Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Sonitus Sanctus" - A New Blog from Notre Dame with Scads of Audio Files

Thanks to Gerald (where does he find the time to dig up all this great information?) from the Cafeteria is Closed blog who gave us the great interview with Msgr Gaenswein about Pope Benedict yesterday and now has a link to a new blog from Notre Dame, birthplace of the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, that is attempting to place links to all the Catholic audio files.

Right now it seems to just be instructional and inspirational (including some from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). Check out Sonitus Sanctus.

Field2 Field4 Field1
Aquilina, Mike Church Fathers
Bennett, Rod Four Witnesses; The Early Church in Her Own Words
Bored Again Christian
Bridegroom Press Theology of the Body, Islam
Budziszewski, Jay Natural Law, etc.
Byzantine Chant
Catholic Answers Live Catholic Answers - various
Catholic Info Center, WDC

Chesterton, G.K. "The Trees of Pride"
Chesterton, G.K. "The Everlasting Man"
Convert Testimonies Hahn, Moss, Grodi, Jones, etc.
Corapi, Fr. John "The Teachings of Jesus"
Craig, William Lane Various, Protestant
Da Vinci Code Roundup Various
Greeson, Daniel Church Fathers, Greek Orthodox viewpoint
Gregorian Chant FSSP Music
Grodi, Marcus (EWTN) "The Journey Home"; convert stories
Groeschel, Fr. Benedict (EWTN) "Sunday Night Live"
Habemus Papam
Hahn, Scott and Kimberly Many, Various
Keating, Karl Three Debates
Keck, Doug (EWTN) "Bookmark" - book reviews
Kreeft, Peter Various
Kreeft, Peter Various (again)
Lewis, Joan (EWTN) Vatican Insider
Martignoni, John Apologetics, Various
Michuta, Gary "Explaining Justification"
Moss, Rosalind Two Shows from "The Journey Home" - EWTN
Moss, Rosalind "Mary, Our Jewish Mother"
Mother Angelica (EWTN) Mother Angelica Life Classics
NFP NFP Outreach
Pacwa, Fr. Mitch Debate on "Sola Scriptura"
Pacwa, Fr. Mitch (EWTN) "Threshhold of Hope"
Provaznik, Phil Apologetic Links
Ray, Steve "Are You Born Again?"
Shea, Mark Conversion Story
Sheen, Archbishop Fulton J. "Life is Worth Living", Various
Shoeman, Roy Jewish-Catholic Talks
Smith, Janet "Contraception Debate" w. Charles Curran
Smith, Janet "Contraception, Why Not?"
SQPN Catholic Podcasts SQPN TV
St Bernard of Clairvaux "On Loving God"
Stenzel, Pam

Stone, Fr. Francis (EWTN) "Life on the Rock"
The One True Faith St Michael's Media, TV
West, Christopher

Friday, July 27, 2007

"The Pope Always Wears White" --- [Sometimes he wears Prada but doesn't seem to use his exercise bike!]

Father Georg Gaenswein (a monsignor) is Pope Benedict's personal assistant. He gave an interview to the German (Munich) newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Gerald of the Cafeteria is Closed blog, born in Austria, has translated it. The interviewer was Peter Seewald, who was a lapsed Catholic, spent a couple of weeks with Pope Benedict (then cardinal) and returned to the Church.

Peter Seewald (PS): Herr Praelat, how is the Pope ?

Msgr. Gaenswein (MG): He's well, feels very good, works a lot and is in "high gear".

PS: Does he use the exercise bike that his physician, Dr. Buzzonetti, told him to?

MG: The bike is in our Appartamento Privato.

PS: What does that mean ?

MG: It's being a good bike, ready to be used. . . .
PS: Nobody thought that after a "millennium Pope" like Karol Wojtyla a successor could be successful this quickly. Now, everything has changed. Not only that Benedict XVI. draws twice as many people. That his books are printed by the millions. Pope Ratzinger is viewed as one of the most important thinkers of our time. And, as opposed to his predecessor, he's rarely criticized. What does he have that others don't ?

MG: With being Pope there comes a greater accessibility, a greater sphere of influence and a greater power of assertion. Someone very familiar with the goings-on in Rome said during the Bavaria trip last fall, "John Paul II. opened the hearts of the people. Benedict XVI. fills them." There is a lot of truth in that. The Pope reaches the hearts of the people, he speaks to them, but he doesn't speak of himself, he speaks of Jesus Christ, of God, and that in a descriptive, understandable and convincing manner. That is what people are looking for. Benedict XVI. gives them spiritual nourishment.

It's a long article, but well worth your time.

Silent Ignatian Retreat

Catholics United for the Faith/Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter have invited the priests of Miles Christi to preach "The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola" at a silent retreat September 14th-16th, 2007 at the Franciscan Retreat House in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

The retreat begins Friday evening and continues until Sunday afternoon.

FFI: (651) 293-1587 or send $30 deposit ($150 total) payable to Minnesota St. Thomas More CUF to: Mary Gail Woutat, 168 E 6th St. #3206, St. Paul MN 55101

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Children Conceived by In Vitro Fertilization Have Nearly Twice as Many Health Problems


( - A recent British study shows that children conceived by IVF have increased health problems and spend almost double the time in hospital than naturally conceived children, the Daily Mail reports.

The 7-year follow-up study, done in conjunction with Finnish studies, compared the hospital costs of IVF-conceived children to naturally conceived children. It examined 303 IVF-conceived children as well as 567 naturally-conceived children, all of whom were born between the years 1990 and 1995. Prior studies had reviewed the pregnancies of these children, their medical history and neo-natal health as well as the case notes of their hospitalization.

Published in the June 21, 2007 issue of Human Reproduction, the study showed that on average, a child conceived through IVF was in hospital significantly more times (1.76 vs. 1.07 times) than a naturally conceived child.

Dr. Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, professor at Imperial College London and one of the lead researchers behind the report, told, "What we showed was that actually there were certain disease groups which were more common among those born after IVF." She added that this included "certain infections, respiratory disease, and inflammatory disease," and noted that there are some neurological disorders that are slightly more common as well.

The report also notes that low birth weight and pre-term birth have been linked to IVF, but these results may be influenced by the multiple births often resulting from IVF. Nevertheless, single IVF children were also sicker than naturally conceived children and spent more time in the hospital. During the 7-year period, 61% of the singleton IVF children were hospitalized versus 46% of the naturally conceived singletons.

