A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, August 03, 2002
1925-1964 (date of death: August 3)

Saint Flannery of the South?

"When I read Flannery O'Connor, I do not think of Hemingway, or Katharine Anne Porter, or Sartre, but rather of someone like Sophocles. What more can you say for a writer? I write her name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which she shows man's fall and his dishonor." - Thomas Merton

Flannery O'Connor, on whose bed stand were always three books: the Bible, the Missal, and the Breviary, wrote short stories that are among the finest ever crafted, and explores, unforgettably and almost fiercely, the great themes of sin and redemption and the triumph of Grace. Her vision is centered in Christ and His Incarnation and Redemption, and how she sees through the pretensions of "modernism" in its rejection of the supernatural and of any absolute truth.

But what humor shines through all her work! And her letters (what letters!) shine with the joy of faith and of living, despite her suffering and early death from lupus. Her peacocks were a source of never-ending delight as well. Thankfully a wonderful new edition of many of her works has been published by the Library of America (well worth the price!). If you haven't met this great southern Catholic (who delighted to write about the fundamentalists in the "Christ-haunted south"), a feast awaits......

FLANNERY O'CONNOR: THE COLLECTED WORKS (Library of America) by Flannery O'Connor, Sally Fitzgerald (Editor)

OK! My favorite poet is Hopkins - but my favorite short story writer is Flannery O'Connor! I "met" her, as I did Hopkins, in High School, and she has been a companion of heart and soul since then. I have read her Short Stories many times over the years - and they always seem fresh and new - real "works of art." Her characters are unforgettable! And while she is piercing and utterly honest about the evils lurking in the human heart - she is, above all, the storyteller of the triumph of Grace.

Hers is a vision rooted in the Mysteries of Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, the Redemption. But she speaks of these in stories that can both stun and shine! This edition of her works is the best I know and the most beautiful to behold and touch. A treasure-house - and it has most of her letters too! These letters have had me both crying and laughing - what a noble soul radiates in these stories and letters! She once called herself a "hillbilly Thomist" and you will find in Flannery O'Connor - A GREAT ARTIST AND GREAT CATHOLIC!


Here's just one example of her thousands of letters:

"A nasty dose of orthodoxy"

To Sally and Robert Fitzgerald

15 March 63

I have just got back from the Symposium on Religion & Art at Sweet Briar and boy do I have a stomach full of liberal religion! The Devil had his day there. It began with Boas talking about "Art & Magic." I don't know what he meant to say but he left the impression that religion was good because it was art and magic. Nothing behind it but it's good for you.

Then they had the Dean of Theological School at Drew. He was a Methodist-Universalist. I gather this means you don't drink but about theology you are as vague as possible and talk a lot about how the symbology has played out in Christianity and how it's up to artists to make up a new symbology. At these things you are considered great in direct proportion to how often you can repeat the word symbology.

They wedged me and James Johnson Sweeney in there somewhere. He was above the fray as he confined himself to Art, but I waded in and gave them a nasty dose of orthodoxy, which I am sure they thought was pretty quaint. It ended with John Ciardi who told them why religion was no good - or so I hear, I didn't go to his lecture.

James Johnson Sweeney asked most especially for you when he found out I knew you. I didn't get a chance to say much to him as everywhere they sat me I was next to the Methodist-Universalist. He left in the middle of my talk. I don't think it was a protest gesture, I just think he thought he could live a useful life without it. I told them that when Emerson decided in 1832 that he could no longer celebrate the Lord's supper unless the bread and wine were removed that an important step in the vaporization of religion in America had taken place. It was somewhere after that I think that he left ...

I haven't seen it in print but somebody told me he thought [Robert] got the Bollingen Prize. I congratulate you. You should have got it if you didn't. I guess you saw that Powers got the National Book Award. I was much cheered at that. I got the 0. Henry this year. Walker Percy got the N'tl Book Award last year. Katherine Anne will probably get the Pulitzer Prize. I think you ought to judge the prize by the book but even so these hold up and all these people are Catlicks so this should be some kind of answer to the people who are saying we don't contribute to the arts.

