Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An Opportunity?

It has been announced by the government that they must hold a referendum on the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty which is being drafted to help ease the Euro crisis.  This is the treaty Britain has refused to enter into.

It will be most interesting to see how the government handles this one.  In Ireland we tend to have issues with EU treaties and we usually reject them until the government orders a second vote and threatens us, and so the referendums are passed second time round, usually out of fear.  That, my friends, is Irish democracy - not quite the Syrian model, but sometimes not too far off it.

Reading some of the news articles and the comments under them, I think the government may have a lot to fear.  Now for the treaty to be passed the consent of only twelve countries is required, so the Irish cannot hold the EU to ransom, so there is not as much fear.  However, it would be important for it to be passed here given the state of Ireland's economy and the fact that our begging bowl is well and truly planted in Germany.

Some are saying that we may have an opportunity here: if the government wants us to vote yes, then we might bargain for the vote.  It might also be possible to get the Troika to sit down and have another look at the austerity measures and some of the debt to unsecured investors which we are being forced to honour, giving these investors huge profits on their original investments.   Any chance of reopening the embassy to the Holy See?  Many Catholics are very angry and "yes" may not be a word they would be inclined to utter in the government's favour. 

We will watch this one carefully.  We will need to examine the treaty carefully - it may not be in Ireland's best interests in the long run - Britain has serious issues with it, and I think it might be a good idea to listen to what they have to say.


Two things, as a dear friend of mine would say.  The first is the news that Cardinal Dolan has signed the "Unacceptable" letter which rejects Barack's Obama HHS Mandate.  You can view the letter and its latest signatories here.  Note that those who signed it are not "fundamentalist Catholics", but rather people from all walks of life and numerous religions, Christian and non-Christian.

The HHS Mandate is not about contraception - it is about undermining religious freedom.    And this issue is just as important to Ireland and the rest of the world as it is to the US because if the "land of the free" undermines religious freedom, other countries may well follow suit.  I could see our own lot, who are cutting and pasting a healthcare plan at the moment, doing the same thing.

Secondly, a post from Fr Z.  We all know that the secularists, atheists, Democrats and liberal Catholics have been attacking Republican Rick Santorum as he attempts to get the nomination to go forward in the US Presidential election later this year.   He is a man of faith and an orthodox Catholic and that just sends some people into outer space with rage.  Anyway, lest you think that all attacks on the man and his Catholic faith are modern and sophisticated, think again.  Here is a piece written by Larry Doyle on the Huffington Post. Read it and pray for the man. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mother Dolores Hits Tinsel Town

As you all know, no doubt, Mother Dolores Hart, once an actress who worked with some of Hollywood's leading men, Montgomery Clift, Stephen Boyd, Robert Wagner and Elvis among them, and now a Benedictine nun, was at the Oscars last night.  A documentary dealing with her life was nominated for a gong, and so Mother Dolores got permission to attend the ceremony in LA. 

What a wonderful example!  A Benedictine nun in full habit walking down the red carpet - there's witness for you!  She was radiant - the most beautiful woman there I think, as her life of prayer and dedication to Christ shine through her eyes and her whole demeanour. 

As members of the Fraternity we should be delighted with this: a most obvious witness to the Christian faith in the midst of the glitz and glamour.  I hope her presence touched some of those in the business, not only as a challenge, but as a reminder that Christ is everywhere, seeking to reach out to everyone, even those dolled up for the gongs.

Another Patron For The Cause Of Life

Speaking of Saints and future Saints in recent days, I see the Cause of Jerome Lejeune is progressing: the diocesan phase has been completed and the documents are to be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and, I presume, the Postulator will begin to write the positio, the position document which will summarise his life and virtues and propose him as a candidate for beatification.

As the assault on life seems to gain momentum, God is giving us patrons and models to help us in our struggle to witness to the Gospel of Life.  St Gianna Beretta Molla has been canonised, and now Jerome who was a great defender of life is on his way.  Lejeune was a paediatrician and geneticist - he is best known for his discovery of Trisomy 21 which is the cause of Down Syndrome.  A discovery, which should have helped humanity became, in the hands of the anti-life brigade, a weapon to destroy life.  Following his discovery, Dr Lejeune had to defend the unborn, and particularly those who Down Syndrome, from abortion.

A friend of Blessed John Paul II, Lejeune assisted him in the cause of life and was appointed President of newly founded Pontifical Academy for Life, but only served for a few months as lung cancer claimed his life on Easter Sunday 1994.    We pray for a speedy outcome to the Cause, the granting of a miracle and the joy of his beatification soon. 

In related news, the Holy Father has urged Catholics to shun artificial methods of procreation - that means IVF, AI and surrogacy.  These methods are deeply sinful and denigrate the act of procreation, and the life and dignity of the child. 

With regard to IVF alone there are so many moral problems with it it is a veritable nightmare.  Unfortunately many Catholics are so desperate to have a child that they resort to this evil and in doing so allow the creation and destruction of many children.  The awful statistic is that for every live birth in IVF around thirty children have perished - this does not include the children who are suspended in freezing facilities, most of them forgotten: they are alive, but "on hold" - not even able to die so they can be released.   

Another problem with this method is that those who are using it close their hearts to the truth - they deny that it is wrong, or if they know its wrong, they are prepared to suspend their consciences and God's law to get their child.  This is serious as it places those souls in immortal peril.  I have even heard of Catholic priests encouraging couples to go down the road of IVF, telling them that it is not a sin to do so.  God forgive these priests - they are leading souls into sin: if they do not repent of this and try to undo the damage they have done, they may well be damned.

We certainly need the prayers and example of the Servant of God, Jerome Lejeune: through his intercession may the Lord bring us out of this Dark Age into the light of the Gospel of Life, where human life is cherished and protected.

The Living Tomb: storage tank in which children conceived through IVF are frozen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Neither Praise Nor Threats

One of my great heroes is Blessed Clemens von Galen - I have mentioned him before on this blog.  In the face of Nazi persecution, he stood up and preached the Gospel of Life fearlessly.  Hitler both hated and feared him: the power of God, his mercy and justice emanated from this bishop, and his voice and message thundered around Germany and beyond.  Last year I was given a relic of the Blessed and I can tell you, in prayer with it, the strong presence of this fearless witness can be felt.

Well my attention has been drawn to a good article on the Blessed Cardinal, concentrating on his episcopal motto: Nec laudibus, nec timore which means "Neither praise nor threats", meaning nothing will prevent him proclaiming the Gospel.  It is worth reading. 

We are in dark times, and Blessed Clemens stands as an example to all of us to raise our voices in defence of our faith and the moral order.  If the prevailing culture wants us to stay silent in face of the great evil which is claiming innocent human life in abortuaries and clinics all over the world, then we defy that culture and proclaim the Gospel of Life. 

