Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cardinal Wm Levada takes on the NY Times hit piece on Pope, and more...

The unobjective and shoddy manner of journalism by so-called professional sources, has been too much to take.  I have not ceased subsriptions to newspapers and magazines because of the web.  I enjoy having a piece of paper in my hand.  There are places you just can't take a lap top (or shouldn't).  I don't know how else to say it, but many newspapers these days are better used as toilet paper and the NY Times is one of them.

There have been a number of hit pieces in the NY Times against the Holy Father which are seriously lacking in credibility.  A number of bishops and journalists have risen to the Pope's defense.  I've even seen a surprising number of people from the most unexpected places take on the NY Times piece.  I'll provide some links at the bottom for further reading on this subject. 

However, given that Cardinal Levada has taken the time to speak out on the NY Times shoddy journalism and editorial work, please take the time to read what he says in full.

In his introduction to the piece, Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo writes:

Over these last days, you've seen many responses by top clerics regarding Pope Benedict's actions as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, all criticizing the reporting of the record as produced by the New York Times.

Until now, though, you've seen nothing like this.

In the biggest underscore yet of the significance and seriousness which the Vatican has taken the 25 March Times piece laying out the Murphy Case, Catholic San Francisco features a rare intervention: an extensive commentary on the situation from the pontiff's successor at the CDF -- the city's former archbishop, now Cardinal William Levada
.Here is the beginning of Cardinal Levada's article.  He's just getting warmed up in these first two paragraphs:

By Cardinal William J. Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In our melting pot of peoples, languages and backgrounds, Americans are not noted as examples of “high” culture. But we can take pride as a rule in our passion for fairness. In the Vatican where I currently work, my colleagues – whether fellow cardinals at meetings or officials in my office – come from many different countries, continents and cultures. As I write this response today (March 26, 2010) I have had to admit to them that I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.

I say this because today’s Times presents both a lengthy article by Laurie Goodstein, a senior columnist, headlined “Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest,” and an accompanying editorial entitled “The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal,” in which the editors call the Goodstein article a disturbing report (emphasis in original) as a basis for their own charges against the Pope. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.....
You can finish reading it in three places where it is in full, including the Vatican's website where it is now posted.  I recommend the first because Rocco offers many useful links for background.

Related commentaries in recent days: 

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hebrews 12:1-13

From the letter to the Hebrews


Let us go forth to the struggle with Christ as our leader

Since we are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in
running the race which lies ahead; let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,
who inspires and perfects our faith. For the sake of the joy which
lay before him he endured the cross, heedless of its shame. He has
taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Remember how he
endured the opposition of sinners; hence do not grow despondent
or abandon the struggle. In your fight against sin you have not
yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. Moreover, you have
forgotten the encouraging words addressed to you as sons:

“My sons, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
nor lose heart when he reproves you;
For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he receives.”

Endure your trials as the discipline of God, who deals with you as
sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If
you do not know the discipline of sons, you are not sons but bastards.

If we respected our earthly fathers who corrected us, should we
not all the more submit to the Father of spirits, and live? They
disciplined us as seemed right to them, to prepare us for the short
span of mortal life; but God does so for our true profit, that we may
share his holiness.

At the time it is administered, all discipline seems a cause for grief
and not for joy, but later it brings forth the fruit of peace and justice
to those who are trained in its school. So strengthen your drooping
hands and your weak knees. Make straight the paths you walk on,
that your halting limbs may not be dislocated but healed.

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Abp Timothy Dolan talks about attacks on Pope Benedict XVI; additional resources

From Zenit:

Says Benedict XVI Is Leader in Purification, Reform and Renewal

NEW YORK, MARCH 29, 2010 ( Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York brought hearty approval from a standing-room-only crowd at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Palm Sunday when he defended Benedict XVI against "unrelenting insinuations" in the scandals of sexual abuse.

The archbishop asked the congregation for a couple of minutes of patience at the end of the lengthy Mass, and then said the "somberness of Holy Week is intensified for Catholics this year" by a "tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin."

"What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate the man who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification, reform, and renewal that the Church so needs," Archbishop Dolan stated.

The 60-year-old prelate suggested that Sunday Mass is "hardly the place to document the inaccuracy, bias, and hyperbole of such aspersions," but it is "the time for Catholics to pray for Benedict our Pope."

According to the Associated Press report of the archbishop's words, the congregation responded with 20 seconds of applause.

Archbishop Dolan suggested that Benedict XVI is suffering "some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus."

“No one has been more vigorous in cleansing the Church of the effects of this sickening sin than the man we now call Pope Benedict XVI," he affirmed, asserting that the "dramatic progress" made by the Church in the United States "could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo."

He continued: "Does the Church and her pastor, Pope Benedict XVI, need intense scrutiny and just criticism for tragic horrors long past?

“Yes! He himself has asked for it, encouraging complete honesty, at the same time expressing contrition, and urging a thorough cleansing.

“All we ask is that it be fair, and that the Catholic Church not be singled-out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency, and family in the world. [...]

“The Eucharist is the Sunday meal of the spiritual family we call the Church. At Sunday dinner we share both joys and sorrows. The father of our family, 'il papa,' needs our love, support, and prayers.”

