Deborah Gyapong: December 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lo He comes with clouds . . .

This seems a nice but rather lethargic and unduly mild rendition of this hymn which should raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I love it however it is done, though.

Of the Father's love begotten

Another one of my favorites, done by choirs at Baylor University.

What sweeter music . . .

John Rutter set this beautiful poem to music. Our organist Michael Trolly was playing this the other day and I love the tune. The words make me rapturous:

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Robert Herrick (1591-1674

H/t Leon J. Podles blog

Like a man who has lost his mind -- (but after my heart)

St. Francis Xavier:

Many times I am seized with the thought of going to the schools in your lands and of crying out there, like a man who has lost his mind, and especially at the University of Paris, telling those in the Sorbonne who have a greater regard for learning than desire to prepare themselves to produce fruit with it. Thousands upon thousands, and millions upon millions are waiting to hear God’s Word - and I felt that not one student is willing to say ‘Here I am, Lord. What do you want me to do?’ like Samuel in the Bible. Send me wherever you will, and if need be, even to the Indies. Thousands would be converted if there were enough workers!

My patron saint for 2011 is Saint Francis Xavier

I read this charming post by one of my favorite bloggers, The Anchoress, yesterday:

Regular readers know that around this time each year I have been fortunate enough to have someone “pull a patron saint” – someone who will be a specific teacher and friend for the coming twelve months. My patron for 2010–you can see his picture in the sidebar–has been the great St. Philip Neri, of whom I knew nothing beyond the fact that he was famous for his sense of humor.

I did some research on him, bought a book and found that there was much more to this “Apostle of Rome” than his cheerfulness. Each day in my prayers, as I finished up my intercessions, I would always add, “St. Philip, teach me what you know.”

I am a poor student, but Philip and I became very fond friends, and I think he really did help me to learn quite a lot about taking God seriously, but not the self, and about surrender. I credit him with bringing about, somehow, the September trip to Rome that hadn’t even been on my radar, in June, and where we seemed to encounter churches and still-functioning hospitals established by this holy man, all over the place.

A particularly warm memory of Rome came on our first night, when we lumbered into Santa Maria in Vallicella, which is commonly known as Chiesa Nuova. Despite the beauty of our surroundings, I was focused entirely on getting to the side chapel wherein Neri’s incorruptible remains are entombed.

Chapel & Tomb of St. Philip Neri, Chiesa Nuova, Rome

Once there, surrounded by a few young men and pilgrims, I quietly wept in exhausted gratitude, thinking, “I am not sure how or why, but here I am!” A few minutes later, two vested Italian priests entered and mass began–an intimate, quiet mass–it was such a sweet gift!

This year, it has been difficult to find someone to “pull a patron” for me, and I was beginning to despair that this lovely tradition, which has been a true benefit to my spiritual life, might have to come to an end.

Thank God, then for Conversion Diary’s excellent Jennifer Fulwiler, who–aside from being a newly-expecting, homeschooling mom and a prolific writer–is also enough of a geek to develop (on her own) this nifty Patron Saint Generator.

Of course, I had to try using the Patron Saint Generator. And as I prayed, then pressed the button, he appeared . . . Saint Francis Xavier.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thinking of Famille Marie-Jeunesse

and how I love them. Found these on YouTube. Let their joy be infectious.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Profile of Bishop OImstead

The more I read about Bishop Olmstead, the more I love him.

Here's an excerpt of a profile in an Arizona newspaper that doesn't "get him." My comments in red.

Progressives in the church at one time had found a kindred soul in
O'Brien. Under Olmsted, they would find things had changed.

Within days of arriving, the bishop prayed outside a Planned Parenthood clinic for an end to abortion.

He disciplined priests over a letter of support for gay people put
together by an interfaith group of clergy. He barred a controversial but famous
Swiss theologian from speaking at a church. [Who could that be I wonder?]

He also ordered that no politicians who support abortion rights would be welcome on church property. The order included the governor at the time, Janet Napolitano, who was close friends with Monsignor Ed Ryle, one of the previous bishop's confidants.

Olmsted appeared to deal effectively with the aftermath of a priest sex-abuse scandal. Today, the former leader of the local chapter of the activist group Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, now leads the diocese's
child-protection office - a testament to Olmsted's success in the area.
Those close to the bishop echo the praise that followed him from his earlier

The Rev. Rob Clements served for six years as rector of Sts. Simon and
Jude Cathedral, where Olmsted has resided since he came to Phoenix.

Asked to describe the bishop's personality, Clements responds, "Integrity and kindness come to mind. There is nothing fake or phony about him."

He describes a man who clears the table and does the dishes, and who picks weeds in the rectory garden. He said the bishop is humble but committed to church teaching and principle.

Read more:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fr. Sean Henry sent me some photos from our Anglican Catholic Church of Canada cathedral parish in Victoria, British Columbia.

St. John the Evangelist, Victoria, British Columbia

Bishop Peter Wilkinson on Dec. 26 outside in mild Vancouver Island weather

Christmas at St. John the Evangelist

The Creche at St. John the Evangelist, Christmas 2010

The Holy Father's message

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Sam, Marlene, Ben, Mae and Maully

A better social network Nativity

Just got a note about this, via The Hermeneutic of Continity:

Merry Christmas from Bill Whittle

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hey, Paul Wells reads my blog.

Whadda you know.

He reports I was "with the Harpers" when they met the pope, as if I'm a close friend of the family or something. I was among the 15-20 journalists who covered the Harper's papal audience, not up there with the family when they met the pope, which he makes it sound like. Paul Wells likes to paint me as shill for Harper. Knock yourself out, Paul.

