Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cardinal Pujats: bishop's bishop

Thomas Basil, "At Mass in Latvia" (New Oxford Review, April 2010):
Riga's basilica impressed me most, not for its 13th-century antiquity or its gleaming renovation, but for what it signals about its cardinal archbishop, Janis Pujats. Beside his cathedral's main door is a large prolife educational display, including eight photos of preborn babies in the womb. You cannot leave his cathedral without it smacking you in the face.

Cardinal Pujats was around 20 years old when the Soviet and Nazi invasions of Latvia struck. He was around age 35 when armed warfare in Latvia ended. He was around 60 when Latvia again became independent, and 70 when it voted to join the European Union. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the cardinalate in 1998. Forged under totalitarian oppression, the Cardinal seems a man utterly unfazed by postmodern progressive opinion, religious or secular.

In interviews from 2005 and 2007 posted online (here edited for brevity), Cardinal Pujats commented on a medley of topics.

On altars: "We are not hurrying to turn around the altars. When we build smaller churches, even today, I do not have the altar detached from the wall. I do not look upon it as an offense to anyone that the priest stands facing the altar to celebrate Mass."

... On confession: "In many [nations] few people go to confess their sins, but they all go to Communion. I look on this as the biggest mistake that [Vatican II] ‘reformers' have made. When they lifted the people onto their feet it was apparent to me that it would take two generations to get them back on their knees."

And most famously in 2005 on plans for Riga's first-ever gay-pride parade: "An absolute depravity. An unnatural form of prostitution. A sexual atheism more dangerous than Soviet atheism because spiritual values disappear in a swamp of sexual irregularity." In one of history's great ironies, Russia's ambassador to Latvia, Viktor Kalyuzhny, publicly thanked the Cardinal for this statement, stating on the record, "The mortality rate in Latvia exceeds the number of births. [Homosexuality] is not only a matter for the church, but that any normal individual should understand that cheating nature is impossible." Kal­yuzhny told journalists that, during his meeting with the Cardinal, "he made a deep bow to His Grace, who practically alone has clearly, openly, and directly [spoken the truth]." Note that this tribute came from a successor to rulers who only recently forcibly occupied Latvia and hated the Church. (emphasis added)

What intellectual converts often experience

David Mills, deputy editor of First Things, writing in "The Anatomy of Conversion" (New Oxford Review, April, 2010), offers an interesting account of how the convert's concerns often shift from debating apologetic questions to discovering a deeper dimension of spiritual understanding. The most exemplary sentence in his entire essay is the following:
As I read them [Catholic authors, including the Holy Father], I found that the Catholic answers were always deeper than the questions I was asking.
Lest cradle Catholics rest on their laurels, this phenomenon of discovery is something that might be coveted for many of them as well, who may not have begun yet to dig deeply into the treasure troves of resources offered by their Church and her Sacred Tradition. This calls to mind that magnificent work by Christopher Derrick, That Strange Divine Sea : Reflections on Being a Catholic(Ignatius Press, 1983); for it really is like wading into the ocean and realizing, as you get about chest deep and could soon be well over your head, that you've been spending your whole life so far splashing about in the shallows.

Hans Küng exposé (incisive, amusing)

George Weigel, "An Open Letter to Hans Küng" (First Things, April 21, 2010). Excerpts:
A decade and a half ago, a former colleague of yours among the younger progressive theologians at Vatican II told me of a friendly warning he had given you at the beginning of the Council’s second session. As this distinguished biblical scholar and proponent of Christian-Jewish reconciliation remembered those heady days, you had taken to driving around Rome in a fire-engine red Mercedes convertible, which your friend presumed had been one fruit of the commercial success of your book, The Council: Reform and Reunion.

This automotive display struck your colleague as imprudent and unnecessarily self-advertising, given that some of your more adventurous opinions, and your talent for what would later be called the sound-bite, were already raising eyebrows and hackles in the Roman Curia. So, as the story was told me, your friend called you aside one day and said, using a French term you both understood, “Hans, you are becoming too evident.”

As the man who single-handedly invented a new global personality-type—the dissident theologian as international media star—you were not, I take it, overly distressed by your friend’s warning. In 1963, you were already determined to cut a singular path for yourself, and you were media-savvy enough to know that a world press obsessed with the man-bites-dog story of the dissenting priest-theologian would give you a megaphone for your views...
Okay, this is the point from which the real exposé begins. Go to the link and read the rest of this solid piece of analysis. It is really more than anything a defense of the Holy Father against the unfathomably stupid insinuations of Küng.

Well, let me add another excerpt so you can catch the spirit of the Küngean disaster (to appreciate the full extent of it, read his own open letter of April 16 linked below). Weigel writes:
What can be expected, though, is that you comport yourself with a minimum of integrity and elementary decency in the controversies in which you engage. I understand odium theologicum as well as anyone, but I must, in all candor, tell you that you crossed a line that should not have been crossed in your recent article [Küng's April 16 open letter to the world's bishops!], when you wrote the following:
There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005).
That, sir, is not true. I refuse to believe that you knew this to be false and wrote it anyway, for that would mean you had willfully condemned yourself as a liar. But on the assumption that you did not know this sentence to be a tissue of falsehoods, then you are so manifestly ignorant of how competencies over abuse cases were assigned in the Roman Curia prior to Ratzinger’s seizing control of the process and bringing it under CDF’s competence in 2001, then you have forfeited any claim to be taken seriously on this, or indeed any other matter involving the Roman Curia and the central governance of the Catholic Church.

... Permit me to suggest that you owe Pope Benedict XVI a public apology, for what, objectively speaking, is a calumny that I pray was informed in part by ignorance (if culpable ignorance).

Tridentine Community News

Tridentine Community News (April 25, 2010):
Congratulations Fr. Patrick Beneteau

Many readers of the column have known Patrick Beneteau for a long time. As a young man at St. Joseph Parish in River Canard, west of Windsor, Patrick sensed an attraction to the priesthood, in part because of the artistic beauty of the historic church. As he studied at London’s St. Peter Seminary, Patrick grew in appreciation for traditional liturgy, and has become a familiar sight at Assumption Church. Like Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Beneteau sees merit in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass, which is in fact the logical view of a priest in today’s Church. His bilingual skills will make him an asset to the Diocese of London, which has several parishes where Holy Mass is celebrated in both French and English.

As of the date of writing this column, (transitional) Deacon Patrick was scheduled to be ordained to the holy priesthood by Diocese of London Bishop Ronald Fabbro on Saturday, April 24 at 11:00 AM.

Fr. Beneteau will celebrate his first Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form today, Sunday, April 25 at 3:00 PM at his home parish of St. Joseph – River Canard. Portions of the music for this Mass will be provided by the Tridentine Mass Choir from Windsor’s Assumption Church, under the direction of Wassim Sarweh.

Fr. Beneteau will celebrate his first Extraordinary Form Mass this coming Thursday, April 29 at 7:00 PM at Windsor’s St. Theresa Church. It will be a sung Mass (Missa Cantata), with music again under the direction of Mr. Sarweh. A reception will follow the Mass in the downstairs Social Hall.

On Sunday, May 9, Fr. Beneteau will celebrate his first Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 2:00 PM at Assumption Church in Windsor. Deacon Richard Bloomfield will be deacon for the Mass, and Fr. Peter Hrytsyk will serve as subdeacon. A reception will follow this Mass as well in the basement Social Hall. All are invited to these three special Masses.

We hope and pray that Fr. Beneteau will become an even more familiar face to the Latin Mass communities in Windsor and Detroit in the coming months and years.

New Pastor Appointed for St. Josaphat Cluster

St. Josaphat and St. Joseph parishioners owe a debt of gratitude to Archbishop Allen Vigneron. His Excellency has appointed one of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s best-known advocates of the Extraordinary Form Mass, Fr. Paul Czarnota, as the new pastor of the St. Josaphat – St. Joseph – Sweetest Heart of Mary cluster. In fact, this column wrote about Fr. Czarnota on April 27, 2008. As many of our readers on both sides of the border know, a high standard of administrative skill as well as support of the Tridentine Mass was set by previous pastor Fr. Mark Borkowski; these are big shoes to fill. As it turns out, it is hard to imagine a better choice that could have been made.

