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31/07/2009 01.27
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Logo unveiled for WYD 2011:
Reflects unity that forms a Marian crown

MADRID, Spain, JULY 30, 2009 ( The logo for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid was presented today: The image reflects youth of the world beneath the cross, united to form the crown of Our Lady, patron of Madrid.

The upcoming World Youth Day is scheduled for Aug. 16-21, 2011.

The logo designer, José Gil-Nogués, explained that the image symbolizes "the youth of the whole world united to celebrate their faith together with the Pope, at the foot of the cross, and they form the crown of Our Lady of Almudena, patron of Madrid."

The crown, Gil-Nogués added, forms the "M" of Mary and of Madrid. And the cross, symbol of Christianity, presides over the event.

The message of the logo, the designer continued, is "a catechesis, an opportunity for evangelization: The quick and sure path to reach Christ is the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of mankind. In Mary's faith, youth have the example and model for reaching Christ and fulfilling the primary goal of World Youth Day: to bring their message to the world."

"The logo has a firm and spontaneous stroke," Gil-Nogués suggested, "like youth of the 21st century. It is close, friendly, open. Joyful, carefree and positive."

"The use of a palette of warm colors -- red, orange and yellow -- transmits unmistakable warmth and friendliness, symbols of the identity of a city like Madrid, a nation like Spain. These colors also reflect the 'divine warmth' of Trinitarian Love."

The logo was selected after a competition among professional graphic designers.

The WYD-2011 site so far is only in Spanish:

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01/08/2009 17.27
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increasingly used for 'medical' abortion

Mons. Fisichella also has a front-page editorial in today's OR (8/1/09) about RU-486, which I hope to translate later.

Vatican official urges women
to consider morality, safety of RU-486

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, July 31 (CNS) -- Even though taking the abortion pill RU-486 may be less traumatic than a surgical abortion, it still involves the taking of an innocent human life, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

"It is still abortion," the archbishop said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera after Italy's drug-regulating agency approved nationwide use of the RU-486 abortion pill July 30.

The administrative council of the Italian Drug Agency voted to authorize the sale of the abortion pill, but placed two conditions on its use:

-- To comply with Italy's abortion laws, the pill must be administered in a hospital or clinic and the woman must remain there until the abortion is completed.

-- While most European countries have authorized use of RU-486 up to the ninth week of pregnancy, the Italian regulatory agency restricted the period to the seventh week of pregnancy.

In Italy, abortion is legal in all cases through the end of the third month of gestation, but the agency said that adverse reactions and the need to resort to a surgical intervention increased when RU-486 was used after the seventh week of pregnancy.

Archbishop Fisichella told Corriere della Sera that "it is obvious that the canonical consequences" of using RU-486 are the same as those incurred for getting a therapeutic abortion: automatic excommunication. [But if the woman chooses to take the medicine at home and against hospitalization, then the Church would be none the wiser, and so the 'automatic' excommunication may well be meaningless in practice.]

But he said women also should understand that according to information given to the Italian Drug Agency by Exelgyn, the distributor of RU-486 outside North America, 29 women have died after taking the drug, which was legalized in France in 1988 and is now available throughout most of Europe and North America.

"Do not take it, first of all, because it is evil," the archbishop said. "Do not do it because the collateral effects are not known. Do not do it because science should serve life, not death."

Taking the pill "is a direct and deliberate" abortion, he said.

"The fact that taking a pill can be less traumatic for a woman does not change the substance; it is still abortion," he said.

Here is a translation of the editorial that Fisichella wrote for the OR today (8/1/09). I must say that Fisichella's language and style are neither as forceful, expressive and clear as one expects from someone with his reputation.

When life is trivialized...
Editorial commentary
by Mons. Rino Fisichella
President, Pontifical Academy for Life and
Rector, Pontifical Lateran University
Translated from
the 8/1/09 issue of

There is a sad tendency that is imposing itself little by little into some fragments of contemporary culture: banalization.

From life to death, everything seems subjected to a simplifying process that tends to enclose everything in a private sphere without any reference to others. In this way, conscience is soothed and becomes progressively incapable of serious authentic judgment.

The use of the RU-486 pill as an abortion method has been a way to recover the capital invested after the failure of the clinical trials for the purpose it was originally intended.

Already, this 'banal' particular says much about the ends of the research that is being done in pharmaceutical laboratories.

To forget that science and technological research ought to have as their primary objective that of promoting life and the quality of life leads to an inevitable downslide that replaces this purpose with the thirst for profit rather than safeguarding nature.

Proclamations about the neutrality of science thunder forth at particular moments for the sole purpose of accrediting a product rather than the fundamental value of the research itself.

One cannot be complicit in these situations, courageously denounced by Benedict XVI in his last encyclical, Caritas in veritate, when human life itself is at stake.

To stop at merely analyzing cost and benefits in order to introduce RU-486 into the market is a very Pilate-like position which demands reflection to avoid falling into other forms of similar hypocrisy.

There should be an authority that is up to the task of considering the grave risks to which women are subjected the moment they decide to have recourse to this drug.

How can one minimize the fact that there have been too many deaths resulting from this treatment? How can the ethical aspects of the use of this pill not be considered? How can one ignore the impact it will have on the new generations of women who will now have much easier recourse to abortion because of this pill?

These questions are, in fact, not obvious, and require a response that must ndertake specifically not to resort to commonplaces. Sophisms, in this case, can serve personal satisfaction but cannot persuade as to the tragedy of the situations which must be confronted.

It is futile to equivocate. RU-486 is an abortifacient because it tends to suppress the embryo that has newly implanted in the mother's uterus. That the use of this pill is less traumatic than a surgical abortion has yet to be demonstrated.

The first trauma begins from the moment when the woman decides she does not want the pregnancy, and it is precisely at this point when one must intervene to help her, to make her understand the value of the life that has just begun.

The embryo is not just a mass of cells nor a kind of fungus as someone recently had the gall to call it: it is a human life, true and complete. To suppress it is a responsibility that no one should take on without really understanding its consequences.

The use of Ru-486 does not make abortion any less traumatic - it simply encloses it even more in the solitude of a woman's privacy and prolongs the trauma.

One must reiterate that those who do use it are performing direct and deliberate abortion. They should know its canonical consequences, but most of all, they should be aware of the objective gravity of their action.

Abortion is an evil in itself because it suppresses human life - a life which, even if initially can only be seen through a microscope, already possesses the full dignity that is due to every person.

The respect merited by an embryo is not any less than the respect we have for any person out on the street and who only asks to be treated for what he is: a human being.

The Church can never be passive to what is taking place in society. It is called on to render ever present that proclamation of life which has allowed it over the centuries to be the visible sign of respect for human dignity.

The path that must be followed becomes at certain times much more laborious, because it is difficult to make it understood that the way to maintain the primacy of ethics is not to calmly provide an abortion pill but rather to form consciences.

This task is arduous because it requires not just first-hand involvement but the ability to make oneself be heard and to be credible.

The opposition of the Church to every method of abortion affirms daily the YES to life that it means. This also signifies reiterating our alert about the educational emergency, so that young people may understand the importance of adopting those values which live on as a patrimony of Christian culture and of personal identity.

We can never habituate ourselves enough to the beauty of life, from the first moment when it makes itself felt in the womb of a mother to that extreme moment when it has to leave the world.

For this reason, in the face of the superficiality that so frequently imposes itself on our life, our commitment must persist to form consciences capable of grasping everyday the need to experience sexuality, affection and love - with joy and not with concern, anxiety or anguish.

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01/08/2009 22.57
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It's taken me quite a while to getting around to translating a full item from Fr. Scalese's thoughtful blog, 'Senza peli sulla lingua" (Literally, 'without hair on the tongue', an idiom in the Romance languages for 'speaking freely/openly'). Lella on her blog and Beatrice on her site have previously quoted him in full.

He is an Italian Barnabite priest who has been serving as a missionary in the Philippines for the past five years, and I find most of his views quite congenial. And I fully share what he says in this open letter.

An open letter to Mons. Fellay
from Fr. Giovanni Scalese, CRSP
Translated from

July 27, 2009

Most Reverend Excellency,

I do not know if this 'open letter' will ever reach your hands. I entrust it to the angels so that they may bring it you personally. I already once wrote an article with your Fraternity in mind: I published it on this blog - my first post, in fact - and it miraculously reached its destination: it was picked up by the FSSPX sites and described therein as 'very interesting'.

This time, I address you directly, because I know that preparations are under way for doctrinal discussions with the Holy See, which you have wanted for so long, and which finally, with the recall of the excommunications, granted by Pope Benedict XVI. As I understand it, you have already been to Rome for your first contacts with the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith.

Personally, I have always thought that there is no need for 'conversations' in order to be readmitted into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The only thing needed, in my opinion, is the profession of faith provided for in the sacred canons. Once we share and profess the same faith, then I believe it is always possible to discuss freely - but within the Church, not outside it. [I reported on this - which seemed to me a most sensible suggestion - around the time of the Williamson brouhaha, and will re-post that comment after the letter, along with the 'Profession of Faith' formulation that he refers to.]

I do not think that [full and unconditional] acceptance of a Council, which defined itself as 'pastoral', should be a condition for readmission to ecclesial communion.

While I agree that what is more urgently needed now is a reflection on the value and interpretation of Vatican-II, I don't think this should be the object of negotiations between the Holy See and the FSSPX - because it is a matter that concerns the entire Church.

That is why I have proposed more than once in this blog that the next Bishops' Synod should be dedicated to the interpretation of Vatican-II.

In any case, it seems that both on your part and on the part of the Holy See, clarifications over Vatican-II are considered to be a condition that will precede any other kind of agreement. And thus, the need for 'doctrinal discussions'.

Well then, since these discussions are to take place, allow me to offer some advice. Not because I presume to know more than you do, but to express to you how I feel, in a spirit of fraternal love, at this sensitive point in time.

Above all, when you go to Rome for these discussions with the CDF, do not come as someone who disputes, or worse, rejects the Council. This will mean the immediate failure of any attempt at dialog.

Rather, come as someone who accepts Vatican-II for what it was meant to be, and what it actually was, a pastoral council. [i.e., not a doctrinal one].

But tell Cardinal Levada that what you reject - and on this, we all agree - is the absolutization and instrumentalization of the Council, not the Council itself.

You can even tell him that you find many texts from the Council ambiguous. And even in this, Cardinal Levada would agree with you.

Paul VI himself found the treatment of episcopal collegiality in Lumen gentium ambiguous, such that he saw the need to attach a Nota praevia to that constitution. He noted that since there were ambiguities in the Conciliar texts. a work of interpretation was necessary.

But, I beg of you, please do not present yourself or the FSSPX as the authoritative interprets of the Council. Rather, ask the Holy See to give an authentic interpretation of the more obscure passages.

