Sunday, December 31, 2006

Don't Put Me in That Box

While looking for some other stuff, I came across this from Angela Bonavoglia. My comments are in red.
Imagine this conversation at the altar rail: (When is the last time she or anyone saw an altar rail, much less recieved the Eucharist at one)Are you now or have you ever been a member of Call to Action? If the answer is yes, and you live in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, there will be no Communion for you. Nor will you be able to participate in a Catholic baptism or even have a Catholic burial. (Ummm, they can participate. They just can't be a godparent. Participation has many forms. Moreover, repudiating their association with the organization and confessing their sins when they are in danger of death lifts the excommunication)

As a Christmas gift to Lincoln's progressive Church reformers, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican Congregation of Bishops, heartily approved the Inquisitional action of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who excommunicated every single local member of the country's largest and most progressive church reform group, Call to Action. (A big cheer from this section.)

Bruskewitz originally excommunicated local CTA members in 1996 (no one said the Vatican works fast), when the Lincoln CTA chapter was formed. Ironically, CTA was founded in 1976 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to increase lay participation in church affairs. (See what happens when people forget that the Church belongs to God.)
Independent of the church today, CTA supports a broad range of issues, many favored by the majority of U.S. Catholics, like ending clerical celibacy, ordaining women, greater lay power in church affairs, and lifting the illogical and indefensible ban on birth control. (Illogical? No, there is plenty of logic behind it. And it is definately defendable. WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO CONTROL EVERYTHING!)

Bruskewitz declared membership in CTA (as well as in such other organizations as Planned Parenthood and Catholics for a Free Choice) as "always perilous to...and totally incompatible with the Catholic faith." (Another cheer!) He gave members one week to renounce their membership or be "automatically excommunicated." Lincoln CTA appealed that decision. In his letter of response, Cardinal Re confirmed that membership in or support of CTA was "irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith," and declared that Bruskewitz's decision to issue a blanket excommunication was "properly taken."

It's an astonishing development. First, this is a mass excommunication. It flies in the face of a tradition of such actions being seen as drastic and taken only on an individual level, though the Church's record in that regard (excommunicating people who later are made saints) is pretty abyssal. (Really? I will admit that some saints had been excommunicated at one point, but the number is very low. Also, this type of excommunication is not unheard of.)

Second, it demonizes some of the world's most articulate, progressive Catholic spiritual leaders who are involved with Call to Action. They include people like Sister Jeannine Gramick, who built a pioneering ministry to gays and lesbians despite Vatican orders to silence her and ban her work; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, an outspoken advocate for clergy sex abuse survivors; and Sister Joan Chittister, a giant among Church reformers, who the Vatican failed to silence on the subject of women's ordination when her entire Benedictine order rose up in her defense. (Talk about great Catholics. @@)

This excommunication order also attests to the fact that Bruskewitz is a unchecked despot, clerically speaking. In fact, Bruskewitz is the only diocesan bishop who has self-righteously repudiated the legitimacy of the U.S. Bishops' Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People by steadfastly refusing to allow an audit of clergy sex abuse of children in his diocese. In addition, Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the U.S. that forbids altar girls.

Which brings me to my last point. Banishing from the church family the whole membership of organizations like Call to Action in fact banishes the strongest advocates for change in the Church: women. As I illustrate in my book Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church, many progressive Catholic organizations were founded by women, are led by women, and have large female constituencies. (Don't dare lump me into that group. There are more faithful female Catholics than there are women is groups like CTA. There are also many conservative and moderate Catholic groups lead by women. Not all women are heirarchy haters and rule breakers. We do not all feel oppressed by the Church, In fact, a large number of us love the Church deeply and do not feel oppressed at all.)

At this year's national CTA conference, on the occasion of the organization's 30th anniversary, Sister Joan Chittister was the keynote speaker. Taking God's instructions to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ezechiel, and the women and the people of Jerusalem to "rise up," she demands the same of her audience. "Speak up, speak out, speak on," she urges, for peace, justice, the poor, ecumenism, and women's rights--in the church and in the world.

Clearly, her charge to Catholic reformers to press on promises to become increasingly difficult and dangerous in the months ahead. But that's not dissuading CTA Lincoln; they've appealed their excommunication again, to the Vatican's highest court.

Excuse me while I vomit!

Update: The link is fixed.

Swiss Guards Unhappy With

Colonel Elmar Mader has banned the guards from holding New Year's parties on the barracks roof and is refusing the extend the curfew for the holiday season. Cases of wine have also been confiscated under his orders.

Now, maybe it's just me, but I don't see the problem here. Of course, that may be because I have never liked partying, especially on New Year's Eve. That will explain why I am home and blogging tonight.

Anyway, here are the articles:
This one from the Independant:

There is mutiny afoot in the Vatican's Swiss Guard, the world's smallest but probably most pampered army.

The focus of discontent at the barracks is what many papal bodyguards see as the heavy-handed policies of the current commanding officer, Colonel Elmar Theodore Mader, who has banned men from holding the traditional year-end parties on the terrace atop their barracks. Even senior officers have been forbidden to give cocktail parties, say Vatican sources.

Ordinary guardsmen are angry that rules preventing them from staying out at night in Rome after midnight are being rigidly applied in the holiday season while Capt Mader himself is frequently out at parties until the early hours of the morning.

One of the halberdiers was angry after discovering that the commanding officer had ordered the confiscation of a crate of wine that admirers of the corps frequently send the soldiers from Switzerland. "We received 25 bottles of good Swiss wine but when we came back from guard duty there were only five left in my room," said the guard. "The other 20 had been seized on orders of the commander, evidently for his own use."

Capt Mader in private remarks has shrugged off suggestions that he might fall foul of mutinous tendencies, claiming that, far from being a martinet, he has a "meaningful dialogue" with his 130 Roman Catholic troops. Many guards would question that, however, complaining of double standards inconsistent with the traditions of sacrifice celebrated this year during ceremonies to mark the 500th anniversary of the corps.

and from the UPI:

New policies imposed on the Vatican's Swiss Guard by its commanding officer have the small unit's troops infuriated and threatening mutiny, a report says.

The Independent reported that due to Col. Elmar Theodore Mader's policies and actions as the military force's new leader, Swiss Guard soldiers have begun to complain of unfair double standards.

Mader allegedly has banned his troops from engaging in traditional holiday parties and instilled a nightly curfew, despite the fact he stays out later and enjoys a festive holiday season, the report said.

In addition, one of Mader's troops has alleged that his commander confiscated the majority of a case of wine a supporter gave the Swiss soldiers.

"We received 25 bottles of good Swiss wine but when we came back from guard duty there were only five left in my room," the unidentified soldier claimed. "The other 20 had been seized on orders of the commander, evidently for his own use."

The Independent said that while Mader has denied the reports, many under his command have questioned his actions during the ongoing 500th anniversary of the pope's Swiss Guard.

Davenport Bishop's Residence For Sale

Another diocese is planning to put it's Bishop's Residence up for sale. The Diocese of Davenport is placing the both the Residence and the Pastoral Center (that's Chancery to the rest of us) up for sale. The proceeds from the sale are earmarked to provide money which is needed for sexual abuse victims.

WQAD is reporting:
The Davenport Diocese is preparing to sell its headquarters and bishop's home, among other properties, in order to raise money for victims of sexual abuse.
The historic St. Vincent's Pastoral Center could go on the auction block in coming months. Valued at just over $4 million, it is the largest property on the list. It serves as the diocese headquarters and home for retired priests.
"We're not trying to hurt anybody," said Char Maaske, chief financial officer for the Diocese of Davenport. "We're just trying to do the best we can to do what's right for the church and victims."
But selling the structures and land could be easier said than done.
"It's not going to be a sale that occurs anytime soon," said Tom Carroll, Premier Partners.
Carroll is among those to evaluate the properties for the diocese. He compares it to the situation with the former Marycrest College in Davenport or Villa in Rock Island.
"I don't see an awful lot of real viable uses for that without an extensive renovation," he said.
At the same time, the bishop's home on nearby Scott Street is joining two other homes and land being put up for sale by the diocese.
"The housing market is down right now in the Quad Cities," Maaske said. "It's not a good time to be selling property, but we'll sell it for the best we can."
They're talking about the St. Vincent's deal at nearby St. Ambrose University. While the Catholic connection could make it a natural for the landlocked campus, the university says it's too early to comment.
"They're tight in an urban campus," Carroll said. "That would allow them to be able to expand."
While the diocese hopes that a buyer will allow them to stay and pay rent, Carroll says that the real value comes in the land rather than the buildings.
"I think it would be difficult for the existing uses to remain on the property," he said.
Maaske says that morale is better at diocese headquarters. As bankruptcy proceedings continue, she hopes that the worst is behind them.
"We're looking ahead to the future," she said. "We'll get through this and put it behind us. Hopefully, we'll do the best we can for the victims."

