Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Experiments on Shroud of Turin Date it to 1st Century A.D.

Vatican Insider reports:
New scientific experiments carried out at the University of Padua have apparently confirmed that the Shroud Turin can be dated back to the 1st century AD. This makes its compatible with the tradition which claims that the cloth with the image of the crucified man imprinted on it is the very one Jesus’ body was wrapped in when he was taken off the cross. The news will be published in a book by Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, out tomorrow. “Il Mistero della Sindone” (The Mystery of the Shroud) is edited by Rizzoli (240 pp, 18 Euro).
Whether the Shroud is an elaborate hoax, someone else's burial cloth, or the burial cloth of Christ, has no bearing on my faith.

That said, and for the record, since the days of my youth (dating back before I became Catholic when I was growing up Southern Baptist) I have believed the Shroud to be exactly what it has long been purported to be - the cloth in which Jesus was buried - and that the image on the Shroud is that of the Lord.

Call me gullible, but so help me, I do believe it.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Inside Catholic: "Shroud Skeptics Bump Up Against Science" [UPDATED]

USAToday on NBC, the Turin Olympics, and the Shroud (or Lack Thereof)
 USAToday: NBC Chooses to Keep the Faith Out of Olympics — For Now

Mention of Shroud Absent From Turin Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Holy or Hoax, Shroud Still a Draw

One Reporter's Futile Attempt to See the Shroud of Turin

Criterion Online Provides "Olympic Coverage With a Catholic Twist"

Shroud of Turin Would Outdraw Winter Olympics

Before the Olympics, Turin Had the Shroud

What I'm REALLY Looking Forward To During the Turin (Torino) Olympics ...

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Signs of the Times [UPDATED]

You may have noticed a red and pink equal sign floating around on social network sites today signifying support for so-called "marriage equality" (i.e. redefining marriage). Whatever.

I prefer these signs:


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Monday, March 25, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (25 March 2013)

Digest of Weekend's Posts (24 March 2013)


The Devil and Pope Francis: The Holy Father Mentions Satan ... A Lot

The Spectator (U.K.) notes that, under Pope Francis, "Satan is Back". Guess what, folks? He was always there, and his greatest trick was making you think he wasn't.
... The precipitous decline in Britain in the number of those who believe in God was long preceded by the disappearance of the Devil even from the cognizance of Christian believers.

Is this about to change? Soon after his election, Pope Francis told the College of Cardinals not ‘to give in to the pessimism, to that bitterness, that the Devil places before us every day’. More radically, in his first homily as Pope, he quoted the French author from the turn of the 20th century, Léon Bloy: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the Devil.’ Bloy was a zealous, even belligerent Catholic: he believed, like Pope Francis, in spiritual renewal through poverty and suffering, and eschewed any compromise with the world....

Others talking about Pope Francis' frequent mentions of the diabolical include:
Robert Royal
Michael Sean Winters 
Robert Moynihan

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It's the Only Thing I Have to My Name After 8 Years of Blogging ...

... and these folks want to give it away to that old scoundrel Cardinal Law:
... Reader Victor Lam moves that [Anderson's] Law be changed to the Bernard Francis Law. I emphatically second that. The motion is moved and seconded. If Mr. Anderson agrees, I think it should henceforth be called the Bernard Francis Law or, alternatively, the Cardinal Law. What say you?
So, what say you? Should Anderson's Law instead be known as "the Cardinal Law"?

Honestly, I don't think it fits. Apart from not wanting to have something that originated here associated with that reprobate, let's not forget that Cardinal Law ACTUALLY DID (or aided and abetted) what Anderson's Law predicts someone will mention in an ad hominem fashion to distract from a completely unrelated discussion.

When someone inevitably mentions the scandal in a discussion completely unrelated to the scandal, is throwing Cardinal Law's name into the mix actually likely to steer the discussion back on course?

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Holy Week

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Digest of Weekend's Posts (24 March 2013)



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pope Francis "Re-Gifts" Icon to Pope Emeritus Benedict

That beautiful icon of Our Lady of Humility that Pope Francis gave to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during their historic meeting at Castel Gandolfo? Well, turns out that it just may be the most high-profile instance of "re-gifting" since Jerry's dentist gave him a label maker.

Robert Moynihan has the story:
... In the same report, she noted: “Francis also brought a gift for Benedict, an icon of the Madonna. ‘They told me it’s the Madonna of Humility,’ Francis told Benedict. ‘Let me say one thing: When they told me that, I immediately thought of you, at the many marvelous examples of humility and gentleness that you gave us during your pontificate.’ Benedict replied: ‘Grazie, grazie.’”

But who were the “they” who told Francis that the icon was the Madonna of Humility?

“They” were… the people who gave the icon to him. But who were those people?

Well… they were representatives of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who sent the icon to Pope Francis as a gift, and who handed it to Francis three days ago, on March 20.

How do I know this?

