Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi: An Encyclical With a Difference; UK Telegraph

This is too good not to print out in full. Christopher Howse, a blogger (Yaaaaaaaaaay, we're not all jerks) on the UK Telegraph who actually read Spe Salvi before he wrote on it. This is written in readily understandable English that really encourages me to read the 26 page encyclical.

Be sure to check out the comments on Purgatory towards the end of Howse's post. And check out some of his more recent blog posts. This guy writes very interesting stuff and doesn't know how to spell "politically correct", something quite rare in England today.

A colleague, staring at the Pope's latest encyclical, remarked, "There's no news here. It's all about God."

He was right, after a fashion, for the document, the second encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI since his election two and a half years ago, is about hope and salvation. Its title, Spe Salvi, is from a phrase in St Paul's Epistle to the Romans, "In hope we were saved."

But it is a very unusual kind of encyclical, quoting Dostoyevsky and discussing the Jacobean philosopher Francis Bacon. Encyclicals usually stick to the Bible and the Fathers of the Church. After all, they are universal letters to the Catholic faithful.

Yet Spe Salvi speaks to the anguish and foreboding that are clearly marks of the modern world. As a German who experienced some of the evil of Nazism, Pope Benedict spends a proportion of his 25-page letter pondering another letter, "a letter from 'Hell', which lays bare all the horror of a concentration camp".

This was a letter written by a Vietnamese priest, Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, arrested in 1841. "The prison here is a true image of everlasting Hell," he wrote. "To cruel tortures of every kind are added hatred, vengeance, quarrels, curses, anguish and grief." He had a hard time of it, but declared: "I cast my anchor towards the throne of God, the anchor that is the lively hope in my heart." If he hoped for freedom, his hope was frustrated, for after being released he was re-arrested and at the end had his head cut off.

Pope Benedict is not proposing a facile hope in heaven undoing injustices of life on Earth. Indeed, this is where he brings in Dostoyevsky. The Pope asserts that "the last Judgment is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope". A world without God is a world without hope, and "God is justice".

With justice comes grace, yet "grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on Earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoyevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

In considering justice and grace, the Pope just touches upon hell, for people "who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love".

But what of those who, as St Paul puts it, build their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ? That foundation endures. "If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives," St Paul writes, "he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

In interpreting the words, the Pope is surprisingly hospitable to a speculation by "some recent theologians" that "the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us."

This, then, is a reformulation of the doctrine of Purgatory, which in the past has been a stumbling-block to many Protestants. Pope Benedict is familiar, from his career as an academic theologian, with currents in German Protestant thinking. But in whatever way the idea of Purgatory is to be understood, the Pope is not abandoning the concept of praying for the dead.

In defending prayers for the dead, he echoes John Donne and writes: "No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another." No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. "So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death."

This Pope, in his 81st year, is aware that death cannot be far off. He has been busy writing, and another volume about Jesus is expected. So we are lucky to get out of him, while his days last, this encyclical with a difference.

• 'Sacred Mysteries', a collection of 90 of Christopher Howse's columns, published by Continuum, is on sale at all good bookshops or from Telegraph Books (£12.99 + £1.25 p&p), on 0870 428 4112 or at

Bishop Hoeppner Era Begins in Crookston Today


A who's who of the Catholic church is in Crookston today for the ordination of Michael Hoeppner as the seventh bishop in the history of the Diocese of Crookston. A Winona, Minn. native, Hoeppner, 58, succeeds Victor Balke, who retired in September after 31 years at the helm of the Crookston Diocese.

Thursday evening, Solemn Vespers were held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Hoeppner, after singing the processional hymn, "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" near the baptismal font, was called forward by Archbishop Harry Flynn, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

During Thursday evening's service, representatives of various religious, Native American and Hispanic communities welcomed Hoeppner, and before the final blessing the representatives of the Native American communities offered the Blessing of the Four Directions.

Today's ordination began at 1 p.m, and a public reception was scheduled to follow at the Mount St. Benedict. In addition to Balke, dignitaries taking part include Bishop Bernard Harrington and 18 other bishops, Monsignor Roger Grundhaus, vicar general of the Crookston Diocese, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi from Washington, D.C., who serves as the pope's envoy in America. Crookston Daily Times

Freedom of the Press in the 21st Century

The Curt Jester points out how receptive the Main Street Media outlets are to things coming from the Vatican. Here are some headlines from various newspapers in reaction to the new papal encyclical, Spe Salvi, "Saved by Hope."

Pope attacks 'cruel and unjust' atheism in his message of hope (revised to "Marx had Great Ideas; His Error was forgetting God: The Times of London

Pope Benedict and the Crusade Against Atheism: U.S. Politics Today's Russian News Service

New Papal encyclical blasts atheism, promises hope: Washington Post

Pope criticizes atheism and Marxism: United Press International

Papal encyclical attacks atheism, lauds hope: Reuters

Pope Criticizes Atheism in Encyclical: Associated Press

The AP claims that the encyclical has 76 pages; the UK Telegraph correctly says it has 26 pages, and led with a headline that said: Spe Salvi, says Pope Benedict. I see now a concrete reason why I find the Telegraph to be the best European newspaper.

It is interesting that the Yellow Press concentrates on the encyclical's trashing of "atheism." I did a count of the 26 page document. The word "atheism" appears three times in sections 42 and 43, near the end of the encyclical. "Hope" appears 200 times throughout it.

What kind of an editor would allow a headline like you see above to appear in print? For starters it would be one who didn't bother to read the encyclical himself. In addition, it probably is one who told one of his writers a week ago what to write as rumors as to the subject matter of the encyclical began to appear outside the walls of the Vatican.

Newspapers continue to lose circulation. They contain fewer and fewer pages. And the pages are smaller. Their newsroom staffs continue to shrink. The solution? Make up some news!

Get Rich Quick: Start at the Bottom!

SatLav pinpoints nearest public toilet - Nobody wants to get caught short while out and about, and now there is no need to, after the launch of the UK's first "SatLav" system.

American Bishops Statement on Pope Benedict's second encyclical, Spes Salvi

SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”— salvation— is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

Spe salvi (Saved by hope), the second encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, offers inspiration to all believers, said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It may be found here:

“Pope Benedict calls us personally and as a community to a hope rooted in Jesus,” he said. Cardinal George made his remarks November 30, the day the encyclical was released at the Vatican.

Spe Salvi instructs readers that the Christian message is not only “informative” but also “performative,” that is, “the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known – it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing,” Pope Benedict says. It is in receiving God through Jesus Christ that we receive hope. He illustrates this point narrating the life of the African slave, St. Josephine Bakhita.

The Pope outlines the concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and early church and says that Christianity did not bring to the Roman world a hopeful message of social revolution. Jesus, who died on a cross, brought a totally different kind of hope. He made possible an encounter with “the Lord of all lords, an encounter with the living God and thus an encounter with a hope stronger than sufferings of slavery,” which therefore transformed life.