Cincinnati Diocese in Financial Trouble

The Archbishop of Cincinnati, Daniel Pilarczyk, says that his diocese will run out of money within three years is measures are not taken to prevent it. These measures include increasing the "tax" which is levied on parishes and reducing the number of diocesan staff members.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
Money is so tight at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that the central office is now taking a bigger share of donations from its parishes' Sunday collection plates.

Church officials also are considering cutting staff - through attrition and, possibly, layoffs - and are pushing parishes to repay tens of millions of dollars in outstanding loans from the archdiocese.

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said he knows the measures are painful, especially for struggling parishes with their own money problems.

He said he has no choice: Without more revenue, the 19-county archdiocese could be out of money within three years.

"If we do nothing, we're in trouble," Pilarczyk said. "The financial policies of the archdiocese will have to be a lot tighter than they have been. The time comes when you run out of money."

The archdiocese's financial woes have been building for years because of an economic slowdown, rising insurance premiums, declining donations and the costs associated with the clergy-abuse scandal.

The result is six consecutive years of budget deficits that drained the archdiocese of almost 60 percent of its assets and reserves, which have fallen from $88 million to $36 million since 2000.

Unless something is done to stop the bleeding, a range of jobs and services could be at risk.

The archdiocese has about 140 full-time employees, 192 active priests and another 86 retired priests, according to the archdiocese's Web site.

Services include youth ministries, educational programs, food pantries, charities for the poor and sick, marriage counseling, aid to inner-city Catholic schools and dozens of other programs.

Some vacant archdiocese jobs have been left open for months, and the archbishop said staff layoffs are "not off the table."

Pilarczyk said he does not expect the archdiocese's problems to close parishes or schools, because they are responsible for their budgets and fundraising.

The archdiocese essentially acts as a home office for its 222 parishes and cannot simply raid their bank accounts.

But many parishes are hurting, too. If the archdiocese pushes for debt collection and takes a bigger share of weekly donations, financially-strapped parishes will be squeezed even more.

The hardest hit could be urban parishes with shrinking populations, rising costs and schools to support.

"It really adds to the financial pressure," said the Rev. David Lemkuhl, pastor at St. Margaret of Cortona in Madisonville, which also has a school. "If they push us too much, it's going to collapse."

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I'm Back

After a very relaxing several days, I am back. I spent a lot of time sleeping, reading, in the hotel pool, and exploring New England.

I will write more about what I did on the short break, but right now I want to tell you what I found in my mailbox when I arrived home.

The papal calendars are here and they are beautiful! They are also a bit larger than most calendars I have seen for sale here. The pictures of Pope Benedict are beautiful. This calendar will hang proudly in my office.

Photo by Domini Sumus

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I will be away getting some much needed rest and relaxation for the next few days.

Posting will resume on Saturday.

While I am gone, enjoy some of my old posts. :-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Papal Christmas

H/T to Amy:

But for the Pope's home-style Christmas at the Vatican, everything is ready. Munich banker Thaddaeus Kuehnel has seen to it, as he has done for 25 years for his friend, then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

For 25 years, he has faithfully delivered to Rome every Christmastime everything that brings joy to a Bavarian in the holiday season: sausage,. Advent wreaths, ham, baked goodies, Kloster beer.

Thanks to Kuehnel's last trip over the Brenner Pass,the Christmas room in the Papal apartments now looks like that of the Schulzes or the Hubers anywhere in Germany.

There are two Christmas trees in the Pope's living room. Until a few days ago, they were growing in the Bavarian woods on the property of a farming family in Waldingen. Then Kuehnel came, the treees were chosen and chopped, and he strapped both trees securely to his car roof. They would not be unbound again until Kuehnel reached the courtyard of the Apostolic palace.

From that time, the trees became the responsibility of Carmela, Emanuela, Loredana and Christina, the Pope's lay nun housekeepers. They not only decorated the trees, but also have to prepare the main dish for Christmas dinner from a deer shot by a Swabian hunter, Gisbert Sattler, earlier this week.

Kuehnel also brought the Pope a variety of cookies made by Bavarian cloistered nuns - vanilla Kipferl, anise cookies, cinnamon stars, jam-filled cookies, and Stollen (a Christmas cake).

"The Holy Father has a weakness for sweet things," says Sister Irma.

The Pope's brother, Georg, flies to Rome on December 28, but even on Christmas Eve, the Pope will be wallowing in memories of Christmas past, as he loves to do, according to those who have known him in Rome for long.

In the Christmas room of the Apostolic Palace, he has put up the creche that has been with him since was a professor in Regensburg.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Pope Benedict's Urbi et Orbi Message


"Salvator noster natus est in mundo" (Roman Missal)

"Our Saviour is born to the world!" During the night, in our Churches, we again heard this message that, notwithstanding the passage of the centuries, remains ever new. It is the heavenly message that tells us to fear not, for "a great joy" has come "to all the people" (Lk 1:10). It is a message of hope, for it tells us that, on that night over two thousand years ago, there "was born in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). The Angel of Christmas announced it then to the shepherds out on the hills of Bethlehem; today the Angel repeats it to us, to all who dwell in our world: "The Saviour is born; he is born for you! Come, come, let us adore him!".

But does a "Saviour" still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium ? Is a "Saviour" still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature’s secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvellous codes of the human genome? Is a Saviour needed by a humanity which has invented interactive communication, which navigates in the virtual ocean of the internet and, thanks to the most advanced modern communications technologies, has now made the Earth, our great common home, a global village? This humanity of the twenty-first century appears as a sure and self-sufficient master of its own destiny, the avid proponent of uncontested triumphs.

So it would seem, yet this is not the case. People continue to die of hunger and thirst, disease and poverty, in this age of plenty and of unbridled consumerism. Some people remain enslaved, exploited and stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred, hampered by intolerance and discrimination, and by political interference and physical or moral coercion with regard to the free profession of their faith. Others see their own bodies and those of their dear ones, particularly their children, maimed by weaponry, by terrorism and by all sorts of violence, at a time when everyone invokes and acclaims progress, solidarity and peace for all. And what of those who, bereft of hope, are forced to leave their homes and countries in order to find humane living conditions elsewhere? How can we help those who are misled by facile prophets of happiness, those who struggle with relationships and are incapable of accepting responsibility for their present and future, those who are trapped in the tunnel of loneliness and who often end up enslaved to alcohol or drugs? What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?

How can we not hear, from the very depths of this humanity, at once joyful and anguished, a heart-rending cry for help? It is Christmas: today "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9) came into the world. "The word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14), proclaims the Evangelist John. Today, this very day, Christ comes once more "unto his own", and to those who receive him he gives "the power to become children of God"; in a word, he offers them the opportunity to see God’s glory and to share the joy of that Love which became incarnate for us in Bethlehem. Today "our Saviour is born to the world", for he knows that even today we need him. Despite humanity’s many advances, man has always been the same: a freedom poised between good and evil, between life and death. It is there, in the very depths of his being, in what the Bible calls his "heart", that man always needs to be "saved". And, in this post-modern age, perhaps he needs a Saviour all the more, since the society in which he lives has become more complex and the threats to his personal and moral integrity have become more insidious. Who can defend him, if not the One who loves him to the point of sacrificing on the Cross his only-begotten Son as the Saviour of the world?

"Salvator noster": Christ is also the Saviour of men and women today. Who will make this message of hope resound, in a credible way, in every corner of the earth? Who will work to ensure the recognition, protection and promotion of the integral good of the human person as the condition for peace, respecting each man and every woman and their proper dignity? Who will help us to realize that with good will, reasonableness and moderation it is possible to avoid aggravating conflicts and instead to find fair solutions? With deep apprehension I think, on this festive day, of the Middle East, marked by so many grave crises and conflicts, and I express my hope that the way will be opened to a just and lasting peace, with respect for the inalienable rights of the peoples living there. I place in the hands of the divine Child of Bethlehem the indications of a resumption of dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians, which we have witnessed in recent days, and the hope of further encouraging developments. I am confident that, after so many victims, destruction and uncertainty, a democratic Lebanon, open to others and in dialogue with different cultures and religions, will survive and progress. I appeal to all those who hold in their hands the fate of Iraq, that there will be an end to the brutal violence that has brought so much bloodshed to the country, and that every one of its inhabitants will be safe to lead a normal life. I pray to God that in Sri Lanka the parties in conflict will heed the desire of the people for a future of brotherhood and solidarity; that in Darfur and throughout Africa there will be an end to fratricidal conflicts, that the open wounds in that continent will quickly heal and that the steps being made towards reconciliation, democracy and development will be consolidated. May the Divine Child, the Prince of Peace, grant an end to the outbreaks of tension that make uncertain the future of other parts of the world, in Europe and in Latin America.

