Tuesday, May 31, 2005

melbourne in transit

Cool new transit blog, thanks to the Vixen.

In the headlines today

Formal cause opened for Pope John Paul's beatification

Both the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and the daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishop's conference, Avvenire , published the edict in their May 29 editions. The formal announcement came from the Rome diocese, signed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar for the diocese, and the notary, Giuseppe Gobbi. The edict was accompanied by instructions that it should be posted by the vicariate of Rome and the Archdiocese of Krakow, and published in the Italian newspapers.

Paraguay rejects bill to liberalize abortion, divorce laws

Asuncion, May. 30 (CWNews.com) - Lawmakers in Paraguay have decisively rejected a bid to liberalize the nation's laws on abortion and divorce.

By a vote of 57- 6, the Chamber of Deputies turned down a bill that had been passed last year by the country's Senate.

The negative vote was a clear victory for Church leaders, who had reached across denominational lines to form a united front in opposing the legislation. Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion had led poular demonstrations against the bill, saying at a May 25 rally that "all Christians in the country are praying" for the rejection of the bill.

Visitation today is

Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.

Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes;

Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est et sanctum nomen eius.

Et misericordia a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo,

Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.

Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles.

Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.

Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae.

Sicut locutus est ad Patres nostros, Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

Corpus Christi Photos

From Amy Welborn.

Bless Me, Blog, for I Have Sinned?

Online confessors are like flashers. They exhibit themselves anonymously and publicly, with little consideration for you, the audience.

Crazy in Love

May 31, 2005
Watching New Love as It Sears the Brain

New love can look for all the world like mental illness, a blend of mania, dementia and obsession that cuts people off from friends and family and prompts out-of-character behavior - compulsive phone calling, serenades, yelling from rooftops - that could almost be mistaken for psychosis.

Now for the first time, neuroscientists have produced brain scan images of this fevered activity, before it settles into the wine and roses phase of romance or the joint holiday card routines of long-term commitment.

In an analysis of the images appearing today in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers in New York and New Jersey argue that romantic love is a biological urge distinct from sexual arousal.

It is closer in its neural profile to drives like hunger, thirst or drug craving, the researchers assert, than to emotional states like excitement or affection. As a relationship deepens, the brain scans suggest, the neural activity associated with romantic love alters slightly, and in some cases primes areas deep in the primitive brain that are involved in long-term attachment.

The research helps explain why love produces such disparate emotions, from euphoria to anger to anxiety, and why it seems to become even more intense when it is withdrawn. In a separate, continuing experiment, the researchers are analyzing brain images from people who have been rejected by their lovers.

"When you're in the throes of this romantic love it's overwhelming, you're out of control, you're irrational, you're going to the gym at 6 a.m. every day - why? Because she's there," said Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and the co-author of the analysis. "And when rejected, some people contemplate stalking, homicide, suicide. This drive for romantic love can be stronger than the will to live."

Brain imaging technology cannot read people's minds, experts caution, and a phenomenon as many sided and socially influenced as love transcends simple computer graphics, like those produced by the technique used in the study, called functional M.R.I.

Still, said Dr. Hans Breiter, director of the Motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Collaboration at Massachusetts General Hospital, "I distrust about 95 percent of the M.R.I. literature and I would give this study an 'A'; it really moves the ball in terms of understanding infatuation love."

He added: "The findings fit nicely with a large, growing body of literature describing a generalized reward and aversion system in the brain, and put this intellectual construct of love directly onto the same axis as homeostatic rewards such as food, warmth, craving for drugs."

In the study, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Lucy Brown of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and Dr. Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, led a team that analyzed about 2,500 brain images from 17 college students who were in the first weeks or months of new love. The students looked at a picture of their beloved while an M.R.I. machine scanned their brains. The researchers then compared the images with others taken while the students looked at picture of an acquaintance.

Functional M.R.I. technology detects increases or decreases of blood flow in the brain, which reflect changes in neural activity.

In the study, a computer-generated map of particularly active areas showed hot spots deep in the brain, below conscious awareness, in areas called the caudate nucleus and the ventral tegmental area, which communicate with each other as part of a circuit.

These areas are dense with cells that produce or receive a brain chemical called dopamine, which circulates actively when people desire or anticipate a reward. In studies of gamblers, cocaine users and even people playing computer games for small amounts of money, these dopamine sites become extremely active as people score or win, neuroscientists say.

Yet falling in love is among the most irrational of human behaviors, not merely a matter of satisfying a simple pleasure, or winning a reward. And the researchers found that one particular spot in the M.R.I. images, in the caudate nucleus, was especially active in people who scored highly on a questionnaire measuring passionate love.

This passion-related region was on the opposite side of the brain from another area that registers physical attractiveness, the researchers found, and appeared to be involved in longing, desire and the unexplainable tug that people feel toward one person, among many attractive alternative partners.

This distinction, between finding someone attractive and desiring him or her, between liking and wanting, "is all happening in an area of the mammalian brain that takes care of most basic functions, like eating, drinking, eye movements, all at an unconscious level, and I don't think anyone expected this part of the brain to be so specialized," Dr. Brown said.

The intoxication of new love mellows with time, of course, and the brain scan findings reflect some evidence of this change, Dr. Fisher said.

In an earlier functional M.R.I. study of romance, published in 2000, researchers at University College London monitored brain activity in young men and women who had been in relationships for about two years. The brain images, also taken while participants looked at photos of their beloved, showed activation in many of the same areas found in the new study - but significantly less so, in the region correlated with passionate love, she said.

In the new study, the researchers also saw individual differences in their group of smitten lovers, based on how long the participants had been in the relationships. Compared with the students who were in the first weeks of a new love, those who had been paired off for a year or more showed significantly more activity in an area of the brain linked to long-term commitment.

Last summer, scientists at Emory University in Atlanta reported that injecting a ratlike animal called a vole with a single gene turned promiscuous males into stay-at-home dads - by activating precisely the same area of the brain where researchers in the new study found increased activity over time.

"This is very suggestive of attachment processes taking place," Dr. Brown said. "You can almost imagine a time where instead of going to Match.com you could have a test to find out whether you're an attachment type or not."

One reason new love is so heart-stopping is the possibility, the ever-present fear, that the feeling may not be entirely requited, that the dream could suddenly end.

In a follow-up experiment, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Aron and Dr. Brown have carried out brain scans on 17 other young men and women who recently were dumped by their lovers. As in the new love study, the researchers compared two sets of images, one taken when the participants were looking at a photo of a friend, the other when looking at a picture of their ex.

Although they are still sorting through the images, the investigators have noticed one preliminary finding: increased activation in an area of the brain related to the region associated with passionate love. "It seems to suggest what the psychological literature, poetry and people have long noticed: that being dumped actually does heighten romantic love, a phenomenon I call frustration-attraction," Dr. Fisher said in an e-mail message.

One volunteer in the study was Suzanna Katz, 22, of New York, who suffered through a breakup with her boyfriend three years ago. Ms. Katz said she became hyperactive to distract herself after the split, but said she also had moments of almost physical withdrawal, as if weaning herself from a drug.

"It had little to do with him, but more with the fact that there was something there, inside myself, a hope, a knowledge that there's someone out there for you, and that you're capable of feeling this way, and suddenly I felt like that was being lost," she said in an interview.

And no wonder. In a series of studies, researchers have found that, among other processes, new love involves psychologically internalizing a lover, absorbing elements of the other person's opinions, hobbies, expressions, character, as well as sharing one's own. "The expansion of the self happens very rapidly, it's one of the most exhilarating experiences there is, and short of threatening our survival it is one thing that most motivates us," said Dr. Aron, of SUNY, a co-author of the study.

To lose all that, all at once, while still in love, plays havoc with the emotional, cognitive and deeper reward-driven areas of the brain. But the heightened activity in these areas inevitably settles down. And the circuits in the brain related to passion remain intact, the researchers say - intact and capable in time of flaring to life with someone new.

The Pope, the Church, and the Mustard Seed

The question, in his own words: "Is the church really going to get smaller?"

At another point, in an interview published in 1997 in "Salt of the Earth" (Ignatius Press), he explained it this way: "Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church's history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world - that let God in."

The standard argument is that Pope Benedict "wants a more fervent, orthodox, evangelical church - even if it drives people away," as a New Yorker headline put it recently.

But as with much around this new pope, the whole story is complicated. He has yet to announce an overall program, having been in office just five weeks, but both critics and supporters alike say that it is unlikely that he would plan to prune back the church intentionally - or that he could.

"I don't get any sense of him wanting to purge or anything," said Christopher Ruddy, an assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. "But I think he is willing to say what he thinks are hard truths, or unpopular truths."

The question is whether those hard truths - on sexuality, on the proper celebration of Mass, on standards for receiving communion - will scare off Catholics who disagree.

From its first days, the church struggled with sects and schisms and later with the Reformation, and in modern times it is torn by scores of local interests, sex scandals, and dissent on contraception and the role of women in the church.

Perhaps of more interest to Pope Benedict is that the church is also bombarded by a secular culture that he believes offers no fixed values. And the eternal question for the church remains: What do Catholics need to do and believe, in order truly to belong?

Monday, May 30, 2005


And what it's good for.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Fall of Constantinople

Today. A long time ago.

The Avant-Garde

Andrew found this gem. I'm glad to see Trinity is keeping to their tradition of, ironically, unitarianism.


