Thursday, June 30, 2005

B16 on Church and State

When Church and state occupy their own proper spheres, the Holy Father continued, political leaders will not shy away from "those ethical references whose ultimate foundations are to be found in religion." It is not a threat to secularism in politics, he stressed, when public discussions take into account "an integral vision of man and of his eternal destiny."

Today, the Pope said, the Italian people should "not deny the Christian heritage that makes up part of their history, but guard it jealously and bring it once again to produce fruits worthy of the past." He voiced his hope that Italy will lead Europe as a whole to "rediscover those Christian roots that enabled it to be great in the past, and that still today can favor the profound unity of the continent."

The Church also takes a legitimate interest in some important current political discussions in Italy, Pope Bendict said. He mentioned specifically "the issue of safeguarding the family based on matrimony, as recognized by the Italian Constitution; the issue of the defense of human life, and the issue of education." In a particular reference to the last issue, the Pope said: "While fully respecting the authority of the state to dictate general norms for education, I cannot but express the hope that the right of parents to a free educational choice be respected, without their having to support the additional weight of further burdens."

Yeah, the ACLU is for polygamy

The right of all to "marry" means that no one has the right to marry. After all, if marriage is whatever you want it to be, it's really not all that much.

Religious freedom in Pakistan?

Karachi (AsiaNews) – Pakistani police have raided a bookshop run by Catholic sisters in the wake of publication of unfounded accusations leveled against the local Christian community. The raid took place in Saddar near Karachi on 13 June: police officers raided the library of the Daughters of St Paul and confiscated merchandise on sale. The police kept a shop salesman for more than 24 hours for questioning while the sisters were intimidated.

The raid came after an article appeared in a national Urdu daily and accusations by Islamic extremists. On 12 June, the Nawa-I-Waqt newspaper denounced the sale in open markets by Christians of audio and video tapes about the lives of the prophets. The article claimed that some CDs amounted to character assassination of the prophets. The daily reported also reactions of Muslims clerics to the news; these not only issued a fatwa but called for the opening of a blasphemy case.

The journalist who penned the article then indulged in mistaken conclusions and interpretations about the figure of St Paul and the films sold, all products – according to the author – of a Jewish company. He even underlined that St Paul was a devout Jew dedicated to the persecution of Christ and Christians.

Mgr Evarist Pinto, archbishop of Karachi, told AsiaNews this was a "grave" matter and it would be taken up with the Minister for the Interior.

Fr Arthur Charles of the archdiocese of Karachi said on 12 June at 2am at night, the police had already tried to enter the sisters’ convent of the Daughters of St Paul, but they were stopped by the security guard who did not allow them to enter at that hour of night. “The following day, the police went to the library, they shut some clients and sisters there and started to search through material, searching for CDs and videos”.

The Karachi archdiocese has issued a statement condemning the police incursion and the false accusations leveled against the library of the Daughters of St Paul: "The June publication of unfounded news in a small Urdu-language newspaper has deeply hurt the feelings of Pakistani Christians and damages the cause of dialogue and solidarity among Christians and Muslims in the country."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tom Cruise, meanwhile, is getting odder by the day

As "everybody" knows by now, Cruise is out to prove two points. First, that he is an ardent heterosexual; hence his publicly passionate romance with actress Katie Holmes. And second, that Scientology, the religion started by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, is beneficial to all. And for Cruise, making that case requires him to criticize rival approaches to mental therapy, including psychiatry and psychotropic medicines.

The peak — or, if one prefers, the nadir — of Cruise's campaign came last Friday, when the star appeared on "Today." Instead of focusing on the movie, which opens Wednesday, Cruise blurted out to Matt Lauer, "You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do." Turning to the subject of pills, he told his host, "You don't even know what Ritalin is." To put it mildly, such off-message outbursts are an unproven technique for getting people to buy movie tickets.

Hard drive's up!

But I still can't figure out why SCO is suing Novell.

The SCO Group's (Profile, Products, Articles) slander lawsuit against Novell is now set to enter the discovery phase after Novell's (Profile, Products, Articles) attempts to again halt proceedings failed. The judge in the bitter legal battle denied Novell's second motion to dismiss the case late Monday.

"We are pleased the court has denied Novell's second attempt to dismiss this case," a SCO spokesman said, welcoming the move towards the discovery phase of the proceedings. Novell officials declined to comment on the judge's decision.

In its suit filed in January 2004, SCO argues that it owns the rights to the Unix and UnixWare copyrights and is seeking damages from what it claims are Novell's false representations about owning the operating systems' source code. SCO purchased Unix Systems Laboratories (USL) assets from Novell. Novell acquired USL, the owner of the Unix trademark and the Unix System V source code, in 1993. Novell maintains that it did not transfer copyright during the SCO purchase and that it, and not SCO, is the owner of the Unix copyright.

Luther for the Third Millenium

2. At this time in history, God is more Mother than Father because the feminine is most missing and it is important to bring gender balance back.

In unserer Zeit ist Gott mehr Mutter als Vater, denn das Weibliche fehlt am meisten, und es ist wesentlich, das Gleichgewicht der Geschlechter wieder herzustellen.

I love bilingual heresy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Meanwhile, though, a new Compendium to the Catechism is out

Vatican, Jun. 28 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) released the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at a June 28 liturgical ceremony at the Vatican.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said that the new volume fulfilled an important need by providing "a brief, concise catechism, containing all and only the essential and fundamental elements of Catholic faith and morals." He expressed his hope that the work would make more people acquainted with the teachings of the Church.

The need for a Compendium of the Catechism had become clear, the Holy Father said, with the appearance of many books-- which he described as "more or less successful"-- attempting to summarize the teachings of the full Catechism. The problem, the Pope observed, was to ensure a presentation that would be fully accurate, preserving "the fullness and integrity of Catholic doctrine." The solution to that problem, Pope Benedict continued, was to produce an abridged version of the Catechism that was reliable and complete, as certified by the approval of the Pope. He said that the Compendium, which "maintains intact" the essential teachings of the Catechism, should now become "a fundamental tool of education in the faith."

The Pope also expressed satisfaction with the way the Compendium presents the Church's teachings, in a concise question-and-answer format that allows "clarity of communication." He also drew attention to the inclusion of prayers at the end of the volume-- many of them in Latin, to promote the common prayer of the universal Church.

The Compendium, in its Italian-language edition, is a 205-page book, consisting of 598 questions and responses. It also includes a number of icons and other sacred images-- which, the Pope explained-- "express the splendor of Catholic truth, showing the supreme harmony between the good and the beautiful." The book will be available for sale beginning on June 29, with translations into other languages already underway.

During the Vatican ceremony, Pope Benedict presented copies of the Compendium to various prelates, clerics, religious, and lay people who were selected to symbolize the Catholic community. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn (bio - news) of Vienna, the secretary of the committee that edited the original Catechism, received the first ceremonial copy of the Compendium.

New hard drive is here


Monday, June 27, 2005

And the process to beatify JPII has begun

Vatican, Jun. 27 ( - The first official phase in the process toward beatification for Pope John Paul II (bio - news) will be opened June 28.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, will preside at the formal opening of the diocesan investigation into the life of the late Pontiff. The ceremony, to be held in the basilica of St. John Lateran-- the cathedral of the Rome diocese-- will be held in conjunction with the first Vespers for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the diocese.

The beatification process begins in the diocese where the candidate died: thus, in the case of John Paul II, in Rome. Ordinarily the process cannot begin until five years after the candidate's death. But because Pope Benedict waived that requirement in the case of his predecessor-- a decision he announced in the same Lateran basilica on May 13-- the process will begin less than 3 months after the Pontiff's death.

After the Vespers ceremony, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, who has been appointed as postulator for the cause of John Paul II, will present his mandate to the members of the diocesan tribunal, including Cardinal Ruini. He will then receive formal approval to compile a thorough dossier on "the life and the virtues" of "the Servant of God John Paul II, in lay life Karol Wojtyla, Sovereign Pontiff." After the administration of an oath of office to Msgr. Oder and the other officials associated with the cause, all of the faithful present at the ceremony will be encouraged to pray "for the intercession of the Servant of God John Paul II. " The Rome diocese has already announced that anyone having specific testimony to present regarding the life and virtue of Pope John Paul, or miracles attributed to his intercession, should write to the Rome vicariate. Testimony can be sent by email to:
On May 30, the Rome diocese had published an official edict, signed by Cardinal Ruini, announcing the opening of the cause for John Paul II. That edict described the deceased Pontiff as "a man of intense prayer, a tireless pastor of the universal Church, and a courageous witness to the Gospel of Christ." It adds that his reputation for personal holiness, already widespread during his lifetime, "exploded in a brilliant manner at the time of his death."

