Sunday, March 29, 2009

Other Vocies on the Terry-Burke Controversary

At there's an editorial by Phil Lawler that criticizes Randall Terry, making judgments about Terry's motivations that are, well, inaccurate to put it nicely. You can read Phil's opinion HERE. There are no com boxes on their site, but below is what I wrote to Phil. Diane K. links to this on my com box on an earlier post.


Your spin on the Randall Terry - Ap. Burke event has its roots in a Catholic Cultural "ideal" that (having come to Catholicism out of Evangelicalism) I see differently. Indeed Randall Terry is a different personality than Ap. Burke and most of our Catholic bishops. Please see my two blog posts (below) in response to this situation and Diane Korzeniewski's posts, who (I still love her) takes your position. I know Randall Terry personally, and while I've not been involved in his many activities over the years (although I've been invited) I will attest that he is not after any self-aggrandizement as you so indelicately put it. A more accurate representation regarding Randall's character is that of total selfishness for for cause of life and truth. He is not the kind of person to seek fame, although he does seek attention for the cause. He would rather be ridiculed and poverty stricken for the issues of life and truth--and he has been both. For Randall, his reputation can be torn apart if in the end the lives of babies are saved. And his life has been thus torn several times. Yet, like Jeremiah, he perseveres. As I point out in my posts, there is a fallacious carefulness on the part of American Catholic Culture that has marginalized the Catholic Church and made it ineffective. I explain how in these posts. Here are my responses, the second is perhaps more directly put, but both have examples of how God's men (Biblical and Saints) of old have acted more like Randall than like Ap. Burke.

Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D. (Stan)

(I advertise on your site, by the way, and get good response to my ads. Keep up the good work.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cardinal George and Archbishop Burke at the National Press Club

This is a response to Diane Korzeniewski's excellent post in response to mine of hers, etc. See her post Te Deum laudamus!: Continuing discussion on Catholic dissidence, Archbishop Burke and Randall Terry.

Likewise, this inning of our constructive dialogue on this most important topic, is too big for her com box. I'll put a link there to this.

Perhaps the encapsulation of this post can be stated as my title hints: Cardinal George AND Archbishop Burke need to appear at the National Press Conference, in person, and make statements, take questions, and do a little fire and brimstone preaching in the process. That of course is not their style, unfortunately. Because they didn't do that, Randall Terry did the next best thing. I'm sure Randall Terry would kiss their feet and back off, if they were to do what he, me and a host of others (I'm including the heavenly hosts in that reference) think they should do.

Let me give you some more examples of what I mean.

Did you see any of the March for Life video coverage this past January of the speeches? There was a juxtaposition that was very telling of my point that we need some on-fire preaching and public confrontation of this very public issue. Check out Rev. Luke Robinson's "talk." Trademark speech! Best Practice preaching! Watch it here and cry. He (a black evangelical Protestant) even begins with quotes from Mother Theresa. WE NEED CHANGE NOW MORE THAN EVER.

Moments after he was done (interrupted by frequent cheering of the crowd) a group of Catholic bishops took the podium and also spoke of their support for Life. It was so forgettable that I don't think it even made it to YouTube among the dozens of other videos posted there. If someone knows if it got posted, please let me know where it is. The juxtaposition with Robinson quoting Mother Theresa and the polite response of our bishops was telling of why Catholicism is not as effective in the public forum as it could be.

My call for some revival preaching, as opposed to polite dialogue, is hilariously exampled in Patrick Madrid's book "SEARCH AND RESCUE: How to Bring Your Family and Friends into or Back into the Catholic Church." Madrid's mantra is that of quiet persuasion, and the quote before his Table of Contents is the always present Catholic adage "Evangelize always. When necessary, use words." (St. Francis of Assisi).

What irritates me is that this quote is used (by many in Catholicism) as if it was Scripture. But, that quote is NOT ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE. Yet you'll find quite the opposite attitude in the lives of both OT prophets and NT apostles. What if Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Moses were to have followed St. Francis' adage? DISASTER -- and probably no Old Testament. Let me remind you that Jeremiah was killed for getting in the face of kings and other church leaders. And there was another man, in the NT whose first name began with "J" who suffered the same consequence. Can you imagine Jesus following St. Francis' adage: "Hey, Jesus, Evangelize always, but only when necessary use words." PLEASE folks STOP using this idiotic adage. It has caused Catholics in this country to be silent NOT evangelize, and to NOT confront culture, and for bishops to NOT publicly challenge public officials on very public policy.

