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April 2005 Archives

April 1, 2005

Trade Seventh Age Stock

I just found out about a new site called Blogshare that lets you trade shares in blogs. I didn't even know we were listed there until I came across it.

We are still a penny stock of sorts, with a share price of $2.61, but we have an attractive P/E of 0.93 so if you are looking for somewhere to stash your retirement savings you may want to consider us.

I suppose we will have to start having conference calls, provide quarterly guidance, and comply with the infamous Sarbanes-Oxley Act. At any rate: here is the chart for you stock traders who are interested:

Automotive Politics

An interesting article in today's New York Times explores the relationship between car buying and one's political affiliation:


Among their findings: buyers of American cars tend to be Republican - except, for some reason, those who buy Pontiacs, who tend to be Democrats. Foreign-brand compact cars are usually bought by Democrats - but not Mini Coopers, which are bought by almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. And Volvos may not actually represent quite what you think.

An interesting and insightful read.

Hat Tip: Derik Mantel for the heads up.

The Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Good Society

As we prepare for a major transition in the Church, conferences like this one at the University of St. Thomas on April 8th and 9th are especially vital.

Among the notable speakers are John Finnis and James Gordley. This blogger will be there with bells on. Hope to see you there. If you see me, say hi. I'd be pleased to meet any of the five non-related people who read our blog.

The Tragedy is Ours

An old PBS Frontline interview with the Washington Post's Roberto Suro on Pope John Paul II ended with the following quote, quite prophetic in its own right:

--

I think the pope has to be a prophetic figure, somebody who changed humanity. What he offered, what he suggested, the road laid out, if followed, would have transformed humanity in a spiritual sense. He was calling at the end of the twentieth century for a spiritual life to become the center of man's humanity, for all men, and certainly for all Catholics and all Christians to rediscover spirituality as the guiding force in their lives. If he had accomplished that, he would have been a millennial figure, not the man of the century. Somebody who produced much grander changes than that.

Instead he is a historical figure, he's somebody who lives within the period of time, who had a message that had impact, that changed events, that changed lives, but did not nearly reach the dimensions that were the ambitions that its author set out.

At the end of the day, when you look at this extraordinary life and you see all that he's accomplished, all the lives he's touched, the nations whose history he's changed, the way he's become such a powerful figure in our culture, in all of modern culture--among believers and not--taking all of that into account, you're left with one very disturbing and difficult question. On the one hand, the Pope can seem this lonely, pessimistic figure--a man who only sees the dark side of modernity, a man obsessed with the evils of the twentieth century, a man convinced that humankind has lost its way. A man so dark, so despairing, that he loses his audiences. That would make him a tragic figure, certainly.

On the other hand, you have to ask, is he a prophet? Did he come here with a message? Did he see something that many of us are missing? In that case, the tragedy is ours.

--

You can read the entire interview here.

Hat Tip: Rod Dreher at The Corner

April 2, 2005

Conclave for Dummies

Don't know much about the papal transition process? An excellent, four-part overview, appeared in today's New York Times.

I wonder how long they've had this piece on file, ready to go?

Vigil for Pope TONIGHT at the Cathedral of St. Paul

For those of you in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, read on. For those of you in other parts of the world, we'll see you there in spirit!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Jennifer Maas
255 Syndicate St. S.
St. Paul, MN 55105
Phone: 651-699-5009

Vigil for the Pope TONIGHT at the Cathedral of St. Paul

Saint Paul, MN - April 2, 2005 - In light of the pope's declining health, there will be a vigil of prayer for Pope John Paul II tonight at the Cathedral of St. Paul. All are welcome to attend.

The schedule of the evening is as follows:

7:00 P.M. Regularly scheduled Mass of Anticipation

8:00 P.M. Cathedral remains open for silent prayer for the pope

9:00 P.M. Communal prayer and reflections

10:00 P.M. Cathedral closes. Candle light vigil on the main steps of the Cathedral with the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary.

Come for all or a portion of the event, and please pass this information along to anyone else who may be interested.

The Cathedral is located at 239 Selby Ave. in St. Paul. For driving directions visit the Cathedral web site at www.cathedralsaintpaul.org

For more information call Jennifer @ 651-699-5009

###

The Pope Has Died

May His soul, and those of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Reuters story

Papabile

If you are wondering who might succeed John Paul II, MSNBC has a nice listing of possible successors. While I hate to speculate, I would be shocked if the next Supreme Pontiff did not come from this list. However, as is tradition, go in to the conclave a pope, come out a cardinal. Do ignore the liberal/conservative labels that MSNBC attaches to the various cardinals, they are grossly inaccurate.

That being said, my reading of the tea leaves seems to point to an older, theologically conservative Latin American. However, there are a number of candidates who fit that description, so basically, it is an academic exercise.

OK, fine. Keep an eye on these four, along with my darkhorse pick:

1. Claudio Hummes, Brazil
2. Godfried Danneels, Belgium
3. Joseph Ratzinger, Germany
4. Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Columbia

Darkhorse: Wilfred Fox Napier, South Africa

Man of Our Age

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol has written a nice reflection in remembrance of the Holy Father. Additionally, the Standard has a number of articles on the Pope written by George Weigel that can be accessed here.

Karol Wojtyla, pray for us.

Obituary in the NY Times

Here.

April 3, 2005

Candelight Vigil For Pope at Cathedral Steps Next 9 Nights

For those of you in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, read on. For those of you in other parts of the world, we'll see you there in spirit!

Candelight Vigil For Pope at Cathedral Steps Next 9 Nights

Saint Paul, MN - April 3, 2005 - In honor of the life of Pope John Paul II, there will be a candelight vigil on the main steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul each night at 10:00 P.M. to observe the nine days of mourning. The vigils will be held from April 3rd, 2005 until April 11th, 2005. All are welcome to attend. Candles will be provided.

The vigils will consist of the recitation of the rosary, readings from the works of Pope John Paul II, the recitation of Compline, the night prayer of the Church, and chanting of the Salve Regina.

The hours for the Catheral have also been extended, and it will remain open each night for prayer until the vigils start at 10:00 P.M.

Come for all or a portion of these events, and please pass this information along to anyone else who may be interested.

The Cathedral is located at 239 Selby Ave. in St. Paul. For driving directions visit the Cathedral web site at www.cathedralsaintpaul.org

For more information call Jennifer @ 651-699-5009

###

April 4, 2005

Bishops Resources On John Paul II

The U.S. Bishops seem to be on top of things with the death of Pope John Paul II. They have several resources available on the web including overviews of the Papal transition process, and information on the College of Cardinals.

They also have several documents on those he canonized, beatified, his travels, major writings, a gallery of hi-resolution photos, and a biography of his life.

Their servers seem to be running a bit slow, presumably due to heavy traffic, but if you are patient you should be able to get through.

Numbers Favor Latin American Successor

See this article in the Financial Times if you want to find out a little more of the buzz surrounding the Latin American candidates for the papacy. Of course, the more this scenario gets talked up, the more we'll be in for a surprise.

Add Ivan Dias of India to my list of darkhorse candidates.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet on Judicial Nominations

It turns out that Judge Bill Pryor is a member of this "extremist" organization called the Federalist Society.

Ooohh. Shiver.

You can read the full article below:

Continue reading "Throwing Down the Gauntlet on Judicial Nominations" »

New Zogby Poll on Terri Schiavo Says Americans Oppose Starvation

A new poll released today by Zogby noted that when phrased this way:

"If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water?"

79 percent said yes, they should receive food and water, only 9 percent said no. Another 43 percent (to 39 percent) said that when someone has no health care directive, the law should err on the side of life.

So much for backlash against Republicans on the Schiavo case. Unfortunately, the media has spinned and framed this issue. This new poll will be all of the more reason for them to continue to distort facts.

Once again, ideology is the tie that blinds.

What Made John Paul II Great?

Pat Buchanan

Family Research Council

Concerned Women for America

Americans United for Life

Charles Krauthammer

and finally, George Weigel in the WSJ.

John Paul Wants Me for a Sunbeam

OK, fun play on famous children's song I play at home for my little guy...

But in all seriousness, Fordham Law School professor Amy Uelmen has a beautiful reflection of being one of the "sunflowers" that has arisen from the World Youth Day phenomenon, especially the 1993 edition in Denver. Here is a sample:

"One could be ambivalent about the World Youth Day format—fearing that huge and emotional gatherings with a “superstar” figure can easily fizz out in the flatness of ordinary life, and so they may not lend themselves to a deep appreciation of the cultural message that the Church has to deliver.  But what hits you when you read the impressions of these young people is the long-lasting and incredibly profound influence that John Paul II has had on their spiritual lives—how these have been genuine occasions for them to understand, as one put it, “how important we are to the Church and how important we are to him.”  “He managed to leave footprints of God's Love everywhere in the world and even on my heart.” 

