31 October, 2009

Gay man sues Bible publisher for $10 Million

Well folks, I appreciate that today is Halloween, and that there are many weird critters wandering out there tonight, but this is one of the spookiest and strange things I have seen all day. Check it out:


Thanks to Susan at Blue Wave Blog for posting about this story. You will find a link to her site within my "favorites" list.

Canadians have a "right" to health care? Apparently not always!

Wesley J. Smith posts on the First Things blog a story that is taken from the Globe & Mail (a Canadian National Paper) about two women who, despite successfully being treated with a drug combination for an illness for the past year or two, have been informed that the Province of Ontario will no longer pay for their prescriptions. One of these women was given a one year reprieve, but the second was not so lucky and now lies near death. It is worth noting that these women are not among the aged (not that age should matter), but are young mothers and wives.

It continues to be a mystery as to how such decisions as to the "value" of a human life are determined by the government. The fact that there actually exists a government agency that decides whether or not treatment is "worthwhile" for any life - and that this decision does not rest with the patient and doctor - should chill the soul of any Canadian.

Check out the story from the First Things site:


Globe & Mail link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/what-gives-them-the-right-to-put-a-price-on-my-life/article1346720/

Halloween is NOT condemned by the Vatican

Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False
from The American Catholic
by Tito Edwards

In what is a common occurrence that happens more than you think, the media again has done a poor job of reporting the news than comes from the Vatican. If it came from the Vatican at all. The new one today is that the Catholic Church condemns Halloween, or some variation there of.

Various news outlets have reported that the Pope, the Catholic Church, or the Vatican have condemned, blasted, slammed, or as the Times of London said, “reserved their venom for the millions of parents who allowed their children to celebrate this “pagan” festival.”

And people say anti-Catholicism doesn’t exist?

Apparently some reporter of London’s Telegraph read on the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper based in Rome, Italy, that Halloween is anti-Christian. L’Osservatore Romano is sometimes referred as the “semi-official” or even “official” newspaper of the Vatican, ie, the Catholic Church. First of all, it has an independent editorial board that has connections with the Vatican, hence why the confusion of whether it is an official or semi-official mouthpiece of the Vatican. My personal opinion is that it is semi-official, if that.

L’Osservator Romano covers all of Pope Benedict XVI”s public activities, publishes editorials by prominent clerics and laypeople, and runs official documents from the Vatican. The fact that it publishes editorials by prominent clerics does not mean that it is official, standing policy of the Vatican. Only the Vatican via it’s official documents can do this. Hence the confusion when editorials are run that can be confusing to most non-Catholics and even Catholics themselves. Even the secular website Wikipedia entry about L’Osservatore Romano says these mistakes often happen:

A common error for journalists and theologians is to interpret the texts of L’Osservatore Romano as if they were of official value for the Magisterium. In fact, they cannot have such a value, except if a high-ranking bishop is writing a more solemn text, and not a mere theological opinion. Otherwise, L’Osservatore does not have the ability to write or approve encyclicals and papal allocutions.

For instance, a 2008 article expressed the wish that the debate on brain death be re-opened because of new developments in the medical world. An official spokesman said that the article presented a personal opinion of the author and “did not reflect a change in the Catholic Church’s position”

More importantly the article that reported the Vatican condemning Halloween in the L’Osservatore Romano quoted a liturgical expert by the name of Joan Maria Canals, who is actually Father Joan Maria Canals, CMF a liturgy official with the Spanish Bishops’ Conference. As Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog reports:

Now there is a fellow named Fr. Joan Maria Canals, CMF, a liturgy official with the Spanish Bishops’ Conference who has been pushing the idea that as Spain appropriates this U.S. holiday it ought to do so in a life affirming way as opposed to celebrating the occult and death. Catholic News Agency wrote about that effort and similar efforts in France and Chile. I expect L’Osservatore wrote a similar report. I’m certain the Pope didn’t comment in the article. Unfortunately, L’Osservatore does not archive their articles, so the first sensational or misrepresentative press piece about any article in L’Osservatore becomes the source – no other source being available.

So there you have it. A quote from a priest in Spain reported in an Italian newspaper read by an Englishman who then reported it as fact that the Vatican condemns Halloween.

30 October, 2009

A proposed discussion

I have actively been engaged in an excellent discussion with many folks within the threads of the (sadly all too numerous) sex abuse news stories. Some of the participants have commented that it is difficult to have a theological discussion within that venue. Hopefully some of them will accept the invitation to meet here. Just click on the comments link at the end of this post to begin the conversation.

Fr. Tim

Reformation Day: An insightful take on Martin Luther

Check out this article by Timothy George on the First Things website. My recently departed friend and mentor, Richard John Neuhaus expressed many times that the reason he converted from the Lutheran Church and became a Roman Catholic was because the issues that Luther raised with his theses were successfully addressed by the Second Vatican Council, a proposition that George comes close to agreeing with in this article.


