Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Liberal" and "Conservative" Don't Work for The Church

The Church is not a political entity and to use such politically-loaded phrases such as "conservative" or "liberal" is the wrong way in which to describe anybody in the Catholic Church.

The general usage of these words derives from the political spectrum and so they have a lot of baggage associated with them. Even in Catholic circles, they are tossed around.

For a prime example, see Richard McBrien, who goes after "conservatives" and the Pope - saying the time of conservatism may be over because of recent scandals. This is a horribly argued article, because McBrien fails to mention (among other issues) that most of the problems came from those that would never describe themselves as "conservative". Also, his agenda is obviously one of opposing all that he attacks in the article, so that he comes across as petty and angry.

Don't get me wrong, you can mess up in any direction. Some examples are found in the Legion of Christ (suffering a purification from scandal), the Society of St. Pius X (which has seperated themselves from the Church over Vatican II and liturgy - among other issues), in addition to other groups that some consider "conservative".

Being an "extreme" Catholic can be deadly in any direction.

Thus, the Church is too big to be caught up into political language. We lose the mystery and make it a purely human enterprise.

If someone asks me if I am conservative or liberal, I answer -
"I am Catholic. I believe what the Church teaches, proclaims, and professes."

Liberal and Conservative don't fit into such a view.

One other point. Be wary of getting good commentary out of articles such as the one linked to above. To many people have agendas to push - McBrien's agenda is just one of many, and one that is old, failed, and stale.

Fr. Barron and Scott Hahn on The Bible and The Liturgy

Good stuff.

Tip O' the hat to Carl.

2 More Bishops Speak Up

Facts schmacts - the New York Times and other news outlets don't need them...

1 - Bishop DiMarzio from Brooklyn:
In his homily to the priests and people of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, called upon the priests and people of the Diocese of Brooklyn to stand up with him and “besiege The New York Times. Send a message loud and clear that the Pope, our Church, and bishops and our priests will no longer be the personal punching bag of The New York Times.”

Bishop DiMarzio’s spirited defense of the Holy Father was based on the decision of The New York Times editors to, “Omit significant facts,” and ignore the reality that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Cardinal Ratzinger headed up, did not have competency over Canonical Trials in 1996. Moreover, Bishop DiMarzio continued “…the priest in question, Father Murphy was in the midst of a Canonical Trial. He died before a verdict was rendered.”

Reflecting on the timing of the stories, DiMarzio stated “Two weeks of articles about a story from many decades ago, in the midst of the Most Holy Season of the Church year is both callous and smacks of calumny!” He continued “This evening, I am asking you to join me making your displeasure known to the editors by letters or emails.”
2 - Cardinal Levada, who took over the CDF from Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI):
As I write this response today (March 26, 2010) I have had to admit to them that I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.

I say this because today’s Times presents both a lengthy article by Laurie Goodstein, a senior columnist, headlined “Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest,” and an accompanying editorial entitled “The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal,” in which the editors call the Goodstein article a disturbing report (emphasis in original) as a basis for their own charges against the Pope. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.

In her lead paragraph, Goodstein relies on what she describes as “newly unearthed files” to point out what the Vatican (i.e. then Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) did not do – “defrock Fr. Murphy.” Breaking news, apparently. Only after eight paragraphs of purple prose does Goodstein reveal that Fr. Murphy, who criminally abused as many as 200 deaf children while working at a school in the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 1950 to 1974, “not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims.”

But in paragraph 13, commenting on a statement of Fr. Lombardi (the Vatican spokesman) that Church law does not prohibit anyone from reporting cases of abuse to civil authorities, Goodstein writes, “He did not address why that had never happened in this case.” Did she forget, or did her editors not read, what she wrote in paragraph nine about Murphy getting “a pass from the police and prosecutors”? By her own account it seems clear that criminal authorities had been notified, most probably by the victims and their families.

Goodstein’s account bounces back and forth as if there were not some 20 plus years intervening between reports in the 1960 and 70’s to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and local police, and Archbishop Weakland’s appeal for help to the Vatican in 1996. Why? Because the point of the article is not about failures on the part of church and civil authorities to act properly at the time. I, for one, looking back at this report agree that Fr. Murphy deserved to be dismissed from the clerical state for his egregious criminal behavior, which would normally have resulted from a canonical trial.

The point of Goodstein’s article, however, is to attribute the failure to accomplish this dismissal to Pope Benedict, instead of to diocesan decisions at the time. She uses the technique of repeating the many escalating charges and accusations from various sources (not least from her own newspaper), and tries to use these “newly unearthed files” as the basis for accusing the pope of leniency and inaction in this case and presumably in others.

It seems to me, on the other hand, that we owe Pope Benedict a great debt of gratitude for introducing the procedures that have helped the Church to take action in the face of the scandal of priestly sexual abuse of minors. These efforts began when the Pope served as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued after he was elected Pope. That the Times has published a series of articles in which the important contribution he has made – especially in the development and implementation of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, the Motu proprio issued by Pope John Paul II in 2001 – is ignored, seems to me to warrant the charge of lack of fairness which should be the hallmark of any reputable newspaper. - Read the rest.

Faith: It's in the stars (or lack thereof)

This post is by Kevin Pesek, a Campus Ministry Intern at St. Mary's. He and the other interns are guest blogging for us during Lent.

I was reading a spiritual tract yesterday on the divine virtue of faith recommended by my spiritual director. And, no surprise, it eventually turned to Abraham as our "Father in Faith."

