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Dear Tiger,


The details are none of my business. Thank you.

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.

Where did man come from?

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Another of this year's Eurovision pop songs has a Christian significance, the Bosnian song "Pokusaj" ("I'll try").

The singer Laka dances in poses that remind us of the development of man and apes, but according to his lyric, evolution isn't all that important: Man didn't come from the monkeys or out of the sea, he came from love:

The musical style is stadium pop, sort of an homage to Springsteen.

Senhora do mar

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The Eurovision international song contest for 2008 was held a few weeks ago, and while many of the songs in the competition were forgettable pop numbers or lame jokes, a few stood out in an interesting way. The beautiful, impassioned entry from Portugal, while not exactly a religious song, could only have been created in a Catholic culture.

The lyrics and an English translation are available on-line.

Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel are interviewed by ZENIT on the anti-religious aspect of Philip Pullman's fiction, soon to appear in a film.

Mel's new movie

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"Apocalypto [is] a stunning action epic, a gory personal indulgence, and a forthright defense of family, tradition, and local community against the decadence of urban modernity."

I don't think I ever had before tonight, when they played it for some Italian athletes (I don't remember the event they won.) Listen to it here -- it sounds like a chorus from a Rossini opera. Apparently, it was composed by a contemporary of Rossini in 1847. The fifth verse seems a little outdated; I confess that I don't know a single historical reference in the fourth verse (that is, unless "the heart
and hand of Ferruccio" refers to Ferruccio Lamborghini, the car guy.)

Funniest name in the Winter Games?

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My vote is for Wang Manli.

Are they idiots in Turin?


It was bad enough when the pro-abortion celebrity Susan Sarandon was appointed to carry the Olympic flag in along with several other women activists from various countries. Then Peter Gabriel sang John Lennon's atheist anthem, "Imagine". What kind of appeal to peace is this, that suggests the world would be better off without God our Father who makes us brothers?

Have Europeans already forgotten that we just got through a century in which militant atheists (Mao, Stalin) and pagans (Hitler) staged the worst crimes in the history of man?


One of Hank Williams Jr.'s songs is called "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down." Yet a few years later, he recorded "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight." What happened — did he get new rowdy friends? Or did his old friends get rowdy again?

Bonus random thought: Hank Jr. has recorded a lot of crappy music, but his best songs make up for that. These lines of his might be my favorite, from "Family Tradition":

Lordy, I have loved some ladies
and I have loved Jim Beam
and they both tried to kill me
in nineteen-seventy-three....

George Lucas has been drinking from the same fetid waters as the paranoid Left. His political ideas — which sound like they come from a dull 10-year-old — contributed mightily to the shambles he made of "Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones." As I recall, the former movie was about some kind of trade dispute, an interstellar NAFTA without any space-alien equivalent of Ross Perot (assuming, of course, that Ross Perot is not a space alien.)

Here's what he said to the Cannes festival:

"The issue was, how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship?" he said.

"When I wrote it, Iraq (the U.S.-led war) didn't exist... but the parallels of what we did in Vietnam and Iraq are unbelievable."

He acknowledged an uncomfortable feeling that the United States was in danger of losing its democratic ideals, like in the movie.

"I didn't think it was going to get this close. I hope this doesn't come true in our country."

We've discussed this issue at some length here in CL, and as I recall, the only proof anybody could provide for a nascent dictatorship is that the president claims the power to detain Americans fighting against their own government.

If you think President Bush is the first president to assert that right, you're wrong. Completely, demonstrably, comprehensively wrong. That idea goes back at least to Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War, who detained several hundred thousand Confederates on his own authority. In World War II, American saboteurs cooperating with German spies were executed after facing a military tribunal, not a Federal judge. The Supreme Court has agreed with this prececent (not that you'd know it from the media coverage). They merely invited the president to send the prisoners before tribunals.

George Lucas is an intellectual flyweight, so his particular words aren't terribly important. But the Left's general paranoia has a very real consequence. Someday, there very well might be a threat to our democracy. The Greeks assumed that all democracies would eventually give way to chaos and then a dictatorship of some form. But if the Left keeps screaming about "DICTATORSHIP" this and "NAZI" that, nobody will listen if indeed it does happen in the United States.

Woah! To support conservative Premier Danny Williams and protest the federal Liberals giving Newfoundland the shaft over off-shore oil, Marie Routhier changed her name to Marie Johnston.

To explain a little background to this dispute, Newfoundland is Canada's poorest province, despite being rich in numerous resources including off-shore oil. The reason for the poverty is that the federal government has Newfoundland in a welfare trap whereby they take most of Newfoundland's tax revenue through claw-backs, but cuts them a check through transfer payments.

The current Premier of the province is trying to break this cycle, and Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin promised Newfoundland (when it looked like the province would vote Conservative) that by Christmas this year a deal would be worked out, no strings attached, whereby Newfoundland could keep its off-shore oil revenue. It worked come election. Of course, Paul Martin lied, probably figuring that after the election he could simply blow Newfoundland off since he controls their purse string. Which is what he did. Nevertheless, Premier Danny Williams has nerve of stone. He stood up for his province and ordered the Canadian flag removed from all government buildings in the province. In Canada, this is the supreme political sacrilege any politician can commit, but the future livelihood of his province depends upon the feds keeping their election promise.

