Recently in The Fringe Category

Somebody thought this was a good idea, but they should have checked it out more.

D'you ever hear of this? There's some movement of people, starting in Japan, that wants to promote world peace, so they go around to promote putting up little posts in public places with a multi-lingual peace message.

In this case, a parish a couple of towns over erected a "peace pole" on its property, at the suggestion of a teenager who needed a place to carry out his Eagle Scout project.

The event took place a few years back, in '09; I just happened to stumble on an Internet video of the installation today:

Whether the kid knew it or not, it's sort of a "new-age" movement. At least it appears that way because the movement promoting these well-intentioned monuments has talk like this on its website:

The Power of Thought
Thought forms create an energetic field strong enough to empower the course of planetary destiny.

The Power of Words
Words carry vibrations strong enough to inspire, heal and transform the human heart as well as the Kingdom of plants, animals and all creation.

Uh... no.

We Catholics don't believe in talk like that: about imaginary energy fields and immaterial vibrations. In fact, we would classify that as "superstition". A belief about such things may be part of some Eastern religion, or it may show up in "new-thought" religions in America, but we Catholics don't do that stuff.

Well, I will have to visit that parish and see if their little peace pole is still there reminding people to send out the vibrations or transmit the energy field. I'll bring my wi-fi detector and see if it picks up any signal.

You want peace? Don't just wish for it. Don't just formulate wishes directed to no one in particular. Instead, pray for peace. Prayers, unlike wishes, are directed to someone other than yourself. For one, God is there; He's happy to hear us turning to Him and asking for what the world needs. And the Blessed Virgin Mary is happy to join in with our prayers when we ask her, especially since her message at Fatima calls on us to pray the Rosary for peace.

What would be a good replacement for these not-Catholic peace poles installed in Catholic churchyards -- and, by the way, this isn't the first case I've seen.

Kookery retreats!


An acquaintance on Facebook posted an item about an upcoming retreat put on by one of the promoters of doubtful mystical messages. I won't give the details here, but here's my reaction.

First, a word from Scripture: 2 Tim. 4:3-4 (RSV):

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

These nut cases with all their phony apparitions and mystics and apocalyptic stuff run retreats? Oy. As in the times of St. Paul, people want to have their "ears tickled", so they go chasing after phony mystical messages instead of devoting themselves to classic doctrine, Scripture, etc. People want to be "in" on the latest "message from God" and "know" what's "really happening" -- the result is a sort of gnosticism disguised as Catholicism.

not-mary-springfield.jpgNo, our Lady is not appearing on the window of a hospital in Springfield, Mass.

Allow me to translate: when the church spokesman says that the Church is "very, very cautious and careful", that means: "No. No Flipping Way. This is nuts." Unfortunately, church spokesman are polite to a fault, and it gets in the way in cases like this.

By the way, Boston-area faithful may remember the similar case at a hospital in Milton in 2003. There the "image" was traced to some chemicals that penetrated a leaking double-paned window.

Mrs. Gallagher's title for our Lady: "The Matrix"

The followers of phony mystic Christina Gallagher occasionally drop by to post comments denying all charges of wrongdoing against her. This is helpful to me, 'cause I don't follow the case very often, and it serves as a reminder to check out the Irish papers for the latest flap involving Mrs. Gallagher and her international House of Prayer franchise, which is disapproved by the authorities of the Church and the Inland Revenue.

Here are some recent bits of news about the case:

January 2008: The Sunday World tabloid posted splashy photos (pdf) of Gallagher's posh lifestyle: residing in a mansion (not in her name, of course), tooling around in a BMW, etc., and reported on the fundraising campaign (pdf) that appears to have paid for the house.

RTE radio's Liveline show spent a couple of segments talking with callers and with Mrs. Gallagher's laughably evasive spokesman Fr. Gerard McGinnity about Gallagher's lifestyle: an mp3 podcast is online. When asked about the house's wide-screen TV and a Jacuzzi bath for paying guests, the priest explained that Mrs. Gallagher wanted the place to be made as nice as possible for our Lady.

(In a second segment (mp3), a director of the House of Prayer doesn't seem to know much about the HOP's finances.)

February 2008: Abp. Michael Neary (Tuam) issued a letter to all parishes reiterating no Church approval for Gallagher's activities.

March 2008: Irish primate Cardinal Brady was holding "ongoing discussions" with Fr. McGinnity.

For background, here's a 2006 post on the subject.

UPDATE: Thanks to jerry for reminding me to update!

June 2008: While police and tax authorities investigate the House of Prayer, the HOP offers to refund money to dissatisfied donors.

