Monday, April 30, 2007

Bishops' survey shows average age of priests to be ordained in '07 is 35

Results of a survey released April 30 show that the average age of the 475 priests expected to be ordained in the United States this year is 35 and one-third of this year's new priests were born in another country, primarily Vietnam, Mexico, Poland or the Philippines.

The national study of the ordination class of 2007 also shows that the men are well educated. More than six in 10 completed college before entering the seminary and some have advanced degrees in law, medicine and education.
Seven in 10 respondents reported their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American or white. Eleven percent are Asian/Pacific Islander; 11 percent are Hispanic/Latino; and 5 percent are African-American.

According to the survey report, nearly all of the new priests have been Catholic since birth; 6 percent joined the Catholic Church from mainline and evangelical Protestant traditions and one converted from Buddhism.

Half of the ordinands attended Catholic elementary school, as have almost half of all U.S. Catholics, the report said. They attended Catholic high school and college in larger numbers than the overall U.S. adult Catholic population.

About two-thirds of the ordinands had full-time work experience, primarily in education, before entering the seminary. Almost one in 10 of them served in the U.S. Armed Forces and some have been directly impacted by the U.S.-led Iraq War.

The brother of Matthew Fasnacht, who will be ordained for the Diocese of Winona, Minn., was killed in Iraq in 2005 by a remote-controlled bomb. Michael Fasnacht was an Army Ranger.
The average age for the seminarians is 35; the youngest in the group is 25 and the oldest is 68. The Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., will ordain two men in their 50s and one who is 60.
[...Snip] Catholic News Service Read it All

60th Annual May Day Rosary Procession, Sunday, May 6

The 60th Annual May Day Family Rosary Procession. The procession began in 1947 at the Cathedral of St. Paul as a public demonstration of prayer in response to the rise of communism in Eastern Europe, according to the event’s Web site. Today, this Marian prayer of the rosary is used to strengthen family life. The procession will be held simultaneously in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In St. Paul, participants will assemble at the State Capitol and process to the Cathedral of St. Paul, 239 Selby Ave.

When: Sunday, May 6. Assemble at 1:30 p.m., procession begins at 2 p.m.

Who: Families, parish groups and youth groups are welcome to walk together. First communicants are especially welcome.


Where: In Minneapolis, participants will assemble at Dunwoody College of Technology, 818 Dunwoody Blvd., and walk to the Basilica of St. Mary, 88 N. 17th St.

What’s new? Multi-lingual rosary and benediction will follow the procession at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Need more information? Visit the event’s Web site .

New Bloggers in Our Region

When I started Stella Borealis a little over a year ago, one of my original intentions was to promote the local bloggers who have been doing such great work. I've done a bit of that, but I've become lax and haven't done much for a long time. Although I have added them to my sidebar, not necessarily as soon as I've heard about them.

Most of my regular visitors probably are familiar with the familiar "stars" of our area, most of whom were there at the beginning before I started blogging in March, 2006.

Here is a list of most of those who weren't there at the beginning. Check them out and blame me if they wonder why you didn't stop by sooner. And don't forget us oldtimers, too. Check us out on the Stella Borealis sidebar.

Basso Family, Anne, Minnesota

Believe and Profess - Dan, Twin Cities

Butterfly Net - Clairity, MN

Catholic Geek....For God and Others, Phil, Minnesota

A Catholic Harvest - Paula, MN - Home School

Catholic Wife and Mom - Twin Cities

Christian Democracy - Richard, Twin Cities

Debate, Relate & Pontificate - samrocha, Maple Grove, MN

Dogpatch of the North, Gerald, South Range, WI

Drama Unfolds Here, Erin Marie, Minnetonka

Father Dennis, Dubuque, IA

Hello, Blog World, Bethski, Grand Forks ND

My Perfect Weakness - Anne, MN

Orbis Catholicus - John Paul, MN, studying in Rome

Our Lady's Tears - Sanctus Belle, Diocese of Winona

Quantitative Metathesis, Female Graduate Student, St Paul

Recovering Dissident Catholic - Cathy of Alex, St Paul

Reflections and Revelations, Study of the Theology of the Body - Tiffany, Minnesota

So Many Devotions...So Little Time - Jayne, MN

Somewhere Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Jen, UST, St Paul

Standing Thunder - Geometricus, Twin Cities

Therapeutic Preoccupation, Tiffany, Minnesota

Vocations Views, Father Todd, New Ulm

Pro-Life Action Ministries Purchases Home Next To Robbinsdale Abortion Factory; Opening a Perpetual Adoration Chapel!

Pro Life Action Ministries, located in St. Paul, MN has purchased the house right next to the Robbinsdale Abortuary.

Praise God! Archbishop Harry Flynn has given them permission to have Perpetual Adoration inside the house. However, they need money to renovate the old house to make room for the 24 hour adoration chapel. They would be very grateful for any help.

If you can make a contribution to this very worthy cause, please send your donations to:

Pro-Life Action Ministries Inc.
1163 Payne Ave.
St.Paul, MN 55130-3600
Ph.651 771 1500

Thanks and God reward you!
Catholic Parents On-Line

The Non-Pursuit of Happiness

Mitchell here.

Last week, following Msgr. Schuler's funeral, Ray mentioned in private correspondence a site in particular, which shall go nameless, in which a Mass attendee catalogued a series of objections (some might call them nitpicks) suggesting that the funeral Mass wasn't orthodox enough, and a general concern (bordering on despair) for the future of the Mass, and the Church.

Now, goodness knows there are things to complain about (or perhaps to look upon as challenges) at St. Agnes, as there are at every parish. That includes the liturgy. It is rare, however, to hear someone conclude that the Mass wasn't orthodox enough. The rubrics of the Novus Ordo at St. Agnes are celebrated about as closely to the Tridentine Rite as possible (even enough to suggest that in some cases it isn't a good fit); the only difference being that the Mass itself isn't Tridentine.

Michael Lawrence, at the brilliant The New Liturgical Movement weighs in on this kind of "nothing is good enough" mentality in this excellent piece. Excerpt:

This leads me to wonder: Do such Trads want to be an integral part of the Church, or do they want to have their own little special club in which they can pat themselves on the back for being better than all those lowly Novus Ordo Catholics? Do they want to help build up the Body of Christ or their own egos? How do they expect traditional ideas to gain acceptance in general if they, the ones with the knowlege and skill, refuse to share their talent? How could they possibly see their attitude toward the new Mass, disrespectful in the extreme, to be much different from the attitudes of those who presume to abuse the liturgy at will with their various innovations?

What will happen if the motu proprio is released? I suspect that, no matter what it says, it will not be enough for many. What would happen if the Traditional Mass were untouched but parts of the New Mass were revised to bring it in line with Tradition? Would the "fly-in-amber" traditionalists be happy? Would they at least acknowledge the progress? Would they then "deign" to attend a Novus Ordo Mass?

We are all familiar with the phrase, "Some people aren't happy unless they're complaining." It is only natural to have complaints in the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. But how much complaining is useful? Unfortunately, I fear that some Trads will always find a reason to complain and to find excuses to stay on the fringes of the Church's life rather than immerse themselves in the heart of it. (I take well the point that many have been forced to the fringes--including me, but as circumstances change, please God, this is going to be much less of an issue.)

The kind of carping that Michael is referring to is not only tiresome, it's tiring. (I want to make clear, by the way, that Michael is not writing about Msgr. Schuler's funeral; read the entire pice to find the genesis of his observation). One is tempted to suggest that these kind of people won't truly be happy unless everyone is as unhappy as they are. The most troublesome aspect of such analysis is that it distracts from real problems: it's like the boy who cried wolf; after a time you become immune to this constant complaining, and wind up ignoring something that is of real import. Even The Wanderer is not immune to this kind of pessimism, which is one of the reasons we dropped our subscription a couple of years ago.

