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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Whatever Will the Media Have to Say About the Pope?

John Allen, reporting on the resurgence of "the nasty" at the Vatican:
Over the centuries, court politics at the Vatican sometimes have had a seriously nasty side. If anyone was wondering whether that aspect of its culture had been killed off in the Francis era, or had simply gone dormant, late February 2015 provided a fairly clear answer...
The focus this time is Cardinal George Pell...
L’Espresso also revealed the minutes of a meeting from last September in which some veteran Vatican cardinals objected to various aspects of Pell’s leadership, with one bitterly referring to what’s happening as a form of “Sovietization,” meaning totalitarian control.
On Friday, the Vatican released its own statement denouncing such leaks as “illegal,” calling the criticism of Pell “undignified and petty,” and backing his performance by saying it’s proceeding with “continuity and efficacy.”
The spectacle is eerily reminiscent of the “Vatileaks” scandal of 2012, when a tidal wave of supposedly confidential Vatican documents appeared in the Italian press. 
That can't be true. The two kerfuffles can't be anything alike.
If they were, wouldn't the secular press be full of stories telling us what a weak administrator the Pope is? that he has lost control of his Curia and his Church?

Snarking aside, it's a Sisyphean... Sysiphusian.... Syssiph - impossibly difficult task, and no pope will accomplish it this side of eternity.
They all need and deserve our prayers.
By the way, Archbishop Chaput writes very well on the death penalty.
Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. They bear a terrible burden of grief, and they rightly demand justice. Real murderers deserve punishment; but even properly tried and justly convicted murderers – men and women who are found guilty of heinous crimes -- retain their God-given dignity as human beings. When we take a murderer's life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture, and we demean our own dignity in the process.
Both Scripture and Catholic tradition support the legitimacy of the death penalty under certain limited conditions. But the Church has repeatedly called us to a higher road over the past five decades. We don’t need to kill people to protect society or punish the guilty. And we should never be eager to take anyone’s life. As a result, except in the most extreme circumstances, capital punishment cannot be justified. In developed countries like our own, it should have no place in our public life. 
I had an online conversation years ago on a mostly Christian, mostly pro-life discussion group, where I told a very conservative, staunchly anti-abortion, evangelical woman that I found it hard to convince people to embrace the humanity of babies they cannot see when those attempting to convince plainly refuse to embrace the humanity of grown people they can see.
She relied that we would never convince people to care about the lives of guilty men on death row if we didn't care about the lives of the innocent unborn.
I said yup, that I agreed, I was genuinely pro-life.
I was 100% against the killing of the unborn, no deliberate abortions, no exceptions.
Would she take a similarly unapologetic pro-life stance, against capital punishment as it is practiced in this nation, which possesses the means of absolute protection from criminals via incarceration?
She said she was pro-life.
I asked, so you are against capital punishment?
She said she was pro-life.
I asked again, will you come out against capital punishment?
Sh stopped responding on that thread.

I still believe that, we will never carry the hearts and minds of ou countrymen on this with inconsistency.
(I also hold to traditional Catholic teaching.
There could be circumstances when the death penalty were the only way for a society to be safe from a particular miscreant - a time or place where technology did not allow for both humane and secure permanent imprisonment; an incontrovertibly guilty miscreant whose presence in prison would be an unacceptable danger to those charged with his custody, or to those whose lives might be taken in revenge, kidnapped to obtain leverage to free him, etc. I believe the Red Brigade met that requirement, and could have warranted execution. I believe Osama Bin Laden could have proved such a danger if still alive, so I am not sorry that he did not live to stand trial.)

An Excellent United Front

Now THAT'S a "here comes everybody" example of Catholicism that thrills me.
CNA/EWTN NEWS 03/05/201
WASHINGTON — Four U.S. Catholic publications with a broad range of audiences have come together in a joint editorial citing Church leaders in calling for an end to the death penalty in the United States.
 “Capital punishment must end,” stated a March 5 editorial by America magazine, the National Catholic Register, the National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor.
The death penalty is both “abhorrent and unnecessary,” the publications said.
 From their keyboards to God's ear.
For the sake of Your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Dissappointing "Reporting" From Crux

I had hopes for Crux, but, well...
(It's still a sight better than NcR, which has hired a disgraced ax grinder to replace one of their better writers.)