Zenit reports a statement from the Archbishop of Tuam on the phony mystic Christina Gallagher:

Irish Prelate: "House of Prayer" Not OK'd by Church
Achill Center Founded by Woman Who Claims to Hear Virgin Mary

TUAM, Ireland, MARCH 3, 2008 ( The archbishop of Tuam clarified that the "House of Prayer," founded by a woman who claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary, does not have Church approval.Archbishop Michael Neary released a public statement last week clarifying the Church's stance on the Achill Island prayer house, founded by Christina Gallagher, with other sites in the United States and Mexico.

Archbishop Neary explained the situation of the House of Prayer, saying that since 1996, he had established a diocesan commission to "investigate certain claims regarding and emanating from this work."

Gallagher claims to receive regular messages from Our Lady and to have the stigmata.

In 1997, the archbishop noted, "acting on foot of a report from the commission, I issued a lengthy public statement to the effect, in essence, that no evidence of supernatural phenomena had been observed but that the persons involved gave every evidence of good faith. Arising from that, I proposed a basic canonical structure that would gradually integrate the work of the house into the life of Achill Parish and the archdiocese."

However, Archbishop Neary stated: "While this was then attempted by the archdiocese, I became increasingly perturbed by an apparent absence of enthusiasm on the parts of Mrs. Gallagher and her associates.

"The relationship deteriorated to the extent that Mrs. Gallagher, in July 1998, closed the House of Prayer at Achill, expressing to the media at the time a sense of having been harshly treated by the archdiocese. In order to clarify the issue for the faithful I issued another statement, regretting the development and expressing grave misgivings as to the wisdom with which Mrs. Gallagher had been advised and had acted in the matter."

The 61-year-old prelate clarified that diocesan efforts to integrate the work ended in 1998, when Gallagher closed the house.

"Celebration of the sacraments and reservation of the Blessed Sacrament at the House of Prayer are not permitted," he continued. "Any work carried on since then has been entirely of a private nature and has no Church approval whatever. Neither, for reasons given above, does such work enjoy the confidence of the diocesan authorities. Nothing has been brought to my attention to indicate that I should change from this position in the future. Over the years since then, the Tuam Diocesan Office has clearly and consistently replied to enquiries in respect of this work, which Mrs. Gallagher recommenced."

"I respect the faith and devotion of many people who have been impressed by this work in the past, some of whom have expressed their sadness at my stance," the archbishop acknowledged. But, he concluded, "The House of Prayer has no Church approval and the work does not enjoy the confidence of the diocesan authorities."

Link: A timeline of previous events related to Mrs. Gallagher (Catholic Light, December 2006)

Don't do this in church


I must have missed this bit of religious silliness when it first hit the net and generated controversy: a charismatic community in Brazil, the "Shalom" Community, engages in dance as an evangelistic art form. They did this at a conference:

It really is impressive how fast the priest takes off at the start of the dance.

There is sincere piety here, as far as I can tell, but the whole thing looks like an act from the L.A. Religious Ed Congress. What isn't clear to me is this: when people start whistling from the "audience", are they praising or protesting the spectacle?

Domo arigato, Mrs. Roboto

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An artificial intelligence researcher predicts that robots will eventually simulate human appearance and personality so well that people will fall in love with them and marry them. It figures that he predicts Massachusetts will legalize this first.

This may prove appealing to a couple of the Mythbusters guys, but I can't imagine this would appeal to many women.

Sometimes people invent substitute rituals to use in place of conventional Christian funeral ceremonies: probably because they have little faith in Christ or have not been instructed well so as to appreciate the gift of His Resurrection. But some of the rituals people propose don't quite make sense to me yet.

As a case in point, I can understand people wanting to have their bodily remains shot into space, into the sun or wherever, as a Romantic gesture of oneness with the universe. That's a statement of belief -- belief of some sort. But now it turns out that the customers of the first space-shot "burial" didn't even get that for their ticket price. They only ended up taking what the travel biz calls a Cruise to Nowhere: go out, ride around, but don't stop anywhere: just go back - back home, back where you started.

So their rocket came back to earth after 4 minutes and parachuted into the mountains of New Mexico. Uh, was there a point to all that?

It must be hard to keep track of all the stuff going on in Catholic facilities. It seems that a local Spiritualist minister is holding weekly classes in meditation and healing in a conference room at St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

Held on Friday evening @ 7:00pm This class focuses on helping every individual to connect to the Divine Within. Experiment with many forms of meditation from visualization to chanting to drumming…. Many roads lead within! The Laying on of Hands Healing is practiced each week along with a Healing Circle of Light - spreading light throughout the world! Open to All! [...]

Where: at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, 736 Cambridge St., Brighton/St. Margaret's Building, Conference Rooms 3 and 4. Parking in Garage B.

Special video viewing of "ANGELS AROUND US" presented by NATURES SPIRITUAL EXPRESSIONS followed by a guided meditation "Meet your Angels" with Rev. Mary...

Well, open to anyone with ten bucks per session. Usually, my guardian angel doesn't charge me to talk to him, but maybe things are different in the Big City.

