24 January 2012

Choo, choo! Choose life!

Every authentic pilgrimage is marked by its difficulties and the manner in which they are endured.  This is what distinguishes a pilgrimage from a trip.  A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place through the acceptance of the cross along the way.  This year's pilgrimage to the March for Life certainly had it's difficulties, even before it really began.

I left Springfield Friday afternoon with a friend to board one of the four busses in Vandalia.  From there, we were to leave for Effingham about 5:30 p.m. to join the three other busses with the aim of setting out together for Washington, D.C. at 6:30 p.m.

Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - the weather did not cooperate.  Sleet began to fall around Vandalia about 4:00 p.m. and by 5:00 p.m. ice covered everything and within a short time closed Interstate 70.  The good folks at Mother of Dolors Parish kindly let two of our busses spend the night in the basement of the church; the other two busses spend the night at the Knights of Columbus hall in Effingham.

When the morning hours rolled around the Interstate had been reopened.  We boarded the busses and made the journey to Effingham where we met up with the other busses and set out toward the East.  Between Effingham and Indiana, Interstate 70 seemed a graveyard for tractor trailers, with trucks almost at a regular interval off in the ditches on either side.  Some did not look serious and others clearly were.  At least four people were killed on the Interstate on Friday night between the two exits for Vandalia alone.  Had the sleet begun to fall any later than it did, we would likely have been caught in the storm.

By the time we reached Indiana the roads were fine but we encountered a difficulty: the Interstate through West Virginia was closed due to a hazardous spill.  Our drivers learned of the detoured traffic and opted to drive through the winding country roads of West Virginia, which turned out to be a welcome change of scenery from the traffic we had been travelling with.

All in all, we arrived in Washington, D.C. some sixteen hours later than planned, but we were able to adjust our schedules and meal stops - with a bit more difficulty - so everything turned out rather well.  Not once did I hear anyone on our bus grumble or complain about the difficulties and confusion caused by them.

There seemed a larger crowd in Washington, D.C. both for the Vigil Mass on Sunday evening and for the March for Life itself Monday morning, a trend that has continued unabated; each year more people come to protest legalized abortion and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  And, as usual, there were more young people than before, more priests and more seminarians, all of which are very good signs.

The pilgrims from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois gathered at St. Peter church in downtown Washington for Mass with Bishop Paprocki.

After the Mass, our four busses took a tour of the momuments and memorials before going to the rally.  I went to visit with a member of Congressman Aaron Schock's staff to discuss the persecution of Christians throughout the world, particularly in Egypt and in Nigeria.  She seemed genuinely receptive to my concerns and promised to share my concers with Congressman Schock before getting back to me.  After this meeting I joined the busses at the World War II memorial.

The weather for the day of the March stayed in the forties, with clouds and drizzle and rain, but not much wind.  To be honest, it wasn't too bad and was easier to bear than the frigid temperatures last year.

Throughout the pilgrimage I took only one picture (largely due to our travel delays and the rain).  It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen:

Holding onto their father, the children formed a train and shouted, "Choo, choo!  Choose life!"  Because of it's cuteness, it was easily the best chant of the whole March.

One of the joys of the March for Life is walking with people their for the first time.  They are continually amazed and overwhelmed by the number of people who make the journey to march with them.  Until you're there and experience the crowds firsthand, it's hard to imagine; pictures are helpful, but they really don't do it justice.  As the walk the streets of the capital, they realize just how many people do not support abortion and they are encouraged to do more to support life in any way they can.  The future of the Church is indeed young and is full of hope and a love of the faith.

After the march our pilgrims gathered at nearby a park to meet our busses, but before the busses arrived there was time for a light saber duel (the link is to a Facebook video that I wasn't able to download; I hope it works for you).

The journey from Washington back to Springfield was uneventful.  The rest of the day will be spent resting - it's hard to sleep well on a bus - and catching up on a few things.

18 January 2012

An Anniversary

A few moments ago I returned from the altar of the Lord where I offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass using the prayers "For the Priest's Parents" on this twenty-fourth anniversary of the death of my mother's, Patricia Ann.

On the holy card from her funeral are printed these words of Saint Ambrose:
We have loved her in life, let us not forget her in death.
These words, which are also printed on the holy card from my father's funeral, have long stayed with me and given me much comfort over the years.  They remind us that death is not the end and that it does not completely separate us from those we love.  Death is painful, but it is not final.

Each year on the anniversary of their deaths I celebrate the Mass for them, either in public or in private.  This evening I found the revised translation of the prayers - which I used for the first time -very moving because they express the deepest sentiments of my heart in two humble requests.

