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March 2006 Archives

March 2, 2006

Eminent Domain MN

The push for protection of private property is already underway here in Minnesota. Learn more here.

Lent with Our Bishops

Several U.S. bishops have teamed up with the Franciscans and St. Anthony Messenger Press to offer weekly retreats on the Sunday gospels during lent.

In true Catholic fashion, the homilies are only 10 minutes long followed by a Q&A and some penitential music (most of it straight from the Gather hymnal).

Here is the info on this week's installment:

Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk leads us through this First Sunday of Lent. His 10-minute homily addresses the temptations Jesus was offered by Satan in the desert. In the question-and-answer segment Archbishop Pilarczyk relates how these temptations relate to our everyday lives, whether it be worldly pleasure, power at work or any other temptation away from God’s wondrous offer of love. This week’s musical selection is “Song of the Temptation” by GIA Artist David Haas. You can listen separately to that song, to the musical setting of the Lord’s Prayer or to Archbishop Pilarczyk’s blessing by following the links below. Better yet, listen to the entire retreat.

You can listen on the web here.

Desert Voice Silenced

Fr. Robert Altier, a priest of the Archdicoese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been asked by the local ordinary to stop publishing his homilies on the web and broadcasting them on the radio.

In obedient compliance with the expressed written request of

Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Father Altier’s homilies and spiritual presentations
can no longer be published on www.desertvoice.org
or broadcast on Relevant Radio.

We regret any inconvenience and humbly ask for your prayers.

All concerns should be directed in a spirit of charity to:

Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn
226 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55102
(651) 291-4400


No word as to what brought this about.

March 4, 2006

Abortion and Schism: A Screed

This week, 55 allegedly Catholic US Representatives released a “Statement of Principles” outlining their open and notorious apostasy regarding the Church’s teaching on life. As legislators they announce that they “work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being” and are dedicated to “protecting the most vulnerable among us.” Unless the vulnerable are in utero.

They “agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion,” but “believe also in the primacy of conscience.” Primacy is definitely the issue. Abortion is not undesirable. Seersucker suits and lutefisk are undesirable. Abortion is, in the words of John Paul II, “a grave moral disorder.” The Church’s teaching could not be clearer. The Catholic tradition understands conscience to be a human faculty, sadly prone to error, that is perfected by enlightenment and grace, both of which flow exclusively from God, primarily through his Church. If a person’s conscience is leading them to contradict the teachings of God’s church, that person needs to rehabilitate their conscience. Conscience follows morality, not the other way around. One suspects that these poor souls understand conscience, as they do everything else, in light if the radically autonomous individual. God speaks to individuals, and when he speaks he apparently says different things to different people. A life of faith therefore does not require a catechism or a pope, and a church is what a majority of members say it is. The intellectual rigor of this position is so torpid as to be imperceptible; otherwise it might rise to the level of a meretricious little heresy. As it is, this ironic little missive is merely a cheap renunciation of Catholicism, the kind one sees every day, the kind Dante wrote a poem about.

Apostasy is nothing new, but this pronouncement reminds the faithful of the tortured unseemliness of the American bishops’ collective response to the American politicians who so similarly opted for a shallow Protestantism during the last election. The issue hits home since two of the signers are part of the Minnesota delegation to the House, Jim Oberstar and St. Paul’s own Betty McCollum, whose 4th District covers both my house and Harry Flynn’s. In the aftermath of the Kerry candidacy, it appeared that many people at the US Council of Catholic Bishops were relieved to be able to hide behind a largely contrived uncertainty about candidates’ true beliefs and intentions. McCollum has made it easy for her Archbishop. In addition to her longstanding 100% approval rating from NARL, her vote against the partial-birth abortion ban and her vote against a ban on human cloning, the Archbishop now has a signed statement from her affirming her intent to continue rejecting the Church’s authority and teaching in a public manner. She and her petty mob are a scandal in the traditional sense. But worse, they are actively seeking to lead the faithful away from Christ while invoking his name. This is formal theological scandal.

