Monday, January 30, 2012

The 1996 Bruskewitz Excommunications: 50,000 letters of support; only 300 negative

Jim Graves at the National Catholic Register (not the dissident "Reporter"), has an excellent story on Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, 76, of Lincoln, Nebraska.  He is entering his 20th year as bishop of that diocese.  There is some interesting background which then leads into an interview.  One question put forth concerns excommunications he publicized in 1996 (and which were upheld by the Holy See)

Most bishops in the United States haven’t publicized decrees of excommunication. What led you to publicize decrees of excommunication in 1996?

That year I became more famous than I ever intended or wished to be. I issued the decree to clarify that one cannot be a loyal Catholic and a member of certain organizations. Call to Action, for example, advocates homosexual “marriage” and other distortions of Catholic teaching. I said that Catholics had a certain time to withdraw from such organizations or face canonical penalties. 
It hit the national news, and I was interviewed for radio and television programs, such as The Today Show. The reaction I received was overwhelmingly favorable. I received about 50,000 letters of support, versus about 300 negative letters. I’d come home, and I could hardly get into my house, because supporters had sent me bouquets of flowers and baskets of fruit that arrived on my doorstep. Our diocese received a half-million dollars in donations. 
Many bishops privately offered me their support. Some were astonished, but many said what I did was great, even if it wouldn’t work in their part of the world. I never intended it to be an example to others. It was part of my job as shepherd and chief pastor of Lincoln. 
I believe we sometimes have to take steps to move beyond the intellect to motivate the will. Sin is not in the intellect, but the will. We do have to inform people about Church teaching, but once that is done, some choose to be willfully sinful. A great lawyer can know the law but still be a criminal. People can know what is right but do wrong. So, in regards to the excommunications, I believed I had to do something. Sometimes action must be taken.

Read the whole thing:

Here is another interview from 1996 by James Likoudis on the excommunications, at EWTN.

Just think how the landscape might be different today if bishops had taken a unified approach with Bishop Bruskewitz in 1996.  Catholics involved with those organizations would know exactly where they stand, and what must be done to regularize their status.  The secular media would not be able to parade people from these organizations in front of other Catholics in an effort to create dissonance.  Ordinary Catholics in the pew who get their "catechesis" from the New York Times would not be scandalized as badly if everyone was clear about the Church's position on these groups.  Furthermore, politicians with agendas that conflict with the natural law and Catholic teaching would not be able to hide behind these people and organizations to mislead Catholic voters.

Let's pray that our bishops change their approach to groups like these in ways that will seriously hinder their ability to undermine the apostolic successors as they have done for decades.  If they operate nationally or internationally, the USCCB ought to have a list of organizations on their website that would make clear to media outlets and politicans those that are out of harmony with the Catholic Church.  It's because these groups seem to enjoy support from some bishops, even if only by their silence about them, that more of the faithful are misled by them.

I really think the HHS mandate has awoken a sleeping giant.  Perhaps God permitted all of these things to happen to light a fire under the seat of bishops' cassocks.

If you want further reading on that, Joan Frawley Desmond has a new article out: Sebelius' Contraception Mandate and the Media

UPDATE:  Here is the statement by Bishop Bruskewitz on the HHS mandate

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great cooking cheat: Egg poaching pods!

Two eggs poached in Fusion brand pods (and a slip of the pepper shaker)

I'll never match the culinary skills of that great cleric-chef, Father Z.

So, when no one is looking, I take short cuts.

If you want to read how easy it is to make poached eggs with the Fusion brand egg poaching pods, take a look at the list of steps at a blog I set up some time ago for cooking notes.  I initiated it a few years ago to transfer some of my mom's European recipes, but just haven't had an opportunity. 

I took the picture above, and below, near the Christmas break.  I hadn't used a particular pepper-shaker for a while and, well, the holes were bigger than I realized. LOL

You MUST use a lid for them to work right!
I'm surprised how many videos on YouTube show the eggs cooking, without a lid. This is wrong.  You have to understand the science behind it.  The eggs cook from the bottom and sides while in the water, but the top is steamed when the cover is on.  This allowed for even cooking from all sides.  Without the lid, you could wait 15 minutes or more to get the desired results, and the whites will be like rubber.