Through the prayers, the priest repeatedly prays not only for the eternal rest of his parents, but also to be united with them again.  Because most of  you will likely never hear these beautiful prayers, their texts are as follows:

The Collect:
O God, who commanded us to honor father and mother,
have mercy in your compassion
on my father and mother (our parents),
forgive them their sins,
and bring me (us) to see them one day
in the gladness of eternal glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Prayer Over the Offerings
Receive, O Lord, the sacrifice we offer you
for my father and mother (our parents);
grant them everlasting joy in the land of the living
and unite me (us) with them
in the happiness of the Saints.
Through Christ our Lord.
The Prayer After Communion
May participation in this heavenly Sacrament
obtain perpetual light and rest
for my father and mother (our parents),
we pray, O Lord,
and bring me (us), along with them,
to the fullness of you everlasting glory.
Through Christ our Lord.
At the bottom of the holy card from her funeral a simple prayer was printed.  In your charity, I humbly ask you to kindly offer it for her:
Merciful Jesus, grant enteral rest unto the soul of Thy faithful departed servant and bring her to Thy glory, there to praise and bless Thee forever.  Amen. 

It's not just a Catholic problem

Back in August I posted an article describing a conference aimed at normalizing and de-criminalizing pedophilia on the part of psychologists and others who argue pedophilia is not immoral but only a way of showing love:
The August 17 Baltimore conference is sponsored by B4U-ACT, a group of pro-pedophile mental health professionals and sympathetic activists. According to the conference brochure, the event will examine “ways in which minor-attracted persons [pedophiles] can be involved in the DSM 5 revision process” and how the popular perceptions of pedophiles can be reframed to encourage tolerance.
Lest anyone think this group acts alone, the government of Greece has now added pedophilia to its list of "disabilities".  Where is the public outcry about this?

In related news, officials in Australia are reporting an increasing number of cases of children sexually abusing children which is believed to be a result of pornography:
VICTORIAN children as young as five are being referred to specialist programs to address sexually abusive behaviour - and the number of minors exhibiting such behaviour is exploding.

The availability of pornography through portable devices drastically affects a child's understanding of acceptable sexual behaviour, according to experts, and is being blamed for the rapid escalation in cases.
No doubt the scope of this serious problem extends far beyond Victoria.

16 January 2012

In honor of the day

I was a poor slave boy but the priests of the Church did not disdain me.  It was through the influence of one of them that I became what I am tonight…  It was the priests of the Church who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors.  It was through the direction of a Sister … that I learned to interpret the Ten Commandments; and then I also beheld for the first time the glimmering light of truth and the majesty of the Church.  In this Church we do not have to fight for our rights because we are Black.  She had colored saints – Augustine, Benedict the Moor, Monica.  The Church is broad and liberal.  She is the Church for our people.
- The Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton 

15 January 2012

Global warming misprediction

A friend recently reminded me that back in 2008 Al Gore told a group of Germans, "the entire North ‘polarized’ cap will disappear in 5 years."  Five years later would be 2013.

The North 'polaried' cap is still there today where a week ago today this happened:

I don't think this is the inconvenient truth of which Mr. Gore tried so desparately to convince us.

And before you ask,  yes, this was a warm December, but, at least in Illinois, it was the 9th warmest December on record (record keeping began in 1895); that means that 8 Decembers were warmer than the December of 2011.  Hardly convincing evidence.

13 January 2012

Rockford abortuary is closed for good

As people of good will across the nation are gearing up for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. in protest of the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade, very good news comes to us from Rockford, Illinois: the abortion "clinic" there - which has been open for forty years - is now closed for good.

Writing for the Rockford Register Star, Corina Curry explains why the Northern Illinois Women's Center (the name is nothing more than a nice to describe the evil that occurred within) is closing:
The clinic's decision is based on a lack of support from the community, the political climate surrounding the abortion issue both locally and nationally and the challenge the clinic would face in rebuilding staff, the director said.
You might be wondering, if the NIWC had been in operation for forty years, where the community support go?  The article doesn't go into this except to say:
The Illinois Department of Public Health ordered an emergency suspension of the clinic's license Sept. 30 because of health and safety violations observed during on-site inspections in June and September.
What, you ask, did the IDPH find that caused them suspend the license?  I'm glad you asked.  The Illinois Review summarized the findings:
Among these cited violations, of which “many members of the public remain unaware,” were the following:

• “3 of 3 operating rooms inspected failed to ensure a sanitary environment”;

• Failure to prevent contamination of clean surgical equipment;

• Autoclave equipment used to sterilize medical instruments failed biological testing on at least two occasions; such equipment should have been tested weekly but was untested for four months and then failed, leaving an undetermined number of patients exposed to unsterile surgical instruments;

• Failure to meet legal requirement for a qualified Registered Nurse to be present in the operating room during procedures, leaving unqualified and unlicensed personnel to do tasks reserved by law for licensed, qualified, professional personnel.
There is, of course, much more to be reported that doesn't concern the Department of Health, such as the centers placement of hateful displays in its windows to taunt pro-lifers, including a crucified rubber chicken and a picture of Jesus with his middle finger extended that read, "Even Jesus hates you."  Other attempts by the center including blaring loud music to try to drown out pro-lifers and even going after pro-lifers with a moving chainsaw.  And the media would have us believe the "pro-choicers" are the sane and civil ones.

In a written statement to the newspaper, the center said:
The staff is very saddened by the closing. We are not done grieving this loss and still are struggling with surrendering to the idea that we will not be able to do this work tomorrow or the day after.
I suppose they would like us to feel sorry for them.  I don't. I'm quite overjoyed at their loss.

Now let us redouble our prayers, that the abortuary in Granite City will also close for good.