As someone whose life has been profoundly affected by this man, I think I can join Amy in great hope that what JPII has sown will be harvested for a long time -- and that is really good news.

The 20th Century Has Ended...

So says Paul Kengor in an interesting article in NRO that links Fatima, communism, and JPII into a very compelling narrative. It is enough to excite any divine conspiracy theorist, or maybe just someone who believes God is a providential actor in human history.

Weigel on JPII

Make sure to check out the article by George Weigel on the Holy Father in today's WSJ.

He also did a great interview with ZENIT. The interview is pasted below:

Code: ZE05040321


Date: 2005-04-03


George Weigel on John Paul II's Impact


"A Man Who Believed That Jesus Christ Is the Answer"


NEW YORK, APRIL 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The world may have yet to appreciate John Paul II for being the "greatest Christian witness" of the 20th century, says papal biographer George Weigel.

In this interview with ZENIT, Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Washington, D.C., and author of "Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II," put the life of the Pontiff, who died Saturday, in perspective.

Q: What did John Paul II do for the prominence of the Church in world affairs?

Weigel: The papacy has long claimed a universal "reach." John Paul II gave this claim real meaning by becoming a kind of one-man moral reference point for the entire world. And in doing so, he reminded the world that "world affairs" are always under the scrutiny of moral judgment.

Contrary to what the foreign policy realists teach, international politics is not an "amoral" arena; nothing human is outside the boundaries of moral reason -- even politics among nations. I doubt that the world has quite caught on yet, but that's what John Paul II insisted upon.

Q: What were his greatest achievements in the field of geopolitics? social doctrine? theology? ecclesiology?

Weigel: John Paul II's pivotal role in the collapse of European communism -- igniting a revolution of conscience that eventually produce the non-violent political revolution of 1989 -- was a tremendous achievement.

But we shouldn't forget the Pope's role in helping settled the Beagle Channel dispute between Argentina and Chile --which threatened to break out into a hot war; nor should we forget his role in helping prepare the way for democracy in Latin America, and his support for democratic transitions in the Philippines and South Korea.

John Paul's defense of the universality of human rights in his 1995 U.N. address was also a very important contribution at a time when the idea of "universal human rights" was being denied or ridiculed by postmodernists, Islamists, the world's remaining communists, and East Asian authoritarians.

In social doctrine, "Centesimus Annus," the Pope's 1991 encyclical, gave Catholic social doctrine a new empirical sensitivity, particularly with regard to economic questions.

Some social-action Catholics had long held out the possibility of building a "third way" that was neither socialist nor capitalist; "Centesimus Annus" recognized that a market-centered economy, properly regulated by law, was in fact this "third way." Although, again, I'm not sure that the believers in a mythical "third way" have accepted the point.

The "theology of the body" seems to me to have been John Paul II's most creative theological accomplishment, although there is a tremendous amount of rich theological material for the Church to digest in John Paul's encyclicals, apostolic letters, postsynodal exhortations and audience addresses.

His theology of divine mercy, for example, remains to be thoroughly explored, as does his Marian theology and his teaching that the "Marian profile" in the Church -- discipleship -- is the most fundamental reality of the Church, even more constitutive of the Church than its "Petrine" profile, its structure as an authoritative community.

As for ecclesiology, I think it's important that John Paul "re-balanced" the Church at a time when national conferences of bishops might have become virtually autonomous "synods" on an Orthodox model. This, of course, is the precise opposite of what the Pope's critics have charged for more than 20 years.

Continue reading "Weigel on JPII" »

April 5, 2005

Papal Funeral

This will be an extraordinary event: 2 to 4 million attendees including just about every major world leader, as well as 2 billion TV viewers. There are 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.9 billion Christians total in the world (including Catholics of course), so this man has had an extraordinary impact beyond his own flock.

Papal Prognisticator

Since I keep getting asked, I thought I would provide a little justification for my list of papabile.

Here is an email I just zipped off to a friend:

As far as my papal prognostications, it is a fool's error to speculate. That being said, I just don't know how they come out not picking a Latin American. There are so many good Latin American cardinals, and that is the center of gravity in the Catholic world. My top two possibilities are Claudio Hummes of Sao Paulo and Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Columbia. The former is a pastor who will foster evangelization, speak to economic injustice and stem the tide of Protestantism in Latin America. He is a Franciscan and very friendly with Opus Dei. Hoyos will kill two birds with one stone by being a Latin American, but at the same time a very conservative Vatican player who will clean house and crack down on abuses that were left to run wild under JPII.

If the cardinals are concerned primarily with devolution (which really means nothing more than letting local bishops conferences have free hand with liberal reforms such as ugly liturgies and condoms), then Godfried Danneels of Belgium will win. This would be a significant victory for the northern European and liberal American cardinals. It is possible but less likely.

If the cardinals are unsure of themselves and where the church should go, and feel they need a strong voice to speak to Islam and biotech/culture of death, then they will choose Joseph Ratzinger as both a transitional figure and a man who can clean house while maintaining a credible moral voice in this dark time. Ratzinger will either be pope or will be the "kingmaker."

If the cardinals are really feeling ambitious, they could pick one of my two darkhorse candidates: Wilfred Fox Napier or Ivan Dias of India. Those would be very stunning selections and demonstrate that the Church has very strong self-confidence and seeks to do some heavy evangelization in Africa and Asia. I'm not sure we are there yet.

Come Holy Spirit!

The Holy Father on the American Experiment

As the Holy Father has left us, it is worth reflecting on his witness and message to this great country. He extolled the virtues of America, especially the principles of its founding, but was critical of the excesses of materialism and its promotion of the Culture of Death.

The Holy Father's understanding of America was put succinctly in his address to Clinton-era ambassador to the Vatican Lindy Boggs on the occasion of her appointment. It was largely seen as a rebuke to the Clinton administration's international abortion promotion.

If you have never read it, do yourself a favor and take in this masterpiece of political philosophy by our late pontiff.

New Book by George Weigel on JPII and the New Pope!

HarperCollins announced today that they will publish a forthcoming book by George Weigel chronicling the last years of JP II's pontificate, as well as profile the conclave that will elect the next pope. Additionally, Weigel will profile this new pontiff and comment upon what it will mean for the future of the Church.

Additionally, the Ratzinger Fan Club blog "Against the Grain has a list of 20 or so recent articles by Weigel, Avery Dulles, RJ Neuhaus and Michael Novak on John Paul II. A great resource.

Souls That Give Us a Glimpse of the Divine

Do read the following article that appeared in the Arizona Republic about one of the anonymous Terri Schiavos that live silently among us.

Continue reading "Souls That Give Us a Glimpse of the Divine" »

Mark Steyn on JPII, Condoms, and the Death of Europe

In the London Guardian newspaper:

"Thoughtful atheists ought to be able to recognise that, whatever one's tastes in these areas, the Pope was on to something - that abortion et al, in separating the "two meanings" of sex and leaving us free to indulge in one while ignoring the other, have severed us almost entirely and possibly irreparably from traditional impulses, such as societal survival. John Paul II championed the "splendour of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense."

Also, a neat op-ed in the New York Times about what JP II has meant to Poland.

Did You Know That JP II Destroyed the Church?

So says Thomas Cahill in today's New York Times.

This article borders on the absurd in its falsifications, inaccuracies, and distortions. It is a harbinger of what is to come on Friday afternoon, after the funeral for the Holy Father is completed and his body is interred in the crypt of St. Peter's.

Then, we will have to listen to a rendition of John Shelby Spong's "The Church Must Change or Die." For all of their supposed global perspective, secular media and liberal Catholic commentators think the concerns of brie and chardonnay liberals and lukewarm Christians (of whatever denomination) and American ones at that, should have the ultimate say in the direction of the Church. Of course, because they are so brilliant! Once again, with this aging boomer generation, it is all about them and what they want.

As many commentators have noted, in discussions about particular church teachings and whether they should change, no mention is made of Jesus, the Bible, or Sacred Tradition. What is correct is what the majority of American liberals and lukewarm Christians believe it to be, and those out of touch leaders should listen up. Since when has "being in touch" been an important element of Christianity? Why hasn't anyone noticed that the most "relevant" churches to the concerns of the liberal media and their condom-crazed friends are dying out, physically and spiritually. Has anyone not made the connection? Or perhaps, that is the point. Maybe when the Church buys into secularist dogma, it will make itself irrelevant, and then can be ignored.

Unfortunately for them, John Paul II has reinvigorated a Church that cannot be ignored. And once the good feelings die down because of popular sentiment, it will be open season on his legacy as a new pontiff is chosen.