OO has found a site about babies born after tubal ligation reversals! Good stuff.

EU Developments, per LGF

Following Sunday’s vote in France, on Wednesday Dutch voters get to express their opinion on the proposed “European Constitution.” Heartening to see democracy in action, notwithstanding the European elite’s hysterical warnings that, without the constitution, the continent will be set back on the path to Auschwitz. I haven’t seen the official ballot, but the choice seems to be: “Check Box A to support the new constitution; check Box B for genocide and conflagration.”

Alas, this tactic doesn’t seem to have worked. So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the “president” of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

“If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again,” “President” Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don’t worry, if you don’t, we’ll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America’s bossiest nanny-state Democrats don’t usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ahead of the curve?

Apparently there's work underway on a document concerning intermarriage between Muslims and Catholics . . . but are there any Muslims married to Catholics? Fascinating.

Eucharistic truths

Those who receive Communion cannot act as if they were eating a simple piece of bread, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) told the faithful in his homily in St. John Lateran basilica on Thursday evening during the Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi. The Pope then led the Eucharistic procession to St. Mary Major basilica, continuing the custom of his predecessor, and declared it a "great and public blessing" for the city.

"In the feast of the Corpus Christi, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in light of the Resurrection," the Pope explained in his homily, pointing out that Holy Thursday-- the day we commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples-- could also be characterized as a Eucharistic procession. But if the procession of Holy Thursday "accompanies Jesus in his solitude on the Way of the Cross ... the procession of Corpus Christi, on the contrary, answers in a symbolic way the mandate of the Resurrection." This mandate tells us to carry the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.

Remember, in the US we have Corpus Christi tomorrow for some unknown reason. I think that transferring the feast to the Sunday dilutes the value of standing apart from the larger community and asserting that Catholics are different, myself. Or at least should be different.

Secure your identity!

How to use a million passwords for websites while only remembering one.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dumb Chabad article

No idea caused greater fret to the oppressors, no movement has brought greater upheaval. It was due to this that Constantine chose Christianity over Judaism as the religion of his empire -- despite the wildfire spread of Jewish values throughout the Mediterranean: Christianity could be conformed to accept the status quo, to leave the emperor his godlike power and keep the masses in ignorance. Come to church on Sundays, accept your lot in life and obey the rules we make for you.

Yeah, you know the Church rolling over on it's belly. Too bad it spent the next few hundred years fighting off heretical emperors trying to impose their views on proper Church-state relations on it.

The facts always confound the best arguments.

What to do about frozen embryos

Thus speaketh Akin.

The Most Vulgar Foamy Cartoon Yet!

Yea Vulgar!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Irineos I leases land to Jews

Rest of Orthodox world throws hissy fit.

Yay for the UN

May 27, 2005
Volume 8, Number 23
New Report Shows How Beijing Document Promotes Abortion

Merely two months after the close of the "Beijing +10" conference at
the United Nations, where pro-abortion lobby groups and delegates from
several countries vehemently denied that the 1995 Beijing Platform for
Action supports a right to legal abortion, a prominent abortion advocacy
group has released two briefing papers admitting that Beijing promotes
legalized abortion.

In "Abortion and the Law: Ten Years of Reform," the Center for
Reproductive Rights, the world's only organization of human rights lawyers
focusing exclusively on abortion, states that Beijing "provides vital
support to advocates seeking abortion law reform in their countries."

The report explains that Beijing, while not directly calling for
legalized abortion, provides a "global commitment to stopping unsafe
abortion." The report highlights Beijing's call upon governments to "to
deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health
concern." According to the report, Beijing thus "link[ed] women's health
to abortion law reform" and "affirmed what has become increasingly clear
to governments and advocates worldwide: that removing legal barriers to
abortion saves women's lives, promotes their health, and empowers women."

In its second recent briefing paper, "Beijing and International Law: UN
Treaty Monitoring Bodies Uphold Reproductive Rights," CRR explains how
Beijing supports the activities of other UN bodies that are pressuring
countries to legalize their abortion laws. CRR states that Beijing
"focuses primarily on the impact of unsafe abortion," and various UN
treaty monitoring bodies have found illegal abortion to be unsafe.

According to CRR, such committees have "made the important connection
between illegal, unsafe abortion and high rates of maternal mortality."
According to these committees, "maternal mortality caused by unsafe
abortion [is] a violation of women's rights to health and life." Thus,
these committees argue that women's rights to life and health mandate
legalized abortion.

CRR highlights activities of the Human Rights Committee (HRC), which
monitors implementation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. The Covenant, created at a time when most countries
banned abortion, does not refer to abortion in any way. However, HRC has
nonetheless frequently used its ICCPR mandate to pressure countries to
liberalize their abortion laws.

For example, in March 2005 HRC told Kenya that it is concerned about
the "maternal mortality...caused, inter alia, by a high number of unsafe
or illegal abortions," and stated that Kenya "should review its abortion

In 2004 HRC told Poland that it "reiterates its deep concern about the
restrictive abortion laws in Poland, which may incite women to seek
unsafe, illegal abortion...the State Party should liberalize its
legislation and practice on abortion."

Copyright 2005 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
E-mail: c-fam@c-fam.org Website: www.c-fam.org

That race card

On average, Asian students spend twice as much time doing homework as their non-Asian classmates. They believe they'll get in trouble at home if their grades fall below A-, while for whites the ''trouble threshold'' is B-, and for blacks and Hispanics, C-. They don't believe that success or failure in school depends on factors beyond their control. ''They believed instead that their academic performance depended almost entirely on how hard they worked,'' the Thernstroms write, summarizing the findings of survey researcher Laurence Steinberg. ''Their performance was within their control. A grade below an A was evidence of insufficient effort.''

Quincy High's math club may be virtually all-Asian, but Asian American students don't excel only at math. They tend to excel, period. And they do so not because they are compensating for weak English skills, but because they grow up in an environment that places enormous value on academic achievement — and pegs that achievement to individual effort.

Which returns me to the University of Massachusetts, and the current flap over the decision to name Dr. Michael Collins to run the Boston campus instead of the acting chancellor, J. Keith Motley. One of three finalists for the job, Motley would have been the first black chancellor of UMass-Boston.

The chairman of the UMass board of trustees says the choice came down to Collins's executive experience — while Motley was a dean of student services at another university, Collins spent 10 years running a multibillion-dollar hospital network. But a vocal chorus of disgruntled Motley supporters are calling the decision racist.

Leonard Alkins of the Boston NAACP blasts it as proof ''that the plexiglass ceiling is still there for people of color.''

Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey denounces it as ''a slap in the face to our children.'' Others call it an example of how whites ''cling tenaciously to power in Boston,'' and cite a recent poll by Harvard's Civil Rights Project, which finds 80 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Hispanics calling racial discrimination a serious problem in Greater Boston.

Motley's supporters plan to flood the trustees with phone calls and to stage a protest at the UMass president's office. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino boycotted a UMass breakfast to demonstrate his solidarity with those playing the race card. No doubt the story will continue to seethe for a while.

Is there a connection between the Asian math whizzes at Quincy High and the accusations of racism against the UMass board of trustees? Not an obvious one. And yet I can't help wondering what kind of message black students absorb when racism is invoked, as it so often is, to condemn anything black politicians and activists disapprove of. Who is more likely to succeed — the child who grows up in a culture that tells him success depends on his own hard work, or the one who keeps hearing that until white prejudice is eradicated, minorities will never get a fair shake?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ahh those Catholics

From the Ratzinger Fan Club
Message: 2
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 04:42:53 -0000
From: "Ron Criss"
Subject: Re: Kneeling VS Standing

There is a story told about Hilaire Belloc, that when he visited St.
Patrick's Cathedral in New York he stood, as was the French custom, when
the Americans knelt. An usher approached him and whispered, "We kneel at
this point, sir." To which Belloc replied, "Go to hell!" The usher
responded, "I'm sorry, sir, I didn't know you were a Catholic."


Who owns the parishes?

'The parishioners own the parish," Jon Rogers, a spokesman for the group, told a May 23 press conference. 'We bought it; we paid for it; we built it." The group argues that the archbishop holds the property in trust for the parishioners, and although he can change the canonical status of a parish, he cannot sell the property.

One of the legal pleas entered by the Council of Parishes also makes the claim that the Archdiocese of Boston, in buying land for one parish in the suburban town of Wellesley, pledged that the land would be used for a parish in perpetuity. The original owners of that land, who say that they sold at a discounted price to the Church, have now joined in the effort to prevent resale of the parish land.

Hogwash, say I.

A little brain damage can be good for your career

Hat tip to the vixen.

Minor brain damage need not be all bad, two Swiss neurologists report. It can bring about an artistic transformation, which is what happened in two cases of painters who suffered mild strokes.

Racism . . . ish

Not only must the present be distorted, so must the past — and any alternative view of the future must be nipped in the bud. That is why prominent minority figures who stray from the liberal plantation must be discredited, debased and, above all, kept from becoming federal judges.

A thoughtful and highly intelligent member of the California supreme court like Justice Janice Rogers Brown must be smeared as a right-wing extremist, even though she received 76 percent of the vote in California, hardly a right-wing extremist state. But desperate politicians cannot let facts stand in their way.