The Bill, C-510, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Coercion), was introduced by Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South). It sought to specify that coercing a woman to have an abortion would be a Criminal Code offense. The bill was defeated in a recorded division on second reading, and that’s the end of that for now.

Cabinet itself was divided on the motion, with Stephen Harper, James Moore and Lawrence Cannon, among others, voting against it, while Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney and Gail Shea, among others, voting in favour. Sun Media’s Brian Lilley quotes PMO press guy Andrew MacDougall: “The prime minister has always said he wouldn’t support a bill that reopens the abortion debate.”

Some pro-life groups are really angry at the Prime Minister. Other commentators are more muted. Deborah Gyapong, who was with the Harpers when they met the Pope in 2009, mentions his vote at the bottom of her Catholic Register article but not, at this writing, on her blog.

I think Harper assumes the socially conservative base of his party will not desert him even if he gives them little or nothing.

He's probably right. Where else can they go? But voting against Roxanne's Law when he could have stayed true to his pledge to "not reopen the abortion debate" and not vote at all, is akin to poking a stick in the eye of the pro-life movement. Many could just choose to stay home in the next federal election or stop sending any money to the party or their local candidate. Pro-lifers are not all fiscal conservatives. There are still a number of solid pro-life Liberals and any Liberal candidate who stands up for life and family could get a lot of support.

The other thing that social conservatives may find disturbing is the role that recent Conservative appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada played in the Dec. 22 opinion on the Quebec reference on the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Both the Canadian Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada have expressed concern over the opinion that opens the way to transgenic research and the treatment of human embryos in ways that could violate their human dignity. The hero of the hour is Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who articulated many of the moral concerns of both the CCCB and the EFC, not the Harper picks--Justices Rothstein and Cromwell-- who voted to remove aspects of the Act out from under the Criminal Law power.

When social conservatives wake up to this, the Tories may find a little coal in their stockings.

But the accumulated effect of Harper's actions is sending a message that the Conservatives are a mainstream party that has replaced the Liberals as the party of the center.

That may not make social conservatives especially happy, but it is what it is.

The Tories may be poised to win a majority and social conservatives should probably not expect much to change concerning their specific concerns if that happens.

Of course, when and if we move into election mode, there will be shrill cries of "hidden agenda" and the dangerous Christian right etc. etc. It's laughable.

Preparing for Christmas at the cathedral

How I love belonging to a small congregation. It really is like a family, where everyone takes part if they can, from the washing of dishes, to the climbing up on ladders to put of decorations. (That's Bishop Carl Reid up there attaching the greenery.) And his wife Barb had to climb into the attic to retrieve the boxes of decorations stacked in there. It's lucky she was able to climb out again! We're all set at the cathedral. Now if only I can get my home ready.
Upstairs many "elves" including the bishop prepared for Christmas Eve
Upstairs many "elves" including the bishop prepared for Christmas Eve

Our cathedral was a hive of activity last night as we decorated the cathedral in preparation for our Christmas Eve "midnight mass," which like the Holy Father's really starts at 10:00 p.m.

Poinsettias line the pews before being placed by the altar

Here's a look at the finished result.

All ready for Christmas Eve

Meanwhile the children were downstairs putting up the Christmas tree in the parish hall. Here's a look.

Nadia displays some Christmas decorations

More pictures below the fold.

Great Christmas essay by the Binksmeister

Who writes:

A Christian, Planning On Stealing Stuff

~ AND LO, EVERY YEAR around this time, we hear the same seasonal message– no, not the bemangered baby and Wise men and angels one, but how The Christians Stole Christmas.

You know, Norse yule logs, Druidical mistletoe, Roman saturnalia gifts, divine nativities, Germanic evergreens, feasting on roast beast, solsticial timing, all that and more was shamelessly pirated, hijacked, & filched from honest peace-loving environmentally-friendly pagans Whos down in WhoVille, by the imperialistic intolerant and narrow-minded grinchy Christer thieves. That’s the endlessly regurgitated story, anyway.

We’ve read it in the holy books of TIME, Newsweak, and on lots of atheist/ agnostic/ neo-pagan blogs, so clearly it must be true. Christmas = pure copyright infringement, via greedy religious extremism. It’s a favourite talking-point especially of nerdulent neo-pagans (a fake religion invented in the past century, via fictionalizers Robert Graves & Gerald Gardner & other ‘just makin’ shit up’ kinda sources), who are to ancient pagans what Ye Olde Renaissance Faire attendees are to the real Middle Ages.

Explaining Teh Stupid

The first error in thinking here is simple– something owned or done by somebody else is theirs forever, somehow. After all, pagans used baskets, therefore (either) (1) “real” Christians shouldn’t use dirty paganized baskets, or (2) the stupid old Christians, when they’re using baskets, only stole the ideas from pagans anyway.

The other implicit & unexamined notion here is this: in order to be a ‘real’ religion, you have to be pagan (or at least anti-Christian), so if Christians want their own religion, they may never use anything used before to be a ‘real/ original religion.’ No candles, incense, seasonal observances, statues, trumpets, singing, buildings, robes, poetry, rituals, philosophy, eating together, music, giving things, using plant-life, art, celebrating at particular times, or using any ideas or things from ever anywhere before. Cuz pagans got there first, and finders keepers, neener neener: and no take-backs. OOoooOOOooo– you proved Christianity is just a stealing-cult.. via a recently invented cheap re-writing of history for polemical purposes? Not so much, akshully.

How weird is that? Pretty much inhuman, I’d say. And pretty stupid. Even God thinks so.

There is lots more wonderful stuff. Go on over and read it all.

Merry Christmas Binks and family!

The case of the Raelians and the Catholic school board

This was an interesting story to work on.