I would write to the Archdiocese about this, but I've already sent the Cardinal a letter about another issue, and they're "carefully looking into" that matter already. Any other Bostonians want to take up this one?

Abp. Milingo's attempt to bring married ex-clergy into his Moon-financed anti-celibacy project is not meeting with the success he expected:

Organizers said on Wednesday that 200 married priests have registered to attend the convention -- about one-third the number predicted by Milingo at a press conference last week.

"The hope was to have many more," said Peter Paul Brennan, of West Hempstead, N.Y., one of the four men Milingo ordained as bishops in September.

Existing groups for dissident ex-clergy seem to be snubbing the loopy, but compared to them relatively more orthodox, archbishop.


The domain registration for Abp. Milingo's web site lists it at 7000 26th Ave. NW in Seattle, an address that appears on a list of Unification Church facilities.

Kook watch: Christina Gallagher


Fr. Sibley asked me today if I knew anything about the phony mystic Christina Gallagher of Ireland, so I checked around the net to find out whether her bishop had made any statement about her claims of messages from our Lord and our Lady. Now that she's opened a new branch operation in Texas, I suppose we may be hearing more of this.

As it happens, Mrs. Gallagher's from the Archdiocese of Tuam, and the archbishop there has been fairly circumspect, aiming to keep her activities within the modest limits his predecessor permitted, while not banning them outright.

December 1997:
Archdiocesan committee finds no proof of supernatural phenomena.
Abp. sets conditions for establishing a Private Association to bring her activities under closer archdiocesan supervision, including financial.

January 1998:
Bishop orders that confessions and sermons at the House of Prayer cease.

May 1998:
Sunday Masses at her House of Prayer on Achill Island are stopped, though not all Masses.

July 1998:
Gallagher announces she's closing the House; local tourism businesses complain.
Archbishop surprised by closure announcement.

August 1998:
Rick Salbato's newsletter on the closure and Mrs. Gallagher's lifestyle.

September 1998:
House to reopen, Gallagher promises compliance.

September 2002:
Interview, photos: 1, 2
(I tend to believe that real seers don't give interviews, let alone whine like this one.)

July 2003:
10th anniversary gathering.

June 2006:
Austin, TX bishop warns of "House of Prayer" opening without permission, denies faculties to priest supporter.

September 2006:
Layman Ron Conte (FL) points out theological errors, bizarre statements.

Of course, it's harder to do something more bizarre than making a supposedly Catholic religious medal that calls our Lady "The Matrix".

Let's Get Ready To Rapture


poster on light pole: are you ready for the rapture? Oct. 28, 1992

There was a lecture at my parish today, with a Q&A following. As often happens at public events, the first "questioner" was a nut who didn't ask a question, but took the opportunity to inform the audience about something (very pressing, of course).

In this case, he let us all know that the "Bible Code" was predicting a nuclear attack on Jerusalem Thursday. The speaker let it all pass with a quick "no comment", and moved on to the real questions.

Sometimes I wonder if bringing back stoning as the punishment for false prophecy wouldn't provide some deterrence and keep people from wasting their time on junk like that. What's he gonna say Friday morning?

In a similar vein, I wonder how the people who put up this poster felt on Oct. 29, 1992, when their prediction of our Lord's return slipped away. In Korea, where the prediction originated (the article is halfway down the web page), the main group that spread it had the decency to disband.

Here in New England, the promoters sure bought a high-quality printing job for the posters: numerous examples of them are still stuck on light posts in New Hampshire, still colorful, clear, and readable.

Y'know, if I were expecting to be raised miraculously out of the world in a few weeks, I wouldn't bother getting the high-gloss paper with the waterproof adhesive. In fact, you should make sure the posters are biodegradable; it would be downright inconsiderate to leave permanent posters behind to taunt the people "left behind". They'd have enough trouble already.

Evaluating Richard Rohr


Fr. Richard Rohr, that guru of fuzzy thinking and cuddly spirituality, has visited the Gulf Coast several times lately, so Fr. Bryce Sibley of Parks, LA, decided to find out more about his views. The results of his study are in the March NOR.

No, not the Madonna. This time, it's just Madonna the singer.

I should have predicted this, it's been so obvious; it's time for her to reinvent herself as a defender of values other than the tolerance of weirdness.

Unfortunately, from the snippet Drudge quotes, she might be a little anti-material in the gnostic sense; but maybe that's part of her quasi-kabbalah religion thing, if she's still into that. At this rate of change, she may end up as a Christian again someday.

Watch for her to take up singing standards.

It's about Me!

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It's summertime, the season for outdoor Masses in garden shrines, the time for big events like WYD, and it's also the silly season where the fringe types like to put on their events too.

This week, the BBC ran a feature on a so-called ordination conducted by some of those German riverboat priestess dames, now pretending to be bishops.