This hope exceeds the physical laws of nature and evolution. It is ultimately not these laws that govern the world and mankind and have the final say; a personal God governs the universe – “reason, will, love – a Person,” Pope Benedict says.

For the Pope, Christian hope is not individualistic. It is community oriented – all of us are becoming the people of God – the body of Christ, he says. Because our hope is a hope that incorporates all men and women, this hope spurs us not only to obtain eternal life, but to also manifest this hope of eternal life here on earth. We do this by striving to make our life on earth a heavenly life – a life of productivity, justice, peace, and goodness – a positive world order that prospers.

The Holy Father also notes the importance of Christian faith-hope in the modern age. In the encyclical letter, Pope Benedict analyzes the false utopian dreams of the modern age and points out the untold suffering they have caused human beings. From this point of view, redemption is no longer through faith in God’s saving action but from what human beings can achieve through the application of technical knowledge to all of society’s problems. A praxis-oriented science draws on an understanding of progress as the overcoming of all dependency to make room for a “kingdom” in which God is no longer at the center. Pope Benedict reflects that when reason renounces faith in revelation or the moral wisdom of the great religions, it has led to scientific developments which in some cases evoke fear among our contemporaries. Just as man needs God in order to sustain hope, reason needs faith to make the world a more human place. “Reason needs faith to be completely itself,” the pope says.

Pope Benedict also observes that prayer leads to hope. "A first essential setting for learning hope is prayer. . . . When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God," he says.

He adds that action and suffering are also settings for learning hope. "We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it," he says. "It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love."

A person "cannot accept another's suffering unless he personally is able to find meaning in suffering, a path of purification and growth in maturity, a journey of hope. Indeed, to accept the 'other' who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love," he says also.

Pope Benedict highlights the practice of praying for the dead saying it reveals another important element of the Christian concept of hope. “As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well," he says.

Spe salvi is the second encyclical of Pope Benedict. His first, “Deus caritas est,” (God is love) explored the meaning of Christian love and how it is expressed in everyday life. He issued it December 25, 2005.

Spe salvi can be found at

Pope Benedict's first encyclical was on Love, Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love" - literally, "Charity"). This one is on "Hope." Any bets that the third one will be on Faith?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Here it comes: The Tridentine Mass in ENGLISH!

"And Also With You!"

Here's the old joke. If a person who can speak three languages is called "tri-lingual"; and a person who can speak only two languages is called "bi-lingual"; what is a person who can speak only one language called?

An American!

11/16/2007 5:34:00 AM -Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi


The fundamental basis for the legitimacy of the use of English in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is to be found in Article 6 of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio:

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.

To understand why Pope Benedict authorized the use of the vernacular language even though the Missal as originally promulgated by Blessed Pope John XIII in 1962 is entirely in Latin, one must return to the Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium issued on December 4, 1963 by the Second Vatican Council. In Article 36 (2) the Council stated:

But since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or in other parts of the liturgy, may be of great advantage to the people, a wider use may be made of it, especially in the readings, directives and in some prayers and chants.

In Article 54 the Council further stated:

A suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses which are celebrated with the people, especially in the readings and "the common prayer," and also, as local conditions may warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people, according to the rules laid down in Article 36 of this Constitution.

Further, to understand the relationship of the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII to the Council's Decree it is important to note that he died on June 3, 1963. Also, lest one exalt the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII to the equivalent of having been cast in stone as were the Ten Commandments, it is important to remember that is was but one of many revisions of the Missal. Saint Pope Pius X revised the Missal in 1910 and it was published in an Editio Typica by his successor, Pope Benedict XV. Pope Pius XII revised the Missal before he died in 1958 and it was published in an Editio Typica on June 23, 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII.

Following the promulgation of the Council's Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium on December 4, 1963, the bishops of the United States petitioned the Holy See on April 2, 1964 for the use of the vernacular in those parts of the Mass celebrated with the Missal of 1962 permitted by Articles 36 and 54 of the Decree. On May 1, 1964 the Holy See granted permission for the bishops of the United States to print the Missal of 1962 with the following parts of the Mass in English:

a) the Epistle and the Gospel

b) the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus-Benedictus and Agnus Dei

c) the Lord's Prayer with its introductory admonition

d) the formula Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine, non sum dignus before the communion of the faithful.

e) the Introit and the Gradual

f) the antiphons at the Offertory and Communion

g) the acclamations, salutations and formulas of dialogue in which the people participate.

Accordingly, the bishops of the United States published, on September 21, 1964 a new EDITION OF THE MISSAL OF BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JUNE 25, 1960 NOW KNOWN AS THE MISSAL OF 1962.


The use of the vernacular (English) in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is therefore legitimate and is clearly in keeping with the mind of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Benedict XVI.

+Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi

Thank God for the Magisterium!

Mark Shea is one of the best writers and bloggers (Catholic and Enjoying it) out there. And I never read him. If I did, I'd have to cut my sleep time down to 15 minutes a night. I don't know how he does it. Not only does he post tons of articles on his blog a day, he also is an editor of and does the same there and writes for the National Catholic Register (where he has just a column once a week) and other places.

Many modern people have the notion that the principal mission of the Catholic Church is to impose belief on unbelievers. The reality is that most its time is spent trying to restrain belief in everything from spoon-bending to the aliens who allegedly speak to us through a cat in Poughkeepsie. . . . Catholic

When it rains Latin, it pours Latin; Our Lady of Lourdes Next?

Interior Design Committee Meeting
Our Lady of Lourdes
1 Lourdes Pl.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Thursday, November 29, 2007
5:30 - 7:00

An open meeting will be held at Our Lady of Lourdes on Thursday (today) at 5:30 pm in the Great Hall,the Architectural firm will be showing a few suggested interior floor plans.

They want to add pews and seating space and currently have a thrust stage type alter. The building is on the National Historic Site Registry and many are dicussing having the potential to hold Tridentine Masses at this historic Church.

There is at least one petition drive going to eventually be presented to the priest and Archbishop to hold a Tridentine Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Come out and support the Downtown Minneapolis Tridentine Community, if enough want to, we could have a social afterwards at Nye''s or some other mutually agreed about social gathering spa! ce.

The head of the Interior Space Committee is Richard Dirlam.
Richard can be by email at

A Minneapolis parish? Is it the Second Coming already?

Minnesota, as usual, slow to move on Latin

In the State of Minnesota, we don't get too excited about things, never adopting fads quickly like our fellow citizens on the east and west coasts, and never plummeting into despair at a ten point drop in the Dow Jones average.

Understandably, then, we have been slow to pick up and take advantage of the rights that Pope Benedict, in his Motu Proprio and Summorum Pontificum documents, gave to all priests to celebrate the 1962 Latin Mass privately if they want, or "publicly" at the request of a "stable group." We pretty much have ignored all of the twitter and hoopla, especially found in certain blogging circles. And not much changed here after three months.