Least of all can they afford to let Janice Rogers Brown become a national figure on the federal bench. The things she says and does could lead other blacks to begin to think independently — and that in turn threatens the whole liberal house of cards. If a smear is what it takes to stop her, that is what liberal politicians and the liberal media will use.

Jono and the Gefilte Fish

My newest favorite website Chabad.org has a series of cartoons featuring a Rabbi, his nephew, and a gefilte fish. Anyway, I decided to put up one of the cartoons.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Protect thy password

A really cool way to generate passwords for websites that you will be able to remember, even though they're all different . . .

Good Catholic, Evil Catholic?

In his dream, Dominic saw Jesus, furious and ready to hurl spears toward the earth as punishment for the wickedness of mankind that he was witnessing. The Blessed Virgin approached Jesus and begged him to have mercy on mankind. “My Son,” she said, “I have two witnesses who will convert them.” Jesus glanced at her and asked, “Who are they?” She replied, “Love and truth,” and brought forward two men. Dominic recognized one to be him. The other man he did not recognize until he later met St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). St. Francis of Assisi was the embodiment of love; St. Dominic was the embodiment of truth.

Francis, known for his love of all mankind and for all creation, is beloved throughout the world, even by non-Catholics. And yet he is often misunderstood. The popular image of him is of a pantheistic nature-devotee, whose idea of love might be summed up as “Don’t worry, be happy.” Such an image couldn’t be further from the truth. Francis, often called the Catholic Man, was highly devoted to the Eucharist, to the Blessed Virgin, and the love he displayed for his neighbor was grounded upon his devotion to God (not the other way around). He was the Catholic Man in the universal sense because his love for all mankind was all-encompassing, but he was also the Catholic Man in the particular sense. He was an exemplary Catholic.

Dominic, when remembered today, is usually seen as a grim figure who fought heretics, was involved in the Inquisition, and who founded an order that would give the world the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (1420-1498). Generally forgotten is a love for the poor that compelled him to sell his own hand-annotated books, his willingness to stay up all night talking to a heretic to show the heretic through reason the error of his ways, his love for the Blessed Virgin that inspired his order to promote the rosary in his name.

In other words, Francis and Dominic are often seen as caricatures of their true selves, molded to fit the biases of the individual.

What does this have to do with Pope Benedict’s election? It occurs to me that we are seeing a similar phenomenon with John Paul II and Benedict XVI. John Paul, especially in the halcyon glow surrounding his eulogies, is popularly thought of in much the same way as Francis of Assisi. John Paul reached out to men and women around the world, emphasizing to them the beauty and goodness of love and brotherhood. Indeed, his motto was a declaration of love, Totus tuus (“Totally yours”). But John Paul also firmly upheld Catholic doctrine, especially on matters of life and death and on the dignity of the human person.

Benedict, on the other hand, is seen as the spiritual incarnation of Dominic; an inquisitor, ready to crack down on the heretics. After all, his motto is an assertion of truth, Cooperators veritatis (“Fellow workers in the truth”). We keep having to be reminded by those who know him personally that Benedict is a gentle person, a good listener, genuinely interested in the ideas of others. They report that his love of his priesthood is profound and his reverence during celebrations of the liturgy transparent.

More on wine

Apparently everyone's crossing party lines with this vote. I'm in favor of less restrictions, but I don't know about this 21st amendment business.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The 'Holy' Bible?

Or what happenes in the no man's land between belief and atheism.

The source of this fear is not our emotions or our spirit but our brain. The brain leafs through the Bible and discovers in its pages a talking snake who offers a forbidden apple to a beautiful maiden. "Sounds like Snow White to me", mumbles the brain. Not long after that, he gets to a story where some people build a tower and G-d decides to destroy it. "One second", asks the brain, "what was so bad about that tower?" He reads the story again and can't find anything objectionable in it. G-d just seemed to decide He didn't like it. And a few chapters later, Mr. Brain gets to a story where G-d asks a man to take his son to the top of a mountain and kill him. "That's it", grumbles the brain, "I think I've had enough of this book. None of these stories really make any sense."

And so the brain is ready to walk away. But one day he looks around to find that the body of which he is a part is sitting in a synagogue. And the man in the front of the congregation is talking very solemnly about this book, the Bible. Everyone in the pews is dutifully nodding his or her head in agreement. "What are they doing", thinks the brain, "are they nuts? Don't they realize this book doesn't make any sense?" And then something happens that's even worse. The brain sees that its own head has started to nod dutifully as well.

By this time, our friend the brain has pretty much had it. He's ready to revolt.


As usual, nothing's coming from anybody. I have the feeling, though, he's probably innocent.

The sex-abuse charges against Father Maciel were first made public in 1997, when several men said that he had molested them during the 1950s, when they were seminarians under his direction. The Mexican priest has "categorically" denied the charges, saying that he is completely innocent of the "abominable conduct" with which he was charged. However, in December 2004 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reportedly decided to undertake a serious probe into the accusations.

Father Maciel was the subject of another Vatican investigation during the 1950s, when he was charged with charged with misusing presecription drugs. He was cleared of all charges in that case.

Sorry Trekkies- Wormhole Time Warp Disproven

"We aren't saying you can't build a wormhole. But the ones you would like to build - the predictable ones where you can say Mr Spock will land in New York at 2pm on this day - those look like they will fall apart," Dr Hsu said.

Baby Sisters

Three schoolgirl sisters have given birth aged 12, 14 and 16.

Natasha, the oldest, Jade and Jemma, the youngest, are reported to receive £600 a week in benefits.

Jemma was first to give birth, to T-Jay in February last year, and weeks later Jade and Natasha discovered they were pregnant.

Natasha had daughter Amani in November and Jade followed with Lita in December. The younger sisters are still at school.

The sisters feature in the BBC3 series Desperate Midwives: The real truth about childbirth, starting from 9pm on Monday.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Starting a new job tomorrow

It's scary, so please pray for me and let me pray for you. Also please pray for a friend, for hope.

Trinity Sunday

Is today!

The first Sunday after Pentecost, instituted to honour the Most Holy Trinity. In the early Church no special Office or day was assigned for the Holy Trinity. When the Arian heresy was spreading the Fathers prepared an Office with canticles, responses, a Preface, and hymns, to be recited on Sundays. In the Sacramentary of St. Gregory the Great (P.L., LXXVIII, 116) there are prayers and the Preface of the Trinity. The Micrologies (P.L., CLI, 1020), written during the pontificate of Gregory VII (Nilles, II, 460), call the Sunday after Pentecost a Dominica vacans, with no special Office, but add that in some places they recited the Office of the Holy Trinity composed by Bishop Stephen or Liège (903-20) By other the Office was said on the Sunday before Advent. Alexander II (1061-1073), not III (Nilles, 1. c.), refused a petition for a special feast on the plea, that such a feast was not customary in the Roman Church which daily honoured the Holy Trinity by the Gloria, Patri, etc., but he did not forbid the celebration where it already existed. John XXII (1316-1334) ordered the feast for the entire Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost. A new Office had been made by the Franciscan John Peckham, Canon of Lyons, later Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1292). The feast ranked as a double of the second class but was raised to the dignity of a primary of the first class, 24 July 1911, by Pius X (Acta Ap. Sedis, III, 351). The Greeks have no special feast. Since it was after the first great Pentecost that the doctrine of the Trinity was proclaimed to the world, the feast becomingly follows that of Pentecost.


"With the modern decay of the sense of the supernatural, there is a tendency, even amoung Catholics, to dwell almost exclusively on the personal skills of a new pope. And these are undoubtedly important. Grace, after all, builds on nature. But the firs thing required of a pope is sanctity."

George Sim Johnston, Crisis, May 2005

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Did George Lucas sell out W?

I'd be interested to hear Jenni's reaction.

Vatican fires at South Korea

Maybe we should pull our troops out of the country and let them patrol their border with North Korea. Now that would be fun.

An interesting take on the British Monarchy

I just wish QE2 would veto something.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fr. Drinan, rebel without a cause

In the summer of 1992 a Jesuit graduate student at Harvard, Father Paul Mankowski, completed the background research for an article he planned to write on the relationship between the Society of Jesus and the congressional careerr of Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest who had compiled a consistent record of public support for legalized abortion. The oridingal purpose of the article was to have been the exoneration of the former Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Pedro Arrupe. Father Mankowski intended to show that the Drinan candidacy was stage-managed from the US in such a way that Father Arrupe did not have the information he needed in order to make a prudent decision, and could thus be absolved from complicity in the scandal created when a Jesuit priest voted to support abortion. With the knowledge and consent of the archivist for the New England Province of the Society, Mankowski made photocopies of the correspondence and office memos pertinent to Drinan’s political career. He was anxious for the opinion of a professional historian in determining how the various documents could be used responsibly as supporting evidence for his essay, and provided me with a copy of the correspondence for that purpose. Further scrutiny of the papers convinced Mankowski that Arrupe's part in the affair did not exonerate him from blame, and he decided against going ahead with his original article out of reluctance to increase the opprobrium on the Society of Jesus, many of whose members had played an honorable, if ultimately futile, role in the political struggle against abortion. Now that Father Drinan has re-emerged as a political player in the abortion debate, that documentation has assumed a new timeliness.

