Monday, April 30, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron explains the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment

Is CDF's Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious a matter of men who are oppressing nuns, or is it doctrinal, as the title suggests. Fr. Robert Barron explains

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Kindle: Catechism of the Catholic Church; and, Carmelite Classics

Did you know the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) is available in Kindle format?

I started a slow read of the CCC and began dropping some highlights to my Twitter and Facebook feeds right from my Kindle. Last night I noticed some people re-tweeting these.  Also, Detroit Free Press religion writer, Niraj Warikoo, spotted my stream of tweets and alerted his followers on Twitter about the Kindle edition.   I then wondered if people knew this was available on Kindle.  You can get it here.

Using a Kindle

There are some real advantages to having electronic versions of books.  With Kindle, once I buy it, it is accessable on my iPhone using a Kindle App, on my Kindle Fire which I purchased some months ago, and my regular Kindle bought earlier.  I use the latter when I am going to read for a prolonged period of time because the graphite background with black text is much easier on my eyes.  Kindle Apps can be purchased for iPads too, and other devices.  What many may not realize is that you can get Kindle right on your PC.  This means that you can view it on a desktop or laptop when you add a book to your Kindle library on those machines.  Few people will sit and read a book on a desktop, but if you are doing research or a blogpost, a report, or a book, you can search for text by keywords, and then copy and paste.  It beats all that typing. 

If you don't have a Kindle reader and want to get one, there are several styles and price ranges.  I started out with a regular kindle, which had 3G. Quite honestly, for just downloading books, this was not necessary; wi-fi would have been sufficient.

I've been tinkering with the Kindle Fire for a few months.  I got it while off sick so I could browse the web and do some other things the original Kindle couldn't.  Now, Wi-Fi is good enough if you have Wi-Fi in the home, and where you would likely be using it. It may not be good, other than for reading, when sitting in the doctor's office.  Amazon is working on a 3G version.  Also, with any device, watch for added cost associated with a data plan for 3G.  If you want to watch movies on it from a cable or Netflix account, you'll want to consider any related costs.

Sending PDF Documents for Reading on Kindle

If you want to read something like Humanae Vitae on your Kindle, or a new encyclical that comes from the Pope, you can email a PDF of that to your Kindle email address with the word, "convert" in the subject field, and it will be there a few minutes later.  You can highlight text, but you cannot publish it to Facebook or Twitter.  I have done this with several documents. 

Where this really came in handy was on Holy Saturday.  I copied the text of the vigil Mass for the "Tridentine" and pasted it into a word document, then saved it as a PDF.  When I emailed it to my Kindle email address with the word convert, I was able to then change the background to black from white.  It worked like a charm in the darkness of the Church as the Paschal Candle was being blessed. I didn't glow in the dark, and the white and red text was easy enough to read.  When the lights went on, I changed the background back to white.

Carmelite Works by ICS Publications on Kindle
I also want to point out that many Carmelite works are beginning to find their way into Kindle format. On Carmelite works, I like to use the versions found at the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS Publications).

About a year ago, I began to look for some of the primary Carmelite works in Kindle, but had only found one or two.  There are many more now - lots more!

Here is what is available now on St. Teresa of Avila:

Here are more on St. John of the Cross, St. Edith Stein, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and more...

What Catholic works are you reading on Kindle?  Or, feel free to talk about other e-readers and your experience with getting Catholic works. 

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

WSJ: Traditional Catholicism is Winning

While the LCWR and it's publishing arm National catholic Reporter feed the secular press with a notion that the Church can't survive without women's "ordination", an article in the Wall Street Journal reflects reality.  At least the WSJ knows how to look at the numbers and make an objective analysis, rather than succumbing to the subjectivist panic attack of the day.
Traditional Catholicism Is Winning 

There were 467 new priestly ordinations in the U.S. last year, and Boston's seminary had to turn away applicants. 


In his Holy Thursday homily at St. Peter's Basilica on April 5, Pope Benedict XVI denounced calls from some Catholics for optional celibacy among priests and for women's ordination. The pope said that "true renewal" comes only through the "joy of faith" and "radicalism of obedience." 

And renewal is coming. After the 2002 scandal about sexual abuse by clergy, progressive Catholics were predicting the end of the celibate male priesthood in books like "Full Pews and Empty Altars" and "The Death of Priesthood." Yet today the number of priestly ordinations is steadily increasing. 

A new seminary is to be built near Charlotte, N.C., and the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has expanded its facilities to accommodate the surge in priestly candidates. Boston's Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley recently told the National Catholic Register that when he arrived in 2003 to lead that archdiocese he was advised to close the seminary. Now there are 70 men in Boston studying to be priests, and the seminary has had to turn away candidates for lack of space. 