Something similar has already been done (such as the above-mentioned Nota praevia), or the explanation of the expression 'subsistit in' [regarding the nature of the Catholic Church as the only Church of Christ]. But much still needs to be done.

The general criterion for such an interpretation was given by Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005: the hermeneutic of reform against the hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture.

Tell them at the CDF that you are not only in full agreement with the Holy Father on this, but you wish to place yourself completely at his disposition to help in the work of rereading the Council along the lines of the Church's uninterrupted Tradition.

Most Reverend Excellency, I am sure that you agree in good emasure with what I have written so far. I perceive that from the tone of your recent statements, which have been much more conciliatory and open to possibilities than before.

But I also know that you must take into account the more extreme positions within the FSSPX that warn you against yielding too much when dealing with the Holy See.

In my humble opinion, you should be able to show these brothers of yours that there is nothing to gain at this point in stiffening yourself into intransigent positions.

The Holy Father has already made quite a few steps towards you; now, it is your turn to take a few steps towards him.

This does not mean that you are surrendering your principles, because if you truly have the destiny of the Church at heart, there is no better place to validate your principles than in the Church itself.

By remaining outside, you are leaving the Church to be prey to those destructive forces which have been bringing it bit by bit towards ruin. And as long as you continue to reject Vatican-II, these forces will have an ace by saying, "See? They are outside the church because they reject the Council. We are the real Church because we accept, defend and execute the Council".

But if you too accept the Council [even with reservations], then they will be off their game. And, it will be clearly seen who is truly Catholic and who is not; who interprets the Council in the light of Tradition and who instead interprets it ideologically by invoking a supposed 'spirit of Vatican II'.

Nor would this betray the legacy of Archbishop Lefebvre. You know better than I that your founder took part in Vatican II, and contributed notably to the discussions and the elaboration of the Council documents, which he approved and signed in their totality.

And why did he do so? Wasn't he aware then of the ambiguities contained in those documents? Evidently, he hoped that they would receive an orthodox interpretation. And it was only when he saw that the interpretation and application of the Council had become monopolized by the progressivists that he stiffened his positions.

I am convinced that if he had seen that there was a space within the Church to carry on his battle from within, he would never have decided to break up with Rome.

Now that this space exists, and it is the Supreme Pontiff himself who offers it, I think if would be foolish not to avail of this unrepeatable opportunity.

It means choosing whether to come into the Church and play a role within it - certainly difficult - that is invaluable for safeguarding Tradition and revitalizing the Church itself; or to remain at the fringes or completely out of the Church, with the risk of transforming yourselves into a shoot that has separated from the vine and is destined to dry up.

Excellency, forgive me if I have expressed myself on these delicate questions. I can assure you that, on my part, I have no other interest or pretext except the desire to see a re-establishment of full communion within the Church.

The Church needs you, and you need the Church.

I take the occasion to declare myself, with the utmost deference, your most devoted

Giovanni Scalese, CRSP

The last interview granted by Mons. Fellay was to the Italian news agency Apcom, and an English translation was posted yesterday (7/31) on
The translation is literally and substantially correct, but I will provide my own translation later.

Here, with a few modifications, is the first post I made about Fr. Scalese's views on the FSSPX and his suggestion that an explicit canonical 'profession of Faith' by Mons. Fellay and his followers should serve to reset 'full communion' in the Church. I posted it in the PRF CHURCH&VATICAN thread on April 11, 2009.

I do not quite agree with Cardinal Levada sounding more Popish than the Pope in his statements [to TIME magazine] about the FSSPX. The objections by the FSSPX have to do with ambiguous - namely open to interpretation by anyone - statements in the Vatican II documents, which have been, in fact, interpreted any which way, according to the individual bishop or priest's position on the ideological spectrum.

One of the tasks I have neglected is to translate some reflections from the blog of an Italian Barnabite missionary, Fr. Giovanni Scalese, who has been serving in the Philippines for the past five years, and whom European Catholic bloggers - the orthodox ones, not the liberals - have been citing for his incisive views and his great sense of irony. (He only started blogging in January 2009).

And one of his blogs that resonated most was an ironic but entirely sound proposal on "how to settle the Lefebvrian doctrinal question in half an hour". Basically, it consists in Mons. Fellay meeting Cardinal Levada and executing a simple profession of faith -

I, Bernard Fellay, believe and profess with firm faith all and individually the truths expressed in the Symbol of our Faith, namely..."

[First, he would recite the Apostle's Creed, then the following sentences:]

I also believe firmly all that is contained in the Word of God written and transmitted, and which Th Church, in its solemn judgment, by ordinary or universal magisterium, belives to be divinely revealed.

I firmly accept all and individually the truths on the doctrine of the faith or the practices definitely proposed by the Church.

I also adhere with religious obedience of my will and intellect to the teachings that the Roman Pontiff or the episcopal college propose when they exercise their authentic magisterium, even if these are not so declared by definitive act.

The above formula happens to be the PROFESSION OF FAITH published in a 1998 manual published by the CDF, of which the above is the standard formula for anyone who is required by canon law to profess his faith - as returning ex-schismatics would, or theologians who agree to retract questionable or heretical assertions. It makes Levada's statements to TIME sound very pompous - and somewhat ignorant!

VERY IMPORTANT, I think, is that the CDF formula does not single out Vatican II to be specifically professed, since the Magisterium of the Church encompasses all the Church Councils that have taken place, not just Vatican II.

And it would seem to be 'class legislation' against the Lefebvrians if they had to undergo the process Levada describes - which was not required of the various offshoots of the FSSPX who have since been completely re-integrated into the Church.

Fr. Scalese's point is something quite obvious - questioning the interpretation of certain points of Vatican II is legitimate, and it has been done so within the Church from the beginning.

Cardinal Ratzinger famously questioned for 40 years the misinterpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium on the liturgy! Plus, hasn't that been the whole point of the 'progressivists' vs 'conservatives' division? And yet those progressivists remain in 'full communion'. As do full-blown abortionists.

Is questioning some statements of Vatican-II unacceptable while killing unborn children is 'acceptable', for purposes of being in 'full communion' with the Church? This does not make sense at all.

Fr. Scalese himself, who works for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, wrote a paper last year in which he questions certain interpretations of Vatican-II documents - and needless to say, the reintegrated ex-FSSPX priests of Institut Bon Pasteur and the St. Peter Fraternity, for instance, have been allowed to pursue their 'hermeneutical' questions on Vatican II.

His point is that one can certainly question some interpretations of Vatican II and remain in communion with the Church. Just look at all the bishops who openly defy the Magisterium of the Pope! Are they not infinitely more reproachable than the Lefebvrians?

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/09/2011 01.05]
02/08/2009 17.30
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The town of Gojra is not far from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, which is in Punjab province.

7 Christians burned alive
by Muslim fundamentalists
in the Punjab

Translated from
the Italian service of

Seven Christians, including four women and a child, were burned alive by a group of Muslim fundamentalists in Gojra, punjab province.

The motivation was the alleted profanation of the Quran by a Christian boy.

Pakistan's Minister for Minorities Shabaz Bhatti, calling the accusation false and pretextual, denounced the fact that the police had not provided sufficient protectuion for the tiny Christian minority in the region.

The attackers destroyed more than 70 homes and burned down two churches. Dozens were injured, some in serious condition.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church in Pakistan pointed out that such attacks have been frequent in the Punjab and almost always, they are linked to false accusations of blasphemy.

In his missionary prayer intention for August, the Holy Father asks precisely to pray for "Christians who are discriminated and persecuted... in the name of Christ", so that "their human rights, equality and religious freedom may be respected" so that they may "live and freely profess their faith".

In its issue today (8/2/09)

devotes almost a whole page to the Punjab events:

AsiaNews has the background available in English:

Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab
by Fareed Khan

GOJRA, Pakistan, Aug. 2, 2009 (AsiaNews) - Pakistani special forces have taken control of the town of Gojra (Punjab) after yesterday’s bloody episode in which at least 8 people - including 4 women and a child of 7 years - were burned alive and 20 others wounded.

At least 50 houses of Christians were burned and destroyed and thousands of faithful fled to escape execution. Relatives of the victims refuse to take care of dead bodies and do not want funerals until the culprits are arrested.

Some of the killed have been identified: Hamed Masih, 50, Asia Bibi, 20; Asifa Bibi, 19, Imam Bibi, 22; Musa 7; Akhlas Masih, 40, Parveen, 50.

At least 3,000 Muslims, incited by local religious authorities, marched to the Christian village Gojra founded 50 years ago. Groups of young Muslims - perhaps from the Sunni group Sipah-e-Sahabaha - with their faces covered started to shoot wildly. The villagers fled, but some were trapped and were killed by gunfire.

To burn down the houses, the militants used a fuel that is difficult to extinguish. Witnesses said the same fuel was used in the village of Shanti Nagar, burned in February 2007, in the destruction of the village of Sangla Hill (2005); in the burning of the 50 houses of Christians and the two churches on the evening of July 30 in Koriyan near Gojra.

The anti-Christian attacks started weeks ago with charges of blasphemy against Talib Masih, who is accused of having burned pages of the Koran during a wedding ceremony on July 29 at Koriyan.

On July 30 hundreds of Islamic militants attacked and set on fire the houses of Christians in Koriyan and two Protestant churches, the Church of Pakistan and the New Apostolic Church. According to police, some Christians fired shots against the militants, further fuelling their violent response.

The minister for minorities, Beat Shahbaz, a Catholic, has accused the police of negligence. The local Christians say they have been requesting the protection of law enforcement officers for days because the situation was tense, but have been ignored.

Some Christians argue that although the police were present during the attack at Gojra, the thugs were not apprehended. Other witnesses say that after a while the police tried to stop them, but the militants also attacked the police injuring some.

Yesterday, as the news of attacks against Christians spread, in Lahore there was a demonstration to demand guarantees of freedom for Christians.

Spero News has reports coming from the Minorities Concern of Pakistan, an e-newsletter of Religious Minorities for Peace and Harmony in Pakistan:

Churches and Christian homes
burned in Pakistan

By Aftab Mughal
Minorities Concern of Pakistan

August 1, 2009

Urged on by calls from their mullahs, Muslim mobs burned down more than 50 homes of the Christian community in a village of the province of Punjab.

A house of worship of the Anglican-affiliated Church of Pakistan, as well as another belonging to the New Apostolic Church, were both put to the torch in the evening hours of July 30 following a reaction to a supposed desecration of the Koran.

Around 1000 Muslim believers, bearing firearms and explosives, also attacked numerous Christian homes and burned them. The village of Kolyat, where the attacks occured, is home to some 100 Christian families who had been living there for several decades. As the attacks widened, Christian men, women and children fled the onslaught and hid themselves in nearby fields.