Some "home town parish" bragging

Mattawa is a small town located in North Eastern Ontario, nestled along side the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers. Of late, it has been a town plagued with the same issues of most small one industry towns which sprang up and nurtured throughout its' 100 years by the forestry industry: closed mills, high employment, families suffering through seperations of one parent or the other moving to different regions of the country to find work.

Happily today I can post a bit of pleasant news from our town: the football team from our local High School, F.J. McElligott Secondary School has captured a local regional football championship, winning in an exciting victory over a team from the much larger schools from the City of North Bay, Ontario.

What makes this story of even greater joy for the locals is that this is the first time in over 40 years that "FJ" even fielded a team!

Congratulations to the victorious "Voyageurs"! You have Mattawa PROUD!!!


An archive of writings from Bishop Frederick Henry (Calgary)

The Western Catholic Reporter, which advertises itself as being Canada's largest Catholic weekly, has within its website an excellent series of articles written by western Canadian Bishops. Within this archive one can find many submissions from Bishop Fred Henry of the Diocese of Calgary.

Not only is Bishop Henry among the most prolific of writers, but he addresses issues in a straight forward and articulate manner, usually foregoing many of the "ecclesiastical niceties" that so often marks the writings of modern Bishops. To use an expression from Fr. Jack O'Flaherty (RIP), my seminary spiritual director, he seems never afraid to "bell the cat" when needed.

Fr. Fred Henry was the Rector at St. Peter's Seminary (London) for the majority of my years of study and formation for the priesthood as well as being a professor of Dogmatic Theology. That is, until he was elevated to become first the Auxiliary Bishop of London, then serving as Ordinary in the Diocese of Thunder Bay until his installation in Calgary.

I consider myself as being fortunate to having studied under his tutelage.

As a seminarian I was fortunate to be able to attend his Ordination to the Episcopate, when during that magnificent ritual the Book of the Gospels was held above his head. A young member of his family turned to the supervising adult next to him and asked what they were doing to "Uncle Fred". "Shhh..." his chaperone said, "this is where they take out Uncle Fred's backbone!"

Thankfully, the years that followed have amply demonstrated that this was not to be the case for "Bishop Fred".

Take a few minutes and read this collection of articles from one of Canada's leading voices in all things Catholic in Canada.


Next Generation of Catholic Leaders

The National Catholic Reporter has published an article by John Allen on the next generation of leaders in the Catholic Church. It is worthy of a careful reading.


Archbishop Thomas Collins (Toronto) speaks on the Lahey Scandal

Archbishop Tom Collins (Toronto) addressed this issue at his annual fundraising dinner on Thursday evening. His analogy between a plane crash and the revelations of sexual abuse is inspired!


29 October, 2009

What is "Evangelical" Catholicism?

In my profile, I self describe myself as being an "evangelical" Catholic priest. "Evangelical" is not a word normally ascribed to Catholic clergy as it has been, for better or worse, appropriated by those of the Pentecostal sects of the Christian family.

I would like to claim ownership of this term, but the credit belongs to Fr. Jay Scott Newman, the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina (Diocese of Charleston). I have included at the end of this post a link to Fr. Scott's excellent webpage, but I include here the eight principles of what he describes as Evangelical Catholicism- with great appreciation to him for encapsulating in them the essence of what I have always held to be my model of Catholicism and priesthood.

"During the nearly twenty-seven years of his pontificate, Pope John Paul the Great called the Church to the urgent mission of fulfilling the Great Commission in our time, a project he called the New Evangelization. This evangelical summons of John Paul continued the same call given to the Church by Pope Paul VI in the years of and after the Second Vatican Council, and now the same commitment to announcing the timeless truths of the Gospel with new ardor, new methods, and new conviction is being asked of us by Pope Benedict XVI."

"Another way of expressing our commitment of the work of the New Evangelization is to say that we must become Evangelical Catholics. By our Baptism, we are called to be men and women of the Gospel who are Christian disciples by conviction rather than mere Church members by convention. Being Evangelical Catholics requires that we know the Gospel, believe the Gospel, live the Gospel, and share the Gospel with others, and becoming Evangelical Catholics is a lifelong adventure of letting go of the various counterfeit catholicisms of our time (casual, cultural, cafeteria Catholicism) by accepting the liberating truth of the Word of God and living by grace through faith in the Son of God."

"Evangelical Catholicism is not meant to be a movement within the Church, still less a sect or sub-set of Catholicism; it simply a way of understanding the vocation of every Christian to be a true disciple of and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus. I offer these principles as a catechetical tool in the service of helping the people of St. Mary’s to follow the Lord Jesus ever more faithfully in the Way of the Cross through radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship, and courageous evangelism."

The Principles of Evangelical Catholicism

1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Savior of all mankind, and no human person can fully understand his life or find his dignity and destiny apart from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to know who Jesus is; we must know Jesus.

2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is divine revelation, not human wisdom, and the Gospel is given to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which together constitute a single divine deposit of faith transmitted authentically and authoritatively by the Bishops in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium if we are to receive the whole Gospel.

