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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00


    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Huh? Bishop who drafted USCCB voting guide records robo-call in support of pro-abortion, anti-marriage politician

    This is complicated, and I'm confused myself - so bear with me.

    Diocese of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio chaired the US Bishops committee which drafted the Catholic voting guide "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." I have criticisms of that document, but the important point here is Bishop DiMarzio should know a great deal about Catholic involvement in US politics.

    He's done many things right. Earlier this year, he joined the long list of bishops criticizing Notre Dame for inviting President Obama.

    Before that, during the Presidential election cycle, he wrote an editorial in the New York Times explaining more accurately the standards Catholics ought to have when deliberating their vote.

    Before that, in 2006, he wrapped the knuckles of 55 pro-choice Catholic Democrats when they asked for "room to disagree" with Church teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion.

    ... and now this story surfaces from Catholic Culture's news briefs:

    Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn has recorded a telephone call praising Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a state lawmaker who helped derail a bill that would have lifted the statute of limitations in clergy sex-abuse cases. Earlier this year, Assemblyman Lopez sponsored, and voted in favor of, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. In 2008-- as in previous elections-- Assemblyman Lopez was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice New York PAC.

    The recording is being phoned to every registered voter in a city council district where the candidate supported by Assemblyman Lopez is in the midst of a close election battle.

    Why isn't this story getting much play in the press? Well, for one thing, I would bet, because Bishop DiMarzio is supporting a liberal Democrat. Can you imagine the outcry that would arise if Bishop Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington recorded calls to support Catholic Republican candidate for governor Bob McDonnell?! The Washington Post would have that story on the front page.

    And, even if Bishop DiMarzio is technically staying clear of various laws which attempt to inhibit clericis from getting involved in particular races for particular candidates, the facts of this case make it even less well-advised for Bishop DiMarzio to get involved, because he appears to be giving a favor in exchange for a favor received:

    "[the call] praised Mr. Lopez’s legislative service to the Catholic Church this summer. Mr. Lopez played a key role in defeating a bill that would have let adults file suit over childhood sexual abuse that may have occurred long ago."
    Paul Moses at Commonweal alerts us to another unsavory association:
    Bishop DiMarzio also appears in a full-page, color ad for the re-election of the resolutely pro-choice Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It ran in the diocesan newspaper, which in the past had as a matter of policy rejected all political advertisements so as to avoid taking ads from pro-choice politicians. The bishop and mayor are pictured in Yankee Stadium, the bishop in a Yankees hat and the mayor in a Yankees warm-up jacket. It says: “MIKE BLOOMBERG: PROTECTING NYC’S CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. FIGHTING FOR US.”
    Yikes, that's just not cool either. And whatever Bishop DiMarzio's spokesman wants to say about this being okay because "abortion is not an issue in the New York mayoral race", Bishop DiMarzio still has some say about how his photograhic likeness is used. He could have withheld permission to use the photograph.

    So is this what forming consciences for faithful citizenship is supposed to look like for bishops?!

    What do you think?

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    Friday, October 09, 2009

    Obama wins nobel peace prize, Vatican PR predictably disappoints

    I'm not sure which has me scratching my head more, the fact that the Nobel committee granted President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, or that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi says the Vatican received the news with "appreciation":
    "The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to President Obama is greeted with appreciation in the Vatican, in light of the commitment demonstrated by the President for the promotion of peace in the international arena, and in particular also recently in favor of nuclear disarmament. It's hoped that this very important recognition will further encourage that commitment, which is difficult but fundamental for the future of humanity, so that the desired results will be obtained."
    Whispers makes the right point here, by quoting from former Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa:
    "The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing -- direct murder by the mother herself."
    So, in the Vatican's view (as Lombardi claims), someone who has only promised in words to establish peace, but has acted in deed to destroy the peace between mother and child (abortion, even late-term abortion), between scientists and new life (embryonic stem cell research), and between fruitful love and selfish sexual gratification (government-sponsorship of contraception, especially to school-age children) ... deserves this prize?

    Here is the reaction I posted to Facebook:
    "Well, it's official, the Nobel Peace Prize is MEANINGLESS."
    PS - this photo from AmP reader Tomasino was too good to pass up:

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    Monday, June 29, 2009

    L'Osservatore Romano issues fawning tribute to Michael Jackson?

    What the heck is going on with L'Osservatore Romano these days? Who is commissioning these embarrassing articles, and who is allowing them to go to print?! 

    Zenit reports on the latest debacle:
    Michael Jackson will never die "in the imagination of [his] fans," the Vatican's semi-official newspaper said after news spread of the pop star's death.

    Marcello Filotei wrote this Friday in L'Osservatore Romano, comparing the death of the 50-year-old "King of Pop" to that of Elvis Presley.

    Jackson died Friday of cardiac arrest at a Los Angelus hospital.

    Noting how Jackson was a "child prodigy" with an "extraordinary soul voice," Filotei acknowledged the pop star's many successes, such as his megahit 1982 album "Thriller," "known even by those unfamiliar with this genre of music." The album continues to rank as the best-selling album of all time.

    The writer acknowledged elements of the singer's life that drew wide criticism, such as his many plastic surgeries that changed his appearance radically, his increasingly pale complexion, and the allegations of pedophilia in 1993 and 2005. Jackson settled out of court in 1993, and was found not guilty of all charges in 2005.