Because a few minutes ago I received an unexpected email from Metropolitan Hilarion, 46, an old friend who is also the “Foreign Minister” (the term isn’t quite accurate, but it suggests the importance of his work and position) of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate, so, the right-hand of Patriarch Kirill. He wrote:

Here is the photo of the icon of the Madonna of Humility which
Pope Francis gave today as a gift to Emeritus Pope Benedict

“Pope Francis presented to Pope emeritus Benedict the icon which had been presented to Pope Francis by Metropolitan Hilarion on behalf of Patriarch Kirill [the head of the Russian Orthodox Church] after the private audience [with the new Pope] on 20 March. Отправлено с iPhone [Sent from iPhone]“ So the icon was the Russian icon Hilarion gave to Francis three days ago!

I wrote back: “Amazing. Are you pleased, or upset?”

I added: “It is reported here: ‘They spent 45 minutes talking alone. Pope Francis gave Pope Benedict an icon of Our Lady of Humility, saying that when he received it, he immediately thought of giving it to Pope Benedict.’”

Hilarion wrote back: “Very pleased and touched.”

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"We Are Brothers" - Francis and Benedict XVI


Friday, March 22, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (22 March 2013)

Digest of Yesterday's Posts (21 March 2013)


John Allen: "Francis Vows to Press Benedict's Fight vs. 'Dictatorship of Relativism' " [UPDATED]

As I type this, heads are no doubt exploding at the publication for which John Allen works. Allen, who writes the only column I bother reading at NCReporter, has this report today:
For those tempted to draw an overly sharp distinction between Pope Francis and his predecessor, the new pope offered a clear reminder Friday that he may have a different style than Benedict XVI, but on substance, he's cut from much the same cloth.

In a speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Friday, Francis lamented not only the material poverty of the early 21st century but also its "spiritual poverty," meaning a rejection of God and objective standards of morality.

In that regard, Francis quoted Benedict's famous critique of a post-modern "dictatorship of relativism," delivered during a homily for the Mass in 2005 that opened the conclave that elected him pope.

Here's the text of what the Holy Father said:
... As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth...
God bless Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI!

(Hat tip: Elizabeth Scalia)

Be sure to read Robert Moynihan's "Letter #56: Holding to Benedict" on this topic:
Folks, Pope Francis has done it.

He has taken his stand.

He did it this morning, about three hours ago.

And his stand is with… Pope Benedict, his predecessor, with whom he will meet tomorrow.

The importance of Francis’s words today cannot be overestimated.

Francis today took his stand with the essential spiritual vision of Pope Benedict...

[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis in original)

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Popes Francis and Benedict Trashed by Lying Prelates and Their Toady Deacons [UPDATED]

Actually, they were trying to praise Francis at Benedict's expense, but wound up making Francis sound small and petty, thus trashing both men with their lies.

Elizabeth Scalia has the story. Read it there and then my comments below will make sense. But here's the money quote:
By now you’re dying to know the story, but I will not repeat it, because that would be a backward obedience to the father of lies. I will tell you that the tale purports to be about a cruel and utterly bitchy remark, made by Francis (as he was vesting as pope for the first time) and directed to an underling only doing his job; moreover the bitchiness was understood to be a swipe against Francis’ predecessor, Benedict.

I am just sick enough, though, to suspend any last vestiges of tact and grace that still reside within me and call this vicious little rumor out as the Pure-D Bullshit I believe it to be.


No, the snippy little remark we have seen attributed to Francis and repeated in sad places (to, apparent applause in sad pews) seems like the fantasy of a soured spirit — the thoughts of a craven kind of person — perhaps a Cardinal whose own career is cornered and against the wall, imagining what he would have said and done had he been elected, and loving it so much, he just has to share it.

Perhaps the sort of man who spent the first few days after the papal election swanking around Rome, and social media, dropping remarks that made him sound like a 14 year-old fashion reporter settling scores with an editor who banished him from further attempts at his own designs. So small and venal he was even content to misrepresent the point of the traditional red shoes of a pope — meant to symbolize the blood of martyrs that has propelled the church forward, all these centuries — by defining them down as a meaningless affectation.

Yes, that’s small and bitchy. From a “prince” of the church...
That's some bold speculation on Elizabeth's part, but I think she's probably correct as to the source of this rumor. And "bitchy" was my exact first thought when I heard the rumor (which I won't repeat here either, but there's plenty of other sources where you can find it).

Neither does Elizabeth name names, but I will. The speculation is that the false quote attributed to Pope Francis originated with the disgraced reprobate Cardinal Mahony, and the story was passed on to a deacon of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Eric Stoltz (no, not the actor), who related it to his congregation - DURING MASS - and to wild applause. And then bragged about it via social media afterward (it's even included on his Facebook cover photo ... jerk). Sorta like his former boss:

Yes, Elizabeth's description "bitchy" fits quite well. 