Brace yourself.

April 6, 2005

Rate the Cardinals

This interesting site allows you to get acquainted with the College of Cardinals -- their bios, theological orientations, outlook, etc.-- and then rank them and see where your rankings stack up against others.

A time waster, but an interesting one.

Jonah Goldberg on JP II

The G-Man says why the "splendor of truth" defies "right" or "left."

April 7, 2005

Papal Economics 101

Fr. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, discusses the basics of the economic thought of John Paul II.

For an article that emphasizes the heavy anti-modernism of the late Holy Father, check out this article from www.chiesa.

Both of these accounts are hardly the definitive commentary on John Paul II's political and economic outlooks, but are certainly important launchpads for the conversation. This is just the beginning of what will be a lengthy debate in years to come. And unfortunately, he is no longer around to ask.

Cardinal Ratzinger and the New Papal Revolution

A fascinating article from www.chiesa's Sandro Magister on why the legacy of John Paul II, digested and filtered through the thought of Cardinal Ratzinger, may guide the Church in the third millennium.

This article is another indicator of why I think der PanzerKardinal will throw a lot of weight around at the conclave.

The Crime of the Century

The Weekly Standard chronicles the mainstream media and intelligence community's refusal to admit the KGB was behind the assassination attempt of John Paul II.

This despite last week's news of files from the East German Stasi (KGB affilliate) that spoke of the plot in detail, its Soviet genesis, and the coordination of the assassination between the Stasi and the Bulgarian secret police.

Do note that whenever the pope's assassination attempt is mentioned, the media is quick to point out that the Soviet connection was never proven. Now, they no longer have that excuse, but persist in perpetuating the myth.

Ideology: the tie that blinds.

Darfur v. Martha Stewart

The latest commentary is up from the Coalition for Darfur.

One of our bloggers discovered that Save the Children was actually engaged in "reproductive health" measures. To solve this problem, the coalition provided a link to Catholic Relief Services where you can donate to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis overtaking Sudan.

Thanks!

Text of the Pope's Will Released

While we often berate the MSM here at the Seventh Age, they do a pretty good job on occasion. Take for example the Pope's Will. While several Catholic outlets have reported excerpts of it, CNN has the full translation.

Bookies Bet On Next Pope

Who will follow in the footsteps of John Paul II? Here are the latest odds. Organized crime tends to do their homework. It will be interesting to see how in tune they are with the Holy Spirit.

Spring Forward Winter Back?

With gas prices inching up again, and no end in sight due to China's growing appetite for fossil, law makers are toying with the idea of extending daylight savings time. The idea made it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committe and may soon be making its way to a clock near you.

Bush Administration Fights International Abortion

To those that said voting for George W. Bush made no difference to the pro-life cause, I offer this vignette from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute:


FRIDAY FAX

April 8, 2005
Volume 8, Number 16


US Stands Firm Against Abortion at UN Population Conference

A number of prolife interventions made this week at the 38th Session of
the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) have been repelling the
steady advance of the abortion rights agenda. The United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) and pro-abortion lobby groups have exerted
pressure for the Conference to establish universal access to "sexual and
reproductive health services," a term these groups often interpret as
including abortion. However, the United States has requested a
clarification to ensure that such phrases will not be used to promote
abortion.

The Commission is meeting to evaluate progress towards the goals set
out in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development
(ICPD) agreed to at Cairo. The Cairo outcome document states that "In no
case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning" but also
contains the terms "reproductive rights" and "reproductive health," and
these terms have been used by the UN in the past to promote abortion.

The United States has asked that the Cairo document be reaffirmed only
"with the understanding that nothing therein creates an international
right to abortion." The US made a similar request last month at the
Commission on the Status of Women regarding the outcome documents of the
1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. The current US proposal has not
provoked the same firestorm among the proabortion lobby as last month's
request. The US language continues to be negotiated and a positive outcome
could emerge on Friday.

On Wednesday, Nicaragua stated that "we recognize that there is no
language in the [Cairo] documents that can be interpreted as promoting
abortion," and said that it "reiterates on this occasion the reservations
that were expressed in relation to the terms 'sexual and reproductive
health,' 'sexual rights,' 'sexual and reproductive health services,' and
other similar wording and it is intended once more that these do not
include abortion."

The theme of this year's CPD session is HIV/AIDS, development and
poverty, and Kofi Annan's office, UNFPA and abortion advocates such as
Planned Parenthood International have been arguing for access to abortion
as necessary in the fight against AIDS. The European Union on Monday
expressed support for this link, stating that "the fight against HIV/AIDS
cannot succeed without universal access to quality reproductive health
services."

The session has also exposed a strategy to insert the right to abortion
into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Among its proponents, Ghana
stated that "We fully support the inclusion of a target on 'universal
access to reproductive health by 2015' in MDG five."

Santorum: Frist to Go Nuclear on Judges

The Hill reports that Rick Santorum has told conservative activists that Sen. Bill Frist will trigger the nuclear option, overriding a senate filibuster so that President Bush's judicial nominees can be confirmed.

Interestingly, many business leaders (and the senators beholden to them) are wavering because it may slow down their legislative agenda (of tax breaks and pork barrell spending). Business always hates controversy and conflict. We'll see who really holds the puppett strings of the GOP.

Minnesotans For Marriage

A very important under-the-radar political event has been happening over the past few weeks here in Minnesota. Republican leaders have proposed a state constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Amidst all of the hoopla over the death of the Holy Father and the conclave, we must remain vigilant about the issues here at home. Much of the significant political work on this issue will take place in the next couple of weeks. Phone your state senators and demand that they vote on this bill so that it can go on the ballot this year.

For the latest news on the amendment, go here, here, and here.

More George Weigel on JP II

Frankly, reading or listening to George Weigel talk about Pope John Paul II never gets old. I have posted a lot of interviews with our good friend George over the past few days, but each one seems to offer some new insight, a fresh kernel of wisdom about our late Pontiff.

Here is the latest, conducted by Fr. Raymond de Souza in the National Catholic Register:

Continue reading "More George Weigel on JP II" »

April 8, 2005

Let Us Continue to Be Touched By This Great Man

This story in the International Herald Tribune is yet another moving story of Karol Wojtyla.

Hat Tip: Letters From Babylon

April 9, 2005

Farewell, John Paul the Great

A very special tribute to our late Holy Father appeared in today's Star Tribune op-ed pages. =)

More From Darfur

Via the Coalition for Darfur.

Just In Case You Are in to Kitschy Gifts...

The papal bobblehead may be for you. Hurry! Act Now! Supplies going fast! Just $29.95 and comes with a free ginsu knife.

April 10, 2005

What to Do With Cardinal Law?

I had put myself on a blogging hiatus, but the collective outrage about Bernard Cardinal Law saying one of the Masses during the novemdiales has forced me to say a few words in the Cardinal's and Cardinals' defense.

Rob Vischer at Mirror of Justice makes a sensible point about breaking tradition and maybe not have the archpriest of St. Mary Major preside over one of the Masses. Fair enough. He also states that he would even join the protesters who flew all the way to St. Peter's to make their point. Once again, fair enough, although in all of this discussion, maybe there is something obvious missing. It seems to all begin with the assumption that there is this indiffernt Vatican hierarchy that doesn't mind sticking their finger in the eye of abuse victims and elevate one of their own to a supposed position of honor after he caused the suffering of so many. I can see them now, all twiddling their fingers like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, saying, "Excellent!" as they wickedly protect the evildoer in their midst.

Frankly, I've had enough of this discussion. I think there might be an alternative explanation, and the point is worth making. Rather than being a bunch of indifferent old men, maybe allowing (and even compelling) Bernard Law to preach at one of these Masses may be of tremendous service to a Church that could learn from the mistakes of its past. Perhaps putting someone like Law in front of the cardinals could be a powerful lesson about what can happen when they are careless in the exercise of their authority, as well as the spiritual consequences that may ensue. It gives him the opportunity to share his prayerful reflections over the past couple of years since his exile in Rome with the rest of the College of Cardinals. Perhaps he has something powerful to teach and preach to his colleagues. I'm willling to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that the other cardinals may feel the same way. He has certainly been shamed and chastened and has had to think alot about his mistakes. This could be a real positive for the Church.