    "But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world," wrote Filotei.
    Imagine how strange it would be to see such an editorial in your parish newspaper. Well, the above piece is appearing in the "parish newspaper" of the universal Church. That last line of Filotei's, in particular, sends the wrong message by falling into the current hysterical, cult-of-personality ethos that Jackson's death has inspired among many.

    Jackson, it should be noted, from all outside accounts, lived a tortured existence and the circumstances of his death should prompt an outpouring of fervent prayers for his soul, not these gushing, hollywood-esque bon mots about how his "myth" will survive "serious and shameful" accusations. All the artistic success in the world, we must realize, is a basket of straw if your personal life was a spiritual, human wreck.

    I really dig Michael Jackson's music, but as a Catholic, I don't have to buy into the myth that great art makes a great man. Michael Jackson's best chance to "never die" is the mercy of Christ, not his best-selling record.

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    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Huh? CNS fails to fairly report USCCB's "support D'Arcy" statement

    Something important happened at the US bishops' combined meeting last week, which we are just hearing about today: "the USCCB expressed their solidarity for Bishop John M. D’Arcy ... in particular for his care and concern for the University of Notre Dame, which resides in his diocese."

    It's an important move because there had previously been a calculated attempt by some liberal Catholics to discredit the dozens and dozens of bishops who spoke out about the Notre Dame scandal, claiming in effect that these vocal bishops represented a "minority" position, out of step with the "majority" of US bishops.

    The USCCB released this statement of support:
    "The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D'Arcy. We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd."
    Now, how do you think Catholic News Service - the USCCB's own news agency, reported this story?

    First, with out-dated numbers: "More than 50 bishops voiced their disapproval of Notre Dame's invitation to Obama and decision to give him an honorary degree." 

    In fact, my list (when I stopped counting) had 75+ bishops named. These are not obscure or new numbers, and I wasn't the only one to compile such a list. This is lazy reporting by the CNS author, Nancy Frazier O'Brien. And it's convenient that the number she decides upon is, oh, about 40% of the actual number (by my conservative standards - I only counted active US bishops, for instance).

    Second, with dissenting, minority views: "But two bishops interviewed at the San Antonio meeting by the National Catholic Reporter said they see a need for dialogue with U.S. Catholic university presidents about this issue and left open the possibility of revisions to "Catholics in Political Life."

    Isn't it fascinating how, when a "minority" of bishops take a position against Notre Dame's invitation, they are dismissed as a minority, but when the majority of US bishops (or at least, the public voice of the bishops in committee) take a position for Bishop D'Arcy, it is then the minority position that is given space and even the last word (seriously - two bishops?! And in the National Catholic Reporter? This is our her go-to source for information!).

    Really, it's impossible to win with rules of engagement like this, especially when Catholic News Service seems to have more of an affinity with the National Catholic Reporter than the US Bishops executive committee.

    Third, just to really drive this point home, O'Brien says: "The statement made no direct reference ... to a recent call by the board of directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) for the bishops to revisit their 2004 statement, "Catholics in Political Life."

    That was an attempt by liberal Catholics to simply change the 2004 statement and so avoid the (legitimate) conclusion made by D'Arcy that Notre Dame and (hence, by inference) many other Catholic institutions are currently operating in violation of what it says.

    But back to the point: O'Brien has full awareness of this challenge made by the ACCU, and feels free to make negative points about what statements don't say or respond to, and yet ... she does not bring up the context I mention above, namely, that liberal Catholics have been attempting to marginalize the vocal opposition of dozens of bishops to the Notre Dame invitation. Therefore, in the full picture, the bishops are responding against this attempt to marginalize Bishop D'Arcy by releasing a statement in support of him. Why support Bishop D'Arcy, in other words, unless he was in fact being attacked by some?

    So who is left expressing a dissenting viewpoint at this point in the game? Well, two bishops, picked-up by the National Catholic Reporter ... and given selective play by O'Brien in the Catholic News Service.


    In an effort to be fair myself, CNS does plenty of good reporting - but it's frustrating to see how often it really drops the ball on some of the most important current stories, especially ones that involve Catholic interaction with the culture-at-large. I'm not asking that we all think the same on these issues, I'm asking that more than one way of thinking be fairly presented to the readers of CNS.

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    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Bad link: Vatican bans Facebook at work

    From Jack Smith at the Catholic Key blog:
    "From Catholic News Service. It's in the client area, so no public link. Excerpts:
    The Vatican spokesman said the move is a "normal and prudent" measure that reflects similar strategies taken by other companies around the world that have blocked employee usage of social networking sites on office networks.

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, told Catholic News Service June 16 that "there is nothing surprising" about the new ban.
    But some employees are complaining (anonymously) about the ban because Facebook has become a major news source and for many has replaced email. That's true for me on both counts.

    It's also an important way for apostolates to communicate. It is the main means of communication for the Catholic young adult groups on both sides of the state line here."
    More from the CNS article:
    Banning Facebook indicates a lack of knowledge about how the Internet functions and how it can be a valuable work tool, the employee said.

    "Given the Vatican's foul-up with communication in the past, (the online networking ban) shows they haven't learned their lesson," the employee said.
    I completely agree. It's counter-intuitive to ban the world's largest social communications website while other organs of the Vatican are expanding their active presence there. On May 25th, for instance, the Pope encouraged young people to use social media.
    Sure, Facebook can be a time-waster at work, but the solution to that temptation is not to ban access to it, but rather to address the unprofessional and selfish attitudes that cause people to waste time at work. In other words, the people that are abusing Facebook at work - once it is banned - will start wasting time with solitaire. And that's pretty tricky to ban.