Here is one of the few, short videos I was able to find that got it right.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegetarian shop owners; and, the Catholic bishops' beef with Obama

This post has been edited and updated. See a growing list of bishop statements below this thought-provoker intended to help non-Catholics understand the issue.  For the record: I'm not a vegetarian. =)  I also understand that my spoof below is not identical to the threat posed to Catholics for a number of reasons (see combox discussion on that ).

Shock! Utter shock!!! The Obama Administration has mandated that all food stores in the United States selling refrigerated goods, MUST sell beef!

There is an exemption for vegetarians who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegetarians; and, for vegans who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegans.

What are the vegetarian and vegan store business owners to do?

How long will it take for these businesses to go bankrupt if the owners refuse to violate their conscience by carrying beef in their stores? How many people from the area, meat eaters included, frequent and buy some of the excellent products sold at vegetarian/vegan owned shops? Are people forced to shop and work at these places, or is it a choice?

If the food shop owner happens to be a Jain, then this mandate would not only be expecting him to violate his conscience, but also would be an assault on his religious liberty.

Get it? Get it?

OK, so it's a satire - an example of what you might find in a place like, The Onion.   Well, that has some similarities to what the Obama Administration wants to do to Catholic institutions with the HHS mandate (see combox discussion on this point). But, it doesn't just force Catholics and other people of faith with similar convictions to violate their conscience, it's a violation of religious liberty.

What about the Catholic business owners and other people of faith who don't want to violate their conscience over the HHS mandate?   People are not forced to purchase products or services, or to work for any particular business. Why should those business owners be forced to offer something that is contrary to their religious beliefs?

Just think of the people - those who are currently defending this mandate, or who are taking a back seat to the assault on liberty of Catholics.  Want to bet that they would fight with vigor if this was about vegetarian and vegan store owners being forced to sell beef!

Some of the Catholic bishops quoted below

And now, a word from our bishops

NOTE: Feel free to drop additional and new statements, interviews, videos, etc. in the combox, but I prefer to have statements from original sources. So, if you see a news item, go to the diocese or the diocesan paper to see if there is something there before providing a news article.

I don't think any other issue in recent years has galvanized the U.S. Bishops more than the reality of this particular threat.  This threat has many tentacles and we've only scratched the surface.  Look past the excerpts by bishops and read some of their full statements and interviews.

Where we often see one set of bishops speaking more forcefully about pro-life issues and others about social justice issues, the HHS mandate has unified bishops from one end of that spectrum to the other.  Reading through the names and statements below, you will see what I mean. 

In most cases I am linking directly to diocesan resources, or the original sources of interviews so you can see full text and not excerpts.  This is just a sampling of what is out there (in no particular order).

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has an entire page dedicated to this, including information on what you can do!  Along with tools to help you contact Congress, you will find these things:

USCCB President, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who earlier stated that Obama gave Catholics one year to figure out how to violate their conscience with the mandate has a new article which is being carried by the Wall Street JournalObamaCare and Religious Freedom.  In it he states: "Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees."

Bishop David A. Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh gets the award for the most eye-catching headline: "To Hell with You" (in reference to what the Obama administration is telling Catholics with this action.)  Excerpts have been flying around the internet, but here is the full text, along with some resources.

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, who serves as the ad hoc Chair of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty said: It is true that the HHS rule includes a religious exemption. This exemption, however, actually constitutes a very narrow governmental definition of the Church’s mission. It applies only to religious organizations that that exist solely to teach doctrine and to serve their own members. This is not how the Catholic Church understands its mission. The Church proclaims the Gospel to all and serves people of all faiths and none with an array of educational, charitable, and social services. Its contributions to the common good of society are immense.  Bishop Lori also had an interview on Fox News.

Bishop Daniel Jenky brought back an old tradition in the Diocese of Peoria.  Quoting The Catholic Post:  "I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance,” and until "the 'grave issues' are favorably resolved, he asked all Sunday Masses in the diocese include the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America."

Detroit's Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said the HHS mandate tramples religious freedom. He had a short video interview on a local ABC affiliate, and a longer interview with WJR radio show host, Frank Beckman (all found in this post).

In Arlington, Bishop Paul S. Loverde said, "a dangerous line has been crossed"

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the United States said, "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law".  (Note: The letter here is based on a form letter sent out by the USCCB, so similar letters will be seen at other dioceses.  It is rather strongly worded and the bishops sending it out are  basically saying, "it speaks for me."  In some dioceses I'm reading that the bishop wanted it stuffed into bulletins or shared at Masses.  Those using variations of this form letter include Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinatti, and Bishop McFadden of Harrisburg, and Bishop Sample of Marquette and probably many more.)