"Salvator noster": this is our hope; this is the message that the Church proclaims once again this Christmas day. With the Incarnation, as the Second Vatican Council stated, the Son of God has in some way united himself with each man and women (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). The birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, as Pope Saint Leo the Great noted. In Bethlehem the Christian people was born, Christ’s mystical body, in which each member is closely joined to the others in total solidarity. Our Saviour is born for all. We must proclaim this not only in words, but by our entire life, giving the world a witness of united, open communities where fraternity and forgiveness reign, along with acceptance and mutual service, truth, justice and love.

A community saved by Christ. This is the true nature of the Church, which draws her nourishment from his Word and his Eucharistic Body. Only by rediscovering the gift she has received can the Church bear witness to Christ the Saviour before all people. She does this with passionate enthusiasm, with full respect for all cultural and religious traditions; she does so joyfully, knowing that the One she proclaims takes away nothing that is authentically human, but instead brings it to fulfilment. In truth, Christ comes to destroy only evil, only sin; everything else, all the rest, he elevates and perfects. Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him the world might be saved (cf. Jn 3:17).

Dear brothers and sisters, wherever you may be, may this message of joy and hope reach your ears: God became man in Jesus Christ, he was born of the Virgin Mary and today he is reborn in the Church. He brings to all the love of the Father in heaven. He is the Saviour of the world! Do not be afraid, open your hearts to him and receive him, so that his Kingdom of love and peace may become the common legacy of each man and woman. Happy Christmas!

The Holy Father's Christmas Homily

Saint Peter's Basilica
Sunday, 24 December 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have just heard in the Gospel the message given by the angels to the shepherds during that Holy Night, a message which the Church now proclaims to us: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:11-12). Nothing miraculous, nothing extraordinary, nothing magnificent is given to the shepherds as a sign. All they will see is a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, one who, like all children, needs a mother’s care; a child born in a stable, who therefore lies not in a cradle but in a manger. God ’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Only in their hearts will the shepherds be able to see that this baby fulfils the promise of the prophet Isaiah, which we heard in the first reading: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder" (Is 9:5). Exactly the same sign has been given to us. We too are invited by the angel of God, through the message of the Gospel, to set out in our hearts to see the child lying in the manger.

God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him. The Fathers of the Church, in their Greek translation of the Old Testament, found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: "God made his Word short, he abbreviated it" (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28). The Fathers interpreted this in two ways. The Son himself is the Word, the Logos; the eternal Word became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn. Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us. Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life.

And so we come to the second meaning that the Fathers saw in the phrase: "God made his Word short". The Word which God speaks to us in Sacred Scripture had become long in the course of the centuries. It became long and complex, not just for the simple and unlettered, but even more so for those versed in Sacred Scripture, for the experts who evidently became entangled in details and in particular problems, almost to the extent of losing an overall perspective. Jesus "abbreviated" the Word – he showed us once more its deeper simplicity and unity. Everything taught by the Law and the Prophets is summed up – he says – in the command: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22:37-40). This is everything – the whole faith is contained in this one act of love which embraces God and humanity. Yet now further questions arise: how are we to love God with all our mind, when our intellect can barely reach him? How are we to love him with all our heart and soul, when our heart can only catch a glimpse of him from afar, when there are so many contradictions in the world that would hide his face from us? This is where the two ways in which God has "abbreviated" his Word come together. He is no longer distant. He is no longer unknown. He is no longer beyond the reach of our heart. He has become a child for us, and in so doing he has dispelled all doubt. He has become our neighbour, restoring in this way the image of man, whom we often find so hard to love. For us, God has become a gift. He has given himself. He has entered time for us. He who is the Eternal One, above time, he has assumed our time and raised it to himself on high. Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul and our mind to be touched by this fact! Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God. In this way anxiety disappears, joy is born, and the feast is created. During the festive meals of these days let us remember the Lord’s words: "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite those who will invite you in return, but invite those whom no one invites and who are not able to invite you" (cf. Lk 14:12-14). This also means: when you give gifts for Christmas, do not give only to those who will give to you in return, but give to those who receive from no one and who cannot give you anything back. This is what God has done: he invites us to his wedding feast, something which we cannot reciprocate, but can only receive with joy. Let us imitate him! Let us love God and, starting from him, let us also love man, so that, starting from man, we can then rediscover God in a new way!

And so, finally, we find yet a third meaning in the saying that the Word became "brief" and "small". The shepherds were told that they would find the child in a manger for animals, who were the rightful occupants of the stable. Reading Isaiah (1:3), the Fathers concluded that beside the manger of Bethlehem there stood an ox and an ass. At the same time they interpreted the text as symbolizing the Jews and the pagans – and thus all humanity – who each in their own way have need of a Saviour: the God who became a child. Man, in order to live, needs bread, the fruit of the earth and of his labour. But he does not live by bread alone. He needs nourishment for his soul: he needs meaning that can fill his life. Thus, for the Fathers, the manger of the animals became the symbol of the altar, on which lies the Bread which is Christ himself: the true food for our hearts. Once again we see how he became small: in the humble appearance of the host, in a small piece of bread, he gives us himself.

All this is conveyed by the sign that was given to the shepherds and is given also to us: the child born for us, the child in whom God became small for us. Let us ask the Lord to grant us the grace of looking upon the crib this night with the simplicity of the shepherds, so as to receive the joy with which they returned home (cf. Lk 2:20). Let us ask him to give us the humility and the faith with which Saint Joseph looked upon the child that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit. Let us ask the Lord to let us look upon him with that same love with which Mary saw him. And let us pray that in this way the light that the shepherds saw will shine upon us too, and that what the angels sang that night will be accomplished throughout the world: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased." Amen!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas.

Lord, fulfill your promise!
Where there is conflict, give birth to peace!
Where there is hatred, make love spring up!
Where darkness prevails, let light shine!
Make us heralds of your peace!

Pope Benedict XVI - Christmas Homily 2005

Cardinal Sean's First Video Podcast

Watch it here or download it from iTunes.

From the Paulist Center

From the Boston Globe.

Sensing a wave of disaffection among Roman Catholics in Greater Boston, a tiny community of priests on Beacon Hill is waging an all-out campaign to win them back.

This week, the Paulist Center launched a three-year, $800,000 advertising and outreach campaign to attract Catholics who feel disenchanted with church teachings on gay marriage and other social issues, stressing that "everyone is truly welcome" at the center and that "questioning is encouraged."

The center's priests say the pain of the clergy sexual abuse crisis and the closing of parishes in the region has also alienated many Catholics, and they say they want to seize on Christmastime as a moment to bring them back.

The priests have urged their 1,500 members to invite friends, relatives, and co-workers to join them at Mass this week. The center has printed glossy cards with the slogan, "You'll feel right at home."

The campaign represents a bold effort by the center to raise its profile in the region. Founded 61 years ago as an unassuming outpost for downtown office workers to attend Mass, the center has evolved into one of the church's most liberal worship places. In addition to running a food pantry, weekly sit-down supper for the homeless, and religious education classes for children, the center runs special ministries for gays and lesbians and for divorced and separated Catholics.
In crafting the message for their campaign, which began Sunday, the Paulists relied on market research techniques more commonly associated with a political campaign or a retail outlet. This summer, the director of the center, the Rev. John B. Ardis, hired a veteran political strategist, Douglas J. Hattaway, to figure out why members like the center and how to market it to a wider audience.


Critics of this kind of outreach suggest that the Paulists are sending the wrong message. Gays who enter the church have to act in accordance with Catholic teachings, said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

"It's important to bring people into the church, but to simply conform to the culture or surrender to the prevailing fashion is doing nothing to save these people's souls," Doyle said.
Ardis said that by targeting gays, the center wants to send a message "that the church is not denying them or sending them away." About 10 to 15 percent of the worshippers who attend the center are gay, he said.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Finding the Balance

I came across this skit that Conan O'Brien used on his Late Night show.

Manger Police

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Now, I know there are those among you who will not agree with me, but we have to make sure that we don't come across like this. If this is how people see us, then we are doing something wrong.

I know many people who would fit this description and I am sure you do too. I think that sometimes, I have even come across like that.

There is a balance between being overzealous and being soft. Finding that balance is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Papal Christmas Greetings

Yesterday morning in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father held his traditional meeting with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and members of the Roman Curia, for the exchange of Christmas greetings.