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    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Huh? USCCB Marriage website "Don't be afraid to experiment in your love making."

    I think the For Your Marriage web initiative of the US Bishops is a fine project, overall.
    But who signed up Susan Vogt to write their daily marriage tips? For instance, the tip for May 2nd:

    "Don't be afraid to experiment in your love making. Some things might not work out, but one of the beauties of married love is the security that you're not competing with anyone else."

    Excuse me but "experiment" can mean a lot of things, including stuff that is simply contrary to the dignity of the human person.

    Now maybe my eye just fell on the stray bad tip. It seems, however, that Vogt has a huge website dedicated to marriage and spirituality, but at the same time, doesn't include issues like contraception (which strikes me as a really pressing problem for lots of married couples in the United States).

    I realize I'm probably being a stickler. But honestly, can't we do a little bit better?

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    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Disappointment at the Vatican press office

    Today, in the first bulletin from the Vatican press office after the weekend (summarizing February 7-9th), the following news items were considered important enough to publish:
    • the Pope made public his message for the seventeenth World Day of the Sick
    • the Pope appeared at the window to pray the Angelus (as he does every week)
    • the Pope launched an appeal for peace [in Madagascar]
    • the Pope and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a phone conversation
    • Cardinal Bertone expressed appreciation of the attempts to save the life of Eluana (We are all presumed to know about this case since it is in Italian news. And this is an international news service?)
    • the Pope received the Letters of the new ambassador of Brazil (a photo op, in other words)
    • the usual announcement of recent papal audiences (this week it has been Nigerian bishops)
    • the usual noting of recent papal acts (an interesting appointment to "director for telecommunications" - maybe someone got fired? I'll have to track that question down some other time.)

    ... anyway, my simple point is: no mention of the Legionary crisis. Not even a note of condolence from the Holy Father over the public admission of the scandalous life of Maciel, a revelation which is clearly shaking thousands of LC and RC members worldwide. And this situation does not merit a mention?

    update: I should make myself clear, especially since I have many new readers who don't know where I am coming from: I'm not impugning the pope in this post, I'm simply saying that it strikes me, an independent observer, as odd that so many things are done by the pope and in the pope's name every day - so why a selective silence when it comes to an objectively grave situation like the one facing the Legionaries? I don't apprehend, immediately, the prudence of not even expressing sympathy for the victims and members of the movement.

    You will recall that it was an "information vacuum" that exacerbated the SSPX-Holocaust situation. I would hate to see the Maciel meltdown follow the same general trajectory - because that can still be avoided.

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    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    NYT columnist quotes priest for marriage advice, offends feminist

    Sometimes when it's a slow news day or when I'd like to see the world through the eyes of someone coming from a completely different perspective I visit feministing.com. Today was a classic:

    Getting marriage advice from a priest.

    "Dowd has stooped to a new low. Paraphrasing a priest on advice on what to look for in a husband. I guess I can see on some level, since marriage is frequently a religious thing, but in general, this gets a no. And by the way, apparently we should be looking for man-robots that have never experienced any trauma or disruption in their life." - Samhita

    Get this: a priest should evidently be the last person in the world to give relationship advice. Marriage is only accidentally a "religious" thing but in general religious considerations should play no part in it. Finally, she thinks the priest presents impossible ideals about what women should look for in a potential spouse.
    Now the nice thing: the first two commenters on this post at feministing.com completely disagree with "Samhita's" critique, and provide good reasons for their agreement with the advice given.
    Now judge for yourself: "An Ideal Husband" by Maureen Dowd over at the New York Times. Was the priest telling women to look for "man-robots that have never experienced any trauma or disruption in their life" or instead for virtuous men who can love and care deeply for their spouses?
    It's frustrating to once again see a self-proclaimed feminist disregarding the kind of advice that might improve her perspective on the male gender because of her own a priori reservations and ideology.
    Hopefully she can see that on some level.

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    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    "There must be something they’re not telling us."

    The Religion News Blog, in its round-up today placed this story in the category of "Headlines that have us worried":
    "Catholic Church looking for actor to play Jesus"
    Along with the comment "There must be something they’re not telling us."

    Actually, I think they are telling you everything. The question is, did you bother to read it?

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    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Dirty Italian Politics Slings Mud at Pope's Observation of Rome's Degradation

    Like that title? Well, it's an odd story, to be sure....

    Yesterday, Pope Benedict, in keeping with his role as the Bishop of Rome, met with local Roman officials and made some pointed observations about problems plaguing the eternal city, including the continuing poverty and overall "urban decay." All valid observations prompted by old problems and exacerbated by recent events.

    To anyone who has been to Rome, there's nothing inflammatory about noting that the city is sub-par compared to other European cities in terms of cleanliness, etc. Well, what do you expect? It's Italy. Pope Benedict may have lived in Rome for over twenty years, but I'm sure he hasn't forgotten his Bavarian standards of spick n' span.

    Anyway, back to the narrative: Roman and Italian politicians had a field day with the Pope's comments, as CNS reports, to which the Vatican expressed surprise and dismay, as reported by Zenit. Furthermore, Lombardi issued a clarification in today's Bulletino, and DPA summarized it. I don't see what needed clarification.