3. The seven Sacraments of the New Covenant are divinely instituted instruments of grace given to the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification for believers. Receiving the Sacraments regularly and worthily is essential to the life of grace, and for this reason, faithful attendance at Sunday Mass every week (serious illness and necessary work aside) and regular Confession of sins are absolutely required for a life of authentic discipleship.

4. Through Word and Sacrament we are drawn by grace into a transforming union with the Lord Jesus, and having been justified by faith we are called to sanctification and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the good works of the new creation. We must, therefore, learn to live as faithful disciples and to reject whatever is contrary to the Gospel, which is the Good News of the Father’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

5. The sacred liturgy, through which the seven Sacraments are celebrated and the Hours of praise are prayed, makes present to us the saving mysteries of the Lord Jesus. The liturgy must therefore be celebrated in such a way that the truth of the Gospel, the beauty of sacred music, the dignity of ritual form, the solemnity of divine worship, and the fellowship of the baptized assembled to pray are kept together in organic unity.

6. Receiving the Sacraments without receiving the Gospel leads to superstition rather than living faith, and the Church must therefore take great care to ensure that those who receive the Sacraments also receive the Gospel in its integrity and entirety. Consequently, before Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and Marriage are administered, there must be in those who request these Sacraments clear evidence of knowledge of the Gospel and a serious intention to live the Christian life.

7. Being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction. This transformation demands that we consciously accept the Gospel as the measure of our entire lives, rather than attempting to measure the Gospel by our experience. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Sacred Scripture is necessary for this transformation to occur through the obedience of faith, and there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

8. All the baptized are sent in the Great Commission to be witnesses of Christ to others and must be equipped by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and deed. An essential dimension of true discipleship is the willingness to invite others to follow the Lord Jesus and the readiness to explain His Gospel.

Visit Fr. Scott's webpage at: http://web.mac.com/jayscottnewman/Site/A_Parish_Priest.html

Archbishop Dolan confronts the issue of anti-Catholicism with the media

October 29, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”
Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.
True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

The ongoing cost of the sex abuse scandals to the church

While the important cost of the litany of sexual abuse cases should be measured in souls, it is noteworthy that there is a major financial cost to be paid by the church for the malfeasance of its' unfaithful clergy. Below is a link to a story announcing settlements with victims in the Savannah Diocese (Georgia, USA). Just as the church is desirous of compensating these victims, let us commit to a crusade of prayer for the souls lost to the Church through the infidelity of its clergy.


"Beauty" is only skin deep, but at what price.

This article (see link at bottom of post) offers another facet of the horrors of abortion as Neocutis, a bio-pharmaceutical company in the United States is now using tissue taken from aborted babies to make a anti-aging cream. This practice is offensive in the extreme and deserves condemnation by all people of faith. If you are willing to express your disgust with this company's practice, you can make use of the second link to visit their website.


email: info@neocutis.com

28 October, 2009

Holy See calls for Catholics, clerics and lay alike to use the internet to make the argument for the faith


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word" is the theme of the Pope's Message for the next World Day of Social Communications which is celebrated every year on 24 January, Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists.

A communique made public today explains that the aim of the Message is "to invite priests in particular, during this Year for Priests and in the wake of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to consider the new communications media as a possible resource for their ministry at the service of the Word. Likewise, it aims to encourage them to face the challenges arising from the new digital culture".

The text continues: "The new communications media, if adequately understood and exploited, can offer priests and all pastoral care workers a wealth of data which was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and increased communion that were previously unthinkable".

The communique concludes by noting that "if wisely used, with the help of experts in technology and the communications culture, the new media can become - for priests and for all pastoral care workers - a valid and effective instrument for authentic and profound evangelisation and communion".

Archbishop Timothy Dolan (New York) joins the blogosphere

The virtual world has been joined by a powerful new voice in the cause of faith, life and joyful hope with the arrival of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York. His personal blog can be found at:


Archbishop Dolan is the defacto voice of the Church in America, noted for his joyful embracing of his role in his various assignments as is evidenced by his posting his support for the Yankee's in this years World Series in a wager made with his Philadelphia counterpart (Cardinal Justin Rigali).

His blog also offers his take on some of the major questions of the day. Anyone who wants to understand the Catholic position in this world would be well advised to bookmark his blog. It promises to be a valuable contribution to the Catholic presence in the virtual world of the internet.

Archbishop Currie (St. John's NFLD) writes about the Lahey Charges

Here is the response of Archbishop Currie (St. John's NFLD) to the charges faced by Bishop (emeritus) Lahey.


Statistics on sexual abuse by priests, ministers and other professionals

Want to have the information to face folks who are casting about accusations that the Catholic church is little more than a collection of pedophiles? Here is a paper published by the Catholic Defense League in the USA which offers the truth about this situation. We must acknowledge that even one abuser is too many, but we need not suffer the slings and arrows of insult without responding to these accusations with the facts.


Monogamy under attack?

During the debate over same-sex marriage, opponents who raised the issue of the splintering of the understanding of marriage, with the concomitant arrival of societal acceptance of such issues as polygamy were called alarmists and accused of injecting red herring fallacies into the debate. To those who were so accused, I offer the following link to a CNN story which argues that monogamy is not a "realistic" lifestyle to maintain.