They state that they “acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church.” This is not surprising as clinging to contradictions and ignoring elephants in the living room have become hallmarks of the Left. The question is, does Archbishop Flynn also accept the tension? In roughly forty days, on the holiest day of the liturgical year, in a celebration that dates back to the Lord himself, commemorating the sacrifice that alone defines the Catholic faith, the murder of an innocent, of God’s only child; in roughly forty days Representative Betty McCollum will presumably make her grievous way to Mass, perhaps at the cathedral itself, perhaps to stand before the Archbishop and ask to receive the Eucharist. She will come perhaps with no more sin corroding her soul that me or the person behind me. But that person and I will have issued no press releases announcing our intent to remain lustful and avaricious, to advocate gluttony and wrath in the public square, to work toward the legitimization of envy and pride.

St. Thomas said of scandal: “[W]hile going along the spiritual way, a man may be disposed to a spiritual downfall by another's word or deed, in so far, to wit, as one man by his injunction, inducement or example, moves another to sin.” Such is precisely the avowed aim of these representatives with regard to human life. But the malignancy of scandal in this country has spread much deeper. Many draft themselves into the culture of death following the McCollum banner, but how many more fall under a cloud of doubt of their bishops’ care for them? Certainly the challenges facing a bishop are immense, but despite the working of the Holy Spirit much has been lost. Can not abortion, at least, be a citadel of the faith? Can there really be any deep matters to contemplate or unpleasant consequences to be avoided? Can we not rouse ourselves to stand between these children and the abortionist’s knife? What is it that we, followers of an innocent victim, would not trade for the life of an innocent? Would we not close the schools, sell the buildings and surrender tax exempt status to save the innocent? Would we not endure anti-Catholic legislation, record-low parish enrollment and diminished political clout?

It is not for the sake of Representative Betty McCollum only that she should be publicly denied communion by her Archbishop, and that every one of her ilk be publicly and forcefully corrected. It is for my sake and the sake of my children. A church that is unmoved by Representative Betty McCollum’s scandal is guilty of the same malformed conscience that she herself celebrates. If those who repudiate the most fundamental teaching of the Church are welcome to be in full communion in an archdiocese, then someone will have to convince me how I am not forced to conclude that the teaching being rejected by the individual is not also at least devalued (if not rejected) by the Archbishop, whatever stirring words he may utter. And if such archdioceses are not corrected by the official national ecclesiastical leadership, someone will further have to explain to me how we have not then come to formal disunity; an American Catholic Church, related to but not bound the Pope, the Magisterium and two thousand years of unbroken tradition instituted by the Lord himself. How have we not then come to schism?

Despair Sucking My Will to Live

So…we have unlimited access to the Archbishop of Cincinnati, who said of John Kerry that we should give him the “benefit of the doubt” (if only there were a doubt), accompanied by the “music” of David Haas-tile Reaction (when we all gather to sing “Song of the Near Occasion of Sin”), but we can’t have Father Altier, the voice of truth at the most faithful and successful parish in the archdiocese. The Arch had to save us from dangerous talk like this:

“The real tragedy is that now even within the Church there are many voices that are leading us away from Christ. We have priests and bishops who do not stand for what is correct. They do not have the guts to stand up for Jesus Christ, but instead being politically correct is far more important.”

And this:

“But for every bad pastor who refuses to preach the truth because they want to be liked by the people, for every one who allows general absolution or any other sinful practice, for every one who instead of requiring virtue and holiness of the people are actually encouraging them to do things that are not right, then in hell – where both will be – there will be a line waiting to condemn that priest or bishop for allowing such things to happen.”

I don't feel safer. I am lost without my wife here to moderate my abject despair. One may wonder why she’s gone for the weekend in far away Marathon, Wisconsin. It’s not to battle the invading Persians. The dangerous little group to which she belongs, Regnum Christi, has been banned from this archdiocese. The personal blessing of the previous Pope, unparalleled success at filling priestly vocations and the blessing that is the Familia program was apparently enough to get them the boot. So for every meeting they hold, they have to leave town. Of course, St. Joan of Arc is still here. Perhaps the memos got switched.