Fr. Czarnota is presently the pastor of a cluster of three churches near Port Huron, Michigan: Sacred Heart Church in Yale, Sacred Heart Mission in Brown City, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Emmett. This experience, plus his prior background as an attorney, will surely help him with the administrative challenges of running our three historic parishes.

Since his ordination in 2003, Fr. Czarnota has quietly advanced the traditional liturgy, helping out the Flint Tridentine Community at All Saints Church and initiating a weekly Extraordinary Form Mass in his present cluster at Sacred Heart – Yale. A quick peek at his parish bulletins posted on-line indicates that he recently saved, relocated, and restored an historic altar from the closed St. Helena Church in Wyandotte, thus historic church preservation matters are not unknown to him.
Fr. Czarnota’s assignment to the cluster begins on July 1, a short two weeks before the Latin Liturgy Association National Convention. He deserves our prayers in anticipation of his arrival.

Pope Benedict Celebrates Mass Ad Oriéntem Again

On Thursday, April 15, our Holy Father celebrated Mass ad oriéntem according to the Ordinary Form in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace in Rome. As our readers may recall, His Holiness celebrates an annual Mass ad oriéntem in the Sistine Chapel as well. The Pauline Chapel was recently restored, so it is doubly significant that Holy Mass was celebrated in this manner at a “new” altar.

While some of us would like to see tighter legislation on the liturgy, a picture is worth a thousand words and has its own persuasiveness. If you want to advocate the ad oriéntem posture to a priest or parishioners, you now have a variety of photos of the fine example Pope Benedict is setting for others to follow.

So You Think You Have It Tough?

Think you’ve had a rough week? Consider the following: The organizers of yesterday’s Pontifical Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC had to scramble to find another celebrant this past Wednesday. Though they had been planning this Mass for three years, prudence dictated that in light of a threatened protest, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos not be celebrant as originally scheduled. As of this writing, another bishop had not yet been found to substitute.
With an EWTN broadcast scheduled and a packed church expected, there was no time to waste. A bishop celebrant was promised and expected. Travel plans had been made for a variety of sacred ministers required solely for a Pontifical Mass. Bishops from Europe were not likely to be an option, in light of the sold-out flights expected post-volcano. How many bishops in North America know how to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form? Bruskewitz, Perry, and…? Can they clear their schedules at a few days’ notice? The mind reels at the pressure these volunteers were under. They have our prayers.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 25, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Beyond the New English Ordinary Form Missal: Other Issues With Approved Translations – Part 1

Tridentine Community News (April 18, 2010):
Much attention is being given in the Catholic media to the forthcoming new English translation of the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass. This column has addressed the topic as well. Overall, the new translation is a vast improvement from the previous relatively inaccurate translation that was rushed into print shortly after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo in 1970.

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which is working with the Vatican to prepare the new Missal, is also responsible for the English translations of the Ordinary Form Roman Ritual (Book of Blessings), Pontifical, Ceremonial of Bishops, and Liturgy of the Hours. The texts it prepares are only authorized for use after the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship reviews them, suggests or requires changes, and finally approves them. ICEL then tightly enforces copyrights on the resulting texts, requiring royalties to be paid by any publisher seeking to use them.

Interestingly, the Church does not have a comparable process in place for vernacular translations of other liturgies, prayers, and rituals. The first and most pertinent example to consider is the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The Tridentine Mass cannot be celebrated in the vernacular, but hand missals and worship aids providing English translations are essential in helping worshippers follow the Mass. However, there is no formal regulation over those translations. Each hand missal is slightly different from the next. Let us examine just where today’s translations come from.

The Readings

The readings are the most straightforward part. Virtually all hand missals and English readings books for use in the pulpit use texts from Bishop Richard Challoner’s 1752 revision of the 1609 Douay-Rheims Bible. Catholics commonly think of the Douay-Rheims as the “thee & thou” Bible. Sentences employing these hierarchical pronouns sound noticeably different from the modern English found in Ordinary Form Mass readings. They reflect an understanding that the members of the Holy Trinity exist at a higher plane than mankind and thus should be addressed in a most formal manner. The Douay was the de facto standard Bible used by English speaking Catholics from 1609 to 1965. Countless prayer books from that era contain supplicative, reverent prayers obviously inspired by the Douay’s hierarchical language.

The transitional 1965 Missal incorporated readings from the 1961 Confraternity Bible, an effort to blend the substance of the Douay-Rheims with more modern English phrasings and non-hierarchical pronouns.

Readings in Ordinary Form Masses are taken from the 1970 (and constantly under revision since) New American Bible in the U.S., and the 1989 (with 2008 revisions) New Revised Standard Version Bible in Canada. To the average person in the pew, the Confraternity Bible does not sound all that different from the NAB or NRSV, and thus it is mostly an historical curiosity today.

The 2007 Motu Proprio Summórum Pontíficum allows for any authorized translation to be used for the readings. Nowadays in the English-speaking world, what constitutes an authorized translation? The simplest and safest answer is, if we are to stick with rubrics from 1962 as the Motu Proprio dictates, we should stick with the Douay Rheims. It was unquestionably the dominant English Catholic Bible in 1962, and its hierarchical language is consistent with the spirit of demarcation between the sacred and secular evident in so many aspects of the Tridentine Mass. The Confraternity, NAB, and NRSV versions each come from a later era and contain more casual wording inconsistent with the Extraordinary Form ethos.

The Antiphons, Graduals, and Orations

Most, but not all, of the Antiphons (Introit, Offertory, Communion) and Graduals are taken from the Bible. The English versions of those of biblical origin are thus also generally taken from the Douay-Rheims Bible.

The non-Biblical Antiphons and Graduals, and the Orations (Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion) present a challenge: Without an authoritative English translation, there is no single source one can go to for a translation. As a result, hand missals differ in their translations of the same texts. For example, for the Second Sunday After Easter, in the Marian Missal (this author’s preferred hand missal), the Collect reads:
O God, Who by the humility of Thy Son didst lift up a fallen world, grant unending happiness to Thy faithful: that those whom Thou hast snatched from the perils of endless death, Thou mayest cause to rejoice in everlasting joys. Through the same Lord.
The same Collect in the St. Andrew Missal reads:
O God, who by the humility of Thy Son hast raised up a fallen world, grant to Thy faithful people abiding joy; that those whom Thou hast delivered from the perils of eternal death, Thou mayest cause to enjoy endless happiness. Through the same Lord.
Two hand missals that both use the same Douay-Rheims English text for biblical passages thus use similar, yet different, Douay-ish English for the non-biblical texts. Thees and thous, “we beseech thee”, “graciously hear our prayers”, and so forth, help form continuity with the Douay texts. We don’t imagine that an ICEL-like committee will form to standardize these texts. After all, these translations are not liturgical. They will never be used in the Mass. They are merely aids for the worshipper to understand the Latin that is used liturgically. Plus, there is no particular need to fix translations that are quite accurate to begin with.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 18, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Do Muslims consider Obama a Muslim?

Anyone know anything about Jim Murk, quoted in this post about why Michelle isn't permitted to accompany Barak to Muslim countries if he's a Muslim? All I know is that Murk has written two books on Islam, entitled Islam Rising: Book One: The Never Ending Jihad against Christianityand Islam Rising: Book Two: The Never Ending Jihad Against the Jews and Israel.

MSNBC sees the light on heath reform

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP writer, "Report: Health overhaul will increase tab" (MSNBC, Politics, April 22, 2010). "Could be trouble for Democrats." No kidding. About time.