At the beginning of his address to them, the Pope affirmed how "the year that is coming to an end," leaves us "with the profound impression of the war that took place near the Holy Land and, more generally, of the danger of a clash between cultures and religions, a danger still threateningly present at this moment in history. The question of the roads to peace has thus become a challenge of vital importance."

Recalling his apostolic trip to Poland in May, Benedict XVI described his "debt of gratitude" for everything that John Paul II gave, "both to me personally and, above all, to the Church and the world. His greatest gift to all of us was his unshakeable faith and the radicalism of his devotion. ... He held nothing back, but allowed himself to be entirely consumed by the flame of faith."

Marriage and the family was the theme of the Holy Father's trip to Valencia, Spain, in July. He recalled the testimonies of families who had passed through moments of crisis and who, with great efforts, had managed to overcome them and rediscover their happiness. "Before these families and their children," he said, "before these families in which the generations hold each other by the hand, and the future is present, the problem of Europe, which seems almost no longer to want children, penetrated my soul."

"Why, is this the case? That is the great question. The answers are certainly extremely complex. But before seeking responses we must thank all those married couples who, even in our Europe today, say 'yes' to children and accept the labors they bring." Alongside the need to give them so much of our time, is the problem of "what norms must we teach our children in order for them to follow the right path, and, in doing so, to what extent must we respect their freedom?"

"Men and women today," said the Holy Father, "are unsure about the future." This fact, "alongside the desire to have all of life to themselves, is perhaps the most profound reason for which the risk of having children appears to many as almost unbearable. ... If we do not relearn the basic foundations of life - if we do not rediscover the certainty of faith - it will also be ever more difficult for us to give others the gift of life and the challenges of an unknown future." Another aspect of this question, he went on, "is the problem of definitive decisions. Can man bind himself for ever? Can he say a 'yes' that lasts a lifetime? Yes, he can. He was created for this end. Thus man achieves his freedom and thus the sacred bond of marriage is created, which broadens to become a family and build the future.

"At this point," he added, "I cannot fail to mention my concern over 'de facto' couples. ... When new legislation is created that relativizes marriage, the rejection of the definitive bond gains, so to speak, juridical endorsement." Moreover, "relativizing the difference between the sexes ... tacitly confirms those bleak theories which seek to remove all relevance from a human being's masculinity or femininity, as if this were a purely biological matter."

"Herein is a contempt for corporeality whence it follows that man, in seeking to emancipate himself from his body (from the 'biological sphere'), ends up by destroying himself." Against those who say that "the Church should not involve herself in these matters, we can only respond: does man not concern us too?" The church and believers "must raise their voices to defend man, the creature who, in the inseparpable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God."

Going on to mention his September visit to his homeland, Bavaria (Munich, Altotting, Regensburg and Freising), the Holy Father recalled how the main intention of his apostolic trip "was to highlight the question of God," because "the great problem in the West is forgetfulness of God."

"The question of God," the Pope went on, "is associated with two themes that characterized my visit: that of priesthood and that of dialogue." And he recalled how according to the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi (of priests) was landless.

"The true foundation of a priest's life, the land of his existence, ... is God Himself," said the Holy Father. "This theocentrism of priestly existence is vital in our modern world where everything is entirely functional and based on calculable and verifiable exchanges. The priest must know God from within in order to bring Him to mankind, this is the priority service of which humanity today has need."

Benedict XVI then went on to consider priestly celibacy which, he said, "can only be definitively understood and experienced on the basis of this basic standpoint," because "purely pragmatic reasons, reference to greater availability are not sufficient." It may also be thought that the nature of celibacy involves "a kind of selfishness, that avoids the sacrifices and trials required in the mutual acceptance and tolerance of marriage."

However, "the true foundation of celibacy can be encapsulated only in the phrase 'Dominus pars - You are my land.' ... It cannot mean being without love, but must mean letting oneself be seized by passion for God. ... Celibacy must be a testimony of faith."

The Holy Father then turned to introduce the question of dialogue, recalling his meeting some years ago with the philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who informed the then Cardinal Ratzinger of the need "for thinkers capable of translating the beliefs encoded in the Christian faith into the language of the secularized world, in order to render them effective once again.

"In fact," Pope Benedict added, "it is becoming ever more clear how urgently the world has need of dialogue between faith and reason," especially when "the cognitive capacities of human beings, their control over the material world through the power of thought, has made such unimaginable progress. But man's power, which has grown thanks to science, is becoming an ever greater danger, threatening both humankind and the world."

"Science must welcome faith in the God Who personifies the creative Reason of the universe ... as a challenge and an opportunity. In the same way, this faith must recognize its own intrinsic immensity and reasonableness. Reason needs the Logos which lies at the origin of our light. For its part, faith needs to dialogue with modern reason, in order to become aware of its own greatness and meet is own responsibilities."

On the subject of inter-religious dialogue the Pope insisted that "secularized reason is not capable of entering into a true dialogue with religions. If reason remains closed to the question of God, this will lead it to the clash of cultures. ... Religions must come together in the shared task of serving truth, and hence serving man."

Another important part of the Pope's address to the Roman Curia was dedicated to his recent apostolic trip to Turkey which, he said, "gave me the chance to express publicly my respect for Islam. ... The Muslim world today," the Pope observed, "is facing a task very similar to that imposed upon Christians from the time of the Enlightenment, and which Vatican Council II, as the result of a long and arduous journey, brought to fruition with concrete solutions for the Catholic Church."

"On the one hand, it is important to avoid a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from community life and public legislation. ... On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the true achievements of the Enlightenment: human rights and especially the freedom of faith and of its expression. ... The Muslim world, with its own traditions, is facing the great task of finding appropriate solutions to these questions. Dialogue between Christians and Muslims must, at this time, be that of coming together in this mission, in order to find the right solutions."

The Pope then mentioned his meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. "We experienced," he said, "a profound unity in faith and will pray to God ever more insistently that He may grant us full unity in the shared breaking of bread. ... We hope and pray that religious freedom - which is part of the intimate nature of the faith and is recognized in the principles of the Turkish constitution - finds a growing practical implementation in appropriate juridical norms and in the daily life of the patriarchate and of the other Christian communities."

Benedict XVI dedicated the final paragraphs of his address to the question of peace. "We must learn that peace cannot be achieved only from the outside, ... and that the attempt to establish peace through violence leads only to fresh violence. ... We must learn that peace can only exist if hatred and selfishness are overcome from within. ... In our lives, we must attain that which Baptism sacramentally brought us: the death of the old man and the re-emergence of the new. ... May the reason of peace overcome the unreasonableness of violence!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fishers of Men

H/T to Fr. Stephanos.

The complete Fishers of Men video is online and it features a friend of mine, Msgr. Stephen Avila. Imagine my surprise to see him on my computer screen.

I will have to watch it later after my son is in bed. He isn't letting me listen to anything.

Update: The video has been removed, but the accident scene is still available.
Fishers of Men - Accident Scene

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Roman Nativity Disgraced

(ANSA) - Opposition parties and Catholics expressed outrage Wednesday at two Italian MPs who placed gay couples in the Lower House Nativity scene.

Bruno Mellano and Donatella Poretti of the tiny Rose in the Fist party put the dolls - two pairs of embracing Barbies and Kens - in the crib in support of the rights of same-sex and unwed couples in Italy.

The centre-left government, which the Rose in the Fist is part of, has said it will soon present draft legislation aimed at giving rights to unwed couples, including gay ones. But the issue of same-sex unions is not high up on Italy's political agenda. Parliament staff quickly removed the dolls, but the stunt sparked a major furore all the same.

"It is a disfigurement of the religious beliefs of the majority of the Italian people," said Luca Volonté, the House whip for the centre-right Catholic UDC party."It is the umpteenth act offending the Catholic religion and confirmation of the violent secularism of some parts of the governing alliance".

Antonio Mazzocchi of the rightist National Alliance was among those who called on House Speaker Fausto Bertinotti to take disciplinary action against Mellano and Poretti. "It is a serious act of propaganda and vulgarity that offends this symbol of Christianity and the traditional family," Mazzocchi said. Carolina Lussana of the devolutionist Northern League accused the Rose in the Fist of not "respecting the family, not even the Holy Family".

Monsignor Giovanni Lajolo, the governor of the Vatican City, said that the gesture "speaks for itself"."There is no need for us to comment," Lajolo added. "Our sentiment is commiseration for them, because they are unable to understand what real values are".

Even parts of the centre left expressed dismay.

"Today's senseless provocation in the House crib pains us first as citizens and then as Catholics," said Family Minister Rosy Bindi of the Daisy Party.

