Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alan Dershowitz set to defend the Pope in mock trial in Australia

Dershowitz set to defend the Pope

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 30/09/2010
Reporter: Tony Jones
Prominent US lawyer Alan Dershowitz joins Lateline ahead of his 'Festival of Dangerous Ideas' debate against human rights lawyer Geoffery Robertson QC, who is arguing that the Pope should be held accountable for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Our guest, Alan Dershowitz is one of the foremost lawyers and jurists in the United States.

He's defended some of the most high-profile clients in recent history, including Claus von Bulow, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson.

He's a distinguished defender of civil liberties, a widely-read commentator on the Arab-Israel conflict and a vocal supporter of Israel.

He's been widely published in magazines and newspapers. He's the author of 27 works of fiction and non-fiction.

Well he's in Australia this week for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House where he'll debate the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

He's making the case, as we said earlier, that Pope Benedict should be held accountable for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in multiple countries and that Church cover-ups have protected the perpetrators.

Well, Robertson argues the widespread or systematic abuse of children is a crime against humanity and so the Pope should be indicted by the International Criminal Court to make his defence against the charges before the world.

Alan Dershowitz joins me now. Thanks for being here.


TONY JONES: And before we start, you just told me that you knew Tony Curtis, who's just passed away. So, tell us what you knew of him.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well when I was 12 years old, I went to a Jewish summer camp in the Catskill Mountains in New York and Bernie Schwartz was the dramatics counsellor, a nice man, very funny, and then of course a few years later he became Tony Curtis, world famous, Marilyn Monroe and we all loved the fact that we had some contact with this famous guy.

TONY JONES: He didn't lead you astray or in fact lead any of the girls in the camp astray, did he?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I can't talk to the girls, but I can tell you he didn't lead me astray. (Laughs).

TONY JONES: We heard that figure: 1,000 women.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I don't think that year he added very many to his notches on his belt.

TONY JONES: Let's go to where we were meant to start this interview.

Are you happy to add Pope Benedict to the list of high-profile people you've defended, if only in a mock trial?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I think Pope Benedict has probably done more to protect young children since becoming Pope than any previous Pope.

It's a very complicated matter and it has to be obviously seen in context. I don't think it's right for non-Catholics to get deeply involved in the governance of the Church.

It relates to issues of separation of Church and State. I think it would be a terrible mistake to put the Pope on trial.

TONY JONES: We'll come to some of that in more detail in a moment. But it's a bit odd, isn't it, importing a very famous Jewish lawyer to defend the Pope?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I'm very comfortable doing that. We had a mock trial at Harvard a few years ago where I defended Jesus.

I've also defended in mock trials Abraham for the attempted murder of his son Isaac. I've defended other fictional characters in history.

Now here is a real person, but we're going it in a moot court context. I think it's ...

TONY JONES: I presume you got Jesus acquitted.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It was a hung jury.

TONY JONES: Oh, really. You don't say. As you say yourself, you have been very critical of the Catholic Church in the past, including cardinals for blaming everything, including the Church's sex scandal, on the Jews.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Look, there are terrible people in any institution, and there are some very bad cardinals. I actually sued Cardinal Glemp, the primate of the Polish church for virulent anti-Semitism.

He blamed the Russian Revolution and alcoholism on the Jews. And a cardinal from Honduras blamed the sex scandal on the Jews.

But the Pope hasn't done that. He's blamed the scandal on the Church itself, on bishops, on priests, he's sought forgiveness, he's taken steps to change everything.

And I think today, being a young Catholic altar boy is a very safe place to be - not in the 1970s and '80s, but today the Church has taken real responsibility and is looking forward.

TONY JONES: Well Geoffrey Robertson QC is certainly a bit of a stirrer, but he's deadly serious about this and the way he sets out his case. In the book - you've read the book.


TONY JONES: The case of the Pope. And I just wonder is there any merit at all - as a lawyer, do you see any merit at all in the case that he's making?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, I don't. I think that there is merit to the concerns about how extensive the abuses were within the Church. By the way, there have been comparable abuses in other religious institutions, in schools, parental abuse of children.

It's a very widespread problem. We're beginning to come to grips with it and understand it. It is one of the most under-reported crimes in history, child abuse. It's also an over-reported crime. There are people who are falsely accused.

And I'm very concerned that Geoffrey Robertson, who's a great lawyer, is a little insensitive to the rights of priests and others falsely accused, and there have been many such cases as well. There has to be a balance struck.

TONY JONES: Let's start with his basic proposition that the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children is a crime against humanity - that's the way he puts it.

And so, he says covering it up, incidentally, and protecting the perpetrators also amounts to a criminal offence.

This is the basis of it, he says in international law.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well he's wrong. International law deals with war crimes, it deals with systematic efforts by governments to do what happened, for example, in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, in Darfur and Cambodia.

This is not in any way related to that. And I think - I'm afraid to call this a war crime or some kind of international crime - it will water down the very important concept of crimes against humanity.

This is not a crime against humanity, this is a series of crimes by individual priests and others throughout the world and failures by institutions to come to grips with it quickly enough.

But it's very different from systematic attempts to use rape or murder as a genocidal - part of a genocidal program.

TONY JONES: What about the cover up part of it? It may not be a crime against humanity, but it's a presumably crime in most countries.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It's not. It's a crime in very few countries to fail to report a crime. It's called (inaudible) a felony. It's almost never prosecuted.

The crime occurs when you take explicit steps to try to prevent law enforcement from finding the criminals, and there are some priests who did that, who pushed people from parish to parish.

And they should be prosecuted, but there's no evidence that that came from the very top and that was in any way attributable to the Pope.

TONY JONES: In defence of the Vatican you've written that there are important Church traditions that made it difficult for the Church to move quickly and aggressively in response to complaints of abuse.

What are those traditions, as you see it?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well one of them is obviously confidentiality. The confidentiality of the priest's penitent relationship is very crucial to the Church. Now, Geoffrey Robertson doesn't like that, but as non-Catholic - we're both non-Catholics - we've no right to tell the Church how to conduct its business.

It's also a Church that believes very strongly in rehabilitation, reconciliation, forgiveness and ultimately leaving it to God to judge. And third, it's a Church that moves very, very slowly.

It's the old story of when Mao was once asked, "Was the French revolution a success?" He said, "Well, it's too early to tell."

And the Church deals in issues not by years or even by decades, but by centuries and millennia.

And to expect the Church to move as quickly as other more facile institutions is to misunderstand the nature of the Catholic Church.

TONY JONES: But does the confidentiality issue, for example, allow cardinals or archbishops to believe that they're above the law?


TONY JONES: That the law of the land is separate to the law that they will impose upon a priest that's perpetrated a sexual abuse of a child?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, there a separate magisteria. The magisteria of the Church, the magisteria of the Government. The Government should prosecute crimes, the Church should do what churches do: try to reconcile, try to create circumstances for forgiveness, defrocking, laitisation, if necessary.

The Church should do what it does, the Government should do what it does; neither should interfere with the other. That's the secret of liberty: keeping Church and State separate. And I'm worried that Geoffrey Robertson would merge the two together.

TONY JONES: But isn't this what the Church did? And for example, take this idea of forgiveness you've mentioned. It's a noble tradition, obviously, but surely it doesn't rule out punishment under the law.