Cardinal Wuerl of Washington D.C. offered a video response and in an interview with CNA he said, “This is all new, in the sense that never before in our history has any government simply issued a decree emptying the religious convictions and conscience protections of all the institutions that serve the poor.”

At the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Joseph Bambera says, "the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

In his column in The Tidings, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles said, "this is a time for Catholic action and Catholic voices.

At his blog, Archbishop-Emeritus of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony called the ruling, "a direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience" and, "any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote."

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, commenting from Rome during his ad limina visit, said, "As bishops, we can't stand back and let this go unnoticed."

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston expresses, "deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country."

In the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky called it a, "bigoted and blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of every Catholic believer."

Bishop Leonard Blair, urged everyone in the Diocese of Toledo, beginning with the clergy, to address this issue squarely, to inform people what is at stake, to prepare them to make sacrifices for their faith, to keep our country in their prayers, and to work to overturn what we Bishops have called a ‘literally unconscionable’ decision by the Obama Administration."

In the Catholic Spirit of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Archbishop John Nienstedt said, this is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration’s approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison asks Catholics to pray and offer sacrifices like fasting, and to contact members of Congress.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said: HHS's mandate includes an incredibly narrow exemption for "religious employers" that protects almost no one. Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families, their employees or those most in need.

Bishop Farrel (Diocese of Dallas) and Bishop Vann (Diocese of Forth Worth) co-authored a guest column in the Star-Telegram in which they said: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." But in recent days the latest salvo in the attack on religious freedom was fired by the Obama administration and, sadly, by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic.

Read more here:

Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo has an interview and a video response.  He points out:  First of all, it’s much broader than just contraceptives, the Order also includes pills that can act as abortifacients. So it is a very serious threat to our Catholic moral tradition and belief; and, The Right of Conscience, or Freedom of Conscience, is supreme in our Catholic tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas was very clear on that point. The Second Vatican Council even refined this more. The Second Vatican Council teaches that “Conscience is that inner sanctum within each individual human being where the individual meets God.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami said, "To force all of us to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience."

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis point out: "Even Jesus and the apostles would not be 'religious enough' under such a test, as they served and healed people of different religions."

Additional statements by bishops will be added above this note (see what I have noted next to Archbishop Broglio's statement about a form letter being used.  Some bishops feel it speaks for them and are using it; others are adding in a few words of their own.  I'd like to collect unique statements here, whether they accompany the form letter, or do not use the form letter).

Several blogs have quoted something by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB communications.  She may have coined something new here (empahsis mine in bold):

Some months ago HHS refused to award an anti-trafficking grant to the U.S. Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). It did so despite MRS’s scoring higher on an objective scale (according to the government’s independent advisors evaluating grant applications) than two of the three organizations that were awarded grants. (And two of those scored so low that they were deemed unqualified.) I suggested then that HHS had an ABC rule, “Anybody But Catholics.” Now I wonder if ABC isn’t also the answer to who gets freedom of religion.

Additional links:

The Anchoress talks about having shared my example with a friend:

Reading this to a vegetarian friend of mine — she’s not a Vegan; she eats dairy — I was not surprised at her expression of outrage for the sake of the Vegan shop owners. She wondered if there was any sort of petition being offered or a demonstration being planned, because she’d participate: “I may not be a full Vegan, but that’s not right! You can’t force a Vegan to sell beef! That would be like telling them they have to actually slaughter the cow — it would repulse them! They wouldn’t be able to do it!”

Nota Bene: There is a Facebook page for standing with the US Bishops against the HHS mandate

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Religious persecution and fundamentalism in Bosnia; reflection on my time living in the region in the 80's

I saw this on Catholic Culture's news panel.   It has particular interest to me for a special reason, explained below the story.  The original story comes from Aid to the Church in Need:

Nuns report increased verbal abuse and discrimination in Bosnia

Ivanka Mihaljevic, Bosnian Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King, made the claim during a visit to the international headquarters of Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Königstein.

The nuns now only leave the convent in pairs if at all possible, out of fear of abuse.

Everyday life is becoming increasingly difficult in general, according to Sister Ivanka, especially as more and more Muslim extremists are immigrating from Saudi Arabia and opening businesses.