According to eyewitnesses, the attackers burnt everything belonging to the Christians, including clothes, food, utensils, beds, school books and Bibles in the houses. Even their animals were consumed by the blaze. There are reports that in some cases marauders stole some of Christians’ livestock as well.

The problem arose following a dispute between Muslim and Christian boys. Even while Christian and Muslim elders of the village settled the issue, some relatives of Muslim boys decided to pursue the matter.

They spread a rumor that a Christian, Talib Masih, had burned pages of Koran during a wedding ceremony on July 29. The Christians of the area said that this was a false accusation. However, tensions rose, according to the Daily Times, after pages of an Islamist book were found outside a Christian house on July 26.

Denunciations arose against Christians and rang throughout the mosques of nearby villages as they did at the local mosque. After the announcements, Muslims from various villages gathered and attacked Christian houses. Chanting “Allah is Great” and “kill the infidels,” they blocked the main road and for hours did not allow the fire brigade to enter the village to douse the flames.

“After some time, police and district management reached at the spot but the uncontrolled mob continued their actions,” Atif Jamil Pagaan, a Christian social worker from Faisalabad reported.

"They used trucks to break the walls and petrol to start the fires. We saved our lives only by hiding in the fields until three in the morning, when relatives arrived with vehicles to collect us. The children cried all night," according to Shubaan Masih, a local Christian.

Interfaith League chairman Sajid Ishaq, a Muslim from Faisalabad, says it is condemnable to make religion a basis for committing acts of violence.

Meanwhile, local police have charged three Christians, Mukhtar Masih, Talib Masih and Imran Masih, with blasphemy against Islam. However, they were not arrested until the actual filing of the report. Another Christian, Mehnga Masih, submitted an complaint against 22 people for attacking Christian homes. No action has yet been taken by the police on his compliant.

“There is widespread fear among Christians in Punjab province for safety and security of their lives from attacks of extremist Muslims and misuse of blasphemy laws,” said Christian social worker Saraphine Rubab.

In a second day of blazing violence inspired by Muslim leaders, mobs attacked two villages in the Punjab region of Pakistan. In the second wave, Christians were burned to death in their homes. One victim was a seven-year-old child.

This is the second incident in the last two months in Punjab province in which Christians were attacked following charges of blasphemy. In each case, mosques were used to mobilize Muslims to attack Christians, who make up 1.5 percent of the total population of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Christians burned to death
in Pakistan by Muslims

Sunday, August 02, 2009

On August 1, around three thousand violent Muslim demonstrators attacked a Christian community in the town of Gojra in Punjab province and burned 8 Christians to death, including a 7 year-old child. Four women and two men were among the dead, while 20 others were injured.

Fires set by Muslim mobs were extensive in the region: on July 31 Muslim marauders burned down two churches and scores of Christian homes following appeals by local Muslim leaders to avenge a supposed desecration of the Koran in Gorja, a village just 3 miles away.

Rana Sanaullah, Punjab’s law minister, told the media that an initial investigation proved that no desecration of the Koran happened in the area during the last week. Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities affairs – the only Christian on the national cabinet - blamed local administrators for not providing adequate security to the Christians of Gojra.

Local mullahs apparently added to the heightened emotions among Muslim believers in the region who were demanding the head of Talib Masih - a Christian who is charged with blasphemy against the Koran.

A general strike was called and demonstrations began early in the morning on July 31. Mobs of Muslims marched on the Christian quarter in the village of Koriyan, blocking main roads and the local railway. When armed Muslim militants approached the locale, Christians opened fire. In apparent retaliation, Muslims then burned and looted Christian homes and places of worship. The Muslim mobs also attacked local police who tried to intervene.

Banned Islamist organizations have made strongholds in southern Punjab, as well as tribal areas and the Swat region. Even so, media outlets sympathetic to the Taliban militants have rejected reports of the swelling strength of the Islamists.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to bring the culprits to justice. He also appealed to the masses to remain calm and exercise restraint.

The deputy superintendent of police was fired by the Punjab Inspector General of Police Tariq Saleem Dogar for dereliction of duty for failing to adequately control the Muslim rampage.

Meanwhile, a company of Pakistan Rangers was dispatched to the troubled area on the orders of the federal government to provide law and order.

Although the Punjab government of Mina Shahbaz Sharif has announced a judicial inquiry of the incident, it is highly unlikely that the report will come into light, some Christian leaders said. Sharif was the chief minister of Punjab at the time when a Muslim mob burned down the whole Christian village of Shantinagar in 1997.

A judicial inquiry was initiated by the Punjab government at the time, but the report of that inquiry was never made public despite Christians’ continuous entreaties.

In an editorial appearing in The News, a major English-language daily, reference was made to the ease with which Islamist charges are made:

“The Blasphemy Law introduced by General Ziaul Haq (1977-88) has made it easier to persecute people on the basis of sometimes completely mala fide accusations. The law needs review and amendment. But we must also ask what local authorities were doing as people went on the rampage. It is hard to believe they could do nothing to prevent the mayhem. Their lack of action and sometimes connivance with those acting against minority groups have, in the past, made all kinds of outrages possible.”

This is now the third incident of violence of this kind in Punjab within the last two months in which Christian localities were attacked following allegations of blasphemy. Christians are just 1.5 percent of the total population of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 03/08/2009 08.56]
02/08/2009 23.33
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Here is my translation of the APCOM interview with Mons. Fellay of the FSSPX. It struck me as almost a hostile interview, with a distinct intention to elicit a 'Gotcha!' moment, especially with the insistent questions about Bishop Williamson.

A wide-ranging interview
with Mons. Fellay

July 31, 2009

The start of doctrinal discussions with the Vatican this autumn, and a strong criticism of some Jewish circles ("They should leave us in peace!") because they seem to be putting heavy pressure on the Holy See.

Also, that Vatican-II must be 'transcended'; the hope that eventually the FSSPX will become a 'prelature' within the Church; the divisions which exist even within the Church of Rome; and that the FSSPX is not expelling Mons. Richard Williamson.

There is a criticism of L'Osservatore Romano for concerning itself with Michael Jackson, Harry Potter or John Calvin, and a very positive opinion of Benedict XVI as 'a person of integrity who cares about what is good for the Church".

Mons. Bernard Fellay, superior-general of the FSSPX, granted a full-court interview with Apcom at the society's mother house in Menzingen, near Zurich, Switzerland.

Completely immersed in the greenery of the Swiss countryside, among the cows and the sound of church bells, the FSPPX headquarters is identified with the sign, 'Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X - Generalhaus' [German for 'FSSPX - General HQ'].

The room where Mons. Fellay receives us has a photo of Mons. Marcel Lefebvre and one of the Pope. When we expressed surprise over this, Mons. Fellay said, "Of course, we have a photo of the Pope. We are Catholics!"

The Pope is in Val D'Aosta for a vacation. You are not very far from there. Have you had any contact, or is there any sort of communication between his entourage and you?
No, absolutely not. We should leave the Pope in peace on his vacation. We are pursuing what needs to be done through the Vatican, with the persons who have been assigned to handle the doctrinal discussions. But we haven't tried to reach the Pope. He is on vacation!

Do you anticipate a trip to Rome soon?
No date has been fixed as yet for the start of the dialog, but we can presume it will be in the fall. I will be in Rome at that time, but there is no precise date as yet. A commission of 3-4 persons has been named, but we cannot provide the names now, if only to avoid any pressures.

Do you think that there is too much attention by the Vatican to the expectations of the Jewish world on the 'Williamson case' as well as on the Good Friday prayer?
Yes, I think so. I myself am embarrassed - apart from what happened with Mons. Williamson - when I see Jewish leaders who concern themselves with the affairs of the Catholic Church.

It is not their religion. They should leave us in peace. These are questions that concern the Catholic Church only. If we wish to pray for the Jews, we will pray for them, in the way we want to. I don't know if they pray for us at all, but that's their problem.

So you think the Pope and the Vatican are under pressure from the Jewish world?
Certainly. It is a very sensitive subject, a hot one, and I think we should get out of such a climate, which is not good. There was an unfortunate chain of events that should never have happened [regarding Mons. Williamson]. And in this sense, one can understand the anger of the Jews. I understand it, and I deplore what happened.

In the Motu Proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, the Pope points out that 'doctrinal questions' obviously still remain, and that until these are cleared up, 'the FSSPX has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot exercise any ministry legitimately'. What did you think about this?
That nothing much has changed. What has changed is that this new disposition will focus our relationship on the doctrinal questions.

But that is not really a change. It is a process that in progress and which we first requested in 2000. So the journey goes on.

What the Pope wrote is along the lines of what Rome has been saying since 1976, so it is nothing new. We have a clear position that we have had for some time, and which we will maintain even if we are considered illegal.

We have serious reasons to justify the fact that we exercise our ministry. And these are that the Church finds itself in circumstances that we consider a 'state of necessity'.

For example, when a great catastrophe strikes any country, it can take extraordinary measures, step out of the ordinary structures, because the system is in crisis, and therefore, everyone who can help must help.

So it is not our own personal wishes but rather the needs of the faithful that demand help from anyone who can help. This 'state of necessity' is generalized enough in the Church - there are exceptions, of course - to assure us that we are legitimately exercising our apostolate.

What juridical status do you expect for the FSSPX - a prelature, a society of apostolic life?
It will depend on Rome, obviously, which has the authority to decide on the structure. Their perspective is to respect to the maximum the concrete reality that we represent.

My hope is that we shall be adequately protected in exercising our apostolate so we can do good without having to be impeded by juridical reasons.

We hope for a prelature, but I really do not have a particular preference. And about the timing, I cannot say - everything depends on Rome.

Bishop Williamson considers Vatican II a 'poisoned cake' that should be thrown into the 'waste basket'; Bishop Tissier de Mallerais said it should be 'annulled'; and Bishop Alfonso de Gallareta thinks "there's not much that can be salvaged' from the Council. Is there a split within the FSSPX itself? If so, how will you resolve it? The Vatican says there is a split within your society.
Allow me to say that I don't see unity within the Vatican itself. The problem with the Church today is not us. We became a problem only because we say there is a problem.

But even if you may have the impression of opposing and even contradictory statements, we have no internal rifts. For instance, about the Council, we can well say that almost everything about it can be rejected. Just as we can say that we should try to save what can be saved.

But we cannot all say the same thing about the Council. It is a mixture - there is some good, there is some bad.

The Pope himself, in maintaining that there should be a hermeneutic of continuity, that Vatican II did not indicate a rupture, rejects the interpretation of the Council as a rupture.

Is Mons. Williamson a problem?
He is a completely marginal problem. What he said has nothing to do with the crisis in the Church, with the fundamental problem that we in the FSSPX have been dealing with for 30 years.

With him, it's a question of history. The question of how many Jews were killed in World War II is not a question of faith, it is not even a religious question - it is a historical issue.

