07 August 2007

It's been a while

It has been a while since I've posted here. I moved on May the first and
Verizon messed up my DSL service so I got Comcastic. Meanwhile all of my
passwords and information about my blogger account were either in my
Verizon e-mails, which I could no longer access, or in my old computer,
which crashed.

At any rate, I'm back.


04 January 2007

Elizabeth Ann Seton

Why, I speculate, does not catholic.org mention that she was first a protestant and that she was a mother here: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=180

It seems to me that her conversion and her parenthood are essential to her story. But they are omitted. Emmitsburg, too, is not mentioned in the article. Emmitsburg was her home, the place where she loved at her best.

It seems to me that Mother Seton's first calling, as a wife and mother, is integral to her story. I don't know if much is known about her conversion, but I sure am have difficulty finding out more on the internet.

My family settled in Emmitsburg in the early 1800's and were part of that small Catholic community. I remember taking my grandmother up there to visit her childhood home. After Mother Seton's canonization we visited the Shrine. But the Shrine is merely the latest addition to a community that seethes of everything Catholic. One would expect this at the Churches. But I was taken aback when I walked into a local shop to buy a cup of coffee and the local folk were discussing Catholic art and architecture.

I wasn't a very religious man at the time. I was lost in materialism. I went on these little excursions to please my wife, mostly. One day we stopped at National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes. We stumbled into the chapel and there the Sacred Host was exposed, in the distance, on the altar. I wasn't aware of this, however, although my wife knew. I didn't realize it until I was standing right before Christ and trembling. I did not know what to do. My wife pushed me gently to my knees.

I am reluctant to say what happened next but I will share that it was a supernatural religious experience that my wife and I shared. From the looks on the faces of others as they left the chapel I suspect we were part of a communal experience. The usual chatter of tourists and the clicking of cameras that often annoyed me in the past at the Grotto was absent.

Today is the feast day for Mother Seton who is credited with the founding of the Catholic school system in the U.S.A.

Baby Grace

Back in November Bob Klaverkamp found a baby on the roadside. Yesterday he was honored by Stearns County (MN) Sheriff John Sanner.

"I touched her fingers, and they weren't cold," he said. "She was holding my finger, a very sweet, very nice little baby. She was very quiet, with once in a while a little whimper.

"I talked to her while I waited for the ambulance to come. 'How are you doing? Are you OK? Yes, you're OK. A good little baby." Mr. Klaverkamp said.

Read the story here.

God bless Bob Klaverkamp and God bless Baby Grace.

30 December 2006

The Death Penalty and Saddam Hussein

The execution of Saadam Hussein has drawn mixed reactions from the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is pretty clear in its denunciation of the death penalty:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.

The emphasis is mine.

Defenders of the death penalty here in America often point to the horror of the crime and the suffering of the victims and their families to support their view. Rarely is the argument made that society cannot be protected from the perpetrator by non-lethal means. Though that is the only argument acceptable to our Faith.

President Bush said: "Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops.”

“Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror.”

In saying that killing a man will not end violence I must concede that Mr. Bush has a profound grasp of the obvious. In calling it a milestone towards democracy he errs.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, of Great Britain, had a more civilized view. "The British government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else. We advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime," she said.

Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi said: "There is a risk that it feeds the spirit of vengeance and plants the seeds for fresh violence," he said on Vatican Radio.

"The position of the Catholic church, which is against the death penalty whatever the circumstances, needs to be repeated again," he said.

I think it is time for American Catholics to help bring our nation in line with both Catholic Doctrine and with the moral principles held by the rest of the civilized world.

I find this website informative: Catholics Against Capital Punishment

25 December 2006

Paulist Center invites the flock home

Perhaps the priests of the Paulist Center in Boston share my view that the Church lacks diversity in the pews. They have engaged in an $800,000 advertising campaign aimed at those who have might feel neglected by the Church. The director of the center, the Rev. John B. Ardis, said "Fewer and fewer Catholics are connecting with the church. They're not necessarily finding another home, and they've, in a sense, somewhat given up. . . . This was the time to really let people know this is a place that welcomes all."

The project is not without opposition, perhaps because the Paulist Center has targeted the gay community as part of their outreach. C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said that Gays who enter the church have to act in accordance with Catholic teachings. Since homosexual acts (and all sexual acts outside of marriage that are not open to conception) are sinful then I would guess that Mr. Doyle is saying they shouldn't have sex in Church. O.K. if that's what he meant he is a very silly man to bring it up.

Or he could have meant that he expects gays who enter the church to know when to genuflect and when to kneel. I hold a more charitable view towards those who have been away from Church for a while but if Mr. Doyle wants hold that view well, God bless him and God bless his situation. That said, it is a view that he holds out to a particular group, not to all, and for reasons that are not readily apparent.

Mr. Doyle's role as an anti-gay political activist clarifies his stance. Mr. Doyle isn't in a position to determine who should and who should not enter the Church, nor how they should "act." We know this and he knows it also. Clearly, though, his rhetoric has a tendency to poison the well. By "poisoning the well" I mean the logical fallacy "where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say."

