Friday, June 29, 2012

Pope Benedict s Homily On the Feast of St Peter and St Paul ( Full Text )

Today is a huge Feast day in the Church.That is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul. Tom Perna has a nice post on it at Saints Peter and Paul – Apostles and Pillars of the Christian Church

This is the day that the Pope also gives the  Pallium on new Metropolitan Archbishops which is quite significant. Pope Benedict's homilies on these day have been stellar stuff. Today was no exception.

Homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Saint Peter’s Basilica, 29 June 2012

Your Eminences,Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters, We are gathered around the altar for our solemn celebration of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal Patrons of the Church of Rome. Present with us today are the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the past year, who have just received the Pallium, and to them I extend a particular and affectionate greeting. Also present is an eminent Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and I welcome them with fraternal and heartfelt gratitude. In an ecumenical spirit, I am also pleased to greet and to thank the Choir of Westminster Abbey, who are providing the music for this liturgy alongside the Cappella Sistina. I also greet the Ambassadors and civil Authorities present. I am grateful to all of you for your presence and your prayers.

In front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, as is well known, there are two imposing statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, easily recognizable by their respective attributes: the keys in the hand of Peter and the sword held by Paul. Likewise, at the main entrance to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, there are depictions of scenes from the life and the martyrdom of these two pillars of the Church. Christian tradition has always considered Saint Peter and Saint Paul to be inseparable: indeed, together, they represent the whole Gospel of Christ. In Rome, their bond as brothers in the faith came to acquire a particular significance. Indeed, the Christian community of this City considered them a kind of counterbalance to the mythical Romulus and Remus, the two brothers held to be the founders of Rome. A further parallel comes to mind, still on the theme of brothers: whereas the first biblical pair of brothers demonstrate the effects of sin, as Cain kills Abel, yet Peter and Paul, much as they differ from one another in human terms and notwithstanding the conflicts that arose in their relationship, illustrate a new way of being brothers, lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made possible by the grace of Christ’s Gospel working within them. Only by following Jesus does one arrive at this new brotherhood: this is the first and fundamental message that today’s solemnity presents to each one of us, the importance of which is mirrored in the pursuit of full communion, so earnestly desired by the ecumenical Patriarch and the Bishop of Rome, as indeed by all Christians.In the passage from Saint Matthew’s Gospel that we have just heard, Peter makes his own confession of faith in Jesus, acknowledging him as Messiah and Son of God. He does so in the name of the other Apostles too. In reply, the Lord reveals to him the mission that he intends to assign to him, that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19). But in what sense is Peter the rock? How is he to exercise this prerogative, which naturally he did not receive for his own sake? The account given by the evangelist Matthew tells us first of all that the acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity made by Simon in the name of the Twelve did not come “through flesh and blood”, that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father. By contrast, immediately afterwards, as Jesus foretells his passion, death and resurrection, Simon Peter reacts on the basis of “flesh and blood”: he “began to rebuke him, saying, this shall never happen to you” (16:22). And Jesus in turn replied: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me ...” (16:23). The disciple who, through God’s gift, was able to become a solid rock, here shows himself for what he is in his human weakness: a stone along the path, a stone on which men can stumble – in Greek, skandalon. Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action.

And in today’s Gospel there emerges powerfully the clear promise made by Jesus: “the gates of the underworld”, that is, the forces of evil, will not prevail, “non praevalebunt”. One is reminded of the account of the call of the prophet Jeremiah, to whom the Lord said, when entrusting him with his mission: “Behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you!” (Jer 1:18-19). In truth, the promise that Jesus makes to Peter is even greater than those made to the prophets of old: they, indeed, were threatened only by human enemies, whereas Peter will have to be defended from the “gates of the underworld”, from the destructive power of evil. Jeremiah receives a promise that affects him as a person and his prophetic ministry; Peter receives assurances concerning the future of the Church, the new community founded by Jesus Christ, which extends to all of history, far beyond the personal existence of Peter himself.

Let us move on now to the symbol of the keys, which we heard about in the Gospel. It echoes the oracle of the prophet Isaiah concerning the steward Eliakim, of whom it was said: “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Is 22:22). The key represents authority over the house of David. And in the Gospel there is another saying of Jesus addressed to the scribes and the Pharisees, whom the Lord reproaches for shutting off the kingdom of heaven from people (cf. Mt 23:13). This saying also helps us to understand the promise made to Peter: to him, inasmuch as he is the faithful steward of Christ’s message, it belongs to open the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to judge whether to admit or to refuse (cf. Rev 3:7). Hence the two images – that of the keys and that of binding and loosing – express similar meanings which reinforce one another. The expression “binding and loosing” forms part of rabbinical language and refers on the one hand to doctrinal decisions, and on the other hand to disciplinary power, that is, the faculty to impose and to lift excommunication. The parallelism “on earth ... in the heavens” guarantees that Peter’s decisions in the exercise of this ecclesial function are valid in the eyes of God.

In Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel, dedicated to the life of the ecclesial community, we find another saying of Jesus addressed to the disciples: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 18:18). Saint John, in his account of the appearance of the risen Christ in the midst of the Apostles on Easter evening, recounts these words of the Lord: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22-23). In the light of these parallels, it appears clearly that the authority of loosing and binding consists in the power to remit sins. And this grace, which defuses the powers of chaos and evil, is at the heart of the Church’s ministry. The Church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God’s love, their need to be purified through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sayings concerning the authority of Peter and the Apostles make it clear that God’s power is love, the love that shines forth from Calvary. Hence we can also understand why, in the Gospel account, Peter’s confession of faith is immediately followed by the first prediction of the Passion: through his death, Jesus conquered the powers of the underworld, with his blood he poured out over the world an immense flood of mercy, which cleanses the whole of humanity in its healing waters.

Dear brothers and sisters, as I mentioned at the beginning, the iconographic tradition represents Saint Paul with a sword, and we know that this was the instrument with which he was killed. Yet as we read the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we discover that the image of the sword refers to his entire mission of evangelization. For example, when he felt death approaching, he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). This was certainly not the battle of a military commander but that of a herald of the Word of God, faithful to Christ and to his Church, to which he gave himself completely. And that is why the Lord gave him the crown of glory and placed him, together with Peter, as a pillar in the spiritual edifice of the Church.

Dear Metropolitan Archbishops, the Pallium that I have conferred on you will always remind you that you have been constituted in and for the great mystery of communion that is the Church, the spiritual edifice built upon Christ as the cornerstone, while in its earthly and historical dimension, it is built on the rock of Peter. Inspired by this conviction, we know that together we are all cooperators of the truth, which as we know is one and “symphonic”, and requires from each of us and from our communities a constant commitment to conversion to the one Lord in the grace of the one Spirit. May the Holy Mother of God guide and accompany us always along the path of faith and charity. Queen of Apostles, pray for us!


Quick Thoughts on Supreme Court and Roberts Upholding Health Care Act

I guess I will put my thoughts out  even though everyone and his brother is doing so.

I am not very thrilled about the result of the case. I am not a big fan of the law. Also right now my focus is very much on the HHS birth control mandate which I view if enacted is a very dangerous precedent for religious liberty and Church State relations.