Still no hard drive

But I did find a pimpin' article about the Pope telling people to drive carefully.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

In the hard drive chaos, I forgot to note one of my favorite feasts

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Apparently we share a birthday.

Still not sure why I'm linking to the Greek Orthodox website on the subject, but I'm still waiting for my new hard drive, so I'm on borrowed computational time.

Apparently the jelly donut thing is a bunch of baloney

Friday, June 24, 2005

My hard drive just died.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

One up in Spain, barely

Madrid, Jun. 23 (CNA/ - After heated debate, the Spanish Senate has vetoed a bill that would make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage. Now voters are demanding the bill be completely killed in the Senate rather than being sent to the House of Representatives and that a referendum on the issue be held.

The move to veto passed by a vote of 131 to 119. The measure could go back to the House of Representatives, where the Socialist government has enough support for it pass in a vote scheduled for June 30.

The civil rights watchdog website launched a campaign to have the measure killed in the Senate before it gets sent to the House and that a referendum on the issue be held, so that "the Spanish people can address this issue that has divided our society and our representatives so much."

"To approve this law without a consensus would be a new display of unwillingness on the part of the Government to listen to different sectors and of the imposition of its policies without any dialogue with society. We demand that [President Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero withdraw this bill," said Ignacio Arsuaga, president of

"If the Senate does not veto it, the bill will return to Congress and we will continue demanding, in the name of a million and a half protestors who filled the streets of Madrid last Saturday, that the president of the government withdraw this bill," he added.

Ratzinger Fan Club QOTD

Hi Joan,
Most readers of national political editorial writers' columns do not
understand the depth of the OBSESSION of these journalists with Washington
D C politics. It's almost like an indwelling; they are so consumed by
partisan politics. When a major non-political event occurs, such as the
tsunami that took so many lives, they seem almost frustrated that politics
as usual has been temporarily interrupted.

And when an event like the Terri Schiavo tragedy occurs, they start
salivating because they have been handed red meat for their hunger to
politicize traditional moral values. Divide and conquer; an attack against

Blumenthal's whole article is an example of the Obsession sickness.
Everything is subordinate to American partisan politics, even to
portraying the Pope as a puppet of the American Republican Party! Never
mind that everything that (then) Cardinal Ratzinger wrote has been said
over and over again by the Catholic Church. It's nothing new, it has
always been, and it will always be the Truth.

That Truth is something Blumenthal wouldn't understand, because of his
political sickness. The world changes, our previous national enemies
become our allies and vice versa, the platforms of American political
parties morph into new "beliefs", black becomes white, white becomes
black, and the gray areas grow ever larger. But the Truth of the Catholic
Church remains the Truth, just as it ever was, the Truth of Jesus Christ.

You can take Blumenthal's column and see the effects of his obsession all
the way through it. Phrases such as "the right wing of the Catholic
Church", "Bush and Ratzinger" (like they are somehow equal!) "used church
doctrine to intimidate voters and taint candidates", and especially the
next quote:

"When men of God mistake their articles of devotion with political
platforms they will inevitably stand exposed in the political arena." (Oh
my! The Holy Political Arena of the all-powerful American politicos!)
Pope Benedict XVI is the messenger of the Truth of Jesus Christ. If
American politicians choose to politicize this Truth, it does not make the
Truth any less true. And the Catholic Church has marched through 2000
years carrying the banner of this unchanged Truth. America has existed
little more than 200 years, and Sidney Blumenthal is a temporary blip on
the world's radar screen, as are we all.

Get a life, Sidney. Take a trip outside the Beltway; maybe you can reset
your parameters!

Thank you God, for sending your gift of Jesus to save us, and for Pope
Benedict XVI to deliver His message so eloquently.


mary m.

Tonight is a very interesting night

For tonight starts the Nativity of John the Baptist.

I always regarded him as one of the more enigmatic figures of the Gospels. Most fascinating to me is the Baptism in the River Jordan. I can never really feel the meaning, no matter how many people try to explain it to me, it's always a little beyond my reach.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

COBOL ergo sum

Hat tip to Andrew for this gem.

And even more funny, I just bought some COBOL books.

R.I.P, Cardinal Sin

Manila, Jun. 21 ( - Cardinal Jaime Sin, the retired Archbishop of Manila who was a principal figure in the "People Power" movement that forced President Ferdinand Marcos out of power in 1986, has died at the age of 77.

Cardinal Sin, whose severe kidney ailment prevented him from attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) or the conclave that those Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), died early in the morning of June 21 at a hospital in Manila.

Born on August 31, 1928, Jaime Sin was the 14th of 16th children in an ethnic Chinese family. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the Jaro diocese in 1967. He became Archbishop of Jaro in 1972, and of Manila in 1974. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI in 1976. He retired as head of the Manila archdiocese in September 2003; that retirement was hastened by his battle with diabetes and associated kidney problems.

Cardinal Sin was one of the few Catholic prelates who has been allowed to visit China. During the 1980s he established the Lorenzo Ruiz Institute in Manila to train priests for service to the Church in China, in anticipation of the time when the Communist government there will allow their entry. For now, most of the priests trained at that Institute serve in ethnic-Chinese parishes in the Philippines.

In 1986, as opposition to the Marcos dictatorship reached critical proportions, Cardinal Sin became a focal point of that opposition, and in a climactic confrontation in February, he drew together 1 million people to form a human barricade, blocking the progress of tanks that had been sent into the capital to quash a military mutiny. The "People Power" revolt brought Corazon Aquino to power. Fifteen years later, in 2001, Cardinal Sin was again instrumental in the fall of President Joseph Estrada, who was driven from office because of political corruption.

The news of Cardinal Sin's death, although it had long been anticipated, cast a pall over the Philippines, where Catholicism is a dominant influence. Hundreds of people-- including former President Aquino-- have paid their last respects to the beloved prelate at the Manila cathedral, where his remains are lying in state. Pope Benedict XVI saluted the deceased cardinal for his "unfailing commitment to the spread of the Gospel and to the promotion of the dignity, common good, and national unity of the Philippine people."

With the death of Cardinal Sin, there are now 181 members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 115 are below the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave. Barring another death, the next prelates to drop from that list will be Cardinal Marco Cé, the former Patriarch of Venice, who will turn 80 on July 8; and Cardinal Francisco Alvarez Martinez, the former Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, whose 80th birthday is July 14.

Cathedral of St. Patrick Young Adults

Maybe I should join them? Love those ice cream socials . . .

More than personal problems?

Something to keep in mind is that this employee may have a non-verbal learning disability. This is a relatively new diagnosis but is very real. People with NLD are often extremely bright but they don't have much in the way of personal skills.

Basically, all the non-verbal communication that helps all of us get along is invisible to them. They may not know when a conversation has moved on, they don't realize how their comments affect others, personal space and sometimes personal hygiene are a mysteries to them. They are often very literal and common sayings and phrases confuse them to no end. Working in groups is one of the most stressful things that they have to live through.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

At least I don't write code like this

I hope.

More on lower life forms

Apparently some are still not quite sure about what complexity means.


On one hand, I'm fascinated by the new info on jellyfish. They always weirded me out in Bio. Not to mention on the beach.

I'm also amused by the scientist who says in one breath his entire understanding of evolution up until now has been wrong and in the next how glad he is that he's got it right now :-).

My computer is broken

So articles will be a little light tonight :-(.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Now this is embaressing

On Tuesday, June 14, 2005, you spelled "bishops" as "biships" in your
headline. Just thought I'd poke fun ;)

From the Vixen

Luther the Radical?

Apparently he questioned the necessity of the soul and various other things Calvin wouldn't think of touching. I was always under the impression that he was the calm one in all of it, but I guess the mental problems got to him.

The scary world of recursive mathematics

A little gem called Ackermann's function that grows almost bizarrely fast. Mathematics always scare me a little when you can write a number greater than the number of atoms in the universe as A(5,5).