As for the motivation of the would-be deaconette, here's a quote from the show's audio: "I'm a strong person, and some women, they are in the ceremony, in the background, and I like to be in front of them, and I feel, when I was younger, that the place where the altar is, that's my place."

Abp. John Foley, answering the reporter's questions to provide a Catholic point of view, has it pegged: "There's a universal call to holiness in the Church... I hope that all of us would strive for holiness and not for power."

(via the CWN blog)

Rev. Walter Cuenin of Our Lady, Help of Christians, a large parish in comfortable Newton, Massachusetts, defends himself in this week's bulletin (page 2): we're not undermining church teaching, we're just welcoming gays who happen to be civilly married, engaged couples who happen to be cohabiting, and divorcees who happen to be remarried without annulments. These practices "may not be the ideal", but these people are in "messy" situations, and we "welcome them and work with them on their journey".

This all seems kind of reasonable on the surface until you read on page 3 that two of the parish's organizations are inviting everyone to attend the Boston "Gay Pride" parade and hear a speech at an interfaith service by an advocate of "same-sex marriage". This goes beyond welcoming individuals with their problems: this is endorsement, this is advocacy.

Will the parish also encourage celebrations of pride in other cases of emotional disorder or objective wrongdoing? Maybe Invalid Marriage Pride Week will include a parade in which liberated upper-middle-class men stroll down the avenue, each with a trophy wife on his arm. Gluttons will ride with pride on floats made of food and eat them all the way down Boylston Street; tax-cheats (now out of the closet) will make a gross public display of paying their employees under the table, and the bacchanals will all be announced in the parish bulletin so that the faithful can participate.

Du sollst nicht merken

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For those who've been following Fr. Sibley's thread about a liturgical scandal in Austria, where, among other things, a deacon appeared to be simulating Mass: I'm posting my translation of a report from a major Catholic web site there.

Mark Geragos, call your office

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Why didn't Peterson's attorney call these experts? They're saying the secrets of the case are all in the New Age/King James/Prophetic/Astrological Bible Code! Laci's maiden name was "Rocha", which sounds like Rock, and of course "Peterson" reminds us of St. Peter, so, you get it, right? and it all has something to do with Chandra Levy, who was also from Modesto....

Another sign from the Almighty


Hurricane Xavier
Can we all agree that God does not like Florida?

No sex please, we're British


News of the Weird spotted this item for the woman who want to dispense with all that rubbish about courtship, marriage, and lovemaking, so that she can get on with producing only the best high-quality progeny:

Among the reality-TV series being batted around in London, according to recent reports in the Daily Telegraph and The Independent, is "Make Me a Mum," in which a woman reduces a field of men to the two whom she believes will make her the genetically best offspring. At that point, producers will inseminate the woman with sperm from both men and, using intravaginal micro technology, will attempt to record a "race" to see which sperm gets to the egg first.

beach volleyballThe "Today" show, my morning infotainment program, reported on the "controversy" about the dancers who appear during breaks at the Olympic women's beach volleyball competitions. The spectators seem to like them — the dancers wear bikinis, which don't conceal either their flesh or their abject lack of dancing skills — but some female athletes are miffed. According to Reuters,

Australian player Nicole Sanderson was not impressed. "It's disrespectful to have other girls in bikinis out there dancing," she said while her partner, Sydney gold medallist Natalie Cook, said that if there were men out on the court dancing it could equal things out.
Strictly for informational purposes, I searched Yahoo News for pictures of Sanderson's athletic attire. Sure enough, like the rest of the women, her bikini bottom has about the same amount of fabric as a small eye patch. (No, I will not link to the photos.)

"But it's beach volleyball!" you exclaim. "They're dressed for the beach!" That might make sense, but the male volleyball players wear tank tops and normal-looking shorts. Why do the women have to dress like they're competing in a Daytona Beach best-buns competition?

You know the answer to that one. So these women play a sport where sex appeal is the primary draw, then they complain when the organizers of their events bring in dancers to keep the audience's appetites whetted. Ladies, show up with your entire backside covered, and then we'll listen to you complain.

In a new book "by Mary", the renowned spiritual leader throws away all that stuff about warnings of trouble and instead takes on the hot-button issues of the day:
I am asking you to revise the way you see me. I am not an historical virgin. I am a contemporary leader. I am always contemporary because I live in the Now moment.
Oh, man, is there anything more passé than that?

Anyway, the folks who produced this book are evidently promoting it through Google ads that show up on perfectly orthodox Catholic sites. When you see one, click on it and make a little money for the good guys.

Livin' on luv

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Or "chi", "prana", or whatever. People claiming to live without eating as "breatharians" are planning to get together on Tuesday. Not too many of the interested people actually claim to be doing it, or not doing it, so to speak.

Come home, traditionalists


That is, if you've been away for a while.