Obviously, I believe that he failed to deal with the issue as he should have, and we distance ourselves from him on this. But as for the religious positions of the Fraternity about Vatican II, I see no problem with Williamson.

When Williamson says that Vatican-II is a poisoned cake that should be tossed into the waste basket, don't you find that statement too strong? Do you agree?
It's a polemical statement, but I don't condemn him for that. So many statements these days are made for polemical reasons - a provocation to make people think.

I would express the same concept differently, but I can't say that I do not agree.

I would say that we should transcend the Council to return to what the Church has always taught and from which the Church can never separate itself. At some point, we should transcend a Council which declared itself to be 'pastoral', not 'doctrinal', which had intended to concern itself with the actual contingencies of the Church at the time. Things change, and so many things about the Council have already been transcended.

Bishop Williamson promised to be silent but he continues to speak out. Will he be sanctioned? And if he continues to maintain that no compromise is possible with Rome about Vatican II, will he be expelled?
It is not true that Williamson continues to speak out. He said something once [after the January uproar]... Also, we did not ask him to be quiet about everything! We asked him to keep his silence about a very specific subject. Whatever he said afterwards was minor. I don't think it even matters... At the moment, I see no reason to expel him.

Right now, there is a process under way. He has seriously damaged his own reputation. I cannot imagine anything worse that the situation in which he already finds himself. He is sufficiently punished, he has been marginalized and relieved of any responsibility.

About the Council, will you accept a compromise with Rome?
We don't have to make any compromises about the Council. I have no intention of making any compromises. Truth does not support compromise.

And we are not asking for compromise over the Council. We want clarity.

The recent ordinations were seen as a provocation. Would it not have been better to avoid them at this sensitive time?
There was no provocation at all. Some bishops availed of the occasion to make noises that it was a provocation. But it was not, neither for Rome nor for us. [The APCOM interviewer should have known that the FSSPX has been ordaining priests every year for the past few decades without being denounced by the Vatican. Which did not do so this time, either. But this is yet another example of the interviewer's hostility.]

We are a priestly fraternity whose purpose is to train priests. To impede the last act of formation which is ordination would be like keeping us from breathing!

Moreover, these ordinations were previously programmed, and we knew that the recall of the excommunication has led to a new situation that is better than before but not yet perfected. For us, it was normal to proceed as we had done before with our activities, including the ordinations.

L'Osservatore Romano has recently published articles on Calvin, on Michael Jackson and on Harry Potter. What do you think of that?
I ask myself whether it is really the role of the Osservatore to concern itself with these things. That's my first question. The second is, what they write about these persons - are these really correct? I look at such articles with a critical eye.

Do you think that with this Pope, there may finally be a conclusion to the long-lasting problem with the FSSPX?
I certainly think there is reason to hope. I think we should pray a lot - the questions are very sensitive. It has been 40 years that we are where we are, and not for personal reasons, but because serious things that have to do with the faith and the future of the Church.

We certainly see that the Pope has an authentic will to get to the bottom of this problem and we welcome that with great satisfaction. Let us pray and hope that with the grace of God we will agree on something that is good for the Church and for us.

What do you think of Benedict XVI?
He is a person of integrity, who considers the situation and the life of the Church very seriously.

Fr. Scalese has a reaction to the APCOM interview:

Clarity, not compromise

Translated from

Aug. 1, 2009

After acknowledging the widespread reaction to his 'Open Letter to Mons. Fellay' from the Catholic blogosphere, Fr. Scalese continues:

In general, the comments have been more than favorable, with a few wrong notes [there is always someone who has something to say about everything and everyone].

Of course, I did not write the letter to receive appreciation from whoever, but simply to help promote, if possible, reconciliation within the Church.

In any case, I am pleased that the climate, on both sides, appears to be positive: I seem to perceive in everyone a great desire to repair the break - which makes us hope that the dialog will be successful.

Obviously, there has been no official reaction from the FSSPX: I did not anticipate any nor ask for it. It is enough for me to know that my letter reached its destination.

In any case, yesterday I read with pleasure APCOM's interview with Mons. Fellay, which comes a few days after my open letter, but I consider it a kind of indirect answer to my letter.

In the interview, the FSSPX superior general does not say anything new (except that the discussions with the Vatican will probably start in the fall) and he reiterates the thesis of a 'state of necessity' in the Church to justify the position of the Fraternity.

Mons. Fellay, who is an intelligent man, usually knows how to fence himself off well enough from insidious questioning. But this time, I seem to detect a certain embarrassment in his response to possible divisions within the Fraternity.

He counter-attacks instead, pointing to divisions even within the Vatican, but is less sure about justifying differences of opinion within his society. For instance, about Williamson's statement that Vatican-II is a poisoned cake that should tossed into the wastebasket, he says, "I would express the concept differently, But I cannot say that I disagree."

But it is more than understandable: anyone, in his place, would have answered the same way.

Most interesting his Mons. Fellay's response to the question: "Would you accept any compromise with Rome about Vatican II?" And he says, "We don't want a compromise. We want clarity".

I think we can all agree about this. It is not a question of making compromises - this can be done on other questions, for instance, on canonical and disciplinary matters.

It is really a problem of clarity. A clarity that not just Mons. Fellay adn the Lefebvrians expect, but which the entire Church urgently needs.

Only in clarity (in the 'splendor of truth') are unity and reconciliation possible.

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Cardinal Hummes to represent Pope
at Aug. 4 memorial Mass
for St. Jean-Marie Vianney in Ars

ARS, France, JULY 31, 2009 ( Cardinal Claudio Hummes will represent Benedict XVI at celebrations in Ars on the feast of John Vianney, the saint the Holy Father has proposed as the model for this Year for Priests.

The prefect of the Congregation for Clergy will be the papal legate for the Aug. 4 Mass in the town where John Vianney practiced his ministry.

The celebration this year marks the 150th anniversary of John Vianney's death; the Year for Priests is marking that anniversary and a jubilee year in Ars has also celebrated the event.

The sanctuary will have two days of celebration. On Aug. 3, Father Jean-Philippe Nault, rector of the sanctuary, will give a conference titled: "The Cure d'Ars: Holy Patron of the World's Priests."

Later that day, Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars will give a talk on the Year for Priests. A Mass will then be celebrated to pray for priestly vocations, and a prayer vigil with confessions will follow.

Cardinal Hummes will celebrate Mass the next day. At the end of Mass, there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the closing event will be the unveiling of a new statue of St. John Vianney.

In the June 16 letter by which Benedict XVI proclaimed the Year for Priests, the Pope reflected on the life of the saint of Ars.

"Saint John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life," he wrote. "It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."

And, he added, it was the saint's "deep personal identification with the sacrifice of the cross [that] led him -- by a sole inward movement -- from the altar to the confessional."

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Anglicans at risk for schism:
Archbishop of Canterbury
proposes two roads for his flock

One for traditionalists, the second for modernists.
This is the solution Rowan Williams has devised
in order to keep together those who accept and
those who reject holy orders for homosexuals.

Archbishop Williams; in right photo, with wife Jane.

ROME, August 3, 2009 – In a last-ditch attempt to ward off yet another schism among his faithful, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams, has even asked the Vatican for help. And they've immediately gone running to his aid.

The implicit request for help came in a text that Williams published on July 27 on his website, entitled "Communion, Covenant and Our Anglican Future."

The Vatican's support was expressed in an article in L'Osservatore Romano on the following day, and in a statement on July 29 from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

In addressing the 77 million Anglicans in the world, Williams has taken into account the fact that the danger of schism among them is real, especially after the resolutions approved in mid-July by the Anglicans of the United States, where they are called Episcopalians.

But he has urged them to do everything possible to remain united. And in order to convince them, he has also pointed to the disaster that schism would bring to ecumenism, the journey to union with the other Churches and Christian communities, and with the Catholic Church first of all.

The resolutions approved by the American Anglicans in Anaheim, California – Williams noted – are in fact in profound contrast with the teaching and practice of Catholics and Orthodox, as well as the views of a great number of Anglicans.

The issue is homosexuality. An initial resolution established that all of the baptized can be admitted to the priesthood and the episcopacy, and therefore, also men and women in relationships with persons of the same sex.

A second resolution determined that homosexual marriages should be blessed with a special liturgy.

Williams objected that marriage between homosexuals has no foundation in the Sacred Scriptures. And that the Anglican Communion must adhere only to these, without following the shifting social norms that, for example in six American states, permit marriage for homosexual couples. Much less should they admit to the priesthood and episcopacy men and women who live together with persons of the same sex.

In order to ward off this and other possible schisms, Williams then proposed that the 44 provinces making up the Anglican Communion sign a "Covenant," a pact on biblical orthodoxy. Those who sign and who do not sign would go separate ways, but not entirely.

On the one hand there would be those who adhere to biblical tradition, share a common vision of Anglican teaching and practice, and feel themselves part of a larger fraternity with the other Churches and Christian communities.

On the other hand would be those who give priority to the decisions of their own community, and view the Anglican Communion as a free federation of independent bodies, with simply a common cultural history behind them.

The individual faithful would in any case be able to sign the "Covenant," even if their province did not do so. And in any case – Williams emphasized – only the signers of the pact would take part in ecumenical encounters as representatives of the Anglican Communion, so that the other Churches and Christian communities would always know with whom they are in dialogue, and what they think.


A few hours after the release of the text by the Archbishop of Canterbury, L'Osservatore Romano printed an extensive summary of it, under the title: "Two different styles of being Anglican." The account was clearly sympathetic toward Williams's effort to shore up the disintegrating Anglican Communion.

Even more explicitly in support of Williams was the statement released on July 29 by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, which ended as follows:

"It is our prayer that the Anglican Communion, even in this difficult situation, may find a way to maintain its unity and its witness to Christ as a worldwide communion."

Williams enjoys widespread respect and sympathy in the Catholic camp. When he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England in 2002, before taking office he spent two weeks in Italy at the Catholic monastery of Bose, founded and headed by his friend Enzo Bianchi.

The fact is that for years the Anglican Communion has been continually subjected to divisive impulses.

The ordination of women, begun in 1994, is one of these sources of division. Because of it, many Anglicans have gone to the Catholic Church or to other Christian Churches.

In order to restrain the dissidents, at the Anglican cathedral in Blackburn, Lancashire – where there are canons of both sexes – they devised a strange solution a few months ago, for the 10:30 Sunday Mass.

There are two lines for communion: on one side, those who accept the host consecrated by Reverend Sue Penfold; on the other side, those who accept only one consecrated by Reverend Andrew Hindley.


The reflection by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on the divisions among Anglicans, posted on his website on July 27, 2009:
'Communion, Covenant and Our Anglican Future'

I may be obtuse, but how can this 'separation' within the Anglican Communion be justified in the name of unity, which here would appear to be a mere ploy?