Next up, bestiality?

Video of Bishops addressing current issues

The Priests for Life Canada website posts a series of six video's where Michael Coren of CTS TV interviews Fr. Tom Lynch, National Director, Priests for Life Canada, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, Fr. Thomas Rosica, Salt and Light TV, Bishop Frenderick Henry, Bishop of Calgary on the following issues:

1. Lifting of Excommunication of Pius X Bishops
2. Latin Mass
3. The Media and the Church
4. Vatican II
5. Catholics and Politics
6. Our Secular Society
7. Catholic Politicians
8. Catholic Social Values
9. Catholic Politicians and Excommunication
10. Catholic Politicians and Holy Communion
11. The Authority of Bishops
12. Do Catholics Understand Their Faith?
13. Is There Hope?


Archbishop Dolan to imitate Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop Sheen, assume more public role

This story was posted on the Catholic Culture website (link below). Another example of a Bishop coming to understand the necessity of using the media as an instrument to preach, teach and shepherd the faithful. Thank you Archbishop Donlan! Now, lets pray that more join the fray! http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=4435

27 October, 2009

Randy Cohen (New York Times) comments on media coverage of religion

Check out this link for an interesting column of the obligations (and problems) involved in media coverage of the media. While certainly not written in a fashion that is complementary to the Catholic Church, as well as his holding of liberal/left wing positions, he does raise some interesting points. http://ethicist.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/can-we-talk-about-religion-please/

Excellent blogsite for Canadian/Catholic and Prolife issues

I have stumbled upon a tremendous blog dealing with witnessing to the faith and in the cause of the protection of life. Give it a vist at: http://bluewavecanada.blogspot.com/

26 October, 2009

Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher addresses the Lahey Scandal

In the editorial section of Cornwall’s Standard Freeholder the following Letter to the editor was written by Bishop Paul-André Durocher on October 2, 2009. In the letter he expresses his shock and shame, bewilderment, and sorrow. “My heart goes out to all those who have been deeply shaken by this revelation. My prayers are offered for all of us.” Here is his full letter: Shocked By Charges Against Fellow Bishop: I imagine most readers of this newspaper have been shocked and scandalized at the news that a Canadian bishop has been charged with possession of child pornography. I share their shock, I also feel a great sense of shame that a fellow bishop could have been involved in such a horrible activity. The seriousness of the charge and the immediate resignation of the accused shakes our confidence in his presumed innocence. It also undermines our trust in all persons in positions of authority, including those who, like Bishop Lahey, have used their authority positively to heal breaches with past victims of clergy sexual abuse. In the face of such paradoxical behaviour, I can only shake my head in bewilderment and sorrow. I cannot understand what would lead a person to to be interested in pornography involving children. All pornography is demeaning, but that involving children is even more so, since it requires that children be abused in its production. Unfortunately, anyone with an internet connection can easily access this material. It has become a scourge in our society, one which needs to be combated as courageously as possible. My heart goes out to all those who have been deeply shaken by this revelation. My prayers are offered for all of us. May we respond with an even greater awareness of our weakness, a greater commitment to care for our children, a greater engagement in building a society where such horrors do not happen. Paul-André Durocher Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall (Standard Freeholder – Oct 2, 2009, Letter to the Editor)

Charles Lewis (National Post) addresses Maureen Dowd (NYT) Article

Here is a response from Charles Lewis of the National Post to Maureen Dowd's malicious article (see previous post 25/10/10). http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/holy-post/archive/2009/10/25/charles-lewis-nuns-pope-benedict-and-maureen-dowd-s-nasty-insinuation.aspx

Canadian Euthanasia Debate

Bill C-384, a private members bill introduced into the Canadian Parliament is coming up for a vote on November 18th. Advocates of the pro-euthanasia camp are starting to ramp up the publicity in advance of this vote. Here are some examples. The Australian assisted suicide activist Philip Nitschke will be speaking at a Unitarian Church in Vancouver. Nitschke was denied use of a public library in Vancouver a few weeks ago. Nitschke is known for his role in developing the "Peaceful Pill" and his promotion of going to Mexico to purchase a veterinary euthanasia pill. Link: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Vancouver+church+hosts+right+doctor/2142389/story.html An article in the Ottawa Citizen indicates that the police do not intend to prosecute William Melchert-Dinkel, the man who has confessed to abeting and counseling Nadia Kajouji (18) and at least 4 others to commit suicide. Link: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Police+charge+encouraging+suicide/2142330/story.html An excellent article was written about the pressure in Quebec to legalize euthanasia by Dr. Manual Borod, the director of palliative care of the McGill University Health Centre. The link: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Euthanasia+never/2140927/story.html For more information on this important topic, visit the website of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca Let us pray that our Catholic leaders, lay, priests and bishops will actively, forcefully and publicly will join this debate in both the real and virtual arenas.

Can Clergy Sex Abuse Offenders be Helped?