B16 is on his way to El Salvador?

Vatican, Jun. 20 ( - President Antonio Saca Gonzalez of El Salvador met with Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) at the Vatican on June 18, and issued an invitation for the Pontiff to visit the Latin American country.

The two men met privately for about 30 minutes in the papal apartments before their formal exchange of greetings. The conversation, which was described as "very cordial" was held in Spanish.

President Saca was elected in June 2004 to lead the predominantly Catholic country, which was the site of a bloody civil war in the 1980s. Tensions between the military regime and the Catholic hierarchy in El Salvador culminated in March 1980 when Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, an outspoken champion of the "preferential option for the poor," was assassinated in his cathedral by death squads; government troops fired into the crowd at his funeral, claiming dozens of new victims.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A little IBM history

Sorry for the computer theme this weekend, I got them on the brain.

Don't mess with Southern women

An armed robber brandishing a revolver and some tough talk entered Blalock's Beauty College demanding money Tuesday afternoon.

He left crying, bleeding and under arrest, after Dianne Mitchell, her students and employees attacked the suspect, beating him into submission.

Mitchell tripped the robber as he tried to leave and cried aloud "get that sucker" as the group of about 20, nearly all women, some wielding curling irons, bludgeoned him until police arrived.

"You can tell the world don't mess with the women here," said the 53-year-old who manages the Shreveport beauty school in the 5400 block of Mansfield Road.

Torture in Iraq

Which no one seems to care about.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Everything you never wanted to know about the Windows executable format


Jews for Life on Terri

I think there's more to books than that

He seems quite enthusiastic about electronic books. I will agree that there are many benefits to the e-book format, and I too see a large market for them. However, I think that the blogger underestimates the human dimension of paper books. Books are not a way to learn things. There's something to them being things you can reach out and touch that makes them worth having. Perhaps you might say that their permanence is an important part of what makes them what they are.

Ananlogy: We could be well fed through various pills and tasteless pastes, and we might even be healthier for it, but there's still a lot to be said for eating food when you can.

The tacit dimension of tech support

It's what I try to tell people who are trying to learn how to use computers. It's a matter of not being afraid of the thing. Playing will get you the rest.

From his wife's perspective, Phil said, it looks like he knows how to do everything. But his own, subjective experience is very different. He doesn't really have detailed procedural knowledge of most tasks. He's just very good at discovering that knowledge.

"What I'm actually doing is figuring things out on the fly," Phil said. That's what all IT adepts do, all the time. We do it in such a rapid, fluid, and automatic way that we don't seem to be constantly learning or relearning. But we are, and Phil's insight prompted me to recalibrate my thinking on this matter.

At issue here are two forms of tacit knowledge, which the philosopher of science Michael Polanyi once defined as knowing more than we can tell. For example, it's quite possible someone who uses Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) Word regularly can't tell you how to turn off Smart Quotes but can still perform the task.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Anti-semetic saints?

A brilliant scholar and social activist, Leon Dehon was the founder of the priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus-- now popularly known as the Dehonians. Although he had clashed occasionally with Church authorities during his lifetime, and accusations of anti-Semitism had been lodged against him in the past, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints found, after careful investigation, that he had conducted a life of "heroic virtue," and in April 2004 a miracle attributed to his intercession was approved by Pope John Paul II.

It was only in February of this year that French Church officials discovered a document in which Dehon referred to a Jewish "thirst for gold," and said that the Jewish people "have Christ for an enemy." He went on to charge that Jews control the financial world, the press, and public education. Alarmed by these statements, the French bishops asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine Dehon's writings.

Pope Benedict reportedly decided early in June to reopen the investigation. The members of the special commission formed for that project reportedly include two French prelates-- Cardinals Paul Poupard and Roger Etchegaray-- Cardinal Georges Cottier, the theologian of the papal household, and Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A little Terri update

While most media coverage focused on the autopsy's conclusion that Terri's brain at the time of death was "severely atrophied," the report also concluded that she was not terminally ill, that she had a strong heart, and that the cause of death was dehydration.

Terri's family issued a statement on Thursday regarding the report: "Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes. The moral shame of what happened is not erased because of Terri's level of disability. No one would say that 'blind people' or 'brain-injured' people should be put to death. That would be an irresponsible and heartless position to take. Tragically, that is what happened to Terri. As a society, it seems that we have lost our compassion for the disabled."

The family also pointed out that the medical examiner ruled out bulimia and heart attack as causes for Terri's condition and called on Michael Schiavo to return funds that were paid out as part of a malpractice suit against her doctors which had claimed that bulimia was the cause.

Many of the pro-lifers who lobbied on behalf of Terri against those who wanted to allow her to be dehydrated and starved to death said the autopsy was ultimately irrelevant. "The results of Terri Schiavo's autopsy provide some answers concerning her physical condition," said American Life League president Judie Brown, "but in no way do these findings justify the cruel death by dehydration that was imposed on a living human being."

Austin Ruse, president of the Culture of Life Foundation, said, "Terri was severely brain-damaged. All she needed to continue living was food and water. Some, including those she trusted, concluded that these basic life-sustaining necessities should be taken from her.

"We should remember that it took Terri two long weeks to die of thirst. We would not do this to a dog. We owed our sister more than this. We owed Terri much than this. In Terri's case, we abdicated our moral responsibility."


"Do small things with great love. It's not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing; and it is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving. To God, nothing is small; the moment we have given it to God, it becomes infinite."

"Stay where you are--find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, the lonely, right there where you are--in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and schools."

"You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by the society--completely forgotten, completely left alone. That is the greatest poverty of the rich countries."

---Mother Teresa

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Public Service Announcement

Dear Prolife Coordinators and Friends,

We need your help again. We have received word that it is highly likely the New York State Senate will vote on an emergency contraception bill before their summer session break begins on June 23rd:

Legislative Bill S.3661

which has already passed the Assembly, would authorize pharmacists and nurses to dispense emergency contraceptive drugs without a physician’s patient-specific prescription. Together with the New York State Catholic Conference we strongly oppose this legislation because of the potential health risks to women, girls and the human embryos they may be carrying when they take the medication.

Please contact your Senator via the web-link (provides phone #'s and emails) or the "Senator List" (e-mails only)attached. Talking points prepared by the NYSCatholic Conference are also attached. May God speed you.

Note: In recent weeks there has been a tremendous lobby effort put forth by the National Abortion Rights Action League's New York Chapter as well Planned Parenthood. However, we've been informed that even 30 phone calls (which are most effective) or emails to an individual Senator at this time could make a huge difference. I especially encourage all those in Senator Spano's district (Yonkers) to flood his office with phone calls (he is the author of the bill, itself).

Please forward to all you know. Thank you!

In Christ's Love,
Sr. Marie Regina, SV
Respect Life Coordinator
Archdiocese of New York
Family Life + Respect Life Office
(212) 371-1000 x3192
Monday-Thursday 9 -4

The Difference Engine

World's first modernish computer. Never built, but brilliant.

Our good friend Andrew has a webpage

Surely CCM will have to link to this one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

So what were they up to in Sodom?

Although you don't bring out the point explicitly, I gather that what you are dealing with here is a common argument from homosexual apologists who wish to discount the Sodom narrative as an example of the biblical rejection of homosexuality. The strategy employed is to take passages like this one and use it to argue that the sin of Sodom was some kind of callous inhospitality rather than homosexuality (and homosexual rape in particular).

That argument is total nonsense.

The Schavio Autopsy, curtesy of OO

Cool mainframe site!

World's smallest computer . . .

PETA . . . or not.

Something seems very wrong about this article, and it isn't PETA. But I can't place my finger on it.

Koran abuse?

Why aren't millions of Muslims rioting in response to these defilements? Because the perpetrators were prisoners, not guards. As John Hinderaker notes on, the most serious desecrations of the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were committed by the Muslim inmates themselves.

You'd never know this from the news coverage, which pounced on Hood's finding of five confirmed incidents of Koran abuse as proof that Newsweek was on to something with its phony-baloney report about guards flushing a Koran down the toilet.

Far from confirming accusations of American depravity, what the report actually shows is that Guantanamo is the first gulag in history run on the principle that no sensibility of the inmates should be offended, no matter how inadvertently.