"Even legitimate political battles should respect the values of the overwhelming majority of the public". Rosalba Cesini, an MP with Italian Communist party which supports legislation for same-sex unions and rights for unwed couples, feared the stunt may backfire.

"As well as trivializing the issue, the raid on the House nativity scene is a serious political mistake," Cesini commented.

"In fact, mixing the holy and the secular is the same mistake made by those opposed to granting legal recognition to unwed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation".

House Speaker Bertinotti criticised the move too."I'm in favour of the recognition of rights for everyone, but there is no reason to trigger senseless rows about these issues with unpleasant shortcuts," he said.

It is not the first time that an Italian Nativity scene has raised eyebrows.

Last week Bologna city council's Nativity scene was at the centre of a heated row following the inclusion of a naked figurine representing a famous dead Italian porno star - Moana Pozzi.

Last year, the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio was inundated with protests after its crib featured a six-metre tall sculpture of Mary in high heels and a short skirt.

The O'Malley Podcast

My favorite Cardinal is about to launch is own podcast.

From the Boston Globe:
On Sunday, Christmas Eve, Boston Catholic Television plans to launch a souped up website that will feature, among other attractions, downloadable Christmas video messages in English, Spanish, and Portuguese from Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.

Starting early next year, O'Malley also plans to regularly record video messages for downloading from the Internet.

The Catholic Church, which lags behind some other denominations in its embrace of Internet technologies, is rapidly expanding its use of new technology in its search for souls. Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York recently started a satellite radio show, and the late Pope John Paul II, starting in 2003, offered daily text messages to cellphone users.

O'Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan friar who has taken a vow of poverty and is a frequent critic of American consumer culture, is rapidly emerging as an unlikely pioneer in the use of new media by a 2,000-year-old church.

He is the only Catholic cardinal known to have his own blog, and the archdiocese is overhauling its newspaper website and its television website as part of an effort to broaden its reach and circumvent traditional media. The archdiocese has also assigned e-mail addresses to all priests, a handful of whom have balked at using computers, and has created an intranet site that chancery officials expect will soon replace the monthly mailings used to communicate with clergy.

"The cardinal wants us to utilize the tremendous tools that we have at our disposal and to expand the reach of those tools, so that we can bring the message of the church and the good works of the church to the Catholic community," said O'Malley's communication director, Terrence C. Donilon. "He clearly understands the power of the new media that is available, and he sees an opportunity for us to reach a much wider audience with these tools."

New forms of communication, such as blogging and podcasting, have been widely embraced by clergy of many denominations, particularly those in smaller evangelical churches that emphasize outreach to the young and unchurched.

Many mainline Protestant churches are following suit: At Trinity Church in Copley Square, for example, audio recordings of the sermons of the new rector, the Rev. Anne B. Bonnyman, and other clergy are available on the Episcopal parish's website.

The Catholic Church has generally resisted technologies such as video screens inside churches, though they are common in many Protestant churches. Video broadcasting is widely used at large papal events.

A specialist on Catholic liturgy, the Rev. John F. Baldovin, said there has been some resistance to technology in churches "because it distances you from the personal experience of the liturgy."

Baldovin pointed out that a Catholic priest -- Fulton J. Sheen, later named a bishop -- was a pioneer in religious broadcasting, first with a radio show called "The Catholic Hour" and then with a television program, "Life is Worth Living," but that the church has been slower to adapt to new technologies in more recent years.

"You could see the possibilities of it all with Bishop Sheen in the '50s, and I don't understand why we dropped the ball," said Baldovin, a professor of historical and liturgical theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge.

Although the website of the archdiocese is still less sophisticated than those of other Catholic dioceses, the archdiocese has been redoing its media websites with an eye toward evangelization.

He has already posted video of his homily from the Episcopal Ordination online and episodes of his television program "Conversations with Cardinal Sean" are also available online.

Changing Formats

I switched over to the new Blogger last night.
I have been working very hard today trying to get everything to work properly. Please be patient if there are glitches.

One of my projects is to add tags to each post. A daunting process when there are almost 550 posts. It may take me well into the new year to complete, but I am trying.

Archbishop Wielgus Was Not a Spy

Given below is the text of a communique released by the Polish Episcopal Conference, and of another released by the Holy See Press Office, both concerning the recent appointment of Bishop Stanislaw Wojciech Wielgus of Plock, Poland as the new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw.

Communique from the Polish Episcopal Conference:

"On the subject of the accusations launched by the Polish media against Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, the presidency of the Polish Episcopal Conference draws attention to the public injury that has been inflicted against a specific person's right to a good reputation.

"The situation that has been created provokes even greater unease because it is a clear example of 'wildcat lustration' (lustration being a technical term to refer to the procedure for attributing responsibility of collaborating with the security services of the communist regime). Such a situation is particularly offensive in the case of an ecclesiastic. In fact, the simple fact of a conversation taking place between a priest and members of the communist security services cannot of itself prove immoral collaboration; especially because, not infrequently, such conversations were of an administrative nature, or had to be undertaken for pastoral reasons or to study, and with the consent of the bishop.

"We thus request that respect be shown for the decision of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has expressed his faith in the person appointed, entrusting him with the office of metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw.

"Expressing our solidarity with Archbishop Wielgus, we entrust his person and the task he has been given to God.

"We trust that the media storm that has been created will not ruin the religious and family atmosphere that accompanies the Feast of Christmas."

Communique from the Holy See Press Office:

"The Holy See, in choosing to appoint the new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, took into consideration all the circumstances of his life, including those regarding his past. This means that the Holy Father nourishes complete trust in Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and, in full awareness, has entrusted him with the mission of pastor of the archdiocese of Warsaw."


The Beauty of Children

In a traditional meeting for this time of year, the Pope today received a group of children from Italian Catholic Action, who came to the Vatican to wish him a happy Christmas.

Addressing the young people, the Holy Father made reference to the slogan - "Beautiful. True" - they had chosen for their formative journey this year. "Christmas," he said, "is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God Who came among us for everyone's salvation. The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."

"In the face of the little Jesus," the Holy Father proceeded, "we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' ... demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem."

"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas" is, said Benedict XVI, in some way reflected in the birth of all children, "and it invites us to recognize the Infant Jesus in all babies, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world."

The Pope assured the children of his trust in them and called upon them "to be friends and witnesses of Jesus, Who came among us in Bethlehem. Is it not a beautiful thing to make Him better known among your friends, in cities, in parishes and in your families? The Church needs you in order to be close to all the children and young people who live in Italy. Bear witness to the fact that Jesus takes away nothing of your joy, but makes you more human, more true, more beautiful."


Swiss Guard Sticker Book

(CNS) -- Move over baseball players and soccer stars -- an Italian publisher is hoping to hook young collectors on the Swiss Guards.

To honor the guards in their 500th year of service to the popes, the publisher has released a deluxe collector's album with 250 different stickers.

"The Guardian Angels of the Pope" is heavy on images and light on text, but the brief explanations of each sticker are provided in both Italian and English.

The images used were chosen and the explanations written by Giovanni Morelli, the retired Vatican Library employee who served as researcher and curator of the 2006 Vatican exhibition on the history of the Swiss Guards.

Claudio Ventrella, editorial director of Pubblicazioni Collezionare Cultura, said the sticker collection fits perfectly with the company's commitment to using sticker mania to promote appreciation of Italy's culture, including its religious history and heritage.

The company already has sold 200,000 albums and some 20 million stickers in its two series on the saints, he said.

But while the saints' albums and stickers are sold separately through Italian newsstands, the Swiss Guards' special edition is sold in bookstores or over the Internet -- -- in a box with the album and all the stickers ready to be affixed.

The album includes the history of the Swiss Guards, illustrated with portraits of all the popes of the past 500 years and the 33 commanders who have led the corps over the course of five centuries.

Vittorio Pranzini, who worked with Morelli in putting the book together, says he has no doubt the more serious collectors will be most interested in the second chapter: a look at how the guards' uniforms have changed through the years.

The album also includes photo-stickers of the daily work and life of the guards as they watch over the pope, patrol the Vatican and train in the use of their medieval halberds.Ventrella said that with the price at 48 euros, just over $63, the publisher did a limited first printing of 5,000 copies.

But he hopes further print runs are necessary, he said.

As the success of the saints' series has shown, he said, stickers are "a winning formula for joining fun and curiosity with culture and faith."

Violence in Orthodox Monastery

Dec. 20, 2006 ( - Violence broke out at an Orthodox monastery in Greece on December 20, when a group of rebel monks confronted other monks seeking to enter their monastery.