More on the rumor/lie from La Stampa (NOTE: I said earlier in this post that I wouldn't repeat the rumor here, but it does appear in the quoted text below):
... But urban myths started to circulate within the first few hours of his papacy. According to one of these rumours, straight after his election, Francis apparently refused to wear the red velvet mozzetta trimmed with (synthetic) ermine, saying to the Master of Papal Ceremonies, Guido Marini: “You can wear it! The carnival’s over.” A rude and boorish comment to make to the Master of Ceremonies. As far as Vatican Insider has learnt, said comment was never made. As Marini placed the mozzetta on Francis, the Pope simply said: “I would prefer you didn’t.” No reference was made [to] the carnival and no humiliating comment was made against the Master of Ceremonies....
(emphasis added)

Most people with a functioning moral compass recoil in horror at the thought that our humble Holy Father might say something as mean and nasty as that, which is why we know it, instinctively, not to be true. But, in those holding positions of authority in the Church who react with elation to this false story and gleefully spread it around, we are apparently not dealing with fully functioning moral compasses.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (21 March 2013)


Yesterday's Post:


Michael Voris to "Traditional-Minded Catholics" RE: Pope Francis: "Keep Your Mouths Shut and Your Comments to Yourselves"

I am decidedly NOT a fan of Michael Voris' style (or usual style, anyway) but this video is a must see:

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Sixth Anniversary of "Anderson's Law"

"As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one." 

~ Anderson's Law

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:   
See Anderson's Law

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Faith, Hope, and Charity

I've seen this image from CatholicVote making the rounds on Facebook, and I'm not sure what to think about it. It seems to me that ALL three of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity (Love) are present in ALL three men.

Yes, John Paul has famously been described as the "Witness to Hope". Yet he also rescued the Faith from those who would have perverted the Second Vatican Council into a call for the Church to drop its core social teachings in order to "get with the times". And when it comes to Love/Charity, who can forget this man's witness to the dignity of every person ... born and unborn ... from conception to natural death, and his magnificent exposition on the human person in the image and likeness of God in his Theology of the Body?

And Benedict. Yes, the great theologian who worked tirelessly alongside JPII to preserve the Faith and spent almost 25 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming Pope. I've heard him rated among the greatest theologian Popes of all time. Yet, when it came to writing his encyclicals, this theologian Benedict chose to write Deus Caritas Est (On Christian Love - God is Love), Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope), and Caritas in veritate (Charity in Truth). Benedict appears quite grounded in ALL of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, AND Charity.

And finally, Pope Francis. Inevitably, when I've seen the image above, someone comments "And the greatest of these is Love." I certainly believe that our new Holy Father will be an outstanding Pope. And he certainly exudes humility and love for the least of these, as well as an expressed desire to evangelize the far ends of the earth with the Faith of the Crucified Christ. But he's been Pope for exactly ONE WEEK. I think it rather premature to rush in and say definitively that he is more grounded than the other two in the theological virtue of Love (and therefore "the greatest of these").

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (18 March 2013)


Biden: I Must Attend Mass for Pope Francis or “I’ll Lose My Soul”

From LifeNews:
Vice-President Joe Biden has put his foot in his mouth again, this time with regard to the controversy over his leading the American delegation to attend the installation of Pope Francis as the new Pope.

Never mind that Vice President Joe Biden has been rebuked by his own bishop over his pro-abortion views, President Barack Obama chose him to lead the delegation. That decision prompted an outcry from Catholics and pro-life non-Catholics alike because of Biden’s longstanding pro-abortion record. Some pro-life advocates have called for Biden to be prohibited from receiving communion at any ceremony for Pope Francis.

Now, Biden has said he plans to attend the celebratory Mass. He confirmed he will be attending a reception tonight with the presidential delegation to the inaugural mass with American officials based in Rome. Biden says he has to attend “or I’ll lose my soul.”

Biden’s comment came as he met at the Villa Aurelia with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, according to reporters on the scene.

“We invited the American cardinals to a reception,” Biden told Nikolic. “So unless I’m prepared to join the Eastern Orthodox Church, as a Roman Catholic, I’d better show up or I’ll lose my soul.”


In the interview with the Delaware News Journal, Biden continued to misrepresent the position of the Catholic Church on abortion in a way that has gotten him in trouble.

“But throughout the church’s history, we’ve argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it’s almost a gradation,” Biden claimed.

Not so, said Rev. W. Francis Malooly, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

He wrote in a letter to the editor that Biden “presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion.”

“This is simply incorrect,” he said then of Biden’s interpretation. “The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life.”

It seems pretty clear to me that Biden has already sold his soul:

(Hat tip for the photo above: Creative Minority Report)

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Long Live Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ...

Amy Welborn, noting that the fact Benedict is still alive colors much of how this papal transition is being discussed, does a stellar job of defending Benedict's record against those who would paint him in a less favorable light compared to his successor, Pope Francis

At least while the man is still alive, I DO feel an emotional need to defend him from the likes of the sneeringly jubilant tweets of that despicable reprobate Roger Mahony.