What explains the trend? [continue reading "Traditional Catholicism" at the WSJ]

The photo at top is of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia (aka, the "Nashville Dominicans").  I think the average age now is around 28-30.  The average for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is even younger.  Both communities are bursting at the seams.  These are active Dominican communities, involved largely in education.   This doesn't even consider the contemplative branches of many orders that are still growing.   In New York, there is a growing Franciscan community of friars and sisters who work with the poorest of the poor, and the dying.  I'd be remiss to not mention the social justice work done by the ever-growing Sisters of Life, as well.

There are many others I could mention - dioceses, communities for men and women religious where vocations are booming.  And, there is a great deal of diversity among these communities, in terms of what they do to build up the Body of Christ.  Religious communities and diocesan vocation programs, which are faithful to the doctrines of the Church, and not wanting to "move beyond" that, are growing steadily while those which dissent are dying out.  The average age in those communities is up in to the 70's and many have had to merge.

There is a great interview done by Al Kresta on this topic.  Here is the overview:

First Topic - Vatican Demands Reform of Leadership Conference of Women Religious 
The Vatican has called for a thorough reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella group that represents most of the women's religious orders in the US. After a thorough investigation of the LCWR, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) concluded that "the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern." The CDF concluded that a Vatican intervention was necessary to reform the group. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has been appointed as the Vatican's delegate to supervise the reform of the LCWR. The archbishop has been charged with helping LCWR leaders to revise the group's statues, plan its programs, review liturgical texts, and reconsider the group's affiliations with other organizations. We talk with Sr. Johannah Paruch, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. 

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Sebelius Falls Off Balance During Congressional Grilling over Religious Liberty

Oh. My. Gosh. I just picked this up off of a Becket Fund Tweet.  They are representing many groups on the religious liberty issue involved with the HHS mandate.

You don't need to be a lawyer to understand the fundamentals of the Constitution.  LOL - HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius says she's, "not going to wade into Constitutional Law" on a basic question.  Unbelievable.

Just think of all the tax-payer money that has been wasted thus far, and will be, going forward - and it won't pass Constitutional muster.

Update: Here's some discussion about EWTN'S situation with the HHS mandate.

In the meanwhile, in his campaign speech today, Obama had a few words about those who block his efforts to give out free contraception (which must include Catholics, and the bishops).
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Book Review: Medjugorje Revisited by Donal Anthony Foley

Some Background and Thoughts

In 2006, British author, Donal Anthony Foley, released the book, Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusions?  Last year, in 2011, Foley released the updated, revised, and expanded version of that book under the title: MEDJUGORJE REVISTED: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud?  It has a foreword by Mariologist, Rev. Manfred Hauke and the preface was written by Patrick Coffin.

I often get emails from people who are discerning whether to visit Medjugorje, or who feel conflicted.  When they search, they end up at the most popular sites at the top of the search list which offer an uncritical view of events in favor of signs, wonders, and good fruits.  This not only comes to the exclusion of bad fruits; it has blossomed into an alliance within the entire movement which pits the "gospa" of Medjugorje against the local bishops.

I pause any time I see anger directed at a disapproving local bishop when it concerns a private revelation or vision, especially since the Church does not require me to accept them; rather, I wait for explicit approval (and I embrace those approved).  This is the true sense of "wait-and-see." Absolutely no harm can come by waiting for such approval; but, if we become attached to a phenomenon before approval, we risk not being able to let go if the Church says: "No."  We are supposed to trust the Holy Spirit to guide the Church through the Pope and bishops, and by extension, official commissions and councils. This trust in Church discernment requires faith in God over faith in our own self-discernment. The involvement of the Angel of Darkness is manifest when many people reject a negative judgment by the Church; and, his end goal is clear: Division.

History shows us that those claiming visions will often undergo serious challenges from within, and out, of the Church.  In the end, their heroic virtue and submission, along with the docility of followers, serve as a positive sign for authenticity.  St. Faustina, and her followers, were good examples of this because nothing was done without the approval of the Church.   Her work began spreading globally in 1942, and was suppressed by the Holy See in 1959 due to what was later learned to be faulty translations that went to Rome.   In April of 1978, the writings were approved under the corrected translations, months before Blessed John Paul II became Pope.  Contrary to the many claims you will see on the web of a vast conspiracy over the writings of St. Faustina (mainly in promoting Medjugorje), no such thing existed. Sadly, the people running those sites have access to the same information as do I, but the facts do not conveniently fit into their narrative.

As I explained previously, an uncle of mine who was devoted to Divine Mercy told me the response of followers and of those producing the materials when they learned of the suppression, was remarkable. There was no anger, or outrage, and there were no protests.  They quietly accepted God's will, as it came through the Church.  God had a plan for Divine Mercy, but it was to wait until one of its greatest advocates was on a world stage.  While it is good to hope for such a thing with any private revelation, we must prepare ourselves to set it aside if disapproval in the form of a definitive judgment comes.  We must constantly examine our consciences over our attachments and ask ourselves how we would respond to a potential disapproval.  The Blessed Mother is real and she is always accessible.  Our devotion to her should never depend on any given private revelation, especially one that has not yet been deemed worthy of belief by the Church.