Also, noteworthy is Vatican Radio's use of John Allen's defense of Pope Benedict XVI.  John Allen is the oddball out at the dissident rag, National Catholic Reporter.  Allen knows his faith well and shows it in his writings.  This is an excellent read:

See also:

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Monday, March 29, 2010

17 of 20 members of new Medjugorje commission known (unofficial)

This post may be updated, so please check back.  I have edited in a few more links since posting it earlier.

Several Croatian and BiH sources, such as Vecernji List and  Sarajevo-X [google translate versions] are reporting that 17 of the 20 members of the new Medjugorje commission are known.  I have provided as much information as I could understand and was able to find a little more.  I did the best I could to find their country of origin, and other info.  Please send corrections and I will get to them when I am home later or at lunch time.
If anyone has more information on specific people listed, especially those who are not in the Catholic hierarchy, please drop a note in the combox or email me at  I am specifically interested in links to pages which would contain things like a curriculum vitae, or other hard data. 

An interesting note on Fr. Jaeger:
Rev. Fr. David-Maria Jaeger, O.F.M., J.C.D., is a former pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas and served on the Tribunal for the Diocese of Austin. He is currently a member of the faculty at the Pontifical Athenaeum "Antonianum" in Rome and is a member of the Delegation of the Holy See on the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Born of Jewish parents in Tel Aviv, Israel, Fr. Jaeger is the only native-born Israeli ("Sabra") ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the world.

Please Pray!

Please pray for the commission members and the CDF which will make decisions based on their findings.  Please pray also that people on all sides receive any decision out of the CDF with humility.  It is not important who is right and who is wrong.  What is important is truth in charity.

*4-15-2010: On Abp Amato - Updated link to read that Abp Amato signed the letter authorizing Bishop Peric to make public those sanctions in 2008.  Added in link about Tuscan Bishop's memo several days ago.
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Archbishop Petar Rajic takes on two more: Yemen and United Arab Emirates

You might recall back a couple of months ago a profile I did on a priest with an interesting vocational path who was consecrated as Archbishop in Mostar soon after being appointed apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.  Now comes this from Zenit:
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2010 ( Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Petar Rajic, who is currently apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, to also be the Pope's representative to Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

The appointment was announced Saturday by the Holy See.

Archbishop Rajic, 50, was born in Toronto, Canada. He was ordained a priest in 1987 for the diocese of Trebinje e Mrkan, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Hosanna Filio David!" (Palm Sunday in the Extraordinary Form in Photos)

Palm Sunday 2009 in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at Assumption Grotto in Detroit.

Mass at 9:30am will be in the Extraordinary Form at Assumption Grotto - a Solemn High Mass, with chant and sacred polyphony.

For several years now, I have been wanting to take a break from photographing some of the liturgical events at Assumption Grotto in order to more fully participate in them.  Having captured several years worth of Holy Week photos, including two years of it in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (aka usus antiquior), I will not be taking photographs this coming week.  I also happen to have a very full plate at the moment and the time spent editing and uploading photos, especially for Holy Week, can take days. 

I captured Palm Sunday well last year, including details like the changing of the antependium, which covers the front of the altar, from red to violet.  The vestments are also changed from red to violet, as you will note. 

The Mass is preceded by the blessing of palms, and a procession takes place around the Church.  You will notice in some of the photos, that during distribution of palms, the celebrant, deacon and subdeacon remain in the sanctuary as ushers come up to get them.  When they do this, they kiss the hand of the celebrant in what is called a litiurgical kiss or the solita oscula.  In the slideshow below,  you will also see the deacon of the Mass kiss the hand of the celebrant, and the object (and sequence depends on whether one is receiving or giving).  I explain the solita oscula in this post in greater detail.

From Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday, the Gloria Patri with the Judica me Deus (Psalm 42) is omitted.  In his book, The Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass Dogmatically, Liturgically And Ascetically Explained by Nicholas Gihr, he explains:

The reason for it's omission is justly founded on the contents of the Psalm, and on the character of the Masses. For this Psalm seeks to banish sorrow and sadness from teh soul (quare tristis es, anima mea, et quare conturbas me?), to awaken a joyful mood in him who prays; therefore, it is proper to omit the Psalm at a time when the heart should be penetrated with profound sorrow, painful sadness and intense compassion, as is suppose to the Masses of Passiontide
With these explanations, you can watch through the slide show (it is defaulted to medium speed and I would recommend setting it to fast as there are many).  You can view pictures individually at the gallery for Palm Sunday 2009.


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Friday, March 26, 2010

Phil Lawler on the New York Times hit piece on the Vatican

Interesting read.

The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you

Here is a full statement given to the New York Times by the Holy See

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Canonist Ed Peters: One canon 915 case at a time: Nancy Pelosi

Ed Peters, J.D, J.C.D, in his great blog, In Light of the Law, offers some thoughts about the application of Canon 915 with regards to those who "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin". 

One canon 915 case at a time: Nancy Pelosi
Some who believe that Canon 915 is meant to be enforced might yet harbor reservations about actually barring from Communion this pro-abortion Catholic politician or that one, for fear of igniting endless debates about why one does not also bar that pro-abortion Catholic politician or this one. The prospect of being criticized for "imperfectly" applying the law might cause some prelates otherwise inclined to invoke the law to hesitate doing so.