It is pretty much held as conventional wisdom that pedophiles cannot be "cured". Much of the trouble that grew out of the first wave of abuse cases was made far worse because Bishops who sent their offending priests for treatment at various centres unfortunately accepted the wisdom of expert psychiatrists and psychotherapists that these priests could be reintroduced to ministry: a decision that resulted in many more children becoming victims of these predatory priests. Regis Scanlon of Homiletic and Pastoral Review has published an excellent article on whether or not these abusers can be helped. I found this article through a link found on Ignatiusinsight.com, an offshoot of Ignatius Press. The article can be found at the following link: http://hprweb.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=213:can-clergy-sex-offenders-be-helped&catid=34:current-issue

25 October, 2009

Conscience, Courage, and Children With Down Syndrome - Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver)

You will find here a link to an inspirational article by Archbishop Chaput of Denver on the First Things website. First Things is the preeminent magazine on the role of faith in the Public Square. It's founding Editor, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus,(RIP) was a priest of the Archdiocese of Manhattan and a summer parishioner of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chapeau, Qc. where I had the privilege of being pastor. Time spent reading this magazine is always time well spent. Archbishop Chaput's article is a perfect example of the quality of this journal. You can find a link to their website in my favorite links box on the left hand side of this web page. Archbishop Chaput article: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2009/10/conscience44-courage44-and-children-with-down-syndrome

Friar Rick posts comments of Apostolic Nuncio in the wake of the Bishop Lahey affair

Here is a link to an excellent Canadian Catholic blog by "Friar Rick". I will post his blog address in my links box for those who would appreciate reading his postings. Lahey article: http://riccioli.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/nuncio-on-bishop-lahey/

A Letter to the Bishops of Canada

The following letter was sent to each of the Bishops of Canada. Your comments are welcome. ----------------------------------------- Most Holy Excellency, I write to you today as a faithful priest in good standing of the Diocese of Pembroke to ask of you two things. First I wish to bring to your attention a blog that I have begun which I have entitled, "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" which is dedicated to confronting directly many of the major issues of the day that have beset our Church in the wake of the recent sex abuse scandals which have erupted and whose effects are even now being counted in untold numbers of souls lost to the Church. I have posted there three essays of my own ("Virtual Scandal", "Je me souviens", and "The Dickwad Theory") as well as any other articles or postings that I can find where a Bishop has addressed this myriad of crisises. The address for the blog is: http://frtimmoyle.blogspot.com/ Secondly, and more importantly, I implore you to please join the battle for the faith, both within the virtual medium of the internet of in any other forum as you see fit. If you would wish, I will be honored to post a link on my blog to anything that you would offer online in defense of our faith, as I have done with the few letters/posts that you or your brother Bishops have offered to date. For the few examples that I have been able to find, I am extremely grateful. I beseech you please, to join this battle. To date, the virtual world of the internet has been conceded to the forces that are striving to tear down our Church, a fact that is easy to see by simply reading the comment threads on any news site, especially in the wake of the Bishop Raymond Lahey scandal. I am aware that many believe that there is little value in engaging in this fight within the virtual world. I can assure you that from my own experience of receiving telephone calls from people from coast to coast in response to my feeble attempts, that there are souls who are crying out for the voices of the Church to be heard. If my experience is at all typical, then there is much good that can be done in this venue and it is long past time to join the battle. Your voice, as a Bishop needs to ring forth in these forums, especially now that these scandals have touched your own ranks. Please make your voice heard in these terrible times before we find that the forces which beseige us now succeed in cleaving away the majority of souls from our midst. I offer these thought in humble obedience and with respect, as a priest who has taken up the challenge of these times. I pray that soon you will too be found among those who are fighting the good fight, both in the real and virtual worlds. Sincerely in the ministry of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, Fr. Tim Moyle, p.p. St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church - Mattawa, Ontario Diocese of Pembroke

Maureen Dowd throws down a challenge in today's New York Times

Today's issue of the New York Times (Sunday 25 October 2009) includes an editorial column from Maureen Dowd in which she comments on the role of women religious in the Catholic Church. She smoothly starts with a personal account from her childhood in which nuns are portrayed as overbearing and mean spirited.
Once, in the first grade, I was late for class. I started crying in the schoolyard, terrified to go in and face the formidable Sister Hiltruda. Father Montgomery, who looked like a handsome young priest out of a 1930s movie, found me cowering and took my hand, leading me into the classroom. Sister Hiltruda looked ready to pop, but she couldn’t say a word to me, then or ever. There was no more unassailable patriarchy than the Catholic Church.
Then she smoothly transitions into a full out slander job on the Church as a patriarchal institution , with particular bile offered for our current Pope.
In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.” Nuns need to be even more sepia-toned for the über-conservative pope, who was christened “God’s Rottweiler” for his enforcement of orthodoxy. Once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth, Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber.
By using further explosive terms (as if being labeled a Nazi were not bad enough!) referring to the current investigation of religious life in America as an "inquisition", or the church as "enabling pedophilia" to denigrate and slander our faith, Ms. Dowd clearly throws down a challenge to any believing Catholic. As with many such attacks, we often think to ourselves that if such an attack were foisted upon any other group, religious or ethnic, it might be considered "hate speech". Yet such hatred expressed in the public square directed at the Catholic church is now acceptable by many. It is here that we must as Catholics engage in the defense of our church for it through media outlets such as the NY Times that the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens will be fought. In other words, it is here that the "rubber hits the road." It is here that we must take up the fight. This is just one opportunity when anyone who shares in the Catholic faith could and should use the comments threads that accompany this diatribe to make the argument for the faith. It is essential that everyday people respond to such attacks. It is not enough for priests and bishops to address these issues, for we fall victim to the cheap tactics of "poisoning the well" and other logical fallacies to dismiss their contributions. After all, they are agents of this "patriarchal institution" and thus our voices are often not accepted or even heard in this debate. I post below the link to this article and pray that many will respond through the medium of the internet to witness to the truths of our faith and our church. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/opinion/25dowd.html?hpw