Blessed Clemens serves as a model and intercessor for our bishops the world over: may they, like him, find the courage given them in the Sacrament of Holy Orders to do what he did.  We pray for the bishops of Ireland and the US who must deal with anti-Catholic governments intent on aborting the Church from public life and forcing believers to violate their consciences.   May the great "Lion of Munster" put his strong hand on the shoulders of our beloved pastors and assure them of his presence and intercession, and may he rally all of us to the cause of Christ and the cause of life!

In related news: the Thirsty Gargoyle has taken on The Irish Times and its Patsy. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Msgr Giussani's Cause: The Whinging Begins

I was going to leave blogging for the weekend, but I have an update to the opening of the Cause of Msgr Giussani which I would like to share with you: the resistance has begun, it seems.

The London Independent has the story, and, strangely, juxtaposes the opening of the Cause with the Holy Father's recent speech about the need for more humility and less hunger for power.  They are implying that one contradicts the other. 

Describing Msgr Giussani as anti-Marxist we are told that even "moderate Catholic groups" oppose the aims of the movement he founded.  I wonder what they mean by "moderate Catholic groups" - I presume We Are Church would be one of them for the critics of C&L.  According to the article above, Giussani and his movement are dangerous because they oppose stem cell research (by which they mean embryonic stem cell) and "assisted dying" (by which they mean helping something commit suicide or, if they are unable to do so, killing them).  They describe this as a right wing agenda. They also try to make him a buddy of Berlusconi.  Interestingly they are raising the same sort of objections they have thrown at St Josemaria Escriva for years.

Well people, that should get us all praying for Msgr Giussani's beatification: if the Marxist liberals are spitting venom, then this man will be a great saint indeed.  He might even be a patron and intercessor for the faithful as they continue to endure the whining and hand-wringing of dissidents who want to twist the Gospel into Marx's table talk and have little or no respect for vulnerable human life.  We need such a patron in these times!

Right, get your pens ready and write to Communion and Liberation for a prayer card, and start sending those petitions!   I'm off to buy another one of the holy man's books - he can be a tough read!  But then once you've tried to tackle von Balthasar, you're game for anything!

Communion and Liberation website here, contact your local group for information.

Denial: A Swamp In Ireland...?

It is a fact that persecutors never consider themselves persecutors - their campaign against a certain group makes utter sense to them, and if people are complaining or objection, then they are just creating trouble.  We know this attitude to be "denial", and it seems The Irish Times is in denial when it comes to the fact of aggressive secularism and its mission to exorcise religion from society.

David Quinn takes the paper to task in his column in The Irish Catholic.  It is a must read.  Living in Ireland in these times we meet this denial every day.  Catholics can be treated badly, made fun of, attacked in the media, and yet the media and some public representatives cannot actually see that they are being prejudiced.

On Tuesday night, as I was coming back from our Film Club, I was listening to Marc Coleman on Newstalk.  He is a fine broadcaster, one of the fairest in Ireland.  At one point he raised the issue of prejudice against Catholics, citing some of the points David Quinn makes in his article above.  The reaction was most interesting: his guests were taken aback that such treatment of the Church was unjust or prejudiced; after all, they said, the Church abused children and the Vatican covered it all up. 

Coleman did his best to explore their reaction, but it was obvious the anti-Catholic prejudice was so deep his guests could not see that there was anything wrong.   The old anti-Catholic myths are well engrained, and thanks to the growth in aggressive secularism in Ireland (and, I suspect, knee jerk reactions against the Church's moral teachings - many Irish are now happily contracepting, cohabiting, aborting).  They are desperate to believe that all evil is now found in the Catholic Church, they will not listen to anything that contradicts their prejudice or might shake them out of their denial.

It seems denial is not merely a river in Egypt, but a swamp in Ireland.

Youcef Nadarkhani, his wife and children

In related news I see that the Iranian pastor convicted of apostasy from Islam (though he was never formally a Muslim, just from a Muslim background) is due to be executed quickly.   Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009, tried and convicted: his appeal was lost.  He was offered a chance to recant his Christian faith three times in order to save his life: he refused.  The order for his execution has been signed.

God grant him strength.  Please remember him, his wife and their two children in your prayers.  Martyrdom is glorious and brings an eternal reward, but it is difficult and the sorrow of loss is no less painful.  May the Lord grant him and his family the graces they need at this time.  If he is to shed his blood, may it bring about the conversion of those who killed him and of the whole of Iran.   There is no better "revenge" than to see one's enemies come to embrace Christ and be reconciled with those they have oppressed.

And here's something we all knew for some time.  Evidence of sex-selection abortions is coming to light and SPUC are trying to lobby David Cameron's government in the UK to cut its ties with private abortion providers.  Sex-selective abortions are the norm in China - with the one child only policy, many couples, when they discover they are expecting a girl, abort the child in the hope of having a boy next time.  This has led to a serious gender imbalance in China. 

Elective abortions tend to sex-based, and it is females who are being killed.  That is the ultimate irony: the radical feminists want abortion for the sake of their "liberation", yet it is females who comprise the larger number of those "terminated" - there's liberation for you!  If this continues we may not have to worry about feminism at all - women will end up as a minority gender, as in China, and guess what, we might just see the return of the old monster, Inequality. 

The same is true of black people: in the US the majority of those who are aborted are Afro-American - indeed 60% of Planned Parenthood clinics in the US are situated in Afro-American neighbourhoods even though Afro-Americans only make up 12.2% of the population - doesn't add up, or does it?  We might need to consult Margaret Sanger to understand that one. 

By the way I am told that, given demographic changes, the population of Afro-Americans in the US should be 16% by now, but it seems since Roe v Wade, the expected 3% never made it.    The Rev. Martin Luther King must be turning in his grave: I do not think this is the dream he was talking about - rather it seems to be a nightmare.

And to end on an upbeat note.  Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury is issuing a Lenten pastoral letter on Sunday in which he will deal with the reality of hell.  Bishop Davies is one of the more remarkable bishops in England and a wonderful teacher and defender of the faith.  In fact I think he may well be tipped for Westminster: he would make a fine Archbishop and Cardinal.

Hell is one of the "no-no" topics when it comes to homilies: I remember greeting a delegation seven months into my first appointment in Drogheda: the concerned delegation consisted of one man who felt he represented the whole parish.  The gentleman wanted to point out how dreadful a priest I was because I was always preaching about hell.  In the seven months I had only mentioned it once or twice, and then only in passing but it was enough to send this man over the edge.  I took note of his objections, and resolved to preach a full homily on hell the next time it popped up in the readings, which I did.  He was not impressed. 

I'd say there will be many who will not be impressed with Bishop Davies's letter, but thank God for his forthrightness in teaching the fullness of the faith.  Thanks to the prevalence of "therapeutic Catholicism", many people cannot accept that there is always a possibility that we may not make it to heaven: that we have to take personal responsibility for our lives in order to avoid damnation.  That's not being negative, it's just being real.