But then, there’s also St. John’s (where we have family and friends) having their fervent and faithful pastor sacked. And the liberal now presiding over the demise of Visitation (where we had family and friends and where we were married) after years and years of the faithful Father Pouliot. And now the pruning of Father Altier. These are anecdotal and personal observations, but a trend seems apparent.

Apparently Regnum Christi, in the eyes of the Archbishop, presented the potential for a “parallel” church, one that might pull Catholics away from mainstream diocesan life. But how can a group so closely tied to Rome be parallel in any way? Perhaps because in holding to Rome they are cleaving away from the USCCB. So, who is the “parallel” church? Rome issues priestly sex scandal guidelines and American bishops balk. Rome issues a list of over fifty liturgical abuses that must stop and American bishops ignore it. Rome issues a new translation of the missal and American bishops decline to use it. Rome issues a rule regarding homosexuals in the priesthood and American bishops openly defy it.

My patient wife would remind me at this point that these are our appointed leaders, chosen by the Lord to guide us. Also, she would remind me that a bishop’s duties are huge and that we the faithful are not privy to all the cares and concerns that go along with shepherding millions of people in a debased culture. She would point out that I am focusing on the high profile negative examples, that there is a rich lay renewal springing up all around. Look at the rise in vocations, the fecundity of our generation, the rise in adoration chapels, the blessing of both John Paul II and his successor. Finally I would be shamed by her reminder that as the Lord’s chosen we owe them every ounce of trust and reverence that we can muster regardless of our arrogance and/or paranoia.

But my wife isn’t here and I am running low on trust. And so I ask again, are we not approaching a de facto schism of the American Catholic Church from Rome? What percentage of parishes are not merely straight but actually reverent? Yes, we have a pro-life president, but how many Catholics voted for John Kerry? Yes there is Mel Gibson’s movie and the Narnia films, but what else? Yes there is Regnum Christi, Opus Die and many other groups doing wonderful things, but what do those numbers amount to compared to the listless masses mumbling though their prayers every Sunday? Yes, we have some wonderful bishops, but are they really extraordinary or do they only seem so in comparison to the majority? Yes, the Church is flourishing in Africa and perhaps Asia, but it’s dying in the cradle of western civilization, the civilization that has lighted the way for mankind, and Africa and Asia are not ready to inherit that civilization.

It is often said in these troubled times that the lay people will lead the recovery of the Church, but I don’t think it works that way. The Lord gave us a Church to lead us, to shepherd us toward the true and the good. Within that framework, the lay masses can move mountains with their faith. Outside of it, you have mere Protestantism at best. More and more, faithful Catholics in this country find their bishops irrelevant and look to Rome exclusively for leadership in this era of the new evangelization. I wonder how long it will be before that gaze becomes official and permanent.

March 7, 2006

Two Bishops Laud South Dakota Abortion Ban

Reasonable minds may disagree about the efficacy and wisdom of this law, but now it is on the books. The two local bishops have spoken up in support of at least the spirit of the thing. Where are the rest?

"Regardless of court rulings and laws, we must be ardent in our efforts to transform the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. All people must recognize human life is a gift," Bishop Samuel J Aquila of Fargo, ND said.

Wouldn’t that obviously include verbal support for this law, even if it is doomed to a quick judicial death? Wouldn’t it also obviously mean refusing communion to pro-abortion politicians? The culture of death won the day long ago by ceaselessly and forcefully asserting its values in the public square, silencing other voices. American bishops were either corrupted or drowned out long ago. Ceremonially uttering the words “culture of life” with furrowed brows and solemn voice will not cut it. Notable silence equates to approval.

Buying Your Way To Best Picture

Want to win an Oscar for Best Picture? According to a recent article in the LA Times, it will only cost you about $4 million if you spend it wisely.

Still, one can't ignore the effect of the finely tuned Oscar strategy of Lionsgate and its parent, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. The company opened its wallet at key times in January and February to allocate an extra $2 million, bringing its total outlay to $4 million. Targeted were Los Angeles actors, the niche it needed to emerge from a field of five films, none of which was an obvious front-runner.