The reason I think this is a possibility is because by all accounts, Bernard Law is a very good man with an amazing record of pastoral accomplishment, commitment to justice, and personal humility who happened to both make some gross errors in judgment as well as be in the wrong place at the wrong time. To impart to him sheer evil, malfeasance and bad faith is just plain calumny and fails to deal with the complexity of the sex abuse crisis. No doubt that he feels miserable and truly sorry for everything that happened. But perhaps he was mired in a Church culture that relied on "experts" and other specialists who believed with a little treatment or a change of scenery, these problem priests would be cured. Acting in the context of the post-conciliar era and its stupid deference to "science" and experts in all fields from liturgy to psychology and pastoral care, and relying on the fads and trends of the time out of a supposed duty to empower the laity and the wisdom of the new scientist/psychologist priests of the modern world, the Church mired itself in a huge crisis. But to have gone against the grain and resisted this at the time would have been nothing short of heresy. Most of the same activists that are championing reform in the wake of the abuse crisis, are the same that sought and built a church culture that relied on the wisdom of the age rather than ageless wisdom.

So my point is, let's all step back, take a deep breath, and maybe consider that this might be a positive moment for the Church. The way I look at it is this has to be a profoundly penitential moment for Law. Having the responsibility of preaching to all of the cardinals after screwing up and dragging the Church through as much mud as it was because of his mistakes can be nothing but chastening. I suspect he will approach this opportunity with much humiliity, and serve as a very important cautionary tale as the cardinal electors ponder the successor of John Paul the Great.

April 11, 2005

Buca Diners Say Bring Back Il Papa!

Diners at fun Italian, family-style restaurant Buca di Beppo are up in arms over the restaurant's decision to remove the bust of JP II from the center of the large tables in its "pope dining room." The original plan was to donate the busts to Catholic schools. However, customers are furious, clamoring to see their old friend who adorned the table.

My own take is that the busts should still be donated, and they should impose a Buca Interregnum, a vacany of the apostolic place setting, until new busts of the next pope can be created.

The Libertarian Case for State-Sponsored Marriage

Catholic libertarian economist Jennifer Roback Morse explains why it is vital that government be involved in the marriage business.

What to Do With Cardinal Law? - Rob Vischer Responds

Over at Mirror of Justice, Rob Vischer has a solid response to my complaints about folks overblowing Cardinal Law's role as a Mass celebrant during the novemdiales.

I think he is right in that this role seems to be one of honor primarily because it allows the preacher to state his case for what needs to happen in the Church in the context of pomp and decor. And I do like the Ken Lay analogy, but maybe this platform allows him to speak to the Church more universally than a "closed" meeting of cardinals. I guess it depends a large part on what he actually said, which we will have to wait for ZENIT, or some other news service, to release.

If Law wasted the opportunity, then the whole thing does get a little unseemly. But, I think my major concern is what I consider the largely unjust demonization of this man, and the media grandstanding by the spokespersons of the "survivors" groups that use their pals in the media to berate the Church and advance their Anglicizing agenda.

Thanks for your response, Rob.

UPDATE: It seems I completely missed this conversation about the issue over at Open Book. For all sorts of moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (and some solid points as well), check it out.

April 12, 2005

The Cardinal Law Saga ... Continued

Over at Open Book Amy Welborn has posted a number of stories relating to the imbroglio, including John Allen's reflections as well as a summary of the Mass said by Cardinal Law. It is all quite insightful, especially Allen's comments about the supposed lack of PR common sense by the Church:

"Finally, another illustration of the cultural gap: If the Vatican were at all sensitive to public relations in the conventional sense, they certainly would not have issued what was, in effect, an engraved invitation to the American press to resurrect the sex abuse story after a week of uninterruptedly positive coverage tied to the life and legacy of John Paul II. If the Vatican were a Fortune 500 corporation, someone in the public relations office would be out of work. Obviously, however, the Vatican simply does not think in these terms.

"On the other hand, from a PR point of view, the Vatican probably gets a free pass on this story, because by tomorrow speculation about the next pope will no doubt once again supplant the Law story, which will be no more than a tiny footnote to the week’s events. The larger issues it illustrates, on the other hand, are certainly not going away."

Whig Thomists v. Augustinian Thomists

Browsing through the online symposium at Mirror of Justice dedicated to the contributions of Pope John Paul II to legal theory, I came across an interesting essay from the online web-zine, The New Pantagruel.

The writer, Jeremy Beer of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, both reviews an interesting book entitled "Culture and the Thomist Tradition," as well as provide a primer into the major intellectual debate within Catholicism. The "winner" will end up guiding the Church's response to economics and culture well into the 21st century. Since most of the cardinals represent some baptized, pro-life form of democratic socialism and are deeply deferential to the theological outlook of Cardinal Ratzinger (one of the Augustinian Thomists), it seems that this perspective will carry the day. The Whig Thomists, mostly American and Italian laypersons like George Weigel and Rocco Buttiglione, have a tough road ahead of them to undo the strength of the neo-Augustinian position.

Has Henry VIII's Revolt Come to An End?

A great op-ed from the London Telegraph highlighting the the prominence and moral authority of the Catholic Church in England.

This is just one of a number of interesting articles appearing at Godspy.com. Go have a look see.

April 13, 2005

Jesus Sold On eBay

I've heard stories of people keeping consecrated hosts as souvenirs, usually because they don't know any better, but this posting on eBay gives new meaning to the word simony.


Fist of all, I AM NOT CATHOLIC AND DO NOT BELIEVE I'M GOING TO HELL FOR SELLING THIS COLLECTIBLE. So, if you're going to send me a message saying that I am don't waist your time because it'll just be deleted w/o being read. It's a momento from that great afternoon with Pope John Paul II. Yes, this is the actual Eucharist I saved during the mass that I participated in on October 18th, 1998. I ate one wafer then I went back and got another one to save and he gave me another one, but I did get a very dirty look! I was studying in Florence that semester and a bunch of us went down to Rome that week to partake. I'm not Catholic, but I found it all very interesting. Along with the Eucharist, I have the program from that day and a litte bulletin. It's all in Italian. I also have 4 stamps from the Vatican that year and a bottle opener that I bought when I was in Rome way back in 1992. From what I understand, if you're holding something in your hand during a certain moment when Pope John Paul II spoke during his mass, whetever it becomes blessed. I was holding this bottle opener during mass with him in 1992. It has his picture on one side and a picture of the Trevi Fountain on the other. Everything from 1998 (Eucharist, bulletin, program, and stamps, have been encased in plastic in my stratch book since then and have not had much light and no air. All in awesome condition and I believe extrememly rare for obvious reasons. I've included a pic of 2 pics I took that day in 1998 when I was there. The front of St. Peter's was already being cleaned up for the big 2000 festivities and my other pic would have been great instead for my friend's hand in the way! I would like to sell them as a package but would consider seperate offers. These truly are great pieces of history!

The item has sold, not for 20 pieces of silver, but for $2,000.

We have much work to do to evangelize on the Real Presence!

The New Yorker Gets Scalia Wrong?

So says former Scalia clerk and Ethics and Public Policy Center president Ed Whelan in National Review.

Certainly, the New Yorker does not get originalism, and looks upon the concept as something that might be espoused by an ogre. After all, if we hadn't abandoned originalism, there would be no civil rights! But, in regard to Scalia's person, the article by writer Margaret Talbot is very fair and sometimes even laudatory. My favorite parts were those chronicling Nino's upbringing and early professional years, as well as his friendship with uber-liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

You can read the original New Yorker piece here.

First Things Rome Diary

From Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. The first posting is full of interesting reflections from America's most journalistically prolific and erudite clergyman.

AP Says Ratzinger Gaining Support Among Cardinals!

This definitely means he won't be pope. And why do Italian newspapers have sources saying that Ratzinger already has a solid voting bloc of 50 cardinals? Where do they get this information? Who is leaking, or is it just talk, like Italians are wont to do?

Pharmacist Sentenced to Ethics Class for Refusing to Fill Contraceptives

A Wisconsin pharmacist Neil Noesen is being sent to ethics classes for refusing to fill a perscription for contraceptives.

Apparently:


"The prevailing issue is the safety and health of the patient becomes the overriding issue. You can exercise your belief, but you have to make sure there's a continuance of care and that patient is taken care of," said Bettiga, himself a pharmacist in Green Bay.

I guess a healthy woman is now an infertile woman. Which begs the question why is insurance coverage of fertility treatments mandated by some states?

Regretablly, Neil's situation is not unique. While Catholics were mourning the loss of John Paul II, the governor of Illinois was helping advance a coersive form of the culture of death, by requiring:


pharmacies to accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay, after a growing number of complaints nationwide that some pharmacists are refusing to dispense birth control pills and the "morning-after" pill.

He also established a toll-free number that residents can call to report refusals by pharmacies.


One senses that the battle over contraception is just beginning, and those opposed are definitely in the minority.