Jarvelin told that researchers don't know the reasons for the increased amount of certain diseases among IVF children. Most of the children born through IVF, however, are still healthy children, she said, "But we have to be more cautious and parents should be carefully informed that there might be some dangers that we might not know."

There are dangers involved in the multiple implantations of embryos involved in IVF, but this is not recommended anymore, said Jarvelin, because the fetuses are at higher risk.

The IVF mother is also at higher risk, not only from multiple implantations, but from other clinical problems such as blood toxemia. There is an additional, very rare condition seen among IVF women called Ovum Stimulation Syndrome, Jarvelin stated, that is caused by the medication that is used to stimulate ovaries during the IVF process. She stated that it can be "quite dangerous" for the woman.

"What this research really means," she concluded, "is that we need studies following these children…It shows that we need follow-up and long-term studies to see whether these people are really more healthy than naturally conceived children."

These newest findings are in accordance with past studies that have indicated that children who are conceived through IVF have a higher risk of deformity and over-all health problems. These problems include cerebral palsy, higher mortality rates and "ambiguous genitalia".

State of California embryonic stem-cell research: assessing return on investment

Californians voted to go into debt to fund embryonic stem-cell research. Will the state know if it recoups its landmark investment?

The US National Institutes of Health spent only $38 million on human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research last year, out of $643 million on stem-cell research overall. Although scientific research funding is usually considered a federal responsibility, California voters have decided to pony up vastly greater sums for ES cell research within the Golden State.

Passed in 2004, Proposition 71 authorizes a newly created state institution to borrow up to $3 billion over the next 10 years for human ES cell research. The governor's budget, proposed in May, struggles to trim California's operating deficit to $1.4 billion. So even in a state that spends more than $100 billion annually, these funds are a significant investment.
[...Snip] This is worth reading

New Hopes for the Old Mass (Even Out On the Vast Minnesota Prairie)

CYRUS, Minn. — Garrett Dalhoff and his wife, Camilla, make significant sacrifices to get their family to Mass every Sunday.

They awake by 5:30 so they can get their eight children dressed and out the door for their arrival at Sacred Heart Church in Flensburg, Minn., 83 miles from home. They arrive by 8:30 a.m., just in time for the Rosary and confessions. It’s a routine they’ve followed for years. [If you're weak on your MN geography, it's west-ish of Little Falls and east-ish of Long Prairie, just about in the middle of the State; Cyrus is between Glenwood and Morris, southwest of Flensburg].

The Dalhoffs are among 300 parishioners who choose the weekly Old Latin Mass offered at the parish — and among many in this country who have been attending the 1962 form of the Latin Mass for years.

Because celebration of the Mass has depended on specific permission from the local bishop, it often has meant that devotees must travel long distances and attend the Mass at “off” times, such as a Sunday afternoon.

But that’s been a small price to pay for people like Dalhoff, who had a hard time with less-than-reverent liturgies at his local church.

“I reached the point where I would come back from Mass and I would not be at peace,” said Dalhoff, a licensed school psychologist. “The more I experienced the Latin Mass, the more I looked forward to Sunday. I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.”

With the July 7 release of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI granted greater permission to celebrate the older form of the Latin Mass. But for years, families like the Dalhoffs and religious communities such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Society of St. John Cantius have kept the flame of the Old Mass alive.

All the new attention to the Latin Mass is even causing some non-devotees to check it out — with mixed results.

“I participated in two Tridentine Masses in the past month,” said John Hughes of Woodbury, Conn. “It is very reverent and beautiful and sacred, but I can understand the reasoning behind updating the liturgy. I had a missal and still had a hard time following things. But it is good to see this move by the Pope.”

Like many devotees of the old Mass, Dalhoff said that he prefers it for its reverence.

“I wanted a devout, God-centered liturgy,” he said. “Everything that we believe is reflected and expressed in the Tridentine form of the Mass. We pray what we believe. When we assist at the Mass of the Ages, everything we do reinforces what we believe to be true.”

Father Dennis Kolinski also tries to put into words what he appreciates about the Old Mass. A priest of the Chicago-based Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, he says it is the otherworldliness of the liturgy. “The Tridentine Mass, which objectively speaking is ritualistically stylized, has a transcendent character to it,” he said.

Summorum Pontificum goes into effect Sept. 14. According to its norms, if a stable group of devotees of the 1962 missal request that the Mass be offered in their parish, and there is a priest able to say it, they need no special permission to go ahead. It’s not clear yet how widespread the requests will be but Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio predicts it will be popular.

“There’s no question it will add to the number of Tridentine Masses celebrated,” said Father Fessio, theologian in residence at Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla. “Many younger priests want to celebrate it, and groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will continue to grow. It would be very unusual if it didn’t lead to a greater celebration of the old Mass.” [...Snip] Tim Drake, St Joseph, MN, in the National Catholic Register

The Seminary Call is Being Heard at St John Vianney Again

The number of young men at college seminaries has plummeted since the 1960s, but St. John Vianney at the University of St. Thomas has doubled undergraduate enrollment since 2001. The St. Paul school hopes it's on the leading edge of a trend.

Tim Lange once thought he'd settle into a "normal" college life after high school.

God, he said, had a different plan.

"I was not thinking of seminary," he said. But after he spent a summer volunteering at a Bible camp, counseling younger teens and sharing his faith, it hit him. "I thought: 'This is so fulfilling. I could do this for the rest of my life.' "

It's one story, but it helps explain why Lange, 19, came to St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas - and why the seminary's undergraduate student body has quietly doubled in six years.

Officials expect 155 students this fall. They say they are seeing more students like Lange - Catholics energized by local youth ministries - who seek a deeper bond with their faith and nurture a desire to lead. The number of young seminarians is no longer declining.

Nationally, college seminary enrollment has plummeted from more than 13,000 in the late 1960s to about 1,300 students, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The increase at St. John Vianney is a small but important change that's gone largely unnoticed.

"This is sort of the new trend," said the seminary's president, the Rev. William Baer. "It's kind of a response by young Catholics saying, 'Let's get back on track ... I'm not ashamed of being a Catholic."

Still, it is not a typical college campus experience for young men. They agree to live as though they will become priests.

That means practicing celibacy and not dating, among other things.

