Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vaticanist offers "course correction" on possible Medjugorje judgments, after challenge

Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli, after getting caught using talking points from Medjugorje protagonists, did some backpedaling on what he wrote concerning possible judgments. As was reported earlier, the Commission's findings will conclude at the end of 2012 and be sent to Pope Benedict XVI for further judgment.

See the post by Louis Bélanger which leads to a another post he made earlier, challenging Tornielli.  He also links to the blog of a Franciscan in Italy who publicly challenged the Vaticanist, summing up his argument quite well.  You can get to all of those sources, including Andrea Tornielli's "course correction" from here: ► “Tornielli is wrong about Medjugorje” – Vaticanist agrees…

Still waiting on Tornielli to inform his readers of Bishop Peric's response to attacks against Bishop Zanic.

While I am glad that Tornielli has agreed with his critics about possible judgments, I am still deeply disappointed that he has allowed himself to be taken in by people that will go to great lengths to defend the "gospa" of Medjugorje, even unto suggesting Bishop Zanic, now deceased, was a tool of the communists.  What disappoints me even more, is that he repeats this in his recent writings, even after Bishop Peric wrote a strong defense of his predecessor in the face of these vicious attacks.    I don't know how Andrea Tornielli could withhold this information from his readers which is on the diocesan website in three langauges for about two months now.  Read it in one of these links: [English | Italian | Croatian].

Italian readers: Please ask Mr. Tornielli to share this information with his readers, at the Vatican Insider website.

Further reading on this:

YIKES!  Reactions of some Medjugorje supporters

In the meanwhile, we have something very revealing about some followers of Medjugorje being discussed in a Medjugorje forum thread, after they read Tornielli's latest report on possible judgments (the forum doesn't allow anyone with a critical view to participate.  

For those who have found or strengthened their faith through Medjugojre a negative ruling would create a troubling paradox. How does Our Lady's heart triumph if Medjugorje is damaged by the Catholic Church.

Here is another quote from the same thread by another person:

For anyone who has come to know the love of God through Our Lady and the gift of Holy Spirit at Medjugorje, any decision by the Church is irrelevant. It can only be relevant for those who are unsure.

And another:

For those who have seen the truth in that valley in Bosnia, Our Lady's Heart can not be damaged by an incorrect or misguided Vatican ruling.

The Holy Father has his work cut out for him.    If there is a condemnation of events, we may very well see a whole lot of arm-chair popes who discern for themselves, something that is reserved to the Church.  Consider the division seen in these statements.  You see, for them they see the Church being the cause of division, from the lady of Medjugorje.  The proper Catholic response, however, is to turn that around.  It is they who seem prepared to divide themselves from the Church, to follow the lady (and they are discussing it in the context of a possible negative judgment). 

Who causes division? Satan.  He divides us not from one another, but from the Church.  He is willing to tolerate conversions and devotion as long as he knows that people will become so attached to the phenomena that they cannot detach from it upon a condemnation.   There is an inability to distinguish between true devotion to Mary, which exists above and beyond any apparitions, and what seems to be a form of idol worship (if people persisted in following it, if condemned, and visionaries persisted with manifestations and messages). 

Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the forbidden fruit.  It didn't matter how appetizing it looked or how healthful it was, God said, "no".  Likewise, when the Church says, "no", we must yield to the Church.  In the case of a negative judgment, the greatest sacrifice a Medjugorje supporter could offer to God is not a fast on bread and water,  or hours of prayer, but a fiat - a "yes" - to Holy Mother Church.
One last point to make is that supporters often attribute their conversions to the apparitions, and not to the rich sacramental and devotional life they undertake.  All those conversions and vocations - they are real.  But God can draw straight with crooked lines.   What matters most is not how these people came to convert or pursue their vocation, but how they respond to the Holy Father when he pronounces his judgment.  It is either a response of pride, or humility.  Only one of those imitates Mary.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tonight at the Oscars - Mother Dolores Hart: God is Bigger than Elvis

Mother Dolores Hart whistles approvingly of a parody that had been sung about her.  

Mother Dolores Hart, seen above in a photo I took of her at the 2009 Lenten Symposium by Holy Trinity Apostolate, will be at the Oscars tonight.  It's about a documentary on her life on HBO called, "God is the Bigger Elvis".  [You can see many more pictures of Mother Dolores Hart in my photogallery for the 2009 event]

Vatican Radio, on the documentary:

When Hollywood roles out the red carpet on Sunday for this year’s Academy Awards, those watching will expect to see actors and actresses such as George Clooney and Meryl Streep being caught by the flashbulbs.

But there is someone else who will also will taking part in this high profile event that many won’t be expecting to see, that is Mother Dolores Hart, a cloistered nun who now lives a life of contemplation at the Regina Laudis Benedictine monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut.

Mother Dolores left behind a successful stage and screen career in Hollywood in the 1960’s to become a nun after starring alongside leading men such as Elvis Presley (Loving You 1957), and Anthony Quinn (Wild is the Wind” 1957). She also starred in the film about Francis of Assisi (1961), in which she played a nun.

So what brings this Prioress of a cloistered monastery to the awards? She is in fact the subject of an Oscar nominated short documentary entitled, “God Is the Bigger Elvis” produced by HBO. The thirty eight minute film charts her life and that of her fellow nuns at the Abbey, which also has a working farm and a theatre.

Explaining how the project came about, she told Lydia O’Kane that she was told by the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi that she must make a film about consecrated life. Recalling Archbishop Sambi’s words, Mother Dolores said that he told her “ it is important for the church that you make this film”. She goes on to say that she didn’t know how she would accomplish this, but just two days later HBO rang her and asked her if she would be interested in making a short documentary.

Speaking about her vocation, Mother Dolores said it was something she felt she had to do, “anyone who has ever been in love knows what it is to do what you have to do”.
Mother Dolores who attended the Academy awards three times during her Hollywood career and is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Science says attending the event will probably be an emotional experience. “I think there will be nothing at all like it when I go, Ithink it will be completely new”.