And if the Vatican does support this 'solution' devised by Williams, is that not supporting cafeteria Catholics who have always maintained that they dance to their own tune (or in their words 'their own conscience'), never mind what the Church teaches?

Particularly since consecrating gay men and women is just not a Christian practice, as Archbishop williams himself points out.

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Sanctification is the center
of the Year for Priests,
says Cardinal Hummes in Ars

Ars, France, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, representing Pope Benedict XVI, celebrated Mass in Ars, France,today to mark the feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney.

In his homily, he said that by celebrating the Year for Priests on the 150th anniversary of the saint’s death, Pope Benedict XVI hopes the spirit that pervades this jubilee year will be one of sanctification.

At the Shrine dedicated to the Cure d’Ars, with Bishop Guy Marie Bagnard and numerous priests concelebrating, Cardinal Hummes underscored that the Church “desires to say to priests that she thanks God for them, she admires them and loves them, she wants to sustain them with her prayers, she accompanies them in their journey of fidelity, she recognizes them, she wants to concretely help them and collaborate with them in their pastoral work.”

After noting that the priests of the world have a date with the Holy Father June 9-10, 2010 at the International Congress in Rome, Cardinal Hummes underscored the example of the Cure d’Ars, whose life was “rich with teachings.”

“He was a model priest because of his life of faith and constant prayer, because of his profound and solid spirituality, his penitence, his humility and poverty, his manner of placing the celebration of the Mass at the center of parish life, his untiring and marvelous ministry of the sacrament of Confession, his ministry of the Word of God for preaching and catechesis, his love for the poor, his pastoral charity which led him to an encounter with each parishioner to lead him or her towards conversion and salvation.”

St. Jean Marie Vianney, the cardinal added, “did not want to lose anybody and did not want to rest without first seeing everyone in church, assiduously and frequently receiving the sacraments.”

“Thus we priests,” he continued, “for the mere sake of our ordination, are all consecrated to participating in the universal mission of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is our priestly and missionary essence. With the task of adapting ourselves to the specific needs of our age, we are ‘sent’ to proclaim the Good News to all men, in particular, as did the Cure d’Ars, to the baptized that have strayed from the light of the faith, beginning with those who are poorest.”

After pointing out that priests cannot limit themselves to their parish but must go out in search of the faithful, Cardinal Hummes underscored the importance of assisting them in the sacrament of Confession because “still today, certainly, our contemporaries seek forgiveness, interior peace, reconciliation with God and neighbor, but frequently they do not find the person to show them the way or who understands them in their confusion. This is truly an essential ministry of every priest,” he said.

At the conclusion of his homily, Cardinal Hummes invited those present “to make of their families true domestic churches, ardent lights of faith and love, where they pray together. Do not be afraid if the Lord chooses one of your sons to be a priest. Strive instead to pray to the Lord for the grace of a priestly vocation in your family.”

Despite an odd beginning, the following item is ultimately a beautiful tribute to the sainted Cure d'Ars and to all the priests of the world whose selfless work in the Lord's vineyard is never appreciated enough.

St. Jean Vianney, pray for us!
by James Martin, S.J.

August 4, 2009

I have a friend, who will remain very, very nameless, who once visited Ars, in France, the home of St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859). So taken was my friend with the saint’s life and example that upon his return to the States he began reading a dusty old biography of the man known as the Curé of Ars.

But to my friend’s dismay, St. Jean’s 19th-century French piety turned him off. He found the saint a tad, um, stern. Disliked dancing, partying, merry-making, that kind of thing, in his village.
To say that he “frowned upon it” would be an understatement.

Of the local tavern Fr. Vianney said that it was “the devil's own shop, the market where souls are bartered, where the harmony of families is broken up, where quarrels start and murders are done." And it probably was.

John Jay Hughes, the noted church historian, writes this about the curé in the Western Australia Catholic newspaper The Record, “The content of his sermons was heavily hortatory and moralistic: condemnations of drinking and dancing. When, after five years in the parish, he was able to add to the church a chapel to St. John the Baptist, it displayed a sign saying: ‘His head was the prize for a dance.’

In his early years in Ars, Vianney's small flock heard far more stern warnings than good news. He started catechism lessons for children and postponed First Communion for those who would not learn. Adults who continued to drink and dance despite his warnings were refused absolution.”

Fr. Vianney was très strict. Then again, like all the saints, Jean was a creature of his time. The strictness that he enjoined on those in his parish was a reflection of his upbringing and the prevailing Catholic piety of the day.

But despite his severe condemnations, Fr. Vianney was much beloved in Ars. Most famously, he spent upwards of 12 to 13 hours a day in the confessional.

I once mentioned that in a lecture in a large parish and one young man immediately raised his hand and said, “Why, what did he do?” No, I laughed, he was hearing confession.

People flocked to him. In Lourdes, outside a building given over to nothing but confessions—heard in a dozen languages--there is a statue not of Mary but of St. Jean Vianney.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of the famous curate, the man who became the patron of parish priests, and about whom Pope Benedict XVI spoke so glowingly in his inauguration of the “Year for the Priest.”

So I thought I would share two of his “little catechisms,” his far more gentle teachings, which he would offer to the common folk of the day. (Thanks to Living with Christ for including them in their commentary on St. Jean here.)

“We ought to do like shepherds who are in the fields in winter--life is indeed a long winter. They kindle a fire, but from time to time they run about in all directions to look for wood to keep it up. If we, like the shepherds, were always to keep the fire of the love of God in our hearts by prayers and good works, it would never go out.”

“The more we pray the more we wish to pray. Like a fish which at first swims on the surface of the water, and afterwards plunges down, and is always going deeper, the soul plunges, dives, and loses itself in the sweetness of conversing with God….The fish swimming in a little rivulet is well off, because it is in its element; but it is still better in the sea. When we pray, we should open our heart to God, like a fish when it sees the wave coming.”

This is also as good a time as any say this: As I travel around giving talks and lectures, I'm often hosted for dinners in rectories by parish priests: both pastors and curates.

And as I listen to them talk candidly about their lives, their vocations and their ministries - which, like anyone else's are a full measure of joys and sorrows, hopes and anxieties - I'm consistently reminded of how hard they work: baptisms, marriages, funerals, confessions, daily Masses, Sunday Masses, hospital visits, confirmation and first communion preps, evening meetings, counseling sessions; not to mention working with parish councils, dealing with parish finances, often overseeing schools and celebrating Masses for women's religious communities; and on and on and on.

And the best of them do it with a great sense of humor. They are a wonder.

St. Jean Vianney, their patron, is prominent in the Litany of the Saints, especially at priestly ordination Masses. So we join with that prayer and join in praying for all parish priests today, in their remarkable service to God's people, and say, “St. Jean Vianney, pray for us!”

More pictures from the celebration in Ars today:

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US Senate confirms Miguel Diaz
as ambassador to the Vatican

by Tom McFeely

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed Miguel Diaz as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

The Catholic theology professor’s beliefs regarding the life issues and other moral issues where President Barack Obama’s stances differ sharply with Church teachings remain something of a cipher, as Tim Drake noted last month in this Daily Blog post.

But his comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month seemed to indicate he is a proponent of Obama’s “common ground” approach on the life issues, which in practice consists of implementing pro-abortion policies and appointing pro-abortion personnel to key positions while proclaiming rhetorically that Obama would like to see the number of abortions reduced through the implementation of social policies that allegedly would discourage abortions.

Diaz told the Foreign Relations Committee that as Holy See ambassador, he would “embrace President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s diplomatic vision of leading through active listening and learning from others to seek common ground,” Catholic News Agency reported.

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For days now, there has been a drumbeat of opposition to the Vatican in liberal Catholic circles - exemplified by the National Catholic Reporter - purveying the view of dissident American nuns who resent and oppose the Vatican 'visitation' of sisters' congregations in the United States.

I have not bothered to post these items - except for one from the NCR last May which was the first such post on this Forum - because the response is a reflex opposition to practically anything the Vatican says or decrees, which confirms, to put it bluntly, the reason this visitation is needed.

The enemies of the Vatican seem to forget that religious congregations are valid if they have Vatican recognition, and that means that they are under the supervision of the Vatican Congregation for the Institutes for Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Church has every right to exercise this supervision as it sees fit.

Nuns and/or orders who would oppose this visitation are saying in effect that they do not recognize the authority of the Church over them and their orders.

This attitude represents everything I personally find most hateful and objectionable about the post-Vatican II nuns who have conflated the intentions of Vatican II with the causes of liberal militant feminism.

It is an attitude similar to Barack Obama who resents any attempt to debate his health care proposals as an attack against virtue in general. As though their views - dissident nuns and power-crazed Democrats in these examples - were a commandment of God that cannot be examined by anyone, much less opposed.

This article, at least, gives the other side of the issue in the second half.

Catholic sisters queried
about doctrine and fidelity


TUCSON, Arizona, Aug. 5 (AP) - A Vatican-ordered investigation into Roman Catholic sisters in the U.S., shrouded in mystery [??? It was not! - almost immediately, a website dedicated to the visitation
was opened to accommodate announcements and questions]
when it was announced seven months ago, is shaping up to be a tough examination of whether women's religious communities have strayed too far from Church teaching.

[DUH! That was always the obvious underlying reason for the 'visitation'!]

The review "is intended as a constructive assessment and an expression of genuine concern for the quality of the life" of roughly 59,000 U.S. Catholic sisters, according to a Vatican working paper delivered in the past few days to leaders of 341 religious congregations that describes the scope in new detail.

But the nature of some questions in the document seems to validate concerns expressed privately by some sisters that they're about to be dressed down or accused of being unfaithful to the church.C

[So? Don't they deserve to be if they are guilty of such 'infidelity'? The most outspoken of them have made it a point of pride to dissent from the Church and its established doctrine and practice.]

The report, for example, asks communities of sisters to lay out "the process for responding to sisters who dissent publicly or privately from the authoritative teaching of the Church."

It also confirms suspicions that the Vatican is concerned over a drift to the left on doctrine, seeking answers about "the soundness of doctrine held and taught" by the women. ['Confirms suspicions'? Oh, this reporter is just too disingenuous for words.]

Still other questions explore whether sisters take part in Mass daily, or whether they follow the Church's rules when they take part in liturgies. Church officials expect consistency in how rites and services are celebrated, with approved translations and Masses presided over by a priest.

The study, called an apostolic visitation, casts a net beyond fidelity to Church teaching, with questions also covering efforts to promote vocations and management of finances.

The investigation is focused on members of women's religious communities, or sisters. These are women who do social work, teach, work in hospitals and do other humanitarian work of the church. The investigation is not looking at cloistered communities, or nuns.