The Way Forward: Preaching the Crucified Christ

"When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness... When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord. My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward."
~ Pope Francis

"When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
~ 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2

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News flash: The Pope is Catholic !!!

Sorry (well, not really) to disappoint anyone hoping for something else.


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Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Arise Today ...

 Lorica of Saint Patrick 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377) 

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (15 March 2013)


Digest of Yesterday's Posts (14 March 2013)


Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March

[NOTE: This is my annual St. Patrick's Day post, posted a couple of days early since 17 March falls on a Sunday this year, originally posted on St. Patrick's Day 2005]

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!
(Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

As a Roman Catholic of Irish descent, I am, quite predictably, a big fan of St. Patrick. Long before I became Catholic, St. Patrick - with his bishop's mitre and crozier - stood there beckoning me home to the Church of my forebears. Indeed, the first rosary I ever purchased (again, before I ever became Catholic) had a St. Patrick junction and a Celtic Cross Crucifix. St. Patrick's feast day, therefore, is a cause for great celebration in our household.

But just what is it about this British-born saint - who (1) was kidnapped as a boy from his home in Britain by Irish pirates, (2) was sold into slavery in Ireland, (3) escaped from his Irish oppressors, and (4) returned to Ireland to evangelize his former captors (the same Irish who would, a century later, with saints like Columba and Aidan, re-evangelize Britain after the Anglo-Saxon invasions) - that makes his feast day celebrated to a greater extent around the world than most other saints?

Perhaps it is because of the extent of the Irish Diaspora, which stretches from Continental Europe to North America to South America to Australia, and numbers in the tens of millions - making St. Patrick not only the patron saint of Ireland, but of all Irish all over the world. Possibly, it could be St. Patrick's contribution to Celtic Christianity, an influence that can be seen in the Lorica of St. Patrick, which has been attributed to him.

For more on the story behind why St. Patrick is such a significant personage within the Church, especially where the Irish are concerned,
go here: Patron Saints Index - Patrick,

and here: The History of St. Patrick's Day,

and here: The Ultimate St. Patrick.
But unfortunately, I think the real reason this particular feast day has such resonance with so many people has nothing whatsoever to do with its religious significance. St. Patrick's Day, like Christmas, is a religious feast day that has lost much of its meaning due to over-secularization. Rather than a day to celebrate the life of this great British saint who evangelized the Irish, St. Patrick's Day has become just another excuse to get drunk and tell stupid Irish jokes.

Personally, one of the biggest problems I have with the secular celebrations of St. Patrick's Day is the ubiquitous presence of the leprechaun. On and around St. Patrick's Day, this little fairy creature can be seen on the front pages of major newspapers, on greeting cards, and on televisions selling used cars, credit cards, and beer in a cheesy Irish brogue accent.

Given the artistic legacy of beautiful music, poetry, literature, and liturgical art bequeathed to us by the Irish; given the indispensable contributions the Irish have made to Christianity and Western Civilization as documented by Thomas Cahill in his best-selling book How the Irish Saved Civilization; and given the steadfastness of the Irish in overcoming historical persecution - racial, cultural, economic, and religious; I find the use of the leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day as a symbol of the Irish people and their cultural contributions about as appropriate as a lawn jockey on Martin Luther King Day.

Some will think that is not an apt comparison. Sorry, but I think it quite apt. The leprechaun as a symbol of this holy feast day is just plain offensive, and should go the way of the kerchief-headed version of Aunt Jemima.

The Irish - that mystical race of warriors and poets, saints and scholars, who brought us great works of literature like Ulysses and Gulliver's Travels, early medieval illuminated manuscripts like the Books of Kells and Durrow, musicians like Turlough O'Carolan, Altan, U2 and Van Morrison, wordsmiths like W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, kings like Brian Boru and ... (well, Brian's about it as far as great Irish kings go), political heroes like Daniel O'Connell and Michael Collins, and saints like Columcille (a.k.a. Columba), Brendan, Aidan, and Columbanus - deserve better on the feast day of their patron saint than to be represented by a short, ruddy (and might I add, pagan) fairy dressed in a green suit.

The University of Notre Dame is also guilty of this blood libel against the children of Erin. The University does quite a disservice to the true spirit of the "Fighting Irish" by representing that spirit in the form of a leprechaun (of course, some would argue that Notre Dame also does a disservice to Ex Corde Ecclesiae by calling itself "Catholic" while allowing such nonsense as prominent positions for Fr. Richard McBrien and Prof. Candida Moss in the Theology Department, not to mention honoring the anti-Catholic bigot and all-around pro-abort, President Obama, with an honorary law degree). Bring back the Irish Terrier to represent the Fighting Irish, as it did in the days of Knute Rockne. Just get rid of that damned leprechaun!!! (Oops! Sorry about that. That should be "damned leprechaun".)

Okay. Rant over.