Initially reluctant to take on that life - he'd been accepted to the University of Notre Dame and wasn't planning to be a seminarian there - Lange said he became attracted to the "discipline and life centered on Christ."

And, really, the Brainerd man added, the "normal" college experience is not so great as to be missed. He finished his first year at St. John Vianney and said it went well.

The seminarians take classes across campus like other St. Thomas students and earn undergraduate degrees, ultimately, with a concentration in philosophy. Many students, Baer said, are still like him - men who came in mid-life to seek the priesthood. The younger men he's seeing come from small towns with strong parishes. Most do not come from Catholic high schools.

They might not become priests. About 35 percent to 40 percent continue on to the priesthood, Baer said. Others choose law school or other secular paths.

Marcus Milless, 19, grew up in a strong Catholic family with an older brother who had gone to the seminary. But the Coon Rapids teen decided instead to take classes at a local community college and was thinking of enrolling in accounting at Minnesota State (Mankato). He also had thoughts of becoming a doctor.

"I thought it was too much of a sacrifice, giving up dating, my job," he said of the seminary. But God, he said, brought him to the idea of becoming a priest. He also liked the sense he got at St. John Vianney that "they are forming men here."

Some of his friends were skeptical and worried that "we can't hang out anymore, which is not the case."

Milless, though, said he is a different person from his high school days.

On campus, he said, the seminary students are easy to pick out in khaki pants and collared shirts. Sometimes, he said, students he doesn't know will buttonhole him with "faith-filled questions." He likes that.

But he's not sure whether he'll become a priest.

"Right now, I'm really intrigued by the priesthood, but I'm not completely there yet," he said. "God is calling me for four years at St. John Vianney, but after four years I don't know."


  • College seminary enrollment nationally: 13,401 in 1968; 1,297 in 2006
  • St. John Vianney College Seminary enrollment: 70 in 2001; 155 in 2007
  • Pioneer Press

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    The Mass of All Time will outlive the Sixties revolutionaries: Second Vatican Catastrophe

    The Scotsman, Scotland's National Newspaper, has been around for more than 200 years, but it has only been since it has created a web presence that more than 60,000 Scots had ever heard of it. And it has made quite an appearance, being one of the best English language newspapers out there.

    Gerald Warner, a prolific regular columnist for the Scotsman has written a devastingly amusing (sometimes "over the top) column on the Pope's Summorum Pontificum document of a couple of Saturdays ago. For those of you Catholics like me who are very tired of being attacked on all sides for everything the Church and its members have or may have done, it is refreshing to read a combative counter-attack. Father Z, who blogs at What Does the Prayer Really Say, with whom nobody can compare at fisking (critiquing) these types of articles, has done his usual masterful job.

    There is so much in Warner's piece that Father didn't point out, that I am going to repost it here, but with the stern command that you go read Father Z's comments after you have read mine.

    'AND then how shall I lie through centuries,/And hear the blessed mutter of the Mass," exulted Browning's bishop ordering his tomb at Saint Praxed's church, in the well-known poem. His repose would have come to a raucous end in 1969, when the New Mass was imposed on the Catholic faithful; but he might have relapsed into contentment from next September 14, when the motu proprio of Benedict XVI restoring the Latin 'Tridentine' Mass comes into effect.

    Not since 1850, when Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman hurled his pastoral letter 'From Out the Flaminian Gate' like a grenade into the heart of the British establishment, proclaiming the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, has a Roman document provoked such consternation among the ungodly.

    It is important, however, to keep this development in perspective. Benedict XVI is not the awaited Pope of Tradition who will fully restore the Church; but he is a holy man of deeply orthodox convictions who is paving the way. On the other hand, the motu proprio may be a modest step, but it has significance far beyond its actual contents - beyond even the Catholic Church. For the first time in living memory, a major institution is reforming itself by turning back to earlier precepts: David Cameron might profitably take note.

    The bishops of England and Wales tried furiously to prevent the liberalisation of access to the Traditional Mass, lobbying the Vatican against it, although they had recently approved the regular celebration of a Mass for homosexuals. On the eve of the publication of the Papal document, Bishop Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, said: "Any liberalisation of the use of the rite may prove seriously divisive. It could encourage those who want to turn the clock back throughout the Church." So, a liberal opposes liberalisation - why are we not surprised?

    As for turning the clock back throughout the Church, it is the only possible remedy for the crisis that has afflicted it since the Second Vatican Catastrophe. The Novus Ordo (New Order of Mass) was invented by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, assisted by six Protestant pastors, after the Vatican Council. When this appalling confection was presented to the 1967 Synod of Bishops it was indignantly rejected. Yet two years later it was universally imposed. Bugnini described it in 1974 as "a major conquest of the Catholic Church".

    Strange language from a Catholic bishop; but there were stranger things to come. In July, 1975 Bugnini was abruptly sacked after Pope Paul VI was shown evidence he was a Freemason. Bugnini denied the fact, but when the register of Italian Freemasonry came to light in 1976, it recorded Bugnini as having been initiated on April 23, 1963, with the esoteric code name 'Buan'. So, even during the Vatican Council, Bugnini was already under automatic excommunication for Masonic membership. What possessed Paul VI to sack the author of the New Mass, but retain his liturgy for universal use? At least this episode throws light on the handshake at the 'kiss of peace' in the new rite.

    For decades now, the assorted Lollards, Shakers and Fifth Monarchy Men who have capered in Catholic sanctuaries have used the Bugnini Mass as their plaything. It is at its bleakest when, on high days and holidays, it attempts to mimic past solemnities, the concelebrants in minimalist vestments fronted by a communion table rather than an altar - three dentists behind an ironing-board. It is the New Mass that is now on the danger list. The Vatican talks about "reform of the reform"; but the "reform" is beyond reformation.

    For 40 years frenzied efforts have been made to stamp out the Traditional Mass and yet it has flourished. It is now past the point where there is the remotest prospect of extinguishing it. As Pope Benedict said in his explanatory letter accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum ("Of Supreme Pontiffs"), one of his reasons for freeing the Old Mass was the number of young people now flocking to it.

    That is what the faded 1960s trendies who are now bishops and seminary rectors fear: the impossibility of maintaining a revolution that has burned itself out. The Second Vatican Council means as little to today's youth as the Council of Chalcedon. Its elderly adherents are like dads dancing at the school disco. Many young people are seeking the mystical and the numinous. The Mass of All Time answers that need.