Here's the edited version of what I filed at the Catholic Register's site:

OTTAWA - A French Catholic school board in Northern Ontario has been ordered to compensate three members of a controversial religious group after an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found the board guilty of discrimination.

On Dec. 15, the tribunal ordered the Conseil Scolaire Catholique Franco-Nord to pay unspecified compensation to Daniel, Michel and Sylvie Chabot, siblings who belong to the Raelian Movement and who operate the Academy of Pleasurology and Emotional Intelligence (APEI).

In 2007, APEI had contracted with the board to conduct a series of workshops on emotional intelligence. Chabot said the school broke the contract after someone discovered on the Internet that the Chabots are Raelians.

The Raelian Movement began in France in 1973 after a French journalist claimed to have encountered extraterrestrials known as Elohim, who claimed to be highly evolved human beings who had created life on Earth. The journalist subsequently changed his name to Rael and the movement boasts about 100,000 followers in several countries. In recent years they were in the news for attempting to clone a human.

School board chairman Ronald Demers said the tribunal had “passed judgment” and he doesn’t “necessarily agree” with it, but “the decision has been handed down and we will not be appealing it.”

But experts say the ruling may violate the religious freedom of the Catholic board.

“Canada is an exercise in living together with disagreement, not forced agreement,” said constitutional expert and law professor Iain Benson. “It is not the Roman Raelian Church — yet.

“Within religious matters, religious schools are pretty much sovereign,” he said. “Once there is a basic test to ensure that there is no religious ruse going on and what is really at issue is a doctrinal difference, then the tribunals should respect that.”

More here.

Note that I report Chabot was not only baptized and confirmed a Catholic, he was an altar server in Leeds, Quebec.

One of the things talking to him illustrated to me is how little we in the west understand faith claims any more and that even those who are exposed to Catholic faith claims misunderstand them.

For example, Chabot thinks emotional intelligence is a matter of pedagogy like math that can be separated from any faith claim and has nothing to do with the teaching of religious faith.

But if a Catholic believes that our happiness and our emotional intelligence springs from our understanding of ourselves as made in the image and likeness of God, loved by Him, and made to love Him and serve him, then I could understand how a Catholic board might have problems with a pedagogy that ignores this or talks about the pursuit of happiness independent of this.

It's hard to know exactly what the problem was here as the school board is not giving details on why they suspended the course.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ukrainian Carol of the Bells

A Ukrainian Catholic priest sent me a link to this:

My great uncle's English version of this carol is the familiar one you hear every Christmas:

Catholic news year in review

At the B.C. Catholic. Welcome to my world:

(CCN)--January 2010 begins a prorogued Parliament, the second in roughly a year. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it is necessary to focus attention on a fragile economy. The prorogation or suspension extends the January winter break until a new Throne Speech and budget in early March.

Opposition parties pound the Conservatives on the treatment of Afghan detainees, even though the House is not in session, arguing the government prorogued Parliament to evade accountability.

The Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti prompts an unprecedented response from both the Canadian government and the Catholic Church, through the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) and its Caritas Partners. Canada initially contributes $60 million for emergency aid. Church groups and NGOs arrange an airlift for Haitian orphans. CCODP eventually collects about $20 million from Canadian Catholics to help Haiti.

The Prime Minister and CIDA Minister Bev Oda announce plans to make maternal and child health care in poorer countries a top priority during Canada’s hosting of the G-8 and G-20 in June. Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff insists abortion be included, causing the Archbishop of Toronto and the Bishop of Calgary to call his remarks “astonishing” and “pathetic” respectively.

The Throne Speech in early March mentions “solidarity” in a seeming nod to Catholic social doctrine, but the federal budget is criticized for not going far enough to help the poor. The budget expands the deficit through stimulus spending, in a budget most observers describe as middle-of-the-road.

In late March, Liberal MP Bob Rae’s motion designed to force the government to include abortion in its maternal health initiative goes down to unexpected defeat. The Tories vote en masse against it and several pro-life Liberals stand with them.

CCODP joins coalition of groups urging politicians to support Liberal MP John McKay’s responsible mining bill C-300. The bill, which would help ensure Canadian mining companies operating overseas respect the environment and human rights, coincides with a five-year CCODP campaign on responsible mining.

The debate over euthanasia heats up as Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s euthanasia and assisted suicide Bill C-384 wends its way through the House of Commons. Many groups, including Canada’s Catholic bishops intervene against legalizing euthanasia. On April 21, the bill is resoundingly defeated by a 228-59 vote. But Quebec soon launches hearings into euthanasia and assisted suicide.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Bruinooge still has hopes for Roxanne's Law

From the Catholic Register:

OTTAWA - Roxanne’s Law may have gone down to defeat, but Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge sees signs a version of his anti-abortion coercion bill might succeed some day.

“I was not too disappointed,” said Bruinooge, who chairs the Parliamentary Pro-life Caucus, after the 178-97 defeat Dec. 15 of Bill C-510.

Roxanne’s Law would make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion. It was named for a constituent in Bruinooge's Winnipeg riding who was beaten with a hockey stick by three men and left to die in a snow bank because she refused to have an abortion. Bruinooge said he “learned a lot about Canada” in telling her story, which also attracted international interest.

He had predicted on a national radio program prior to the vote that 75 MPs would support the bill, so he was gratified to see an additional 22 MPs voting in favour of his bill. He said he believes another 40 could be persuaded to support similar legislation to protect women from being coerced to have abortions.

“It was nice to see good representation in cabinet that supported the bill as well as the majority of the Conservative women Members of Parliament,” Bruinooge said. “That’s a real positive indication that Roxanne’s Law was hitting the mark and was a good piece of legislation.

Methane from horse manure?