Hopefully, we can try to keep in mind today (1) the spiritual legacy of Ireland's patron saint, and (2) the many cultural contributions of the people he loved so dearly as to bring them the Light of Christ - which are, after all, the primary reasons we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. Even if the rest of the world is too deep in a drunken stupor to notice.

And so I end with the following blessing:

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!
(St. Patrick's Day Blessing On You!)

Recommended Reading:Patrick: The Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland by Maire B. de PaorThe Confession of St. Patrick by John SkinnerHow the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
Wisdom of the Celtic Saints by Edward C. Sellner
Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
St. Patrick's Breastplate (The Deer's Cry)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2010)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2009)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2008)

What I'm Listening to in Honor of St. Patrick's Day

Don't Drink Green Beer!

St. Pat's Spat Pits Church vs. Cities
Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2007)
"... The Slur of the Fighting Irish"
Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2006)

Search Terms: St. Patrick's Day, Lent, Abstinence, Meat - Corned Beef, Dispensation, Indult, Catholic
Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2005)

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I Suppose Social Conservatives Should Feel Fortunate ...

... that at least it wasn't Rob Portman's daughter wanting to get an abortion that caused him to make a a social policy about-face :
Republican Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday that he now supports gay marriage – a surprise turnabout on a hot-button social issue, sparked by a deeply personal reflection that began two years ago after Portman’s son, Will, told him that he is gay.


Portman said his previous views on marriage were rooted in his faith.

But “the overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible . . . and the fact that I believe we are all created by our maker . . . that has all influenced me in terms of my change on this issue,” he said.
That's right. Don't let those timeless truths of a pesky religious faith stand in the way of your own personal Jesus. Actually, Mollie Hemingway says it better:

Leaving apart the question of whether marriage law should be changed, this strikes me as a problematic approach. I mean, marriage law should be changed or it shouldn't be changed -- but it shouldn't hinge on the sexual attractions of one senator's son, should it?

What if a conservative senator said, "I'm reversing my views on whether abortion should be legal because my daughter got pregnant and wished she weren't."

One of the fascinating things about society today is that personal experience trumps everything else in argumentation. Very few people seem to care about fundamental truths and principles while everyone seems to care about personal experience and emotion. It's the Oprahfication of political philosophy.

Should a conservative determine good policy this way?

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Pope Francis and "Eucharastic Coherence" Redux

Someone from the United States Department of State just visited this blog post from yesterday, on the basis of the following Google search:
"eucharistic coherence" francis
I'm pretty sure this is the money quote in which my visitor was interested:
“... we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
Hmmm. Who's the Secretary of State again?

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Pope Francis and Evangelical Catholicism

George Weigel, has written a book titled Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, which one reviewer called a "masterpiece of Catholic history and thought" and a "possible guide for the Church’s mission in the centuries ahead" that he would have, if he could have gained access to the conclave, "smuggle[d] in enough copies ... to place one on the chair of each elector".

Weigel's Evangelical Catholicism is held out as a way of moving beyond what he refers to as the "Counter-Reformation Catholicism" that has shaped the Church's practice and devotions for the last 500 years. Weigel starts from this premise:
“In the catechetical-devotional Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation Church, the Catholic learned about Jesus Christ through brief catechism formulas that aptly summed up the Church’s doctrine about the Son of God who became the son of Mary. Evangelical Catholicism begins not with knowing about Jesus, but with knowing Jesus.”
In essence, building the Church of the 21st Century and beyond begins exactly where it began 2000 years ago - with a personal relationship and knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh who continues to dwell among us and continues to offer us salvation:
“Evangelical Catholicism proclaims the great gift of friendship with Jesus Christ, not as one attractive possibility in a supermarket of spiritualities, but as the God-given and unique means of salvation for everyone.”
Now, I know that in many Catholic quarters - among both traditionalists and so-called "progressives", the phrase "personal relationship with Jesus" sets off alarms. It calls to mind those pesky protestant evangelicals that many in both traditional and progressive circles see as having had a pernicious influence on the direction that American Catholicism, in particular, has taken in the last couple of decades, including (in their analysis, but not mine) such ecumenical efforts as Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

But Weigel states that the Catholic Church being influenced by and acting like protestants is not what he is referring to:
"Evangelical Catholicism is not a way of being Catholic that adapts certain catechetical practices and modes of worship from evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostalist Protestantism."
Rather, it is an acknowledgment that Catholicism is uniquely qualified to spread the Gospel message that offers each and every individual a friendship with Jesus Christ, or, if you will, a "personal relationship with Jesus". And I don't think Catholics should shy away from using that admittedly protestant terminology to spread what is an essentially Catholic message. Because THAT IS THE GOSPEL. That the Catholic Church is the means by which the human person can have friendship and a personal relationship with his Savior. For that personal relationship is a Eucharistic one in which our Lord continues to come to us and feed us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. That is what each soul craves - to have that God-shaped hole filled, literally, with the One who loves us so much that he died for us. I can think of no more personal relationship with Jesus than to have him physically enter into us and fill us with Himself through the Eucharist.