The second thing about Madrid's book that is contrary to his thesis is the title, and the drawing on the cover of a life ring being thrown to a guy in a small row boat supposedly overcome by big waves (not depicted). In water rescue situations "Search and Rescue" is NOT a quiet operation, there is, NECESSARILY a lot of yelling. Duh!

The third thing about Madrid's thesis (and the thesis of Catholics who think that reverence before the Blessed Sacrament is the proper attitude when confronting public evil) is Madrid's quoting of Pope Pius XI who wrote in admiration about another St. Francis. St. Francis de Sales was successful in converting a large segment of France formerly controlled by John Calvin. Ironically Madrid cites Pius XI evidence that contradicts Madrid's thesis. Here are two quotes (the first from Pius XI, the second from Madrid)... hardly the quiet or non-confrontational man this guy was (emphasis of Pius' words, quoted by Madrid, mine):

It is almost unbelievable with what vigor and constancy he defended the cause of Jesus Christ... If they fled him, he pursued, calling after them loudly... When during a sermon, almost the entire audience one after another left the Church, he would continue preaching. At no time did he ever lose his mental poise or his spirit of kindness toward these ungrateful hearers. It was by such means as these that he finally overcame the resistance of his most formidable adversaries. (Pius XI, Rerum omnium peturbationem, sec. 8, Madrid's SEARCH AND RESCUE, page 6-7.)

Early in the morning, before the townspeople got up, Francis slipped his tracts under the door of each home, Catholic and Protestant. He knew that if, free from peer pressure, the people would just read for themselves the biblical and historical case for the Catholic Church, they would be more likely to consider the Catholic message. And that's precisely what happened. (Ibid, pg 13)
Now, toning down my "rhetoric" let me respond more directly to Diane's last post:

For the most part I think we've done our part to generate some thought and discussion on this topic. In many respects we agree on substance. We're perhaps disagreeing on "degree" of how justice, correction, or tolerance and trust is played out in the public square. We both trust the Holy Spirit... although I'm not sure how any of us, without taking 120 years, know what the H.S. actually wants. Look how long it has taken bishops to decide certain beliefs. (I have a bone to pick with God about that one.)

My rebuttal for contemplation:

a. Throughout history popes, bishops and laymen have felt they were led by the H.S. to become militant when quiet dialogue (in the face of grave evil) was not making progress at saving civilization. The Civil War is an example, as is WWI and WWII. I have sensed we're on the cusp of another such time with the abortion issue.

b. I knew W. Edwards Deming. Did a documentary about him, interviewed him, read his books. Your citation of his comment about incremental change (as opposed to sweeping change) only works in situations where the output is being constantly evaluated for quality. (e.g. Statistical Processes, I know them well.) When there is no such systemic evaluation present, sweeping change (of the process) may be necessary. I posit that is the case with the American Catholic Church. See my essays on Best Practices of Faith Formation.

c. You can't compare the motivation of a homeless waif stealing bread for food with an educated prince of the Church living in comfort. Canon 915, as Ab. Burke points out, is easy to understand...perhaps even by the homeless waif who can't read. I discount, therefore, that we cannot judge a bishop's motivation for ignoring something so clear. We're not taking about confronting an ignorant lamb, sheep (or waif) here, but supposedly head shepherds who are educated and hand selected: "PROTECT THE LAMBS, FEED THE SHEEP" (c.f. John 21).

d. If we can't judge the motivation of a bishop, we are certainly not in a position to judge the motivation of Randall Terry. It's a matter of historic speculation, but I suspect that if there were 12 bishops in this country who had the fire in their belly Randall Terry demonstrates, ABORTION WOULD NOT BE LEGAL TODAY IN THIS COUNTRY. What if the Apostles (with Mathias, not Judas) had been around during the last 100 years? Do you think Margaret Sanger would have had a pulpit in the public forum? I think she would have been converted or chased off the public map by indignation of St. Paul's preaching. I'm looking at this with the perspective that unlike Protestant preachers like Billy Graham (as great as he was during that time) Billy did not have the apostolic (e.g. historic and infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit) that our bishops have, and have had, had they chosen to rise up and use it.

e. I challenge us all to think more carefully where the line is drawn between what is "charitable" speech and "tolerance of evil." I struggle all the time (after reading scandalous news reports on the web) whether or not to comment to the contrary in the article's com box. Most of the responders are illicit fools, and there needs to be more salt out there. My solution is for Catholic business men and women to buy up the newspapers and control the com boxes. Free Speech is a misnomer when people are led to destruction. And it's still against the law to yell (falsely) "FIRE!" in a crowded building or darkened theater. But is it just as illicit to not yell FIRE when there truly is one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Archbishop Burke Says It Again - Are Other Bishops Listening?

