Last week, we bishops met for our annual Spring Meeting, this year in Seattle. We had a lot of business: liturgical matters, revision of the Charter to Protect Youth, approval of a defense of fragile human life against physician-assisted suicide, a decision to issue a document to help our priests, deacons, and ourselves preach better . . . plus a lot more.
But the most productive session came on Friday morning. As usual, we began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But then we gathered as the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the monstrance on the altar. There we prayed: morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; silence; an excellent conference by a brother bishop; silence; opportunity for confession; and closing Benediction.
It was, in my mind, the most productive part of our meeting. Nearly two hundred bishops, on their knees, in silent prayer, before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
As I tip-toed out of the room to stand in line for confession, I heard two of the young hotel workers chatting.
“It’s sure quiet in there,” whispered one of them. “What are they doing?”
“It’s weird,” replied the other. “They’re not doing nothing. They’re all just kneeling there quietly looking at this flat piece of bread in this fancy gold holder.”
He almost got it right . . . except that we believe, with all our heart and soul, that it’s not a “flat piece of bread,” but the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, really and truly present in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.
On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of a society of apostolic life of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.
At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitutions, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.
The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, let thy protection be upon all those who are in the service of our country; guard them from all harm and danger of body and soul; sustain and comfort those as home, especially in their hours of loneliness, anxiety, and sorrow; prepare the dying for death and the living for your service; give success to our arms on land and sea and in the air; and grant unto us and all nations a speedy, just and lasting peace. Amen.
‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’
The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.
‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’
He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.
“What John McCain suffered actually was torture. His bones were broken, for example. Induced panic isn’t torture.”
“I don’t base the definition of torture on subjective determinations. Clearly it’s an issue of prudential judgment and it is certainly clear to me, someone who has severe panic attacks, that panic is not torture.”
“If we cannot induce panic in our enemies with the intention of saving millions of lives, we can’t go to war at all. It’s as simple as that.”
Waterboarding is for pansies. If Ab? Zubaydah could withstand being waterboarded 83 times during August 2002, we’re clearly not doing it right. Let’s turn up the panic a few notches. Let’s take it one step further. Let’s put the fear of God almighty in these pathetic excuses for humanity.
“But to think about incarnation in another way, imagine Gaga performing unplugged and sans makeup as her natural-born self. She would then be not the Gaga sanctified and worshipped as “Mother Monster” on a (media) pedestal, but the Gaga-who-walks-among-us, the one who knows and understands the pain of being freak, outcast, and reject.“
Robert Holmes “Rob” Bell Jr. is an American “megachurch” pastor and author of such trendy books as Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, and Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. His latest book, Love Wins, which from what I can tell is an exploration of Christian universalism, has caused quite a stir of late.
I don’t know a great deal about Rob Bell, save for my stumbling on this video this morning of Rob Bell preaching on the Resurrection.
Now — ordinarily, you might think the the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead would be sufficient enough to provoke some stirring of human wonder in the listener.
Rather, the resurrection (or Rob Bell’s speculations on the meaning of such) has to be accompanied by a hip modern rock soundtrack and a streaming psychedelic light show such as I might have enjoyed — oh, perhaps two decades ago, at a Grateful Dead concert, “under the influence.” To such an extent that, at least from my perspective, the content of his message is repressed, obscured by the barrage of the senses.
What is it with these modern, megachurch televangelists?
What does this say about the attention span of the intended audience?
Has the gospel become so boring that we really have to be entertained by it?
Yes, we believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth. And we celebrate the God who was made man, who suffered, died, was buried and rose again.
We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of his creation.
We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence.
We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death.
We celebrate the first day because we know that the black line drawn across creation does not last for ever.
We celebrate it because we know that those words from the end of the creation account have now been definitively fulfilled: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Amen.
Early reports suggested that more than 800 people, largely from the Gbagbo-supporting Gueré tribe, were killed in a single day at the sprawling Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, 300 miles west of Abidjan towards the Liberian border. The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.
Late yesterday the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1000 people were massacred in Duekoue. A Caritas spokesman said Caritas workers visited the town and reported seeing a neighbourhood filled with bodies of people who had been shot and hacked to death with machetes.
The perpetrators of the massacre are troops loyal to the Muslim President Alassane Ouattara, rebels attempting to forcefully remove Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent President refusing to step down after allegedly losing the vote in November 2010.
As Gateway Pundit notes, “the conflict has been brewing for years,” with a country divided between the Muslim North and Christian South and a disputed election of a Muslim president against a Christian incumbent who has remained in office since 2000.
Further reading is required to grasp the true horror (and nature) of the conflict:
With respect to Terry Jones’ burning of the Qu’ran, my position (as a Catholic) is to echo the statement of the Vatican: it is “an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community,” and an unnecessary provocation (if even to make a point). A peaceful dialogue between communities is not advanced by such a direct attack on the other. Likewise, with respect to caricatures of Mohammed by the Western press:
In addition, coexistence calls for a climate of mutual respect to favor peace among men and nations. Moreover, these forms of exasperated criticism or derision of others manifest a lack of human sensitivity and may constitute in some cases an inadmissible provocation. A reading of history shows that wounds that exist in the life of peoples are not cured this way.