How the NYT and Rachel Zoll Turned Catholics Against Cardinal Law

FINAL EDITS IN PROGRESS AS YOU READ THIS

Yes, this is yet another discussion of the Cardinal Law Incident which I have dubbed Lawgate. However I believe it is noteworthy in that it is fairly well researched. Over the last few days I have reviewed the 818 news stories on Cardinal Law in the Google news index (covering over 5,000 major outlets for the last 30 days), and have uncovered some interesting facts that will hopefully shed some light on the genesis of Lawgate.

A little background for those of you new to the conversation. Rob Vischer over at Mirror of Justice stirred the waters over here at The Seventh Age with his post on Cardinal Law and Common Sense.

Our esteemed author jaadkins added his two cents and drew our attention to the conversation raging over at Open Book.

I was struck by the uniformity in the outrage against Cardinal Law, even by fellow Catholics, for what I thought was a non-event, and decided to get to the bottom of this "story" and find out how it became "news."

Continue reading "How the NYT and Rachel Zoll Turned Catholics Against Cardinal Law" »

April 14, 2005

Law Student Brownshirts on the March!

Is this what is meant by viewpoint diversity in the Law Schools? Once again, Nino Scalia is uncovered to be the evil force that he is.

Here is an excerpt:

A planned protest in Washington Square Park followed the Q-and-A, which drew activists from OUTLaw, an organization of LGBT law students, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the NYU Black Allied Law Students Association and the NYC Chapter of the National Organization of Women. The group held signs that read "Scalia Go Home To the Dark Ages" and "Repeal Scalia," and wore homemade t-shirts reading "Scalia Not My Chief Justice."

"Gifted people can either use their talents to help other people or hurt other people," said Bert Leatherman, a law student and the protest's organizer. "We all agree that Scalia has used his gifts to hurt people."

After listening to brief speeches around the fountain, the group organized and marched to Vanderbilt Hall, the law school building. The group stood inside the school's courtyard and chanted "Sexist, Racist, Anti-Gay, Nino, Nino, Go Away!"

"Scalia has got such a backwards world view and he wields so much power," said Dave Hancock, a Gallatin sophomore who joined the protest mid-march. "To be honored at a so-called progressive school is sickening."

Enough Said.

Hat Tip: Southern Appeal

"The Cube and the Cathedral"

The Wall Street Journal reviews George Weigel's new book on European cultural decline. His main thesis:

"What is the deeper source of European antipathy to religion? For Mr. Weigel, the problem goes all the way back to the 14th century, when scholastics like William of Ockham argued for "nominalism." According to their philosophy, universals--concepts such as "justice" or "freedom" and qualities such as "white" or "good"--do not exist in the abstract but are merely words that denote instances of what they describe. A current of thought was set into motion, Mr. Weigel believes, that pulled European man away from transcendent truths. One casualty was a fixed idea of human nature.

"If there is no such thing as human nature," Mr. Weigel argues, "then there are no universal moral principles that can be read from human nature." If there are no universal moral truths, then religion, positing them, is merely a form of oppression or myth, one from which Europe's elites see themselves as liberated."

Peggy Noonan Gets Inside the Mind of a Cardinal

Ooh, this is good. What some of the more "enlightened" (read: Western) cardinals may be considering as they enter the conclave.

Don't miss this one.

How the NYT and Rachel Zoll Turned Catholics Against Cardinal Law

Yes, this is yet another discussion of the Cardinal Law Incident which I have dubbed Lawgate. However I believe it is noteworthy in that it is fairly well researched. Over the last few days I have reviewed the 818 news stories on Cardinal Law in the Google news index (covering over 5,000 major outlets for the last 30 days), and have uncovered some interesting facts that will hopefully shed some light on the genesis of Lawgate.

A little background for those of you new to the conversation. Rob Vischer over at Mirror of Justice stirred the waters over here at The Seventh Age with his post on Cardinal Law and Common Sense.

Our esteemed author jaadkins added his two cents and drew our attention to the conversation raging over at Open Book.

I was struck by the uniformity in the outrage against Cardinal Law, even by fellow Catholics, for what I thought was a non-event, and decided to get to the bottom of this "story" and find out how it became "news."

Continue reading "How the NYT and Rachel Zoll Turned Catholics Against Cardinal Law" »

Lacking the Political Will

The latest tragedy from the Coalition for Darfur.

Remember, you can now support the efforts of Catholic Relief Services through the site.

So, You Thought Latin Was Dead?

I came across this interesting article on the revival of interest in the Latin language.

It is a bit old (2003), but a good look at a revival that has gone largely unnoticed. With the exception of this article, the old maxim holds: "When the revolution comes, you won't read about it in the papers."

Hat tip: BlogLatin.

April 18, 2005

"Sale of the Eucharist did not violate company policies" says eBay

Here is the latest on a story we mentioned a few days ago.

Papal Vote Round 1

Ratzinger's Conclave Homily

Simply beautiful. I am praying fervently that he or one of his many collaborators who share his vision is elected Pontiff.

--

At this hour of great responsibility, we hear with special consideration what the Lord says to us in his own words. From the three readings I would like to examine just a few passages which concern us directly at this time.

The first reading gives us a prophetic depiction of the person of the Messiah – a depiction which takes all its meaning from the moment Jesus reads the text in the synagogue in Nazareth, when he says: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4,21). At the core of the prophetic text we find a word which seems contradictory, at least at first sight. The Messiah, speaking of himself, says that he was sent “To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God” (Is 61,2). We hear with joy the news of a year of favor: divine mercy puts a limit on evil – the Holy Father told us. Jesus Christ is divine mercy in person: encountering Christ means encountering the mercy of God. Christ’s mandate has become our mandate through priestly anointing. We are called to proclaim – not only with our words, but with our lives, and through the valuable signs of the sacraments, the “year of favor from the Lord”. But what does the prophet Isaiah mean when he announces the “day of vindication by our God”? In Nazareth, Jesus did not pronounce these words in his reading of the prophet’s text – Jesus concluded by announcing the year of favor. Was this, perhaps, the reason for the scandal which took place after his sermon? We do not know. In any case, the Lord gave a genuine commentary on these words by being put to death on the cross. Saint Peter says: “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross” (1 Pe 2,24). And Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: “Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’, that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3, 13s).

The mercy of Christ is not a cheap grace; it does not presume a trivialization of evil. Christ carries in his body and on his soul all the weight of evil, and all its destructive force. He burns and transforms evil through suffering, in the fire of his suffering love. The day of vindication and the year of favor meet in the paschal mystery, in Christ died and risen. This is the vindication of God: he himself, in the person of the Son, suffers for us. The more we are touched by the mercy of the Lord, the more we draw closer in solidarity with his suffering – and become willing to bear in our flesh “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Col 1, 24).

Continue reading "Ratzinger's Conclave Homily" »

Monsignor Talks Man Out of Selling Consecrated Host

Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

Hats off to the diocese of Sioux City for taking the initiative and appraoching a man slated to sell a consecrated host for $2,000 on eBay.


Monsignor Roger J. Augustine, administrator of the Diocese of Sioux City, met with the seller Friday and was advised that the sale would not be consummated.  According to Msgr. Augustine, the seller deeply regretted the effort to sell the Eucharist and extended a personal apology to him, the Diocese and any others who had been offended by the E-Bay listing.  Because the transaction never materialized, there was no money exchanged or received.

Shame on eBay for a lack of consistency in their policies:

The online marketer forbids the sale of religious items of Native origin.  The E-Bay "Prohibited and Restricted Items" overview notes under "Artifacts" that Native American "gravesite-related items, and burial items may not be listed on eBay" including, "Native American masks and 'prayer sticks' from all Southwestern tribes."  The seller lists a "Buy it now" price for the communion host of £5,000 (Approximately US $9,465.00)

You can't sell Native American prayer sticks, but consecrated hosts are up for auction.

You can track some of the other more ridiculous things up for sale at the world's largest online marketplace here.

April 19, 2005

Papal Vote Rounds 2 & 3 (Burned Together)

Habemus Papam!

Papal Vote Round 4

Congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI nee Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Benedict XVI a Nazi?

NO WAY! says the Jerusalem Post in a thorough debunking of the outrages being perpetuated by the MSM and the London Guardian in particular. It should be noteworthy as to the source of this story.

I'm waiting to see how long it takes for someone to actually read anything this man has written, or interview someone with extensive personal contact with our new Pope.

Since the Ratzinger Fan Club site is down, try this link to Ignatius Press, the main American publisher of his works.