All inmates are furnished a Koran at U.S. government expense. Since they're imprisoned because they are suspected of being violent religious extremists, some might object that this adds fuel to the fire. But that's not the view of the "Stalinists" who run the Defense Department. For some nefarious reason, they have issued guidelines that call for the utmost respect for the sacred scripture of their enemies.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Biships interfering in the political process in Italy


Jun. 13 ( - Nearly 3 out of 4 eligible Italian voters declined to participate in a nationwide referendum on June 12 and 13, according to early unofficial results. Because of the low voter turnout, the referendum results will not be legally binding, and the Italian bishops appear to have scored a significant political victory.

The referendum was the result of a campaign to overturn restrictive aspects of Italy's "Law #40," which was passed in 2004 to regulate the practice of in vitro fertilization. The Italian bishops-- with the support of Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news)-- had encouraged Catholic voters to abstain from the vote.

The bishops argued that Law #40 is seriously flawed, allowing practices which the Church regards as gravely wrong. However, the referendum questions would have abolished restrictions on the practice, allowing still more abuses. Since the Italian constitution requires 50 percent of all registered voters to cast ballots in order to make a referendum valid, the bishops reasoned that by their abstentions, Italian Catholics could ensure the failure of the referendum campaign without giving their support to the existing law.

The Italian constitution allows a referendum for the full or partial repeal of new legislation, if opponents of the law can collect the signatures of 500,000 voters on a petition. After the parliamentary approval of Law #40 last year, opponents amassed 4 million signatures on a repeal petition. And on January 13, the country's constitutional court called for the national vote.

But late in the afternoon of June 13, as the two-day voting process came to an end, unofficial returns from the Italian interior ministry showed that 25.9 percent of the eligible voters had cast ballots.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar for the Rome diocese and president of the Italian bishops' conference, had led the campaign for a boycott of the referendum. In a May 7 address, as the Italian bishops opened a meeting, he made it clear that he hoped all Italian Catholics would abstain from the vote. Cardinals Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan and Angelo Scola of Venice made similar appeals to voters, as did the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Elio Sgreccia. Pope Benedict indicated his support for the strategy during a May 30 talk to the Italian bishops. The results of the June 12-13 referendum differ markedly from those of previous national votes in which the Italian Catholic hierarchy and the Holy See were involved. In May 1974, the Italian hierarchy and Pope Paul VI supported a referendum effort to overturn a new law allowing divorce, but 59 percent of the Italian voters chose to keep the law on the books. In May 1981, a similar move to overturn a law allowing abortion was defeated, with 68 percent of the voters choosing to support legal abortion despite the energetic efforts of Pope John Paul II (bio - news).

BTW It's Shavuot



June 14, 2005



Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

Our booklet "Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth" was published originally for
use at the 1993 World Youth Day, which was held in Denver. There we
reached hundreds of thousands of young Catholics with our overview and
defense of the Catholic faith.

Why did we show up? Because we expected that anti-Catholic proselytizers
would be in town, trying to woo the young Catholics away from the faith of
their upbringing. We were right. The anti-Catholics were everywhere.

I vividly remember Fundamentalists who stood on the median at a major
intersection. They passed out literature right and left. Some of their
tracts were cleverly composed.

The cover of one showed an image of the Virgin Mary. Looking at it, you
would think the tract promoted Marian doctrines and devotion. Quite the
opposite. The text inside argued that Catholic beliefs and practices
concerning Mary were all wrong.

Then there was a subset of the Seventh-Day Adventists. Its representatives
staked out a good location and handed out their book "National Sunday
Law." Its argument is that the early Christians went wrong when they
changed corporate worship from Saturday to Sunday. The villain in the
story was the Catholic Church. The hero (heroine, actually) was Ellen
Gould White, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination.

Until she came along, everyone had been worshiping on the wrong day of the
week, and all those faiths that promoted Sunday worship--with the Catholic
Church chief among them--were displeasing to God. If you wanted to be a
real Christian, you had to say good-bye to the Church headed by that
fellow from Poland.

Originally World Youth Day was to be held yearly, one year with an
international gathering, such as at Denver, and the next with diocesan
gatherings, always including one in Rome itself. The schedule has not
alternated cleanly, as you can see by looking at the listing of World
Youth Days at

Catholic Answers staff members have attended each of the international
World Youth Days since 1993. This year's event will be held in Cologne.
The last international meeting was in 2002 in Toronto, and in the jubilee
year of 2000 the event was in Rome.

Each time we have reached hundreds of thousands of young people with
"Pillar" and with other materials, teaching them the rudiments of the
faith while instilling in them a sense of gratitude for being Catholic and
a sense of wariness concerning the anti-Catholic literature they were
bound to be handed.


Measuring the long-term effect of World Youth Day is not easy. In many
ways it is more an affective than an intellective event. There is plenty
of catechesis going on--you can check the daily schedule at the Vatican
web site to see what I mean--but also much by way of cultural and social

World Youth Day should not be faulted for not being what it never was
intended to be. It is not a pilgrimage in the sense of Catholics walking
from one spot to another, praying the rosary along the way. There is
something of that to it, but chiefly there are lectures and study sessions
and, as I said, cultural and social activities, not to mention the
appearance of the Pope.

Everything takes place within a circumscribed area. You might have to go a
few blocks or even a few miles to reach the next venue, such as the papal
Mass, but it is not as though you were hiking across Spain on your way to

Traditional pilgrimages attract, almost exclusively, the already-devout.
World Youth Day attracts the devout but also the potentially-devout.

Over the years we have received countless notes from attendees telling us
how much they profited spiritually from World Youth Day and how much
"Pillar" and our other materials helped them. Many young Catholics said
they actually liked seeing anti-Catholics on the streets because they got
a chance to brush up on their debating skills!


But let's be frank: If you walk the crowds at World Youth Day, you will
find mixed motives. The large majority of the young Catholics--most of
them are teenagers; few of them are over 25--go because they love their
faith, want to learn more, or want to see the Pope.

Those are all fine motives, some better than others. But you can't help
suspecting that not a few young people go because they just want to be
with others their age in a gigantic crowd. Religious concerns are
secondary to them.

That is something that happens when you have a mass event that is open to
anyone, Catholic and non-Catholic, fervent and lukewarm, spiritual and

If you want to find something to complain about at World Youth Day, you
can. If you want to find something disedifying, you can. If you want to
see young Catholics who can't tell you the difference between a dogma and
a dog, you can.

In theory I do not object to people complaining about World Youth Day. I
have my own doubts about the long-term utility of such a large-scale

Do the man-hours put into arranging the event pay a sufficient dividend?
Would it be better to host a much smaller but more spiritually intense
gathering? Does World Youth Day put too much emphasis on rah-rahing and
not enough on forming the mind?

Those are legitimate concerns, and it would not be out of bounds for a
Catholic to argue that, on the whole, World Youth Day has not been worth
the trouble. There is nothing improper in doing a cost-benefit analysis
and concluding that the costs outweigh the benefits.


But if complaints are to be levied, they should be reasonable. There are
not many reasonable complaints in a long anti-World Youth Day article in
the current issue of "Catholic Family News," a Traditionalist monthly.

I do not have the time or the interest to counter each weakness in Marian
T. Horvat's article. Let me look at just one, selected because it is
representative of her approach.

She dislikes boys and girls consorting with one another at World Youth
Day. She says, "It was always against Catholic morals for youth of mixed
sexes to travel together like one big family for camping trips or
overnight retreats." Is that so?

When I was in the sixth grade our class spent a few days at a mountain
campground run by the school district. We rode up together in the buses,
boys and girls. At Camp O-Ongo we stayed in separate cabins, but the daily
activities were undertaken in common. We even roasted hot dogs at the same
campfires. There was a problem with this?

You may recall that several times I have led readers of this E-Letter on
summertime hikes in the Sierra. Each time we have had backpackers ranging
from retirement age down to barely-out-of-high-school age. Many were
unmarried, and at wilderness campsites we pitched tents a few yards apart.
There was a problem with this?

If there was nothing amiss with my hiking companions sleeping within
snoring distance of one another, why must some people jump to the
conclusion that there was something amiss with young Catholics being
housed in a tent city?