So, if the thrust of the Catholic Church's Gospel message in the 21st Century and beyond lies with moving people toward personal knowledge of and friendship with Jesus, I say "Amen!"

And, in a piece yesterday at National Review, Weigel writes that, in Pope Francis, the Church has found just the man to lead the way:
The election of Pope Francis completes the Church’s turn from the Counter-Reformation Catholicism that brought the Gospel to America — and eventually produced Catholicism’s first American pope — to the Evangelical Catholicism that must replant the Gospel in those parts of the world that have grown spiritually bored, while planting it afresh in new fields of mission around the globe. In our May 2012 conversation, the man who would become pope discussed at some length the importance of the Latin American bishops’ 2007 “Aparecida Document,” the fruit of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. The essential message of that revolutionary statement (in which there was not the least bit of whining about Protestant “sheep-stealing” but rather a clear acknowledgment of Catholicism’s own evangelical deficiencies in Latin America) can be gleaned from this brief passage, which I adopted as one of the epigraphs for my book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church:

The Church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission. . . . It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats. . . . What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel . . . out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries. . . . 

A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. . . . We must all start again from Christ, recognizing [with Pope Benedict XVI] that “being Christian is . . . the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
Here, in a statement that then-cardinal Bergoglio had a significant hand in drafting, is what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called the “New Evangelization” in synthetic microcosm:
  • The Church of the 21st century cannot rely on the ambient public culture, or on folk memories of traditional Catholic culture, to transmit the Gospel in a way that transforms individual lives, cultures, and societies. Something more, something deeper, is needed.
  • That “something” is radical personal conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and an embrace of the friendship he offers every human being: a friendship in which we both see the face of the Father of Mercies (who calls us out of our prodigality into the full dignity of our humanity) and learn the deep truth about our humanity (that it is in making our lives into a gift for others, as life itself is to each of us, that we come into human fulfillment).
  • This conversion of minds and hearts builds a community that is unlike any other: a “communion” of disciples in mission, who understand that faith is increased as it is offered and given away to others.
  • That communion-community best embodies the truth of the human condition if each individual member of it, and the Church itself, fully embraces the entire symphony of Catholic truth, and in doing so, lives the moral life as a life of growth in beatitude, in compassion for others, and in evangelical charity.
  • Finally, this communion-community lives “ahead of time,” because it knows, through the Easter faith the Church will celebrate in a few weeks, the truth about how the human adventure will end: God’s purposes in creation and redemption will be vindicated, as history and the cosmos are fulfilled in the New Jerusalem, in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where death will be no more and every tear will be wiped away (Rev. 21:2–4).
That is the message that Pope Francis will take to the world: Gospel-centered Catholicism, which challenges the post-mod cynics, the metaphysically bored, and the spiritually dry to discover (or rediscover) the tremendous human adventure of living “inside” the Biblical narrative of history.

[Read the whole thing]

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (14 March 2013)


The "Myth" of Persecution?

A couple of my friends over at The American Catholic - Don McClarey and Darwin - have some excellent posts about a recently released book by a professor of theology at Notre Dame (of course) that attempts to call into question the history of the Church's early persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. Read them both here and here.

As I said in my comments at The American Catholic, this professor's motivation appears quite clear (and she pretty much confirms this in her promotion of the book):

If the Church and individual Christians suffer government and/or legal sanction because their beliefs and how they practice those beliefs are at odds with cultural “norms” – be those norms abortion-on-demand, the HHS mandate, or same-sex “marriage” – they are not REALLY being persecuted. In essence, the Church and individual Christians can either get on board with the agenda or not; but if they choose not to, they wouldn’t be able to legitimately cry “persecution” if the legal fallout is not to to their liking.

Moss’s motivation, as with the motivation of many on the religious left who are critical of the Church's teachings, is actually quite transparent: political ideology trumps religious dogma.

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Catholic Left: Pope Francis "Has Some Splainin' to Do"

Some on the Catholic left seem to have reservations about the fact that Jorge Mario Bergoglio (a.k.a., as of yesterday, Pope Francis) was not immersed in the so-called "liberation theology" movement that was rampant in Latin America from the late 60s through the early 80s until Pope John Paul II rooted it out.

This quote in the comments following the linked post is just precious:
"... practically any non-liberation theology bishop from Latin America probably has explaining to do. I hope Pope Francis is forthcoming about this."
Yes, how dare Pope Francis not involve himself in something his predecessor popes described as a heresy?

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Pope Francis on "Eucharistic Coherence"

"In the document, the new Pope referred to abortion and communion, saying “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

Hat tip: Paul Zummo.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Digest of Today's Posts (13 March 2013)

Habemus Papam!

White smoke already!

The "Holy See Gull" was a sign.


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Whoever is Elected Pope ...