So how does this tie into Marie Johnston, formerly Marie Routhier. And why is Marie's name change big news? Well to begin, twenty-five year old Marie is probably Canada's most famous fashion designer among swimmers, gymnists and figure skaters. In fact, she designed the official swimwear for Team Canada Synchronized Swimming. She also designed a line of patriotic (albeit somewhat immodest) swimsuits around the Canadian flag -- a line she is now discontinuing.

Raised in a single-parent family, she was quite poor. She began sewing at a very young age as a figure skater, because her mother couldn't afford to buy the outfits the other kids had. By her teens she ended up swinging this into a full-time career, and operated her company out of Newfoundland for several years where she fell in love with the province. She also fell in love with the conservative ideals of Premier Danny Williams, and moved back when he won the election. Her replacement line will be known as "Republic of Newfoundland". Nevertheless, she's forfeiting a lot of name recognition in changing her name, as every Canadian recognizes "Marie Routhier" but not "Marie Johnston".

But how does the name change tie into all this? Johnston is the maiden name of Marie's mother, who raised. Routhier, on the other hand, is the family name of her father who abandoned her when she was a baby. Where this becomes highly political is that Marie's paternal great-great-grandfather is Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier, who authored the original French lyrics to "O Canada!" which is our national anthem. So this is a pretty big shot fired across the bow of Canadian culture by one of its young leaders.

When I was 15, I subscribed to Policy Review magazine, as part of my ongoing project to outwit my liberal teachers by knowing more facts than they did. (In many cases, that wasn't very hard.) Though I read a lot about politics, I wasn't an outcast — by my senior year, I was the president of our high school's student government, as the Schultz Boys can attest, and I ruled with an iron fist. "El Queso Grande," people called me, though never to my face.

Anyway: there are two excellent articles in the December issue that I commend for your attention. The first is by Jesuit Father James V. Schall, who puts the case for the just use of force as well as I wish I could:

A calm and reasonable case can and should be made for the possession and effective use of force in today’s world. It is irresponsible not to plan for the necessity of force in the face of real turmoils and enemies actually present in the world. No talk of peace, justice, truth, or virtue is complete without a clear understanding that certain individuals, movements, and nations must be met with measured force, however much we might prefer to deal with them peacefully or pleasantly. Without force, many will not talk seriously at all, and some not even then. Human, moral, and economic problems are greater today for the lack of adequate military force or, more often, for the failure to use it when necessary. [full article]
As a bonus, read "Eminem Is Right," by Mary Eberstadt:
...If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment. The odd truth about contemporary teenage music — the characteristic that most separates it from what has gone before — is its compulsive insistence on the damage wrought by broken homes, family dysfunction, checked-out parents, and (especially) absent fathers. Papa Roach, Everclear, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Eminem — these and other singers and bands, all of them award-winning top-40 performers who either are or were among the most popular icons in America, have their own generational answer to what ails the modern teenager. Surprising though it may be to some, that answer is: dysfunctional childhood. Moreover, and just as interesting, many bands and singers explicitly link the most deplored themes in music today — suicide, misogyny, and drugs — with that lack of a quasi-normal, intact-home personal past.

To put this perhaps unexpected point more broadly, during the same years in which progressive-minded and politically correct adults have been excoriating Ozzie and Harriet as an artifact of 1950s-style oppression, many millions of American teenagers have enshrined a new generation of music idols whose shared generational signature in song after song is to rage about what not having had a nuclear family has done to them. This is quite a fascinating puzzle of the times. The self-perceived emotional damage scrawled large across contemporary music may not be statistically quantifiable, but it is nonetheless among the most striking of all the unanticipated consequences of our home-alone world. [full article]

Speaking of Young and Catholic...


...Tim Drake has a new blog to celebrate his new book of the same name. It's a great book, which I recommend to anyone wondering where the Church is headed or anyone tempted to despair over the Church in America. You can visit Tim's new blog at and find out more about Tim's new book, and about what young Catholics are up to and even submit your own profile as a young Catholic.

This is one of the many reasons why I love writing for the Wanderer -- Al Matt, Jr. is pretty open about me sharing my submissions on Catholic Light beforehand. That being said, here`s a rough draft of my September submission for Of Canons and Culture:

Of Canons and Culture...
X and Y stand for OrthodoXY

Pete Vere

Where are all the young Catholics? Admittedly, I feel a little sheepish asking this question. I just turned thirty. If I recall correctly, this puts me somewhere near the end of Generation-X and the beginning of Generation-Y. According to various pollsters, my participation each Sunday at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is somewhat of a statistical anomaly.

Yet I hardly feel alone as one who is both young and Catholic. Nor should I according to a forthcoming title from Sophia Institute Press. As a quick aside, most of our readers at the Wanderer should already be familiar with this publisher of orthodox Catholic books.