Sr. Ivanka Mihaljevic
The nuns often have no other choice but to buy from them, but in doing so are also subjected to discrimination and humiliations.

A recent example occurred when one of the Sisters wanted to buy bread.

“Although the loaves were in plain sight, the proprietor claimed he was out of bread,” Sister Ivanka said. “But he simply did not want to sell it to a Catholic nun.”

“Again and again, we are made to feel unwelcome, even though this is our home.”

By contrast, Sister Ivanka emphasized, native Bosnian Muslims are “peaceable,” and are often ashamed of the behavior of their extremist co-religionists who are migrating to the country.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in Sarajevo are particularly committed to promoting the peaceful coexistence of all religions. They have launched a three-year program entitled, “I extend to you my hand for peaceful coexistence.”

In this initiative, Catholics, Muslims and Serbian Orthodox Christians are jointly working to promote tolerance, non-violence and mutual respect.

This year, the Province Superior explained, the joint effort against verbal abuse tops the agenda.

“These are small steps of peace and goodwill, but we want to imbue the people with courage.”

The Bosnian Province of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King comprises 260 nuns, of whom 15 live in Sarajevo.  (source)

Just some days prior, Aid to the Church in Need ran an article in which Cardinal Vinko Puljic discussed the fundamentalism rising in Bosnia.  Here is an excerpt

Cardinal Vinko Puljic, the Archbishop of Sarajevo, highlighted the growth of extremism in the country during a visit to the international headquarters of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The 66-year-old cardinal said that the growing process of Islamization in Bosnia-Herzegovina is being funded by radicals in the Middle East.

He said, “Muslim centers and mosques have been built in many places with oil-dollars from Saudi Arabia.”

During the ACN interview in Königstein, Germany, the cardinal stressed the spread of Wahhabism, an Islamic reform movement, which is the official religion of Saudi Arabia.

Many commentators have linked Wahhabism to terrorist movements such as al-Qaeda.

The Archbishop of Sarajevo said that there are already 3-5,000 Wahhabis in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the group is seeking to gain influence in society.

Cardinal Puljic said, “Nobody in the government has the courage to do anything to prevent this development.”

According to ACN’s report on the oppression of Christians, Persecuted and Forgotten?, more than 100,000 young Bosnian Muslims have encountered Wahhabi Islam through organizations such as Active Islamic Youth, Furqan, and the Muslim Youth Council.

Cardinal Puljic added, “In recent years, at least 70 new mosques have been built in Sarajevo alone.”


While mosques are being built or repaired, Cardinal Puljic pointed out that building approval for churches can be delayed for years, adding that Church property confiscated under communism has still not been returned.

He said that the government “has no interest in giving the Catholic Church back its property,” while in most cases Muslim property has been returned.

The Archbishop of Sarajevo went on to say that “Catholics are systematically disadvantaged” and demanded equal treatment for Catholics in employment, education and other spheres of life. (source)

What this will mean, also, is a shrinking number of Catholics in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), just as there are increasing shifts seen in certain areas of the Middle East.   We see this happening in places like Kazahkstan, as well.  There comes a point when Croatians living in BiH decide that there are better opportunities in Croatia and less threats to life and limb if they simply move. It leads to the de-Christianization of an area.  

If this keeps going in the direction it is headed, we will likely see martyrs in the future, as well.  As we have seen here in the U.S. with what black people suffered not too long ago, the kind of discrimination talked about by Sr. Ivanka, can lead to even worse things than denying someone a loaf of bread.

Pray for the people in that very troubled region, especially those persecuted in any way.  

EDIT:  This came out a few days later, also from Aid to the Church in Need which is trying to raise money for  a Carmelite monastery in Bosnia

Living in nearby Herzegovina

This was of particular interest to me because I had discerned a vocation with the sister province  of the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King in Herzegovina (Mostar) in the early 80's, straight out of high school.  Chronic digestive problems related to diet and an intolerance to mineral/spring water (our main source of hydration) forced me home at about 95 pounds (43 kg). The two year battle with my gut left me in a weakened, sickly state and I had no choice but to leave while in the novitiate.  I spent my first three days back in the US, in a hospital.  I would later learn, stateside, that I also had a diseased gall-bladder.  Today, I am being checked for celiac (gluten intolerance).  I was given a letter of recommendation by my Provincial in Herzegovina to take to the American province in Lemont, Illinois.  I visited there and went on a discernment weekend. Things were fine there, but I just did not feel called to that particular community.  I explored other communities stateside and had the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, been around in those days, I would have surely discerned with them.