I said as much last year (“Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression” (American Catholic May 16, 2010) — Lars Vilks may endorse his right to depict a gay Mohammed or a paedophile Jesus. We might countenance his First Amendment “right” to sacrilege as Americans, but I believe as Catholics we should protest such offenses, not only to ourselves but to our fellow Muslims.
However, what I think also merits comment is exactly that which is noted by Rich Sanchez in his column: when a Qur’an happens to be vandalized, such an action is “not only offensive, but also dangerous — especially to our troops.” In fact, Terry Jones’ sacrilege “can have dire consequences for all of us.”
But why would it — why should it — be considered dangerous, even lethal, to our troops?
By no means am I equating all Muslims with the mob in Afghanistan. We do not see this level of violent protest here in the United States by American Muslims. But surely those Muslims protesting the actions of Terry Jones, and Mr. Rick Sanchez as well, can agree that there is something seriously amiss when the vandalization of a religious icon — or cartoons published in a newspaper — result in a violent mob and the slaughter of innocents.
And yet, has the media ever reported mobs of Christians hunting down and killing the perpetrators of such sacrilege? — Speaking from personal experience, by and large when such incidents occur, the result is the congregation of Christians in prayer and silent, nonviolent protest.
What is it about Muslims in other nations that we see them react in this manner? Is this a religious thing? — Can it be so readily dismissed as a ethnic or cultural thing?
When critics of Islam depict it as a “violent religion”, why do so Muslim reactions have a tendency to lend credence to the very characterization they are protesting against?
I ask this with all respect, as a reader, as a Christian, and as a friend to the Muslim community.
Commenting on a prior post by Paul Zummo on “Religious Egalitarianism”, I had cited the provocative comment of the late Fr. James Neuhaus:
Yet more troubling is the message that Islam, in order to become less of a threat to the world, must relativize its claim to possess the truth. That plays directly into the hands of Muslim rigorists who pose as the defenders of the uncompromised and uncompromisible truth and who call for death to the infidels. If Islam is to become tolerant and respectful of other religions, it must be as the result of a development that comes from within the truth of Islam, not as a result of relativizing or abandoning that truth. Is Islam capable of such a religious development? Nobody knows. But, if the choice is between compromising Islamic truth or a war of civilizations, it is almost certain that the winner among Muslims will be the hard-core Islamism that [Bernard] Lewis rightly views as such a great threat.
Christianity is more, not less, vibrantly Christian as a result of coming to understand more fully the mysterious and loving ways of God in His dealings also with non-Christians. Although the story of this development is complex, the important truth is that tolerance and mutual respect are religious, not secular, achievements. I will say it again: the reason we do not kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God is that we believe it is against the will of God to kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God. Christians have come to believe that. We must hope that more and more Muslims will come to believe that. That will not happen, however, if they are told that coming to believe that will make them less faithful Muslims.
I was asked by a reader to expand on Neuhaus’ remarks, and as I’ve no wish to hijack Paul’s post (particularly as it wasn’t about Islam per se), here’s some further food for thought.
On the night of 26-27 March 1996, seven Trappist monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria — Dom Christian de Chergé, Brother Luc Dochier, Father Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Father Bruno Lemarchand, Father Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville — were kidnapped. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996.
The actual cause of their death remains in dispute. Their captors, the Armed Islamic Group, initially lay claim to the murders — but a French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, later reported that the deaths were accidental in a botched rescue attempt by the Algerian army. [Source: Wikipedia]
In 1996, First Things published an English translation of a letter by the superior of the monastery, Father Christian de Chergé, “to be opened in the event of my death”. In light of the movie it seems appropos to re-post it here, as food for thought:
Carlos, the film, chronicles the life, and often-bungled operations, of infamous Venezualan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka. ‘Carlos the Jackal’ in service to various Marxist and Islamicist fronts (bankrolled by Syria, Libya and oh, yes — Iraq).
For one so fervently committed to “anti-imperialism”, the end of the Cold War must have been quite disillusioning. The toppling of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany, the downfall of the Soviet Union, the implosion of the Socialist bloc, the mass revolt sweeping across Europe — the culmination of these events left the once proud, once feared, once notorious “Carlos the Jackal” a relic of ages past, now bereft of support and shelter. You almost feel sorry for the guy:
Q: What kind of Catholic are you? A: Bad. Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative? A: I no longer know what those words mean. Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic? A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief? Q: Yes. A: Yes. Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age? A: What else is there? Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behavioralism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy. A: That’s what I mean. Q: To say nothing of Judaism or Protestantism. A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing. Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative? A: Yes. Q: Why? A: It’s not good enough. Q: Why not? A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer, “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less.
Next Tuesday, January 11th, Ignatius Press will launch a new book by former Planned Parenthood director and 2008 “employee of the year” Abby Johnson.
Unplanned is a behind-closed-doors expose of one of the biggest providers in the abortion industry, and a testimony of how Mrs. Johnson went from directing an abortion facility to working for the prolife cause. (And not just any abortion facility but the place at which the first 40 Days for Life campaign was launched in 2004).
As expected, Planned Parenthood isn’t taking this lightly. They filed a lawsuit to shut her up — but had their case dismissed.
In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:
“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”