    Within the past month the Vatican has issued two other documents: one restoring the requirement for a two-thirds majority at Papal conclaves, which rules out the future election of an extreme radical; and a reassertion of the doctrine that the Protestant sects cannot be recognised as 'churches'. It will not damage ecumenism, because that died long ago. Its premise was that Rome must endlessly divest, while Canterbury ordained priestesses and moved ever further from Catholicism. When you see a Church of Scotland congregation praying the rosary you may believe ecumenism is a two-way process.

    The task facing traditionalists is to claw back, inch by inch, everything that was lost in the 1960s, until the Church is restored to its full integrity. It will mean trench warfare for decades, probably generations; but, for the first time, the heretics are on the defensive and they will be defeated.

    There is a revived spirit infusing the Church, a spirit once defined by GK Chesterton: "I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity)... I am very proud of being orthodox about the mysteries of the Trinity or the Mass; I am proud of believing in the Confessional; I am proud of believing in the Papacy."

    Triumphalism, so monotonously condemned by the Catholic agnostics, is the only logical response to the glory of the Resurrection. Tremble, all Modernists and you who presumptuously claim We Are Church - the spirit of Trent is abroad once more. Welcome to the Counter-Reformation. The Scotsman

    “Ecumenical” has come to mean a dogmatic “Fifth Mark of the Church” since the Second Vatican Catastrophe/Council. I’ve long felt that most of Christianity has been running full speed away from Catholicism while our Popes have been required to apologize for all the real and imagined wrongs of 2,000 years and welcome heretics to photo opportunities in the Vatican.

    Thanks to Mr. Warner for throwing a bucket of reality water on the concept of the ecumenical movement.

    Maybe it is time that the Church should be asking for compensation for the suppression, dissolution and confiscation of the monasteries and other Church properties during and after the Protestant Reformation.

    Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Clark, Wyoming

    Nicholas Maroney embraced his weeping mother and grandmother, told them he loved them, then turned to his future. Three times he knocked on the wooden gate and listened as the small community assembled in the yard on the other side. As the gate opened, he stepped across the spiritual threshold.
    Dressed in a dark suit and shiny black shoes, both of which he'd wear only once more in his lifetime, he knelt before his new family. Father Prior, as his superior would be known, handed Maroney a crucifix and offered a blessing: "May the passion of Christ strengthen you."
    The young man kissed the Lord's feet, held tight to the crucifix and rose to follow the others in procession and praise, just as the gate shut behind him. As he walked across the lawn, awash in melody, joy and the Litany of Our Lady, his mother's sobs hung in the air.
    Nicholas Maroney embraced his weeping mother and grandmother, told them he loved them, then turned to his future. Three times he knocked on the wooden gate and listened as the small community assembled in the yard on the other side. As the gate opened, he stepped across the spiritual
    A rare visit with the Carmelite monks
    Dressed in a dark suit and shiny black shoes, both of which he'd wear only once more in his lifetime, he knelt before his new family. Father Prior, as his superior would be known, handed Maroney a crucifix and offered a blessing: "May the passion of Christ strengthen you."
    The young man kissed the Lord's feet, held tight to the crucifix and rose to follow the others in procession and praise, just as the gate shut behind him. As he walked across the lawn, awash in melody, joy and the Litany of Our Lady, his mother's sobs hung in the air. [...Snip] Salt Lake Tribune

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    St Augustine's in South St Paul Preparing for Expansion of 1962 Latin Mass to Entire Archdiocese

    The first thing a visitor may notice at the 11:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Augustine is the silence, said Father Bryan Pedersen, associate pastor of the South St. Paul parish. At that time each week, the parish celebrates the Tridentine Mass, the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council.

    “The church is pregnant with silence during the eucharistic prayer. There is an expectation of the mystery of the consecration and transubstantiation,” he said.

    About 350 people from across the state and Wisconsin and North Dakota attend the Mass, said Father John Echert, who has been pastor of St. Augustine for the past two and a half years and has celebrated the Tridentine Mass there for five years.

    New rules

    Father Echert and Father Pedersen have a deep love of the Tridentine rite, which was effectively replaced by the new Roman Missal in 1970. In 1984, Pope John Paul II granted an indult, allowing the Tridentine rite to be used if the local bishop gave his permission.

    The new directive issued July 7 by Pope Benedict XVI gives priests the freedom to celebrate the Mass beginning Sept. 14 without asking for special permission.

    Father Echert will begin offering two weekday Tridentine Masses beginning in September.

    “We are one of only three indult parishes in the state of Minnesota, so people travel from other dioceses and from great distances to be here,” he said. “I think this will raise awareness among Catholics that the traditional form of the Mass exists, that it is available to them, and I expect our numbers to increase.”

    For the past eight years, John and Teri Dick and their seven children have traveled 45 minutes from Buffalo, where they are members of St. Francis Xavier, to attend the Tridentine Mass at St. Augustine about three out of four weeks each month.

    “The Tridentine Mass is more reverent,” said John. “We just felt that it was something that was worthwhile to make that long of a drive. . . . Having something that’s closer would be really nice.”

    Although Father Echert expects other parishes to make the Mass available, he said it will take time to train new priests to properly preside at the Mass, which has detailed instructions about prayers and physical movements. It also requires proficiency in Latin, and seminarians will need to be sufficiently trained, Father Echert said.

    About six other priests help serve the Mass at St. Augustine, which has about 650 households, most of which do not attend the Tridentine Masses, Father Pederson said.

    Few requests

    Dominican Sister Dominica Brennan, chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said the pope’s document and accompanying letter, do not require priests to learn Latin or the rubrics required for the old Mass.

    “The word used very specifically by the Holy Father is ‘extraordinary.’ This definitely implies that it will be unusual to have this rite,” Sister Dominica said in a written response to questions from The Catholic Spirit. “The seminary may or may not offer instruction in this area. But there is no requirement that they do so.”

    There have been only two or three requests in the past 15 years for an additional Tridentine Mass, she said.

    Father Andrew Cozzens, theology instructor and worship director at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, said that seminary leaders have not discussed adding classes or instructors regarding Tridentine Masses, nor has the archbishop directed the seminary to do so.