She adds that she wants to bring home to her sisters at the monastery a true reality of life that will give them joy and a reason to pray for the work of the film industry. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Mother Dolores Hart (Go to Vatican Radio for audio)

Asked if she will go to the Oscars for the event, this article at New York Daily News reports:

I was invited to go and I said, “No I couldn’t do that,” because of my situation. But the mother abbess [of Regina Laudis\] considered it and said she thought I should because of the continuity of the mission [to portray what contemplative life is like\]. So I will go.

God bless her.

I don't get into the Oscars, Grammys or other award shows in the past, and as time has gone on, I have distanced myself even more.  Sexual immorality is now the new "virtue" and you can't hardly turn the TV on and not be confronted with promotion of adultery, fornication, and sodomy.  These are all biblical concerns, and a part of my deeply held religious convictions.  What sickens me the most is that you can't even sit down to watch a G-Rated program for children without sexual innuendoes intended, supposedly, for the adults in the audience and presumed to go over the head of adults.  No thanks.  I won't give them a dime or the time of day.

With that, I hope the presence of Mother Dolores Hart adds some dignity to the Oscars this year.  I will set my DVR so I can fast forward to the heart of the show (pun intended).

Further Reading:

And, I would like to remind readers that Holy Trinity Apostolates 2012 Lenten Symposium is coming up on March 10.  Cardinal Burke will be among the speakers.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Holy Trinity Apostolate's Annual Lenten Symposium - Cardinal Raymond Burke!

The annual Lenten Symposium is coming up quick  for Holy Trinity Apostolate on March 10, 2012.  Go to the Holy Trinity Apostolate website for info.

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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!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ripped from the Catholic Headlines - Some Interesting Reads

Pope Benedict has ashes imposed by a method I recall when I lived in Europe.
Ashes are sprinkled on the head in the form of a cross, rather than on the forehead. 

I don't usually do this - make a reading list - because I'm often passing along many links on Facebook and Twitter.  These tools allow me to just click a button and share it on social media in seconds.  Now and then, I like to pass a long a post like this with a sampling.  But, there are some very good things out there I'd like to pass along.  It's also a good reminder that when you don't see me blogging, hit my Twitter feed link at the bottom of any post and see what I'm passing along.  A re-tweet does not necessarily signal agreement, but may be a way to make others aware of what is being said at a particular media source.  That is why I follow sources I will often agree with, as well as sources that often give me heartburn.

First up, here is the homily of Pope Benedict XVI from Ash Wednesday.

Father Z is beginning his LENTCAzT's.  You can subscribe in iTunes or listen at his website.  Here is today's. 

The ever, clever, Msgr. Charles Pope is blogs on, The Key to True Fasting

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush explains that now is a great time to do the 33-day prep for the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.   Just because you are a day or two late, doesn't mean you can't catch up. Just do an additional day or two.

George Weigel has a great piece at First Things on Clerical Narcissism and Lent.  He talks about the new Missal translation and how laity, and priests, are adjusting (or not).  Says Weigel:

One implicit purpose of the new translations, with their deliberate recovery of a sacral vocabulary and their adoption of a more formal literary rhythm, was to discipline the tendency of priests to turn the Mass into an expression of the celebrant’s personality. The difficulties some priests have had with adjusting to the changes suggests that this tendency was, in fact, a real problem in implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Prominent Catholic psychologist Paul Vitz once wrote of this as a problem of “clerical narcissism,” and while the phrase undoubtedly stings, there’s something to it—something that needs correcting.

You might want to think twice before letting your daughters be involved with the Girl Scouts.  Steve Ertelt at LifeNews is reporting that Planned Parenthood Created the Indiana Girl Scouts Sex Ed Program.

The National Catholic Register (note, I did not say "Reporter"), tells us that in Washington state there is a victory for conscience

Catholic Culture reports that 2500 evangelical pastors, baptists and other protestant leaders have ripped on Obama over the HHS mandate, along with the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North America have joined the protest.  In the meanwhile, 100% of diocesan bishops have spoken out, and there is a growing list of Catholic and other Christian institutions speaking out, and/or filing lawsuits.

EWTN's President and CEO, Michael P. Warsaw, managed to get a column in the New York Times explaining why EWTN cannot comply with the HHS mandate. That's pretty amazing considering the trouble then Archbishop Dolan had trying to get a word in edgewise.

At Catholic Vote, Dr. Janet Smith is thanking President Obama for making Catholics more Catholic.  Just seeing the headline, I had a feeling where she was going, and I was right.  It seems the HHS mandate on contraception, sterilization and abortifacients has prompted priests to start talking about these things from the pulpit. From the sin of this HHS mandate, abounds much grace that clerics are now acting on (Rom 5:20).  She writes about something I touched on a couple weeks ago in this post.

Sadly, we pew sitters never hear priests preach against greed, racism, drunkenness, adultery, laziness, fornication, pornography, gossip, wasteful spending of money and time, etc. let alone contraception. Many Catholics have heard at least one good homily on abortion, though few have heard more than one. We hear a lot about the need to believe God loves us and to be loving and forgiving and most of us take those words to heart and try to advance in those respects. But we don’t hear priests preach on moral topics.
Later she writes:

It would be unjust to accuse the current crop of US bishops as being at fault for the failure of priests to preach on contraception. Some individual bishops in recent years have issued pastoral letters on Humanae Vitae and finally in 2006, the US Bishops issued Married Love and the Gift of Life, their first pastoral document on marriage in over 40 years. But what would the world look like if bishops and priests had been educating their flock on contraception for the last 50 years rather than ignoring the issue nearly entirely? Fr. Roger Landry tells us that 50% of those coming to him for marriage preparation do not know that the Church teaches against contraception.

