Saturday, March 31, 2007

Vae Mihi! Shamed before the entire world

While most bloggers would be thrilled to discover world class bloggers like Father Z, he who blogs at What Does The Prayer Really Say and tolerates no errors when it comes to the use of the Latin language, perusing their site, it is a horse of a different color (?equus alius pigmentum?) when he catches one in such a basic error as not adding an accusative ending to my Latin composition of a couple of hours ago. Fortunately, I didn't blow it on the verb conjugation.

Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant ! Start Practicing Your Latin, Folks!

Father Z, quoting Rorate Coeli, quoting LeFigaro, quoting Cardinal Bertone, says that the Moto Proprio is on and Latin and the 1962 Tridentine Mass will be sweeping the globe.

Let's see: Puer amat Puella. As you can see my Latin from 9th & 10th grade in the 50s is somewhat primitive. But I have a Cassell's Latin English paperback dictionary and a bid in on eBay that probably won't stay at $15.50 for a 1953 missal once this news gets out.

With a biretta tip to Rorate and commentors on this blog. o{]:¬)

Card. Bertone confirmed in an interview with Le Figaro, to be published in the Sunday magazine insert, that there is a Motu Proprio which will give every priest in the world the faculty (or remove any debate about the faculty) to celebrate Mass using the so-called "Tridentine" Rite.

I can’t get here the Sunday insert for Le Figaro, since there is a reduced edition sold in the edicole here. According to sources, the magazine of Le Figaro has this (my translation and emphasis):

Is a Decree broadening the possibility of celebrating the Latin Mass according to the rite from before Vatican II (the so-called Mass of St. Pius V) still planned?

Cardinal Bertone: ... the Missal published in 1962 by Pope John XXIII, with its own calendar, ... there is no valid reason not to grant to every priest in the whole world the right to celebrate according to this form. ... The publication of the Motu Proprio detailing this authorization will take place ("aura lieu"), but it will be the Pope himself who will spell out his reasons and the framework of his decision. The Sovereign Pontiff will personally give his vision for using the old Missal to the Christian people and in particular to the bishops.
So, several things can be gathered here.

1) It will be the 1962 Missale Romanum, and not another edition, such as the 1965.
2) It appears the calendar may be left unchanged.
3) It will concerned all priests, which means religious and not just diocesan.
4) It will happen, but no timeframe is given.

I note with interest the Cardinal’s statement that the Pope is going to explain this to the bishops in particular. Given that this is a French publication, and the French bishops were the major opponents to this move, this is like a shot over their bow.

A great deal is still left for the Pope to explain. I gather this means the M.P. must be entirely in his hands at this point. He is a) still revising or b) preparing his explanations. You can bet he will talk about his reasons for doing this with great clarity.

Many of us thought it might happen this week and that it is unlikely it would be during Holy Week… though I still won’t rule that out categorically.

His dictis ... at some point soon you might think about heading to the store to get that bottle of Veuve Clicquot, or whatever it is you prefer.


Note to those of you who gave up drinking for Lent. Don't crack open the Champagne until Easter!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Remick Fellowships Support Catholic Education in Rochester

Sara Sloneker's career epiphany came last fall when observing classes at Lourdes High School in Rochester.

"The first day and even the second day, it was just the way I was able to interact with the kids and how welcoming, kind they were," she said. It was an ah-hah moment. "This is where I would like to be," she told herself; she wanted to teach in Catholic schools.

That epiphany for the graduate student at Saint Mary's University in Winona came coincidentally with financial help from a Rochester couple that has been a major supporter of Lourdes and St. John's Catholic School in Rochester where Sloneker is now student teaching. Jack and Mary Ann Remick, through the Remick Fellowship that they endowed at Saint Mary's, are helping pay for Sloneker to get her master's degree and teach; this year, three women are Remick fellows. [...Snip] Rochester Post-Bulletin

The Fool Killer, or, Darwin's Revenge

It “looked like Nut City. … It was the kind of crowd that would have made the Fool Killer lower his club and shake his head and walk away, frustrated by the magnitude of the opportunity.”

Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

“Refusal to face the Verities, though not without immediate satisfactions, carries penalties. There’s a Fool Killer, personifying the ancient principle; whom the gods would destroy, in this world; and he has a list; and that’s a good way to put yourself on it. Then, the question’s just one of time, of how soon he’ll get around to you.”

James Gould Cozzens, By Love Posessed


Mitchell here.

How many times has it happened to you? You’re cruising around on the Internet, minding your own business, clicking on a few links here and there, when wham! You’re hit with it right between the eyes, no way to avoid it, and before you’re quite aware of what’s happened you’ve been sucked into its vortex, with no way of escape, succumbing to its temptations and its subtle whispers, powerless to prevent it, lured into the proximate cause of sin.

I’m talking, of course, about . . . the blogosphere. The troubling thing is I’m specifically talking about the Catholic blogosphere.

At the beginning of Lent there was an article at The New Liturgical Movement (one of the best Catholic blogs out there, by the way; their level of discourse in the combox is particularly of high quality) entitled “Should Catholics Blog?” that I’d meant to comment on at the time. Obviously I disagree with the conclusion of the author of the article that NLM links to, but I think he raises some points that can’t be ignored. The threats to Catholic bloggers and commenters, according to R.J. Stove, are as follows:

  • Addiction, with all its dangers;
  • Pseudonymity, with all its dangers;
  • Encouraging smart-aleck soundbites rather than hard, detailed, historically scrupulous reasoning;
  • Related to (iii), a general degrading of language, and of the writer’s role as language’s custodian (not to say as breadwinner);
  • De facto anticlericalism.

I’m not going to deal with Stove’s article per se, except as a reference point for the discussion that follows. Because it seems undeniable that these five points (or corruptions, as Stove calls them) have imbedded themselves deeply in all parts of the blogosphere (particularly points three and four), including Catholic ones.

There are many good Catholic blogs out there. Stella Borealis is one, or else I wouldn’t be writing here. My cohorts at this site all manage top-quality blogs. And the ones we link to at Our Word are, by and large, of high quality. So this isn’t meant to sound like a rant from some prim scold. Lord knows, we have as much of an edge here as anyone. No, it’s more musings born of fatigue, of the weariness that results from frustration, from being boxed in on all sides. And there seems an unfairness about it somehow, that a few are ruining it for the many. It’s no secret that the blogosphere has been getting rougher and rougher, more uncivil, cruder, less restrained. And once something like this starts it’s hard to rein it in. Nastiness begets nastiness, and then where are you?

It’s getting to where you just don’t know where to turn anymore. Your senses are assaulted, your intellect violated; and, like the Fool Killer, you’re overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. Everywhere you look the bickering is going on, about the liturgy, about the Pope, about politics, about the war. Especially about the war.

Anyone who cruises through the blogosphere is confronted with the diverging viewpoints on the war. Some say it’s clearly an unjust war, while others believe it is a war necessary to preserve the United States. All well and good. Disagreement is nothing new, and it’s often quite productive. There’s nothing worse than a leader surrounded by yes-men (or –women), as we know (and quite possibly are witnessing in Washington right now).

What disturbs me particularly is not the disagreement about the war – after all, if something’s not set in stone I’m often willing to believe there might be two sides to the story, two ways of interpreting it. We used to call this an “Honest Difference of Opinion,” and one of these days you’re going to have to look that term up in Wikipedia, because it doesn’t seem to happen very much anymore today. Is it possible to have an honest difference of opinion on this kind of issue, even if it turns out that one party is truly, if sincerely, mistaken?