The title of the book is Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow’s Church. This past weekend saw me blessed with the opportunity to review an advanced copy of the manuscript. Timothy Drake, the author, is a regular correspondent for the National Catholic Register. “In preparation for writing this book,” Tim states in the introduction, “I spoke to more than 300 young people from across the U.S. and elsewhere.” What becomes apparent in reading the book is that each of these young people takes an orthodox stance towards the Catholic faith. Thus orthodoxy is on the rise among Catholics who fall within Generations X and Y.

Undoubtedly, Tim’s analysis seems optimistic. Yet his book proves that such optimism is well-founded. Reflecting upon my own experience as a young Catholic, I agree with the author. For instance, I attend a parish across town where the FSSP administers the sacraments according to the old Latin liturgy. Many envision our parish as a refuge for both the elderly and the nostalgic. However, this stereotype of the traditionalist movement is probably as outdated as the membership of Call-to-Action and the editorial positions espoused by the National Catholic Reporter. Our pew count on any given Sunday easily shows young families outnumbering both the Boomers and the World War II generation Catholics.

Moreover, this phenomena is hardly restricted to the traditionalist movement. Our local (Novus Ordo) parish is administered by the Companions of the Cross – an orthodox society of priests that grew out of the Catholic Charismatic renewal. The Companions have never shied away from preaching Humanae Vitae to young families. Thus parish functions are bursting with children.

Earlier this evening, our family attended the local parish’s family soccer night. Everyone who attended was under the age of forty. While the men and children played soccer, the moms sat on the sidelines and chatted among themselves. A baby and carrier accompanied each mom. The only exception was my friend’s wife who carried their baby in utero. And with only two children in tow – Sonya and I would like to have more, but we’re waiting for God to do His part – we happened to be the smallest family in attendance.

In reviewing Young and Catholic, I discovered these experiences have become common across North America. Whether the purpose is prayer, catechesis or socialization among young Catholics, Tim documents several examples of young orthodox Catholics banding together. “Teens gather by the hundreds to attend special youth Masses in parishes around the country,” he shares, “often on Saturday or Sunday evenings... Young adults get together to discuss theology on a Saturday night in Newark, Ohio, and to study the Holy Father’s encyclicals in New York, Minneapolis, and Kansas City. Young Catholic leaders gather annually in Chicago and in Canada to network and collaborate with one another...

“They are converting to the Faith in large numbers on both secular and Catholic college campuses in California, Texas, and Illinois. They are swelling the ranks of religious orders in Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and New York -- to such an extent that some orders don’t have space for all of the new members. They are also being ordained priests in dioceses such as Denver, Baltimore, and Lincoln, Nebraska.”

In what will no doubt give Andrew Greeley ulcers, Tim spends the rest of the book documenting and supporting the above claims. Thus I cannot recommend Tim’s book highly enough. Young and Catholic gives hope to Catholics who have spent the last couple years suffering from the scandal caused by sexual misconduct among the clergy. It also provides the perfect rebuttal to Fr. Greeley’s nostalgic jeremiads against “Young Fogeys”, which have become as predictable as the plot to his novels.

Clinton convicted on drug charges


I, for one, am shocked.

Here's a stinker in the offing: "Constantine," a movie about supernatural stuff.

Rachel Weisz (who my wife thinks I like because she's beautiful but I also enjoy her acting) is the skeptical naif who "doesn't believe in the devil." She'll look like the Thespian Queen next to Keanu Reeves, her co-star, who will someday have the anti-Oscar for worst male actor named after him. (The female award will be named after Melanie Griffith.)

I gather from the trailer that Keanu is some kind of exorcist guy who battles supernatural devil things and all that. In his best grown-up voice, he says "God and the devil made a wager for the souls of all mankind." Evidently, Warner Brothers has wagered tens of millions of dollars that people will want to see a movie with that bird-dropping of a premise.

Lot of movies in the last few years that have combined special effects, action, and pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo: "Stigmata," "End of Days," and others I can't remember because I didn't see them. Most of them have been flops.

Since Hollywood is one of the most relentlessly secular places on Earth outside of Scandinavia, movie bigwigs want to exploit that religion thing they keep hearing rumors about, but they don't want to treat it seriously. They know it's a mess of lies and moral extremism, and anyone with more than half a brain knows it's a bunch of hooey; proceeding on that premise, they then make movies for people with half a brain.

I thought this would be a movie about Emperor Constantine. Maybe it's better that it isn't, because Hollywood would screw up the story just like they screwed up the real story of God and the devil, which is infinitely more interesting. Not to mention deadly important.

Imitating the wrong Madonna


Maybe the Pop Tart needs to meet the Tattoo-Removal Nun.

Alleged singer Britney Spears recently took her devotion to trendy Kabbalah spirituality a bit too far, and got herself inked on the neck with some Hebrew letters. However, due to an unexpected error in the editing process, the resulting tattoo meant... well, nothing. Ya gotta watch out with those right-to-left languages, they'll get ya every time.

Anyway, it's just as well, because Kabbalah forbids tattooing, and now you'll be able to count your visits to the dermatologist as an act of piety. Mazel tov, honey.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


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