"The sisters being investigated have for many years made almost nothing, took very little and gave everything," said the Rev. James Martin, an editor at America, a Jesuit magazine. [How Jesuitic! That does not at all answer the question of whether they have been faithful to the religion they claim to profess! One can be such an admirable altruistic person without being a sister, or even a Christian. The question is to determine their fidelity to orthodox Catholic doctrine and practice.]

Francine Cardman, associate professor of historical theology and church history at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, said it isn't clear why these questions are being asked now in the U.S.

But she said the focus on doctrine puts it in the context of establishing a "correct" and exclusive interpretation of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s and of women's religious communities.

She said the inquiry should be seen "as part of a much older tradition of misogyny in the Church [Dear Lord, spare us the feminist jargon!] and especially distrust of women who are not directly and submissively under male, ecclesiastical control."

Catholic sisters, Cardman said, have repeatedly over history been "returned to the confines of the cloister" or restricted in the kinds of ministries they could perform in public view.

Conservative Catholics, however, have long complained that the majority of sisters in the U.S. have grown too liberal and flout Church teaching. Some have taken provocative stands, advocating for female priests or challenging church teaching against abortion rights or gay marriage.

Helen Hull Hitchcock, director of St. Louis-based Women for Faith and Family, a Catholic women's group that includes sisters and lay people, said an examination of women's religious communities' claims to "the right to complete self-determination" with no regard to church hierarchy is 30 or 40 years overdue.

"Some good can come of it by identifying where the main problems are, or at least by dealing openly and honestly with a problem that has been going on for a long time," she said.

After Vatican II, many sisters embraced Catholic teaching against war and nuclear weapons and for workers rights, shed their habits and traditional roles as teachers or hospital workers and took up activism.

More recently, a group of more tradition-minded women's religious orders have emerged, with members who dress in habits, show fidelity to Rome and focus on education, health care and social work.

The Vatican is concerned about sisters' shrinking and aging ranks. The number in the U.S. declined from 173,865 in 1965 to 79,876 in 2000, according to Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. The average age of a member of a women's religious community was between 65 and 70 in 1999.

The inquiry is being directed by Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a more conservative order.

Millea has already held meetings with heads of religious communities. Next, the superiors will be given detailed questionnaires to be completed by later this fall, to be followed by visits to selected congregations starting next year and concluding with a confidential report from Millea to the Vatican.

A spokeswoman for the apostolic visitation's Connecticut-based office said Millea was not available for an interview Tuesday.

The Vatican also has opened a separate "doctrinal assessment" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest umbrella group for communities of Catholic sisters in the U.S.

In a statement Tuesday, the conference said the new information on the apostolic visit had just been sent to its members, and that discussing it would be on the agenda at its annual assembly in New Orleans next week.

Sister Prudence Allen, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., part of the more traditional Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, welcomed the scope of the inquiry.

"It's nothing to be afraid of," she said. "It's part a process that should ultimately help all of us."

Here's a report from CNA:

Vatican visitation of women religious
to look at fidelity to doctrine

Hamden, Conn., Aug 6, 2009 (CNA)- The Apostolic Visitator leading the visitation to institutes of women religious in the United States has sent the effort’s working document to the heads of U.S. orders.

The document details the aims of the visitation and encourages the orders to reflect on their fidelity to their original charisms and their conformity with the Second Vatican Council.

Mother M. Clare Millea, the sister in charge of conducting the Vatican visitation, sent the working document, known as an Instrumentum Laboris, to the hundreds of religious superiors around the U.S. on July 28, along with a letter of explanation.

With the issuance of the working document, the first phase of the visitation has come to a close.

The Instrumentum Laboris contains an introduction to the nature and purpose of the visitation, the four phases of the process, and references to the principal Vatican documents.

The document also presents “reflection topics” for all members of religious orders to consider in order to prepare for the visitation. Topics include the religious identity of the respondent’s order, its governance and financial administration, and its spiritual and common life.

Questions are also presented concerning vocation promotion, admission and formation policies.

The reflections ask respondents about their concerns for the future of their religious order and how sisters in their order understand and express the “vows and virtues” of poverty, chastity and obedience.

They inquire about whether daily Mass and frequent confession are a “priority” for sisters and how an order expresses the Eucharist as the source of their spiritual and communal life.

Liturgical norms are also one topic of inquiry, as is the practice of the Liturgy of the Hours, the manner of an order’s dress, and the order’s provisions for care of aging and ill sisters.

“Is your institute moving toward a new form of religious life? If so, how is this new form specifically related to the Church’s understanding of religious life?” one reflection asks.

Such questions recall concerns voiced earlier this year by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning the “tenor and content” of addresses at the annual assemblies of the 1,500-member Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In the keynote address of LCWR’s 2007 assembly, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink spoke with apparent approval about religious congregations “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus.” Saying some congregations have “grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion,” she described them as “post-Christian” in most respects.

The LCWR is undergoing a separate inquiry being led by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio.

The Instrumentum Laboris reflections also inquire about the process for responding to sisters who dissent publicly or privately from “the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

They ask respondents whether their order’s formation program offers the foundations of Catholic faith and doctrine through the study of Vatican II documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and post-conciliar documents.

“Are there reasons to be concerned about vocations or formation in your institute?” another reflection asks.

Mother M. Clare Millea’s letter to religious superiors reported that the questionnaire for phase two of the visitation is being prepared and will be sent to major superiors of religious orders early this fall.

She concluded by thanking the leaders of religious orders for their cooperation in the visitation, describing it as an endeavor “to strengthen, enhance and support the growth of our religious institutes in service of the Church.”

The website for the visitation contains numerous positive responses about how the various religious superiors appreciated their initial visits with Mother Millea.
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The Knights of Columbus must be commended for the theme they chose for their recently concluded 127th annual convention. This lay organization has consistently manifested a fidelity to Catholic orthodoxy that puts many bishops to shame. God bless...

Here are some reports and photos from their site.

Knights declare 'We stand with Peter'
at their 127th Supreme Convention

August 4, 2009

Eight cardinals, more than 80 bishops and a hundred priests concelebrated the Mass that opened the 127th annual convention of the 1.78 million member Knights of Columbus in Phoenix this morning.

Several thousand Knights and family members have gathered for the convention at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort.

Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was the principal celebrant and homilist at today’s Mass, which occurs on the feast of the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney.

The theme of this year’s convention is “We stand with Peter in solidarity with our bishops and priests,” and occurs during the Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

In his homily, Bishop Olmsted noted the special significance of opening “the Supreme Convention of the largest lay Catholic organization in the world, founded by a priest, Father Michael McGivney,” on St. John Vianney’s feast day.

He explored the subject of fear, which “is part of our human experience. We all have fears to face, those that arise from natural causes, such as the squalls and storms on the Sea of Galilee, and other storms, more spiritual and social in nature, that arise within our hearts or in our relations with others.”

Cardinal Levada says Catholics
must risk true discipleship

August 5, 2009

In societies that are becoming more secular and technological, Knights of Columbus, along with all Catholics, must bear witness to the fact that only God’s word can give “life-giving refreshment” to satisfy the human heart, said Cardinal William Levada in a homily on Wednesday.

A special guest at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention, Cardinal Levada is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. Formerly Archbishop of San Francisco, he was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed him as Prefect of the congregation in 2005.

The principal celebrant at the Mass, offered on the Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.

Here is the text of Cardinal Levada's homily:

Homily by Cardinal William J. Levada
Knights of Columbus Convention Mass
Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major
August 5, 2009

"For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it." (Is 55: 10-11)

The ancient Israelites lived in a desert climate; rainfall and snow meant literally the difference between life and death. And so these elements were seen as a powerful illustration of God’s life-giving, creative word. God’s word makes the desert bloom.

While Pope Liberius’s church is shrouded by legend, the existing basilica of St. Mary Major stands clearly in history: it was built immediately after the Council of Ephesus, which met in the year 431.

That council marked a significant milestone in the development of our understanding of who Jesus Christ is. The chain of events which led to Ephesus began around the year 428, when a preacher in Constantinople referred to Mary as the Theotokos, the one who gave birth to God.

Although the title had been used for some time in that city, the bishop, who was from Antioch, was scandalized. How could we say that Mary, a mere creature, was the Mother of God?

Time does not permit us to explore all the theological issues of the debate, but the conclusion reached at the Council of Ephesus was very clear.

The doctrine is expressed very well in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “… the One whom Mary conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity.

Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).” (CCC 495) The title “Mother of God” may seem paradoxical, but it is orthodox: paradoxical, because Mary as a creature could not be the Mother of God as God; orthodox, because to say that Jesus was truly born of Mary and is the eternal Son of God effectively proclaims that he is fully human and fully divine.

We see in the mystery of the Incarnation the most remarkable example of the power of God’s word: the Word himself becomes flesh, the Son of God is born in time.

There are two important lessons I would like to point out in connection with this mystery. First, the work of creation and salvation is first, last, and always God’s initiative. Life is God’s gift, not our accomplishment.

But secondly, we, too, have a role to play. Mary was not simply a vehicle or instrument by which the word became flesh, a lifeless patch of land made fruitful by the downpour of God’s word. She is a human being with a free will, and as such she cooperated in God’s saving plan.

Mary freely and joyfully embraced God’s will, and for this reason she is intimately connected with her Son’s mission. This is suggested by the words of Simeon in today’s Gospel.

After stating that “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted”, he then says to Mary: “and you yourself a sword will pierce”. (Lk 2:34-35)

The Mother of Jesus is involved in the whole mystery of the life of Christ, she is we might say a “co-conspirator” in God’s plan of salvation.

The significance of this for us is both very simple and very awe-inspiring. Only once in history did God himself literally become Man, so that Mary’s child is uniquely the Son of God. But spiritually God the Son assumes a human nature in each of us. Throughout the pages of the New Testament we are constantly confronted with this amazing doctrine.

St. Luke relates the annunciation to Mary, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and the Word became flesh; and then he begins the Acts of the Apostles in the same way, with the Spirit descending upon Mary and the other disciples.

St. Paul writes that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him. At the Last Supper Jesus assured his disciples that by the gift of the Spirit he and the Father would live in them.

This union with Christ begins in our baptism, and continues throughout our earthly pilgrimage, each of us in some way allowing the Word to become flesh in our lives.

In a few moments the same Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary will sanctify our gifts of bread and wine, transforming them into the Body and Blood of Christ; and he also sanctifies us, making us more truly the Body of Christ – to the extent that we open ourselves to God’s will in our lives.

As we gratefully contemplate how the sacraments bring about an ever-deepening union with Christ, we are aware of the integral role of our priests to our sacramental pilgrimage through life.

With the memory of yesterday’s beautiful celebration of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, fresh in our minds, I want to thank you for your constant and unflagging support for priests.

The Knights of Columbus are proposing many ways to celebrate this “Year of the Priest”, and your longstanding program “In Solidarity with our Priests” has done much to strengthen and encourage priests in their awesome and challenging vocation.