Liberal Catholics Whip Themselves In Agony

The Fedster has pinned the tail on the proverbial ass of folks like Andrew Sullivan who continue to assault the church with their own personal affirmation agenda. Here is a quote from Sullivan's tantrum on the election of Pope Benedict XVI, followed by Feddie of Southern Appeal's "Me Creed" written in honor of Andrew:

Continue reading "Liberal Catholics Whip Themselves In Agony" »

April 20, 2005

Papal Cyber Squatting

If you visit www.BenedictXVI.com you may be surprised to encounter the blog of Rogers Cadenhead. He bought the domain name along with 6 other guesses on April 1st, and this one came up a winner. You can read all about it over at Wired.

How Pope Benedict XVI became "Enforcer of the Faith"

With the recent election of Pope Benedict XVI, stories have been swirling about how he is "the Enforcer of the Faith." But how did he get this title? It comes primarily from the first biography released by John L. Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. The reviews of the book on Amazon indicate left-leaning Allen's view of the Church colors his account of Ratzinger. No wonder the press is primarily focused on portarying Benedict XVI as a power-brokering enforcer of doctrine, imposing his will from the untouchable CDF.

One of Ratzinger's former students had an informed critique of Allen's biography that was published in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review and provides more personal insights into our new pope.

On a slightly different note, a friend of mine commented after hearing the news that Ratzinger would become pope that, "Ignatius Press will make a fortune." With exclusive rights to his works in English (at least at one point in time) he is probably right.

April 21, 2005

The Fall of Santiago de Compostela

While Spain was once a Catholic stronghold and popular pilgrimmage site, the land which is supposedly 94% Catholic is gearing up for social collapse.

A government sanctioned sodomy bill (a.k.a. gay marriage bill) has made it through the lower house of the Spanish parliament, and is expected to easily gain approval in the Senate. And following on its heals is a no-fault divorce bill that let's people file for a divorce three months after getting married.

Ironically, the gay advocates don't seem too upset about the erosion of the instution they want to pretend to be a part of.

Our Politburo Pope

"Hard line" (a term I think I've only really seen applied to Politburo cronies, Chinese officials, or grisly dictators -- oh, and Tom DeLay).

"Divisive"

"Watchdog"

"Doctrinaire"

Just some of the few appellations being attributed to our fine Pontiff. Jonathan Last gives a great run-down of the media's take on this man. How many derogatory terms can you apply in one sentence and get away with it?

April 22, 2005

The NY Times Covers the Anointing of the Messiah

I don't know where this came from (it was forwarded to me), but it's a great laugh.

PICK SEEN AS SIGN OF CONTRADICTION
by Ian Fisher
CAESAREA PHILIPPI (20 Kislev) Yesterday's surprise announcement that doctrinal hardliner Jesus of Nazareth had been anointed "Messiah" provoked mixed reactions in the diverse and sometimes fractious Israelite community, ranging from cautious disappointment to frank despair.
"I see it as a missed opportunity," said Herodias Schneidkopf, a Galilaean incest rights activist. "May of us were hoping for someone more open to leadership roles for women and more appreciative of our experience. I don't feel valued."
Respected Archpriest Caiaphas Bar Nun agreed. "Above all, the Messiah should be a good listener. How can we as a faith community keep credibility among the youth of today if we cling to every jot and tittle of an outmoded social code while thousands die of leprosy and hunger? Today's highly educated Judahite community isn't satisfied with the old answers. I'm afraid it's a missed opportunity."
Even some members of the Messiah's personal entourage expressed misgivings. The Rev. J. E. "Dimples" Iscariot, S.J., media consultant and associate editor of Marble Thighs magazine, did not hide his regret. "A missed opportunity, I'm afraid. We in the Society of Judas traditionally enjoy a special relationship to the Messiah, but we'll find this choice very hard to explain to gays and lesbians -- I mean, of course, to gomorrhaists and sodomitesses -- as well as to the divorced and the marginalized. Why just the other day I saw 300 denarii, which might have been used to help find a cure for leprosy, squandered on wholly unnecessary ritual excesses."
Fighting the spread of leprosy is a vexed issue among contemporary Palestinians, many of whom support tetrarchy-funded prevention programs that encourage nuptial relations with livestock so as to reduce the risks of transmitting the disease to an uninfected partner. Most polls show Israelites widely ignore official teachings on ethical matters, preferring to follow their own conscience. Some see Jesus' moral conservatism as a rigidity that leads to disfigurement and death in at-risk populations -- and that may ultimately doom his movement to irrelevance.
"Yesterday's unction was an opportunity missed," insisted real estate broker Sapphira Glass, "Today's young professionals don't find their own experience reflected in a one-size-fits-all morality that limits options and encodes patriarchal bias. I mean, sacrificing one's newborns to Moloch is a tragic but often necessary choice, and many of us find the language of apostasy alienating and judgmental."
"It all comes down to power," countered maverick theologian Fr. Richard Maccabeus, retired Professor of Applied Autology, who pointed out that the successful candidate had almost no pastoral experience. "What we're seeing is a right-wing restorationist fantasy in its death throes. Intelligent Israelites aren't buying. We want to be heard. We want someone who speaks not with authority but like us academics -- I mean of course, like the scribes and the pharisees. One can only call it a missed opportunity."
The Procurator of Judea was unavailable for comment.

Why They Ran

Once again, Peggy Noonan says it just right.

The passage below is not critical to the article, but simply a teaser to read more:

"We are living in a time of supernatural occurrences. The old pope gives us his suffering as a parting gift, says his final goodbye on Easter Sunday; dies on the vigil of Feast of the Divine Mercy, the day that marks the messages received by the Polish nun, now a saint, who had written that a spark out of Poland would light the world and lead the way to the coming of Christ. The mourning period for the old pope ends on the day that celebrates St. Stanislas, hero of Poland, whose name John Paul had thought about taking when he became pope. We learned this week from a former secretary that John Paul I, the good man who was pope just a month, had told everyone the day he was chosen that he wanted to be called John Paul I. You can't be called "the first" until there is a second, he was told. There will be a second soon, he replied."

Benedict and Scalia: Soul Brothers?

So says Daniel Henninger in today's Wall Street Journal. The article (for subscribers only) can be read below:

Continue reading "Benedict and Scalia: Soul Brothers?" »

Let Cookie Monster Be Cookie Monster

The latest PC assault on common sense. Jonah Goldberg has the story.

April 23, 2005

Amy Welborn: Putting the Smackdown on Mo Dowd Since 2005

Thank God for gifted Catholic writers like Ms. Welborn, not afraid to give nitwits like Maureen Dowd the business.

Oh, and she's got a great new book: "Here.Now.:A Catholic Guide to the Good Life."

Benedict XVI and the Doorway to the New Dark Ages

Another stunning article on things Catholic from new First Things editor Joseph Bottum.

B-16 A Multivitamin For Our Times

Jeff Miller, a former atheist turned Catholic has a humorous take over at The Curt Jester on our new pope. Here is a flavor:


You might have been told in the past that Humanae Vitaemins were not good for you or that if your conscience decided you didn't need Humanae Vitaemins you could safely ignore them. Latest cultural medical studies have proven the link between lack of Humanae Vitaemins and the lack of children. These studies show the extreme cultural malnutrition from not getting their *RDA of required spiritual nutrition.

Hat Tip to Clayton over at The Weight of Glory

Whither American Catholic Youth?

Mirror of Justice's Michael Perry has posted an interesting article from today's New York Times by Peter Steinfels on the pope's impact on American Catholic Youth.

While noting some interesting challenges that Benedict XVI will face, I think the article incorrectly frames the issue, especially its citation of a study find that American Catholic teenagers exhibit 5-25% less religiosity and religious knowledge than their counterparts in other faiths. The findings are not surprising and probably very accurate, but the phenomenon does not stem from John Paul II's inability to connect with these people as some have stated.

The religiosity of Catholic youth in America is actually exploding, but I would wager in the 18-35 demographic, not the teenage demographic. The reasons are many. First, a valuable distinction may lie in Michael Barone's excellent book, Hard America, Soft America. Barone argues that American youth are soft because of the economically comfortable lifestyle children live, as well as the various forms of coddling they received from their parents, schools, and the broader culture. Most teenagers are largely inept and spoiled. However, American capitalism being what it is competitively, these inept teenagers are required to grow up very fast, honing their professional skills, resume, and social acumen. Thus, while we have inept teenagers, we have thirty-year-olds who can run the world.

Translating this phenomenon into the spiritual life, we can evaluate the study Steinfels cites. Hard America forces post-teenagers, who are now on their own and must be adults, to encounter the most basic crises and challenges of human existence. Who am I? What am I about? What is my life for? How can I serve? What is happiness? And on and on. Forced to be an adult in other dimensions of their life, they encounter the existential crisis of meaning in their personal and spiritual lives. Forced to make a choice, more and more are choosing spiritual adulthood, and finding it in Christian Orthodoxy. Colleen Carroll Campbell has written an excellent book and articles on just this subject. Many young adults, confronted with the crisis of meaning thrust upon them by modern, secular civilization are embracing a life of heroic virtue and sacrifice. The Catholic Church is about the only thing left that taps into youthful idealism and also challenges persons to live a higher calling. The choice is now becoming more defined. People are embracing Christianity in a deeper way, or simply thwarting the existential questions and embracing consumerism, nihilism, and spiritual childhood. The fault lines are becoming clearer.

