website, Vatican radio, the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper or another official information source, the council said.

“If the statements attributed to the pope by any media agency do not appear in the official media sources of the Vatican, it means that the information they report is not true,” said the statement, which was written in all caps as if to underscore the point.

So far a decent enough article, but they couldn’t let that stand.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst with National Catholic Reporter, said only some fake comments are worth worrying about.

“There are basically three kinds of inaccurate comments,” Reese said. “There are the pranksters, and there are people who simply make mistakes because they don’t understand the issues being discussed. It’s hard to get worked up over those things.

“But then there are people who want to spin the pope’s point of view to further a particular agenda, and that’s very problematic and reprehensible.”

I almost fell out of my chair reading that last line. Fr. Reese thinks that people spinning what the Pope said or by extension spinning what the Church teaches as “very problematic and reprehensible.” Another example of somebody with an irony deficit. He has spun so much of what the Church teaches that I think one day he hopes to be named Spin Doctor of the Church.

Getting back to all the papal misinformation and disinformation you almost wish there was a source similar to Snopes which debunked urban legends or in this case I guess Pope Urban legends.

The problem is that it would be a full time job for a team of people to counter all of “the pope said what?” stories or false stories involving the Church. So it will continue to be crowd-sourced to Catholic bloggers and others in Catholic media not to mention individuals in their daily life.

By the way yes I am well aware of the fact that snopes.com like any fact checking site is not totally reliable.

Feb 042014

I was thumbing through one of those catalogs targeted towards Catholics that has everything from books to furniture for parishes.

These catalogs can be fun to look through depending on just how much kitsch they contain. This catalog had a little bit of everything and I ran across this item.

So is the message “I Thank God For You” intended for the phone?

Besides making Steve Jobs cry by using a stylus on an iPhone it made me think of something. About the fact that there is hardly any Catholic tech kitsch. For example I can’t think I ever have seen a specific Catholic themed case for a phone or a tablet. Looking for something in this category I did find items at cafepress.com and zazzle.com. These services provides items such as t-shirts, cups, and some phone/tablet accessories where people can setup a store with their own designs that get imprinted.

Now I wouldn’t mind having a super-pious case for my phone or iPad. The lock screen on my iPad has an image of Saint Isidore of Seville. Some lists describe one of his patronages as being for programmers. So I wouldn’t mind having a case with his image at all. Having holy images is a nice reminder and for us moderns obsessed with tech a good place is on the very devices we are so often looking at.

Still there is a difference between holy reminders and more badly designed junk.

The Divine Mercy image where Jesus is holding your camera lens.

This Galaxy S4 cover is even more unfortunate unless the new iconography for the The Eye of Providence is a camera lens. The LED flash as a semi-Hindu touch.

First off not exactly the best depiction of St. Therese along with the missing corpus. In this case the camera and flash make for an interesting attachment for a veil, but the Trinitarian aspect is heretical.


This one is at least kind of interesting with its anime styling.

Feb 032014

Catholic Church leaders say a phony priest has been making the rounds in Northern California, going into people’s homes, celebrating mass and possibly asking for money.

The Sacramento Diocese says Javier Posada is pretending to be someone he’s not—a Roman Catholic priest or bishop. He invites himself into homes of the faithful under false pretenses and celebrates mass. Source

This fake priest must not be very smart. Hitting up Catholics for money will likely give you a nice collection of dollar bills.

Feb 022014

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 16 October 2013 to 1 February 2014.

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.


General Audiences




Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

  • “Dear young people, let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. Be amazed by what is true and beautiful, what is of God!” @pontifex, 27 January 2014
  • “Let us pray for Christian unity. There are so many beautiful things which unite us” @pontifex, 28 January 2014
  • “I cannot imagine a Christian who does not know how to smile. May we joyfully witness to our faith.” @pontifex, 30 January 2014
  • “No one saves oneself. The community is essential.” @pontifex, 31 January 2014
  • “Sometimes we are saddened by the weight of our sins. May we not be discouraged. Christ has come to lift this burden and give us peace.” @pontifex, 1 February 2014
  • “May the World Day of Consecrated Life be a timely occasion to rediscover the centrality of Jesus in our lives.” @pontifex, 2 February 2014


  • The “Message on the occasion of World Food Day 2013” for the English translation was a broken link on the Vatican site and just recently fixed.
Jan 302014

With the Pope being on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone cover with a 7,700-word article associated with it there have been various responses to it.

Much of the reaction has been similar to Pope Francis being named Time’s person of the year. That they like him because they think he is changing the Church at some fundamental level doctrinally. That if they really understood that he was truly a “son of the Church” they wouldn’t be very enthused about him.

The Rolling Stone article also has a contrast between Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis that really sets up a straw-pontiff. The evil never-smiling staunch-traditionalist that is even compared to Freddy Kreuger; “he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares.” A “disastrous pontificate” with no supporting evidence regarding this supplied. The language regarding Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is so over-the-top that Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has strongly criticized it in this regard.

Whereas Pope Francis has a gentle voice and won’t judge anyone. Anywhere the Pope’s previous comments can be cast in the most unfortunate light they are. So you see the expected quotes pulled out by so many at odds with what the Church teaches. Plus this article contained this quite unfortunate comparison. “But Francis, like Bill Clinton, thrives on personal contact.” Yikes does the writer even realize what he is saying?