Father J.P. Echert who is the pastor of St Augustine's and Holy Trinity in South St Paul, at the east end of the Archdiocese, and the only parish that had previously possessed the indult to have the traditional Latin Mass, has increased its frequency to include weekdays, shared between the two parishes.

I thought that there might be as many as six parishes (0ut of 220 in the archdiocese) that might experiment with Latin. But until yesterday, I had not heard of any. One of my "crazy" blogging correspondents informed me of the following at the northwest end of the archdiocese:

I was wondering if you would mention on the blog the good news that Fr. [Timothy] Cloutier is offering the Latin Mass this Sunday December 2nd at St. Walburga's at 1:00 pm.

There was one in Corcoran last month. What is happening is that the priests in that deanery are assessing the interest in the Latin Mass and trying a few locations to see which one would be the best fit. I heard that St. Michael was also being considered.
It would be so nice if we could get a good crowd to show the semi-reluctant priests around here that there is a desire for this and also a willingness to support it (not just a novelty to throw around once a year or so).

I was thinking of having a contest to see who could tell me where "St Walburga's" was as I couldn't find it in my "Official" 2006 Minnesota Catholic Directory; but I decided to ask my correspondent where this was.

Sorry, St. Walburgas is in Fletcher (just outside of Rogers) and is part of the St. Walburga/St. Martin's (in Rogers) union now called "Mary, Queen of Peace" (but both churches are still used for the Liturgy). The church of Corcoran is St. Thomas the Apostle and, FYI is lead by one of my favorite priests in the world, Fr. Michael Rudolph (he was the associate pastor at my home parish in St. Michael until last year). The St. Walburga "campus" (they call the two different locations by their former names to differentiate) is so cute and old fashioned. It's like stepping back 100 years or so. My mother's relatives were some of the original parishioners so I have some history there (great-grand relatives buried in the cemetery across the street from it!) and my grandma went to school and church there when she was little. I really can't wait until Sunday!

You'll note that "Fletcher" can be found in Hassan Township. Minnesota geography is very complicated.

I would say that this area ranked highest in my thoughts as to where the "Extraordinary Mass" would first begin to be celebrated in Minnesota. So I got that part right.

Little did I think that St James parish, in the city of that name in Watonwan County in the Diocese of Winona would beat the most parishes in the archdiocese to the punch. They will have a "Tridentine Latin Mass" Missa Cantata at 9am on Saturday, Dec 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and on Christmas Day, Dec 25. These Masses are celebrated by Father Thomas Cook of that parish.

The Tridentine Mass has been regularly celebrated on First Saturdays at Ss Peter and Paul in Mankato, also in the Diocese of Winona.

Postscript: From The Remnant on October 24:

Another Tridentine Latin Mass in Minnesota

The Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis will be having an additional Mass in the Tridentine rite, in the NW metro area, on the 1st Sunday of the month at 1 p.m., beginning November 4th. The November Mass will be at St. Thomas the Apostle in Corcoran. The December Mass will be at the same time but at St. Walburga's in Fletcher/Rogers. It is likely that the January Mass will be in St. Michael at the old St. Michael Church. Details will be made available when it is known for sure. The priests of these parishes have graciously offered their churches to host the Mass and it will rotate around to determine if one location is better for those attending. There are also another 2 priests in Wright county who are willing to learn this Mass so hopefully it will become a weekly Mass and perhaps move to an earlier time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tridentine Mass Reminder

Just a reminder that there will be a Tridentine (Latin) Mass this Sunday at St. Walburga's in Rogers/Fletcher Minnesota. Mass will be at 1:00. It is possible that this Mass will be every other week instead of just the 1st. Sunday. Please keep that in your prayers.

There are also plans for a third Tridentine Mass location south of the Twin Cities metro area. Two priests from that area attended a Fraternity of St. Peter workshop in Lincoln, NE on saying the Tridentine Mass. More details on that location as they become available and they have an official start date.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If you want a good recap as to what's going on in good ol' St Paul-Mpls, . . .

Check out Terry at AbbeyRoads2!

Tibesar Declares War on Abps. Flynn and Nienstedt!

US Catholic Parish set to "Publicly Bless the Relationship of Same-Sex Couples"
Openly challenges Church moral teachings

By Hilary White

ST. PAUL - MINNEAPOLIS, November 28, 2007 ( - St. Francis Cabrini church, of the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese, has announced on their website that they are ready to "bless" homosexual partners.

The parish has published a "Statement of Reconciliation" repudiating the Church for its teaching on sexual purity and married chastity and misrepresenting these teachings as a form of "oppression." The statement said the parish will "Publicly bless the relationships of a same sex couple after the couple completes a process of discernment similar to that completed by heterosexual couples before marriage."

The parish statement goes on to pledge that it will publish in the homosexual press their commitment to the homosexual activist agenda and to including "a gay/lesbian perspective in catechesis at all levels, including elementary school age." The parish currently runs catechesis programmes for children from ages three and up.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pastor of the parish is Fr. Leo Tibesar who is a national leader in the anti-Catholic homosexual lobbying organisation, Dignity. Fr. Tibesar was recorded this week preaching a homily refuting Catholic teaching on sexuality and accusing those who uphold it, including bishops, Cardinals and "Evangelicals", of hypocrisy.

In May 2006, when revealed Fr. Tibesar's leadership role in the homosexual political movement within the Church, he was not the pastor of any parish. It was since the revelations of his involvement in the anti-Catholic campaign group that he was assigned to St. Francis Cabrini. He is also a longstanding figure in Archbishop Flynn's archdiocesan programmes preparing couples for marriage.

The parish says it "stands willing" to accept "openly gay or lesbian priests or lay ministers" despite the widely available statistics showing the high prevalence of homosexual clergy perpetrators in the Church's ongoing sexual abuse crisis.

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, head of Human Life International, told that the parish's statement was "totally contrary to the Catholic faith". "I can only say what the scriptures say, this is an abomination. The blessing of homosexual partners is an abomination and the corruption of children is a scandal," he said.

"The fact that they are placing themselves in opposition to the bishops, that they specifically cite the bishops in opposition to them, means they have placed themselves outside the communion of the Catholic Church and apostolic tradition of the Church. In fact in opposition to it."

Fr. Euteneuer explained that Catholic teaching was not a matter of arbitrary or politically motivated decisions but a "clear understanding of human sexuality passed down to us through the centuries and faithfully passed on by the Church." He added that those actively living a homosexual lifestyle separate themselves "not just from the Church but from God".

The leader of the international Catholic pro-life organization stated, "We're not talking about disordered persons but disordered desires and actions. The bishops have been very clear, and the papal teachings go back forever on this issue. I think what it comes down to is that these people worship a different god than we worship."