We all know the story from Genesis 15. Abraham (Abram at this point) has been called from his home in Ur by God and has moved to Canaan. God promised to make of Abraham "a great nation." Some time passes, and Abraham, not getting any younger, is still waiting on the fulfillment of God's promise in the form of a child. He questions God about this, and God leads him outside of his tent and tells him, "'Look towards heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them...So shall your descendants be.' And Abraham believed the Lord."

We use this story all the time as one example of Abraham's faith. He sees all the stars in the sky and trusts that God will make his descendants as numerous (over 2 billion Christians in the world today). But something in the story is often overlooked and unnoticed and really made me think. It was not dark when God showed Abraham the sky! (In Gen 15:12, we are told the sun sets). Abraham just saw a blue sky and the sun in the middle of the day. It was not possible for him to see, much less count, any stars.

Abraham knew the stars were there, but God was the only one who could see them. Likewise, Abraham could not see his future descendants, but God could. And that is what Abraham placed his faith in. It was not in something he could see; it was in something he could not see. It really makes sense if you think about it. Faith is "the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1). And as our "Father in Faith," Abraham exemplifies this conviction in his life.

I think we are often left looking for the "stars." We still look for signs or confirmation that God will be faithful to what he has promised and revealed to us, that he has not forgotten us. Abraham's faith was formed by his humility. He recognized that as a lowly human being, he was incapable of seeing the fruits of God's plan for him. But through his faith, he was able to have "the assurance of things hoped for," which is much more valuable than simply seeing. Let us pray to have the faith of Abraham and to trust in God's plan for us, even if we cannot see the stars.

Tip o' the Hat to the book Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue by Tim Gray and Curtis Martin

Archbiship Dolan - New York Times is Anti-Catholic

Great Article.
In some ways, Holy Week is hardly the time I would choose to make the following comments. Still, the matter is so pressing that I feel compelled to address it.

Last week I asked for some fairness in the seemingly unappeasable criticism of the Church over the catastrophe of clergy sexual abuse.

Not to my surprise, if anything, it has only gotten worse, especially in the interminable headlines about the Pope himself.

Last fall I wrote in this blog about anti-Catholicism in the New York Times and other media, providing a list of contemporary examples. A few tried to slap me back into place, suggesting that I stupidly believed the Church to be immune from scrutiny.

Baloney! The Church needs criticism; we want it; we welcome it; we do a good bit of it ourselves; we do not expect any special treatment…so bring it on.

All we ask is that it be fair and accurate.

The reporting on Pope Benedict XVI has not been so.

The first reports were about a shameful priest in Germany three decades ago. I weighed in on that coverage last week.

The second story, sprayed all over the New York Times this week, and predictably copied by the world’s press, is groundless. (I am grateful for Father Raymond de Souza’s excellent piece posted at National Review Online which goes through the story point by point.)

The report accuses Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of preventing a priest whose sins and crimes can only be described as diabolical, one Lawrence Murphy, from facing proper penalties in the Church for the serial abuse of deaf minors.

While the report on the nauseating abuse is bitterly true, the insinuation against Cardinal Ratzinger is not, and gives every indication of being part of a well-oiled campaign against Pope Benedict.

Here’s a summary of the key points: (read the rest)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jimmy Straightens It All Out

Jimmy Akin in a fine piece gives us the information we needed to hear:
One can fault any number of things about process or policy in this case, but we don’t have evidence that Ratzinger did anything in bad conscience. He didn’t stop the trial against Murphy from proceeding. At most (attributing everything to him that Bertone did) he recommended waiving the judicial proceeding due to the man’s advanced age and ill health while simultaneously taking steps to ensure that the man would not be a threat to anyone as he lived out his final months in seclusion.

Civil prosecutors make these kinds of judgments all the time, deciding whether it is really worth it to devote the resources to proceed to a full trial when the accused is elderly, not a threat, and likely to die during the proceedings.

They aren’t portrayed in the press as evil monsters, and from the facts of this case, Pope Benedict shouldn’t either. (Please read the whole thing.)

The Real Face of Jesus?

I am no fan of the History Channel. They try to tantalize and debunk, especially when it comes to Christianity and the Catholic Church. But, I have to admit I am somewhat intrigued by a new documentary premiering tonight, "The Real Face of Jesus".  Some info from a story on the program:
Using the latest 3-D computer technology, a team of digital artists have created what they claim is the real face of Jesus.

The contours of the face and body were taken from the ghostly face imprinted on the Shroud, the bloodied linen sheet said to have covered the body of Christ in his tomb.

Months of painstaking work went into the reconstruction, which is the first of its kind. The results were recorded by The History Channel for a two-part documentary, The Real Face Of Jesus, broadcast this week.

"If you want to recreate the face of Jesus and you want to get the actual face of Jesus, you only have one object and that's the shroud," said Ray Downing, lead artist on the project.
"I have a lot of information about that face and my estimation is we're pretty darn close to what this man looked like."
A promo for it on Good Morning America:

Newsweek Gets Heaven Wrong

Lisa Miller, who is known for her anti-Catholic invective (see herehere and here for examples) now has to throw heaven under the bus in order to sell more books. A new article entitled, Far From Heaven, tries to argue that knowing if there is a heaven or what it is all about is an exercise in futility. But, alas, she will try to sell her book, which is all about heaven, anyway. It certainly didn't take her long to mention that she has a new book - from the second paragraph:
Resurrection—the physical reality, not the metaphorical interpretation—puts everything we imagine about heaven to the test. My new book, Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife, argues that while 80 percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, few of us have the slightest clue about what we mean.
Then she uses polling data to show that less Americans believe in Resurrection of our bodies to show we can't know for sure anything. I didn't know that truth was up for a vote.