 I actually thought the chances of the whole law being struck down was very low so I was not expecting the Supreme Court to actually come in yesterday and save the day as to HHS Mandate matters by throwing the whole law out. I just assumed we would have to do the planned political fight and legal fight in the courts.

However learning that the Justices were so close to throwing out the entire law well geez.

Still the HHS birth control mandate rest on separate issues , and I am confident we got a good shot in the courts if Romney is not elected to withdraw the rule. In fact parts of the opinions make me think our case just got better. More on that later.

There is a lot in the opinion to like. I think the limits on the commerce clause for the future are real. I also disagree with many conservatives rants that one can just do anything under the TAX power as you could under the the Commerce or Necessary or Proper clause.

That seems to me to be very incorrect , and what Roberts has done here might be very significant and far reaching. Also the fact that the Court has put limits on how the Federal Government can black mail the states as to having to implement programs I think is VERY HUGE.

A few words on Justice Kennedy that led a very strong dissent. Both conservaives and liberals have advocated quite a false picture of Kennedy. I was not shocked at all at him thinking the whole law should be thrown out. His concerns about Federalism have been getting stronger and stronger in his opinions over the years. The fact that  most people did not seem to give this much weight just shows most are not reading the actual text of the Supreme Court opinions from start to finish in my view.

Final words on Robert. No he is not a traitor and I don't think he caved into public pressure. I am not quite buying yet his tax argument , but it is a fair one. Roberts does make a good point it is not his job to save us from our political choices. That is very true. As a Louisiana person from a codial state that has a high respect for Legislation I also get the viewpoint the job of the court is not set out to destroy a law but to conserve as much of it as you can.

Orin  Kerr had a good read on Chief Justice .Roberts and this case at  The Conservative John Roberts . I agree with most of it. As to the TAX power question that ended up saving the Affordable Care Act:

...Of course, Roberts ultimately concludes that the mandate is constitutional on the ground that the mandate can be read to work like a tax — and that so read, the law is constitutional. But methodologically, I don’t think there is anything “liberal” about that approach. The ultimate question on the taxing power was whether to read the a particular law formally or functionally: Do you look at whether the law says that it is tax, or do you look at whether it acts like a tax? There are pros and cons to each approach. But there’s nothing jurisprudentially liberal about taking the functional approach; it’s just the alternative way to assess the scope of the tax power.

I think that is a strong point and I agree.

Some will argue that the tax power argument comes off as a technicality, and the fact that the case hinges on a technicality suggests that Roberts was really just looking for a way to uphold the mandate. But it’s important to remember that the entire challenge to the Affordable Care Act was premised on a technicality. Everyone challenging the Affordable Care Act agreed that Congress could enact a single-payer system. Everyone challenging the Affordable Care Act agreed that Congress could enact the same law as it did if it only chose the formal label of a tax. So the nature of the challenge to the mandate was a bit of a gotcha argument: The major legislative achievement of the Obama Administration should be struck down because of the technical way it was done, even though Congress could have passed the same legislation with a few changes if only the Court had announced those changes beforehand rather than after. In part, that was the strategy behind the challenge: Make the challenge so narrow that the challenge really just applied to this one law. The thinking was that this would make it more likely that the Court would strike down the Act. But that also meant that the Court had an easy way to uphold the law, as they could just read the technicalities accordingly.

Well he has a point there. Again read the whole piece that is from a conservative viewpoint.

It should be noted that just one year ago it was assumed by many the ACA would pass muster by a 8 to 1 vote. That was very wrong. It shows susbtantial progress in the third branch of Government on all levels that many "conservative" legal arguments here are now rather mainstream.

Anyway now the ACA ( Obamacare ) must be handled in the political arena. The fight against the HHS Birth Control Mandate will continue in both the COURTS and the public square. That fight is now just getting started.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Catholic Responds to Juila Sweeney " Pat" Of Saturday Night Live On HHS Contraception Mandate

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has another attack on the Catholic Church this via former Saturday Night Live Star who played "Pat" and it relates to the HHS contraception mandate.

See Former SNL Star Calls Bishops ‘Real Threat to Freedom’ in Atheist Group’s New Anti-Catholic TV Spot

In the clip, Sweeney makes it clear that she‘s left the Catholic Church behind and that she doesn’t appreciate the Bishops’ treatment of the contraceptive issue.

“I’m a cultural Catholic. I’m no longer a believer…but I wanted you to know that, right now, Catholic Bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religions freedom issue,” Sweeney proclaims.

“But the real threat to freedom is the Bishops who want to be free to force their dogma on people who don’t want it,” she continues.

The vid is at the link.

A few points. First I am amazed at how proud self proclaimed American " culural Catholics "  live off the contributions of American Catholics and the Church as to religious liberty and don't seem to realize it.

Second is she really buying that the issue are just using religious liberty as an cover for an war on contraception?

The issue is not the Bishops forcing a dogma on people. Though "Pat" might have birth control on the brain she misses the real issues. The lawsuits in which the Church has filed  do not, limit the ability of employees to purchase or use contraceptives, nor do they limit the ability of Congress or the Administration to employ another way -- besides making objecting religious employers bear the cost -- of subsidizing contraceptives for women who work at such institutions.

In other words with all the avenues the Federal Government has to increase access to contraception , an unprecedented precedent of redefining what is "religious" to achieve this aim is the true threat.

Many other faith communities , some that rarely speak on matters in the public square and think birth control is acceptable to boot, also agree. But to bring that up sort of causes the Bishopa Conspiracy charge to fall apart rather quickly.

Juilia Sweeney "Pat" looks at the issue and just see Birth Control pills.The Church and many in the legal academy see the long term consequences on many other matters.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting Tired Of My Fortnight For Freedom Religious Liberty Posts ?

Well good news !!! We have pretty much reached the midway point .Fortnight means fourteen . Also I have a family reunion this weekend in Mississippi so blog postings might get iffy for a couple days of that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Father Richard Rohr ' s Unfortunate Comments on Fortnight For Freedom and Religious Liberty

Last week like many people I watching live on various social media the opinions of the United States Supreme Court being delivered.

Everyone was on pins and needles because of the possibility of the health care law opinions coming down. Well that did not happen. I then  recall a couple of news folks on the twitter announcing  the court had"no big cases" today.

Well I suppose that is a matter of point of view. If one was worried about   citizens rights in a criminal proceeding as to the Confrontation clause well it was a very important day in the  MAJOR case of Williams v. Illinois.

Which brings us to this rather unfortunate piece by Fr. Richard Rohr , OFM regarding  his views on the Fortnight of Freedom  and religious liberty concerns .

Father Rohr was a pretty big deal l and I recall reading his books. See his background here.

Now not for the first time have I thought about the battle to protect people's rights in the the broad criminal related arena  and how it is  much like the fight for religious liberty. Father Rohr 's tone brings that home to me.

The analogy I have used that threats to religious liberty are akin to coastal erosion can be used as to other rights. That is it not just one flaming oil well or hurricane that causes the problems of coastal erosion but many slow various eroding factors. The BP oil spill or a Hurricane Katrina just weaken or overwhelm a system that has beed damaged.

Basically no one really thinks about the protections against our Government ( and often the public when they are in a certain mood)  till they are  personally affected.

The average citizen is pretty much not paying attention to the legal precedents as to :

-the ability to confront the witnesses against you,

-the rights not to have your home and property searched without probable cause,

-the ability not to be harrassed by a police officer and held for hours on the side of the road,  , etc

until something happens to them.