In his 2003 book, "Anti-Catholicism in America The Last Acceptable Prejudice", US Episcopal author and historian Philip Jenkins identified these themes as the guiding conventions of the latest wave of anti-Catholic bigotry, fuelled by the sexual and "gender identity" politics common to the American left since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Euteneuer said, "I agree with Jenkins and I think the other side of the coin is that we have people within our own ranks, wolves in sheep's clothing, who are not only not authentic Catholics but are working on an anti-Catholic agenda from within the Church."

Read related coverage:
Prominent Minneapolis-St. Paul Priest a Leader in National Homosexual Lobby Group

ON TAPE: U.S. Priest Blasts Vatican Cardinal and Archbishop over Homosexuality During Homily

Thomas University Planning to Vosko-ize (Wreck-o-Vate) the Campus Chapel

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 12:05 pm

I got an e-mail. I ask those who live in Minnesota to pay attention to this.

This is about a meeting:

12:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

Dear Fr. Z,

I wanted to make you aware that the University of St. Thomas will again be renovating its main campus chapel. Unfortunately, it is NOT in a more traditional direction.

They are having a campus discussion TOMORROW (Thursday 29 November) with the liturgical "designers" (one of whom collaborated on the dreadful "Art and Environment in Catholic Worship") about the proposed renovations. Essentially, the chapel will become more of a performance space than a "worship" space. (There is an increasing desire to have orchestras, choirs, and recitals in the chapel).

See here:

I think it would be helpful to notify your many Minnesota readers, especially UST alumni, about the proposed changes, and encourage them to show up and (non-belligerently) ask pointed questions about whether the new "designs" make celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass possible, or hinder that celebration. And ask why, as the Church returns more and more toward traditional liturgical architecture, the chapel moves away.

The "designers" also designed the School of Law’s ugly Chapel of St. Thomas More.

Thanks and God bless,

I haven't got a confirmation of this, but the destroyed and reborn Chapel is to be named after Thomas Cromwell, chief adviser to King Henry VIII and uncle (kind of) of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England who later raped and pillaged Ireland just because he wanted to.

What's Really Most Obnoxious About Rocco is When He Beats Me To a Story That Should Be Mine!

In Crookston, -- Literally

Returning to things Stateside, Friday brings the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Michael Hoeppner of Crookston.

The 1pm (1900 GMT) liturgy in the Northwest Minnesota diocese's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will be streamed at ... a domain name which could pull in quite a mint if they ever thought of leasing it out for future installations elsewhere. Archbishop Harry Flynn of St Paul and Minneapolis will preside.

Until his late September appointment to lead the local church of 36,000, Hoeppner, 58, served as vicar-general of Winona, his home diocese at the state's opposite corner. He succeeds Bishop Victor Balke, the longest-serving head of a US diocese; the departing ordinary arrived in Crookston in September 1976.

In an curious bit of ecclesiastical trivia, the seat of Crookston's bishop lacks a bishop's seat. Balke's liturgical counsel reportedly maintained that each presider's chair across the diocese was the bishop's throne, so the cathedra is conversely used by any celebrant.

The Order for the Mass is posted in pdf ...and now you've all got a free copy of the Rite of Episcopal Ordination. Whispers in the Loggia, by Rocco, of course

U of Thomas Cracks Down on Hate Speech!

The University of Thomas, where three women received hateful notes last month, is addressing how it will handle such incidents.

One wonders what their position on blasphemy is?

Monastic Capitalists in Sparta


Catholic monks in southwestern Wisconsin became an unlikely e-commerce success several years ago when they hit on the idea of reselling computer-printer cartridges and plowing all the profits into charitable works - a gimmick that resonated with their Web site's hyperloyal clientele.

Now get ready for LaserMonks: The Sequels.

Our Lady of Spring Bank Cistercian Abbey is charging into the holiday season with brand-new online storefronts, one peddling premium coffee, and the other hawking gift-style merchandise from Catholic monasteries and convents throughout the country and world.

The idea is pretty much the same: Make a bunch of cash, then give it away (minus business expenses and what is needed to sustain the monks).

The abbey's grand philanthropic ambitions hardly end there. There's talk of an e-store for olive-oil connoisseurs, a gift-basket emporium, and - in a return to the LaserMonks' computer roots - a scheme to proffer technical-support service plans for printer owners.

These are the creations of Sarah Caniglia and Cindy Griffith, lay managers who oversee day-to-day e-commerce operations on the abbey grounds in Sparta, Wis. (so the monks can pray and do other monk stuff). With just two other staffers, customers have a 25 percent chance of getting either woman when calling in orders - no India-based call center for this outfit.

As if the duo wasn't busy enough, they've even written a book about their arrival in 2003 as consultants, and how they ended up staying. (They now live and work in a converted house a discreet distance from the monks' quarters.)

"LaserMonks" (subtitle: "The business story nine hundred years in the making") riffs on the business' unorthodox roots in the Rule of St. Benedict, an ancient primer instructing Benedictine monasteries to treat all visitors with care and hospitality - "Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

Caniglia and Griffith embraced that famed maxim, applying it to e-visitors instead of physical ones.

These even included unpleasant customers making preposterous demands, Caniglia recalled. Twice, nasty callers claimed LaserMonks cartridges had irreparably damaged their printers, which was unlikely, she said. But both times, LaserMonks bought replacement printers on the spot.

"We think that's how St. Benedict would have wanted us to treat a customer," Caniglia said.

This, the women now claim, was essential to the LaserMonks' sales surge. Revenue has rocketed from $180,000 in 2003 to about $5 million to $6 million this year, with a projected $8 million to $10 million in 2008.

The other key ingredient, they believe, has been the store's not-for-profit, solely philanthropic thrust - or "social entrepreneurship" - with all its profits earmarked for the needy in places like St. Paul's Midway neighborhood. In a partnership with a local church, the abbey has filled up kid backpacks with school supplies, and fixed up families with groceries, blankets, socks and mittens.

So while LaserMonks can't always provide the lowest prices nor the most-complete selection, the women said, the site's customers keep coming back because they know their purchases will do good.

"They are tired of walking into a big-box store to line a CEO's pockets," Griffith said.

The "LaserMonks" book is largely intended as a business blueprint. Even for-profit companies can learn a thing or two here, the authors insist. Do good for your customers, your partners, and especially for the needy to the best of your ability; it's just good business, and you'll feel pretty good, too.

The abbey's new e-stores, Benevolent Blends and MonkEgifts, try to implement this philosophy in different ways.

The coffee store, with blends such as Abbot's Select and Monk's Reserve, aims to pay fair prices for coffee beans in Panama and Colombia, and even to assist families of struggling coffee farmers much as the abbey helps U.S. families.

The gift storefront is a Catholic cooperative of sorts for pushing monastic merchandise such as Trappist Preserves cooked at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Mass., Trappistine Creamy Caramels from Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa, and Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake from the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Ky., and even ostrich-oil soaps and creams made by Cistercian nuns on the island of Tautra in Norway.