[P.S.] Have you read about the lady in Texas who is having a chapel built in the shape of John Glenn's capsule?

No wonder I am in love with Flannery O'Connor and hope someday to invoke her as "Saint Flannery of the South" - and once again, if you don't yet have it, do yourself and big favor and get this beautiful richly laden book:


Friday, August 02, 2002
St Blog's becoming a megachurch?

Warm welcome to:

Reflections of a Catholic - Chris Hart 
Little Latin, Less Greek -  Joshua Jericho
Confessions - of an accidental choir director
- Aristotle Esguerra
Pat Mulcahy's Home Page
Atheist to a Theist - Jeff Miller
My Daily Crumbs - Karl Kohlhase
error503 -- La vita nuova - Dylan
Where Virgil Meets Homer - Shawn Tribe

Comments back up...

YACCS (which gives the comments feature free) got back to me quickly and helped me fix things. I am impressed with such good service! And grateful! (Now to get my new but broken scanner working again!)


Anyone have a clue why my Comments aren't working and my Site Meter is invisible as well? My email address is in the left hand column. Thanks.

Not yet? At this point?

"Noting that many of those at the gathering were members of Call to Action Massachusetts, Daley said he had begun conversation with leaders of the new group about possible collaboration in the future.

“The major difference between CTA and Voice of the Faithful is that Voice is not yet taking positions on issues apart from lay participation,” he said. “For instance, they don’t yet have positions on a married priesthood or women’s ordination, positions we have been clearly advocating while they are focused on lay voice. So there is some difference of agenda at this point.” (italics mine)

Full article in National Catholic Reporter Online

World Youth Day Protest

Dissidents' Alternative WYD goes out not with a bang, and with hardly a wimper

"The program, sponsored by a group called “Challenge the Church,” included sessions on democracy and dissent, sexuality and the church, reproductive rights and global justice.

One highlight was a July 23 liturgy celebrated by Mary Ramerman, recently declared a priest by the breakaway community of Corpus Christi in Rochester, N.Y. Organizers said a crowd of more than 400 took part." A crowd???? ( National Catholic Reporter Online).

In the meantime, a crowd of more than 800,000 pray, sing, rejoice, and love - with the Pope - and the Catholic Church!

As John Henry Newman said long ago:

"Deeply do I feel, ever will I protest, for I can appeal to the ample testimony of history to bear me out, that, in questions of right and wrong, there is nothing really strong in the whole world, nothing decisive and operative, but the voice of him, to whom have been committed the keys of the kingdom and the oversight of Christ's flock.

The voice of Peter is now, as it ever has been, a real authority, infallible when it teaches, prosperous when it commands, ever taking the lead wisely and distinctly in its own province, adding certainty to what is probably, and persuasion to what is certain. Before it speaks, the most saintly may mistake; and after it has spoken, the most gifted must obey....

All who take part with Peter are on the winning side. The Apostle of Christ says not in order to unsay; for has inherited that word which is with power."

That Love Affair Again
Even the New York Times can't deny it!

The 'Pilgrim Pope' Fondly Bids the Mexicans Farewell

Up and Running Again - for the most part

For a day and a half this blog was broken - I couldn't edit or add any posts. Thankfully, things are up and running again, for the most part anyway. I notice the comment feature is not showing up right now.... and hope that will they reappear soon. In the meantime, thanks for your patience (and send your comments by email, OK, until that feature is activated again).

Thursday, August 01, 2002
A Love Affair
Pope and Mexican People

"I am leaving but not leaving: I leave but my heart remains" Pope John Paul II in Mexico

Thanks to EWTN I was able to watch a good bit of the Pope's visit to Mexico. Watching the events on TV brings actual images that can hardly be described adequately in the press or in the brief clips on the evening news, etc. And the only word I could use to describe what I saw with my own eyes is love affair. How those Mexicans expressed their exhuberant love for the Pope and how he seemed to be energized and look on them with such love. I thought none could compare in enthusiasm with the youthful admirers of JP2. Well, the Mexicans gave them a run for the money!!! It was sheer joy and exultation! And how they "waved" and serenaded their beloved father in God. It is not only a passionate love affair but a family affair!