The debate about the war is particularly nasty because it cuts to the bone. Whatever your opinion of the war is, those who disagree with it are prepared to charge you not only with being wrong, but in many cases with possessing a completely incorrect understanding of Catholic thinking, being an intellectual dullard, having your priorities confused, or even being a traitor. Your soul, it goes without saying, is in mortal peril.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus says in the current issue of First Things that “Such rhetoric is employed by those who accuse opponents of the war of being unpatriotic and, much more commonly and stridently, or so it seems to me, by those who declare U.S. policy to be unjust, wrongheaded, or even criminal.” Because of his stand on the war (he’s a supporter), he is, of course, discredited in anything he says about it by those who disagree with him.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I have my own opinions about the war, and my “personal convictions”, as Dr. Lyman Hall says in 1776, are “personal.” But Fr. Neuhaus says those who oppose the war appear to be the more strident in their arguments, and it seems that way to me as well. People, especially those who oppose the war, seem totally unwilling to acknowledge that there just might be validity lurking somewhere in the depths of their adversary’s position. To them it is inconceivable that there could possibly be any interpretation of Church teaching other than the one they happen to be propounding. Now, perhaps Church teaching on this point is definitive, perhaps it isn’t. To me it doesn’t seem to be quite as clear cut as, say, the Resurrection. But these people just refuse to believe it’s a possibility. And they’ll tell you that in the frankest terms possible.

You know what? If these people were truly interested in laying out their opposition to the war with the hope of converting the hearts and minds of others (which, if they’re truly acting out of Christian principle, should be at least one of their goals), they’d be well-advised to do it in such a way as to avoid accusing those with whom they disagree of being puppets of the Republican Party, Americans first and Catholics second, or (my favorite of all) simply idiots. That kind of confrontational rhetoric doesn’t usually cut it with most people. (Unless, of course, you’re more interested in listening to the sound of your own voice than you are making a convincing argument. And heaven forbid that I should make any suggestion like that!)

Now, that’s not to say that these rhetorical judgments aren’t accurate at least some, if not most, of the time. But do we really get anywhere by casting them around? Likewise for those who accuse the anti-war faction of anti-Americanism, of wanting to see the country punished. Doubtless there are many, if not most, who feel to one extent or another that the country does deserve everything it gets, but it’s an indelicate situation at best.

What is missing from both sides is this willingness to engage in constructive conversation. I’ve often said that spirited political discussion should be like flirting, with all the joys, mysteries, tension and frustration that accompany it. Foremost, it should be fun. But I see precious little fun out there, not when so much of it seems to be concentrated on inflicting pain and scorn on someone else.

What is most interesting about this phenomenon is the breathtaking arrogance on display, the absolute certainty of right and wrong that so often accompanies these expressions, often with little if any regard for civility. It goes far beyond the normal desire to assert a total understanding of the truth, to an area which requires that the opponent be held up to maximum scorn, personal attack, and embarrassment (if possible).

Take, for example, the recent blow-up surrounding Sean Hannity. Hannity’s in hot water with a lot of conservatives over his intemperate comments to a priest a couple of weeks ago. Not only intemperate, but factually ignorant. Not only factually ignorant, but designed to ignite, inflame, provoke. In other words, his usual shtick. Now, you’re not going to see any love letters to Sean Hannity from me. He may have his fans out there, but I’m not one of them. Nonetheless, it was amusing to see the vitriol that was being expended against him in the blogosphere. From a purely emotional standpoint, a lot of it was extremely satisfying. But like many of the best things in life – fame, food, sex – it also left one with that empty feeling afterwards.

One of Hannity’s gravest offenses, according to the blog comboxes, was his lack of respect toward his priest-adversary. Go to the videotape – the accusations are pretty tough to deny. And, of course, you don’t look to these televised shout-fests expecting to see much respect passed between the debated parties. But, when you look at the blogs, more likely than not, you’ll come across a piece about Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, the über-liberal of the American Catholic Church, and likely as not you’re going to read comments about Mahony that are probably harsher than those Hannity used. They even use the “H-Word": Heretic. Again, this isn’t an opinion that I’d particularly disagree with – personally, I think Cardinal Mahony’s actions are often, how should we put it, suspect? But you can’t help noticing the irony in it all, because many of these commentators share the same conservative outlook as those who rip Hannity for doing the same thing – dissing a priest.

This isn’t meant to single out the Hannity story – it’s only one example of thousands out there that make up the modern blogosphere. You’d think the Catholic blogs would be less susceptible to this kind of behavior, but you’d be wrong. Not that there’s more of it than anywhere else; perhaps it’s just more scandalous. Whether talking about the liturgy, theology, what have you. Sometimes the priests get on line and they fight back. The whole thing makes for a faintly distasteful sensation, as if you’re looking for someone to try and remain above it all.

There are blogs out there that we don’t link to anymore, because of the lack of civility in posts and comboxes. (There’s even been the odd bit of profanity, which it seems to me is not a good thing for a religious blog.) There are blogs we’d like to link to, ones we agree with on a broad range of philosophical or political issues, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it, because they’re just too much.

It’s all too much, really. It’s so easy, it’s almost laughable. You could start a drinking game just based on the first few words in the combox, especially the ubiquitous “Um…” (a word banned from this site, by the way). Nine, or perhaps nine and a half, times out of ten, “Um” serves as a preface to some kind of snarky correction.

Now although we’ve spent most of this particular piece talking about Catholic blogs, I’m not by any means limiting the discussion to that. Look at the last week or so in the political blogosphere, and you’ll see some pretty nasty stuff about Tony Snow’s cancer, for example (at Wonkette, among others). We’ve spent the last month or so highlighting other examples of incivility, and those have only been the ones that captured our fancy. (See these Our Word posts, for example.) Invariably, when you start talking about things like this, someone’s going to come along and defend the right to say whatever’s on your mind – they’ll talk about concepts such as free speech, and they’re eventually going to work their way to how those who speak their mind (like Rosie O’Donnell, for example, or Ann Coulter) are demonstrating “courage.”

These people think that courage has everything to do with standing up and saying whatever you want, doing whatever you feel like doing, as long as it’s controversial and guaranteed to create a stir.

That’s not what courage is at all. Any fool can stand up and shoot his mouth off. It doesn’t take anything more taxing than the ability to speak, or use your fingers on a keyboard. Maybe a little technical know-how to set up a blog, but they’ve made that pretty much dummy-proof as well.

Courage doesn’t mean fearless. It means being able to overcome your fear, to go ahead with a principled course of action regardless of the consequences. A lot of true heroes, people who truly fit the profile of courage, admit to great fear. The difference is that their fear didn’t stop them from doing what they knew had to be done.

In that context, there’s nothing particularly courageous about getting on a blog and telling people what you really think about life, and about them. There’s nothing particularly courageous about getting on a TV panel and shouting at the top of your lungs, laying out the one and only version of the truth. There’s nothing particularly courageous about demonizing those who disagree with you, about cutting them to the quick with your catty comments, about preaching to the choir instead of trying to explain your viewpoint.

No, to be courageous is to put your opinions up for open debate, to open them to the possibility of civil disagreement, perhaps even correction. In some circumstances you may have to wait, even until after your death, to see them validated. It's about taking a chance with your opinions, rather than simply trying to steamroller people with them. That's real courage. That other stuff? It seems to me more like a waste of time and energy.


Relievedebtor at Architecture and Morality recently posed the question, “Is Our Lack of Manners a Return to Primitivism?” While some forms of etiquette (such as the curtsy) tend to give to the ruling classes a tacit authority for ruling, “Postmodernism has taught us to distrust authority, and consequently, it seems we distrust the rituals, however minor they may appear, that are complicit in such trust.”

Perhaps this is what it’s all about – distrust. We don’t trust the government anymore, which is probably a good thing. We don’t trust actors or athletes or other celebrities, which is definitely a good thing. Trust in church leaders has been damaged, in some cases and with some people beyond repair, which is sad more than anything else. But what is most damaging out of all of this is the lack of trust we have in our fellow man.