We are living in interesting times.  The new translation is bringing back reverence to the Mass, the HHS mandate in the US is uniting bishops and reminding Catholics of the inherent sinfulness of contraception, abortion and sterilization, and an English bishop is preaching the fullness of the faith: these may well be signs that the reform has started.  "From your lips to God's ears" as my friend Pat in New York would say: Amen!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

EWTN President Speaks

Michael Warsaw, President of EWTN, has written an article for the New York Times, outlining the Network's objections to Barack Obama's HHS Mandate.  I'm quoting it in full:
Michael Warsaw

THIRTY years ago, a cloistered nun named Mother Angelica Rizzo started a small television station in her garage to spread the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then the station, EWTN, has grown into one of the largest Catholic media networks in the world, but we haven’t strayed from our values. And we won’t — even though our commitment has landed us in the cross hairs of the Obama administration.

EWTN cannot comply with the recent mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring the insurance plans of all employers, with the exception of some houses of worship, to cover the contraceptives and sterilization procedures approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These include emergency contraceptives like Plan B and Ella that can destroy human embryos — an act that we consider a violation of church teaching that all life is a sacred gift that begins at conception.

Earlier this month, in response to widespread opposition to the mandate, the president announced an “accommodation” for some religious organizations — like, potentially, EWTN — that would shift the responsibility for the coverage from the employer to the employer’s insurance carrier. But this would do nothing to solve the problem. First, EWTN self-insures, so we are the insurer. Second, even if we had an outside insurer, we would still be in the untenable position of facilitating access to drugs that go against our beliefs. And if we refused to comply with the directive, we could be hit with annual fines starting at around $600,000.

The administration’s supporters say that by opposing the rule, religious employers like EWTN are guilty of trying to coerce our employees and impose our values on them. But we are simply choosing not to participate in the use of these drugs. Our 350 employees, many of whom are not Catholic, freely choose to work here and can purchase and use contraception if they want to. They are aware of the values we practice, and I hear regularly from Catholic and non-Catholic employees alike how much they love working for an organization that is defined by its Catholic beliefs — beliefs that we think result in a better workplace and more expansive benefits over all.

Instead, it is the government — which does not accept EWTN’s religious choice and can punish that choice by imposing fines — that is coercing us. But under the Constitution and federal religious liberties law, we cannot be forced to give up our beliefs as the price of participation in the public square. That is why the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit on our behalf seeking to overturn this illegal mandate.

But religious liberty isn’t even the only thing at risk; the mandate also threatens the financial viability of any organization that disagrees with the administration’s politics. They could be forced to stop offering health insurance and be saddled with fines, which are immense competitive disadvantages. They’ll have to take money away from their core missions to pay fines. They’ll lose employees who can’t afford to work for employers who offer no health insurance. They’ll lose donors who are scared off by the penalties.

The end result: organizations that agree with the administration or are willing to compromise their beliefs will thrive. Organizations that don’t will shrink or die.

Businesses will suffer, too. The mandate’s effect will be most visible on not-for-profits like EWTN. But small businesses owned by men and women of faith, which have been given no protection whatsoever in the administration’s accommodation, will also take a hit. While some charities might be able to weather the storm thanks to donations or strong endowments, these small businesses almost certainly won’t.

Mother Angelica didn’t create EWTN to be a weak Catholic voice. Our donors send us money to spread Catholic teachings, not to subvert them. The mandate makes it impossible for us to live up to that core mission, giving us the choice of either compromising our beliefs or being crushed by fines. That ultimatum is unfair, unconstitutional and repugnant — which is why we have no choice but to fight it in court.
The fines to be imposed by the Obama administration remind me of the fines the English monarch imposed on Catholics who refused to attend Protestant services following the Reformation.  The idea was to either force them into the Protestant ecclesial community or impoverish them.  Because of this many English Catholics capitulated in order not to starve to death.  Seems to me that this mandate seeks to do the same thing. 

Another piece of news: it seems the Holy Father will make his final decision with regard to the Society of St Pius X before the summer.  I see from Traditionalist websites that they are expecting him to bring them back into the full life of the Church.  To be honest I cannot see that happening.  Despite their claims of being obedient to the Pope and faithful, they have not budged one inch and still reject Vatican II.  In their eyes, it seems to be, all of us are Modernists.  We will leave it to the Holy Father, but I think there are few options open, one of them being the declaration of a formal schism.

A priest who has been in prison since 1994 for abuse may soon be a free man after new revelations appear to expose his accuser.  Fr Gordan McRae, who blogs from his prison cell, was convicted of abusing Thomas Grover.  However, Mr Grover's history is far from pristine, and it seems new witnesses have come forward to say that he admitted to them he was never abused by Fr MacRae, among other evidence being presented by the priest's lawyers.  It is being claimed that Mr Grover fabricated the accusations to get money out of the Church - it wouldn't be the first time.

If Fr MacRae is innocent, it will be one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in American history.  After twenty years in prison, he will be due a huge settlement in compensation - which he should get.  Mr Grover should also face charges: while we as Christians must forgive, we must also ensure that we do not lead people into sin - to let accusers off scott free gives them the idea that people can make false accusations against innocent Catholics and get away with it even if they are found out: there is no charity in that.  Anyway, we shall watch this one with interest.

And finally, some good news.  At the Mass to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the death of their founder, the leaders of Communion and Liberation have formally petitioned the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola, to open a Diocesan Informative Enquiry into the life, virtues and reputation of sanctity of Mgr Luigi Guissani with a view to opening the Cause for his beatification and canonisation.   

Mgr Giussani has left the Church an enormous legacy not only through founding and guiding one of the most influential new movements in the Church, but also through his writings and personal holiness.  We pray that the Cause, once opened, will proceed quickly to a successful conclusion.  In spite of all the difficulties the Church is facing in these times, God has given us magnificent holy men and women who serve as bright and inspiring lights to console and guide us.  Deo gratias!

Mgr Giussani with Blessed John Paul II, and his tomb in Milan

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Catholic Education

Pontifical University of Peru

Well, I've been a good priest this morning and, so far, have marked a fair number of parishioners with the ashen cross.  I am just back from the schools, as I as left them, the pupils were all comparing the size of their ashen crosses.   I have two schools in my parish - St Louis's in Rathkenny and St Patrick's in Stackallen.  Both are excellently run, two fine principals and dedicated staff.  I am a blessed priest!

Of course you will know that we in Ireland are getting ready for a battle to keep our Catholic schools.  Thankfully both my principals and their staff are committed to providing Catholic education which the people of the parish want for their children.  And we will do everything we can to keep that service.

Catholic education goes beyond primary schools, even into Universities, and I see the Rector of the Pontifical University of Peru has been given an ultimatum by Cardinal Bertone: comply with the Church requirements for Catholic colleges, as laid down by Ex Corde Ecclesiae, by Easter Sunday or else....   By the way, this problem with the University has been going on since the 1970's - so we can't say the Vatican is acting rashly. Here's the background.