Father Z passes on news from the Catholic Herald that there are plans to supply the Pope's summer residence with energy from methane supplied by horse manure:

I don’t see why this won’t work. It might already be driving the presses of L’Osservatore Romano.

Besides… what could possibly go wrong?

Gosh, the good men in the Vatican need to borrow a worldly man's irony detector pronto and abandon this plan immediately.

Methane from any other source, maybe yeah, but this is too close to bull "manure" for comfort and it is the stuff that mushrooms are grown in and kept in the dark etc.

Not a plan!!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why it is a good idea for religions not to take money from the state

Because then they come in and violate parents' prior rights to the education of their children. This is a ghastly story out of Quebec in today's National Post. I have bolded the most egregious statement:

After eliminating denominational education from schools, the Quebec government announced plans Friday to extend its ban on religious instruction to toddlers.

The new policy will make it illegal for workers in the province’s network of subsidized daycares to teach their charges, aged five and under, about a specific religion. Teaching religious songs, including many Christmas carols, will be off limits, as will crafts with a religious connotation. Government inspectors will enforce the rules beginning next June.

“I want the young Quebecers who attend our daycare services to do so in a spirit of openness to others and diversity,” Family Minister Yolande James said as she unveiled the changes in Montreal. Ms. James said daycares will still be allowed to highlight “cultural traditions” rooted in a religious faith. “We will not remove Christmas trees from our daycare centres,” she said. A daycare could also display a crèche depicting the birth of Jesus, an aide to Ms. James said. “The line is drawn when a daycare centre teaches about the birth of Jesus, who is Mary, who is Joseph,” Geneviève Hinse said. “The line is crossed when there is a transmission of religion.”

The initiative was sparked by media reports last spring that some subsidized daycares in the province were offering Muslim and Jewish programs to toddlers.

Under a system created in 1997, parents pay just $7 a day to send their children to state-subsidized daycare. The government covers the balance, approximately $40 a day. There are currently about 2,000 subsidized daycares in the province offering spaces for more than 120,000 children. Ms. James said a tiny minority of those facilities — about 100 — currently offer some degree of religious instruction.

The daycare initiative is another example of Quebec’s continuing struggle to define where it stands as a secular society. Its debate over the “reasonable accommodation” of religious minorities has led to legislation currently before the National Assembly that would require women wearing veils to reveal their faces before receiving government services.

Daniel Weinstock, a professor of philosophy at the Université de Montréal, said it makes sense for children attending state-subsidized daycare not to be indoctrinated in a specific religion, even if that is what their parents wish.

“Religious communities and families hold sway over children through the household and through churches, mosques and synagogues,” he said. “I don’t see it as a problem for daycares and schools to be, in a way, a kind of counterweight to the hold that religious communities and families have over their children.”

Read more:

FAther Z suggests workshop for Michael Voris

Father Z writes:

Mr. Voris should go to a workshop with some modern sisters to help get in touch what what he really thinks and stop repressing his feelings, maybe walk a labyrinth… do some enneagram stuff.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Archbishop Prendergast's Christmas message

on YouTube!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Nativity goes high tech

Not sure whether I should be amused by this but I am

Condi vs. Katie

Condi wipes the floor with her.

On Charles McVety getting censured

Jonathan Kay writes a most interesting column. He's right. Alas, many Christians just hope that if they keep their mouths shut and let the powers that be crush McVety into submission, they will be left alone.

Please note that McVety was censured for his tone as much as anything---he was merely citing the Criminal Code about public nudity and reading the promotional material of the City of Toronto on the Pride Parade. Here's an excerpt from Jonathan Kay's excellent piece:

If McVety is correct that the Toronto Pride parade contains “criminal activity” — and I think he has Section 174 on his side — then it seems odd to censure his comments, even if you don’t happen to like his general outlook on homosexuality. What we effectively have here is a religious Christian being driven off the air for doing little more than appealing to the provisions of our Criminal Code — not the Bible. He’s not even calling for the gays in question to be arrested. He’s just saying that we shouldn’t subsidize their event with taxpayer funds. When did that sort of speech become illegal?

Of course, it could be argued that being nude at Gay Pride doesn’t offend “public decency” — even though it would offend public decency under normal circumstances. (I, for one, wasn’t particularly offended — but that’s just urban, metro-sexual me.) But isn’t the definition of public decency the sort of thing that reasonable people can disagree about, and debate — even if they are (gasp!) religious Christians?

Canadian human rights commissions have come in for a lot of flak in recent years, largely thanks to Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, who have pointed out that the people running them have neither respect for, nor knowledge about, Canada’s free-speech tradition. In this case, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council seems to be answering to the same description. Why, one wonders, is CTS rolling over in response to their verdict? And why aren’t the rest of us making a bigger deal about this threat to free speech?

Read more:

An exorcist in Australia

Interesting article in The Australian:

Father Jordan, 80, says he has been performing exorcisms at the rate of around one a week for the past seven years and that demand for his services is rising, especially on the Gold Coast. “I regard the Gold Coast as Sodom and Gomorrah,” he chuckles. “It should be pounded with fire and brimstone.”

But Father Jordan is scathing of those who dismiss as fiction the notion of demonic possession of a person or a home. “It is nothing to do with mental illness when you see a household where the dog refuses to go into the room where there is a problem; where it is distinctly cold for no reason; where physical contact is made by night visitors and where the cat jumps right through the wire door at the back.”

Likewise, Father Jordan says some of the battles he has fought with demons cannot be explained by science. “It does not occur in most everyday exorcisms, but I have seen the sort of stuff which Hollywood would go for. When people react badly to the exorcism, I’ve seen the convulsions, the rigid bodies, the frothing, the gibbering, the [speaking in unknown] tongues.”