    Although Pope Benedict said in his apostolic exhortation “On the Eucharist” that he wants future priests to understand and celebrate Mass in Latin, he did not specify the Tridentine Mass, Father Cozzens said. Based on that document, the seminary will occasionally celebrate the “Novos Ordo” Mass in Latin, which is different than the Tridentine Mass.

    “As for the future of the Tridentine Mass, my guess is it would be based on how great the pastoral need is, and at this point I don’t see a large groundswell,” he said. In addition, he said, the archdiocesan pastoral needs lean in another direction.

    “We have a proven pastoral need for priests to say Mass in Spanish, and do pastoral care in Spanish,” he said. “That would be a much higher priority for us at the seminary,” Father Cozzens said.

    Father Pederson said that besides local and long-distance parishioners, some old rite worshippers “float between the Society of St. Pius X and our church.”

    The Society of St. Pius X, which is made up of priests who broke away from the church with the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre over the new Roman Missal and other issues, has a chapel in St. Paul.

    “With the new ruling, there is hope that those people and priests would return to the church,” he said.


    Father Pederson said he fell in love with the Latin Mass while attending St. Agnes School and parish in St. Paul.

    “In the old Mass, the silence can be deafening at times,” he said. “That is the reverential silence that exists in the old Mass.”

    All of the eucharistic and consecration prayers are said in silence by the priest. In the new Mass, the eucharistic prayer and consecration is spoken or sung out loud.

    Other differences he noted are:

    • In the old rite, the epistle is read by an ordained minister at one side of the altar and the Gospel at another side, in Latin, although they may be read in the vernacular. In the new Mass, readings are proclaimed in the vernacular at the ambo by a lector, who may be a lay man or woman. The Gospel is still proclaimed by a priest or deacon.

    • In the old rite, there are preparatory and penitential prayers at the foot of the altar that are not prayed in the new Mass.

    • In the old Mass, the priest usually faces away from the people. The rite allows him to face them, although there would be a crucifix at the center of the altar.

    • The old rite has a one-year calendar that uses the same yearly epistle and Gospel readings. The new Mass has a three-year cycle of Old Testament and Gospel readings. Catholic Spirit

    Fashion mavens, take note. If you don't happen to have a handkerchief, a Kleenex, a pillbox or a Scarlett O'Hara hat for attendance at a Tridentine (1962) Latin Mass, it is perfectly acceptable to whip a chapel veil out of your purse and use that as a substitute. Stella Borealis fashion and NASCAR editor, Cathy of Alex, informs us that she prefers black for her chapel veils. Cathy, who is away on a NASCAR road trip, was not available for a photograph, so we hired some local models to show interested folks what they look like:

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay, Wis., Named Bishop of Pittsburgh

    Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay, Wis., a popular former auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, has been named bishop of his hometown Diocese of Pittsburgh. [...Snip] Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Rocco's Report

    Emotional Welcome for Bishop Zubik

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.

    Many are objecting to the Motus Proprio because they find that Latin is old fashioned. I am becoming more and more attracted to the Motus Proprio because I find that Latin is not old fashiond but that it is connected to the Greek, The Aramaic and the Hebrew, the languages of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Father Tim at the Hermeneutic of Continuity discusses this today:

    Thanks to Ecce Agnus Dei for finding Te igitur, clementissime Pater in which Fr Phillips comments on an article in the Guardian "Latin leaves priests at a loss". They dug up an article from La Stampa which quoted a priest from Ancona saying

    "I am absolutely incapable of saying mass in Latin, [...] and I would actually be ashamed to do so".

    Fr Phillips makes an apposite comment about the priorities of priestly ministry:
    I’m assuming most priests aren’t born knowing how to play golf any more than they’re born knowing how to speak Latin. But if their presence on the golf courses is any indication, most priests are willing to put hours of practice into something they love to do.
    Ecce Agnus Dei also has this motivational poster which I found amusing - it works best with the American pronunciation of baroque:

    Pittsburgh to get new Bishop from Upper Midwest?

    Ann Rodgers, reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has published a story today that says that city's new bishop will be coming from the Upper Midwest, creating another vacancy here.

    The names of three possible new bishops for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh reportedly have been given to Pope Benedict XVI, leading some church-watchers to believe an appointment is imminent.

    Bishop David Zubik

    Bishop Blase Cupich

    Bishop Dennis Schnurr

    No names of potential appointees were attached to these reports. But some have been circulating since then-Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh was appointed archbishop of Washington, D.C,, in May 2006. Most prominent are Bishop Blase Cupich, 58, of Rapid City, S.D., Bishop Dennis Schnurr, 59, of Duluth, Minn., and Bishop David Zubik, 57, of Green Bay, Wis., a popular former auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh.

    Last week's surprise appointment of a new archbishop for Baltimore, which came after the pope had left Rome for vacation, inclines some observers to believe there is an effort in Rome to clear a backlog of appointments.

    Rocco Palmo, whose Internet blog on Catholic ecclesiastical politics has a strong record of predicting appointments, wrote yesterday that Pope Benedict was said to have the Pittsburgh dossier on his desk. The appointment was expected within "weeks," he wrote in "Whispers in the Loggia."

    In an interview, Mr. Palmo, a Philadelphian whose sources include well-placed people in the hierarchy, said, "The word out there is that something is coming quickly."

    Most analysts believe that means before August, because the Vatican offices close for the entire month.

    Other sources, some speaking off the record, also said they heard that names had cleared the vetting process in the Congregation for Bishops, which means they had likely been given to the pope.

    The Rev. Louis Vallone, pastor of St. John of God, McKees Rocks, is currently teaching a canon law course in Rome, where he has been seeking news of the Pittsburgh post.

    "I heard that the [list] definitely came from the apostolic delegate [in the United States] to the Congregation for Bishops. We have also heard that it was possible that the congregation had vetted it and sent it to the pope," he said.

    If the list cleared that quickly, he said, it probably means that all three men are already bishops of their own dioceses. If they were auxiliary bishops, without a record of leadership, the congregation would have taken longer to vet their qualifications, he said.

    Of names that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette culled last year from sources knowledgeable about U.S. appointments, Bishops Cupich, Schnurr and Zubik are the only diocesan bishops who have not been sent elsewhere in the meantime.

    Bishop John Gaydos, 63, of Jefferson City, Mo., has also emerged as a dark horse.