MonkEgifts has competition in Monastery Greetings, another monk-gift site peddling many of the same products. Caniglia and Griffith said they're up to the challenge after going up against thousands of computer-product vendors, and prevailing.

The Rev. Bernard McCoy, LaserMonks founder recently elevated to abbey prior, once said he wanted his outfit to become the of charity-driven e-retailers. That dream, his lieutenants now believe, is becoming a reality. Pioneer Press

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DaVinci Academy: Coming Soon to the Northern Suburbs; Prepare to Crack those Books!

Sponsoring the Da Vinci Academy is the Friends of Ascension, which was founded by Twin Cities banker Bill Cooper to raise money for Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis and found charter schools meant to emulate Ascension's academic success.

The name's a dead giveaway.

The Da Vinci Academy, set to open somewhere in the northern suburbs for the 2008-09 school year, will feature a heavy emphasis on the arts and sciences.

One of the most recent charter schools to be approved by the state, the Da Vinci Academy plans to open with somewhere between 180 and 200 students in grades K-6, said school founder Kathy Reinartz, of Spring Lake Park. After that, the school will expand by one grade level a year until it covers kindergarten through high school. The school, named for Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, is approved to have up to 400 students, Reinartz said.

Like several other charter schools that have recently opened in Twin Cities suburbs, the Da Vinci Academy will base its curriculum on the "core knowledge" program pioneered by educator E.D. Hirsch Jr., who became famous after the publication of his books, including "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know" and a series of books that include "What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know,"What Your First Grader Needs to Know,"What Your Second Grader Needs to Know," and so on.

Core knowledge stresses the importance of learning plenty of facts as the key to a good education, and emphasizes that children should learn certain things according to particular grade sequences.

Charter schools are public schools, but they are allowed more leeway to devise their own programs and to govern themselves than traditional public schools. Sponsoring the Da Vinci Academy is the Friends of Ascension, which was founded by Twin Cities banker Bill Cooper to raise money for Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis and found charter schools meant to emulate Ascension's academic success.

Reinartz stressed that the core knowledge focus at Da Vinci doesn't mean its students will have their noses stuck in books all the time.

"The kids won't just be learning out of a textbook," she said. "We'll use the Internet quite a bit, and we're going to have a visiting scientist once a month. We'll have plays, music, literature and poetry writing. If we get extra land, we'd like to have a garden and show the kids the science of that."

Reinartz said school organizers are currently looking for a place to put the school, and that it might involve either building a school or renting space in an existing building. Blaine, Lino Lakes, Shoreview, Mounds View and Arden Hills are among the communities Reinartz said could be sites for the new school.

"Now that we've been approved, we're going to start marketing in January and February," she said. "We see the interest as skyrocketing because there is no other charter school out here."

Reinartz said school organizers have already raised $540,000 for the school, much of it from a federal start-up grant for charter schools. She said 55 children are already slated to attend the school.

With the Department of Education's approval of 11 new charter schools in October, there are now 158 charters approved to operate in Minnesota. Twenty-six thousand students currently attend Minnesota charters. StarTribune

Thank You, Mother England: "Sesame Street" now has a PG-13 Rating - Don't be a grouch!

Thrillingly, the early episodes of Sesame Street have just been released on DVD, but be warned - those shows are dangerous! Slapped across the front of the case is the message, "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." And looking at the wobbly sets and be-stringed puppets, they probably are better suited to sentimental adults than kids raised on Pixar. But this sticker is an expression of concern.

It's not the psychedelic nature of the programme in its 70s incarnation that worries, but the behaviour it might encourage. Children dancing in the street! Grown men reading storybooks to kids - for no apparent reason!

Cookie Monster is the number one problem, not because he is a monster, but because he eats cookies (encourages obesity), and when his addiction takes a special stranglehold, the plate (might hurt). His alter ego, Alistair Cookie, used to smoke a pipe before eating it, which, Sesame Street producer Carol-Lynn Parente explained to the New York Times, "modelled the wrong behaviour", and so Alistair was, tragically, dropped, and he now probably munches down on pipes in bitterness in illegal pipe dens.

The clearly depressed Oscar the Grouch is another problem: "We might not be able to create a character like Oscar today," said Parente, which is possibly one of the most depressing sentences I have read in my life.

For those of us reared on Sesame Street, the degree to which the show is embedded in our psyche is hard to overstate. My favourite segment was the 1979 one when the Muppet band the Beetles, suitably mop-topped, if a little fuzzier of face than the originals, sang their poignant ballad Letter B (sample lyric: "When I find I can't remember/What comes after A and before C/ My mother always whispers, 'Letter B'," and yes, I am quoting from memory). But 30 years on, the perils here are overwhelming: their hair is in their eyes! They're playing electrical instruments! And, my God, one is playing the drums without any protective clothing! Frankly, it's astonishing I managed to grow up unscathed.

But the lefty rag, the Guardian, doesn't approve.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Join Archbishop Nienstedt in Rome

Mark your calendars and check your bank balance!

Travel to Rome with The Catholic Spirit , New Ulm Travel and Archbishop John Nienstedt as he receives his pallium in Rome.

June 25-July 1, 2008 Pallium Pilgrimage
June 24-July 4, 2008 Pallium Pilgrimage/50th Anniversary Observance to Ulm, Germany.

Cost and Itinerary are not available yet.

FFI: Jackie Daugherty at (651) 251-7705

Behold Life! Concert

Dear friend in Christ:

You are cordially invited to our Behold Life! Concert honoring Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt and featuring new compositions by, Bob Hindel, Music Director of our parish of St. Andrew, and other new Christian songs by other local composers.

Sunday, December 2nd at 4:00 p.m. at St. Andrew Catholic Church at 1051 Como Ave in St. Paul, MN. FFI: 651-488-6775. Suggested donation: $10/person, $20/family. Proceeds benefit Neighbors for Life.

An invitation has been extended to Coadjutor Archibishop Nienstedt. It is unknown at the time of this writing if he will be able to attend or not.

Great Stem Cell News!


Thanksgiving at the SPS

On Monday evening, the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity celebrated Thanksgiving as a community. Seminarians, lay-students, faculty, staff and family members of these gathered in Saint Mary's Chapel for Evening Prayer. This was followed by dinner at the Binz Refectory, a meal of cranberry relish, fresh fruit, asparagus spears, alla caprese tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, mashed potatoes, stuffing and, of course, turkey--all alongside camaraderie and conversation at the tables with friends and new acquaintances.

One of the priests on faculty presided over Vespers and gave a rousing homily on the Eucharistic theology of Saint Paul (from Colossians 3:12-17; the Greek "eucharistein" meaning "to give thanks") and then encouraged us to expand one aspect of what we do in the Eucharist (give thanks to God) to the rest of our lives. Along these lines, he mentioned the third section of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity), the section entitled "The Eucharist: A Mystery to be Lived."