It disproves, too, that the Pope is the object of a "cult of the young." It is not only the young who love him, but all ages, races, and classes (even as some continue to despise him - as is to be expected in the real world and real Church).

O God, bless our Pope and give him a good rest after this triumphant visit to the Americas.

Thank you, Father, for the gift of John Paul II! Ad multos annos, JP!! Thank you for our great family!

My holy Father Alphonsus
St Alphonsus Liguori, artist of the gospel

Alfonso de Liguori, preacher par excellence

A blessed feast (August 1) of the great Doctor of the Church, St Alphonsus Liguori. How fruitful he was for the Church of God! Like Ignatius Loyola, Alphonsus was larger than life.

Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), great preacher and evangelizer, author (he wrote dozens and dozens of books and a massive moral theology, and started writing when he was 50!), confessor par excellence (and is the Patron of Confessors and Moral Theologians), pastoral bishop of a diocese, great man of prayer and action, lover of Christ and His Church (and a great defender of the Pope's office).....and a poet and musician too! An artist of the Gospel!

Perhaps these verses from one of his many hymns shows us a glimpse of his heart, the heart of a saint. How I remember this beautiful hymn from my childhood and all through my growing up as a Catholic. How beautiful were the hymns like this that radiate such warmth and such a *personal* love and relationship with the "Blessed Three in One". Maybe I'll live long enough to see another generation of young Catholics singing their hearts out with this hymn of St Alphonsus Liguori - usually sung to a melody similiar to "Fairest Lord Jesus"

O God of loveliness, 0 Lord of heaven above,
How worthy to possess my heart's devoted love.
So sweet thy countenance, so gracious to behold
That one, one one only glance to me were bliss untold.

Thou art blest Three in One, yet undivided still,
Thou art the One alone, whose love my heart can fill.
The heavens and earth below were fashioned by thy Word,
How amiable art Thou, my ever dearest Lord.

To think Thou art my God - O thought forever blest!
My heart has overflowed with joy within my breast.
My soul so full of bliss, is plunged as in a sea,
Deep in the sweet abyss of holy charity.

O loveliness supreme, and Beauty infinite,
0 ever flowing Stream and Ocean of delight,
0 Life by which I live, My truest Life above,
To Thee alone I give my undivided love.

Saint Alphonsus wrote the most popular Christmas carol still in use in Italy, Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle. His Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are jewels of prayer, and many of us know his stunningly beautiful Stations of the Cross. Alphonsus knew how to reach hearts! And yet he wrote heavy tomes of Moral Theology, and is listed among the Doctors of the Universal Church.

Alphonsus knew suffering: he was bent over with arthritis (somewhat like our Pope is now), so badly that his chin indented his chest! He wound up, due to politics and craziness, outside the Congregation he founded! But he never lost his faith, hope, or love or perseverance in prayer and most tender devotion to "Mama" Mary. To the left is a painting of Our Lady done by Alphonsus when he was a young man.

I grew up in a great Redemptorist parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in Brooklyn NY. I spent many years as well with the Redemptorists and so Alphonsus is very much "father" to me. His spirit has stamped itself into my very soul. I think this is one reason I see myself first and foremost as a "missionary" and an evangelizer as God allows. Alphonsus' motto for his beloved Congregation is mine: Copiosa apud eum redemptio, With Him there is plentiful redemption - Psalm 129: 7 announcing the good news to the poor and most abandoned.

O holy father Alphonsus, look upon your unworthy son and give me a love of Jesus Christ and of his Mother Mary. Alphonsus, intercede for all who visit here and read: give us all a portion of your spirit. Pray for the Church you have loved so passionately and faithfully. A blessed feast to all!