    Sadly, many anti-catholic politicians in Italy used the Pope's observations as an opportunity to criticize the papacy and its influence in Italy. Frankly, that's astonishing to me, especially as I sit back and try to think of a single good thing to come out of Rome in the last 1,500 years that wasn't directly or indirectly related to the Vatican, the Papacy or the patronage of the Catholic Church.

    Really, after the Colosseum, historically and civically speaking, it's all been downhill.

    (Too cruel? I'm sorry. I just can't believe Italians got mad that the Pope told them to clean up their city.)

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    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    German company to provide solar power to Vatican Paul VI hall

    TotalCatholic reports that the rumors have taken a step towards reality:

    A German solar company has given Pope Benedict XVI an electricity-generating solar rooftop for the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.

    Bonn-based SolarWorld is donating approximately 2,000 solar modules to be installed on the audience hall roof to provide what it claims will be “the very first solar power ever generated in the Vatican”.

    A press release (The Fourth Gift of the Three Kings: 'A Solar Cell') includes this quote from the CEO:

    "If the Three Wise Men from the East came to Bethlehem today they would in all probability bring a solar cell in addition to gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is the symbol for the preservation of creation and for the energy supply of the future."
    Riiiiiiiiiight. And I imagine it would probably be a solar cell manufactured by your fine company.

    So, exactly when is the Vatican going to cease associating itself with such silliness?!

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    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Follow-up: LAPD begins investigation of Cdl. Mahony assault claim

    Since yesterday's post about Cardinal Mahony's claim that he was violently assaulted this summer is receiving a great deal of traction, I've decided to post an update.

    For starters, in today's world you can't simply mention to your priests "Oh, and by the way I was assaulted" and expect it to stay quiet.

    Indeed, LAPD detectives began investigating Mahony's report yesterday (the same day the story went public):

    LAPD detectives Tuesday began investigating reports that Cardinal Roger Mahony told hundreds of priests he was assaulted by a man angered over the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal, police said.

    Police found no reports regarding an assault on Mahony and contacted church officials to ask them about it, said Andrew Smith, assistant commanding officer for the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Bureau.

    "If it came to my attention that something happened to Cardinal Mahony, I would have called him and offered my assistance and assured that it was fully investigated ... which is exactly what we're going to do now," Smith said.

    ... Smith said while Mahony's under no legal obligation to cooperate in an investigation, he hopes that the cardinal does.

    "What I'd really like to do is find out who the guy who did it was," Smith said. "Maybe he's going around and assaulting priests all over the diocese. ... Despite whatever your personal feelings are about the Catholic Church or the abuse, you can't walk up to anybody on the street and assault them."

    Smith said detectives will do a thorough job and leave no stone unturned as they try to piece together what occurred. - DailyNews

    More details on the alleged attack:

    “[Mahony] went down there to drop something off at the mailbox when this guy approached him, saying some stuff,” said Father Gutierrez, pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church in Santa Monica. “Then, boom, the guy was on him.”

    The attack, according to Father Gutierrez and others, occurred days after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved a $660 million settlement between the archdiocese and more than 500 local victims of abuse by the clergy. The settlement is the largest of its kind in the country. - NewYorkTimes

    Associated Press details:

    Mahony, 71, told the priests about the attack during a conference in October, said the Rev. Joseph Shea, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale. The cardinal said it occurred in late July or early August as he was dropping off letters at a mailbox near Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, Shea said.

    "The comments people made as they kicked him were connected to the sexual abuse lawsuits," he told The Associated Press.

    Shea said Mahony was so badly beaten that the cardinal was hospitalized, and that it took him weeks to recover.

    ... Shea said Mahony did not report the attack to police "because he felt he could offer it up in reparation for the sins of others."

    ... The Rev. Sal Pilato, principal at Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Gardena, who was also at the conference, told the Daily News that Mahony's account was "shocking because it was an act of violence and it was someone we know and respect."

    Another witness account from the LA Times:

    The priest said Mahony offered the story almost in passing, as a way of illustrating the personal toll that the sexual abuse scandal had exacted on everyone in the church, but especially its hundreds of victims.

    "He said he was walking to the post office or the store and that a man recognized him and started shouting obscenities about the abuse," the priest said. "Then the man came up and punched him and he fell to the ground. We were all shocked. Nobody had heard anything about it."

    ... Another priest who attended the conference said Mahony was struck in the face during the assault. The priest, along with a third source familiar with the meeting, confirmed the details of Mahony's statements, but both also asked not to be named.

    The response from the Archdiocese (besides declining to comment):

    The cardinal could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Carolina Guevara, said, “The annual pastoral meeting with the priests of the archdiocese is a private meeting, and whatever conversation that might have taken place was between the priests and their bishop and was not meant to be public.”

    Priests at the meeting reported that Cardinal Mahoney said it had taken him a month to heal from the assault. “The cardinal is fine,” Ms. Guevara said when asked about his condition. - New York Times

    Finally, local station CBS 2 has a video report on its website.

    That's the pesky thing about mentioning something you decided to keep private: you can't.

    More as I hear it.

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    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Report: Mahony tells priests he was assaulted near L.A.'s cathedral

    Follow-up: LAPD begins investigation of Cardinal Mahony assault claim.

    It happened last July, it took him a month to heal, and he didn't tell his priests until October:

    Cardinal Roger Mahony was physically assaulted by a man enraged by the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal within days of a record settlement with hundreds of victims, the Daily News has learned.