That was Monday, and now it is Wednesday. The house is nearly vacant, the Binz is no longer serving food, liturgies as a community have ceased, the doors are locked and we are all dispersed back to our dioceses, back to our homes (for those of us able to get home) to celebrate this national holiday, giving it its fuller meaning that we as Catholics can bestow it.

In this spirit, I give thanks to God for all the many blessings he has bestowed upon me, my loved ones, and the Church. I give thanks to you, our readers, for any and all support you give to us seminarians and to the Saint Paul Seminary--your prayers are always very much needed. May your Thanksgiving be one filled with God's graces.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17) Gregory

Friday, November 23, 2007

When will the NYT and WaPo be covering this?: BBC helped to cover up child molester


There was a story on LifeSite News on Wednesday Man Behind Effort to Legalize Abortion in Nicaragua Gets 30 Years for Step-Daughter's Rape. A correspondent has kindly pointed out to me that this is the same man who was cast as a pro-choice hero on the notorious BBC programme "Sex in the Holy City", broadcast in 2003 (BBC transcript ) I mentioned David Kerr's study of this programme earlier this year (Can we trust the BBC - 1). SPUC attacked the BBC's misleading reporting and bias and Fiorella Sultana de Maria (now Nash) delivered a copy of their report Bias and the BBC.

In one part of the programme, Steve Bradshaw looks at Nicaragua where abortion is illegal, and casts Cardinal Miguel Obando Y Bravo as the baddie who is influencing the government to retain the law. Then the underdogs are introduced:

But earlier this year one family took the cardinal on, provoking a national row that split Nicaragua and capture the headlines for months. Maria and Francisco's daughter, Rosa, not her real name, had been raped and was pregnant. At the time she was just 8. When we met in the capital Managua, Francisco and Maria, both Catholics, told me why they decided to seek an abortion for Rosa, despite the opposition of the church.
Then the girl's "father" (in fact her step-father) is given a chance to speak for himself:
Rosa's father
Well I did feel very bad about what the church was thinking, and then I said to hell with the church. I don’t want to have anything to do with the ministers or priests in the church, I don’t want to know.
Bradshaw adds an editorial voice in case we have not got the message fully.
"BRADSHAW: Defeat, this time, for the Cardinal. For many in Nicaragua Rosa's parents have become heroes, an ordinary couple defying the church and making a stand for women's rights. Others in Nicaragua are also defying the ban on abortion."
Unfortunately for the BBC's portrayal of Rosa's father, Francisco Fletes Sanchez, as the pro-choice hero, it now turns out that he was in fact the man who raped her. He has been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his crimes. He was in fact on the run at the time, having escaped from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

The parents did arrange a clandestine abortion in Nicaragua for their daughter with the help of the Women's Network Against Violence, a pro-abortion network of feminist groups. The abortion prevented the authorities from identifying Fletes as the father of the baby. It is certainly no mystery why he was such a passionate advocate of abortion. He continued to rape his step-daughter and finally confessed to his crimes when she had another baby who was not aborted.

Several members of the Network have now had charges filed against them for their role in procuring the abortion. One of these is Marta Maria Blandon, the Director for Central America of the international pro-abortion agency Ipas. Blandon admitted publicly in an interview in 2003 that she knew Fletes was being investigated by Costa Rican authorities when she helped him to escape to Nicaragua.

This aspect of abortion is one that is not given much publicity. (Do let me know if there is any public response to this from the BBC, for example.) Here in England, we have clandestine abortions for schoolgirls and contraceptive advice given without parents being allowed to know. How many cases of rape and incest are being covered up? And how much comfort is given to the perpetrators by the BBC's portrayal of the Catholic Church? Father Tim, HofC

The Pope wants to widen the use of Gregorian chant and baroque sacred music

After reintroducing the Latin Tridentine Mass, the Pope wants to widen the use of Gregorian chant and baroque sacred music. In an address to the bishops and priests of St Peter's Basilica, he said that there needed to be "continuity with tradition" in their prayers and music.

He referred pointedly to "the time of St Gregory the Great", the pope who gave his name to Gregorian chant.
Gregorian chant has been reinstituted as the primary form of singing by the new choir director of St Peter's, Father Pierre Paul. He has also broken with the tradition set up by John Paul II of having a rotating choir, drawn from churches all over the world, to sing Mass in St Peter's.

The Pope has recently replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Mgr Guido Marini. It is now thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto. The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: "The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ playing like in a second-rank country parish church."

Mgr Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which trains church musicians, said that there had been serious "deviations" in the performance of sacred music. "How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?" he said. He added that a pontifical office could correct the abuses, and would be "opportune". He said: "Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality."

Mgr Grau said that Gregorian chant was the "cardinal point" of liturgical music and that traditional music "should become again the living soul of the assembly".

The Pope favoured the idea of a watchdog for church music when he was the cardinal in charge of safeguarding Catholic doctrine. He is known to be a strong supporter of Mgr Grau, who is also in charge of the Cappella Liberiana of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. UK Telegraph

Sioux Falls' O'Gorman receives $10M donation

Avera McKennan will donate $10 million for improvements at O'Gorman High School in a gift designed to let the health system help reshape Catholic education in Sioux Falls.

The gift announced Wednesday pushes the Catholic school system's fund drive past the $19 million milestone identified as the cost to construct three new classroom buildings on the O'Gorman campus at 41st and Kiwanis. That total is part of a larger $40 million campaign that's also intended to boost teacher pay, provide student scholarships and build a new performing arts center.

The gift from the Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center is the largest in history to the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. It's also a first for Avera. The health system has been a longtime supporter of higher education. This is its first leap into K-12 classrooms, a sign that health officials want a direct role in guiding younger students into medical professions.

"Clearly the students here are the intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic people we're looking for," Fred Slunecka, regional president for Avera McKennan, told an audience of almost 1,000 in an assembly at O'Gorman.

Tom Lorang, superintendent of Sioux Falls Catholic Schools, said the Avera gift brings total commitments on the fund drive to $22 million.

A first phase of construction at O'Gorman will begin in the spring. Two of the three new classroom wings should be ready by fall 2008, with the third wing and other improvements ready by fall 2009.

A $6 million on-campus performing arts center should open in 2010 if the second phase goes well, Lorang said. The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed this part of the campaign. Lorang hopes those donations are in place by April.

A third $15 million phase would set up an endowment to support salaries and help families pay tuition fees for their children. [...Snip] Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Rochester Lourdes announces site for new school

Lourdes High School's
new building will sit on donated land just east of the Rochester Athletic Club, Diocese of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington announced Monday morning before blessing the parcel with holy water.

The private Catholic school will be on a 23.5-acre parcel at the southwest corner of 19th Street Northwest and Valleyhigh Drive. Catholic school officials think moving there is "the ideal and best situation," Harrington said.