The article provides a keen insight into the political strategy invovled in swaying Oscar voters.

Of course the good news is according to early estimates, Crash's win will be worth over $10 million in additional revenue over the course of the film's distribution.

Hadley Arkes on Privacy

First Things has posted Hadley Arkes’ recent remarks to the National Press Club on privacy. This is an excellent summary of the state of “gay rights” and the abortion issue as they stand now under the judicial oligarchy, and what might lay ahead.

Collapse of American Public Education: Exhibit #7686086

This story made the rounds over the last couple of days. It seems a public school geography teacher subjected his high school students to a “Bush is Hitler” tirade. An ambitious student taped part of the lecture and took it to local radio station. In the aftermath, the teacher was on the “Today” show and also put on paid leave while the school deals with it. "My job as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically about issues that are affecting our world and our society," quoth the indoctrinator. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like my job as a teacher.

Frankly, I thought holding the “Bush is Hitler” position was a mandatory article of faith in most public schools and such a speech would get a teacher named employee of the month (if such designation were not inherently discriminatory). But the fact that this guy may or not be a lunatic fringe liberal is beside the point.

Since when does geography include such political opinions? Modern educational trends are thick with this shallow talk of “critical thinking” and “challenges,” but isn’t basic literacy a necessary prerequisite to either? Even the Orwellian graduation requirements issued by the state of Colorado do not include such platitudes. According to the state, geography course content includes what rational people might expect; use of maps and other resources, studies of the shape, size and forces of the earth, patterns of human populations, etc. Basically, it’s a question of competency to engage in a meaningful discussion. Just the kind of competency that is manifestly missing from any moron that would compare Bush (or Clinton or FDR) to Hitler.

Wrongful Life Cause of Action Recognized in Ohio

The AP is reporting that Ohio has joined the dubious group of states in which courts have recognized a civil cause of action for parents who end up with children they don’t want. In this case, an obstetrics clinic offering “genetic counseling” screened a baby for a particular genetic defect. The defect was present but the clinic missed it. The parents claim they would have terminated the pregnancy if they had known. They sought recovery of costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth as well as pain and suffering damages for having to deal with an afflicted child.

Since I have recently made quite brief and eminently restrained remarks on culture of life issues (here, here and here), I will limit my reaction to this: Where is the voice of the Church in this crime against the unborn? The official diocesan website makes no mention of it. Should we be troubled that the bishop in Columbus is none other than Frederick Campbell, formerly of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul? Is it a coincidence that the Columbus diocese has also banished Regnum Christi and the Legionnaires of Christ?

March 10, 2006

Protecting God's Children from Safe Environments Programs

Things are apparently heating up in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis surrounding the implementation of safe environment programs to comply with the U.S. Bishop's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

First, as we have already noted, the local ordinary recently silenced a priest in the archdiocese, supposedly for his critical comments regarding the safe environment programs the archdiocese is implementing.

Now apparently there is a group of parents that are concerned about all this as well and are trying to rally other parents to oppose these programs.

Having read some of the curriculum being used, I don't find the opposition surprising. If priests were to present some of these lessons in the classroom it would probably be considered abuse by modern standards. Of course this shouldn't be surprising, since Planned Parenthood supposedly endorses some of the programs being used.

Word on the street is legal counsel recommends teaching 1st graders and up the anatomically correct names of their "private parts" so that they have a stronger case in court if they every have an abuse case. I'll leave the ranting on this one to mjniemann who is far better at it than I.

March 13, 2006

Sex Scandal Parts II, III & IV

The sexual morality divide in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis runs deep. I often trace it back to the public dissent to Humanae vitae, resignation, laicization, and subsequent marriage of the local Bishop James Shannon in 1969. Ironically, he was also the first president of the UCCB when it was formed after the Vatican II Council. But enough of the history, on to the scandal.

In addition to the mounting opposition to the safe environments programs, there are two new developments worth mentioning in the sexual realm.

First, apparently 27 priests of the archdiocese sent a petition to the Archbishop calling his support for a marriage ammendment a source of scandal. Apparently upholding Church teaching is highly problematic and perhaps a bit unwelcoming.

