Saturday, December 13, 2008
The "to do" list is long and the time is short. I'm going to take today off and address the "musts" in the real world.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Yesterday I blogged an article titled "Church wants Vosen book destroyed". It concerned a priest who no longer has the authority to say public or private masses, and his trial for sexual abuse that allegedly took place several years ago. The allegations were made in 2003, and the trial was placed under "Pontifical secret", whatever that is.
Brent M. King, the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Madison, emailed me comparing the "Pontifical secret" to the seal of confession. So it would seem that we have another category of "secret" surrounding sexual abuse matters. I requested permission to post the email, but was denied. King did refer me to an article that he believes is a better one.
It tells us:
The news release [from the Diocese of Madison] is the latest chapter in the former St. John Vianney priest who was accused in 2003 of sexually assaulting a Janesville boy. The man, who was 26 years old when he made his accusations, said the assault happened when he was in fifth and six grades.
Vosen, 74, has maintained his innocence.
Vosen’s book, “Pick a Number: Stories of Faith” is primarily a series of short sermons with gentle and easy to understand messages.
However, one of the chapters deals with the events of 2003, when he was removed from his parish and charged with the abuse. Vosen also writes about a subsequent meeting about the matter he had with Bishop Robert Morlino....
"As Fr. Vosen knows, the entire penal trial is under Pontifical Secret and no mention of its proceedings is to be made," the news release said.
The proceedings are kept under wraps to protect the parties involved, King said.
Baptized Catholics or those who have made a profession of faith who purchase Fr. Vosen's book are at risk of participating in this breach of the Pontifical Secret," the news release said.
SNAP has waded into the inquiry. While they appear to be on the side of the bishop, they cannot defend his efforts to cover up information. A letter from Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, addressed to Bishop Morlino is contained in a wiscnews.com article about the matter. The following is taken from Isely's letter:
As you know, hundreds of files of priests determined by their bishops to have sexually abused children have been released across the United States. Some of those files have been made public by court order, others have been voluntarily released. Almost universally, the release of these documents have been the single most effective means of protecting children and the vulnerable from clergy and former clergy that have a history of child molestation.
When a teacher, psychologist, medical doctor or any other of the dozens of licensed and certified professions in the state of Wisconsin is found by his professional board to have committed ethical and especially criminal misconduct, the results of that investigation, including the revocation of his or her license, is publicized and the ruling and evidence is readily available, including being posted online by the State Department of Regulation and Licensing.
Given the recent and very public denials of criminal behavior against minors by one of your priests, Fr. Gerald Vosen, isn't it time for the diocese to follow the example of all other professions working in civil society to publish the evidence and rulings that have been concluded against Fr. Vosen? These would include the results of two church investigations and one civil jury trial. In my long experience working on the issue of clergy sexual abuse I have rarely seen a priest receive so many abundant and ample opportunities for due process. He has argued his case before a lay review board, canon law judges, and jury of his peers.
You have exercised extraordinary deference to Fr. Vosen. If he was a member of any other profession, his license would have been revoked years ago, he would not be receiving benefits, and he could not maintain the public use of his professional title or credentials.
How can court documents be put under a "Pontifical Secret" edict? How can a book given that the Index is no longer with us? If the Bishop believes there is enough credible evidence to suspend this priest, and the hearings and civil trial have also found credible evidence, why the secrecy? Who is hiding what? And what the heck is in that lone chapter of Vosen's book that has set off the alarm bells in the Madison chancery?
This fish smells five days old.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
CARDINAL ARINZE SPEAKS ON APPARITIONS
In a YouTube presentation he defines some of the criteria for judging whether they are true or false, and says that we must rely on the decisions of the Church in these matters. He says that the devil can create them. See it here.
A story at WiscNews.com, linked by New Oxford Review, has me wondering just what might be in this book given that bishops have been known to cover up information that they think would damage the Church:
Members of the Catholic faithful who have copies of the book by suspended local priest Father Gerald Vosen should destroy or return them because a chapter describes proceedings of his church tribunal on child sexual assault allegations that should be kept secret, church officials announced last week.
Bishop of the Madison Diocese Robert C. Morlino issued a letter Dec. 1 stating Vosen's book, "Pick a Number: Stories of Faith," details actions by church authorities after abuse allegations were made against Vosen in 2003. The church proceedings are under "Pontifical secret" for the protection of Vosen and others involved in them, Morlino wrote.
"Baptized Catholics or those who have made a profession of faith who purchase Fr. Vosen's book are at risk of participating in this breach of the Pontifical Secret," Morlino writes in his statement.