When they discover that perhaps some rights we had in this department are but a shallow shell of what they once were THEN THEY GET OUTRAGED.  Well then it is a tad too late.

The problem is the people whose job is partly  to look out  and advocate for these rights are often not well liked people. Those include defense bar folks, the dreaded ACLU, and some  Libertarians . In fact the American public is often quite willing for various short sighted gains to even run rough shod over these rights for some goals.

Religious Liberty is often in the same boat and in fact I would say is in a worse postion.

 The press and the important media folks at the very least are far likely going to take less pot shots at the ACLU than say the American Bishops. The defense bar gets a much more fairer hearing than lets say some "Fundamentalist" group as to religious liberty concerns.

Father Rohr 's  article does not help matters. This is not about what he calls "entitlement".

In my post yesterday I noted some very big problems that we have just as to the HHS Birth control mandate alone . See my links here. Father Rohr in his piece does not engage those issues , but just proclaims that people are "crying wolf".

The fact that the Fortnight for Freedom comes in a time when are seeing religious liberty attacked in the states , by both the right and left I might add, does not seem to be on Father Rohr's radar.

We see the next battle is really starting to heat up as to religious liberty concerns as to the granting of professional licenses.

It is true Father Rohr is a cleric and getting up there in age some. So I have no doubt he can sit back with some ease and tell us all to MAN UP and be like Sts. Perpetua and Felicity of Roman Times. I mean how invested is he in if a Catholic Pharmacist just coming out of school  has to give out the morning after pill by law.

He ends by saying "Our dear bishops are beginning to look like “the Republican party at prayer” more than men of the Gospel of Jesus."

That is rather unfortunate. I would urge Father Rohr to think past this election and down the road to see how these precedents might be used against causes he feels strongly about as a part of the Christian misson. If he did I am not sure he would be so flippant.

Religious Liberty has worked very well for us in this diverse society. In fact I do believe that religious liberty is a prime reason why these melting pot can coexist together all so well. It would be a shame to lose that .

Vatican Newspaper ( L'Osservatore Romano ) Article On Fox Journalist Greg Burke Hire For Communications ( Full Text )

Update- After reading this see John Allen's article on this move which is with most things he writes is a must well informed read.
Translated from this page. ( Note I deleted his commentary which he inserts in the article only for clarity as to what was written by the paper. Go to the link to see that.

Greg Burke and his new job: It took him five days to go from 'No' to 'Maybe' to 'Yes'

"In June 2009, I called my friend Carlo Ancelotti who had just signed up with Chelsea and I offered to be his English teacher," says Greg Burke smiling reminiscently. Evidently, that didn't go through at all, and Fox News' Rome-based correspondent for Italy, southern Europe and the Middle East went on reporting.

For another few years, until about a month ago, Burke, 52, from St. Louis, Missouri, received a telephone call that would prove to be near-historic.

It may not have been accidental that the new senior communications adviser to the Secretariat of State was a baby learning to speak when the United States elected its first Catholic President.

He was born on November 8, 1959, in an Irish-German neighborhood of St. Louis to an observant Catholic family and went to a Jesuit school before earning a degree in comparative literature from Columbia University in New York. That was when he joined Opus Dei, which became one of the firm points in a professional life that would bring him to various parts of the world.

"I was very interested in building a career, but also in the spiritual dimension of life," he says. Having decided to go into jouralism, he rose through the ranks. First as a crime reporter for a small newspaper in New York, then a punishing apprenticeship at United Press International in ChicaGo ("I worked the night shift - and that was no life"). After a brief time with Reuters and the magazine Metropolitan, he got his big break when he was hired by National Catholic Register and sent to Rome as its correspondent.

Paradoxically, since then, Burke never left Rome for good - despite hopping in and out of planes frequently. Perhaps the city struck him much more than he would admit now (he even roots for the Roma football team).

In 1990, he joined the Rome bureau of Time magazine, and four years later, he became bureau chief and Time's chief correspondent in Italy. It was also the year that TIME named John Paul II its Man of the Year.
Of those days, he recalls with particular emotion when the Pope's secretary showed him the Pope's prie-dieu in his private chapel. "He asked me to lift the knee-pad - under it were all the requests for intercession from all parts of the world, which were the object of his prayer intentions. It's how the faithful of the world were all present concretely in the Paul's meditations".

After his years of experience with news agencies and with the press, he joined Fox News after September 11, 2001. "It was a paradox, because basically, I had always looked askance at broadcast news".

Just as he recalled his journalistic career with a smile, so he speaks of "the hope and the joy which come from my faith", when we ask him if his Catholicism had ever been a source of conflict with the secular news organizations he worked with.

He shakes his head, "Not even in the most critical times", he says. "For instance, in reporting about the sex abuses by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, I always reported from 'the middle of the road'. My bosses appreciated that. I did have a 'cultural clash' with my editors in TIME about the population conference in Cairo
The offer that has made him the center of attention today was first made to him around the end of May, "at first not quite clearly, but formalized on June 4. The next day, I said 'No, thanks'. On the one hand, it is a great professional challenge, but on the other, I was doing work that I loved very much, with an organization that continues to grow, and a road ahead that continued to be stimulating. But as I thought more about it, it became a 'Maybe' and finally, on June 10, I said Yes".

And so this American journalist who combines the enthusiasm of his great nation and his deep Catholicism with a sunny Roman disposition [quite coincidentally, he acquired Italian citizenship a few weeks ago, before this new development] has taken on an unprecedented role in an environment where, in the past, some American prelates have played a role. Between 1948-2007, three archbishops have been in charge of the pontifical Council for Social Communications - Martin John O'Connor, Edward Louis Heston and John Patrick Foley.

So did you accept the offer for the professional challenge or because you felt a responsibility as a believer?, we asked him.

Fifty-fifty», he said, and his smile becomes more contemplative. "Twice in my professional life, I found myself, by chance and by luck, in the right place at the right time - in 1994, at TIME, and in 2001, with Fox. It feels like that now, though it is also very different, of course".

Burke smiles a lot, but one does not doubt his consciousness of the responsibility and significance of his new role. "I know how newsmen think, I know how they would react to certain things, and I know something about how the mechanism of information functions," he adds, saying this is what he brings to his new assignment.

He has no illusions that he will be a 'savior' of the Vatican's communications problems: "Small steps in the right direction will help. Because there is a message and a good one about the Church - the challenge is to communicate it well".

Schismatic Sedevacantist Holy Family Monastery Gets To Keep Ex Monk 's Money New York Court Rules

An interesting case  that I think the the Court gave an rather predictable   and correct result. See Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Return of Large Donations To Monastery .

He donated hundred of thousands of dollars , and now seeing the error of the Monastery wanted it back. The Court dismissed his claims.

The case is also sort of interesting because one gets a glimpse perhaps of what is happening inside including the alleged to much play of board games :)  .

Monday, June 25, 2012

An Eastern Orthodox Priest Delivers Homily For Agnostic Son that Committed Suicide

Father Alvin F. Kimel, Jr. was sort of religious blog sensation with his old blog Pontifications in his little corner of the Internet. The comment section was gold , and in the "battle " over Father Kimel had some very good discourse between Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox , and some Reformed.