Preface of Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori

Lord, holy Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As you unceasingly instruct us
through the teachings of our blessed Father, Alphonsus Mary,
and by the example of his life,
so you strengthen us through his intercession with your many graces.
We rejoice on this festive day
and offer you a sacrifice of praise through Christ our Lord.
Through him the Angels praise your majesty, the Dominations adore you,
and the Powers tremble before you.
The Heavens and the Virtues of heaven,
and the blessed Seraphim acclaim you with sweet accord.
We pray you to let our voices be joined with theirs, as we sing in humble praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, etc.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002


"Rome has spoken, the case is closed" (St Augustine). The Church declares Juan Diego a saint, confounding the wisdom of the wise

The stooped Pope, weak but in Christ going "from strength to strength" - Psalm 84:7

For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside."
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God..
- 1 Cor 1: 19-30

This was the second reading at today's magnificent Mass of the canonization of Saint Juan Diego. Let it be the answer to the critics, inevitable and expected, who cast doubt on the historicity of Juan Diego. God confounds the wisdom of the wise! Alleluia!

Without flinching and bowing to the shrill cries of the critics, the Pope just majestically proclaims (quoting from memory here) "to the glory of the undivided Trinity.... we define and declare that Juan Diego is to be enrolled in the catalog of the saints."

(I have lived long enough to know now that no matter what decision the Church makes she will be questioned, criticized and even mocked by some - including, of course, the enlightened Catholics. She is damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. Like Jesus).

But majestically the Magisterium acts. Roma locua, causa finita. Juan Diego is a saint and his memory will live on in the Church of God (and the critics will be soon forgotten).

To see the fervor of the Mexican faithful, to hear the joyful songs and beautiful music, and above all, to see the holy tilma enshrined - O my God, how my heart beat for joy (and, yes, how those tears flowed once again!). And, to me, there is almost nothing more beautiful than the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, given to us through the instrumentality of Juan Diego. Glory to God in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

Some "Rules" of Saint Ignatius Loyola for "thinking with the Church"

Not sure many would leave these unedited if given a choice


Let the following Rules be observed.

First Rule. The first: All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.

Sixth Rule. To praise relics of the Saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints; and to praise Stations, pilgrimages, Indulgences, pardons, Cruzadas, and candles lighted in the churches.

Seventh Rule. To praise Constitutions about fasts and abstinence, as of Lent, Ember Days, Vigils, Friday and Saturday; likewise penances, not only interior, but also exterior.

Eighth Rule. To praise the ornaments and the buildings of churches; likewise images, and to venerate them according to what they represent.

Ninth Rule. Finally, to praise all precepts of the Church, keeping the mind prompt to find reasons in their defence and in no manner against them.

Tenth Rule. We ought to be more prompt to find good and praise as well the Constitutions and recommendations as the ways of our Superiors. Because, although some are not or have not been such, to speak against them, whether preaching in public or discoursing before the common people, would rather give rise to fault-finding and scandal than profit; and so the people would be incensed against their Superiors, whether temporal or spiritual. So that, as it does harm to speak evil to the common people of Superiors in their absence, so it can make profit to speak of the evil ways to the persons themselves who can remedy them.

Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Saint Ignatius Loyola
July 31st is the feast of this saint, larger than life

The image of Our Lady with Christ in St Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, before which St Ignatius and his first companions took their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience

Prayer for Freedom of Heart

Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will.
May health or sickness,
riches or poverty,
honors or contempt,
leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment,
to which I desire to attain -
for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory.

Take, Lord, and Receive

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it all.
All is Thine;
dispose of it wholly according to Thy Will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace,
for this is sufficient for me.
For with these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.

St Ignatius, Knight of Our Lady, obedient defender of the Pope and the Catholic Church, pray for your Society: increase its holiness and fidelity; pray for all of us in the Church that we may love your Lord and Master and serve Him with generous hearts, not counting the cost.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the marvelous life of Ignatius of Loyola and his companions and faithful sons of the Society of Jesus. How greatly they have enriched your Church. Prosper the work of Ignatius' hands and heart and continue to bless and guide.

