Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dogs not able to bark

An article in New Jersey's The Times is aptly titled, 'U.S. bishops: Vote your conscience.' (This is a riveting news headline as the bishops are known for their incessant urging of Catholics to not vote in accord with their conscience.)

But I say the headline is befitting (most of) our American bishops because it conveys all at once the jejune, almost meaningless platitudes routinely dressed up and fed to the faithful as "spiritual guidance." As an aside, I should mention that from a purely human standpoint, I can not see how salvation is possible for those Catholics who have the misfortune of being guided by these men alone. I have hope that all will be saved; but that is only because my hope is not limited to the natural. I hope, too, that Fr. Amorth was right in his belief that ignorance is the eighth sacrament and the eighth saves more than all the others together.

But I digress. Rather than state the painfully obvious, a good shepherd would do well to instruct his faithful to inform their conscience. A Catholic who votes in accordance with his malformed conscience does his countrymen, his Church, and his God no service. And a bishop who encourages us to vote our conscience, at the same time keeping silent about how to form a Catholic conscience will have much (...many?) to answer for.

The recently appointed prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Raymond Burke, warned of as much during his homily on March 31 of this year for the newly ordained Bishop James Vann Johnston. He quoted St. Gregory the Great whose admonition was inspired by a reading of the prophet Isaiah and the Parable of the Good Shepherd:

"The ruler should be discreet in keeping silence and profitable in speech, lest he utter what should be kept secret, or keep secret what should be uttered. For just as incautious speech leads men into error, so, too, unseasonable silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. Often, indeed, incautious rulers, being afraid of losing human favor, fear to speak freely of what is right, and, in the words of the truth, do not exercise the zeal of shepherds caring for the flock, but serve the role of mercenaries; for when the wolf appears, they flee and hide themselves in silence. Wherefore, the Lord reproves them through the prophet, saying: They are all dumb dogs, not able to bark."

If there was ever a time in our political history when ecclesial dogs should be barking, it is now. The Supreme Court which legalized abortion on demand for all fifty states in 1973 by a vote of 7-2 is today evenly divided on the issue (4-4) with one justice -- Kennedy -- who can't make up his mind. The average age of the four justices who favor baby-killing is 75. David Souter, the youngest of the bunch, turns 69 in September, while John Paul Stevens celebrated his 88th last April. On the pro-life side, the Chief Justice is 53, Alito is 58, Clarence Thomas is 60, and Scalia is 72.

Whoever is elected president this November will, by all estimations, have the chance to appoint at least one new Supreme Court justice and perhaps as many as three. Those to be replaced will most likely be of the pro-abortion persuasion. This means the Court has the potential to swing pro-life for the first time in 35 years, overturning the disaster that was Roe, and drastically slowing the killing (a national genocide with a body count somewhere near 47 million...and climbing).

One would think this alone would be cause for bishops everywhere to rally Catholics to the polls and turn the corner on this blemish -- one arguably worse than slavery -- in our nation's history. We have the Republican John McCain who, for all his faults, has a pro-life track record and promises to appoint justices in the mold of Alito and Roberts. And we have one Barack Obama who has made it thus far on promises of hope and change; but not with respect to abortion. With a President Obama there will be no change on the issue of abortion, there will be no hope for unwanted, unborn babies. For when it comes to killing in the womb, he's two enthusiastic thumbs up. And when it comes to a bill ensuring medical care to babies who slipped past the abortionist's knife and into this world, the most he can muster is a senate vote of 'present.' We can be sure each of his appointments to the highest court in the land (as well as our lower courts) will be staunch defenders of a woman's 'right to choose.'

It is almost as though God has set before us life and death, the blessing and the curse. One would think it enough to inspire our bishops to instruct Catholics everywhere to "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him." (Dt 30:19-20)

This, it seems, is too much to ask. From yesterday's news article:

"This is the most prickly point," said the Rev. Ronald J. Cioffi, director of the Office of Social Concerns for the Diocese of Trenton. "You may vote for a person who is pro-choice if you feel you have a moral reason to support the candidate for his stand on other issues."

Yes, this is true -- but it is only permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons. There are few things in this world proportionate to/worse than killing babies, and there are no Hitlers to vote against in 2008, so I'm having not a little trouble with Fr. Cioffi's moral theology and instruction.

Cioffi presented an outline of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" at a meeting of about 30 staff members at the diocese's Pastoral Center yesterday.

"It's hard to find a candidate who supports all of the church's teaching," Bishop John M. Smith admitted to his staff at the meeting.

"It's a difficult time to decide how we're voting, especially this year," Smith said.

No, not such a difficult decision at all Your Excellency. Admittedly, since Senator Brownback dropped out, it has been hard to find a candidate who supports all of the Church's teaching. Perhaps the blame can go out to the bishops who failed to educate their flocks while he was still in the race. But that's water under the bridge and there are now two men left standing. For a Catholic, the choice could not be any easier.

"For those who want to be told what to do -- this document does not tell them," said Rayanne Bennett, chief communications officer for the diocese.

No doubt there were riots in New Jersey when this hit the news stands from all those Catholics who want to be told what to do.

"The reason this is important is no candidate this year and few candidates historically have perfectly lined up with Catholic social teaching," she said.

For instance, conservatives who oppose abortion often support the death penalty, Bennett said. The Catholic Church opposes both.

Wrong. Someone should hand Rayanne a copy of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's memo to the American bishops back in 2004. (Surely Bishop Smith still has his copy laying around somewhere...)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." -Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the CDF

"Catholics who vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain because of his anti-abortion record also are voting for a candidate who supports the war in Iraq -- a war Pope Benedict XVI clearly has opposed.

"If you vote for someone who supports the war, be actively involved in trying to change his mind," Bennett said of the bishops' stand.