    Mahony, 71, revealed the attack during an annual conference in October before hundreds of stunned priests, saying a man assaulted him because of the scandal, according to four priests who attended the conference.

    News of the assault comes as the bulk of the church's $660million settlement with victims began being paid out Monday, with more than $500million in checks going out in the mail. The settlement with 508 alleged victims was approved by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge July 16.

    The attack on Mahony occurred in July near Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, and it took the cardinal about a month to heal, said the Rev. Sal Pilato, principal at Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Gardena. The cardinal was dropping off letters at a mailbox when he was assaulted, priests said.

    ... Mahony told the priests that after his attacker recognized him, the man began shouting expletives and knocked him to the ground, said another priest who asked not be identified.

    Details of Mahony's narration:

    Mahony was telling the priests they all had a price to pay for the sexual abuses perpetrated by their brethren when he relayed the story of the assault as an example of the personal toll he's endured, several priests said.

    Bruised after the attack, he said it gave him a deeper understanding of the suffering the victims of the sex scandal have endured, the priests said.

    "The main message was that his wounds healed within a month, bruises and all, but the victims of child abuse are still suffering after many years, that their wounds are far deeper than what he experienced," Pilato said.

    ...

    Mahony also revealed at the conference that he thought he might be attacked earlier when tensions over the allegations of sexual abuses by priests were at their peak, said the priest who did not want to be identified.

    The priest said he thinks Mahony and others mismanaged the scandal by not removing priests who were sexually abusing children sooner and failing to settle cases earlier. That lack of action has damaged the church's reputation and cost it millions of dollars, he said.

    Still, the fact that Mahony was attacked over the scandal and chose not to make it public impressed the priest. - Daily News

    Reuters follows-up here.

    Yes, it is unfortunate that Mahony was attacked. The story prompts a couple questions for me, however: if Mahony indeed wanted this event to remain private, why did he tell his convoked priests about it? He couldn't think that it wouldn't get around. Second, if it took him a month to heal from his injuries, why did no one notice?

    update: I should be more specific: I'm not trying to call into question Mahony's claim that he was attacked. I'm just scratching my head about his deciding to keep it private and then, months later, revealing it among his presbyterate. It strikes me as an imprudent move, if for no other reason than it would seem to promote this sort of (criminal) behavior by announcing that he didn't decide to press charges.

    update 2: apologies to those who tried to visit this post earlier and couldn't find it. blogger appears to be playing games with it. I'm trying to resolve that issue now.

    update 3: follow-up: LAPD begins investigation of Cardinal Mahony assault claim.

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    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Coca-Cola promotes Golden Compass to address "perilous state of the polar bear"

    A nice snapshot of contemporary values:

    I saw that Coca-Cola is promoting the movie [The Golden Compass], and I wrote to them to express my feelings about it -- including mentioning that the villains are called "The Magisterium" in the movie. Here is the response I got:

    "We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns." The Golden Compass movie is a story about friendship, love, loyalty, tolerance, courage and responsibility. This movie also provides an opportunity for Coca-Cola to help raise awareness about climate change and the perilous state of the polar bear."

    "We do not believe that this fantasy movie is an attack on any religion. We would never support a film that intentionally antagonized or condemned any faith."

    If they receive more letters about this, it's possible it may accomplish something. ~ Rick Kephart

    Frankly, until someone makes a compelling case that this movie diminishes the survival chances of the polar bear, or somehow inhibits climage change, I doubt we'll see anything accomplished.

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    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Actor Daniel Craig: "They sell Dan Brown now in the Vatican"

    Actor Daniel Craig (of recent James Bond fame) attended the London premier of The Golden Compass last night (previously blogged here), a movie in which he stars.

    Responding to a question about the story's anti-Catholicism, he responded with typical Hollywood cluelessness:

    "I'm not surprised at the criticism," said Craig. "I get that. But I think the majority of people who are criticising it haven't read it. These books are not anti-religious. Mainly they're anti-misuse of power - whether it's religious or political. They sell [The Da Vinci Code author] Dan Brown now in the Vatican so I'm sure they'll be selling this there too eventually because it presents a very healthy debate.

    "It's interesting that people should get so angry because the morals in this book are solid and really good," the actor added. "Any child should read this."

    Gee, thanks for the tip, Craig! I'll be sure to place my order with amazon.vatican.va real soon!

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    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Sierra Club joins PP to offer conferences on "Sex and the Environment"

    Thanks CNA, I think I've lost my appetite for lunch:

    During the first week of November, members of the Sierra Club traversed one end of California to the other for a series of conferences called “Sex and the Environment.” Accompanying them at most of their stops were representatives of Planned Parenthood.

    ... The 115-year-old Sierra Club, based in San Francisco and founded by California environmentalist John Muir in 1892 to “explore, enjoy and protect the planet,” now declares on its web site: “Sierra Club is a pro-choice organization.”

    The November tour was part of the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program, which states as its mission: “to protect the global environment and preserve natural resources for future generations by advancing global reproductive health and sustainable development initiatives.”

    The term “reproductive health” has long been understood as a code word for “abortion,” especially in Third World countries where the outright use of the word “abortion” would be politically unwise.