Bishop Porteous says most exorcisms are a far cry from those portrayed in Hollywood. “You often go through a prayer of exorcism and nothing external will happen to that person at all and they will say only that they feel a gentle relief. But other times there can be a more dramatic reaction, where the body reacts by swaying or writhing on the floor. The demonic presence can also react with a voice that responds in anger and ridicule at the exorcist. The voice will sometimes be gruffer than the person’s voice with lots of swearing.”

Bishop Porteous is wary of the media’s traditionally sensationalist portrayal of exorcism and he takes some persuading before he agrees to recount his most dramatic experiences. “I have seen things like the face of a woman changing to be like the face of a monkey. The face changed and it was quite eerie. Sometimes I have seen hate in the eyes of someone as they lunged at me. But these are definitely not the normal experiences.”

Earlier this year Father Amorth published Memoirs of an Exorcist, in which he recounts how some of his clients vomited up objects such as nails or glass. “You get used to being vomited over,” he told The Times in Britain. “I once performed an exorcism on a woman who managed to hit me in the face with a stream of vomit from the other side of the room – physically impossible.”

Bishop Elliott says the church is “cautious” about how to respond to the growing number of people who claim to be possessed. “We don’t jump straight into exorcism,” he says. “We always seek a rational explanation for the phenomenon first.” He asks them to first take a psychological test. “We look to see if their experience has a natural cause or psychological origins,” Bishop Elliott says. “We don’t want to be seen to be treating natural phenomena as if they were paranormal. You wouldn’t give an exorcism for the flu.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lessons from the Christian Horizons case

A very interesting analysis by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's legal counsel Don Hutchinson (my bolds):

One of my close friends was on the board of Christian Horizons when the first human rights complaints against the organization arose in the early 1990s. At that time, I was surprised that an organization established on Christian fellowship and values, with a clear statement of faith and principles, could have been considered to have inadequately articulated what it meant to live a Christian lifestyle. Initially, I was shocked that two women participating in a common-law relationship could not have known they were not living a Christian lifestyle. But I learned that a lot of Canadians assume that being Canadian (perhaps even having been baptized as an infant or attended Sunday School) was sufficient to conclude they were living life as a Christian—however self-defined.

Read the whole thing in Comment Magazine.

Baby Mae is now two months old

What a beautiful granddaughter I have!

And such a beautiful grandson, Ben, who will be four next month.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pope Benedict on homosexuality in the priesthood

From Leon J. Podles blog:


The Jesuit of the Future

Benedict sees homosexuality as incompatible with the priesthood, for two reasons, First, the Latin priesthood is celibate and celibacy does not have the same meaning for a homosexual and a heterosexual and second because the homosexual has a distorted view of the relationship of men and women.

Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway. For, in the end, their attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoke. (p. 152)

I think Benedict is both overstating his case and underestimating the real situation.

As to the first: It seems to me that a homosexual can take a vow of celibacy, just as a poor person can take a vow of poverty. Obviously a rich person who renounces his possession does something different from a poor person who renounces possessions he does not have, but I do not see why a poor person cannot take a vow of poverty or a homosexual a vow of celibacy.

Some homosexuals may have a distorted view of male-female relationships (as do many heterosexuals), but I do not know if that is universal. If a homosexual has a sincere desire to be chaste and has a normal masculine personality, I do not see why he would not make a good priest. If homosexuals were in the priesthood in about the same proportion as the general population (2-3%) I doubt that there would be any problem.

Benedict is concerned about having the priesthood viewed as a gay profession.

The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, for the intrinsic nature of priestly being. The selection of candidates to the priesthood must therefore be very careful. The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality. (pp. 152-153

Friday, December 10, 2010

Those lefties are always projecting their faults

This is gross:

UPDATE VIII: West Virginian Don Surber is probably wondering when the intellectual elite will apologize for all those hillbilly incest jokes.

UPDATE IX: Over at The American Spectator:

[W]hile incest remains illegal in New York State, some commenters at the Columbia University student newspaper Web site are mystified as to why it’s illegal: “Wait, why is consensual incest a crime? It might not be appealing to everyone, but if they’re adults and they consent, who cares what they do?”
Readers might suppose that arguments involving phrases like “thou shalt not” and words like “abomination” are sternly frowned on at Columbia University, so that the faculty would have a hard time answering such a question from their students.

Amazing story of St. Juan Diego

From Father Z's blog where there is a lot more of this wonderful true story:

Juan Jose Barragan Silva, of Mexico City, was a drug addict from his adolescence. He and his mother had been abandoned by his father.

On 3 May 1990 Juan Jose, after getting drunk and high on marijuana with a friend, went home and started to cut himself on the head with a knife. His mother, Esperanza, tried to get the knife away but failed. She implored him to stop abusing himself and give up the alcohol and marijuana. He shouted that he didn’t want to live any more so loudly that the neighbors came to see what was going on, but the door was locked.

Juan Jose through himself off the balcony of their second floor apartment (in the USA this would be counted as the third floor).

In that moment, Esperanza had a “flash”. Knowing that Pope John Paul was to be in Mexico for the beatification of Juan Diego, she called on Juan Diego to intercede for her son.

Juan Jose fell about 10 meters and landed close to a friend of his, Jesus Alfredo Velasquez Ramirez, who saw him land on his head on the concrete pavement. Juan Jose was bleeding copiously from the mouth, nose and ears. They covered him, thinking he was dead. He suddenly sat up, rose and went to the stairs leading to his apartment. On meeting his mother coming down the stairs he asked his mother’s forgiveness. They embraced and remained that way for another ten minutes or so before the ambulance came.,

During the ambulance ride Juan Jose said he had lost his vision. He was able to say a Our Father. He was registered at Sanatorio Durango at 1830.