The land, which the county values at nearly $1.6 million, was donated by Jack and Mary Ann Remick of Rochester. Currently, Lourdes sits on 4 acres near downtown, serving 504 students in the main building, which was built in 1941.

Opening the new building for the 2011-2012 school year is "a reasonable timeline," said Paul Tieskoetter, co-chairman of Rochester Catholic Schools' board of trustees. The school could open a year earlier if a planned $15 million capital campaign quickly meets its goals, he said.

The school will be built in phases. Rough estimates put the cost of the first phase, which would include basic classroom space, at $25 million to $30 million. The entire project was estimated at $54 million if it were completed in 2010, so the final total will be different, said Dennis Nigon, president of Rochester Catholic Schools.

A final design hasn't been completed, but a focus group presentation last year included a vision for a 203,261-square-foot complex with three gymnasiums and an 800-seat auditorium that Nigon said could be used by the community. The Lourdes auditorium now holds around 175 people.

Athletic fields are also part of the plans, but it's not clear when they would be developed.

The new Lourdes building could hold 625 students, according to the last year's focus group presentation with possible expansion space to 750 students. School officials expect gradual and steady enrollment increases after 2010, however, based in part on local population Rochester Post Bulletin

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Cadet Colonel: A student, a cadet, a leader to the corps

St. Thomas Academy's new cadet colonel Nathan Schwartzbauer, of Chaska, center, gets congratulations from cadet lieutenant colonels including, from left, Benjamin Schneeman, of Mendota Heights; Charles Nocker, of Woodbury; Alexander Schneider, of Inver Grove Heights; Patrick Hertenstein, of Apple Valley; and Peter Waldvogel, of Mendota Heights.

It finally hit home for Nate Schwartzbauer while he was writing an acceptance speech for an honor he wasn't sure he would even get: How much it would change his life if he did.

The St. Thomas Academy senior knew all about the history and prestige of the highest post at the all-boys' Catholic military prep school, about the duty of preparing the corps of cadets for a formal military inspection, speaking to the student body every morning and counseling struggling underclassmen.

But when he started putting words on paper -- in a speech where he would call becoming the school's 100th cadet colonel "truly the greatest honor I've ever received" -- Schwartzbauer realized all that responsibility could soon be on his shoulders.

"It's not something where it's a ceremony and everybody goes home," the Chaska native said. "It's a good moment, but there's a lot of work to do."

Schwartzbauer, named the 2007-08 cadet colonel Wednesday in the school's traditional day-before-Thanksgiving ceremony, assumes a role like few other student leadership positions in the state.

The post is unique to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. Only 13 of those exist in Minnesota, and St. Thomas is the only all-boys military academy in the state.

And because of that, the St. Thomas cadet colonel oversees more than just a co-curricular activity, which JROTC programs are at some schools. He is in charge of more than 1,000 students from ninth to 12th grade.

"These will be the movers and shakers," said retired Lt. Col. Michael DePuglio, who oversees the school's military program as the commandant of cadets. "A good chunk of them go on to do important things."

More than a ceremonial post

The job doesn't resemble that of a class president, which also exists at St. Thomas. It is much more formal -- and a lot more intense.

The cadet colonel is chosen from among 16 seniors who start the year as junior officers holding leadership positions in the corps.

School administrators choose six junior officers each fall to promote to lieutenant colonel, and one of them is appointed cadet colonel, based on his academic, military, co-curricular and disciplinary record and his public-speaking ability.

The job has plenty of official functions, but the unofficial ones are no less important.

"Every single underclassmen looks up to you," Schwartzbauer said. "You've got to be the guy at every game, supporting your classmates."

Said Alex Schneider, one of the lieutenant colonels: "You see the cadet colonel as the go-to guy. Initially, I wanted to be the big man on campus. As a senior, you have different reasons. You want to be a true leader."

There is, however, some pageantry.

The cadet colonel receives the Fleming Saber as a symbol of his authority. The sword was named for Capt. Richard Fleming, a 1935 graduate who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism in the Battle of Midway during World War II.

Thirty-three previous cadet colonels attended Wednesday's ceremony, stretching as far back as John Frankel, who graduated in 1943 and is the school's oldest living cadet colonel.

"In those days, we did not have the fancy ceremony," said Frankel, 82, of Mendota Heights. "I got a letter in the mail in late August of 1942 notifying me I had been appointed cadet colonel, and that I had to show up at registration with the proper insignia. I had to borrow the chevron from my predecessor."

Military in future for some

Five of the 16 junior officers said they're considering some form of military service, including Schwartzbauer, who has dreamed of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point since he was in junior high.

DePuglio said 10 to 15 percent of St. Thomas graduates receive an ROTC scholarship or attend one of the service academies, but those who do are doing so on their own. He'll help them with their applications if they ask, but he said he does not recruit for the military.

"I tell them, 'You can't do this for mom and dad. If you have that fire in your belly, I'll help you,'" he said. "Nate has that fire. That's the way I was."

Schwartzbauer's stepfather, Rodd Johnson, was a sniper in the Army from 1982 to 1991. He said even in eighth grade, his stepson picked St. Thomas because he figured it was the best way to get to West Point.

He is not afraid that possibility could land his stepson in combat.

"His view, and mine as well, is not everybody can stand by," Johnson said. "It's not like any of us can live forever. Not that you want anything bad to happen, but his faith does drive him."

As for Schwartzbauer, who said he grew up idolizing military officers instead of athletes, the idea of being in the middle of the action is what he has waited for.

You get the feeling his journey begins now.

"To put your life on the line for something bigger than yourself, there's nothing greater than that," he said. "It's a lot like being cadet colonel. You have to look out and take care of a group of men." StarTribune

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stem cell breakthrough recasts the political debate


International HeraldTribune: It has been more than six years since President George W. Bush, in the first major televised address of his presidency, drew a stark moral line against the destruction of human embryos in medical research.

Since then, he has steadfastly maintained that scientists would come up with an alternative method of developing embryonic stem cells, one that did not involve killing embryos.

Critics were skeptical. But now that scientists in Japan and Wisconsin have apparently realized Bush's vision, the White House is saying, "I told you so."

Conservative Republican presidential hopefuls like former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts are breathing a sigh of relief. And opponents of embryonic stem cell research are congratulating themselves.

The discovery that skin cells can be reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells is likely to transform the sticky political debate over the science, a debate that has pitted Bush against two-thirds of the American public, including prominent Republicans like Nancy Reagan, and has even helped decide elections.

The findings have put people on both sides of the divide on nearly equal political footing. Each side can now say it has fruitful research to pursue.

Each side can even lay claim to the same scientists. The author of the new skin cell studies is James Thomson, the University of Wisconsin researcher who extracted stem cells from human embryos in the first place.

Perhaps no one outside the world of science is as acutely aware of this as Bush. The president and his aides have been quietly monitoring the Wisconsin experiments for months, receiving briefings from Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health.