I understand their concern, and have argued elsewhere that enforcement of Canon 915 is not as simple as some seem to believe. But, lest the perfect become the enemy of the good, I am convinced that one has to start what one might call the 'national application'* of Canon 915 somewhere, and that the best case to start with is that of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Continue reading the rest of his insightful post, including the footnotes (and a link to a French version): One canon 915 case at a time: Nancy Pelosi
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25: Feast of the Annunciation

"The Annunciation" by Peter Paul Rubens (c 1609/1610)

Luke 1:46-55
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sacred Heart Seminarians in fundraising drama: 12 Angry Men

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Why not support this....

I hi-jacked this from the Facebook Page for the event:

It's been over twenty years since the seminarians at Sacred Heart have put on an annual play! Well, those years of absence are now over...

Sacred Heart Major Seminary proudly presents...

Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men


Friday, March 26th @ 7:30 PM

Saturday, March 27th @ 7:30 PM

Director: Brian Meldrum (Detroit, Pre-Theology I)

Assistant Director: Matthew Hood (Detroit, College I)

With actors from both the Theologians and Collegians from the various dioceses studying here in Detroit!


Judge: Brad Sjoquist (Pre-Theology I, Marquette)

Guard: Chris Beran (Pre-Theology I, Detroit)

Foreman: Jonathan Sherman (College I, Detroit)

Juror 2: Aaron Nowicki (Pre-Theology I, Marquette)
3: Mitchell Gleason (College III, Lansing)
4: Stephen Pullis (Theology III, Detroit)
5: Bob Bacik (Pre-Theology I, Lansing)
6: Charles Russell (Theology I, Detroit)
7: Pierre Konja (Theology II, Chaldean)
8: Michael Weisbeck (Pre-Theology I, Bismarck)
9: Mario Amore (Pre-Theology I, Detroit)
10: Patrick Setto (College I, Chaldean)
11: Eric Fedewa (Theology III, Detroit)
12: Paul Erickson (Theology I, Lansing)

Kristen Lukowski of the Michigan Catholic covers the free-will offering event in detail : 12 Angry Men: Seminarian's first play in decades to benefit quake victims

Also, while we are on the subject of Drama, don't forget that Leonardo Defilippis is in town with his drama, Vianney

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

First session of the new commission on Medjugorje held today

Here is a computer generated translation via Google on something posted at the Katolička Tiskovna Agencija (Catholic News Agency) of the Bosnia & Herzegovina Bishop's Conference


First Session of the International Commission for Medjugorje at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Zagreb Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanic traveled to Rome where, 24 to 26 March to participate in the first session of the International Commission for Medjugorje at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was reported from the Office of the Archbishop of Zagreb. (KTA / rh)
H/T to Vincenzo

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Website in Medjugorje presents distorted translation of Abp D'Errico's address on new commission

EDIT: APRIL 5, 2010:
Update on translation variations of Abp D'Errico's interview regarding the Medjugorje commission

Final Update:  A literal translation was provided to me of the two sentences in question by a native Croatian.  What I had previously has been replaced with this translation.  Notes no longer needed have been cleaned up to allow readers to focus on that portion of the text which is problematic.  In the interest of transparency, here is a snapshot at freezepage of my post prior to the cleanup)

This will have to hold until we see if my request to the Apostolic Nuncio in BiH yields an official translation, which could take time.

None of what I have seen thus far, takes away from the fact that words were added by which convey a different meaning than what Abp D'Errico stated.  

It takes only two sentences, mistranslated to include words not said by Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico when the Papal Nuncio addressed the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina with regards to the new Medjugorje commission, to change the meaning of what he was saying.

His Excellency would be disappointed to learn how a pair of sentences, made into one, came across to English speaking readers as a result of the fabrication that was made.  I think he will want to look it over and perhaps check translations of his address into other langauges showing up on and copied to perhaps dozens of other sites. 

In this part of the address, he began talking about how the Holy Father understood well about the phenomenon of Medjugorje from his many years at the CDF. What follows are two sentences in Croatian (I am separating them clarity):
Zna za velika dobra koje se čine na ovome području od strane svećenika, redovnika, franjevaca, laika.
A druge strane pita se kako dolaze tako suprotstavljene informacije o tome fenomenu.

Update at 1:15pm March 23, 2010 - below in blue is a literal translation provided to me by a native Croatian.  It supercedes my own working translation which contained an error in "a druge strane", but was NOT the central problem.

Literal Translation
He knows about great deeds which are done in this territory by the priests, religious, franciscans, lay people.

On the other side he asks himself how come there are such opposed information about that phenomenon.

How did translate it?

He is aware of huge amount of positive and good influence of local priests, religious, Franciscans, lay people, and therefore, it is very difficult for him to perceive that there can be so many opposing information about the same matter.