By contrast, teenage Catholics, who are pampered and largely immersed in the culture do not have to make these sorts of decisions. They can coast along, enjoying the myriad of pleasures and sensations that the "youth culture" affords them. Why bother taking faith seriously, especially when it is dumbed down and patronizing (and effeminate)? CCD has become (to quote Mark Shea) "cut, color, and draw." That was certainly my own experience, where CCD was mainly a forum for teaching kids to be really tolerant, sharing how mean your parents were, and going on retreats where folks smoked cigarettes for the first time and sometimes engaged in sexual experimentation. This is buttressed by banal liturgy, milquetoast spirituality, and a notion of Christian love that is all warm, fuzzy, and affirming, but not virtuous or sacrificing. It is all eros, but no agape.

But my own experience as a high school Catholic doctrine teacher shows that when you present the faith clearly, it speaks for itself and is often very inspiring. We can't and shouldn't dumb it down for folks. The faith is exciting, challenging, and fulfilling. Young people want heroism, not rainbows, puppy dogs and ice cream.

John Paul II connected with those who were truly searching. He provided answers to those existential crises (especially involving sex!) and called people to a higher existence. He had no rock star qualities in the last years of his life when many of today's young people grew to love him. It was the simple forece of his words.

Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI will clean up the institutional decay that has fostered spiritual childhood among "Soft America." The phenomenon has unfortunately created two types of Catholic young adults: those that embrace the faith and largely have to self-educate, and others who abandon the faith and fill the spiritual vacuum with the Da Vinci Code and other silliness. A big challenge lay ahead.

April 25, 2005

Benedict XVI, Tocqueville, and Freedom

In his excellent Weekly Standard article, Joseph Bottum argued that while John Paul II's encyclical "Centessimus Annus" gave three cheers for democracy and two for capitalism, the new Pontiff, coming from the German social democratic tradition which has always tried to "split the difference" between Marxism and capitalism, would only give one cheer for capitalism.

With some of the other major crises this pope will have to deal with, it may be a while before we get a substantive treatment on the role of the state in the management of the economy. He may be content to comment upon the writings of his predecessor. In the meantime, the Acton Institute's Alejandro Chafuen has penned an interesting article noting the influence of Alexis de Tocqueville on the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. It may be two cheers for capitalism (lived within the context of a robust civil society) after all.

Religion and the New Urbanism

In our continuing series on the intersection of land use, urban development, culture and religion, I thought I'd direct our readers to the work of Joel Kotkin. Mr. Kotkin does a lot of writing about "the good city" and has recently published an article in the Weekly Standard entitled, "Sects and the City." He argues that religion and religious culture has always been the focal point in the construction of the great cities of history. Here is a taste:

"This retreat from religion is one of the least understood and discussed aspects of the relative decline of the great cities of the West. To be sure, there are many other, more tangible causes--the rise of the Internet, the generations-long flight of the middle class to the suburbs, fear of terrorism. But the decline of religious community may reflect a deeper malaise that could weaken the very spirit of urban culture.

"Churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques provide critical ballast for cities. In an often impersonal and challenging environment they offer a place of refuge and solace, a means of gradual assimilation for the newly arrived, and, perhaps most important, an alternative setting for the inculcation of values in the new generation."

Kotkin has a new book out with the same general thesis: The City: A Global History.

The Supposed Dichotomy Between Love and Truth

This dastardly phenomenon was exemplified perfectly by last week's Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial: Benedict XVI:Pastor or Enforcer?. The editorial stated that it remains to be seen whether he will be a "pastor" (i.e., submitting to the sex-focused agenda of the Left) or an "enforcer" (i.e., actually maintains the doctrine of the Church).

Like any good father, a pope should exercise his authority even when his children do not listen or obey. When a father caves to his children's demands, the children are usually not better off, and they've lost respect for their authority figure. Everyone loses.

Father James V. Schall has an article up at IgnatiusInsight.com entitled, "Suppose We Had a "Liberal" Pope." I think he gets it just right. The Church would lose all credibility as a moral authority and would become irrelevant, just as those who seek it to "change" want it to be. No one likes an inconvenient conscience. And that is the crux of the issue.

Papal Press Conference (without questions)

In a move that may mark the beginning of a more media-friendly pontificate, Benedict XVI devoted an audience on Saturday to members of the media:


3. Conscious of her mission and of the importance of the media, the Church has sought collaboration with the world of social communication, especially since Vatican Council II. Without a doubt, Pope John Paul II was the great author of that open and sincere dialogue, he who, during more than 26 years as Pope, maintained constant and fruitful relations with you who are engaged in social communications. And it was particularly to those responsible for social communications that he wished to dedicate one of his last documents, the apostolic letter of Jan. 24 in which he recalls that "our age is one of global communication, where so many moments of human existence unfold through media processes, or at least must be confronted with them" ("The Rapid Progress," No. 3).

I wish to continue this fruitful dialogue, and I share what Pope John Paul II observed regarding the fact that "the present development of social communications impels the Church to a sort of pastoral and cultural revision in order that it will be able to address the epochal change in which we are living" (Ibid., No. 8).

MacIntyre and Pope Benedict in Cahoots?

I recently stumbled upon an interesting observation by Bruce W. Griffin over at President Aristotle. He draws the parallels between Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue (with a later chapter entitled "Waiting for St Benedict") and the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Meanwhile, in Moscow…

Vladimir Putin made a state of the nation Monday. Apparently, the state of the Russian nation is currently restlessly nostalgic. The slow implosion of the Soviet Union was, according to the President, "the greatest political catastrophe of the last century.” And here we’ve been thinking it was good thing. Putin made reference to the millions of Russians living “trapped” in breakaway republics and the loss of “old ideals.”

Putin is looking forward to democratic transformations, though he clarified that it would be a democracy based on Russian traditions instead of Western ones. Since democracy itself is a Western tradition unknown in Russian history, Putin must be referring to venerable Russian traditions such as militant xenophobia and absolute autocracy. “We must become a free society of free people," he said. And anyone that does not become free will be dealt with severely.

Does anyone else find this spooky?

Sharon Osbourne Regrets Her Abortion

It's just not a good year for the abortion industry. As if the election losses last year weren't enough, now Ozzy's wife is going public in her new book that her abortion was, "the worst thing I ever did." :


In the book, Sharon also talks of her heartbreak at having an abortion when she was just 17 and later had a miscarriage after being attacked by guard dogs.

The 'X Factor' star says she became pregnant after a brief fling with a "good-looking guitar player" but was heartlessly forced to terminate the pregnancy by her mother who told her to "get rid of it" and gave her the address to an abortion clinic.

She said: "It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible. It was the worst thing I ever did."


When you have an Osbourne speaking out against abortion, hell freezing over can't be far off!

And You Thought Your Inbox Was Overflowing

Pope Benedict XVI has some catchup to do. Within the first 48 hours of operation, his inbox over at benedictxvi@vatican.va received over 56,000 e-mails. No word yet on who is handling replies for him, but a new Prefect for the Papal Inbox may be in order.

April 26, 2005

The University of St. Thomas Administration Cowers to the Left Again

It all started when our good friend Nick Coleman penned a little piece to Pope Benedict XVI claiming that St. Thomas students didn't know the difference between Eugene McCarthy and Joseph McCarthy (in the guise of Ann Coulter) and that he should keep an eye on these "Catholics" who find her amusing, informative, or whatever. Notice how I didn't say it all began when Ann Coulter came to St. Thomas. That's because had Coleman not written his article, it would not have been an issue. But the troops were then mobilized.

In lock-step to usual protocol, after receiving a few complaints from outraged folks that were upset the school would allow her to speak because of her incivility (which of course is only pretextual) the Rev. Dennis Dease issued his usual apology citing her "vitriolic, mean-spirited, and disrespectful" remarks. The university then got exactly the press it wanted to clean up the mess caused by Coleman's piece in an article in today's Star-Tribune under the headline "St. Thomas president denounces Coulter's speech as hateful."

Two points are in order. First, I find Ann Coulter's rhetoric to be uncivil and corrosive to public discourse. Additionally, I think St. Thomas should be allowed to ban anyone they want from speaking on campus consistent with its mission as a Catholic university, speakers demonstrating gross incivility included.