Readers know that I don't like namecalling or constant snarkiness in the blogosphere, so I'll offer this in the spirit of fraternal suggestion. To those who seem never to be happy about things, you've got two choices - you can be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Divorcing yourself from the life of the Church, constantly holding it up to your - human - expectations, insisting on a litmus test for everything and everyone - ask yourself if that helps the Chuch solve the problem.

Slate Internet Magazine Admits It's "Killing Babies": Ultrasound and the Future of Abortion

Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has exposed the life in the womb to those of us who didn't want to see what abortion kills. The fetus is squirming, and so are we. Slate

Sunday, April 29, 2007

World's Worst Managed Newspaper With Best Message


Monsignor Richard J. Schuler

from The Wanderer

Wah, Wah, Wah, Bishop Nienstedt, Wah, Wah, Wah....

Cathy here.

Nick Coleman, the StarTribune's resident bleeding-heart, histrionic, liberal, softie, has thrown his spear into the "oh, let us now fear Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt" collective lefty wail. You know, the more the left and the dissident Catholics try to produce evidence to make me hate the Coadjutor Archbishop before he ever actually does anything in this Archdiocese the more I like him. (comments in brackets are mine, because I just can't resist!)

Nick Coleman: A dove of peace taken down by religious birds of prey (see, I told you he was histrionic! Seriously, he should think about writing romance novels.)

If good stuff can come from disaster, St. Peter, Minn., seemed to have found a gift in the wreckage left by the tornado that flattened the city in 1998.

By Nick Coleman, Star Tribune
April 29, 2007

If good stuff can come from disaster, St. Peter, Minn., seemed to have found a gift in the wreckage left by the tornado that flattened the city in 1998.

Nine years later, though, it seems a chunk of the good stuff went bad, tarnished by church politics and the disciplining of a Catholic priest who followed his heart more than the rules (oh, those pesky rules!).

The March 29, 1998, twister killed two people and wrecked 600 houses. Among the most damaged buildings was the Catholic Church of St. Peter, where the tornado peeled off the roof, shattered the walls and let in a torrent of rain, hail and bricks. But the dove of peace came after the storm, (really? the Holy Spirit?)in the form of a bond between Lutherans and Catholics. (Wow! Have the Lutherans finally admitted that Luther was wrong? But wait...)

Pastors Mark Solyst and Elizabeth Yates of First Lutheran Church, which escaped damage, called the Catholic pastor, the Rev. Harry Behan, with an offer he couldn't refuse:
"What is ours is yours." (That's true, since the Lutherans stole our worship service! Meow.)

Holy Week was at hand, and with the tears and the prayers of a people hit by what would be named Minnesota's most severe weather event of the 1990s in mind, Father Behan accepted. On Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, Catholics and Lutherans came together at First Lutheran.

Genuflecting Catholics had no kneelers. Lutherans, sitting beside Catholic nuns, had trouble keeping their eyes off their exotic guests (growl). And there was the sensitive issue of communion. After years of ecumenical outreach, the Catholic Church was pulling back. Then-President Bill Clinton, a Protestant, had just been criticized for taking communion in a Catholic mass. (Gee, I can't imagine why? Can it be because he does not accept the Real Presence, or any Catholic doctrine, or that he isn't Catholic?)

But the Christians of St. Peter, reeling from the destruction and psychological trauma of a tornado, came up with a solution: They gave themselves (oh, who needs those pesky ecclesiastical dispensations!) "a battlefield dispensation."It's like in a war," Behan told me then. "When you're being shot at, everyone worships with whoever leads them."This is not the time to divide," Solyst said at the time. "If I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of hospitality." (as Satan laughed with glee)

On Easter Sunday, the congregations returned to separate worship, sharing the Lutheran building with rotating services: Catholic mass at 8 and 11 a.m., Lutheran services at 9:30.

That arrangement lasted more than two years, until St. Peter's Catholic was rebuilt. The interfaith arrangement was a large part of the healing and recovery of the city.
"Our relationship was very important, especially when the rest of our lives were falling apart," says Solyst, now senior pastor of English Lutheran Church in La Crosse, Wis.

That was then, this is now (Coleman is about to take a big leap into a larger universe by bringing Bishop Nienstedt into all this).

Last week, Pope Benedict named Bishop John Nienstedt of New Ulm as coadjutor to Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Twin Cities, meaning Nienstedt will succeed Flynn. Nienstedt may bring a sterner hand to the Twin Cities' flock than Catholics here are used to. (let the record show that Bishop Nienstedt was NOT, Bishop when this tornado hit and the trouble first started, his predecessor, the favorite of liberals, Bishop Lucker was.)

When Nienstedt replaced New Ulm Bishop Raymond Lucker, a progressive (code word for someone who does not follow the rules!) who died in 2001, he denounced many of Lucker's policies and reportedly banned cohabiting couples from church marriages, (oh, the humanity!) kept female church leaders from leading prayers at meetings, opposed stem-cell research and claimed homosexuality is caused by childhood trauma rather than something innate in a person. (oh, I can't stand it all!)

He also rebuked Behan, punishing him for disobedience. (oh, the cheek of the BISHOP, for thinking he had the authority to rebuke his subordinate!)

Nienstedt did not agree to be interviewed Friday (smart man). But through an intermediary, he accused Behan of continuing, each Easter after the tornado, to worship with Lutherans (hey, if it really happened...).

That behavior, Nienstedt said in a statement, was a "departure from our church's doctrinal norms for the celebration of our Catholic mass and eucharist."For three consecutive years, during Holy Week, Father Behan did not follow these norms," the statement said. (True, true)

Behan, a charismatic (as opposed to old stick in the mud like that pesky Bishop Nienstedt!) Irish-born priest (Bishop Nienstedt is German and Irish in case anyone else beside Coleman is keeping track of everyone's nationality in this story) who is now 65, promised to stop the practice, Nienstedt said. But after being reassigned to St. Dionysius, a church in tiny Tyler, Minn., Behan "broke his promise and repeated this confusing and non-approved Catholic-Lutheran mass celebration there. When this infraction was reported to Rome, the Holy See ordered father to undergo intensive education in the doctrine and practice of consecration of the holy eucharist." (I LOVE IT!)

I lived in Tyler as a baby with my Catholic parents (now, this shocked me! Is Nick Coleman actually a Catholic?), who felt surrounded by Lutheran tribes (As an Anishinabeg, I confess to being baffled here. I've never heard of a Lutheran tribe) and fled (quick! get the station wagon loaded up!) back to St. Paul after a year. When I called Behan, he wouldn't tell me his side of the story, other than to acknowledge, "I was reported to Rome." (You should have been, Father)

So. The "battlefield dispensation" of 1998 ended with an apparent banishment (Hmmmm..I can think of some priests in our Archdiocese who are actually banished from celebrating the Sacraments and this priest is not one of them) and a forced reeducation of a priest (I think more should be) who learned to love Lutherans (Shouldn't Father have loved them before all this-even in their misguided ways?). Maybe too much.

Today, my dear friends (hey, that's my line), our lesson is a letter from St. Peter to St. Paul (I'm confused as to what Scripture he's referring to here. Oh wait, it's a veiled slam at the Vatican. St. Peter's I get it! Hahahaha), and Minneapolis. The lesson is:

Twin Cities Catholics may soon be worshiping on a battlefield of their own. (I got news for you, Mr. Coleman, this Archdiocese has been a battlefield LONG before now. I've got my sword handy, my Catachism and Bible at the ready, as well as my writing hand and tongue rarin' to go. )

"Non-Traditional" Holy Redeemer in Maplewood Fights Merger

At Holy Redeemer, parishioners can recite the message they received from a bishop of the archdiocese last October almost word for word. They were gaining a new pastor from a neighboring parish, but their Maplewood church would remain "autonomous," as it has been for the past century.