TONY JONES: I mean, forgiveness, presumably, in the Church's eyes is something you can only get from God, but it doesn't rule out punishment, and yet, that's what happened in many, many, many cases.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And largely it was the fault of law enforcement. Law enforcement had no barriers to going in and aggressively prosecuting these crimes. And many prosecutors just refused to do it.

They may have been afraid of the Church, they may have been afraid of their constituents, but you don't blame the Church when law enforcement fails to prosecute.

When you had bishops or cardinals, if there were any, who took efforts, took steps to get priests from one jurisdiction into another, that would be criminal conduct.

TONY JONES: Now, Geoffrey Robertson's contention is that when the Pope was still Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ...

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Which used to be the called The Holy Office of the Inquisition.

TONY JONES: Indeed. Indeed it did. In any event, from 1981 to 2005 he was head of that office.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

TONY JONES: Now, Robertson's contention is that he protected abusers through the Church's canon law and that he ignored the victims.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I don't think that's right. I think that many people who know him very well think he that he had a real wake-up call when he took that job and he saw how extensive the abuse was within the Church and throughout society, and he took steps, took steps that a churchman should be taking, steps to try to rid the Church of people, he changed the rules as to reporting these things to civil society and I think on balance he did a fairly commendable job.

But let's assume for purposes of argument that he didn't. There's a big difference between criticising the Cardinal for what he should have done and saying that what he did was criminal.

TONY JONES: What about the canon law though, because you've written in defence of the canon law. You've said for example it provides for scrupulous methods of proof and you talk about a long tradition of internal due process.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

TONY JONES: Now, is it not the case that canon law was used to supplant actual criminal law in many of these cases? And perhaps that idea seeped right up to the very highest levels of the Vatican.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: But that's not the fault of the Church. Their job is to apply canon law; the secular society's job is to apply civil and criminal law. If there was a failure to apply the criminal law, it was a failure by law enforcement officials.

You can't blame the Church for applying canon law. That's what they do. That's what they're s'posed to do.

TONY JONES: But don't you want to see all the evidence of the cases that actually passed through the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at that time in order to make a judgment as to whether there's been any cover ups, and of course, that evidence is not available?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well it is available through depositions; much of it has become available in American lawsuits - not the confidential communications between priest and penitent, because they're protected by law, but other forms of evidence have become widely available, and it shows a mixed picture.

And some - and the Pope has criticised priests who have engaged in cover ups. So, the issue is not did priests - at every level, did people within the hierarchy of the Church do wrong things; they did. Priests abused, bishops and cardinals didn't take sufficient action.

The question is: can you put that at the doorstep of then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict? And I don't think you can.

TONY JONES: Is that because we don't have the evidence or because you believe the evidence is not there, or because you just believe he's completely innocent of any wrongdoing at all?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: The evidence that I've seen - I've seen letters, I've seen correspondence, shows to me that the evidence is not there. I would not have any objections to opening up files. I've been urging the Vatican for example to open up its files on the Holocaust and Pope Pious XII.

I think transparency is essential. Now, it's hard for outsiders to tell the Church to be transparent if that includes revealing confidences between priest and penitent. But anything that's not so privileged or protected, it's in the interests of the Church.

And the Pope has said this: truth is its own virtue. The truth should come out.

TONY JONES: Let's move to this issue of sovereignty, because you write that the Catholic Church, like Orthodox Judaism, believes that matters affecting the faithful should generally be dealt with within the Church without recourse to secular authorities.

It sounds like you're defending that tradition and that tradition does seem to be at odds with giving evidence to police, for example, secular authorities.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: But that's now changed and the Pope has issued very direct orders that all Catholic priests and bishops must comply with the law of the land and when the law has reporting requirements, those reporting requirements have to be satisfied.

By the way, this is true of non-Church institutions. My children went to a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There was an abusive teacher and the principals didn't report and there was an investigation at the school and they were fined.

This is a common problem - when institutions try to protect their members because think that there are two sides to the story and they also wanna make sure that their members are getting fair and due process.

TONY JONES: Geoffrey Robertson puts it this way: he says the Holy Sea may deserve respect for offering the prospect of redemption to sinners, but it must be made clear in law that the Pope does so as a spiritual advisor and not as an immune sovereign.

So he's actually challenging the immunity that the Pope would claim to international criminal prosecution. Do you think he's got any case there at all?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I don't because I think what we're seeing is a trend away from sovereign immunity. Look, the President of the US, Bill Clinton, was not given sovereign immunity by the courts of the US, a nine-to-nothing decision in a consensual sexual matter with a woman who was in here - above the age of consent, and he was required to answer all questions. I think sovereign immunity is a red herring today.

The International Criminal Court doesn't recognise sovereign immunity and generally sovereign immunity should not be recognised when crime is involved.

TONY JONES: Well indeed. I mean, President Bashir of Sudan has been indicted. He's still President and can't leave Sudan.

But could you ever imagine anyone in the ICC taking up the challenge to formulate an indictment against the Pope?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Only if they wanted to see the end of the ICC. It would not - the ICC would not survive the indictment of the Pope on the evidence that Geoffrey Robertson has presented, and that's why I think it's a misguided idea.

TONY JONES: OK. One final question that I really have to ask you, because I was in the US when the O.J. Simpson trial was on.

So as a key member of his defence team, are you ever disturbed by the way O.J. Simpson has publicly flirted with the idea that he actually got away with murder?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I think O.J. Simpson has behaved outrageously. Saying to his own children, "I didn't do it, but if I did kill your mother, this is the way I would have done it."

I was his lawyer because it was a death penalty case. He was facing the death penalty. I'm proud of the role I played in exposing police perjury in the case.

The jury acquitted; another jury then found him liable for civil responsibility, and then yet another jury found him guilty of events in Nevada.

I'm not O.J. Simpson's friend, nor do I defend his conduct. It was my job to defend him in a court of law.

TONY JONES: I was just intrigued. I had to ask you. Alan Dershowitz, we thankyou very much for coming to join us on Lateline tonight. It's been a pleasure.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Thankyou so much.
Lateline, Australian Broadcasting

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bishop Samuel Aquila led a procession to Fargo's abortion clinic

In time for the upcoming Respect Life Month of October, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota presided over an annual Mass and led a procession over 700 people to a local abortion clinic last Saturday, encountering oppositional protestors for the first time.

The Diocese of Fargo estimated that on Saturday, 700 to 800 people from St. Mary’s Cathedral processed to the local Red River Women’s Clinic, North Dakota’s only abortion facility in downtown Fargo. Director of Communications for the diocese Tanya R. Watterud told CNA that Bishop Aquila led the procession several blocks, carrying a monstrance with Blessed Sacrament and also sprinkling the clinic with holy water amidst pro-abortion demonstrators.

During his homily at the Mass preceding the procession, Bishop Aquila stated that the purpose of the event was “to give witness to the gift of life and particularly the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”

“Even reason and science would point to the truth that life begins at the moment of conception,” he noted. “For those who are unbelievers, they can come to know the truth of the dignity of human life through both reason and science.”

“We must also, when speaking of abortion, speak the truth about it,” and refrain from using terms such as “interruption of pregnancy” or “only a mass of cells.”

“Every time a child is aborted it is murder and it is important for us to call it by its proper name.” Individuals, he added, should not use the “politically correct language” of the media but “speak the truth and to speak it clearly.”

He then encouraged those present to pray for the gift of fortitude “to be those people who constantly remind our society and remind others that life is a gift…that every human being created is created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of conception…that every human being has the right to life.”