I'm sure staff in the University must be in shock - the Holy See rarely issues such ultimatums.  No doubt we will hear the mantra of "academic freedom".  This ultimatum does not interfere with academic freedom, it just reminds the University that it has to be true to the honours and privileges it has received, or else lose them. 

A Pontifical University has to follow certain guidelines, and it must not become an institute which acts in a manner which is contrary to Church teaching.  By all means embrace the secular agenda, but if a University does so, it must not expect the patronage of the Church or her benefactors.  One of the problems we have with organisations which were once Catholic but have since disavowed their relationship with the Church, is that they want to hang on to benefices and privileges which were conferred because they were Catholic and because they were dedicated to promoting the faith.  I know of one charitable organisation that was trying to break its link with the Church, but still wanted to be the charity which the Church promoted during the Lenten period.  That's not on. 

The Pontifical University of Peru finds itself in a very difficult position - it has no choice but to accept the Holy See's decision otherwise it looks like it will lose its Pontifical status and that means they lose their campus - the donor when giving the land for the University did so on condition that it remains a Pontifical University - if it no longer has that privilege, then the land goes to the Archdiocese of Lima.  That will mean the end of the University, or at best, a desperate attempt to rent from the Archdiocese or find alternative accommodation - I'd imagine the latter would be the most likely outcome.

I notice that in response to this news story, some are saying that the Vatican should look at other Catholic colleges.  I have to agree with that.  A review of Catholic education in these third level institutes might be a good idea.  Too many people, organisations and institutes are trading under the title Catholic and yet they represent not the teaching of the faith, but the exact opposite.   In such cases, the greatest irony is that the very Church they are attacking and rebelling against is the one which is providing them with their livelihood. 

We have so much to pray for as we weep for our own sins!   Thank God for Lent - it is a time for us to get our lives straight again and do some good, honest fasting.  I wish you all a Blessed Lent!

A Blessed Lent

Wishing you all a good Lent!  May the Lord give us all the graces we need to remain faithful to our observance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HHS Mandate: A Jewish Response

A quick post to bring a few items to your attention.  More civil suits are being filed against the Obama Administration, again more people are realising that the HHS mandate is not a contraception issue, or even a Catholic issue - it is an issue of religious freedom.

Here is an interesting article by a Jewish writer, David P Goldman, and he's saying that the Jews should challenge this mandate also because Obama can just as easily try to dismantle Jewish religious freedom as much as Catholics's.  They are coming for the Catholics now, the Jews could well be next, he says. 

Goldman mentions a few areas which may fall under scrutiny: kosher slaughter, which has already been banned in some countries; matrilineal descent for deciding who is a Jew - a British court recently decided that it is not up to the Jews to decide who is and who is not a Jew - as if that court had the competence to decide.  And of course, circumcision.  That last one will go if homosexual lobbies have anything to do with it - there is a gay fetish about "intact men", so some gay groups are waging war on circumcision.  If Obama is listening to them, he could well try and outlaw the sign of the Covenant among the Jewish people.   It seems our Jewish brothers and sisters could find themselves back in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes again!

Perhaps Israel's influence might prevent this from happening, given that Israel and the US are allies.  But that is not certain either - there are those in the Democratic party who want to see an end to that relationship and a more decisive shift to the Palestinian cause. 

However, there is an opportunity here for a greater cooperation among Christians and Jews: they can stand together on this issue to help each other.  A prayer to Blessed John Paul II and to St Moses might be a good idea - remember in the Catholic Church we honour the Jewish prophets as Saints: time to invoke them for the Church in these times and for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Bye, Bye, Meat

Shrove Tuesday in heaven: the Saints watch as Our Lady dishes out the Goulash and St Anne brings out her Tequila Pavlova

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Carnevale!  Or here in the cold north of Europe, Pancake Tuesday.  I recently read an article somewhere that up here in the frozen lands of the north, we celebrate the day with unleavened bread and lemon juice, while in the balmy Catholic south of Europe and Latin countries, they do so with finer fare and more fun.  Well, you know, it is as much a Catholic thing to feast as to fast, so perhaps we might adopt a few ideas from our southern brothers and sisters.

Now lest anyone think I am promoting frenzied parades with women clothed only in feathers (and few feathers at that!) gyrating on milk floats, I'm not.  Leave the Samba records where they are! Nor am I suggesting that we all get blotto and start Lent with a headache to beat all hangovers.  No, no, no, something more moderate, something that will not lead into sin, not "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we starve", no, no: but something which marks the transition into Lent.  Forget the diet, have the meat and the dessert, and then offer it all to the Lord in thanksgiving for all his goodness, with the resolution that from midnight, "Fat Tuesday is over", and the holy period of prayer, fasting and alms giving has begun.  With the feast over, and the house cleared of meat and sweeties, we take the ashes with humility and stick to our Lenten resolutions. 

You see, many people think we Catholics are boring and dreary, and they do so because many of us are actually boring and dreary.  We live our faith like martyrs, not joyful people offering all to the Lord, but with determined heavy hearts taking everything seriously.  We can be orthodox, true and virtuous, and we can be joyful, funny and enjoy the good things in life, after all they are gifts from God.  The important word is moderation.  We can eat, drink and have a good time, but always in the presence of the Lord, and we must remember that all these things come from His bounty - the first and last glass must be raised to His honour and glory (and two glasses are enough, by the way!).

So, in that spirit, some reading for Lent.  Father Director offers you some ideas for edification.  Scripture and Lives of the Saints, first of all.  Pope Benedict's life of Jesus; St Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle, St Therese, Story of A Soul, and John Zmirak and Denise Matychowiak's The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living.  That should be a good mix and a balance. 

Fiction?  Michael O'Brien's Father Elijah or Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World  to remind us all that it all end in a moment, and perhaps some Flannery O'Connor, that unique Catholic twist in her stories is refreshing and spicy - good Cajun!

History?  Very important for us Catholics to know our Catholic history. You can't beat Warren Carroll's fine History of Christendom series. 

That should keep you going.  Enjoy the last feast!  And by the way, re tomorrow....chicken is meat!

Catholic Comment

At long last there is a movement in the Church in Ireland to begin an effective response to the media, secularism and those who know little or anything about the Church.   A new organisation, Catholic Comment, has been founded to train spokesmen and women to talk confidently about their Catholic faith in public.

This is an Irish version of Catholic Voices in the UK, and to be honest it is much needed in Ireland.  The Catholic Herald has an article on the new organisation here, I note from the comments below it, however, some people are not keen on the idea and have already decided that it will be full of heretics who will dilute the teaching of the faith in favour of fuzziness.  Well, looking at the people involved in the Irish organisation, I would have full confidence in the fidelity of Catholic Comment.  It has the endorsement and support of David Quinn, the great defender of the faith in the media Ireland today, Breda O'Brien and Senator Ronan Mullen, alongside John Waters and Patricia Casey.  That is an impressive lineup.