Father Kimel left the Epsicopal Church and became a Catholic Priest. It appears his discernment was not over and became finally an Eastern Orthodox.

So needless to say many people in many Churches and Faith communities  were very sadden to hear that his son killed himself.  Father Kimel interacted and touched a  good many people.

Father Kimel gave the the homily at his son's funeral and because of his son's lack of belief a difficult  situation was made much harder. But I  have to say this homily is a testament to Father Kimel for the honesty of the homily , and the Christian hope he has for his son. It is quite a read. The text is here.

In Archdiocese of Mobile Alabama Catholic Fortnight For Freedom Goes Ecumenical

New Orleans native Quin Hillyer has a good article up at National Review. See Churches Stand Together  Mobile, Ala., forum shows: Opposition to the HHS mandate is Catholic, and catholic.

Just one example of events happening all over the country. I would love for this event and panel to be live streamed.

Louisiana Baptist Minister Leads Fight Against Catholic Church 's Fortnight For Freedom ( Religious Liberty )

That would be Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy President of  the INTERFAITH ALLIANCE and who ministers at  Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana.


There was a lot of internet activity over the weekend as the Interfaith Alliance started their pushback against the nation wide Fortnight of Freedom effort to protect Religious liberty.

I have to say looking at their web site they seem a tad all hat and no cattle.

Our colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church like many in the more evangelical traditions are seeking to reframe the meaning of this fundamental constitutional guarantee in a manner that provides religious freedom for some at the expense of providing religious freedom for all.

I am not sure the Bishops are "reframing" anything , butwant to go back to the State of the law as it was in the dark ages of 2011 before HHS issued their rule.That is of the prime concern.

There is no talk or apparent concern by the Interfaith Alliance about an unprecedented move in Federal Law move to limit what is "religious" . See
What is a Religious Institution? by Prof Michael Moreland. Also related see
Commonweal Symposium, U.S. v. Lee, and Rocky Mountain Religious Freedom Tour.

Further it ignore the substantial  Religious Freedom Restoration Act issues and if the HHS mandate runs afoul of it. For a detailed analysis of that see here The HHS Contraception Mandate vs. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by Edward Whelan .

I am not sure of the Theology of "Religious Liberty" they are talkling about. Perhaps that will become clearer too.

They say:
But religious freedom does not mean that I am free to do whatever I like in the name of religion; my religious freedom extends only to the point at which my neighbor’s freedom begins.”

Are the Bishops really saying that? That is not what I get from their documents or in fact the legal documents filed as to this date.

It's an appealing web site that says some nice words. However  it appears at least as to what they producing now  they are not going to try to engage the real legal issues that impacts Americans of Faith or no Faith..

Italian Newspaper Looks At The Vatican Hiring of Fox Journalist Greg Burke For Media Relations

Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa has an article up on the hiring of Fox Journalist Greg Burke to aid the Holy See with media relations.

See Vatican hires American spin doctor - The Vatican has hired American journalist Greg Burke to batten down the hatches after the recent media storm.

I am not sure Mr Burke would like being called a "spin doctor" but as you can tell from the piece this seems to be regarded perhaps as a very good thing.

I agree.

 The Vatican Press office and other related organs has been one unholy mess for as long as I can recall in getting their message out.

 It is a never ending one step forward two steps back process it seems. I have often said the Vatican should pay Vatican and Catholic reporter John Allen anything he wants and put him in charge.

Burke though is a good start.

Prominent Female Catholic Conservative Voice Gives Kudos To Nuns On the Bus

The Nuns on the Bus which is linked to the Catholic Social Justice lobby NETWORK is rolling along.

I have to say the bus tour has had some unexpected benefits. One being the focus is very much on the proposed Ryan Budget instead of overheated comments on the Vatican and implications the Fortnight of Freedom to protect religious liberty being  just silly.

I thought that was a crucial mistake for many reasons. One being  that while Catholics might disagree with some economic policies of Nun on the Bus a lot of " traditional " Catholics actually support many of their efforts on a local level with time and money. So talking about the Ryan Budget I think has helped to bring in a needed time out on words regarding internal Church matters that Non Catholics with agendas were taking full advantage of in many ways.

Second, the nuns need to be out there. I sort of get their viewpoint and it's very practical. They are acting like any other group that can read the signs of the time and see budget cuts are on the way no matter what. So like every other group you dig in , raise holy hell, bring up the importance of what you are doing and save what you can.

Third, they play a role in the discussion of Catholic Social Justice and it's application. JUST LIKE PAUL RYAN DOES.

On that note I think its important to point out a major female conservative columnist gave the nuns on the bus so respect . See at National Review :

Without Freedom No One’s Got a Prayer Prudential arguments point to the common good.

Hallucinogenic Drugs in Tea and the HHS Birth Control Mandate ( Supreme Court )

It appears the Health Care Law opinions by the United States Supreme Court will happen Thursday. So we shall no on that date if litgation regarding the HHS Contraception mandate will have to continue.

On that note , Mirrors of Justice notes a U.S. Supreme court of relative recent vintage that might have an effect. In fact it was a 9 to 0 opinion. That was Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), in which the Court  affirmed a preliminary injunction preventing the Bush Administration from pursuing criminal prosecution of a group  that used a hallucinogenic drug in a tea that members consumed at worship services.

For it's relevance see their post You Remember the Recent Religious Liberty Case ...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Not Getting On the Bash Father Drinan Bandwagon

Not going to  bash the now dead Father  Robert Drinan  after recent allegations of sexual assault came forward. See Fr. Drinan's War on Women

A person on twitter brought up something as to this issue that has continued to bother me. That is the columnist talked about 3 sexual assaults on her person. Only one person , the dead one , was mentioned by name. That person cannot defend himself.

I have no idea it it happened or not. But the above fact makes me want to avoid slinging arrows at a dead Priest.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Great Story - Ignatian Spirituality Brought To American's Most Famous Prison

I might be rough on the Jesuit Order at times but for those that follow my blog please note many of my recent past articles have been about the great things the Jesuits are doing.

Today I am happy to continiue that. Abita Deacon has a great article about how a Priest is teaching  Ignatian spirituality classes and other Catholic classes at San Quentin to the inmates. It is having quite an impact.

See Another great prison ministry story -Theology Behind Bars.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Great Collection of St Thomas More Works Online ( Fortnight For Freedom)

I just saw this quote and how apt it is for this week of prayer, study , and action on Religious Freedom

Blessed Thomas More is important today, but he is not as important now as he will be in one hundred years from today. -GK Chesterton(1929).

Oh Boy Chesteron was not just whistling Dixie on that.

It is the feast day of both  Thomas More and John Fisher. See a great overview here.

This well done and engaging site that has the writing of St Thomas More is really worth a visit and a bookmark. Going to spend some time looking at it tonight.

Saint Thomas More, pray for us.

Saint John Fisher, pray for us.

How James Madison Quashed A Tiny Now In Louisiana Republic ( West Florida Republic)

Rod Dreher has a very interesting story up at the BBC. FUN STUFF . See
West Florida Republic: The birth of US imperialism.

I Don't See Dead People - The Loss of Obits At the Times Picayune Problem

When I read the print edition of the Shreveport Times the first I go to is the obits. I have always found obits interesting. A whole person's life laid out in a few paragraphs. They also serve the purpose of course letting you know if someone's death should be important to you.