Quilting Tolton

Back in my hometown, a couple of quilters are helping to tell the story of the Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton one stitch at a time.

It all started at St. Peter's Church in Quincy with the goal of making a quilt to help raise money to help with the canonization process for Father Tolton. But it became a labor of love for these women in a way they never dreamed.

Shipp said, "It seemed like this is a story that should be told and here was a person who was a very ordinary person, but did extraordinary things."

St. Peter's Church has a special tie to the nation's first black priest. After Tolton and his family crossed the Mississippi to escape slavery in Ralls County, Missouri he grew up in Quincy. He later went to school at St. Peters and attended mass there [more].

12 January 2012

What does St. James say about hating religion?

Adding my voice to the chorus of others, I thought I might also weigh in on the Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus: Spoken Word video.

Those who claim to love Jesus but hate religion - or who are spiritual but not religious - are Protestants (or Catholics who think like Protestants).  As such, they claim to follow the Bible, and to follow it alone.

Now, we all know the skip over certain - shall we say - inconvenient passages of the Scriptures that contradict their Protestant worldview (John 6; Matthew 16:18-19; and James 2:17, just to name a few).

But there is one particular passage that is of great interest in regarding the above mentioned video: James 1:26-27.  Writes Saint James:
If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Clearly, James is not condemning religion in and of itself, for he says there is a religion "that is pure and undefiled before God."  What he condmens is not religion, but rather hypocrysy, as others have already pointed out (though out reference to these verses).

If, therefore, someone rejects religion, he rejects the Scriptures, which he claims to follow.

What is more, in some translations Cornelious is described as "a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and always praying to God" (Acts 10:2, Douay Version.  In modern translations the word is translated devout; I don't have the Greek text handy.  Perhaps someone can help with this.)  This description is clearly not an insult but squares well with James' definition of a pure religion.

The meaning of the word "religion" itself should also be explored.  It comes from the Latin religare, meaning "to bind again."  Religion is, then, what binds man to God and God to man.  The word religion is defined as follows:
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
There is nothing in the meaning of the word to justify a rejection of religion.  Before people go spouting off against something, they would be wise to understand first what it is they refject and to choose their words carefully.

Update: Several years ago, Jeffrey Pinyan did a word study on religion, that he was kind enough to bring to my attention.

Can a person honestly love Jesus but not religion?

There is a video circulating through YouTube, Facebook, and Google+ from a young man titled, "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus: Spoken Word."  If you watch the video, don't sucked in by, as Rich Mullins would say, the young man's attempt to make "cheap cliches out of timeless truths;" don't get caught up in emotions and sentimality, but keep your reason and judge his statements logically.

Well intentioned though the young man may be, he is quite wrong, on many points; it simply is not possible to love Jesus and hate religion at the same time.

Because Marcel at Aggie Catholics in his post Does Jesus Hate Religion? Should You? and Marc in his post Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus: The Smackdown at Bad Catholic (whose response is more thorough than Marcel's) have already answered the young man's accusations very well, I need not do it here.  Please, go and read their responses to the video and learn why religion is not only good, but necessary and willed by Jesus himself.

I hope Father Barron will also offer a response to the video.

Update: The Anchoress has also weighed in on the video.

Update: I've also weighed in.

Update: Several years ago, Jeffrey Pinyan did a word study on religion, that he was kind enough to bring to my attention.

Update: Tom Hoopes weighs in, reversing much of the young man's logic against his complaints.

Update: Even the friendly atheist has weighed in.

Update: Phat Catholic also has a response.

Update: Father John Hollowell offers a response in kind, as does Trent H.  Jimmy Akin has also responded, explaining why he hates people dissing religion.

Paprocki on CatholicTV.com tonight at 7:00 p.m.

His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, will be on CatholicTV's Clear Voice program this evening at 7:00 p.m. (Central time).  Be sure to tune in!

What's on your night stand?

One of my long-time friends recently asked me for a list of books she should read.  After a quick perusal through my shelves I sent her the following list (in no particular order):
  • The Clown of God by Tomie dePaolo
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel
  • The Life of St. Clare Virgin by Thomas (Tomaso) of Celano
  • Seven Words of Jesus and Mary by Fulton J. Sheen
  • The Art of Dying Well by Robert Bellarmine
  • Angels (And Demons) by Peter Kreeft
  • Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know by Diane Moczar
  • The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice by Philip Jenkins
  • The Art of Loving God by St. Francis de Sales
  • The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints by Ralph Martin
Now you have you reading list for 2012.  Enjoy!

How do you judge sacred music from secular music?

A new blog: Persecution Watch

Today I am pleased to present to you a new blog project: Persecution Watch.

On this blog I will post stories of Christian persecution throughout the world as I find them and provide links to fuller information on the incidences of persecution.  I will no longer post them here on Servant and Steward.

Persecution Watch will allow me to more fully utilize the features of Blogger, most notably the tagging feature so as to be better able to track specific stories, people and places.

Please add this blog to your various readers, to your favorites and help spread the word about this effort.

If you have any comments or suggestions for the blog, please do not hesitate to let me know.  Also, if you find stories of persecution I have not yet covered, please let me know.