Catholic Comment aims to help speakers acquire knowledge and skills to communicate clearly and competently in the media.  They will do so with respect, goodwill and sincerity, according to their brochure.  I would also suggest that they be careful not to become push overs - the UK group have lost a lot of credibility by being seen by many as weak and too goodie goodie. 

I presume, then, they will also learn how to deal with extreme hostility and have workshops on nurturing the virtue of charity in extreme cases, much needed when dealing with Irish journalists.  Also they will probably have to tone up the nerves and strengthen the will - the Irish media tend to be effective in wearing down Catholics in debate.  I suppose combat skills would also be necessary, given that the Irish media interprets "fairness and balance" as being one Catholic verses three or more critics, one of whom is usually a priest or "Catholic theologian".  They certainly have their work cut out for them.

So they need our prayers, our support, and yes, people, our money!   Yes, my friends, mammon calls.  Well actually, perhaps this is a good time to veer some financial support to the group, given that Lent starts tomorrow.  As Catholics we have an obligation to support the Church and her mission, and that would include genuine and orthodox initiatives within the Church which promote and defend the Church and her teaching.   If you can, perhaps you could send a portion of the alms you will be offering up for Lent to the group to help them start.  Ireland is mission territory and this group aims to help the re-evangelization of our country.  Imagine how proud we will be when members of Catholic Comment arrive on RTE and are well able to defend the faith effectively and clearly and with competence.   The few euro would have been well spent.

The organisation is also looking for volunteers - people who would like to be trained and become speakers.  If you are interested, contact Petra Conroy on 086 416 2277 before Tuesday 6th March.  So, more information on the organisation can found on their website:  We will pray for them, and see how they get on. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Holy See Must Do It Our Way, It Seems

Under pressure, it seems the government is trying to wriggle its way out of the embassy debacle, but see how they are trying to do it.  Eamon Gilmore, Labour Minister for Foreign Affairs, has said that Ireland will reconsider reopening the embassy to the Holy See, if the Holy See changes its rule on doubling up on embassies to Italy/Holy See.  In other words - if the Vatican changes the rules then we'll reconsider - I presume then, if the Vatican doesn't agree, then it's the Vatican's fault, and Gilmore and Co. can throw their hands in the air.  He's calling it "flexibility" - if the Holy See is "flexible", then the government could be "flexible".

We have seen this approach before; it is in fact typical liberal methodology.  We have heard the same argument for contraception, divorce, abortion, gay marriage - if only the Vatican/Catholic Church would change its rules/teaching, then we'd all get on fine.  

Why does the Minister think that we in Ireland deserve an exemption to a rule which every other country in the world which has diplomatic relations with the Vatican, including the most powerful, the US and UK for example, have no problem respecting?  Do we really think that Ireland is so important in world affairs that we can put a gun to the Pope's head and expect him to blink?  Are we so vital to things that the Holy See must fawn to the infantile teenage rebels that populate the current administration in a country that does not even govern the whole of the little island on which it is based?

David Quinn wrote an excellent article last week on the issue of the embassy - he points out why the Holy See and the Pope must have an independent state - to guarantee that the Pope and the Church cannot be dominated by any one political administration.  He makes a very interesting point which I wholly agree with: he writes: "...the pope and the Holy See are ultimately more important in world affairs than Ireland or any Taoiseach could ever hope to be. Some of us might not like that, but it's a fact."  This is true and it is something the government needs to keep in mind. 

The rule which governs embassies and does not allow doubling up on missions to Italy is part of the Lateran Treaty, the Treaty which the Holy See and Italy entered into and ended the standoff which had resulted from the invasion of the Papal States by Italian nationalists.  It also recognised the right of the Holy See to its sovereignty, and established the Vatican City State as an independent country.  

The Holy See will have to consider whether housing two embassies in one the house is possible.   But why must the Holy See be the one to make compromises when this government is so hardline and insulting in its relations with the Vatican?  Why should the Holy See be "flexible" with a regime that breached diplomatic courtesies.? Is it not the Irish government who should make the move?  After all, the citizens of this country have made it very clear that they do not agree with the government's decision: is it not time to start listening to people that elected them?

I wonder, is Gilmore, in making his demand, interfering in the internal life of an independent sovereign state and laying down the condition that that country has to change the founding document which establishes its independence if Ireland is to reopen its diplomatic mission?  That is very interesting given recent history and accusations from the Taoiseach (unfounded accusations).  It is also deeply ironic as we see Minister Gilmore and his cohorts in the present administration, fawning over the Chinese Vice President in recent days.   No word about China making any changes to its policies.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Congratulations, Your Eminence!

Hearty congratulations to His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan on his elevation to the College of Cardinals.  May the Lord continue to bless him in his ministry, particularly in these difficult times for the Church in the US.  We look forward to greeting the new Cardinal in his upcoming visit to Ireland in a few months.

In his homily to the new Cardinals, the Holy Father reminded them that they must serve the Church with many attitudes and virtues, one of them being, with "the courage of martyrs", which is symbolised by the colour of their robes - the red of martyr's blood. 

Cardinal Dolan's Titular Church is the Church of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario - a fitting Church for an American, but one who is also an ardent defender of human life.

Church of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario

Friday, February 17, 2012

In Bed With Mao

It never ceases to amuse me (and at times anger me - God forgive me!) to see the double standards at work in politics and indeed in public life.

The Irish government is getting ready to sign a trade deal with China and, like many other governments, fall down in veneration of the Chinese economy.  And yet China stands as one of the greatest offenders in the area of human rights, abusing its own people.  It has a forced abortion policy and has invaded some of its neighbours, mostly notably Tibet, and like the colonial empires of old, for all intents and purposes, it owns most of Africa.

And yet for the sake of mammon, most western governments, the Irish among them, are prepared to ignore all this and enter into various deals which, in the long run, give China more power.  After all, China is now the world's money lender and uses its power in this area to keep its dastardly regime up and running, and indeed, give it respectability.

And then we have the government downgrading relations with the Holy See and posturing when the Vatican maintains its sovereignty.  Ironically, as Ireland gets into bed with China, the Vatican is one of those countries which are trying to coax China towards a greater respect for human rights. 

Of course, it cannot be forgotten that Ireland is now a favourite with the Chinese.  The "beloved leaders" of the People's Republic heaped praise on Enda Kenny when he attacked the Pope and the Holy See last July - his diatribe confirmed for the Chinese authorities that persecution of Catholics was the right thing to do.   I must sign on for a tour of government buildings soon - just to see if there are photos of Mao anywhere to be found.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Come To Rome With Us!