I agree with her about not piling on the current crop of bishops - especially at this time.  Fr. Perrone, stood at the pulpit after all of this broke some weeks ago and urged Catholics not to fix blame on the bishops right now over what was or was not done in the past.  He rightly pointed out that now is not the time for that kind of thing when the Church is being attacked so viciously from outside forces. Fr. Perrone offered sound advice:  "Now is the time to give the bishops our full, moral support."  Just as Janet pointed out, we are seeing priests and bishops starting to talk about the Church's teachings on contraception publicly and from the pulpit.  THANK GOD!!!  We need more to do so.  I don't think it will decrease from here, but only increase going forward.  Give thanks to God, no matter what prompted it, and pray for more.  In the process of time, for educational purposes, there will be a right time,  and place, to analyze what went wrong so it's not repeated.  For now, just encourage your priests and bishops to catechize from the pulpit.  Here, again, is the link to her full article which I heartily recommend.

In a like way, Jennifer Fulwiler says in her post:  Father, We're Ready for that Homily on Contraception Now. 

Book Recommendation for Lent: Last, but not least, I want to recommend to you a great classic that every Catholic household should have, after the Bible.  Divine Intimacy was a book written by an Italian Carmelite, the late Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD. The first English translation was published in 1964.  I have the 2008 edition by Baronius Press (below).  The book has a meditation for every day of the year, based on the liturgical calendar. While it is based on the old calendar, most major feasts are in the same place, and the seasons are timeless anyway.  It is written in simple language, and is not lofty.  Teens should be able to read from it without a problem.  On any given day, you will read no more than 2-4 pages.  It offers a meditation, followed by a colloquy.  There are rich quotes and references throughout from Scripture and other sources.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Medjugorje's ex-Franciscan, Tomislav Vlasic, has lost it...

I mean, after seeing an Italian video, and a transcript, I don't know what else to think other than, Tomislav Vlasic has lost it, and he is in need of serious prayer.

Vlasic is considered by some, including the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, to be a central figure in the phenomena of Medjugorje.

A little, recent background is in order.  In 2008, then Archbishop Amato, Secretary of the CDF, said Tomislav was being studied by his dicastry, "within the context of the phenomenon of Medjugorje...".  Scroll in this post by Italian Medjugorje researcher, Marco Corvaglia, to:  § 5. Medjugorje and the New Age: Tomislav Vlasic.  Copying of text is disabled, but if you click that link go to that section, it will take only a few minutes. I would encourage you to read the entire post.  Marco has been doing detailed analysis for years and provides his research in multiple languages.

Marco shares new video of Tomislav Vlasic, and he provides a partial translation (I couldn't bare more than was shared).   In the video, Vlasic, along with a woman named Stefania Caterina, claims to be part of a group called  the "Central Nucleus".  In short, it ain't Catholic!   I got lost-in-space around  "Alpha Centauri."

Let's step back to May 30, 2008. Then Archbishop Angelo Amato, who was the Secretary of the CDF, sent a letter to Bishop Peric, authorizing him to share the canonical status of Tomislav Vlasic.  Here is what we find on the Diocese of Mostar Duvno website, published on August 31, 2008.  Read carefully, because this is the Holy See stating he was being investigated, "in the context of Medjugorje".  Emphasis mine in bold; added emphasis in italics.

Within the context of the phenomenon Medjugorje, this Dicastery is studying the case of Father Tomislav VLASIC OFM, originally from that region and the founder of the association ‘Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu’.

On 25 January 2008, through a properly issued Decree, this Dicastery imposed severe cautionary and disciplinary measures on Fr. Vlasic.

The non-groundless news that reached this Congregation reveals that the religious priest in question did not respond, even partially, to the demands of ecclesiastical obedience required by the very delicate situation he finds himself in, justifying himself by citing his zealous activity in the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and surrounding territories, in initiating religious activities, buildings, etc.

Since Fr. Vlasic has fallen into a censure of interdict latae sententiae reserved to this Dicastery, I kindly ask Your Excellency, for the good of the faithful, to inform the community of the canonical status of Fr. Vlasic and at the same time to report on the situation in question…”.

Preceding a list of pretty severe sanctions, was this:

The Decree of the Congregation mentions that Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, a cleric of the Franciscan Minor Order – the founder of the association ‘Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu’ and who is involved in the “phenomenon Medjugorje” – has been reported to the Congregation “for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism*, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and chargescontra sextum.”

In that same letter is a list of sanctions.  Among them, it seems the Holy See was concerned with his understanding of theology:

4. A mandatory course of theological-spiritual formation, with a final evaluation along with a prior recognitio of this Congregation, and a solemn professio fidei;

Based on Marco's translation of that video embedded in the post I provided at the top, we learn from Stefania, that she and Tomislav were, "called to this task more than ten years ago".  That means he was dabbling in this new-age planetary gumbo long before the Holy See launched it's formal investigation of his activities.  No wonder they wanted him to take a remedial course in theology, pass a test, and make a profession of faith.  Good grief!

Medjugorje protagonists were quick to distance Vlasic from the phenomena, claiming he pretty much had nothing to do with what was going on in Medjugorje.  We might ask, then, why would the CDF say he was being investigated, "in the context of Medjugorje?"  Moreover, the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno offers proofs of his involvement, including notes from the baptismal registry in the early days of the alleged apparitions.  See: Fra Tomislav Vlasic, OFM in the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon.  What is important to know as we go forward is that the Holy See's Medjugorje Commission is the fact-finder in the case.   Both Cardinal Levada and Cardinal Amato, both of whom signed that letter, are on the Commission.

Fast forward to 2009.  We learn that Vlasic requested laicization and it was granted.  In March of that year, the Holy Father dispensed him from his Franciscan vows, and from his priestly obligations, including celibacy.

In the decree we find the following:

As a salutary penal precept - under the pain of excommunication which the Holy See would declare, and if necessary, without prior canonical warning - the following precepts are imposed on Mr. Tomislav Vlasic: 
a) Absolute prohibition from exercising any form of apostolate (for example, promoting public or private devotion, teaching Christian doctrine, spiritual direction, participation in lay associations, etc.) as well as of acquiring and administering goods intended for pious purposes; 
b) Absolute prohibition from releasing declarations on religious matters, especially regarding the "phenomenon of Medjugorje"; 
c) Absolute prohibition from residing in houses of the Order of Friars Minor.