A blessed feast to all! (And August 1st is the day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori!)

A New Plenary Council for Catholic Church in the U.S.?
A daring and good proposal

This just came in from Deal Hudson, editor of Crisis magazine:

The Bishops' Secret Letter

July 30, 2002

Dear Friend,

When I started this e-letter in April, my primary motivation was to have a way to get urgent information to you immediately. There are some things that just can't wait to be printed in the magazine.

This is one of those things.

As you may already know, the Catholic world has been buzzing about a confidential letter composed by eight American bishops in which they called for a Plenary Council to address problems in the Church.

Journalists and pundits have been speculating and debating about the alleged contents of the letter and the identities of the authors. But no one really knew for sure.

Until now.

This morning, CRISIS managed to obtain a copy of the letter that was sent on July 18 to all the American cardinals and bishops. In it, a group of eight bishops asks that a Plenary Council be called as soon as possible to discuss the "root causes" of - and possible solutions to - the current crisis in the Church.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain what a Plenary Council is and why this letter is so dramatic. Basically, a Plenary Council is a meeting of all the bishops of a given area -- in this case, the United States. This isn't an ordinary meeting though. It's the highest form of council that can be called on a national level. It would be like a Vatican Council for the States. In fact, the American bishops haven't called a Plenary Council in more than 100 years.

And it's much different from their semiannual conferences, too: There, the administrative business is done. A Plenary Council, on the other hand, is much more proactive, focusing on "teaching the truths of the faith" (as the letter says). Priests and laypeople would also be able to participate.

The eight bishops who wrote this amazing letter are taking a brave stand by urging discussion of those issues that were swept under the rug at the June bishops' meeting. While I can't send you the whole body of the letter, I can share some of it with you.

First, the authors of the letter seem to have a pretty clear understanding of the crisis. Here are a few of the issues they want to face head-on at the Plenary Council:

"What has happened to the life and ministry of bishops and priests that makes us vulnerable to the failings that have humiliated us all? What things need to be going on so that in this cultural milieu priests and bishops will preserve their celibate chastity along with all the other virtues that constitute the life of holiness proper to pastors? How can the purification upon which we shepherds have embarked help us, in turn, support our people in achieving greater holiness?"

Notice the absence of wishy-washy bishop speak. These men know there's a problem, and they're going to face it squarely.

But it gets even better. The bishops get very specific about what they hope to accomplish at the meeting:

Goal 1: "Solemnly receiving the authentic teaching of the Second Vatican Council...on the identity, life and ministry of bishops and priests; on matters of sexual morality in general (cf. Gaudium et Spes, Humanae Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, and Familiaris Consortio); [and] on celibate chastity as an authentic form of human sexuality renewed by grace and a share in Christ's own spousal love for His Church."

It's heartening to hear these bishops raise the issue of sexual morality as taught by Humanae Vitae, as well as "the very soul of holiness" for a priest! These topics have been taboo for so long that it's phenomenal to see bishops address them head-on.

Goal 2: "Giving unequivocal endorsement and normative force to the means outlined in the documents of the Council...to foster the acts of virtue required of pastors and the means needed to achieve those virtues, especially celibate chastity (e.g., daily celebration of the Mass, frequent Confession, daily meditation, regular acts of asceticism, obedient submission to Church teaching and discipline, simplicity of life)."

You can't argue with a return to the fundamentals of the priesthood. This is EXACTLY what priests need to hear: a public endorsement of their vocation and the support of the bishops in encouraging a real back-to-basics approach to religious life.

Goal 3: "Confirming the bishops in the authoritative exercise of our ministry for the health and well being of the church, and strengthening our coworkers in the Presbyterate in their ministry of teaching the Gospel, especially in regard to sexual morality, so that we can give support to the lay faithful in responding to their call to holiness."

Who hasn't been demanding greater accountability and action from the bishops? Clearly, these men seem to understand what's really been bothering American Catholics.