An article about a Fr. R's threatened lawsuit against a blogger reports the priest saying he’s not planning to take legal action against the blogger, considers the matter closed, and never planned to sue.
None of that is in quotes in the article. This was:
“It was never my intention to sue, but rather to issue a letter to ‘cease and desist’ the frivolous calumny.”
The reporter, (who is not, I think, a native English speaker, but betrays no problems at all with comprehension or idioms,) lets that stand without question.
This, despite the contents of the letter sent on Fr. R's behalf, (and presumably at his request, although offered pro bono,) being widely available, and contradicting this lack of intent.
We have been retained by [Fr. R].....
We formally demand that you immediately and publicly retract all statement [sic] on the blog regarding [Fr. R] and apologize to him on the Blog. [sic] As well, we direct you to remove all references to [Fr. R] in your blog other than the retraction and/or apology. If our demands are not complied with by the end of business on [4 days from date of letter] we will seek instructions to commence an action against you.
We reserve the right to commence litigation against you regardless of and apology or retraction, but assure you that in the absence of an apology or retraction, the damages claimed will be significantly higher.
Govern yourself accordingly.
Are we to think the law firm acted without his knowledge or consent? (because THAT would be a story,) or that he was joking in his threats?
I like Fr R's work, what I've seen of it, and the blogger in question may be a crackpot, but Crux offers a kind of dishonest picture of what happened.

(And the denizens of the combox are foul, at least as bad as the rabid right-wing Catholic bloggers whom I believe the reporter references at the beginning of her piece, and they are disgusting.)

The Our Father and the "Orans" Gesture

On his "In the light of the Law" blog, canonist Edward Peters treats the subject of posture during the Lord's Prayer,   the weird and contradictory, (my words, not his,) situation that now obtains, and the obvious fix.
Oddly, I have noticed at my parish, one lay reader who is a religious scholar of some sort seems to be the only one, (besides Himself and me,) who does not take the orans posture or hold hands - EXCEPT THE PRIEST.
No, our pastor already prays the Our Father with his hands clasped... er, in prayer.

"Blaming the Poor"

A thoughtful piece about the far-too-common attitude of far-too-many conservative comfortable people toward the poor.

I call it Why Don't They Just...? syndrome.
I suffer from it myself. I know that mental illness is not the fault of the mentally ill. I know that. I just have trouble actually feeling it, especially with the mildly/marginally/none-completely-disabling mentally ill. (Strangely, I have more success feeling compassion for alcoholics and the drug-addicted, even though in some instances, a good case could be made that they could have prevented it themselves,  that it is their fault.)
[A] member of the House of Lords, speaking at the launch of a report on hunger in England, declared “We have lost a lot of our cookery skills. Poor people do not know how to cook. I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.” That people may not have the time to make the oatmeal because they’ve only got a few minutes between two exhausting jobs, Lady Jenkin didn’t see. 
Is that necessarily a conservative way of thinking? I remember when I was a child reading a bit in Reader's Digest, surely a "conservative" publication if ever there was one, that suggested an experiment - get rid of your car, break a few windows in your home, empty your wallet, scatter garbage in your neighborhood, disable most of your plumbing, put you cleaning implements, most of your clothes, your savings and investments off limits, don't communicate with any of your friends or family who are well-off or even minimally comfortable -- now, "make something of yourself."

But it seems to me that this failure to empathize, to understand what the situation of a person other than yourself entails is not a matter of conservativism, or if it is, it has its just as damaging counterpart on the left, which is the patronizing attitude that that the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, the abused not only need our help, but they cannot in any way help themselves, and they CERTAINLY can't help US.

They are completely OTHER.

They are equally wrong, harrumphing "Why don't the lazy louts just do what we do," and cooing, "the poor dears can't possibly do what we do."

When scripture talks about the poor, it isn't talking about the Other, it is speaking to and about ALL of us. All of humanity is poor, we are all in this together.