He obviously is not acting as a Catholic in that video, but I'm wondering if the Holy See will make it official with a declaration.

I am also wondering what some pro-Medjugorje, Vlasic defenders think when they see this.  If you read this involved post by Louis Belanger very carefully, you will see that some are willing to trash a Catholic bishop to defend Vlasic, and Medjugorje.

What must the Blessed Virgin Mary think?  And according to the lady of Medjugorje, she said decades ago, "Thank Tomislav very much. He is guiding you so well"

UPDATE 1: The "Central Nucleus" promotes Medjugorje and with Tomislav's involvement, I can't help but wonder just what kind of spirit is being channeled here.  (H-T to commenter Nick, who thought to look for the website).  Here's one excerpt from a section entitled: Message of Saint Michael the Archangel – September 10, 2010, The Central Nucleus

"...The members of the Central Nucleus that belong to the Earth are bound in a special way to three places on Earth, which are fundamental for the work of God and they are: Jerusalem, the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome, and Medjugorje. In all the places in the universe that are important for God’s plan, as these three, the Central Nucleus acts in spirit, in a direct and specific manner. ‪Moreover, these places are entrusted in a special way to the prayer and the offering of the members of the Central Nucleus.
The Central Nucleus is not a structure like you conceive it on Earth. It was formed and lives according to the laws of the Spirit, it is an instrument in the hands of God. It is also the model for all other nuclei that are being formed in God’s people; every nucleus will live according to the laws of the Spirit and will not be comparable to any structure you know. Those who are willing to live according to the laws of God without compromise, cunning, and ambition will be part of it."

So much for Tomislav respecting those precepts he was suppose to be honoring, "under pain of excommunication".

Folks, this isn't just dodgy, it's potentially diabolical. What they are attempting to do is lure people away from the authentic shepherd's of the Church by creating a pseudo-magisterium - one which answers to no one but themselves.  Don't fall for this crap.

What you have here are a group of people who answer to no one but themselves.  They are their own magisterium and their own "pope".

I've long had a theory that when someone goes off the rail, God tries to protect as many of the faithful as possible by having the wayward person do something so outrageous that most will turn and run the other way.  This is a perfect example.  The gullible folks that will get lured in by this are the poor souls who either haven't been catechized sufficiently or properly, or who have rejected attempts to be catechized.

Further reading:

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

45 Fewer Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit by 2016

It was a sad day for many Catholics in metro-Detroit, but one that was not  unexpected.

Going to - the home page for the Archdiocese of Detroit, one is automatically directed to a new page set up to quickly get heavy traffic to what they want to seer: What is happening to their parish.  Archbishop Vigneron writes:

In November, I received and prayerfully considered input from our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which itself built upon thoughtful input from 1,500 parishioners from throughout the six counties of the Detroit archdiocese. After consulting the auxiliary bishops, pastors, and others, I have come to my decisions regarding the next steps in the Together in Faith process. Along with the approved parish action plans, and the mission priorities fundamental to this entire process, on these Web pages you will see what I have concluded, what has been communicated to those involved, and the resources shared with the parishes. 

There is a video at the local NBC affiliate worth watching, from the press conference.  I cannot yet find embed code for it and the AoD has not uploaded it to it's YouTube channel.  In the video, you will hear Archbishop Vigneron state a rather stunning statistic:

"Only half of the people who claim to be Catholic have registered in their parishes.  Of those half, only 30% come to Mass every Sunday.  So, that is 15%, of the people who are members of the Catholic Church are attending church according to what we understand to be a baseline of participation. That's having an impact on our lives."

Consider that when jobs were lost, it meant a loss of donations, as well, and Detroit was hit especially hard with the auto industry.  I never saw so many vacant and foreclosed homes anywhere I went in metro-Detroit. I personally know people who found employment, but were so underemployed, that the only thing they could offer their parish was their time. God bless them for recognizing that their time given, saved the parish money.

A complete list of parishes can be found on the next page.  Click on the Vicariate name in the Action Plan column to see the plan for individual parishes here:

From Archbishop Vigneron's Pastoral Letter:

The life of the Church here in the Archdiocese of Detroit cannot simply continue without significant changes. Faith and prudence demand that we act now to ensure that we will be able to do God's work effectively in the years to come. Charity demands that we pass on to our children both the gift of faith, which is the "pearl of great price," and Church institutions equipped for the mission God will, in turn, entrust to them.

Of course, such changes are always difficult, but even these difficulties become redemptive when viewed with eyes of faith. God is drawing us more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. The changes we need to make will surely involve moments of personal loss as some parishes are reconfigured into new worship communities, but we move forward always with the hope that God will raise us up and raise up for us new resources to do his work. We need only to trust in the Lord and follow where he leads us. I believe that with the benefit of Together in Faith, Phase Two, and particularly those elements I will offer in the sections that follow, we have a much clearer sense about where the Lord is leading us than we did before we began this process.

Now, he goes on to talk about a number of pastoral priorities:  Evangelization and Catechesis, Christian Service and Outreach, Youth and Young Adults, Lay Leadership Stewardship and Administration, Catholic Schools, and Vocations.

In a FAQ sheet, the AoD talks about vocations versus retirements:

Archdiocesan priest ordinations are not keeping pace with priest retirements. The Archdiocese of Detroit currently has 44 seminarians in formation for the priesthood, a process of learning and training that takes six to eight years. Thirty-nine of those men are studying at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. In May of this year, the Archdiocese anticipates ordaining three seminarians as priests; four are on track for ordination in 2013; and, in 2014, if current numbers hold, seven archdiocesan priests will be ordained. This rate is much lower than the 77 fewer priests projected over the next nine years.

I'm going to come back to vocations because something struck me back in November when I had mined the data provided by the archdiocese.  I think the topic of vocations in Detroit deserves a blog post of it's own for further discussion and I'm going to introduce some thoughts, and ideas, I've not really seen elsewhere.