Related: "Pataki: Repeal Obamacare" (April 24, 2010).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comedy Central caves to terrorism

You've heard, I'm sure, last week's episode of "South Park" depicting Muhammad was censored by the network in an act of unilateral surrender in the face of violent jihadist threats. See the editorial by the Washington Times.

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Media's deadly ammunition of half-truths

A retired Hollywood actor and Catholic convert whom I had the honor of sponsoring, regularly sends me clippings about the Catholic sex scandals from newspapers and news magazines -- his only source of news other than television, since he fastidiously eschews the world of computers. I do not know how much help he finds from his priest in sorting out fact from fiction in the daily media onslaught. One feels considerable sympathy for our priests, who doubtless feel besieged and confused by the anti-Catholic onslaught in the media and may prefer to ignore the issue in their homilies. The result, however, is the reinforcement of an unhealthy fortress mentality, where the Faith is increasingly isolated from the issues of the day and rendered irrelevant. Legions of parishioners like my actor friend need answers. Hence, the issues must be addressed.

In the latest envelope from my friend were (1) the Newsweek article by Lisa Miller, "A Woman's Place is in the Church," carrying the banner: "The cause of the Catholic clergy's sex-abuse scandal is no mystery: insular groups of men often do bad things. So why not break up the all-male club?"; (2) the Charlotte Observer syndicated column by Maureen Dowd, "Church's view of women fostered indifference toward children," in which Dowd compares her role in the "misogynistic" and woman-repressing "autocratic society" of Catholicism to the role of Saudi women, "living in a country where women's rights [are] strangled [by] an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men's club than a modern nation"; and (3) an article by Nicholas D. Kristof, entitled "A Church Mary Can Love" (New York Times), which begins with a joke about Mary having always wanted a daughter, and goes on to relate this to the sex abuse scandal in the Church: "It wasn’t inevitable that the Catholic Church would grow so addicted to male domination, celibacy and rigid hierarchies. Jesus himself focused on the needy rather than dogma, and went out of his way to engage women and treat them with respect." (Umm ... that must be why nobody warns against hell and damnation in the New Testament more than Jesus, and why Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to "make disciples of all nations" and "teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.")

The element of truth in the secular media's attack on the Catholic Church is specific: there have come to light, both in 2002 and more recently, cases of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-up by clergy stemming from some thirty or forty years ago. In some cases, the media are to be credited for their relentless investigation in uncovering the facts of these cases and in bringing them to light.

Beyond this, however, the secular media have unfortunately been collectively complicit in ignoring or suppressing other facts attendant to these cases, and then enlisting the yield of distorted half-truths in the service of the subsequent feeding frenzy of unbridled indiscriminate criticism the Church.

For one thing, because of the national media's own complicity in the mainstreaming of the gay and lesbian subculture within society, it has studiously avoided calling the sexual abuse what it is: the homosexual abuse of teenage young men. At the bottom of the liberal media's quest for moral high ground against the scandal of sexual sinners within the Church is the masked hypocrisy of its promotion of a sexually promiscuous ethos that would countenance such national organizations as the North American Man/Boy Love Association .

For another, because of the Church's unshaken condemnation of sex outside of marriage, the media have not only reveled in exposing the hypocrisy of those clerics who were caught violating the Church's moral teaching, but also indulged in promoting the widespread impression that the Church's moral teaching and discipline itself is the uniquely pernicious cause of sexual abuse (read: sexual abuse of minors) -- and that such abuse is therefore uniquely widespread in the Church. If only the Church were not an "all male club" (Lisa Miller), an "autocratic society that repressed women" and clung to "outdated misogynistic rituals" (Maureen Dowd), so the suggestion goes, such a culture of child abuse would never have been permitted to develop.

Such incriminating suggestions have been widely permitted to pass in the media for statements of proven fact, despite the ample availability of evidence to the contrary. For one thing, as we have seen already, a 2004 special report by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights cites a study by Philip Jenkins published by Oxford showing that the percentage of pedophiles among clergy ranges up to 1.3% higher among Protestant clergy than Catholic.

For another, as George Weigel has repeatedly pointed out, the Catholic Church had already begun to address the problems of sexual abuse seriously in the early 1990s, then accelerated its efforts to discipline abusers and to create safe environments for young people throughout American Catholicism. And those measures have worked. He writes: "There are 68 million Catholics in the United States, and there were only six credible reports of the sexual abuse of a young person in the Church last year; that is, of course, six too many, but it completely falsifies the picture the press has painted of an ongoing crisis of sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church in the U.S."

For another, if the media's concern here were really for abused children, then why their deafening silence about the rampant sexual abuse of children in the field of elementary and secondary school education where women rank prominently in administrative roles? The Catholic League's Special Report cites a 1991 study by Shakeshaft and Cohan, In loco parentis: Sexual abuse of students in schools, (What administrators should know), for the U.S. Department of Education, whose findings are astounding. In their study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City, "all of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach." Shakeshaft determined that "15 percent of all students have experienced some kind of sexual misconduct by a teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade," ranging "from touching to forced penetration." Since the publication of the Catholic League's report, Shakeshaft has released the findings of a vast study undertaken for the Planning and Evaluation Service Office of the Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education, titled, “Educator Sexual Misconduct with Students: A Synthesis of Existing Literature on Prevalence in Connection with the Design of a National Analysis" (PDF) (2004).

These ample facts, however, are conveniently ignored by the media.

It used to be the case that one could rely on the news media to reasonably report facts, and to distinguish such reporting from editorial opinion. If the myth of pure, presuppositionless objectivity could not be sustained in the news, at least one could count on reporters -- and editors -- to be even handed and fair minded in dealing with the facts. Clearly that day is long passed. The news media have rapidly fallen into the hands of those bent on employing them exclusively as instruments of partisanship, regardless of costs in fidelity to truth. This was seen amply during the last U.S. Presidential Election. We now see it in the attacks being mounted against the Church.

The Church cannot afford to ignore these attacks. Catholic laity, for its part, cannot afford to assume that the burden of responding to such attacks should be the borne by priests and bishops alone. Such an assumption stems from a debilitating clericalism that conveniently excuses the laity from their responsibility in this battle. The Church is not just the clergy. This goes without saying. All Catholics comprise the Church. The Church is now embattled on every side by those who employ the deadly ammunition of half-truths. The battle must be met by those who care for truth.

Related: T. Matt, "Abuse of a ‘boy’ or a ‘young man’?" (, April 24, 2010): "Pedophilia is very, very rare among Catholic clergy. Ephebophilia is what is taking place — overwhelmingly."

[Hat tip to J.M. for the 'Related' item]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japan's lost generation

The publisher's comments on Michael Zielenziger's 2006 book, Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation(rpt., Vintage, 2007), read:
The world’ s second-wealthiest country, Japan once seemed poised to overtake America. But its failure to recover from the economic collapse of the early 1990s was unprecedented, and today it confronts an array of disturbing social trends. Japan has the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of all industrialized countries, and a rising incidence of untreated cases of depression. Equally as troubling are the more than one million young men who shut themselves in their rooms, withdrawing from society, and the growing numbers of “parasite singles,” the name given to single women who refuse to leave home, marry, or bear children.

In Shutting Out the Sun, Michael Zielenziger argues that Japan’s rigid, tradition-steeped society, its aversion to change, and its distrust of individuality and the expression of self are stifling economic revival, political reform, and social evolution. Giving a human face to the country’s malaise, Zielenziger explains how these constraints have driven intelligent, creative young men to become modern-day hermits [the term used by the Japanese is "Hikikomori"]. At the same time, young women, better educated than their mothers and earning high salaries, are rejecting the traditional path to marriage and motherhood, preferring to spend their money on luxury goods and travel.
Reading this is very sad indeed. While Japan -- where I grew up and visited last in 2005 -- still outwardly retains a clear continuity with her past, I have heard from many friends and acquaintances who continue to reside there that the younger generation has, in many respects, lost its way. If earlier generations failed to embrace the Light of Christ (less than 0.1% are practicing Christians of any kind), they at least had the sense of identity that comes from being a unique people with strong national and moral traditions informed by Confucian, Shinto and Buddhist sources. The stalwart moral character and generous spirit of the Japanese people was noted by St. Francis Xavier when he arrived there in 1549, and these traits were very much alive in the Japanese during my childhood. I would insist that they are very much in evidence still. Yet among the younger generation they have been sharply eroded, and nothing has effectively filled the void. Pray for Japan and her people. In the Lord's Providence, I am inclined to think that they are destined still to play a major role in the international community for decades to come.