Here are the problems:

  1. Two sentences were unncessarily blended into one (we will set aside the other embellishments found in the first part).
  2. There is no way to derive the words: "it is very difficult for him to percieve...." from the original two Croatian sentences. 
  3. There is no way to derive, "that there can be so many opposing information abou the same matter"
Number (2) is a complete fabrication.  Words were put into the Archbishop's mouth by someone other than himself.  This caused the beginning of a change to what he was articulating. 

Number (3) is a manipulation which cannot be made without the fabrication (2). It is made in such a way as to make it look like the Holy Father can't understand why anyone would oppose Medjugorje!

This is an injustice to Archbishop D'Errico, and to the unsuspecting Medjugorje devotees who are being fed bad information straight from the main Medjugorje website.

I would invite the many sources using this translation to edit what they are showing, because what is being propogated on the web are words which do not belong to Archbishop D'Errico.

Unsuspecting Medjugorje devotees were misled

The devotees of Medjugorje in the english speaking world have been duped by a false translation which altered the intended message by the Apostolic Nuncio.  Here are examples of reactions:

Wow! This seems hugely important. It shows the Holy Father is well disposed towards Medjugorje (as was his predecessor) despite the campaign of disinformation by the detractors ... (Source: post by "Totus Tuus" Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:43 am)

The Pope ain’t stupid. He knows a good tree when he sees one. (same source: post by "bluecross": Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:14 pm)

Paul Baylis makes my point perfectly in his blogpost about this news when he isolates the fabricated part of the translation.  In part, he writes:

The speech made the pertinent remark:

it is very difficult for him [Pope Benedict] to perceive that there can be so many opposing information about the same matter
Here is a headline which reacts to this fabricated sentence:
Pope Benedict XVI Already Positive on Medjugorje Apparition Site? (I am using my Freezepage version here, as well)
I have already made efforts to reach Archbishop D'Errico to share with him what readers are getting in the English translation provided by official website of the Medjugorje phenomenon.  I would encourage others to do the same.  Feel free to send him a link to this post.  I do not have an international calling card,  otherwise I would call his office.  Perhaps some of my European readers can help in this regard.

It would be nice if we could have an approved, or official, translation.  I'm working on it!

Related Links:

Readers may be interested in another recent post: 
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Medjugorje: What mushrooms teach about objectivity

On February 2nd, 2010 - the Feast of the Presentation, Mariologist, Prof. Dr. Manfred Hauke, a priest who is the chairman for the German Society for Mariology (since 2005), and a professor of dogmatic theology and patristics at Lugano was interviewed by Die Tagespost (The Daily Post) in:
It was an indepth look at apparitions in general, and in particular, the phenomena of Medjugorje.  Since the interview was published by Fr. Hauke, two very rich followup articles were penned by the mariologist, just before the official announcement of the new international commission to be headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini on March 17, 2010 (one of which was published the day after).  Links to both are at the very bottom of this commentary.  If you have not yet read that original interview, you will want to do so before continuing here.

While he acknowledges there are good fruits, he offers a reasonable, alternative explanation for these things, supported by Church teaching, even if the alleged apparitions are eventually judged to be not supernatural.  He also raises some legitimate concerns around specific events and claims.  We know that the very miracles performed by Moses, which were from God, were duplicated by the sorcerers whose "works" were not of God.  Hence, seemingly miraculous "signs and wonders" are not always from God. 

Fr. Hauke's contribution to the discussion of Medjugorje has been well received by many who hunger  for serious objectivity with regards to the events themselves. More often than not, like myself, they are Marian and Eucharistic, and care a great deal about the dignity of Our Lady.  This hunger for objectivity is not the pursuit of purely intellectual interest, but a quest for truth. Since unity subsists in truth, this should be of interest to people on both sides of the issue.

If a mushroom tastes good, is it safe to eat?

The discussions which dominate the web are of a more experiential nature:  "I went to Medjugorje, had a conversion of heart and a great experience, therefore, it is authentic". Imagine if people judged the safety of eating wild mushrooms based on subjective taste alone, rather than on the wisdom of the learned who can tell the difference between good tasting poisonous mushrooms, and good tasting mushrooms that are safe to eat.  The taste has no bearing on whether the mushroom is safe to eat.  Further, one cannot make the poisonous mushroom non-poisonous, simply by an act of the will because it tastes good. It must be given over to experts to properly test.

I suspect Cardinal Ruini and the members of his international commission will not be judging the mushrooms based on taste, but based mainly on objective facts to protect those who desire to continue feeding on them.  We have to trust the good, wise, and learned cardinal to put them to the test. Some mushrooms are downright deadly, while others can produce odd behaviors and undesireable side effects. Hold that thought for a moment....

Treating Medjugorje like a "cold-case"

If we set aside "fruits" and look at "events" (who, what, where, when, how), the evidence at the "flashpoint" of an event, or soon after, is always of greater interest to investigators than what comes later. Think about a crime scene.  Early in the investigation, the evidence has greater purity because it is relatively undisturbed by other external elements and influences.  With each hour or day that passes, there is a greater chance that things which are foreign to the crime itself will get introduced and lead investigators on a wild goose chase.