Getting back to the parish news, in today's Detroit Free Press we read:

At a news conference Monday, Vigneron unveiled a complicated, wide-ranging plan to restructure 267 parishes within the Archdiocese of Detroit. There will be at least 27 fewer parishes, and at least 38 parishes will be merged or reduced to 18 parishes by 2016 -- but a newly merged parish in many instances may retain two or three churches

Vigneron directed many more parishes to merge in the coming years, but did not always specify a date by which the merger must take place. From the looks of the plan, much will depend on the availability and health of the priests who head parishes, and the parish's ability to maintain its finances.

"We face many challenges," Vigneron said. He compared the challenges to those facing the Detroit auto industry, schools, and city government. "Like General Motors or Ford or Chrysler," he said.
Churches including St. Luke and St. Leo in Detroit, which had received death sentences last fall, got a reprieve. Vigneron directed some parishes to merge in the coming years, but did not always specify dates. 
Two parishes will close as planned in 2012: St. Donald in Roseville and St. Elizabeth in Wyandotte. St. Elizabeth is merging with St. Joseph, and the St. Elizabeth building will close. In mid-2012, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Harper Woods will be put up for sale, but parish services and mass will continue until the building is sold. 

The Freep also has:

Vigneron also decided that the following parishes might close or merge if they don't work out an acceptable repayment of the debt they owe the Archdiocese of Detroit:

• Assumption Grotto in Detroit

• SS. Simon and Jude in Westland

• St. Florian in Hamtramck

• St. Alexander and St. Clare parishes in Farmington Hills

• St. Mel in Dearborn Heights.

While not disclosing each parish's debt, the archdiocese previously has said that parishes owe a combined $79 million to the archdiocese, for loans made for repairs, renovations, school-related issues and other needs. The archdiocese said about 35% of city parishes and about 20% of suburban parishes have financial difficulties.

I'm pretty confident that Fr. Perrone has a plan to meet the debt.  I know the number, but it is not my place to make that public, but I can tell you that it is a drop in the bucket in contrast to what I've heard other parishes owing.  I'm sure Assumption Grotto's pastor will be addressing it this weekend and will share with you what he offers.  Here is the text from the action plan for Grotto:

Assumption Grotto is to develop a realistic plan to:

1. Pay its outstanding payables to the Archdiocese of Detroit; and,

2. Participate in all vicariate and archdiocesan activities, policies, and procedures, and follow through on Together in Faith, Phase Two implementation.

The payment plan is to be submitted to the Regional Moderator and the archdiocesan Director of Finance and Administration no later than June 30, 2012. In addition, Assumption Grotto is to identify a cluster partner in early 2012 and develop a cluster plan to be submitted no later than June 30, 2012. The cluster plan should be implemented when a current pastor is no longer available, if a replacement is not available to be assigned, or when either parish begins to experience a net operating deficit. Plans should commence with models for initial collaboration and include contingency plans for programming, outreach and administration, for clustering/merging the parishes, and/or closing buildings and planning for the sale of property.

Now, the language in all of these action plans involves cookie cutter expressions, such as the whole paragraph following, "...submitted no later than June 30, 2012".  You have to randomly click through a number of other action plans and this becomes visible.  For this reason, I wouldn't get hung up on one expression or another in a personal way.  Each parish had something unique, but then each parish had things in common with other parishes, such as debt, or the statement about collaboration on clustering.

Here is the group involving Ss Cyril & Methodius in Sterling Heights.  Note the langauge used for each of the parishes in this group. Use Our Lady of Czestochowa also, as an example of some of the common language you will see in similar parishesI'm glad to see that St. Lucy's Croatian parish will be clustered with Ss Cyril & Methodius Slovak parish.  The parish was really in a difficult situation with the Croatian Franciscan Custody in the US, also facing a number's crunch.  Ethnic Croatian parishes have been shuttered in other dioceses due to the shortage.  Being of ethnic Croatian ancestry, and also quite familiar with Ss C&M, I can tell you there are some cultural and devotional similarities, so it is the best possible fit.  This is a generous move by Fr. Ben who already has his hands quite full with his parish which continues to expand.... with lots of non-Slovaks attracted to the reserved liturgies, robust devotion and strong Catholic identity.

Also, after looking at plans for many other parishes throughout the diocese, that most, if not all parishes were suppose to cluster  or team-up with another parish to, " be implemented when a current pastor is no longer available, if a replacement is not available to be assigned, or when either parish begins to experience a net operating deficit."  

The words used by Archbishop Vigneron at his press conference were that he wanted parishes "twinned-up" so that as we go forward, there isn't a scramble should one of the two find themselves without a priest, even temporarily.  What came to mind when I heard him say this is that with so many parishes having only one priest, if the pastor is temporarily disabled through, say, surgery, it can be an administrative nightmare.  Part of this is intended to buffer the impact of such cases.  This "twinning" of parishes would mean that the archdiocese mitigates the need for it to scramble like a deer in headlights when something happens abruptly.  I am aware of several parishes in the past few years that suffered a sudden loss of the one and only priest at the parish - their pastor - either through death, sabbatical, or other. 

Long Term Impact on Traditional Catholics in Detroit?

One of the things I have been concerned with all along is that there is no provision to ensure that the Archdiocese of Detroit has a long-term plan for Catholics attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).  There is interest among some seminarians and I believe Archbishop Vigneron will work to address this. In the future, it could mean more opportunities in the suburbs to experience the TLM.  One of the challenges though, is allowing people to follow the full calendar, rather than  having just a weekly or monthly chance to worship in this way, if they are partial to it.