Wire service reports indicate that residents of the ancient monastery at Esphigmenou reacted violently when monks from outside their community tried to enter. At least 7 monks required medical treatment after the melee, Greek police reported.

The Esphigmenou community has been engaged in a long-running dispute with the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I. The rebel monks charge that the Orthodox prelate has broken with the traditional teachings of the Church, by pursuing ecumenical ties with the Holy See.

The patriarch has charged the Esphigmenou monks with heresy and schism, and won a Greek court decision ordering them to vacate the 1,000-year-old monastery. The monks have continued to resist that order.

Poncho Ladies™ In Action

Here is the video.
H/T to Brian who got it from Gerald, who got it from Jeff.

Why are our bishops doing nothing?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cardinal Ruini on Pope Benedict

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, periodically meets with his priests to present and discuss pastoral projects, liturgical questions, catechesis, etc. But on Thursday, December 14, he made a spectacular break from the program.

Read the text of his speech and Sandro Magister's commentary here.

Then Again Maybe Not

The Vatican secretary of state was just kidding when he said the Holy See might one day have a football team to rival the top formations in Italy's powerful Serie A, a report has said

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone created a buzz on Sunday when he told reporters: "I do not preclude the possibility that the Vatican, in the future, could put together a football team of great value, that could play on the same level as Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria," all first division teams.
But on Monday Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI's righthand man, ate his words. "After a joke, ... everyone started hypothesizing about a great Vatican football team," I-media reported.

"I don't think it's possible, so let's stop fantasizing," he told the Vatican-watching news agency.
Italian media seized on the subject, contacting the head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), William Gaillard, in Brussels.

"Why not?" he said. "We already have San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra."
The idea also got the backing of Portugal's Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, a self-described football fan who heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints which considers candidates for sainthood.

"It's a very interesting and fascinating possibility. Sports is a school of values. The Vatican is always open to cultivating human values -- including healthy rivalry, the culture of victory and defeat," he told daily Portuguese newspaper 24Horas.

Bertone backed away from his remarks when approached by reporters at a football game between the Vatican's Swiss Guards and a team made up of Vatican museum and publishing employees.

The Vatican does have a "state" team belonging to the New Federation Board of teams not recognized by FIFA. Its players wear a yellow jersey with white sleeves.

Source: Yahoo

Regensburg Lecture Named Speech of the Year

Tübingen University has named its annual "Speech of the Year." This time, the honor goes to Pope Benedict's controversial homily in Regensburg, which outraged the Muslim world in September.
In the speech that went down in history as a milestone in cultural gaffes, the pope's references to the teachings of a 14th century Byzantine emperor unleashed a torrent of Muslim fury.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," he quoted.

The Vatican stressed that the pontiff had simply meant to explore the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity and the relationship between violence and faith. But his words caused grave offense across the globe. The controversy stoked hostility towards the pope within the Islamic world and even left staunch Catholics aghast at their leader's apparent insensitivity.

Read the rest of the article here.

Jesus To Be King of Poland?

My first reaction to this story is why are the bishops against it?
It's not like there isn't a precedent for this. In the 17th century, Mary was named the honorary queen of Poland. It seems to me that more countries need to do things like this.

Lawmakers have drawn up a resolution naming Jesus Christ as the honorary king of Poland, but have failed to win support from the country's powerful Roman Catholic church.

Lawmakers for the ruling Law and Justice party and League of Polish Families as well as the opposition Peasants Party back the resolution, said Szymon Ruman, spokesman for parliamentary speaker Marek Jurek.

However, the proposal currently has the support of only 46 members in the 460-seat parliament, well short of the necessary 231 votes to pass. Ruman said the resolution would likely be voted on sometime after Jan. 1.

Backing from the church in this strongly Catholic country would be crucial for building support for the proposal, but on Wednesday several bishops criticized it, and said parliament should stay out of religious affairs.

"Let parliament deal with passing better laws that we need," Gdansk Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski said.

"This kind of action, although it may stem from good will, sounds a bit like propaganda," said bishop Tadeusz Pieronk.

Source: Yahoo News

The World Still Needs a Savior

Christmas was the central theme of the Pope's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

"In these final days of Advent," said the Holy Father, "the liturgy invites us to approach ... the stable in Bethlehem where the extraordinary event that changed the course of history took place: the birth of the Redeemer. On Christmas Eve, we will stand once again before the manger, and contemplate in wonder the 'Word made Flesh.' ... The chosen people awaited the Messiah but imagined him to be a powerful and victorious leader who would free his people from foreign oppression. Yet the Savior was born in silence and in absolute poverty."

"Does mankind in our own time still await the Savior?" the Pope asked. "It appears that many people consider God as foreign to their interests. They have no apparent need of Him, and live as if He did not exist or, worse still, as if He were an 'obstacle' to be removed in order to achieve self-fulfillment. Even among believers ... are those who let themselves be attracted by alluring mirages and distracted by misleading doctrines that propose illusory shortcuts to happiness.

"And yet," he added, "with all their contradictions, their anguish and their dramas - or perhaps precisely because of them - men and women today seek a road of renewal, of salvation, they seek a Savior and await, sometimes without knowing it, ... the coming of Christ, man's only true Redeemer."

"Of course, false prophets continue to propose 'low cost' salvation, which always ends up delivering resounding disillusionment. Indeed, the history of the last 50 years provides an example of this search for a 'low cost' Savior and highlights all the consequent disillusionment."

For this reason, the Pope concluded, Christians must, "with the testimony of their lives, propagate the truth of Christmas, which Christ brings to all men and women of good will. Born into poverty in the manger, Jesus came to offer everyone the joy and peace which alone can satisfy the needs of the human soul."

In his Italian-language greetings at the end of the audience, Benedict XVI said: "In a few days it will be Christmas, and I imagine that, in your homes, you are putting the final touches to your nativity scenes, which are such an evocative depiction of Christmas. I hope that this important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, may endure as a simple and eloquent way to remember the One Who came 'to dwell among us'."

After the audience, the Pope was awarded the "Prize for Charity" by the "Banca Alimentare," an Italian foundation that organizes, among other initiatives, the National Day of Food Collection. The reason for granting the prize, says a communique released by the foundation, is that since the start of his pontificate, the Holy Father "has sought to present charity - the sincere giving of oneself to others - as a natural dimension of Christian life."

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., speaking during a meeting between the Vatican Publishing House and other international publishers, highlighted the fact that the award coincides with Benedict XVI's decision to donate part of his copyright earnings to a study center founded by his former theology students.


Zenit has the fulltext of the homily.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fr. Cantalamessa on Penance for Abuse

Speaking on December 15 to Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of the Roman Curia, the preacher to the pontifical household called for fasting and penance throughout the Church in reparation for the “abominations” of sexual abuse.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, preached the first in an annual series of Advent meditations to the Pope and his aides on Friday morning in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the apostolic palace. In a powerful call for repentance, he said that the Church should cry out to God for forgiveness because of the clerical scandals of recent years. He suggested a day of fasting and prayer as a visible sign of that repentance.

The papal preacher’s message seemed to reflect the thoughts of Pope Benedict himself. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had jurisdiction over the discipline of priests involved in sexual abuse, and associates reported that the future Pontiff was deeply shocked by the breadth of the scandal. Shortly before his election to the papacy, in his Good Friday meditations on March 24, 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger said: “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Him!”

Father Cantalamessa, in his Advent meditation, was especially firm in his condemnation of those who, having been caught up in the scandal, have later gained publicity by telling of their experiences, and implying that their bishops were at fault for inadequate supervision. That approach, the preacher said, demonstrates a frightening “hardness of heart.” He appeared to be referring to case such as that of Oliver O’Grady, the defrocked Irish priest and convicted child molester whose confession forms the basis for the film, Deliver Us from Evil.

The Beatitudes are the theme of this year’s Advent meditations, and the Capuchin preacher centered his first remarks on Christ’s precept: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Pain and suffering are inevitable in this life, he said, and man can only find lasting comfort in Christ.

Father Cantalamessa said that many modern interpreters of the Bible sometimes add to their own suffering, and the suffering of those who follow them, by replacing the real Jesus with an abstract and sentimental figure.
Citing the Pope’s forthcoming book on the person of Jesus, the preacher argued that such an image of Jesus cannot inspire true faith or bring real comfort.

The Advent meditations are traditionally scheduled for each Friday during the Advent season. This year, because the feast of the Immaculate Conception superseded the first Friday of Advent, only two meditations are scheduled before Christmas, with the second and final one set for December 22.

Source: CWN

Read the fulltext of Fr. Cantalamessa's homily here.

Cheering for the Vatican Team?