Horvat writes, "What happened in some of those tents can be left to the
imagination of the reader." I suppose it depends on whose imagination. The
tent cities are crowded, and it is hardly possible to do something without
everyone around you knowing about it. If your stomach rumbles, the kids in
the neighboring tents will hear it.

Could it be that, as Horvat fears, you-know-what occurred in some of those
tents? With sometimes half a million teenagers and young adults present,
the likelihood is that it did, somewhere--but how common would it have
been, and would its occurrence be enough to damn the whole of World Youth

I am asking for a sense of proportion here. Horvat lists many complaints
against World Youth Day, but her argument concerning the proximity of
males and females is phrased in such a way that she seems to think it
sufficient, on its own, to demonstrate that the event should be scrapped.
I disagree.

Maybe she never saw Frank Capra's 1934 movie "It Happened One Night,"
starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. This "screwball comedy" at one
point had the two unmarried protagonists sharing, out of necessity, a
dumpy motel room, with privacy afforded by a divider that Gable fashioned
from a rope and blanket.

In an era of strict moral regulations, the movie was not given a
thumbs-down by the Catholic-run Legion of Decency. Perhaps Horvat can
learn from this.

Until next time,


Monday, June 13, 2005

Speaking of Byte Sex

Apple moves to the biggest of the little-endians, Intel. A most interesting move, considering as the Power5 is probably the hottest microprocessor on the market at the moment . . .

A bunch of NGOs seem to like sex trafficking too

EU Update

Apparently freedom of religion is an instigator of homophobia and discrimination. Logically, I suppose, it should be crushed.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What's your byte-sex?

Microprocessors have data registers. These are analogous to little scratch-pads on your desktop. When the computer needs to do some manipulation of data, it pulls that data out of memory and puts it into these little scratch pads. When the computer is done with that data, yet wants to save it for later use, it writes the data on the scratch pad out to memory.

Early microprocessors had 8-bit, or byte-sized, data registers. This was generally convenient, because memory is considered to be just a very huge array of bytes. However, when the first 16-bit microprocessors were designed, the size of the scratch pads, or data registers, was twice the size of a single, addressable piece of memory.

This introduced a design problem. When you read a 16-bit value from a byte-addressable data store, like memory, which byte do you load first? You have two choices. You can load the most-significant byte first (known as big-endian), or you can load the least-significant byte first (known as little-endian). The difference between big-endian and little-endian systems is often referred to as "byte-sex". It's a term I've used before, and, for those who've wondered what it means, now you know.

As luck would have it, the two most active designers of microprocessors at the time, Intel and Motorola, answered that question in opposite ways. I'm not well-versed in VLSI design, but I have little doubt that each group of chip designers had legitimate reasons for the choices they made. None of that is important here. What is important is that, way back in those days, Apple chose Motorola processors while IBM chose Intel. Thus began the great endian divide.

B16 on all forms of marriage abuse

Here I believe he is coming steadily closer to the mark. It's like in the Details article about which I blogged earlier where people seem to really believe there is something called "free love" and not to recognize the oxymoron the phrase contains. Folks, authentic marriage is where a man and a woman love and commit themselves to each so much that they are willing, in a number of ways, to give their lives for, through and to one another. Because when the kids arrive, you aren't just the high school star quarterback or the reigning beauty queen or the youngest executive to hold that position or hottest novelist on the best seller become somebody's Dad or somebody's Mom.

That's one reason the Holy Father is so right to bring this up in the context of the other marriage impostors out there, as well as in the context of abortion and contraception, because when a man and woman love each other enough to marry there can be no holding back. "I love you to and through the end of my life....the end of my life as a single person as well as the end of my life as the master of my own life and time and agenda."

B16 calls for better C-J relations

Vatican, Jun. 09 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) declared his intention to pursue friendlier dialogue between Catholics and Jews, as he met on June 9 with 25 representatives of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-Religious Consultations (IJCIC).

"My predecessors Pope Paul VI and in a particular way Pope John Paul II (bio - news) took significant steps toward improving relations with the Jewish people," the Pope said. "It is my intention to continue on this path."

While acknowledging that relations between the two faith have been been "complex and often painful" in the past, the Holy Father said that the share spiritual patrimony of Christians and Jews should be the basis for closer ties.

The Pope added that "remembrance of the past remains for both communities a moral imperative." That remembrance, he said, "must include a continued reflection on the profound historical, moral and theological questions presented by the experience of the Shoah." Speaking in English, the Pontiff remarked that this year brings the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II statement Nostra Aetate (doc), which has formed the basis for Catholic relations with Jews in the subsequent years. "At the very beginning of my pontificate," he said, I wish to assure you that the Church remains firmly committed, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to implementing this decisive teaching." In Nostra Aetate, Pope Benedict observed, the Council strongly affirmed that God's plan for salvation was first introduced to mankind to the people of Israel. The Church also condemned all forms of hatred and adverse discrimination against Jews.

Pope Benedict expressed his appreciation for the work of the IJCIC, which has engaged with the Holy See in organizing 18 different meetings between Catholic and Jewish leaders over the past 35 years. The last such meeting, held in Buenos Aires last July, was dedicated to discussion of shared efforts to promote justice and charity. The Jewish delegation that met with Pope Benedict on June 9 was led by Rabbi Israel Singer, the president of the IJCIC. Rabbi Singer introduced the 24 other members of the delegation, including Edgar Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress; Cobi Benatoff, president of the European Jewish Congress; Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, and Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome. Cardinal Walter Kasper (bio - news), the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, also took part in the event.

I think my breakfast food of choice is radioactive.

This exercise uses a banana to illustrate the level of radioactivity (in this case, from 40K) in an everyday object.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Nick Cannon comes out with a pro-life video


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Friday, June 10, 2005

Mainframe Brain Drain

How are we going to compensate as a society, I don't know. I'm going to compensate myself by learning COBOL and making mad Gs supporting mainframe apps.



Turns out that thinking that gay pride parades are a bad idea is now the same thing as genocide. And is somehow incompatible with Catholicism. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one.

Warsaw, Jun. 10 ( - Following on news of a second consecutive ban imposed by Warsaw's mayor against holding a gay pride parade, homosexual activists have asked the European parliament to intercede.

Mayor Lech Kaczynski imposed the ban this year for the second time. In response, the Warsaw Pride organizers sent out a press release stating that they have decided to oppose the ban by illegally holding the parade anyway, June 11.

"Last year's ban of the Equality Parade ... was an action aimed against the most fundamental human rights, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and most importantly by the Polish Constitution," the press release claimed. Organizers then claimed that to ban such an aberration was somehow contrary to the tenets of Roman Catholicism: "Human rights violations cannot stand in a country that is part of the European Community and values the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church."

The parade organizers went on to compare the so-called discrimination against homosexuals as akin to the Holocaust: "History has taught us that the Holocaust, pogroms, and hate crimes happen in places where some begin to consider themselves as better, more moral, or more Aryan than others."

Santo Subito

Rome, Jun. 10 ( - The cause for beatification of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) will be formally opened in Rome on June 28.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the papal vicar for the Rome diocese, made that announcement at the closing of a 3-day conference on family life and education, held at the basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday evening, June 6. (Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) had opened the same conference with a strong statement on family life.) In his talk, Cardinal Ruini also spoke about the national referendum that Italian voters will face next week, reminding Catholics of his call for them to abstain from the vote.

As he neared the end of his talk, Cardinal Ruini said: "I conclude with a bit of news which, I am sure, will give you great joy." He then proceeded to announce that on June 28, in the same Lateran basilica, the cause for beatification of the late Pope will be opened during the first Vespers service for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Holy See.

It was also in St. John Lateran that Pope Benedict announced, on May 13, that he was suspending the rule that ordinarily requires a 5-year waiting period before a cause for beatification can be opened. The Pontiff had drawn thundersous approach from the clergy of Rome, on that occasion, when he said that he had given permission to proceed with the cause immediately.

Cardinal Ruini, in his remarks on the Italian referendum, said that he was grateful to the Catholics who were planning to follow the directive from the country's bishops, for "a conscientious choice not to vote." The referendum, on proposals to amend Italy's law regulating in vitro fertilization, offers voters only the choice to embrace the current law allowing such procedures, or to eliminate restrictions on the practice. The Italian bishops have argued that by abstaining from the vote, Catholics can avoid a choice between evils, and also make it unlikely that the referendum will bring the 50-percent voter turnout that is required to make it legally binding. The referendum will be conducted on June 12 and 13.