Mr. Doyle is a political activist, not an evangelist; a propagandist, not a priest. When his views are read in the light of Catholic doctrine their lack of Catholicity is revealed:

From the Catechism 2258: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
From Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, (USCCB Nov. 14, 2006) "All people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected.

In keeping with this conviction, the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual
inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”2 We recognize that
these persons have been, and often continue to be, objects of scorn, hatred, and even violence in
some sectors of our society. Sometimes this hatred is manifested clearly; other times, it is masked and gives rise to more disguised forms of hatred. “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice. They should prayerfully examine their own hearts in order to discern any thoughts or feelings that might stand in need of purification. Those who minister are also called to growth in holiness. In fact, the work of spreading the Good News involves an ever-increasing love for those to whom one is ministering by calling them to the truth of Jesus Christ."
Emphasis is mine.

So whom shall we trust? The Catechism and the Bishops? Or the political activist?

22 December 2006

Has our Faith been hijacked?

The Faith that is Catholic, universal, remains what it always was and will be; the fullness of truth. Historically this truth has been the comfort to the poor and the oppressed. In recent years it seems that many of the faithful have turned to distortions of truth that have the outward appearance of christianity or Catholicity. This happens mostly in the political arena.

I see a radical shift to the right, not among our Bishops and Priests, but among political activists and social commentators who carry the banner "Catholic." Without more profound leadership from the Church the lay faithful are being led away from our ultimate calling, to love one another, toward a direction of distrust and divisiveness. Continuing in this direction we will lack diversity of community and become an exclusive club.

I was taken aback some weeks ago when a Priest suggested to me that the faithful need to read the Church documents and encyclicals in order to understand some fine point of the Liturgy. I thought it was his job to teach it, not to sit and wait while the faithful catch up. Not all of the faithful are literate, for one thing. And the obtuse and sometimes complicated vocabulary of the encyclicals presuppose that one is a theologian. It is too much to ask.

The Communion of Saints is not a private party, it is not a country club, and it surely is not a self-study online university. Yet if it were this way we would have just what we have today: Souls being lost because the pundits have more to say than our priests, and are usually much better at getting the word out.

The recent case of the executive director of Catholic Citizenship (Larry Cirignano) is a case to consider. I'll leave the assault charge aside for now and wait for justice to do its work. Catholic Citizenship (catholicvote.org) has on the front of their webpage a coat of arms very closely resembling the Papal coat of arms. I have no doubt that the organization has Catholic supporters but it is not affiliated with the Ho;y See. In December of 2005 when Catholic Citizenship was promoting a petition against same-sex marriage only twenty percent of the priests of the local parishes signed the petition. I thought this a pretty low figure considering the Church's stand on same sex marriage. But I find it a rather telling statistic in regards to Catholic Citizenship's credibility within the Church community.

The other case that comes to mind is the myth of Same Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD). It is, briefly, an attempt to establish homosexuality as a medical disorder and, inter-alia, it is a choice. This theory was popularized by NARTH and the now largely discreditted Joseph Nicolosi and Paul Cameron. Now the same myth is being promulgated by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons under the umbrella of the Catholic Medical Association. It is new wine in old wineskins.

The myth of SSAD enjoys no official support from the Church. On October 18, of this year The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in Guidelines for Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclination: “There is currently no scientific consensus on the cause of the homosexual inclination.”

The medical community concurs. Still, Fitzgibbons and his ilk continue to peddle snake oil. Not that I have an axe to grind against snake oil peddlers. It is the political implication here that bothers me. The proponents of SSAD are influencing extremely few gay folk. But they are convincing many straight folk that gay is a choice. And by this queer metamorphosis the persecution of gay folk becomes acceptable. While the Church states clearly that being gay is not sinful, the proponents of SSAD are stating that it is a choice, and a wrong choice.

I leave you with this caveat from Truth and Tolerance written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his recent promotion:

"Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic."

19 December 2006

Did Larry Cirignano attack the first amendment?

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News reported on Sunday that

"The executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground."

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green “Let the People Vote” signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.” Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk."
There seems to be some dispute. Mr.
Cirignano is claimed to have said he "escorted" her and has denied throwing her to the ground. That said the Telegram reports today that "police yesterday filed an assault and battery complaint in Central District Court against Larry Cirignano, 50, of ......... Lane, Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, which opposes gay marriage."

From a legal point of view I understand why Mr.
Cirignano might want to make a distinction. But from a Catholic point of view he should have kept his hands to himself. It bothers me more, however, that in a crowd of decent and good "Catholic" men not one stood up to defend or protect the woman whom Mr. Cirignano offended. It seems that the anti-gay agenda was more important to them than the honor of a woman.

Less important still, was the first amendment "
the right of the people peaceably to assemble" which they so vigorously support when approaching women within inches at abortion clinics. Ms. Loy was twenty or thirty feet away from Mr. Cirignano when he felt threatened enough to get physical.

Please. Make the hypocrisy go away.

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