And, as always, please remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in your prayers.

Child sexual abuse: It's not just a Catholic problem

The other day Deacon Kandra linked to an article by the Los Angeles Times about pedophilia in Hollywood (with my emphases and comments):
Advocates and professionals who work with victims of child sexual abuse say predators exploit the glittery lure of Hollywood to prey on aspiring actors or models. They assert that the problem is more widespread than the industry is willing to acknowledge and have called for tougher laws and better screening of those who represent or work with children (where is the author's - and society's - outrage about this?).

"Unlike other settings, such as Little League, Scouts, day care and school volunteers, where adults who have unsupervised access to children are required to comply with fingerprinting requirements, there are no such standards in the entertainment industry (this is simply shocking and inexcusable)," said Paula Dorn, co-founder of the BizParentz Foundation, a nonprofit group for families of child actors.
The recent arrests prompted a bill, expected to be filed this month with the California Assembly, that would require licensing and criminal background checks for those who work with actors under age 16 (why is the age not under 18, so as to cover work with all minors?  Clearly, Hollywood has learned nothing from what the Church has done). It would prohibit registered sex offenders from serving as child managers, photographers, career counselors or publicists.Experts say addressing the problem is overdue. 
"This is just like the Catholic Church pretending that priests never molested people in the past," said Dr. Daniel D. Broughton, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic and expert on child sexual abuse. "What's surprising to me is why it hasn't come out even stronger and sooner."
Dr. Broughton is right: it's very surprising and inexcusable that this scourge in Hollywood has not yet been addressed, particularly considering the news stories that circulated when Corey Feldman described pedophilia as "Hollywood's biggest problem" in August of 2011.  Curiously, Feldman was not mentioned in the LA Times' article.

Carl Olson isn't surprised that Hollywood has until now done nothing to address the scourge of the sexual abuse of childen:
Part of the problem is obvious: journalists and writers who cover Hollywood rely on connections and relationships with insiders to get scoops, exclusive information and special access. That means, um, cozying up to those who control the doors and corridors of Tinsil Town. Researching stories on abuse, molestation, and related evils surely raises red flags on the part of those with a vested interest in keeping such filth under wraps. There has been much written over the years about the secrecy and stonewalling within the Catholic Church. But that is hardly a trademark of Catholics; covering up sin is the natural instinct of sinners who refuse to admit their sins. The surprise, really, is that any sane person might think Hollywood is somehow free and clear of such sickness. 

Around the blogosphere

Social science evidence does not support same sex parents

Last month (I'm in the processing of clearing off my desktop) Rich Fitzgibbons wrote about well-documented article at MercatorNet titled "Same sex adoption is not a game" in which he explains the potential harm adoptive children will suffer if placed with same sex couples.  The text of his article follows, with my emphases:
Moves by legislators and homosexual activists to endorse same sex adoption are misguided. Their intentions may be good, but they are ignoring the rights of children and important social and psychological research into the homosexual lifestyle.

The recent decision of Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois to separate from the Church and place children in same sex unions occurred after Illinois followed the lead set by other states and enacted legislation to protect so-called rights for homosexual unions.

This legislation, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, denied funding to social service agencies that refuse to permit same sex adoption.

Experimenting on children by permitting adoption by same sex couples poses serious problems. Children have a right to and a need for parenting by both a father and a mother. This need should be recognized by the state and by professional groups as far more important than an adult’s supposed right to adopt.

The views presented here are based on extensive social science research and scholarship, on my clinical experience as a psychiatrist that includes consulting with adoptive and foster children for several years, treating adoptive children for almost 35 years, writing about their treatment in a textbook for the American Psychological Association (1) and as the father of three adopted daughters.

The risks in same sex unions

Same sex relationships do not provide an ideal environment in which to raise children for several reasons.

First, same sex couples tend to be promiscuous. One of the largest studies of same sex couples revealed that only seven of 156 couples had a sexual relationship which was totally monogamous. Most of these relationships lasted less than five years. Couples whose relationship lasted longer incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity: “The single most important factor that keeps couples together past the 10-year mark is the lack of possessiveness,” observed two scholars who were also partners, David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison. “Many couples learn very early in their relationship that ownership of each other sexually can be the greatest internal threat to their staying together.” (2)

Second, the unions are very fragile. The probability of breakup is high for lesbian couples. In a 2010 report, the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, 40 percent of the couples who had conceived a child by artificial insemination had broken up.(3) Lisa Diamond reported in her book, Sexual Fluidity, that “more than two-thirds of the women in my sample had changed their identity labels at least once after the first interview. The women who kept the same identity for the whole ten years proved to be the smallest and most atypical group.” If a woman in a same-sex relationship changes her identity label, the relationship breaks up.

And third, the couple may not necessarily be physically healthy. Dutch research has found that most new HIV infections in Amsterdam occurred among homosexual men who were in steady relationships. The researcher concluded that: “Prevention measures should address risky behavior, especially with steady partners, and the promotion of HIV testing.” (4) Research shows that same sex unions suffer a significantly higher prevalence of domestic abuse, depression, substance-abuse disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases.(5) Should adopted children be placed with a couple at risk of a serious and emotionally draining illness?