In Chapter 51, "The Day the Music Died," Vosen describes his thoughts and feelings during church officials' examination of abuse allegations he says are unfounded and says the officials were uncritical in their acceptance of alleged victims' testimony.
A church body ruled against him and Vosen is now awaiting a response after appealing his case to the Catholic hierarchy in Rome.
Catholics who have purchased the book before the bishop's announcement or without knowing the book breached church secrecy are not liable for any wrongdoing under church law, Morlino wrote. However, "Once informed, continued support of Fr. Vosen's book may result in a canonical crime being declared on the individual involved," the statement continues.
Morlino is not my bishop. Since bishops can make rules for their diocese that don't impact the laity in other dioceses, I don't suppose there is any problem with deciding to read it provided a Catholic doesn't live in Morlino's jurisdiction. That's just a technicality that comes to mind because of the way obligation to attend Mass on a holy day is determined.
The bigger picture involves cover-up. Since the argument given for not reading the book--"church proceedings are under Pontifical secret "for the protection of Vosen and others involved in them"--didn't deter Vosen from writing the book and having it published, the argument is weak. Apparently Vosen doesn't think he needs to be protected in this way. There must be "others" who do think they need protection. Who might that be? A bishop one wonders?
I thought we were done with secrets, but apparently not. Heirarchical credibility compromised yet again. But hey...that's just my opinion, and my opinion counts for nothing more than the paper it's written on, as the laity has come to understand during the unfolding of the scandal.
WILL OBAMA DECLARE WAR ON THE CHURCH ?
If he does, it just might be the catalyst that reunites the church.
New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison comments:
The bishops have had it. They're moving into the trenches, which is most uncharacteristic of them. Said Catholic commentator, Christopher Manion: "The Baltimore meeting could be historic. We saw the rumblings of the giant stirring from his slumber."
Largely unspoken but lurking like a storm cloud over the discussions was the dread prospect of excommunication.
The American hierarchy has been sharply split for years over what to do with high-profile politicians who campaign on their Catholicism but support abortion policies contrary to church teaching. Everyone knows the culprits: Vice President-elect Joe Biden; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Sens. Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd and Pat Leahy; Rep. Charlie Rangel, and many, many more.
But if FOCA becomes law, the Catholic politicians who vote "aye" or otherwise help pass it risk the ultimate penalty of the church.
Asked whether politicians voting for FOCA would incur automatic excommunication, Cardinal George refused to rule it out, saying: "The excommunication is automatic if that act is in fact formal cooperation and that is precisely what would have to be discussed once you see the terms of the act itself."
Put plainly, Catholic politicians can't "cooperate in evil" and escape penalty.
It is hard to imagine that an incoming president would declare war on the church, especially when 54 percent of its faithful voted for him. But he is convinced that a federal abortion law will end the national divisive debate over the practice. In fact, it will do the opposite.
Obama can't say he hasn't been warned. If he pulls the trigger here, the repercussions will be ugly.
Read the entire article...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
JOHN J. REILLY REVIEWS MARK SEDGWICK'S BOOK
For those of you who are failiar with the commentary of John J. Reilly, you might like to read his review of Mark Sedgwick's AGAINST THE MODERN WORLD: TRADITIONALISM AND THE SECRET INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
Among the historical figures he mentions are Julius Evola, Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, and Ananda Coomaraswamy. The following passage appears near the middle of the review:
That was where René Guénon (1886-1951) came in. Traditionalism was his creation, and its history is largely the tale of his influence. The son of an ordinary French bourgeois Catholic family, he wandered from what otherwise might have been a conventional teaching career into Indic studies and thence into the occult milieu of the Belle Époque. His Traditionalism was a reaction to the Theosophy and spiritualism of the time, though a disinterested observer might be forgiven for concluding that it is simply another school of the same sort.
To the principle of perennialism, Guénon made two powerful additions. One was the principle of “initiation.” This meant that spiritual advancement required a direct link to the supernatural, which usually meant induction into a chain of adepts going back to some historical source of power. In his occult phase, which lasted until about 1920, Guénon was initiated into no fewer than six Masonic or mystical groups. One of these was the Sufi order, the Shadhiliyya Arabiyya. Guénon took the Arabic name “Abd al-Wahid.” Sedgwick insists this initiation was not a conversion; certainly Guénon did not begin to live as a Muslim for another decade.
One of the most important consequences of the principle of initiation was a tendency toward “vanguardism” (a term Sedgwick does not use). Traditionalism sought to create an elite, sometimes thought of as a saving remnant of the Western world. Traditionalism differs from Theosophy and other occult sects in that it has never sought a mass audience. In practical terms, this meant that Traditionalism expressed itself in Masonic groups and other semi-secret societies. When it took the form of Sufi orders, it often turned them into clandestine organizations, which is not how Sufism works in Muslim countries.