Hard Evidence: The Tape Recorded Interviews with Medjugorje Visionaries

There is no doubt that there are good fruits among Medjugorje devotees; but, we must ask, what is the origin of the truly good fruits, like conversions and vocations? Do we attribute them to a vision, or consider the increased use of the Sacraments and development of a prayer life and deeper relationship with the Blessed Mother and Our Lord in the Eucharist?  If Medjugorje is declared "not supernatural", are those conversions and vocations somehow invalid?  Of course not, especially if they are rooted in the Sacraments and in growing an authentic relationship with Jesus and Mary.  Those whose spiritual lives revolved almost exclusively around the messages and visions, are at risk of being like the seed sown on rocky ground (Matthew 13:20-21).

A commission was initiated on March 17, 2010 to look at the events of Medjugorje and it was announced by Cardinal Puljic in February of this year, that it had to be completed before the end of 2012.  Consider that, when investigating something that began 30 years ago, the details can change over time as people repeat the story and it morphs into something different.   That is why tape recorded interviews with the visionaries, made soon after the alleged apparitions began, are of chief interest, and certainly, in the hands of the Commission.

What questions might be answered with those tapes: What did the young visionaries say in the early days when Fr. Jozo Zovko interviewed them? How does that compare to what they claim later, or today? Have parts of the narrative changed? What is in the primary resources used by proponents?  Was hard evidence and damaging information withheld from readers, or "doctored" in a way that would not raise suspicion with regards to authenticity?  If so, who altered texts, and what might be some possible motivations?  Some might wonder: Are translations of the tapes reliable?  Foley compares two sets of transcripts of those tapes.  One set of translations originates from The Hidden Side of Medjugorje by Fr. Ivo Sivrić, OFM (edited by Louis Bélanger).  Using these extensively for his analysis, Donal had permission from Louis to publish long excerpts.  The other set of translations comes from Daria Klanac, a Medjugorje devotee.  The analysis provided sheds some interesting light on what authors have written in pro-Medjugorje books.  The question is, can their versions of history be reconciled with any of the translations of interviews with the visionaries themselves?  Foley explores these very things in Medjugorje Revisited.

Donal begins the book by giving us a historical perspective of the region.  We get a glimpse into the culture - it's strengths, weaknesses, and rituals.   What do we learn about the culture in the centuries, decades, and days before the flashpoint?  Were manifestations of those things seen in the culture in the 21st Century? What are the potential influences? How has the Holy See and local Church dealt with cultural challenges that go back centuries? What happened in the years and months prior to that first purported vision?

Among other things explored, Foley looks closely at scientific testing.  How rigorous was this testing? Were scientists able to do all of the testing that they sought?  Were the visionaries cooperative in every sense, or did they put up obstacles?  Did the visionaries enable scientists to test them all simultaneously?  Donal explores not only the tests that were performed, but the kinds of tests that were not done, and why.

Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the metropolitan archbishop in Bosnia & Herzegovina, said the work of the commission would be done by the end of 2012, and that it would go to the Holy Father for his final judgment.  The months ahead will be a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with hard evidence that would have been in the hands of the Commission. Medjugorje Revisited is for everyone - those who believe in it's authenticity, disbelieve in it, and especially for fence sitters who would like to believe, but feel conflicted.  Anyone who has been made to feel uncomfortable or brow-beaten by devotees because they do not believe in the authenticity of the Medjugorje visions will be put at ease about exploring their reservations.  The book is detailed, objective, and written with compassion and love for truth - something which can never be sacrificed, even for all the conversions and vocations in the world.  People on all sides should want, more than approval or disapproval, the truth.


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. 

Purchase Information:

United States: MEDJUGORJE REVISTED: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud?
UK and Germany: See Donal's Reference Page

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

About that LCWR Doctrinal Assessment...

Sr. Joan Chittester, OSB and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle
Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, Washington, who was appointed Delegate to oversee the renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, echoed what was on the first page of the Doctrinal Assessment.  See his statement at the National Catholic Register in Archbishop Sartain Praises Women Religious as a 'Great Gift' to the Church.

Fr. Lombardi: CDF has been treated unjustly

I missed this the other day.  The Vatican's spokesman, Fr. Lombardi spoke (emphasis mine in bold; comments in red):

A spokeswoman for the LCWR said its leadership would not be granting interviews until after a wider consultation with its members in May. 

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the doctrinal congregation "appreciates that (the leaders of the conference) have so far limited themselves to a single official statement and have not expressed other specific complaints." 

But Father Lombardi said the congregation believed that it had been treated "a bit unjustly" with the suggestion that the sisters had been taken entirely by surprise by the assessment. [I'll bet they weren't expecting to be called out on that]

The LCWR later revised its initial statement, adding that "we had received a letter from the CDF prefect in early March informing us that we would hear the results of the doctrinal assessment at our annual meeting; however, we were taken by surprise by the gravity of the mandate." [Oh? So were the rest of us, but not quite in the same way. Very clear communications are always helpful]


Stephen P. White, at The Catholic Thing, looks at the intellectual dishonesty of journalists and others over their reporting on the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The Anchoress picked up an audio interview between John Allen (who is a very good, objective Catholic reporter working at a very problematic, catholic media outlet), Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK (named in the Doctrinal Assessment), and Donna Bethell of Christendom College (remember her?)