On Tuesday, senior aides to Bush said he drove the experiments by holding his moral ground.

"This is very much in accord with the president's vision from the get-go," said Karl Zinsmeister, a White House domestic policy adviser who kept the president apprised of the work. "I don't think there's any doubt that the president's drawing of lines on cloning and embryo use was a positive factor in making this come to fruition."

Bush's critics say he should not be so quick to take credit. They note that the reprogramming method has some kinks to be worked out and say the research would never have proceeded without the initial embryo experiments. The critics say that far from encouraging research, Bush has stood in its way.

In 2001, in a compromise aimed at discouraging the destruction of embryos, Bush told federal researchers that they could work just on those stem cell lines already in existence. He has twice vetoed bills to ease those restrictions.

"I really don't think anybody ought to take credit in light of the six-year delay we've had," said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the lead Republican sponsor of the bill that Bush vetoed in July 2006. "My own view is that science ought to be unfettered and that every possible alternative ought to be explored.

"You've got a life-and-death situation here," Specter continued, "and if we can find something which is certifiably equivalent to embryonic stem cells, fine. But we are not there yet."

Embryonic stem cells are attractive to scientists because they have the potential to grow into any cell or tissue in the body and could, theoretically, be used to treat many ailments. Opponents, including Christian conservatives, say it is immoral to destroy embryos to obtain cells.

Early in the controversy, opponents, including Bush, often said they supported studies using so-called adult stem cells extracted from blood and bone marrow. But those cells have more limited potential than embryonic stem cells, and proponents of embryo experiments said it was like comparing apples to oranges. The reprogrammed skin cells, by contrast, appear to hold the same properties as embryonic stem cells, more an apples-to-apples comparison.

"We now have a situation where, ironically, despite an inability to get political consensus, the science has presented opportunities for a variety of moral views to have an outlet," Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said. "Proponents can no longer say that there aren't any real options."

The debate has even been a factor in some elections, like the Missouri Senate race last year. In that contest, Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, unseated Jim Talent, a Republican who opposed the research.

The race drew national attention after the actor Michael Fox, who has Parkinson's disease and has been a vocal advocate for stem cell studies, made a commercial for McCaskill.

The new findings could defuse the issue in the 2008 campaign, or at least that is the hope of candidates like Romney.

"This will bolster the arguments of folks like Governor Romney, who look at alternative types of research that they believe are more promising and don't have those same ethical dilemmas," said Kevin Madden, Romney's press secretary.

At the same time, scientists may well begin pursuing reprogramming with vigor, if only because it is easier to obtain federal money for it, said Robert George, a law professor at Princeton who is on the president's Council on Bioethics and opposes embryo experiments.

"I'm sure in their ideal world, we would be pursuing all methods, and that includes embryo-destructive methods," George said. "Those who want to continue to fight on this will no doubt continue. But the ranks are going to be reduced."

That is not to say advocates for embryonic stem cell studies plan to give up. Specter and other supporters of the bill to lift Bush's rules say they will try to turn that bill into law, if not in this administration, then in the next one.

"None of this feels like it should be one versus the other," said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.

"That's the politicization of science."

Communion in the Hand: loss of faith in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, one of the Vatican's growing contingent of Asian bishops, recently gave an interview to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Father Tim Finnegan who blogs at the Hermeneutic of Continuity in the U.K. reported on it in two posts; here is one on "Communion in the Hand":

Looking at my blog feeds the other day, I saw that Andrea Tornielli, and Luigi Accattoli picked up his reference to communion in the hand. Here is my translation of the relevant section:
Let us distinguish carefully. The post-conciliar reform was not entirely negative; on the contrary, there are many positive aspects in what has been realised. But there are also changes introduced without authorisation which continue to be carried forward despite their harmful effects on the faith and liturgical life of the Church.

I speak for example of a change that was brought about in the reform which was not proposed either by the Council Fathers or by Sacrosanctum Concilium, that is, communion in the hand. This contributed in a way to a certain loss of faith in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This practice, and the abolition of the altar rails, of kneelers in churches, and the introduction of practices which obliged the faithful to remain seated or standing during the elevation of the Most Holy Sacrament reduced the genuine meaning of the Eucharist and the sense of profound adoration which the Church should direct towards the Lord, the Only-begotten Son of God.

Thanks for the image, Terry

Yeah, but why don't our Catholic High Schools produce more priests?

Urban Catholic archdioceses ordain more priests, but smaller dioceses in the Midwest and Southeast are ordaining more priests per Catholic, according to a recent study.

For example, the Chicago archdiocese ordained 61 priests from 2003 to 2006 and the Alexandria, La., diocese ordained 12 in that time, according to a review by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. That means Chicago produced one priest for every 38,393 Catholics, while Alexandria ordained one per 4,004. The Georgetown center has reviewed the clergy data four times since 1993.

Fargo, N.D., and Lincoln, Neb., have landed in the top five of new-priest-per-Catholic ratios in every review. Atlanta, Bismarck, N.D., Omaha, Neb., Peoria, Ill., and Wichita, Kan., have placed in the top five three times.

Between 2003 and 2006, six dioceses with a total of 450,000 Catholics had no ordinations, and another eight dioceses with almost 1.4 million Catholics had only one each, according to the review.

Rounding out the total ordinations top five from 2003 to 2006: Newark, N.J., with 52, Washington 34, St. Paul-Minneapolis 33, and New York 29. National Catholic Reporter

It's wonderful that we in the upper midwest are doing so much better here than elsewhere. But the demographic that really puzzles Church leaders is why so few of our new young priests are the product of a Catholic education in high school? What does that say about the effort to provide a Catholic education to all of the children going to our Catholic schools?

Are parents wasting their money paying tuition by not getting the educatiion they think they are paying for?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ahmal and the Night Visitors

If you love the Christmas TV Opera, Ahmal and the Night Visitors, please check out the article on the premier TV production, Christmas Eve, 1951, on NBC TV. Hadleyblogger honcho, Mitchell, is the author of the wonderful article.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Right-to-life debate unexpectedly erupts at UN

Perhaps for the first time ever, a debate about protecting the unborn child from abortion erupted in the UN Third Committee of the General Assembly on November 15, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) reports.

Led by mostly Muslim states, the effort was at least partly an attempt to strike at the efforts of the European Union-led resolution condemning the death penalty, Samantha Singson reports in C-Fam's Friday Fax.

Several sponsors of the death-penalty resolution argued that the right to life amendments were not in keeping with the main focus of the text and that they were merely introduced to sow confusion and division. The representative of Egypt stated that since the resolution was aimed at respecting life, it was appropriate to widen the scope to include protection of innocent human life. [....Snip] Catholic World News

The amendment and a similarly worded substitute amendment were rejected in a recorded vote of 28 for, 83 against with 47 abstentions. But the issue will be heard again, you can be sure.