In announcing this special year our Holy Father has spoken eloquently of the mutual love between priests and their people, and Knights have always given a fine example of this love; I encourage you to continue to do so.

All Christians are called to give over their lives to Christ, to allow Him to live through them. Let me conclude with a specific application of that truth to us as Catholics in America, and for us as Knights of Columbus in our beloved country.

Our first reading offers us another image, not unlike that with which I began this homily:

"I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.” (Rev 21:2-3)

The new Jerusalem does not rise up to heaven from the earth; that city is Babel, not Jerusalem. Rather it comes down from heaven to us.

In some versions of the legend of Our Lady of the Snows, we are told that the snow fell in the exact outline of the church to built there. That may be a somewhat fanciful image, but I think it makes a good point.

Although we sometimes sing about building the City of God, in fact our task is more modest: we do not build heaven on earth, we simply prepare the site to welcome the new Jerusalem which comes from God.

This is an important lesson for us Americans. Our nation has been blessed with many gifts and resources, and at times that abundance can blind people to our utter dependence on God, and the need to seek to do his will.

We Knights of Columbus are dedicated to fostering both faith and patriotism in your members; and you experience the tensions when our religious ideals come into conflict with a society that is becoming increasingly secular.

The Christ who lives in us is truly “a light of revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel”, but he is also “a sign that will be contradicted”. (Lk 2:32, 34)

Like Mary, we too will be pierced by that sword of opposition if we are faithful to Christ. That is the cost of discipleship. As American Catholics, we can and we should work with all people of good will, regardless of their religious beliefs, to improve the lot of others.

But we must also bear witness to our conviction that the American “city set on a hill”, no matter how remarkable its scientific accomplishments or technological advances, will always be a barren patch of earth without the life-giving refreshment of the word of God.

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To finish the week, the Knights of Columbus segued from their Supreme Convention to the First International Marian Congress and a related Guadalupe Festival.


Visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City last March, Hillary Clinton infamously asked, "Who painted it?" when she was shown the cloak with the miraculous image on it. It was one time Madame Secretary was obviously not prepped for the visit.

Image on Juan Diego's cloak
‘completely beyond' scientific
explanation, says researcher

Phoenix, Arizona, Aug 7, 2009 (CNA) - Researcher and physicist Dr. Aldofo Orozco told participants at the International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe that there is no scientific explanation for the 478 years of high quality-preservation of the Tilma or for the miracles that have occurred to ensure its preservation.

Dr. Orozco began his talk by confirming that the conservation of the Tilma, the cloak of St. Juan Diego on which Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared 478 years ago, “is completely beyond any scientific explanation.”

“All the cloths similar to the Tilma that have been placed in the salty and humid environment around the Basilica have lasted no more than ten years,” he explained.

One painting of the miraculous image, created in 1789, was on display in a church near the basilica where the Tilma was placed. “This painting was made with the best techniques of its time, the copy was beautiful and made with a fabric very similar to that of the Tilma. Also, the image was protected with a glass since it was first placed there.”

However, eight years later, the copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was thrown away because the colors were fading and threads were breaking.

In contrast, Orozco said, “the original Tilma was exposed for approximately 116 years without any kind of protection, receiving all the infrared and ultraviolet radiation from the tens of thousands of candles near it and exposed to the humid and salty air around the temple.”

Dr. Orozco then discussed the Tilma’s fabric. He noted that “one of the most bizarre characteristics of the cloth is that the back side is rough and coarse, but the front side is ‘as soft as the most pure silk, as noted by painters and scientists in 1666, and confirmed one century later in 1751 by the Mexican painter, Miguel Cabrera.”

Following an analysis of some of the fibers in 1946, it was concluded that the fibers came from the Agave plant. However, noted Dr. Orozco, the researchers couldn’t figure out which of the 175 Agave species the Tilma was made from.

Years later, in 1975, “the famous Mexican researcher Ernesto Sodi Pallares said that the species of the agave was Agave popotule Zacc,” Orozco explained, “but we don’t know how he reached this conclusion.”

Before concluding his presentation, Dr. Orozco made mention of two miracles associated with the Tilma.

The first occurred in 1785 when a worker accidentally spilled a 50 percent nitric acid solvent on the right side of the cloth. “Besides any natural explanation, the acid has not destroyed the fabric of the cloth, indeed it has not even destroyed the colored parts of the image,” Orozco said.

The second miracle was the explosion of a bomb near the Tilma in 1921. Dr. Orozco recalled that the explosion broke the marble floor and widows 150 meters from the explosion, but “unexpectedly, neither the Tilma nor the normal glass that protected the Tilma was damaged or broken.” The only damage near it was a brass crucifix that was twisted by the blast.

He continued, “There are no explanations why the shockwave that broke windows 150 meters afar did not destroy the normal glass that protected the image. Some people said that the Son by means of the brass crucifix protected the image of His Mother. The real fact is that we don’t have a natural explanation for this event.”

Dr. Orozco thanked the audience for listening to his presentation and closed by reassuring them that “Our Lady visited Mexico 478 years ago, but she remains there to give Her Love, Her Mercy and Her Care to anyone who needs it, and to bring Her Son, Jesus Christ to everyone who receives Him.”

The miraculous cloak as it is venerated in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

In the 'REFLECTIONS ON OUR FAITH... thread in the PRF, I put together some basic information about the apparition and the cloak on
and about the Basilica in Mexico City on

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The Church will have no part
in health care that destroys life,
New York archbishop insists

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 6, 2009 (CNA) - “Health care reform is a good thing,” New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan told CNA on Wednesday during in interview in Phoenix, Arizona.

However, if it “leads to the destruction of life, then we say it’s no longer health care at all - it’s unhealthy care and we can’t be part of that.”

Responding to a question about the Catholic Church’s view health care reform, Archbishop Dolan explained to CNA that the Church regards health care reform as a good thing.

“The Catholic Church has been saying that for a long time,” he explained, adding that because of our human dignity, “means that one has access to quality affordable first rate health care.”

Speaking directly to President Obama’s current initiative to reform health care, the archbishop said that “in principle” the Church says, “bravo!”

“That having been said, the devil is in the details,” he warned. While the Church agrees on the “what,” namely, “on the reform and renewed, reinvigorated health care,” it has some things to say on how it is carried out.

The Archbishop of New York explained that the first thing that needs to be said is that “every health care system exists only to serve human life, not the other way around.”

“Human life is not some commodity, some customer, some cog that is at the service of a bigger system or some bureaucratic network,” but rather, it is “the end in itself and health care is how it is protected."

If health care begins to lead to the “destruction of human life” through avenues such as abortion, end of life care, or the discarding human embryos, then “we say it’s no longer health care at all.

“It’s unhealthy care and we can’t be part of that,” Archbishop Dolan stated.

While some people question the Church’s involvement in the debate surrounding health care reform, Dolan insisted that the Church should have a voice in the health care debate “because nearly one out of every five patients in the United States who is in a hospital is under the embrace of the Church in a Catholic health care network.”

“So please listen to us because we’ve been in this business a heck of a long time,” he said recalling that members of the Catholic Church were the ones who “opened up the first clinics, hospitals and health care networks.”

“Don’t exclude us now because you might be uncomfortable with the very values that gave rise to this magnificent network,” he urged

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Turkey turns down Vatican request
to restore St. Paul church from
museum to place of worship

VATICAN CITY, August 5 (CNS) — Despite a personal request from Pope Benedict XVI and repeated requests by Christian leaders in Turkey, the Turkish government has decided that the only church in Tarsus, the city of St. Paul's birth, will remain a government museum.

The Church of St. Paul, built as a Catholic church in the 1800s and confiscated by the government in 1943, was used throughout the 2008-2009 year of St. Paul for prayer services by Christian pilgrims.

After the end of the yearlong celebration commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth, the Turkish government decided the building could not be used exclusively for worship.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar for Anatolia and president of the Catholic bishops' conference of Turkey, told the Vatican newspaper Aug. 1 that the government decided to return to the practice of allowing Christians to pray in the church as long as they made reservations three days in advance and bought an admission ticket.

Meeting the Turkish bishops in February during their "ad limina" visits to Rome to report on the status of their dioceses, Pope Benedict had expressed his hopes that the government would give Christians permanent use of the building for prayer.

Bishop Padovese told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that in addition to asking Christians to pay to enter the church, Turkish authorities have placed a time limit on Masses and other prayer services so they do not disrupt the normal operation of the museum.

"It is a lack of respect for the right to religious freedom and freedom to worship," the bishop said.

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This item from

DVD teaching set on the Traditional Mass

The blurb:
An official multimedia production in four languages in order to help priests and laymen to learn the Roman rite in its extraordinary form. This is the first concrete contribution of the Holy See to promoting the papal intentions stated in Summorum Pontificum.

This is a teaching project previously announced by then Ecclesia Dei President, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, shortly after the Motu Proprio took effect (Sept. 14, 2007), and completed just as Cardinal Castrillon retired from his office upon reaching age 80.

The first DVD contains the complete film of a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, introduced by remarks from th3 Cardinal President. The disc also includes some Gregorian masses, including the Pontifical Mass held in 2003 in Santa Maria Maggiore.

The second DVD is the filmed didactic on the Mass, in which gestures and rubrics of the Mass according to John XXIII are explained in detail, from the preparatio ad missam to the post-Mass ritual in the sacristy.

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Jonathan J. Bean, Ph.D.
A Guest Op-Ed for

July 27, 2009

In 1935, a French politician asked Joseph Stalin to appease the Pope by tolerating Catholicism in the Soviet Union, where atheism was the state "religion." Stalin roared "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?"

In fact, the Pope had many divisions throughout the world. Catholic churches and schools taught the faithful that God, not man, ruled over the universe. These unarmed divisions destroyed Soviet-style communism from within and exerted Western Catholic pressure from without.

That was then, this is now. Has Pope Benedict XVI lost his divisions, especially schools, to the relativism that he denounces in his recent encyclical (Caritas in Veritate)?

From Rome, the Pope calls for virtuous conduct in the marketplace, yet Church teaching no longer "trickles down" to the Catholic masses the way it once did.

As spiritual "transmission lines," Catholic schools face two challenges: the exodus of Catholics to "value-neutral" public schools, and the subversive influence of academics who flout the "Magisterium" (the "teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church").

Historically, Catholic schools played a special role in America, where immigrants faced hostile Protestants who used public schools to impose their brand of Christianity on the "inferior races" arriving from Eastern and Southern Europe.

In Race and Liberty in America, I show how anti-Catholicism peaked in the 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan persuaded Oregon to ban all church schools. The Supreme Court struck down this odious law, declaring that children were not "mere creatures of the state." Catholic schools continued to operate without State interference, thus offering Catholics and black migrants an alternative to state-run education.