Related: Phil Rees already reported on the phenomenon of Hikikomori back in 2002 in "Japan: The Missing Million" (BBC, October 20, 2002).

[Hat tip to A.S.]

Islamification of Brussells, Belgium

You've heard of "regime change." Something analogous, I suppose, might be called "population displacement." Citing the Belgium weekly Le Vif/L'Express, Mark Steyn writes (April 21, 2010) posts this quote: "Brussels, overwhelmingly Muslim in 20 years? It can't be totally ruled out... Today, families with children - 'Whites' and of the middle class - are leaving the 19 municipalities of the Brussels Region, attracted by the convenience and low prices of the Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and Hainaut provinces. The birth rates of immigrants, which is slightly higher than that of natives, and the international immigration (mainly through family reunification), compensate for this exodus and reinforces it. In reality, Brussels is experiencing what French demographer Michèle Tribalat calls a "process of demographic substitution". One population replaces another."

[Hat tip to S.K.]

"Bishop flunks the professor" on Kennedy case

Sandro Magister (April 21, 2010) writes: "ROME, April 21, 2010 – The defense of John Kennedy - or better, of his "doctrine" on the relationship between religion and politics - made by Professor Luca Diotallevi in reply to the harsh criticisms of the first Catholic American president by the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, did not go unnoticed."

In response to Chaput's earlier criticisms of Kennedy, Professor Diotallevi, a sociologist of religion, student of American society, and adviser to the Italian bishops' conference, replied to Chaput on April 12.

And now the archbishop of Denver critiques the criticisms of Diotallevi, and reiterates and clarifies his own theses.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Music at the Vatican

Tridentine Community News (April 11, 2010):
Holy Masses televised from the Vatican at Christmas and Easter time invariably provoke conversations about the quality of the music provided at St. Peter’s Basilica. The general consensus is that the choir members do not sing in unison, sound excessively operatic, and in general do not set a proper example of how professionally-sung liturgical music at the home base of Roman Catholicism should sound. While the selection of music is quite good, especially in recent years, the performance of it suffers.

The sound that we know from television is that of the Sistine Chapel Choir, which sings only for papal celebrations. In fairness, perhaps the mic’ing of this choir and the audio engineering is as responsible for what we hear as the singers themselves. Regardless of the cause, this choir’s sound does need improvement.

The good news is that advances are being made with the other principal choir at the Basilica, the Cappella Giulia, which sings for liturgies not including the Pope, and thus performs more frequently. In 2008, our Holy Father appointed Canadian Fr. Pierre Paul as Director of Music for St. Peter’s Basilica and supervisor of this choir. He has reinstated more frequent performance of Gregorian Chant Mass Ordinaries; has produced impressive worship aid handouts which one can occasionally view on-line; and has tightened up the standards for visiting choirs: Audition recordings are now required and are reviewed before an application is approved. This brings us to our next topic, another in our series of occasional “Did you know?” diversions:

How Visiting Choirs Can Sing at the Vatican

It is not uncommon to hear of local parish choirs “singing at the Vatican.” Perhaps they have even sung at St. Peter’s Basilica. How exactly does a particular choir get such a lofty honor? Was an invitation extended based on a reputation of musical excellence? If you are the kind who doesn’t want to learn how a magician performs his tricks, we suggest that you skip the next section of this column.

We hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but in many cases, the answer is that they paid for the privilege. At least one company, Peter’s Way Tours, specializes in booking choirs to sing at the Vatican. Prior to Fr. Paul’s recent policy change stated above, there did not appear to have been any particular qualification required, aside from the ability to pay the tour fee. Fortunately Fr. Paul recognized that the quality, or lack thereof, of visiting choirs can leave an impression on visitors to St. Peter’s. Tourists don’t necessarily know that a choir is a visiting one. It should at least uphold the Vatican’s own sacred music guidelines.

Rather than lament the fact that one pays one’s way into such privilege, we should consider the positive aspects: This allows for the possibility that choirs who specialize in the traditional Church repertoire can perform in the Basilica. It may be unaffordable at present, but there might be a day when a method to pay for such a trip is devised. We can only hope and pray.

As a side note, Peter’s Way does not restrict itself to Vatican visits. Their impressive web site lists dozens of possible choir performance tour options throughout Europe and North America.

A Wedding at the Vatican
Readers of this column are blessed to attend Holy Mass at one of our beautiful historic churches. A wedding in any one of our churches is sure to be memorable and photogenic. But perhaps you’re up for a bigger challenge. You want to have your wedding at the ne plus ultra of churches, something you can talk about for the rest of your life. As with the choir situation, it’s easy if you know the tricks of the trade.

You can arrange a wedding at St. Peter’s Basilica by following the procedures explained at As with Peter’s Way, the Vatican has designated a third-party organization, Weddings in Italy by Regency, to be the organizers for such events. They supplied the below photo which is on the Vatican’s web site.

Weddings are usually held in the Cappella del Coro (Choir Chapel), one of the side chapels in St. Peter’s.

Just in case you’re wondering, use of the central papal altar under Bernini’s baldacchino is reserved for papal events and for celebrants delegated by the Holy Father. We doubt the Holy Father does weddings, plus sealing off that area for a wedding would be unfair for the throngs of tourists who visit every day. Some things truly are beyond reach.

An Absurd Idea – Or a Challenge?
Putting it all together, it would theoretically be possible to hold a Nuptial Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Peter’s Basilica with one of our local Tridentine Choirs providing the music. Admittedly, pockets would have to be quite deep to afford that kind of a project. Part of the puzzle is figuring out how to transport one’s guests across the Atlantic. Yet the simple fact that it is nowadays even possible is quite something to ponder. We can dream, can’t we?
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 11, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Results of third FSSPX Rosary Crusade

Some of you may remember the FSSPX Rosary Crusade reported by Rorate Caeli last April. As Fr. Zuhlsdorf noted then, the Society's first Rosary Crusade was for the Holy Father and Summorum Pontificum, and the second was for the lifting of the excommunications. Not a bad record of answered petitions that!

The third crusade, according to Fr. Alain Lorans in "What are the results of the Rosary Crusade?" (Documentation Information Catholiques Internationales, April 17, 2010), had as its goal "the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Supreme Pontiff and all the bishops of the Catholic world, in accordance with the message of Fatima in which Our Lady herself announced the final triumph of her Immaculate Heart." Lorans reports:
To date we have only a provisional count, as all the results have not yet been tallied. However, DICI is delighted to announce to its readers, in this exclusive news report, that the goal of 12 million rosaries, which were to form a crown of 12 stars for Mary, Queen of Heaven, has been surpassed by far, since more than 18 million rosaries have already been reported. Among the districts that sent in their results, we should note the generosity of the United States (5,351,500), Africa (2,815,350), Asia (2,538,200), and France (2,529,670). Next come Canada (717,000), Germany (680,000), South America (536,480), Switzerland (411,000), Australia (402,000), Mexico (332,800), Italy (215,000), Ireland (136,190)….

Once a definitive count is obtained, this crown of rosaries recited around the world, over the course of nearly a year, will be presented to the Holy Father by Bishop Fellay. Profound thanks to all the Rosary crusaders for their admirable Marian fervor!
Time will tell whether the petitions of the third Rosary Crusade are answered in ways as dramatic as were the first two.