Acorns, babies, and abortion

Sandel’s argument also relies on an equivocation of the terms "oak tree" and "human being." Of course, as Sandel says, acorns are not oak trees—if by "oak tree" one means a mature member of the oak species. By the same token, a sapling is not an "oak tree" if that is what one means (nor, by the same reasoning, is an infant a human being). But if by "oak tree" (or "oak") one means simply any member of the species, then an acorn (or a sapling) is an oak tree—they are identical substances, differing only in maturity or stage of natural development.

Similarly, no one claims that embryos are mature human beings, that is, adults. But human embryos are human beings, that is, complete, though immature, members of the human species. Embryos are human individuals at an early stage of their development, just as adolescents, toddlers, infants, and fetuses are human individuals at various developmental stages. So to say, as Sandel does, that embryos and human beings are different kinds of things is true only if one focuses exclusively on the accidental characteristics—size, degree of development, and so on. But the central question is, precisely, should we focus only on the accidental characteristics by which embryonic human beings differ from mature human beings, or should we recognize their essential nature (that is, what they are)?

Creases and Lends

I'm always wary when lending out books . . . this is why!

Remember the first rule of borrowing a book from Squach. You crack my spine I crack your head.

What was Pascal all about?

Or, how going to Mass can make you a better Catholic and how Pascal is smarter than people give him credit for.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1670) will always fascinate: a scientific genius, a passionate Catholic with a passionate conversion or series of conversions, homeschooled by his retired lawyer father. Most of us are familiar with Pascal's wager by which Pascal attempted to show merely "that the will is reasonable only in making this bet," namely, that it is better to bet on the infinite gain of eternal life through faith in God than to reject the possibility of this infinite gain because of the finite loss of an earthly life lived apart from God's commandments (see Jean Menard, Pascal [Univ. of Alabama Press, 1969], pp. 49-50). American philosopher William James (1842-1910) made harsh comments on Pascal's wager as if Pascal intended this wager to be the seal of a conversion (see James address). As Pascal scholar Menard notes, Pascal intended the wager only as a first step in approaching the prejudices against Christianity of the atheist or the merely indifferent (Menard, pp. 52-53).

But it is ironic that James was so apparently hostile to the reasoning of Pascal because Pascal goes on to formulate prior to James a psychological principle for which James himself is famous. It is a principle you will probably find in almost any introductory college psychology textbook: to feel an emotion act as if you are already experiencing that emotion. Many of us have heard this principle in the homely wisdom that if you want to feel happy or friendly start smiling and acting in a happy or friendly manner and eventually the feeling will follow.

Pascal formulates the prototype of this homely wisdom in these words of advice to the person struggling to acquire faith:

You wish to find faith [Pascal noted] but you do not know the way to it; you wish to cure yourself of lack of faith and you ask for the remedies thereof. Learn from those who, like yourself, were in bondage and who now wager all that they possess; they are people who know the path that you would like to follow, and who have been cured of an ill of which you wish to be cured. Follow the method by which they began: it is by behaving as though they believed, by taking holy water, by having masses said, etc. Naturally even that will make you believe and will soothe you.

Blaise Pascal, quoted in Menard, p. 53 (emphasis added; parenthetical expression in original).

Now, is Pascal asking us to deceive ourselves, to lull or hypnotize ourselves into religious faith? I think not. Pascal envisions a person sincerely struggling with faith, a person suffering from lack of faith. Certainly, today with rampant secularism and mockery of any religious faith by modern Western culture, that struggle with anti-religious prejudice is real for many of us. But notice that what Pascal recommends is the use of a sacramental ("taking holy water") and participation in the Mass ("by having masses said"). The non-Catholic reader would tend to glide over these recommendations as incidental to the main message of the passage. I would dare say that even as brilliant a non-Christian as William James-- with a nineteenth century Protestant cultural background that viewed Catholic sacramentals and saying of Masses as so much papist superstition-- would likely not put much stock in the mention of holy water and Masses.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

For the graduates

Too many 22-year-olds expect to start their adult lives at their parents' level of material satisfaction, without the 30 years of labor it took them to get there. Our world of easy credit and mysteriously glamorous TV apartments says you can have it all now. But live like you're entitled to your parents' finances, and you'll be back living with them soon enough. Live within your means, though, and you'll achieve financial independence before the naysayers say it's possible.

Not convinced? Let's look at the economic realities young grads face. Talk to Draut of Demos and she'll tick them off: Average student loan debt rose from about $9,000 in 1992 to $18,900 in 2002. Real wages climbed only 5% to 7%.

"Young people are not having a hard time making it because of their color TVs and stereo systems," she says. To prove that, the "Generation Broke" study presents the average budget, based on consumer surveys, for a 2001 graduate (we'll call him "Grad") earning the average new hire salary of $36,000 a year. On Grad's take-home pay of $2,058 a month, after paying for rent and utilities ($797), car payments, gas and auto insurance ($464), food ($456), student loans ($182) and credit card minimums ($125), he has $34 left. Total.

Hello Star Wars comforter!

Closer inspection, though, finds that our average Grad's "average" budget isn't smart for someone who's young and poor and intends to live like it. How do I know that? I graduated in 2001 myself — and I would have jumped at Grad's miserly $36,000 starting salary. My first job in the Washington, D.C., area had me taking home $1,200-$1,500 a month. So I shared a house with three girls. I took the bus to work and bummed rides. I grocery shopped and packed my lunch every day. I bought suits at discount stores. As a result, I saved enough that first year to spend three weeks traveling in Asia the next summer. Unlike our Grad, I never paid a cent of interest on my credit cards.

Vexillia regis proderunt inferi

As South Korea does it's part to dehumanize humanity. Yay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

LA and Immigration

Bring 'em in, I say.

The Media Picks Up on the Jesus T-Shirts

So I was going to try to get the NYT article from March 29 2005, but I can't link to that anymore without buying it, so I'm linking to the Christian Science Monitor.

Observers call the shirts part of a sometimes deft, sometimes clumsy, possibly lawsuit-bound move to tap into youth culture and ride what many see as a society increasingly warm to Christian conservatism.

What is the response of an orthodox member of a religion when their beliefs get on the shelves? What should one do when they see Ashton Kutcher wearing a "Jesus is My Homeboy Shirt?"

One can argue that this phenomena is not new. People like merchandising for religion because these images hold so much power to begin with. Just look at Valentine's Day.

I gotta talk this over with my confessor or somethin'.

Or I could just go to tctees.com and buy the Trad Team Sweatshirt to drive the point home.

"Know thy faith 2 Keep Thy Faith"


Palm comes out with PDA with hard drive

World oogles.

Good luck

To all still taking tests.

Open question. I've taken a lot of tests in my life. Some of them I've screwed up spectacularly just because of the day or whatever. Do you think they're worth taking? I know the fear of test is the only way to get some people to learn the material, and is a very effecive way to get people interested. At the same time, for some things it seems somewhat useless, like in Comp Sci, where a few projects would seem to be a better measure of the computer scientist.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Those darned voters, amending their constitutions

Federal judge Joseph Bataillon threw out the amendment, saying it imposed 'significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights' of gay men and lesbians.
Instead of deferring to the voters' judgment on the nature of marriage, Bataillon chose to insult them. He wrote that the amendment 'goes so far beyond defining marriage that the court can only conclude that the intent and purpose of the amendment is based on animus against this class.'
Ah, yes, if that language sounds familiar to 'BreakPoint' listeners and readers, that’s because it’s straight out of Romer v. Evans. In that case, the Supreme Court overturned a Colorado amendment that prohibited extending anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation. The majority, led by Justice Kennedy, concluded that the only possible reason people would approve such a measure was hatred of homosexuals."

Evolutionary Bias

Maybe it's just my personal bias, but I really don't see why people are compelled to write long papers and debate each other about whether male nipples are vestigal or whether the female orgasm serves any evolutionary purpose. If you're that smart, shouldn't you be trying to cure cancer or something? I mean, I suppose it'd be interesting to know, but seeing as we can't grow species out of ether and see if the females exhibit similar sexual characteristics, the whole debate is a little . . . academic.

Science? Wrong?

I suppose it would be asking too much if we were allowed to subject scientific theories to scientific investigation. After all, all of the leading scientists of Gallileo's day were geocentrists. Who was he to propose heliocentrism when all the reputable authorities agreed that he was just being foolish?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Quote of the Day

The Rainbow Sash Alliance says that by wearing the sash, members “publicly claim our place at Christ's table, sacramentally expressing the truth in our lives, and calling the church to embrace a new day of integrity and freedom.”

Nope, sorry. By wearing the sash members publicly claim that what is sin and what has been seen as sin has been for more than 2000 years should be seen as virtue and call to the Church to give in to an era of deep dishonesty and slavery.

Jimmy Akin on Religion & Star Trek

It'd be nice to get Blair's opinion on this thing. Anyone?

Roddenberry was thus suitably enraged when Bill Shatner got to incorporate an explicitly God-oriented (and braindead) plot in Star Trek V: The Search for God (or whatever it was called).

Things got worse when Roddenberry got to do Next Gen, in which he had far fewer shackles on his secular humanism compared to what he was allowed to put on television in the 1960s. Not only were the episodes in which Picard gleefully proclaimed that humans are merely electro-chemical machines, there was also the awful "Who Watches The Watchers" episode in which the ship finds a planet of primitive proto-Vulcans and accidentally starts a religion among them, leading to a prime-directive violation in order to stamp it out. Secular humanism is in full force in this episode, and religion is treated very disrespectfully.