Assumption Grotto is the only parish in the Archdiocese which offers the Traditional Latin Mass 364 days yearly, the exception being Good Friday.  However, even Good Friday's Tre Ore service uses the 1962 Missal.   The parish coming in second is St. Josaphat, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from Grotto.  It offers many of the same things using the 1962 as does Grotto, with the main exception being that they don't have a daily TLM.  There is Mass on Monday evenings and on special feasts during the week, as well as the Triduum, if I recall.  It was clustered years ago with St. Joseph and the Sweetest Heart of Mary.  I am quite concerned as to what this means for them.  The cluster of three has shared one priest, and their plan reads as follows:

Sweetest Heart of Mary (personal parish), St. Josaphat (personal parish), and St. Joseph

In early 2012, these already clustered parishes are to develop a plan to merge, to be submitted to the Regional Moderator no later than December 30, 2012. This plan may result in the elimination of buildings and will include consolidation of Mass schedules to conform to the archdiocesan policy of following canon law for a priest to say no more than three Masses on a regular Sunday or holy day of obligation.

All three of those church buildings are absolute gems.  It would break my heart to see any of those buildings closed. 

The main concern I have about the Traditional Latin Mass communities in Detroit is that I do not feel we are recognized as a component of "diversity" that has something to offer the wider community.    When one thinks of diversity, it often limited to race and ethnicity; it does not include, for example, traditional Catholics.  This is not something unique in the Archdiocese of Detroit, but a common thread in many dioceses.  I think dioceses need to be continuously encouraged to allow those of us with a love for the usus antiquior a place where we can worship in a way that lifts our hearts to God in a deep and profound way, and in a setting proper to the form.

The AoD's plan, unfortunately, has the potential to eliminate this opportunity for traditional Catholics in the coming years.  Where they were careful to ensure that, for example, certain ethnic groups, such as the Polish, Italian, Croatian, and others had some kind of provision, there has not been a similar protection for traditional Catholics.  There is the potential for certain unintended consequences should such a void develop in this archdiocese years down the road.  I don't know if these things have been considered or not.   I hope to discuss them personally, at the very least, with my auxiliary bishop, to raise awareness.

At some point in the future, I may share some of these concerns in a post here, but not before making an attempt to discuss them one-on-one.  Anyone who knows me, should know by now that I will not make presumptions that there is something sinister at the root of such a thing.  CCC 2478 encourages us to interpret the words of others - and, by extension, the actions - in the most favorable light.  I find this mindset helps me to avoid the pitfall of engaging in conspiracy theories which really have no basis in the devout life.  I let God do the interpreting because only He can read hearts.  Besides, it keeps my blood pressure from going too high.

I don't have time to give you updates on all of the parishes affected, so I leave you with local news coverage.  Here is a Google news search on Archdiocese of Detroit and Parish Closings.

Please pray for everyone impacted by this sad news, most especially those with immediate closings. 

The combox is open.  Published comments do not reflect my views and do not mean I am in agreement with what is stated.  I will not be able to respond to every comment, including those with which I may disagree, so nothing should be read into my silence.  I ask that people voice their opinions and concerns in a respectful manner.  If you find your comment not moderated after some hours, feel free to send me an email to inquire why it was not posted: TeDeumBlog (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's now Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal O'Brien

Cardinal Dolan receiving his red hat (Photo: Reuters)

This morning I was up early - very early, and saw Cardinals Dolan and O'Brien get their red hats.  I'm going to leave you with some news-links and blog-posts from yesterday and today.  This list will get updated as a few other sources cover it.

First, you can watch the On-Demand video, online at the Vatican website:

"One of the Most Energized Meetings at the Vatican"

That quote comes from the video below and when it comes to Timothy Cardinal Dolan, it is no surprise that he would liven up the Vatican. Here is a Rome Reports video about Cardinal Dolan's address (see full text of address here)

Parting shot...

Cardinal O'Brien after receiving is red hat (Photo: Chris Gunty)

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bishop Lori: Absurd for someone to expect a ham sandwich in a kosher deli

Check this out...

In one of the latest salvos Bishop William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In his testimony today, he likened the imposition on Catholic institutions to include insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization to mandating that all Jewish delis should serve pork. 
People recognize, he said that "it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich." Moreover, "it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down."

Source: Zenit

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Card. Puljic: Medjugorje Commission to end it's work in late 2012

As Medjugorje's Bishop, Ratko Perić, has fended off insidious allegations recently made against his predecessor - that he was a tool of the communists - we learn that Cardinal Ruini's Medjugorje commission will end it's work by the end of 2012.


The Italian News Agency, ASCA, is reporting that Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the Archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo), also a commission member, stated that the final report will be presented by Cardinal Ruini to Pope Benedict at year's end so that the Holy Father can render his judgment.  Here's the actual news report, translated:

Cardinal Puljic: Report on Medjugorje ready before the end of 2012
14 February 2012 - 14:57 
(ASCA): Rome, 14 Feb: The commission appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to evaluate the authenticity of the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, is expected to present its concluding report before the end of 2012. "Within the year we want to finish our work and give our opinion to the Pope so that he may express his judgment," said Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Sarajevo and member of the commission, during the press conference announcing the Sant'Egidio community's "Meeting for peace" which is to take place next September. "We cannot talk about what the commission is doing, because we are bound to secrecy", the cardinal explained: "Our work is continuing. But we need to finish it this year."   (asp/mpd)   (Translated by Richard Chonak)

That mirrors what the apostolic nuncio to Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH), Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico, said to the people of that nation on March 17, 2010.  The nuncio, referring repeatedly to Medjugorje as, "a question" had this to say back then:

From personal experience, every time I met the Holy Father he had great interest in the question of Medjugorje, a question to which he was directed from the very beginning that he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It deals with a question for which he feels responsible as the supreme head of the Church to pronounce a clear message.

The Holy Father personally knows it very well and he has told me that several times - he is well acquainted with the whole phenomenon. He knows about the great good that is being done in this region by the priests, the Franciscan friars, and the laity. And on the other hand he asks himself how come there is information in such opposition to this phenomenon.