: "Germany: Father Schmidberger Speaks about the Meetings with Rome" (DICI, March 11, 2010)

[Disclaimer: See Da Rulz ##7-9 and "Policies" in Liturgical Position Statement]

Mosebach on the Reform of the Liturgy and the Church

"The Reform of the Liturgy and the Catholic Church" (Rorate Caeli, April 13, 2010):
The blog of the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny has published a translation of a recent interview with Martin Mosebach on the Reform of the Liturgy and the Catholic Church.

Part 1

Part 2
[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Friday, April 16, 2010

Very interesting list

"The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors" (College Crunch, April 4, 2010).

As Janet Smith said in her email, the ones who are listed that I know, richly deserve to be on the list.

[Hat tip to J.S.]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nebraska outlaws abortion of "pain capable unborn children"

In an interesting twist, Governor Dave Heineman signed the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" (LB 1103), into law in the State of Nebraska on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Deacon Keith Fournier writes, in "Nebraska Protects Some Children in the Womb from the Pain Caused by Abortion" (Catholic Online, April 13, 2010). Fr. Frank Provone is quoted as saying: "Until now, our laws have shown greater concern for laboratory animals and cattle that are slaughtered than for babies in the womb. With the Abortion Pain Prevention Act, Nebraska is beginning to change this. Every state should look to do the same." Apparently 4D sonogram technology, which has given us a window into the womb, has begun having an effect.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bertone: It's the queer eye, stupid!

Mollie, in "Anecdotes, data and definitions" (, April13, 2010), writes:
Were you thinking that the Vatican Media Frenzy had gotten a bit stale? Well, you’re in luck. Roughly eleventy billion media outlets are running a story about something Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said at a Chilean press conference yesterday:

The Vatican’s second-highest authority says the sex scandals haunting the Roman Catholic Church are linked to homosexuality [gasp!] and not celibacy among priests.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, made the comments during a news conference Monday in Chile, where one of the church’s highest-profile pedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls.

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia
[double gasp!]. That is true,” said Bertone. “That is the problem.”
Ruh-roh! For what it’s worth, this quote is a bit different than the quote that Reuters gave, which didn’t include the last seven words above but includes this additional information:
“This pathology is one that touches all categories of people, and priests to a lesser degree in percentage terms,” he said. “The behavior of the priests in this case, the negative behavior, is very serious, is scandalous.”
There's a good bit more about terms and translations in the article of note. Have a look at the entire article for a good read.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

L.A. Update

TMatt, "LA: A ‘political’ archbishop arrives" (, April 13, 2010): "As you would expect, the editors and reporters at the Los Angeles Times have been trying to do some heavy lifting following the announcement that Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio would soon be arriving in the City of Angels." Thus begins an excellent, insightful, sometimes amusing, and sometimes amazing analysis of the Times' attempt to come to terms with the announcement of L.A.'s new Catholic bishop.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Sexual abuse in social context"

The media drumbeat on Catholic clerical sexual abuse lately would seem to leave the impression that sexual predation upon minors is a uniquely Catholic problem, stemming from all those traditional "Papist hangups" about everything from requirements of an exclusively male clergy and clerical celibacy to prohibitions of auto-erotic activity that, so-it-is-thought, leaves Papist priests jumping around like horny toads. This impression, of course, is as unsupported by statistical evidence as the absurd 'inference' (I use the word lightly) that a good dose of promiscuous sexual self-indulgence would remedy the situation.

Pat Wingert, in "Mean Men" (Newsweek Web Exclusive, April 10, 2010), quoted by Elijamaria, in "Faith, Foul Deeds, and Falsehoods" (Irenikon, April 10, 2010), writes:
The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Many point to peculiarities of the Catholic Church (its celibacy rules for priests, its insular hierarchy, its exclusion of women) to infer that there's something particularly pernicious about Catholic clerics that predisposes them to these horrific acts. It's no wonder that, back in 2002—when the last Catholic sex-abuse scandal was making headlines—a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll[xxxix] found that 64 percent of those queried thought Catholic priests "frequently" abused children.

Yet experts say there's simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Googling for comparative statistics, it is therefore hard to come by good statistics -- at least easily -- for many Protestant demonimations. Presumably the reason is, in part at least, because many of these denominations have no centralized bureaucracies but are congregationally autonomously administered, autonomous entities. I know myself from experiences related to me by a former Baptist colleague at an erstwhile academic institution how the indiscretions of a pastor were hushed up at his local church and the pastor was laterally (horizontally) 'promoted,' presumably to some other 'ministry' elsewhere. Where have we heard that before?

William Moyer, in "Child sex abuse by Protestant clergy difficult to document" (Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Monday August 27, 2007, posted by, writes:
Allegations and confirmed cases of sex abuse by priests against children in the Catholic Church have been well documented since widespread reports of abuse first surfaced in the Boston area in the early 2000s.

But tracking allegations and confirmed cases of misconduct by Protestant clergy is an elusive task because Christianity's other ecclesiastical division is wildly diverse, congregational and sometimes staunchly independent compared to Catholicism's centralized hierarchy.

Ed Hart of the Central New York Baptist Association said all 42 churches in his jurisdiction outlined by Broome, Tioga, Delaware, Herkimer, Steuben and Oswego counties are autonomous. Local church leaders would handle complaints against pastors at the congregational level but would not be required to report anything to Hart or any other denominational officials.

Still, some statistics can be gleaned from three insurance companies that provide liability coverage for 165,500 Protestant churches in the United States:
  • The largest company, Church Mutual of Merrill, Wis., with 96,000 clients including the Wyoming Conference, reported an annual average of 100 child sex abuse cases during the past decade.
  • GuideOne, headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, reported an average of 160 reports every year for the past two decades among its 45,000 clients.
  • About 75 claims have been investigated by Brotherhood Mutual in Fort Wayne, Ind., each year for the past 15 years, but the company did not specify if all complaints involved minors.
A post with some of the most detailed statistics I have found is the special report produced some years ago entitled "SEXUAL ABUSE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT: CATHOLIC CLERGY AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS" (Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, February 2004), which provides a comparatively detailed analysis of national, secular, and interdenominational Christian, Jewish, and sectarian (e.g. Jehovah's Witness) statistics. As the report is rather long, I will excerpt only the conclusion here:
The issue of child sexual molestation is deserving of serious scholarship. Too often, assumptions have been made that this problem is worse in the Catholic clergy than in other sectors of society. This report does not support this conclusion. Indeed, it shows that family members are the most likely to sexually molest a child. It also shows that the incidence of the sexual abuse of a minor is slightly higher[*] among the Protestant clergy than among the Catholic clergy, and that it is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests.

In a survey for the Wall Street Journal-NBC News, it was found that 64 percent of the public thought that Catholic priests frequently abused children.[xxxix] This is outrageously unfair, but it is not surprising given the media fixation on this issue. While it would be unfair to blame the media for the scandal in the Catholic Church, the constant drumbeat of negative reporting surely accounts for these remarkably skewed results.[xl]

Without comparative data, little can be learned. Numbers are not without meaning, but they don’t count for much unless a baseline has been established. Moreover, sexual misconduct is difficult to measure given its mostly private nature. While crime statistics are helpful, we know from social science research that most crimes go unreported. This is especially true of sexual abuse crimes. At the end of the day, estimates culled from survey research are the best we can do.

By putting the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in perspective, it is hoped that this report will make for a more fair and educated public response.