... simply MUST have a seagull somewhere on his coat of arms.

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Protecting Religious Liberty in a Same-Sex "Marriage" Country

Given recent comments by Justice Anthony Kennedy, I'm not so sure that nationwide same-sex "marriage" is as inevitable in the short run as many of its proponents seem to hope. But I do believe it is unavoidable in the long run, and that - as I have written many times in the past (see links below) - the Church will suffer a loss of religious freedom at the very least, and even suffer outright persecution in some form, as a result.

A trio of legal minds (including Prof. Doug Laycock of my alma mater, UVA, who was lead counsel on the Hosanna-Tabor case) argue, wrongly in my view, that SSM is constitutionally protected under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, but also argue, rightly in my view, that the Supreme Court needs to concern itself with the implications of such a ruling for religious liberty:

I understand that the Catholic bishops are a bit preoccupied at the moment, but they and other religious leaders who are worried about the implications of same-sex marriage for religious liberty should make time to read the amicus brief filed last Thursday by the American Jewish Committee in the Supreme Court’s Proposition 8/DOMA case. It shows them the way forward in a country where, sooner rather than later, SSM will be the law of the land.

Let it be noted that the brief is a Protestant-Catholic-Jewish affair, written by three of the most respected advocates of religious liberty in the American legal community: (Protestant) Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia Law School, who served as lead counsel in last year’s Hosanna-Tabor ministerial exception case; (Catholic) Thomas C. Berg of the University of St. Thomas Law School, a prolific author who has done legal work for the archdiocese of Chicago; and (Jewish) Marc Stern, associate general counsel of the American Jewish Committee, who played a key role in drafting the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Agree or disagree with the outcome for which they argue, the arguments they make on behalf of protecting religious liberty in their amicus brief should be of interest to Catholics who desire to remain faithful to the timeless teachings of our faith in a nation increasingly moving to secularism and hostility toward religion.

Here is a direct link to the amicus brief.

Here is a post on this topic at Mirror of Justice from a couple of weeks ago.

Looks like I'm late to the game in discussing this (which I suppose is always a risk when one cuts back on the amount of blogging one does).

Hat tip: Rick Garnett.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject: 
Outside the Asylum: "How the Next Civil War Will Begin"

Archbishop Chaput: "Systematic Discrimination Against Church Now Seems Inevitable"

Pope Critical of Labour’s "Unjust" Equality Laws Ahead of UK Visit

Same-Sex "Marriage" and Religious Liberty

Bork Predicts “Terrible Conflict” Will Endanger U.S. Catholics’ Religious Freedom

Same-Sex "Marriage" and the Persecution of Civil Society

InsideCatholic on "The Unintended Consequences of Gay Marriage"

Secularist Attacks on the Catholic Church in Britain

Regular Guy Paul on What's Next for Same-Sex "Marriage"

Catholic Provocation?

Federal Judge: Catholic Church’s Position Against Homosexual Adoptions Justifies Government Hostility Towards Church

San Francisco's Hateful Anti-Catholic Resolution Prompts Lawsuit by Thomas More Center

Catholic League Says Gay Adoption Issue Spurring Anti-Catholic Bigotry

9th Circuit Rules Okay to Censor Terms "Marriage" and "Family Values" as Hate Speech

UK Catholic Schools Endangered by Sexual Orientation Regulations

Official Anti-Catholic Bigotry Returns to British Parliament

"A Charter for Suing Christians"

A Catholic Londoner on "The Last Acceptable Prejudice"

British Bishops: U.K. Sex Equality Law "Threatens Catholic Adoption Agencies"

UK: Churches "Could be Forced to Bless Gay Weddings"

The Coming Persecution of Churches Over "Gay Marriage"

The Coming Conflict Between Same-Sex "Marriage" and Religious Liberty

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Got Pope?


Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty Images

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Angry Old White Man

John McCain railing against Rand Paul's appeal to "impressionable" kids in dorm rooms is so politically tone deaf and out of touch that it makes Clint Eastwood look like a breath of fresh air by comparison. Yesterday, in a textbook example of EVERYTHING that is wrong about John McCain, just after scolding Paul on the Senate floor, McCain lamented the retirement announcement of 78-year-old Democrat Sen. Carl. Levin who has been in the Senate FOR 35 YEARS ... since the Carter Administration.

McCain's world: young upstarts inspiring people to take our liberties seriously and challenging the perpetual war establishment ... bad; crusty old farts clinging to power and enriching themselves on the public teet until they're octogenarians ... good.

Remember ... John McCain got absolutely SLAUGHTERED in a presidential campaign in large part because his opponent was able to inspire young people to turn out in droves for him. Apparently, "Maverick" hasn't taken the lesson to heart. He and his girlfriend Lindsey Graham represent the hyper-militarist, neo-con old guard of the GOP. Hopefully, they are a dying breed.

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Today is the 8th Anniversary of this Blog

Time flies.