But, it gets worse. She calls Jesus "typically cranky."
Resurrection presented credibility problems from the outset. Who, the Sadducees taunted Jesus, does the man who married seven wives in succession reside with in heaven? The subtext of their teasing is obvious: if the resurrection is true, as Jesus promised, then in heaven you must have your wife, and all the things that go along with wives: sex, arguments, dinner. Jesus responds in a typically cranky way: "You just don't get it," he says (my paraphrase). "You are wrong," he said in Matthew's Gospel, "because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."
She goes on to say that having an immortal soul, and not resurrection of the body, is "more reasonable".

Ultimately her article, and her book, come down to this - you can't explain the afterlife. Well, even if she was a believer, she couldn't explain it, none of us can.

But, that is no reason to through orthodox Christian beliefs, Sacred Scripture, the power of God, and the life of Jesus under the bus.

Of course, that kind of narrative probably won't sell as many books. This is proved by the even more useless article - "Can Science Explain Heaven?" - I wonder what the answer is...maybe you will have to buy the book to find out...

What You Need To Know

1 - What you need to know about the accusations against Pope Benedict - the media reporting the "facts" never actually checked the "facts" as they knew them:

From the priest who oversaw the canonical trial of Fr. Murphy:
With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me. Almost all of my quotes are from a document that can be found online with the correspondence between the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In an October 31, 1997 handwritten document, I am quoted as saying ‘odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number wise, and especially because these are physically challenged , vulnerable people. “ Also quoted is this: “Children were approached within the confessional where the question of circumcision began the solicitation.”

The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them. As a college freshman at the Marquette University School of Journalism, we were told to check, recheck, and triple check our quotes if necessary. I was never contacted by anyone on this document, written by an unknown source to me. Discerning truth takes time and it is apparent that the New York Times, the Associated Press and others did not take the time to get the facts correct.
Wow. News doesn't care about facts - but readers and viewers which equal money. Time for the New York Times and AP to do a retraction, but I doubt they will.

2 - What you need to know about certain nuns and healthcare. When Planned Parenthood gives you a big "thanks", then something is wrong.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has praised the Catholic religious sisters who endorsed the Senate health care bill, claiming they deserve gratitude for making “a critical demonstration of support” for a bill that significantly increased coverage of “reproductive health care.”

Writing for the Huffington Post Wednesday in her capacity as president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Richards claimed that it was Catholic nuns who “most importantly broke with the bishops and the Vatican to announce their support for health care reform.”

“This brave and important move, demonstrating that they cared as much about the health care of families in America as they did about church hierarchy, was a critical demonstration of support.”
3 - What you need to know about defending the Pope. There are times for speaking softly and then there is now. If you thought the defense of Benedict XVI wasn't strong enough, then let George Neumayr speak for you.
The very secularists and libertine Catholics who wanted the aberrant sexual revolution to enter the Church in the 1960s and 1970s now hold Pope Benedict XVI responsible for its lingering effects. This takes considerable gall, but that has never stopped them before.

Moreover, what moral authority and “credibility” do they bring to the issue of protecting children, exactly? These are the same people who favor the abortion of unborn children. They favor the high-brow child abuse of turning children over to homosexual couples at gay adoption agencies. They think it enlightened to bring Planned Parenthood representatives into elementary schools. They celebrate on Main Street gay-pride parades that include the North American Man/Boy Love Association.

The moral authority of these Church-hating ideologues is nil. We are witnessing the repulsively absurd spectacle of a culture drenched in depravity lecturing the Vicar of Christ on moral responsibility. One doesn’t even have to agree with every action or inaction of Benedict's ecclesiastical career to see that these attacks on him have been appallingly stupid, glib, and Pharisaical.

Easy To Understand Tech-Talk

Of course, inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors always needed to be automatically synchronizing grameters. What an instrument - the turbo encabulator!!!

Lucky you, I can translate such things for you all.
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I admit, I laughed out loud.  Thanks Mark!

Does God Exist

A debate between Dr. Peter Kreeft and Dr. Keith Corcz.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cardinal DiNardo at Houston Baptist

We really enjoyed his presentation here at Texas A&M last year. Another great one below.

Is the Pope To Blame For the Sex Scandal?

Certain people are calling for the Pope to resign and saying he is to blame for the sex scandals in the Church. Is he? Some others answer the claims, so I will not add my voice to it - but rather put other voice's to work.

I will only post short snips of each piece, click the links for full write-ups.

**Archbishop Dolan of NY
What causes us Catholics to bristle is not only the latest revelations of sickening sexual abuse by priests, and blindness on the part of some who wrongly reassigned them — such stories, unending though they appear to be, are fair enough, — but also that the sexual abuse of minors is presented as a tragedy unique to the Church alone.

That, of course, is malarkey. Because, as we now sadly realize, nobody, nowhere, no time, no way, no how knew the extent, depth, or horror of this scourge, nor how to adequately address it.

The sexual abuse of our young people is an international, cultural, societal horror. It affects every religion, country, family, job, profession, vocation, and ethnic group.

We Catholics have for a decade apologized, cried, reached out, shouted mea culpa, and engaged in a comprehensive reform that has met with widespread acclaim. We’ve got a long way to go, and the reform still has to continue.