On the Catholic Action for Faith and Family's site is an interview between Archbishop Burke and Thomas J. McKenna (March 10, 2009) mostly dealing with Obama's nomination of Governor Sebelius to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The content is very similar to the one with Randall Terry, and reported to have occurred only 8 days later.

Again, clearly, Burke tells other bishops to fall in line. Will they get the message? And why was Randall Terry singled out for a finger waging? Here's my answer: Because some bishops don't like Randall Terry's tactics. They don't like to be told what to do, even when it's right and in accordance with Matt 18. That's it. But was the message the same? Absolutely. Which will create more buzz? Let me rephrase that, which will get noticed by the other bishops? Okay, which DID get to the other bishops? Answer: Randall Terry's. How do I know this? Because Ab. Burke hasn't yet written a letter to Catholic Action for Faith and Family chastising them. Looks to me like Randall is doing his job. I hope Ap. Burke speaks up all the more. I hope Ab. Burke sees the enemy here are the politicans (both elected and appointed, both U.S. Government and Papal.)

Here are excerpts, emphasis mine. Click the title above or HERE for the full interview.

Ab. Burke: It is sad for our nation to have a person who favors the right to kill the unborn in the womb placed in charge of the federal office with responsibility for health and human services… she should not be entrusted with the questions of health and human services for our nation.

As a Roman Catholic, her appointment is the source of the greatest embarrassment because she has publicly and repeatedly betrayed her Catholic faith…

What is more, she has obstinately remained in her moral error after being admonished by, at least, three of her Bishops, including her present Bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas...

Archbishop Naumann proceeded in perfect accord with Canon Law and the sound pastoral practice it embodies. He steadfastly tried to help Governor Sebelius recognize her grave error and to correct herself. When she refused to do so, he had no choice but to remind her that the Church’s discipline requires that persons who publicly and obstinately remain in serious sin must be denied Holy Communion. When the Governor did not respect the Archbishop’s instruction that she not present herself to receive Holy Communion, he was obliged to make it public that the Governor had been instructed not to present herself to receive Holy Communion...

No Catholic who publicly and obstinately remains in serious sin can receive Holy Communion...

Every Bishop is held to the same universal Church discipline which has been in force since the time of Saint Paul the Apostle and is stated in canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. Whether Governor Sebelius is in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or in any other diocese, she should not present herself for Holy Communion because, after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin.

Archbishop Burke Chastises Randall Terry

My friend in the battle for truth, Diane M. Korzeniewski, posts on Te Deum laudamus! this morning (a great blog) her dismay over Randall Terry's (picture at right) manipulation of Archbishop Burke interview to criticize American bishops who do not abide by Canon 915.

My post about the original interview, also with YouTube embeded clips is HERE.

Her dismay comes even as Archbishop Burke issued a statement, also available on Diane's blog, about his dismay at being "used" by Randall Terry.

I say: The Holy Spirit used Randall Terry to get the bishops out of their comfort zone and into the fight, where they should have been all along. That it takes a country western rocker (Randall is very talented in that arena) and layman who has risked all to lead the fight should shame the bishops far more than what Ab. Burke is upset about. Good Grief! They should read Terry's HUMBLE PLEA (available at Nineveh's Crossing's home page for free). Until Ab. Burke has spent as many nights in jail as Mr. Terry in the ProLife battle, Ab. Burke should laugh it off and publicly admit he needs more experiences like this to learn a few things. His position does not make him infallible or above reproach.

Here's my comment on Diane's blog.
Consider this: What will it take for the bishops to grow some backbone? Do we hide the truth, and their cowardice to practice the teachings of Mother Church (e.g. Canon 915), or do we hide behind political correctness, politeness, and the false need to convey "nice" feelings when "guilt" is the virtue needed. I say CONGRATULATIONS to Mr. Terry. He's clever and wise, and yes he's manipulative in the cause of life and truth. I say BRAVO! Ab. Burke would do well to read Mr. Terry's HUMBLE PLEA in which Mr Terry suggests that they might be more ProLife if bishop's lives were being murdered instead of little, helpless babies. And finally, Mr. Terry's tactics are WELL known by ANYBODY involved in the ProLife movement. That Ab. Burke (an American who has been around all the time of Mr. Terry’s trials and tribulations and battles in the ProLife movement) would chastise Mr. Terry over this is clear evidence that Ab. Burke is naive of the struggle and those involved. Finally, let's not blame Mr. Terry for the typical incompleteness of the mainstream press. But then, just perhaps, the Holy Spirit knows what needs to be done. Shame on the bishops who don't follow Canon 915, and shame on Ab. Burke for putting their feelings and his political statue ahead of holiness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Archbishop Burke Interviewed by Randall Terry

( 25, 2009 - Washington, DC - Following is the transcript of Randall Terry’s interview with His Excellency, Archbishop Burke, Prefect, Apostolic Signatura on March 2, regarding Canon 915 and the withholding of communion from Catholic politicians that support abortion. The actual video footage of this interview was shown earlier today at a press conference at the National Press Club, in Washington DC. More information can be found at (Free copies of Humble Plea are available at Nineveh's Crossing's home page.