    Auxiliary bishops mentioned for the post include auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley of Pittsburgh, who has been running the diocese as its administrator since June 2006, and earning high praise from priests. The others are auxiliary Bishops Thomas Paprocki, 54, of Chicago, and Joseph McFadden, 60, of Philadelphia.

    Just because names have been given to the pope does not mean the appointment will be fast. He is on vacation in the Italian Alps until July 27, although that did not prevent the appointment of Archbishop Edwin O'Brien to Baltimore last week.

    Of 10 vacant dioceses in the United States, Pittsburgh's is the second-longest unfilled, behind Birmingham, Ala., which has been open since May 2005. Ten more dioceses have bishops past retirement age, three since 2005.

    The fact that the Vatican offices shut for August means there may be a push to clear the backlog, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Institute at Georgetown University, who studies the Catholic hierarchy.

    "There is a certain pressure to clear the decks before they all go on vacation," he said.

    Father Vallone pointed out that delays can occur if the chosen man turns it down.

    "I still think it could be September, or even later," he said.

    Typically a man who has been chosen receives a call one to three weeks before the public announcement, said Susan Gibbs, communications director of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

    "I don't know the reason why it varies," she said.

    At least two important officials of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are slated to be away this week: the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, the diocesan spokesman, and the Rev. Lawrence Di Nardo, the delegate for canonical services.

    Although it might appear that they do not expect a new bishop to be named, last week's Baltimore appointment showed that appointments can blindside staff.

    "The best way I can exemplify how much advance notice I had was that I was on vacation" when the announcement came, said Sean Caine, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

    For most Baltimore staff, the notice "was a matter of hours, not days," he said. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Hey, a blogging coup! I beat Rocco to this story! He's been talking about it all week but missed the latest PP-G story.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Father Tim wants to know: Whatever happned to Hell and Mortal Sin?

    Father Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutics of Discontinuity blog in the UK has rapidly become a blogging star in St Blog's Parish. He raises the issues that need to be raised.

    Far from being the mark of a vindictive and malicious God who doesn't care about us, hell is something that follows as common sense from what God has done for us in his infinite love. First he has created us free and immortal. As human people, we are made to his image such that we are able to love freely and for ever. By revelation we know that God has made us to love him freely and for ever and to receive his infinite and supremely benign love for all eternity.

    It is easy to see that just as the infinite love of God for all eternity is our highest good, so the loss of this love is the greatest possible misfortune. If it were possible for someone else to take it away from us, we would rightly be in anguish and rage at the utter injustice of it. Thank God, this cannot happen: God is infinitely just. But we can take his love and throw it away ourselves by deliberately sinning against him. The folly and madness of voluntarily incurring this eternal deprivation is the chief pain of the damned (the pain of loss.)

    It is entirely rational and prudent to have a holy fear of this loss. A husband who loves his wife but has done some stupid thing that threatens his marriage will be sensible if he fears to lose his wife and resolves with the utmost determination never to do that stupid thing again. His fear will be an entirely balanced and sensible reaction to the situation.

    If on the other hand, he is living a good life generally and is meeting the obligations of his marriage, it would be damaging to the relationship if he were living in constant anxiety about losing his wife. He might occasionally think of such a fear if some "near miss" accident happens, for example, but generally, it is better for him to be finding ways to show genuine, practical love for his family by the good things that he does from day to day.

    In our relationship with God, if we have committed some sin that is grave matter and therefore possibly a "mortal sin", we are right to be fearful, to make a good confession as soon as possible, and to make a firm purpose of amendment. To carry on as though we had not a care in the world and excuse ourselves would be like the man who tells his wife "get over it" or "boys will be boys". If a man said that, you would not think that he cared much about saving his marriage. If a sinner behaves in a similarly blasé manner, he clearly doesn't understand the danger of losing God for all eternity and how awful that would be.

    By our prayer, penance and reception of the sacraments, we should get into the state of not committing any sins that are grave matter but living from day to day trying to overcome our venial faults, trying to pray better and living a life of practical charity towards others. Now and again, some bad thought or other temptation can remind us of the real danger of falling into sin and how we need to take the means to guard against dangerous occasions. Thinking About Hell

    Whatever happened to mortal sin?

    In the discussion about hell, one or two people have raised the question of mortal sin which is, of course closely connected. Now if we are honest, people are usually talking about sexual sins here. People are not usually worried about accidentally stealing a couple of thousand quid and then being run over by a bus. We’re not normally talking about compulsively breaking people’s legs and then having a sudden heart attack.

    So first of all, some basics. For a sin to be a mortal sin, there must be all three of the following:

    • Grievous matter – the thing must be serious in itself. Sometimes the Church clarifies this question. For example, it is the teaching of the Church that in sexual sins, there is no “light matter”
    • Perfect knowledge – the person must know that the act is a sin and that it is serious.
    • Full consent – the person must give the full consent of their will to the act. This would not be present if they acted under force or fear, for example.
    A number of problems have arisen in recent years. Some theologians have contradicted the teaching of the Church about the gravity of some sins – or even whether they are sinful at all. Contraception would be an example where this has happened.

    For many people, deficient catechesis means that they do not know the teaching of the Church about some sins. We have to be careful here. If someone is married, they are likely to know from their own conscience that it is seriously wrong to have an extra-marital affair, even if nobody in the Church ever told them. But conscience can be badly formed. Many young people might grow up thinking that masturbation is not a sin at all because their sex-ed programme told them it was OK. Still their conscience might upbraid them a bit but sadly the sex-ed teacher might have enough credibility to convince youngsters that their conscience is “repression.”

    Although these two factors might mean that an individual is not committing a mortal sin, that does not mean that everything in the garden is rosy. If a sin is objectively wrong, it will cause real harm. To take an example, if I really think that green means “stop” and red means “go”, it may be excusable for me to jump the red light but I could still end up killing innocent people. I might not go to hell for it but their families would be grieving: harm would be done.

    Now the problems over false teaching on the gravity of sins and deficient catechesis can be put right by sound teaching and responsible catechesis.

    The most problematic development, I think, is in the area of “full consent.” The development of popular psychology after the second world war meant that many good theologians did, and still do, consider that habit or compulsion reduces the full consent of the will. Before that, most moral theologians would have said that a habit of sin is simply another name for a vice.

    Then there were all the hard cases, the Graham Greene books, the Portrait of the Artist sermon, the fears of boys in boarding schools, tales of insensitive mission preachers and confessors. What a relief to be able to say “Well technically it is a mortal sin but really it isn’t in your case because it’s a habit.” It was a trade-off. Hell was probably empty, everyone could go to communion – and nobody changed their lives.

