“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Becareful What You Wish For...

By a 5 to 4 decision The Supreme Court of the United States overturned a lower court ruling stating that an erected cross at a national park violated the separation of Church and State. The majority, opinion written by Justice Kennedy, noted that the cross was non-sectarian in meaning and not reflecting back on a certain religion:

"Although certainly a Christian symbol, the cross was not emplaced on Sunrise Rock to promote a Christian message," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote of the cross that was put up in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died in World War I. "Rather, those who erected the cross intended simply to honor our nation's fallen soldiers."

So here is the irony that will kill you. The liberals in this country have tried upon decades to dilute every possible Christian symbol from its true religious meaning, taking Christ out of Christmas, calling Christmas trees holiday trees and the like.

Now the conservative Justices are throwing it back at them stating that a cross is not a defacto Christian symbol promoting a Christian message, the death and resurrection of Christ. Basically saying, “Congratulations, you Libs win, a cross has no Christian message tied to it.”

Does anyone actually believe Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia think a cross has no Christian significance or message behind it when displayed? Especially when used to honor the dead? Did the VFW, when they put it up in 1934, thought it had no religious significance? Too funny.

Also noteworthy is the Kennedy has been voting almost lockstep with the Conservative wing of this court for a while now. Sotomayor must have pushed him over the edge,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Progress and Perspective on the Catholic Church's Abuse Scandal

Understanding that one case of clerical abuse against any minor is reprehensible, evil and intolerable, we should also be aware of the progress our Church has made protecting our children in the recent years.

The chart directly above is from the John Jay study (2002) - the most comprehensive study on this topic -and shows the strides the church has made in addressing this issue and the rapid decline shown in these atrocities during the last two Papacies.

Rich Leonardi at Cincinnati.com puts into context how effective the Church's implemented efforts have been to protect children with some recent data:

"By virtually all accounts, [Benedict XVI's] reforms have been successful and, coupled with the efforts of local bishops, have led to a sharp decrease in incidents of abuse. In 2009, only six credible accusations were reported in the United States for a church that counts more than 65 million members. (By way of comparison, a 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students reported having been targeted with sexual attention by school employees.)

While any case of abuse is a case too many, the church's record of safety is a remarkable achievement for such a large organization; we have Pope Benedict to thank for that."

So 6 cases in 65,000,000. I tried to get a percentage to visually show you how small this number is, but the calculator that comes with MS Office could not display a number this low and came up with an error message. Then I went to an Excel spreadsheet and it could not display it either; another error message.

By way of comparison (and to underscore what Leonardi infers), VCR friend Tom Hoopes quotes Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft with a comment that **should** unleash a media frenzy and widespread investigations if the mainstream media had any legitimacy, or desire, to investigate their Democratic Party sibling, the public school teachers' union, at the same level of intensity they have unleashed against the Catholic Church, stating: "

"...Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem [of abuse in the public schools], and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.“[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?” she said. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

Then Hoopes quotes a piece by Wayne Laugesen that drives a bus through the double-standard:

..."Yet, during the first half of 2002, the 61 largest newspapers in California ran nearly 2,000 stories about sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, mostly concerning past allegations. During the same period, those newspapers ran four stories about the federal government’s discovery of the much larger — and ongoing — abuse scandal in public schools."

So while I read yet another New York Times' piece this morning, we should all be able to easily identify with assurance what is going on here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Unlikely Benedict Defenders Should Give Everyone Pause

Here are two very unexpected defenders of the Catholic Church and Benedict XVI.

My father has said, "I don't agree with any of Ed Koch's views, but I can't help finding myself liking him." We can all like him a little more with this op ed piece:

"I believe the continuing attacks by the media on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI have become manifestations of anti-Catholicism. The procession of articles on the same events are, in my opinion, no longer intended to inform, but simply to castigate.

The sexual molestation of children, principally boys, is horrendous. This is agreed to by everyone, Catholics, the Church itself, as well as non-Catholics and the media. On a number of occasions on the Church's behalf, the pope has admitted fault and asked for forgiveness.

For example, The New York Times reported April 18, 2008 that the pope "came face to face with a scandal that has left lasting wounds on the American church Thursday, holding a surprise meeting with several victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area. ... 'No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,' the pope said in his homily. 'It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention."

...Many in the media who are pounding on the Church and the pope today clearly do it with delight, and some with malice. The reason for the constant assaults, I believe, is there are many in the media and some Catholics as well as many in the public who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortions, opposition to homosexual sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth-control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs, and opposition to civil divorce."

And here is a defense by John Stephenson, a ... Lutheran theologian:

"The secular press has had it in for Joseph Ratzinger for going on three decades. Before his election as Pope in the spring of 2005, he was routinely derided in his homeland as the Panzerkardinal (“tank cardinal”) and caricatured in North America as the “Enforcer” or even the “Rottweiler.” The roots of this negative reputation stretch back at least as far as the book-length interview he granted to the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori that catapulted him to global fame when published as The Ratzinger Report in 1985.

But shrewd observers must wonder about the startling disproportion between the enormous hue and cry artificially whipped up by the media and the softly spoken real life figure who seems always to have avoided hyperbole like the plague.