The bishops who drafted the letter also listed the benefits of calling a Plenary Council: It "would provide a galvanizing focus that is authentically evangelical and true to the Church's identity and tradition...[witness] unambiguously to the fact that the Church relies on the grace of the Holy Spirit...involve all strata of the People of God in the experience...have maximal impact in shaping the ecclesial culture...[and] give a definite stamp to identifying what is the authentic heritage of the Second Vatican Council."

"Galvanize"..."witness unambiguously"..."maximal impact"..."definite stamp"... the "authentic" heritage of Vatican II... These are strong words for bishops - a group usually known more for its inaction than its decisive action.

One last thing. Unfortunately, I can't reveal the names of the authors at this point. However, I can tell you that the list is surprising. These bishops represent the entire theological and political spectrum. That in itself is reassuring: The idea that we need a deep and lasting change isn't limited to any political or theological ideology.

My hat is off to these eight courageous and dedicated bishops - all that's left now is to hope their colleagues will follow suit and sign on.

In 10 years or so, when this current crisis has hopefully faded away, we may look back on this letter as the event that triggered the renewal of the American Catholic Church. Let's all say a prayer of thanks for the eight bishops who took the first step.


I think this is a truly helpful suggestion. Not without some difficulties! Imagine the politiking of the "left" and "right" to get their agenda accepted! But I hope we can still trust that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church and her leaders and representatives of the Catholic community. There have already been three excellent Plenary Councils of Baltimore - and they gave us not only The Baltimore Catechism (which, despite being despised by some, contributed greatly and fruitfully to the life of the Catholic Church in the US).

The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore issued a prayerbook - perhaps the finest ever published in the United States. (Unfortunately it never had the popularity it deserved). This terrific prayerbook has recently been republished and I highly recommend it (and maybe even using it to pray for the convocation and fruitfulness of yet another Plenary Council).

You can order from Amazon, The Baltimore Book of Prayer.

Monks fight on roof of holiest place
Too sad - too obscene - for comment

Iron bars and chairs were thrown during the row and at least one monk is still unconscious

By Alan Philps in Jerusalem
(Filed: 30/07/2002)

Eleven monks were treated in hospital after a fight broke out for control of the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the traditional site of Jesus's crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

The fracas involved monks from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the Coptic church of Egypt, who have been vying for control of the rooftop for centuries.

It is not the first time monks have come to blows at Christendom's most holy place, but it is one of the most serious in recent times.

As black-clad monks threw stones and iron bars at each other, the Israeli police were called to restore order. Seven Ethiopian monks and four Egyptians were hurt and one of the Ethiopians was reported to be unconscious in hospital.

The fight erupted over the position of a chair used by an Egyptian monk near the entrance to the roof.

He sits there to assert the Copts' claim to the rooftop, which is mainly occupied by a few African-style huts which the Ethiopians, who have been evicted from the main church over the centuries, use as their monastery.

On a hot day, the Egyptian monk decided to move his chair out of the sun. This was seen by the Ethiopians as violating the "status quo" in the church, set out in a 1757 document which defines the ownership of every chapel, lamp and flagstone.

After several days of rising tension, the fists began to fly on Sunday. The Egyptians said their monk was teased and poked and, in a final insult, pinched by a woman.

Yesterday there was a silent stand-off on the roof, with the Ethiopians defending their property with a row of chairs.

The church is a cockpit of rivalry between Christian sects and, in the words of one historian, the "most unchristian place in the world". It is shared among six denominations, with the more powerful ones taking ruthless advantage of any weakness by their rivals.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2002.

More "Objectivity" from the Media

In an article on the Pope's upcoming visit to Mexico, the New York Times, entitles it: Pope to Visit a Mexico Warmer Toward the Church. And then goes on mostly to describe how Mexicans reject papal teachings. I am not sure I'd call that "truth in advertising."

But it reads like most of the reporting of the NYT about the Pope for the last two and a half decades. It really does seem that a significant segment of the world really does despise this Pope and the Catholic Church.