However, St. Thomas has a history of having all sorts of speakers that use other intellectually intimidating language (besides idiot, loser, moron, traitor -- like Ann Coulter) such as racist, sexist, homophobe, misogynist, and on and on. Just because the intellectually intimidating speech is couched in more "academic" terms, does not mean it is any less uncivil or unhelpful. Additionally, there is usually only a big stink about speakers at St. Thomas that are either 1) public supportive of abortion (and for good reason) or 2) outspoken Republicans/Conservatives/Right-wing folks. Coulter says nothing that is any more uncivil than Al Franken, Howard Dean, Bill Maher or dozens of other folks on the Left. Yet these speakers would not raise near the fuss caused by Coulter. This is my own experience with the university which tried to pull the plug on a lecture by Ward Connerly (the major African-American opponent of affirmative action) during my time as head of the College Republicans at St. Thomas.

So my point is, let's be frank about the real issue here. It is not about cvility, it's about ideology. And when the right people phone Dennis Dease, the University of St. Thomas cowers.

Find Out Your Linguistic Profile

I wanted to find out just how Minisoootan I was!

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English
25% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern
5% Yankee

Benedict XVI on Liturgy and Sacred Music

Here is a great resource from the St. Cecilia Schola Cantorum that compiles some of Pope Benedict XVI's writings on liturgical topics, specifically sacred music.

Awesome stuff.

Hat tip: Open Book

April 27, 2005

Women and the Church

An excellent and necessary contribution from Pia de Solenni was published in Sunday's Washington Post (subscribers only).

I have pasted it below in case you can't access the link:

Continue reading "Women and the Church" »

Why Judges Matter for the GOP

Whether they know it or not, the GOP's election prospects ride on whether they do what it takes to get Bush's judges confirmed. I frankly don't like the filibuster option, but at the end of the day, the GOP has been unwilling or unable to make the public case for the nominees to be confirmed without the filibuster.

Hugh Hewitt provides an excellent speech a Republican senator could and should deliver to his caucus about the importance of confirming Bush's judicial nominees to the Republican base, conservatives in particular. If they drop the ball here, it will take a long time for them to regain the support of middle-class social conservatives, who are already suspicious the drunk- with-power GOP is a pawn of corporations and agri-business (which don't like the filibuster).

If a senator has the guts to give a speech like this, he will instantly become a standard-bearer and hero of conservatives. Norm Coleman, is that you?????

"Co-Workers of Truth"

The new motto and papal coat of arms of Benedict XVI. The motto was the title of one of his books.

Here is a description (in Italian) of the symbols (bear, shell, moor).

Nick Coleman Does His Own Post-Mortem on "Coultergate"

Nick Coleman, Minnesota's own Frank Rich (expect Ann Coulter --like Mel Gibson for Frank Rich--to show up in every other column that Coleman writes for the next year), has his own take on the "lessons" of having Ann Coulter speak on college campuses.

Unfortunately, he pats Dennis Dease on the back for his PR-induced remarks (see my previous post on the pseudo-controversy), and encourages everyone to read Dease's discourse on the impact of "hate speech." As to why calling someone an "idiot" is hate speech, I'd like for Coleman to enlighten me. His columns are usually thinly-concealed attempts to describe other folks in the same manner.

The whole shtick about students feeling "intimidated" to speak up is nonsense. If she is so obnoxious and wrong, and some student questions her civilly, respectfully, and thoughtfully, then the only person who looks like an idiot and thug is Coulter. I'd have no problem giving Al Franken, (who, by the way, also spoke at St. Thomas very recently), my two cents, and if he wanted to punch me in the face like he did someone who questioned him before, then he'd look like the big jerk most people perceive him to be already. I find it fascinating that Franken did not engender this controversy when in all likelihood he was just as "uncivil" as Coulter. Does anyone listen to his radio show?

The only one guilty of intellectual intimidation is Coleman and the minions he mobilized to badger the very flappable Dennis Dease. And unfortunately, it works.

UPDATE: Powerline has some good commentary on the subject as well both here and here.

The Latin Lover Strikes Again

USA Today has a nice profile of Vatican Radio's "The Latin Lover," aka Fr. Reginald Foster. Fr. Foster is the official Latinist of the Holy See, and also teaches Latin at all different levels at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He is widely regarded as the world's premier Latinist. Having sat in on a few of his classes, I can say the description in the article is spot on. In the article, Fr. Foster notes that there are only 20 or so folks in the world who can speak Latin as well as he does, and only three are under age 60! (Mike, you may have found your calling!)

It appears that one of his students has compiled an online compendium of Fr. Foster's introductory Latin course. What a great resource.

Here is a link to the radio show, "The Latin Lover."

Hat tip: the excellent blog Ad Limina Apostolorum.

April 28, 2005

Of Children and Cat Fights

The following came across my desk via a listserv at the University of Minnesota:


My dear friend Rebecca is heartbroken over the quandary she now has with her two cats. They are of different ages and the younger has been behaving very badly, probably because it feels threatened the older (or so says the behaviorist). I know and adore Mabel (picture enclosed--not the blonde) and would take her in a minute if my current cat weren't so pissy about sharing space with other quadrapeds. Mabel is very laid back and low-maintenance...she's got a playful side but is NOT kittenesque in any way. If you're thinking about a cat, Mabel would make a fabulous pick. Let me know if you want more details, and please forward this to anyone you know who may be interested.

I've always thought that people today prefer pets to children because they aren't as demanding, I guess I never thought about the sibling rivalary issues!

University of St. Thomas Intolerance Redux

This comes from Ann Marie Cosgrove with Silent No More Minnesota, a group of people who speak out on the trauma of their abortion experiences:


SNMM has been trying very hard to get on the campus of the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN to do a Silent No More public testimony event outside...I have a contact there that has been working at this and is coming up against the same thing that happened last year...They do not want us outside...the reason being...so they say...a few years ago a Pro-Life student group put out crosses to symbolize how many children have lost their life to abortion...one student got so upset she could not take a test...so she complained...

The Life committee made a statement during a meeting we are "inappropriate" for their campus to be outside...

My understanding from the young man who is working on this that his advisor is very upset about this because this campus has allowed other groups on campus outside in the "Quad" area, to be vocal for their cause and people have gotten mad about that still they are allowed them to be there..yet they won't let us..

May I suggest to anyone who may be a alumni of the UST...to write a letter in support of us being on campus outside... if you do write a letter in support of SNMM speaking outside on UST campus be charitable in your words...This may be just the beginning of building a bridge I don't want to burn down before it's built..."thank you" to my board member for reminding me of this...Me, being just a wee bit Irish got the fight in me over this and wanted to storm the campus...well not storm but get a permit and hold a rally on the sidewalk on Summit Ave and blast them with our new really loud speaker system....

I wonder if the university has released guidelines detailing which speakers/topics are certified as "civil" and which are considered "divisive."

April 29, 2005

The End of "50-Yard Line Catholicism"

The newest buzzword in the Catholic lexicon, courtesy another excellent column from George Weigel. My question is, wouldn't it be amazing to be that consistently good, as our dear friend George?

Papal Editorial Cartoons

Here is a site that has compiled numerious editorial cartoons surrounding the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI. Some are better than others, but there are a few really moving sketches.

Hat tip: Veritatis Splendor

Weekly Update From Darfur

I've been a bit busy, so the posts from the last two weeks are here and here.

April 30, 2005

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete on Benedict XVI

I came across this interview a while back, featuring Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, national spiritual director of the Communion and Liberation movement, in an interview with TV personality Charlie Rose. However, I hadn't taken the time to read it.

I am disappointed I hadn't looked at it sooner. Full of Albacete's quick wit, the interview is simply a wonderful introduction to the man formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger. There are lots of tidbits and quotes you won't want to miss.

Also, if you love the man's perspective, Albacete has a really neat book out entitled, "God at the Ritz."

Brideshead Revisited ... Sort Of

The New Criterion blog (which is very good), has a humorous post on the new, modern, and apparently more steamy version of the classic novel by Evelyn Waugh. Unfortunately, it probably won't live up the majesty of the great 1981 BBC version starring Jeremy Irons.

Here is a taste:

"The sacred and profane memoirs of Captain Charles Ryder? We'll just have the profane ones, thanks; we can do without all that other unpleasantness about sin, grace, and the soul. One wonders what the story of the affair, isolated from all that leads up to it, stripped of its theological and therefore emotional dimensions, will have to offer an audience. Silver screen steam in period dress? Don't we already have PBS for that sort of thing?"

And from the same blog, more on the Alasdair MacIntyre-Pope Benedict XVI connection.

About April 2005

This page contains all entries posted to The Seventh Age in April 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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