"In God's house, they lied to our face," said Mary Donnelly, a Eucharistic minister and church trustee.

On Saturday, more than 150 parishioners crowded into their church hall to demand answers from a representative of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and other Catholic leaders. By summer or fall 2008, Holy Redeemer is poised to merge with a more conservative church about six times its size - the Church of St. Peter, in North St. Paul.

Archdiocese officials said the move would allow for more outreach to the poor and mission work by combining resources. And, unifying the two churches under one priest would be a better use of clergy.

But the merger, say some parishioners, seems political. Their finances are strong. Their membership, at 270 families, is growing. Unlike other churches that have closed or merged because of dwindling attendance, Holy Redeemer draws visitors from 27 ZIP codes.

In fact, so many newcomers began showing up from nearby senior housing, the parish expanded its parking lot and hired a senior bus for special Saturday services.

But the church's willingness to break with tradition has stood out.

In the 1970s, Holy Redeemer became one of the first churches in the archdiocese to allow members to accept Holy Communion by hand. Now a common practice, it drew murmurs at the time from Catholics across the metro area.

"We don't have pews. We have chairs," said Mary Overson, a former member of the parish council. "We come into church, we have coffee. If you want to bring your coffee to your seat, you do it. We're very personal. We don't get up and leave after Communion. With Holy Redeemer, it's more of a church of choice. You want to be there. You want to be meeting about the spaghetti dinner."

The merger had long been rumored but was finally confirmed this month in a letter from Archbishop Harry Flynn. The letter mentions "combining the resources, ministries and talents of two communities" to increase "ministerial capacity."

Parishioners said they were told in October by a visiting bishop that Flynn, who is stepping down within a year, hopes to install a resident priest in every parish as his legacy.

But the shift to the more traditional tone and practices at St. Peter - which funds its own elementary school - will be difficult.

"We do a lot of praying over there for money, and I have a real problem with that," said Terry Meister, who has worshipped with both congregations. "I myself am raising three children ... and I hear you've got to give, you've got to give, you've got to give."

The Rev. Dan F. Griffith, who has presided at St. Peter for more than a year and Holy Redeemer since October, downplayed the emphasis on fundraising. He said St. Peter's $11 million capital campaign will allow the combined parish to build a large building capable of fitting both congregations.

"We have been praying for a new church, and we believe prayer is effective," the 36-year-old priest said.

Overson and others said the merger felt like a land grab. The fate of Holy Redeemer's Maplewood building is up in the air, and decisions about the church's physical assets rest with a five-member board of trustees. The board includes two parishioners, the pastor and two representatives of the archdiocese.

On Saturday, the Rev. Kevin McDonough - one of the archdiocese members on the board - told parishioners that a final decision about the building had not been made. He closed his comments by noting that trustee terms for parishioners, appointed by the pastor, last only two years.

The observation drew uncomfortable murmurs from the audience. Some members later said it sounded like a veiled threat.

"If the archdiocese wants to make a decision, we are powerless, because two votes from the archdiocese and the pastor are the majority votes," said Evelyn Pallas, a member of Holy Redeemer's finance committee.

In 35 years, Pallas has lived in Mahtomedi, Shoreview and Roseville but always made the Sunday trek to Maplewood for services. She worries that many in the congregation - half of whom live outside Maplewood - will drop out after the merger.

She said parishioners feel they have been broadsided by a top-down mandate from the archdiocese over which they had no input, warning or control.

"I think they put the cart before the horse," Pallas said. "In other parishes, they had the dialogue first."

Other worries are festering. Flynn's chosen successor, Bishop John Nienstedt, is seen by some Catholics as being stringently conservative.

"We have had a priest here on Saturday and Sunday, and the rest of the time, we have a parish administrator," Overson said. "Maybe the archdiocese has a problem with that. I don't know."

What do you suppose they mean by "Non-Traditional?"

Father Welzbacher on "Father" Schuler

Father George Welzbacher, Pastor Emeritus of St Agnes parish in St Paul, now Pastor of the parish of St John of St Paul, wrote his tribute to his long time friend, Monsignor Richard Schuler, in his Pastor's Page on his new parish's bulletin. Tip O' the Hat to Father "Z"

Archbishop Burke's Choices: Scandal and Cooperation. Where to Draw the Line?

At first glance, the Cardinal Glennon-Sheryl Crow dispute might look like a power struggle between a hospital and an archbishop. In fact, it raises two important moral principles that all of us have to wrestle with in the ordinary choices we make every day.

The first is scandal. When we describe something as "scandalous," we usually mean shocking or disgraceful. A better understanding of the word is, as Archbishop Burke noted, to do something that leads another person into evil. Scandal is a "stumbling stone" — an action that gives respectability to moral wrong and leads me to make a bad choice. Individuals can cause scandal (e.g., by giving a bad example to a child or a subordinate). Corporate scandal is worse because corporations have more power, status and influence in society. It is worse still when it involves a faith-based corporation because these organizations have a religious mission and enjoy the public trust. We hold them and their leaders to a higher standard. They must assess their alliances very carefully to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing or ethical carelessness.

The second principle is cooperation, which asks, "How close can I get to the evil action or intention of another before I get morally implicated myself?" The simplest case is the driver of the getaway car in a bank robbery. Is she morally complicit if she not only drives the car but plans the robbery as well? Surely. Is she morally involved if she drives the getaway car but thinks the robber is just cashing a paycheck? Perhaps not. If she just loans her car not knowing what it will be used for or the car is used without her permission? Probably not. In each case, my lack of knowledge or shared intent diminishes my moral responsibility.

As citizens, all of us are called to work together for the common good. If we participate in a pluralistic society, however, absolute moral purity is impossible. We will inevitably find ourselves working with folks whose beliefs we do not share. This doesn't necessarily mean that we can't work side by side with other volunteers on a Habitat for Humanity build who might hold views we consider to be immoral.

May I contribute to an organization that supports two kinds of work, one morally good and the other morally objectionable, or see a movie produced by an anti-Semite, or buy a product made with child labor? Perhaps, but only if in my best judgment I can say that I do not share the intention of the evildoer and that I am not causing scandal by appearing to do so. Moral choices are rarely crystal clear. The Cardinal Glennon officials surely did not intend to endorse the performer's views when they invited her, but many feel the connection was too close for comfort. As a church leader, the Archbishop was obliged to clarify his stance to avoid scandal. For the rest of us — individuals and institutions alike — this controversy provides an opportunity to examine what we choose, whom we cooperate with, and how our choices may influence others. St Louis Today
Charles Bourchard, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St Louis

Bob Costas and Billy Crystal Mock Archbishop Burke in St Louis

Archbishop Raymond Burke made it to the Fox Theatre Saturday — but only as a punch line. When Bob Costas, the evening's host, walked onto the stage he scanned the crowd, gazing into the back rows of the upper balcony before breaking the prolonged silence. "All right," Costas quipped. "I guess the archbishop is not showing up."

Last week, Burke resigned from the board of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center Foundation because Crow — a vocal supporter of embryonic stem cell research — was scheduled to headline the annual fundraiser and concert.

"Sheryl Crow made it clear that she is coming here for three reasons," Costas told the crowd. The singer wanted to help children, put on a good show and, Costas said, "get me ex-communicated."

Later, comedian Billy Crystal, making another appearance at the annual event, joined the act. "I respect his right to choose," Crystal said of Burke. "His right to choose not to be here." After a round of applause, Crystal added: "After all, charity begins at home — because that's where he is."
This summer, the archdiocese again will hold a special collection at all parishes to benefit the hospital. Steffens said that the collection had generated about $3 million for the foundation but that, from now on, the proceeds would go straight to the hospital.
Steffens said Saturday that Burke had received hundreds of e-mails about his decision to leave the board and that the messages were overwhelmingly supportive. She said that of the 797 e-mails sent to Burke, 647 supported the
archbishop's position.