    So what’s the alternative? Are we to condemn millions of people to a hitherto improbable hell all of a sudden? The practical and reasonable alternative is to return to the teaching of St Alphonsus (and the other classic spiritual writers). He treated grave matter as mortal sin. He reflected on the awfulness of hell, and the remorse of the damned because of their folly in losing God for a trifling pleasure. He held out the prospect of peace of conscience, a godly life and the lived experience of the love of God and the advocacy of Our Lady.

    St Alphonsus knew as well as we do that a person could be saved at the last minute by a brief act of contrition. What he also knew, and we seem to have forgotten, is that it is absolute folly to rely on this as though it were a sensible model for life. Our Lord told of the man who built his barns. St Alphonsus quoted that and St Augustine who said “God promises us his grace, he does not promise us tomorrow.”

    In response to the preaching of St Alphonsus (and other great saints – choose your favourite), people changed their lives radically by using the means of grace. Thousands of people were converted from their indifference, the clergy were reformed and whole districts became fervent in the practice of the faith. Today we have given in to an institutional despair. Nobody can free themselves from a bad habit, nobody can follow a rule of life, nobody can fast or do penance – that kind of holiness is for the old days and you can’t go turning the clock back. (Oh no, specially not that!)

    Let anyone suggest it and a thousand stories from the bad old days will be conjured up to haunt you. My great auntie had a headache on the way to Mass because of the midnight fast; Father Smith told my granddad off in confession; the mission priest said that one minute in hell was worse than a million years in prison; fish on Friday meant you had Dover Sole at posh banquets ...

    There is a new generation in the Church that has opted to grow out of this routine and clichéd rejection of our own way of life. They are not too sure of themselves but they know what the Church teaches on faith and morals and they are trying to live it. What can be brought into the mix is the teaching of the saints on how to go about living it.

    Their general pattern of teaching is: you start by thinking about heaven and hell. Loving God will take you to the one, and mortal sins will take you to the other. So you stop the mortal sins, confess them, turn your life around and live for Christ alone – and here’s a rule for that life [take your pick they all involve prayer, penance and self-discipline …]. Oh, and by the way here are some of the happiest and most balanced guys you’ll ever meet.

    It’s been put various different ways but always the same basic pattern. As Jesus said:
    If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, let him affirm himself, put down his cross and have a rest.
    No. Wait... how did it go? Whatever Happened to Mortal Sin

    Planned Parenthood Needs Help

    From the Strib's Help Wanted Section


    FT, exempt position at Planned Parenthood, managing facilities and security for the 3-state org. Duties include planning and implementation for expansion and new site locations, remodeling, relocations, preventive maintenance planning and day-to-day maintenance. Evaluate, oversee and maintain all security requirements at all locations; including special events. Required: 7 yrs exp at director of corporate facilities level; significant experience in security mgmt; ability to travel 3 state region/28 locations; 5+ years of managing multiple direct reports; proficient in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access.

    Send cover letter and resume and refer to job no. 3070:
    Planned Parenthood MN, ND, SD
    HR Dept

    Boy, with qualifications like that, I would need six figures, at least. What does EEO mean?

    Do you think a Pro-Life Catholic would have a chance?

    String Bean Theory: A Problem Solved

    One of the great things about taking up blogging these past 15 months or so is the wonderful people that I have met, few of whom I get to talk to much, but whose thoughts I am privy to almost daily.

    Take Erin, for example, the lady engineer who raises and home schools children and spouse and applies her advanced degree from Ohio State U to the everydayness of life here on the prairie in her blog, bearing blog.

    This morning I placed a polyethylene bag full of fresh string beans on the kitchen counter in front of me. I set a metal colander at my right hand. I tore open the bag of beans. With my left hand I picked up one bean and examined it briefly, turning it in my two hands until my left (dominant) hand grasped the stem end. I pinched the bean just below the stem, between my index fingernail and the pad of my thumb; my left hand then held an amputated green-bean stem and my right hand held the long end of the bean. I dropped the stem onto the counter and grasped the bean again, holding both ends, then broke it in half. I passed the half held in my left hand to my right hand and with my right hand dropped both beans into the colander. I picked up another bean. The piles of stems to the left and beans to the right grew slowly. You must read the rest here!

    Index to "Father Z's" Analysis of Reactions to "Summorum Pontificum" Document that Authorizes Greater Use of the 1962 Latin Mass

    Updated July 20

    Those of you who have been following the reaction to Pope Benedict's release of the Motu Proprio last weekend are well aware that Father Z is the man to see when you want information as to what is going on. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are so many posts over there on his blog, W.D.T.P.R.S., I decided to do a quickie index that I will attempt to keep up once a week or so as long as there seems to be interest, by me, if nobody else.

    Father Z, a good St Agnes boy, fluent, to say the least, in Latin, and in Vatican-speak, thoroughly analyzes the world-wide reactions to "Summorum Pontificum" the Motu Proprio's title, which frees up the use of the 1962 Latin Mass this coming September.

    July 20

    Archbishop Burke on the Motu Proprio
    Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville on Summorum Pontificum
    The Catholic Spirit of Archdiocese of St.Paul/Minneapolis on older Mass
    Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Summorum Pontificum
    Archbishop Vlazny of Portland on the older form of Mass (2006 Comments)
    Diocese of Orange: older Mass but with newer Lectionary

    July 18

    Fr. Z's PODCAzT 37: The position of the altar and the priest’s “back to the people”
    Green Bay's Bishop Zubik Moves to Pittsburgh: MP Update

    July 17

    Catholic News Service (USCCB) v Catholic World News on Benedict XVI using older Mass in private
    Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, CT, on MP: what a pleasure!