Here are the YouTube videos, the transcript follows:

Mr. Randall Terry:
Your Excellency, it’s a delight to be with you. Thank you so much.

Archbishop Raymond Burke: Pleased to have you come, and to visit with you.

Mr. Terry: For the umpteenth time, I and the others are asking, under Canon 915 what should or should not be done?

Archbishop Burke: The Canon is completely clear, it is not subject in my judgment to any other interpretations. When someone is publicly and obstinately in grave sin we may not administer Holy Communion to the person. And that, basically, for two reasons: number one, to prevent the person himself or herself from committing a sacrilege, and secondly, to protect the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist. In other words, to approach, to receive our Lord in Holy Communion, when one insists on remaining in grave sin, is such a violation of the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, so that Communion must not be given to people who are publicly, obstinately, in grave sin.

Mr. Terry: And so does that apply to politicians of any party that are saying: "Yes, it’s okay to abort children" –to kill children?

Archbishop Burke: Yes, for someone who in any way contributes in an active way to the murder of innocent defenseless infants in the womb—children in the womb—from the very inception of human life, this is the greatest of sins. And such a person, until he or she has reformed his or her life, should not approach to receive Holy Communion.

Mr. Terry: And if they do approach, the person who is administering Holy Communion should say, “No.”?

Archbishop Burke: Right. In fact, the Canon puts the burden upon the minister of Holy Communion whether it’s the ordinary minister which would be a bishop, a priest, a deacon—or an extraordinary minister—it doesn’t make any difference. It says they’re not to be admitted to receive Holy Communion. Normally speaking, in my experience, when I have spoken with, for instance, Catholic politicians who have insisted on supporting pro-abortion legislation and told them they should not approach any more to receive Holy Communion, in my experience they don’t. Now, where Bishops have not applied the Canon, often times it’s said that this will cause some kind of disorder at the time of distribution of Holy Communion. That’s not verified. It’s not using Holy Communion to make a statement at all, it’s simply respecting this most sacred gift we have - namely, the Body and Blood of Christ—which can only be received when one has repented of his sins. And I would also make the point—and I believe that it is true that on the contrary - those public figures—Catholics—who are consistently promoting pro-abortion legislation and policies—use reception of Holy Communion to try to justify what they are doing; in other words, to present themselves as devout Catholics, when in fact they are sinning against the most fundamental teaching of the moral law. [Thou shall not murder.]

Mr. Terry: When the election was approaching, Bishop Martino said he would not serve Communion to Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. There were a handful of other bishops who made similar statements, for which the laity and the faithful were rejoicing.

But the deafening silence from so many other Bishops—and also the bishops who stepped up such as in Washington D.C., Virginia, others …Massachusetts…[and] said that we will serve communion—was so painful for us. What word of encouragement would you give, first to the laity on our struggle to bring orthodoxy back, and then to your brother bishops and priests?

Archbishop Burke: I think simply to say: reflect upon this norm of the Church’s discipline—Canon 915—which is one of the most important canons to safeguard the greatest treasure that we have in this life, namely, the communion that we have with our Lord Jesus Christ, and His true body and His true blood; and to, in every way work so that also public witness is given to the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist. And so I would encourage the faithful when they are scandalized by the giving of Holy Communion to persons are publicly and obstinately in sin, that they go to their pastors, whether it’s their parish priest or to their bishop, to insist that this scandal stop. Because, it is weakening the faith of everyone. It’s giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion, in at least in some circumstances, if not also generally. So they need to insist that their parish priest and the bishops, and for the rest…to my brother bishops and brother priests…simply to say: the service of the Church in the world today has to begin first and foremost with the protection of the life of those who are the most defenseless and the most innocent, namely the unborn, and certainly has to extend also to those who are gravely ill, or burdened with serious illness, who have special needs; and also now more and more their lives are being threatened by a culture of death which sadly has infected our nation. So I would just urge my brother bishops and my brother priests to see as the most fundamental witness and service which they can give in leading also the faithful in their pastoral care is the apostolate of the respect for human life.