Crow has not spoken publicly about Burke's criticism of her and the event, and calls to her publicist have not been returned. St Louis Today

Probably all three are abortion supporters but Crow showed that she has more class than Costas and Crystal put together!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nothing is less reliable than a Vatican rumour, even if it comes from the mouth of a Pope.

Motu Proprio?

May 5, the feast day of Pope St Pius V. That is apparently the date Pope Benedict has chosen for his announcement of the lifting of restrictions on the celebration of the beautiful Latin Tridentine Mass, introduced by St Pius in 1570.


The controversial Mass deserves a warm welcome

Many bishops of England and Wales will not be pleased, to put it mildly.

In fact, Left-wing bishops around the world will be cross, since the Pope will remove their power to refuse permission for the Tridentine Rite.

According to one well-connected priest friend of mine, they have been trying to throw a spanner in the works by playing “the Jewish card” – that is, pointing out that the Old Missal contains prayers for the Jews that the Jewish community finds offensive.

But the tactic – if that is what it was – has not worked. Cardinal Walter Kasper has told the International Council for Christians and Jews: “While I do not know what the Pope intends to say in his final text, it is clear that the decision that has been made cannot now be changed.”

Why do people think the motu proprio (personal decree) is coming on May 5? A friend of a contact of mine asked Benedict if the restrictions on the Old Rite (which was effectively outlawed in the late 1960s)were going to be lifted, and he reportedly replied:

“Yes, on May 5.” That date is also suggested by the most influential American reporter on Vatican affairs, John Allen – though he mentions the possibility of April 30, the feast day of Pius in the revised Roman calendar.

But bear in mind that nothing is less reliable than a Vatican rumour, even if it comes from the mouth of a Pope.

When the motu proprio is issued, watch this space very carefully. As Allen sensibly points out, demand for the Traditional Rite – always celebrated in Latin, with the priest with his back to the people – is pretty limited.

But what a defeat for the philistines who have been in charge of Catholic liturgy for 40 years! A double defeat, in fact, since the Vatican is about to unveil a new English translation of the post-Vatican II Mass whose language is far more solemn and sonorous than the current version, which reads as if it was compiled by a committee of local government officials.

I wonder how the Left-leaning bishops of England and Wales will react to Benedict’s motu proprio. Note to traditionalists: make sure you ask, IMMEDIATELY, what steps the bishops are taking to implement the Pope’s wishes.

Somehow, I don’t think they will be able to get away with ignoring the announcement for 48 hours, as they did with the Pope’s recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist ["Sacramentum Caritatis"].

On that occasion, I gather that a Bishops’ Conference employee rang a journalist on the liberal Tablet magazine, and the two of them agreed not to draw attention to Benedict’s historic statement – calling for widespread changes in the celebration of Mass – because it contained “nothing really new”. (Meaning nothing they wanted to hear.)

Well, if they disliked the Apostolic Exhortation, they’ll hate the motu proprio. I can’t wait. UK Telegraph

Spring Planting Time


Plant three rows of peas:

Peace of mind
Peace of heart
Peace of soul

Plant four rows of squash:
Squash gossip
Squash indifference
Squash grumbling
Squash selfishness

Plant four rows of lettuce
Lettuce be faithful
Lettuce be kind
Lettuce be happy
Lettuce really love one another

No garden should be without turnips:
Turnip for service when needed
Turnip to help one another
Turnip the music and dance

Water freely with patience
and cultivate with love
Because you reap what you sow

To conclude our garden
We must have Thyme:
Thyme for fun
Thyme for rest
Thyme for ourselves.
Thyme to spend in the garden with Jesus.

Borrowed from the St William's Parish Bulletin, Fridley

Listen Up, Cows! No more beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beer or raisins!

BARMY Euro MPs are demanding new laws to stop cows and sheep PARPING.

Their call came after the UN said livestock emissions were a bigger threat to the planet than transport.

The MEPs have asked the European Commission to “look again at the livestock question in direct connection with global warming”.

The official EU declaration demands changes to animals’ diets, to capture gas emissions and recycle manure.

They warned: “The livestock sector presents the greatest threat to the planet.” The proposal will be looked at by the 27 member states.

The UN says livestock farming generates 18 per cent of greenhouse gases while transport accounts for 14 per cent.

This has been brought to you from The Sun Online as a Public Service Announcement!

Saint Agnes H.S. Granted Another Week

In today's Pioneer Press is a story with signs of hope: St. Agnes High School has an additional week to increase enrollment and earn money towards its operating budget deficit. The deadline is now May 8th (prior deadline was April 30th).

Donations should be sent to:

Fr. John Ubel
St. Agnes Schools
530 Lafond Ave
St. Paul MN 55103

Ticket sales for the school's production of Beauty and the Beast which performs this weekend and next can be purchased in advance (651) 228-1636 or at the door.

An additional performance of Beauty and the Beast has been added for Thursday, May 3rd at 7:30 p.m. No tickets will be sold for this performance but donations are welcome.

Cross posted to The Recovering Dissident Catholic and the Catholic Answers forums.

Please join me in supporting this school. I sent my check last week. I'm not an alum, I don't have kids in the school, St. Agnes is not even my parish. But, I think it is important to support GOOD Catholic schools.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis Showing His Spine Again

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, former Bishop of LaCrosse, is having a problem with his famous Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children. They have engaged notorious abortion advocate (and singer), Sheryl Crow, for a fundraiser for the hospital.

Archbishop Burke warned them that it was not appropriate for them to use her as a fundraising attraction, and when nothing happened, he resigned as Chairman of the Board of the Hospital. The reaction of the hospital's staff is no to change anything "because we don't want to be too political."

As shepherd of the local Church, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said it is necessary for him to publicly address a "contradictory message" associated with an upcoming benefit for SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

The archbishop held an April 25 press conference at the archdiocesan Chancery offices in the Central West End to speak about his concern that rock musician Sheryl Crow will be featured at the annual Bob Costas Benefit this weekend. Proceeds benefit the Catholic medical center.

At the same time, the archbishop reiterated his continued support for the work of the medical center, which was founded in 1956 with the support of the archdiocese.

A native of Kennett, Mo., Crow has been an outspoken supporter of keeping abortion legal. She also supported Amendment 2, a Missouri initiative passed last fall that constitutionally protects human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research.

Because of Crow’s connection to the benefit event, however, the archbishop spoke of his desire to "avoid and repair" the issue of scandal

"The Church can never give the impression for any reason that it’s acceptable to take innocent human lives through abortion or embryonic stem-cell research," he said.

"That’s the contradictory message that’s given by having Sheryl Crow, who is public and active in her support of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, associated with a Catholic hospital."

In an interview with the Review prior to the press conference, the archbishop said he also had submitted his resignation earlier this week as chairman of the board of governors of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, the benefit’s sponsor and fund-raising arm of the medical center.

The archbishop also has requested that the foundation amend its bylaws to release him as a member of the board. He also has asked that his name be removed from any materials promoting the upcoming benefit.

The archbishop again stressed that his concern with the benefit has no association with the "goodness of the apostolate, which the medical center is carrying out." He added that the Church is not condemning anyone over the matter, either.

"It grieves me very much to have to take the action, because I have such high regard for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center," he said. "It’s not a question of my support of the children’s medical center and its apostolate."

The archbishop noted he has had a chance to visit the medical center on several occasions to meet children receiving treatment. He participated in last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations, during which he "expressed my esteem for the staff ... and of course my great care and concern for the children who are treated there."

The archbishop also collaborated with the medical center last year to produce a video on the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank, which is the second-largest independent cord blood bank in the world and sits on the medical center’s campus. The facility offers umbilical cord blood for adult stem-cell treatments, which the Church supports.