"We didn't want this referendum," said Cardinal Ruini. "We are not trying to force consciences, but only to make ourselves clear; we are not against anyone."

"On the contrary," the cardinal continued, "we are for someone-- for unborn human life, certainly, and for the children who have the right to know their own parents, but also for the men and women of tomorrow and beyond, who must always be regarded and treated as persons, not as the product of a laboratory or object of experimentation."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Or perhaps you'd like to learn a little about Shavuot?

Incidentally, today is the 46th Day of Omer

Fear of the Lord? What's that?

Good stuff, is what.

Vatican, Jun. 08 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) spoke about "fear of the Lord" at his public audience on Wednesday, June 8.

Explaining that his "fear" should be understood as awe rather than dread, the Holy Father reminded his audience that this attitude is "the beginning of true wisdom."

Speaking to 35,000 people in a wind-swept St. Peter's Square, the Pope offered a short meditation on Psalm 110, noting how this hymn of praise includes many different words and phrases extolling the greatness of God. This psalm, he observed, opens with a prayer of thanksgiving and closes with a prayer of praise, promising that the gratitude of the believer "endures forever." In contemplation of the Almighty, the Pontiff said, the Christian does not experience "servile fear," but a "sincere and serious respect" that prompts "geninune and active adherence." Battered by the wind as he delivered his talk, the Pope broke from his text to joke that "the symbol of the Holy Spirit is among us." After his prepared remarks, he offered his greetings to several groups of pilgrims attending the audience. He welcomed a large Polish contingent, saying that he hoped they would be strengthened by the memory of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) in their "desire to give spiritual support to his successor." He offered a special welcome to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the Byzantine Catholic bishops who accompanied him.

I like Dowd's stand-in a lot more than I like her

To head into cyberspace is to leave our manners and morals at home. Some of us leave our modesty there, too, though why Paris Hilton can't seem to have sex without winding up on the Web is beyond me. She hasn't been the first to discover that secrets from cyberspace don't unspill. There's no erase button in that galaxy; they just don't teach the "Rosemary stretch" of the Nixon era anymore. (Fortunately there's also no such thing as a shamefaced lie. Shame and secrecy were a couple, after all.)

Reminds me somewhat of that piece a while back of a woman who was trying to get a photo of herself removed from a cast listing of a show in college. I'm personally in favor of the permanence of the Internet, though. I think, in a way, it encourages people to be honest at all times. Kind of like the everwatchful eye of God.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Benedict XVI is meeting a lot of Jews

The 25-member Jewish delegation will be led by Rabbi Israel Singer, president of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-Religious Consultations, a group based in New York. Also attending will be Edgard Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress; Cobi Benatoff, the president of the European Jewish Cognress; Jack Terpins, the president of the Latin-American Jewish Congress; and Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome. The meeting was organized and announced by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, which includes the Vatican's commission for relations with Judaism.

Should be an interesting day . . .

Are cigars evil?

I don't think so myself, but . . .

But I also know times have changed and what is "moral" and "immoral" is also changing. I suppose that without a solid villain to keep us focused — terrorism lacks the clarity of communism and Nazism and it's hard to rally people against an enemy when he's hiding in a cave — we're forced to demonize something. Since anti-alcohol efforts fizzled out in the 1930's, it's tobacco's turn at bat.

That is why children go into indignant rages when they catch their dad firing up an occasional stogie, because smoking is, apparently, the greatest evil of our times (except for marijuana smoking, which, ironically, some anti-tobacco folks want made legal, partly because it's something they'd do occasionally).

New York conservatism?

It just occurred to me earlier that New Yorkers must ultimately be the most conservative of all Americans. Every time anyone tries to build anything, all you have is massive protesting and pushback.

I guess it's because things are always disappearing. My favorite supermarket disappeared one day, and a restraunt that I was trying to go to left and was replaced by another one with no signs of the previous occupants almost overnight. This happens every day, day in, day out. So people try to hold on to what's in front of them.

I think it reminds people of their mortality. Which is why it scares them.

Blogging in the PRC

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today at the Chinese government's announced intention to close down all China-based websites and blogs that are not officially registered. The plan is all the more worrying as the government has also revealed that it has a new system for monitoring sites in real time and spotting those that fail to comply.

The authorities hope to push the most outspoken online sites to migrate abroad where they will become inaccessible to those inside China because of the Chinese filtering systems

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Dear Friends,

I write with joyful news. As many of you will remember, Cathy Cleaver and
I were married in September, 2003. Well, this past Saturday morning at
12:56 am our first daughter was born. Her name is Lucy Marie Ruse. She
weighed 7 lbs 12 ounces and was 21.5 inches long.

Here is what I would like for you to do. First, pray for her. And then
write her a note of welcome into this world. You can reach her at

We will save all messages and give them to her when she is older. Write
anything you like. I am sure she will enjoy all of them. I even welcome a
note from Frances Kissling. You can tell her how nuts her old man is.

I hope to read notes from all over the world and even from ships at sea.
Those serving in uniform, including priestly ones, especially welcome.

Please write to Lucy Marie Ruse at

Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse

PS And do remember her in your prayers.

A conversion story

Boston was/is a college-town and the streets had an abandoned, ghostlike quality to them as the denizens slept off whatever they'd consumed the night before. Moving toward the direction of Massachusetts General hospital, it took only ten aerobic minutes to find myself, sheepishly, standing at the entrance of an almost-empty Orthodox synagogue. Three young women stood behind the glass partition, all of them conservatively dressed, chanting to themselves from small, leather-covered prayer books. Clearly not my scene, I turned on my inverted heels and sauntered home.

A week later I was back, dressed in a sidewalk-sweeping Indian skirt, Frye boots and a surplus sweater courtesy of the U.S. Navy. Sitting a few rows behind the same three women, I tried to follow the service by reading the stilted, archaic translation. When that got too difficult, I tried humming along to the dirge-like tunes. Standing at the ensuing wine-and-cake kiddush, I experienced much of the same awkwardness that I had during the Hillel brunch. Only this time I didn't think of escaping. Oddly, just the independent action of being there felt empowering.

On why we have a pope


June 7, 2005



Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

When you hear someone push sedevacantism--the theory that the papal see is
vacant and that we do not have a validly elected pope--you immediately
think the argument is coming from the rightmost end of the Catholic

Now it is coming from the leftmost end too.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, "professor of feminist theology" at the Graduate
Theological Union in Berkeley, speculates that maybe Benedict XVI still is
just Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Maybe the Cardinal's election as pope did
not "take" because the folks in the pews (at least in the pews Ruether
frequents) have not "taken" to him.

Ruether falls back on a notion called "reception." This holds that a
doctrinal teaching is not binding unless it is "received" by the faithful.
Unless they accept it as their own, the teaching is not authoritative and
may even be untrue.

Usually this argument is applied to "Humanae Vitae" and the Church's
teaching against contraception. As is well known, most Catholic couples in
the U.S. do not live up to the Church's strictures on this matter. They
use or have used contraception in their marriages. Dissentient Catholics
such as Ruether say that this shows that the majority of American
Catholics have not "received" papal teaching regarding contraception, and
therefore they are not bound by it.

This is the application of plebiscitary democracy to the establishment of
moral truths. If most people do not "vote" in favor of a moral regulation
by following it in their own lives, then no one is under an obligation to
follow it. Ruether takes that principle and applies it now to Benedict
XVI: If most Catholics do not approve of his election as pope, then he is
not the pope--or at least he does not need to be obeyed.

In a newspaper column Ruether complains of Cardinal Ratzinger's "repeated
list of repressive decisions" when he was prefect of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith:

"This list typically includes the following items. He rejects any
possibility of rethinking the Catholic teaching against contraception and
against women's ordination. ... He suggested during the recent U.S.
election that politicians who are pro-choice could be denied Communion. He
also wishes to block public information on priestly sexual abuse. ...