Roddenberry's secular humanism was one of several dumb things he imposed on the series. The idea that the Federation was a paradise and didn't have money were others.

But this wasn't the end of the story.

Roddenberry died, and afterward the franchise passed into other hands. These folks, whatever their flaws, tried to undo some of the conceptual damage that Roddenberry had done and loosened the ideological straightjacket into which he had put certain elements of the show.

The franchise then got more friendly toward religion. In fact, the next two series--Deep Space 9 and Voyager--both contain episodes that are extensively devoted to and positive about religious themes.

Deep Space 9 has three major religions in focus: Bajoran religion, Dominion religion, and Klingon religion. It never proclaims any of them true (and in fact, it's quite clear that the Dominion religion is false), but it offers the show extensive changes to discuss things like the value of faith, the role of evidence for faith, what the prerogatives of God are, how one may need to sacrifice personal power and prestige in order to embrace true spirituality, how seeminly unconnected events can be part of a divine plan, how the loss of faith and the betrayal of faith are bad things.

There's one moment in a DS9 episode in which the Kai (the main Bajoran religious leader) discovers that someone close to her has embraced the Bajoran equivalent of Satanism and, stunned, her instant reaction si to slap him very hard and cry "Heretic!"--and the thing is, you agree with her! He is a heretic! He needs to be slapped! The Kai (for once) did the right thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Columba Aspexit

I thought I'd jump in with the Pentecost festivities and give Peter Kreeft's explanation for the Knights of Columbus.

Is the Bible reallly dumb?

Survey says . . . nope.

Watch as JP Holding tangles with a Wiccan!

Happy Birthday Church!

It's Pentecost today, another great holiday lifted from the Jewish calendar. You should read up on the Holy Spirit today and pray for His gifts since it is, after all, His big day.

So let's learn a smidge about this Fellow.

The doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the Holy Ghost forms an integral part of her teaching on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, of which St. Augustine (De Trin., I, iii, 5), speaking with diffidence, says: "In no other subject is the danger of erring so great, or the progress so difficult, or the fruit of a careful study so appreciable". The essential points of the dogma may be resumed in the following propositions:

The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

Though really distinct, as a Person, from the Father and the Son, He is consubstantial with Them; being God like Them, He possesses with Them one and the same Divine Essence or Nature.

He proceeds, not by way of generation, but by way of spiration, from the Father and the Son together, as from a single principle.

New Advent

Deep stuff, and confusing. Augustine has some excellent works that help illuminate the subject, I think, such as De Trinitate.

What are the gifts that we should be praying for? How about:

Fear of the Lord

Not to mention the nine charismata.

The Holy Spirit also leads us to growth in the Virtues, and towards the Gifts. Yes, these are all different things, St. Thomas has a lovely piece entitled Whether the Gifts differ from the virtues?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Turn the alter around?

Three is *SO* the New Two

"The third child screams, ‘My apartment is massive, my S.U.V. is spacious, my cash unlimited!’" observed an amused Ms. Astley, who believes the third-child trend is not only driven by a desire to demonstrate richesse, but also by a deranged, Kennedyesque desire to give birth to a clan.

To this a reader commented, "And God said, "Be chic and multiply!'"

Oy. Gevalt.

Click here for the NY Observer article.

American is new head of CDF

Good golly Miss Molly.

With the appointment, Archbishop Levada becomes the most influential American at the Vatican today, and arguably the most powerful American prelate in the history of the Church. As the official with primary responsibility for ensuring the preservation of doctrinal orthodoxy worldwide, he will rank second only to the Pontiff within the Vatican; the CDF is the only office that does not operate under the supervision of the Secretariat of State. Archbishop Levada is certain to be named a cardinal at the next consistory, and will be an important figure at the next papal conclave.

Glad to see international law is on top of things


May 13, 2005
Volume 8, Number 21

UN-Funded Lawyers File Suit to Force Change in Columbia Abortion Laws

On April 14, abortion activists in Colombia mounted a monumental legal
challenge to Colombia's total ban on abortion, claiming that international
treaties establish abortion as a constitutional right in at least some
cases. Colombia's constitution, just as the constitutions of several other
countries including Germany, states that international human rights
treaties ratified by Congress trump national laws and serve as guides in
interpreting Colombia's constitution.

The case was filed in Colombia's Constitutional Court by Monica Roa, a
director of Women's Link Worldwide (WLW), a radical feminist organization
that promotes the legalization of abortion around the world. WLW has also
challenged the abortion laws of Spain, Poland, Australia, Thailand and
South Africa. WLW is funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
and the European Commission, alongside private donors such as the Ford

Roa claims that she is not seeking to legalize all abortion in
Colombia, only to permit it in extreme cases such as rape, fetal
impairment incompatible with life outside the womb, and when the woman's
life or health is in danger. However, prolife groups are concerned that
creating a broad "health" exception is equivalent to legalizing all

Indeed, WLW's website suggests that "health" is equivalent to "the
woman's best interest for her physical, psychological or emotional
well-being," and may include "psychological anguish" such as "the anguish
caused by dire socio-economic circumstances." WLW also proposes the World
Health Organization's definition, which states that "health is a state of
complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence
of disease or infirmity."

Colombia outlaws abortion in all circumstances, classifying it as a
crime against life and personal integrity. In 1994, Columbia's
Constitutional Court affirmed that human life begins at conception, that
life is an essential value protected by the Constitution as the basis of
all other rights, and that human procreative freedom cannot extend beyond
the moment of conception. In 1997, the Court found that even in cases of
rape, the right to abortion "can never be understood to take precedence
over the life of the unborn."

WLW claims that Colombia's ban on abortion "violates obligations
obtained by ratifying international human rights treaties." The WLW cites
recommendations by several UN treaty-compliance committees that have asked
Colombia to liberalize its abortion laws. These include the Human Rights
Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Committee on
the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which in 1999
told Colombia that its "legal provisions on abortion constitute a
violation of the rights of women to health and life and of article 12" of
the CEDAW Convention.

WLW's website claims that Roa's lawsuit "will hopefully provide an
example for NGOs around the world on engaging in the courts."

Copyright 2005 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
E-mail: c-fam@c-fam.org Website: www.c-fam.org

Friday, May 13, 2005

Our Lady of Fatima

Ora pro nobis.

In 1917, Portugal was verging on totalitarianism after the revolution of 1910. The revolution had decreed a sharp separation of Church and state, Church property had been confiscated, and religious congregations had been ordered dissolved. The intelligentsia and ruling classes were anti-religious and decisively anti-clerical. The ruling cognoscenti were contemptous of traditional religious beliefs often describing these beliefs as mere superstitions in the newspapers and journals they ran. Even rural areas normally immune to the intellectual fads of the cosmopolitan centers were affected by church closings and a cautious wariness about any outward expression of religious belief. Despite this, strong religious faith still took root in the simple peasants of the rural countryside. In this environment, a series of apparitions by the Blessed Virgin occurred to three small children from the rural village of Fatima over a six month period starting in May of 1917.

Amazing things are happening every day. But more to the point:

In 1984, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima gave a speech in Vienna in which he said, "The Secret of Fatima speaks not about atomic bombs, nor about nuclear warheads, nor about SS-20 missiles. Its contents concerns but our faith. To identify the Secret with catastrophic announcements or with a nuclear holocaust is to distort the meaning of the message. The loss of faith of a continent is worse than the annihilation of a nation; and it is true that Faith is continually diminishing in Europe."

He woke up?

Medical experts are stunned by the recovery of a firefighter who recently began speaking nearly ten years after a brain injury had left him virtually mute.

"We really don't know for sure what's going on," Anthony Stringer, director of neuropsychology in the department of rehabilitation medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine told the Associated Press.

Forty-three-year-old Donald Herbert has been living at a nursing home in suburban Buffalo for more than seven years. In 1995, the roof of a burning house collapsed on him. Having gone without oxygen for several minutes before he was rescued, he showed little awareness of his environment.

However, last Saturday he suddenly asked for his wife Linda. For 14 hours, he then proceeded to talk with her, his four sons, and other family and friends.

Herbert asked, "How long have I been away?"

His uncle, Simon Manka, informed the media, "We told him almost 10 years. He thought it was only three months."

Deo gratias!


Jennifer, I salute you for your good jugdement in away messages.

Quote of the Day

What all this pious talk amounts to is that when third parties want somebody else to pay for something, they simply call it a "social responsibility," an "obligation" or a "social contract."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Why Do They Not Protest Mosques?

To understand this seeming inconsistency we have to take into account the degree to which radical liberal activism is an outgrowth of an adolescent mindset. If many Christian conservatives, as I've argued elsewhere, are hell-bent on keeping the nuclear family and the Church free of "gay contamination", many hardcore gay activists are bent on forcing their way into churches and the institution of marriage because they have yet to work through the feelings of alienation that dogged them throughout childhood. I can find no other explanation for the anger so many irreligious gay acquaintances of mine have expressed towards the Church's stance on homosexuality. Looking at the issue rationally, it shouldn't matter one whit to a non-Catholic what the Vatican says about homosexuality. Yet it does, not because the Church's stance has any immediate effect on their lives, but because the Vatican refusal to accept active and unrepentant homosexuals as Catholics in good standing triggers the memories of other painful (and frequently paternal) rejections with which they have never come to terms.