I had very little interaction with local muslims, but what I do recall is that they were not militant fundamentalists.  On my few trips into town, we didn't hesitate to purchase things from muslim-run stores or restaurants, nor did I ever feel discriminated against.  In fact, one of the postulants introduced me to a friend she knew from school who was muslim, and the girl took us to a mosque and explained some things to me.  It just so happened to be Ramadan, which I did not know about, and I recall being somewhat in awe at the willingness of people to go without food or drink for so long while some Catholics gripe about only having three meals on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.   It was a very cordial encounter, lifting somewhat of a mystery to me.   It seems today, as Sr. Ivanka pointed out, there are fundamentalists migrating into the region.   This, of course, could sweep in people from among that non-militant population, especially young Bosniaks.

One might wonder how an American with a polish last name ends up discerning a vocation in a place like Herzegovina.  Well, my mother was of Croatian descent and I was very active in my high school years in the Croatian parish, formerly known as St. Jerome in Detroit (8 Mile Rd); and, now known as St. Lucy's in Troy.  I was raised in what was, at the time, one of the most "liberal" parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit. This led my Polish father to take refuge with his family in the Croatian parish after he saw it's rich, Catholic identity about the time I entered high school (much like many non-Slovaks take refuge in the ethnic-Slovak parish of Ss Cyril & Methodius in Sterling Heights).  At St. Jerome's, most of the youth were involved in an ethnic dance group that traveled to other Croatian communities for events and performances (see this promotional video for Lado, a professional group out of Croatia).

I first saw the sisters in Chicago with their long, brown habits.  I was attracted to religious life from the time of my Confirmation, but I was not at all attraced to the form of religious life that emerged following Vatican II which was mostly devoid of community life.  The sisters in Chicago were living out their vocations exactly as I had envisioned mine. 

The Herzegovina province has sisters in a handful of Croatian parishes between the US and Canada.  My hope was to to eventually be sent home to the US to work in one of those parishes, but I was equally comfortable with remaining there, as well - one of the most geographically, beautiful countries in the world.  I recently found this picture of the top of the Velež mountain, from behind which the sun would rise each morning.

While the call I heard to the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King in Herzegovina was not where God intended me to stay, I truly believe He led me there for the experiences.  I still draw on the lessons I learned there and I will always be indebted to the sisters for their care.  My experience with the community was very good.  Living with the sisters for over two years, I was exposed to the same, rich, Catholic heritage I had at St. Jerome's, but it had spiritual depth to it.  I learned that no work should be considered beneath our dignity, and that there is a value in time spent peeling dozens of potatoes.  At times it was opportunity to build relationships with peers while doing something mundane; and, at other times it was an opportunity to listen and talk to God in silence.

I was arrived there in late 1980 and remained until early 1983.  The motherhouse was just a short driving distance - 30 minutes, if not less - from Medjugorje. While many sisters believed in the authenticity of the alleged aparitions in Medjugorje (St. James was served by the Herzegovina province), not all did.  Some believed in sticking to basics and remained cautious.  I don't know whether that trend continued over these 30 years or not.  I was initially well disposed, and hopeful.  Today, after much study and prayer, I remain very skeptical.  I anxiously await news from the Holy See now that an international commission investigates the alleged apparitions.  I don't "hope" that it is condemned; rather, my hope is that the commission discovers the truth concerning the events and the Holy Father acts accordingly for the good of the Church. 

Some years ago, doing some research, I had stumbled upon photos of the building I once lived in (top floor).  The war was not too friendly to it, nor to the sisters who fled under bombing and grenades on April 1, 1992.  I have often wondered if any perished as a direct result of assaults during the war. 

They have a new campus now, and their website reveals additional buildings in the area of Mostar.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HHS Mandate & Archbp Vigneron interviews; and, Belmont Abbey College vs. Sebelius

Detroit's Archbishop, Allen H. Vigneron, was interviewed by local ABC affiliate, WXYZ. There is a much longer interview on local radio. You can listen by going to this link at the Archdiocese of Detroit (may load slowly so be patient).  You can also find the link on January 23, 2012 at the page of the interviewer, Frank Beckman at WJR.