We still have places on the pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi and Loreto.  At the low price of €859 euro, its a very good deal for a trip to Italy.  We leave on the 16th April, after Divine Mercy Sunday, so why not treat yourself to a nice week in Italy visiting some of the most famous shrines in the world?  Fraternity pilgrimages tend to be great fun, so we would like you to join us. 

Contact Louise at 01 241 0816.


The Holy House of Nazareth in Loreto

Student Revolt

You may remember a post a while ago in which I reported that the Student's Union of University College London had alligned itself with Abortion Rights and was compelling pro-life groups to invite pro-abortion speakers to their talks to even things up.  Post here.

Well, the pro-life students are not standing for it: they are defying the demand, and will take legal action against the Union if they have to.  With all guns blazing, the students are quoting the European Covention of Human Rights to push their case.

Well done to them.  As a retired principal tells me, with many years of experience in teaching and schoolyard management, there is only one way to deal with a bully- stand up to him, and usually when you do, they back away because many bullies are cowards.   Wise words.

Another update on the HHS mandate in the US. Not only are religious groups taking action, now civil officials are considering challenging the mandate on the grounds that it breaches the US Constitution.  I think Mr Obama needs to reverse as soon as possible.  Opposition is growing.  He has his few liberals around him supporting him, nominal Catholics among them, but I think this is a fight which he will not win.  Indeed he may find himself going down in history as a President who sought to destroy the freedom of the American people, a principle the American people hold dear and pride themselves as holding sacred.  If he's not careful the name Barak Obama could carry the same connotations as that of Benedict Arnold.

The Baroness Impresses

Baroness Warsi's strike at 'secular fundamentalists' as she meets Pope

Baroness Warsi, the British Conservative peer, is going down very well at the Vatican.  Having impressed Pope Benedict during his visit to Britain, she is leading a delegation from the UK marking thirty years of full diplomatic relations with the Holy See and seems to be impressing again with her thoughts on the role of religion in society.

Lady Warsi is a Muslim, yet her views and her speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, reveal just how close Catholicism and Islam can be when it comes to faith in the public square.  Her speech is well worth reading. 

She sees that religion has a vital role to play in public and political life - that should give the Church-state separationists a stroke.  In fact her thinking is very similar to Pope Benedict's in this area, and it has been noted that she has referred to and quoted from his writings.  There's interfaith dialogue for you.  Like Benedict she is reminding us believers that we should not hide our faith, nor conform it to secularism, but rather be confident in it.

Interestingly as a Muslim, she sees that Europe is inherently Christian and that the continent "needs to become more confident in its Christianity".   Plucking out the old apologetic for diminishing the position of Christianity in Europe, she says that is "a basic misconception: that somehow to create equality and space for minority faiths and cultures we need to erase our majority religious heritage."  If Benedict said that the liberal papers would be baying for his blood.  But the Baroness is correct.  She ends her speech with a humdinger: "Christianity is as vital to our future as it is to our past."

One quotation from the Baroness's speech is most interesting - something the Irish government should take careful note of - the embassy to the Holy See is in fact an important diplomatic mission for the benefits it brings to a country:
“The UK recognizes that, as the smallest state in the world, the Holy See has the widest global reach. It therefore seems inevitable that the UK with its global reach, historical and cultural interests should nurture, strengthen and promote our relationship.”
She also has something to say about ecumenism - something many of us have been saying for years in face of some who abandon or dilute the doctrines of their faith to get on with those of other religions:
“Interfaith dialogue works when we debate our differences, when we wear our beliefs on our sleeves. It’s not about you giving your version of God, and me giving my version of God. And us coming to some watered-down compromise. But about establishing our areas of consensus.”
I wish more Catholics could think like this Muslim lady.

I note from the comments at the end of the Telegraph article on the Baroness's speech, that the secularists are furious, as one would expect.  Tolerance is not one of their strong points.

Matthew Cantirino of First Things, has an interesting article, referring to "Warsi's Wager" - that the time may be right for some sort of inter-religious coalition to counteract the growth of dictatorship by European secularism.  An interesting thought.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mother's Network Prepares For Battle

Shame on me! I forgot to mention that EWTN is taking a legal case against the US government with regard to the HHS mandate. I'm sure you already know about it, but just a quick post to give you the links so you can read all about it.  So as you keep the Network between the gas and the electricity, please also keep it in your prayers and as they challenge Obama's swipe at religious liberty. 

Speaking with a lawyer friend of mine last evening, he said that such challenges will probably be successful: given that the mandate is a direct breach of the US Constitution, the Supreme Court will probably finish off the mandate.  From his lips to God's ears!

UPDATE:  Thomas Peters over at American Papist is on one of his compiling lists missions again, this time noting the number of bishops who have responded to Obama's HHS mandate, and now the institutions who are taking action, considering action or have issued statements defying the mandate. 

Of the 29 Catholic organisations (so far), three have initiated legal proceedings against the US government - our own EWTN, Priests for Life and Belmont Abbey College.   Another is presently looking into the possibility of legal action: Ave Maria University in Florida.  Of the 9 other religious, non Catholic, groups and denominations (so far), one has initiated legal action against the government, Colorado Christian University.  Among these we find Christians of various traditions and Jews, all opposed to what is not a Catholic issue, but one of freedom of religion.

For your information, here is the list (as of posting - it is sure to grow):

The Catholic Institutions:

•1. EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) – filed lawsuit
•2. Belmont Abbey College – filed lawsuit
•3. University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN – issued statement to press
•4. Christendom College in Front Royal, VA – issued statement
•5. Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL – considering legal options, “will not comply”
•6-9: Aquinas College in Nashville, TN (joined by three other Dominican schools) – issued statement
•10. University of Dallas in Dallas, TX – issued statement
•11. Priests for Life in Staten Island, NY – filed lawsuit
•12. Nashville Dominican Sisters in Nashville, TN – issued statement
•13. Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD – issued statement
•14. Benedictine College in Atchison, KS – issued statement
•15. The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC – issued statement to the press
•16. Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities - issued statement
•17. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA - issued statement
•18. Knights of Columbus - issued statement
•19. Catholic Medical Association - issued statement
•20. Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH - issued statement
•21. Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio - issued statement
•22. Holy Cross College in Indiana - issued statement to press
•23. Sisters of Mercy - issued statement
•24. Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, WY - issued statement
•25. Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist - issued statement
•26. Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH – issued statement
•27. New Hampshire Catholic Charities – issued statement
•28. Saint Anselm College – issued statement

The Non-Catholic Institutions/Denominations:

•1. Colorado Christian University (nondenominational) - filed lawsuit
•2. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – issued statement
•3. National Association of Evangelical Protestants – issued statement
•4. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – issued statement
•5. Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops – issued statement
•6. Anglican Church in North America – issued statement
•7. Reformed Theological Seminary – issued statement
•8. American Life League – issued statement
•9. Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission – issued statement

Black List?