24 October, 2009

Fr. Raymond de Souza (National Post Columnist) addresses current scandal in Canadian Church

Check out this article published in the National Post by Fr. Raymond de Souza (Kingston). He provides a balanced and nuanced perspective on the Bishop Lahey scandal. A link to his column archive at the National Post is included in my "favorite links" section of this blog. The article that this link will bring you to was published on 8/10/09. http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=41d8fc0f-6db1-4fb0-ba8b-d425d6d650d4

Bishop Frederick Henry (Calgary) addresses the Lahey Scandal

Comments re the Arrest of Bishop Lahey My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, On September 30th, at the Eucharist, we read from the Book of Nehemiah and I preached about the expression “sadness of the heart,” a deep profound pain that cannot be adequately expressed in simple language but only by way of an image. Little did I realize how apt that image would be for so many of us when it was announced that Bishop Lahey was charged with the possession and importation of child pornography. Our sadness, pain and anger seem boundless. I had hoped that we had finally rounded the corner on all the abuse situations within the church and on the part of its shepherds. In August, the Diocese of Antigonish reached a multi-million dollar settlement with known and alleged child victims of sexual abuse by priests. Bishop Lahey apologized and noted that they were entitled to protection. He said: “Sexual abuse, indeed, any abuse, is wrong. It is a crime and it is a serious sin in the eyes of God. I want to assure you that for some time our diocese, like others throughout Canada, have been taking steps to protect children and youth.” Although Bishop Lahey has not yet had his day in court, there appears to be a real disconnect between his words and actions. Undoubtedly many of the victims of abuse are feeling re-victimized now in light of the events of the past days. Let us never forget that any material that demeans the inherent dignity of women, men and children by removing sexuality from the context of meaningful interpersonal relationships denies the image of the Creator within all of us. Pornography and the portrayal of sadistic violence debase sexuality, corrode human relationships, exploit individuals — especially women and young people — undermine marriage and family life, foster antisocial behavior and weaken the moral fiber of society itself. Pornography degrades those used in its production, as well as those who are desensitized or whose values are perverted through its consumption. We denounce pornography because we believe that it reduces the Creator’s gift of sexuality to a level that is devoid of personal dignity, commitment and spirituality. The sin of pornography involving children is most grave. As we stand in a place of pain, brokenness and vulnerability right now, we should pray for victims of sexual abuse and pornography, for the priests and people of Antigonish, for Bishop Lahey, and for one another in this time of trial. Signature October 03, 2009 ✠ F. B. Henry Bishop of Calgary.

Archbishop Mancini (Halifax & Apostolic Administrator of Antingonish & Yarmouth)

Archbishop Anthony Mancini distributed a letter to the Catholic communities in Nova Scotia in the wake of the Bishop Raymond Lahey child pornography scandal. It is an excellent example of a Bishop directly, powerfully, and personally confronting the most important issue facing the Canadian Catholic Church today: the erosion of faith and moral suasion in the Church due to the malfeasance (sexual and other) of its' clergy. I offer to you a link which will bring you to this letter for your consideration. http://www.catholichalifax.org/images/stories/BishopOffice/2009%2010%2002%20All%20RC%20of%20NS.pdf

Article on the Public Role of Bishops by Archbishop Quinn (San Fransisco - Emeritus)

One of my neighboring brother priests recently forwarded to me a link to an article published in AMERICA Magazine, written by Archbishop John R. Quinn, (San Fransisco - emeritus) in the wake of the Notre Dame commencement address by President Obama. I share it with you. Here is the URL: http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11841