Children need a mother and a father

The most important issue is the welfare of the child. Social science research has repeatedly demonstrated the vital importance of both a father and a mother for the healthy development of children and the serious risks that they face if they are raised without a mother or a father. Mothers and fathers bring unique gifts that are essential to the health of a child.

Among the many distinctive talents that mothers bring to the parenting enterprise, three stand out: their capacity to breastfeed, their ability to understand infants and children, and their ability to offer nurture and comfort.

Social science studies confirm this. Numerous reports indicate that infants and toddlers prefer mothers to fathers when they are hungry, afraid or sick. Mothers tend to be more soothing. Mothers are more responsive to the distinctive cries of infants; they are better able than fathers, for instance, to distinguish between a cry of hunger and a cry of pain. They are also better than fathers at detecting the emotions of their children by looking at their faces, postures, and gestures.

Children who were deprived of maternal care during extended periods in their early lives “lacked feeling, had superficial relationships, and exhibited hostile or antisocial tendencies” as they developed into adulthood.(6) Clinical experience suggests that deliberately depriving a child of its mother, motherlessness, causes severe damage because mothers are crucial in establishing a child’s ability to trust and to feel safe in relationships. All cultures recognize the essential role of the mother.

Fathers also have distinctive talents.(7) Fathers excel when it comes to providing discipline, play, and challenging children to embrace life’s challenges. They also provide essential role models for boys. Their presence in the home protects a child from fear and strengthens a child’s ability to feel safe. The extensive research on the serious psychological, academic and social problems among youth raised in fatherless families demonstrates the importance of the presence of the father in the home for healthy child development.

The rights and needs of children to a mother and a father should be protected by the state. Adults do not have a right to deprive children of a father or a mother.

The children do suffer

There are strong indications that children raised by same sex couples fare less well than children raised in stable homes with a mother and a father.

In 1996 a well-designed study of 174 primary school children in Australia -- 58 children in married families, 58 in families headed by cohabitating heterosexuals and 58 in home with homosexual unions – suggested that married couples offered the best environment for a child’s social and education environment. Cohabiting couples were second best and homosexual couples came last.(8)

The results of a 2009 study of women in New York, Boston, and San Francisco are similar. Researchers interviewed 68 women with gay or bisexual fathers and 68 women with heterosexual fathers. The women (average age 29 in both groups) with gay or bisexual fathers had difficulty with adult attachment issues in three areas: they were less comfortable with closeness and intimacy; they were less able to trust and depend on others; and they experienced more anxiety in relationships compared to the women raised by heterosexual fathers.(9)

Flawed studies with positive results

Not surprisingly, there are scholars who oppose this weighty evidence. Two major studies published in 2010 are often cited by homosexual activists and the media. Nanette Gartrell and Henry Bos (10) and Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey (11) claim that children who were deliberately deprived of the benefits of gender complementarity in a home with a father and a mother suffer no psychological damage.

However, all data in the Gartell and Bos article are self-reports by the mother and the child. The mothers were aware of the political agenda of the research and this must have skewed the results. This defect in methodology severely weakens the report.

In the meta-study by Biblarz and Stacey, in 31 of the 33 studies of two parent families, it was the parents who provided the data, which consisted of subjective judgments. Once again, this created a social desirability bias because the homosexual parents knew the political agenda behind the study. Furthermore, of the 33 studies in two-person families, only two studies included men, although the title, “How does the gender of parents matter?” suggests that both men and women were fully represented.

Much of the research on same-sex couples tends to have serious methodological flaws. It is often argued that there is no evidence that children are harmed if they are raised by homosexual men. This is true, but the absence of evidence does not prove the case. It means that there is no evidence. Studies of children raised by homosexual men are rare. No studies have examined the long-term effects on adult males raised by homosexual men.

A grave injustice for adopted children

An adopted child has been separated from his or her biological parents. The child feels this loss. For this reason adoption agencies historically have sought the best possible placement -- a sensitive and stable father and mother. A same-sex couple is by definition a second-class placement, since a parent of the opposite sex is missing.

A grave injustice to adoptive children is occurring as growing numbers of Catholic social service adoption agencies that have provided outstanding help to children, parents and families for decades are being denied the right to continue. Legislatures are placing the rights of homosexual unions to adopt above the needs and rights of children to a mother and a father.

Deliberately depriving a child of a father or a mother harms the child.(12) Social science research supports this view. Adoptive children have experienced early-life abandonment trauma and should be protected from the additional trauma of being exposed to a cruel social experiment. Will no one step forward to protect these children?