The bishop also explained that the holy water that would be used to sprinkle the facility showed “prayers for purification…in terms of reparation for what happens there because, ultimately, it is the murder of unborn that takes place there.”

Watterud told CNA that later at the procession following the sprinkling, Bishop Aquila again took the monstrance into his hands and continued back to the Cathedral, while parishioners in attendance prayed the Rosary while walking. What Does The Prayer Really Say

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bless this gutter! The "Catholic Guy", Lino Rulli, is back

I was awarded a medal the other day for admitting that I had never watched Oprah. I just lost the opportunity to get one for never having read "C.J." in the Strib. She has an article on Lino Rulli, St. Paul's and St. Olaf's contribution to Catholic young folks, who will be broadcasting his Sirius radio program from here three days this week.

A Minneapolis bowling alley, Memory Lanes, is naming a gutter after Lino Rulli, Sirius XM Radio's "The Catholic Guy."

That says it all. The hip religion show host is returning to St. Paul, where he'll broadcast his normally New York City-based Sirius Catholic Channel radio show for three days this week. The residence of Angelo and Gina Rulli, Lino's parents, is serving as the broadcasting site for the show airing from 3 to 6 p.m.

Those without Sirius XM probably lost track of Rulli when he moved to NYC in 2006, taking with him two Emmys for his work on the cable-access show "Generation Cross," a behind-the-scenes look at the Catholic Church and its people, and a travelogue when Lino felt like going to Rome. He also did a stint as "Soul Man" on WCCO-TV, where he won an Emmy for a World War II documentary.

Maureen McMurray, producer of his XM show, said they wanted the bowling alley gutter named for Rulli as a joke: "We thought it would be kind of funny. We were just basically going for the most ridiculous things to see if people would actually agree to do it. We thought people would say no, and people in Minnesota are just so polite."

Speaking of ridiculous, Rulli's also receiving the key to the Cathedral of St. Paul, as if they would allow this man about town anywhere near a key that was anything but purely ceremonial. In other more believable honors coming Rulli's way, Kieran's Pub is naming a restroom stall for him; Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub a drink, and Stella's Fish Cafe a lobster that will then be sacrificed for dinner by members of Lino's crew.

That's the other unusual element of Rulli's return: Lino's GOT PEOPLE! Important people, too. When Rulli lived in the Twin Cities, he contacted me himself for publicity. Now, Joseph Zwilling, GM and director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, manages Rulli's media contacts.

I told Zwilling that despite the single Catholic guy's active romantic life, I've always thought he was fighting a call to the priesthood.

"You know, some people are working on him," said Zwilling.

Lino on the line

After getting my voice mail about how he'd gone big time on me, Lino Rulli did call me.

He didn't realize the GM of the station had reached out to me. I told Rulli that there must have been something divine about Joseph Zwilling's e-mail. The reference to "Lino" in the first sentence meant nothing to me except Lino Lakes, and I was this close to deleting it without reading more, thinking that there was a huge mixup if I was on the "Archdiocese of New York" e-mail list. Star Tribune

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fr. Z has just joined the august ranks of winners of the coveted 5 LJ award for creative humor

From a reader:

Can a beretta be used in the OF? When would it be used?

Yes, without question! But make sure that it is clean and in good working order so that it doesn’t misfire.

I would use the beretta primarily when there are too many extraordinary ministers charging the altar. Another possible moment would be when the choir sings On Eagles Wings or another ditty of that sort.

The best way to use the beretta is to rise… first removing your biretta – which is perfectly correct to use in celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite – and, taking aim, go for head shots.

I have learned through hard won and tough experience that you should immediately reload!

To save you and everyone else that embarrassing hitching up of the alb and digging in the pocket for a clip … errrr…. magazine…, have one … or more … ready on a silver salver covered with a linen cloth about the size of a corporal. The altar boy, or if it is a more solemn occasion, deacon, can bring you clips magazines as you should need them.

The beretta should be cleaned after the purification of the chalice and before the final prayer and dismissal.

The congregation will be quite patient and will not leave before that final blessing, believe me.

[No actual extraordinary ministers of Communion or pop-combo members were hurt in the making of this blog entry.]

The proper spelling of the word for the ecclesiastical chapeau is "biretta"

EWTN just announced that Father Thomas Dubay has died

Father Thomas Dubay, 1921-2010

Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord,
And let Perpetual Light shine upon him,
May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed,
Through the Mercy of God,
Rest in Peace.


Announcement by the Little Sisters of the Poor
in Washington, D.C.

Tim Drake, National Catholic Register

Sancte Pater blog, 3 Videos by Fr. Dubay

Father Dubay was originally from Minnesota

Sisters arrive from south to serve Hispanic communit

In a strange land, but no strangers to God's love

Sisters arrive from south to serve Hispanic community

Rev. Pablo Straub, left, and Winona Bishop John Quinn speak before Sunday's church service at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. Straub was here with seven nuns, who are from Mexico, Guatemala and Texas. Jake Rajewsky/Winona Daily News

They come out of holy obedience, their love of God and a desire to serve God's people in a strange land.

At Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona Bishop John Quinn welcomed seven sisters of the order of Mission Helpers of the Holy Savior to the Diocese of Winona and to the service of the Hispanic community within the diocese.

The sisters, from Mexico, Guatemala and Texas, will take up residence in a refurbished convent in Worthington, in far western Minnesota, but will work with Spanish-speaking people across the entire diocese.

Preaching on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Quinn drew a parallel between the attitude of the rich man to Lazarus begging at his door. Hispanic people tend to be invisible among us, he said, making them and their difficulties easy for us to ignore. The presence of the sisters will help all to see how we are being called to "care for the Lazarus in our midst."

The bishop presented the sisters with a processional crucifix to carry with them on their mission. "It is our gift, as God's people, to you," he said. "Wherever you go, bring Christ's love."

In turn, the sisters presented the bishop with a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico.

The Mission Helpers of the Holy Savior were founded in 1984 by the Rev. Pablo Straub, a Redemptorist priest, as an order of contemplative and missionary nuns. The order now numbers 64 sisters, and an order for men, founded 10 years later, has 22 vowed members.

Straub, who accompanied the sisters to Minnesota, said Bishop Quinn contacted him last August, asking him to send members of the order to work in the diocese. Straub accepted, he said, but it took a full year for visas for the six Mexican and Guatemalan sisters to be processed. The seventh, he said, was from "the Republic of Texas," so needed no visa.

Mother Marcelina de Jesus said she came because she "knew there were Spanish-speaking people here who are abandoned and in need of the Gospel.

"I exist to give people the living Gospel, so I want to go," she said.

Nineteen-year-old novice Sister Ana Rosa said she knew it was the "will of God" for her to come. "I am very happy to be here, not that I love the place, but that I obey the voice of God," she said.

A missionary, and for that matter every Christian, may be guided by this thought, Straub said: "Be what you are supposed to be. Do what you are supposed to do. Everything else will be taken care of by God."

The mission sisters traveled Sunday afternoon to Worthington and were welcomed there with a Spanish language Mass in the evening. Winona Daily News

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brick by Brick: The Hispanic Church is growing here

Something like 25 out of the 217 parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have at least one Spanish language Mass on Sundays.