23 October, 2009

Je me souvien

“Je me souviens” Working as I do within the beauty of the Ottawa Valley, I see many cars pass by from “la belle province” emblazoned with the motto “je me souviens” imprinted on each licence plate. These words are a declaration of the desire of the majority francophone population to always “remember” the struggles of “la révolution tranquille” (the Quiet Revolution) which transformed the Quebec society into the modern secular state under which the francophone population, seemingly all at once, turned a deaf ear to the voice of the Catholic Church within their culture, and chose instead to heed only the siren cry of the modern secularist project. In the wake this rapid shift the Catholic Church has been rendered both impotent and irrelevant in the minds of the overwhelming majority of the Quebec population, such that within the few years that have followed the Quiet Revolution, almost 400 years of Catholic practice was wiped away. The most graphic illustration of this shift can be seen in statistics re: church attendance (from the high 80% or more in 1960 to approximately 5%-10% today). The Quebec society is also more advanced in implementing the modern secular agenda: legalization of same-sex marriages, abortions, and the stripping of religion from the public. The parallel to the situation within the English Canadian Catholic Church of today is similar to the situation in Quebec in the 60’s, though at first blush one might have difficulty seeing in the connection. Then it was young academics and labour leaders such as Pierre Trudeau and Jean Marchand, educated in church run colleges who led the charge towards the “modernization” of the French project within Quebec. Having drunk deeply from the chalice of philosophy, reason and justice that they studied in catholic schools, they stepped forward as leaders who took unto themselves the responsibilities and services once offered through the offices of the Church as one by one they were being seconded from the care of the church to the state on a permanent basis. Perhaps like any parent who sees their child begin to make a name for themselves the Bishops, religious and clergy of Quebec sat back in silence, marveling at the success of their efforts to create a genuine francophone body of leaders who would ensure the survival of the “French fact”. Alas, the children of this effort did not share in the values of their “spiritual” parents. With an amazing rapidity, the church found that their absence from the secular debates of the day had led the majority of the population to reject the moral authority of the church to speak to the issues of the day. With this, the patricide inflicted upon the church doomed the church to being relegated to the sidelines for the foreseeable future. This same process is happening again, only this time it is not a societal debate about the virtues of secularism or the role of Catholic institutions. Nor is it an expression of a collective pent up anger in the face of centuries of clericalism. Rather the moral suasion of the church is being rapidly eroded by the litany of sex abuse scandals that confront the Catholic Church. The unwillingness of our spiritual leaders to forcefully and actively engage in the societal debate that has erupted in the wake of this moral crisis resembles the tactics and strategies that failed so spectacularly not so long ago in Quebec. There have been exceptions. Archbishop Anthony Mancini (Halifax) addressed this issue forcefully with an emotionally charged letter to Catholics in his Diocese in the wake of the 2009 Bishop Raymond Lahey pornography scandal. Other sometimes use the levers afforded them within both new and traditional media forums at their disposal to proffer the Catholic voice on important questions of the day. When called upon, Bishop Fred Henry (Calgary) has used these media to great effect. Sadly though, these examples seem to be few and far between within our national Episcopacy. Too often commentary and positions are relegated to theological pronouncements and moral teachings that are issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop (CCCB), speaking as it does (in theory) as the Bishops’ collective voice. The problem with this practice is two fold: first, these statements tend to be presented in language more appropriate for a scholarly theological discussion than can be fruitful in addressing the rising tide of anger within the citizenry as a whole in the face of revelations of sexual abuse. I am reminded of the posters that were popular in the 70’s: “A Camel is a horse designed by a committee”, or perhaps more appropriate to this case, “God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee”. Further, by ceding to the CCCB the sole authoritative national voice in explaining the Churches stance, the Bishops are “passing the buck” by not fulfilling their obligations to preach, teach and protect the faithful to the best of their abilities. Seemingly afraid to stand out from amongst their brother bishops, they have rendered themselves impotent in guiding the faithful through these difficult waters. The Bishops of English speaking Canada should heed the voices that have been silenced in Quebec, lest “je me souviens” become a lament of the English side of the Catholic Church which seems to be squandering away the work and witness of countless millions who have lived the faith in our fair land. Canadian Catholic deserves more from their religious leaders. It is time for each of them to find the courage and wisdom to engage in the questions of the day, both individually and collectively, using every lever at their disposal, before it’s too late. May they will heed the lessons learned from the silence of their French confreres 40 years ago and not repeat that same mistake again.

The Dickwad Theory

Written by: Rev. Tim Moyle, p.p.