  1. [*] Earlier in the report, one reads: "... in the authoritative work by Penn State professor Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests (New York: Oxford University Press [pp. 50 and 81]), it was determined that between .2 and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles. The figure among the Protestant clergy ranges between 2 and 3 percent." [back]

  2. [xxxix] The dates of the study were April 5-7, 2002. It was reported in Roper Center at University of Connecticut Public Opinion Online, Accession Number 0402247. Hart and Teeter Research Companies did the survey. [back]

  3. [xl] The Catholic League took pains to credit the media with fair coverage of the scandal. See the “Executive Summary” of the Catholic League’s 2002 Report on Anti-Catholicism. It is available online at [back]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fr. Z's Biased Media Coverage Logo

Fr. John Zuhlsdorff (WDTPRS), whose photoshopper developed this logo, is doing a terrific job of going through the details of some of these key media "reports" attempting to implicate the Holy Father in the outed news about clerical sex scandals. Here are just two from yesterday (April 9, 2010), and a short post commenting on the "uphill battle" against the likes of MSM: (1) "AP throwing more spaghetti at Pope Benedict: this time from California"; (2) "Cardinal Prefect [NOT RATZINGER!], Canadian hierarchy knew of abuse, covered it"; and (3) "An uphill battle," where he writes: "For every 100 bigoted or stupid words written in MSM stories alleging that Pope Benedict was part of the problem and not the driving force towards a solution, fair-minded people with actual reasoning skills have to write or read 1000 to correct the errors and, in justice, uphold the truth and a man’s reputation." (Note: many of his commentators are well worth reading as well.)


Friday, April 09, 2010

The Validity of Homosexual Vows of Chastity in Religious Life

By Regis Scanlon

We are all too painfully aware of the problems that homosexuality in the priesthood has caused the Catholic Church. When the John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted its research into clerical sex abuse for the U.S. bishops in 2004, it found not a pedophilia crisis but what Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, described as a pattern of "homosexual predation on American Catholic youth." The first question that comes to mind is: Should the Church accept homosexuals into diocesan and religious seminaries and religious community life? Consideration of this question is based on the answer to a more fundamental question: Is a homosexual's vow of chastity in religious life valid?

Attempts to Address Homosexuality in Religious Life
Since the discovery that the real problem among deviant clergy is "homosexual predation," the Church has attempted to address the problem of homosexuality among the clergy. The Congregation for Catholic Education stated in its 2008 "Vatican Report on U.S. Seminaries" that, while homosexuality in U.S. diocesan seminaries is being appropriately addressed, "there are still some places — usually centers of formation for religious — where ambiguity vis-à-vis homosexuality persists."

Strange as it may seem, in the past twenty years there has been only one passing statement — one sentence to be exact — by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life dealing with homosexuality in religious life. In its 1990 "Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes," the Congregation stated, "In this context [of sexuality and formation] reasons must be given and understood to explain why those who do not seem to be able to overcome their homosexual tendencies or who maintain that it is possible to adopt a third way, 'living in an ambiguous state between celibacy and marriage,' must be dismissed from the religious life."

It is unclear what the Congregation means by "reasons must be given and understood." Is the Congregation still searching for answers to this problem? Is it not yet certain that men with homosexual tendencies should be dismissed from religious life? One does not have to think too long to discover a reason to dismiss those people "who maintain that it is possible to adopt a third way, 'living in an ambiguous state between celibacy and marriage.'" Thirty years ago, Fr. Jan Bots explained that the "third way" is a concept that describes "erotic-sexual friendships" between priests and religious (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, June 1980). Even the ultra-progressive Dutch bishops of the 1980s were in agreement with one another and with Rome in rejecting this "third way." So, those who advocate a so-called third way must be dismissed from religious community life because they are arguing for the right of religious to violate their vows of chastity by engaging in sexual perversion.

That's a clear and simple case. But what about a celibate man with homosexual tendencies: Should the Church dismiss him from religious life? A religious community accepted him and perhaps even knew of his same-sex attraction. It would therefore seem to be uncharitable to dismiss an elderly religious homosexual who has no problem living chastely. More to the point, then, the Church should ask whether men with homosexual tendencies ought to be permitted to enter male religious life now and in the future.

In his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas Aquinas explains that chastity "takes its name from the fact that reason chastises concupiscence, which like a child, needs curbing..." (II-II, Q151, a.1). Chastity is thus a virtue that moderates the sexual appetite according to the judgment of reason. The vow of chastity involves more than perfect continence; it also involves a disposition of interior integrity in which a person gives himself totally to God. An "undivided heart" is the essential element of the vow of chastity (cf. Catechism, #2349; can. 599).

Aquinas pointed out that of the three vows in religious life — poverty, chastity, and obedience — the vow of chastity is the most critical for attaining perfection in religious life. He identified the first step to perfection as the renunciation of external goods in the vow of poverty. The second, higher step is the renunciation of "fleshly affection and of marriage." Aquinas elucidated:
Now amongst all relationships the conjugal tie does, more than any other, engross men's hearts.... Hence, they who are aiming at perfection, must, above all things, avoid the bond of marriage, which, in a pre-eminent degree, entangles men in earthly concerns.... For the soul is hindered in its free access to God, not only by love of exterior things, but much more by the force of interior passions. And, amongst these passions, the lust of flesh does, beyond all other, overpower reason.
Pope John Paul II, in his November 16, 1994, Wednesday audience, spoke of the three vows of consecrated life: "The [Second Vatican] Council...expressly mentions 'consecrated chastity' before the other two vows (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 43; Decree Perfectae Caritatis, nn. 12,13,14), because it considers chastity as the determining commitment of the state of consecrated life."

The vow of chastity, as distinct from poverty and obedience, is the foundational commitment in consecrated religious life. This helps to explain why the order of "consecrated virgins" is a valid form of consecrated life even though the vow of chastity is taken without the explicit profession of accompanying vows of poverty and obedience (can. 604). Virginity also has a central and fundamental significance for the man who enters religious life because giving up woman represents the total giving of himself to God in all three vows. When a man gives up woman (viz., marriage) he is not only giving his "undivided love" to God in chastity, he is also giving to God his greatest possession and placing his spousal will at the disposal of the Bride of Christ through obedience to the Church.

The Homosexual Person
Fr. John Harvey, O.S.F.S., an expert on the pastoral care of homosexuals, defined the homosexual person as one who has an "erotic attraction to one's own sex...[and] the condition has existed for such a length of time that it seems that he will develop no meaningful heterosexual interests" (The Priest, Jul.-Aug. 1977). It is also important to note that the Catechism teaches that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" (#2357) and that the homosexual inclination itself is "objectively disordered" (#2358).

So, what does the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life mean when it says that religious must "overcome their homosexual tendencies"? Given the accepted meaning of the terms, the Congregation appears to be saying that it is necessary for a person with a same-sex attraction to do more than give up homosexual acts in order to enter or remain in male religious community life. The Congregation seems to be requiring that he also overcome his homosexual urges or desires. Is it possible to identify "reasons" that "explain why those who do not seem able to overcome their homosexual tendencies" should not be allowed to enter community religious life?

The Near Occasion of Sin
In his book Love and Responsibility, John Paul II wrote, "Man, alas, is not such a perfect being that the sight of the body of another person, especially a person of the other sex, can arouse in him merely a disinterested liking which develops into an innocent affection." Honest men do not take vows of chastity or celibacy and then try to live out these vows by living in close quarters with women. They know that they cannot share intimate living space, like bathrooms and showers, with women and remain faithful to their vows. The Dutch experiment of the "third way," with priests living with nuns, showed definitively that this does not work. This is precisely why male religious live in monasteries with other men, and female religious live in convents with other women. The sexes are separated in religious life primarily for the sake of chastity.

But a man with homosexual tendencies has an erotic attraction to other men. So we must repeat the above insight of John Paul II on concupiscence with a slight alteration: "The homosexual man, alas, is not such a perfect being that the sight of the body of another person, especially a person of the same sex, can arouse in him merely a disinterested liking which develops into an innocent affection." A man with homosexual tendencies must take concupiscence and his sexual orientation into account when he chooses his vocation in life. He may wish to join a religious community of men, but in so doing he puts himself into a serious near occasion of sin. Homosexual tendencies and concupiscence must also be taken into account by the religious community that considers a man with homosexual tendencies as a candidate. Fr. Harvey stated it simply: Avoidance of the occasion of sin is the correct pastoral counseling for homosexuals.