Last fall, Crow was featured in a television advertisement that supported Amendment 2. She also has been a public advocate of keeping abortion legal for women and continues to speak on behalf of legislation in support of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

"When there is a significant risk that others could be led to evil, as the one responsible for the spiritual and moral well-being of the faithful entrusted to my pastoral care, I am obliged in justice to act," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Burke said it came to his attention less than two months ago that Crow was going to be featured at the benefit event. He wrote to Doug Ries, president of the medical center, who referred him to Edward Higgins, president of the board of governors for the foundation.

After several rounds of communication, members of the foundation’s executive committee ultimately decided "they were not convinced that having her perform at this fund-raising event called into question ... the Catholic identity of the medical center," Archbishop Burke said.

Therefore, he said, he must resign from the board and speak publicly on the issue because of his role as a Church leader and the gravity of the situation.

"If I, as archbishop of St. Louis, were simply to let this pass, it would give people the impression that as long as the purpose is to raise money, you can associate with people, even feature people, who are public proponents of the killing of unborn children and embryonic human life."

"It is bad, when any of the flock leads another one into confusion or leads them astray," he said. "But it’s especially harmful when it’s the shepherd of the flock himself — either through silence or through some action that causes people to go into error."

The archbishop also addressed the issue of those who already have bought tickets for the benefit concert. He explained that it is "commendable" to show support for the medical center. He further explained that it is the responsibility for the board of governors and others who lead the medical center to make sure fund-raising events are consistent with its Catholic identity and its mission. St Louis Review (Diocesan Newspaper)

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, a native of St Louis, formerly in Duluth and now in Detroit, has this to say about these recent activities in his hometown:

While it's not exactly a canon law story, I want to comment on a decision by a justly-renowned canonist in my beloved home town of St. Louis, Missouri, a decision that is going to upset a lot of people. I refer to Abp. Raymond Burke's resignation from the chairmanship of a major fund-raising event for Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children.

St. Louisans know how blessed they are to have a famous institution like Cardinal Glennon in their city. St. Louis Catholics in particular have long taken a special pride in the work done there, largely with their support, over the decades.

What astounds me is that the directors of a fund-raiser for a venerable institution for children could have been so clueless as to invite Sheryl Crow, a notorious abortion advocate, to headline their event; worse, the directors were so willful as to reject what were obviously many private entreaties by their chairman Abp. Burke to drop the mad idea before it all blew up in their face.

So now, it's blown. How sad. All the sadder for having been so easily avoidable.

But you know, I've seen this happen before: Catholic movers and shakers, flush with their own funds or with easy access to others', too often measure success in philanthropic undertakings in terms of media splash, dollars donated, and the number of glitteratti chatting around banquet tables, while they completely forget the fundamental religious, and even the human, values that make their efforts worthwhile in the first place. This time, even the clear words of a very thoughtful archbishop could not pierce the commotion which the organizers of this event confused for progress.

Abp. Burke extended a special word of solicitude for the staff and supporters of Cardinal Glennon Hospital, so many of whom were doubtless appalled at the "headliner" being thrust upon them. I'm sure many people join the archbishop in those sentiments.

But I do think it's high time for some folks who want, probably sincerely, to help the Church and her numerous apostolates, to stop assuming that they always know best how to do that. In the Light of the Law

Father Jonathan, Catholic priest and media personality on Fox News, classified this as "Ideological Tribalism:"

More than once in this space, I have bemoaned what I see as a national march toward ideological tribalism. It is the splintering of our citizenry into subsets of people who identify themselves completely with one or another social or political agenda, while refusing or being unable to dialogue reasonably with outsiders.

The face of this tribalism is superficial discourse and its root, in my opinion, is bad philosophy. Our postmodern world view tells us the only thing we can know for certain is that nothing is necessarily true.

Ironically, this new philosophy has pushed us into the very dogmatism it is trying so hard to avoid. Its proponents say moral absolutes don’t exist and anyone who believes otherwise is absolutely wrong. The result is intellectual intransigence of the worst kind.
This morning, I saw in the papers of what I consider a shining example of tribal mentality. So perfect was the picture, so important the point, it made me postpone my original plan to comment on your reactions to my recent article on immigration reform.

Raymond Burke, the archbishop of St. Louis, Mo., resigned yesterday as chairman of the board of Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation. He severed ties with the board after the foundation dismissed his concerns over their invitation to Sheryl Crow to be a featured entertainer at their benefit event. Ms. Crow is an outspoken supporter of abortion and a public advocate for embryonic stem cell research.

Her positions are well known to Missourians as she appeared in television advertisements last year asking voters to approve an initiative that enshrined the right to conduct all forms of stem cell research, including human cloning, in the state constitution.

I can think of no more perfectly predictable and logical scenario than a Catholic archbishop having concerns about featuring someone at his own Catholic event who publicly and locally advocates against core Catholic teaching.

In a less tribal America, even people who disagreed with the Catholic position on abortion would see the logic and rectitude of Archbishop Burke’s stance and subsequent action. He is saying a Catholic institution should be Catholic and if it refuses to be, in good conscience, he cannot allow his own involvement to give it a false stamp of legitimacy.

It seems that kind of logic is too clear for postmodern minds.

Event organizer Allen Allread told the Associated Press that the other board members did not honor Burke's request “because they did not want to play politics with performers at the annual event”.

"This is not an event that's about ideology; this is about helping kids," he said.

Bob Costas, a prominent television sportscaster and host of the event, released this statement: "I have never applied a litmus test, Catholic or otherwise, concerning the politics or religious beliefs of any of the generous performers who have come to St. Louis to help this worthy cause, nor do I intend to.”

The implication here is that the Catholic board should have no moral criterion for who they will feature at their events.

Archbishop Burke is not policing Sheryl Crow’s personal views. He is saying that because she has chosen to be a very public advocate against Church teaching in his Archdiocese, her platform should not be a Catholic event, run by a Catholic foundation, for a Catholic hospital … all of which he oversees as pastor.

Am I missing something? Why is this so hard to understand?

I think it has a lot to do with our national march toward ideological tribalism, the loss of reasonable discourse. FoxNews

When Archbishop Burke first arrived in St Louis, he quickly became embroiled with the trustees of a Polish parish over ownership of the structure and control of funds. The issue had been simmering for a long time and finally when Archbishop Burke demanded that Church law be obeyed, the result was a schism where many of the members of that parish left for another, dissident, parish and engaged a priest from Poland whose credentials and behavior appear to be suspect.

Coming to a Bookstore near you May 15: "Jesus of Nazareth" by Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI

John Allen, who writes the column "All Things Catholic" for the National Catholic Reporter is the only reason for reading anything they print. Today he has a fine analysis of the Pope's new book on Jesus, a personal study by a pre-eminent theology with a new job, that is not an official Church document.

"Jesus of Nazareth" will be available in English on May 15.

[...Snip] What seems clear is that the motive for the book is also emerging as the core doctrinal concern of this pontificate: Christology. Put in a nutshell, Benedict's thesis in Jesus of Nazareth is that there can be no humane social order or true moral progress apart from a right relationship with God; try as it might, a world organized etsi Deus non daretur, "as if God does not exist," will be dysfunctional and ultimately inhumane. Jesus Christ, Benedict insists, is "the sign of God for human beings." Presenting humanity with the proper teaching about Jesus is, therefore, according to Benedict, the highest form of public service the church has to offer.
Intellectually, the aim of Jesus of Nazareth is, in the first place, to defend the reliability of the gospel accounts; and secondly, to argue that that gospels present Christ as God Himself, not as a prophet or moral reformer. Over and over, the pope uses phrases such as "implicit Christology," "hidden Christology," and "indirect Christology," to argue that even where the gospel accounts don't draw out the theological consequences of stories and sayings of Jesus, their message is nonetheless discernible.
On another level, the book offers detailed commentaries on the Scriptures. Benedict, for example, complains that modern translations of Matthew 7:28, which in Greek says that the crowds were "frightened" by Jesus' teaching, often uses "astonished" instead, which he believes obscures the awesome character of an encounter with divinity. Likewise, Benedict doesn't like the way modern translations treat "Yahweh" as a proper name for God, when in fact the Hebrew means "I Am," which is almost a way of underlining the impossibility of naming God. Benedict also says that he would prefer calling the "Parable of the Prodigal Son" the "Parable of the Two Brothers" instead, because the older brother who resents his father's graciousness offers an equally important lesson, especially for pious religious people.