    The plan:
    In a question-and-answer section on the Sierra Club’s web site discussing the Population and Environment Program, the group says it has endorsed a 1970 resolution drafted by the group Zero Population Growth. Among the provisions of the resolution: “families should not have more than two natural children,” “state and federal laws should be changed to encourage small families and to discourage large families,” “policies, and attitudes that foster population growth or big families, or that restrict abortion and contraception, or that attempt to constrict the roles of men and women, should be abandoned.”
    Story originally reported by the California Catholic Daily: "Save the Planet, Kill a Baby!"

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    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    The California fires were caused by ... (wait for it ...)

    That's right, the California fires were caused by ... global warming, 60 minutes tells us.

    Hmm, what's that you say? Some were caused by Arson?

    Um, well, that's fine because ... arson is caused by global warming.

    (Okay, 60 minutes didn't make that second claim.)

    60 Minutes' description of its segment "Mega-Fires":
    They're forest fires ten times bigger than the blazes we're used to seeing. To find out why these infernos are happening, Correspondent Scott Pelley went out on the fire line to witness the burning of the American West. What he found were overmatched firefighters and evidence that a big reason for the fires is global warming.
    Help me out on this one. Human intervention has actually resulted in less forest fires around the globe, because human beings are the one species that is able to and tries to put them out. I guess this is our fault as well, because young growth trees actually remove more CO2 from the air than old-growth forests. Deforestation - when it is followed by reforestation, I'm told results in a net decrease in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    ... anyway, I truly hope 60 minutes' position is a bit more sophisticated than "fire is hot, global warming is hot, ergo global warming causes fire." I'm sure it is, but eventually I hope to find some physical disaster that isn't directly caused or heavily exacerbated by global warming.

    I dunno - heavy snowfall? Nope. Maybe tsunamis? Nope. Okay, what about Earthquakes? Nope!

    Sorry California, it's not looking too good.

    (And before some folks get too worked up because I'm putting unreasonable words into the collective mouths of man-made global warming proponents, let me clarify that I'm just trying to make the point that in situations where absurd claims are being tossed around, folks with legitimate science - and specifically reporters who related that science - should demonstrate a bit more restraint before blaming current, tragic natural disasters on remote, disputable human agency. It's been done with Katrina, and is now being done with the California wild fires.)

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    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Won't someone think of the children?

    A new Italian ad campaign:

    The quote reads "Sexual orientation isn't a choice."
    (... so much for a "lifestyle option")

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    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Picture: The human dimension of "women priests"

    You sometimes will hear proponants talk about the wonderful benefits that would result at liturgies if the Church allowed women priests.

    Now, I'm not claiming that there aren't benefits to seeing someone who appears like this lady at a liturgy. Benefits like appreciating beauty, for instance. But frankly, I don't think this is the kind of beauty I should be specifically appreciating during the liturgy. After all, it can be hard enough to keep a firm custody of the eyes at Mass, especially nowadays.

    In seriousness, how revealing (pun intended) is this picture?

    The website of Swedish company Mariasjodin which markets this line of "casual priest" clothing reads (with a rough internet translation): "Functional and tidy ... for another generation of clergyman [ironically]."

    Ph/t: Diogenes.

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    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Why you don't really want to claim you saw John Paul II in a bonfire

    ... because tenuous claims are open to, shall we say, diverse intepretation.
    Exhibit A:

    Exhibit B:

    Point proven, I hope. Besides - saints who don't appear in natural phenomenon aren't any less saints!

    Update: "Data on Lukasik's digital camera says the picture was taken at 21.37:30, exactly the hour when the pope died." Oh golly, the same story even connects the bonfire with a different image.

    Ph/t: Jimmy Akin.
    Original story: Me.

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    Monday, October 15, 2007

    JP2's flair for the dramatic and imprudent Vatican TV endorsement

    Headline seen on Drudge:

    "Holy Smoke! Vatican TV claims image is Pope John Paul II waving from beyond grave... "
    Which leads to this article from the UK Daily Mail: "Is this Pope John Paul II waving from beyond the grave? Vatican TV director says yes". Here is the image side-by-side with its supposed counterpart:

    The details of the claim(s):

    This fiery figure is being hailed as Pope John Paul II making an appearance beyond the grave.

    The image, said by believers to show the Holy Father with his right hand raised in blessing, was spotted during a ceremony in Poland to mark the second anniversary of his death.

    Details appeared on the Vatican News Service, a TV station in Rome which specialises in religious news broadcasts.

    Service director Jarek Cielecki, a Polish priest and close friend of John Paul II, travelled to Poland after hearing an onlooker had photographed the image.

    Father Cielecki said he was convinced the picture showed the former pontiff.
    "You can see the image of a person in the flames and I think it is the servant of God, Pope John Paul II," he said.

    The pictures were being broadcast continuously on Italian TV and also posted on religious websites, some of which crashed as thousands logged on to see for themselves the eerie figure formed by the flames.

    The bonfire was lit during a service at Beskid Zywiecki, close to John Paul's birthplace at Katowice, southern Poland, on April 2 - the second anniversary of his death.

    Hundreds had attended the ceremony. Gregorz Lukasik, the Polish man who took the photographs, said: "It was only afterwards when I got home and looked at the pictures that I realised I had something.

    "I showed them to my brother and sister and they, like me, were convinced the flames had formed the image of Pope John Paul II.

    "I was so happy with the picture that I showed it to our local bishop who said that Pope John Paul had made many pilgrimages during his life and he was still making them in death."