She really needs to read the memo. But more to the point, since we were not born yesterday and are well aware that Miss Bennett will be casting her vote for Obama in November, does that mean she will also "be actively involved in trying to change his mind" with regard to his far more problematic stance on abortion?

I'm not going to hold my breath.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holy Toledo!

Dottie Zimmerman of Toledo, OH, and former Ursuline nun has a gift. For the last five years she's been 'channeling' Padre Pio, who she hears from almost daily.

Last month, Mrs. Zimmerman channeled the saint during a meeting of the Toledo Lightworkers Co-op, a group of people who explore alternative spirituality.

"He'll make these pithy little comments. He has a wonderful sense of humor," she said. "One of the things that he insists is that we breathe deeply and we laugh - love, laugh, and breathe are his three words."

Oh, we're laughing, Dottie.

Apparently it took a word of encouragement from her adopted daughter, K.C., and her younger brother (and ex-Jesuit priest), Jim Uhl to start listening to the voices she once thought were only imaginary.

"In this dream I kept seeing a Merlin character," she said. "… So he [Mr. Uhl] said if he's reoccurring that much, there's some energy there that we need to look into, and he gave me a couple exercises where in fact I would start asking Merlin what he meant or why this happened in the dream. … And I would write answers, and it's like the answers would just come automatically. … Well, pretty soon I couldn't write fast enough, they were just going in the computer, and then one day he just says to me, 'You know, I am not Merlin. I am Padre Pio.'•"

Then why the funny hat?

"I revered this man. I put him on a pedestal - a big pedestal," she said. "So one day I said to him, 'How come me? You are one of my favorite saints, why are you talking to me?' He said, 'Well, because you have the gift. You have something that you have to do with it. You have this gift but you weren't accepting it. The angels kept telling you but you wouldn't listen, so we sent in the big guns.'•"
(emphases mine)

The reason I highlight some of Dottie's message is to contrast it with authentic visions approved by the Church. Take, for instance, this communication between Our Blessed Lord and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

The saint begins by asking, "But, oh Lord, why dost though address Thyself to so miserable a creature, to so poor a sinner, that by her unworthiness she is calculated to hinder the accomplishment of Thy design, when Thou hast so many generous souls to execute Thy desires?"

He answers, "Dost thou not know that I make use of the weakest subjects to confound the strong? That it is generally in the most insignificant and the poor in spirit that I manifest my power, in order that they may attribute nothing to themselves?"

She accuses herself of being a miserable creature (remember now, this is a saintly nun living in a convent) and He confirms her accusation explaining that it is necessary lest anything be attributed to herself.

...but Dottie (a used-to-be-nun), Heaven tells us, "has the gift."

This whole story from Toledo would be amusing if only Mrs. Zimmerman were a used-to-be-catechist.

She is an award winning teacher of religion at a Catholic school.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Where's Waldo?

I've already sent out the email, so this would be the follow-up blog post to my fifteen minutes of Traditional-Catholic fame. My use of the word 'fame' is something of a stretch of course. Nowhere is my name to be found, and even my face remains hidden.

But I was nothing shy of ecstatic to stumble across a photo of Yours Truly on Fr. Z's popular blog, What Does The Prayer Really Say? I'm joined in the picture by a few hundred fellow Catholics who share an appreciation for the Mass of 1962, and my torso from behind is about all you can make out. But there I am just as sure as you're sitting here now.

Among other things, you may be wondering what an obscure Catholic from Seattle is doing at a Latin Mass in Knoxville. I'm glad you asked. My work had sent me for five weeks of training to Oak Ridge, TN, a town just outside of Knoxville. When Saturday rolled around I naturally began the hunt for an orthodox parish in the area. That Saturday happened to be Holy Saturday, and I knew my first choice was a bad one when kneeling in silent prayer moments before Sunday morning Mass the pastor came bustling down the aisle shouting "He is risen!! Be glad! He is risen!"

Needless to say I was back on the prowl for a good parish come Divine Mercy Sunday.

And I found it.

St. John Neumann was still celebrating Mass in their 1970-something excuse for a church. But what they lacked in architecture they made up for in liturgy and worship. I was impressed. All the more so when I learned they were in the process of selling the building to the Presbyterians and building a real church at another location.

Anyhow, it seems St. John Neumann was supportive and encouraging celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis (in another chapel some few miles away), and was going to do so with their own parish to mark completion of the new church which happened to coincide with the five-week stint I had in Tennessee. Sort of.

As you can read in Father's post, there were some delays in the construction. But the scheduling of the Latin Mass had been done months in advance and could not be postponed. So another church had to be used -- the beautiful Holy Ghost Catholic Church.

To get an feel for what it was like, you really should read the post at WDTPRS.

Oh, and if you haven't yet found me...I'm on the left, about five rows from the back wearing a white, long sleeve dress shirt.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


There's a rather interesting and insightful interview that you really should see. In 1957 Mike Wallace sat down with Margaret Sanger. What an amazing thing to look back more than half a century later and see the train wreck before it happened.

Overpopulation, divorce, 'free-love', birth control, homosexuality, moral relativism, new ageism, abortion...and, of course, the Roman Catholic Church. Sanger has thoughts on them all.

It was the Catholic Church yesterday. It is the Catholic Church today. It will always be the Catholic Church which does not get along well with the world.

H/T: John White

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


You might be wondering what could possibly infuriate Jesse Jackson so about a man who (a) has dark pigment and (b) is a radical left liberal. Well, that would have to be Obama's urging of black church-goers to choose reading books over playing video games and telling young students to stick with school and forget about a career as a rap star or professional basketball player.

All of which is heresy for the Reverend Jesse Jackson. (Say, what church does the Reverend preach at on Sundays anyway?)