Now, there is another group the plans to out three priests come Holy Week, including Vicar General, Rev. Kevin McDonough, if they don't voluntarily resign:

A public meeting in St. Paul of the docsociety will be held in Holy Week. The theme of the meeting and Mass will be: Remember, Repent, Reconcile. We have personally asked three clergymen to resign because of their roles in furthering the culture of deceit in the Archdiocese of St Paul. At that meeting we will publicly tell the sordid tale of this diocese’s chancery and seminary culture that has allowed a well known homosexual predator in authority at our Catholic orphanage as well as homosexual dissidents in teaching positions in our seminary colleges, parishes, and high schools. We will publish a document for the meeting and invite public discussion in the secular and catholic media to help shine a light on the deceitful and fractured priesthood of this diocese that spawned the murderer of Dan O’Connell.

And as if that weren't enough, the local Catholic University is under fire from its own faculty for not allowing unmarried faculty members (homosexual partners) to room together on student trips. 130 faculty members signed petitions in opposition to the policy, and students are wearing armbands on campus in protest.

Who says history doesn't repeat itself?

March 16, 2006

Rant: Talking about Touching

John Paul II called the years before puberty “the years of innocence.” This period should be characterized by a pervasive tranquility. God’s creation presents them with an endless array of wonder to feed their developing intellects and souls within the sanctuary of the home, a sanctuary presided over with love and authority by parents. God speaks powerfully to children. This innocence goes far beyond sexual matters. It is part of a comprehensive view of childhood as a treasure, good for its own sake, not merely as a boot camp for adulthood. Adulthood will come anyway, but even in adulthood we are called to be childlike in our love and devotion to God. How many adults can hearken back to that simplicity?

Protection of this state of innocence ought to govern parents. Parents’ desire to see their children make friends and get out of the house a little can never trump their responsibility to protect them from uncontrolled situations. A parent may wonder why the fictional children in the “Talking about Touching” program are in the situations they are in. If there is any doubt about the integrity of an uncle, why would a second grader be allowed to visit without parents? Why would a third grader spend the night at a house that had an unknown older brother around? Such considerations go beyond sexual perversions. An unreliable older brother is far more likely to endanger a child in non-sexual ways. But again, why focus this attention on sexual matters? The same protection of innocence ought to lead parents to limit the amount of television children watch, the kinds of books they read (or look at), the kinds of friends they associate with, and much else besides. The responsibility is an awesome one.

A child should have a modesty and a formality toward strangers and family alike. As a default, such a disposition will serve to minimize the incidence of all kinds of issues. For example, the 6 year old that has a dutiful sense of modesty that means changing his clothes in his room with the door shut would simply not be inclined to change clothes in another situation. This is not merely because some predator might be after him, but because if there are impure impulses in someone the child will not be a stumbling block, and further even if the situation is perfectly safe the child’s modesty should be affirmed. Similarly, a strong sense of modesty and obedience increases the possibility that a child will be empowered to say no, and to report to their parents anything that makes them uncomfortable.

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19

It is the world that thinks innocence is a liability. Are the American bishops in the world, or have they become of the world?

March 26, 2006

Pope Contracts Bird Flu

Sources have confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI has contracted Asian bird flu.

Apparently, he got it from an American cardinal.

A Kinder Gentler Islam

While the prophets of tolerance have been doing their best to persuade the masses that Islam is a tolerant peace-loving religion, the situation in Afghanistan with Abdul Rahman has made the sell a little more difficult.

On trial for converting to Christianity, which is a capital crime in Afghanistan, the Afghan government has to choose between appeasing the religious freedom loving West and the Islamic radicals in the home land.

The current spin is to claim Rahman is mentally unstable (why else would someone abandon Islam) and thus unfit to stand trial, but the case has interesting ramifications for the integration of the Islamic world in the global community.

The Afghanistan constituion upholds both the shari and the Universal Decleration on Human Rights. One makes the penalty for conversion death, and the other upholds religious freedom. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds.

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Seventh Age in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2006 is the previous archive.

April 2006 is the next archive.

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

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