Fr. Philip Powell, OP has an excellent post on the LCWR, digging out of his archives some analysis he did on four keynote addresses at LCWR assemblies.

In other News...

Father Z has an interesting piece up about something happening in the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin.

Over at Abbey-Roads, Terry Nelson discusses Our Lady of Good Counsel

Are Catholics good protestors?  Matt Archbold doesn't think so (pretty creative piece)

And, Jennifer Fulwiler says Mommy-Wars are sooooooo 1990's

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Intellectual Dishonesty and Logical Fallacies at "Ministry Values" over Medjugorje

Bad Fruit

"Unseemly and offensive reactions of faithful and priests who describe themselves as 
'Medjugorjean'. Unacceptable attacks even from Radio Maria, certainly not compatible with 
the promoters of authentic Marian devotion". ~ Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, 2005

A polish uncle of mine (born and raised in U.S.) shared an interesting piece of history with me one day, concerning the Divine Mercy.  He's now in his 80's and is a very devout Catholic (goes to daily Mass, very Marian, Eucharistic).  He followed the case of Sr. Faustina and the Divine Mercy before the ban in 1959 (it began spreading in 1942).  He explained that there were printing houses, even outside of Poland to spread the devotion.  When those involved with the printing learned the Holy See suppressed devotion, they quietly closed up shop, and went back about their business.  He said there was humble submission by followers, accepting the decision, without complaint.  Six years later, then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, began an "informative process." It was discovered that faulty, and suspect, translations had gone to the Vatican.  After appropriate translations were studied, the ban was eventually lifted in April of 1978 (and in October of 1978, Archbishop Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II).

Some things to take away with this:
  1. Divine Mercy was not banned because of a shadowy conspiracy involving white albino monks in the Vatican.
  2. Grace was manifest in the reaction of devotees - a very positive sign.
  3. Approval/disapproval processes for private revelations move on God's timeline, not ours.  When we see delays like this, there are reasons, known only to God.  He cannot be outsmarted, even by the most evil of men, with the most evil of intentions, nor by the Angel of Darkness.

This leads me to something else.  I really didn't want to write this blogpost, but other people are being smeared and I feel like defending them.

Yesterday, I received an unsolicited email from Stephen K. Ryan of the pseudo-catholic website, MinistryValues, sent to my public address.  The "about us" page is lacking and material posted there is largely focused on Catholic issues, with a predominant emphasis on Medjugorje.  I am not a visitor to his site, but when I have been led there, as with yesterday's email, I find much intellectual dishonesty and plenty of logical fallacies, the biggest of which, is to conclude that silence on Medjugorje is condemnation of it.  I was going to close the browser as fast as the page loaded once I saw what a ridiculous screed it was, but my eye caught notice of some familiar names.  The piece was so poorly done, and in such bad taste, that I was surprised that Michael Brown of Spirit Daily linked to it.  Then again, I wasn't surprised, really.

Mr. Ryan is upset that Catholic news sources and blogs have not engaged in propagandizing lending credibility to Medjugorje ahead of a pronouncement by the Church.  In his post, Is sexism behind the secret conspiracy against Medjugorje in the United States? he launches a ridiculous ad hominen attack against several men (Emphasis mine in bold; graphic added by me.)

At the root of the spiritual movement of Medjugorje are special messages that come from the Virgin Mary. These messages are meant to bring the world closer to God and are made known to the world by the testimony of six people who personally encounter the Mother of Christ...Despite being poked and prodded and scrutinized by a skeptical and frustrated press,  the six Medjugorje “seers” have represented the Catholic faith in a distinctive way for three decades and  because of their example millions of Catholics look to Medjugorje for spiritual renewal. 
But across the “Pond” in the United States there is a different view of Medjugorje and the gate keepers of Catholic opinion seem to work almost in a conspiratorial manner to quell any interest or trust in Mejdugorje.  The who’s who of Catholic opinion makers, journalist and bloggers are eerily similar in their skepticism and condemnation. Two things the opinion makers have in common – 1. They have never been to Medjugorje and 2. They are all men.  
Patrick Madrid, Patrick Coffin, Mark Shea, Greg  Kandra, Pat &Matthew Archbold,  Jim Akin, Kevin Knight at New Advent, and the editors of Catholic Culture  and the National Catholic Register 
I speak with some authority on this issue.... 