Maria Casado, holder of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics, at the University of Barcelona: she likes compiling lists

Here's an interesting article from Spain.  It seems experts in UNESCO are looking to have a list compiled of all doctors who refuse, on grounds of conscience, to perform abortions.  They say it is to guarantee the health of women - the usual mantra.  For some strange reason the Nazi's lists of Jewish Germans comes to mind.  I remember that scene in Schindler's List, when Jewish individuals were being booked into the ghetto in Krakow and being ticked off a list.

Anyway, here's an interesting quotation from the article, referencing the intentions of the lady, Maria Casado, who holds the UNESCO chair of Bioethics at the University of Barcelona, who wants to compile this list:
[Maria] Casado said that while she upholds doctors’ rights to conscientious objection, the main idea is to “respect rights in a democratic society” – women’s rights as well as doctors’ rights. This means conscientious objection should have a clear framework: doctors should make their position known before entering an operating theater, she said, and should not be allowed to exert their right when “the woman’s health is in danger.”
All very democratic and fair, isn't it?  It really is an unfortunate thing that little babies are being torn apart and killed in the midst of all this.  Or is that being unfair to Ms Casado and her friends?

Of course, there is another list being compiled: it's called the Book of Life, and we are told that those who commit evils such as abortion, will not feature on that list - they are on another list entirely.  I wonder if Ms Casado and all those who have an undemocratic power over the lives of vulnerable children realise that as they labour to maintain the facade of respectability covering the holocaust of the unborn, that the day will come (perhaps sooner that they think) when they will have to stand before God with the blood of the innocent on their hands and try and justify their actions?  They will do so before a vast crowd of accusers - the Souls of very children who perished in their clinics.

Perhaps a brief reflection on that will distract them from black listing men and women of good conscience who strive, in obedience to their sacred oath as physicians, to protect life and not destroy it.

In other, not entirely unrelated news, prosecutors in Philadelphia have submitted a request to Montgomery County Coroner to have the body of the late Cardinal Bevilaqua exhumed and examined to see if he had been murdered.  He was due to give evidence at a child endangerment trial next month, but the grim reaper turned up unexpectedly.  They fear that the reaper may have been human rather than preternatural.  (Dan Brown's Bank Manager must getting excited!).  

The poor Cardinal was quite ill.  Though he was judged to be fit to testify, it seems he was suffering from demenia and cancer.  The reason for the suspicions: "The timing "struck many of us as odd, as peculiar," the district attorney said."   Yes, death can come unexpectedly.   A timely reminder to all of us.

Not As We Have Been Told, It Seems

Will the real Labour Party please stand up....

The plot thickens on the Irish government-Vatican embassy issue.  The last update we got told us that Fine Gael back benchers were in revolt, as were 100,000 citizens who registered their disapproval with the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs.  We were also told, by means of a statement from the party whip, that the Labour Party back benchers were full square behind the decision. 

However, all is not as it seems: apparently, the Labour back benchers are in revolt too, and the statement issued by the party whip came as a big surprise to them and is, we might say, not a reflection of reality, perhaps more of a socialist aspiration which, it appears, is failing to materialise.  Like the Fine Gael back benchers, not in splendid isolation like their leaders, Labour back benchers are feeling the heat from the citizens.

What is most interesting is that the Labour back benchers are getting an earful at their Church gate collections.  Yes, my friends, you heard correctly, a socialist political party with an anti-Catholic agenda turns up at Church gates to look for money from Catholics for their party coffers.  That's Ireland for you.   Personally I believe that no political party, regardless of ideology should be allowed to conduct Church gate collection, most especially when those parties, Fine Gael and Labour for example, are waging an open war with the Church.  They are keen to talk about the separation of Church and state, but when it comes to the Church gate collections, well then the boundaries are ever so blurred! 

But that's a separate issue.  What is going on in Labour?  The TDs are not happy with the impression that their leader and his minions are giving that the party is anti-Catholic (to be honest, it is more than an impression).   Indeed the phrase "McCarthyite" has been used by one Labour member to describe the language being used with regard to the Catholic Church - I wouldn't disagree: Labour was proposing to screen candidates for the civil service to see if they were Catholic, and so prevent their promotion up the ranks.  They are reversing on that one, it seems. 

What's going to happen?  Well, I suppose, socialists have the venerable tradition of staging coups and eliminating the leader - they could do that and elect a more mainstream leader who will be more open and listen to people, and who would replace the Labour ministers in the government.  If the back benchers want to reverse the view that the party is solidly anti-Catholic, then they will have to do something about Gilmore and co. 

Until serious action is taken, many of us will have no other choice but to take the front bench of the party as they are presenting themselves and as they act and as representing the views of the party as a whole: as people who want to eradicate Catholics from public life, and God knows what else.  The way things are going, it seems as if they'll be opening gulags on deserted islands around the coast and populating them with priests and Catholic civil servants.  Any chance that fear might be assuaged by a good old fashioned heave at the top?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Brief

Two interesting articles on the HHS mandate which offer an alternative analysis of the situation.  Paul Rahne sees the situation as the outcome of a long history of compromise on the part of the Catholic Church in the USA. 

Taylor Marshall thinks we are approaching the issue from the wrong angle - we should not be using the religious liberty card at all, but a more fundamental argument.

And here's George Weigel's latest article on the issue.

Another thought-provoking article from Ross Douthat.  He describes the "compromise" "suggested" (imposed) by Obama, in interesting terms.  As I would interpret it, Obama is saying: "Let's just pretend I am respecting your consciences, and you pretend you are not paying for contraceptives and abortaficients."  That sums it up.   Douthat also asks an interesting question, do the Catholic bishops have a strategy for a long war?  Given that Obama will probably get in for a second term, and he will be very keen to push ahead and finish what he started before he's forced to leave office, there may be a battle royal ahead.  Time for the bishops, faithful and other people, religious and non-religious, to get together and devise an effective means of resistance.  Perhaps it is time for interested parties to call a council of war.  At the heart of the plan of resistance must be prayer and sacrifice because there is a force at work in this administration and it is not human, and human effort will not be enough to defeat it.  

And a wonderful, though heart-breaking, pro-life story which reminds us that even in the most awful of situations, we must choose life. 

Today is St Valentine's Day - the secular world is running around with flowers, chocolates and cards to fill the coffers of various businesses in the stump between Christmas and Easter.  In Dublin, though, the faithful will gather in the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street to venerate the relics of the martyr which are enshrined there. 

However, liturgically, today is the feast of SS Cyril and Methodius, the brothers who evangelised the Slavs, and gave the world the Cyrillic alphabet.  We devoted one of our programmes in the latest series of Forgotten Heritage to them.  In Europe today is their feast day, as they are co-patrons of Europe.  May they watch over us in these times.

Back In The Saddle...