NET WORTH: Contribution of the Internet to public discourse and debate.
John Gabriel, an internet games theorist/programmer, in 2005 developed and published what has come to known as the “Dickwad Theory of the Internet. Understanding this phenomena is as simple as 1 + 2 = 3. Although it has become popularly expressed graphically as a tee shirt design it can be expressed as follows:
One person + anonymity + audience = one “dickwad” opinion
The popularization of this theory is often used to discount comments that are posted in the of comments sections that accompany most online news websites. The virulence and brutish tone of such postings has resulted in most authors, analysts and commentators on current events closing their minds, or at least developing a “tin ear” regarding these virtual expressions of opinion. Fr. Raymond de Souza , a columnist who writes in the “National Post” expressed this well when he recently wrote about comments posted in the blogosphere, : “I could write a column on mowing the lawn and before long the comment threads would degenerate into cracks about pedophilia, etc….”. He may be correct in his assessment but I do not share his confidence.
Alvin Toffler, a futurist writer in the latter part of the 20th century wrote in his seminal books Future Shock and The Third Wave that single constant of realities in our modern life is the ever increasing rapidity of the phenomena of change. He posited that change would break upon both societies and individuals with ever increasing frequency and force such that the essence of survival would spring from the abilities of our structures and citizenry to accept, shape or mould the forces that challenge the status quo.
One does not have to attain an old age to see that Toffler was at least partly right. “Change” has been the catchword for our time. Barack Obama rode into power on the premise that he was going to transform the way things were done in Washington, proudly trumpeting that his was a crusade of CHANGE. Who among us has not purchased some electronic device or another, only to have a new and improved version be released shortly after which renders the purchase (at least in the consciousness of today’s consumer) obsolete. Even in my short 50+ years of life, I have watched with amazement as first LP’s (long playing pressed vinyl records) were replaced by generations of magnetic tape, eight tracks, cassettes, compact discs leading to the point that today it is through the microchips and circuit boards of our computers that we download desired music from a virtual music “stores” such as Apple’s popular “itunes” franchise. Pitied now is the person who made a successful living selling records. (remember Toronto’s famous “Sam the Record Man” no gone from its prominence on Younge Street) It must seem to some that every time one succeeds in building up a library of favourite music, it’s already past time to replace it with something that springs forth from the latest technology.
Yet even in the midst of this process of constant movement and change, one factor seems to remain resolute and unmoved in the midst of this swirling vortex of inconsistency and change: The Dickwad Theory.
The question that Catholic commentators of today need to ask, especially in the light of the tsunami of hostile postings on the net in the wake of recent sex scandals that have rocked the faith of believers, is does the Dickwad theory still apply?
What once were considered to be unrepresentative expression of personal opinion, blogs, comment threads and postings on the internet are now finding their way into the main stream media. CNN has dedicated at least one daily show with Rick Sanchez for what is called “a national conversation”, utilizing real time comments posted on such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter. Political opinion and good old fashioned muckraking, that used to be spoken in quiet whispers in smoky back rooms have become virtualized on pages such as the Drudge Reports which are now considered “source material” for many an investigational work of journalism and a fount of ammunition to defeat a political opponent. Messages posted through Twitter were thought to be instrumental in organizing the demonstrations in countries as cultural far removed from our western democracies and Iran and Burma. Clearly some one is reading these postings and is finding in them sufficient motivation to be willing to be injured or even killed in the name of various causes.
Sociologists and psychologists have long studied the effects on human behaviour of exposure to any number of media forms. Who among us can not say that the ready availability of pornography in its many and sordid manifestation has not served to coarsen our view of sexuality? Why would producers the world over spend countless billions of dollars in advertising if repeated exposure to their commercials did not, in some way, influence our opinions so that we would convince ourselves that we “need” the latest incarnation of their products? Clearly exposure to messages repeated ad nausium has the capacity to change our opinions. It has the capacity to render inert long held convictions so as to make a person more malleable to a particular agenda. In short, it is powerful: something to be respected and listened to.
Much of what is posted as comment on the net is indeed specious, vacuous and simplistic. Yet their ready accessibility to anyone who uses the internet as a primary source of news and opinion means that, just as John Stewart is now considered a valid news source by an entire generation, so too can these mediums be used a weapons with which to bring down powerful institutions and individuals.
Adolph Hitler was able, with a few oft repeated words first spoken aloud in a Bavarian pub, to turn a nation long held as being the paragon of culture and civilization into a regime dedicated the genocide and conquest, all within the space of a few years and with early 20th century means of communication. How much more effective would he have been if instead, he had been able to promote his views to millions from the start? I do not know the answer to this question, but I know enough to be concerned with the possibilities.
So, too I believe should be the Catholic Church in Canada as it confronts media coverage and comment which is growing ever more hostile to its mission. Amongst the rabid and bigoted messages , there are others proposing “rational” or “reasonable” actions such as calling for Parliamentary inquiries to delve into whether the plethora of sexual abuse and perversions within its’ ranks has reached a point where it should be considered as a criminal organization?” After all, what percentage of motorcycle enthusiasts needs to be committing a crime before their groups are considered organized crime? Should perhaps the civil rights of privacy be completely respected among the ranks of the clergy, or should some authority have the right to investigate to ensure that victims are not being abused, – a situation where priests might need to prove their innocence rather than the state proving guilt? Messages such as these are becoming more and more prevalent among the chaff. All of this of course is proposed in the spirit of “protecting” the vulnerable members of society.
Lest these remarks be considered exaggerations, I pose the following for consideration. 1. Abortion was once considered a horrific crime, worthy of a substantial period of incarceration: now people go to jail for protesting its ubiquitous presence in our culture.
2. Assisted suicide and euthanasia were the stuff of medical horror novels: now they are “des rigeur,” quietly practiced in many of our health care institutions.
3. Attendance at church on Sundays used to be a sign of intelligence and faith: now people are often even ashamed to admit to being Roman Catholic and, who now may attend church at Christmas and Easter.
Change is indeed the constant of our life. We ignore the new expressions of opinions expressed so freely and distributed so broadly across the web at our own peril. We had better take heed of the lessons of history, lest we become the voices of those whose opinions will be ignored as falling within the rubric of the Dickwad Theory of the Internet.

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