The medical prognosis was very pessimistic. The doctor, Juan Homero Hernandez Illescas later explained that it was already incomprehensible that he was still alive.

The Traditional Anglican Communion on WikiLeaks

My goodness, there we are:

7. (SBU) Embassy contacts who are most loyal to the Pope and are the first to defend his decisions have explained the announcement about the apostolic constitution as the charitable response to the legitimate Catholic longings of specific Anglican groups. An Opus Dei professor of theology told poloffs that the Vatican was not so much acting, but reacting, to the petition that the Traditional Anglican Communion -an association of churches that is separate from the Anglican Communion and reportedly has hundreds of thousands of members worldwide--made in 2007 to unite with the Catholic Church, provided the Vatican allowed it to maintain its Anglican rites.

8. (SBU) The Pope's response, the professor adds, is very progressive, because it allows for greater diversity of rites within the Catholic Church, and because it permits individuals who are already forming a community to come to the Church together (what the Church calls a "corporate" conversion) as oppose to asking them to undergo the more daunting individual conversion. (Note: with respect to the diversity of rites, another Embassy contact said that some of the Anglican rites that the apostolic constitution may allow are very traditional, for example in the use of Latin for the masses. End note). For the professor, the Pope is redefining ecumenism (i.e., the process of uniting the once-upon-a-time single Christian family) by moving from the "getting to know you" ecumenical dialogue to specific ecumenical action with measures that make it easier for a greater union to materialize, even if incompletely.

There is quite a bit more ordinariate analysis at that link but you should feel guilty for reading it.

I think I'll make myself go to the gym as a penance.

Margaret Somerville on WikiLeaks

Very interesting analysis at Comment Magazine:

So, one important question in deciding on the ethics of the WikiLeaks is whether the world is a better and safer place because of them, or a worse and more dangerous one. Here is where I find myself agreeing with Hillary Clinton's assessment. For while we do not yet know the full harm that may come from the leaks, there is no evidence at all to show how they will contribute to a countervailing good. Indeed, we have seen how the one good they are overtly intended to achieve—an augmented state of openness and transparency—is not in itself necessarily ethically justified. Worse, neither Assange nor his WikiLeaks colleagues have shown publicly any concern to balance harms against goods which, at the very least, is recklessness—that is, conscious unjustified risk-taking—if not intentional wrongdoing.

And Assange is not the only person whose ethics should be scrutinized. Frequently, as in WikiLeaks, there's still an old-fashioned transgressor involved. In this case, it's the person who stole these documents. What breaches of ethics did he commit? I've already queried the ethics of the media, who are "associate leakers", in relation to WikiLeaks, but what about their ethics, more generally? Ethical responsibility is like a cake not a football: one person cannot throw it away and have someone else catch it; everyone can have a slice and not all the slices might be the same size or have the same icing or taste.

Let me end as I began: As I continued to read and think even more about WikiLeaks, I found it easier to know what was the ethical path to take with respect to it and its perpetrators. I believe that, overall, WikiLeaks involves grossly unethical conduct, some of which is also illegal.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The "gender expression" transgender bill as a power grab

I dunno. I like Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff and his wife a lot. They are great fun. Give great parties. I also like Bill Siksay, the NDP Member of Parliament whose private member's bill C-389 has been rocketing through the House of Commons at warp speed. Siksay is one of those folks on the Hill with whom one can agree to disagree with civility and respect. I have a lot of time for people like that.

But I don't like the "gender expression" bill at all. I think the definitions are way too vague and subjective and they treat one's sexual expression as a social construct. Because they veer so far from objective criteria the bill's passage would represent yet another power grab for the state. Agencies of the state will the become the arbiters of subjective opinion and no one will ever be certain whether the coercion or punishment of the state is going to fall on them. Everyone and anyone could be open to a complaint by someone who "thinks" they are another sex.

To say nothing of the impact passage of a bill like this would have on religious teaching that anchors teaching about human sexuality on Revelation and the natural law tradition.

Yesterday, Siksay's Bill came up for yet another vote in the House of Commons. It passed and guess who voted for it---the Liberal Leader.

Asked afterwards why he voted on a private member's bill, Ignatieff responded:

"Well, you know, we’re the party of the Charter. We’re the party of equality. We’re the party of reaching out and including all Canadians and extending rights of gender expression and sexual expression seem to be just, you know, where I’ve always been and where I’ll always be and where our party will always be. So, yeah, of course I was there. It was important to us." reports on yesterday afternoon's vote:

OTTAWA, Ontario, December 8, 2010 ( - The Canadian bill seeking to enshrine protections for ‘transsexuals’, which has been dubbed a ‘bathroom bill’ by pro-family leaders due to the fact that it would allow men who say they are women to use women’s washrooms, passed report stage in the House of Commons around 3:30 this afternoon in a vote of 143-131.

The bill will now move on to two hours of debate at third reading, which is expected in late February or early March. If passed at that point, it will move to the Senate for consideration. The bill would die, however, if an election is called in the new year.

Authored by New Democrat MP Bill Siksay, Bill C-389 seeks to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code’s hate crimes section.

It has been strongly opposed by pro-family organizations, who warn that the bill promotes the notion that gender is fluid and a question of social construct. The fact that it would allow male cross-dressers to use women’s bathrooms could exacerbate the already prevalent problem of bathroom attacks, they say, because women and girls will not be able to distinguish whether the man in the bathroom is an attacker or merely “transgendered.”