Rick Fitzgibbons is the director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken PA. He has practiced psychiatry for 35 years with a specialty in the treatment of excessive anger.
(1) Enright, R. & Fitzgibbons, R. (2000). Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books ,p. 187-89.
(2) McWhirter, D. and Mattison, A. 1985. The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop. Prentice Hall.
(3) Gartrell, N. & Bos, H. (2010) US national Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-year-old Adolescents, Pediatrics, Volume 126, Number 1, July 2010, 28-36.
(4) Xiridou, M. et al. (2003). The contribution of steady and casual partnerships to the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam. AIDS 17: 1029-38.
(5) D. O’Leary. (2007) One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 149-68.
(6) Kobak, R. (1999). "The emotional dynamics of disruptions in attachment relationships: Implications for theory, research, and clinical intervention". In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver. (Eds.), Handbook of Attachment (pp. 21-43). New York: The Guilford Press.
(7) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/gergen/july-dec99/fisher_8-16.html.
(8) Sarantakos, S. (1996) Children in three contexts. Children Australia, 21(3), 23-31.
(9) Sirota, T, (2009) Adult Attachment Style Dimensions in Women with Gay or Bisexual Fathers. Arch. Psych Nursing, 23, 289-297.
(10) Gartrell, N. & Bos, H. (2010) US national Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-year-old Adolescents, Pediatrics, Volume 126, Number 1, July 2010 p. 28-36.
(11) Biblarz, T. J. & Stacey, J. (2010). How does the gender of parents matter? Journal of Marriage and Family. 72, 3-22.
(12) Kobak, R. (1999). "The emotional dynamics of disruptions in attachment relationships: Implications for theory, research, and clinical intervention". In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver. (Eds.), Handbook of Attachment (pp. 21-43). New York: The Guilford Press.; Popenoe,D. (1996) Life Without Father, New York: Free Press, P. 176; Golombok, S. et al (1997) Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: Family relationships and the socioeconomic development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers. J. Child Psychology and Psychiatry 38: 783-791; Gallagher M. & Baker, J.K. (2004) Do Mom and Dads Matter: Evidence from the social sciences on family structure and at the best interests of the child. Margins 161(4):161-180.

The ruination of sex, thanks to Descartes

Marc, the Bad Catholic, has a thoughtful and entertaining post explaining how the philosphy of Descrates ruined sex and led to many of the difficulities with sexuality facing society today.

He writes:
For Descartes there was little distinction between a mind and a soul. So, according to him, a body can exist without the soul and the soul without the body.
In common terms, what is a body without a soul? A corpse. What is a soul without a body? A ghost. Interestingly enough, we view both of these things with fear. Our natural reaction to body-soul dualism is not approval, but fearful rejection. Whatever else may be true, our actual human experience of the separation of body and soul is that Something Is Wrong!
Be sure to read the entire post.

11 January 2012

SCOTUS rules in favor of churches

The Washington Post has a story today regarding a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the area of religious discrimation and freedom:
In a groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination.

But the court’s unanimous decision in a case from Michigan did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government’s protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can’t.

It was, nevertheless, the first time the high court has acknowledged the existence of a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws — a doctrine developed in lower court rulings. This doctrine says the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of such protective laws when the issue involves employees of these institutions.
This is very good news!

10 January 2012

Why is a pineapple so named?

Today I led a Confirmation retreat for the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders of St. Aloysius school in Springfield.  It was a good day and the students were great to work with; evenso, it was an exhausting day.

When I returned to the Cathedral I was mentally exhausted but not phsyically, so I decided to take a walk to pick up a pineapple.  When I arrived at the grocery store I was disappointed to find the store out of pineapples.  I picked up instead a few apples and bananas and made my way back to the Cathedral.

My Facebook post about my disappoint led The Anchoress to express her dislike of fruit - and especially of strawberries and pineapple (with which I naturally disagree).  After I mentioned the pleasure of any day involving pineapple - and especially those days that also involve Dr Pepper, chocolate, or Nutella with pineapple - she said:
I don't understand you people. Pineapple is neither a pine nor an apple, and it burns the tongue. Nutella, however, is pure gift!
While I heartily agree with her second point, I've never known pineapple to burn my turn.

It seems to me that her complaint regarding the curious name of this most delicious of fruits deserves an explanation.  The pineapple, you may be surprised to know, is not native to Hawai'i, for which it is called in Hawaiian halakahiki, "foreign fruit."

The folks at the Dole Plantation, tell us the was called pineapple received its English name because on the outside the fruit resembles a pine cone.

09 January 2012

Alton Sister featured in Daily Mail

The Daily Mail has a good story on a St. Louis native who entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton and took the name Sister Catarina.

Here's a snippet of the article:
She told People magazine: 'I felt this overwhelming peace, like a wave washing over me. And I said out loud, "Yes Lord. I'll do it."'

There and then she gave up her average teenage life, previously full of rock climbing, backpacking and gossiping with her girlfriends, to spending hours a day studying the teachings of Jesus Christ.

She dropped out of university after one year, closed down her Facebook page and gave up her jeans for a traditional nun's habit.

Choosing her new name, Sister Catarina - in honor of a 14th-century Italian saint who devoted her life to caring for the poor and sick - Ashley joined the Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St George convent in Alton, Illinois.
Though she is only able to send one letter a week, make phone calls on holidays and see her family eight times a year for restricted times, she said she feels like 'This is the model that I felt Christ was going to imitate'.

08 January 2012

In honor of the day

At his birthing a new light was revealed in a star.  At His dying an ancient light was dimmed.
At His birthing the dwellers above took on new light, new glory.  At His dying the dwellers below trembled with a new fear.
At His rising his disciples caught fire with a new love.
At the moment of His ascending the Heavens learned how to usher Him in with ceremony and courtesy.
- Saint Augustine of Hippo

Homily - 8 January 2012

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
At the Mass During the Day
Dear brothers and sisters,

As we celebrate today the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, there is a question before us that, perhaps because it is so obvious, is often over looked: Why did the Magi set out from the East in the first place?