When unsolved, or "cold-cases" are reopened many years later, investigators go back to the original data before looking at anything more recent.  Cold-cases are often solved when the passage of time sheds new light on old information.  That is why, in his original interview, Fr. Hauke concerned himself mainly with a few key things from the early days of the phenomena.  For him to speak to Vicka today (30 years after the flashpoint), is not as pure as listening to tape-recordings (or reading transcripts of those recordings), that took place near the beginning. Sadly, some of the early material put out by Medjugorje-promoting authors, sanitized their books of damaging parts of those transcripts, or worse - manipulated the data.  With books like, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, readers of english and french have access to unfiltered transcripts in the very large set of appendices.

Poisonous mushrooms and odd behaviors
Now lets return to the discussion of mushrooms and the odd behaviors which can be produced by those that are poisonous, but good tasting. 

Sadly, there has been some backlash to Fr. Hauke's objective interview. It illustrates well one of the other fruits of Medjugorje: It's impossible to take a a look at objective information in a critical manner without being impugned or defamed, all the while the game of bait-and-switch is played to distract readers from validly raised points.  I've experienced this myself in online discussions.  In his followup articles, Fr. Hauke did not let the bait-and-switch pass, and once again, made note that the central part of his argument was completely ignored. 

A Marian bishop, Msgr. Henri Brincard discussed the odd behaviors back in 2000 in a statement on behalf of the French Bishops, which remains one of the most well written pieces of analysis out there, describes the odd behavior.  He writes:
It is first of all undeniable that at Medjugorje there are returns to God and 'spiritual' healings. It is no less evident that the sacramental life is regular there and the prayer fervent. One could not deny these good fruits in situ. We should even rejoice in them. But can we say that they continue in our parishes? Difficult question, for we must note unfortunately that the susceptibility, even aggressiveness, of some partisans of Medjugorje towards those who do not share their enthusiasm is such that it provokes, here and there, serious tensions which attack the unity of the People of God.

A closer look at Prof. Dr. Manfred Hauke

First, let's look even closer at Rev. Dr. Manfred Hauke before getting to the topic at hand for those who are unfamiliar with him. He is multilingual, so he has access to materials in many languages making his contributions that much more informative. He is a member of "Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis" (PAMI) since 1992.  He has done post-doctoral work in what is called in some countries, a habilitation.  This was on the doctrine of original sin in the Greek Fathers (see also his list of current projects for doctorates and habilitations).  Two of his works are published in English.  These are well regarded by theologians and apologists who defend the Church's teaching with regards to "feminist theology" and women's "ordination".  These topics were a big deal in the 80's and early 90's:  God or Goddess?: Feminist Theology : What Is It? Where Does It Lead? and:  Women in the Priesthood: A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption).  Summed up:  Father has his collar on straight.  Here's more, from his curriculum vitae:

He is the editor of the scientific book series "Collana di Mariologia" (since 2002). His responsibility as coeditor regards the series "Quaestiones thomisticae" (since 2007), but also the reviews "Sedes Sapientiae. Mariologisches Jahrbuch" (since 2004) and "Forum Katholische Theologie" (since 2007). Since 1996, he is member of the editorial committee of the "Rivista teologica di Lugano" (since 2009 also vice-director) and since 2007 of the "Ephemerides Liturgicae".

Grave accusations: Effects of mushrooms?
Now that we know more about about who this priest-professor is, I want to shift over to what happened in the wake of his interview.

While it is very common to see these kinds of behaviors I'm describing  in combox threads and forums, we now have an example of it happening at a professional level to a highly-credentialed theologian in a public news source (a Medjugorje promoting Austrian site: by what can best be described as a "junior" theologian and Medjugorje devotee.

It involves a transitional deacon  (a man soon to be ordained to the priesthood) in the Archdiocese of Cologne by the name of Thomas Müller, who made some "very grave accusations" against Fr. Hauke (translation by Richard Chonak).  He says, in part:

It is frightening how lightly Prof. Hauke calls for the "love of truth", but spreads complete lies and half-truths himself in this interview, and silences known facts. Through it all, he sets about to mix with Medjugorje negative incidents which have nothing to do with it.
The high point, then, is the indirect conclusion that the fruitfulness of Medjugorje, which has been unique in the world in relation to conversions, vocations, the revival of the sacrament of penance, the rosary, and love for the Eucharist, comes from the work of the Devil and that the messages represent a spiritualistic phenomenon. This is an insult to God, since Hauke is thereby saying that the Devil, in order to deceive the Church, is more fruitful than the Holy Spirit.
What is interesting, is that Prof. Hauke said no such thing and the conclusion Müller reaches is one that has left me very puzzled.  Is it the effects of feeding on "poisonous mushrooms" because they taste good and appear harmless? This goes back to what I said about not being able to speak on things that are objectively critical without being impugned or defamed.  He starts out his public response in the same source which published the denunciation in this way [emphases mine in bold; comments bracketed in red]:

For years there has been a contentious debate about the so-called "Marian apparitions" of the seers who originated from Medjugorje. The current official position of the Church is still the 1991 declaration of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference, which emphasizes: "non constat de supernaturalitate", i.e. it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelation. The local Bishop Ratko Perić goes beyond this affirmation and has emphasized his conviction [Prot.: 1267/97, October 2, 1997], according to which it has been established that the pertinent phenomena are not of supernatural origin [in paragraph 5 of the same letter, Bishop Peric himself acknowledged that this was his personal position, stating: "I am open to a study that the Holy See would undertake, as the supreme court of the Catholic Church, to speak the supreme and definitive judgment on the case"]. Among Catholic Christians, it should be possible to discuss the questions connected with this matter objectively [Yes!]. My interview in the Tagespost, which has been propagated in various languages since then, was a contribution to this very necessary discussion. If it should happen that I have, in the process, repeated any false information, I am ready and willing to correct these errors. Thus far I do not see any reason for corrections.