But it is fair to say that, just as the Catholic Church may have been a bleak example of how not to respond to this tragedy in the past, the Church is now a model of what to do. As the National Review Online observes, “. . . the Church’s efforts to come to grips with this problem within the household of faith — more far reaching than in any other institution or sector of society — have led others to look to the Catholic Church for guidance on how to address what is, in fact, a global plague.”
**Damian Thompson
There is still no good evidence that Pope Benedict XVI is seriously implicated in the atrocious child abuse scandals that are – rightly – blackening the reputation of the institutions of the Catholic Church. But still the attempts to join the dots continue. To put it bluntly, there is an increasingly frantic media campaign against the Pope in which headlines are being written first and then facts shaved to fit them.
**Fr. Lombardi, Vatican spokesman:
In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr. Murphy.

"In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. In light of the facts that Fr. Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr. Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr. Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr. Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident".
**Carl Olson.
The world is indeed right to condemn the sins of Catholics. But the world isn't satisfied with condemning the sins of Catholics (especially since it has such an uneasy relationship with the notion of objective sin and is quite selective in whose sins it condemns), but wishes to simply destroy the Catholic Church. The world cannot stand the scandal of particularity, the scandal of the Incarnation, the scandal of Jesus Christ
The mechanisms of dioceses are difficult for unsympathetic and uninformed people to follow and uninformed unsympathetic people don't usually take the time to get facts straight, even when the matter in question is a serious one. They just opine. And nowadays they opine in the mass media.
**Pope Benedict:
The pope said that faith in God helped lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".

He also spoke of how man can sometimes "fall to the lowest, vulgar levels" and "sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty".
**Archbishop Nichols:
There have been serious mistakes made within the Catholic Church. There is some misunderstanding, too.

Within the Catholic Church world-wide, there is a legal structure, its Canon Law. It is the duty of each diocesan bishop to administer that law. Certain serious offences against that law have to be referred to the Holy See to ensure that proper justice is administered. This was again clarified in 2001. Some of these offences are not criminal in public law (such as profanation of the Sacraments), others are (such as offences against children). The role of the Holy See is to offer guidance and advice so as to ensure that proper procedures are followed, including the confidentially needed for the protection of the good name of witnesses and victims, and for the accused until the trial is completed. It is part of a responsible legal procedure.

This ‘secrecy’ is nothing to do with the confidentiality, or ‘seal’ of the Confessional, which is protected for reasons of the rights of conscience.
**More Carl Olson:
Dowd is correct (no, really, she is) in saying the Church must "banish criminal priests and end the sordid culture of men protecting men who attack children..." And if she paid attention and read what John Allen and others are saying, she would recognize that Benedict XVI is actually undertaking these tasks. But Dowd is so locked into her obsessive women vs. men meta-narrative, she simply cannot consider acknowledging the good being done by the Vicar of Christ. And so, having run roughshod over reputations, facts, theology, and commonsense, she finishes by writing: "The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests."

No, not really. No, it is holy and humble people—laity, deacons, nuns, priests, bishops, popes, perhaps even an occasional newspaper pundit—who have cleaned up the messes of those who have abused children, abused the faith of good people, and abused the Faith, period. They have taken the hits, carried their crosses, endured the taunts, embraced the path, and followed in the footsteps of Suffering Servant. Not by their own strength, not because of their innate purity, and not for their own glory.
**Thomas Peters:
With people writing and doing such preposterous things about and to the Church and the pope, we need to respond with the truth. I find it very interesting that this attack has been leveled at the Church during Holy Week, when the Church is most trying to focus on Christ and His sufferings. Well, this year we can identify with some of His suffering a little more easily.
**Kathryn Jean Lopez:
This case was clearly mishandled, but all blame does not lead to Rome. The fact that the Milwaukee archdiocese has a mess of a history (including Archbishop Rembert Weakland stepping down in scandal) is not breaking news so much as a shameful reality.
**John Allen:
First, some media reports have suggested that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the Vatican office with responsibility for the sex abuse crisis for almost a quarter-century, from 1981 until his election to the papacy in April 2005, and therefore that he's responsible for whatever the Vatican did or didn't do during that entire stretch of time. That's not correct.

In truth, Ratzinger did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001, four years before he became pope.
**The Anchoress:
A few people have written me scathing letters charging me with not writing much about these scandals because I am (as one wrote) “a brain-washed moron” who will obediently “protect the church, instead of the children.”

Had that person read me with any regularity, she would know that I studiously avoid all stories involving the sexual abuse of children. Some dark places are too familiar, and I prefer avoid them when I can. In this case, I’ve kept my thoughts mostly to myself.

But, I must say, sometimes, when I think back on how things played out in my own life, I wonder if some of the church’s failed response mechanisms were simply a case of institutional psychological denial. I’m not looking to excuse anyone, only to understand. But the church is made up of humans involved in a complicated love. In some families, like mine, clues and whispers and behavioral problems that should have made things clear simply did not register as they should have. Until someone finally opened her mouth and said things outright (that would have been me) issues were ducked or ignored. Everyone became very good at pretending that everything was all right. Why? Because of fear. Because of ignorance and feelings of helplessness and confusion. Because, in an odd way, of love.

In my family’s case, when I finally made my noise, two things happened: some accused me of either lying or “being mean.” Others finally woke up and moved quickly from their state of denial into righteous anger.

Those who had “woken up” and then supported me did the right thing; I did not love them less because of their initial blindness, or because they had to first move from denial to acceptance. Victimhood tends to help one understand how frail our humanity really is, sometimes, and those insights give room for a bit of mercy.
**Fr. Raymond D'Souza:
The backlog from the sins, shame and secrecy of the past is still to be dealt with. It will take some time. The victims' pain endures, the Church's shame remains. The abdication of discipline in the Church has taken a terrible toll. Slowly though we are becoming more Catholic and restoring the years that the locust hath eaten.
**More from Fr. D'Souza:
To repeat: The charge that Cardinal Ratzinger did anything wrong is unsupported by the documentation on which the story was based. He does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop Bertone, agreed that there should be full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.