Still reacting to a Rolling Stone article on the Pope is mostly a waste of time as it is exactly what you would expect.

There has been much talk about the “Francis effect” and how those who are not practicing Catholics or even favorable towards the Church generally like Pope Francis. Part of this is that a seeming change in tone means an underlying change in doctrine. He seems like such a nice friendly guy that he really couldn’t believe in all those hard-sayings of Jesus and his Church. Many are drawn to likin him that they will broaden some specific statements that they interpet as liberal and then give him a pass if he mentions abortion since he is only throwing a bone to conservatives.

Some would critique the “Francis effect” as not a good thing since it might attract people to the Church with a totally false idea of what the Church is. Part of me is drawn to this critique since I am so tired of dissidents that bringing in another generation of them does not appeal to me. Yet I also reflect that any movement in the right direction is in fact a movement in the right direction. Any openness to truth can lead to more openness. God has worked with far less. The married couple that starts going to church because they had a child is not usually very well catechized, yet often God can work with this to bring them to a fuller understanding.

Have you ever read a conversion story where the person was already totally aligned with everything the Church had to teach? That the only thing they were lacking was becoming a member of the Church? We are all broken with various degrees of brokenness. Some will have less to repair, but we all need repair to become fully aligned with the Church and what God has in plan for us. A daily process with no end point in this life.

So I can’t say that “Here comes everybody” Catholicism delights me. I would be all for a smaller but more faithful Church where the members know their faith and act on it with total consistency. Plus I want that category to include me even though I don’t always fit that definition. I bet Moses would have been happier with a much smaller number of the faithful where they didn’t start building idols when he turned his back. Yet like the Israelites in the Exodus the Church is journeying towards the promised land and we can expect dissent and rebellions along the way. So while I long for the perfect Church that strangely also includes me I desire to welcome those to the Church drawn by Pope Francis or other means. Even if their journeying to the truth of what the Church teaches might include some time in the wilderness.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

On the humorous side 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Too Pleased About Pope Francis on the Cover of Rolling Stone

Jan 282014

One of the most consistent complaints of the pro-life movement is the dismal coverage of the March for Life and the number of offshoots it has spawned across the country. There is the obvious element of unfairness where Wendy Davis and her tennis shoes can be loads of coverage, but a massive amount of people braving the elements protesting abortion does not even get a reporter to cover it at all.

We saw this during the very disturbing Gosnell murder trial that got relegated as a “local story.” This total lopsidedness on the part of the media is certainly upsetting.

Yet it seems like we have become repeatedly surprised at this. Of course the secular media is not going to cover the pro-life movement positively. Even painting with a broad brush sometimes that is the right brush to describe the secular media which is overwhelmingly in favor of abortion and pretty much the whole Democratic Party agenda. They have a narrative and will only cover what meets that narrative. Sometimes they are forced to cover something because of an obvious disparity.

Somehow we have developed the myth of the scrupulously fair journalist or media outlet only concerned with the truth. A myth not really born out by history at all. The only surprising thing is not that people have world-views and narratives, but that a profession could be so dominated by so many fellow-travellers.

One of the temptations regarding complaining about media coverage is that we think if this was corrected it would solve so many problems. If only they covered the March for Life and other positive pro-life stories the pro-life movement would grow by leaps and bounds. The secular media provides a tempting target for complaints and an outlet that makes it much easier than actually getting out there on the front lines of the pro-life movement. Complaining about media bias is much less painful than talking to others about why you are pro-life. Easier than showing others the face of the pro-life movement that puts a lie to so many caricatures about it.

Although maybe the amazing story is not how obviously biased the secular media is, but that despite that the pro-life movement is growing and is a multi-generational movement from the young to the old. Many people have done exactly as I suggested in the last paragraph. Despite the efforts from the secular media and the cultural elites – they are losing. More abortion clinics close every year along with the conversion of former clinic workers.

Sure it annoying to see so many examples of bias or the fact that you can’t even watch an awards show without being assaulted culturally. Still nobody said fighting evil was easy and prayer and fasting on the surface does not seem as satisfying as griping about media bias. Or even writing a blog post about it.

Jan 282014

Simcha Fisher with Just enough Gores and Gateses; too many Africans:

In the interest of environmental responsibility, Al Gore suggests that all African women should bear four children.

This is, at least, what Al Gore surely anticipates when he speaks of “making fertility management ubiquitously available” to African women.  He says that ”If you get the health improved, if you get the availability of contraceptives, then families will voluntarily choose to have less children.”  Surely he and Tipper had good health and access to contraception when they bore their four children.

Following Gore’s example, African women should also, presumably, voluntarily choose to live in a 20-room, 10,000 square foot mansion that uses approximately four times more energy than the typical home in the neighborhood.  In addition, each African mother should maintain a luxury apartment in San Francisco. In order to save the environment, Mr. Gore encourages all African women to take several plane trips every year, and only to charter a private jet “when necessary.”

Just part of the progression of Sartre’s “Hell is other people” to “Hell is other people’s children.”

The post follows this with a look at the the true needs of African families. Hint it’s not more contraception.