Dave Morrison writes an interesting response to the analysis posted here too.

Orthodoxy and Almost Econometrics

Religion is a " 'commodity' that people produce collectively," says Iannacone. "My religious satisfaction thus depends both on my 'inputs' and those of others." If a rich and textured spiritual experience is what you seek, then a storefront Holy Roller church or an Orthodox shtiebl is a better fit than a suburban church made up of distracted, ambitious people who can barely manage to find a morning free for Sunday services, let alone several evenings a week for text study and volunteer work.

Poor, rich, black?

I'll agree, I think, that civil rights aren't the problem, it's an issue of opportunity, distribution, and probably a bunch of expectations.

How much does racial discrimination explain? So far as black poverty is concerned, I'd say little or nothing, which is not to say that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. But let's pose a few questions. Is it racial discrimination that stops black students from studying and completing high school? Is it racial discrimination that's responsible for the 68 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks?

The 1999 Bureau of Census report might raise another racial discrimination question. Among black households that included a married couple, over 50 percent were middle class earning above $50,000, and 26 percent earned more than $75,000. How in the world did these black families manage not to be poor? Did America's racists cut them some slack?

The civil rights struggle is over, and it has been won. At one time, black Americans did not have the same constitutional protections as whites. Now, we do, because the civil rights struggle is over and won is not the same as saying that there are not major problems for a large segment of the black community. What it does say is that they're not civil rights problems, and to act as if they are leads to a serious misallocation of resources.

Bertie the Gerbil on Moral Relativism

Another astute observation by the gerbil who ate the complete works of G. K. Chesterton.

Foamy and the Amplified Bible

Because there's nothing else up, I decided to put this out. We'll see how long this lasts before someone calls it obscene. Ah well. I think it's a funny cartoon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI: An Economic Perspective

Taken from Michael Dubriel.

Hungry? Addicted to drugs?

Dip a chip nice and deep in Batch #37 Salsa Habanero Garlic and eat it. After you're done screaming and you've had some milk, doesn't the world just seem like a mellower, better place?

You do get a high off hot sauce and salsa, and it's a natural high. The capsaicins trick the nerve endings in your mouth, nose, and throat into thinking you've just singed yourself. Your brain, eager to please, responds by releasing endorphins. It's the same high some people jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, or run marathons to get. Righteous, dude!

And learn about the Scoville scale, my favorite unit of measure.

Benedict on Authority

In his homily, Pope Benedict said that Christ had given his apostles, and the bishops who succeeded them, the duty to ensure that the faith is passed along without dilution or distortion. Although the Pope "must be aware that he is a weak and fragile man," he cannot avoid this responsibility, the Holy Father continued. He must execute his teaching function, fulfilling the mandate from Christ, because "when Sacred Scripture is separated from the living voice of the Church, it falls victims to the disputes among experts."

The Pope acknowledged that papal authority is a stumbling block for some people, who see the teaching magisterium as a threat to freedom of belief and of conscience. But he explained that the Pope's authority is not really his own, since "the ministry of the Pope is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word." As teacher, he continue, the Pontiff "binds himself and the Church in obedience to God's Word, in the face of all attempts to adapt that Word, or water it down, and in the face of all forms of opportunism." Benedict XVI went on to say that his predecessor, John Paul II, was carrying out this task when he repeatedly demanded respect fro human life, in the face of mounting public opposition. "The freedom to kill is not true freedom, a but a tyranny that reduces human beings to slavery," he said.

Glad to see we have freedom in this country

Why bother moving to the Third World when you can be oppressed right here in the US?

A leading Catholic says Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich should rescind his order requiring state pharmacists to fill all prescriptions. The order has been criticized because it would make pharmacists dispense drugs that can cause abortions and violate their moral and religious views.

Cadinal Francis George called on Blagojevich to back off the rule, which has sparked a national firestorm of controversy. Several pharmacists are participating in two lawsuits against the governor's actions.

"People have a choice what pharmacy they want to go to, and pharmacists should have a moral choice also," George said, according to a Chicago Sun Tims news report.

"I don't think the state has any business encroaching on the conscience of people," Cardinal George added. "We haven't done this in this country, we've respected individual conscience as something that is of great moral importance, so I would hope the governor would rethink his regulation."

Sicentists Say: Worm Holds Secret to Eternal Life

They went on to stay healthy and active for a human equivalent of 500 years, which is the longest life-span extension ever achieved by scientists.

Scientists from the University of California found they could double the lifespan of C. elegans, if they caused a mutation that inhibited insulin signalling.

Insulin, which is a metabolic hormone, regulates the energy molecule glucose within the body.

Researchers discovered that if they inhibited insulin signalling more strongly, the worms lived even longer, but they entered a quiescent - or lethargic - state.

Removal of the animals' reproductive systems also had a dramatic effect - the worms' life span increased by 60%. This was not due to infertility, the researchers said, but altered hormone signalling.

That's right people... if you change your genetic structure and cut out your genitals... you too can live to 500. Or you could just go to church. I leave that to you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


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Which File Extension are You?

Stick a fork in me

I'm done.

Pope Trading Cards?

That sounds like those rabbi trading cards in Keeping the Faith.

Messianic Jewish jewelrey to go with the Santo Subito wristbands


I have nine hours of tests, one hour of bad Chinese tofu, thirty minuites of Mass, and a weird professor standing between me and summer.

It's go time.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Santo Subito- Get Your Matching Wristbands

This Just In: Vatican Radio Causes Cancer

Cardinal Roberto Tucci and Father Pasquale Borgomeo were given suspended 10-day jail sentences.

The Italian court also ordered them to pay damages and court costs.

Two scientific studies have suggested a field of Vatican Radio broadcasting antennas north of Rome may have caused high rates of cancer in the area.

The first, in 2001, found that magnetic fields around the transmitters were much higher than normal limits allow.

Prayer Request

Please pray for James, for peace, knowing that he is loved, and faith, and for the repose of the soul of his brother.

Speaking of right wing racial profilers . . .

Has anyone seen my co-bloggers lately? They seem to have dropped off the face of the Earth . . .

Hey, your abstraction is showing

On the menu for the dining hall, under Speciality it has WING IT for the last two days of the year. Why does that not sound good.

Right wing racial profiling?

Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court has been the Bush nominee for a federal circuit court judgeship facing particularly fierce resistance by Democrats and their allies. For example, the April 26 "Action Alert" from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People accuses her of "having extreme right-wing views," issuing "many opinions hostile to civil rights."

I do not agree with all of Justice Brown's opinions, but I write this to show how prejudicially selective the prosecution of her is by the Democrats, the NAACP, People for the American Way and her other critics. She was filibustered in the last Congress, and may be again, now having been sent to the floor on a 10-to-8 party-line vote by the Judiciary Committee.

To my knowledge, not one of her attackers has mentioned the fact that in the case of People v. McKay (2002), Brown was the only California Supreme Court justice to instruct her colleagues on the different standards some police use when they search cars whose drivers are black:

"There is an undeniable correlation between law enforcement stop-and-search practices and the racial characteristics of the driver. ... The practice is so prevalent, it has a name: 'Driving While Black.'"

The three-page "Action Alert" I received from the NAACP ignored that opinion, in which Brown added that while racial-profiling is "more subtle, more diffuse and less visible" than racial segregation, "it is only a difference of degree. If harm is still being done to people because they are black, or brown, or poor, the oppression is not lessened by the absence of television cameras."

Levano buys Personal Systems Group

Interestingly, the new CEO of Levano, over half of their employees, and their new headquarters are all from IBM.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Modern Liturgical Thought

The Ragemonkeys comment, perhaps responding in part to Justine's comment
Anyway, in the recent BCL Newsletter, it is noted that at the March meeting of the BCL it was decided to request from the Vatican a number of adaptations to the Order of the Mass in the new Roman Missal. These are all adaptations which were approved for the 1985 Edition of the Sacramentary (which we still are forced to use since ICEL is still, after 3 years, working on an English translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal). These include the seven additional versions of Penitential Rite form C (for Fr. Tharp, I checked my Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, and the only form C is, using the English, "You were sent to heal the contrite, Lord have mercy. You came to call sinners, Christ have mercy. You plead for us at the right hand of the Father, Lord have mercy."), four alternative intoductions to the Lord's Prayer, etc. None of these greatly upset me, but the reasoning was laughable. I qoute, "The Committe suggested that since the use of these options has shaped the liturgical formation of two generation of Catholics, their disappearance from the Mass could cause confusion and consternation as people try to adjust to new translations."

Now, maybe it is just me, but that seems like a load of something. First, let's set aside the whole "two generation" bit (since it seems like 20 years is only one generation). Are you telling me that most Catholics would even know that there was a difference? After all, too many priests just make up the parts which they are mostly talking about (Penitential Rite, Intro to the Lord's Prayer, Dismissal), so most people would not know what the "approved" variants are. Secondly, what about the hundreds of years of Gregorian Chant and Latin being an integral part of the liturgy of the Mass, forming truly generations of Catholics, and which the Second Vatican Council, and nearly every Pope since, has said must not only be preserved, but all things being equal must be given a place of pride and priviledge? Liturgist of the ilk of Bishop Trautman, did not show one ioda of concern for the "confusion and consternation" of the Catholic people when they ejected them from the Mass. As a result of their hasty ejection of the true liturgical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church Sunday Mass attendance has plummetted from over 75% prior to the liturgical changes of the late 1960s to less than 25% in the USA. It is only worse in Europe which seems to pride itself on being "post-Christian." Now, I am not saying that we need to return to the Tridentine Mass. There were accretions, and need for some renewal. I actually believe that the Novus Ordo, if done as the Second Vaitican Council prescribed, with an appropriate mix of Latin and the venacular, and truly SACRED music is a beautiful, deeply spiritual encounter with Christ. Just look at the beautiful liturgies for the funeral of Pope John Paul the Great, and the Installation of Pope Benedict XVI.