    I think it's irresponsible for Fr. Cielecki to be encouraging this form of psuedo-mysticism, (let alone giving it airtime on Vatican TV?!). This kind of thing does nothing to disabuse non-Catholics of their (mis)conception that religion is based on nothing more than emotional spiritualism.

    If a still photograph brings to mind the memory of our late Pope, that's one thing. It's another thing entirely to claim that a (presumed) saint in heaven actually intended to manifest his presence through a bonfire.

    Really, this ranks right up there with the "Virgin Mary Toast", which sold for $28,000.

    And let's face it, if JP2 was going to show himself I think he'd to it with a bit more flair.

    Update: Ya learn somethin' every day. There's a name for this: Paraidolia! (ph/t: New Advent)

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    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    A little gem found on the MHR parish website

    <--
    I wasn't even looking for questionable content on the MHR parish website.
    I wonder what else is lurking in the MHR pages. More about MHR here.
    (catholic lesbians, by the way, is bad news.)

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    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Al Gore & IPCC win '07 Nobel Peace Prize

    The links:

    I think the Czech President Vaclav Klaus said it best: "It rather seems that Gore's doubting of basic cornerstones of the current civilizationdoes not contribute to peace." - Margaret Perry

    Although I would add that I thought winners of the Nobel Peace Prize were supposed to provide some example. Al Gore, however, by the common admission of all sides save his own, is a notorious "polluter" by the standards he himself sets forth in his public admonishments.

    Update: Good thoughts @ DarwinCatholic. Well worth the click.

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    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Italian priest asks for permission to date, loses post

    With typical AP aplomb:

    An Italian priest who publicly declared his love for a woman has lost his job, the diocese said Tuesday.

    The Rev. Sante Sguotti can no longer work as pastor in his Monterosso parish and cannot hear confessions from the faithful, the diocese of Padua said in a statement. Sguotti remains a priest and can celebrate Mass, however.

    Sguotti made headlines in August when he went on national television to say he was in love with a woman and wanted to be her boyfriend publicly while remaining chaste.

    The case reignited the debate over priestly celibacy, particularly because the woman in question has a young son, whom Sguotti said he had helped name. He dodged direct questions about whether he was the boy's father, saying only that he cannot have a child according to church law.

    Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo issued a decree on Monday removing Sguotti from his pastoral duties, saying he was doing so because Sguotti "had been linked for some time to a woman and had asked for a dispensation to go out with her."

    Men in the Eastern rite of the Catholic church who are married can become priests, and the Vatican has accepted into the priesthood some married Anglican priests who converted to Catholicism.

    But the Vatican has constantly refused to relax the celibacy requirement for Latin rite priests. The Vatican reaffirmed that last November, when Pope Benedict XVI convened a summit of clergy who rebuffed a crusade by Emmanuel Milingo, the renegade Zambian archbishop who was excommunicated last year after marrying a woman and launching a campaign for the Vatican to allow priests to marry.

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    Vatican denies buying Italian soccer team

    Reported previously here, and this morning officially denied by the Vatican's spokesman:

    In a declaration released yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. denied recent reports that the Vatican or the Italian Episcopal Conference have bought the Italian football team Ancona, which plays in the third division.

    Ancona football club and the "Centro Sportivo Italiano" have recently signed an agreement involving the application of an ethical code in the administration of the team, alongside a new model of economic management, the promotion of a sporting culture among the fans, and support for social initiatives in the Third World. For its part, the "Centro Sportivo Italiano" has undertaken to seek sponsors for the club.

    "The Vatican and the Italian Episcopal Conference have nothing to do with this project," declared Fr. Lombardi. "There are initiatives which have positive and commendable aims and, if the declared intentions can be effectively achieved, this is certainly a good thing," he said adding, however, that this does not mean that this is an initiative of the Vatican or of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

    The Holy See Press Office Director went on: "The Church must not be attributed with responsibilities she does not have, although she may view positively the commitment of lay Catholics in various fields, including that of sports."

    Members of the Ancona football club will participate in tomorrow's general audience in St. Peter's Square but this, Fr. Lombardi made clear, does not mean "that the Pope has sponsored or taken responsibility for the working of the team."

    There, that's more like it.

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    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    "Sperm donor, 72, to father his own grandchild"

    The UK Daily Mail:

    A man of 72 is to donate sperm to try to father his own 'grandchild'.

    He has been cleared to provide the sperm to his daughter-in-law to allow her to become a mother.

    Any baby born will be its grandfather's genetic child and a halfbrother or half-sister to the man it takes to be its father.

    The case - believed to be the first of its kind in the UK - raises ethical questions about how well the child will cope with such unusual family circumstances.

    How did the the Women's Clinic go about analyzing the morality of this decision?

    Peter Bowen-Simpkins, codirector of the London Women's Clinic which is carrying out the procedure, said the couple and the grandfather had undergone extensive counselling.

    "[She said]: ... advancements in fertility treatment have overcome a lot of taboos in science which means that people are prepared to consider all sorts of options."

    "Obviously, the wife's mother-inlaw also had to be included in all of the conversations but she has no objections.

    "Society has also changed its perceptions of what is and what is not acceptable."

    Ah yes, society might not any longer find this kind of thing unacceptable. Full steam ahead!

    And little by litte, that tune sung by Ray Stevens, "I'm my own Grandpa" becomes a little bit more feasible.

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    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    First the Vatican buys an airline...