Bluegrass

Wow...


Very good music...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fun: Gus Johnson

We haven't had too much Friday fun lately (it is Lent and all), but I couldn't resist, since it is also March Madness.

Thus, I would like to pay tribute to Gus Johnson, my favorite college basketball announcer. Gus is so much fun to listen to because he loves the game as much as I do. He is a true fan and lets it show.

Of course, he can get a little over-excited:

The Wall Street Journal said today:
There are times when a fan can’t help but be concerned about Gus Johnson’s health. Yes, CBS probably has some sort of backup plan in place should its most excitable announcer’s head explode during a particularly dramatic overtime game. Still, it was hard not to worry about Johnson during Thursday night’s NCAA tournament action. It was everyone’s good fortune that Johnson wound up in Salt Lake City, calling the two most exciting games of the evening: first, Butler’s upset of west region No. 1 seed Syracuse, then Kansas State’s thrilling double-overtime win over Xavier. Among the less fortunate: people with really good speakers attached to their televisions; and Johnson’s tonsils, which are presumably encased in a therapeutic coating of Icy Hot as you read this.
I concur. I actually said out loud last night, "one day Gus Johnson's head is going to explode."

If you are a Gus fan as I am, then you will love the Gus Johnson soundboard. Hours of endless fun.

Groin-gazing

Navel-gazing = "To be self-absorbed."

We live in a culture of navel-gazers and a manifesto of modern culture would look something like this.
The purpose of life in our modern culture is to have as much selfish pleasure as I can find before my life ends.

Pain is the opposite of a good life.

Life is about me.

Others are of no use if they get in my way of pleasure, including children. That is why we need such things as contraception, abortion, euthanasia, sexual liberation, and freedom from the guilt that comes from ancient moralities tied to religion.

Sex is what I worship, because it is what brings me pleasure. Porn is my god. I am my god.

Others are my rival in my pursuit of attaining pleasure, and thus at best they are tools for me to use to get it.

Money helps buy me pleasure.

Power helps me attain it easier.

To indulge is to satiate my passions for a while, but I can never have enough pleasure. I need more.

Give me more.

More.
More.

More porn.

More lust.

More pleasure.
Less repression.

More indulgence.
Less guilt.

More numb.
Less conscience.

More feeling good.

More.
Thinking through this topic has brought home that we aren't only navel-gazing in our culture - we are also groin-gazing. The purveyors of porn have given our culture what it always wanted - unlimited, easy, free, private access to pornographic pleasures. Nobody needs to know.

When we look at our sexuality and at any sexual act as merely indulgence of my selfish pleasure, then we become groin-gazers, who are so self-absorbed that we are unable to love others. They are objects. They are not unique and un-repeatable people who are created in the divine image. They are things. We matter. They don't.

Groin-gazers don't love - they use.
Groin-gazers cannot truly love. As Karol Wojtyla (JPII) wrote in Love and Responsibility:
"Man's capacity for love depends on his willingness consciously to seek a good together with others, and to subordinate himself to that good for the sake of others, or to others for the sake of that good. Love is exclusively the portion of human persons"
Thus, groin-gazing, unbeknown to most of us, is a denial of human dignity.

But, groin-gazing activities (sex for my own pleasure) is exactly what the culture calls "love". What a paradox. Here is what JPII says:
"'Love' in this utilitarian conception is a union of egoism, which can hold together only on condition that they confront each other with nothing unpleasant, nothing to conflict with their mutual pleasure. Therefore love so understood is self-evidently merely a pretense which has to be careful cultivated to keep the underlying reality hidden: the reality of egoism and the greediest kind of egoism at that, exploiting another person to obtain for itself its own 'maximum pleasure'. In such circumstances the other person is and remains only a means to an end..."
Do we really want to be all that we can be as humans? Then the selfishness inherent in groin-gazing must be cast out. Because to be human = living a life for others = love.
Love is the fullest realization of the possibilities inherent in man....The person finds in love the greatest possible fullness of being, of objective existence....
Be human.
Love.

How should we do this? By being chaste. Not chastity as is commonly thought of. But, chastity that frees us:
"Chastity can only be thought of in association with the virtue of love. Its function is to free love from the utilitarian attitude….The virtue of chastity, whose function it is to free love from utilitarian attitudes, must control not only sensuality and carnal concupiscence, as such, but--perhaps more important--those centers deep within the human being in which the utilitarian attitude is hatched and grows...the more successfully the utilitarian attitude is camouflaged in the will the more dangerous it is...To be chaste means to have a 'transparent' attitude to a person of the other sex--chastity means just that--the interior 'transparency' without which love is not itself"
Lord give us all this gift of chaste love.

Good Reading

1 - "The Easter Bunny Must Die"

2 - "Seeing is NOT Believing. It is Only Seeing"

3 - "A Response to Christopher Hitchens' The Great Catholic Coverup"

4 - "The Pope and the Wisconsin sex abuse scandal: I smell a stitch-up"

5 - "Would Christ Have Become Man If Man Had Not Sinned?"

3 Questions

1 - Is the Pope to blame for the sexual abuse crisis?

2 - Can we lie to save lives?

3 - Is President Obama the antichrist? - Seriously, some think he is.

Click on the links to see the answers.  Good stuff in all three.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Speaker Pelosi is not called by Jesus Christ to lead the Catholic faithful"

Bishop Morlino goes off on health care and more. Read the whole thing...read the whole thing.