Guénon's second innovation was “inversion,” the principle that all the change in the Western world since medieval times was for the worse, indeed that all historical change is a decline. What the West thinks of as progress is really decay, leading to an inevitable collapse. Guénon defined modernity in terms of the privation of the good: “If everyone understood what the modern world was, it would immediately cease to exist.” Inversion gave Traditionalism its apocalyptic content. In some contexts, it gave Traditionalism revolutionary potential, as adepts sought to hasten the end of modernity.
When discussing Traditionalism, there is always the danger of attributing to Guénon projects that were really worked out in detail only by his followers. Still, it does not falsify his system to say that his general intent was to create an order of persons who could make the West a Traditional civilization again, either by arresting its decay or rebuilding it on Traditional lines after its collapse. The most interesting constraint on this ambition was Guenon's rejection of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular as a possible basis for reconstruction. He sometimes wavered on this point, and there have always been Christian Traditionalists; in Paris, Guénon is still a “Catholic” author. Generally, though, Guénon argued that the chain of initiation had been irremediably broken in the Catholic Church. Thus, the true Tradition was to be sought in Vedanta, Sufism, Freemasonry, Taoism, or even High Paganism, but not in the public spiritual heritage of the West.
Speaking of Traditionalists Frithjob Schuon and Julius Evola:
Schuon rejected Guénon's position that Christianity had lost the power of initiation: both baptism and confirmation really were the initiations they claimed to be, in his estimation. Schuon, in fact, is among the best-known exponents of the transcendental unity of religions. However, he went beyond perennialism to something like universalism, which mixes and matches elements of the major Traditions: a grave error for most Traditionalists. Moreover, he seemed to acquiesce in the belief among his followers that the Traditions were united, not just primordially, but in himself. In any case, he had considerable effect on several academic disciplines. His keen interest in Native Americans, for instance, ensured that friendly anthropologists would write about Black Elk from a Traditionalist perspective.
Traditionalism has often sought political influence, and not without success. For instance, the Iron Guard in Romania, which supported the alliance with Nazi Germany, grew out of a sophisticated Christian Traditionalist movement, the Legion of the Archangel Michael. Mircea Eliade famously supported the Legion, though he distanced himself as the movement became less spiritual and more political. However, the most important political Traditionalist, and indeed the best known of all Traditionalists after Guénon, was the Italian occultist, Baron Julius Evola (1896/8-1974).
Evola was able to get a hearing in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany for his ideas about the cultivation of elites and the need to reconstitute the Holy Roman Empire on a non-Christian basis.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
THE INFLUENCE OF JACQUES MARITAIN, AND THE SOURCE THAT INFLUENCED HIM
Jacques Maritain (18 November 1882–28 April 1973) was a French Catholic philosopher. He was a convert to Catholicism and the author of more than 60 books. He is responsible for reviving St. Thomas Aquinas for modern times and is a prominent drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor.
From Cross Currents:
Six years after the closing of Vatican II, when the Pope placed in the hands of Jacques Maritain the Council's message to the intellectuals of the world, and two years before his death at ninety-one, the aging philosopher published his last book On the Church of Christ. This book is a free and loving meditation on the Mystery of the Church, from his own perspective as a philosopher and an "inveterate" layman, as he liked to call himself. In the first half of his book, the author meditates on the "Person" of the Church because he felt that it was only after having shed a clear light on the supernatural "personality" of the Spouse of Christ that he could turn, in the second half of the book, to making the necessary distinction between the "Person" of the Church and its "Personnel." The title Maritain chose for the first chapter of the second half of his book is "The Person of the Church is Indefectibly Holy; Her Personnel is Not." He defined the "Personnel" of the Church as "that body of men who, by the fact that they belong to the secular or the regular clergy, are the officially appointed servants of the Church, and in particular those among them who, from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy, have the responsibility of authority over the Christian people." This Personnel, he writes, is neither indefectibly holy nor always free from error.
Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and intellectual, played a crucial role in the revival of Thomistic philosophy early in the twentieth century, as well as in reconciling the Catholic church and democratic institutions. Today conservatives commonly regard Maritain as a model of a docile Catholic intellectual.
Maritain was influenced by Leon Bloy.