    ... now the Italian Bishops have bought themselves a soccer team.

    Well, I guess they've got free international transportation if they make it to the World Cup(?!).

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    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Georgetown: this. just. stinks.

    Georgetown U. to fund abortion advocacy:
    According to stories by Lifesitenews.com and the Georgetown University student newspaper The Hoya, the Georgetown law school has adopted a policy that will provide funding to law students to intern with public interest organizations regardless of their mission. [More from the Cardinal Newman Society.]

    CNA coverage here.

    AmP "For Shame!" List to be revised in the next website update....

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    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    When people refuse to let reality get them down...

    ... they get featured in Newsweek.

    Via the incomparable Diogenes.

    Update: I was thinking about this story a little bit more and I've decided something: I work for Newsweek. I've always felt like I deserved to work there and, well, now I do. I intend to submit my first article tomorrow. If they reject it, or make the absurd claim that I don't, in fact, work for them, I'm going to go public and proclaim:

    "I work for Newsweek. Not Surprisingly, the Heirarchy of Newsweek does not approve."

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    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    Creighton invites pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia speaker Anne Lamott

    When I hear about a women who has vocally defended the practice of abortion in America (while agreeing that the fetus is a human life), and who admits in the LA Times to have personally assisted a friend commit suicide, my next thought is not "Wow, what a great person to have promote her views during a lecture on the topic of 'Women & Health' at a Catholic University!"

    But then again, I don't work at the Center for Health Policy & Ethics at Jesuit-run Creighton University. And more's the pity. For shame, Creighton.

    Update: Thanks to commentor Jeff Baker who provides more coverage as well as marching orders for those who wish to officially notify the involved parties at Creighton of their displeasure.

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    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Mr. Pope, Don't Tear Down These Trees!

    Meh, you get the general idea.

    The trees in question (photo: AP Photo/Hans Punz):

    The quote that sums it up for me:

    Mariazell Mayor Helmut Pertl told the Kleine Zeitung daily he thinks the fuss is completely overblown.

    "If this was my biggest worry [cutting down a few trees], I'd be pretty happy," he said.

    The full story from the AP.

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    AmP's "Huh?!" of the Day

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    The Driving 10 Commandments as revealing a "failure of catechesis"

    Via MOJ, a better way of expressing what I attempted to briefly say earlier:

    [Catholic Ramblings:] More significantly, however, I think this document points up something troubling: the failure of catechesis on a general level. The Decalogue, and the embodiment of the Word in Jesus Christ, are the sum of the moral law. The Church in its Catechism and in its Tradition have already provided and continue to provide moral teachings needed to form solid consciences, and for this purpose, the Catechism, for example, outlines the various implications and demands of each particular Commandment. Yet as individuals endowed with free will, we are charged with exercising a well-formed conscience in particular situations, since no human document or body of documents could provide clear answers for every human contingiency. And besides, certainly the “rules of the road” or the “Ten Commandments for Motorists” are implied in the moral law already: be charitable to others, do not kill or recklessly endanger another, do not flagrantly risk the lives of your passengers, do not become enraged. I suppose my point simply put is that the same charitable task could have been more seriously accomplished by reminding the faithful of the application of the moral law–of the Decalogue and the Great Commandment–to all our activities, including our driving. This would have provided the faithful with assurance that our daily choices are morally significant and that the Church has a genuine interest in them, while simultaneously avoiding the needlessly flippant and even pedantic form of Martino’s document. [More...]

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    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    The AmericanPapist scratches his head

    Diogenes put me onto the news, and I have to say, is this really prudentially the best use of a Pontifical Council's time and effort? Or is it rather a derivative practical truth that can be addressed as part of wider theological and social teaching?

    For those interested, here is the full statement, and here is a Zenit summary.

    I guess I'm just not sure how many pages it takes to make the simple point that our moral responsibilties don't somehow go on hold whenever we get behind the wheel of a car, and I don't think such a misconception actually accounts for whatever failings we see among drivers.

    Update: Curt Jester has more on this story here.

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    Wednesday, January 31, 2007

    The AmP "Huh?!" story of the week

    Dale Price, via Amy:
    Terry McAuliffe, (former DNC chair) unapologetic defender of partial birth abortion, is about to be honored for his selfless devotion to and efforts on behalf of the Catholic Faith by being admitted to the Knights of Malta. [Read the fully story at Amy's.]
    McAuliffe, according to Wikipedia, "will be a strategist for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election." How this guy merits admission to the KoM is beyond me. Seriously, I hope for some sort of official response.

    Update: LifeSiteNews adds more:

    LifeSiteNews called the Knights of Malta office in Washington, where it was confirmed that Terry McAuliffe has indeed submitted an application to the Knights of Malta, which is currently under review. A director told LifeSiteNews that the Knights have no control over whom submits an application, but do make the decision whether a candidate fulfills all the requirements to join their ranks.

    ... Currently, the fault lies not with the Knights of Malta, but with McAullife's two sponsors and pastor, who "to avoid possible embarrassment" have the responsibility to make sure that the applicant satisfies the criteria for admission.

    [LifeSiteNews includes more contact information and a full news story here.]

    Update 2:
    Fresh from Amy: "...from a source with, er...knowledge. Terry McAuliffe's application for the Knights of Malta was "withdrawn." The Knights office in DC was flooded with emails and calls - and, I'd expect, many of them from the good Knights and Dames themselves."

    There we go.

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