Monday, July 29, 2002

"There is no question that the Catholic Church in America is in the midst of its worst crisis ever. According to a recent CBS poll, only 25 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the pope. And it's the pope's own fault." (Bill O'Reilly, who I gave up after I heard him say this on May 25, 2002).

The unfavorably rated Pope continues to dig his own grave


2 years ago after Rome but just as meaningful today after Toronto

Wall Street Journal (8/22/00):

Pope John Paul's Band

An event rife with meaning not just for theologians, but for people everywhere, ended this past weekend in Rome. Two million or so youths rallied in the Eternal City, coming from places as diverse as Togo, Manila, Paris, and St Louis, heeding a call from Pope John Paul II with a fervor that left journalists and intellectuals scratching their heads.

It is worth delving into what brought so many young people for a meeting with an 80-year-old man.

Most of the press coverage makes that no easy task. The event has everywhere been baptized as a "Catholic Woodstock" or a "Love-In" as the New York Times put it. Le Monde came closer by saying that the youths had come to the World Youth festival in search of "elan", presumably meaning spiritual uplift. But then Le Monde too pain homage to the conventional wisdom with a cartoon depicting John Paul II as a rocker while God's finger, Michelangelo-style, electrified the jamming Pontiff's guitar.

The fact that so many journalists today are baby boomers, for whom the fabled concert in upstate New York was a sort of cultural watershed, partly explains this reading of events. But there are other forces at work.

Many in the Media seem uncomfortable with the idea that there are plenty of people in the world, young people especially, who are genuinely religious and who have come to what some have cavalierly described as a "Pope fest" to enjoy a profoundly fulfilling experience. That it may have been the largest pilgrimage in Roman history seems only to have added to the confusion and skepticism of commentators.

Sandro Veronesi, and Italian writer seemed especially puzzled when he said to the Journal's Yaroslav Trofimov that the Pope "has become the new cult figure for the youth - even though he's arguably one of the most reactionary popes we've had."

Mr Veronesi's comment reminded us of the probable apocryphal tale of the New York intellectual, baffled by Ronald Reagan's victories, who said: "Not only do I not know anyone who voted for him, I don't know anybody who knows anybody who did."

Observers who views the march of history with such a mindset are often out of touch with reality. We'd bet that people the world over, reading the descriptions of the Rome gathering as some kind of '60s happening, are already making up their minds that there's something going on here that the media have missed. There is.

Woodstock and the concerts that followed it were the desire to shed responsibility; they were, in the words of the late Professor Timothy Leary, about turning on, tuning in, and dropping out - about instant gratification.

The drugs and everything-goes culture that they spawned ended in acid emptiness, and has offered up all too many prominent persons powerless to tell right from wrong.

That young people today yearn for better guideposts for leading useful and rewarding lives is a welcome sign. Personal salvation is an issue best left to each individual in communion with his or her beliefs. But liberty seldom prevails in an atmosphere where responsibility is abjured. In the long run, it can't. It is one of many ironies in this whole story that the call for personal responsibility and a change from a cultural drift toward hedonism, would come, again, in Rome.


Not a prayer of a chance.

Sunday, July 28, 2002
WYD and Pope John Paul the Great

I bless God that I have lived long enough to see things I thought I would never see.

WYD Mass this morning: a vision fulfilled - by prayer, suffering, pastoral love, hard work

It is my ever deepening opinion, that if Pope John Paul II had given to the Church nothing but the World Youth Day celebrations, he would deserve to be known in the future as Pope John Paul the Great.

I am beginning to work on webpages about the latest WYD in Toronto so I hope to be able to share bits and pieces here in my blog as well.

Part of this Pope's greatness is the sheer daring behind the call for the WYDs to begin with. Back in the '80s when Papa JP started this now established "tradition" things weren't looking too good for the Church and especially with regard to her youth. There seemed to a massive "falling away" (which still is the case but not as badly in part due to the effect of the WYDs). The Church seemed to be getting "older and older" and I suspect many feared for her future - at least on the human plane.