Sometimes people become disaffected with the Church and end up in small sects or "independent" chapels because they got scandalized by something bad going on in the Church. And sometimes people come back after they get scandalized by even freakier stuff in the small sects. Here in Boston, the death of long-time "independent" traditionalist dissenter Fr. John Keane left his followers and his privately-owned chapel in an uproar: apparently two factions are now feuding over control of the property.

The priest they hired to fill in for him is reported to have a teensy weensy bit of a criminal record from running over a six-year-old, plus there's that little matter of the sexual abuse case. Oh, yeah, and he's said to be a sedevacantist kook too. So, God bless the congregation, they got rid of him and sent him back to the bottom of the barrel he came from.

Memo to Abp. O'Malley: maybe this would be an opportune time to reach out pastorally and seek a reconciliation for the 120 souls in that little group. We 250 at the indult Mass would be happy to welcome them. That's what we're here for.

Jargon Watch


Seen in fashionable bulletins about town (especially towns under the jurisdiction of Richmond, VA) this new name for confession:

'Sacrament Interviews'

I guess you come in for the interview to see if you have any sins to confess. Or, maybe I read it wrong and it is actually an exciting new program (begun under Bishop Walter 'Where's my Rainbow Sash?' Sullivan, of course) where the 'kreative' among us can propose a modern Sacrament to replace the mean, judgemental one we have right now. Perhaps something with puppies... everyone LOVES puppies!

If to name something is to give it power, then what happens when you re-name it? (I know, I know, ask the Pro-Abortion Lobby.)

The folks organizing to build an "Arch of Triumph" Marian shrine in Buffalo even have a song about it now! I still like the idea of supersizing it, but if it comes off in just the regular version (below), it may actually be an interesting place to visit.

I worry a little when I hear talk about our Lady's coming "triumph", because a bunch of very kooky phony mystics in the '80s and '90s made it their theme. If we'd all sign on to the latest apparitionist's messages, it seemed, Our Lady's Triumph (gotta use that capital T) would be ever closer, and surely it was coming next year. All we needed was one more apparition movie with Martin Sheen.

The Beast is back


Hal Lindsay, call your office. Back in the '70s and '80s, Christians who worried about the use of technology for totalitarian purposes would speculate about nefarious plots with apocalyptic overtones, usually involving Euro-bureaucrats and a Big Scary-Sounding Supercomputer to be nicknamed "the Beast".

I guess it's time for such stories to start the rounds again, 'cause this technological proposal is enough to creep me out.

Inside the UFO cult

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Here's a weird one: two reporters infiltrated the Quebec-based "Raelian" sect for nine months. Their report is a five-part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

And get this: the claim that the sect had cloned people wasn't even true! Who'd have thunk it?

(Via Religion News Blog.)

Caution: Idiotic Energy in Use

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Now, I wouldn't recommend that just anybody try this. The web site says this "radionic energy is a powerful force", and warns that you shouldn't use it "for any malicious or illegal purposes". However, if you want to use if to get money and revenge, here's the product for you!

Right now, I'm using my computer to send out waves of radionic energy to quash internet scams.

I can't actually attest that this site isn't some hoax, but there are various neo-pagan sites out there that seem to take it as legit.

Imitation Catholics

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If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? A sect of storefront churches trying to attract Hispanic Catholics to its services adopts the strategy of simply calling itself Catholic, and it's misleading enough faithful that the Archdiocese of Atlanta has sued to get them to stop. Archbishop John Donoghue wrote about it in July to Hispanic Catholics.

‘‘They give the impression that they are loyal Catholics and in communion with the Catholic church,’’ Donoghue wrote. ‘‘For months now this group, ‘Capilla de la Fe,’ has been creating confusion in the Hispanic community by pretending to be in communion with the Church and the Magisterium of the Church. ... Unfortunately, many of our good Hispanic people are confused by their pretense and they are leading many away from the Catholic Church.’’
Here's an AP article.

The sect offers healing through the use of blessed water and oil and seems to be appealing to superstition:

Some Capilla de la Fe services are unlike anything offered at Roman Catholic parishes, including one focusing on "strong prayer to destroy witchcraft, demon-possession, nightmares, curses, envy, bad luck, or spiritual problems."



Bill Cork has noticed that goofball bishop Thomas Gumbleton hasn't given up on the idea of ordaining women as priests yet, and Dale Price accordingly wonders if Cardinal Maida will give His Excellency the slapdown he deserves. One would hope so, given that His Eminence rightly stopped a parish from hosting some pro-fem-ord speakers not too long ago.

Law school dean Nabil Helmy of Egypt's Zagazig University thinks he's got "the Jews of the world" right where he wants them: according to the newspaper Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (cited by MEMRI), he's suing them -- all of them -- in Switzerland, to get back the goods that the Israelites took with them in the Exodus.

Obviously this is a publicity stunt. Professor Helmy must think he's pretty clever to base his claim on the Hebrew Scripture -- they can't wiggle out of that one, huh?