Some may wish to argue that if a man's same-sex attraction is mild perhaps a religious community could still accept him. This is nonsense. A man who has a "slight problem" controlling his erotic urges for women does not overcome his erotic desires by living with women in close quarters. He knows that this will only fan the flames of his passion. The same is true for the homosexual man with mild erotic desires. He does not overcome his homosexual urges and desires by living in close quarters with other men. This will only amplify his homosexual desires. He must overcome these homosexual tendencies before he enters religious life.

Does a Homosexual's Vow of Chastity Have Meaning?
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for my sake will receive many times as much and inherit everlasting life" (Mt. 19:29). When a man takes vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience in religious life, he is attempting to fulfill these words of our Lord.

It is crucial to understand that when a man forgoes marrying a woman for the sake of the Kingdom of God, he is giving up to God something very good. Marriage to a woman is not evil. It is wonderful. A man could legitimately take a wife and still please the Lord. A man who chooses to give up woman gives to the Lord what he loves most. Consequently, the man's love of God is a total giving of himself. In his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II described celibacy as "the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality."

The fact that the vow of chastity is a free gift of oneself to God is the key to the magnificence of the vow of chastity. In fact, Jesus distinguishes those who freely give up sex for the sake of the Kingdom of God from those who are not interested in sex from birth and those who have lost this desire by the actions of others: "Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 19:12). Only those who have a desire to marry, or are attracted to the opposite sex, and give this up freely for the sake of the Kingdom of God, are fulfilling the evangelical meaning of the vow of chastity.

The celibate homosexual male also gives up sex for the Kingdom of God. But the homosexual must give up homosexual acts because these are, for one, clearly condemned in the Scriptures. St. Paul, for example, teaches about those "who suppress the truth by their wickedness.... Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own person the due penalty for their perversity" (Rom. 1:18, 26-27). Elsewhere, St. Paul teaches that "neither...boy prostitutes nor sodomites...will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10). The celibate homosexual male, therefore, doesn't need a vow to give up sex with men. He already has a divine law obliging him to do so.

Because the homosexual is already bound by the natural and divine law to renounce sexual relations with other males, he cannot renounce sexual activity with other males as a free gift to the Lord. And because he does not have a full and healthy attraction to women, he cannot renounce the possibility of sexual relations with women. One cannot renounce what one does not have!

What, then, is the meaning of a celibate homosexual male's vow of chastity? Here we are speaking about someone in whom "the condition has existed for such a length of time that it seems that he will develop no meaningful heterosexual interests." To bind oneself by a vow to abstain from something one is already bound to avoid (homosexual acts) is as superfluous as taking a vow to refrain from doing something one will not do anyway (heterosexual acts). In this case, the celibate homosexual male's vow of chastity is meaningless.

Would a Homosexual's Vow of Chastity Be Valid?
Jesus surely meant by chastity that a man would give up woman for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and that a woman would give up man for the sake of the Kingdom of God. For men, an exclusive attraction to women is a necessary prerequisite for a scripturally valid consecration to the Lord in celibacy. A homosexual male, therefore, does not have the means to answer the Lord's call to give up sex for the sake of the Kingdom of God. If a person cannot do what Jesus intended by the vow of chastity, then that person's vow of chastity is invalid. So, a homosexual male cannot make a scripturally valid consecration to the Lord in chastity through celibate religious life. Similar to the way that impotence is an impediment to valid marriage vows (can. 1084), so homosexual tendencies are an impediment to the vow of chastity in religious life.

What About "Mild" Homosexual Tendencies?
But what about the celibate homosexual male who has homosexual tendencies but has not engaged in homosexual acts: Would he be able to make a valid vow of chastity in religious life? The Linacre Institute points to some interesting findings on homosexuality in its excellent work After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests (Author House, 2006). After conducting an extensive review of the scientific literature on the subject, the Institute states that, "compared to the typical adult heterosexual male, the male with homosexual tendencies is very much a moving target who displays a wide variety of sexual behaviors and interests.... This means that the self-identified homosexual, as well as other homosexually experienced men, often have sex with women whereas the self-identified heterosexual rarely if ever has sex with males."

So, would a celibate male with a mild homosexual orientation be able to give up woman for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Yes, but it would not have the same meaning as it would for a celibate heterosexual male. Woman means much more to the celibate heterosexual male than she does to the man who is attracted to both men and women. The exclamation of Adam at the sight of Eve symbolizes that woman, like nothing else, is the delight of man: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken" (Gen. 2:23). Woman complements man and "at last" fills up his loneliness like no other creature can. When one considers all creation, it is clear that woman is God's greatest gift to man.

The heterosexual male is totally attracted to woman. Thus, the celibate heterosexual male makes a total gift of himself to God by giving up woman in the "supreme form of that self-giving" to the Lord. But woman is not the total sexual interest of the celibate mildly homosexual male — his interest is divided between men and women. The celibate mildly homosexual male, therefore, is not able to emotionally appreciate woman as God's greatest gift to him. Consequently, the mildly homosexual male's act of giving up woman does not represent the total gift of himself to the Lord. Only the celibate heterosexual male can fulfill the Lord's call of giving up a wife and renouncing marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

A celibate man with homosexual tendencies should not be permitted to enter religious life because (1) he will be entering a near occasion of sin; (2) his vow of chastity will be meaningless; and (3) his vow of chastity will be scripturally and canonically invalid. The Catechism states, "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" (#2359). One should not, however, confuse this vocation with the call to community religious life.

[Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFM Cap., is the director of Catholic Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, where he is also chaplain for the Missionaries of Charity's shelter for homeless women. His articles have been published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Faith, Soul Magazine, Pastoral Life, and The Priest. He has also made two series for Mother Angelica's EWTN: Crucial Questions, Catholic Answers and What Did Vatican II Really Teach? Fr. Scanlon's foregoing article, "The Validity of Homosexual Vows of Chastity in Religious Life," was originally published in New Oxford Review (March 2010), pp. 18-22, and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos To Celebrate Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Tridentine Community News (April 4, 2010):
On Saturday, April 24 at 1:00 PM, Dario Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, the former President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei, will celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the High Altar of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The stated occasion is the fifth anniversary of the election of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

This will be the first time in over 40 years that the Tridentine Mass will have been celebrated in the main upper church of the National Shrine. It will also be the first time in a long while that the high altar will have been used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The National Shrine is the largest Catholic Church in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It is comprised of the Great Upper Church plus a basement Crypt Church. For many years, the Crypt Church hosted a Sunday Novus Ordo Latin Mass. That Mass has since been discontinued, but the Crypt Church has hosted the occasional Extraordinary Form special event. It was also once the site of a Latin Liturgy Association National Convention.

The Upper Church is somewhat of a larger version of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Surrounding both the upper church and the lower level are numerous chapels, varying from traditional design with wall-mounted altars, to abstract, contemporary designs. The building is so vast that it includes its own cafeteria.

The high altar (photo from the National Shrine web site, is set deep back in the sanctuary and is surmounted by a massive baldacchino. In front of this majestic altar, a gargantuan sanctuary was constructed to accommodate Pontifical Solemn Masses involving an army of sacred ministers. In recent decades, a rather pedestrian freestanding altar has stood at the front of this open space and serves as the Altar of Sacrifice, despite the fact that the high altar can accommodate celebration of the Mass on both sides.

Let us recall the purpose of a baldacchino: To veil the Sacred Mysteries taking place beneath it, much as the iconostasis (wall) veils the Holy Table behind it in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. It is a beautiful reminder that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings God the Son down to our mundane world.

Fortunately, this glorious altar and baldacchino, the focal points of the whole church, will soon be put back to their intended purposes, and for the form of Holy Mass for which they were built.

