Recently in Culture War Category

At the religious freedom rally in San Francisco on Friday, Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., spoke as follows:

In every age Christians have been challenged to stand up for what they believe. I would like to share with you the story of a little-known Saint. His name is Gaspar del Bufalo. It was 1810. He was only 24 years old, and had been ordained a priest just a short time. But now he was under arrest. Napoleon had conquered Rome and had imprisoned the pope. His intention was to close the churches and to force all the priests to swear allegiance to him.

So there Gaspar stood in front of the prefect. The prefect was a kind old gentleman, who did everything to minimize the event, downplaying it and reducing everything to a mere formality. It was just a harmless bureaucratic exercise.

The important thing was that Gaspar be put at ease, that he should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which he was being called. After all, many priests had already acquiesced and signed the oath of allegiance.

But Gaspar was not listening to the prefect, he was thinking of the blood which Napoleon had already caused to be shed. He was thinking of the imprisonment of the Holy Father, and he was thinking of the violation of liberty and the suppression of independence for the church.

So his response to the prefect was clear and decisive:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Just 200 years later, It is a different country and it is a different government. This time it is an American President. He has taken it upon himself to determine what is and is not religious. He has taken it upon himself to determine how I should live my faith in this time and in this place. Should I acquiesce to his demands?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The world health organization classifies oral contraceptives as a class one carcinogen right up there with tobacco. And the government wants me to provide this free with healthcare.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Women who use oral contraceptives for four years prior to their first full-term pregnancy have a 52% increased risk of developing breast cancer. And the government calls this health care and wants me to provide this for free, well...

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Oral contraceptives do horrific damage to a woman's body, and should we call this health-care? Abortion destroys human life and is it reasonable or intelligent for us to call that healthcare?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The president proposed a compromise that would allow insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives rather than the church institution. My question, what if I belong to a church institution that is self-insured? I would then be required to pay for this.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What if I'm a Catholic business person who is required by my government to provide insurance that violates my conscience?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What will it be next and who will it be next? The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that it is illegal for a photography business owned by Christians to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony even though New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage. What will they say next? Will they say that it is illegal for me to refuse to do a same-sex marriage. Would we as Catholics allow the state to change one of our sacraments.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Saint Gaspar del Bufalo spent four years in prison for his profession of faith. We must pray too, that we have the strength to be firm in our faith.

We are not imposing our values on anyone. The government has dictated that employees at Catholic institutions are provided with free contraception, and that is the imposition on our faith and on our conscience. The government doesn't want so much to advance the cause of women's health, but rather, they seek to demonize a faith group that has the "audacity of hope," that they might live their faith free from government interference and intrusion.

I know it is just a mere formality, just a harmless bureaucratic exercise. I know that the important thing is that we should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which we are being called. After all everybody else is doing it. But let me be perfectly clear:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

I don't normally respond to anonymous commentators who leave false email addresses while engaging in whisper campaigns. However, Anonyman (aka "Nothanks@youdonotcare.atall") provides me with an opportunity to re-visit a piece Jacqui Rapp and I co-authored after the marriage breakdown of several celebrity Catholic couples. Anonyman writes, in response to my post asking whether LC/RC can repent, the following:

The adulterous "professional" never will have to repent. He can divorce his wife with the blessing of the Church, knock up his little baby girl and stay with her for the good of the children and even apply for nullity, which some canonist quack like Vere or his ilk can't wait to grant. [cut]

I know this to be true. I am living it. Pete knows this to be true as well, but I am sure has some lame excuse. All canonists do.

This story is stupid.

I'm on record several places as to why the surge of annulments among Catholics who did not practice Church teaching in Humanae Vitae: it's the consequences of theCulture of Death. For instance, see this Catholic Light post from 2003.

But what about the breakdown (or major strain) in marriages among Catholics who accept Church teaching in Humanae Vitae? What about the breakdown in marriages between couples who practice NFP and are active in pro-life and Catholic apostolate (Which I imagine describes most of you reading this blog)?

Some whisperers will find it lame, but here's my excuse: It's taken from my experiences watching the breakdown of such marriages... As married laypeople, some people lose sight of the fact God called them to the married state, and not the consecrated or clerical state.

It's that simple. It's also tempting to overlook when one believes oneself engaged in God's work. Yet it's the reason I've dropped off the Catholic circuit and slowed down my writing apostolate since God blessed us with child number four last year. It's the reason I will blog two or three times a day for a month, then stop for months at a time. As much as I love you, dear readers, my first duty is toward my wife and children.

A couple years ago, Jacqui Rapp - who often co-authors with me on issues concerning marriage, family life, and annulments - and I, noting the breakdown of marriages involving several people in high-profile Catholic and/or pro-life apostolates, wrote the following article: Family Before Apostolate: Pro-Life Activism Begins at Home.

The article was written (originally for Catholics United for the Faith) as a conversation between Jacqui and me. One of Jacqui's more important points is the following:

As our Lord teaches in the Gospels, "The harvest is bountiful but the workers are few." It is not unusual for the few to find themselves overworked. Given the persecution of marriage and family within modern society, we can become so committed to combating the culture of death that we lose sight of our own marriages and families. This is one of the reasons the Roman Church has traditionally required her clergy to remain celibate.

Now, this is not to say that the married state is incompatible with ministry or apostolate. Personally, having a family has helped me become more compassionate, while at the same time remaining faithful to the Church's teaching in my work as a lay canonist. Being married and having children often opens us to graces and personal discoveries not previously experienced. As lay judges, both Pete and I understand certain nuances of marriage and family life that can easily be overlooked by our peers in the world of canon law who are celibate priests..

To which I responded:

In contrast, as married laymen we cannot devote the same time and effort to spreading the Gospel as that devoted by our ordained colleagues. Spouses have needs, as do children. Each of us undertakes these responsibilities toward our respective spouses and future children when we get married. The legitimate needs of spouse and children must come before the needs of our apostolic work.

Coincidentally, given that it just arrived back from the printer yesterday and is being shipped out to bookstores this week, Jacqui and I expanded this essay into the last chapter of our new book on marriage and annulments, which you can order from publisher Saint Anthony Messenger Press here.

So yes, changing diapers and plunging a toilet after my three-year-old flushed his rubber dolphin is rather lame when compared to the cloak-and-dagger excitement of taking on a codename and engaging in whisper campaigns for the Kingdom of God. But as lame as it is, it's my vocation as one called to the married state.

[Scroll down for the update]

Some sad news about Bob Schindler, one of the most decent Catholic gentlemen my family and I have even been blessed to call our friend. He passed away of a heart attack this past week. Most of you know Bob as a loving father who for years fought to save the life of his daughter Terri Schindler-Schiavo. When the state permitted the man to whom Terri was still legally married (despite the fact he was engaged to another woman) to take Terri's life, Bob became a leading activist within the pro-life movement for people with disabilities.

Here is what Bobby Schindler, Jr., Bob's son who is also a pro-life leader, shared about the passing of his father:

Statement from Bobby Schindler Regarding the Death of His Father, Robert Schindler

I am heartbroken over the loss of my father and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri. My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.

Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri's life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit. Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.

What greater legacy could a man leave behind?

I can understand your heartbreak, Bobby. Your father was a good man, as Sonya and I learned quickly when we joined your family on the picket line down in Florida. I will never forget Day 6 of the 2003 protest when, with Terri about to pass the point of no return, your father came over to offer us some cold drinks and Sonya a more comfortable seat.

Sonya was nine months pregnant with our second child, but she insisted we keep making the 90 minute trip each day. We asked him how he and Mary were doing.

"Worried," he replied.

Sonya and I expressed our understanding and sympathy, that it might be too late for Terri.

"Yes, we're worried about Terri," Bob said. "But we're worried about you, Sonya and the new baby too. Her due date is tomorrow, isn't it? We will be praying for a safe delivery. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you, and make sure you let us as soon as the baby comes."

I looked into his eyes. He was sincere. I was flabbergasted. His daughter was perilously close to being taken from him, he hadn't slept in months, fifteen video cameras were stalking him at every second, and he was expressing concern for our little family who had come to support him.

As I struggled to make sense of this, he began to tell me about the birth of each of his children. It was then that I understood. He was a man who practiced what he preached, who was fighting not only for his daughter Terri, but for my daughter who would be born in coming days, for your daughter, for all of our children. I had known that he was sincere, that he wasn't just show, but until that moment I had not realized the depth of his sincerity and love.

Sorry, the tears won't allow me to go on much longer.

You're a good man, Bob. You taught us all what a father's love for his family really means. I pray you go strait to Heaven because you've done your Purgatory here on earth. And when you see Terri, please give her a hug from us.

Rest in the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my friend.

***
UPDATE: Here is the original 2003 CL blog entry, written near the "hospice", shortly after this discussion took place with Bob (Terri is doing fine, her parents are good people). For newer readers, Catholic Light was the main Catholic blog providing hospice-side updates in 2003 when the Florida judiciary ordered Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube pulled. Here's how I described our conversation then. I'm trying to read it myself but can't get past the tears. It's too much of a reminder of what a decent and loving father he was:

Terri's parents are among the kindest and most decent people I have ever met. Before we left to return home, Terri's father took us aside and asked if he could speak with us because he had heard from some of the nurses and paramedics at the vigil (the ones on our side) that Sonya looked like she was only a few days away from labor. He was concerned we might try and sneak up to the vigil between now and then.

To be honest, this wasn't an unreal possibility since the hospital is about half-way between where we live and the hospice where Terri is staying. Nevertheless, Mr. Schindler said: "As a father, I'm here for my baby. We really appreciate your prayers and support, but you two need to be there for your baby now. We know you're with us in prayer. But please come back with the baby as soon as you're rested and able to travel." I mention this because it is typical of the wisdom and compassion one finds with Terri's parents. Even as they undergo such a tremendous cross, they show great consideration in generosity in wanting to make sure we weren't neglecting our own family needs for the sake of theirs. Needless to say, we were stunned. "How could they even worry about us at a time like this?" Sonya asked. For my own part, I don't think I could be this self-less if that was my daughter in the hospice. However, this is just one example that reveals the character of Terri's family.

Thank-you, Bob.

So much for "sensus fidelium"

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I'm convinced that here in the United States, we have no "sensus fidelium" - no "sense of the faithful."

Or perhaps - we have the sense of the marginal. The sense of the ill-informed. The sense of the folks who will darken a church door this Easter, and not return until Dec 24th out of some sort of misguided semi-annual obligation.

Because this Gallup poll wasn't of active, faithful, prayerful Catholics who frequent the sacraments
.

I hate to say this, but if you are a marginal, sometimes-go-to-Mass "catholic" - what's the first thing you would like to a pollster over the telephone about. That's right: your regular Mass attendance.