Mr. Terry: The election of Obama sent shock waves around the world concerning the right to life of babies because of his commitment to pursue FOCA, to try to force hospitals - Catholic hospitals - into giving the morning after pill, other things – [the repeal of the] Mexico City policy. From your vantage point here in the Vatican, what kind of fruit around the world is this poison that’s percolating in America producing?

Archbishop Burke: There is no question, and I certainly see it here, living now here in Europe, and Italy, and also with the kind of communication within all of Europe that Barack Obama—President Obama—is a charismatic figure. And there was a great deal of—especially through the media—a great deal of publicity and so forth regarding the “hope,” the word that he used so much, that he offered—not only for the United States— and for the world. And so you can be certain that the whole world, and especially the English speaking world—which let us recall, is a great part of the world—is following very carefully and attentively what this man is doing—this world leader—which he is. And therefore, it becomes more incumbent upon us then ever, also in our responsibility for the scandal and the harm being done, not only in our own nation which is in itself— which we think about 50 million since the Roe v. Wade decision, 50 million unborn infants murdered—but also to consider the effect that our nation is having on the whole world in this culture of death.

America has the call to lead—to use its influence in the way that will give glory to God and will serve the common good in its most essential element: and that is by turning around this culture of death, and especially protecting the right to life of the unborn. So our responsibility is even greater than just for our own nation - which is in itself such a weighty matter. But we have to see how this is also having, adding a tremendous influence in the English speaking world, but also in the whole world, because of the charismatic nature of our present President. But in any case, no matter who is the President of the United States, here is a world leader with a tremendous capacity to promote the common good, but at the same time sadly, who could—by promoting and implementing anti-life legislation measures—could be an agent of death.

Mr. Terry: If I was a Catholic in another country, I would be watching the news unfold in America hearing the silence of so many Catholics, the debate over communion, and it might have the effect of me just saying, “Well, we have abortion here, they’ve got it there, let’s just all learn to live with it and go on about our business.”

Archbishop Burke: Well, I think this is precisely the effect that it has had. The communications today are instantaneous. The whole world knows that a very high percentage of Catholics in fact voted for this very anti-life candidate and so they watch this very carefully, and what the world needs to see now is a strong witness on the part of all Catholics and we can’t be content with the fact that some 55% - or whatever it is - who for whatever reason, supported this anti-life program. They have to see now that Catholics in the United States are alive and faithful and that they are going to work to protect human life, and above all, to let the President of the United States know that this is the number one issue.

Mr. Terry: There are many Catholics who believed that to vote for Obama - knowing his promises to extend child-killing even further - that to knowingly vote for him under those circumstances was a type of cooperation with moral evil. It was cooperating with evil. Do you concur with that and if so, why?

Archbishop Burke: Well, the fact of the matter is, it is a form of cooperation, because by voting we put a person in office. And people say, “What does my vote matter?” Well, your vote is either a vote to put someone in office who will do what is right and just, or someone who won’t. And so if you, knowing that abortion is a grave crime against human life – is the killing of an innocent, defenseless human life - and you vote for the candidate who says that he intends to make that more available – that practice of infanticide - you bear a responsibility. That is, you have cooperated in the election of this person into office, there’s no question about it.

Mr. Terry: Archbishop, thank you for your time. Do you have any closing comments or exhortations?

Archbishop Burke: President Obama uses this word “hope” in a way that for us is very disturbing. We need to have hope, the hope that is founded in Jesus Christ, alive for us in the Church; Jesus Christ who gave His life for everyone without exception, and with a particular love for the suffering and for those who are the most defenseless. And so we have to be filled with hope and give ourselves more than ever to His work, to His mission of protecting human life, and so I ask God to bless you very much in what you are doing to advance the cause of life.

Mr. Terry: Thank you, Your Excellency; long life to you.

Notre Dame Students Object to Obama Law Honors

Campus Divided Over Catholic Character Question

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, MARCH 25, 2009 ( A coalition of student organizations at the University of Notre Dame are joining forces to protest President Barack Obama's invitation to speak at their graduation ceremony.

A statement released today by the coalition reported the "deepest opposition" of the students to the announcement made Friday by Notre Dame's president that the U.S. president will give this year's commencement speech and will receive an honorary law degree at the university's graduation.

Senior Emily Toates of Notre Dame Right to Life affirmed: "This is not a partisan issue; rather, it's an issue of respect for human life, and our Catholic character.

"We want to emphasize that we are not attacking the office of the president, but taking issue with his moral stances. I think the statement makes it clear that the student body of Notre Dame is not unequivocally in favor of this decision."

The statement noted the objection to President Obama's "hostility to the Catholic Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages."