Then comes JPII and his special pastoral love for the young. Young people begin spontaneously to come to him, to sing for him and along with him, and to enjoy each other! He decides to gather youth for Palm Sunday in St Peter's Square - and this may have done by Paul VI before, if my memory serves me right here. Thousands turn out. Then he decides to have "world" youth days to prepare for the new millennium and The Great Jubilee. His daring vision includes handing over to the young a Cross - to be borne by foot around the world to end up at the site of the next WYD. This is a stroke of genius, touching the imagination - and using an outward symbol, easily recognized (and loved).

The nay-sayers, the critics, the "right-wingers" who don't like much innovation with youth, the "left-wingers" who despise this Pope and his "authoritative dismantling of Vatican II" must have scratched their heads in bewilderment when hundreds of thousands, even millions of youth actually showed up! And they fell in love with the Pope who loved them. It is hard to believe it until you see it for yourself: the beautiful bond between so many young persons and the Pope (and it gets stronger as he ages and becomes frailer and hardly able to move). I am sure the major "secret" is simply this: the Pope is holy and a lover - and this is radiated in a thousand ways - and in images beyond number that even I myself have seen - and how often seeing this Pope "in action" has brought me to tears: tears of joy and I know not what at times.

To watch JP2 interact with the young at WYD is perhaps the definitive "proof" of the Petrine Office and its divine origin. And of the eternal youthfulness of the Church: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum. - to God who gives joy to my youth (old Roman Mass prayers at the foot of the altar).

And how the Pope has been able to tap into the innate "piety" of the young. Have you noticed how these young people relish the traditional practices and "things" the enlightened threw out the window? Papa JPII has known differently: and how they have responded! I wept as the WYD was processed several times through the crowds - to see countless hands reaching out just to touch it. It seems like, once again, John Paul was ahead of the times: now we read of the millennials, the youth yearning for ritual and symbol and tradition!

This Pope has been prophetic in many ways and has led the way, over and over (despite the bitter cries of some that he is too old-fashioned and too rigid and too unbending - and ironically the critics probably cannot attract more than a dozen youth for an hour or two!). WYD is an outpouring of JOY and the critics of both "left" and "right" seem joyless and bereft of youth.

How I wish each parish had a pastor with the vision of JP2! How I wish DRE's and Youth Ministers had the vision of JP2! (And I think, thank God, their number is growing as the "old guard" ages and passes on). But, at least, we have had him as our Pope. As I say, even if WYD was his only contribution, he would be deserve to be called The Great. Add to this the incredible number of his other great accomplishments (and the odds against him); I think I will start a new petition - to have him declared "Pope John Paul the Greatest!"

More to come, I hope......but in the meantime, why not read a wonderful piece on the Pope from the Toronto Globe and Mail, "Let's Face it: the Pope really is great."

A tender moment at WYD in Rome 2000

Do Not Be Discouraged, Pope proclaims, at closing Mass of WYD

Pope boldly, with courage, encourages vocations while speaking of The Situation

"If you love Jesus, love the Church. Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members. The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good. There are many priests, seminarians and consecrated persons here today; be close to them and support them. And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the cross! At difficult moments in the Church's life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent."

The source of the Pope's unfailing courage - Long live the Pope!

Jeff, Shut up!

Listening now to the Mass concluding World Youth Day, and I want to scream as loud as I can: Jeff Cavins, shut up! Let us listen to the music and songs of WYD instead of your overly pious and very repetitive commentary. I think I have expressed my gratitude to EWTN a lot; I can't say how much I appreciate its offering of the Pope's travels and WYD. But the commentary, often enough, is so burdensome and just not necessary. And some, like Jeff, seem to become "apostles of the obvious." Drives me crazy. And glad to get this off my chest this way.

Mother Angelica, if you read this, please DO something about this. EWTN deserves better! And, Jeff, if you're reading this: I think you're great and think Life on the Rock a real gift! And, Holy Father, if you ever get around to reading this: I love you!

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