"Cardinal Ratzinger is also seen as hostile to any form of interreligious
dialogue that suggests equal truth in other religions. He wants to renew a
monolithic Christian Europe. ... He insists that homosexuality is
intrinsically evil and opposes any opening to gay marriage. He is hostile
to feminism. ... and is also cited as having initiated a long string of
investigations of theologians, creating an atmosphere of fear of open

Ruether asks, "Might we have in the offing the possibility of a pope whose
papacy will not be 'received' by a substantial sector of Catholics? ...
Could this be a case where a pope who has hitched his wagon to the
right-wing side of these sexual debates might not be 'received' by the
majority of Catholics? Could many Catholics, while continuing to see
themselves as Catholics, implicitly, if not overtly, say 'No habemus
papam'; this is not our pope?"

Needless to say--but I will say it anyway--the whole notion of "reception"
as used by dissentient Catholics is bogus. Something is true whether or
not you and I "receive" it as true. Today is Tuesday, and tomorrow will be
Wednesday even if you and I want it to be Saturday instead.

The Church's teaching against contraception is either true or false. It is
not true for those Catholics who "receive" it but untrue for those
Catholics who do not. Benedict XVI either is the pope or he is a cardinal
who mistakenly thinks he is the pope. Whichever he is, it is a matter of
fact, not of "reception." He is not the pope merely because I think he is.
He is not not the pope merely because someone like Rosemary Radford
Ruether might think he is still just a cardinal.

The idea that a teaching or a papal election must be "received" is, at one
level, the intrusion of a political concept--democracy--into a place it
does not belong. That lump in your groin is either benign or malignant,
and your physicians will find out, but not by taking a vote. Democracy has
nothing to do with medical diagnoses, and it has nothing to do with
determining moral truths.

In one way one can say it has something to do with whether a man truly is
the pope: He must be elected by the cardinal electors. But that is the
extent of it. No application to the general Catholic populace needs to be
made, and even a majority disapproval would not undo the vote of the

At a certain level Ruether is engaging in what even her supporters must
recognize as an intellectual sham. She may write about "reception," and
they may nod their heads in favor of the notion, but I think they all see
through it. It is simply a convenient excuse for them to remain in
opposition to what the Church teaches and to what the Church is.

What these people have not "received" is the Catholic faith. At most they
are nominal members of the Church, keeping a link because without it they
would lose their raison d'etre. Without a nominal attachment public
figures such as Ruether would be nothing in terms of their professions and
notoriety. Her writings appear in Catholic publications only because she
is touted as a Catholic. Without that cachet, she would be columnless.

Years from now, when the history of our time is written, people will
wonder how it could happen that so many people called themselves Catholics
without believing as Catholics--without even trying to be Catholics in any
real sense. I will leave the delineation of that to sociologists and

In the meantime, maybe the rest of us should stop "receiving" the likes of
Ruether as Catholics. Maybe we no longer should grant them the courtesy of
a label they refuse to live up to.

Until next time,


A little about Senator Brownback

Apparently even Nick Kristof doesn't hate him.

Brownback Devotion To Life, Other Issues Makes Him A Standout Senator

Since coming to Congress in 1994 and the Senate in 1996, Kansas Republican Sam Brownback has distinguished himself as one of the most stalwart defenders of human life while simultaneously developing a diverse legislative portfolio that includes efforts to defend religious freedom around the globe, to stop genocide in Darfur and even to build a museum honoring African-Americans on Washington DC's Mall.

One of the causes to which Brownback has lent his leadership is a total ban on human cloning. Brownback has led the charge in the Senate for a total ban by sponsoring legislation that would make cloning illegal not only in instances when a cloned embryo is carried in a pregnancy, brought to full term and delivered but also in cases when a human embryo is created for the purposes of being destroyed for scientific research such as for embryonic stem cells.

Brownback has also threatened to filibuster a recent bill that gained passage in the House that would provide federal funding for embryo destructive research if it reaches the Senate floor. He has also led the way in cleaning up the pop-culture airwaves by sponsoring legislation that would increase the amount of money the Federal Communications Commission can fine TV and radio stations for broadcasting indecent content.

Though his principled stands on these issues as well as his good standing with Christian conservatives might lead some to stereotype as only a social conservative, Brownback has put considerable effort into developing bipartisan initiatives, a fact illustrated by his work with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu on cloning. He has even won the accolades of Nicholas Kristof, a liberal columnist with one of the left's favorite institutions, The New York Times. In a December column Kristof praised the senator for taking the lead on a number of international human rights issues including most notably his efforts to intervene on behalf of Sudenese citizens in the region of Darfur who are, according to many, experiencing genocide. "Members of the Christian right, exemplified by Brownback, are the new internationalists, increasingly engaged in humanitarian causes abroad — thus creating opportunities for common ground between left and right on issues we all care about," Krstof wrote. ". . . I’m embarrassed to say that Democrats have been so suspicious of Republicans that they haven’t contributed much on those human rights issues where the Christian right has already staked out its ground."

Brownback may have his eye beyond representing Kansas in the US Senate. In recent months, he has made has made visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, states where the first presidential primaries are held. He recently told that he is examining a presidential run but that, "No final decision has been made. . . . It’s quite a challenge and so I’m taking time and looking at it quite carefully."

Brownback may harbor high aspirations, but he is not like the usual politician. He believes that government can be a force for moral good and personally demonstrates a profound interior life of faith. At a recent address to the graduates of Christendom College makes it clear that Brownback approaches his work with humility and awareness of its limitations. "The temptation that many of us in public life face is to treat public policy issues as if they were of transcendent importance. In fact, that can become a handy excuse for treating people as means to an all-important end, as well as all sorts of other omissions of responsibility," he said. "But it is this constant interior struggle to do our work well and to fulfill our obligations with the right intention that will have the most profound effect on society. This is the re-evangelization in action: the positive influence we can have on the souls we touch each day."

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: Website:

Monday, June 06, 2005

The State ain't paying for the West Side Statium

The financial plan for a proposed West Side stadium was rejected by a key state panel today, appearing to end plans for the $2.2 billion project that had been the centerpiece of the city's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and the proposed home of the New York Jets.

Representatives for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno abstained on the issue at a meeting of the state Public Authorities Control Board this afternoon; the abstentions were tantamount to a no vote because the financing plan required unanimous approval.

Before the vote, Mr. Silver said he opposed the stadium out of concern that new retail and office development planned for the area around the stadium would have hampered redevelopment at the World Trade Center site, which sits a few miles to the south and is part of Mr. Silver's district. He also said that rebuilding at the trade center site had been delayed for far too long, calling it a "moral" issue while dismissing the stadium plan as simple "ambition."

"Am I supposed to sell out the community I have fought for and represented for more than a quarter of a century?" Mr. Silver said during a news conference in his Albany office before the vote. "Am I supposed to turn my back on Lower Manhattan as it struggles for recovery? For what? The stadium? For the hope of bringing the Olympics to New York City?

"And to those who say, 'What about the jobs?' let me point out that the mayor and the governor have had almost four years to establish a construction schedule for Lower Manhattan. If they would simply honor the commitments they made in the aftermath of the attacks, they would make rebuilding Lower Manhattan the top priority that it ought to be."

What happened to CBS FM, by the way?

Friday, I was listening to golden oldies. Today . . . as one person put it, it's like a bad iPod Shuffle.

Why they thought that alienating all of their listeners would be a good idea is somewhat beyond me. Apparently they made the decision to appeal to the youth. Well. I, for one, do not like their new format. I guess the youth, to them, listen to mediocre music without any DJs involved.

God's on the Internet!

Rome, Jun. 06 ( - God can be found even on the internet, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications remarked in a June 6 talk to a European internet conference.

Archbishop John Foley, speaking to Catholic web-site operators in Rome, said that among the millions of people who use the internet every day, some may find new spiritual resources, and support for their interior lives. The American prelate said that Catholics should take advantage of "new opportunities for new means of informing, educating, praying, and evangelizing." He added that Catholics should also seek to make the internet a resource that can be used to promote the common good, protect peace, and encourage respect for human dignity and solidarity.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Crossroads Walk Across America

I think it's a good cause. They were featured on Life on the Rock this week as they started their journeys from Seattle, LA, and SF to promote the culture of life. They're probably coming to a city near you on their way to DC. Check them out.

The history of VM

Feeding my strange mainframe obsession. Fair warning, it's a PDF.

No Toads

Because abstinence is the only prenup you'll ever need.