Yet Jesus of Nazareth is not just an intellectual exercise, or an attempt to offer grist for homilies, though there's material for that aplenty. Ultimately, the motive for the book seems to be deep concern for what the pope sees as the toxic consequences of flawed Christology.

Over the course of the book, Benedict critiques a number of popular modern interpretations of Jesus: Jesus as a preacher of liberal morality, Jesus as a social revolutionary, Jesus as an inspired prophet or sage on the level of other founders of religious movements. The pope is well aware that these interpretations usually arise from noble motives, which he also shares -- to affirm the primacy of human beings over the law, to combat poverty and injustice, to express tolerance for other religions. In the end, Benedict believes that all such exegesis puts the cart before the horse. Out of impatience to get to desired social outcomes, Benedict argues, revisionist Christologies subvert the only basis for real humanism, which is belief in God, and in an objective truth that comes from God and stands above the human will to power.

I'll add four vignettes from the book which don't necessarily illustrate larger themes, but which are nevertheless of interest.

First, Benedict tackles the question of calling God "mother." In a nutshell, he affirms that God is beyond gender, and that Scripture often uses the image of a mother's womb to express the intimacy of God's love for humanity. Yet, he says, "mother" is not a title of God in the Bible, and hence the church is disqualified from using it.
Second, in light of recent controversies in Catholic-Jewish relations, including a dispute in Israel over the presentation of Pope Pius XII at Yad Vashem and concerns related to the renewed use of the older Tridentine Mass, it's interesting to note the way in which Benedict refers to Judaism in Jesus of Nazareth.

In keeping with classical Christian exegesis and theology, Benedict is unabashed in asserting that Christ was the fulfillment of the promises and longings expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet he is deeply impatient with suggestions that Christ rebelled against, or transposed to a merely metaphorical plane, the demands of the Jewish law. Yes, Benedict says, Christ "universalized" the law, making it applicable not just to Israel but to all peoples, but he also insisted repeatedly that it was not his intention to cancel anything from the Law and the Prophets. Benedict rejects any attempt to minimize the importance of the Old Testament for Christianity.
Though Benedict is a gracious figure, sometimes in the thrust-and-parry of academic argument, one can feel the iron fist beneath his velvet gloves. There are passages in Jesus of Nazareth where his frustration with exegetes who cast doubt on the reliability of the gospels becomes especially clear.

Perhaps the best example is Benedict's discussion of the temptations of Christ. In the gospel accounts, Satan supports his offers by quoting the Psalms, and Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy. Benedict says the conversation reads like a debate between two experts on the Scriptures, and notes approvingly a passage from Vladimir Solov'ëv, a 19th century Russian philosopher, in his book on the Anti-Christ. Solov'ëv wrote that the Anti-Christ "received a doctorate honoris causa in theology from the University of Tübingen; he's a great expert in the Bible."

"With this account," Benedict writes, "Solov'ëv wanted to express in drastic fashion his skepticism with regard to a certain kind of erudite exegesis of his time. It's not a matter of rejecting scientific study of the Bible as such, but rather a very healthy and necessary warning regarding erroneous paths that such study might take. Interpretation of the Bible can, in fact, become an instrument of the Anti-Christ. It's not only Solov'ëv who says so, it's implicitly affirmed in the account of the temptation itself. The most destructive books on the figure of Jesus, which dismantle the faith, are interwoven with the presumed results of exegesis."

Finally, anyone who knows the thought of Benedict realizes how strongly he recoils from charges that Catholicism went wrong by "Hellenizing" the faith of the Bible.

In fact, Benedict has argued that the encounter between Christianity and the thought world of Greco-Roman antiquity was providential, and that Christianity cannot simply shuck aside its Hellenistic inheritance, like a snake casting off an old layer of skin, without losing something essential. (That formed part of the argument in his now-famous address at the University of Regensburg, which few noticed because of controversies over his comments about Islam.)

In that light, it's interesting that the very last paragraph of Jesus of Nazareth aims to exonerate the church from the charge that by adopting Hellenistic philosophical concepts, it betrayed the message of Scripture. Instead, he argues, Greek concepts allowed the early church to explicate more clearly the claims implicit in the Bible about what it means for Jesus to be the "Son of God," and to save those claims from misinterpretation.

"It was necessary," he writes, "to clarify successfully this new significance through complex and difficult processes of differentiation and through pain-staking research, in order to protect it from mythico-polytheistic and political interpretations. This was the motive for which the First Council of Nicea (325) employed the adjective homoousios ('of the same substance'). This term did not Hellenize the faith, it did not burden the faith with an extraneous philosophy, but rather it fixed precisely the incomparably new and different element which appeared in [the Bible's] speech about Jesus with the Father. In the Credo of Nicea, the church once again says together with Peter, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' " National Catholic Reporter This article by John Allen has been greatly shortened for inclusion here.

Catholics Victorious at U of Wisconsin; Sadness Reigns in Many Secular Dwellings

The Badger Herald (equivalent to the MN Daily, one supposes), has a very favorable editorial/opinion piece on the victory of the UofW's Roman Catholic Foundation's victory in the court after a long battle that entitles them to their fair share of student activity fees.

Justice, at last.

After a yearlong legal struggle, a federal court has ruled that the University of Wisconsin Roman Catholic Foundation is eligible to receive segregated fee funding. It seems that the final chapter of one of the year’s most misunderstood stories has been written.

Denied funding by the Student Service Finance Committee last fall, the UWRCF has since endured a long legal battle with the university. Most students of a secular mindset — like me — have probably instinctually sided against the religious organization. But if you take a step back and let the facts of the case fall into place, it becomes clear that, under the current segregated fee system, UWRCF is entitled to campus funds.

The most frequent criticism of UWRCF is that it is a religious organization. Shouldn’t a religious group be ineligible for funding at a public university? And isn’t this a violation of the First Amendment? To both questions, the answer is no. UWRCF does not receive money from student tuition and is, therefore, not supplemented by Wisconsin taxpayers. Rather, it receives funding from segregated fees, a financial source independent of government revenue. This practice is constitutionally sound.

Many students may have issues with the current manner in which the Student Services Finance Committee allots funds, or perhaps are opposed to the segregated fee system altogether. While I am certainly not of the latter opinion, such issues are not related to the current eligibility of UWRCF for SSFC funding.

The issue rarely discussed in this case is why UWRCF is being singled out. Other religious groups — including the Hillel, the Muslim Student Association and various Protestant groups — also receive SSFC money, according to Associated Students of Madison documents. According to The Badger Herald, SSFC originally claimed that the UWRCF used “exclusionary” language in its bylaws. UWRCF later removed the material deemed controversial and vigorously asserts that its services are open to all students, including non-Catholics. Therefore, it falls in line with the SSFC’s non-discrimination requirement.

Detractors will claim that a Catholic organization — regardless of its officially inclusive status — is obviously unwelcoming to non-Catholics. This may be the case, but such a claim fails to address the identically exclusive nature of other student groups on campus, including other religious ones. Would a Catholic feel at home at the Lutheran Campus Ministry? Probably not.

Nonreligious groups operate in a similar manner. Just as a non-Catholic would likely not join UWRCF, neither would a political conservative join the College Democrats.