This was a very good interview and the Archbishop points out why so many other groups should be concerned with the impact that this could have on the Catholic Church.

The exemption that the Obama Administration wants to give is ridiculously narrow.  What it means is that Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions would only qualify for the exemption if they limited their service and employment to Catholics only!!!

Catholic Hospitals, Schools, and Soup Kitchens

If a hospital were to hire only Catholics to work in Catholic hospitals, and only serve Catholics, they would then likely be charged with discrimination; so on it's face, it's a catch-22.  Further, what if a Muslim, Hindu, atheist or Protestant were to end up in an accident at the intersection of the hospital, what is that hospital suppose to do - refuse treatement because they aren't Catholic?  What if that is the hospital where their practitioner practices and to go elsewhere would drive up out-of-pocket expense for going, "outside of network", which may ultimately be prohibitive? How does that impact the rights of individuals to choose their own doctor?

Many non-Catholics have chosen to go to Catholic schools and universities.  Should these institutions post a sign that says "non-Catholics need not apply?"  What about the rights of students to attend a school of their choice, with full knowledge that at a Catholic institution they won't be able to get certain things because those things violate the conscience of Catholics? They no longer have a choice to attend such a school, even if they are willing to accept such a practice.  How many non-Catholic students attending Belmont Abbey College would choose to go elsewhere, if they knew couldn't get a condom on campus, or birth control pills?  How many employees would reject an employment opportunity with Belmont Abbey College if their insurance didn't cover these things?  Do students and employees not have a choice to go to hundreds of other colleges that do offer these things?

And then, there are the soup kitchens and other services for the poor, like warming centers and shelters, and adoption centers.  Can you see a Catholic soup kitchen refusing to serve non-Catholics?  Perhaps this mandate doesn't fully impact these services in the way it does hospitals, but who is to say that it won't - eventually? Ponder for a moment the loss of all of these things to a community because they won't cover condoms and birth control pills.  What does it mean when a soup kitchen must close? Are we to believe the government is going to step in and take over?

Here's the bottom line:  Obama is trying to destroy all of the good that the Catholic Church does in terms of service to the community, and he is using dissident Catholics in his administration to do it.  How much more do the bishops need to see from certain Catholic politicians before they take public action? As long as the bishops are silent on this aspect, Obama, and the media can continue to pedal them as, "devout".  The fruit of reticence couldn't be more manifest than in the scandal caused for decades by Catholic politicians and school officials who retain good standing in the Church despite persistent public actions in opposition to the Church.  That said, I'm very glad to see our bishops speaking out, and boldly; but, until they do something about the pseudo-magisterium of theologians, politicians, and nuns, they have a real uphill battle.

The net effect of this is very clear.  It means the end of Catholic hospitals, schools, soup kitchens and more.  There really can be no other way to look at it because that is the long term effect.  The Catholic Church will not permit what it considers to be a violation of the 10 Commandments in order to do other goods (Veritatis Splendor 75).  It won't do it, because it can't (setting aside those officials at Catholic-in-name-only institutions who distort Catholic teaching using a pseudo-magisterium of theologians).


Now, there is a case winding it's way through the system thanks to the Becket Fund.  You will want to follow the case of Belmont Abbey College vs. Sebelius.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represents Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts college founded by Benedictine monks, in a lawsuit against the federal government to protect Belmont Abbey’s right to be true to its principles. As a Catholic college, Belmont Abbey teaches that contraception, sterilization, and abortion are against God’s law.

So in August 2011, when the federal government issued a regulation requiring that all group health plans must cover “[FDA-]approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,” Belmont Abbey knew it could not be true to both the government mandate and its Church’s teachings. This is so because FDA-approved contraceptives include a number of drugs Belmont Abbey, and many scientists, consider to be abortifacients—most notably Plan B and Ella. Were Belmont Abbey to choose not to cover contraception and sterilization as required by the government mandate, it would be penalized with a hefty fine and forced to terminate its health insurance for employees and students. For example, a religious organization with 100 employees would have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the “privilege” of not underwriting medical services it believes are immoral. In other words, Belmont Abbey would be forced to pay for the right to remain true to its principles!

Although the government regulation includes an exemption from the mandate for certain religious employers, Belmont Abbey believes that it will not be exempted from the mandate’s requirements. The exemption is extremely narrow... [continue reading at the Becket Fund site]

If you want to help, consider going to that page at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and donate, then spread the word. Support them generously.