Mr. Ryan doesn't let prudence get in the way of destroying the reputation of others with rash judgments, all in the defense of a phenomena not yet deemed worthy of belief by the Church.  From a discernment standpoint, it displays a lack of manifest grace for a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  While Patrick Archbold has written very few posts on Medjugorje over the years - none of them giving me a clue whether he believed, disbelieved, or was on the fence (not that it's any of my business anyway) - his brother Matt, hasn't written on the subject.  Others have offered objective analysis in one fashion or another, and the portals have linked to them.  Mr. Ryan equates communicating facts with attacking Medjugorje.  In his article, he equates silence with some kind of ethical omission.

Ryan writes:

A story that is widely reported overseas is met with a cone of silence by a cabal of Catholic men who are charged by the faithful with restoring the vitality of the Catholic faith yet strangely ignore the greatest spiritual revival on earth.  

Phew.  Ok.  Um....

I'm with Cardinal Bertone on this point: Such behavior is not compatible with promoters of authentic Marian devotion.

Now, before you put much stock into Stephen Ryan's "Ministry Values", you might want to read his exchanges in the combox at Patrick Archbold's response.  After making some claims about Catholicism that were out of harmony with the Catechism, commenter "Paladin" offered charitable correction, which Ryan readily dismissed. Mr. Ryan needs to spend less time discussing Medjugorje, and more time studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church; but, why bother with that when you can just do a "make it your own" version of Catholicism?  Just because the site appears Catholic, doesn't make it so.  I sincerely hope Mr. Ryan will study the teachings of the Church so I can refer people to sound articles.

Mark Shea also shows the email I sent to the named men after I saw the way they were unjustly treated in his article.  I had to use public email addresses for some ... so much for a conspiracy.

I'm in the process of finishing a long, over due book review on Donal Anthony Foley's, "Medjugorje Revisited".  Perhaps I can get that up tomorrow.

UPDATE: I've received a very Catholic, "WTF" email from Stephen K. Ryan denying he sent me an email to his post.  For the record, I did not subscribe to "Ministry Values", nor would I have any interest in doing so. I also find it odd that I only occasionally get these kinds of emails from that site, not all.  So, it does not seem initiated automatically.  What am I to think?  Here is a snapshot of the email I received, which Mr. Ryan is also denying, in a comment within my combox.

UPDATE 2: Stephen Ryan acknowledges that I am on his emailing list. I know I didn't subscribe, but at least he is removing me.  See his note in the combox.

Also, Deacon Greg Kandra has responded to the "charges".

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sensus Fidelium: Should Holy See consider cause for Garvan Byrne?

I don't know anything about little Garvan Byrne, other than what is in the video clip below. He went to his eternal reward in April of 1985,  just two months after that video was made.  He was born in 1973.

Since seeing that video clip, especially the part where he talks about receiving his First Holy Communion, I haven't been able to get this kid out of my mind.  I found myself praying to him while receiving Communion last night at a daily Mass, asking him to help me to grow in my love for the Eucharist. 

Fast forward to this morning and I find myself feeling a strong sense that the Church should investigate the life of the pre-teen boy, trapped in the body of a five-year old,  who shows himself to be bigger than the biggest man, and as wise as a most cherished elder. 

The Church responds to the faithful.  The Church could not ignore the young Saint Maria Goretti's case because there was such a devotion to her, and a push for her cause that was wide spread.  While little Maria died a heroic, painful and saintly death, Garvan Byrnes seems to share several things with her, among which was a profound, manifest love for Jesus in the Eucharist; faith in which flowed along with hope, and; death to self with total abandonment to the will of God with full knowledge that the end was near.

Only the Church can declare saints.  Only God can permit those who have made it to Heaven, to be involved with miracles as a testimony to their sanctity.  There are several steps to sainthood, and not everyone the Church investigates or puts before us whose life or death was exemplary is declared a saint.  Some remain at the first stage of "Servant of God"; others to the second stage, "Venerable", and fewer will gain the title of "Blessed".  When the necessary criteria has been met, which includes miracles, the Church can give them the title of "Saint" (see the basic process in this EWTN article)

I don't know if Garvan Byrnes is worthy of sainthood.  But it seems to me that the Church should consider investigating his life and death to see if he is worthy of  being named a "Servant of God."  From there, God will decide how high this young man should rise on that scale of sanctity.   It may all come down to whether God permits miracles to be permitted when people petition Garvan in the name of Jesus.


I am offering a poll here, and ask for your participation, after watching the video below.  You can find more information on Garvan Byrnes in GoogleSaying, "yes" is not a judgment on the boy's sanctity, but on the worthiness of his case to be considered by the Holy See. Therefore, I did not add a "not sure" category.  Casting a "yes" vote means it should be explored; casting a "no" vote means that the Church should leave well enough alone.   What I am looking for in this unscientific poll, is a sensus fidelium - the sense of the faithful.  

Please share this far and wide so we can get as many results as possible.