An interesting side note is that you will find other versions of Archbishop D'Errico's message online, but curiously missing from those translations offered by pro-Medjugorje sites is the word "question", which is in the Croatian taken from the BiH Bishops Conference website at the time.  Supporter translations also make the last line sound like the Pope can't understand how anyone could oppose Medjugorje (by omitting, "on the other hand",  and creating one sentence from two).  Readers can draw their own conclusions about why anyone would want to distort the words of a papal nuncio.

Judgment is coming while visions are ongoing?

You will find many well-intentioned people saying that the alleged apparitions cannot be judged while ongoing, or that they must end before judgment can be made. This is only half-true.  The Church will not approve alleged phenomena, while ongoing, but there are plenty of events which have been condemned as not supernatural, while ongoing.  The most recent example are those affiliated with Holy Love Ministries, where Bishop Lennon of Cleveland condemned them as not supernatural in clear ecclesial terms in November of 2009, and his judgment was made at the request of the Holy See. Anyone doubting it's status can mail the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and if they get a letter referring them to Bishop Lennon's decree, they can rest assured that his judgment, is the judgment of the Church.

Bishop Perić Defends Bishop Pavao Žanić 

Last year, four Croatian, pro-Medjugorje journalists openly accused the late Bishop Žanić of conspiring with the communists against the alleged apparitions in a new book entitled, The Mystery of Medjugorje (only in Croatian at this time).  I was very disappointed to see the renouned Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli, citing the book in Italian media, lending credibility to accusations, that when examined closely, are utterly ridiculous.

The claims make no sense from a fact-finding standpoint; andl from a standpoint of reason, it is even worse. I wondered if it might prompt the Holy See to act sooner, given that supporters are willing to descend to such a disappointing level to defend Medjugorje.   I anxiously await the judgment of the Holy Father and hope publishers will think twice before agreeing to translations of this book, especially before the Pope speaks.  I can't fathom the Blessed Virgin Mary approving of people trashing the local bishops, even if she were appearing.   If anything, such behavior of followers does nothing to advance a favorable discernment by the Church.

Medjugorje researcher, Louis Bélanger, now retired from the University of Montreal, took Mr. Tornielli to task on September 19, 2011.  The Vatican journalist responded in his combox on September 20th and what he said there, drew additional questions from Bélanger, also in the combox (start at the very bottom and work your way up).  He challenged Tornielli, thus:

My main point is that you convey the allegation that the Secret Service so heavily influenced Mgr Zanic’s decision that he changed completely his position from January 1982 — does the choice of that date point to a specific historical document? — making him a tool of the communist regime, thus its marionette concerning Medjugorje. As if the Ordinary had no legitimate intimate intellectual, spiritual and pastoral motive for the change of his initial spontaneous and positive assessment of the supernatural quality of the Medjugorje events — completely independent of the regime’s political stratagems.

Tornielli never responded to the challenges by Bélanger.

The Bishop Speaks-Out

On December 31 2011, Bishop Ratko Perić published a stunning rebuke of the book, also citing the same paragraph from Bélanger.  Near the opening of his public statement he writes:

In sum, according to the UDBA report, Tornielli says, it turns out that “Bishop Žanić was ready to accept any document against the Franciscans and against the apparitions, even if it was of suspect origin.” Very grave accusations.

The UDBA was the Yugoslav secret police.

The bishop then offers his analysis of the Croatian book at the heart of the controversy.  He writes:
Since the late bishop Pavao Žanić is mentioned in numerous pages of the book “The Mystery of Medjugorje” (MM), and not in a complimentary way, it is our duty, for the love of truth and out of respect for Bishop Pavao, who was a bishop in Herzegovina for 23 years, to respond to such arbitrary claims and insinuations. 

I strongly suggest taking the time to read what Bishop Peric has to say about these allegations, which have made their way into blogposts and promoter sites, as if fact.  It has served only to deepen divisions.  Go to the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno website to read the detailed analysis by Bishop Perić, which was translated by Richard Chonak.

Further reading

When one googles, "Medjugorje", they are met with dozens of links to pro-Medjugorje sites which basically offer messages and fuel the wave of enthusiasm related to the phenomena.  "Details" they have are often highly subjective (and much hear-say); and, the dominant argument is, "the fruits".  There are only a handful of websites which take a look at the events themselves, objectively, which is what the 1978 criteria for discernment of apparitions begs any bishop or commission to look at first.  Below, I provide some of those.

A baby is always a good fruit, regardless of how he or she comes into being.  But, the event involved may not be a loving relationship between a mother and father who were joined in sacramental marriage. Rather, we know the baby may have come into being through fornication, adultery, rape, in a test tube, and many other ways which are not pure.  The baby is a good fruit, and is pure, but the process involved - the event - was not.   And so it is with any alleged apparition.   At every condemned apparition that I'm aware of, are testimonies of people who were converted, found their vocation, increased their prayer and sacramental life, etc.  These things do not make the thing true; investigation of events and facts is what leads the Church to discern the truth.  Everyone should  pray, not that the events of Medjugorje be approved or condemned, but that the Holy See discerns the truth and makes that known to the people, out of love, charity, and justice.

Document and Event-Based Websites on Medjugorje

I also recommend to you, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, by Fr. Ivo Sivric, OFM (edited by Louis  Bélanger), which is a gold source for many other books which use a document and events-based approach to understand Medjugorje.  Donal Anthony Foley's latest book, I also highly recommend.  My review for this is forthcoming in the near future.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

USCCB President says Obama offered next to nothing; expresses disappointment with Sr. Keehan

From Catholic News Service

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York said Feb. 13 that President Barack Obama's proposed revision to the contraceptive mandate in the health reform law did nothing to change the U.S. bishops' opposition to what they regard as an unconstitutional infringement on religious liberty.

"We bishops are pastors, we're not politicians, and you can't compromise on principle," said Cardinal-designate Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "And the goal posts haven't moved and I don't think there's a 50-yard line compromise here," he added.

"We're in the business of reconciliation, so it's not that we hold fast, that we're stubborn ideologues, no. But we don't see much sign of any compromise," he said.

"What (Obama) offered was next to nothing. There's no change, for instance, in these terribly restrictive mandates and this grossly restrictive definition of what constitutes a religious entity," he said. "The principle wasn't touched at all."