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NOW He Tells Us

Where was THIS Anthony Kennedy 21 years ago when the Casey decision came down?

Justice Anthony Kennedy concerned that so many charged issues are shifting to US Supreme Court

Justice Anthony Kennedy says he is concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court is increasingly the venue for deciding politically charged issues such as gay marriage, health care and immigration. The 76-year-old associate justice said Wednesday that major policies in a democracy should not depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.” [ED.: Channeling our colleague Justice Scalia, are we?]

Rather, he said, it is important for political leaders to show the world that democracy works through compromise. [ED.: Which is EXACTLY what overturning Roe v. Wade 21 years ago would have allowed.]
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

My Comments:
Like Ed Morrissey, I'm wondering if it's time for pro-lifers to throw caution to the wind and start doing all across the country what Arkansas has recently done by placing strict time limits on abortion. Heck, go all the way and start enacting some outright bans. It's time for the federal courts to catch up with science anyway.

Let's press the Supreme Court to once again determine whether Roe v. Wade will continue to be the law of the land thereby foreclosing any opportunity for compromise solutions to limiting or even ending abortion. If the above is any indication, perhaps Anthony Kennedy has begun to rethink his "switch in time that saved none ... and killed many" in the Casey decision. I know if I were in his position as a Catholic jurist, I certainly wouldn't want the blood of so many innocents on my hands as I faced the twilight years of my judicial career, not to mention the twilight of my life as I contemplated meeting my Maker.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Society of Cincinnati Medal Belonging to Polish-Born Hero of American Revolution to be Auctioned in Cleveland

General Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a Polish-born hero of the American Revolution and the Chief Engineer of West Point. In Cleveland next Wednesday, there will be an auction of Kosciuszko's Society of Cincinnati medal.

Lot 156

Enameled Gold Order of the Society of the Cincinnati,

Enameled Gold Order of the Society of the Cincinnati, Designed by Major Pierre L'Enfant and Construction Attributed to Duval & Francastle, Paris, 1784. One of only 140 original eagles designed and conceived by Major Pierre L'Enfant for the inaugural members of the Society of the Cincinnati, the nation's oldest patriotic organization. The Society was founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army and their French counterparts who served together in the American Revolution. This particular eagle is believed to have belonged to Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish-born hero of the Revolution and Chief Engineer of West Point. In 1783, Kosciuszko was appointed Brigadier General and initiated into the Order by General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

Gold insignia with eagle and wreath motif, both sides with head and tail feathers having white and black enamel, red enamel eyes, distinct eyebrows and black beaks. Obverse oval medallion showing Cincinnatus receiving a sword from two senators, originally with blue enamel sky and green enamel grass within inscription OMNIA. REINQT. SERVAT. REMPB. (He Forsook All Things to Serve the Republic), but now mostly lacking. Reverse medallion showing Cincinnatus with sun and palisade behind, originally with blue sky and green field enameling within inscription in black on white ground VIRT. PRAEM. SOCI. CIN. RUM. INST. A. D. 1783 (a Prize for Virtue - Society of the Cincinnati Instituted 1783), also mostly lacking. The wreath at top and lower crossed branches likewise originally decorated with green enamel and red berries, with double oval loop suspension ring. Without original blue and white ribbon and bow.

Provenance: Inherited by the consignor through direct descent of Stevens Thompson Mason (1760-1803), a U.S. Senator from Virginia, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Armistead (1760-1825), who were personally acquainted with Kosciuszko. According to family history, Kosciuszko was awarded the eagle, which he then gifted to Mary Elizabeth Armistead, for whom he had great affection. It has been passed down in the Mason family ever since. Kosciuszko biographer, Casimir Kajencki, references a documented meeting between Stevens Thomson Mason and Kosciuszko at the latter's apartment on Third Street South in Philadelphia over the winter of 1797-1798 (Thaddeus Kosciuszko: Military Engineer of the American Revolution, El Paso, Tex.: Southwest Polonia Press, 1998, pp. 202-203). Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817), to his friend Mary Elizabeth Armistead Mason (1760-1825), to her grandson Stevens Thomson Mason (1811-1843), to his sister Catherine Armistead Mason (Rowland) (1818-1884), to her son John Thomson Mason (1844-1901), to his son Stevens Thomson Mason (1880-1950), to his daughter Adelaide Houghton Mason (b. 1918), by descent to the present owner

Dimensions: h: 2.5 x w: 1 inch.

A few years ago, George Washington's Society of Cincinnati medal, which had been in the possession of the family of the Marquis de Lafayette (the medal had been a gift to Lafayette by Washington's adopted granddaughter, Nellie Lewis), sold for over $5.3 million.

The Society of Cincinnati is America's oldest patriotic organization, and was established by Major General Henry Knox in honor of George Washington. The Society took its name from Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the ancient Roman who left his farm to accept dictatorial powers during a war emergency, only to relinquish those powers and return to farming when the war was over.

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