What nice people

Washington, DC ( -- Backers of embryonic stem cell research in the Senate say they have enough votes to override a veto by President Bush of legislation that would spend taxpayer funds on the unproven research that involves destroying human life.

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter points to the 58 members of the Senate who previously signed a letter to the president urging him to revise his stem cell research policies, which favor the use of adult stem cells.

Specter said supporters of the embryonic stem cell research bill should be able to find the 67 votes needed to override a veto, and maybe more.

"And there are 20 more in the wings who didn't want to put their names on the letter, who I think would vote to override a veto," Specter said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

While enough votes to override a veto may materialize in the Senate, the House approved the funding measure and is 50 votes away from reaching the number needed there. Even Delaware Republican Michael Castle acknowledge there was no way to override a veto in the House.

"The concept of that many people changing their minds is not realistic," Castle admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

With that in mind, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a possible 2008 presidential contender, told ABC's "This Week" the Senate should instead move forward on approving a bill passed almost unanimously in the House.

That measure would provide funds for collecting adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

"I've been taught a lot of lessons from the Democrats lately, so I've got some ideas on how one can get this done," Brownback said. "And I think it's important that we move forward."

Need to check if a charity is legit?

It is, after all, that time of year again.


Yes. . .

Saturday, June 04, 2005

So You Say You Miss the Latin Mass

A listing of parishes that say mass Old Skool. So the site is a little SSPX... at least it gives the phone numbers of all these places. They even have listings outside the US.

You can run cheap vodka through a Brita to make it better

So cool! I wonder how OO would feel about this one.

The Six Movements of the Eucharist

Good short spiritual read about the Mass.


New Bible Shows Christ as a Woman, God as Female

Koran khaos?

Why this abjectness on our part? On the very day the braying mob in Pakistan demonstrated over the false Koran report in Newsweek, a suicide bomber blew up an Islamic shrine in Islamabad, destroying not just innocent men, women and children, but undoubtedly many Korans as well. Not a word of condemnation. No demonstrations.

Even greater hypocrisy is to be found here at home. Civil libertarians, who have been dogged in making sure that FBI-collected Guantanamo allegations are released to the world, seem exquisitely sensitive to mistreatment of the Koran. A rather selective scrupulousness. When an American puts a crucifix in a jar of urine and places it in a museum, civil libertarians rise immediately to defend it as free speech. And when someone makes a painting of the Virgin Mary, smears it with elephant dung and adorns it with porn, not only is that free speech, it is art — deserving of taxpayer funding and an ACLU brief supporting the Brooklyn Museum when the mayor freezes its taxpayer subsidy.

Does the Koran deserve special respect? Of course it does. As do the Bibles destroyed by the religious police in Saudi Arabia and the Torahs blown up in various synagogues from Tunisia to Turkey.

Best error message ever

Yesterday I'd mentioned X.400 OM error codes. Originally, the primary message transport for Exchange was an x.400 transport (this changed with Exchange 2000). At one point, one of the Exchange MTA developers told me about his favorite x.400 error code:


Yup, x.400 apparently defined a non delivery status code that indicates that the person who was supposed to receive the email message was no longer alive.

Given that x.400 was developed by the post office (PTT), this error code actually makes sense - the PTT had non delivery codes for physical mail that indicated that the recipient of a physical mail message was deceased, so they simply translated their physical mail error codes into electronic mail.

Unfortunately, I can't come up with an independant confirmation of this (except my recollection of the conversation), so I can't cite a reference.

Edit: This just gets better. One of the MTA testers just sent me a private email indicating that Exchange had re-used that particular error code value as the error code mapping for an access denied error on public folders. One of the gateways for Exchange did a simple minded error code->text mapping and we got a bug from one of our testers saying "I just got this NDR when I sent mail to a public folder: "Mail could not be delivered. Recipient is dead." ".

Friday, June 03, 2005


If you want the prayer kneeler, go to

If you want to know what that is, go to

Gideon Bibles at Risk in UK

Hospital bosses may remove Bibles from the bedsides of patients amid concerns over offending non-Christians and spreading the superbug, MRSA.

Best Rosary store ever!

It even has a make your own rosary section! Good times.

Everything you wanted to know about the ancient days of Microsoft

My favorite article is how they made programs that take no memory. Good times.

I doubt it'll work . . .

Sydney, Jun. 02 ( - Cardinal George Pell George Cardinal Pell of Sydney has asked Catholic schools to remind their students about the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

Speaking to Australian parochial-school administrators, the cardinal said that the schools should "prepare children for this world and the next," the Catholic Weekly reported. He questioned how often children who attend parochial schools are reminded that "if you are a follower of Christ then there is an obligation to worship regularly."

Cardinal Pell gave his full support to the Catholic school system, and expressed misgivings that some Catholic families are unable to send their children to the parochial schools. "We should all work to maintain the tribe," he said. "I am a great believer in tribalism."

Can sins be mental?


The reader continues:

There were two examples given on the show that I wouldn't mind getting your take on. The first example is adultery. If X entertains impure thoughts about Y's wife, is it equivalent (i.e. just as bad) to committing adultery? Does it make a difference if X knows he would never do it for real even if the opportunity came up even with no repercussions?

Yes, it does make a difference. How badly one has sinned in a particular case is determined by the degree to which one is willing to offend against God and, by extension, his creatures. If one is willing to go all the way and commit adultery outwardly, with all the implications that has for harming the woman, her husband, whatever family she may have, your own spouse (if you are married), your own family (if you have one), the abuse of the conjugal faculty that God designed into your own nature, etc., then that is clearly worse than if you just deliberately fantasize about it.

In the former case, you are willing to cause all kinds of objective damage that is not there if you aren't willing to commit adultery outwardly. It's bad enough if you only are being unfaithful in your heart--you're still doing damage--but it ain't anywhere near as bad as if you are willing to go all the way and do the act externally.

In the one case your will is configured such that it is willing to offend against God and his creatures in a vastly more destructive way than in the former, and as a result committing an act of adultery outwardly is much, much worse than simply willfully fantasizing about an act of adultery. In the latter case you're willing to offend God up to a point, but you're not willing to offend him to the much greater degree involved in outwardly committing the act.

The second example is more extreme. The host said that he often finds himself having thoughts of shooting drivers who drive slowly in the passing lane. Now, I doubt he would ever do that even if he could completely get away with it so in that case would the sin be equivalent to murder? Or would it just be a sin of anger?

First, the emotion of anger is not a sin. One can have this emotion without sinning. It is what one does with one's will based on the anger (e.g., deliberately nursing the anger by fantasizing about killing someone) that is a sin.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Zita and the Language of Love

Because Hatke is an awesome cartoonist. And because he knows the awesomeness of names that start with the letter Z(ed).

when a pennydreadful is too theologically outré even for Anglicans, you really know it's crap

Well said. Take that, Dan Brown.

Sowell on why housing is expensive

As usual, he's pretty dead on. He doens't however get into the creation of black markets that usually accompanies rationing, which helps to explain the New York market, but still good stuff.

Quote of the Day

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 12-13
All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under
heaven... And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice,
and to do well in this life. For every man that eateth and drinketh, and
seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Second no in Europe

Interesting. Very interesting.

Death and Suffering

The Joseph Ratzinger of 1977 wrote a small volume entitled Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (Catholic Univ. of America Press), as part of a series in dogmatic theology co-authored with his confessor Johann Auer. The pocket-size book aims at giving an overview of the issues of death, immortality, resurrection, judgment, heaven, hell, and purgatory--in other words, the "last things" of eschatology.

In an eloquent series of passages, the future Pope focuses on the Christian response to pain, suffering, and death. Like John Paul the Great, Ratzinger effectively portrays the drama of the human challenge posed by the inevitable encounter with these realities.

In suffering, "man is forced to face the fact that existence is not at his disposal, nor is his life his own property" (p. 96). Man can respond either in anger to this reality or choose the Christian approach in which:

Man can respond by seeking to trust this strange power to whom he is subject. He can allow himself to be led, unafraid, by the hand, without Angst-ridden concern for his situation. And in this second case [or response], the human attitude towards pain, towards the presence of death within living, merges with the attitude we call love.

Oh the AP

ROME - In a May 26 story about Pope Benedict XVI's visit to a Rome basilica, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Catholics believe the Eucharist represents the body and blood of Christ. Instead, Catholics believe the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ.

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