Either way, the fact that UWRCF only identifies with a certain segment of the campus population is a moot legal criticism. The 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case, Board of Regents of U. of Wis. v. Southworth, ruled that student activity fees could be dispersed to organizations with which other students have disagreement.

A final and less controversial criticism of UWRCF is that its board has historically had more non-students than students — a violation of SSFC bylaws. A March 9 ruling stated that this made it ineligible for funding. UWRCF has since altered the status of its board, satisfying the only legitimate legal contention against it.

UW’s Roman Catholic Foundation may have technically been in violation of SSFC eligibility requirements, but the real reasons for its denial of funding are more complicated.

The Offices of the Dean of Students, for example, has never been a friend of the Catholic group. Speaking before SSFC members in November 2005, UW Interim Associate Dean of Students Elton Crim expressed his belief that UWRCF is unbefitting of segregated fee money. To what extent has SSFC been influenced by this kind of behavior by high-ranking university officials?

Even more suspicious is the manner in which UWRCF was denied funding. If the matter were truly as simple as a lack of students on the group’s board, the decision would have been made immediately. The delay raises serious questions about the motivation behind the decision.

Ultimately, UWRCF is now on safe legal ground, as recognized in the recent ruling. Most of the objection to its reception of student money is based on misinformation, or even worse, anti-Catholic bias. It is impossible to ignore that non-Catholic groups have not dealt with similar harassment from the university. In this context, UWRCF’s claims of discrimination, at the very least, deserve serious consideration.

Regardless of your political or religious beliefs, the university’s treatment of UWRCF should give us all pause.

Latinos and the Transformation of American Catholicism


Hispanics are transforming the nation's religious landscape, especially the Catholic Church, not only because of their growing numbers but also because they are practicing a distinctive form of Christianity.

Religious expressions associated with the pentecostal and charismatic movements are a key attribute of worship for Hispanics in all the major religious traditions -- far more so than among non-Latinos. Moreover, the growth of the Hispanic population is leading to the emergence of Latino-oriented churches across the country.

To explore the complex nature of religion among Latinos, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life collaborated on a series of public opinion surveys that totaled more than 4,600 interviews, constituting one of the largest data collection efforts conducted on this subject. The study examines religious beliefs and behaviors and their association with political thinking among Latinos of all faiths. It focuses special attention on Catholics, both those who retain their identification with the church and those who convert to evangelical churches.

About a third of all Catholics in the U.S. are now Latinos, and the study projects that the Latino share will continue climbing for decades. This demographic reality, combined with the distinctive characteristics of Latino Catholicism, ensures that Latinos will bring about important changes in the nation's largest religious institution.

Most significantly given their numbers, more than half of Hispanic Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, compared with only an eighth of non-Hispanic Catholics. While remaining committed to the church and its traditional teachings, many of these Latino Catholics have witnessed or experienced occurrences typical of spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God. Even many Latino Catholics who do not identify themselves as renewalists appear deeply influenced by spirit-filled forms of Christianity. [...snip] Pew Charitable Trust Hispanic Center Read the entire report and Executive Summary

Frustrated and sad, worshippers protest merger of N St Paul & Maplewood Parishes

In the immortal words of St Paul-Minneapolis' new Coadjutor Archbishop, John Nienstedt, "If you want more priests, Catholics, have more children!"

Through prayer, the Twin Cities archbishop has decided to merge a small Catholic church in Maplewood with a larger church in North St. Paul. Through frustration and desperation, members of the smaller church have started a counter-prayer in protest.

"The general feeling is, people are devastated," said Joan Gecik, parish administrator for Holy Redeemer in Maplewood. "We thought we had the perfect parish."

Holy Redeemer, home to 270 member families, could merge with St. Peter Church, with more than 1,800 families, as soon as August 2008. Both congregations would move together into a new church to be built on the present St. Peter grounds at 2590 N. Margaret St. in North St. Paul.

Rumored for months, the merger was confirmed to members of both churches in an April 18 letter from Harry Flynn, archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in which he said he reached this decision through "prayer and careful thought." Members of both churches have their first chance to question church officials about the merger in an informational meeting Saturday at Holy Redeemer.

Holy Redeemer members say they're motivated to preserve their culture and community.

"We welcome anybody to our church, but we're all very active members, and we like being small," said Mary Overton, a member since 1970. "They've been hinting at this (merger) for quite some time - they've been going about this kind of sneaky. It's very upsetting for all of us."

Caught in the middle is the Rev. Dan Griffith, pastor for both churches. [Father Griffith is scheduled as the featured speaker at St Augustine's next Argument of the Month Club session on May 8. Get your reseervations in early!] He went to Boston this week to meet with church officials who have led other congregations through mergers. He echoes sentiments Flynn laid out in his letter, acknowledging that the loss of church culture among Holy Redeemer members is "a legitimate concern."

Griffith stresses that this is a merger, not a closure, and that it is part of a national movement inside and outside the Catholic Church. Local leaders are taking steps to ensure Holy Redeemer members feel the new, blended church is theirs as much as it belongs to members of St. Peter. Those steps include forming a strategic planning committee with members of both churches, dissolving each church's financial and pastoral councils to create new bodies from the merged congregations and, in all likelihood, renaming the church. One potential name, Griffith said, is St. Peter of the Redeemer.

"It might not be as happy as two folks coming together in marriage, but we're going to try, very deliberately and thoughtfully, to bring the cultures of each into one," Griffith said. "From my standpoint, the people in the pews are our No. 1 constituency. I understand there's a lot of pain, and there's certainly a sense of loss and sacrifice, but we also let the Holy Spirit guide us and approach this as Christians and people of faith."

Some at Holy Redeemer suspect a less holy rationale for the merger - land value. Griffith deflected a question about whether the archdiocese wants to sell the land in Maplewood. Church leaders have considered a merger such as this, he said, for more than decade.

"It's about combining ministries, resources and talents to better serve parishioners," he said, noting that Holy Redeemer hasn't had a full-time pastor of its own for three years.

Holy Redeemer formed at the turn of the 20th century as an Italian national church in downtown St. Paul and moved to Maplewood in 1971. The Italian heritage has long been relegated to history, but it is still a destination church - a "church of choice," Overton said - rather than one based on geography. While half its members live in Maplewood, Holy Redeemer draws members from 27 ZIP codes. While following Roman Catholic doctrine, members tend to lean more away from tradition than do their counterparts at St. Peter, Griffith said.

[27 ZIP Codes? There are two types of Catholics who will drive a long way to get to Mass. One type is those seeking a Tridentine Mass or other conservative liturgy. "Lean away from tradition"? Is that another way to say "Peace and Justice Progressive?" That's the other type! ]

Holy Redeemer members aren't expecting to change the minds of church leaders at the Saturday meeting, but they also don't expect to sit as a silent audience.

"I hope they allow a free-for-all," Overson said. "Because what do we have to lose now?"

An informational meeting about the merger plan will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2555 Hazelwood St., Maplewood. PioneerPress

Editorial comment that may or may not be relevant here: Maplewood (look at the map), whose only reason for existence is that they didn't want to be part of St Paul, is also the city in the Twin Cities area whose City Council deals with more controversy than any other in Minnesota. By far.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

North Dakota Passes Conditional Abortion Ban!

The North Dakota Legislature voted Monday to ban abortion in the event that a future Supreme Court ruling makes such a move constitutional.

Under the ban, abortion providers would face criminal charges unless the pregnancy they're terminating is a threat to the mother's life or the result of rape or incest. Those found guilty of performing an illegal abortion would face a maximum penalty of five years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both.