The simple answer is that they set out to find the newborn king of the Jews.  But why did they set out for this royal infant?  There were surely other newborn kings of whom the Magi were aware but did not go to see.  Why set out to pay homage to this particular infant king?

They set out because they saw something both curious and wondrous, the star that heralded his birth, a star that moved through the constellations and guided them “to the place where the child was,” where it stopped overhead (Matthew 2:9).

Yet even this marvelous star cannot itself be the answer to our question because the Magi told King Herod they saw the star “at its rising” (Matthew 2:2).  What was it about this star that made them “overjoyed” (Matthew 2:10)?

Most of us are very much unaware of the stars overhead and which constellations are visible at which times of the year.  Even of the few constellations and planets we might recognize at sight, we are often unaware of their movements and only occasionally take notice of them.  We suddenly notice one day, for example, that the constellation Orion has ascended without noticing the stars Betelgeuse or Rigel at their rising, yet somehow the Magi noticed this heavenly wonder at the first moment of its rising.  What can this mean?

Of their motivation for scouring the heavens we can only surmise, yet we are not without direction.  Have we not all, at one time or another, looked to the stars for the answer or explanation to some great question of life?  When King David looked to the stars he was moved to sing:

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you set in place –
What is man that you are mindful of him,
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,
Crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:4-6).

Seeing the beauty of the cosmos, David was led to contemplate his own smallness in the vast expanse of creation.  In this, he recognizes God’s love: small as he is, he is not forgotten.  And in this, he prophesies the coming of the Son of God who, though great, made himself small for us.

Those travelers from the east were Magi, that is, “passionate seekers after the truth,” as Blessed Pope John Paul II called them.[1]  Could it not be that they watched the heavens not simply for the announcements of royal births, but for the very meaning and purpose of life?  With this great question common to every man and woman, the Magi watched the heavens, looking for something so intently and earnestly that at the moment the star began to ascend, they saw it and immediately followed it.

In the light of this cosmic herald, the Magi recognized a sign of the glory of the One of whom it was sung: “Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more” (cf. Isaiah 60:2; Psalm 72:7).  Through this star they somehow knew that “the Lord, the Mighty One, has come,” and so they set out at once to find him, to find the fulfillment of every longing and desire of their hearts (Entrance Antiphon).

Standing before that holy Child, the Magi recognized the truth of what Pope Benedict XVI has said: “the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.  Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity!”[2]

In our own day, we, too, have a great light to follow to find the happiness.  In fact, we have many such lights.  These lights are the saints of the Church whose examples shine brightly before us illuminating the path to authentic joy and peace, to Jesus himself present in the Church and present in a very real way in the Holy Eucharist.

Let us, then, follow the example of the Magi, who left everything behind to find the fulfillment of their deepest hope.  Let us follow the light of the Saints and go the Eucharistic King, that we, too, might do him homage, and leave him changed and overjoyed.  Amen.

[1] Blessed Pope John Paul II, Message for World Youth Day 2005, 7.
[2] Pope Benedict XVI, Celebration Welcoming the Young People, 18 August 2005.

A star in Raymond

This morning I accompanied His Excellency Bishop Paprocki to Raymond, Illinois where he celebrated Mass at the parish of St. Raymond.  It was my first visit to this beautiful church, but it certainly will not be my last.

For many years now the faithful there have hung a lovely star over the tabernacle during the Christmas season (I was unable to obtain a picture of it).  It struck me as an excellent piece of popular devotion filled with good Catholic fun and profundity.

Saint Matthew tells us that the star preceeded the Magi until it rested over the place where the child lay (Matthew 2:9).  What better place then to place a star than over the tabernacle where the Child truly is?

In his Mssage for the World Youth Day 2005 which was celebrated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne with the relics of the Magi, Blessed Pope John Paul II said:
The Child, laid by Mary in the manger, is the Man-God we shall see nailed to the Cross. The same Redeemer is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the stable at Bethlehem He allowed himself to be worshipped under the humble outward appearances of a newborn baby, by Mary, by Joseph and by the shepherds; in the consecrated Host we adore Him sacramentally present in his body, blood, soul and godhead, and He offers himself to us as the food of eternal life. The Mass then becomes a truly loving encounter with the One who gave himself wholly for us. Do not hesitate, my dear young friends, to respond to Him when He invites you "to the wedding feast of the Lamb (cf Rev 19:9). Listen to him, prepare yourselves properly and draw close to the Sacrament of the Altar.
Yes, brothers and sisters, let us follow the Star to the tabernacle and there fall down in humble, joyful and loving adoration.

Gingrich: The bigotry question goes both ways

In a debate yesterday at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich led the charge in raising the question of the media's bias against Christianity (see especially Gingrich's remarks beginnging about 5:20):

If you don't want to watch the video, he said:
Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because the bias and bigotry of the administration?  The bigotry question goes both ways and there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concern on the other side, and none of it gets covered by the news media.
Well said, Mr. Speaker, well said!