It added, "His recent dedication of federal funds to overseas abortions and to embryonic stem cell research will directly result in the deaths of thousands of innocent human beings."

The students stated, "We cannot sit by idly while the university honors someone who believes that an entire class of human beings is undeserving of the most basic of all legal rights, the right to live."

Citing the U.S. bishops' conference, they noted that Catholic institutions should not give "awards, honors or platforms" to those "who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."

Law and justice

The statement, signed by several law school student groups, noted the "great irony" that the university is awarding President Obama an honorary law degree.

It explained: "The Notre Dame law school states that its mission is 'to facilitate greater understanding of and commitment to the relationship between law and social justice.' The social justice issue of our day is the deliberate, legal attack on the most vulnerable members of society, the unborn.

"To award a Notre Dame law degree to a lawyer and politician who has used the law to deny equality to the unborn diminishes the value of the degree itself."

Moral dilemna

The students asserted that the university's president, Father John Jenkins, "has placed some of his students in a moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation."

"Many pro-life seniors," they continue, "along with their families, are conflicted about whether to participate in the commencement ceremony."

The student groups affirmed, "In response to the university's decision, we pledge ourselves to acts of witness that will be characterized by respect, prayerfulness, outspoken fidelity to the Church, and true concern for the good of our university."

The groups committed to host academic and religious events in order to engage the university community.

The coalition is comprised of students from Notre Dame Right to Life, The Irish Rover Student Newspaper, Notre Dame College Republicans, The University of Notre Dame Anscombe Society, Notre Dame Identity Project, Militia of the Immaculata, Children of Mary, Orestes Brownson Council, Notre Dame Law School Right to Life, Notre Dame Law St Thomas More Society, and The Federalist Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Bishop D'Arcy to Skip Notre Dame Graduation

Cites University's Preference for Prestige Over Truth

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, MARCH 24, 2009 ( For the first time in 25 years, the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend will not attend the University of Notre Dame's graduation ceremony.

In a statement released today on the diocese's Web site, Bishop John D'Arcy revealed his decision to not attend this year's commencement, at which President Barack Obama will speak and receive an honorary degree.

He said his move isn't an attack on anyone, but rather a gesture done in defense of the truth of human life.

Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, informed the bishop Friday that Obama had accepted an invitation to speak at the university's spring commencement. Bishop D'Arcy noted that this was the first he had heard that such an invitation had been extended.

"President Obama," he said, "has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life."

Bishop D'Arcy noted that he made his decision "after much prayer," and that he wishes "no disrespect to our president."

"I have always revered the office of the presidency," he said. "But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith 'in season and out of season,' and he teaches not only by his words -- but by his actions."

"My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life," he added.

Quoting a 2004 statement of the U.S. bishops, Bishop D'Arcy said, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

"Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for," the bishop noted.

Honor for Glendon

Bishop D'Arcy noted that Notre Dame will also honor Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy, at this year's graduation ceremony. She will be presented with the university's Laetare Medal.

The medal has been awarded annually since 1883 to a Catholic "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity."

The bishop said he has spoken with Glendon, and he encouraged her to accept the award, "and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach."

"Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame," concluded Bishop D'Arcy. "Indeed, as a Catholic university, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.

"Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pope: Condoms vs. Abstinence

This was so simple and pure that I copied it from Bill Murphy's blog, which I maintain. Bill writes from Reading, England on Culture and Catholicism. A brilliant layman and a great writer. His blog is VIEW FROM THE TOWER OF LONDON. Here's his latest post:

Dear Stan,

At least one commentator (Peter Hitchens, as ever) was willing to back the Pope. And incidentally willing to point out that conventional wisdom (i.e. 90% of both politicians' words and media output) is pure drivel.

* Conventional wisdom says the Pope is stupid and wrong to say fidelity and abstinence are better than condoms at guarding Africans from AIDS.

Conventional wisdom, as usual, is talking out of its backside. What the Pope says matters only if anyone listens to him. If nobody does, his opposition to condoms won’t stop anyone using them and will make no difference. If lots of people listen to him, his support for marital fidelity will persuade many people to follow this path, and so save untold lives.

The experience of such countries as Uganda suggests very strongly that he is right when he says this, and that fidelity is a far better protection than a rubber sheath. The only real hope is a change in sexual habits.

I am not a Roman Catholic, but I am weary of the concerted smearing and misrepresentation which the Pontiff constantly faces.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cardinal Denounces Obama's Stem Cell Ban Reversal

ZENIT - March 10, 2009

Calls It a Victory of Politics Over Science

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 9, 2009 ( The U.S. bishops' conference pro-life committee chairman is denouncing President Barack Obama's executive order that will allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Cardinal Justin Rigali issued a response to the U.S. president's order today that will allow federal tax dollars to be used to fund scientists in the destruction of live human embryos to develop stem cells for research.