Recall, it was a king who cried out, Incline your ear, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and oppressed.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Music Of Defiance

A remarkable story about a musical performance inspired by a remarkable story.
The Nazis had [taken] a medieval Czech fortress town and convert[ed] it into a massive, horrifically overcrowded ghetto and transit camp. From there the next stop was Auschwitz.
The response of the Jewish prisoners was nearly unique. They created a rich cultural life for themselves, ... including “2,400 lectures, 16 performances of the Verdi Requiem, 38 performances of [Smetana’s opera] ‘The Bartered Bride,’ 50 performances of [Czech children’s opera] ‘Brundibár,’ and performances of ‘Tosca’ and ‘The Magic Flute,’” as well as cabaret and jazz events.
One figure at the heart of their cultural efforts was Rafael Schächter, a Romanian-born Czech conductor, composer and choral director, whose promising career in opera was cut short when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and banned Jews from public life. Sidlin’s ....,  his crowning achievement in Terezin: 16 performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass.
The Jewish conductor at the heart of the story rightly describes Verdi's Requiem as "steeped in the Catholic liturgy," it isn't itself even vaguely liturgical - it is a great, great opera.

I don't actually know the details of Verdi's faith, his brand of Roman Catholicism - he was, IIRC, anti-clerical, anti-Papal states, no?

But the Manzoni Requiem radiates the splendour of truth.

I don't know how anyone can listen to Verdi's setting of ingemisco and not be certain, yes, of his own sinfulness but even more sure of the salvific power of God's mercy, in Christ.

Denial is Just a River in Egypt

I was in a cast with ... this woman, once.
A few days into rehearsal I said to this woman, "I know you, it's been driving me crazy, but I finally remembered where, we met at an audition once."
No, this woman told me, I never forget a face.
It was backstage at the XXX theater on Broadway, it was an open call for YYY.
I was indeed at that audition, but I would remember if I'd met you.
You told me that  had just come back from doing a show, ZZZ in the Bahamas, where you had learned to ride a motor scooter.
I did work there in that play, but no, I'm quite sure.
But don't you remember, we did the oh-do-you-know, have-you-ever-worked-with thing and we discovered that a guy I went to high school, QQQ, had played your son in that production?
Why, yes QQQ was in that cast with me, but no, I'm positive we've never met before.
It was all very friendly, so I hadn't offended her; and she didn't keep he voice hushed and dash furtive glances, so she wasn't in witness protection; and she was competent in a pretty wordy play so it wasn't memory; and it turned out that I knew her agent from long ago and we discussed him, so it wasn't long term memory; and she remembered that particular audition so it wasn't global transient amnesia.

It was just denial, pure and simple, denial, from what motive I have never been able to fathom.

I only bring it up, because I've read a couple of columns online or on paper, recently, like this one, found them resonating with me, (you know I love my Aldi,) found myself agreeing with the writer - and then gotten to the end and realized my agreement was supposed, somehow, to put me quite solidly on the conservative side of our political/ecological/cultural/gustatory divide.


But I hate liver, I love wind farms. Other than being 100% pro-life, I tend to fall on the liberal or progressive side of things, big government, rah-rah!, (and even on life issues -- I'm also anti-capital punishment.)


Wondering, am I a closet conservative? who doesn't even know I'm in a closet?

SAINT Zelie and SAINT Louis

This makes me very happy.

I have a particular devotion to the Martins, mere and pere.
I was tickled when Benedict beatified them.

Talk about God drawing straight with crooked lines, or answering your prayers in ways better than you could have ever dreamed, or opening a great big gorgeous room-for-the-whole-family-to-go--through window after shutting a door, or whatever hopeful cliche you like!

No, sorry, not smart enough for the vacation, too needed at home to allow you to enter here, too this, not enough that - you'll just have to get married and raise a whole family of religious, a whole family of saints.
Image result for zelie and louis

It is very wonderful, very comforting to know that there is a saint in heaven who especially cares about you.
I am quite sure of it.


I seldom disagree with Fr Hunwicke, so I am  hoping this is facetious.
I was surprised to get back home to my computer to discover that in Rome there is going to be a special Mass to commemorate fifty years since the first Mass entirely in the Italian Language. Surely, this sort of rather Renaissance triumphalist crowing is both in bad taste, and sadly divisive?
After all, we would not likewise accuse those who offered or attended Masses of thanksgiving on the anniversaries of Summorum Pontificum of triumphalist crowing, I am certain.