It’s one thing to be wary and prudent. However, to engage in dialogue (like so many other things) requires an element of trust. It’s like working a trapeze act. If you’re not sure your partner’s going to be where he’s supposed to be when you’ve finished that third somersault, you’re going to be hesitant, lacking confidence about the whole thing. Without that confidence in the merits of dialogue, is it so surprising that it so often resorts to defensive posturing and grand pronouncements?

Relievedebtor concludes, “To disregard manners is to disregard authority. To disregard authority is to lose self-governance. To lose self-governance is to begin the path to primitivism.”

The fear is that this is where we’ve arrived. We seem to be regressing into some kind of post-apocalyptic culture, a permanent Mad Max syndrome that has replaced manners with noise, thought with emotion, restraint with orgiastic expression, and respect with scorn. We’re producing an entire generation of intellectual knuckle-draggers, totally incapable of understanding concepts such as “good intentions,” utterly unwilling to engage in civil discussion on any kind of scale. If Darwin is in a place where he can appreciate it, he must be enjoying the irony of this de-evolution back to a primitive social state. Next thing you know, we’ll be replacing our keyboards with soup bones and clubbing it out in the public square. And we’ll be hard-pressed to call it “progress.”

Cross-Posted to Our Word and Welcome to It

How'd You Like HIM For a Confessor?


More than 200 priests, wearing the violet stole for Lent, heard confessions in the Basilica after the Mass. Some sat in simple chairs because there are not that many confessional booths.

While the confessions took place, the choir and orchestra of the Diocese of Rome performed meditative music for Lent alternating with spiritual readings, including the message of the Pope for this World Youth Day.

Earlier, the Pope described the penitential liturgy as "an encounter around the Cross, a celebration of the mercy of God whom each of you can experience personally through the sacrament of confession."

"God's love for man," the Pope said in his homily, "is best described by the word agape - which is sacrificial love, which seeks only the good of the other."

But it can also be described as eros, he continued, citing his Lenten message. "The heart of God, the omnipotent, waits for the Yes from his creatures as a young husband awaits his wife's yes." Papa Ratzinger Forum March 29, 2007, 20:57

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pending "Hate Crimes" Bill Threatens Catholics and Other Christians; Free Speech Out the Window!

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis notes that "as Catholics continue to speak out on life and family issues they will face persecution."

The recently introduced Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would include speech, even in Churches against homosexual activity among its offenses. See More at the Catholic Defense League

Divine Mercy Egg Rolls; Just What I have been looking for.

Speaking as one who exists and is still Catholic ONLY because of Divine Mercy, I was intrigued to see that Holy Family Catholic Church in St Louis Park finally has a web page.

Well, that too.

But this year, they are offering "Divine Mercy Egg Rolls", something that neither the fabulous Google, the nifty Yahoo, nor the upstart Clusty has ever heard of as an incentive to spend the Octave of Easter, now known as "Divine Mercy Sunday, with them. That's enough to get me over there.

Take a gander at the rest of the schedule:

11:00 Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - Father Thomas Dufner, main celebrant
12:00 Oriental/American lunch with lots of famous Divine Mercy egg rolls! - Free Will Offering -- Beautiful religious items and Catholic books for sale in Moorman Hall
1:15 Saint Faustina’s Litany of Divine Praises in Church
-Veneration of Saint Faustina & Saint Margaret Mary’s relics
-Holy Rosary with meditations from Saint Faustina’s Diary
2:00 Fr. Louis Guardiola, C.P.M. of the Fathers of Mercy - Auburn, Kentucky --Father will preach on “Divine Mercy and the Most Holy Eucharist” [That must be the order where the "breathy" Father Casey, occasionally seen on EWTN, harks from.]
2:45 Incensing of the Image, Religious Articles Blessing, Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Renewal of Parish Divine Mercy Consecration and Benediction

The Sacrament of Confession will be available in the afternoon.


Because Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “My daughter, speak to the world of My inexhaustible Mercy. I desire that this Feast be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, especially for poor sinners. The very depths of My Mercy will be opened on that day. I will pour out a sea of graces upon those souls that will approach the fount of My Mercy on this day.” “Let no soul fear to come to Me, even if it’s sins be as scarlet. This feast emerged from the bosom of My Mercy and is founded in the depths of My Mercies. I desire that it be celebrated with great solemnity on the first Sunday after Easter.”

Holy Family is at 5900 West Lake Street in St Louis Park. [Just west of Hwy 100 and Mtka Blvd where Lake St bends southwesterly]

Oh, Canada! -- (Sob!) - Winnipeg Opens Secret Abortion Facility

( - The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), has opened a large abortion facility but is not revealing its location. The facility will commit abortions and provide both pre-operative and post-operative care at the undisclosed 5,000-square-foot space.

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the facility's location will not be made public in order to avoid confrontation with pro-life demonstrators.

With a nod to the growing awareness even among pro-abortion health care providers of the psychological damage to women, the facility will also provide two full-time psychological counsellors. The WRHA is seeking an additional family doctor and nurse practitioner to staff the facility.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Father Robert Altier Says: Hie Thee To the Confessional! Lent's Almost Over!

Father Robert Altier, "temporarily" posted to the Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Chaplain of Catholic Parents OnLine, was the retreat master over at St Agnes last Saturday for the CPO annual Lenten retreat.

A lot of us put off going to Confession, not because we are ax murderers, terrorists or mafia hitpersons, but because we seem to be stuck with the same crummy old sins each time we go and we dread the moment when the confessor, in a Padre Pio-like moment, will challenge us as to whether or not we are truly repentant for our quick temper or cuss words or inattention at Mass or lying to our Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Children, Boss, Neighbor, etc.

Father made some interesting distinctions that are worth relating here.

1. Truth is a Relationship. Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth and the Light." Therefore Truth for us is our relationship with Jesus.

2. Nobody in Biblical times would have understood the term "Conscience." That was St Augustine's idea. The use of the term in 1 Tim 19 in the original was "heart."

Most of us use the word "conscience" as a synonym for "guilty." Father A. says that in the Natural Law, your conscience tells you when you are right.

It has been formed by the influences of your parents, your friends, your schooling, and the media, both visual and auditory. Those influences teach values, not principles. Values can change. Bell bottom trousers and Nehru jackets were once valued as fashionable.

Modern philosophy is a combination of "Consequentialism" (Did anybody get hurt), "Intentionality" (The end justifies the means) and Subjective Morality (Go with the flow).

Father Altier says: Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow!

3. The principles by which we should be forming our conscience are:

a. Church teachings
b. The Catechism
c. Moral Theology
d. A Daily Examination of Conscience

4. Confession

a. Stay in the state of grace

b. Go to Confession before you commit a mortal sin

c. Watch out for the little things

d. If you wait too long between confessions, you forget your venial sins and lose the opportunity to confess them

e. Concentrate on one problem every day and monitor it on paper/computer

Keep a log of "repetitive" sins that you committed
Keep a log of sins that you thought of, but didn't commit

f. Thank God that you always have the same sins! You know your weaknesses!

g. Keep working on them!

We become aware of sin
We become aware of the evil of sin
We become aware of how much it hurts Our Lord
Be in relationship with Truth
Be in relationship with Jesus Christ, who is Truth
Pray Daily!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The First Stone (Into the Desert for Lent); or, "Minnesota Nice"

Sister Edith who teaches Sociology at the College of St Scholastica in Duluth and blogs at Monastic Musings always has great posts. And for some reason, I have ignored her during this Lent. I shouldn't have. And if you haven't kept your Lenten resolution, why not try reading some of Sr. Edith's "Desert Meditations." They are short and will be good for your soul.

Sr. Edith has come up with at least 29 really great posts on the theme of "Into the Desert", using some of the stories told by the Desert Fathers of the early Church. Now I was born in Duluth, and I don't recall any deserts there when I was a youth. I guess Sister is speaking in metaphors.

And one of the great metaphors that we all understand here is "Minnesota Nice."