Fortunately, Prof. Helmy's unusual legal theory would seem to open the plaintiff up to a countersuit: how many hundreds of years of Hebrew slavery would Egypt have to pay for?

Fan mail!


A reader takes me to task
for taking some ex-Jesuit to task,
after he took a Cardinal to task,
because he took contemporary moral errors to task: clear?

No, it wasn't to me, either. I had to look up the original post to know what he was talking about. It's linked below.

The anonymous reader opines:

i find it breathtaking that communicants of the roman church continue to defend an institution that has lost virtually all its moral authority. your attack of ed ingebretsen was particularly offensive. i suppose all of this must be put in a realistic context: the roman church has always had problems with intellectual honesty. ed was... yikes.. honest. at least with the rise of secularism, your church was not able to stick him on a stake and burn him. that said, your organization continues to exclude so many, so unbelievably many from society. the irony though is that your church is so dominated by hopelessly neurotic, self loathing gay people. but i trust in god. eventually your church will find itself again on the wrong side of this issue, just as it did when confronted with scientific, intellectual and moral truth. now that the emperor is running around naked, the church is being watched very closely. and the picture is not pretty is it? your people represent the derriere guard of christianity.. could you please pick up the pace??
Well, at least the guy is consistent: first this Professor Ingebretsen gets three of his fifteen minutes of fame by insulting the honesty of a cardinal ("These things are exactly what he's paid to say"), and now the writer of the above fan mail impugns the "intellectual honesty" of the Catholic Church. Neither of them seems to realize what a weak argument that is: instead of openly disputing Catholic doctrine as erroneous, they evade the subject by suggesting that we don't really, truly believe it: if we would just be honest with ourselves, we'd agree with them.

Shall I tease the guy for not knowing his French? The term is garde arri�re, not "derriere"; and, given the context, the temptation to make a wisecrack about that is great.

But no, I will forbear: this irate reader has a soul too, and although I think he's inappropriately angry, I don't really want to hurt his feelings. We're all sinners here, and he needs instruction as all of us do sometimes.

The Church's teaching on sexual ethics w.r.t. homosexuality is just not understandable without The Big Picture, the noble and beautiful Catholic vision of sexuality and marriage. Maybe that's one more reason for me to point people to Bishop Galeone's pastoral letter. Until people understand the central meaning about the body, spousal love, and marriage, they'll regard the rest of Catholic sexual ethics as arbitrary.

Update: Back in July, CWN posted the text of Cdl. Arinze's praiseworthy speech at Georgetown that drew all this attention, with analysis by historian James Hitchcock.

Boy, this is an odd case. How did I miss it when it happened last year?

Observers of the ecumenical scene will recall that there are currently three substantial Orthodox bodies competing for legitimacy in Ukraine.

Last year, one bishop of the Kyivan patrarchate apparently decided to advance ecumenical relationships in his own way: by getting involved in another church's fringe groups. He paid a visit to a schismatic traditionalist Catholic sect in the US, went through some sort of ceremony, and signed some sort of document; and they announced that he had "abjured his errors" and entered into full communion with them -- in effect, become a sedevacantist Catholic. I don't know about you, but to me that doesn't necessarily look like a move upward.

A few weeks later, Bishop Yurii was back at home denying that he had had any intention of doing what he appeared to have done, and agreeing to the appointment of another bishop to watch over his eparchy.

The links above show all the information I have about this case, so it's hard to tell what was really going on, but I'm guessing that there was some medical explanation for all this.

No, I don't mean this type of odd "icon": we've already talked about that artist.

I mean the images designed by a "Brother Simeon" and sold under the name of "Monastery Icons". Maybe you've seen them in religious gift shops or even in parishes. The vestibule of my mother's parish** in New Hampshire has two large panels from them, each about 4' x 6'. They're a fairly popular source for icons of Western saints: they've been churning out images of St. Francis and Ste. Therese and Padre Pio (even before he was beatified) for years. Whatever's popular, they'll produce.

They don't look like classic Orthodox icons: the colors used are different, and some of the decorations are foreign to the tradition. Is this "Sacred Heart" image (sorry, the link's broken now) an icon or a sort of mandala?

Ever wonder where they come from? You'd expect that a monastery producing icons would be most likely Orthodox, or maybe Eastern Catholic. This group has had several different names over its history, as it moved from one state to another, and it's actually belonged to several religions. The term they used for the longest time -- and maybe they still do -- was "Gnostic Orthodox". According to their "abbot", the real teaching of Christ is "an esoteric interpretation" of Christianity that includes a belief in reincarnation and "magnetic therapy" healing.

Just to let you know where they're coming from. I personally wouldn't buy anything from them, but it's your call. Somebody's given me one of their images, and writing this reminds me that I oughta get it blessed real good.

** (another Stupid Vosko Church [tm])

You've been warned!