Which brings us to the Times Picayune and their sad 3 days only print edition.

Funeral directors anticipate losing reach of daily obits

8:15 am Fri, June 22, 2012 POSTED: 08:15 AM Friday, June 22, 2012

BY: Jennifer Larino, Staff Writer New Orleans City Business

TAGS: Advance Publications, Al Blinke, Boyd Mothe Jr., Constance Selico, Facebook, Joe Cook, John Cruse, Kelly Rose, Louisiana Funeral Directors Association, media, Mothe Funeral Homes, Murray Henderson Funeral Home, obituaries, Phil Sprick, Rodney Wakeman, Stewart Enterprises Inc., Technology, television, The Times-Picayune, Wakeman Funeral Home

Area funeral directors wonder what will happen to their business when The Times-Picayune cuts its print schedule to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday this fall. The answer may be in Michigan.
I sadly don't have a paid subscription to the  CityBusiness to read the rest of the article to tell me what's up in Michigan.
However I have a few observations. For whatever reason I don't access obits online  when I am out of town. Printed obits have the following advantages
-First you can do a quick scan of pictures to help key you in if you know the person.
-Second a quick visual scan can alert you to friends and family of the deceased that would alert you to the fact that you might need to attend, send flowers, or at least give a call.
The above factors don't come into play when the ususal custon is you have to CLICK on each name to get the obit.
-Last but not least in a city like New Orleans where many don't have computer internet access well it is a problem,
A sad and perplexing problem for the New Orleans area where death is not be shunned , but is often celebrated and noted.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why Does The Media Only Focus On Who Is Funding the Bishops Religious Liberty Campaign ?

Get Religion ask the reasonable question. If the Bishops and others are having to fight the vast Executive Branch of the USA why is their funding as to the opposing the HHS Mandate the majority of stories as to $$$  backers?

Why not look at who is support the HHS mandate and who is supporting them with money.

See As Fortnight of Freedom begins, media responds

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Southern Baptist Convention Pass Resolution Asking Obama To Withdraw HHS Contraception Mandate ( Full Text)

Minutes ago  the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans passed this resolution on Religious Liberty that includes a call on President Obama to instruct the HHS to withdraw the Contraception Mandate.

The resolution taken from here  is below.


WHEREAS, God has made the human conscience inviolable (Romans 2:14–15; 1 Corinthians 4:3–5; 8:12; 10:29); and

WHEREAS, God has granted to all human beings the freedom to worship or not to worship according to the dictates of their con- sciences (Matthew 23:37; Revelation 3:20); and

WHEREAS, History is replete with examples of the disastrous results of governmental efforts to interfere with individual con- science and religious belief; and

WHEREAS, Our Baptist forebears suffered great persecution from civil authorities, including beatings, imprisonment, and death because of their commitment to the inviolable nature of conscience and faith; and

WHEREAS, The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects United States citizens from any interference by the Federal Government in their “free exercise” of religion; and

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19–20, 2012, steadfastly object to the administration’s efforts to undermine the religious lib- erty of American citizens; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on President Obama to instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to withdraw its insistence that health care plans provide contraceptives and abortion causing drugs and devices and instead exempt from this requirement all religious organizations and people of faith, whether in their pri- vate capacity or as employers, who declare a religious objection to such coverage; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deplore the provision in the PPACA that sets up a separate abortion fund in health care plans as well as the administration’s efforts to require United States citizens to pay for abortion through their health care premiums contrary to the dictates of their faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we declare our support for the Constitution’s recognition of the unique nature of the church and insist that the Justice Department retract its offensive, unconstitutional attitude toward the church; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we wholeheartedly support the ministry of chaplains in the United States military and call on the Obama administration to instruct our military leaders to ensure the freedom of chaplains to minister to members of the armed services according to the dictates of the chaplains’ consciences without fear or coercion; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our deepest appreciation for every person who serves in the armed services of our nation and call on the Obama administration to guarantee the right of those who have volunteered to serve to express their religious convictions about homosexual behavior without fear of reprisal; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the Justice Department to cease its efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and instead engage in a vigorous effort to defend this law of the land from every chal- lenge; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we pledge to defend the God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right of every American citizen to worship God freely in thought, word, and action, according to the dictates of his or her conscience.

Democrats For Life Raise Objection To HHS Contraception Mandate

The  Democrats for Life are keying in on what have got many Catholic and Non Catholics going beserk. See via Mirrors of Justice Democrats for Life Comment on the Contraception Mandate .

The definition, unprecedented in federal law in its narrowness, fails to give equal respect to the activities of service, mercy, and justice that lie at the core of religious practice for many faiths........

....The adoption of this language in the Code of Federal Regulations, even as part of a two-tiered set of accommodations, would legitimate it in future situations. The March ANPRM also stated that “whatever definition of religious organization is adopted will not be applied with respect to any other provision of the PHS Act, ERISA, or the Code, nor is it intended to set a precedent for any other purpose.” This assurance is inadequate, as the history of this debate teaches. [Some case analysis here...] Just as the mandate with minimal exemption was bootstrapped from narrower state laws to a far broader federal mandate, it likely will be bootstrapped later to other federal statutes. HHS, having legitimized the minimal exemption by introducing it into federal law, will have no way of stopping others from using it as a precedent.
Exactly!! Let us assume that the powers that be in the Obama administration are telling the truth here about this being a ONE TIME THING. The problem is Obama is not a Monarch ruling for life. Administrations will come and go and this precedent will be out there.

Front Page of New Orleans Picayune On Election of First African American Southern Baptist Convention President

A huge historic step for the Southern Baptist Church and just history period yesterday. Fred Luter became the first black President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  After doing some research it's interesting to note this is just the 4th Southern Baptist Convention President from Louisiana since the Convnetion was born in 1845.

It is a huge day , and I think people of my generation in the South  no matter their faith tradition see this as important big day to be proud of. For many of us ,I expect this is much more than just a Southern Baptist moment.

That being said some interesting things for Catholics to take note of and be concerned about. The election of Luter in many shows the increasing diverse nature of the Southern Baptist Church , and it 's new aim of going into very non Southern Baptist areas as to missions.

 20 percent of Southern Baptist Churches are now non anglo. That means in the marketplace of ideas in many Catholic areas the Church will have to engage in this fight for ideas with the SBC more and more and more.  We see this with Latinos , and I suspect we shall see this with many Catholic Asians and African immigrants.

Luter's election is in some ways a sign of that diversity.

Does Justice Ginsburg Light Joking Mood Indicate Obamacare Survived ?

Either tomorrow or this coming monday we shall the fate of the afforable health care aka Obmacare when the Supreme Court rules.

I am rooting for it to be overturned because if upheld there will be apparently no limits on congressional power via the commerce clause. Further if the whole thing is overturned the religious liberty issues of the HHS contraception mandate all go away. The other option is the individual mandate could be thrown out even though the future war on the HHS mandate will continue. Of course the third option is it is all ruled as valid.

There was some thoughts that the Court's vote had been leaked by how many inportant legal experts were acting. I think this is less possible now. I think it was just a unseemly appeal to influence Roberts and Kennedy. Also some conservative legal experts of note should have been able to confirm that now if it was now "common knowledge:

Reading tea leaves of a Supreme Court oral argument is often folly. So while many people think the Court will throw out part of the Obama Care legislation it very well might not happen.

That being said someone else has picked up the light joking jovial mood of Justice Ginsburg in remarks she made a few days ago. See
If You Really Wanted to Read the Tea Leaves from Justice Ginsburg’s Speech at the ACS….

Again that could be nothing  but it is has had me worried too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Three Louisiana Legislators Need To Read Their Oath of Office - Muslims and Voucher Legislation

A distressing report from the AP involving the new Legislation regarding Vouchers and Charter Schools is commented on at the The Volokh Conspiracy. See  Equal Participation for Muslim Schools, Oh My!

From one of the legislators quoted

Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said the Islamic school withdrew its request to participate in the voucher program.

“They’re not interested. The system works,” he said….

I am not sure why the Muslim school withdrew it's application but if it was because of political pressure the SYSTEM DID NOT WORK.

The Oath these legislators take mentions they must uphold the laws and  Constitutions of both the United States and the State of Louisiana.

That includes religious liberty rights and related matters. That oath does not have a " but not when unpopular exemption". That is tough to do at times but it is part of the job. If people cannot abide by they should not run for office..

Again one cannot put Islam on one side and treat it differently from Christianity. I suspect in some areas of the country people might not want to fund certain Christian schools because of their beliefs. If you are going to have charters and vouchers all must treated equally.

Pope Benedict Talks Need to Baptize Infants and Other Facets of the Sacrament

With all the sensational headlines lately a home run of Pope Benedict "lecto divina " on Baptism was missed by many. Observations and the full text is here The Hidden Treasure of Pope Ratzinger: The Homilies on Baptism

The lectio divina that Benedict XVI held on the evening of June 11 at the basilica of Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome. It is a reallya good overview of Baptism.

There are some ancient roots and meanings  of the Baptism liturgy that I was not aware of till I read this today.

Let's begin with the first part, the renunciations. There are three, and I will take the second one first: "Do you renounce the seduction of evil so as not to allow yourself to be dominated by sin?"

What are these seductions of evil? In the ancient Church, and for centuries afterward, there was this expression: "Do you renounce the pomp of the devil?" and today we know what was meant by this expression "pomp of the devil." The pomp of the devil was above all the grand bloody spectacles in which cruelty becomes entertainment, in which killing men becomes a spectacular thing: spectacle, the life and death of a man. These bloody spectacles, this enjoyment of evil is the "pomp of the devil," where it appears with apparent beauty and, in reality, appears with all its cruelty.

But beyond this immediate meaning of the term "pomp of the devil," there was an intention to speak of a type of culture, of a way of life in which what counts is not the truth but the appearance, what is sought is not the truth but the effect, the sensation, and under the pretext of truth, in reality, men are destroyed, the intention is to destroy and create only oneself as victor.

Therefore, this renunciation was very real, it was the renunciation of a type of culture that is an anti-culture, against Christ and against God. One was deciding against a culture that, in the Gospel of Saint John, is called "kosmos houtos," "this world." With "this world," naturally, John and Jesus are not speaking of God's creation, of man as such, but they are speaking of a certain creature that is dominant and imposes itself as if it were this world, and as if this were the way of living that is imposed.

I will now leave it to each one of you to reflect on this "pomp of the devil," on this culture to which we say "no." Being baptized means precisely a substantial emancipation, a liberation from this culture. Today as well we know a type of culture in which the truth does count. Even if there is the apparent desire to make all truth appear, the only thing that counts is the sensation and the spirit of calumny and destruction. A culture that does not seek the good, the moralism of which is in reality a mask to confuse, to create confusion and destruction. Against this culture, in which lying presents itself in the guise of truth and of information, against this culture that seeks only material prosperity and denies God, we say "no." We also know well from many Psalms this contrast of a culture in which one seems incapable of being touched by all the evils of the world, one places oneself above all, above God, while in reality it is a culture of evil, a dominion of evil.

And thus the decision of Baptism, this part of the catechumenal journey that lasts our whole lives, is precisely this "no," spoken and realized anew each day, including with the sacrifices that come from opposing the culture that is dominant in many parts, even if it were imposed as if it were the world, this world: it is not true. And there are also many who really desire the truth.

The Pope hits many other facets of Baptism and also discusses why we Baptize Children.

In the end there remains the question – just a quick word here – of the Baptism of children. It is right to do this, or is it rather necessary to to make the catechumenal journey first in order to arrive at a truly realized Baptism?

And the other question that is always raised is: "But can we impose on a child what religion he wants to live or not? Shouldn't we leave that decision to the child?"

These questions show that we no longer see in the Christian faith the new life, the true life, but we see one choice among others, even a burden that should not be imposed without the assent of the subject.

The reality is different. Life itself is given to us without our being able to choose whether we want to live or not. No one is asked: "do you want to be born or not?" Life itself is necessarily given to us without previous consent, it is given to us in this way and we cannot decide beforehand "yes or no, I want to live or not."

And in reality, the true question is: "Is it right to give life in this way without having received the consensus: do you want to live or not? Can one really anticipate life, give life without the subject having the possibility of deciding?" I would say: it is possible and it is right only if, together with life, we can also give the guarantee that life, with all the problems of the world, is good, that it is good to live, that there is a gurantee that this life is good, is protected by God and is a true gift.

Only the anticipation of meaning justifies the anticipation of life. And thus Baptism as guarantee of the goodness of God, as anticipation of meaning, of the "yes" of God that protects this life, also justifies the anticipation of life.

Therefore, the Baptism of children is not contrary to freedom. It is really necessary to give this in order to justify as well the gift – highly debatable – of life. Only the life that is in the hands of God, in the hands of Christ, immersed in the name of the triune God, is certainly a gift that can be given without scruples

Monday, June 18, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Church Property Cases - Case Law To Remain A Mess

This was rather unfortunate if you follow these conflicting cases across the country. We maybe next time. Anglican Curmudgeon has a post on this today at Supreme Court Denies Review of Church Property Cases

My Letter To My Local Newspaper Opposing the HHS Contraception Mandate

Letter to the Editor

Please Oppose the HHS Contraception Mandate

Starting June 21 and ending July 4th Americans across the United States will be engaging in Fortnight For Religious Freedom.

These fourteen days , a great hymn of prayer for our country, is marked at the beginning by the Feast of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More who fought political persecution , and ends on our great day of Independence.

The Forthnight of Freedom is too be a special period of prayer, study, catechesis , and public action too emphasize our Christian and indeed American history of religious liberty.

This event is in part a direct response to the unprecedented attacks on religious liberty from the Department of Health and Human Resources , mandating that all group health plans provide contraceptive services and sterilizations regardless of religious beliefs.

It is not the only reason for this event. Attacks on religious liberty by many state and local governments have been sadly on the increase for the last few years. However the HHS Mandate mandate is being viewed as the Katrina or BP oil spill that could overwhelm an already weakened system that defends our religious liberty.

Two matters should be made clear from the outset.

First, this is not just a Catholic issue. This can be seen by the fact that the Baptist operated Louisiana College in Pineville Louisiana has filed suit in federal court as to this matter. In fact according to Dr. Richard Land , president of the The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church , it is highly likely that the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans this week will issue a strong statement of alarm , and opposition to the HHS birth control mandate.

Second, this is not really about contraception. Contraception is often inexpensive even when it is not provided with the assistance of the Church and with Church funds. . It is also not about "banning " contraception which of course the Supreme Court settled decades ago.

There are three areas of prime concern.

First , the Government for the first time has proposed a a very narrow and unprecedented on the federal level of what is "religious".

Outside the four walls of the Church itself, the mandate includes a very narrow definition of what HHS deems a "religious employer" deserving exemption - employers who, among other things, must hire and serve primarily those of their own faith.

That is a startling development. When a hurricane hits Louisiana neither Catholic Charities nor the many Protestant groups funded in no small part by local residents here in Claiborne Parish , ask for membership papers when giving aid.

It is not the role of Government to define religion and religious ministry in such a limited fashion. The HHS creates and dictates by force of law a new distinction- alien to our historical American religious liberty experience , - between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors which include the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities and others in need of any faith community or none.
This cannot stand.

Second, The HHS mandate creates still a third class of citizens that have no protections whatsoever. That is individuals , who in their daily lives, act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They too face a government mandate to in providing "services" contrary to those values. This again goes against the tradition of our civic American experience that has been generous in the protecting the right of individuals not to act against their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Third , and of major concern is the HHS contraception mandate itself violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which was signed by President Clinton and which passed Congress in a huge bipartisan vote.

The RFRA says the federal government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person- (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and ( 2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

The Obama administration , as to this new HHS rule, fails to these burdens.

First it is clear that the current mandate is a" substantial burden ". Legally it has been found by the courts that there is a low threshold for substantial burden. It also takes in its scope not only direct burdens but also indirect burdens.

Employers who violate the HHS mandate, and who thereby fail to provide the coverage HHS deems necessary under the affordable care act will get an annual penalty of roughly $2000. per employee. The HHS mandate forces Catholic employers and others, to choose between following the beliefs of the religion and incurring huge fines , or denying their faith in order to stay in business.

Second, it is not clear that this is a compelling government interest. The Guttmacher Institute 's June 10th 2010 fact sheet on contraception use in the United States indicates "Nine in 10" employer based insurance plans cover a full range of contraception prescriptions.

Further various programs and groups also provide contraception at little to no cost. It is per the RFRA almost impossible to see how that the government has a "compelling interest " in marginally increasing access to contraception by requiring OBJECTING employers to provide coverage in their health insurance plans.

Recently in the 2011 Supreme Court case Brown v. Entertainment Merchant Association , a case involving the regulation of the sale of violent video games to minors, the Court stated:

"Even if the sale of violent games to minors could deterred further by increasing regulation, the government does not have a compelling interest in each marginal percentage point by which its goals are advanced" ( emphasis mine)

Most damning though for the Obama administration is the second prong of the test. That is of the least restrictive means . Even if one would concede that providing already relatively inexpensive contraception is of a compelling government interest it is hard to argue it is being done via the means that is least restrictive of the religious liberty of the objecting employer.

Other means the government could use to increase access to contraceptives that are less restrictive of religious liberty include: direct government provisions of contraceptives; tax credits or deductions or other financial support for the contraceptive purchaser; or the expansion of the already in existence Title X program. There can be the normal political objections to all these proposals as a policy issue. However that is not the point. These are just a few of the other least restrictive means the government can use and not burden religious belief.

Last , but not least , the RFRA strengthens the already strong presumption against implied repeal by stating that any repeal or override of it must be EXPLICIT. This was not done by Congress. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act legislation either explicitly or even implicitly overrides the RFRA with respect to the HHS contraception mandate.

This is a matter of concern for people Faith and indeed of no Faith. In order to accomplish a particular government objective distressing First Amendment precedents are being set , and current statutory laws are basically being ignored as to religious freedom. If allowed it is hard to see how this shall be contained. I urge all people to inform themselves on this issue and contact your elected officials

Head of Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith On Supposed War On American Nuns

John Allen has an excellent interview with  Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. See Exclusive interview: Levada talks LCWR, criticism in the States .

It will be interesting to see if any of these makes into future media reports when they look at this situation.

Why is the Jury Taking So Long In The Archdiocese of Philadelphia Sex Abuse Case

In the tales of two sex abuse trials in Pennsylvania it is night and day. The Sandusky trial has gone at light speed while the Philly Abuse Cases dealing with the Archidiocese in at below crawl speed now. It's apparent the Jury is having some problems too since they have been out so long.

See What's Hanging The Jury? that gives some thoughts from locla Lawyers up there

I have to think some choice or a hung jury on some counts and on some defendants is in the card this week.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Irish Seminarians Want to Be Orthodox Priests Despite Irish College Seminary

Cardinal Dolan is not a happy camper that his report on the Irish Church eminary has been leaked. Vatican Insider looks at it here at Cardinal Dolan‘s negative report on the Irish College in Rome .

This part caught my attention

Based on meetings with the students, he reported that “a disturbingly significant number of seminarians gave a negative assessment of the atmosphere of the house.” As corroborating evidence, he quoted one seminarian who said: “The house is tense and dysfunctional. The seminarians want to be priests as the church teaches. The staff works from approaches more characteristic of the 60s and 70s. Therefore, the level of trust between seminarian and staff is destroyed.”

Again based on what students said, the cardinal reported: “The staff is critical about any emphasis on Rome, tradition, the Magisterium, piety, or assertive orthodoxy, while the students are enthusiastic about these features.”

According to The Irish Times, however, there is no evidence in the report that the cardinal, who is known to be a champion of ‘affirmative orthodoxy”, ever confronted the staff with such criticisms. Instead, he recommended a change of staff.

The Cardinal criticized the way the seminarians dress, saying: “it borders on the sloppy and excessively informal.” He recommended that “a clear dress code be part of the rule of life”, with jacket and tie for those not yet near diaconate; jacket and clerical collar for those in candidacy and the deacons, on special occasions.

One wonders of course if it's occuring at the Irish College in Rome if this is likely happening at Seminaries in Ireland itself. It looks like the Church in Ireland might be stuck in 70 's .

The question arises how many potential Catholic Priests just gave up. Talking to Priests in the USA that went to Seminary in the 80's they often talked about the trial it was. Including having to give the "right answers" in class so not to raise red flags to the powers that be.

Again much the Priesthood shortage problem is at times self inflicted.

He criticized “some” of the graduate priests for being “less that positive examples of priestly life”, and said they “are not yet ready for the liberty given to a graduate priests” and “need a rule of life.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

ESPN Baseball Analyst Gives Major Kudos To LSU Baseball Program and Fans After Super Regional

I am watching the College World Series though the pain of the LSU loss ( we were one game away from Omaha ) has not entirely faded.

On that note I love these observations by the ESPN guy that game for the LSU / Stony Brook game and gave his observations of the program and the fans. See Sportscaster feels love for the game at the Box .

Problems In the Anglo Catholic Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter In the USA ?

I have high hopes for the Ordinariate , and it's folly not to know there will be some bumps in the road. It's also folly not too understand that some people will fail to appreciate that in Catholic time this new thing is moving at Light Speed.

Still this post  ,and comments at Anglo Catholic is concerning . See Giving Up on the Ordinariate?

I am still not sure what the problems are that people seem to feel not free at times to be that "frank" about . (See comments). Reading the post and comments I think I get the feeling that many are disappointed that the Ordinariate is not being aggressive enough. There appears to be issue with Anglican Use Parishes and hurt feelings too.

Again these bumps in the road are to too be expected , but I would like to get a clearer picture of the concerns that appear to bubbling around.

Developing - Catholic Health Association Say Obama Administration HHS Mandate " Compromise " Not Acceptable

Kinda of big bombshell on the HHS Mandate front today. See BIG NEWS: CHA tells HHS “NG on Accommodation” via the Anchoress for links.

This might force the media to get off the "Fluke" type themes and actually have to engage more the legal issues and precedents at stake here.

Former Writer and Producer for CBS News Slams Amanpour’s Interview with Sr. Joan Chittister

Sadly we see this day after day. The Deacon Bench has Great moments in journalism, Amanpour edition

Recruiting Jews To the American South A Full Time Job - BIRMINGHAM, Alabama

If you think Birmingham has it rough think of places that don't have the assets of Birmingham. Like towns like Monroe Louisiana, Vicksburg and Natchez Mississippi ,etc all towns that had thriving Jewish communities in the days of my Grandmother.

A good article here at Huff Post Southern Jewish Communities Recruit Newcomers, Offer Incentives As Populations Dwindle

On Eve of Supreme Court Opinion on Affordable Health Care Act A Look At The Law Clerks

For some reason they just look at the "conservative"  Justice's law clerks :) .

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sacrament of Confirmation To Go Practically Extinct In The Episcopal Church ?

UPDATE-  Fr Michael Earthman ‏@mgearthmans alleviates some of my concerns slightly regarding the Holy Order question. I still think Fr its a rather bad idea

I  realize that when looking at   Article XXV of the articles of Religion on the Sacraments that is in the front of every Episcopal Church Book of Common prayer  things get a tad hazy beyond Baptism and Eucharist.

I am certainly no expert on Anglican or Episcopal Church Sacramental theology here.

However I am not detecting conversations like these exactly occurring in the TEC as they do in the Catholic Church.

However in my neck of the woods , at least it appears  to me, that Confirmation was always a big deal in this TEC Diocese. . In fact looking at the current Canons of the TEC Church CURRENTLY it appears to be at least as to leadership roles to some extent. That very well might change.

Not Another Episcopal Church Blog has a post on some possible radical  proposed changes  at Nails in Confirmation's Coffin Lid .

Basically it appears it is proposed  that a requirement of Confirmation for Lay people in leadership roles from the local level  to the most important positions in the Episcopal Church do not have to be CONFIRMED!!

In fact as you read they want to look at if EVEN PRIESTS OR DEACONS should have be to be Confirmed.

Now validity of Anglican orders is always a touchy business as it is when the discussion up between Catholic and Anglicans of various stripes. Even with Anglican Priests that become Catholics it's a matter that has be handled with some needed sensitivity.

However!! I am pretty confident that if a Bishop ordained someone that was never Baptized it would not just be illicit BUT WOULD  BE INVALID. I think everyone would agree as to that on all sides ,or at least I hope. The blogger I link seems to think or perhaps imply that rabbit hole might be opened here too

The Catholic Teaching is :
1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.89 For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."90

What about if Confirmation was just "skipped" . I have never thought to ask the question ( Can a Priest be ordained in the Catholic Church without being confirmed) because well I thought the answer was self evident like Baptism. It hard to imagine this issue has come up in fact. The Orthodox and Eastern Churches of course do Confirmation and Baptism together.

However both the Orthodox and Eastern Churches do see the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as rather LINKED.

Now one does have to be a hard shell unfeeling  Papist  not to at least understand some Anglican/ Episcopal angst when Rome did not exactly put them in the "Church " Crowd  The issue of course revolves around Eucharist and Apostolic Succession. See NOTE ON THE EXPRESSION SISTER CHURCHES.

12. Finally, it must also be borne in mind that the expression sister Churches in the proper sense, as attested by the common Tradition of East and West, may only be used for those ecclesial communities that have preserved a valid Episcopate and Eucharist..

and in 2007



Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

Now some Anglican communities did not like that all. In fact when Anglican Priests cross the TIBER many Anglicans are quick to note to them " YOU KNOW THEY NEVER THOUGHT YOUR ORDERS WERE VALID ANYWAY".

Now this is not to reopen the debate on the validity of Anglican orders. BUT WHY OH WHY make a situation worse by adding a new wrinkle. I submit perhaps in reality some don't care.

Maybe I am missing something here , but this seems a rather bad idea. Especially if one takes serious that one is an Apostolic Church.

Christmas Comes Early - 29 Lost Homilies of Church Father Origen of Alexandria (185-232) on the Psalms Found ( LINKS )

THIS IS HUGE!! One wonders what else is out there hidden in some library. We have here it appears what may well be the earliest major Christian treatment of the Psalms now extant!!

The entire manuscript  in photos can be viewed online here which is cool if you know Greek .

The Catholic Encyclopedia   has a good overview of this Church Father giant.

Pope Benedict is a pretty big fan as well. In his series of Wednesday audineces on the Church Fathers he devoted to two such talks to him and his works. I recommend those talks highly . See from April and May 2007 Origen of Alexandria: life and work (1) , and  Origen of Alexandria: The Thought (2) .

Here are some links to the current exciting business..  The Sacred Page has a good overview and here at Lost Homilies of Origen Found! . That is a good place to start.

From Notre Dame - ND Expert: A 'rare and wonderful' discovery of ancient Christian documents.

Roger Pearse has a lot of good links and posts already. See Greek text found of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms! ( He commends how this Library is handling this situation) , More on the new homilies on the Psalms by Origen , Jerome’s Letter 33, listing the works of Origen , and Which of Origen’s homilies on the Psalms were previously known, and more on Jerome .

Evangelical Textual Criticism  has 'Origen's Psalms Commentary' and a variant in 1 Corinthians .

Alan Suci has a very good post here with a lot of info. See The Rediscovery of Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. graec. 314)

The Poulos Blog raises the question that at least some of these might not have been homilies like a sermon preached :
,,,This leads me to believe that we’re dealing with impromptu speeches, which are likely in response to questions. This particular “homily” could easily have been sparked by, “Of what kind are these waters that see God?"” which is the first sentence of this homily.

This also leads me to believe that “homily” is something of a misnomer. The Greek word, of course, is ὁμιλία, the word from which we derive “homily.” However, in English homily always refers to a speech delivered in a liturgical context (ie, a sermon). The Greek word has a long history, and only came to be applied to sermons in the Christian era. LSJ lists a number of meanings, but I think “lecture” is likely the most suitable English word (though that does connote a prepared speech, and these appear to be extemporaneous).

Thus, I think the setting for at least some of these “homilies” was the school, rather than the church. This would be the more appropriate setting for philosophical speculation we see here. For an article contrasting Origen’s public and private views, see here. They might also be contrasted in terms of setting: public, more certain theology was for the Church. Private, more speculative philosophy/theology was for the school. My guess is that the text we have contains both sorts. The homilies on Ps. 36-38 that Rufinus translated sound more like moral exhortations than philosophical speculation. Here, though, we have the latter.

See also his post Possible Origenic Homily – Transcription/Translation Excerpts .