The combox is open for discussion.  I have many readers from around the world, so I ask everyone commenting to tell where you are from (at least the country, or in the U.S., the state). There are people who go straight to Heaven due to saintly lives, but are never acknowledged.  God influences the Church to elevate those who give us some kind of example to live by.  One of the things I would like to see discussed, for those who feel it is worth pursuing a cause for Garvan, is who would benefit by his example, and how.  What sets him apart from the crowd that the Church should hold him up before the world, even if only as a Servant of God (if you vote, "yes").

Comments are moderated, so please allow time for this when posting.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Never let facts get in the way of distorting news on LCWR assessment

Sr. Jeanne Grammick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry
which was disapproved by the USCCB

Bill Donohue has a point (emphasis mine in bold) 
Critics of Vatican efforts to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) have their talking points down so well that everyone now just assumes that the reform initiative was triggered by concerns over these nuns pushing for ObamaCare. All of them are wrong, and it is not a matter of opinion.  
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) legislation wasn’t introduced in the House until September 17, 2009. The decision to undertake a doctrinal assessment of the LCWR was announced on April 8, 2008, while George W. Bush was president. In other words, the narrative about “payback” is simply faulty: the timeline undercuts the critics’ argument.

Why let a little fact like that get in the way of objectivity?  In the latest distortion at the dissenting National Catholic Reporter, we get this (emphasis mine in bold; comments in red):

One sister who works as advocate for Catholic issues in Washington said she thought the Vatican's document "certainly" was influenced by members of the U.S. bishops' conference. [As we learn above, it was called for in 2008 by the U.S. bishops, so yeah - I think they had some concerns]
"Clearly, the U.S. bishops are involved in this," said Sr. Simone Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service and executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic political lobbying group. "Clearly church politics, as well as I think some secular politics, were playing into this." [Moral issues, and matters of justice, may also happen to be political issues, and often are; but, that shouldn't cause the Church, through the bishops to not guide consciences to act in harmony with Church teaching.]
In what some see as a reference to LCWR's support of NETWORK initiatives to advance U.S. health care reform, the Vatican congregation's document announcing the LCWR order said "while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church's social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States." 
Campbell said she thinks there is a culture clash between the sisters and members of the episcopate who don't understand the nature of U.S. political discourse [No. It is some Religious who dismiss Church teaching in forming their consciences], referring to LCWR's support of health care reform and whether it played into the Vatican's order. 
"The irony is that we who exercise a democratic right, which Catholic social teaching makes very clear we're supposed to do [only in harmony with Church teaching], would be questioned by a canonical organization," Campbell said. "Does that mean all political, democratic activity is to be limited by bishops?" [No. But the Church teaches that the bishops are the teachers of the faith, when in union with the Pope.  The bishops aren't making up their own rules they are merely applying God's]

We must all act on our consciences, but we must also form our consciences according to the teachings of the Church, which are in harmony with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium.

As I showed  yesterday, the LCWR does not speak for all Religious under it's umbrella.

Mother Assumpta Long, O.P. of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor (boy, they have a real vocation "problem"has an excellent article in the National Catholic Register about the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment.

And, Father Z has an interesting post:  Tweeting for the Magisterium of Nuns in which he examines Fr. James Martin's project to support the LCWR.

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Dying boy talks about heaven, and the Eucharist

This 11 year old boy showed more grace, beauty, and wisdom than a parish full of people. He was surely acting on graces in this interviews.  He talks extensively about the Eucharist.

The interview was done many years ago, but the video was uploaded in 2010.

Very inspirational!

Veil-tip: Kathryn Jean Lopez and New Advent

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Monday, April 23, 2012

The LCWR Memory Lane; and One Sister's Interesting Take on the Assessment

Many headlines on the Holy See's Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR are trying to make this into, "Big, Bad, Misogynist Church Hierarchy Pick on Nuns Who Care for Needy." Some are going so far as to suggest that this is a "political" move by the Church ahead of the election.

Go read Father Z's post: Nuns gone wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane. 

Also, if you have only seen press reports about the Doctrinal Assessment, it's only 8 pages so go read it rather than rely on hype in the secular press and dissenting catholic websites and blogs. It acknowledges the good contributions of the sisters which are in harmony with Church teaching, such as serving the poor.  You will also see a lot more of the doctrinal concerns outlined.  When the Divinity of Christ is challenged, the institution of the Church (which Christ established)

I'll use my example again to illustrate what is happening: If someone serves the poor 25 hours per day, teaches others that there are four persons in the Trinity, the Holy See cannot neglect to bring about correction because of the charitable works.  Anyone reading the full 8-page assessment, who persists in saying this is politically-based, is engaging in intellectual dishonesty.

I came across another blogpost written last Friday by Sr. Anne who writes at Nun Blog. Like Father Z, Sr. Ann recounts the infamous story of Sr. Theresa Kane confronting Pope John Paul II about women's "ordination" when he came in 1979.   She explains how this impacted her (emphasis mine in bold; my comments in red)

The Daughters of St. Paul belong to this organization, as well as to the other, also official, organization of sisters. The news got many people talking: some triumphantly ("Finally they are calling those wacky nuns into line!"); others in hurt ("Don't they see the good we are so committed to?"); others in anger ("Those patriarchal male hierarchs have to do something to hold onto their power, and putting women down is the easiest way to do it.") 