The cardinal said: "President Obama's new executive order on embryonic stem cell research is a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.

"This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested.

"It also disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life. Finally, it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support."

The cardinal also cited a letter written Jan. 16 by Cardinal Francis George, president of the bishops' conference, to Obama, urging him not to allow funding for this research. Cardinal George stated three reasons why this research is "especially pointless at this time."

"First," he wrote, "basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001."

He continued: "Second, recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells -- hailed by the journal 'Science' as the scientific breakthrough of the year -- are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress.

"Third, adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs.

"To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science."

President Obama's action reverses the ban on federal funding for this type of research enacted by former president George W. Bush, who limited the use of taxpayer money to the 21 stem cell lines already developed before his order.

Cardinal George stated, "If the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax monies for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This Is Not the Legion of Anybody Except of Christ

Dear Family:

This post is really a about Fr. Groeschel, not the Legionairs of Christ...thus I lead with a picture of the good friar.

Perhaps some of you have heard of the recent scandal in a religious order prominent in many countries and here in the U.S. --- The Legionaries of Christ. I considered joining their lay order order called Regnum Christi (the Regimen of Christ). A few of my very close and devout Christian friends are members of this order. They have schools and ministries all over the world. I've been to meetings and confession here in Detroit, and once a business friend and I attended a silent National Men's Retreat in Thornwood, New York, at the Legionaries U.S. seminary.

The scandal involves the revelation (hidden by many for years, unfortunately) that the Legionaries' Mexican founder Father Marcial Maciel, LC, who died last year, and which many had come to revere as a devout priest and religious writer, including John Paul II, carried on a double life. While head of the order and demanding many strict rules of those under him, he spent without much restraint, carried on with a mistress, and even fathered a child who is now in her 30s. This was "slowly" revealed over the past year since he died, and has been a great shock to the order of many, many priests, and lay men and women (some whom I know).

A natural outgrowth of these revelations has been a call by some Catholics for the order to disband, although its devotional focus and ministry rivals many in turning people to Christ. It has no shortage of young men who want to be priests through it's seminaries, or men and women who work tireless for many great causes through it's ranks.

What to do?

There is a great priest, a Franciscan friar, actually, from New York named Benedict Groeschel. He's an elderly psychologist who works among the poorest of the poor in New York boroughs. Fr. Groeschel travels and speaks widely, has a regular show on EWTN, and has been a prolific author. He is a master at verbal communication, and is worth going out of your way to hear. He sustained a near-death car accident in Florida a few years ago. I've met him several times, he's prayed over me, and one of Nineveh's Crossing's most popular DVDs, Fishers of Men, was produced by one of his ministries, Grassroots Films.

The other day, at the Thornwood, NY seminary, Fr. Groeschel gave a talk, in part about the scandal that is rocking the Legionaries order. Fr. Groeschel is the founder of a different order named Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. His insights and humor never fail to inspire. And while his thoughts at the time of the talk were in part about the suffering which the Legion is experiencing, they are also applicable to all of us in the midst of any struggle, economic, personal, or spiritual. So, I am posting them below... from ZENIT.

Before that post, a side note about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I've had the privilege of meeting a number of these friars over the years at retreats and at dinners. They're distinctive in their habits. Some think these guys and gals should dress better, and one Catholic lay leader expressed his discontent to me privately about their lack of dignity in how they dressed. But what that gentleman may not have understood is that the friars work among the poorest of the poor and the extremely down trodden, and so they dress the part. They also have no trouble attracting young men and women to join them...a good indication that Christ is among their midst. The picture is from a retreat in 2005 in New York.


Father Groeschel to the Legion of Christ

"This Is Not the Legion of Anybody Except of Christ"

THORNWOOD, New York, MARCH 2, 2009 ( Here is the text of a homily given Feb. 20 by Father Benedict Groeschel, one of the founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, when he concelebrated Mass at the formation center of the Legionaries of Christ in Thornwood.

Father Groeschel hosts Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel on EWTN, directs the Office for Spiritual Development for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and teaches pastoral psychology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York and at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia.

* * *

Well, brothers and sisters, I'm delighted to be here and grateful to God that I can talk, because I came down with laryngitis yesterday. And I wanted to be with the members of the Legionaries and of Regnum Christi in a time that obviously is one of great suffering, of pain, but also of promise.