Further reading:

I was trying to find the full text or audio/video of the main homilies at the March for Life.  If anyone has a link to these, please drop them into the combox.  I found people claiming to have "full text" but they were merely news reports.

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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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Monday, January 23, 2012

Bill Donohue to appear on Fox News at 1:15 to discuss HHS mandate

From the Catholic League (emphasis mine in bold):

The announcement on January 20 by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that religious non-profits will have to cover sterilization and contraceptive services, including some abortion-inducing drugs, is being met with growing rancor. Catholic League president Bill Donohue speaks to this issue today:

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, responded to the Obama administration’s edict by saying, “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.”

Joining him in this assessment is an unlikely ally, namely the editorial board of the Washington Post. Today, the editorial on this subject says that “requiring a religiously affiliated employer to spend its own money in a way that violates its religious principles does not make an adequate accommodation for those deeply held views.”

Michael Sean Winters at the liberal National Catholic Reporter was highly critical of the Obama edict; he even went so far as to say that Obama “lost my vote” as a result of this decision. Some prominent priests and nuns who initially supported Obamacare have also expressed their opposition to this ruling.

What’s going on? Many of those who tend to side with abortion-rights advocates also hold to the very American principle of respecting conscience rights; when these issues collide, the latter proves decisive.

The Obama administration made a fatal flaw when it assumed that most people are not going to get worked up about healthcare plans that carry contraceptive coverage. If the plans were voluntarily adopted, the administration would be right. But the difference in this instance is that this service is being mandated by the federal government, allowing no exceptions for those who in good conscience cannot go along; the inclusion of abortifacients in the policy only deepens the problem.

There is a high price paid for arrogance in politics. Stay tuned—this issue isn’t going to go away. (Source)

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March for Life in DC - Happening Now - Streaming

There are a number of methods and modes to listen/watch the March for Life in Washington DC. Right now the opening Masses are taking place. It is split between two large venues in DC because there are too many people for one.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Carlo Maria Vigano, just got done offering the blessings of the Holy Father from the site of the Mass which will be celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl. The other Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal DiNardo.

Very sadly, the secular media, which will get all excited about 300 "occupy fill-in-the-blank" protesters, or even a few dozen, spending considerable time covering it, won't give this event the time of day despite a crowd of hundreds of thousands, half of them young people.  Watch the secular news tonight and there is a pretty good chance that they won't show the broad shots revealing the strength of the peaceful crowd.  They won't hesitate to show the handful of anti-life protestors. 

Go to this page at EWTN to find streams depending on your location in the world. You can also find there, options for mobile streaming.

Further Reading/Following
Following online (all of these will be providing online/interactive updates:

Pray that the hearts of many are touched. 

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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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Sunday, January 22, 2012

CMAA Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, FL; includes Solemn Pontifical High Mass

From Musica Sacra:

The Church Music Association of America, in collaboration with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Church of the Epiphany in Miami, Florida, and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter


Gregorian Chant and Modern Composition for the Catholic Liturgy: Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique as Guide

February 1-3, 2012

The Church Music Association of America will hold a conference exploring Charles Tournemire’s landmark L’Orgue Mystique on February 1-3, 2012 on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and at the Church of the Epiphany in South Miami. The conference seeks to explore the aesthetic, liturgical, and compositional principles of L’Orgue Mystique, the implications of the work for modern compositions inspired by Gregorian chant, and the role of modern compositions and the organ in the Catholic liturgy.

There will be a Solemn Pontifical High Mass (1962 Missal) celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski. 

Noteworthy to Grotto-goers is that former Grotto organist Tom Schuster will be among the conference artists (see list for February 2nd in the link below).

Go to the Musica Sacra blog for all of the details: Gregorian Chant and Modern Composition for the Catholic Liturgy: Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique as Guide
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Archbp Vigneron on HHS Mandate: The Constitution speaks of 'freedom of religion,' not 'freedom from religion.'

Freshly released from the Archdiocese of Detroit is this statement by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron on the HHS decision. 