In Minnesota, we have an aversion to saying anything even vaguely critical or confrontational to each other. This tendency is so strong it has a name: Minnesota nice.

It is a terrible affliction. It stymies us from solving problems because no one wants to be the first one to say something. We suffer in bad relationships that might improve, if only the other person knew that he or she was causing us misery. We don't have patience, merely stifled irritation.

Minnesota nice also robs us of the benefit of Christian community: being reminded of our call to holiness, especially when we are falling down on the job.

The desert monks did not suffer from Minnesota nice. In fact, they specialized in one-liners and gestures that would puncture someone's holiness bubble in an instant. They did not accuse and blame: they simply tried, in every situation, to act as Christ would act, or to follow Scripture's guidance.

Thus are born some of the simplest of the stories, ones which puncture our own holiness bubbles simply by reading them.

One of the brethren had sinned, and the priest told him to leave the community.

So then Abbot Bessarion got up and walked out with him, saying: "I too am a sinner."

Read all of Sister Edith's "Into the Desert" posts here.

Defeating stem-cell bill is a top priority for Minnesota Catholic Bishops

Minnesota’s Catholic bishops have identified several public policy issues they want state lawmakers to address at the Capitol this year: affordable housing, health care, education and immigration, to name just a few.

The first topic broached in many of those meetings was embryonic stem-cell research and “how very much we would be opposed to taxpayers’ money — Catholic taxpayers’ money — going to the University of Minnesota for that kind of research,” said Archbishop Harry Flynn.
“We were alarmed, and we’ve expressed our alarm, at some of the wording in House File 34 and Senate File 100 from a moral viewpoint but also from a practical standpoint,” added Bishop John Nienstedt of the Diocese of New Ulm.

The House proposal, authored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis), has passed through two committees and is pending in a third. The bill would allow the University of Minnesota to use state money for stem-cell research, including research that requires the destruction of human embryos. Kahn’s bill also requires health care providers, treating patients for infertility, to provide information regarding the disposal of human embryos after fertility treatment, including the possibility of donating embryos for research.

While an amendment to the bill explicitly prohibits human cloning, opponents argue that a procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transplantation, allowed by the bill, can result in human cloning.

Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Christopher Leifeld, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the social policy arm of the state’s bishops, have testified in hearings against the bill. The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), is similar in scope.

While the bishops oppose embryonic stem-cell research on moral grounds because it requires the destruction of nascent human life, they also oppose the bills on practical grounds, Bishop Nienstedt said.

He recalled his attendance last year at a seminar featuring scientists from Johns Hopkins University who noted dozens of medical therapies that use adult stem cells but only one that was even tried with embryonic stem cells.
Added Bishop Nienstedt: “Science has this tremendous appetite to experiment, and we have to say, at times, no to science. We have to draw the line when it comes to the dignity of the human person.” Catholic Spirit

Sorry to Ruin Your Lent; But the Pope Says: "Hell exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to Jesus' love."

In a homily delivered Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI stated, "Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in heaven and that hell - of which so little is said in our time - exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love."

The warning about hell comes in the context of love. In fact, it is because of God's love that He warns us about the possibility of eternal separation from Him. God is, "above all, love," said the Pope. "If He hates sin it is because He has an infinite love for all human beings." The Lord's aim, said Benedict, was "to save a soul and to reveal that salvation is only to be found in the love of God."

While it is true that hell is rarely spoken of even from the pulpit nowadays, some bishops have been moved to warn about hell when motivated by love - by an overwhelming concern for the salvation of those entrusted to their care.

One such bishop, Fargo Bishop Samuel J. Aquila in North Dakota, gave warning in 2004 when the media was rife with stories of John Kerry defiantly receiving communion despite his pro-abortion stance. Addressing all Catholics and especially "'pro-choice' Catholics," the bishop said, "Jesus Christ has warned clearly within the Gospel that hell is a reality and that we are free to choose it. Catholics who separate their faith life from their professional and social activities are putting the salvation of their souls in jeopardy. They risk the possibility of hell."

Other bishops have said the same thing using the phrase "jeopardizing salvation." Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary Alberta issued a public warning in 2003 to then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who was referred to by the Canadian media as a "devout Catholic" despite his support for abortion and homosexual marriage. "He's putting at risk his eternal salvation. I pray for the Prime Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy," said Bishop Henry.

Similarly Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs warned in 2004: "Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation." He added poignantly, "Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences."

Prior to his elevation to the pontificate, Cardinal Ratzinger too spoke of the consequence of hell proceeding from attacks on the sanctity of life. "When, as today, there is a market in human organs, when fetuses are produced to make spare organs available, or to make progress in research and preventive medicine, many regard the human content of these practices as implicit. But the contempt for man that underlies it, when man is used and abused, leads -- like it or not -- to a descent into hell," he said in an address in 2001 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

Planned Parenthood is Recruiting Help for Good Friday: Pro-Life Action Ministries and Thousands of Babies Want You There Also

Pro-Life Action Ministries expects over 1,000 demonstrators at the Highland Park Killing Facility of Planned Parenthood on Good Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Please spend an hour or so with us in a peaceful march of prayer, hymns, and meditations. This event is very well organized and very peaceful.

Planned Parenthood knows we're coming and is busy recruiting help too.

There will be a Pro-Life demonstration at the Duluth Planned Parenthood Killing Facility on Good Friday also between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Just what you need; something more to read:

As long as you don't skip reading Stella Borealis and the other good Catholic blogs from Minnesota and the vicinity, I guess I don't mind giving you good folks a great reading tip.

There is a relatively new Catholic "Webzine", I guess, out there, entitled Catholic Daily. And they are recruiting the best of the Catholic writers from around the country to obtain their articles. Give it a try. We all know that there are a lot of good writers in our area and two have been selected.

Julie Olson of Epiphany Parish in Coon Rapids was just selected as one of their authors and her article, "The Value of One Holy Communion" heads Catholic Daily's offerings today.

Julie, an "old pal o' mine", is currently a graduate student in the Ave Maria University Institute of Pastoral Theology that will begin offering classes at St Charles Borromeo parish in St Anthony in the Fall. They are looking for students if you are interested.

Erin Bissonnette, of St Peter and Paul Parish in Mankato, has been a Catholic Daily author for some time now. Erin, a wife, mom and part time family nurse practitioner, also between writing articles and blogging at Our Lady's Tears, singing in her choir and her other avocations, must spend a great deal of time just planning her schedule. Raising children must be demanding (and rewarding) enough.

Her current article in Catholic Daily is titled Compunction of Heart.

I'm not going to tell the folks at Catholic Daily about all our other great blogging writers here. Losing one to them is bad enough. Let them do their own searching for authors.

Congratulations to Erin and Julie. May the authorial Muse strike hard and often!

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Henry V, Act 1

Abortion foes protest Regions clinic

Pro-Life Action Ministries is gathering petition signatures to present at HealthPartners' annual meeting in April in an effort to discourage abortions at Regions Hospital. The insurance company operates the St. Paul hospital.
"The purpose of the petition at this point in time is to try and get the attention of (HealthPartners') board that it has a problem that it needs to correct."

Neither Regions nor HealthPartners is listed in the state's annual abortion reports. Instead, the clinic is listed as GYN Special Services. The latest report shows 733 abortions took place in the clinic in 2005, which makes it the sixth-most-active clinic in the state, out of seven. The greatest number was performed at Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, which reported 3,012.

Gibson takes particular offense at the Regions clinic, because it is the only one in the state connected to a major hospital and a health insurance organization. It also trains medical residents from the University of Minnesota who specialize in obstetrics and elect to learn abortion procedures.

Residents don't have to participate, but the university must offer them a full spectrum of training in reproductive health care, U spokeswoman Sara Buss said. Regions is not the only site where U residents can train in abortion procedures.