Those Dominican religious who vandalized some equipment at a missile base have been convicted; their sentence is jail time and restitution. But they'll get even: if the US doesn't do away with its nuclear weapons, they'll cow the government into submission with those fierce expressions.
They only dress Puritan when on scowling duty. Here's their usual habit:
Here they are, engaging the culture with the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition:
they spilled containers of their own blood into shapes of crosses on the tracks and on the wall of the missile silo.

"I've been tested. I don't have AIDS," Gilbert told the court. "We brought the blood in baby bottles. "

Then, with the bloody crosses drying in the autumn sun, the nuns sang a song about the sacred Earth and chanted, "Oh God, teach us how to be peacemakers in a hostile world."

After about 40 minutes of this, several soldiers driving Humvees crashed through the fence and, with their weapons drawn, surrounded the gray-haired women and handcuffed them.

This is irresponsible. How long will the US military go on tolerating stupid peace songs? I'd have cuffed 'em after 5 minutes.

Update: Occasionally they do wear something more conventional. Fr. Sibley spotted them in their decontamination suits.

Picking up the pieces


Sometimes an announcement in the Catholic press sounds so bland, so routine, that you might think nothing unusual or even interesting was involved. For example, this ZENIT item sounds like a routine bit of bureaucratic functioning: a certain bishop has been appointed to some position as the "pontifical commissioner" to a certain religious community, whatever that means.

This is actually one of the weirdest cases of phony mysticism I've heard of, in an era when false mystics and apparitions are "the scourge of the Church" (in the words of E. Michael Jones). What does the Church do when a visionary attracts followers - and even inspires the founding of new religious communities - but the founder turns out to be a fraud with a heretical message? In this case, the Church suppressed the visionary's lay movement but let the religious community continue, provided that it accept direct supervision by a bishop appointed by Rome.

What did the founder do or say that was so bad? Oh, she's alleged to be the reincarnation of Our Lady, that's all.

At a recent Baccalaureate (Debacle-laureate?) one of the 'spiritual representatives' (btw, there were NO priests) told those of us assembled about his church's 'Peace Pole'.

"What is it?" I hear many of you cry, anxious to be Enlightened At Last. Really, if you hadn't let you subscription to Commonweal lapse, you would already know... but I will tell you anyway. The 'classic' pole (so designated by the Peace Poles website) is approximately 8 feet high, with four sides. Each side has the message "Let Peace Prevail on Earth" inscribed on a brass plate in a different language. Really, the choice of languages to choose from is appaling... I mean amazing. It goes from Albanian to Zuni, with everything in between. Of course, for some of the more exotic languages (exotic to us, not to the 50 people who speak them) you can expect to pay $28.00 extra (I wonder if the Holy Spirit charged extra for His services to the few speakers of Ibo who were present in the crowds at Pentecost?)

Why didn't I think of this? How did I miss out on this astonishingly simple plan to make a billion dollars by simply going to one of the 43 Home Depot locations near me and buying some oversized tomato stakes and a wood-burning kit?

Well, anyway, after you choose which four languages you want to have screwed to your pole, you have to choose the finish: glossy white, glossy black, or your choice of three different resins (I know what you are thinking, but, no, Ikea doesn't make the poles.) Of course, all peace poles are crafted out of renewable resources (apparently, a peace pole made out of Brazilian rosewood would be a spiritual Faux Pas) and come in a variety of finishes. For the Very Diverse, there is an octagonal pole, which sports an impressive 8 languages of your choice! And all of this for a mere $1,300.00! The Peace Pole Maintenance Kit is an additional $20.00.

If planting a wooden stake in your front yard isn't your thing (well, what's wrong with you?) you can order a variety of other products. There are mini-peace poles to put on your desk... the website doesn't say if these are as effective as the full size model. There are pencils and tote bags and a full line of clothing (for you, not the pole.)

All I can say is that I know GIA is Kicking Themselves over missing out on this. Watch for a slew of Marty Haugen anthems, suitable to be sung in the shade of the Peace Pole.

La Madonna di Milton


How could I have missed this local story?

Once there was Our Lady of Clearwater; then Our Lady of the Fencepost, and now Mark Sullivan tips us off about the Madonna of Milton, Mass.: a blur in a hospital window that to some poor dear souls looks for all the world like the Mother of God.

The Epooftapalian Church

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As some of you may have heard, this has been a rather rough week for the Anglican communion which is now threatening to split along continental lines over the issue of homosexuality. Here's my thought on the subject... click

John Pacheco and Bob Sungenis are going at it for another round, this time over the topic of Religious Liberty and the Ecumenical Gatherings at Assisi. John offers a number of choice comments here, of which my favorite is the following:

If you are really interested in winning souls for Jesus Christ, you preach love, forgiveness, peace, mercy and the rest of the things the Pope preached. You do this because the world already knows all about damnation. We are damning each other to hell every day. The world needs to hear about God's MERCY too and not just about judgement. That's why we have a feast of Divine Mercy. We are talking about a tactical way of winning converts to the faith. The over bearing hermeneutic of damnation that you operate under is not as effective today as it once was.