An intrepid organization, The Paulus Institute, was formed in 2007 to promote liturgical beauty in the DC area. They invited Cardinal Castrillón, secured the use of the National Shrine (how they accomplished that would be a fascinating story to hear), and recruited members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to coordinate the complex Pontifical ceremonies. No doubt they are hoping to fill the church as the late Alfons Cardinal Stickler’s Extraordinary Form Mass filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.

The event is so newsworthy that EWTN will be broadcasting the Mass live. Special Tridentine Masses on EWTN have become a regular occurrence, as you may have noted.

If any of our readers will be attending this Mass, we would appreciate photos and a first-hand account.

The Ite, Missa Est for Masses XVII and XVIII

A reader of this column asked why so few books include the music for the Ite, Missa Est for Gregorian Chant Masses XVII and XVIII. These are the two Mass settings specified for Lent and Advent. The reason is that prior to 1960, in Lent and Advent, the Ite was replaced at the end of Mass by Benedicámus Dómino. The 1960 revision ordered that Benedicámus only be used when a procession follows Mass, such as on Corpus Christi. Prior to this date, there had been no need for an Ite in the Lent and Advent Mass settings.

An allied question is why this Ite, which is common for Masses XVII and XVIII as well as for the infrequently used XVI, does not mirror the melody of the Kyrie of those settings. The Ite’s of other Gregorian Mass settings do employ the melody of the Kyrie of their respective settings. The answer is that this is actually the Ite of Mass XV; it mirrors Kyrie XV. It is also a more austere and simple Ite, appropriate for Lent.

As modern publications, the Blue Hymnals in use at Assumption-Windsor and St. Josaphat do include this Ite at the conclusion of the Mass settings.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 4, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]


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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Deliverance in the City of Angels ~ YESSS!!!

A reader writes:
"...and Hollywood & Vine shout 'PTL!!!!'"
The reader continues:
I've been to Our Lady of the Angels, and even in terms of very modern Catholic architecture, it misses the boat and far more suggests Star Trek than Catholicism. Not to even go into the syncretism that is a bit brazenly evident. And that's on the inside. The outside... well, there is nothing even naively nice one can say there since it is all around barge-like, hideous.

So amidst all the current garbage I do have this thought, "Why doesn't Rome do anything? Can't they even do something about Mahoney and gay-friendly L.A.? I mean, can't we connect a few dots retro-actively?"

Then I see this:
"Abp Chaput Praises LA Abp Gomez" (Standing on My Head, April 6, 2010):
Bishop Gomez of San Antonio is to take over from Mahoney at Los Angeles. Good news all around. Abp. Chaput (Gomez' old boss) praises the appointment here. Gomez is a member of Opus Dei and of Hispanic descent. A perfect choice for LA.

It should prove interesting for Anglicans and those who wish to establish an ordinariate. Bishop Gomez has been very friendly and helpful to the former Anglicans at Atonement Parish--one of the biggest Anglican Use parishes in the country which is in San Antonio. This means he is already familiar with the particular problems that convert clergy face, the joys and possibilities of Anglican Use parishes and he should be v. welcoming to all who want to come over.
Hispanic and a member of Opus Dei. You've gotta love that. Think of all those Dan Brown Da Vinci Code fans out in L.A. and what they'll be thinking. Not only that. Opus Dei priests generally don't go in for foo-foo liturgy, liturgical dancing, effite homophilic programs, syncretistic theology, or Catholic lite homilies. I see some salubrious and restorative reforms in the offing.

Not only that. As Rorate Caeli points out today, the website of Una Voce San Bernardino, in an article about the "glorious transformation" of the situation for the TLM in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, has the following to say about the soon-to-be Coadjutor Archbishop, who was ordained in 1978 as a numerary priest of Opus Dei:
The Most Rev. Jose Gomez, our Archbishop, and Fr. Francis McHugh deserve a huge deal of credit for withstanding the barrage of criticism they have received for allowing the Traditional Latin Mass into the mainstream of Catholic life here in San Antonio.
Appointment confirmed here.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Monday, April 05, 2010

Pope target in open war on Christianity

"... because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

The issue of abusive priests has become another excuse for the war of secularism against Christianity, says a former president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera. Excerpts from his article, "Paedophile priests and the pope," (, April 3, 2010):
The recent uproar in Germany about paedophile and homosexual priests is an attack on the pope. It would be a serious mistake to think that it is too monstrously daring to harm him. And it would be an even worse mistake to think that the whole affair will be quickly brought to an end like so many others. This is not the case.

There is a war on. It is not openly against the pope in person as it would be impossibile on this ground.... No, the war is between secularism and Christianity. The secularists know that a spot of mud on that white robe would mean that the church was sullied, and if the church were sullied so the Christian religion likewise. So they accompany their campaign with such refrains as “Who will take the children to church?" or "Who would send their children to Catholic schools?" or "Who would have our little ones cared for in a Catholic hospital or clinic?"

... This war against Christianity is a total war. One has to look back to nazi rule or communism to find anything like it. The means change but the end is the same: today as yesterday the aim is the destruction of religion. Then the price paid by Europe was the loss of her freedom. It is incredibile that Germany, once again a democratic country, still beating her breast in memory of the sacrifice she inflicted on the rest of Europe, should forget and not understand that her democracy would be lost if Christianity were vanquished again. The destruction of religion then brought about the destruction of reason. Today it would not lead to the triumph of secular reason but to another barbarity.
This is an exceptionally important and insightful article. Read the rest of it for further details.

A related article of notable insights, "An interview with George Weigel from the Italian newspaper, La Stampa" (Where the Rubber Hits the Road, April 5, 2010), in which Weigel points out the following:
It is important to distinguish between the U.S. crisis of 2002 and this latest tempest of criticism of the Church. In 2002, the press did an important job of bringing to light situations of clerical sexual abuse and some bishops' mishandling of that abuse that had too long been hidden. The Church, which had begun to address these problems seriously in the early 1990s, then accelerated its efforts to discipline abusers and to create safe environments for young people throughout American Catholicism. Those measures have worked. There are 68 million Catholics in the United States, and there were only six credible reports of the sexual abuse of a young person in the Church last year; that is, of course, six too many, but it completely falsifies the picture the press has painted of an ongoing crisis of sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church in the U.S.. Cardinal Ratzinger's support of the bishops of the U.S. in their post-2002 efforts to put this awful problem behind us was a large part of the U.S. bishops' success. The firestorm of the past few weeks has been shaped by several different factors, few of which have anything to do with protecting young people: grossly distorted reporting of abuse cases in Milwaukee and Munich, falsely implicating the Pope in cover-ups; the inability of American editors and reporters to understand that the Catholic Church is not a gigantic international corporation in which the Pope controls every aspect of Catholic life down to the parish level; commentators (and some reporters and editors) who see an opportunity to take the Catholic Church out of the public debate over issues like the nature of marriage and the right to life by painting a picture of the Church as a hypocritical criminal conspiracy of abusers and their enablers; and unscrupulous lawyers who see in that false portrait a way to bring the resources of the Vatican within the reach of American courts. The Church and its defenders were beginning to get a more fair hearing this past week; but then Father Cantalamessa made some exceptionally stupid and inappropriate remarks during the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday, which have made the Church look insensitive and inept. I do not think, however, that serious Catholics have, as yet, been much affected by this recent controversy. At the same time, every serious Catholic wishes the Holy See would take a firmer grip on this story, get the facts out in a coherent, comprehensive, and compelling way, and take decisive action against prelates (as in Ireland) who were clearly irresponsible in handling abuse cases.
Weigel's otherwise helpful remarks do not address the fact of impending total war in quite the way Marcello Pera does. Every serious Catholic should be forewarned and ready with his "armor of God" (Eph 6:11), prepared to fight, if not already engaging the opposition, keeping in mind that his warfare is not "not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph 6:12). Let us pray for one another, and especially for our priests, bishops, and the Holy Father.

[Hat tip to E.E.]