The number of U.S. hospitals offering abortions dropped from 1,405 in 1982 to 603 in 2000, according to the most recent survey by the Guttmacher Institute, and the share of abortions performed in hospitals dropped from 22 percent to 5 percent over the same period. PioneerPress

If you would like to sign the Health Partners petition, or make a copy to pass around to people that you know, click Here

The President of Health Partners is Mary Brainard and her telephone number is 952-883-6000

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's not too late to make this a truly meaningful Lent this year!

Our Lenten journey is drawing to a close and the Church is getting set for the great celebration of Easter. The week which is called “Holy Week” is meant to be just that — a holy time. As we approach the end of Lent, I often hear from people that their Lenten journey was not as fruitful as they had hoped it would be. Thoughts that “I had planned to do more,” or “I really intended to do this” can leave us feeling that we did not use Lent as we might have.

Well, the good news is: Lent is not over yet — and Holy Week can be a very fruitful time in our spiritual preparation for Easter. Beginning with Palm Sunday, the liturgies of Holy Week are wonderful opportunities to enter more fully into prayer and meditation on the beautiful gift of Jesus.

Beginning on Holy Thursday, the Church begins the three-day celebration of the Triduum. Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. It is also known as Maundy Thursday, which comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning mandate, since at the Last Supper Jesus gave his apostles the mandate, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” It is a powerful reminder to each of us that we are called to live out the Gospel in our daily lives and imitate Jesus’ love.

The celebration of the Lord’s Passion is among the most moving liturgies of the whole year. The simplicity and quiet of this day is marked with the powerful retelling of the events of our Lord’s passion and death. It is a day marked with extraordinary intensity and no matter how many times one attends, you cannot help being moved and brought to a greater understanding of the price that Jesus paid for our sins.

The starkness of Good Friday gives way the celebration of the Easter Vigil. I don’t generally like to acknowledge a “favorite” Mass of the year, as every one is quite miraculous, but if I were going to claim one as a favorite, Easter Vigil would be that one. It begins in darkness with the blessing of fire and celebration as Christ is the “light that no darkness can overcome.” There are four readings from the Old Testament which give an abbreviated synopsis of salvation history, from the creation of the world, to the covenant that God made with Abraham, to Moses and the Israelites being led to freedom from Pharaoh.

At last there is the proclamation of the Easter Alleluia and the Gospel account of the empty tomb. The Easter Vigil also celebrates the sacrament of baptism and confirmation for those who have been preparing in our parish RCIA program. It is a celebration of light and renewal and most importantly of resurrection. If you have never attended the Triduum liturgies or the Easter Vigil Mass, I invite you to join us this year. It is a truly amazing way to end your observance of Lent and be renewed in your commitment to Christ.

Remember, it is not too late to make this Lent truly meaningful this year. Father Mark Pavlik, St Olaf's Minneapolis

Cavins & Arroyo to Speak at Cedarcrest Academy Gala & Auction Mar 31

It will be reunion time at the Cedarcrest Academy's Fourth Annual Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. when EWTN's news anchor and Mother Angelica biographer, Raymond Arroyo, and that station's former Life on the Rock host, Jeff Cavins, Minnesota boy, Bible scholar and author, get together for a benefit for the Cedarcrest Academy in Maple Grove. It should be a great evening.

6950 West Fish Lake Road, Maple Grove

For Further Information, call 763-494-5387

Rosalind Moss to Speak at 11th Annual Catholic Servant Benefit Dinner Mar 31

Father Bill Baer, Rector of the St John Vianney College Seminary, the largest in the U.S., to receive the Pope John Paul II Catholic Servant of the Third Millenium Award.

Saturday, March 31, 2007
Doran Hall, Church of St Charles Borromeo
2739 Stinson Blvd, St Anthony (Stinson & St Anthony Blvd)

6:00 p.m. Social and Silent Auction

7:00 p.m. Dinner

8:00 p.m. Presentation of the annual Pope John Paul II Catholic Servant of the Third Millenium Award to Fr. Bill
Baer, Rector and President of St John Vianney College Seminary

8:30 p.m. "A Life That Will Change the World", a talk by Rosalind Moss, a Staff Apologist with Catholic Answers.

For Further Information, please call 763-502-0792

As a way of reaching out to spread, explain, and defend the Catholic Faith, 41,000 copies of "The Catholic Servant" are printed each month. Of that number, approximately 25,000 are mailed free of charge to households and students. Approximately 500 are purchased through subscriptions, and the rest are distributed free of charge through parishes and various outlets. By participating in this fundraiser, you can help us with this important endeavor of evangelization, catechesis and apologetics.

The Scrutiny Passion: St Olaf's, Minneapolis, March 29-30

St. Olaf Worship & Sacred Music Series presents

The Scrutiny Passion

Jeremy D. Stanbary, playwright
Nicholas Lemme and Dr. Lynn Trapp, composers
Thursday, March 29 Friday, March 30 7:00 pm

See the debut of an all original, collaborative Performing Arts project between Catholic Theater Production Company,
Epiphany Studio Productions, and the St. Olaf Worship & Sacred Music Series. Featuring internationally known actors Jeremy Stanbary and Maggie Mahrt, this drama brings to life the Passion of Jesus Christ through the eyes of three gospel figures who were changed forever by their encounter with the Messiah: the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, and Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The play reveals deep insights into the human condition, the mystery of suffering, as well as God’s infinite mercy and love, in light of the arrest, passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Tickets $10 per person. Call 651-336-3302, or visit

Jeremy Stanbary pondered and prayed over his new project, searching for a way to make three Gospels come alive in a theater performance. As St. Olaf’s playwright in residence studied the stories — the Samaritan woman at the well, the blind beggar whose sight was restored, and the sister of Lazarus who witnessed his raising from the dead — he began to contemplate a powerful question.

“I thought, ‘How would these people have viewed the Passion?’ ” Stanbary said. “How would they have understood and struggled with Christ’s arrest and crucifixion in light of the miraculous encounters they had with Him? That’s how I decided to make the play about the passion of Christ, doing it from the whole new perspective of these key Biblical figures.”

The project, “The Scrutiny Passion,” combines Stanbary’s drama with the music of Dr. Lynn Trapp and Nicholas Lemme in a unique collaboration. The three-act production will premiere in the church sanctuary of St. Olaf on March 29 and 30 at 7:00 pm.

Stanbary, founder and executive director of Epiphany Studio Productions, came to St. Olaf a year ago at the invitation of former pastor Fr. Eugene Tiffany. He hoped to create a project with the parish and found his ideal vehicle in “The Scrutiny Passion.” Trapp is St. Olaf’s director of worship and music, and Lemme is a parish music minister, RCIA sponsor, composer and musician.

The project is grounded in Stanbary’s unique brand of Catholic theater. His inspiration is the “Theater of the Word” founded by Karol Wojtyla during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The future Pope John Paul II wrote plays that explore our shared human experience and our relationship with God, in a style that exalts the divine word through the beauty and power of the spoken word.

Stanbary has emulated that artistic vision in plays such as “Lolek” and “Alessandro.” In “The Scrutiny Passion,” the
music of Trapp and Lemme adds another dimension to the work. Their score functions not as background, but as another voice in the ensemble, deepening and enhancing the drama of the Passion as seen through fresh eyes. Six musicians and several vocalists will perform the score — written for string quartet, organ, clarinet and voice — as the three actors tell their stories.

“This particular thing doesn’t exist anywhere,” Trapp said. “This goes to another level of art with liturgical drama. Jeremy was already doing that, and adding live musicians is just another step on the road.” Lemme and Trapp wanted their music to express a rich sound and emotional range to compliment Stanbary’s script. The playwright found his inspiration through prayer and reflection on the Gospels, which led him to consider the unique perspective each of his three characters would offer because of their profound personal experiences with Jesus. The Samaritan woman reflects upon Jesus’ arrest and condemnation; the beggar follows Him as he carries the cross; and Mary, the sister of Lazarus, contemplates Jesus’ crucifixion and death.