Does it not seem strange that in the minds of some who believe in the authenticity of the phenomena, it is perfectly fine to speak favorably, but considered inappropriate, even for well-credentialed scholars to question  the authenticity with objective information?

In my experience discussing Medjugorje with supporters, it has become very clear that anything coming from the diocesan bishop or diocese is not considered a credible source.  Such information is dismissed out-of-hand, or there is deflection which completely by-passes the more important points raised by the diocese. Mary would encourage docility, not hostility to local authority (even if the bishop were later proven wrong).  Dismissiveness and indifference to that authority are also out of alignment with the kind of graces we should expect to see.  Again, I ask: Is it simply the effects of feeding on "poisonous mushrooms" that taste good? The "good fruits" argument is held up like a shield, but in the end good fruits alone are not sufficient for discernment.  In every objection I've read to Father Hauke's interview, I have not seen one person address the most important points raised by the diocese, and amplified by Hauke (quote taken from original interview - my comments bracketed in red]:
Particularly in the early period of the phenomenon there were several very unusual messages. According to a tape-recording transcript from June 30, 1981, the seers reported, according to the assertion of the "Gospa", the end of the appearances would be in three days (on July 3), but they then went on. [...and on, and on, and on ....... over 40,000 more appearances.  Is it possible that the Blessed Virgin Mary would state an untruth?  Reasonable people can conclude, at the very least, that authenticity is questionable based on this alone!]
Prof. Hauke continues his initial reaction to the accusations.  This is where a solid theologian first offers some very basic catechesis (and I see not just the professor, but the priest speaking here).  We should all use what he says here to examine our consciences with regards to our online discussions of any topic.  He writes (emphasis mine in bold):
In any case, I am shocked over the unobjective reactions of certain followers of the Medjugorje movement, who ascribe bad intentions and "lies" to me. To "lie" means to consciously state a falsehood. In my scholarly career of nearly thirty years now I have fought out many battles and have had to bear many criticisms, for example the polemics of a "woman priest" ordained somewhere on the Danube between Linz and Passau, in the magazine Publik-Forum. But even in these circles no one has ascribed a "lie" to me so far, or a presumption "that the end justifies the means". Such reactions are character assassination.
It is really interesting that as contentious as the issue of women's "ordination" was, that this priest would be treated worse by some who believe they are defending an entity whom the Church has not in any way authenticated as being the Blessed Virgin Mary?  In fact, the behavior (not the people) is anti-Marian in nature.  The holy Mother of God is not only the Queen of peace, but the Mother of divine grace, the Mother most amiable, the Virgin most prudent, and the mirror of justice.  Mary was, in the first place, the model of obedience and humlity

Fr. Hauke continues...

Among these, sadly, is the contribution of Deacon Thomas Müller, which appeared in (18 Feb.). Deacon Müller, who has published a master's thesis ("Diplom" in German) on Medjugorje, asserts that I have spread "complete lies and half-truths" in my interview and that I "set about" "to mix with Medjugorje negative incidents that have nothing to do with it." He speaks of "untruths and distortions". Because I, on the basis of the facts presented to me, consider the possibility that the visions come from the workings of the evil one, I am even accused of an "insult to God". These accusations are very grave.

Now that I have gotten you this far, go read Fr. Hauke's entire response, in which he addresses each of the criticisms leveled by Müller (along with a link his article). It  includes, at the end, an apology by the transitional deacon written a few days later, partially translated by Richard Chonak. 

There is one more article that just came out late last week by Fr. Hauke in response to two more pro-Medjugorje critics of his interview:  Dr. Christian Stelzer (Oasis of Peace - Vienna) and Rev. Dr. Ivan Dugandzic, OFM. Richard Chonak offers links to those articles which challenged Fr. Hauke.  This time, Fr. Hauke did not respond immediately, but did some homework.  The results of that homework was very intersesting.

- March 22, 2010: Edited grammar and punctuation; eliminated a redundant comment.

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Stupak yields to promise of Executive Order - US Bishops Advised Against

Well, the news conference just ended and Stupak yielded on Obama's promise of an Executive Order which would "protect the sanctity of life".

The US Bishop's however, along with many other pro-life organizations had pointed out the flaws of such an approach.  Steven Ertelt at LifeNews wrote earlier:

The main objections from pro-life advocacy groups center on two points.

First, they have sincere doubts about whether Obama, who has an extensive pro-abortion track record and used an executive order during his first week in office to expand taxpayer funding of abortions, would ever sign one.

Secondly, they point out technical problems with the idea, saying an executive order is not able to remedy the numerous ways in which the Senate bill funds and promotes abortion funding.