They also warn that it will have wide social ramifications for government, businesses, and single-sex groups, who will be forced to accommodate those who feel they were “assigned” the wrong gender at birth.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

CCCB's Christmas Message

Is absolutely beautiful! It's not up on the website yet, but it will be soon.

Christmas message, 2010

The angels sang of peace on Christmas night. The Prophets had promised peace. Each celebration of the Eucharist we proclaim it and share it with one another. Christ’s peace is much more than the absence of war and violence, important though these are. It does not concern stillness and quiet, though these are vital for our wellbeing. The peace Christ offers is a renewed and whole relationship that brings all into unity and harmony: God and humanity, heaven and earth, nature and society, brothers and sisters, no matter how estranged.

God’s saving justice is always accompanied by peace. The Lord who “guides our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1.79) is the One who scatters the proud, brings down the powerful, sends the rich away empty, lifts up the lowly, and fills the hungry with good things (Luke 1.51-53). The Blessed Messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation (Isaiah 52.7) is the Suffering Servant, “rejected by others, a man of suffering” (Isaiah 53.3).

Willingness to serve while ready to be disappointed and even hurt is part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Christmas Day is followed by the feast of Saint Stephen, a deacon and the first Christian martyr. As a result of the birth of Jesus, the Holy Innocents were massacred under the order of King Herod. The wonder and joy of Christmas envelope the helplessness of humanity and also the hope that comes from kindness and compassion.

As we celebrate this Christmas, may we be renewed by our hunger for justice and our desire for compassion. Let us rededicate ourselves to our mission as peacemakers, as suffering servants with Christ. This was the humble, vulnerable sign given to the shepherds that first Christmas night: “You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

The peace of Christ be with us all this Christmas.

+ Pierre Morissette
Bishop of Saint-Jérôme
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I have to read this book by George Weigel

Volume II of his biography of Pope John Paul II. From a review:

This brings us to an important and often overlooked historical point. In the matter of knowing their enemies, as opposed to most others, the communists were generally right — and this is nowhere more obvious than in the case of John Paul II. While most Western intellectuals looked on the beginnings of Wojtyla’s papacy with bemusement, if indeed with any interest at all, communist kingpins from Moscow to Krakow to East Berlin saw something else: a mortal threat to the regimes they were defending and to the profound lies about human beings on which those regimes were built. By no coincidence Alexander Solzhenitsyn, by then in exile in Vermont, was almost alone in the West in grasping immediately the shattering historical significance of Wojtyla’s election. Upon hearing of it, he “threw out his arms,” Weigel reports from an exclusive family interview, and exclaimed, “It’s a miracle! It’s the first positive event since World War I, and it’s going to change the face of the world!”


here are also walk-on parts aplenty in Weigel’s story for the noncourageous as well — and the mendacious, and the overly ambitious, and those on the communist tattletale payroll. By 1967, he reports, local clergy and laity in Poland included some 270 active informants. What was true of the Polish Church — that the communists attempted to riddle it with spies — was true at the global level as well. In what will come to many readers as one of the most shocking reports in the book, Weigel details how Vatican II itself was similarly infiltrated by a motley band of compromised clergy, hopeful reformist dupes, spies hiding beneath the banner of Polish radio, and more.

Against this backdrop of global ideological warfare, extraordinary faith and courage, and extraordinary perfidy and treachery at the same time, the struggle for and against communist domination played out. On one side stood a world power fabled for having no legions at all, as Stalin once famously sneered; on the other, another world power fabled for having nothing but. Then, in 1978, came the Polish pope. Playwright, actor, poet, philosopher, intellectual; sportsman, linguist, diplomat; a hardball ideological player outside the Catholic world even as he was revered for his pastoral humility within it: One might almost say that if Karol Wojtyla hadn’t been born, history herself would have had to invent him, so perfectly were his outsized gifts and faith a match for the outsized times.

Among various summaries of his activities as pontiff, Weigel reports that this pope went on pilgrimages to 129 different countries, travelling a total of some 750,000 miles; visited 1,022 cities outside Rome and delivered 3,288 prepared addresses; held 1,164 general audiences, attended by 17,665,800 people from around the world, as well as some 1,600 meetings with heads of state, heads of government, and other political figures. There is also his intellectual legacy within the Church itself via a prodigious outpouring of encyclicals, apostolic letters, catacheses, and other documents — including even an international bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994), a papal first. Somehow, in between the Cold War, the Masses, the world leaders, and the rest, Weigel summarizes, John Paul II also created “a body of papal teaching with which the Catholic Church — and indeed the entire world of human culture — would be grappling for centuries.”

Even his dying and death took place on the world stage, with the image of the crippled, nearly immobile Pope leaning on a crucifix for support unforgettably emblazoned on the minds of many, many millions. As that purposefully public dying also went to show, Wojtyla was above all else a Catholic priest. This was true whether his pastoral setting were the woods outside of Krakow, where as a young man he took students on camping trips and used his kayak as an altar; or inside the overpowering St. Peter’s Basilica, where his words echoed beneath Bernini’s breathtaking baldicchino; or for that matter via the open-air Masses said during his papacy, among the largest gatherings of human beings in the history of the world. Wherever he was, John Paul II’s Christian message remained the same. All that changed were the numbers of people hearing it.

And what about the “real” Karol Wojtyla, as lesser writers telling his life story might have promised? “The interior lives of great men,” Weigel observes, “are often cloaked in mystery,” and far from being an exception, it is his biographer’s belief that John Paul II proves the rule here. In the end, he cites as Wojtyla’s indispensible inner core the Catholic understanding of metanoia, or complete turning to God and losing of self. The paradox of John Paul II’s life, concludes Weigel, is that “all this emptying of self leads to the richest imaginable human experience: a life unembittered by irony or stultified by boredom, a life of both serenity and adventure.”