“I thought about basic human questions such as, what internal struggles would these people feel and what insights would they have?” Stanbary said. “By drawing the audience in to relate to each character, the goal is to get past the cookie-cutter way we understand the Passion today. It’s almost like you are there with them, which makes
the story more personal.”

Stanbary performs his work around the country, and the music for “The Scrutiny Passion” will be recorded so he can take the production to locations without live musicians. Other staff members at St. Olaf, including volunteers in the liturgical environment ministry also are helping with the premiere. The project has generated great enthusiasm
within the parish, which has a long tradition of supporting the performing arts in a liturgical context.

“Professionally, I’m humbled to do this,” Lemme said. “It has helped me deepen my faith, too. Reading and meditating on this has made me realize we never stop converting.”

Sharing that experience with other artists, Stanbary said, makes it even richer. “Doing this kind of collaboration has been a spiritual experience of faith in God and trust in each others’ talents,” he said. “We know we are all on the same road, and ultimately, this is something we trust will be guided by the Spirit.”

Rembrandt print among those to be exhibited at UST


Including prints from masters such as Rembrandt, Goltzius and Dürer, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul will host a collection of 16th- and 17th-century religious prints from the Thrivent Financial for Lutheran’s [Lutheran Brotherhood] Collection of Religious Art from March 26 to May 31. Titled “Familiar Image, Sacred Impression: The Reformation and Beyond,” the exhibit will be displayed in the lobby of the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center. . . .

The prints’ creation and significance will be addressed in a March 30 lecture, “Printmaking from Dürer to Rembrandt: Technique and Meaning,” at 5 p.m. in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. [...snip] Catholic Spirit

NCRegister's Top 100 Catholic Movies

In 2004, the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family magazine gathered online nominations for films that best celebrate Catholic life. These are movies with specific Catholic references, not simply with Catholic themes.

More than 1,000 people voted for their favorites. Here are the results.

Female German Judge Citing the Koran, Approves of Wife Beating

A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.

News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence.

The court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Judge Datz-Winter from the case on Wednesday, saying it could not justify her reasoning. The woman’s lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, said she decided to publicize the ruling, which was issued in January, after the court refused her request for a new judge. [...snip] NYTimes

I don't have the details but there is a polygamy case winding its way through U.S. courts. The Koran approves polygamy for men (not for women, of course). Will U.S. courts approve polygamy. Stay tuned.

If you haven't been paying attention, some members of the United States Supreme Court have been citing European laws and legal decisions in their arguments in U.S. cases. The Article VI of the U.S. Constitution classifies the provisions of treaties signed by the U.S. to be the "Supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Since the U.S. is a party to the treaty creating the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, then its decisions, if applicable, would be enforceable in the United States. U.S. justices have also cited decisions of the European Human Rights Court based in Brussels, Belgium, in U.S. cases.

Would you say that wouldn't apply? If American judges can make up a "right of privacy" as they did in the Connecticut birth control case, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says our justices can't make up more rights they might like from European (or Asian) cases.

269 Shopping Days Until Christmas: The Feast of the Annunciation!


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Homosexual Genetics

I don't know whether there is a "homosexual gene" or not. I can barely spell the word "gene."

But I do know that many homosexuals lack the "humor gene."

Garrison Keillor, the host of American Public Media's A Prairie Home Companion, has [some] bloggers fuming [Others are ROTFLTAO] over a recent edition of his syndicated column "The Old Scout."

The March 14 article, titled "Stating the Obvious," begins with Keillor's patented folksy, self-deprecating prairie populism on how neat it was to come from a family raised by a plain old mom and dad who put up with each other's shit until they were both in the dirt. Keillor bemoans today's "serial monogamy," where the Thanksgiving table expands to make room for mom's third husband and Grandpa's girlfriend.

Then it takes a sharp right turn. Keillor, possibly on a sugar high from too many Powdermilk Biscuits, worries that the queers will want to go out and get kids. He ponders how those "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog," would be able to let their children be the stars of the family. "If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control," Keillor harrumphs.

Keillor's exasperated vision of a Freddie Mercury/Dame Edna-run household raised the ire of gay political blogger John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, who called the NPR star a "bigoted, homophobic pig." Sex columnist and gay parent Dan Savage cited Keillor's Wikipedia entry that divulges his three marriages. City Pages

Pro-Life Homosexuals? Is it the Second Coming? Nope! They're Terrified!

Apparently it’s been raging for quite some time, but I just heard about it: the controversy of the homosexual sheep. A researcher named Charles Roselli, from the Oregon Health and Science University, has been working to discover why about 8% of rams appear to be gay (that is, to prefer the company of other rams and not to breed with ewes.) Both PETA and a wide variety of gay/lesbian groups started a firestorm of criticism, including floods of hate mail sent to Roselli. Why are they so upset? They imagine, against Roselli’s protests, that he might be attempting to discover the cause of homosexuality so that homosexual human beings could be diagnosed and, possibly, changed.

I don’t expect that such a thing could ever be done, and the whole idea of gay sheep seems fairly ludicrous to me, though I don’t pretend to have any sort of scientific background. Whether or not there are genetic factors in human homosexuality, there certainly are many psychological ones, and equivalents to these are not likely to be found in sheep. If you actually could draw convincing parallels between the sheep and homosexual people, I’d expect gays and lesbians to be thrilled with the discovery, since it would seem to show that their apparently unnatural sexual acts are, in fact, mirrored in nature. Again admitting my complete lack of scientific credentials, I’ve always found the idea that there could be “gay genes” somewhat implausible, if only because many or most homosexuals aren’t, in my experience, gay simpliciter. Homoeroticism was rampant in the Peace Corps when I served there, and only a small minority of the participants considered themselves exclusively dedicated to romancing their own sex. Many more described themselves as having preferences for one sex or the other, or said that they were merely attracted to beautiful people without taking much note of their sex. If you think that everything about a person’s character is hard-wired, I suppose you’ll have to think that sexual attractions are as well, but I’m expecting to see a pistachio-ice-cream-liking gene or a prediliction-for-kitch gene before I expect to see a credible case for the existence of gay genes.

But the thing that most bothers the angered homosexuals, evidently, is the possibility that parents some day might decide to diagnose and abort homosexual fetuses, if this were to become possible. Personally, this seems unlikely to me, because even if it were possible to identify homosexuals in utero, the people who are most willing to kill their babies tend also to be those who wouldn’t mind if their offspring turned out to be gay. But Fr. Neuhaus, whose mention of this case in the Public Square section of the most recent First Things was what originally sparked my curiosity, made another interesting point. The same publication that ran a story on this potential threat to the gay population (the New York Times of course) ran another story recently proposing that the testing of fetuses for Down syndrome should be considered obligatory for all. Though they didn’t actually explain the full reasoning behind this, it’s fairly obvious what they think should be done about the fetuses that test positive.

“I don’t have a developed moral position on gay sheep,” he writes, “but one cannot help but be struck by the reasoning. To abort a child who might have Down syndrome is a social duty, and the ability to detect the problem early is hailed as a medical advance. To abort a child because of a hare lip or because she is a girl may be distasteful to some but is a constitutionally guaranteed right. To abort a child because he or she might have a genetic predisposition to homosexuality, however, is an act of intolerable discrimination. If morality finally comes down to drawing a line, it would seem that the line with respect to the otherwise unlimited abortion license is homosexuality. As Orwell observed, all human beings are equal but some are more equal than others.”

Well observed, Fr. Neuhaus.