Me? None of the above. ("Meh" comes kind of close, though.)

I first became aware of the LCWR when I was a junior sister, during the first visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979. The President of the sisters' group, Sister Theresa Kane, did a good job of alienating me from the organization and its goals when she, in her capacity as the official representative of all the women religious of the United States, took the occasion to make a public call for women's ordination [I was a teen watching that unfold on TV and was horrified]. That pretty much sums up the disconnect I have always felt with the LCWR as an individual, even though the organization does offer a number of extremely valuable, indeed precious, services to the member institutes [I'm not sure what kind of services they get at LCWR they cannot get at CMSWR, the other council which is not doctrinally disoriented]. They never managed to speak for me. [Amen! And, this attitude mirrors what Fr. Philip Powell, OP stated in his post regarding the experience he has had with Religious whose communities are part of the LCWR]

I also do not empathize with the interpretation that this is some kind of power play on the part of the Vatican or the bishops [Right on, Sister!]. Really, if you were a bishop today, would you be the one to suggest, "Oh, while we're trying to get people to pay attention to the threats to religious freedom, support families founded on marriage and preserve our social apostolates, let's confront the most powerful women in the Church and put them in their place!" [Well put! And, like I said above, it is intellectually dishonest to do so, if you read the 8-page assessment] In fact, if anything, I would suspect that they kept putting that last on every list they ever compiled. (Not that the bishops can control or direct congregations, or that religious orders' charisms are in any way subject to a bishop's whims, because the Holy Spirit rather typically uses charisms of religious life to surprise the Church by answering needs the hierarchy is usually unaware of.) Given that Sr Theresa's affront to Pope John Paul was in 1979, and that there have been not one, but two major interventions in religious life in America since that time (in 1984 and then last year with the Apostolic Visitation), a move to renew the LCWR is not all that surprising; it does not seem abrupt.[!!! - And many of us would say it is about 50 years late; but, better late than never]

Here is the link again, if you want to read her full post or comment there. Sr. Ann represents a number of Religious whose orders are members of the LCWR.  I'm wondering how many of these more reasonable communities will just shift over to the doctrinally sound CMSWR.
Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, whose order is not a member of LCWR, also offers some cogent thoughts.

Further reading:

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Great Watershed Video: Sacred Music vs. Secular Music at Mass

Res ipsa loquitur!

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

LCWR and the Flashpoint of Change in Religious Communities in the U.S.

I just read a fascinating post by Kathy Schiffer which sheds some historical light on why certain Religious think the way they do, which is often not with the mind of the Church.  I was blown away and am surprised I had not known about this sooner.  Go read Kathy's post:

William Coulson and the LCWR: “We Overcame Their Traditions and Their Faith”

Sidebar: I was looking for a photo to put at the top of this post when I stumbled upon this image at the site of the Benedictines of Erie. I found it on this page, which the following explanation:

Seasons of the Spirit 
No – it is not a typo! After 100 weekends of Spirit of the Seasons retreats held at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, you are now invited to participate in a new series entitled Seasons of the Spirit. With a “twist” of words yet still full of “spirit”, Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, OSB has birthed something new and exciting! Carol Comstock and other Benedictine Oblates/professionals will assist in these gatherings at the Mount in Erie. There will be opportunities for prayer/meditation/solitude; presentations; shared wisdom; creative leisure; physical activity and celebrations (similar to the style of the past 100 SOS retreats).
With 25 years of retreat experience and a Master’s Degree in Creation-Centered Spirituality, Sr. Carolyn is inspired by the following words:
"Spirituality is about developing the courage, the determination, to commit ourselves to living all the dimensions of life with awareness and strength, with depth and quality." - Joan Chittister, OSB
There you have it - an example of why the Holy See had to act!  If anyone tells you the CDF's actions are political, it is they who are politicizing an internal Church matter. This is 50 years over due.

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VIDEO: Christendom's Donna Bethell vs. Fordham's Jeannine Hill Fletcher on LCWR Dust-up

Video Snapshot: Christendom's Donna Bethell is unable to contain her laughter as the segment ends with  Jeannine Hill Fletcher of Fordham University displaying blatant ignorance of authentic Catholic teaching on several points.

[Note: Actual video is further down]

Before getting to the video, embedded at the bottom, let me provide a lead-in.  I almost didn't watch this PBS video interview because the secular talking-heads usually go down a line of questioning that only gives part of the story, and it ends up shorting the true Catholic position. I was pleasantly surprised, however, with Judy Woodruff's interview of two women: Donna Bethell of Christedom College in Front Royal, Virginia and Fordham Universitiy's Jeannine Hill Fletcher.  Woodruff asked the questions, and let each of them talk, which is unusual these days. I liked her followup with Bethell a couple of times, but it's unfortunate that they ran out of time just as Fletcher showed her real colors at the very end, revealing a number of beliefs that are incompatible with Catholicism.  To that, we see Bethell unable to contain her laughter at the nonsense as the segment phased out.