Hey Gallup - why don't you find a sample of Catholics who go to Eucharist Adoration at least once per month? Call my wife sometime- she's there right now!

Qualifications for a Bishop

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Scranton's bishop Joseph Martino has been doing a great job lately of communicating the Catholic faith in public in spite of opposition, instructing Catholic institutions and public officials, and through them, the faithful at large. He's shown a commitment to prevent Church events from being used to honor reprehensible politicians. He's reminded a Catholic college to show its commitment to Catholic moral teaching and distance itself from any endorsement of immorality. He's taught politicians publicly about such as the injustice of government tolerance for abortion, let alone subsidy of it, and

When I read the Bishop's letter to the misguided Senator Bob Casey Jr., whose voting record is not worthy of the Casey name, I noticed that Bp. Martino is the holder of an earned doctorate in Church history. Now that's not a common accomplishment among bishops. The most prominent bishop I know of with a similar background is the estimable George Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, who made his studies at Oxford.

We certainly need more such bishops like these: able to stand against the fashions of the moment and teach Christian doctrine. Perhaps we can start looking for bishops among other priests with a background in Church history, and with reason: men with enough interest in Church history to study it in depth are likely to have particular qualities of temperament that the Church needs, such as an admiration for sacred tradition. That is an important quality in this time, when Pope Benedict wants to promote a correct understanding of the Second Vatican Council as a development in continuity with the preceding 1962 years of Church life, and not a breach from it.

Furthermore, bishops with a knowledge of past relations between society, the state, and the teaching Church can have a realistic understanding about what is possible and what is not: that pleasing everyone and leaving problems unattended is not the pathway to peace.

Ed Peters has put together another response to the Legionaries of Christ / Regnum Christi (LC/RC) crisis, which is well worth reading. You can check it out here. Since I'm likely to be asked for a response, here's a line-by-line:

I think that Fr. Alvaro Corcuera's apparent claim that he knows nothing about Maciel's behavior, except that Maciel sired a daughter, is utterly unbelievable. I have nothing else to say about this kind of stone-walling. I will simply re-endorse Dr. Germain Grisez's and Mr. George Weigel's proposals for direct intervention by the Holy See.

Out of Christian charity I will assume Fr. Alvaro is telling the truth. The Holy See should intervene anyway. Directly.

The situation is so muddled that I cannot see how the LC/RC can fix it without outside help and expertise. Of course I'm just one canonist out of thousands in the Church. But given how the LC/RC have maintained Fr. Maciel's innocence for years, the severity of the allegations against him - both proven and unproven, and other structural problems within the movement, how the initial response has been bungled, it will be difficult for the LC/RC to regain the trust of orthodox Catholics without assurances that Rome has performed a thorough housecleaning of the movement.

Apologists for the LC/RC are already stating that Fr. Alvaro and the LC/RC are following Rome's instructions. And Rome has stated it has no immediate plans to step in, but would do so if requested by the Legion. So it might be best is the Legion simply go through the official step of asking Rome to step in directly.

Moving on Peters's rebuttal of the "reform-from-within" assertion and the "carry-on-the-charism" assertion:

Assertion 1. Because the Legion and Regnum Christi have within their ranks many obviously good and faithful Catholics, they should be allowed to try a reform from within. Response: the presence of good and faithful Catholics within an organization, particularly when the organization (in terms of Church history, if nothing else) is so young, says almost nothing about whether the organization itself is sound and/or salvageable.

Here is where I think Peters needs to make a distinction. Those making the "reform from within" suggestion (like myself) are not a unified camp. Some maintain the LC/RC should be permitted to reform from within, without any direct outside intervention. Very unlikely to work, as proven by the fact Fr. Maciel got away with his misdeeds for so long. And even if it were possible, there's still the problem of restoring the RC/LC's credibility.

Like Peters, I believe the LC/RC's current structure is deeply flawed, and have for some time, according to criteria developed with Fr. Frank Morrisey - one of the Church's foremost canonical experts on religious law and structures of institutes of consecrated life - and cult expert Michael Langone. You can read a summary of the criteria here. (Please note: I am not claiming that all of these criteria apply to the LC/RC, but those that do need to be rooted out if the LC/RC is to reform.)

Having said that, given that the majority of LC/RC members are orthodox Catholics faithful to Rome, I believe a "reform from within" is possible if the Holy See intervenes directly and appoints someone credible from outside the LC/RC to do a thorough investigation of LC/RC practices, and oversee their reform. It needs to be someone known for prayer and orthodoxy, experienced in religious life, and highly respected within the Church. For example, Cardinal Francis George from Chicago or Archbishop Seán O'Malley from Boston. Of course this assumes LC/RC members cooperate - not only in letter, but in spirit - with the reform.

Such a reform must begin with a sincere apology to Fr. Maciel's victims, followed by restitution. Also, no more excuses suggesting Fr. Maciel's innocence, or trying to dampen the severity of his sins. Of course the structural weaknesses that allowed Fr. Maciel to get away with his double-life for so long must also be fixed. Good faith only gets one so far. Peters identifies the question many canonists are asking, namely whether there are structural problems to the Legion, expressing them as only he can, when he states in response to the second assertion:

There is, I think, at least as much reason to wonder whether Maciel set up an institute in order to assure himself of ample access to sexual targets and unaccountable funds, or whether he suffered from some warped psycho-emotional condition that enabled him to compartmentalize pious devotional practices and sexual predation for decades on end...

Here is where I take a somewhat harder line than Peters. I don't wonder. In fact, I'm pretty sure Fr. Maciel set up the LC/RC to, as I put it in the following interview, acquire, maintain and protect his access to victims.

I won't comment on funds, except to say well-placed sources within and outside the LC/RC told me that Fr. Maciel was frequently given thousands of dollars in cash without any questions being asked. I haven't looked into the issue deeply enough to give it much thought; it's entirely possible the financial irregularities came after, as a by-product of the sexual irregularities. Of course, none of the above excludes the possibility Fr. Maciel also had a serious psychological condition.

But I've skipped ahead a bit. Here's how Peters begins his response to the second assertion:

Assertion 2. Maciel's canonical crime spree was a grave personal failing, but it does not negate the L/RC 'charism', and they should be allowed to continue their work. Response: This argument misses the key question, namely, whether in fact Maciel ever bequeathed an authentic charism to the L/RC...

This, then, is what separates our positions at the moment. If one believes the LC/RC lack a true charism, then Peters is right in suggesting Rome may have to shut down the movement completely and reconstitute it. (Without a true charism, there is nothing to reform.)

On the other hand, if one believes the LC/RC possess a true charism from Christ, but that it has become seriously clouded by Fr. Maciel's sexual vice, then it may still be possible to rescue the charism. Of course it will still require delicate surgery on Rome's part. It's possible the movement is so far gone that the necessary reform is no longer possible. The LC/RC will have to show they are capable of true reform.

Peters then says (skipping over the part I had quoted earlier, out-of-sequence):

I do not know whether the L/RC can (following a complete leadership replacement!) reform itself from within, although I am almost certain that they cannot;

A complete leadership change may be the only thing that can save the LC/RC at this point. Certainly this is how I feel, humanly speaking, although the Holy Spirit could intervene in a way that canonists haven't imagined. But, assuming most of the current leadership was honestly in dark about Fr. Maciel's double-life, this speaks to a weakness in LC/RC formation that so many clergy suspected so little for so long. This is not to say they were bad people or terrible priests - only that they appear to lack a certain skill-set needed to exercise prudent governance over a large religious institute.

This is not uncommon among young institutes of consecrated life where one is dealing with leadership known for its holiness (let alone living a double-life). I've experienced this at least twice in my career as a canon lawyer. A young institute and its young superior come up with some grandiose ideas, or overlook the obvious. An older priest, with several years of priestly experience before joining the institute, jumps in points out what's being overlooked, or otherwise brings some common sense to the discussion. Older priests can help guide a young superior of a young institute through sensitive pastoral issues, temper and focus the zeal of younger newly-ordained priests, and put bishops as ease knowing there is someone with experience keeping an eye on the new institute.

The problem with the current LC/RC superiors is that none of them kept an eye on Fr. Maciel. This is not surprising. Abusers cannot bear close scrutiny, which would threaten their access to victims. Fr. Maciel reportedly handpicked his superiors. Not surprisingly, he often named young priests who lacked practical pastoral experience. Which is why most Catholics would feel more confident about a reform of the LC/RC if Rome stepped in directly.

and I do not know whether Maciel developed an authentic charism for clerical, religious, and lay life, but I have serious doubts that he did.

And now the question of charism. The reason orthodox Catholics have struggled so deeply with the crisis, in fact the reason there are such strong feelings of anger and betrayal, is that the LC/RC's good works have been visible to us for so long. But looking back in retrospect, so too have the institutional signs of Fr. Maciel's double-life. How does one reconcile such a stark contrast?

Normally, an institute's charism is tied to its founder and its good works. However, the two don't match in this case. Some argue that the LC/RC's founding charism was fraudulent from the start. Others argue that God used Fr. Maciel as His imperfect human instrument. In reflecting upon this dilemma, attempting to reconcile these questions in my own mind, I stumbled across the biography of Saint Rafael Guízar Valencia.

Saint Rafael was Fr. Maciel's uncle and the bishop who oversaw most of Fr. Maciel's seminary formation prior to dismissing his nephew from the seminary. Saint Rafael exemplified many of the Christian virtues LC/RC attempt to emulate as members of their movement. In fact, his life story reads like a blueprint for the LC/RC's good works, and LC/RC members in past have recognized his influence in the founding of their movement.

Perhaps - and this is highly speculative on my part - Saint Rafael is the true spiritual founder of the LC/RC movement, and the instrument used by God to transmit its charism. It's something for LC/RC members to pray about.

Not looking forward to January 18

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Some of my friends are getting geared up already for the sad anniversary of the Roe decision, hoping that their pastors will give the new administration's pro-abortion policies the sound thrashing they deserve on January 18.

Oddly enough, I can't be very upbeat about the prospect.

I'm glad that the bishops are encouraging the Catholic people to send a strong message against FOCA, the proposed pro-abortion law that would fund abortions with tax dollars and abolish the few existing legal limitations on procuring abortion, all of them democratically enacted by state legislatures, and all of them having already passed court challenges to their constitutionality.

And I hope that the Catholic people will send a strong message against FOCA. What I don't look forward to is homilies against it.

In part, it's because of my personal temperament: I find redundant talk rather annoying. And at least for me, preaching about the wrongness of FOCA is redundant. I'm not confused about the immorality of abortion, and most Catholics who attend Mass regularly are not confused about it either. At least according to surveys, churchgoing Catholics hold pro-life views, much more than do Catholics who don't attend church, or non-churchgoers in general. So is this going to benefit the congregation?