Here is just a bit (emphasis added):
I cannot pass over the actions of the Catholic Health Association and an organization called Network, a lobby of American religious Sisters, who said, quite publicly, that what the bishops have taught is false. They said that the legislation does provide an adequate framework for a Catholic to follow his or her conscience about abortion. So, we had a trade organization — the Catholic Health Association — which calls itself “Catholic” and we had religious Sisters who call themselves Catholic, saying, “Sorry, bishops, you got it wrong, here is the teaching of the Church.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, unworthy though the bishops are, called the bishops to lead the people in faith; He did not call anybody in the Catholic Health Association and he did not call any of the Sisters in Network. To boot, those Sisters who signed the Network document said that they speak for 59,000 American Sisters — that would be every last Sister in the U.S. Yet, another grouping of Sisters came out publicly expressing their disagreement with Network. Unfortunately, the claim that these Sisters in Network represent all Sisters is actually what is false, not the teaching of the bishops.

And, of course, people like Speaker Pelosi could not do enough to wave the letter from the Catholic Health Association and the letter from Network to provide cover for Democratic legislators who wanted to waffle in protecting innocent human life. Speaker Pelosi is not called by Jesus Christ to lead the Catholic faithful, any more than the religious Sisters in Network are, any more than the leadership of the Catholic Health Association is.

The bishops are called to teach, sanctify, and govern. But, as I said before, with regard to the Holy Father, if people will not recognize authority, then they cannot lay responsibility at the feet of those to whom they are disobedient. The pope and the bishops are only responsible when their authority is accepted. The then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself has said, in our contemporary world, the word “obedience” has disappeared from our vocabulary and the reality of obedience has been anathematized.

In this way, very serious harm is being done to the Church because people in the Church wonder, “Who speaks for Christ? Does the Catholic Health Association speak for Christ? Does Network, an organization of religious Sisters, speak for Christ? Do they teach with the authority of the bishops? Is the bishops’ teaching just another opinion?” - seriously...read it all.
Tip o' the hat to Carl.

What is God? Who is God?

What is God?


Who is God?

Hey You - Read These Things

**Bishop Mulvey is being ordained today. Pray for him, he is a good man and the Diocese of Austin will surely miss him.

**Facebook causes a rise in syphilis. At least that is what some claim.

**A prominent atheist meets the master of the universe and talks about it.

**Today is the feast of the Annunciation. Here is a what Mary said about it:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Reason Our Culture Needs The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the world, in fact, only the US government gives more money to social programs.

This is proven once again in Haiti relief.

Hollywood, using all of it's influence and many big-name stars, as well as the power of several networks carrying a live telethon, was able to raise $57 million for Haiti relief. This will, most of it at least, be used to help many people and is a good thing (I won't get into the problems with many of the organizations receiving the money).

On the other hand, the US Catholic Churches raised $105 million.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from Catholics across the U.S. in response to the needs of earthquake survivors in Haiti. So far, the special collection from U.S. dioceses raised over $55 million for emergency help, and other contributions have brought in an additional $50 million. The USCCB Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America is partnering with CRS in the response. CRS is focusing now on rebuilding efforts —such as moving people from makeshift camps to temporary housing as the rainy station draws near— while the Bishops’ Advisory Group for Haiti of the Church in Latin America Committee will help rebuild the Church’s fabric and infrastructure in the Caribbean nation. This video shows how CRS put those donations to action in the days immediately following the quake.

US Bishops Call Current Health Care Legislation "Deeply Flawed"

The full statement follows, with emphasis added:
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.

For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.

We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.

The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context). As well, many immigrant workers and their families could be left worse off since they will not be allowed to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges to be created, even if they use their own money.

Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form. We and many others will follow the government’s implementation of health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required.

As bishops, we wish to recognize the principled actions of the pro-life Members of Congress from both parties, in the House and the Senate, who have worked courageously to create legislation that respects the principles outlined above. They have often been vilified and have worked against great odds.

As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself. The Catholic faith is not a partisan agenda, and we take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to working for health care which truly and fully safeguards the life, dignity, conscience and health of all, from the child in the womb to those in their last days on earth.

Divorce and Lies

Divorce affects everyone in our society. Whether it is us personally, family, or friends, we are all part of a culture of divorce. Divorce leads to all kind of other societal issues, including single moms, who are the poorest group of people in our culture today.

Many factors cause divorce, but there is one that isn't being talked about outside of certain small circles - being deployed in the armed forces. Being in the military stresses most relationships and studies show that divorces in the military are going up.

If you think all of that is bad, I can't even imagine this...
It was mid-June 2009, another hot, sweaty day in a yearlong Iraq tour for Spc. Matthew Kleman, a medical support specialist with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Out of the blue, one of his buddies sent him an e-mail asking when he and his wife, Renee, another soldier who was back at Fort Hood, had gotten divorced.

Divorced? That was news to Matthew. When he expressed bewilderment, his buddy directed him to his wife’s MySpace page.

What he saw stunned him: His wife claimed she had divorced him June 4 in Texas.

Matthew knew one thing: He hadn’t signed any divorce papers. He couldn’t have; he was in Iraq at the time. And no one sent him any such documents to sign while there, he said.

When he called Renee to ask her what was going on, he says, “She yelled at me, ‘What are you doing on MySpace?’"

In the months since, the saga has gotten stranger. Matthew says the copy of the divorce decree he eventually received gives no indication that the court was aware that he and Renee have a child.