Léon Bloy (Périgueux, July 11, 1846 - Bourg-la-Reine, November 3, 1917) was a French novelist, essayist, pamphleteer and poet. His works reflect a deepening devotion to the Roman Catholic Church and most generally a tremendous craving for the Absolute. His devotion to religion resulted in a complete dependence on charity; he acquired his nickname ("the ungrateful beggar") as a result of the many letters requesting financial aid from friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers, all the while carrying on with his literary work, in which his eight-volume Diary takes an important place. He was a friend of the author Joris-Karl Huysmans, the painter Georges Rouault, and the philosopher Jacques Maritain, and was instrumental in reconciling these intellectuals with Roman Catholicism.
From the Standord Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
In 1901, Maritain met Raïssa Oumansoff, a fellow student at the Sorbonne and the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Both were struck by the spiritual aridity of French intellectual life and made a vow to commit suicide within a year should they not find some answer to the apparent meaninglessness of life. Bergson's challenges to the then-dominant positivism sufficed to lead them to give up their thoughts of suicide, and Jacques and Raïssa married in 1904. Soon thereafter, through the influence of the writer Léon Bloy, both Maritains sought baptism in the Roman Catholic Church (1906).
From a blog dedicated to Bloy:
Jacques Maritain wrote in December, 1949:
The French writer Léon Bloy, who called himself the Pilgrim of the Absolute, and who was a dear friend of mine...
From the Acton Institute:
Maritain was born in Paris in 1882 and later studied at the University of Paris. There he came under the influence of the philosopher Henri Bergson, who destroyed his philosophical skepticism, and the essayist and novelist Leon Bloy, who shared his Catholic faith with him. He married Raíssa Oumansoff in 1904, and together in 1906 they entered the Catholic Church.
From Leon Christiani, EVIDENCE OF SATAN IN THE MODERN WORLD:
Not long ago it would have seemed almost sacrilegious or, at least, an intolerable affront, even to suggest a possible connection between the ex-Abbe Boullan and the frenzied exaltations of the Mariavites, and the well-known author, Leon Bloy.none other than Lucifer in person..
But in 1957 there appeared an astonishing work by R. Barbeau, under the somewhat aggressive title: LEON BLOY: A PROPHET OF LUCIFER (Paris, Editions Montaigne, Aubier). For more than three years, says the author, he was a member of the 'Cercle Leon Bloy', of Montreal, which was led by Fr. Guy Corteau, S.J. Fr. Courteau considered that Bloy was the most suitable person to startle the 'bourgeois' from their apathy, and to lead the intellectuals back into the arms of the Church. We know of course, that at the beginning of the century Bloy's influence was considerable, and that persons of the intellectual quality of Jacques Maritain (and his wife), Pierre van der Meer, Leopold Levaux, Walcheren, and others, publicly proclaimed that their conversion was due to him....
His own illumination was derived, not from the Catholic Church as such, but from a poor woman, a prostitute by the name of Anne-Marie Roule, the Veronica of his novel LE DESESPERE.
He lived with her, and affirmed that he had converted her. She had supernatural visions before becoming completely unbalanced and ending her days in a mental hospital. Relying on this woman's faith, and on the revelations he believed to be contained in the Secret of Melanie Calvat, the mystic of La Salette, he declared himself convinced of the imminence of the Parousia, the end of the world. And this end of the world would consist of the coming of the Paraclete, who would be
Such extravagance falls little short of the most intolerable blasphemy. Yet the whole of Barbeau's book tends to show that this was the central and dominant concept in Bloy's mind, a concept which he considered as his own 'secret', which he therefore dissimulated, although it secretly inspired all his writing.
Constantly disappointed at not being able to be present at the event for which he felt it his mission to pave the way, he wrote in his BIOGRAPHY (published for Joseph Bollery by Albin-Michel, 1947): 'All that I can find in myself is a bitter, savage resentment against a God who has shown himself so cold and ungrateful....I should be ashamed to treat the mangiest of curs in the way God treats me' (I. 428-429).
He believed, in fact, that God the Father was an imperious and pitiless master, that God the Son could do no more than make good the work in which the Father had so lamentably failed, and that the Holy Ghost alone would inaugurate the reign of universal Love.
Leon Bloy was, after his own fashion, remodeling the fantasies of Satan with the Holy Ghost which is so shocking.
Leon Bloy is immensely proud of having been the only one--he was so often in this unique position--to have understood Satan's true nature. From the moment he realised that Satan was the Third Person of the Trinity, it is not surprising to find him crediting him with enormous powers....