Me, I mourn on the anniversary... I am still stuck in the Rite of Makingitupasyougoalong at St. Thewaywedoithere's.

L'shana haba'ah..., she muttered hopefully. 

And you guy's were complaining about Obamacare....

From Zenit :
Authorities in the province of Savannakhet, located in Laos, have declared that praying for the healing of the sick is in violation of the government's health care law.
In a report that has surprised and disturbed Christians in the region, the provincial authorities ruling was published following the arrest and conviction of five Christians for having prayed for a dying women.
"The religious ceremony to pray for the healing of the sick, in accordance with their religious worship, is a violation of Article 41 and 42 of the health care law", the reports states, adding that prayer "is an abuse of medical profession".

"Hey, aren't you that Star Trek guy?"

Poor Wilfrid Laurier do you suppose he went through life being mis-recognized and asked for autographs? (Yeah, I know he died in 1919, but Time Travel. Duh.)

One more thing to love in our neighbors to the north.

Canadians are paying a strange sort of tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy — they're drawing his most famous character, Spock from "Star Trek," over a 19th-century politician on their banknotes....
But the Bank of Canada is unimpressed.
According to the BBC, Canada's central bank, which is responsible for the notes, confirmed that the practice was not illegal but said people should not be doing it anyway .
(Me, I already loved them for the high butterfat content of the little creamers they give you with tea or coffee up there.)

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I remember why I go to music-free Masses...

Quite aside from the quality,  (and with the "stop judging," still ringing in my ears, I guess I should put it very far aside,) the extraordinarily random choices leave me flabbergasted.

Here I Am? Make Me a Channel? All Glory Laud and Honor? Pescador?


“metz yeghern"


Sinners vs. Hypocrites

All due respect, Holy Father, I'm not sure the Lord "preferred sinners" to hypocrites, exactly.

(And I hold with those who doubt Pete's declaration of his own status of "sinner," I think he was just bein' lazy.)
The 78 year old Pontiff went on to reflect on today's Gospel in which Christ denounces the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who like many today "say all the right things, but do the exact opposite."
"They pretend to convert, but their heart is a lie: they are liars! It 'a lie ... Their heart does not belong to the Lord; their heart belongs to the father of all lies, Satan. And this is fake holiness," he said.
"Jesus preferred sinners a thousand times to these. Why? Because sinners told the truth about themselves. 'Get away from me, Lord, I am a sinner!': Peter once said. One of those [the hypocrites] never says that! 'Thank you Lord, that I am not a sinner, that I am righteous."
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect during this time of Lent on conversion, forgiveness and to beware of "pretending to convert, while choosing the path of hypocrisy."
I know all times and places are not alike in their needs, in their proclivities... or in their particular sins.
But it seems to me that the problem of sin that most presses on us today, (different laws for different cases, shorter pants need longer braces,) is not the hypocrite who acknowledges the existence of sin by pretending to avoid it, but the one who denies that sin is sin, and not only fails to avoid it, but celebrates it.
Amassing wealth while others starve.
Holding the right to abort as the highest value which trumps every other.
Preferring adultery or abandonment of responsibility to living "inauthentically" by subjecting oneself to a situation that might make one unhappy.
Accepting the collateral damage of innocent life from actions in response to anything other than the protection of othe innocent life.

The hypocrite at least tries to be the cause of scandal. (The Pharisees' hypocrisy's visibility of course did give scandal, as today's "getting caught" will do. Then all bets are off - "well, if everybody's doin' it, even those guys, why should I bother? why shoul I hold back"")

Of course, TPMMV.

(I hesitate to assure my 2 1/2 regular readers that I am not guilty of any of those denials of sin, I am not like that at all. And I thank God for it.)

"Self-discipline and Sacrifice"

Reason # 623,725 that I lie pixilate the facts online.

David Brooks tells us what it takes to split up "gracefully."
"Self-discipline and sacrifice"? Oh, is that all? simple then....

Has he been reading over our shoulders?