He says she later told him she did not tell the court about their son, Matthew Jr., who will turn 2 on March 24, because she didn’t want him to have to pay court-ordered child support. But then, Matthew says, she began demanding $1,000 a month in child support in exchange for the right to see the boy.
Pray for those who are in the armed services.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Your Life Makes No Sense Unless...

Fr. Barron hits a home run with this video. It is a bit philosophically dense, but worth watching and reflecting on.

“You should live your life in such a way that it would make no sense unless God exists.” - Cardinal Souhard

Mass of Welcome for Bishop Vasquez

KBTX did a nice job covering the Mass last night:

Pope Benedict XVI recently appointed Bishop Joe Vasquez. Vasquez was Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston prior to this latest appointment.

The Austin Diocese serves over a half million Catholics. Much of the Brazos Valley falls under the Austin Diocese. Those numbers are projected to double over the next 20 years.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Newly Added Blogs

Last week I asked for blog suggestions that are missing from our blogroll. I have added these blogs based on comments from the post, facebook, and emails. Several I read regularly (and forgot to blogroll) and several are completely new to me. I also changed the blogroll to an alphabetical order, to be easier to find each blog.

Enjoy!

*Patrick Madrid
*Conversion Diary
*What Does The Prayer Really Say?
*The Divine Life
*The Thin Veil
*Adoro te Devote
*Called to Communion
*Catholic Illini
*Devin Rose
*Convert Journal

An Aggie Monk in The News

A great story about one of our Aggie Vocations, which was on the front page of the Dallas Morning News:
IRVING – All about the monastery cell lay scraps of Edmond Brophy and signs of Brother Lawrence.

The quilt sewn up from Aggie patches, below white walls specked by crucifixes.

The photo of a grinning mother, beside the portrait of a dead Hungarian vicar.

And in the center of the room, a monk in a long black robe, bent over a binder full of calculus homework.

Brother Lawrence – once Ed Brophy – is 27. He has two math degrees under his belt and a third in the works. He calls himself a "goal-oriented person." He calls himself a "nerd."

But he struggles to explain his calling: the X in the equation that four years ago led him to walk out of Texas A&M University with a master's in applied mathematics and become a monk in Irving – in a country where even priests grow fewer.

His red eyebrows furrow. A smile creeps across his red cheeks. He leans back in his chair, looks around the tiny room where he might live the rest of his life and begins:

"I had an inkling of my calling before college. I tried to avoid the question." Continue Reading.
Currently we have 127 Aggie priests and religious that we know of and another 43 currently in formation (those numbers will change in the next few months).
Pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Tip o' the hat to Holly.

In a somewhat related item, I was on Morning Air with Shawn Herriott, on Relevant Radio, this morning - to talk about St. Mary's and keeping your faith in college. You can listen to the interview here. It is in hour #1.

Catholic Randomness

**One of the things that will not go away soon is that one group of nuns supported the Bishops in their efforts to stop the health care reform and another small group of nuns who openly defied the Bishops, called the Bishops liars, and claimed they were not "truly pro-life". Wow.

**I have another guest post up on Creative Minority Report - this one is on Speeding.

**99 1/2 Won't Work: On the Infallibility and Indefectibility of the Catholic Church.

**The Vatican is on Twitter.

New Catholic Movie

Could be pretty good. I thought their first movie was well done for the most part.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Set Me as a Seal

Christ has sealed us with His grace in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (also Holy Orders). He marks us as his own, as a king would mark official business with a signet ring. We are now Christ's people. Our souls will never lose these seals.

I was reminded of this while listening to a beautiful song by Matt Maher, Set Me As a Seal. Here are the lyrics. It is a love song between God and His Bride, taken from the Song of Songs, and one of my favority contemporary Christian songs.
Lyrics below:
Set me as a seal on your heart.
Set me as a seal on your soul.
For strong as death is love,
unyielding as the grave.
Nothing will quench its flame,
nothing will quench its flame.

Kiss me, my love,
that your name be on my lips.
You intoxicate my being
with the fragrance of your presence.

How beautiful you are, my darling.
Show me your face, let me hear your voice.
Sweet as the dew in the early morn,
like a lily among the thorns.

I looked for you, the one my heart loves.
I looked for you, but did not find you.
I searched through the night until I rested in your sight.
Now, I will never let you go.

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.
Your lips so sweet, adorned with honey.
My hands, they drip with myrrh.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Get More Out Of Mass

Q - Mass can be boring. How can I go to Mass and get more out of it?

A - Thanks for your question. First off, I will tell you that your question is very common. Many people go to Mass with the expectation that they are supposed to "get" a lot out of it. Yet, many of the same people don't put much into it. So, it is very dependent on what kind of changes you are willing to make in your efforts before, during and after Mass.

Let me give you eight pointers that have helped me in the past:

1 - Properly prepare for Mass.
  • *Read and study the readings before you go to Mass, and then listen to them (don't read along) while The Word is proclaimed. You can find the Sunday readings here.
  • *Study the Church's teachings. The more you know about Christ and His Church, the more there is to love. - You can't love what you don't know.
  • *Go to Confession regularly. This will help prepare you spiritually.
  • *Pray daily. This too will help your spiritual prep.
  • *Dress appropriately. You are going to meet the King of Kings. Don't dress the same as you would for a lunch date or class. Make it special.
  • *Get there early and sit up front. Less distractions and more time for prayer before Mass.
  • *Once inside, don't talk or people-watch...pray.

2 - Make sure your attitude is adjusted properly
  • *Don't expect to be entertained. It isn't as much about what God is doing for you, but what you are doing to worship God.
  • *Look for God in every part of the Mass.
  • *Don't allow mistakes to distract you.
  • *Find one nugget in the preaching to take home with you.