St. Stephen's parish in south Minneapolis near the Institute of Arts, is growing more than others. Under the leadership of its pastor, Fr. Joseph Williams, rather fluent in Spanish himself, has become a Spanish language dominant parish in the past several years to the point where they are having problems being able to seat all the attendees at the 9:00 Sunday morning Mass. There is another one at 6:00 p.m., too. In addition, there is a 4:45 bi-lingual Mass on Wednesdays and another at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

More chairs have been added and it is anticipated that the parish, currently celebrating its 125th year, will survive the announcement of the archdiocesan restructuring plan on the weekend of October 16-17. Then more pews will be added along with improvements including a new sound system to the sanctuary. The Hispanic parishioners have already contributed $3,000 towards the cost of the new system.

Each Sunday morning about 150 of the Hispanic parishioners attend classes to improve their knowledge of the faith. And this coming weekend, 400 of them are expected to attend a retreat in the parish's old school building.

Today, most of the Twin Cities area's Mexican immigrants from a town in Mexico where a fiesta celebrating St. Michael the Archangel (San Miguel Arcangel) is one of the town's most important fiestas came to St. Stephen's for a special 1:00 p.m. Mass, featuring music, dancing and many baptisms. The church was gorgeously decorated with flowers for the event.

Wouldn't it be great if all our parishes had activities like that?

Bishops are often right to ‘go too far’

One of the finest statements on the issue of whether Catholic bishops have the right to speak to their parishioners on the definition of marriage. An Op-Ed piece from the Winona Daily News. The statement is in response to a Daily News Editorial on September 22, "Church is Picking Unnecessary Fight."

Another editorial board, another bishop taken to task.

This time it’s the Winona Daily News chiding Bishop John Quinn. His purported fault: Asking Catholics to oppose efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

They impute to him the basest of motives: picking on gay people, cowardice, discrimination. They also call the Church’s teaching on marriage, “grossly uninformed and patently hurtful.” And the editors believe that because Catholic bishops are unmarried, they are thus prevented from having any say on the matter.

More importantly, they believe the bishops have crossed a line. Not just any line, but “a hallowed line,” the supposed line separating church and state.

“When Quinn and other bishops urge political action, they go too far,” the recent editorial stated.

Really? Then did bishops, priests and nuns who opposed racial segregation “go too far” when they called for legislative action and even directly challenged the secular state by civil disobedience?

Did the bishops “go too far” when they issued The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, calling on the U.S. to eliminate nuclear weapons? Did they “go too far” when they issued Economic Justice for All? That letter spurred 60 percent of the dioceses in this country to further advocate on behalf of the poor.

Was that going “too far?”

One need not wait for the editors to answer that because it is already clear. Of course the bishops didn’t “go too far,” they would say — on those issues. But when it comes to defining marriage as being between one man and one woman and encouraging Catholics to take political action to define that in law, then the bishops “go too far.”

The editors’ bias is all too easy to see. As long as the bishops stroke their heads and keep them purring, they’re fine with bishops calling for political action. But pet the editors the wrong way and they hiss and spit, “Too far!”

Oh, but the editors will protest that this is a matter of “discrimination” and making a segment of the population into “second-class citizenry.”

If this is true, then does the state discriminate when it says first cousins can’t marry? Or brothers and sisters? Or aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces? Where, oh where is the editors’ outcry of, “Relatives, unite!”

The state defines what marriage is and is not for the common and future good of society. It’s not good for close relations to marry for one reason and one reason only — the good of the children.

Children do best with a father and a mother in a stable marital relationship. Even secular sociological data show this in abundance and our own experience confirms it.

Then the editors, rending their garments in two, lament: “In a time of such hurt, such need and such brokenness, it’s hard to believe bishops would even spend the money and the political capital to fight a war that denies rights to some individuals, while granting them to others.”

This is a red herring, and a two-headed mutant one at that. First, there is no constitutional right to marriage, period.

Second, in 2009, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Winona spent more than $2 million caring for those in great need. In St. Paul, that figure was north of $36 million. In St. Cloud, $22.5 million. That’s $60.5 million in three dioceses in one year and that doesn’t include charitable outreaches from individual parishes or groups like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Would the Daily News care to tell readers exactly how much the homosexual lobby spent on caring for those in “such hurt, such need and such brokenness?”

At the end of the DVD in question, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis states that the issue of marriage is too big to be decided by either the courts or the legislature but that it should be put to a vote before every Minnesotan.

He’s right.

But apparently the Daily News fears entrusting a question about the people directly to the people.

Something’s terribly awry when bishops want the people to vote and a newspaper doesn’t.

Tom Szyszkiewicz has been a writer and editor in the Catholic press for 25 years and is a producer for The Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. He lives in rural Peterson, Minn.
Winona Daily News

Knights of Columbus announce 2010-'11 Respect Life Lecture Series

Devoted to a culture of LIFE, the Knights and Ladies have again scheduled an extraordinary group of speakers at Marian Hall in Bloomington. All sessions are free and include a Rosary for Life.

At 7:30 pm Thursday, October 21, we welcome Scott Fischbach, director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), who will share what we need to know for the November election.

Upcoming Dates:
7:30 pm Monday, Nov. 1
7:30 pm Monday, Dec. 6

Marian Hall
1114 W. American Blvd., Bloomington (952) 888-1492

Archbishop Nienstedt's Message to his Minnesota Catholics and the Knights of Columbus video "One Man, One Woman"

These videos were mailed to the homes of all Minnesota Catholics on Wednesday, September 22 with each of the state's six bishops including their personal message to their parishioners. The cost of the videos and the mailings were provided by an anonymous donor or donors.

They preferred to be anonymous to avoid retaliation by brown-shirted homosexual thugs as happened in California to donors and supporters of Proposition 8, the marriage referendum.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,

"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Blessed John Henry Newman 1833

I feel much better about the state of my Church this morning.

Its words and images becoming only more vivid with time, a week on since a memorable PopeTrip, one thing worth noting in its wake is the degree to which B16's immersion in all things Newman to prep for his UK tour went considerably deeper than most probably noticed.

For just one keen example, recall what's become a much-cited passage from the pontiff's pre-arrival press conference...
Q.: [D]uring the preparation for this journey there have been contrary discussions and positions. The country has a past tradition of a strong anti-Catholic position. Are you concerned about how you will be received?

Benedict: ...I must say that I'm not worried, because when I went to France I was told: "This will be a most anticlerical country with strong anticlerical currents and with a minimum of faithful." When I went to the Czech Republic it was said: "This is the most non-religious country in Europe and even the most anti-clerical". So Western countries, all have, each in their own specific way, according to their own history, strong anticlerical or anti-Catholic currents, but they always also have a strong presence of faith. So in France and the Czech Republic I saw and experienced a warm welcome by the Catholic community, a strong attention from agnostics, who, however, are searching, who want to know, to find the values that advance humanity and they were very careful to see if they could hear something from me in this respect, and tolerance and respect for those who are anti-Catholic. Of course Britain has its own history of anti-Catholicism, this is obvious, but is also a country with a great history of tolerance. And so I'm sure on the one hand, there will be a positive reception from Catholics, from believers in general, and attention from those who seek as we move forward in our time, mutual respect and tolerance. Where there is anti-Catholicism I will go forward with great courage and joy.
...and stack it up against the closing passage from Newman's famous "Biglietto Speech," delivered in Rome on the eve of his 1879 elevation to the College of Cardinals:
Such is the state of things in England, and it is well that it should be realised by all of us; but it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid of it. I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth. Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.
Rocco in Whispers

Friday, September 24, 2010

India: The World's Largest Democracy

India is pretty proud of that fact. But there are other things that they don't like to talk about:

"Ten Million Girls Killed In India". A government minister stated that ten million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the last two decades, and that this is a "national crisis." Girls are seen as liabilities by many parents because of the practice of dowry, whereas, men are seen as breadwinners who will care for their parents. The minister stated, "The minute the child is born, and she opens her mouth to cry, they put sand into her mouth and her nostrils so she chokes and dies... They bury infants in pots alive and bury the pots. They put tobacco in her mouth. They hang them upside down like a bunch of flowers to dry. We have more passion for tigers in this country, more for taking care of stray dogs on the road, but this society ruthlessly hunts down girl children." Dr. Maria Mascarenhas, a founding board member of the International Right to Life Federation, Inc. states that in Delhi, for every thousand boys born as third child, only 219 girls are born. Newsletter 493

Sigh! He's back in town (Crookston, tomorrow)!