VDH on the Age of Adolescence

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

A 22-year-old PFC Bradley Manning, without much experience, knowledge, or maturity, somehow becomes a “military analyst.” (I thought those were 2-star generals, RAND Ph.Ds, decorated colonels, or old Kissingerian National Security Council pros.)

And in our culture without hierarchy and requisites that title apparently allows him — in between downloading Lady Gaga music while in a combat zone in Iraq—to tap into the secret cables of the U.S. State Department, and destroy two decades worth of diplomatic contacts, trust, and friendships.

No matter — you see poor Bradley was also upset, depressed, and he felt underappreciated. In part, that was because his drag-queen boyfriend had recently dumped him. He was, in his own words, “regularly ignored except when I had something essential then it was back to ‘bring me coffee, then sweep the floor.’ … [I] felt like I was an abused work horse.”

Iranian nukes? North Korean missiles? Again, no problem. Bradley, you see, was depressed and in response had the desire and the power to change the global order. (Or in 60s parlance, “who is to say that Bradley doesn’t have the right to shut down the diplomatic world?”) Even Bob Dylan would be impressed with how “the times they are a-changin’.”


Next, enter one Julian Assange — himself on the lam, avoiding a little sexy horseplay that the uptight Swedish authorities for some reason deemed thus far sexual battery and molestation. Jason is also angry at “them,” the Western world that does horrific things like guarantees enough affluence and security for those like Julian to jet about at will without any visible means of support. In the tradition of sixties nihilism, Julian, of course, tries to gussy up his destructive egotistical angst into some sort of cosmic humane call for more transparency and nice behavior on the part of the U.S. State Department and military.

In more earthly terms that means he is supposed to be something more than a two-bit computer punk that he is, one who would be terrified to extend his online liberationist creed to Iranian mullahs, Chinese communists, Hezbollah terrorists, or Russian gang lords. The latter do far more to trample the human spirit than does any Western nation, but they also at times tend to decapitate, blow up, or jail permanently any would-be Julian who dares to cross them.


While this is all going on, we have the spectacle of brave curators at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery offering us for Christmas season a new exhibit, emblematic of this current post-“piss-Christ”/Andres Serrano age of art.

Its title is coyly encrypted in postmodern bipolarity: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” And the exhibition apparently is full of Mapplethorpe-inspired gay-related imagery and offers us an image of Jesus being swarmed over by ants. Clever, brave, bold, shocking. Or in the words of the overseers of the federally-subsidized National Portrait Gallery, such artistic courage proves how the gallery is now “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”

Pondering Pieta in light of sexual abuse crisis

OTTAWA (CCN)—When the rector of Rome’s Pontifical Irish College ponders the devastation left by the sexual abuse crisis in Ireland, he remembers Michelangelo’s Pieta, of “Our Lady holding her dead son.”

Msgr. Liam Bergin describes the statue, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is an image of “great brokenness” but notes that the Blessed Mother is in no hurry, as she is “holding and loving her dead son,” to give up his body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.

“We proclaim Christ who died and rose again,” he said in an interview in Ottawa, where he participated in the rededication of the Sean O’Sullivan Room on Parliament Hill Nov. 24. “We have to stay with people who are suffering.”

And that means staying with the people who have been gravely harmed by sexual abuse. “There’s no quick fix to child sexual abuse,” he said. “People have been greatly hurt and damaged.”

“They need our prayers and support,” he said. “We need to be with them and for them.”

The Irish College will be part of the “triple visitation” Pope Benedict XVI asked for in his letter last March to the Catholics of Ireland. The visitation includes seminaries, dioceses and male and female religious orders.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be visiting the Irish College in the New Year, Bergin said. Two Canadian bishops, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, have each been assigned to visit an Irish archdiocese.

“Child sexual abuse is an extraordinary crime and it is a terrible sin,” Bergin said. “That has to be stated.”

“The guilty must be brought to justice and vulnerable children taken out of harm’s way,” he said.

How liberalism is like a Disney movie

Great post by Gregory Oatis over at The American Thinker:

Disney movies are aimed at kids. They use children's sense of powerlessness as a key plot device.

Liberals have cultivated that same feeling of powerlessness to the point that it has become an entire narcissistic, victim-centric worldview.

In short, like children attracted to Disney movies, liberals have yet to grow up and accept responsibility for their own existences.

So, here are the ten top ways the liberal view of reality resembles a Disney movie:

10) Liberals' entire universe is divided into Good Guys and Bad Guys, Nice People and Mean People, Us. vs. Them.

9) Liberals are powerless; their puny little lives are controlled by big ugly mean monsters or corporations that don't care and want to hurt them.

8) Birds and animals and fish and trees can think and feel and talk.

7) Transportation can be effected with little or no fuel consumption, via vehicles such as broomsticks, magic carpets and pixie dust. Much like the cute little hybrids and electric cars liberals love.

6) There is no God, just an unreasoning faith in some inchoate force you might as well call "The Circle of Life."

5) Reality revolves entirely around what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing, as if the universe were a movie in which they had the starring role.

4) Nobody understands or appreciates them. And this fact is somehow of the utmost importance.

3) Collapsing in a puddle of tears is an effective coping strategy; they expect someone to turn up who actually cares.

2) There's no hope at all for a happy ending unless someone more powerful than they magically comes and saves them. In their case, though, it's not a fat genie or a fairy godmother. Instead, it's some heroic and compassionate government initiative.

And the Number One way that liberals view the world as a Disney movie...

1) To get something, they don't think they should have to plan for it or work for it or sacrifice. Instead, they should only have to want the thing a whole, whole, whole, whole lot. (Wishing on a star optional.)