    July 16

    The Tablet (UK): against Summorum Pontificum (by Fr. Mark Francis, C.S.V.)
    Boston Globe on “Pope Benedict’s mistake” (by James Carroll, ex-Paulist priest)

    July 15

    Cardinal Barbarin, Lyon, FR, reacts to Summorum Pontificum
    A Franciscan take on the Motu Proprio; (Noel Muscat, OFM)
    A Memorandum from the Diocese of Pittsburgh
    Diocese of Raleigh, NC, very good
    Steubenville, Bishop Conlon, and Summorum Pontificum

    July 14

    MP statement of Archdiocese of Denver, CO. Nice!
    MP statement of Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI

    July 13

    Statement of Bishop Trautman on Summorum Pontificum
    Diocese of Harrisburg, PA, on the MP
    Bishop of Salt Lake City on Summorum Pontificum

    July 11

    MP Statement of Diocese of Orange
    About mixing the rites (Ecclesia Dei Commission)
    Vatican insults other churches: "Pravda"
    "Philadelphia Inquirer" on Mater Ecclesiae in Camden, NJ

    July 10

    Sr. Joan Chittister on Summorum Pontificum
    "Boston Globe" on the MP: “the heyday of the Inquisition”
    "The Independent"…. (UK): the usual stuff about the MP
    "American Jewish Committee" press release
    Official Statement of Archdiocese of Detroit on MP
    Summorum Pontificum - TRANSLATION ISSUES A Table worth printing out for ease in understanding.

    July 9

    Summorum Pontificum Part. 6 - Use of old Lectionary in the vernacular
    Paul Dion, editor of "Parish World": 4 reasons why he is unhappy with MP
    USA MP Celebrations
    "Time" Magazine on the MP
    INDIA: Reception of the MP. Behold the good shepherds.
    Hand Missals and active participation

    July 8

    Thomas Reese, S.J., former editor of the magazine, "America" "More to do with power and politics than Latin and liturgy."
    Comments by French & Italian Cardinals: “the prayer could be changed if it caused difficulties with Jews”

    "Il Giornale": interviews Card. Castrillón Hoyos (President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei". This Commission will figure big in the implementation of Summorum Pontificum).
    Official statement of Bishop Matano of Burlington, VT
    "BBC" on MP, shallow but with a gem
    "The National Post" (Canada) on the MP
    MP Statement by Diocese of Camden, NJ
    WDTPRS NEWS ALERT; "AP" News Story Again on Motu Proprio
    "Reuters" story on Motu Proprio

    July 7

    "Corriere Della Sera" on the way the last documents were released.
    Cardinal Ricard of Bordeaux, France, reacts and comments cautiously
    Interesting points in the comments by the Papal Spokesman
    "Associated Press" on the MP
    The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog celebrates with VIDEO
    Breakfast with Summorum Pontificum
    Summorum Pontificum: my intro comments and the text

    Alleluia! It's the Second Coming! In Sweden??????

    Buried behind the WSJ’s subscription wall is a fascinating look at the resurgence of a particular type of Christianity within Europe, and especially within the cold grey socialist paradise of Sweden. There an outraged ACLU-type demanded a hotel chain remove the Bibles from its nightstand drawers, and they complied. Then something rather un-Swedish happened.

    A national furor erupted. A conservative bishop announced a boycott. A leftist radical who became a devout Christian and talk-show host denounced the biblical purge in newspaper columns and on television. A young evangelical Christian organized an electronic letter-writing campaign, asking Scandic [the hotel chain]:Why are you removing Bibles but not pay-porn on your TVs?

    Scandic, which had started keeping its Bibles behind the front desk, put the New Testament back in guest rooms.

    “Sweden is not as secular as we thought,” says Christer Sturmark, head of Sweden’s Humanist Association, a noisy assembly of nonbelievers to which the Bible-protesting hotel guest belongs.

    The WSJ reporter seems pretty confident that Christian religiosity is on the upswing, and spends most of the long article trying to explain why that might be. Some economists have an idea about how that could have happened:

    As centuries-old churches long favored by the state lose their monopoly grip, Europe’s highly regulated market for religion is opening up to leaner, more-aggressive religious “firms.” The result, they say, is a supply-side stimulus to faith.

    “Monopoly churches get lazy,” says Eva Hamberg, a professor at Lund University’s Centre for Theology and Religious Studies and co-author of academic articles that, based on Swedish data, suggest a correlation between an increase in religious competition and a rise in church-going. Europeans are deserting established churches, she says, “but this does not mean they are not religious.”

    Upstarts are now plugging new spiritual services across Europe, from U.S.-influenced evangelical churches to a Christian sect that uses a hallucinogenic herbal brew as a stand-in for sacramental wine.

    Well, that’s not the kind of “ascension” He meant, but it sounds to me like that church is the exception, whereas charismatic and evangelical churches are more the norm–and are growing rapidly just like they are in the United States. That fact isn’t lost on the free-market theorists:

    The enemy of faith, say the supply-siders, is not modernity but state-regulated markets that shield big, established churches from competition. In America, where church and state stand apart, more than 50% of the population worships at least once a month. In Europe, where the state has often supported — but also controlled — the church with money and favors, the rate in many countries is 20% or less.

    “The state undermined the church from within,” says Stefan Swärd, a leader of Sweden’s small but growing evangelical movement.

    The state supported churches are banal, PC, and empty; they need not compete for parishioners because the state supports them no matter how wacky their ideas, how tepid their sermons, or how empty their church:

    Consider the scene on a recent Sunday at Stockholm’s Hedvig Eleonara Church, a parish of the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran institution that until 2000 was an official organ of the Swedish state. Fewer than 40 people, nearly all elderly, gathered in pews beneath a magnificent 18th-century dome. Seven were church employees. The church seats over 1,000.

    Hedvig Eleonara has three full-time salaried priests and gets over $2 million each year though a state levy. Annika Sandström, head of its governing board, says she doesn’t believe in God and took the post “on the one condition that no one expects me to go each Sunday.” The church scrapped Sunday school last fall because only five children attended.

    Just a few blocks away, Passion Church, an eight-month-old evangelical outfit, fizzed with fervor.

    Passion Church is, obviously, not state supported.

    What struck me about this piece was that I had just finished reading almost the same argument by Lawrence Henry in the American Spectator Online–about subsidized versus unsubsidized talk radio in the United States. AM talk is competitive, and it’s brash, vibrant and entertaining as the talent struggles–and succeeds–to attract listeners. Meanwhile subsidized radio (ahem NPR ahem) is very professionally produced, but it is also bookish, snobbish, and trending toward irrelevant. If the state-sponsored churches of Sweden lack butts in their pews, the subsidized talkers of NPR lack ears on their frequency. But like the sinecures of the Swedish priesthood, NPR doesn’t care if you listen or not. They get paid either way. [...Snip]