St. Pius V, pray for us.

Mother's Day for Zorak!

Young Oligarch seems to be doing well . . . or is it a baby mantis? The world will never know. At least not until OO gets tenure.

College and Sex

Warning--this post contains observations of a personal, if not Oprah-esque confessional, nature.

Via Bill Cork, I stumbed across this Busted Halo rumination on premarital sex by Fordham University senior Julia Tier. Since it's (usually) not sporting to fisk college students (think: bragging about grenade fishing skills), I'm not going to do that.

Besides, it's really not worthy of a caning. Flawed--very--but honest. That, and it's hard for me to truly get upset with someone who takes the time to cite the Catechism.

In fact, she makes a decent point or two. The problem is that she appears to be completely unaware of the tragic flaws in her own moral argument. Since it reflects a common mindset, I thought I'd take a crack at answering it. And I might as well get an early start on preparing to explain it to my own children, to boot. That day will be coming sooner rather than later.

Happy Mother's Day

Go and pray for your mother, be she here or elsewhere. Next go and pray to your Mother, who has been up for the past 1900 years worrying about you. I recommend the Rosary, being contaminated as I am by the Dominican influence.

I recommend pretty flowers and paying off nuns to pray for your Mother, that's my traditional strategy.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Loyola University

Catholic faith maintains that sexual intercourse is to be simultaneously an act of the deepest intimacy and an act open to the conception of new life. Because of this twofold purpose, intercourse is to be engaged in only by marriage partners. Muslims and Jews share similar moral positions. The following information should be used within the context of one's own religious, moral, and ethical values about human sexuality. If you choose to be sexually active, consider your health and peace of mind by playing it safe.

How's that for a specimen of bracing moral guidance for a hormone-soaked 19-year-old?
"Playing it safe" means picking up Loyola's unsubtle if-you-can't-be-good-be-careful hint so as to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to "low risk" practices -- among which wholesome acts of courtship and mortal sins are listed indiscriminately -- we get a roster of miscellaneous lab supplies conducive to "peace of mind," including jellies, creams, foams, and dental dams. And dental dams.

Potatoes in Israel?

Marty Barrack, when talking about Zevi, used the expression "dropped him like a hot potato knish". I suppose you have to be from New York to find that one funny.

A view from the past

Message: 2
Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 15:37:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: rlee
Subject: Re: Society of St. Pius X

It is probably very difficult for people who were not
alive or were not Catholic during the period 1965-85
to understand how bad it really was. I suspect that in
time "I survived Vatican II" will become an important
subgenre for Catholic writers. Future generations will
gape in amazement.

I became a Catholic in 1983 after falling in love with
Newman and Chesterton and a number of other Catholic
writers. I was a convert from mainline Protestantism,
Lutheranism to be exact. RCIA was a shock. The two
liberated Dominican nuns and the Dominican priest
(since died of AIDS after suffering a nervous
breakdown) who were supposed to be introducing me to
the faith in effect told me that the religion to which
I had believed I was converting no longer existed.
Vatican II had abolished it. I am not exaggerating. I
was taught in RCIA that Vatican II had abolished
Catholicism. The "catechism" we were using even made
that argument, remorselessly contrasting the "old"
church (which in my naivete I had thought was simply
THE Church), and the "new" church, which bore a
remarkable resemblance to the church I thought I was
leaving. I often wondered why I was bothering to
convert at all, since it looked like all I was doing
was moving from one form of liberal Protestantism to
another. And nothing brought down the wrath of the
post-conciliar church leadership faster than an
affection for pre-conciliar devotions or liturgical
practices. It took an act of sheer (and at times it
seem like blind) faith to believe that the Church of
1970 was the same church that had existed a decade

Friday, May 06, 2005


As a dog. Will be back later.

Free Speech -- not in Scotland

Nor in Sweeden.

Cardinal O'Brien quoted Christ quoting Isaiah: "He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord." The Cardinal then mentioned the poor in spirit in Scottish society, "There are many in our communities who are captives in some way or another—captives to an addiction to drink, drugs, sexual aberrations or whatever."

The Cardinal’s mild and indirect apparent reference to Catholic teaching on homosexuality prompted one leftist MSP to propose a motion to prohibit any religious minister from speaking against homosexuality.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie tabled a motion, quickly signed by 16 other members, to prohibit the expression of dissent from the homosexual agenda. The motion read, "That the Parliament condemns the use of the phrase "captives … to sexual aberrations" to describe Scotland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community." The motion called Cardinal O’Brien’s observation a 'gratuitous insult.'

Quote of the Evening

"He's the biggest loser in the school. Which at Columbia, almost makes you a winner." -- CUMB

Thursday, May 05, 2005

2: Ascension Thursday

The fortieth day after Easter Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of Christ into heaven, according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2.

Today is two days

The first is Yom HaShoah, if I got my dates right. Or rather tonight is, I think. Anyway.

In 1939, when the Nazis began to destroy the Jews of Poland, what bothered Sulzberger was Franklin Roosevelt's casual remark that Jews were a "race." He got FDR to call them a "faith," which settled the issue of the Warsaw Ghetto for him.

On the eve of Thanksgiving 1942, the State Department confirmed that 2 million Jews were dead in Europe, and it allowed Rabbi Stephen Wise, the leader of American Jewry, to announce the news. The Times didn't send a reporter to the press conference in Washington. Instead, it ran a short from The Associated Press — on page 10, surrounded by turkey ads.

What if FDR had announced the news? Then, even a scared Jew like Sulzberger would have been afraid to keep it off the front page. And if that happened, millions of Jews could have been saved.

But Roosevelt didn't give a damn about the Jews. When the chips were down, they were expendable. He never lifted a finger to save them, and when faced with the 1944 election, for the first time he spoke out against the massacre and it made page 1: "Roosevelt Warns Germans on Jews."

Potential song?

So I was humming that "Big Pimpin' NYC" song this morning and I was thinking maybe we could do something about the KGB, Big Spying or something? Thoughts?

Quote of the Day

Dave Monge - "So, in some ways, you coud say vacation is a foretaste of heaven."
Squach - "Now Aquinas states that the blessed in heaven take pleasure at the suffering of the damned as they take pleasure in seeing justice done. Is that analogous to the people who have a break taking pleasure at those who have to go to summer school or have jobs?"

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Rainbow Sash again

On Pentacost, no less. Grr.

Furious over the election of Pope Benedict XVI, whom they have venomously called a "liar" and an "aggressive homophobe," members of the so-called Rainbow Sash movement -- a calls-itself-Catholic, pro-homosexual movement -- are calling for their members to disrupt Catholic Masses around the United States on the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 15:

"The Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) with its supporters will be entering Cathedrals and parishes around the nation on Pentecost Sunday, May 15. We are inviting our supporters to join us, and wear the Rainbow Sash as a symbol of dignity and inclusion.

"We continue to call for public dialogue with Cardinal Francis George Vice President of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.


"We hope that our presence will also counter the lies that Pope Benedict XVI is promoting about our community. We are Catholic, and will raise our voices to speak to the truth of our lives from the pews. We will no longer be silent in the face of this injustice."

Actually, all they will succeed in doing is demonstrating their own irrelevance while profaning the Blessed Sacrament. Stories like this can make it a very difficult trial for orthodox Catholics who know they must separate contempt for the sin from contempt for the sinner.

What was CDF up to for the past 20 years?

Timeline of principal doctrinal decisions, documents, 1981-2005 of
Cardinal Ratzinger Catholic News Service ^ | May 2, 2005

Posted on 05/03/2005 6:44:38 AM PDT by NYer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Here is a list of the principal public documents and
decisions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from
1981 to 2005 when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the office. He
was elected Pope Benedict XVI April 19.

-- March 12, 1983: Notification reaffirming the excommunication of
traditionalist Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc, formerly of Hue,
Vietnam, and his accomplices for the illicit ordination of priests and

-- Oct. 4, 1983: Notification to Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen of
Seattle that an apostolic visitation of his archdiocese would be
conducted, focused primarily on liturgy, the education of seminarians,
clergy formation, the marriage tribunal and ministry to homosexuals. (The
process ended with the appointment in 1985 of an auxiliary bishop who was
given primary responsibility over many areas of archdiocesan governance.)

-- Nov. 26, 1983: "Declaration on Masonic Associations," saying Masonic
principles and rituals "embody a naturalistic" religion incompatible with
Christianity. Those who knowingly embrace the principles or attend the
rituals are involved in serious sin and may not receive Communion.

-- Aug. 6, 1984: "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the 'Theology of
Liberation,'" although applauding efforts to promote social justice,
criticized theologians who borrow "uncritically" from Marxist ideology,
reducing salvation to the liberation of the poor from worldly oppressors.