I came across two interesting articles today.
The first is from the AP via Fox Sports:

The inaugural Clericus Cup will kick off in February 2007 with the Vatican one of 16 teams taking part.

The final will take place in the Italian capital at the end of June, organizers said Friday.

"The Clericus Cup (is) an occasion for all those enthusiasts, and some former players - who are in seminaries today, attending university, studying to be a priest - to put themselves back in the game, dribbling, making saves and headers," the Italian Sports Center (CSI), which is organizing the event, said in a statement on its Web site.
CSI is a Christian organization that promotes education through sport.
"The purpose is really to reinvigorate the tradition (of sport) inside the Christian community," CSI president Edio Costantini told Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, crediting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state and an ardent Juventus fan, with the idea.
"Sport is a magnificent tool for bringing the young together ... Aside from physical training, a soccer match can serve as a (means to) personal, social and spiritual growth," Costantini said.

Costantini hopes that many priests who have hung up their boots "to prioritize other aspects of the Christian mission" will start to play soccer again.

"A priest that can get together with kids to play soccer is the best advertisement for sporting culture inside the Church," Costantini added.

The teams are likely to be made up of trainee priests [seminarians], who are studying at the various pontifical universities in Rome. Games are limited to one hour - rather than the normal 90 minutes - which may tempt some of the older generation to play.

The coaching staff will also be exclusively clerical, Gazzetta reported. It did not say who the referees will be.

The first edition of the Clericus Cup will be limited to teams from Rome, but the format could be extended to other regions throughout Italy, according to Gazzetta.

The late Pope John Paul II was a keen sportsman and played soccer in his youth, mostly as a goalkeeper.

Here is the second article. From the Australian:

The Vatican may one day field a football team that could rival the top formations in Italy's powerful Serie A, the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said today.

"I do not preclude the possibility that the Vatican, in the future, could put together a football team of great value, that could play on the same level as Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria,'' all first division teams, the cardinal said, according to the Ansa agency.

Cardinal Bertone has never hidden his passion for football, and has commented on matches in the past when he was archbishop of Genoa. He has mentioned on several occasions the possibility of the Vatican fielding a team.

Pope Calendar Still News

The Pope calendar is still newsworthy. The BBC posted this article today:

Benedict XVI, the shy former disciple of that most media-friendly of popes, John Paul II, has entered an area of the mass communications market that his predecessor apparently never tapped.

The Polish pope could easily have filled out a wall calendar had he wanted to.

"He would have had his foreign journeys and St Peter's crammed from one end to the other as he made saints, and then he would have probably had himself doing lunch with his bishops and cardinals around him, tucking in and furiously debating stem cells or something," says veteran Vatican-watcher John Wilkins.

"With John Paul II, you hardly had time to breathe - when he went to America, his entourage called him the White Tornado. He was an actor, he loved the stage, he had enormous charisma."

Had such a calendar existed - and as far as Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana is aware, it did not - there might well have been a glimpse of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger standing shyly in the background somewhere.

In his new incarnation as Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II's former right hand man has come into the foreground, and he agreed this summer to be photographed for a charity wall calendar produced by the magazine.

Read the rest here.

I Am the Person of the Year

Yes, I am Time Magazine's person of the year.
An since you are reading this you are too.

Read all about it here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Motu Propio After Christmas?

From Catholic News Agency:

Sources close to the Vatican have told Catholic News Agency that the Motu Propio by which Pope Benedict XVI would allow for the universal use of the Missal of St. Pius V may be published after Christmas, while the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist could come in mid-January 2007.

Sources confirmed the recent statements to reporters by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, who told them after participating in a meeting of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, where the text of the Motu Propio was reviewed, that the document would come soon.

The declaration would allow the Mass of St. Pius V—often called the Tridentine Mass—to be celebrated freely and do away with the current requirement to have the explicit permission of the local bishop. The Motu Propio does not address the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X, the schismatic organization founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, according to the same sources, has already been finished by Pope Benedict XVI and is being translated into the different languages in which it will be presented.

The document, which sources say will be issued after January 15, reaffirms the Church’s commitment to a celibate priesthood, encourages the use of Latin in liturgical celebrations, and even requests that seminarians learn the language as part of their formation.

It will also promote the recovery of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphonic music as a replacement to modern music, which would result in a gradual elimination of musical instruments that are “inappropriate” for the solemnity and reverence of the Eucharistic celebration.

What Church Signs Talk About When No One's Looking

Kansas City Catholic: Word on the Street

Check this out - Very, Very Funny!

Joint Declaration of Pope Benedict and His Beatitude Christodoulos

Wednesday morning in the Vatican, following their private meeting and after each had pronounced a public address, the Pope and His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, signed a Joint Declaration in the presence of members of the archbishop's Greek delegation and of Catholic representatives.

"We, Benedict XVI, Pope and Bishop of Rome, and Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, in this sacred place of Rome, ... wish to live ever more intensely our mission to bear apostolic witness, to transmit the faith, ... and to announce the Good News of the birth of the Lord. ... It is also our joint responsibility to overcome, in love and truth, the multiple difficulties and painful experiences of the past."

"Our meeting in charity makes us more aware of our joint task: together to follow the arduous path of dialogue in truth in order to re-establish full communion of faith. ... Thus we obey a divine mandate ... and continue our commitment, ... following the example of the Apostles and demonstrating mutual love and a spirit of reconciliation."

"We recognize the important steps made in the dialogue of charity, and in the decisions of Vatican Council II concerning relations between us. Moreover, we hope that bilateral theological dialogue will take advantage of these positive elements in order to formulate propositions acceptable to both sides, in a spirit of reconciliation."

"Together we affirm the need to persevere on the road of constructive theological dialogue because, despite the difficulties, this is one of the essential ways we have to re-establish the longed-for unity, ... and to reinforce the credibility of the Christian message in a period of enormous social upheaval and of great spiritual searching by many of our contemporaries, who are disquieted by growing globalization which at times even threatens the lives of human beings and their relationship with God and the world."

"We solemnly renew our desire to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, especially to new generations. ... This is very important in our societies where many schools of thought distance people from God and contribute nothing to the meaning of life."

"We believe that religions have a role to play to ensure the triumph of peace in the world, and that they must in no way be the focus for intolerance and violence. As Christian religious leaders, we exhort all religious leaders to maintain and reinforce inter-religious dialogue, and to work to create a society of peace and fraternity among individuals and peoples. This is one of the missions of religion."

The Pope and the Archbishop recognize the huge progress of science, but express concern at "experiments on human beings which do not respect the dignity or integrity of the person at all stages of existence, from conception to natural death." They also call for "more effective protection" of "the fundamental rights of human beings, founded on the dignity of man created in God's image."

"We trust in a fruitful collaboration," they continue, "to ensure that our contemporaries may rediscover the Christian roots of the European continent." This, they write, "will help them to experience and promote fundamental human and spiritual values for the good of people and of society itself."

Benedict XVI and His Beatitude Christodoulos invite wealthy nations to show solidarity towards less-developed countries. "It is likewise important," they write, "not to exploit the creation, which is the work of God, abusively." In this context, they call for "a reasoned and respectful care of creation, in order to administer it correctly, while maintaining solidarity, especially with people suffering hunger, and leaving future generations an earth that can truly be inhabited by everyone."

At the end of their declaration, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece call upon the Lord "to grant all mankind the gift of peace, in the charity and unity of the human family."

Mary, The Seat of Wisdom

Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father met with Roman university students after their traditional mass at St. Peter's Basilica in preparation for Christmas, which was celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

Benedict XVI stated that "Christmas gifts remind us of the most perfect gift that the Son of God gave us of himself in the Incarnation. (...) Christmas is the day in which God has given himself to human persons and this gift is made perfect, so to speak, in the Eucharist."

"The Eucharistic mystery," he continued "constitutes the privileged point of convergence between the various spheres of Christian existence, including that of intellectual pursuit. (...) The Eucharist nourishes a fruitful unity between contemplation and action in us so that we are regularly sustained with faith."

Making reference to the immanent arrival of Christmas, the Pope indicated that "in the grotto of Bethlehem we adore the same Lord who wanted to make himself our spiritual nourishment in the Eucharistic sacrament, in order to transform the world from within beginning from the human heart."

The Virgin Mary was the "first to contemplate the incarnate Word, Divine Wisdom, made human. In the Christ Child (...) she recognized God's human face in such a way that the mysterious Wisdom of the Son was impressed on the Mother's mind and heart."