Kidding, it seems he's writing about an entirely different, and less yeesh-inducing level of communicating and failure to do so, and people who have at least some notion of privacy than was the subject of convo this morning chez scelata.
Himself, yet again, did what we both call"doing a [his given name]" this morning as it is his wont to begin actual vocalizing of his thoughts in mid-conversation, forgetful that all the previous conversation had been in his head or on his screen, and that a pronoun is not enough to clue me in on "who" much less "what."

When we finally sorted out of whom and concerning what he was speaking, (I'm not going to have Kristen Schall on my back,) I shared his.... "ick."

A relativ An acquaintance had announced her separation from her husband very jauntily on Facebook, commenters provided commiseration or congratulation, the thread grew and the soon-to-be-ex joined in, "Yeah, ya cow, well if ya hadn't'a' gone and....." and a litany of high crimes and misdemeanours ensued, and a bitchy time was had by all.

What possesses people?

I have enough laundry of my own to wash.

There are almost-family members who take it upon themselves to announce deaths, illnesses, job losses, matters that are not theirs to broadcast to the world...

I am discovering that most of my siblings, like me, are that pitiful combination of traits, loud-mouthed  INTROverts. Many of the siblings spouses are the type to show off the beautiful intarsia knits they've done of their Social Security #s on Pinterest.

Oh well, it's Lent, so I will not say SHUT UP ALREADY.

No, I will not say that.

Monday, 2 March 2015

"Troubling Consequences"

The possibility of sex – selective abortion in the UK was exposed in a Daily Telegraph investigation in which two doctors were filmed agreeing to carry out terminations because the unborn babies were girls. Police investigated, but the Crown Prosecution Service later refused to bring charges against them, saying that it was not in the public interest.
 Image result for mrs fawlty
I know, I know, how could it be, really?
Because, um, consequences.
MPs are likely to vote against attempts to outlaw abortion on grounds of gender after Labour warned that it will have "troubling consequences". ..
She said that the move could inadvertently outlaw abortion in cases where there are "gender specific abnormalities".
In a letter to MPs, she also warned that the amendment has the potential to undermine Britain's abortion laws
You know, like reminding people that there are some reasons to kill a baby that even WE  think are, you know.... not good.
You see it's ALREADY  illegal. So we don't need to say it again. And we won't prosecuate anyone because, it's ALREADY  illega --  wait, that reasoning doesn't work. Let's see, how can we make sense of this....?

And we'd better, because I where the UK treads, there tread we....
Because sometimes, you simply MUST have a boy.
Image result for "baby crawley"
What else can you do if the estate's entailed?

"The Greatest Persecution of Christians in History"

This failure to acknowledge the mere fact, (and the merely indisputable fact,) of the Armenian genocide for decades has now led us to a point where civilized people have to continue to be oblivious to its horrors for the sake of current expedience, regarding Enemies of Enemies who we must pretend are friends, no?
Isn't that always the way....
It aids no ones pursuit of truth or justice, however, to attribute mention of the genocide to Hitler,  since it appears "he didn't say all the things he said," as Yogi would have put it.

It is quite obscene enough, without blaming it for the attempted genocide of the Poles, the Jews, the Gypsies...

Great Line

A priest asked him if he’d ever thought about the priesthood. [The now-seminarian] had a ready answer: “Father, I like girls too much.”
The priest responded, “Getting married is giving up all girls but one; becoming a priest is just giving up one more girl.”
Some dioceses, some BISHOPS seem to be getting it right. I have always liked everything I have learned about Bishop Morlino, (not that my likes have anything to do with anything, I'm just sayin')

O Lord, grant us priests!
O Lord, grant us holy priests!
O Lord, grant us many holy priests!
I had no idea that was an SSPX prayer, or associated with them.  In fact, i don't think it is, really, because I have never been to an SSPX liturgy or service and I have known it a long time. (I did once worship, unwittingly, at a sedevacantist church when on the road, before I knew there was such a thing, and I've been to an independent chapel out of curiosity - and of a desire for corporate prayer, I hasten to add -  for a Holy Hour.)

Saturday, 28 February 2015

From the Press Office

I'd like to clarify some remarks made yesterday by....

Like the news, only important...