'He, [Satan] is between our lips and in our cups; he takes his seat at our banquets and feeds us full of horrors in the midst of our triumphs; he lurks in the obscurest depths of the marriage bed; he ravages and sullies every feeling, every hope, all whitness, all virginity and all glory. His chosen throne is the golden calyx of love in flower, and his sweetest balm the purple hearth of love in flame. (pp. 188-190)
And finally from Lucio Mascarenhas:
When we consider the two versions of the lives of Guenon ("Rene Guenon and Roman Catholicism" & "The Occult World of Rene Guenon"), both provided by Mr. William H. Kennedy, it becomes obvious that Guenon, at least, was self-centered and an egoist, which is why he quarreled with his Jesuit teachers, and then began to dabble in, and be open to various heterodox influences. It is also true that Guenon formally became a Freemason, and that he cooperated with a Theosophist — Gerard Encausse aka Papus — from 1906 until Papus' death in 1916. By contrast, Guenon's collaboration with Jacques Maritain in "refuting" Theosophy came rather late in the day—1921!
Monday, December 08, 2008
THE PRIEST AND THE POP STAR
Pink News reports:
Veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard has described his sex life as an enigma.
Sir Cliff, 68, is one of the UK's best-known Christians, has been the victim of persistent rumours and innuendo about his sexuality.
In his autobiography My Life, My Way, published in September, the singer revealed that he has shared his life with a former Roman Catholic priest, Father John McElynn, since 2001.
Sir Cliff said the former priest shares his home and has become a companion.
In an interview with BBC's Songs of Praise to mark his 50th year in show business which was broadcast yesterday he said he understands that people talk about that aspect of his life.
"I know but I don't care, that's the thing," he said.
EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF MUBAI
At Catholic Exchange there is an interesting account of survival given by an international banker living in Mubai who was dining at the Taj Hotel when the gunfire began
Sunday, December 07, 2008
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 43 | Friday, November 21, 2008
The Great Event of Advent
One of the less appealing characteristics of American culture is that it doesn't seriously prepare for many things. We are an instantaneous culture. We don't like to wait for things: we have fast food, fast delivery, fast cash and on-demand banking. We have Fed Ex "when it absolutely has to be delivered overnight" and instant just-about-everything. Patience is not a virtue in this culture because we can have it all and have it now - or at least we think so.
But God isn't that way.
He has a time for everything under the sun, and no one rushes Him to meet deadlines. His Plan has been stored up for an eternity and presses on to completion with divine serenity. All things operate in their proper order and arrive at their completion in His time. Most importantly, God prepared this Plan of salvation with divine foresight. The Archangel Gabriel told Zechariah with utter certitude, "All I have said will come true in due course." But the question is always the type of reception God's Plan will find in our world. As the Virgin Mary and Joseph prepared a manger with swaddling clothes to receive the Son of God into the world, so every man must prepare his heart to receive the Son spiritually.
The Church gives us the great event of Advent to help us get over the cultural sloth and make our hearts ready for Christ. Here are three simple but effective ways to prepare the throne of your heart to better welcome the King on the great Feast of Christmas:
1. Walk with Mary: the best preparation for the feast of the Son is to live well the feasts of the Mother. Ah, if we would only treat the Immaculate Conception (this coming Monday) not as a day of dutiful "obligation" but as a chance to bind ourselves to this pregnant mother in purity and faith. We need to see the sublime Mystery of Christ through Her eyes. Next Friday is the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the evangelizer of the Americas. How we need Her zeal for Christ to conquer our culture of death just like She did for the Aztec culture in the 16th century! Let us walk with Her this Advent, and She will help us in the preparation of our hearts. Show your desire for preparation by praying the Rosary regularly or making a consecration to the Virgin this Advent.
2. Pray more: there is no better antidote to cultural lethargy than to admit to ourselves that we are not spiritual enough. Yes, we have to live in this world but often we are too much of this world! Prayer pulls us out of the work-a-day world of instant everything and places us before the serene Plan of God to see that all reality is not material. Faith grows, hope strengthens and charity inflames when we are prayerful. We just need to pray more in Advent, and we will be more spiritually prepared to receive Him. Why not make special visits to the Blessed Sacrament or, lacking that, dedicate a time each day for silent prayer.
3. Devotion to duty: finally, and not least, is the need to do what God has asked us to do with deepest fidelity and zeal. Are there natural responsibilities that you have been neglecting? Now is the time to renew your fervor for them. Have you been apathetic or cowardly towards the difficult dimensions of your Christian duty? Has your family suffered because you have been involved in too many trivial matters that put family in second place? Return with all your heart and increase your enthusiasm toward those things He asks you to do for His Kingdom. A season of grace and favor awaits those who dedicate themselves with blessed ardor to their God-given callings.
Thank God for Advent! We are purified and challenged by the message of salvation preached to us by the Church in this great season. If we live it well and prepare our hearts to receive Him, we will know the Truth in a new way at Christmas and beyond, and the Truth will set us free.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International