Friday, March 23, 2007

And God Created Woman . . . . So Man Can Eat . . . . And The Church Can Thrive

Cathy of Alex, prolific St Blog's blogger at Recovering Dissident Catholic whose posts are routinely passed up to the highest levels of certain archdiocesan precincts, NASCAR junkie, bicycle endurance rider, crack shot, librarian and "Lenten Soup Supper" technician explains why it is best that the women of the parish should be in charge of the church kitchen:

One of my favorite times during Lent is the time spent in my parish basement kitchen preparing the soups for our Friday Lenten Soup Suppers with some of my Catholic sisters.

In my raging feminazi days, I was taught to be just furious in any situation where the women are in the kitchen cooking and the men aren't. My heart was never in that particular ultra-feminist argument because I've always enjoyed the kitchen time spent with my female relatives and friends. [....Snip] Read Further

Birth Control Access Denied at UMD

Nelson is angry at the government for taking away her access to low-priced birth control — what she considers a reproductive right.

“Many other young women I know are either stopping taking the pill or asking their significant others to help cover the cost,” she said. “This is absolutely essential to young women on college campuses … something needs to change immediately.”

It reminds one of the story of the young women who couldn't ask her "significant other" for financial help for paying for birth control because "money was too personal a subject to discuss with him."

Addie Nelson had just started to consider using University of Minnesota Duluth health services to buy a cheaper form of birth control. The freshman art and women’s studies major doesn’t have a car and said it would be difficult to get to a family planning clinic off campus.

But federal legislation signed by President Bush now prevents colleges from offering inexpensive forms of birth control. Provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 — meant to save government money by cutting certain programs — began in January. [...snip] Duluth NewsTribune

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One Small Step for a Man. . . . Breakthrough! Harvard Club Promotes Abstinence

Sometime between the founding of a student-run porn magazine and the day the campus health center advertised "Free Lube," Harvard University seniors Sarah Kinsella and Justin Murray decided to fight back against what they see as too much mindless sex at the Ivy League school.

They founded a student group called True Love Revolution to promote abstinence on campus. The group, created earlier this school year, has more than 90 members on its page and drew about half that many to an ice cream social.

Harvard treats sex—or "hooking up"—so casually that "sometimes I wonder if sex is even a remotely serious thing," said Kinsella, who is dating Murray.

Other schools around the country have small groups devoted to abstinence. On most campuses, they are religious organizations. Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have Anscombe Societies, secular organizations named after an English philosopher and Roman Catholic. True Love Revolution is secular as well.

Some feminists, in particular, have criticized True Love Revolution's message.

Harvard student Rebecca Singh said she was offended by a valentine the group sent to the dormitory mailboxes of all freshmen. It read: "Why wait? Because you're worth it."

"I think they thought that we might not be `ruined' yet," Singh said. "It's a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It's a relic."

Others on campus have mocked the group. Murray said his friends take pleasure in loudly, and graphically, discussing their sex lives just to taunt him.

"On campus there is such a strong attitude of pluralism and acceptance, but then it doesn't extend to this," Kinsella said.

In the student paper, The Harvard Crimson, columnist Jessica C. Coggins praised the group's low-key approach and scolded Harvard students for their "laughter at the virgin." She said students on the campus, which has 6,700 undergraduates, should "find a different confidence booster than making fun of celibate peers."

True Love Revolution members say the problem starts with the university. They say Harvard has implicitly led students to believe that having sex at college is a foregone conclusion by requiring incoming freshman to attend a seminar on date-rape that does not mention abstinence, by placing condoms in freshmen dorms, and by hosting racy lecturers. (Harvard students have also launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring racy photos of undergraduates.)

"Sometimes that voice on campus is so overwhelming that students committed to abstinence almost feel compelled to abandon their convictions," Murray said. He acknowledged he "slipped up" and had sex earlier in college but said he has returned to abstinence with Kinsella.

Dr. David Rosenthal, director of Harvard health services, disputed the notion that the university promotes sex.

He said students mistakenly think everyone on campus is having sex. The National College Health Assessment Survey, which included Harvard and hundreds of other campuses, found that about 29 percent of students reported not having sex in the past school year. For the 71 percent who are having sex, it is crucial to promote safety, Rosenthal said.

"Some students may have a feeling that acknowledgment is condoning," he said, "and it's not."

Pork problem is just the latest beef in religion-work disputes

Accommodating work and religion has been a thorny issue ever since the days of the Puritans, and now it's more complicated.

Walgreens, the pharmacy giant with stores in 47 states, doesn't require its pharmacists to fill prescriptions that violate their moral or religious beliefs -- accommodating some pharmacists' opposition to birth control, for example.

Creighton University, a Catholic Jesuit university in Omaha, does not perform abortions at its hospital or teach the procedure to the medical students there -- accommodating the institution's opposition to abortion.

Ever since the Puritans prohibited certain commercial activities on Sundays in the 1600s -- so the faithful could spend their Sabbath in worship -- workplaces have accommodated at least some religion-based work limitations.

The principle just popped up again in the Twin Cities, when some Muslim cashiers at Target stores refused to scan customers' pork products on religious grounds. Target had them flag another employee to do the scanning, but within days of news reports and hours of talk radio devoted to the topic, Target changed its policy. Cashiers who refuse to ring up pork products are given other positions, a policy already in place at other area grocery stores.

"Here in Minnesota we're seeing a lot about the issues brought by Muslims into the workforce, but certainly I can tell you these are issues employees from all the various faiths bring to work with them," said Andrew Voss, an employment lawyer who represents management, in the Minneapolis office of Littler Mendelson.

"The United States is a very religious society, and we have very strong ideas about legal protections for our faiths," Voss said.

The law on this is Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace. It requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for an employee's religious beliefs -- "reasonable" being anything that doesn't create an "undue hardship" on the employer or on co-workers.

Religious tongue ring

This has led to all manner of clashes. Voss mentioned a few, mostly handled by his firm:

• A large retailer strictly limited jewelry and makeup worn by employees who work with the public. The company allowed a Hindu woman more latitude in facial jewelry but decided not to accommodate another employee who said she wore a tongue ring as part of her religion's requirement of daily suffering.

• At another company, several conservative Christians read Bibles throughout a diversity training because they objected to its focus on accepting gays and lesbians. They were disciplined for their protest. But they alleged they'd been singled out because of their religious views. They won, because the court was convinced plenty of other employees weren't really paying attention in the training session, either.

• At yet another company, a conservative Christian came to work wearing a big button with a color photo of a fetus, saying her faith required her to be a witness against abortion. Co-workers complained. The employer offered her three accommodations: Wear the button but cover it; wear it only in her cubicle, or wear a button that had only text. She said none of those were acceptable accommodations. But the courts sided with the employer, saying the options may not have been her top choices but they were reasonable.

Across the U.S. workforce, employers often arrange Saturdays off for Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists to observe their Sabbaths, said Bette Novit Evans, a professor of political science and international relations at Creighton University.

The Christian Sabbath and important holidays are rarely a scheduling issue because they are our cultural norm, she said. "Those accommodations go on all the time, but when they're so mainstream, we don't even notice them."

In one variation, some employees who didn't get accommodation on the job did get it in the unemployment line.

For example, Eddie Thomas was a Jehovah's Witness who worked for a sheet-metal foundry in Indiana. When it closed, the company moved him to another site, one that manufactured tank turrets. He argued that his religious beliefs prevented him from producing weapons, so he had no choice but to quit.

Legally, he had to be fired to qualify for unemployment pay. But in its 1981 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that in effect, Thomas had been fired for his religious beliefs, and it granted him the benefits.

Public scrutiny

Cases that draw public attention, with "strong opinions on both sides," often get especially complicated, Voss said.

For one thing, the attention can hurt a company's business, which makes it a legitimate consideration in "undue hardship."

Walgreens attempts to minimize potential complaints by promising that another pharmacist on duty will fill any prescription or that the company will arrange for it to be filled immediately at a nearby pharmacy, said spokeswoman Carol Hively, at Walgreens' Deerfield, Ill., headquarters.