As a graduate of Catholic schools, I benefitted from this school choice. During the 1970s, my public schooling culminated with the violent anarchy of junior high school. My parents sent me to a nearby Catholic high school. The absence of fear was liberating. The nuns, priests, and lay teachers offered a well-rounded education, including religious training.

In 1980, I was off to Catholic college for study of the Great Books, history and rigorous coursework in religion (biblical criticism is not for lazy students). I gained a deeper understanding of Church teaching even if my "work-hard, party-hard" side sometimes got the better of me.

In 1994 I returned to my alma mater as a lecturer. The college had opened its doors to sixties radicals bent on reconstructing the school in their own image.

As I taught History, the tenured radicals pummeled students with sensitivity training, lessons on "white privilege," feminist discussion of the Goddess, and library display of gay or transgender authors.

The Great Books program was gone, replaced by a "diversity" curriculum. There was no time left for schooling future professionals in the virtues that the Pope and Church deem necessary for living the Good Life.

Fifteen years later, the situation is worse. Catholic schools have blended into the great Blob of Diversity that has homogenized State schooling.

We are witnessing a disuniting of the American Catholic body by those hostile to Churchteaching.

Academic administrators, eager for the respect of their peers, mimic the schools that once sneered at "dogmatic" Catholic education. The best education, progressives argued, was "pragmatism" based on modern (later postmodern) notions of citizenship.

Few paused to consider how time passed by their pragmatic causes: eugenics, admission quotas limiting Jews — progressives rushed off to new causes forgetting the damage wrought by their past handiwork.

One might ask: Who will pass on the essence of Pope Benedict's latest teaching? Or the basic Truths of the Church? Or simply offer school choice to those trapped in failing public schools?

Non-Catholics ought to be concerned about the survival of Catholic schools because Catholic dioceses subsidize the tuition of disadvantaged minority students — an act of charity that our government has yet to take (and probably shouldn't given the State's track record).

American Catholics must recover sanity in their schooling. In his latest message, the Pope reminds us that a marketplace of value-neutral people is on the road to destruction.

Benjamin Franklin said as much 200 years ago: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

It is time for Catholics and others to abandon value-neutral schooling. This is something that Catholics, Protestants, and Jews can agree upon. The Catholic school is just one avenue to "get the message across." Home schools, Protestant schools, yeshivas are essential as long as the State abandons public school children to the anomie of mass culture.

"Trickle-down" theology via the mass media is not enough. Virtue takes conditioning, and like learning a language, it is better to start young.

If Catholic schools don't do it, parents will simply leave the Church (as they have in droves), for what have we to offer our children if we are like the rest of society?

"You cannot go on seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. . . . If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see." —C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
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Vatican newspaper hails
Swiss-US bank deal

VATICAN CITY, August 14 (AP) – The Vatican's newspaper on Thursday praised as a step toward "ethical finance" a deal announced by the Swiss and U.S. governments to settle American demands for the identities of suspected tax dodgers.

L'Osservatore Romano said the deal marks "significant progress in the fight against tax evasion and in the direction of a more controlled finance."

It is "a step forward toward that model of ethical finance described by (Pope) Benedict XVI," Osservatore wrote.

Benedict last month published an encyclical calling for a new world financial order guided by ethics, denouncing the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for causing the global financial meltdown.

An encyclical is the most authoritative document a ope can issue and July's was the third of Benedict's pontificate.

The deal announced Wednesday is a hard blow for tax havens and Europe should follow the U.S. example and do more in the fight against tax dodgers, Osservatore wrote.

So far, details of the agreement have been kept under wraps, including how many of the 52,000 names sought by the IRS tax agency from banking giant UBS AG will be revealed.

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U.S. puts India on 'watch list'
for inaction on violations
of freedom of religion

by Nirmala Carvalho

MUMBAI, August 14 (AsiaNews) - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has placed India on the so-called Watch List, which includes countries in which religious and ethnic minorities suffer severe discrimination.

The USCIRF ais asking President Barak Obama to put pressure on the government in New Delhi, which, it says, "deserves" to be placed on the list for the "largely inadequate response" to fundamentalist violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Christians in Orissa in 2008-2009.

India’s reaction has been one of anger at finding itself compared to countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia and Cuba.

Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry, described the inclusion in the so-called Watch List "aberrant" and an "undue interference" in internal affairs of the country.

Fr. Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), told AsiaNews that the USCIRF decision "is a clear indication of the growing concern of the international community to the repeated failure of India to take decisive corrective measures to curb religious intolerance ".

Relations between India and the U.S. in matters of religious freedom have long been troubled. The Annual Report on Religious Freedom by USCIRF presented in Washington May 1st spoke of "positive signals" from India.

In July, however, the Commission asked to visit Orissa to check the situation of Christian refugees in the area and their conditions after the Hindu pogrom of August 2008. The Indian authorities denied entry visas arousing controversy. Now the government in New Delhi finds itself included in the Watch list.

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Asian bishops discuss relevance
of Eucharist amid war and poverty

MANILA, Aug. 13 (UCAN) - Asian bishops discussed the prospects and challenges of living the Eucharist in their countries on the second day of meetings at the 9th FABC Plenary Assembly in Manila.

Seventeen bishops' conference heads and two associate members of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) on Aug. 12 discussed the working paper of the Aug. 11-16 assembly, taking place at Pius XII Catholic Center.

Titled after the assembly's theme, "Living the Eucharist in Asia," the paper was presented to them the previous afternoon by its author, theologian Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus, the Philippines.

A committee has been tasked to draft a final document, incorporating the inputs of participants.

During the discussion session, the Church leaders spoke about the situations in their countries and how the Eucharist was considered the "source and summit" of the life of their Churches.

For Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka, the Eucharist in Bangladesh is a reflection of his people's need for "daily bread" and the Christian belief in sharing wealth with the poor. The average daily wage in Bangladesh is only about US$0.50.

Several bishops stressed the value of inculturated Eucharistic celebrations.

"Attempts must be made to use Asian culture and symbols related to the Eucharist," said Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India. He thinks there are times when too much talking and singing goes on in the liturgy with not enough time for silent reflection.

"The Eucharist is meant to transform Catholics," the Indian bishop said. For healing and reconciliation to take place during Mass, there need to be moments for silent prayer and reflection on the Scriptures, he said.

He also acknowledged the need to address, through the Eucharist, the call for a Church response to poverty and other issues, such as equal rights for women.

He added that the Church "should promote the sanctity of the body, since we are temples of the Holy Spirit, especially the sanctity of the woman's body" which in many cases has been "sold into prostitution and slavery."

Korean Bishop Peter Kang U-il of Cheju suggested providing concrete examples of "living the Eucharist in Asia." If not, the bishop warned, the meeting's final statement could end up as just another Church document read by a few and then forgotten.

He believes Sunday Mass can be more meaningful if small "communities of believers" gather ahead of Mass to read and meditate on Scripture.

He cited the practice of Jewish families who gather on the eve of the Sabbath to prepare for religious ceremonies the next day.

He also suggested the Eucharist could be used for people to reflect on the continuing "arms buildup" in Asia. The Eucharist, he said, is about unity and peace, and noted that nations are increasingly preparing for war.

Sri Lankan Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy said people in his country are tired after decades of civil war. They need the Eucharist to help bring about reconciliation, trust and forgiveness, he said. While Catholics remain loyal to the Church, he added, there is a need for them to reach out to other faiths.

He stressed that there is a need to emphasize the "Word of God" because people are hungry for Christ's message.

Bishops from Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar said their people's "hunger" for the Eucharist is difficult to satisfy because of a lack of priests and catechesis.

In many places in these countries, where Masses are held irregularly, Catholics celebrate a Liturgy of the Word conducted by catechists or lay ministers.

In Laos and Cambodia there are only about 60 priests to cover vast areas, said Church leaders from these countries.

Catechetical work is also sporadic in Laos because of the Communist regime, they added.

Thai Bishop George Yod Phimphisan of Udon Thani said that participation in Basic Ecclesial Communities has changed Thai Catholics. They now come together to meditate on the Word of God, and then go out and live the Eucharist in their small communities.

He said the use of some Thai and Buddhist symbols also makes the Eucharist more understandable to Thai people, who are mostly Buddhist.

The FABC is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences in Asia, established in the 1970s to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia.

From Uzbekistan, though, comes a small sign of genuine liturgical renewal. In an interview with UCAN, the Apostolic Administrator of that country, Msgr. Jerzy Maculewicz, said that he has started " invite people to pray with the breviary in front of the Blessed Sacrament on weekday evenings. About 10-30 people attend each time."

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I previously posted items about this in the BENEDICT NEWS thread, but it bears posting on this thread, of course. This report provides the appropriate context for Archbishop Nichols's statement - it is actually the Preface to the booklet for the training conference described in the article.

Archbishop of Westminster
backs both forms of Mass

By Anna Arco

14 August 2009

Mons. Nichols celebrated Mass at the transfer of Cardinal Newman's remains to the Birmingham Oratory last November.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has stressed that unity in Christ is at the heart of the Church's liturgy ahead of Britain's first diocesan training conference for the traditional Latin Mass.

In a letter addressed to the priests taking part in a training seminar later this month the Archbishop echoed the Pope's words in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which liberated the older form of the Roman Rite in 2007.

He said that Benedict XVI had made it clear that both forms serve "one and the same Rite". He said: "The Mass is the source and expression of the unity of the Church, for that unity comes from Christ. We have no other. Our unity does not consist in a uniformity of personal taste or preference.

"Indeed, such matters should play a minimum part in our liturgy, particularly in the ministry of the priest. What we priests are to provide, as a key element of our ministry, is the liturgy of the Church."

Although the Latin Mass Society has hosted training conferences for priests wishing the to learn how to celebrate the older form of the Mass in the past, this will be the first to be provided by a diocese in conjunction with the LMS.

Archbishop Nichols said that both forms of the Mass would find their place at the conference. But he said that there was no place in conference for those who hold that the newer form of the Mass is inferior to the 1962 Missal.

He said: "The view that the ordinary form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here. Indeed, anyone who holds such a view does not come under the generous provision of Summorum Pontificum. Such a person is inexorably distancing themselves from the Church."

He said that the principles of good liturgy, "such as the 'active participation' of all taking part in the Mass, both in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist" applied to either form being used.

Concluding, the Archbishop said that priests and bishops had been given the delicate task, namely the "provision of the extraordinary form of the Mass in response to genuine needs as outlined in the Motu Proprio".

Archbishop Nichols previously criticised the mindset that rejects the ordinary form of the Mass, in a recent interview with The Catholic Herald where he stressed the importance of the fact that it is "perfectly clear in the teaching of the Church that there is one Roman Rite, there is one gift of the Eucharist, one sacred order by which that gift is actualised and made present in every corner of the world".

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