(Blogger Note: Here comes the firework finale, maybe one of the most insightful paragraphs written on this spewing of hatred:)

...The negative reaction aroused already by the Ratzinger Report laid bare the sheer fury shared by Roman Catholic Modernists and the unbelieving world in general against anyone who dares to intimate that the historic Christian religion is, to put it bluntly, true. Neither apostates within Holy Christendom nor naked unbelievers outside her borders will ever forgive Ratzinger for the grave breach of secularist, pluralist etiquette involved in the first volume of his Jesus of Nazareth. It goes without saying (and around the Holy Week of each year the several forms of mainstream media say it loudly, often, and emphatically) that Jesus was an ordinary man, a wacko apocalyptist, or a failed political revolutionary. Stones must fly and clubs be brandished against a learned man fully familiar with all the “Jesus of history” literature from Reimarus to the present, who winsomely draws on believing scholarship of all confessions to offer a calm and cogent argument that the real, actual Jesus is the one who meets us in the Gospel record. Where the North American liberal intelligentsia can offer no refutation, they spit contempt. And a Western Europe sunk in a new heathenism and undergoing Islamic takeover can only howl at this attempt to arrest its suicidal downward slide."

htip to Fr. Z on the Stephenson piece.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Benedict XVI: "Behold the Man!"

Paul Kokoski of Hamilton, Canada, says it more clearly, succinctly and with more of an overwhelming truth than I could have written in his opinion piece in USA Today:

"Ecce homo," "Behold the man!" These were the words spoken by Pontius Pilate when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ to a hostile mob shortly before his crucifixion. The same words aptly apply today to Pope Benedict XVI, as he is being held up to unprecedented ridicule and scorn by a hateful press and a world so out of touch with its spiritual nature and moral being.

One can almost hear Jesus saying to the peaceful and benevolent pope: "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first" (John 15:18). Contrary to his critics, the pope, like Jesus, is completely innocent and is doing everything in his power to weed out those priests guilty of sexual abuse and to justly compensate victims for their suffering.

In fact, he is the one who has tackled these things head on. [Blogger Note: Benedict was one of the first high-ranking prelates to public denounce these horrible scandals calling them, "Filth."] Remember that even Jesus had his Judas. But the world wants to see the death of the church because it knows the church is the mother of all saints.

It knows that the Catholic Church is the last bastion of hope against a materialistic world that craves immorality at every step, including homosexuality, same-sex marriage, easy divorce, abortion, radical feminism, contraception, embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

Benedict will be remembered not for the scandals of a few priests but for his intense suffering in protecting the faith from wolves in sheep's clothing. He will be known as one of the greatest of Catholic martyrs.

Amen, Paul. Kudos.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Best of VCR: Easter's Lesson: Evil's Mortal Wound

This is one of my favorite pieces ever written. I read it throughout the year whenever I am discouraged and it puts everything into perspective. Easter is meant to lift up the discouraged. Just think of the mindset of the apostles and followers (including Mary below) that morning before witnessing the empty tomb. Blessed Easter to all!

"... Two days later, early in the morning, a converted sinner is found walking in a cemetery — she whose heart had been captured by Him without, as other men had done, laying it waste. She was in search of a tomb and a dead body which she hoped she might anoint with spices. The idea of the Resurrection did not seem to enter her mind — she who herself had risen from a tomb sealed by the seven devils of sin. Finding the tomb empty she broke again into a fountain of tears. No one who weeps ever looks upwards. With her eyes cast down as the brightness of the early sunrise swept over the dew-covered grass, she vaguely perceived someone near her, who asked: "Woman, why weepest thou?" (John 20:15).

Mary, thinking it might have been the gardener said: "Because they have taken away my Lord; and I do not know where they have laid him."

The figure before her spoke only one word, one name, and in a tone so sweet and ineffably tender that it could be the only unforgettable voice of the world; and that one word was: "Mary."

No one could ever say "Mary" as He said it. In that moment she knew Him. Dropping into the Aramaic of her mother’s speech she answered but one word: "Rabboni"! "Master"! And she fell at His feet— she was always there, anointing them at a supper, standing before them at a Cross, and now kneeling before Him in the Glory of an Easter morn.

The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them.

The Cross had asked the question: How far can Power go in the world?. The Resurrection answered: Power ends in its own destruction, for those who slew [their God] lost the day.

The Cross had asked: Why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree? The Resurrection answered: That sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death.

Thus there emerges the Easter lesson that the power of evil and the chaos of any one moment can be defied and conquered, for the basis of our hope is not in any construct of human power, but in the Power of God Who has given to the evil of this earth its one mortal wound — an open tomb, a gaping sepulchre, an empty grave. "
-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, April 2, 2010

Prophecies Foretold Bring Us Back to the Foot of the Cross

Having gone through Catholic school and religious eductaion my whole life, I have never read in its entirety the "Suffering Servant" scripture at the end of the book of Isiaih (53). This was written 700 years before the birth of Christ, but is there any doubt who this Jewish prophet is talking about?:

5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

12 …because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

And although obviously I was not at the crucifixion, you are brought closer to understanding this pure act of sacrifice and love and what Christ had to endure by reading the prophecy in Psalms 22:14-18. God gives us insight to what he would feel at the crucifixion:

14 I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;

17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.

18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.

How can we not feel remorse for the times we chose a path away from God after reading this?