Don Larson, a spokesman for Gov. John Hoeven, said the governor supports such a ban and will sign the bill. [...Snip] Bismarck Tribune

Tip O' the Hat to the Saginaw Seminarians

"Into Great Silence" DVD to be Released in US

The international hit movie/documentary "Into Great Silence" about the silent Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, head monastery of the Carthusian order will be released on DVD this coming October. is already pre-selling copies of the DVD as it currently ranks #612 in their DVD sales. Saginaw Seminarians

Minneapolis Review Here

Katherine Kersten: Abstinence study abstained from the larger truth

Stella Borealis says: It is probable that those who are in favor of comprehensive sex education in schools are opposed to giving students a choice of sex education courses.

According to Katherine, comprehensive sex education "tends to depict sex as essentially a physical process and source of pleasure. They generally teach that sex is OK for teens so long as they decide they're 'ready' and use contraceptives." One would easily win a bet that predicted that those who support this are also those who support a "woman's right to choose" abortion.

Why are they against a "woman's right to choose" abstinence?

And the reason is, they think that they are smarter than everybody else. And, intelligence being the most highly valued of all human character traits by them, that arrogance is behind most of all of the cultural and moral disputes being waged today.

Katherine Kersten: A new study on the effectiveness of abstinence education made headlines last week. Folks who advocate "safe sex," or comprehensive sex education are already assuring us that it marks the death knell of federally funded abstinence programs.

We Minnesotans have a special stake in this debate, because our Legislature is considering a bill to require sex education in grades 7-12.

What was the drastic finding that discredited abstinence programs, according to critics? The study assessed results from four abstinence-based programs around the country. Kids entered the programs in 1999-2001, at age 11 or 12 on average, and participated for one to several years. In late 2005 or early 2006 they completed a follow-up survey, when they were nearly 17 on average. About half the kids reported remaining abstinent, the same as a control group. Those who had sex did so first at the same age as those in a control group, and had as many sexual partners.

But anyone who wants to make public policy based on this study should think again. Its sample was small and unrepresentative, says Dr. Gary Rose of the Medical Institute of Austin, Texas, a research organization that supports abstinence education.

The study included only four of the more than 900 programs that have received federal support, he says, and three were in communities made up largely of single-parent households.

In fact, there is good evidence that abstinence programs do work, especially when a school-based message is reinforced throughout a community. In 1996, says Rose, President Bill Clinton signed a bill authorizing federal funding for abstinence education precisely because the "safe sex" curricula in use for years were proving woefully ineffective.

But the debate over sex education is about more than dry statistics. It's about the emotional and physical well-being of our kids, who are growing up in a world where 6-year-old girls dress like vamps and 10-year-old boys hear rappers dehumanize women as "hos."

Our kids are telling us that they're having sex too early. Nearly two-thirds of teens who have had sex regret their early activity and say they wish they had waited, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Our kids are crying out for socially supported ways to say no.

Does "comprehensive" sex education help them here? Far from it, says the Heritage Foundation, which compared nine comprehensive sex ed curricula and nine abstinence curricula in 2004.

Comprehensive sex ed and abstinence curricula teach markedly different views of sex, according to the Heritage report. Comprehensive curricula tend to depict sex as essentially a physical process and source of pleasure. They generally teach that sex is OK for teens so long as they decide they're "ready" and use contraceptives.

Comprehensive sex education's primary goals are to teach teens how to obtain and use contraception, and how to persuade their sexual partners to use it. "Many curricula instruct teens that condoms are 'fun' and 'sexy,' " says the report. Some advise kids to keep condoms with them at all times, implying that "sex can take place at a moment's notice" so "teens should always be prepared."

What kind of sexual relationships is a young person likely to form if he or she views sex this way? Short-term "hook-ups" that use others as vehicles for one's own pleasure. Increasingly, young men and women come together, in author Wendy Shalit's memorable phrase, "like airplanes refueling in flight: not just unerotic but almost inanimate."

Not surprisingly, advocates of comprehensive sex education often seek to broaden their programs' appeal by labeling them "abstinence-plus." But this is usually a serious misrepresentation, according to the Heritage report. The comprehensive curricula it studied merely paid lip service to abstinence, portraying it as just another way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Authentic abstinence curricula take a very different approach. They view sex not primarily as a source of pleasure or self-expression but as a deeply significant act with moral, emotional and psychological dimensions. As a result, they focus on teaching students about the differences between love and sex, and encouraging them to view sexuality as part of a lifelong process of developing intimacy that will culminate ideally in a faithful marriage.

Today, the hook-up culture beckons our kids. But many are yearning for romance and true intimacy. Abstinence education can help them. StarTribune

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Roamin' Roman", St Blog's Foreign Correspondent, Reports From Msgr Schuler's Funeral

First of all, the Internment is at St Mary's Cemetery at 10:00 a.m. CDT this morning in the TwinCities if you couldn't make it to St Agnes yesterday.

Mary, blogging currently at Veritatis Splendor, who won her foreign correspondent spurs as the Roamin' Roman when she studied for a year in Rome, was in attendance at St Agnes last night for the funeral of Msgr Richard Schuler:

Dies irae dies illa...

The parish of St. Agnes is well known for their ability to celebrate a worthy Mass using Mozart's Requiem setting. I've been to St. Agnes for their annual All Souls' Day Mass - twice. And I was at the Requiem Mass for the Holy Father John Paul II after his death. Tonight, however, was the most memorable one yet. Tonight, I was there to pray for, and for the prayers of, Msgr. Richard Schuler. And so were a LOT of other people!

I got there an hour early, and already the crowds were pouring into the nave. I managed to snag a decent center pew about 2/3 of the way back, and also managed to find a couple of friends amidst the chaos of mourners arriving. The church was full well before 7pm, I think a lot of people were standing. According to the St. Agnes website, the church holds 1,500 people - wow! What a tribute to this man's holiness! [...snip] Read it all at Veritatis Splendor

And she got to meet Father Z! Dang it, I shouldda been there! She had earlier posted an article by him about Msgr Schuler that was published in The Wanderer in 2006 and edited for the Internet HERE.

Epiphany Resurrection - Coadjutor Appointment

Free lance writer Thomas who has been known occasionally to blog at Epiphany, but hasn't been seen attending Mass at St Blog's since last November, has made a special appearance in honor of the appointment of New Ulm's Bishop John Nienstedt as Coadjutor Archbishop of St Paul-Minneapolis.

In October of 2005, I had the pleasure of having dinner with the new archbishop at the Catholic Medical Association Conference in Portland, Ore. (see his talk here). I also had a chance to meet Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix at that same conference.

In an elevator ride, I told Bishop Olmsted how impressed I was with what he was doing with all the obstacles he had to overcome. But he would hear none of it. The difficulties he encountered, he said, were nowhere near as tough as what other bishops had. That surprised me given the fact that his immediate successor had been arrested, charged and convicted of a felony, that the former vicar general (who, by the way, had established a very popular youth program) had been arrested for sexual misconduct, and that the bishop had open rebellion on his hands involving a sizable number of priests.

But no, he said, those problems were nothing. He had priests and seminarians and the diocese had a fair amount of money. Compare that to someone like Bishop Nienstedt, he said, who had no money, no seminarians, hardly any priests (42 priests for 82 parishes), and where respect for the priesthood had gone out the window in favor or laywomen or nuns running the parishes (my words, not his). Now that, he said, was someone to look up to.

Archbishop Nienstedt has not had it very easy given the way his diocese was left in shambles by his predecessor, Bishop Raymond Lucker. But in the six years he's been there, he has begun to change it without much open rancor. Of course, the National Catholic Reporter went after him since Bishop Lucker was one of NCR's patron saints. But other than that, he's been able to carry out his ministry with a fair amount of calm.

Moving from the most rural diocese in the country to one with somewhere between 646,000 and 830,000 Catholics (depending on who you talk to -- the new coadjutor says the former, the StarTribune says the latter and the Pioneer Press says 750,000) and being made the Metropolitan of the province is quite a change in responsibility. May God give him the strength and courage he's going to need to handle all of his duties and the opposition he will necessarily face when he carries them out. [...snip] Epiphany Read it All