"This is why," he concluded, "Mary was transformed in the "Seat of Wisdom" and is particularly venerated with this title by the Roman academic community. There is a special icon dedicated to the "Sedes Sapientiae" that, starting from Rome, has already visited various countries, making a pilgrimage through the universities. It is present here today in order to be given to the delegation from Bulgaria and Albania."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Survived

Finals are over!
Now I just await the grades.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lapse in Posting

Sorry that blogging has been slow. Finals were this week. I have survived. Only one term paper to finish on the theology behind John Donne's Holy Sonnets.

It is almost done!

Bishop Hendricken's Re-Entombment

From the Providence Journal:

Carried on the shoulders of six sturdy young men, the casketed body of Bishop Thomas F. Hendricken, first Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, was re-entombed yesterday in a place of honor in the cathedral that was his life’s work. Bishop Hendricken died 120 years ago, and his funeral, parts of which were reenacted yesterday, was the first Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.

Led by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, the current bishop of Providence, four dozen priests and three retired bishops, all robed in white, presided over a song- and incense-filled ceremony the likes of which Rhode Island has never seen. Several hundred lay people attended yesterday’s service, which lasted an hour and a half and drew extensive media coverage.

“This observance has several purposes,” Bishop Tobin said at the end of the Mass.

“First, and most obviously, it is the re-entombment of Bishop Thomas Hendricken in a new and dignified place in this beautiful sanctuary that he envisioned and built.”
Bishop Hendricken, an Irish immigrant, spent more than a decade planning and raising money for the cathedral, which he imagined as a symbol of the Catholic Church’s growing importance in what was then a largely Protestant state. The building was nearly complete when he spoke his last words, “Thy will be done,” and died of complications of a cold and the severe asthma that had plagued him much of his life. He was 59. Until June, his body was entombed inside the cathedral’s neglected basement crypt

Read the rest of Providence Journal article here.
The Providence Journal has a slideshow of photos.

The Diocese of Providence has a video about Bishop Hendricken and the ceremonies and an article (PDF) by Bishop Tobin about him.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cardinalitial Art Exhibit

ROME (ANSA) - A new exhibit has opened in Rome charting the charismatic and powerful cardinals that have helped shape the history of the Catholic Church.

The event features over 70 portraits of the best-known princes of the church, spanning 500 years from the mid-16th century through to the 1990s.

"The show leads us through half a millennium of art, exploring the public and private affairs of many important figures who shaped the history of our city," said Rome Culture Councillor Gianni Borgna. "At the same time, it traces the development of art over the centuries, showing the evolution in tastes and styles.

"Popes are important but cardinals are more interesting from a history of art point of view, because they produce more lively portraits. There are more restrictions on paintings of popes," he explained.

The exhibit encompasses a variety of mediums, including paintings, sculptures and photographs.

One of the event's two curators, Maria Elisa Tittoni, explained that the exhibit sought to draw out the dual significance of portraiture.

"On the one hand, they are important with regards to the history of art and on the other, with regards to the history of the city," she said.

"There are basically three types of portrait, all of which are amply covered here: standing figures; sitting figures at a three-quarter angle and half figures".

The most significant portraits include a full-length painting of Cardinal Giovan Battista Montini (1897-1978) who would later become Pope Paul VI; a portrait of Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549), later Pope Paul III, attributed to Raphael; and a bronze sculpture entitled 'Cardinal Sitting' by one of Italy's best-known 20th-century sculptors, Giacomo Manzu.

There is also a selection from a series of photographs of the Roman Curia, taken by Marco Delogu between 1998 and 1999.He photographed 24 of the Vatican "government's" 27 members as part of the project, including the German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was later elected Pope Benedict XVI.

"Ratzinger was the one who gave me most time, almost a whole hour, and he was the only one I was able to shoot in close-up," recalled the photographer.

One of the most striking elements of the exhibition is the array of tones and textures in the scarlet silk cassocks worn by the cardinals.

"Walking along the corridors of Palazzo Braschi, the predominant colour in the paintings is red," said Borgna. "However, as these are works from different eras, the approaches and techniques change, testifying the development in art itself".

Palazzo Braschi was deliberately chosen by the exhibit's curators owing to its history: now the Museum of Rome, it was built at the end of the 1700s by Pope Pius VI for his nephew Luigi Braschi Onesti.

'La Porpora Romana Rittrastica Cardinalizia dal Rinascimento al Novecento' runs until February 22.

What's Wrong With IVF

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk is a priest from the Diocese of Fall River and the Director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

He writes an excellent column on pro-life related matters called "Making Sense Out of Bioethics" which appears in many diocesan newspapers. I suggest that it be read by everyone. If his articles do not appear in your diocesan newspaper, you can read them online.

Here is an article he wrote about IVF:
When I give talks about in vitro fertilization (IVF), I usually ask my audience the following question: "How many of you know a baby born by IVF, or know a couple who has tried to get pregnant this way?" Usually about half the hands in the room go up. Then I ask them to raise their hands if the couple was Catholic. Virtually all the same hands go up a second time. I have the sense that Catholics are making use of IVF at about the same rate as non-Catholics, and that most of them are only vaguely aware of the Church's position on making test tube babies.

When asked why IVF might be immoral, people will usually mention the extra embryos that are frozen or discarded. Such embryos are certainly a serious concern, but they are not the primary reason the Church insists the procedure is immoral. Even if IVF were done without making any extra embryos at all, this way of making babies would still be morally objectionable, because the procedure strikes at the very core and meaning of marital sexuality. It substitutes an act of laboratory manipulation for an act of bodily union between spouses. It turns procreation into production. IVF is really the flip-side of contraception: rather than trying to have sex without babies, we try to have babies without sex. Because many Americans have come to view sex largely in terms of recreation, ignoring its procreative orientation, they have lost touch with the grave violations that occur both in contraceptive sex and in making babies in test tubes.

Clearly, the moral violations that occur in IVF do not reflect upon the child, who is innocent. It is not the baby's fault in any way. The child has no control over how he or she got here. Regardless of how a baby comes into the world, whether by IVF, whether by adultery, by pre-marital sex, or even by cloning, that baby is always a gift and a blessing. The problem with IVF is not with the child, but with a decision made by the parents concerning how to pursue the satisfaction of their own desire for a child. In other words, babies, even when very much desired, should not be brought into the world by making use of disordered means such as adultery, pre-marital sex, IVF, or cloning. They should be brought into the world only within that intimate love-giving moment of the marital embrace. Children are entitled to come into being as the fruit of a singular parental love that is uniquely manifested in the spousal moment of bodily surrender to each other. Through the incredibly rich language of the parents' bodies, through their body to body contact, the new body of their child is engendered. In their one-flesh union, they enflesh new life. That intimate bodily embrace is a sacred action that only spouses may share, and it represents the unique and privileged locus, by God's design, in which human love is translated into new life. IVF violates this design by replacing that love-giving act with an act of production, whereby we manufacture our own children in petri dishes and test tubes, as if they were products or objects to be manhandled at will. In this way, IVF incidentalizes and adulterates sex, reducing it to another arena for manipulation according to our own desires. When we take this immoral step, others quickly follow, including the freezing or even the discarding of our own children, as if they were a form of medical waste. By making test tube babies, we first violate the sacred human act by which we hand on life. It is then but a short step to go further and violate the very life itself that we produce in the laboratory.

Is it not reasonable and right to insist, as the Church does, that new human life should be the fruit of married love, carried out through bodily self-giving between spouses, this act which allows each partner to enrich the other with the total gift of himself or herself? The marital act embodies spousal love directly, exclusively and authentically. Can we say the same for IVF, where the woman upsets her delicate hormonal cycles and subjects herself to repetitive injections with powerful drugs to make her body produce unnaturally large numbers of eggs, and where the man may be expected to go into a back room with salacious magazines and videos to "provide a sample"? Can we really say that IVF embodies spousal love in an authentic and exclusive way when a lab technician ends up being the causal agent of the pregnancy, instead of the spouses themselves through a sacred act proper to their married love? By any stretch, can we honestly believe that IVF is faithful to God's design for marriage?

We sometimes tend to brush the ungainly and unsightly parts of the procedure under the rug and instead try to focus on the result, the baby, so as to mitigate the disturbing reality of what we are really engaging in. Some couples also may rest their approval for IVF on a perfunctory assumption, namely: "We have a right to a child when we get married, so any means, even IVF, should be okay." But the deeper truth is that we never have a right to a baby. A child is not our property or our possession. Rather, a child is a gift, one we hope God will send us, one we stand ready and eager to receive, but certainly not an entitlement or a right for us. When we marry, we properly have a right to those beautiful, life-giving acts we call marital acts, which open us up to the mysterious divine spark at the heart of human love. Those remarkable marital acts are the only human acts appropriately ordered to engendering the incredible gift of new human life.

The rest of his articles are available here.