This debate is fascinating for a number of reasons, one of which is the great familiarity of each principle party with the other. Throughout the years, many Catholic apologists have passed through CAI. Yet Sungenis and Pacheco were probably the two mainstays, as President and Vice-President of CAI respectively. When John made the difficult decision last Autumn to leave CAI and found, most of CAI-Canada followed him over. I hate to sound melodramatic, but in reading this dialogue there is a Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader feeling about it, in that John respects Bob as one of his mentors in the apologetics world and is now trying to rescue him from the dark side of radtradism.

Meenwhile, the Lidless-Eye Inquisition also has a number of great threads going on as usual.

Additionally, one of my favorite blogs, namely, Against the Grain from the Ratzinger Fan Club also has an excellent entry in response to various radtrad attacks that explains The Meaning of the Word Subsists.

I will post about Arlington's ordinations today in a moment. First, a blurb about a rabble-rouser in the parking lot today who was handing out "report cards" on the Diocesan clergy after Mass. The man, someone who I've sung Latin with in a local schola, was handing this drek out while a woman next to him, somenoe who I also know from my parish, was standing right next to him asking people not to read it when he handed it to them. I passed them as I was leaving the parking lot and thought the man had something useful. I looked at it quickly as I heard the woman saying a short prayer to Our Lady. She then said, "Don't read that - you don't want that on your heart." I have spoken with this woman many times and in my humble opinion she's a saint. I quickly gave it to her and crushed it in her hand. Both were standing in the pouring rain.

One of my friends later told me a priest had walked into the reception with one of these sheets and was totally disgusted.

If I ever see that man again I will ask him what he was trying to prove. When I see this holy woman again at Mass I will thank her.

We're movin' on up!

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A few weeks ago, we noticed a fringe group starting up its own illicit Mass with a married ex-cleric at a suburban Boston Elks' club. Now they're moving up in the world, and finding themselves a more suitable worship space: the local Unitarian meeting hall. A few observations:

  1. It's not very nice, as a matter of inter-religious relations, for Unitarians to help a group that's trying to start a schism in the Catholic Church. However, this is not surprising, since the UUA has in the past subsidized frauds like "Catholics for a Free Choice".

  2. The celebrant of their first Mass in the new location is someone named Ed Minderlein, whose writing for VOTF urges people to leave "the current pyramid hierarchical structure" and "move into small healthy communities" like the Reverend Ed's fringe group where they "espouse the theology of personal freedom".

    This is a clarifying little event that shows what kind of thinking shapes the agenda at VOTF: they're reaching the stage of overt rebellion against the Church. They're not far from certain fundamentalists who hand out tracts and urge Catholics to "come out from among Babylon".

(Thanks to Jeff Miller for the link.)

I wonder if 30 people got up yesterday and said, "Hey, I think I'll commit de facto schism over at the Elks' Lodge." A sympathetic article has this:

[The Rev. Ronald] Ingalls' wife, Sheila, said she didn't want the service to be too conventional.

"I wanted it to be special," said Sheila Ingalls, manager of online banking at Middlesex Savings Bank in Natick.

A boom box, taking the organist's place, played tapes with songs for everyone to sing including, "Come As You Are," which expressed the sentiment of the congregation.

Today's Catholic spam

Today's Catholic spam

Isn't it something? Even people promoting pious causes sometimes use spam to spread their messages. It's still a sleazy and annoying medium, as far as I'm concerned, the tool of scammers and pornographers, so any cause sending out spam is not likely to get any support from me.

A piece came in today from an attorney named Laurence Behr about a project that sounds, well, frankly, a bit grandiose. His group proposes to build a 700-foot arch near Buffalo in honor of Our Lady, "seven being the mystical number of perfection", don't-cha know.

The concept of the proposal is to combine an attraction (the arch that tourists will presumably want to ascend) with a shrine promoting pro-life themes, and do it all in the name of the "triumph" of our Lady's Immaculate Heart - a fulfillment of the Fatima message. All they want is $100 each from a million Catholics.

Now, if you look carefully at your screen, you'll notice that I have raised one eyebrow in an arch of my own at the mention of our Lady's "triumph", because every phony mystic and seer in the past 20 years has been peddling his would-be messages from our Lady as part of said "triumph". Since about a quarter of the people endorsing the project have some connection with phony apparitions, I have to wonder if this idea came from some would-be messenger from Heaven, or at least wonder about the prudence of the well-intentioned people involved.

To be fair, I should note that the site disclaims: "Laurence Behr is not claiming an apparition from the Virgin Mary. But he and many others do believe that his inspiration comes from God."

Using the Catholic Light rating system, I'll give this one a 2 on our 0-7 scale, which is a "slightly nutty bouquet with fruity overtones".

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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