3 - Participate
  • *Sing. Sing loud, even if your voice is bad.
  • *Respond and pray with gusto. Give it all to God and don't worry about others.
  • *Remember that this isn't about being social.
  • *Offer your pain, sufferings, joys and prayers to God.

4 -Listen to the Word and be open to it changing you
  • *Are you open to letting God change you? If not, then you won’t be changed.
  • *Listen to the Word proclaimed - DON’T read along.
  • *Find something in the Homily and apply it for the week.

5 - Know, understand, and proclaim your Faith 
  • *Don’t just recite the Creed - proclaim it like you mean it.

6 - Tithe
  • *I can’t stress enough the importance here.
  • *If every Catholic tithed...think what we could accomplish in spreading the Gospel.
  • *Yes, it is our duty to support the Church. But, it does more for our faith than it does for the Church.
  • *Most people "tip" not "tithe" - so be a tither, not a tipper.

7 - When you receive Jesus in the Eucharist - understand what it is you are doing
  • *You are taking the Body, blood, soul, and divinity of GOD into you
  • *You are joining in heaven on earth
  • *You are becoming one with The Body of Christ
  • *Be reverent
  • *Realize that He is in everyone else that received Him as well.

8 - Tell other people about Him
  • *You are now empowered to evangelize - which is what the Church exists for


"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy." - Saint Jean Vianney

Good News for Bald Men

Makes me smile.
A receding hairline can be a good thing, according to US scientists, who say men who go bald by 30 appear to be less likely to develop prostate cancer.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine studied 2,000 men aged between 40 and 47.
They were able to link high levels of the male hormone testosterone in those who lose their hair earlier with a lower risk of tumours.
The findings are published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.
Half of the men in this study had suffered prostate cancer.
Researchers compared the rate of tumours in those who said their hair had thinned by the age of 30 with those who did not suffer hair loss.
Men who had started to develop bald spots on the top of their heads as well as receding hairlines had a 29% to 45% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.
Tip o' the hat to Dave.

As the Bible tells us, making fun of bald men is a very bad idea...
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up, baldhead," they shouted, "go up, baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces. - 2 Kings 2: 23-24

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shark vs Octopus

Gives a whole new meaning to "the first shall be last and the last shall be first".

Why Marriage is Made to Be Between one Man and one Woman

A great article for you to read. Here is just a snip.
Advocates of same-sex “marriage” often argue that since marriage is a community oriented to raising children, and same-sex couples sometimes do raise children, such couples should qualify as marriages. But if having the purpose of raising children were sufficient to qualify as marriage, then orphanages, and some groups of religious women or men, could also be labeled as “marriages,” which is absurd. Likewise, other arrangements are sometimes called “marriage,” but in reality these are different types of relationship. For example, men and women often cohabit and view children as an optional extra or as burdens to be avoided. Or two or more individuals sometimes form alliances for the sake of raising children (for example two sisters, or several celibate religious men or women). But neither of these relationships are marriages: they have distinct purposes or goals.

Other advocates of same-sex “marriage” view marriage as only an emotional relationship, and the sexual acts as extrinsic symbols of that emotional connection. Since same-sex couples can intend their sexual acts to symbolize their love or affection, these unions (they contend) qualify as marriages. But, as just noted, genuine marriage is in fact a multi-leveled relationship that encompasses the bodily, emotional, volitional, and intellectual aspects of the spouses. In genuine marriage the bodily sexual acts are part of the marital union, not just extrinsic symbols. In sexual intercourse between a man and a woman (whether married or not), a real bodily union is established. Human beings are organisms, albeit of a particular type. In most actions—digesting, sensing, walking, and so on—individual male or female organisms are complete units. However, with respect to reproduction, the male and the female are incomplete. In reproductive activity the bodily parts of the male and the bodily parts of the female participate in a single action, coitus, which is oriented to procreation (though not every act of coitus actually reproduces), so that the subject of the action is the male and the female as a unit. Sexual intercourse is a unitary action in which the male and the female complete one another, and become really biologically one, a single organism. In marital intercourse, this bodily unity is an aspect of, a constitutive part of, the couple’s more comprehensive, marital communion.
Continue reading.

**Related posts
-What is wrong with homosexual marriage?
-Homosexual marriage and religious liberty.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Urgent Email From US Bishops

During October, November, and January, diocesan and parish leaders were asked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to distribute three consecutive Nationwide Bulletin Inserts on health care reform. Thank you for your great cooperation in that effort. Since that time the following has occurred:
  • The U.S. House passed health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortion coverage.
  • The U.S. Senate has rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people's abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion. And the affordability credits for very low income families purchasing private plans in a Health Insurance Exchange are inadequate and would leave families financially vulnerable.
  • Congressional leaders are now trying to figure out how the rules of the House and Senate could allow the final passage of a modified bill that would satisfy disagreements between House and Senate versions. 
Catholics need to make their voices heard insisting that health care reform protect the lives, dignity, consciences and health of all. Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection, affordability, and immigrants' access to health care must be part of a fair and just health care reform bill. Unless and until these criteria are met, the final bill must be opposed.

The U.S. bishops have asked that the USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert (Spanish Insert) on health care reform be distributed in any way possible as soon as possible. Final votes may take place as early as this weekend. If your Arch/bishop approved disseminating the earlier bulletin inserts, consider this an update.
Also included are suggested Pulpit Announcements and a Prayer Petition (Spanish Announcements and Prayer). Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.

Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!