07 January 2012

Joyful Sisters

Today I had the pleasure of accompanying His Excellency Bishop Paprocki to the Motherhouse in Alton of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George (my favorite group of Sisters).  Mother Regina Pacis invited Bishop Paprocki to celebrate Mass and have lunch with seven women visiting the convent for a vocation retreat.

In addition to praying and eating with the Sisters I was able to visit a few of them whom I get to see only too rarely.

During lunch, Bishop Paprocki asked the visiting women what surprises they had during their visit (the retreat began on Thursday).

One of the women answered that she was surprised at how joyful each of the Sisters are.  In just a few days time with them she could easily tell that the Sisters found great joy in their vows of poverty and obedience and the joy she found infectious.

Please pray for these women as they discern their vocations and join me in asking the Lord to raise up many vocations for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.

06 January 2012

One third of accusations of sexual abuse against Boston priests were false

David Pierre, who recently published Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church and Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, the Fraud, the Stories, sat down for an interview with Catholic World Report that is well worth your reading.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview that are particularly good:
Indeed, the inordinate amount of media coverage has enabled the Church to shine a light on the “filth” (the term of Pope Benedict) that infected it and rid itself of an atrocious problem. The harm to victims has been immeasurable, and we must not forget this.On the other hand, Catholics are justified in being upset with the media’s coverage of this narrative.
The most obvious example of this double standard is with the public school system. Even the education establishment has acknowledged that it has a serious problem in dealing with child molesters. Education Week, the leading education periodical, has reported that the practice of “passing the trash”—quietly shuffling an accused molester from one school to another—is “no secret” in education circles.
Indeed, there is a double standard. Recently there have been a number of alarming news reports indicating that the Hollywood community has a very serious child abuse problem on its hands. Veteran actor Corey Feldman recently proclaimed, “The number-one problem in Hollywood is pedophilia.”Well, where are the breathless cries in the media for accountability? Where is the outrage over“cover-ups”? Where are the angry demands that Hollywood studios install tougher screening policies? Where are the ultimatums that studios implement “abuse review boards”?
Another section of that report chronicled an early 1990s study that revealed that zero of 225 cases of teacher sex abuse in New York were reported to police. Two hundred and twenty-five abusers. None of them reported to police. By all measures, this would be defined as a cover-up. Yet the media has never seemed too motivated to follow up on this.

Be sure to read the entire interview.

Planned Parenthood's decrease of funding

Matthew Archbold has passed along the good news that Planned Parenthood has seen a decrease of funding of almost $100 million from 2009 to 2010:

This, in part, explains why Planned Parenthood is so upset it has lost funding by several States.

24 new Cardinals

Today the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced his intention to create 24 Cardinals in a consistory to be held February 18, 2012, four of whom are beyond the voting age of 80.

Two of the designates are of special interest to me: Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Rocco has the full list of Cardinals-designate.

I will be in Rome in February, but will unfortunately be leaving Rome the day before the consistory.

The exclusion of Catholics

Writing at the Mirror of Justice, Robert George passes on a note from one of his former students who is questioning the place of faithful Catholics in society if same-sex "marriage" is, as many claim, simply inevitable.

The student asked his professor at law school:
...if the SSM advocates are right and opposition to SSM becomes analogous to racism in our society, what will happen to Catholics and others whose views on SSM cannot and will not change? Are they to be excluded from public office, political and judicial appointments, or places of trust and responsibility within private institutions (e.g., law firm partnerships)? I posed the question to him because I was curious to hear his response, since he is generally a kind and reasonable person who seemed open to other viewpoints.
He found the response unsettling:
Well, they [Catholics and others] will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South's views on race.
These days are coming folks, and anyone who says differently knows neither history nor the present situation.

A papal mission

In a move that should underscore the seriousness with which Pope Benedict XVI has worked to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse, particularly in Ireland, the Holy Father will, in a short time, ordain Archbishop-Elect Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.  At the same time, he will also ordain Archbishop-Elect Marek Solczynski, Apostolic Nuncio to Georgia and Armenia, whose episcopal ordination will, sadly, likely be overshadowed.

As I understand it, after he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop-Elect Brown requested episcopal ordaination at the hands of the Holy Father, with whom he had closely worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Since an Apostolic Nuncio is the Pope's personal representative of the Holy Father to foreign governments, it is especially poignant that the Pope himself will ordain his Nuncio to Ireland, which is suffering so terribly from the revelations of clerical sexual abuse.  Pope Benedict's decision to personally ordain Archbishop-elect Brown should demonstrate clearly his concern for the faithful of Ireland and his desire to continue to set things right.

As I consider the significance of today's ordination, I am reminded of days gone by when bishops were more routinely sent directly by the Pope in response to specific crises and for specific missions.  I am especially reminded of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, whom Pope Saint Gregory the Great personally sent to England in 595 to introduce to the Anglo-Saxons the Christian faith.

Archbishop-elect Brown will likewise have a specific mission as he is personally sent by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland, a similar task as was given by the Lord to Saint Francis of Assisi: to rebuild a church that has fallen into ruin.