It happened just by an unusual circumstance that this little book of mine, "The Tears of God," arrived yesterday. I wrote it and sent it to the publisher a year ago. The name of the book is "The Tears of God: Persevering in the Face of Great Sorrow and Catastrophe." And so I brought several copies with me. It's hardly a book; it's a long essay with prayers, but I hope that it will be helpful to you all.

And first of all, let me say that the Legionaries have many friends, and I've been on the phone with a number of members of Regnum Christi who are friends and associates of mine, especially through the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, which I am a faculty member of. And I'm so delighted to know that the spirit of the Lord is with you in this time of suffering and that people are holding on.

Now: "You all need reform!" We ALL need reform! When do we need it? Every single day, no matter what goes on. Send anybody around to me who says, "They need reform!" and I'll tell them, "Wake up, smarty!" Our Divine Savior says, "The time has come, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news." And that is something that must go on every single day.

When I was a young fellow, fourteen years old, I saw a book: "The Confessions of St Augustine." And I started to read it. The only translations were old Anglican translations in very stilted language: Dr. Pusey's translations. And it intrigued me. (I skipped over the parts about the Manicheans.) But the whole story of St Augustine, not only his conversion, but also his great belief on every page that God, that Christ, called to him no matter what was happening, even before his conversion. He wrote, "You called me with an unheard voice, and you pushed me on with a hidden goad."

Right in the first paragraph, there is a sentence. It almost knocked me on the ground when I read it: "You have made us for yourself, oh God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." And down through the ages, the spirit of St. Augustine has guided religious orders in the West over and over again (St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Dominic, many, many others... St. Ignatius). And on into modern times. "You have made us for yourself, oh God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

And in St. Augustine, you read a great deal about human weakness, about how much we need every day to be converted. You'll never read in St .Augustine: "We've arrived." Absolutely not.

And at times, in individual lives, and sometimes in corporate lives, events occur which are difficult for us to comprehend, to get our arms around. And often, not always, but often, the answer is a personal, individual call to repentance on our part, on OUR part. And the willingness to go on.

The friars, work with the poorest section of society, and we get along very well with humble people. Right during the priests' scandal, this great scandal four years ago, two of our brothers are walking down Broadway. It's a little hard to miss us, you know. (At least we LOOK religious; I wish we WERE that religious.) And this truck driver with a leather jacket and a handful of keys walked by the two brothers. He turned around and he says, "Hey brothers, don't let the turkeys get you down."

It's a great motto. Now, it's not elegant, and those of you who speak English in a second language: get someone to explain to you why they call them turkeys. (How do you say it in Spanish? "Pavo" is turkey?)

Now, what goes on is that each individual soul is called in the way that the Holy Spirit calls us to turn all of the events of life -- successes, failures, joys, sorrows, virtues, and even sins -- to turn them all into our personal repentance and following of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Legionaries of Christ were built and sustained by a deep Christological theology and devotion. It will stand you in the best stead at this time. This is not the Legion of anybody except of Christ.

And I encourage you... my little book is about this. That's Christ on the cover with tears running down his face. This painting was made in the 19th century. No one knows who made it, but it shows Christ in the agony, crowned with thorns, and the tears running down his face. The tears of Christ are the tears of God. He weeps with us. He wept in the garden. He wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Don't ever, ever think that he does not weep even now.

If you look at the religions of the world, there are unique qualities about each of them, that were founded by sincere people, far away from Christianity, and perhaps with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in those cultures: Buddhism, for instance. And in those religions, God never suffers. In the Jewish religion, from which we come, God gets mad. He gets annoyed. He also gets happy; he rejoices when things are going well. But in Christianity, God suffers. An incredible, impossible thought. The absolute, infinite, divine being, eternal, unchangeable... That he could weep: This is the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ comes and weeps with us. He suffers with us. We have the unthinkable reality of a God who dies. Incomprehensible. Theologically, we have explanations through the Councils of how it could happen, but it's a mystery of mysteries. And the devotions of the centuries, especially of the Sacred Heart, reveal that Christ in a mysterious way suffers with us today.

Pope John Paul quoted the French writer Léon Bloy that "Christ is on his cross till the end of the world in his Mystical Body." And so Christ suffers with you in a very special way.

Years from now, you'll think back on these difficult days, and I hope you'll remember that Christ suffered with you. Let the cross be your guide. St. Augustine says, "When the cross was first preached to the few who believed, it was mocked by the multitudes. But by the power of the cross, the blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, and even the dead rose so that even among the powers of this world, men would come to believe that there is, in fact, nothing more powerful than the humility of God." Nothing more powerful than the humility of God.

And if I may say this as a friend to your community, this is a time when the face of Christ, covered with tears and sweat, calls each of us to participate in the humility of God. Amen.