Richard Doerflinger, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shared those concerns in a memo sent this morning to key Congressional members and staff.

"We've consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill," Doerflinger says.

"Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation," Doerflinger explains.

"According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding," Doerflinger continues. "That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year."

Agreeing with other pro-life groups, the pro-life bishops' spokesman adds: "The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence."

As such, only changes in the Senate bill would truly prevent taxpayers from having their tax monies paying for abortions under it.

"Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation," the bishop's spokesman concluded.

Earlier, leading pro-life advocates say an executive order is a non-starter because it can't fix the myriad of pro-abortion problems with the bill.

"It should be noted that all of the problems listed in the NRLC letter -- with the possible exception of no. 5 (pro-abortion administrative mandates) -- would be created by and controlled by the proposed statutory language of H.R. 3590," Douglas Johnsn of National Right to Life told "If the bill is signed into law, these statutory requirements and defects are not subject to correction or nullification by the chief executive or his appointees, whether by Executive Order, regulation, or otherwise."

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A smiling face heads to Portugal after more than a decade in Detroit

At the time of this post, Sister is waiting to board a jet for Portugal, where she has been reassigned after more than 10 years of being a bubbly presence on the grounds of Assumption Grotto
Please pray for her in her new assignment!


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pelosi and St. Joseph - Doh!

Never a dull moment with dissenting Catholic Nancy Pelosi trying to win-over fellow Catholics to the health care reform which includes the biggest expansion of abortion coverage in history. She invokes "St. Joseph the Worker" on his feast day. I won't be surprised someday to hear her claim that Jesus Himself has endorsed Hell as a great place to go.

There are just a few major problems with what she said:


1) It was the Solemnity of St. Joseph (March 19), not the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1). Ok, minor mix-up, but "devout Catholic" Italians know the difference.

2) St. Joseph is the patron of the unborn. St. Joseph protected his family, and in particular, the infant Jesus.

3) St. Joseph is the patron of expectant mothers.

4) St. Joseph is the patron of families.

5) St. Joseph is also the patron of people who fight communism (ok, so I'm sure those who fear socialism in the US can also pray to St. Joseph)

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

US Health Care Bill - Strong Opposition by US Bishops

I have to get to to work, but before I do, please visit, where Tom Peters is all over this story, with loads of coverage on what many of the bishops are saying about the current situation with Health Care reform.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Official: Vatican confirms Medjugorje commission

Announcement in the Vatican Bollettino

here is an unofficial translation of the official announcement (updated to the version used from Catholic News Agency)

“Under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, an international commission of investigation on Medjugorje has been constituted. Said Commission, composed of cardinals, bishops and experts will work in a reserved manner, subjecting the results of their studies to the authority of the Dicastery.”

Catholic News Agency has more:

Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said that no other information was available at this point besides the role of Cardinal Ruini as president. However, he did say that the commission will be formed by “more or less” 20 members.
Responding to a question from a journalist about the possible inclusion of Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar, whose diocese includes Medjugorje, Fr. Lombardi said that he is not in possession of a list of members.
The Vatican spokesman reviewed the history of investigations into the possible Marian apparitions of Medjugorje, noting that they began on a diocesan level. When it was seen that the “phenomenon was broader than the diocese,” it was passed on to the episcopal conference of the former Yugoslavia, which, he noted, no longer exists. [Notice that his explanation is consistent with the explanation given in 1987 by Cardinal Kuharic which is also consistent with a provision in the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions, when the phenomena extends beyond the bounds of the diocese.  Also, to say that there was some other hidden reason not offered publicly for this transfer of final discernment (i.e., that the Vatican wanted it "out of the hands of the local bishop") means we would have to assume that Cardinal Kuharic told a non-truth in the official bulletin of the bishop's conference].
The commissions at those levels never came to a conclusion on the question of whether or not the alleged apparitions are supernatural, so the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina have asked the CDF to take over investigations, the Vatican spokesman explained.
As the commission carries out their activities, Fr. Lombardi continued, they will decide whether or not to communicate information regarding their findings. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that it will be a “very discreet” project “given the sensitivity of the subject,” he remarked.

Speaking in Italian, he said to expect that investigations will take “a good while” to reach their completion and emphasized that the results of the commission’s activities will be submitted to the CDF, under whose mandate they are operating. The commission will only offer their technical findings to the Congregation, which in turn will “make decisions on the case.”
For now, the composition of the commission is “reserved,” as is the method they will pursue in their investigations, Fr. Lombardi said in closing.

Associated Press is now in the action, and it raises the diplomatic problem prompted by Cardinal Schonborn's recent visit.  It looks like AP has had several updates since news first broke.

One of the highest-ranking recent pilgrims was Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who visited over New Year's, sparking a minor diplomatic incident since official church pilgrimages to Medjugorje are barred.

Schoenborn stressed that he traveled to the shrine in a private capacity. But he celebrated Mass there, met with the visionaries and granted several interviews afterward in which he called for Medjugorje pilgrims to receive the pastoral care — both physical and spiritual — that they would need there.

He also called the shrine a tree that "bore many fruits," in terms of vocations, conversions and rediscovery of faith.