Detroit's Archbishop: HHS Mandate
Tramples Religious Freedom
Issued: January 21, 2012

The Catholic bishops of the United States have vowed to fight a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services forcing all health care plans to provide contraception and sterilization coverage. This will revoke a decades-long conscience exemption for religiously affiliated plans. Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron made the following remarks regarding the mandate:

“During the same week we commemorated the life, ministry, and message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his advancement of civil rights in this country, the Federal Government took the unprecedented step to affirm its discrimination against Americans exercising their right of conscience. With its edict on contraception and sterilization coverage in all health insurance plans, the Department of Health and Human Services is forcing insurers and purchasers to choose whether or not to violate their moral and religious beliefs. The inalienable rights guaranteed in our country’s founding documents are being trampled. Where is the ‘liberty’ in a decision to intrude on freedom of conscience? The Constitution speaks of ‘freedom of religion,’ not ‘freedom from religion.’

“Lawmakers in Washington need to step up, step in, and protect the rights of their fellow citizens from a government mandate that is truly unconscionable. This fight against the Federal Government’s over-reaching exercise of its power is everybody’s fight. As Pope Benedict reminded us just days ago, as citizens of the United States, we Catholics serve the whole nation by our witness to our moral convictions and our defense of the liberties that will always be ours by right, not by the permission of the government.”

I will be bringing more reactions in the coming days.

If you didn't see it yesterday, here is the USCCB issued it's statement.

More to come...

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Friday, January 20, 2012

US Bishops: Obama Administration decision literally unconscionable

Photo: AP

USCCB President, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, came out swinging after HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius stated that church groups must provide contraception.

Here is what accompanied the video:

WASHINGTON—Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.” He made the statement in a web video posted at: . .

“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.

On January 20, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Health and Human Services, announced that non-profit employers will have one year to comply with the new rule.

Cardinal-designate Dolan urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest.

“Let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration’s contraceptive mandate rescinded,” he said.

Here is the full text from the USCCB website (my comments bracketed in red)

Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will
No change in limited exemption, only delay in enforcement
Matter of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion

[emphasis mine in bold]

WASHINGTON—The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today's announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” [Classic +Dolan ] said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

At issue, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders insist, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for the conscience of Catholics and all other Americans.

“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” [since when has Obama concerned himself with the Constitution?] said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. “I have hundreds of employees who will be upset and confused by this edict. I cannot understand it at all.”

Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, voiced disappointment with the decision.  [What did Keehan expect?!?!?] Catholic hospitals serve one out of six people who seek hospital care annually.

“This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection,” Sister Keehan said.

Cardinal-designate Dolan urged that the HHS mandate be overturned.

The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”

Let's see.  In addition to the above, Sebelius, a Catholic, has:

This is beyond Canon 915.  How much more do the responsible bishops need to see?

'nuff said

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Awesome: Why I love religion, and love Jesus

Seen at the Aggie Catholics blog this morning, was this video. It's done in the same manner as the young man, Jeff Bethke, who did the Why I hate religion, but love Jesus video.

Marcel also points out in his blogpost that Jeff is admitting he has made some errors in his video.  In part, he says:

If I can be brutally honest I didn’t think this video would get much over a couple thousand views maybe, and because of that, my points/theology wasn’t as air-tight as I would’ve liked. If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly… My prayer is my generation would represent Christ faithfully and not swing to the other spectrum….thankful for your words and more importantly thankful for your tone and fatherly like grace on me as my elder. Humbled. Blessed. Thankful for painful growth. Blessings (Source)

Some people responded in a very harsh way. When I saw the guy's video, I saw a young man who believed he was saying the right things, and thought he was doing good, in the name of Jesus. This is different from someone who not only hates religion, but hates anything to do with Jesus.

A number of people tried to respond to Jeff's video, taking the high road by not unloading on him as if he was a militant atheist. It looks like that approach is working and, based on the young man's words, making him think.

I believe Jeff Bethke is searching for answers more than anything. I hope he continues to search for truth itself. May God give him many graces to find his way. It may very well lead him to Catholicism. What he will find is the Church Jesus Christ instituted, full of imperfect people who are also stumbling along.

If you didn't see Fr. Robert Barron's response to this, you will want to.  He too, takes the high road, and does not speak with any condescension toward's Jeff. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron responds to viral vid: "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus"

A video called, "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus" went viral and has drawn a number of responses by Catholics, including Fr. Robert Barron. I'll provide some additional links below.

More: Blogger Nick Hardisty has created a long list of additional responses to this video.

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Here are a few others who have responded: