Saturday, November 25, 2006


I'd like to return once more to Lee Penn's article in the latest SCP Journal. It contains enough information to give you nightmares for a week about curtailment of freedoms we have seen in America over the years since 9/11.

In the opening paragraphs of the story Lee writes:

In the United States and around the world, would-be authoritarians continue their assaults on individual freedom. In the US, Canada, Great Britain, the European Union, the former Societ Bloc, China, the Islamic nations, and the rest of the Third World, the trend is the same. At the same time, Western religious and secular pundits--mainstream "liberals" and "conservatives" alike--denounce what they call "radical individualism" and call for a reassertion of the "common good" rather than a defense of human rights. As in the 1930s, virtually everywhere the trend of the times is strongly against liberty.

As the powers-that-be reassert their will to dominate their own people, they are also--worldwide--mobilizing for new wars. On the Left and the Right, and in secular and religious states, calls for peace are being drowned out by those who propose to violently remake the world according to their own will. On all sides, those who plan the wars expect to usher in a utopia once the enemy is crushed. Fear and hate, fanaticism and utopianism ride forward together. Mankind rushes toward a self-inflicted Armageddon, followed by a self-willed anthill State. To many observers, no unified human conspiracy is responsible; what we are seeing is how humanity acts when it makes itself--and its tribes, its rulers, its beliefs, its wealth, and its security--into idols. As a race, humanity has cavorted with Astarte, sought gold from Mammon, and given honor to Baal; now the time comes for Moloch to exact his sacrifice of blood.

These trends, which blighted much of the 20th Century, seemed to have abated or reversed with the fall of the Soviet empire in 1989-1991. However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the world resumed its swift travel down the road to serfdom.

That is the premise of the entire 36 page article. Are we slipping into dictatorship by tiny increments that are not startling enough to get our full attention? I bought a box of Sudafed this morning and had to produce my driver's licence to do that and sign the log book. Lee cites this latest restriction as one of the examples of loss of freedom, and after reading his article I would have to agree that I was annoyed with the procedure. Just like my experience with the airport check-in procedure, this too made me feel as though I was vaguely guilty of something criminal and that I was being watched.

Lee quotes Bush making statements that seem to indicate that what he wants is to have the government his way. This is what I find most disturbing in the article. Is power consolidating in the hands of a few?

Some incidents of what would appear to be the abuse of executive power include the following decisions of the president taken from the article:

--Congress has passed the law Bush wanted, allowing indefinite detention--without court review--of those designated by the President as "enemy combatants." ...Establishing a precedent--suspension of the right of
habeas corpus for enemy aliens--clears the way for suspension of the same right for Americans, if the government deems a future "emergency" to require it.

--After the invasion of Afghanistan, the President decreed that Al Qaeda and Taliban captives would not be entitled to the protections of Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which set standards for humane treatment of enemy captives. [The Supreme Court overturned this decree.]

--High-stakes deception has abounded on the part of the Bush Administration and its allies. President Bush has lived by the principle that he set forth in his May 2005 speech about Social Security privatization: "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

--A senior adviser to Bush...[said] "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

--Since taking office, [Bush] has attached more than 750 "signing statements" to laws that reach his desk. Since the Reagan administration, previous presidents had used signing statements to clarify what they believed to be ambiguous areas of the law. Bush is using these statements to override Congressional attempts to limit his power.

--In December 2000, Bush told Congressional leaders, "there were going to be some times where we don't agree with each other. But that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

--...in July 2001,
Business Week reported that he said, "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

In discussing the Patriot Act, Lee writes:

Even before 9/11, the Bush Administration had proven itself to be addicted to secrecy. In March 2001, Bush told the National Archives not to release 68,000 pages of documents from the Reagan Administration, despite the 1978 Presidential Records Act stating that Presidential papers were to be made public 12 years after the end of that Administration. In November 2001, Bush issued an executive order stating that "even if an ex-president wants to release his papers to the public, the sitting president has the right to bar their release anyway." He has ordered the National Archives to seal tens of thousands of pages of documents that were previously available to the public--and directed Archive staff not to explain why the documents were re-classified.

--In November 2005, according to a journalist with multiple White House sources, "GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the [Patriot] act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. 'I don't give a goddam,' Bush retorted. 'I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.' 'Mr. President,' one aide in the meeting said. 'There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.' 'Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,' Bush screamed back. 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper!' ...Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the 'Constitution is an outdated document.'

That's only the tip of the iceberg in Lee's article. It is a very unsettling piece of journalism.

We are still a relatively free nation as Lee points out. He can write this article for SCP criticizing the government with no fear of repercussions. But freedom must be guarded. It can be lost.

Bush has taken up war powers as a result of one single incident and a lot of press about potentional additional incidents. One could almost come to believe that the one incident was manufactured with dictatorship in mind if one were inclined to go to extremes. It would not be the first time a government used diabolical means to take dictatorial control.

Will the Democratic Congress slow the progress of this movement toward dictatorship? Will it cause a rethinking about tactics? Or will it merely postpone until the next presidential election additional reduction in freedoms that the next president, if he has a Congress from the same party, will pursue with the same ernestness that Bush seems to have been applying?


The Akron Beacon Journal reports on the ceremonies held to close Assumption and Immaculate Conception churches and merge the congregations into one church named Our Lady Queen of Peace. The article also covers the closing of St. Jude and joining of its parishioners with Resurrection of Our Lord. The outdoor statue of St. Jude now rests in the grounds of Resurrection.

Both transitions appear to have gone smoothly. The article reports on tears and regret but also resignation that these changes must come.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Spirit & Life
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 43 | Friday, Nov. 24, 2006
................................................................................... www.hli.org
King of Kings and Lord of Lords

This last Sunday in Ordinary Time we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, a feast that was established by Pius XI in 1925 as a response to the totalitarian claims of atheistic Communism. The Holy Father wanted to issue a strong reminder to the world that there is only one Ruler of the whole universe, Jesus Christ, whose authority over us surpasses the cumulative claims of all the political ideologies on earth. The world needs that reminder now more than ever because Communism hasn't gone away - it has only metastasized into numerous other fanatical atheistic ideologies as predicted by Our Lady of Fatima. Her urgent call to pray for the conversion of Russia was so that it would not "spread its errors." Yet these errors spread like a cancer over the whole earth in the last century, most especially into what we now call the abortion industry and the "culture of death."

The devil certainly has his armies, and their rampage through the twentieth century was violent and bitter. Russia murdered tens of millions of its own citizens and others in Eastern Europe; China starved to death millions more of its own people without blinking an eye; add to this the brutality of Tito in Yugoslavia, Castro in Cuba, Pol Pot in Cambodia and a host of other murderers and you have the single most devastating force of demonic destruction that the world has ever seen - that is, until abortion came. Indeed, the "errors of Russia" are appallingly evident in the abortion industry which was in some way the black spawn of their godless hatred of humanity. The systematic killing of babies in Communist countries (Russia had legalized abortion by 1921, the whole Communist bloc by 1956) dwarfs anything that Communists did with their bullets and starvation programs.

Yet, we are not to despair before all this killing: Christ also has his armies! Worship of this King is the antidote to the brutality of systematic evil. The persuasive power of His kingship is not in artillery or military strategy. It is in the holiness and witness of His most ardent loyalists: the saints. Yesterday the Church celebrated the feast of Blessed Miguel Pro, the young Jesuit priest who was martyred in the vicious Mexican persecution of the regime of General Alvaro Obregón and President Plutarco Calles. Pro was martyred two years almost to the day after Pius XI proclaimed the Feast of Christ the King. For the horrible crime of being a Catholic priest and teaching the Faith he was condemned in a mock trial and publicly executed with the purpose of showing the world how weak and powerless the Church was in the face of the God-haters. He died with a Rosary in one hand and a Crucifix in the other shouting the words, "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!), and much to the government's chagrin, pictures of his martyrdom spread like wildfire among the ten thousand people who showed up at his funeral.

Obregón and Calles served their atheistic ideology and later died. No one visits their graves today. Miguel Pro served a King and lives on in the hearts and minds of millions!

When we are tempted to feel discouraged by the power of ideologies that kill we must remember that we are members of the Church Militant. We serve the King of King and Lord of Lords (cf. Rev 17:14), and we continue our fight under the banner of Christ and surrounded by a great "cloud of witnesses" (cf. Heb 12:1) who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. We must march forward with the greatest hope of victory!

When the culture of death and all its arrogance is dead and buried, our King and all His loyal friends will live on!

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International


and its OSMTH and OSMTJ Templar orders are detailed in this website. This is Templar Freemasonry.

They say that one of their programs enjoys a solidarity with the people of the West Bank. This is an olive tree planting peace program.

There is a virtual tour of the Holy Sepulchre. Is this the real one? Complete with Masonic tiling for the aisle? I am skeptical.

They have their own radio station.

They support persecuted Christians.

They have an interdenominational news free press service in conjunction with The Free Catholic Church of Europe, The Old Catholic Church of Great Britain, and the Interdenominational Church of the Holy Lands.

They offer an incomplete website on the life of St. Bernard in pictures.

They have a document library. The titles of the documents spell out their beliefs, including Catharism and the tenets of Freemasonry.

And there is much more in the website. This is evangelistic Theosophy and Liberal Catholicism.

Meanwhile the Mayabe Logic Academy of Robert Anton Wilson now has a blog that appears to be bringing the various Discordian groups under one umbrella. The Church of the SubGenius is represented there. There is also a reference to an RU Sirius podcast.


NOR links an AP story about Los Angeles resident Tom Serafin's ongoing attempt to sponsor a boycott of E-Bay which opened last year. According to the article E-Bay representative Hani Durzy said "we've really seen no impact to speak of. We don't know if it's even still in place."

A major source of the relics as the article explains it is the closing of churches. It would be interesting to trace the chain of events that brought a relilc from a church to a listing on E-Bay. Are we to believe that dioceses are selling relics on E-Bay when a church is closed? That doesn't seem likely. Are they falling into the hands of a secular establishment that liquidates goods from closing churches? Or is it that the AP has got it wrong and this is not the source? That's assuming that the relics are genuine. They may not be, of course.

Serafin is fighting a losing battle when he tries to persuade Catholics to abandon E-Bay. Perhaps a better approach for Catholics who are troubled by this would be to set up a non-profit that seeks to buy up relics as they come on the market, and offer them to Catholics who are interested in purchasing them.


Is having AIDS an impediment to marriage in the Catholic Church?


Does Bishop Walsh believe he is above the law? From an EWTN article:

State law requires clergymen to immediately report any suspicions of child sex abuse and to follow up by fax or e-mail within 36 hours. A violation has a potential penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Perhaps it is the state that exempts bishops from adherence to this law?

Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa will follow a four-month counseling program, rather than face criminal charges, for failing to report child abuse allegations against a local priest, announced Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua.

Breaking the law has not helped the priest in this case either:

The 68-year-old priest worked at St. Francis Solano Church in Sonoma before admitting misconduct in an April 28th meeting with the bishop and two other church officials. However, the bishop delayed reporting the abuse for three days, giving Ochoa ample time to flee to Mexico before authorities could arrest him, deputies said.

What about the obligation resting on the two other witnesses to the priest's admission of misconduct? Did they not also have an obligation to report to the police? Since it would appear they did not report, what penalty have they incurred?

Thanks to a reader for sending in the link. Looks like we have yet another instance of "teflon bishops". Which leads back to my question of the other day, when does the evidence of corruption become so overwhelming that it obligates the Catholic in the pew to separate himself from the bishop, and thus from the Church in a particular diocese, to avoid being just another example of hypocricy in the Church?


WASHINGTON (Catholic News Service) -- Single-sex education, no stranger to the Catholic school system, is about to get a turn in the public school arena now that federal guidelines, effective Nov. 24, give school districts more flexibility in providing single-sex classes, extracurricular programs and even schools.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the policy change in late October, marking the first major shift in single-sex school programs since 1972 when the federal Title IX requirements banned sex discrimination at schools that received federal funding. The law essentially prohibited public single-sex education and made exceptions only for occasional physical education and human sexuality classes.

My favorite idea from the article: "Students got the message that above all, academics, not socializing, was the most important part of school." Now, if they can just teach this to their elders education should start to improve!

Thursday, November 23, 2006






Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Somewhere out there in the land of educational theory is a bright young school of thought that says the names of those whose contribution to a non-profit exceeds a certain dollar amount should be moved to what I call the TMDT list. (That's the Too Many Dead Trees list, so named because all of the paper they generate must kill a lot of trees.) Once this happens the solicitations can turn into a virtual snowstorm of harrassment for contributions. It's really not nice to harrass your donors.

I would like to tell these theorists one more time that the moment I sense that my name has moved to the TMDT list is the moment that triggers the WWO response at this end until I sense a change in policy. WWO means Wastebasket Without Opening. In other words the mailing goes directly from the mailbox into the wastebasket after identifying the charity by the return address on the envelope.

It doesn't matter how good the work you are doing might be or how much I believe in your cause. The WWO response is programmed, and my programmer is permanently out of town.

If a time arrives when you appear to have moved me to the OR (Occasional Reminder) list, your charity may find its way to my SCO list, but it's not a given. That's Small Contributions Only. Think $25 or less.

Yet another charity doing good work moved me to the TMDT list and triggered the WWO response this week. It's a shame, really considering tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming.

Charities which do not reduce their harrassment to something significantly less than every week, after an arbitrary time period, might find themselves advanced to the STEMITREAM response. You don't want your charity to go there. (That's Stuff The Entire Mailing Into The Response Envelope And Mail.) When your donors send you this little present take immediate action to remedy the situation. They are giving you a message you need to heed.

So far only credit card companies have moved to the STEMITREAM response, but that can change, so it would be wise to stop pushing your luck.

It used to bother me to see a good charity meet with the WWO response. It no longer does. I'm tired of emptying the wastebasket filled with junk mail.


is the title of Lee Penn's latest article in SCP Journal. Only part way through the article, I already have a new opinion of George Bush. It seems that he wants to be a dictator rather than a president in his heart of hearts. Absolute power corrupting? If so, it is directly related to the "War on Terror" that NOR tells me could be avoided by taking an even-handed approach to the Mid-East. Assuming, of course, that Bush and cooperators want to avoid it. Perhaps that is an incorrect assumption.

In any case, politics are not my bag. Really. But I bring up the article because of one passage in it and because of my recent flight from California to Cleveland. Here's what Lee wrote:

Arbitrary searches and seizures:

New Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules banning most liquids, lotions, and gels from air passengers' carry-on bags were issued after the August 2006 discovery of an alleged Islamic plot to blow up airliners in mid-flight. These regulations change unpredictably, and uniform enforcement is virtually impossible. This is the latest of the post-9/11 air security decrees, whose practical effect seems to be (1) teach Americans to submit to intrusive, warrantless searches whenever the authorities demand them, and (2) to teach them not to complain or assert their rights, since creating a disturbance at a TSA checkpoint is a sure way to get a fast arrest. By this means, among many others, the spirit of a once-proud American middle class is broken. Meanwhile, TSA agents have been stealing and damaging passengers' luggage; the agency settled a class-action suit with 15,000 victims in September 2004.

Yeah. I can testify to the authenticity of this claim after recent first-hand experience with it! There is no freedom in today's American airport. An honest citizen trying to get from here to there without any hassles has no options. Get in line and go along with the program in minute detail. Or else. From the moment you step out of your ride to the airport you belong to them and are no longer your own person until they decide to let you go. Airports and airplanes, like detention facilities, are not nice places to be in for those of us who don't fly much and so are not conditioned.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I hope he won't mind that I've blogged his letter in its entirety.

Rabbi Levin's Urgent Memo to American Bishops regading the USCCB's vote on "Guidelines for Homosexual Ministries".

URGENT MEMO TO: President and Members of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

RE: Guidelines on Homosexual Issues

Please forgive me for interjecting myself into the internal affairs of the Catholic Church, but the vote you will take today will have a direct impact on the work of many dedicated Catholics, Jews, and Moslems, who are fighting the immoral plague of homosexuality that is sweeping the Western world today.

A statement by the Catholic Conference that homosexuality is genetic and cannot be cured is an exact duplicate of the tragic 1973 policy change by the American Psychological Association that homosexuality is not abnormal. This policy statement legitimized homosexuality, and set the stage for the homosexual revolution that we are experiencing today. The vote was not based on facts. It was rammed through by homosexual activists at the meeting, who intimidated the delegates.

I am just returning from Jerusalem, where I represented over 1,000 Rabbis in a coalition of Christians, Jews, and Muslims have—for the first time—defeated an effort by homosexual activists to organize a WorldPride parade through the Holy City. The Vatican sent us a special letter of support that greatly aided our efforts.

The homosexual radicals are engaged in a war for the soul of America.

You are voting in the context of this war that is taking place all around you.

If you signal, by your vote, that you accept the basic assumptions that underlie the homosexual propaganda machine—that homosexuality is a “no fault” condition, and that it cannot be cured, then you will have given the green light to the homosexual militants, and provided them with the weapons they need to impose gay marriage and the whole homosexual agenda on the American people.

This would be a stab in the back against all those good family-values people—Catholics, Jews, and Moslems—who seek to protect our society—especially innocent children—from the depredations of aggressive homosexual radicals.

With great humility,

Rabbi Yehuda Levin
Special Emissary to Israel for
The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and
The Rabbinical Alliance of America

Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.


The Catholic Standard & Times reports the consecration Mass celebrated by Archbishop Pietro Sambi at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The consecration prayer is included in the article:

Prayer for Renewal of Consecration
to Our Patroness of the United States of America, the Immaculate Conception

Most Holy Trinity: Our Father in Heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of your daughters; Holy Spirit, who chose Mary as Your spouse; God the Son, who chose Mary as Your Mother; in union with Mary, we adore Your majesty and acknowledge Your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country to You. Through her we wish to thank You for the great resources of this land and for the freedom, which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our President and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our Mother, have mercy on the sick, the poor, the tempted, sinners — on all who are in need.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Our Mother, patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give our country and ourselves to your sorrowful and immaculate heart. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pierced by the sword of sorrow prophesized by Simeon, save us from degeneration, disaster and war. Protect us from all harm. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, you who bore the sufferings of your Son in the depths of your heart, be our advocate. Pray for us, that acting always according to your will and the will of your divine Son, we may live and die pleasing to God. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


A story from thisislondon.co.uk has turned up in numerous places on the web. The story describes a Catholic church on the French Rivera where a prayer group has been experiencing visionary encounters. According to one of the group leaders:

The visions usually begin with the whole building trembling in the middle of a paryer meeting. Then various worshippers will fall off their seats shaking violently or being sick. When they come round a few minutes later, they say Christ or the Holy Virgin has appeared and spoken to them. ...

This might sound like the work of the devil rather than God, but everyone who experiences a vision says it was Jesus and Mary that appeared to them.

The article reports that a 14-year-old smashed windows and bled pinkish-yellow blood.

An example of automatic writing is given in the story. The medium believed it was Jesus who was doing the dictating.

The events are causing a swell in the Sunday morning congregation, naturally. It appears that the Church is taking these events seriously and has sent an investigator.

Meanwhile our local Cleveland Catholic faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh has conducted a healing service in Plain Towhship for a filled church. Note the title of the article "Hundreds flock to touch the faith healers' hands", some from as far away as South Carolina, and not all of them Catholic. Reverence prevails at these services. Present also are those who have been healed.

The article claims that "Nemeh's blessing services are seen in some circles as the local version of the pilgrimage to Lourdes, France." Being slain in the spirit is a regular feature of the events, and catchers are on hand. Nemeh heals in the name of Jesus Christ. The article refers to Nemeh as a "spiritualist."

Monday, November 20, 2006


and Holy Redeemer Parish is celebrating his return with a pancake breakfast according to their website and the report at LifeSite.

Sadly, Dom turns out to be correct in his prediction that Fr. Meriwether's "leave" was nothing more than damage control. Once again the bishop and the Church disappoints faithful Catholics who had hoped there would be a change. It's business as usual with our hierarchy.

Randy Engel offers an analysis of the situation at Spero. In an article titled "Gay agenda sways Catholic bishops" she writes:

Parish life and parish resources at MHR are centered on AIDS and the spiritual, social and political needs and interests of its predominantly “gay” congregation.

The parish resource web-page provides links to the Vatican and the Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate, but as one scrolls down the links take on a different complexion – the Gay Catholic Forum, Dignity/San Francisco, the Conference for Catholic Lesbians, Voice of the Faithful, Pax Christi, USA, etc.

Among the pro-homosexual guest speakers, lecturers, and preachers to be invited to MHR are “gay” Dominican Fr. James Alisson, Richard Hardy author of Loving Men, Gay Partners and a popular speaker on St. John of the Cross, and Charlene Tschirhard from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies.

MHR is a parish of “ministries” of all kinds – almost. There is the MGM “ministry” serving Midlife Gay Men support group, a New Leaf “ministry” for counseling of homosexuals, bi-sexuals and transgendered people. There are AIDS “ministries” of all kinds including a special African fund for AIDS victims.

Social justice looms big at MHR, but that justice does not extend to unborn babies. Of the more than 20 bulletins selected at random from 2002 to 2006, the A-word was never mentioned. The bulletin for January 22, 2006 contains not a single reference to the annual pro-life events marking the 1973 Roe Vs Wade Supreme Court decision. MHR does support World AIDS Day, and Fair Trade Awareness Month to insure that parishioners buy the politically correct brand of coffee beans. There are occasional traditional and ethnic celebrations at MHR.

In 1991, Archbishop John R. Quinn Mass held a Forty Hours Devotion for relief from the AIDS epidemic. MHR maintains close relations to outside homosexual organizations. In July 2006, the homosexual Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, an affiliate of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Churches, began holding its Wednesday evening Taize services in the sanctuary of the church. An MCC-HIV support group also meets at MHR.

The article includes some details on parish life at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church that are unique to a gay parish, and notes the sexual abuse scandal that took place there. It's an interesting read given Engel's background as a journalist and her ten-year study of homosexuality in the Church.

She also reports on the location of Fr. Meriwether's leave:

Father Meriwether was out of town for the event [Sept. 2006 "Revival Bingo" at the church - ct] He had checked himself into a rehabilitation facility in Rochester, MN for depression and alcoholism on August 6 and did not return officially to MHR until his release on October 24, just in time for the second go-around scheduled for All Souls Day, Thursday, November 2. During Meriwether's absence, Archbishop Niederauer had appointed Chancery official Rev. Harry G. Schlitt as a temporary administrator for MHR. Rev. Schlitt however was away in Washington, D.C. when the first bingo took place on September 7.

So even the "leave" implied to have been a reprimand for Fr. Meriwether's approval of a lease to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their Revival Bingo games turns out to have had nothing to do with this gross misrepresentation of what it means to be Catholic, and appears to have been self-imposed by Fr. Meriwether, himself.

Nothing is going to change in the Church in America with this kind of travesty being permitted. What every Catholic must ultimately address is whether remaining a member of the Church is the equivalent of guilt by association.

An article in NOR this month by Agnes M. Penny addresses Catholic parental concerns about having children vaccinated given that some vaccinations were developed via fetal stem cells from aborted babies. Penny takes very seriously the guilt by association that a parent incurs when making use of these vaccines. Yet that parental guilt is much further removed from the source of sin than is the everyday Catholic who continues to place money in the collection basket and attend the services at a Catholic church when homosexuality is rampant in that Church, is practiced by its leaders, and has been the cause of child sexual abuse in outrageous numbers.

"Passive material co-operation in evil" is also addressed in a letter to the editor of NOR by Charles O. Coudert, Sherborn, Massachusetts, in the current issue. He writes:

Abortion is kept hush-hush at the hospital, and some of the employees and many of the hospital clients may even be unaware of it. For those who do know what is going on, it seems to me that they have an obligation, in some way, to oppose it. If they fail to do so, I believe that, theologically speaking, they would be guilty of passive, material co-operation in evil.

Coudert gives an example of a sandwich truck driver who "plies his trade at lunchtime in front of a factory that makes weapons for the U.S. military. Assuming the war in Iraq is morally unjust, is the sandwich-truck owner complicit in supporting this evil and, if so, to what extent?" He suggests that "to avoid co-operating in evil, he could stop plying his trade at the weapons factory and find some other way to earn a living. Or, according to a less drastic scenario...he could continue to sell his sandwiches to the factory workers, but with the understanding that he would be obligated to take some other action opposing the war."

Fellow Catholics, if we can condemn our soul by selling sandwiches, how much more do we condemn our own soul by remaining Roman Catholic in the face of evidence that business as usual will be the policy for the forseeable future in the Roman Catholic Church? It is hypocritical to agonize over these incidents of material cooperation while ignoring the elephant of homosexuality and child sexual abuse in the livingroom of the Roman Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


Not being a frequent flier, perhaps my perspective differs slightly from that of those who have already been conditioned. In any case, just recently I had an occasion to fly from California to Cleveland via Houston—an itinerary that scrambles the concept of time and fuel conservation to begin with, but we'll leave that alone for now.

First a little background. In the 1950s the airport was the destination of the Sunday afternoon drive. We watched the planes come and go from the vantage point of the other side of the airport fence where there was ample front-row parking for free.

Next came the observation deck. Sunday at the airport, sitting on the observation deck park benches watching the planes come and go beneath us must have been considered by the airlines to be a better advertisement for the benefits of flight than other outlets could provide. In any case, at Cleveland Hopkins they not only maintained the deck and benches, but also let us spend time there in sufficient numbers to assure that getting a place at the show was almost considered an American right. We just took it for granted that we were welcome visitors. It was usually an SRO crowd.

Then came the hijackings of the late 60s and 70s, and the end of the observation deck was part of the airport remodeling; but we could still watch from the circular viewing platform at the end of the concourse inside the airport, behind windows that are now nothing but a memory. It was from that platform that I concluded, by watching the landing strip, that if all these planes were flying around and I wasn’t hearing about crashes, flying must be a safe thing to do.

For travelers, a goodbye kiss at the gate used to be a rite of passage into vacationland, and the welcome back at the gate was a guarantee for anyone with loved ones at home. We watched from the windows as our relatives boarded their flight by walking up the metal staircase, and waved to them as soon as we found the window where they were seated on the plane. And they waved back. This silent communication continued until their flight began to taxi to the runway, and wasn’t completely concluded until we could no longer see their plane up in the clouds, at which point we went home talking about the fact that their plane would land at about the same time that we would be pulling into our driveway; and we marveled at the miracle of flight.

Sitting on one of the chairs in the main terminal and watching the coming and going of those privileged to fly was another way of vicarious participation in the action. As a teenager, I longed to join them.

Those are the standards I take to be normal, and the scale by which I measure the current experience. Life in the airport today is another adventure altogether, a visit to a modern police state.

My ride out to California had been uneventful, with a layover that permitted a leisurely meal in the airport pub. I expected something similar coming back, but it was not to be. My day on the plane started with the 5:15 a.m. alarm and a hasty scramble to get everything in the suitcase on time. Breakfast was a couple of bites of a stale croissant that happened to be hanging around the hotel room from a previous excursion to the grocery store. By 6:15 I was in the shuttle that dropped me off outside the terminal at the airline check-in. I got the bags checked and wheeled the carryon into the airport to get ready to wait for the flight in one of the places where breakfast would be available.

I got through security easily, but my carryon didn’t. There was a problem with the contents. Something that I was afraid would break was packed in the bag I would be handling carefully myself—specifically Mexican tequila that I had thought would be accepted in the carryon after talking with an airline employee about restrictions on bringing liquor home. Apparently I had misunderstood. The airline didn’t want it in the passenger compartment. It would have to be checked.

It had to be paid for separately since only two bags could be checked and I had already checked two bags. Checking my contraband took up the time I would have spent getting breakfast.

Since my carryon contained overnight gear for a possible glitch in the return flight, the possibility of a night on the road without even a hairbrush let alone a change of clothes was dancing through my thoughts as I once again went through security. This time my shoes which were deemed worthy on the first pass didn’t clear the inspectors and were singled out for special treatment.

It was about then that I remembered that my camera with hundreds of souvenir pictures on the discs in the camera case was still in the carryon, now-checked, suitcase and may not survive whatever it was that they did to checked baggage behind closed doors.

When the inspectors were satisfied that those really were Dr. Scholl inserts in my shoes, I was admitted to the interior sanctuary with just enough time to buy a bottle of water and get on the plane. I got to sit on that plane for an hour or more while the six flights ahead of us traveled the runway—time that surely could have been used to eat breakfast in the airport if I could have boarded an hour later when the plane was actually going to take off.

But all was not lost. This was to be a “breakfast flight.” I had a momentary vision of bacon and eggs before the flight attendant started passing out those boxes of Cheerios. She forgot to give me any milk, but then remembered her error and came back with a small carton of it. The sweetener I would have put on the cereal had I been at home never did appear. The banana that went with it was too ripe to be appealing and too welcome to reject given that I had no idea when the next meal would be coming after that wait for the runway. By this time I was already late for my connecting flight unless the pilot had one heck of a leadfoot.

As we neared Texas, the flight attendant started talking about ordering a cart to get those of us who had to make a tight connection from arrival gate to departure gate in time for the next flight. Then plans changed again.

Now we were diverted to San Antonio because there were high winds in Houston and the airport had been shut down. We were too low on fuel to circle in the holding pattern until we could land. We would refuel while waiting.

The pilot didn’t warn us that there were also high winds in San Antonio. I guess he had his hands full with the controls. The landing was memorable. In fact it was so quiet in the plane while we were landing that had the engines been shut off, you could have heard a pin drop. Now I know what they mean by white-knuckle ride, and I know what it feels like to prepare for death while squashed between two total strangers. I could have happily lived my entire life without this knowledge

When we landed, we were not able to taxi to a gate and get out of the plane to wait. Too many planes were there before us and the gates were all taken. We had to wait it out on the runway until Houston was plane-worthy once again—something like ninety minutes later. By now it was nearly four p.m. in Houston, and the Cheerios were long since digested. Fortunately I had a bottle of water because the passengers were not offered anything to drink until moments before we had to buckle up for take-off. We still had to fly to Houston, and then God only knew where I was going from there.

By now the flight attendants were looking somewhat bedraggled. They kept offering to get anyone off the plane who did not wish to travel on to Houston, being very definitive in their explanation that the airline would provide no help to anyone deciding to do so. Apparently if we were unwilling to stay on the plane, Continental wanted nothing more to do with us.

I considered whether the attendants were trying to tell us it would be wise to get off now while we had the chance given the number of times they offered. The last time sounded a little too much like the airline assuring itself of having no legal liability should the plane crash. They could claim that we had been offered an alternative and had all rejected it, so being dead was our own fault. Any number of notions can pass through the head of an airline passenger who has been scared to within an inch of her life and then forced to sit for an indeterminate time with nothing to do and no option to move to a more comfortable position.

The flight to Houston turned out to be anti-climactic. Once on the ground there was a mad scramble for the connecting flight to Cleveland which seemed also to have been delayed or at any rate was partially empty, and I was among those who got on board. We bumped and swayed our way north and bounced hard on the landing, but were finally home around 9 p.m. I rejected the urge to get down on my knees and kiss the ground, realizing that it would not be God’s good earth I would be kissing, but only more of the property of the airlines.

Alas the luggage did not arrive with us. While waiting in line to fill out the lost luggage report, I calculated the time it had taken to make the five hour flight from California to Cleveland. Twelve hours. Too many of them spent on the ground in the middle seat of the modern moving sardine can. I did get some satisfaction from fantacising taking off that shoe they thought was a weapon and turning it into one I could hurl at the smiling face on the drop-down screen in the plane—the face of the Continental corporate President who thinks flying on his airline is “great”, and doesn’t seem to realize that we are treated like criminals when trying to board, that we are stuffed into padded straight-jackets, that sometimes we are imprisoned on the tarmac without access to food and water, and that the threat of a terrorist blowing us even further off of the face of the earth than we were already flying is a constant companion.

On the flight out to California—a “snack flight”—I had been served a small sandwich with some carrots and M&Ms for dessert. On the return flight to Cleveland we were told that the flight attendants would be serving “dinner” since this was a “dinner flight”. I thought about the “dinner” I had eaten on my way to Jamaica on my honeymoon, back in the days when one had enough arm room to actually eat a dinner. This time it seems that the “snack” had mysteriously become a “dinner” with the help of the clock. Nothing had been added to the food list. Obviously at “dinner” time you can’t serve a “snack”, but you can rename the “snack” a “dinner” and everyone will be fooled. Well, not quite.

In each airport throughout this miserable day I listened to the public announcements that luggage must not be left unattended, that I should not accept anything from a stranger, and that unattended bags were to be considered suspicious and airport personnel notified. I read the signs informing us that we had been upgraded to an orange alert. I watched a woman struggle mightily with her carryon bag, trying to get it into an airport toilet stall, finally giving up, and leaving her carryon unattended while she saw to the demands of nature. And I read those signs telling passengers not to even think about making a joke of the check-in process. God forbid anyone should find something funny in all of this.

When my luggage arrived the next day, and after verifying that at least some of the pictures came through and the camera still appeared to be working, I started unpacking and found the Transportation Security Administration “Notice of Baggage Inspection” in both of the suitcases that I had checked initially. Apparently they had not bothered to open up the piece I had checked separately, but that liquor must have triggered the search of the rest of my luggage, as well as my shoes. So much for privacy, and so much for random searches. This housewife from Ohio had apparently been branded suspect, and no piece of dirty clothing was to be left unturned in finding the evidence.

Actually, in retrospect, I have to agree with the airline luggage policy. Who knows what a bored, scared, hungry, cramped and cranky old lady from Ohio who doesn’t fly much might do with a bottle of tequila in her hand and her eye on the emergency exit door equipped with a slide. After the first few sips I might even have passed the bottle and recruited accomplices.

There is a postscript to this little airplane saga. The stack of backed up mail at home included the latest “New Oxford Review” in which there appears an editorial entitled “The So-Called War on Terror.” In it, I found the reason my shoes and luggage were searched:

There would be no need for any U.S. “war on terror” if the U.S. had an evenhanded policy in the Middle East. Before 9/11, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda had grievances against Israel for its presence in Jerusalem and its treatment of Palestinians.”

It seems that the folks at NOR believe America has formed an alliance with Israel that is unjust to the Arab states; and that had we remained neutral in the mid-East squabble, we would not now be having our luggage searched and kissing our loved ones a hasty goodbye at the terminal curb. As the NOR article points out, there is no terrorism in Sweden.

According to the editors:

All the U.S. would have to do is have a fair-minded policy in the Mid-East. Why is that so hard to do?

One answer, given by two academics of the realist conservative school of foreign policy, John Mersheimer and Stephen Walt, is that the Israel Lobby—particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—has a stranglehold on U.S. policy in the Mid-East….Of course, Mersheimer and Walt were smeared as “anti-Semites.” But they’re said to be Jewish; however, we can’t confirm that. Over the past thirty years, Israel has taken 33 percent of U.S. foreign aid.

So apparently the reason my shoes and luggage were searched is that my tax dollars have been at work. Does this mean that if I stop paying my income tax, my luggage won’t be searched next time I fly? Well, it’s an amusing thought anyway.

As I said I don’t fly much. I’m not planning to repeat this nightmare any time soon. Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, the tequila made it home in better shape than I did.

Fly the friendly skies. Just offer it up for time off Purgatory.

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