Crookston peace conference set for Saturday

Controversial bishop to speak at Mount St. Benedict
The Benedictine nuns in Crookston are bringing in a retired bishop known for contravening Catholic teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood to talk about peace.

The Benedictine nuns in Crookston are bringing in a retired bishop known for contravening Catholic teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood to talk about peace.

But Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has key credentials for speaking at the Pax Christi State Assembly on Saturday: He’s the founding president of the peace and justice group formed in 1972 mostly by Catholics.

The former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, Gumbleton will speak on “Choosing Peace in Today’s World: Nuclear Disarmament,” at 10 a.m. at the assembly that runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Mount St. Benedict Monastery, 620 Summit Ave., in Crookston.

Gumbleton has traveled the world speaking mostly on peace, and has been arrested several times for civil disobedience at peace rallies in Washington and elsewhere, reportedly more than any other U.S. Catholic bishop.

But his years of what have been called “dissent and disobedience” on the church’s teachings on homosexuality, the ordination of women and contraception have made him controversial.

A year ago, Gumbleton was slated to speak in Marquette, Mich., at a similar peace conference.

But Bishop of Marquette Alexander Sample asked Gumbleton not to appear, because, he said in news reports, of Gumbleton’s opposition to church teaching that homosexual relationships and the ordination of women are wrong.

Gumbleton canceled his appearance in Marquette.

Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner isn’t taking part in the Pax Christi event because he has confirmations to attend in the diocese, said a diocesan spokeswoman.

An organizer of Saturday’s assembly, Sister Anne DeMers, said Hoeppner didn’t express any opposition to Gumbleton’s participation in the event.

“I think that’s maybe because he’s speaking on the issues of nuclear weapons and nonviolence and peace and not some of the controversial issues,” DeMers said.

Also speaking at the assembly will be Dan Svedarsky, biology professor at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, who spoke at the Copenhagen conference on climate change earlier this year.

Chris Curran, state coordinator for Pax Christi, L. Salima Swenson, Esko, Minn., and Jean Stumpf, Golden Valley, Minn., also will speak.

The sisters at the Mount last hosted the Pax Christi State Assembly in 2005, DeMers said. Pax Christi, nationally and in the local chapter of about 10, includes many non-Catholics, DeMers said.

She’s planning for 50 to 100 people to attend.

Interest in peace and justice issues isn’t what it was in the 1960s and ’70s, she said.

And some have asked her if nuclear war still is a threat since the Soviet Union was dismantled two decades ago and many nukes have been destroyed or mothballed.

“It’s not a hot topic right now, but it’s very pertinent and very relevant yet, because we already have all the nuclear weapons we will ever need,” DeMers said.

“They are still building new plants. One in Kansas City (Mo.), is being built that builds the non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, and people down there are protesting.”

Pax Christi condemned President George W. Bush’s policies in sending the U.S. military into Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and has criticized President Barack Obama for continuing the war in Afghanistan.

But DeMers said Obama is on the right track in trying to decrease the numbers of nuclear weapons.

“He’s against proliferation. The problem right now is the terrorist bombs, the small ‘dirty’ (nuclear) bombs.”

The cost for the Pax Christi State Assembly is $30 today and $35 for registering at the door Saturday.

For information, call DeMers at (218) 281-3441 or e-mail; go online at

Grand Forks Herald

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dissident "Synod" Saturday, September 18 in Minneapolis

For over a year now a group identifying itself as the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) has been planning to take advantage of their interpretation of the Spirit of Vatican Two that promised a greater roll for the laity in the running of the Roman Catholic Church. Tiny groups of Twin Cities residents met in homes and even in the parish meeting rooms of accommodating Catholic pastors formulating their program.

These unhappy self appointed critics, maybe 100 or so, developed an agenda for change within the Church that they would like to see in the running of our one billion member Church.

They declared themselves unhappy with, among other things, a Church led by male priests and bishops; a church in which the individual conscience would at times be able to override the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church; they seek to counteract the failures of the Church in recent years to teach our children the faith by proposing we replace the Catechism as an educational tool by increasing the message of the social justice teachings of the Church; that the Church be more accomodating to other religions, recognizing all to be equally valid in providing paths to salvation; and that the Church compromise more in the face of the political needs of the country. That's quite an agenda.

I'm not sure how many Africans, Polynesians and other Catholics were invited to the CCCR "synod." So I decided to go out to their meeting site for a bit last Saturday morning and check it out just to see who was behind these ambitious restructuring plans for the Church.

I arrived at the Ramada Inn in northeast Minneapolis about 7:45 and positioned myself about 20 feet from the registration table. Their main meeting room was set up for about 350 people but I read that they had an overflow room seating another 100.

It was interesting that this assembly happened just one week after the reunion celebration of my 50th high school graduation from Duluth Cathedral in 1960. As such, I am familiar at thinking about the age of old people like me.

Without a doubt, I would swear that most of those who attended the CCCR "synod" appeared to have graduated from their high schools in 1955 or before. There were maybe 40 or so that I estimated to be younger than age 50, but those included obvious members of Dignity, the homosexual interest group, one of the sponsors of the activity. None younger than 30 appeared to be present that I could see.

From their numbers and age profile, I would assume that there would be little to fear from these people. They fit the profile of aged Vietnam War and free speech protesters from the 1960s. Most of them will be dead from natural causes in 20 years. And there doesn't seem to be any replacements for them in their movement.

Women appeared to be about 70% of those in attendance. Probably a few discerning vocations as wymen-priests, one supposes. There were no obvious racial minorities that I could see and only one person in a wheel chair. And none from Africa, Polynesia or other Catholic countries around the world.

I did chat with an Notre Dame grad, probably from the days of Frank Leahy, and we talked a bit about football. I bragged that I was a student at the U of MN when the Gophers last went to the Rose Bowl in the 1960 and 61 seasons. He asked who the coach was, Bernie Bierman? That tells you the vintage of the attendees. [It was Murray Warmath!] He identified himself as a founder of the local dissident Call To Action group many years ago and had been in the seminary when he was at Notre Dame. He agreed that the group no longer had much visibility in the Twin Cities these days. He sort of laughed when I commented on the age of those in attendance that day.

There were quite a few breakout rooms set up for the different issues to be discussed during the day's session that was scheduled to end by 5:30 or so. I don't know how they could come to an agreement in one day on all of the issues that they had indicated are points of concern for them.

They did have a pretty good looking breakfast buffet before the sessions began. But I "offered it up" and did not partake. At 9:00 as what appeared to be a former nun tinkled a little bell signalling the start of the session, I left and headed out for St. Helena's parish in South Minneapolis where I sold carnival ride tickets for the remainder of the weekend. Talking to 3 and 4 year old kids about to go on their first merry-go-round ride was much more enjoyable than spying on the ineffective CCCR dissidents.

Duluth's Blessed Nuno Society opens new orphanage in Mexico

Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Blessed Nuno Society, Inc. opened their new orphanage, Our Lady Queen of the Angels House, in Agua Prieta, Sonora on Friday, September 10. The Blessed Nuno Society is a Catholic mission society headquartered Diocese of Duluth, with a mission office in Tucson.

Submitted photo Irma Villalobos de Teran, left, and Ivete Dagnino de Padres, right, cut the ribbon to open Our Lady Queen of Angels orphanage in Agua Prieta on September 10.

The newly constructed $676,000 children’s shelter includes a learning center with specialized facilities for basic tutoring, English classes, and computer skills. The orphanage also has its own small infirmary and a psychologist’s office, in addition to a nursery, chapel, kitchen and dining area. and four two-room dormitory suites.

Queen of Angels House opened with twenty-seven children. The orphanage will normally house about thirty-five boys and girls, but has the capacity to house up to seventy-two in the event of a local emergency. The orphanage is owned by the Society’s Mexican affiliate organization, Blessed Nuno Society de Mexico, A.C., and is being operated in cooperation with the Agua Prieta Municipal DIF (office of family services). Many of the children sheltered at Our Lady Queen of Angels House are victims of the chaos on the border which leads to family separations and parents dying in the desert. Some are victims of physical or sexual abuse or trafficking.

At the urging of Father James Crossman, the Society’s Spiritual Director, the Blessed Nuno Society began developing the plan to build the orphanage in December 2004. For more than five years the Society’s past president, Deacon Roger Birkland and Society Director Michael Morrissey promoted and led the effort to fund, construct, and furnish the orphanage. Construction was completed in December but it took another nine months to raise an additional $76,000 to furnish the facility, hire and train staff, and pass safety inspections. Funding for the project was provided by the Blessed Nuno Society members, especially three anonymous Duluth families, and with grants from the State of Sonora, the Mexican federal government and the Arizona Community Foundation. Ivete Dagnino de Padres, First Lady of the State of Sonora, and Tim Heinan, Executive Director of the Society, presided over the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new orphanage on September 10.

Orphan project in Mexico results in Knighthood for Tucson man with Duluth ties

Blessed Nuno to be named a saint with help from MN-based society

Pope to recognize Portuguese medieval soldier/saint (whose U.S. devotional headquarters are in Duluth)

Site O' the Day: Blessed Nuno Society, Duluth

Archbishop John Nienstedt on Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage


Archbishop John Nienstedt on Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage

by Tom Crann, Minnesota Public Radio
September 22, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Archbishop John Nienstedt discussed the DVD and Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage during an interview with MPR's Tom Crann on Wednesday.

Tom Crann: How much did this DVD mailing cost and who paid for it?

Archbishop John Nienstedt: I personally do not know the cost of the DVD or the mailing. It was an anonymous person -- who asked to remain anonymous -- came forth and said that they would be very happy to support this project.

Crann: Summarize for us, the content of this DVD, if you could, please.

Nienstedt: The bishops of the state have an obligation by ordination to be teachers. And we all know the state of marriage in our society today -- the fact that ... four to five out of every ten marriages ends in divorce, the rate of cohabitation has gone from half a million in 1965 to over 5 million couples today. One out of every three Americans over the age of fifteen has never been married. And there are 19 million children being raised by single parents.

So the state of marriage is not very healthy in our society, and marriage is inherently something that involves our faith. It's a commitment for life, a life-giving commitment that is open to the procreation and the raising of children.

And so the church is very concerned about the state of marriage. The church also knows that in this state, a year ago, two pieces of legislation were introduced to the legislature suggesting that the definition of marriage should be changed. And so given that climate, we intend to and have been teaching what we believe is the God-given reality of marriage. Marriage isn't something that we create as human beings. It's already a given from the work of creation by almighty God.

Crann: If I could, I want to ask about the timing of this and this issue. Of all of the many of the issues the church champions, issues like social justice and poverty and speaking out against abortion, why this issue, and specifically why now?

Nienstedt: Well, this is one piece of an overall teaching that we've been doing here in this archdiocese... Since a year ago, we've had 37 gatherings of people around the archdiocese in various parishes directing ourselves to this teaching. And we've had thousands of people who have been in attendance.

Crann: Parishioners, as well as clergy?

Nienstedt: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. These are primarily all lay people. And I wrote an op/ed piece in the Star Tribune in April calling for a constitutional amendment on marriage to protect marriage as defined as a relationship between one man and one woman. Last year, in the Catholic Spirit, I wrote a column on the reality. The bishops themselves have been doing a catechetical piece, which they hope to put out soon, on this reality.

So it's just one piece of a series of things that we're doing to raise this issue before our people so that they can be aware that this is a critical question. Obviously, we do the same on the questions of life, on abortion and euthanasia. We do the same on the questions of poverty and that sort of thing. This is the first time we've done a DVD because it's the first time that we've had the opportunity to use this form of media, but I suspect in the future we'll be doing more of that on other topics as well.

Crann: Your position at the end of your statement on the DVD is remarkably like an email I received today telling me about an ad that's been released by the National Organization for Marriage supporting Republican candidate Tom Emmer and his position. And so I'm wondering how is this position not partisan politics, especially timed as it is, six weeks before the election?

Nienstedt: Well, we, and I'm particularly, are very scrupulous about not endorsing any candidate of any party. That's not our position. That's not our right. We would certainly never tell people who to vote for, but the issues themselves are critical issues. And as a religious leader in this state, as a pastoral leader, I have a right to raise the issues and bring that to the attention of my people.

Crann: In the DVD, you call same-sex marriage a 'dangerous risk to society.' Those are your words. Why is that?

Nienstedt: Because it confuses the very notion of marriage and the complementarity which marriage has always been founded upon between the two sexes, the man and the woman, the husband and the wife. And by expanding the definition of marriage, I mean where do you begin to stop? Who has the right to marriage? ...

We've been labeled as discriminating against gay people. There's no discrimination when there isn't a basic right to something. And those who have the right to marriage are men and women who want to enter into a life-long, mutually supportive and procreative relationship.

Crann: If same-sex marriage is a 'dangerous risk,' as you put it, in society, wouldn't also divorce, as well, be such a risk?

Nienstedt: Obviously. That's obvious. And it has been a dangerous risk and it is a dangerous risk to our society today.

Crann: And yet there has been no effort from the Catholic Church over the years to outlaw divorce.

Nienstedt: No, the church doesn't permit divorce. I don't know - the use of your word 'outlaw.'

Crann: In a civic sense.

Nienstedt: But divorce is not acceptable. Divorce is not part of our teaching, no.

Crann: No, but in a civil sense. And I suppose what I'm saying is there has been a difference historically in the secular and civil world with marriage and divorce and in the context of the Catholic Church and other churches, too. And I'm wondering if there always will be that difference or do you want to see the civil definition of marriage be more aligned with your church's definition.

Nienstedt: There is no difference between the civil and the religious definition of marriage because marriage comes to us by virtue of creation and our creator. And so the state does not establish marriage. Marriage came long before there was any government.

And so this is a natural reality, and it's defined by the natural law, what we call the natural law. And so it precedes any government. And government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife in order to give it a context for the raising of children and the protection of children.

Crann: You also make a political statement at the end (of the video segment) that you feel that this issue should come before the voters of Minnesota.

Nienstedt: Well, that's not so much a political statement as it is saying that, as other states have done, we need to bring this to the people, rather than have it decided by the judiciary or by the legislature... We need to let the people say what the reality of marriage is going to be. I don't see that as that big of a political statement.

Crann: Let's hear that, if we could.

Audio excerpt from Nienstedt's remarks: The archdiocese believes that the time has come for voters to be presented directly with an amendment to our state constitution to preserve our historic understanding of marriage. In fact, this is the only way to put the one man, one woman definition of marriage beyond the reach of the courts and politicians.

Crann: Is that, in fact, a political statement?

Nienstedt: I don't believe so, no. I think that's a reasonable, common sense thing.

Crann: And you're calling for something to be put to a vote. Isn't that a political action?

Nienstedt: That is a political action, yes, but I think it also, in the context of the whole video, I think it makes sense.

Crann: What do you want the families who receive the video to take away from it ultimately?

Nienstedt: Well, I want them to realize that this is a very serious issue ... We need to remind our people, our Catholic people what it is we believe, why it is we believe what we believe, and thirdly, why it's so important that we believe it. And so this just reinforces the teaching. As I said, this is one piece in a whole process by which we're trying to educate and catechize our people.

Crann: There is the issue, as I'm sure you're aware, that in your pews in parishes there are homosexuals, there are gay couples, there are in the homes receiving this, or certainly their friends, their family members, their own children. And what is your message to them?

Nienstedt: It would be the same message that I would give to young people who are not married that everyone, all of us, are called to live a chaste life and a chaste lifestyle and that sex is specifically meant to be expressed in a marriage relationship, a long-term commitment of a man and a woman, that is able to be reproductive in type, I think they use that expression, that it is open to the transmission of life.

(Interview condensed and edited by MPR News reporter Madeleine Baran.)

Children from divorced homes must work on their marriages

Couples from broken homes must approach relationships with caution

Studies have shown that the number of divorces in the United States has risen since the 1960s because of laws making it easier and divorce becoming more socially acceptable. Research has also shown that children from broken homes are much more likely to divorce - 50 percent if one member of the couple comes from a divorced home and 200 percent likely if both members of the couple came from divorced homes. Many young couples today face challenges in order to keep their marriages solvent, and not repeat the vicious cycles of the past.

Children of divorce often pledge to work on their relationships harder, or sometimes postpone marriage until they are older.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Marriage counselors say that children who see marital strains affect the way a child perceives his or her romantic relationships. One young woman, in an effort to not follow her mother's path to divorce court, read dozens of books on relationships and divorce. Before she and her boyfriend got married, they additionally enrolled in premarital counseling.

"We realized our parents' relationships affected our relationship, and we didn't want to have a failed marriage," she said. "There are already so many things against you when it comes to marriage. We wanted to make sure we knew as much as we could."

The effect of divorce on children can be very different, says Bradford Wilcox, director of The National Marriage Project. Some adult children of divorced parents avoid long-term relationships and marriages, while others become determined to make their own marriage last.

"Divorce is a risk factor, but there's no such thing as a single sociological factor that dooms you to marital failure," Wilcox says. "It's important for couples to articulate their concerns to their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse."

William J. Doherty, a professor at the Family Social Science Department of the University of Minnesota, says a failed marriage in a family may actually propel a child of divorce to get married, often times at an earlier age.

"They [the couple] will cohabitate, or they are more eager to jump in," he says.

Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and dating expert at says divorce in a family can sometimes help children strengthen their own relationships with their future partner.

Fisher says children of divorced parents may be more likely to spot a troubled partner and avoid dysfunctional relationships. These children are often more resilient and overcome obstacles quicker in relationships. They may also take more time to determine whether marriage is the right choice for them. Studies have shown divorce rates fall when people marry at a later age.

There even may be a silver lining to our current landscape of marital strife. "We may very well see a generation of stable relationships," Fischer says. Catholic Online

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Matthew 19:3-6 Just in case it comes up in a conversation


And there came to Him the Pharisees tempting Him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that He who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? [Gen. 1:27] And He said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. [Gen. 2:24] What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

Katherine Kersten: Young Catholics hear call to serve; With ancient truths, religious service provides comfort in a material age.

The Catholic Church's days are numbered. At least, that seems to be the view of opinionmakers, who see it as hopelessly out of step and pushing a moral code that few want to be saddled with these days. Add to that clergy sexual abuse. Isn't this an institution on its last legs?

Paradoxically, here in the Twin Cities, young Catholics are responding with a hearty "no." This fall, St. Paul Seminary -- which prepares men for the priesthood -- has its largest enrollment since 1981: 92 seminarians.

Many are entering after successful careers. This year's class -- average age, 29 -- includes men with degrees in civil and electrical engineering, TV production, geography, animal science and criminology.

Well, maybe some older men are showing interest, but younger guys just want to party, right? Down the street at St. John Vianney Seminary (SJV) on the University of St. Thomas campus, 140 young men -- ages 18 to 22 -- are considering the priesthood. SJV is the largest collegiate seminary in the nation. Seminarians there may blast rock music, but they start the day at 6:15 a.m. with an hour of silent prayer, attend Mass daily and on Sundays sing the ancient "Salve Regina" in Latin before an icon of the Virgin Mary.

This phenomenon of young people devoting themselves to religious life is not confined to the Twin Cities. Mary Anne Marks, a 2010 summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University, is entering the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Marks delivered a commencement address in Latin at Harvard's graduation in May. [She gave that address extemporaneously!!!] She will join an entering class of 22 young women looking forward to a life of teaching, prayer and evangelism.

What draws young people to devote their lives to the Catholic Church -- widely regarded as intolerably judgmental and on the wane?

The Rev. Joe Bambenek, who has a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has an answer. He graduated from the St. Paul Seminary in May 2010, and is associate pastor at Nativity of Our Lord Church in St. Paul.

Bambenek suggests that disillusionment with today's culture of consumption and self-seeking is a powerful factor drawing young men and women to religious life.

"We've seen that a focus on materialism doesn't bring happiness," he says. As a result, "There is a hunger for things of God, an openness to God's word in our lives." It's precisely because this generation is so self-indulged, he adds, that "people are more willing, when they see the truth, to run after it." And when they experience the love and joy the truth brings, they want to share it.

Robert Kennedy, who teaches at the seminary, agrees. "Young men there sometimes tell me, 'We've had a career. Now we want a life.' They mean a vocation, a calling," he says.

Bambenek is a case in point. Before entering the seminary, he worked for an electric power company. In 2002, he racked up 230 plane flights, negotiating rules for high-voltage transmission system use.

Then his boss' wife came down with terminal cancer. "I discovered that walking with him through that experience was more meaningful and more satisfying than negotiating power rules," he says.

Seminarians study ancient wisdom and timeless truths to be best equipped to take on vexing contemporary problems. Their reading list includes Greek philosophers and the moral theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. In a society obsessed with the latest thing -- from smart phones to celebrity gossip -- this lineup may sound strange.

But there's a good reason for it, says Bambenek. While the world around us may change, human beings do not. We struggle with death, suffering, loneliness, disappointment, rejection -- always have, always will.

"As human beings, we're called by God to be good," says Bambenek. "But we also have the weakness of sin. Both our goodness and our sinfulness, at their core, don't change. That's why the truths God has revealed to us are always relevant."

In the end, today's seminarians have made a choice that is profoundly countercultural.

"Every generation forgets that young people want to be inspired by a big challenge," says Kennedy. For baby boomers, being countercultural meant wearing tie-dyed T-shirts and flashing the peace sign. It carried no risk, no cost.

"But there's nothing bigger and more challenging than the life these young people are taking on," says Kennedy. "They are getting ready to go out and engage a culture -- by their garb, their occupation, their very countercultural embrace of celibacy. It's very public, and it carries a lot of risk."

For today's seminarians, this is true freedom. "The Gospel message is a joyful message -- the message of freedom through God's truth, God's grace," says Bambenek. "When we're acting as God designed us, we're able to be all he made us to be. That's true freedom."

Katherine Kersten is a Twin Cities writer and speaker. Reach her at

An Agnostic Director Talks about Sanctity and St. Josemaria Escriva in Spain

You can see various early cuts of "There Be Dragons" on YouTube HERE.

An Agnostic Director Talks about Sanctity

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 5:29 AM Comments (0)

On Sunday, I was able to screen There Be Dragons, the new film about St. Josemaria Escrivá by Oscar-winning director Roland Joffé. Paul Lauer of Motive Marketing - the organization behind the grassroots marketing for The Passion of the Christ - was at the University of St. Thomas, showing the movie to a large group of folks, including Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché. The movie, which opens next spring, is a wonderful portrayal of human goodness amid the brutality of the Spanish civil war. Joffé, who describes himself as a “wobbly agnostic,” talked with me recently about what inspired him to write and direct a film about a Catholic saint. The complete interview will appear online as a Register Exclusive.

It’s ironic to me that an agnostic has worked on a film about a Catholic saint. What inspired you?

When I decided I would do the movie, I wondered what Josemaria Escrivá might say. I think he would be delighted. He had an all-embracing view of human beings. If certain of our values are lining up, how wonderful that is and what a rich world God’s is.

I decided to write about Josemaria from an objective point of view and accept his faith at face value. That’s quite different from the conventional approach which is to ask, “What were his failings?” He had many of them, but they weren’t major.

Here’s a man who, in a time of civil strife, civil war – when God appeared to be silent – was an example of someone going through a spiritual crisis who never lost the sense that each human being is a saint, that every human being is deserving of love, and he lived that. That is saintliness. Those subjects are worthy of honest story-telling.

What do you hope viewers will take away from “There Be Dragons”?

I have tried to make the struggles of the characters in the film available to everybody. I see this as an extremely emotional story about love, redemption, parenting, loving and receiving love, loving and not receiving love, pain, guilt, suffering and death. It’s about those glorious things that human beings share. It’s also about the most glorious thing of all: that all of our lives have meaning.

I created these characters so the viewers could be part of a conversation. I wanted to create an atmosphere of conversation in exactly the same way as you would have with someone you really liked. One where you could listen to their story, and actively say, “Yeah, I agree with that”. Or, “I never thought of that!” Or, “Ahh, that’s a difficult point”. I hope to invoke all sorts of responses.

The film acknowledges very human struggles and how different people relate to them. I hope the film sparks an interest in conversation about where the viewers find and experience faith in their own lives. If they do that, I will have honored the most important thing that Josemaria gave us—that spirituality can be experienced in everyday living. YouTube

I also was at the "sneak" preview on Sunday night at UST. These are very early director's cuts of the movie. It is not expected to be released until next Spring.

I enjoyed it very much but I thought that more information on the life of St. Josemaria and on the tumult of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, a prequel to World War Two between Communists and Nazis supporting the Spanish monarchists. Most Americans wouldn't know very much about either subject and it might help make the film more understandable.

I also noted that the wonderful film, "The Sound of Music" in the 1960s, failed miserably when shown in Austria where the real events happened, because of all the "Americanisms" prevalent in the film [using a deck of American playing cards, for example]. There were a fair amount of similar flaws in this cut I saw on Sunday night [using the American form of grace before meals, etc.]. This might prove to make it a financial disaster when it is screened in Spain where its Catholics are expected by the producers of "There Be Dragons" to provide much support.

Homosexual advocacy group not legitimately Catholic, military archbishop says


Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio


After receiving a letter from the group Catholics for Equality urging a change to the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, the Archbishop for Military Services responded, saying that the archdiocese's position is “clear.” The prelate added that the group “cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic.”

Catholics for Equality had requested a meeting with Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio, claiming he offered misleading and false arguments in his June 1 statement against allowing open homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military.

Last week leaders of the group joined a lobbying effort sponsored by Servicemembers United. They lobbied Congress and asked key senators and Catholic leaders to support changing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Catholics for Equality Board Member Patsy Trujillo, a former New Mexico state legislator, said the group was confident that senators would vote to change present policy.

“Further, we trust our Catholic Senators will vote in their conscience and the will of the pro-equality Catholics in their state, and not the misinformed dictates of Rome,” she said in a Catholics for Equality press release.

On Tuesday the U.S. Senate blocked the bill that would allow changes to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. While 60 votes were required to start debate, the final vote was 56 to 43.

In a Sept. 20 statement responding to a CNA inquiry, Archbishop Broglio said the Archdiocese for the Military Services has a “clear” position on a change in the present policy concerning the service of persons who “openly manifest a homosexual orientation.”

While his latest statement did not reiterate the archdiocese’s position, in a June 1 statement Archbishop Broglio opposed the policy change. Saying moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations,” he explained that Catholic chaplains can never “condone” homosexual behavior.

At the time he also voiced concern that a change in policy might negatively affect the role of the chaplain in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks and the office.

CNA’s inquiry to the archbishop recounted CNA’s previous report on Catholics for Equality.

The organization was founded by groups such as New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA with cooperation from the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Committee (HRC). It aims to “support, educate, and mobilize equality-supporting Catholics to advance LGBT equality at federal, state, and local levels.”

It also charges the Catholic hierarchy with favoring discrimination and having an “anti-equality voice” that does not represent Catholics.

In his Monday statement, Archbishop Broglio explained that according to canon law a group may call itself Catholic if it has been approved by a bishop or recognized by the Holy See in some manner.

“It is doubtful that the group in question has such approval. Therefore, it cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic,” he commented.

The archbishop also challenged any indication that the Catholic hierarchy does not represent Catholics.

“By definition that is impossible. The Body of Christ, as is clearly taught, is the Church united in communion: the hierarchy with the faithful joined with the Successor of St. Peter and untied to Christ our Head.

“Translating the language of political systems to the Church simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the Church is,” Archbishop Broglio commented.

He also insisted that Church teaching is based in love and truth.

“It is not the desire of the Archdiocese for Military Services to offend anyone, but there is an obligation to teach the truth in love, even when that truth is displeasing to some or politically incorrect to others. The Holy Father made that quite clear in Caritas in Veritate.”

Phil Attey, the present acting executive director of Catholics for Equality, is a former employee of HRC. Last year Attey created a website to “aggregate reports on every gay priest” in the Archdiocese of Washington to help them “stand up to the church hierarchy” on homosexual issues.

The Catholics for Equality website asks readers to report “anti-equality activity” in Catholic parishes, dioceses or community activities. Catholic News Agency