Obama's proposed revision of the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate left intact the restrictive definition of a religious entity and would shift the costs of contraceptives from the policyholders to the insurers, thus failing to ensure that Catholic individuals and institutions would not have to pay for services that they consider immoral, Cardinal-designate Dolan said.

For one thing, the cardinal-designate said, many dioceses and Catholic institutions are self-insuring. Moreover, Catholics with policies in the compliant insurance companies would be subsidizing others' contraception coverage. He also objected that individual Catholic employers would not enjoy exemption under Obama's proposal.

"My brother-in-law, who's a committed Catholic, runs a butcher shop. Is he going to have to pay for services that he as a convinced Catholic considers to be morally objectionable?" he asked.

Cardinal-designate Dolan said he emailed Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who heads the Catholic Health Association, on Feb. 10 to tell her that he was "disappointed that she had acted unilaterally, not in concert with the bishops."

Read the rest at CNS:

Further Reading:

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    Monday, February 13, 2012

    The pseudo-magisterium needs to be neutered....

    A pseudo-magisterium  is a group of dissenting Catholics, sometimes working with non-Catholics, who hold high-visibility positions in the community, and who compete with Catholic bishops for authority, and other Catholics.

    During the round-table on  today's Meet the Press, Joe Scarborough said of President Obama: "He had a unified Catholic front against him, he split that in half now and now he can move on."

    Here it is in context:
    All you’re doing is shifting the burden to all Catholics now who are all paying for these contraceptive devices that they may–they may find to be immoral. But at the end of the day, this is all the president needs politically because now we have–we have sisters debating bishops, and we’ve got liberal Catholics debating conservatives Catholics. You’ve got Peggy and E.J. now once again …on opposite sides of an issue.

    For the president that’s all he needed to do. He had a unified Catholic front against him, he split that in half now and now he can move on. And I agree with E.J. If this debate moves on and stops being about religious freedom and starts being about contraceptives–contraception, then Republicans lose in a very big way.

    When Scarborough talks about "sisters debating bishops", he's referring, in part, to Sr. Carol Keehan of Catholic Health Association, who has been in public opposition to the U.S. bishops numerous times. She initially balked at Obama's mandate because it went too far.  Before the president ever got to the teleprompter on Friday to tell the nation about his, "compromise", the Catholic Health Association (CHA) released a statement saying they were, "pleased".  Rather curious timing, no?

    The New York Times filled us in on some interesting, behind-the-scenes details late Friday. 

    Rather, the fight was for Sister Carol Keehan — head of an influential Catholic hospital group, who had supported President Obama’s health care law — and Catholic allies of the White House seen as the religious left. Sister Keehan had told the White House that the new rule, part of the health care law, went too far.
    “I felt like he had made a really bad decision, and I told him that,” Sister Keehan said of the president. “I told his staff that. I felt like they had made a bad decision on principle, and politically it was a bad decision. For me another key thing was that it had the potential to threaten the future of health reform.”

    We also learn from the New York Times:

    Tim Kaine, a Virginia Senate candidate and former head of the Democratic National Committee, echoed the concern of Sister Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, that it went too far. So did some liberal-leaning Catholics in the news media, like Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” who called the rule “frightening,” and E. J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, who wrote that Mr. Obama had “utterly botched” the issue. 

    Meanwhile, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a group founded by nuns decades ago to lobby on social justice issues, warned White House officials that nearly 500 Catholic activists would be in Washington this weekend for a conference, and that if no compromise had been reached by then, all of them would return to their parishes fired up about the contraception mandate.
    “We were getting killed,” one administration official said Friday. The White House picked the deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle to talk to Sister Keehan about ways the rule could be made palatable. Meanwhile, administration officials were hearing from women’s rights organizations, particularly Planned Parenthood, who warned that they would oppose any compromise that made employees pick up the tab.

    Pitiful, isn't it?  These Catholic religious sisters have put themselves, and their organizations, on the level of the U.S. bishops!  The Obama administration, and many journalists (some of them Catholics), are using them as tools to pit the faithful against their own bishops.  Division and dissent are not fruits of the Holy Spirit.

    Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius who heads the HHS, is also a member of the pseudo-magisterium.  Her actions have created grave scandal, and she was told some years ago by her bishop in Kansas, not to approach for Holy Communion and the bishops of Washington D.C. have publicly acknowledged they will uphold that.

    Obama is hedging on winning back a number of left-leaning Catholics, but it doesn't appear he will win them all back. Cardinal Mahony isn't buying itHere is Michael Sean Winters, who writes for the dissenting National Catholic Reporter discussing his position. He voted for Obama in the last election.  He says he has lost trust in him and does not plan on voting in November.  I hope and pray that he remains with the bishops as we move forward.  If you watch the video, or read the transcript of today's Meet the Press, or manage to find the Fox News Sunday for today, you will get a chance to hear Jack Lew - Obama's new White House chief of staff.  He comes across as downright arrogant in that the administration is done negotiating with Catholics.

    Nancy Pelosi some weeks ago, was doing her best to divide Catholics from their bishops.  Consider that the average Catholic is going to get more exposure to Catholicism during the week  from secular sources who often lift the pseudo-magisterium above the voices of the bishops, or at least equal to their voices.  For secular media and politicians, it's perfectly fine for there to be division between Catholics, as you will find in many reports.  We see this in the reporting about Catholic Health Association, which has absolutely no authority.  

    Faithful Catholics who are watching fellow Catholics be duped by the pseudo-magisterium are calling for bishops to make use of Canon 915 - publicly.  Others are wondering about excommunication.

    Some may be wondering who is going to win the battle for authority in the U.S. Catholic Church: The pseudo-magisterium or the bishops.  I know one thing for certain: Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, so where does that leave the pseudo-magisterium and it's followers?

    Pray for the bishops, and for those Catholics who oppose them causing division among the faithful. 

    Further reading (list may be updated, so check back):


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