-- March 11, 1985: Notification on the book "Church: Charism and Power" by
Brazilian Franciscan Father Leonardo Boff, who argued that the church's
current hierarchical structure was not that intended by Christ and that
authority can spring from the community of the faithful. The notification
said the book was "dangerous" and asked Father Boff to refrain from
publishing or speaking publicly for one year.

-- March 22, 1986: "Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation," a
second document on liberation theology providing guidelines for the
theology's development, insisting it have as its goal the liberation of
people from sin, not simply from sinful social structures.

-- July 10, 1986: Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger head of a
12-member commission charged with drafting the "Catechism of the Catholic
Church." The text was released in French in 1992 and in English in 1994.

-- July 25, 1986: Letter regarding the suspension of U.S. Father Charles
E. Curran from teaching Catholic theology because of his dissenting views
on several issues in sexual ethics. Father Curran was a professor of
theology at The Catholic University of America, Washington.

-- Sept. 15, 1986: Notification on the book "The Church With a Human Face:
A New and Expanded Theology of Ministry" by Dominican Father Edward
Schillebeeckx, saying the book was "in disagreement with the teaching of
the church," particularly regarding ordination and the possibility of lay
people presiding at the Eucharist. However, the doctrinal congregation did
not apply any penalties to the Belgian-born priest, who already had
retired from teaching.

-- Oct. 1, 1986: "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the
Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." The letter called for "special
concern and pastoral attention" to homosexuals, but also for clarity that
homosexual activity is immoral.

-- Feb. 22, 1987: "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and
on the Dignity of Procreation," clarifying the church's position on
assisted fertilization techniques and other biomedical issues, reaffirming
teaching that an embryo is human from the moment of conception and that
conception is moral only in the context of sexual intercourse within

-- June 29, 1988: Telegram warning traditionalist French Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre he would be in schism if he ordained bishops without papal
consent. The archbishop went ahead with the ordinations and died in

-- Feb. 16, 1989: Note regarding the moral rule of "Humanae Vitae" and
pastoral duty, saying couples who find it difficult to follow church
teaching about birth control "deserve great respect and love," but the
church is firm in teaching that contraception is an "intrinsically
disordered act" that is prohibited without exception.

-- Oct. 15, 1989: "Letter on Certain Aspects of Christian Meditation,"
cautioning Catholics about using Buddhist, Hindu and other meditation
techniques that place the focus of prayer on the self rather than on God.

-- May 24, 1990: "Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the
Theologian," underlining the important role theologians have in
clarifying, explaining and exploring church teaching, but also calling on
theologians who disagree with church teaching not to use the mass media to
publicize their views or try to pressure for change in the church.

-- Jan. 31, 1992: Note on the book "The Sexual Creators, an Ethical
Proposal for Concerned Christians" by Canadian Oblate Father Andre
Guindon. The Vatican said the book presented questionable views on
premarital sex, homosexual relationships and contraception, particularly
because Father Guindon seemed to reduce moral goodness to subjective human

-- March 30, 1992: "Instruction on Some Aspects of the Use of the
Instruments of Social Communication in Promoting the Doctrine of the
Faith," reaffirming church law requiring prepublication theological review
of manuscripts dealing with church teaching.

-- May 28, 1992: "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some
Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion," emphasizing the essential
bond between the local church and universal church, particularly through
recognition of the authority of the pope.

-- July 23, 1992: "Some Considerations Concerning the Response to
Legislative Proposals on Nondiscrimination of Homosexual Persons," saying,
"It is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account"
when making laws concerning "adoption or foster care, in employment of
teachers or athletic coaches and in military recruitment."

-- Sept. 14, 1994: "Letter to Bishops Regarding the Reception of Holy
Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful," saying the
church cannot ignore Jesus' clear teaching on the indissolubility of
marriage and reaffirming that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may
not receive Communion.

-- Oct. 28, 1995: Response to questions about the doctrine contained in
the apostolic letter, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," saying the church's
teaching that women cannot be ordained priests belongs "to the deposit of
faith" and has been taught "infallibly."

-- Jan. 2, 1997: Notification on the book "Mary and Human Liberation" by
Sri Lankan Oblate Father Tissa Balasuriya, saying the book contained
heretical statements regarding Mary, original sin, Christ's redemptive
role and papal infallibility. The Oblate was excommunicated, but
reconciled with the church a year later.

-- May 30, 1997: Revised "Regulations for Doctrinal Examination" of
theologians and their work, encouraging a more direct role for the
theologian's bishop or religious superior, allowing the possibility of
naming an advocate and an adviser for the theologian, and permitting
face-to-face meetings between the theologian and congregation members.

-- Aug. 15, 1997: Publication of the final Latin "typical edition" of the
"Catechism of the Catholic Church," containing some corrections and
additions to the 1992 text, including a stronger condemnation of the death
penalty and an acknowledgment that science has not determined the cause of

-- June 24, 1998: Posthumous notification concerning the writings of
Indian Jesuit Father Anthony De Mello, saying some of the priest's views
"are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm." It
particularly cited those views presenting God as an impersonal cosmic
reality, organized religion as an obstacle to self-awareness and Jesus as
one master among many.

-- Oct. 31, 1998: "Considerations on 'The Primacy of the Successor of
Peter in the Mystery of the Church,'" saying that, although Pope John Paul
called for an ecumenical discussion of how primacy could be exercised in a
united church, "the full communion desired by Christ among those who
confess to be his disciples requires the common recognition of a universal
ecclesial ministry," and the Catholic faith holds that that ministry
belongs to the pope.

-- May 31, 1999: Notification regarding School Sister of Notre Dame
Jeannine Gramick and Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, barring the U.S.
team from further pastoral ministry to homosexuals, saying they advanced
"doctrinally unacceptable" positions "regarding the intrinsic evil of
homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination."

-- June 26, 2000: Publication of a 43-page booklet containing the complete
"Message of Fatima," including the so-called "third secret" given to three
Portuguese children in 1917. In his commentary, Cardinal Ratzinger said
the third part of the message is a symbolic prophecy of the church's
20th-century struggles with evil political systems and of the church's
ultimate triumph.

-- Aug. 6, 2000: "Dominus Iesus," a declaration on the "exclusive,
universal and absolute" value of Jesus Christ and his church for

-- Sept. 14, 2000: "Instruction on Prayers for Healing," noting the
importance of believing that God wants to free people from suffering, but
encouraging local bishops to be vigilant that the services do not become
occasions for hysteria or focus more on the so-called gift of healing
possessed by certain individuals than on God.

-- Jan. 24, 2001: Notification on the book "Toward a Christian Theology of
Religious Pluralism" by Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis, warning that
although Father Dupuis' intentions were good his 1997 book contained
ambiguous statements and insufficient explanations that could lead readers
to "erroneous or harmful conclusions" about Christ's role as the unique
and universal savior.

-- Feb. 22, 2001: Notification regarding certain writings of Redemptorist
Father Marciano Vidal, a Spanish moral theologian. At the congregation's
request, the priest agreed to revise several of his books to emphasize the
church's official position on contraception, homosexuality, masturbation,
abortion and other issues.

-- May 18, 2001: Letter to all bishops "regarding the more serious
offenses, 'graviora delicta' reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith." The letter said Pope John Paul had given the congregation
juridical control over cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests,
classifying it as one of several "graver offenses" against church law. The
other offenses include acts committed by priests against the sanctity of
the Eucharist and against the sacrament of penance.

-- July 1, 2001: Note on the doctrinal decrees concerning the thought and
work of Father Antonio Rosmini, saying positions attributed to the Italian
philosopher and condemned by the Vatican in 1887 did not accurately
reflect Father Rosmini's thinking. The 2001 decision removed a major
stumbling block to the 19th-century priest's beatification.

-- Aug. 5, 2002: Publication of the declaration of the excommunication of
seven Catholic women from various countries who had attempted to be
ordained Catholic priests. The congregation had sent them a warning July
10 asking them to indicate their "repentance for the most serious offense
they had committed." The Vatican said the ordaining bishop, the leader of
a breakaway church, had already been excommunicated.

-- Jan. 16, 2003: Doctrinal note on the participation of Catholics in
political life saying that while Catholics are free to choose among
political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they
cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia or
other attacks on human life.

-- Feb. 7-14, 2003: Revised norms issued for dealing with "serious
offenses" against the sacraments; the new norms included an expedited
process for laicizing priests guilty of sexually abusing minors.

-- July 31, 2003: "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal
Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," reaffirming church
teaching requiring compassion for homosexuals, but saying legal
recognition of gay unions is contrary to human nature and ultimately
harmful to society.

-- July 31, 2004: "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the
Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World," saying the
subjugation of women is the result of original sin and not of God's
original design for creation. Rather than ignore the God-given differences
between men and women, the church calls on them to collaborate for the
good of the family, society and the church.

-- Dec. 13, 2004: Notification regarding the book "Jesus Symbol of God" by
U.S. Jesuit Father Roger Haight, which said the book contained "serious
doctrinal errors against the Catholic and divine faith of the church,"
particularly regarding the divinity of Jesus and the universality of
salvation in him. The Jesuit was forbidden to teach as a Catholic

-- Feb. 11, 2005: Statement and commentary reaffirming church teaching
that only priests can administer the anointing of the sick and saying the
doctrine must be "definitively" accepted by Catholics.

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