Bethell is a lawyer, and is the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Christendom. The National catholic Reporter is showing it's tolerance for diversty in worship and subjects in which good Catholics may disagree throwing a nutty over the fact that she goes to the Latin Mass and doesn't agree with Al Gore, and others, on climate change. That dissident rag is so far gone they really don't know what the Church teaches, spilling virtual ink in ways that are contrary to what anyone can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fletcher is a self-proclaimed catholic theologian at Fordham University* who teaches, among other things, religious pluralism and "feminist and postcolonial thought".  Pluralism was condemned in the First Vatican Council (Vatican I), back in the late 1800's, but dissenting theologians seem not to consult it.

Jeannine Hill Fletcher uses the typical dissenting talking points and plays a little bait-and-switch by making the Assessment seemingly about the LCWR being picked on despite the good work of the sisters. There is no consideration for the real doctrinal matters raised in the document.  Fletcher's position was kind of like arguing that it is okay to say there are four persons in the Trinity as long as you feed the hungry; or, you do not have an obligation to correct someone who says there are only two persons in the Trinity because they recycle ink cartridges. Donna Bethell counters by pointing out how the document acknowledged right in the beginning, all the good work done by the sisters in areas like helping the needy and in education (we'll leave discussion of Catholic education aside for now).  Bethell then explains that the Church expressed concerns over the lack of work in other areas of social justice, like pro-life work, especially abortion and euthanasia.  What is amazing is that Fletcher could bill herself as a catholic theologian and not speak to very specific doctrinal concerns also raised in the Assessment.

In the interview, I am also shocked at the apparent ignorance of Fletcher about the Church's social doctrine, given how much she emphasized social justice. Surely, she couldn't have read the Compendium on Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Does she even know it exists?  Perhaps she is consulting documents and books written by others who use the "make it your own" approach to Catholicism.  I don't know how you speak, as a Catholic, on Catholic issues, and not consult the Catholic Church's documents.   She would have noticed that protecting life from conception to natural death is a huge part of the Church's teaching on social justice.  Watch Fletcher's non-answer to Woodruff's followup as to whether those things (the life issues) are compatible with social justice.  She looked surprised by Woodruff's question and didn't quite know what to say so, she asked for it to be repeated.  She never answers the question.  At the end, Fletcher becomes somewhat unraveled and spews a litany of complaints so outside of Catholic teaching that Donna Bethell is unable to contain her laughter in the parting shot.

The LCWR has effectively worked against the bishops in these "culture of life" issues, and on sexual morality. I say, "effectively" because they, and those with whom they collaborate, have worked the media and the White House like a well tuned orchestra.  In fact, it was so effective, that the Obama administration admitted it didn't go to the US Catholic bishops to work through the Catholic issues on the HHS mandate; rather, it consulted "other groups" of Catholics.

Bethell also made the point that some teachings allow for prudential judgment while others are not open for debate.  This is fact.  Fletcher says Church teachings can change over time.  This too is incompatible with Catholic teaching because it is incompatible with Scripture, which says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and we should not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings (Heb 13:8-9).  Truth is timeless and unchanging and the point of that passage was to warn us against conforming to the popular trends of any given age.  Our understanding of truth grows organically, but truth itself does not change.  She errs on her example, but this post is already too long for me to go into that.  If someone wants to explain in the combox, I'll post it. 

Here is the video. Below you will find a number of links related to this interesting interview and the subject of the LCWR doctrinal assessment.   Here is a transcript from PBS.

Watch carefully what dissenting voices do in the public square with this issue.  They will paint this as, "the Vatican is being political".   People need to read all eight pages of the Doctrinal Assessment themselves and you will see right through the baloney.  As I said in my post yesterday, some issues are not just political  in nature; if they also have components of morality and justice, then how we respond must be aligned with the Gospel and there is no such thing as a personal interpretation of Scripture.  Using a case from history, segregation of blacks and whites was political, but it was also unjust and immoral.  A Catholic bishop took decisive action in 1962 in excommunicating several Catholics who were hindering desegregation, as well as inciting others to disobedience after the Church explained such segregation was incompatible with Scripture.  Few people in their right mind today would argue that the bishop was being "political".  Whether it is segregation or abortion, the Church sees both as immoral and unjust.  It is the world which then makes them political subjects.  The bishops cannot ignore a matter of morality or  justice, simply because it has become political. 

Now, I have added this to my other links at the bottom, but it is worth pointing to here for added attention.  Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, PhD, at his blog, has looked at an excerpt from a keynote speaker at an LCWR Assembly.  The title of his post says it all: This is just embarassing... 

Links Related to the PBS Interview (may be updated)
Newer Links Related to the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment
Post updated for clarity, and re-formatted.
*corrected post which errantly indicated Fordham was no longer a Catholic institution.

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