Also, I'm not looking forward to the sort of sermon that my friends seem to like: I think it's unfitting for the holiness of the Mass. They want to hear priests denouncing the sins so widely justified in elite secular society: immorality in marriage, unchastity, and the killing of the unborn; they want to hear their outrage expressed, and hear about the fire and brimstone; and some of the priests I know are happy to provide that. But in order to denounce these evils, they think they have to be rather blunt and rather angry; and the result is that the ugliness of these sins ends up invading the sacred liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There's something bad about that.

Some of my friends complain that their priests don't preach enough against sin, and they feel cheered when they hear a real barn-burner -- at least when Father is denouncing sins that other people commit. But I think that our priests don't preach enough about God.

In a sense, preaching about the moral law and thinking about the moral law come relatively easy to us; after all, people speak and reason and argue about right conduct all the time in private life and public life and even in secular society. But thinking about God and communicating to people about God are not so easy, and we don't get a lot of that in our interactions with people in the secular world. So when we go to Mass and find in it the same sort of discourse that we get from secular voices, we're missing something. The priest is missing an opportunity to feed souls with a word about God and the things of God.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is more important than the evils of the world, and the holiness of the Mass, offered to God and made visible before man, does more good for the world than the finest words of moral instruction or correction.

Of course, the homily is a fitting place for moral instruction, but when the Mass is largely centered on the evils of society or of the state, a sort of profanation has happened. The Mass must never be instrumentalized, becoming primarily a means to accomplish a secular good, even a high good such as respect for life or some other grave matter of justice.

So I welcome announcements in church about the campaign against FOCA, and bulletin messages, and invitations to sign postcards; yet do not let the liturgy itself be profaned by excess.

This morning's Catholic Exchange carries a story about the recent Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) decision against Stephen Boissoin, an evangelical youth minister who during Canada's debate over same-sex marriage wrote a strongly-worded letter to the editor denouncing homosexuality.

For this he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine to the complainant, never again speak about the subject, and apologize. This last requirement is chilling when one considers that not even Canada's most notorious serial murderer-rapists, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, were ordered to apologize to the families of their teenage victims. You can read the whole story here.

I would not be surprised if this case will be used as a precedent in the Fr. de Valk case, which is still being investigated. You can read more about Father's case here and here.

Additionally, today's Washington Times reports on last week's provincial human rights tribunal hearing against Maclean's magazine for having published an excerpt from Mark Steyn's America Alone. You can read that story here and here.

Unbelievable!

Only in Canada would a internationally-renown political writer like Mark Steyn be investigated for alleged hate speech because of a third-party posting on what appears to be the Catholic Answers web forum:

Click here for details.

From today's Washington Times:

The debate over denial of Communion to pro-choice Roman Catholic politicians was rekindled last month when Bishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., told Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from partaking in the sacrament.

Similar actions by Catholic bishops in the past have led to strong debate among canon lawyers - those who function within the church's internal legal system.

As Bishop Naumann joins the chorus of American bishops refusing Communion to wayward politicians, a new consensus is emerging among canon lawyers on the topic, which reached a boiling point four years ago surrounding Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Mrs. Sebelius, a Democrat, has been the subject of much speculation as a potential vice-presidential pick for Sen. Barack Obama.

"Eight or 10 years ago, when people first started advocating on this, they were voices crying in the wilderness," says the Rev. Francis G. Morrisey, a retired professor of canon law at St. Paul University and one of the most respected canon lawyers in North America. "What we're seeing is a consensus emerge; it's more of a discussion now than a debate."

Father Morrisey, who long had been among the most vocal opponents of denying Communion to politicians, admits that his thinking on the subject has shifted substantially, although he still does not think Communion should be denied in every case.

"It is very rare that truth is in the extremes," he says. "We have to look at the individual conscience of each politician, and just when a person has overstepped the line."

Read the whole article here.

My dear Luciwa,

While I hope you will continue to consider me your uncle, I note you have broken up with my incompetent nephew Wormwood. Our family never understood what you saw with the lazy oaf; we always knew you were capable of much worse. And worse you have!

Your cunning has sharpened since leaving the isle for its scion between the seas. The breakup and the change in scenery have obviously renewed your vigor as a temptress. Particularly noteworthy are the new commissions and tribunals you have concocted as head of The Republican Underworld Defense’s Experimental Action Unit. These experimental commissions and tribunals function with more subtlety than those on the old continent during Screwtape’s era, or the Slavic revolutionary commissions inspired by my own generation.

Of course, you have chosen the best patients to oversee the experiment. Weak of soul and devoid of the talents needed to succeed on their own, they cling to officious titles and nebulous causes in order to bolster their sense of self-importance among their peers. Yes, these shaved apes zealously embrace tolerance, however, it is a tolerance devoid of charity. Charity is the Enemy’s chief weapon against us. How many souls have escaped into the Enemy’s clutches because of this horrid virtue?

There is no greater way to undermine charity than through the facade of tolerance. Few patients succumb to evil for evil’s sake. More often than not, the temptation comes as a lesser good. Tolerance is among the most effective and versatile of lesser goods. Yes, it requires some patience on the tempter’s part. Tolerance must be introduced to the patient in small doses - enough to cause the patient some discomfort, but not enough to inflame the level of moral outrage that rouses a patient into action. Thus tolerance is best prescribed as a moral painkiller, to suppress the pangs of conscience used by the Enemy to tether the patient to Himself.

The shaved apes occasionally catch on to our practices. The most perceptive among them coin expressions that force us to react quickly. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is one such example, while ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing’ is another. We have now dulled these aphorisms into cliche, but at one time their prick awakened many a patient from moral slumber. And just because these cliches have lost their bite does not make them any less true.

In fact, good intentions and moral sloth have become the most effective tools of your temptress toolbox in carrying out your experiment. It was not long ago that shaved apes from your part of the planet were easily tempted into war, rape, racial and ethnic suspicions, and the repudiation of order within society. However, we grew too bold with the 20th Century wars we inspired in the old continent. Our patients have grown jaded and become suspicious of armed conflict between nations. So they choose tolerance to avoid civil unrest.

Don’t get me wrong: they still love their violence. They just prefer violence in smaller doses such as street gangs, abortion, soccer riots and anti-American protests. Anyway, that’s enough rambling from this old tempter.

Tolerance is why your commissions and tribunals have devastated the Enemy’s forces. In the name of tolerance, you have lulled your patients - that is, acclimate them through a series of self-compromises - into intolerance toward the Enemy and His doctrine. What thirty years ago the shaved apes denounced as unthinkable and a perverse inversion of nature is today the law of the land. This is no small victory you have wrestled from the Enemy - especially in the realm of marriage, which as the foundation of the family determines how the next generation is raised. (Or whether there will be a next generation.) Moreover, those who still defend the Enemy’s ways are ostracized from polite society and declared criminals.

Yes, a minority still cling to the Enemy’s doctrines. This is where your commissions and tribunals have proven versatile for the lowerarchy - in the name of tolerance no less! The majority who still believe in the Enemy’s will not speak up, less they themselves appear intolerant and unfashionable among their neighbors. (Or should that be neighbours?) You have correctly deduced that the greatest fear to most shaved apes is not the loss of their freedom, but of their temporal comforts. Thus your experiment has silenced their dissent, not through physical violence and torture, but through the fear of inconvenience. This is why you must continue to involve yourself directly in your experiments’ processes. Let them become even greater bastions of inconvenience.

Tolerance is also an efficient tool with which to browbeat the few who speak up for the Enemy’s ways. Let those who cling too tenaciously to the Enemy be ostracized and browbeaten into silence. Tolerance is not intended for them, however, physical violence would turn them into martyrs. This in turn would cause others to sympathize with the Enemy. Which brings us to the real genius of your commissions and tribunals: the violence they inflict upon the Enemy’s followers is not physical - but social, political and moral.

And so I commend you my impish niece. You have taught this old devil many new tricks, and others as well. Your experiment with the commissions and tribunals has surpassed even our most optimistic projections, decimating the Enemy’s ranks while providing us with countless new souls to feast upon..

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

Some of you may have come across the following from LifeSiteNews.com:

***
CHRC Spokesman Will Not Say if Christian Teaching on Sexuality is “Hate”
Calgary Bishop Henry says "we're into a new form of censorship and thought control, and the commissions are being used as thought police.”

By Hilary White

OTTAWA, May 30, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A spokesman for the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has refused to say whether Christian moral opposition to homosexual activity constitutes a “hate crime”.

Pete Vere, a Catholic writer who has been working on the clashes between the Human Rights Commissions and Christians, asked Mark van Dusen, a media spokesman for the CHRC, “If one, because of one’s sincerely held moral beliefs, whether it be Jew, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, opposes the idea of same-sex marriage in Canada, is that considered ‘hate’?”

van Dusen replied, “We investigate complaints, Mr. Vere, we don’t set public policy or moral standards. We investigate complaints based on the circumstances and the details outlined in the complaint. And ...if...upon investigation, deem that there is sufficient evidence, then we may forward the complaint to the tribunal, but the hate is defined in the Human Rights Act under section 13-1.”

“Our job is to look at it, compare it to the act, to accumulated case law, tribunal and court decisions that have reflected on hate and decide whether to advance the complaint, dismiss it or whether there is room for a settlement between parties.”

Currently, two Christian organisations have Human Rights Commission complaints leveled at them for their outspoken defence, one in the political realm and the other in print, of the meaning of natural marriage and Christian sexual morality.

Homosexual activist Rob Wells, a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Pride Center of Edmonton, filed a nine-point complaint last February with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in which he accuses the magazine of promoting "extreme hatred and contempt" against homosexuals. The commission is investigating a similar case initiated by Wells against the Christian Heritage Party, a political party co-founded by pro-life Catholics and Protestants. The party holds that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman.

Vere quoted Father Alphonse de Valk, the founder and editor of Catholic Insight, in an article on Zenit Catholic news agency. Fr. de Valk said that Catholic Insight "bases itself on the Church's teaching and applies it to various circumstances in our time." He noted that some of the statements that allegedly promoted hatred and contempt against homosexuals were taken from recent Vatican pronouncements.

The issue before the CHRC, therefore, is whether Christian and Catholic teaching itself is considered under Canadian law to be “hate speech”.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary said the issue is whether Christians can continue to maintain their freedom of religious expression. Bishop Henry has also been through an Alberta HRC complaint by homosexual activists in 2005 after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage earlier that same year.

“I really feel that we are into a crisis situation here where we are experiencing a trumping of religious freedom,” said Bishop Henry.

Despite assurance from politicians that Canadian faith communities would not be affected when the government legalized same-sex marriage, the number of complaints against Christians have significantly increased since 2005.

Bishop Henry feels that Canada's human rights tribunals are censoring the expression of traditional Christian teaching: “The social climate right now is that we're into a new form of censorship and thought control, and the commissions are being used as thought police.”

***
This comes as several Catholics and evangelical protestants are being hauled before Canada's human rights tribunals for holding to the traditional definition of marriage. Here's the audio from the interview:

In case you haven't already picked it up from Kathy Shaidle, a number of Canadian bloggers are worried over the following, which appears in today's Washington Times on-line:

*******************
Activist's remarks about Islam and sex probed

By Pete Vere
July 24, 2007

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario — Organizers of a conservative online forum in Canada say their free-speech rights are under attack after they received a letter saying a complaint has been filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The complaint, filed by a private citizen and accepted for further investigation by the commission, protested a critical posting on the forum's Web site regarding Islam and homosexuality.

The remarks were posted on FreeDominion.ca, a sister site to the conservative U.S. forum FreeRepublic, by FreeDominion member Bill Whatcott, a former homosexual prostitute turned outspoken Christian activist.

“I can't figure out why the homosexuals I ran into are on the side of the Muslims,” Mr. Whatcott wrote on the Web site. “After all, Muslims who practice Sharia law tend to advocate beheading homosexuals.”

[continue reading]

Here's the introduction of a rather large essay John Pacheco and I have written for Challenge Magazine - an orthodox Catholic Canadian monthly - in which we demonstrate the historical and theological link between contraception and witchcraft:

Protestant fundamentalists often refer to their beliefs as That Ol’Time Religion. This is somewhat amusing from a Catholic perspective. After all, protestant fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomena when compared to the age of the Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, one should never confuse That Ol’Time Religion with The Old Religion. The latter is an expression used by practitioners of wicca, paganism and witchcraft to refer to their particular belief system. Practitioners of That Ol’Time Religion and practitioners of The Old Religion would have one believe that their two religions oppose one another.

This holds true until one comes to the practice of contraception. Protestant fundamentalists who defend the use of contraception among married couples include such notables as Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tim LaHaye who co-authored the Left Behind series. Not surprisingly, Dobson also sees the practice of masturbation among teenagers as harmless while LaHaye reportedly sees no biblical injunction against oral sex.

This is no coincidence; like contraceptive sex, both masturbation and oral sex are sterile sex acts. They separate the physical pleasure of sexual intimacy from the natural consequences of the act. They deny the married couple’s blessing of becoming co-creators with God. Their highest goal is the immediate physical gratification of those who practice them.

Sexual Gratification and the Occult

This philosophy is no different than that of Raymond Buckland, the author of several books on witchcraft and a disciple of Gerald Gardiner (the father of modern witchcraft). In Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, the author’s best-selling introduction to the practices of modern witchcraft, Buckland provides a rather substantial entry describing what modern occultists call “Sex Magick”.

“This is one of the most potent forms of magick,” Buckland writes, “for here were are dealing very much with the life forces. Dr. Jonn Mumford, in Sexual Occultism, states the most important psycho-physiological event, in the life of a human, is the orgasm. Sex Magick is the art of using the orgasm - indeed, the whole sexual experience - for magickal purposes.”

For Buckland, sexual intercourse is about pleasure and power rather than procreation. “The sex act is obviously the best possible, and most natural way of generating the power we need for magick,” Buckland writes. Quoting Mumford, he then adds: “The firming modality, be it masturbation, homosexuality, or heterosexuality, is irrelevent. Only the end result (orgasm) is important and any form of sexual behavior is but a means to an end.”

Buckland mocks Catholic teaching on human sexuality as “early Christian propaganda,” then lists several alternatives to natural intercourse. “One alternative is mutual masturbation,” Buckland writes. “Another is oral sex. [...] Oral sex can be especially suitable, of course, when all chances of pregnancy must be eliminated.” Buckland recommends masturbation “for the solitary witch”. In other words, once marriage is neutralized within the equation, witches and fundamentalist protestants are not as far apart in their sexual theology as one would first imagine.

Catholic Teaching and the Natural Law

In contrast to the sterile teaching of That Ol’Time Religion and The Old Religion, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reminds us in article 1652: “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowing glory.”

“Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves,” the CCC continues. “God Himself said: ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ and ‘from the beginning [He] made them male and female’; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Hence true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich His family from day to day.”

This Catholic teaching seems rather novel in today’s world, however, at one time it was the common teaching of all Christians. Even the founders of protestantism vigorously condemned contraception and Onan’s spilling of his seed in the Old Testament.

Excessive rigorism

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Philosopher David Carlin, often a thoughtful critic, writes a provocative piece suggesting that the clergy should stop performing the civil aspects of weddings, for the reason that this makes them complicit in the state's policy of easy divorce.

"...If either of you would like to end your marriage tomorrow, you have a perfect right to do so. If you would like to remain married until death, you can do that too. It's all up to you. Don't feel constrained by the vows you have just taken." [...] The priest, insofar as he is the performer of a civil marriage, will in effect be adding this to his implicit comments: "You have just entered into a union which is between a man and a woman, or between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman. The civil institution of marriage that you have just elected to become participants in has neither permanence nor gender specificity. It bears absolutely no resemblance to the traditional Catholic institution of marriage."

Prof. Carlin contends that the officiant of a civil-law marriage is in effect saying all the above nonsense: but that's a very doubtful proposition. The Catholic minister who conducts a wedding ceremony and performs the related civil functions has every intention to communicate to the spouses (one man, one woman) that their commitment is permanent. If the State fails to maintain that permanence in civil law, that implies no "implicit comments" of agreement by the clergyman. Carlin's argument seems to consist of little else than putting words in someone else's mouth, an unworthy rhetorical tactic.

Ed Peters offers a rebuttal with regard to the canonical implications of Carlin's suggestion.

Obviously Prof. Carlin grieves over the divorce mentality among Catholics and he is acutely aware of the state's contribution to this social disaster. But while looking for ways to bring Church teaching on marriage more directly to bear on state policies in this area, we must avoid destroying one of the few areas wherein the state and the Church cooperate correctly in marriage....

Touchy, touchy

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Islamofascism is on the march around the world, which gives Islam itself the appearance of strength and power. (No, I do not equate Islam with the ideology of the Islamofascists, though they share many of the same basic errors and malign tendencies.) But the furor over the Pope quoting a Byzantine emperor's undiplomatic comments about jihad reveals the true state of Islam today.

I agree with Mark Shea on this one: Islam is superficially strong, because many of its adherents carry out horrific violence in its name. With Belloc, I observe that Muslims are largely impervious to conversion -- and today, they are seemingly unwilling to carry out anything like a dialogue. But neither of these things are indications of real strength. If they were truly strong, they would have the self-confidence to shrug off comments that they with which they disagreed, or that were blantantly offensive (and the Pope's remarks were not.)

Instead, as if on cue, Muslims explode into intemperate rage when something offends their delicate sensibilities. But why are they so worred about what non-Muslims say about Islam, when so many of their own brethren say much worse? Islamfascists equate Islam with murder, forced conversion, political oppression, and even genocide, and it's business as usual. Maybe Muslims should spend more time and energy refuting them, if they're looking to preserve the good name of Islam and its "prophet."

But how does one have a dialogue when the other party reserves the right to fly off into a self-righteous rage when they hear something the least bit offensive? I don't doubt that there are Muslims in the world who can discuss their faith rationally, but when I've attempted it, I always get the same reaction, which is more or less, "You have to accept Islam before you understand it." Maybe so, but why would I want to accept something that I don't understand? And how can I understand if you won't appeal to my intellect?

Good luck, Holy Father, in your efforts to promote dialogue with the Islamic world. They don't seem the least bit interested, but God can find avenues that are invisible to the naked eye. The alternative -- decades, if not centuries, of conflict and unrest -- makes it worthwhile.

The truly awful thing is that many people will agree with CAIR:

US Muslims bristle at Bush term "Islamic fascists"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Muslim groups criticized President George W. Bush on Thursday for calling a foiled plot to blow up airplanes part of a "war with Islamic fascists," saying the term could inflame anti-Muslim tensions....
"We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group.

Don't you think that plotting to murder 2,700 people is a little more likely to "inflame anti-Muslim tensions" than a couple of words uttered by the president?

Besides, "Islamic fascists" is a perfect description of the terrorists' ideology. They plan to form an Islamic superstate from Morocco to Indonesia, governed by their interpretation of sharia law. From there, they will make jihad against non-Muslim lands until the entire world submits to the Word of God as delivered to Muhammad (npfp). This isn't the president's imagination. This is the Islamofascists' stated game plan. It's not a mischaracterization or interpretation.

Ted Nugent is my hero!

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Cool! Thanks to Republicans across the river, I got to meet fellow bow-hunter Ted Nugent. Here's a picture of him autographing my membership card for an organization that supports hunters' rights.

(Thanks to Dave Helwig at SooToday.com for snapping the above pic.)

This is a guy you really want on your side if you're serving in Ramadi, Iraq:

He was 5 when he first fired an M-16, his father holding him to brace against the recoil. At 17 he enlisted in the Marine Corps, spurred by the memory of 9/11. Now, 21-year-old Galen Wilson has 20 confirmed kills in four months in Iraq — and another 40 shots that probably killed insurgents. One afternoon the lance corporal downed a man hauling a grenade launcher five-and-a-half football fields away.

Lance Corporal Wilson keeps all this in perspective:

"It doesn't bother me. Obviously, me being a devout Catholic, it's a conflict of interest. Then again, God supported David when he killed Goliath," Wilson said. "I believe God supports what we do and I've never killed anyone who wasn't carrying a weapon."...
Insurgents "have killed good Marines I've served with. That's how I sleep at night," he says. "Though I've killed over 20 people, how many lives would those 20 people have taken?"

The marksman has it right: killing one's enemy in battle is an act of love for one's fellows. That is especially true when the enemy is comprised of men who work for an evil cause carried out by evil means. It is regrettable that these odious men abused their free will by trying to destroy the elected local government in Ramadi; it is lamentable that they threw away their lives. But it is a meritorious act to prevent them from achieving their ends, even if that means employing deadly force.

Some people like to say they're for "peace." Men like Lance Corporal Wilson help make it happen, one bullet at a time.

Family Before Apostolate

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From the latest issue of Lay Witness...

Family Before Apostolate
Pro-Life Activism Begins at Home

Pete Vere and Jacqueline Rapp
From the May/June 2006 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

Along with Jacqueline, her husband, Keith, and Fr. Phil, a priest who happened to be one of our mutual friends from canon law school, I found myself savouring the country buffet. Months had passed since the four of us had last gathered for some fun and fellowship. The conversation was not as heavy as what some might expect from three canonists and a catechist. From "The Lumberjack Games" and smoked barbeque to Belgian Trappist ale and the subtlety with which "The Wiggles" promotes a Catholic worldview, we all bantered back and forth, laughing and arguing between mouthfuls of country fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and boiled turnip greens.

Suddenly, Pachabel’s "Canon" interrupted the evening’s festivities. Recognizing the number, I grabbed my cell phone and excused myself from the conversation at our dinner table. The caller on the other end was well known in Catholic circles. Sounding distraught, "John" shared how spouse and children were rebelling against the long hours spent away from home. It seems that he spent most of this time on the circuit, promoting a pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family Catholic apostolate among the laity.

[Continued]

Christendom vs. Christophobia

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[Given everything going on in the Episcopal church this past week, I thought some of you might find my June column in Challenge Magazine -- a Canadian Catholic monthly -- of interest. PJV]

Christendom vs. Christophobia

Pete Vere

“It's as though a spiritual tsunami hit our shores, beginning in the early sixties,” Mark Mallett said. “The earthquake that started it all began several hundred years ago when the Church lost its powerful influence in society through the French Revolution. The first powerful wave to hit North America was contraception.”

His words left me stunned. Mark Mallett is one of Alberta’s most well-known Catholic musicians. He happened to be passing through our small Northern Ontario community last fall. Taking advantage of the situation, our pastor invited Mark to give a concert at the parish. I was blessed with the opportunity to interview Mark prior to the concert.

“The world dismissed Pope Paul VI's warning about the dangers of the pill,” Mark continued, “but he was right. As this wave hit shore, it began tearing apart marriage and the family, with no-fault divorce becoming available. As this tsunami continued through the seventies and eighties, it literally destroyed life as abortion laws eased and STD's proliferated. Through the nineties, pornography and the AIDS epidemic exploded as sexuality and its true essence continued to be washed away. Then, I believe, the wave came to a stop this past summer, as the very image of the Trinity--marriage--was redefined.”

“Once you take the very image in whom we are created, and invert it, that has grave consequences for the future.”

Mark would go on to give an excellent concert. His music was clearly inspired by Pope John Paul II, the Blessed Mother, and Our Lord’s Real Presence. Yet I found it difficult to focus during the concert. His prophecy concerning our nation’s future continued to haunt me. Quo vadis, Canada?

I remember the vote in the House of Commons. Aiden Reid, Campaign Life Coalition’s Director of Public Affairs, had invited me to join him in the Visitor’s Gallery. Together we watched as parliament debated the third and final reading of Bill C-38 – the bill that attempted to re-define marriage to include homosexual pairings.

When the vote passed, the stained-glass window behind the Speaker’s chair went dark. This struck me as an ominous sign; the sun had set on Parliament Hill. I shivered. “If we are arrogant enough to destroy the very institution God created for the stability of society,” I said to Aidan. “Then this bears grave consequences for the future of our country.”

Yet how did we arrive at such a point in Canada’s history? In seeking an answer to this question, an evangelical Protestant friend of mine recommended Rev. Tristan Emmanuel’s Christophobia: The Real Reason Behind Hate Crime Legislation (Freedom Press, Ontario, 2003). My friend assured me that the author sided with the Culture of Life and that he had extensively researched the pernicious influence of secularism and homosexuality within our culture.

Tristan Emmanuel is a Presbyterian minister. He currently works with the evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants community in Canada. He organizes them and helps them to become more politically active. This is no small feat as fundamentalists and evangelicals traditionally have a short attention span when engaged in politics.

Christophobia is Tristan Emmanuel’s attempt to explain how secularists and homosexuals seized Canada’s political agenda. Their ultimate target, Emmanuel believes, is Christians. Legislation like Bill C-38 and C-250 is designed to silence Christians from preaching the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Tristan argues his points with sincerity, conviction, and quite a few facts.

“The record of judicial activism has sown deep suspicion in the hearts and minds of reasonable people,” he concludes in one of his closing chapters. “The bottom line is that in Canada, religious rights are relative, while the rights of homosexuals are absolute.”

Keeping in mind that Bill C-250 had not yet passed when Emmanuel first published the book, the author continues with the following warning: “Bill C-250, or whatever will be proposed to replace it, will exacerbate this situation because it will give activist judges the legal billy club to accuse Christians of hate crime. The evidence is there for anyone to read. Left wing, activist, God-hating judges who want to erase the Christian heritage of this nation have been itching to criminalize Christian debate, speech, writing and text, and any expressed opinion about the (negative) moral dimensions of homosexuality. Hate crime legislation will be the tool they’ll use to achieve this goal. Outrageous as it may seem, they are on the verge of getting away with it.”

Here is where I disagree with our Protestant friend. The criminalization of Christianity does not seem outrageous when one takes a Catholic view of history. For secularism and the culture of death are little more than the logical outgrowth of Protestantism.

If the French Revolution gave birth to the spiritual tsunami described by Mark Mallett, it was nevertheless conceived by the Protestant Revolt. Martin Luther’s heresy of Sola Scriptura destroyed the unity of the Christian faith in the western world. Under Protestantism, man replaced God as the judge of all that was holy and moral.

Similarly, contraception may have flamed the current culture of death, but King Henry VIII’s divorce is the tinder that started it. Anglicans were the first Christians since the gnostics of the early Church to permit the breaking the sacrament of marriage. Is it mere coincidence that the Anglican Communion was the first Christian denomination to permit contraception?

Thus no one should be shocked when Anglicans in Canada “bless” so-called same-sex unions. Nor should anyone be surprised when Anglicanism’s American counterpart, the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, attempted to consecrate a practicing homosexual to the episcopate. The Anglican promotion of the homosexual agenda is nothing more than the unnatural outgrowth of King Henry VIII, founder of the Church of England, refusing to live up to his wedding vows.

From lust was the Anglican Communion founded, and to lust will the Anglican Communion return. History simply ain’t ecumenical in this respect. Under Christendom, Christ was King of Society. Under Anglicanism, an adulterer.

This is why I was struck by Christophobia’s references to Christ the King within a political context. “Strictly speaking,” Tristan Emmanuel writes, “politics is a natural development and application of my faith. I absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the King of kings. And that is, if nothing else, a very political statement.”

A few paragraphs later, the author speaks of a spiritual awakening of sorts. “That night, I realized that Christ was King who died for me. A King. He wasn’t just some guy. He wasn’t just a good man, not just a great teacher, not even simply the Savior. No. Christ, the Son of God, was a King. The King of kings, the King of the whole universe, and He was my King.”

This is well and good. Christ is King. He is our King. Yet our separated brother misses the obvious: every king must possess a kingdom over which he governs. In the case of Our Lord Jesus Christ, this kingdom was Christendom–at least until Protestantism shattered it into pieces. This in turn opened the door to secularism and an aggressive homosexual agenda.

“Community spirit prohibited the breaking with custom, and custom maintained community spirit,” Dom Gérard Calvet, the Abbot of Ste. Madeleine du Barroux monastery, explains in Tomorrow Christendom. “So that a child born into the world of Christendom was surrounded by a forest of signs, rites, and sacramentals which spoke to him of his duties, before he learned to read, even before the catechism presented him with the precepts of the Decalogue. Without waiting to receive religion from the mouth of the priest, he ‘caught it’ from his surroundings, by way of contagion. From this point of view, Christendom can be considered the outer garment of the Ten Commandments. An outer garment of flesh and bone, an ornament of poetry, gestures, formulas, chants, not bereft of beauty [...] The disappearance of these customs and traditions is the death knell of civilizations.”

Calvet then quotes the following words from Gustave Thibon, a French author and philosopher: “So, what do I care about the past as past? Don’t you see that when I weep over the break with a tradition, it is especially about the future that I am thinking? When I see a root decaying, I pity the flowers that will shrivel up tomorrow, for want of sap.”

Canada is decaying as a nation. Marriage is the root of every strong civilization, and yet our marriages are anything but strong. I see it every day in my apartment complex. My wife and I know several other parents in our building; yet as far as I know we are the only married couple. This does not bode well for the future. Repeated studies show that married heterosexual couples provide the most stable environment in which to raise children.

Hence the reason Catholicism and Christendom sought to protect marriage. Hence the reason Catholicism and Christendom bestowed upon the sacrament of marriage a favoured status within the law. Not simply was doing so moral, it was political and sociological as marriage was vital to long-term preservation and growth of society. Without marriage, society would once again degenerate into barbarism.

Same-sex marriage marks another milestone on the slippery slope to barbarism. Gang shootings in Toronto no longer shock us. One hundred thousand abortions a year hardly earns a whisper in the mainstream media. Group sex among strangers is now protected by Canada’s Supreme Court provided that the participants are consenting adults – an adult being defined as fourteen years of age when it comes to sexual intercourse. News of eight people found shot dead – Ontario’s biggest mass murder in some time – simply disappears from the media after a couple of days.

Why? Because nobody is interested. Without Christ as King of our society, everyone’s focus falls upon the individual rather than society and family. As long as it does not affect me personally, who cares?

Yet this coarsened culture is neither the fruit of secularism nor of the homosexual agenda. Rather its roots lay in Martin Luther’s revolt from the Christian faith, along with Henry VIII’s revolt from Christian morals. It is Protestantism that uncrowned Christ as King; at the root of Christophobia one finds Martin Luther’s non serviam coupled with Henry VIII’s unwillingness to control his natural urges.

Hence there is only one answer to Christophobia, just as there is only one antidote to the dark times that await the future of Canada. It is Catholicism and a return to Christendom.

I love Scott Ott:

(2006-06-09) — As Blackberry devices and cell phones on Capitol Hill hummed with news of the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi yesterday, Congressional Democrats vowed that despite the loss they would fight on in “the war on the war on terror.”
“Zarqawi will be missed because he put a human face on the futility of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq,” said one unnamed lawmaker, who assured a reporter that “Democrats are still optimistic. We’re still looking for the silver lining.”
Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, a former Marine and vocal critic of the military occupation of Iraq, immediately denounced “the Zarqawi massacre” and suggested that the F-16 pilot who dropped the bombs had snapped under pressure and murdered the al Qaeda leader “in cold blood.”

Ott also raises a cogent question: were Zarqawi's human rights violated? That is, did the F-16 pilots read him a Miranda warning before dumping a half-ton of explosives on his safe house? Did they have a warrant? Did they get their information about Zarqawi's whereabouts through an illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional wiretap by the NSA? Did the lying filthy neocon Jews engineer all of these violations of this poor guy's rights?

We need Senate hearings, right now.

Many Catholics take a cavalier attitude toward mass immigration, including commenters on this here blog. "Sure, immigration might be a problem," they say, "but at least most of the immigrants are Catholic!"

How can we face our fellow citizens in the public square and argue for our views if we take that attitude? Translated, this says to our opponents, "Either agree with our arguments, or we'll import zillions of foreigners and your guys will never get elected again because Latin Americans aren't keen on abortion or gay marriage or all those other things you like so much."

There are two problems with that approach. First, it treats American citizenship as if it means nothing -- hardly a convincing tactic to anyone who is the least bit patriotic. Second, it isn't true, because the current wave of immigrants will enshrine the Culture of Death for at least another generation.

I've met lots of Mexicans, and I've been to Central America a couple of times; Latin America as a whole is unquestionably more morally traditional than the U.S. But in the end, it won't matter: Latinos will vote for Democrats, because the Democrats will promise them welfare, medical care, and subsidized education, and in the end, those goodies will trump moral traditionalism.

This is not an ethnic slur, it's a sociological fact. Immigrants of all ethnicities overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. This is true of poor Salvadoran laborers and wealthy Indian entrepreneurs. There are a few anomalies -- Vietnamese and Cuban immigrants trend Republican -- but they do not disprove the rule.

That's why California, which 40 years ago elected Ronald Reagan, now will have pro-abortion governors in the future. Arizona, which sent Barry Goldwater to the Senate, now drifts leftward; Colorado continues on the same path, and as more Mexicans are naturalized and begin voting, Texas will follow in a decade or so.

And the Democrats they're electing in these states aren't like the morally conservative Democrat politicians that you can find in Mississippi or Alabama. Even if they elect Republicans, they will be weak on moral issues. Look at Schwarzenegger, and you will see the future of American politics.

If you agree with mass immigration on Catholic grounds, and I disagree with it on Catholic grounds, we can agree to disagree. Just don't think the country will be moved closer to Catholic teachings because of it.

Two postscripts:

1. Latin immigrants won't necessarily remain Catholic, even if they were Catholic to begin with. In the Arlington Diocese, where I reside, there are about 300,000 Spanish-speaking immigrants, and only about 10% actively practice the Catholic faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal groups are much better at getting Hispanics involved.

2. Read about the American Church in the 19th century, and the widespread resentment against the Irish domination of the Catholic clergy and institutions. But as the Mass was in Latin, there was no controversy about the language of the liturgy. Catholic schools taught their classes in English. But if the current illegals are given amnesty, and 40 million additional Latino immigrants come to the U.S. because of family reunification laws (a low number, by some estimates), we will essentially have two parallel churches in the same country, one English, one Spanish, each with their own liturgies, traditions, institutions, clergy, religious, and laity. Many bishops will be forced to contend with two linguistic blocs within their dioceses, and will have to adjudicate an endless series of disputes between the two.

Will that be a source of unity, or division?

Among my friends, there are plenty of ex-Slashdot readers. They just couldn't take the number of asinine contributors in the discussion threads, and I don't blame them for avoiding the site.

I still read the front page on most days, because are usually two or three items that are worth reading. Occasionally, I will read a thread if there is a good chance the participants aren't mentally out to lunch. But on any political topic, the lefty-libertarian fringe comes out in full force, screaming at the top of its lungs about Bushitler MONITORING MY FREAKING BROADBAND CONNECTION!!!! This is interlaced with huge doses of adolescent sarcasm, misfired jokes, and signature lines referring to Unix system processes.

Case in point: you know how when you're in a group of people, you can pretty much assume that everyone will agree that kiddie porn is horrible, and child pornographers are the lowest form of human scum? Not on Slashdot. A sample of the discussion is below -- each paragraph is from a different person:

When will the think of the children bullshit stop? It's obvious why they want all this data retention, and it AINT child porn. dataveilance...

The whole "child porn argument" is poorly thought out. It's a knee-jerk line brought out by politicians when they don't have any other way of garnering support for an unpopular and invasive policy, which is so polarizing that it automatically casts a shadow on anyone who opposes it.

If America sacrifices its ideals and stops being America, there won't be any "American" children to protect.

Wholly 1984 Batman!

This is yet another attempt by the Bush administration to increase domestic surveilance, and to create a de-facto state of permanent constant survelliance on all Americans.

How many people are online? How many of those are surfing for child porn? A depressingly larger number than we'd want, yes, but compared to how mnay people aren't? So they're going to keep records of everyone's activities online and sift through all of that to find the people surfing kiddie porn? Wouldn't it be easier and faster to surf the internet for kiddie porn and bust the sites that are spreading it? Hey, maybe we could have the FBI do that.... no wait, theye're too busy working for the RIAA and the MPAA instead investigating dangerous crimes like they used to.

Well, it's like the AG said, the internet is creating a feedback loop where younger and younger children are exploited. Since there's a lower limit to how young a child can be, those sickos have gone on to fantasize about children that aren't even born yet! That's why they're using cartoons, because they can't take pictures of people who haven't even reached the stage of fertilized egg yet. They're being victimized years before they'll even exist. Think of the future children!

Funny thing is, I can take measures to protect my daughter from sex perverts, but how do I protect her from a government that is slowly turning into an orwellian police state?

I think that laws making child pornography possession illegal are, at best, in line with laws making drug possession illegal to try to reduce the demand to squeeze out drug sellers. We want to step on sexual abuse of children, so we stomp on child pornography production. To stomp on that, we try stomping on child pornography consumers to reduce demand. You're talking about a pretty darn indirect benefit at a potentially steep privacy and civil rights cost.

This is what happens when you let Johnny have a computer in his room.

Giving up on the culture?

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In Tuesday's column, Maggie Gallagher told us "Why I am not a Crunchy Con". I think she's missing something in her response to Rod Dreher's book.

If you want the key to Rod and his fellow crunchy cons, I think it is in statements like, "Beauty is more important than efficiency." Well, gee sure, but only if you live in a society where the great public health threat to the poor is obesity. This level of affluence is what allows educated women to stay home, throw organic dinner parties, and home school their children instead of spending time at the hard labor of spinning wool, churning butter and chicken-farming. Rod knows this, of course.

Is Ms. Gallagher suggesting that concern about beauty in everyday life is mainly a luxury of rich moderns? I don't believe that our immigrant forebears in America and Europe cared nothing about the quality of what they ate and where they lived. They didn't always live in great places, but they cared about these things.

Gallagher also seems to argue that caring about beauty and dignity and living with a sense of cultural tradition are not really the American way:

But in his restless, dissatisfied search for Something More, Rod appears to me as less a traditionalist than a fellow postmodern, rootless, cosmopolitan American desperately seeking an identity group where he can believe and belong.

This is not his fault. Whether we like it or not, this is the American condition. We live in a society where ultimately our sense of who we are is self-created, not something that can be given at birth....

The real American tradition, for better or worse, was captured in the 1985 novella, "The Man Who Loved Levittown." Tommy DiMaria, World War II vet, retired Grumman aircraft worker, describes his first glimpse of his own personal paradise, carved out of Long Island potato fields: "Down the street is a Quonset hut with a long line of men waiting out front, half of them still in uniform. Waiting for jobs, I figure, like in the Depression ... here we go again." Finally it dawns on him: "What these men are lined up for isn't work, it's homes!" But 32 years later, the wife is dead and the kids are gone to find their own Levittown: maybe a McMansion in Arlington, Va., or maybe a Dallas Arts and Crafts bungalow.

As far as I can tell, that's the only available American way.

In a sense, she's right: the standard "American dream" is one of material prosperity, not of maintaining traditions and developing virtues. But she doesn't question whether this is really a good thing, so I dropped her a note about it, along the following lines:

Maggie's response to Rod's Crunchy Cons acknowledges that the American way of life has made us rootless, but doesn't offer any comment about how the culture got to be this way.

I recently re-read Professor John Rao's old essay about "Americanism", and was reminded that the US, even though secularized, is still based on atomistic Puritanism at heart.

It's no wonder Americans lack an experience of cultural and religious tradition: if the individual is the only important thing before God, then all the intermediate communities that carry tradition (Church, school, polis) are usurpers of individual rights, rather than mediators of divine truth and goodness.

No wonder Americans make material prosperity the high good around which all are to unite (the "American dream"): the country's national identity and mythos is based on the English heritage, with its distrust of ideas and with its Anglican compromise downplaying the importance of truth and error in a bid to preserve social peace.

If I get Maggie's drift, American rootlessness and "self-created" identity are just an unchangeable part of the culture. But (and I hope she'll agree) from a Catholic point of view, man is meant to live in communities, and a "self-created" identity is impoverished.

Follow-up: Since a friend has pointed out some intemperate talk about Pope John Paul II on Dr. Rao's web site, I want to express some reserve. By citing his essay above, I'm not endorsing his views in general; I haven't kept up with them in the years since I heard him speak at one of William Marra's conferences in NY.

What the heck was I thinking? I was being accosted by the most rabid form of Bible fundamentalist the other day, you know, a former Catholic who is also divorced-and-remarried outside of the Church. I kept thinking of Mark Shea's maxim "Heresy begins in the groin" as the fundy yabbered away about Sola Scriptura.

When I blurted out without thinking: "You can justify anything using the Bible alone, including same-sex marriage. This is why we need Tradition."

He laughed. "The Bible has plenty to say on that topic," he said.

To my disbelieving ears, I replied: "Show me."

He couldn't. He showed me many passages where Scripture condemns homosexual acts of sexual nature, as well as many passages where the Bible speaks of marriage between a man and a woman.

Nevertheless, his smug expression soon turned to frantic fluster as he was unable to find a single passage where the Bible condemns same-sex marriage.

"But you gotta be reasonable," he said in a moment of frustration, "you just can't take the Bible at its letter alone." It then dawned on him what he had said.

But yes, this is why we need Tradition. This is also why the Church needs a teaching magisterium. I was stunned to discover that the Bible Alone does not condemn ssm, but rather we know ssm is wrong because of both Scripture and Tradition.

Of killer cartoons and Pope Leo XIII

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In their encyclicals from 1789 until Vatican II, the popes frequently insinuate that the object of the Enlightenment wasn't to increase human liberty, but to destroy Christian civilization. To modern ears, they can seem grumpy and intemperate (think of Leo XIII's Syllabus of Errors), filled with passionate denunciations instead of calm refutations. For this reason, they were often dismissed as hopeless reactionaries.

It would be wrong to wholly dismiss the entire project of the Enlightenment -- and indeed, the encyclicals do no such thing, identifying positive developments while they condemn errors and half-truths. Men of the Enlightenment improved man's earthly life by emphasizing natural rights and forcing governments to recognize them. This is particularly true in the Anglo-American strain, much less so in the French, which begot mass bloodletting, vicious and supremely arrogant colonialism, and violent repression of the Church.

Common to all Enlightenment schools of thought was the belief in the right to free speech. At its noblest, this was a recognition that no human institution could long survive without honest criticism, protected from reprisals such as arrest or confiscation of property.

For most of the modern era, this belief has been loudly proclaimed by all of those who claim the Enlightenment as their intellectual lineage, most particularly by those who call themselves "liberals." These classical liberals had an honorable record of defending the rights of the despised, particularly those who wanted to advance an unpopular view against powerful interests.

But those kinds of liberals were eclipsed in the 1960s by the New Left, which saw classical liberals as the enemy. In the New Left's view, Western society was irredeemably corrupt, as it bore evil fruits such as colonialism and racism. Liberals, they thought, were much more dangerous to "progress" because they gave a veneer of legitimacy for Western values, most prominently Christianity, and thus they had to be destroyed.

After some initial resistance, the New Left triumphed in a rout. They now lead the left-leaning political parties in every Western nation. In the academy and the arts, they enjoy near-total dominance; whole communions of Protestant churches were given over to them. Thus, most of the people we call "liberals" today aren't really liberals, they are the New Leftists and their progeny. They continue to belive that Western society must be undermined, but now they wield real power and influence.

Revised: Actually, Ed Peters makes a good point. If I'm going to criticize the manner by which Vree goes around picking intellectual street-fights, I need to avoid using the same type of polemic. Therefore, I've gone through the following post and edited out as much as possible.

That being said, I honestly am concerned about the state of Dale Vree's soul. I don't presume to judge it, since that is left to God alone. Nevertheless, I cannot see how Dale isn't endangering his eternal salvation through the literary street-fights that he keeps picking.

And that's why rebuking the sinner is a spiritual act of mercy. We rebuke sinners is because we don't wish to see them go to hell. As angry as I am with Dale, I would rather see him go to Heaven than to hell. Homosexual acts are not the only sins that will condemn a soul to hell.

Take a look at how Dale attacks Amy Welborn or David Morrison or Fr. Pavone or Michael O'Brien (this last individual on the eve of a Canadian election where pro-marriage and pro-family forces were being told by an incumbant prime minister that there is no room for us in Canadian politics).

Well, what does the Bible have to say?

OLD TESTAMENT

1) Proverbs 6: 12-19 is very clear:

"A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

"There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers."

2) And let us no forget the Eighth Commandment of the Decalogue:

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20: 16)

NEW TESTAMENT

Let's look at one of the New Testament passages that coincidentally also condemns those who practice homosexual activity:

3) 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."

I pray this doesn't happen to Dale. This is why I prayed for him this morning, as well as yesterday at Mass today when the priest said the words of consecration. I would ask my readers to do so as well.

In my following column for a local community webzine, I expressed disagreement with the Canadian notion that multiculturalism is always a good thing for Canada. I stated that certain practices such as threatening violence over cartoons should not be tolerated in a free and democratic country.

Wow! It wasn't long before some leftist accused me of being a neo-con Nazi!

Election Day in Canada

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Please pray for our country.

Abp. O'Malley's getting to work

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My archbishop's continuing to help the drive to end same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, with a letter that defends the effort and the Church's teaching:

It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. We must never deliver the message in a self-righteous way, but rather with compassion and humility. It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is “out of season”, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.

Abp. Sean also announced he's passing up a controversial awards dinner of the local Catholic Charities, because the honoree is the mayor of Boston who has been pushing the gay and sex-ed agendas on the schools for years. Protests against the award probably made a difference, so I suppose we lay people have to keep pointing out these problems. Is that a sad reality, or just one of our gifts to the Church: that we can tell the hierarchs when they foul up?

Follow-up: Sometimes people are a little too eager to tell the bishop he's fouled up. Take, for example, CWN's headline for the story ("Boston archbishop raps discrimination against homosexuals"). It gives the prominence to the conciliatory things the Archbishop wrote, and downplays the Christian challenge he was presenting. From that, one might get the impression that he were going P.C. and saying things only to please the unbelievers. I think the editor's missing the point of the exercise. In stating both the "hard" and the "soft" aspects of Church teaching, the Archbishop is defending Catholic doctrine against the errors of the non-believers, and defending the Church from the false accusations they throw at her. This is how you engage in apologetics.

Canada Continues to Mistreat its Vets

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This makes me sick. Our government invites vets (many of eighty years old) to the capital for Remembrance Day, then warehouses them in substandard (reportedly condemned) decrepit housing.

Proving that shoddy religious journalism is not an American phenomenon, the Times of London has decided to tell us that the "Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible."

"THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true," the article begins. Yes, it's true: Wisdom really isn't a woman, and she doesn't have teeth "like a flock of sheep that are even shorn." Also, when Jesus said we should be like serpents, he didn't expect us to grow scaly skins.

The article continues:

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.
There is an excellent, disinterested summary of the Galileo slander here, written by a non-Catholic. Somebody else can look up the Pius X quotation, but when I read it a few years ago, I remember that he was condemning the use of literary theories as the sole way to interpret scriptural truth. The Holy Father's condemnation fell thus not on those who wished to place the Bible in its historical context, or apply textual scholarship to the Bible (which is absurd on its face -- source criticism was invented to disintangle the early versions of scripture.)

"The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US," Ruth Gledhill writes. The "rise of the religious Right" has been proceeding for three decades in America, so it's nice of Ms. Gledhill to notice. Religion has played a starring role on the national stage since long before this country's birth; the question is not why religion is a political factor now, but why it was so dormant for so long.

Gledhill and the Times can run such stories, even though their audience is largely right-of-center, because to British elites, believing Christians are freaks of nature. Nevermind that the Evangelical movement was started by the Brits, including the indominable Wesleys, today that movement is populated by otherworldly dolts who long to bring back the rack and the Iron Maiden (excellent!).

When I was in London last month, the BBC ran some footage of a couple dozen earnest-looking folks who gathered on the Supreme Court steps to pray for a good incoming justice on the court. Not my thing, really, and they did look a tad goofy, but so what? Anybody who works in downtown D.C. knows that there are always a few people demonstrating for this or that; nobody pays that much attention unless the demonstration is blocking traffic, in which case the demonstrators are courting murder.

But to illustrate their theme of the benighted fools who dare to pray in public, the BBC was so pleased with this footage that they were still playing it several days later. Were they aware that about a third of the American public identifies itself as Evangelical? And that means there are more Evangelicals than, say, viewers of network evening news programs?

It's unfair to single out our British cousins, who are, after all, guided by the same constellation of class-based prejudices and hatreds as our American elite media. Such as the Washington Post: "Strong Grounding in the Church Could Be a Clue to Miers's Priorities," its headline blared Wednesday. Did they run an article called "Work as ACLU Lawyer May Indicate Future Rulings" when Ruth Bader Ginsberg was nominated?

As the headline indicates, the article attempts to rat out Harriet Miers for attending a church where they believe in the reality of Christ's sacrifice, if you can imagine. They even seem to think that the Gospel says something about how humans ought to live their lives -- "There are antiabortion pamphlets inside the church and literature opposing premarital sex," the Post helpfully reports.

About ten years ago, Christopher Hitchens wrote a terribly unfair book about Mother Theresa, intending it as a hatchet job. His main theme -- apart from the transparently absurd charge that she was a publicity-seeking fraud -- was that secularists shouldn't be taken in by Mother Theresa's corporal works of mercy. No, that tiny Albanian nun did not do these things because of an Enlightenment-inspired ethos, but because she thought she was bringing souls to heaven. Hitchens' book was wrong, but at least he bothered to take his subject seriously. The same cannot be said of practically any mainstream journalist writing about religion today.

[I've received a number of positive comments from readers concerning the September 8th "Of Canons and Culture..." -- a column I write for the Wanderer. So I hope nobody minds if I blog the original unedited version -- PJV]

Of Canons & Culture
Canada, Homosexuality and Children

Pete Vere

“Daddy,” my four-year-old asked, “why are those two men kissing like you and Mommy?”

While I initially hoped to avoid mentioning homosexuality in this month’s column, the question left me stunned. It was Saturday afternoon. My daughter and I were enjoying the public playground down the street. We were not sitting around watching Gerry Springer, MTV, or Dan Blather covering a joint NARAL-DNC convention. Just a father pushing his daughter on a swing and catching her at the end of the slide. I look forward to this family time each week.

Now the answer to my daughter’s question is obvious: these two homosexuals were not kissing like Mommy and Daddy. Even the most confused and careless of storks steers clear of the former, whereas my four-year-old owes her existence to the latter. Of course she is innocent of this truth, and despite the shock this may cause sex indoctrination...er...education experts, her naivety is entirely appropriate for one her age. Yet even at four my daughter recognizes something unnatural about two men kissing. I’m not so sure about most sex education experts.

The liberal Canadian establishment reverences homosexuality with a passion they once reserved for abortion. For example, Bryan Pinn and Bill Dalrymple are two Canadian men. Best friends for 22 years, they each claim to be heterosexual. Thus it surprised friends and family when Bryan and Bill announced their impending marriage for, to quote the report in Agence France Presse, the "significant tax implications.” “The [law] did not specify that the couple had to be gay,” the story notes.

The reaction of Canada’s homosexual lobby was predictable. “It makes a mockery out of marriage,” one homosexual activist complained. Although you may find this difficult to believe, the activist was reportedly expressing outrage and not satire. Other homosexual activists followed through with their ritual accusations of homophobia, at which point Pinn and Dalrumple called off the wedding. In Canada, “homophobia” has replaced “Jesus” as the name before which every knee shall bend and every tongue confess.

Coincidentally, I had just finished reading This Side of Jordan when I came across Pinn and Dalrumple’s allegedly homophobic wedding. This Side of Jordan is Bill Kassel’s latest novel and it addresses the topic of homosexuality from an orthodox Catholic perspective. Although a tad sermonizing at times, I found the novel highly entertaining. In my somewhat cantankerous opinion, the book’s exchange between two fictional priests catches the essence of the word homophobia :

***

“I frankly think the biggest problem the Church faces right now is homophobia,” states Lowell Walton, a progressive pastor who eschews the title Father.

“Homophobia, Lowell?” replies Fr. Karl Muller, the protagonist and a champion of Catholic orthodoxy. “An even bigger problem may be homophobiaphobia—the fear of being called homophobic. I think it’s crippling our ability to discern truth from falsehood.”

***

In Canada, it is also crippling out ability to preserve our children’s innocence. For how do we teach our children to discern truth from falsehood when in our society none dare speak against the love that dares not speak its name in other societies? This question was the topic of conversation this past weekend when John O’Brien, John Pacheco and I met for coffee.

Our American readers may recognize John O’Brien as the son of Catholic novelist Michael O’Brien. Here in Canada, where many Catholic schools have become defacto public schools since accepting public funding, the younger O’Brien is a leading proponent of private Catholic education. As the principal of Wayside Academy (www.waysideacademy.ca), he saw this private Catholic academy in expand from a grade school to include a high-school as well.

John O’Brien believes that private Catholic education is the means for preserving our children’s innocence. Yet it is not just about religion, for O’Brien also believes private Catholic education is the best means for preparing our children to become productive citizens. After all, a child not obsessed with sex can focus on such novel subjects as reading, writing and arithmetic.

O’Brien is presently helping John Pacheco establish a sister grade school here in Ottawa. The name of the school is Maryvale Academy (www.MaryvaleAcademy.ca) and its first class of thirty-five students is now underway. Maryvale operates on a shoe-string budget. Pacheco spends most of his spare time these days looking and praying for donors. “I think we just may break even this year,” he shared during our conversation. He and the other founding parents have already dug deep into their own pockets, while Maryvale’s teaching staff have agreed to salaries that are less than half of what their public school counterparts bring home. Yet given the immorality corrupting Canada’s social and cultural institutions, this is the sacrifice we must make to preserve our children’s innocence.

Muslims Win Toy Pig Ban

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From the "Kyrie eleison" file:

CANTON, Ohio -- There are 490 female students at Timken High School, and 65 are pregnant, according to a recent report in the Canton Repository....

According to the Canton Health Department, statistics through July show that 104 of the 586 babies born to Canton residents in Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center had mothers between 11 and 19.

Let that sink in: nevermind that the overwhelming majority of them are unmarried, there was at least one 11-year-old girl who had a baby in the last year -- and that fact wasn't even remarkable to the reporter.

Kyrie eleison.

At Catholic Light, we have occasionally been accused of being shills of President Bushitler and his merry band of oil-stealing fascists in league with the neocon Zionist intergalactic conspiracy. Point well taken, although if we are shills, we demand a raise, or at least a vacation home in the Gaza Strip.

So it is with great regret that I must disagree with my Republican puppetmasters, who are objecting to the creation of an .xxx top-level domain for the Internet. Cities used to have red-light districts, and the authorities looked the other way as long as the smut stayed within strict limits. If the pimps or pornographers oozed out of their little box, the cops would make sure they were smacked back in.

When I lived in San Diego for a summer, I noticed that the "gentlemen's clubs" and filth peddlers were located in normal-looking business and residential neighborhoods. Even in my local area, there is at least one "adult" movie store on a well-traveled highway, though it is reasonably discreet. Personally, I like the red-light districts better. You know where to avoid if you aren't looking to indulge your perversions, and if you are, you have to make a conscious decision to enter.

I would say the same about the .xxx domain. It would be fantastic to simply block those sites at my firewall/router and make sure my kids don't stumble across them. This wouldn't "legitimize" pornography any more than allowing second-level domains that contain the f-word.

This is entirely in keeping with Church teaching, which holds that it is sometimes prudent for a lawful authority to permit an evil if suppressing it would unleash greater evil. There will always be pornography, because of the effects of original sin and the devil's hatred of sex, which causes him to seek its corruption. The question, then, is how to minimize porn's prevalence and effect, and making it easier for parents to protect their children, and creating a virtual red-light district for adults to decide whether they want to enter, would be a step in the right direction.

Homophobephobia

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Like some other bloggers, I received a review copy of Bill Kassel's This Side of Jordan, which I just finished reading. FOr the most part I concure with Curt Jester's review, although I did find it a tad sermonizing in parts (even though I agreed with the content of the sermons). Nevertheless, I must agree that I found Kassel a much smoother novelist than Bud MacFarlane.

Some of the parts I found most humorous in this novel are his observations about modern nuns. Kathy Shaidle would probably concur with Kassel's description of how modern nuns dress and groom -- that is, despite getting rid of the veil and habit, you can still tell a nun in an airport by the way she dresses.

The other enjoyable part is an exchange between an old conservative priest and a boomer modernist priest, where the latter claims homophobia is the greatest threat facing the church. The old priest responds something like "No, I think the greatest threat is homophobephobia -- or the fear of being called a homophobe."

From my little computer in Canada's capital, I wholeheartedly concur. In fact, just blogging this thought is technically a felony in our country, if I am not mistaken. One punishable by up to two years in prison.

Iraqi officials have confirmed that 300,000 people were slaughtered by the former rulers of Iraq. (For you aging hippies out there, that's 75,000 times the number of students who died at Kent State.) Those numbers are sure to increase as other mass graves are found.

Sometime soon, I would like to explore the question of whether it is morally permissible for a state to intervene on behalf of grossly oppressed peoples. The last time we considered that question in December 2003, it was an occasion for a lot of hot-tempered dialogue, much of it my own.

Now, even the news media cannot paint the "insurgency" as a valiant resistance movement like they did with the murderer-thugs of the Viet Cong. The "insurgents" are simply criminals, and they speak for no one, save for a few marginal imams, washed-up Baathists, and several tribes who are used to holding the whip instead of working for the common good.

May their souls of these 300,000 find the peace they did not have in this life. May their murderers, and their successors who continue to kill and oppress the innocent, meet divine justice.

...is the only way I can explain the following Toronto Star article featuring such examples of literary poor taste as: No sooner had Terry Schiavo's family stopped fighting over her skin and bones before the papal deathwatch began.

He faced death with Dignity

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I'm saddened by the Holy Father's death, but not upset about it. Rather I'm in awe of it. Throughout his life, the Holy Father consistently preached about the culture of life and the dignity intrinsic to every human person. What struck me about his death is that he faced it head on, preaching by deed and by example what he had always preached by word. In short, the Holy Father showed us how we ought to offer up our human suffering to Christ in our sunset years, regardless of the effects of illness and age. The Holy Father died how he lived -- an Apostle for the dignity of human life.

Well, looks like the homosexual persecution against the Catholic Church is now picking up steam in Canada. Bishop Fred Henry is being charged by the Alberta Human "Rights" Tribunal for defending marriage as God created it.

His Excellency is fighting it with his crozier a blazing

Terri and the Good Samaritan

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Jeff Miller retells Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan with Terri Schiavo in mind.

I'm not sure what a Jericho March is, but I received the following from Victoria & Jeremiah Sanctafamilia, with whom I use to frequent the indult at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota.

-------------------------------

Can you participate and/or spread the word?

The D'Aconti Family is right now driving down from Richmond, Virginia to organize a Jericho March around Terri's hospice. They have organized these before.

The Jericho March will be on Easter Sunday during the Mercy Hour- 3pm.

Please contact us for more details...

God bless,
Victoria & Jeremiah Sanctafamilia
(941) 228-8700
sanctafamilia@pngusa.net

Passiontide Fast for Terri

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Several readers, independently of one another, will be fasting until Easter for Terri. I think this is a splendid idea.

Is Terri Schiavo the Roe vs. Wade of our Generation?


As we commit this reflection to writing, Terri Schindler-Schiavo has spent the past five days without food and water. A federal judge refuses to grant the injunction requested by Terris parents. This injunction would see the handicapped womans feeding tube reinserted as the federal courts review her case. Thus Terris survival is now a matter of Divine providence. For even if her feeding tube was restored, only a miracle could prevent Terris organs from suffering irreversible damage after five days without nutrition and hydration.

All of the undersigned are Catholics in full communion with Rome. We denounce this slow and painful execution of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. We denounce this execution as gravely immoral, fundamentally unjust, and a gross violation of the Natural Law.

Pope John Paul II stated a little over a year ago that nutrition and hydration, even when administered through medical assistance, remain a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. In short, eating and drinking are common to every living human. Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal, the Holy Father continued. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission. Thus we denounce the starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo as the deliberate euthanasia of a disabled woman.

Moreover, we denounce this execution as gravely immoral. The culture of death alleges that Terri is in a persistently vegetative state. We respond with the following proclaimed by the Holy Father: Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a 'vegetative state' retain their human dignity in all its fullness. In other words, Terri is a human person. She is part of Gods creation and she enjoys the dignity common to every human person. No human power possesses the moral authority to pass judgment upon Terris life. For as the Holy Father reminds us, The value of a man's life cannot be made subordinate to any judgment of its quality expressed by other men.

Euthanasia is neither a matter of personal choice nor a matter of private morality. Whatever its motives and means, article 2277 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, direct euthanasia consists is putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. To this teaching, the Holy Father adds: The evaluation of probabilities, founded on waning hopes for recovery when the vegetative state is prolonged beyond a year, cannot ethically justify the cessation or interruption of minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration. In short, Terris disability and medical condition do not negate her essential dignity as a human person. Nor do Terris disability and medical condition limit her fundamental right to life.

Each of the undersigned was born during the 1970's. As members of Generation-X, each of us survived the abortion holocaust ensuing from Roe vs. Wade. A quarter of our generation did not. In the name of medical privacy and personal choice, a quarter of our generation found itself butchered from the womb. Abortion has claimed more lives among our generation than the combined effort of AIDS, drugs, and gang violence.

Yet our blood has not satiated the culture of death. In the name of medical privacy and personal choice, the culture of death now seeks the blood of our elderly, our disabled, and our terminally ill. Like Roe vs. Wade, the execution of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is a defining moment in the culture war. It sets a precedent whereby our society no longer judges our elderly, our disabled, and our terminally ill as fully human.

Terri represents every North American with special needs. In allowing an estranged husband to insist upon the execution of his disabled wife, and in allowing an activist judiciary to sanction such an execution because of the womans medical condition, we allow society to redefine the essence of our humanity. For society now judges each of us by our perceived productivity; our potential contribution to society must now meet some external quantitative standard. Otherwise society judges our quality of life as unworthy of quantity of life.

An old adage comes to mind: Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. This mistake is all too reminiscent of German eugenics in 1933, as well as the politics of abortion initiated by Roe vs. Wade in 1973. In our collective arrogance, we as a society refuse to learn from these mistakes. Thus we endanger the ten percent of our population with special needs. And if we may draw a lesson from modern history, what begins as reckless endangerment will soon entrench itself as social obligation. For as Fr. Richard John Neuhaus reminds us, Where orthodoxy is optional it will soon be prohibited. Conversely, we have learned from the culture war over abortion and the homosexual agenda that the opposite is also true: Where immorality is tolerated it will soon be imposed.

First you kill those who want to die, forewarns the American Catholic ecumenist Dr. Bill Cork. Then you kill those whose family wants them to die, then those where one family member wants them to die, and then those whose families want them to live. Finally, you kill those who want to live but who get in the way of the state.

The starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is nothing short of a diabolical attack upon the delicate wonder and beauty inherent in human life. This includes the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the terminally ill. It is a moral catastrophe of which the consequences will equal or exceed Roe vs. Wade. For in as much as we starve Terri of food and water, we starve our society of all that makes us civilized.

Pete Vere
Matt Abbott
John Pacheco
Michael Trueman
Shawn Tribe
Aiden Reid
I. Shawn McElhinney
Paul Tuns
John-Henry Westen

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz


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