Well, we are back in Ireland after a very fruitful time in the US.  Our next series of Forgotten Heritage: Europe and Her Saints, is going into post-production.  Our producer, Brian Martin, will supervise the editing.  I am not sure when the completed series will finally air on EWTN, it could be later this year in the Autumn, or later again, in the Spring: we shall see.  

Since getting back, parish duties and other things have kept me busy, so I did not get time to blog.  The jet lag is still hanging around, and so, as I am wide awake at this point in time (2.30 am), rather than face lying in bed, I am saying a few prayers and writing this post.  St Josemaria Escriva, it is said, slept little towards the end of his life, so he put the night hours to good use, so I am in good company.

As I scan the Internet to catch up on news I sense things have changed a great deal in the last couple of weeks.  For one thing, in Ireland, the government is on the run with regard to the closure of the Irish embassy to the Holy See.  As Labour TD's (members of parliament) stand square behind the decision like good socialists, there is war in the ranks of Fine Gael as the backbenchers heap their displeasure on the Taoiseach and his socialist buddy in Foreign Affairs.  May they continue to do so and may the pressure force a u-turn.  One Fine Gael back bencher, so incensed at the Taoiseach, even took out his rosary beads in defiance: good on you, sir, wield that spiritual weapon with all your might!  Meanwhile, a former ambassador to the United States has come out and criticised the decision to close the embassy. 

I also see things are getting bad in the US with regard to President Obama's HHS mandate.  As you all know by now, the White House offered a "compromise" which in reality was not one at all and offered no progress on the issue.  Then an alarming statement emerged from the Obama administration: the matter is closed - we will offer no more, the Catholics are just going to have to accept it and shut up (welcome to the Gulag!).  As Sr Carol Keehan and Fr John Jenkins returned to worshipping at the Obama shrine, saved from their misery by the "compromise", the National Catholic Reporter has come out and attacked the Bishops for their stance. 

This is disgraceful.  For years the NCR has operated under the title Catholic, after this I think it is time for them to conform to canon law and desist from using the title Catholic which can only be used for those organisations and institutions that conform to Catholic faith, morals and practice.  The NCR clearly does not subscribe to any of these and should now do the honest thing and rename itself.  And perhaps John Allen should move - he is too clear, honest and fair a journalist to be numbered among those who consistently attack, undermine and misrepresent the Catholic faith.

We must pray for the bishops of the US: they are right in taking the stance they have taken - they are defending the Catholic faith as Christ has given it to us and refusing to change it in order to satisfy the anti-life agenda of the Obama administration and the permissiveness of guilty Catholics who want the Church to confirm their infidelity by embracing it herself.  Sadly, I hear, many Catholics in the US (and elsewhere) support Obama's tyrannical move, and it is likely they will vote for him in the next election.  Well, we leave them to the judgement of God and pray for their conversion.

However, this is a time, dear friends in the US, to embrace the virtue of fortitude.  As my moral theology professor and dear friend, Fr Vincent Twomey taught us: this is the virtue we must practice even when all seems lost.  We must still act, resist and remain true even if we fall in the battle.  Twinned with hope, with this virtue, our hearts see beyond the battle, beyond the war, to the victory that has already been won, and it is in the light of that victory, that Catholics and believers of every faith in the US must stand up to Obama.  Keep telling him: NO, NO, NO!  We will not submit: we will not violate our consciences.

If necessary, it may be time for civil disobedience and yes, even for prison.  Our good friend, Fr Benedict Groeschel, renowned, respected and holy, has spent time in prison for his witness to the right to life: many more may face a similar fate in the months to come: embrace it.  Think of St Peter and St Paul in their chains and remember you are in noble company.

The greatest irony of all is that Obama is contravening the US Constitution and no one in Congress seems prepared to challenge him.  Nixon and Clinton were impeached for minor offences in comparison - tapping phones (Democrats' phones, Father, that is a mortal sin!!), or immoral behaviour.  Obama is breaching the very Constitution he swore to uphold: he should be impeached and thrown out of office.  Why is no one willing to do this?   It is most interesting: if you ever go to Washington, near the Capitol building is the Newseum - a museum dedicated to news, and on the facade of the building, which the US President passes every time he goes to the Capitol building, are the words of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion.  Seems Obama may need to write this out a few hundred times in his copybook.

Some good news.  I have not blogged on the Ordinariates for a while. But, as you know, the US Ordinariate is up and running, and the Australian is about to begin.  The US Ordinariate already has a church, meanwhile, Mgr Newton and the members of the English Ordinariate are still waiting to be given a church and headquarters: why the long wait?   Some have suggested that the English bishops are dragging their heels because they want to kill the Ordinariate, despite being "encouraged" by Pope Benedict in person when he visited the UK.  I hope that is not their strategy.  This development is clearly the work of God, and if bishops are standing in the way of that work, they had better watch out: it is not wise to try and stop God when he has his heart set on a project.  

Okay, this is getting negative again: change subject (still wide awake!!). 

I had a wonderful encounter this weekend: I interviewed Fr Paul Francis Spencer, CP, for EWTN's series Catholic Lives.   Fr Paul Francis flew over to Dublin from Edinburgh for the interview.  He is the author of the definitive biography of St Charles of Mount Argus, the Irish Padre Pio, To Heal The Broken Hearted.  It was a most wonderful encounter.  Apart from his deep knowledge and understanding of St Charles, and his profound love of the Saint, Fr Paul Francis is holy man himself and I was deeply touched by my meeting him.  I was thrilled to be asked to interview him: I had read his book many times and love it (well worth getting, see here for details), so I was full of questions and keen to hear more about St Charles.  Fr Paul Francis has also written books about his founder, St Paul of the Cross, and is the Vice-Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God, Sister Elizabeth Prout

Sad news: Whitney Houston died after both a glittering and difficult life.  She faced many of the struggles musicians and actors face all the time.  Please spare a thought for her and for her family in this tragic time.  It is tragedies like these which remind us why the Fraternity of St Genesius exists.  If you have been touched and saddened by her death, then make a resolution to pray for the many others who find themselves in similiar situations, and then join our Fraternity as a means of assisting them spiritually.

I am also saddened by the death of David Kelly - one of Ireland's most distinguished and wonderful actors.  He was famous for his role as the cowboy builder O'Reilly in Fawlty Towers, in scenes which are pure classic.  He was a star of many movies and television programmes most recently the grandfather in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and as a wiley villager in Waking Ned, which is another comedy classic. 

David was a gentleman, and a man of faith.  I remember meeting him once in Gatwick airport: we got talking about St Genesius and I gave him some prayer cards and leaflets.  He was thrilled to hear about the Fraternity and encouraged us in our work, telling us that it was important to have people praying for those in the arts.  He knew all about St Genesius and prayed to him.  May St Genesius now take him to the Lord.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.  Amen.

And to entertain you: that wonderful scene from Fawlty Towers: "Lick a paint...lick a paint".  And after that.....bed!