His comments prompted the local bishop of Mostar, Monsignor Ratko Peric, to write him a letter Jan. 2, sharply criticizing his visit and stressing that his presence there was by no means a formal recognition of the apparitions. The local church has cast doubt on the claims, in part because one of the visionaries says the apparitions have continued monthly for over a quarter century.

Schoenborn met with the pope on Jan. 15 and wrote to Peric saying he regretted "if you have the impression that my pilgrimage to Medjugorje did a disservice to peace. Rest assured this was not my intention."

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican decided to launch the investigation based on a request from Bosnian bishops. [Note: Again, this is another journalistic source repeating what Fr. Lombardi said.  He did not say that, "the Vatican took the decision from the Bishop's Conference or from the local Bishop", but that it was launched on a request by the BiH Bishops.  This is consistent with a provision in the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions in which the competent authority can request intervention.  One has to ask, why are supporters and promoters saying something different than what Fr. Lombardi has offered.  Unless we look upon him as a liar, he should be taken at his word]
The current Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote in 1996 that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje weren't to be organized at parish or diocesan levels since bishops from the former Yugoslavia had affirmed in 1991 that there was no way to confirm that "supernatural apparitions and revelations" had taken place.

Why pray-tell, are Medjugorje visionaries allowed to have speaking engagements and "visions" on Catholic property all around the world, then? 


Given that this will go on for "a good while" and that the findings may or may not get communicated, we can only hope that the Holy See will look at whether Catholic parishes, shrines, cathedrals, chapels and schools, hosting the visionaries is in harmony with the existing 1991 Zadar Declaration (which remains in effect until a new decision is made). 

If "official pilgrimages cannot be organized at the parish or diocesan level", then how can the parish or diocese allow organized "pilgrimages" to come to the people (visionaries traveling the world and having visions in our parishes and cathedrals).  I would argue that it is not harmony with the Church's teachings on Marian devotion to have visionaries from any unapproved apparitions having visions on Church property.

See this ever changing schedule of Ivan Dragicevic's schedule of apparitions on Church property.

Related Links:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron: Regarding the Ongoing Health Care Legislative Debate

Archbishop of Detroit on latest Healthcare reform:

Two links embedded in the email from the letter I could not add from iPhone (copy paste for now)

My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

The reports out of Washington indicate this coming week will be climactic in the ongoing debate over health care reform.  In stating their position on this issue, the U.S. bishops have identified four key elements necessary to insist upon in the proposed legislation:

A truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity.  (To be specific, the expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of abortion funding and of polices forcing everyone to pay for abortions.  It is very important that the language in the House-passed bill preventing abortion funding, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, be incorporated in its essential features as a part of any final bill.  The provisions on abortion funding in the current un-amended Senate health care bill are seriously deficient and unacceptable.)
Access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of immigrants.
Pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options.
Restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
In the hours and days ahead, please contact our lawmakers and keep them in your prayers as they debate, and ultimately vote, on this historic legislation.  I would urge you to go online to get the latest information and suggested action plans advocated by the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, has challenged Congress to recall and honor President Obama’s commitment to the nation last year that health care reform would not become a vehicle for expanding abortion funding or mandates.  “The Conference will remain vigilant and involved throughout this entire process,” the cardinal states, “to assure that these essential provisions are included in the final legislation.”

At this critical juncture, it is vitally important that we, as Christian Catholics, raise our voices regarding the moral case for genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

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Sandro Magister: The Legion Awaits a New General - and Trembles

Blogging on my lunch hour from my iPhone is not easy, but I can sure pass along a link.

The dignified, carefully spoken Italian jounslist has a post up on what may be forthcoming for the Legionaries of Christ.

Very good recap and assessment...

The Legion Awaits a New General. And Trembles

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US Bishops on Latest Health Care Bill: "Regretfully, it must be opposed"

I continue to update my Twitter feed so do check it for some interesting Catholic news stories.  Just hit the Twitter bird in my side bar.

Rocco Palmo over at Whispers gives a good intro to the USCCB statement offfered by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago:

With the climactic House vote on a health-care reform package foreseen for this week -- and hours after the trade-group for the nation's Catholic hospitals endorsed the legislation despite church concerns over the proposal's current language on abortion-funding -- the following statement emerged after 5pm Eastern from the president of the US bishops, Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago.

The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have long and consistently advocated for the reform of the American health care system. Their experience in health care and in Catholic parishes has acquainted them with the anguish of mothers who are unable to afford prenatal care, of families unable to ensure quality care for their children, and of those who cannot obtain insurance because of preexisting conditions.

Throughout the discussion on health care over the last year, the bishops have advocated a bipartisan approach to solving our national health care needs. They have urged that all who are sick, injured or in need receive necessary and appropriate medical assistance, and that no one be deliberately killed through an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion. These are the provisions of the long standing Hyde amendment, passed annually in every federal bill appropriating funds for health care; and surveys show that this legislation reflects the will of the majority of our fellow citizens. The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.

However, the bishops were left disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.

What do the bishops find so deeply disturbing about the Senate bill?
Continue reading Cardinal George's statement at Whispers in the Loggia...

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