That's not always good enough for some state legislatures, which are weighing in on both sides of the pharmacy debate. Pharmacists in Arkansas, Georgia and South Dakota, for example, can refuse to distribute some drugs, while those in Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada must dispense them, according to the National Women's Law Center in Washington.

What are your workplace issues? You can reach H.J. Cummins at workandlife Please sign your e-mails; no names will appear in print without prior approval. StarTribune

Catholics in American Business


Board RoomOn Monday of this week, the AP reported that bio-medical engineer and entrepreneur Donald Shiley and his wife, Darlene, had pledged the University of Portland its largest donation ever. It is but one example of the impact of Catholic businesspeople on the Church in America over the course of its history.

French trappers and traders—such as the explorer Louis Joliet—might be considered the first businessmen in what would become the United States. Later, Charles Carroll was not only a well-known revolutionary; he was also among the wealthiest men of the era. Better known for his activity in public office, he also conducted business in a way common among substantial men of the time—by managing his 10,000-acre estate in Frederick County, Maryland. Philadelphia merchants Stephen Moylan and Thomas FitzSimons were also Catholic patriots. Moylan fought in Washington’s army and FitzSimons signed the Constitution as a delegate from Pennsylvania.

Philadelphian Mathew Carey’s business was publishing. Carey’s faith and business were closely integrated when his company published in 1790 the first American edition of the Douay-Rheims translation of the bible—a conspicuously Catholic endeavor in a strongly Protestant nation. New Yorker Cornelius Heeney helped to establish St. Peter Church, which would become a prominent place of worship in the New Republic. Among its parishoners was Pierre Touissant, a former slave who fashioned a successful hairdressing business.

There were Catholic businesswomen, too. Margaret Haughery was an entrepreneur who began bakery and dairy businesses in New Orleans in the antebellum period. Her business success enabled her to fund Catholic charitable causes and she cooperated especially with the Sisters of Charity. Gabriel and Felicité Girodeau hailed from New Orleans, but the pair of free blacks ran a business in Natchez, Mississippi, where they were pillars of the local Catholic Church.

During the same era, John McLoughlin headed the Hudson Bay Company and was instrumental in settling the Oregon Territory. A convert to Catholicism, he supported missionary activity by both Protestants and Catholics in the mostly unchurched northwest.

Like Charles Carroll, many Catholics in business are known to history for their roles in other activities. James Longstreet is famous as a Confederate general, but after the war he worked as an insurance and cotton broker—and converted to Catholicism.

In the nineteenth century, New York City was both the commercial capital of the nation as well as a center of Irish Catholic immigration. It is no surprise, then, that Irish Catholic businessmen were common in Gotham. William Russell Grace settled in New York in 1864. Building on success as a merchant and financier, he became the first Catholic elected mayor of New York in 1880. Construction mogul Thomas Mulry was the first president of the United States St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Charles M. SchwabCatholics were also represented among the Gilded Age industrialists sometimes called “robber barons.” Thomas Fortune Ryan made his wealth building New York’s public transportation system and investing in tobacco and had a reputation for cutthroat business practices equal to any. Steel titan Andrew Carnegie’s successor was also a baptized Catholic. Charles Schwab, who was educated at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania, built Carnegie’s company into US Steel, one of the largest firms in the world. Schwab (pictured at right) did not practice his faith regularly, though his sister became a Franciscan nun.

Although Schwab was not terribly concerned with the relationship between his faith and his business, many Catholics in commerce in the progressive and Depression periods were. Some of these became involved in an initiative intended to foster dialogue between business professionals, clergy, and labor leaders, the Catholic Conference on Industrial Problems (CCIP).

From its beginning in Milwaukee in 1923, the proceedings of the CCIP displayed a common problem: Catholic businesspeople and Catholic clergy frequently held opposing positions on economic policy issues. Historian Aaron Abell observed that employers were a minority among the Conference’s participants and this led to an anti-business bias. Interest in the CCIP declined steeply in the late 1930s.

A prime example of Catholic businessmen’s differences with other Catholics concerned the agenda of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Although most Catholics supported it, many Catholic executives did not. Ernest DuBrul, who had been a vice president of the CCIP and was an officer in a machine tool trade group, argued in the pages of Commonweal that the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933) was “immoral.” Du Pont executive John Jakob Raskob helped to organize the anti-New Deal Liberty League.

Even among Catholic business owners, however, there were those who supported the New Deal. P.H. Callahan, president of the Louisville Varnish Company, had teamed with Msgr. John Ryan to create a profit-sharing plan at his company. Later, he defended Ryan’s endorsement of Roosevelt’s policies. Oil executive Michael O’Shaughnessy, meanwhile, criticized capitalism and advocated a cooperative industrial system that was based on the recommendations made by Pope Pius XI in his 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno.

Outside the realm of political and industrial policy, many Catholic businesspeople offered their resources at the service of the Church and society. Francis Drexel, a Philadelphia banker, provided the fortune with which his daughter, Katharine, funded numerous Catholic endeavors. Katharine inherited not only his wealth but also his belief that it should be used for the betterment of others. Another Philadelphia businessman with a famous daughter was Irish-American construction magnate Jack Kelly. His daughter Grace went from the east coast to the west and became a motion picture celebrity.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen was also a media celebrity, who counted business figures among the converts he instructed. Clare Boothe Luce, the wife of Time, Inc., president Henry Luce, embraced Catholicism in 1946. Clare Luce died in October of 1987, exactly ten days after the passing of another Sheen convert, Henry Ford II. The grandson of the Ford Motor Company founder and soon-to-be corporation president, Henry II entered the Church in 1940 in preparation for his marriage to Anne McDonnell. The controversial character of the move by someone of Ford’s standing was evinced by the piles of mail he received “telling him what a terrible thing he was doing.“

The union of Henry and Catholicism did not survive the divorce of Henry and Anne, however, and both drifted from the Church after their 1963 split. One cause of the split was Henry’s relationship with a woman he met at a Paris party hosted by Grace Kelly (a revelation published in an article that appeared in Henry Luce’s Time magazine).

Nineteen sixty-three was also the year that the country’s first Catholic president was assassinated. The foundation for John F. Kennedy’s political success lay in the financial power created by Joseph Kennedy’s business success. The Kennedy patriarch made a fortune in banking and investing.

Construction, livestock, and real estate created the wealth that the Creighton family used to establish a university in Omaha in 1878. Merchants and financiers have ever since been notable among the supporters of Catholic colleges. Besides the Shiley gift, other recent and substantial bequests include entrepreneur Robert McDonough’s to Georgetown University; Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his Catholic wife, Melinda’s, to Seattle University; Best Buy founder Richard Schulze’s to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota; Joan Kroc’s (Minnesotan and wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc) to the University of San Diego; investor William Hank and wife Joan’s to Loyola University, Chicago; the Sobratos’, a Silicon Valley real estate family, to Santa Clara University; General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s to Sacred Heart University; and Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan’s 220-million dollar pledge to found a new university, Ave Maria in Naples, Florida.

Catholic businesspeople have enjoyed camaraderie in a number of Catholic organizations. Besides associating in common Catholic fraternal organizations such as the John Carroll Society and the Knights of Columbus, Catholics in business have joined in Catholic Business Networks in localities around the country (starting in Maryland in 1991) and a group especially for chief executives, Legatus (1987).

The spotlight has been on those who found fame or fortune (or both). But a fraction of those whose stories might be cited, these examples indicate the variety and significance of Catholic businesspeople in the history of the United States. As with every other group of Catholics, they run the gamut from saintly to roguish. Catholics in commerce deserve attention because they have been indispensable to the funding of the Church’s mission in charity and education, but also because they demonstrate the diverse ways in which Catholics have engaged American culture and economic life.